You Know its Serious When it’s a Gate

By Frank Hagan | Related entries in Climate Change

You know an issue is serious when it gets the suffix “gate” added to it.

“Climategate” seems to be sticking in the media for the publication of stolen email and program documents we covered in our story Climate Email Hacked. Even more significant: parodies are popping up:

Like all parodies, its probably not fair, and its over the top. Would we really jail someone for obfuscation? No. But it is funny.

Kidding aside, the serious issues raised by the release of the emails lies not in the idea that climate warming is a “fraud” as some attest, or that the researchers involved were knowingly passing off lies. Careful reading of the materials doesn’t reveal a “smoking gun” per se. The real story is the collusion to obfuscate some indication of recent cooling trends and attempts to silence critics.

Demetris Koutsoyiannis, professor of hydrology at the University of Athens and a scientist publishing in the field of hydrology (closely related to climate science) has some thoughts:

Due to my skeptical inclination, I’ve had the feeling that my colleagues had serious doubts about my perspective. The common dogma is that “climate change is real” and its consequences are catastrophic, so why oppose those ideas and the people who arduously work to save the planet, and us, from catastrophes?

I found it difficult to explain my convictions in a compelling manner. However, the explanation is actually simple and was formulated by my co-authors Alberto Montanari, Harry Lins, Tim Cohn, and myself in a recent paper criticizing the IPCC position on freshwater:

“A common argument in favour of the political orientation of the IPCC is that its aims are good for humanity and the natural environment and that reducing emissions of greenhouse gases will be beneficial for the planet, regardless of the ultimate validity of the IPCC model predictions. However, we believe that science is a process for the pursuit of truth and that fidelity to this system should not be affected by other aims. History shows that such distractions can be detrimental to science.”

(This paper can be found here and a comment about it, as well as the IPCC authors’ reply, has been published on this weblog).

Koutsoyiannis has selected several of his favorite quotes from the released material showing the politicization and possible corruption:

“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report. Kevin and I will keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is !” (LINK).

“The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong.” (LINK).

“If anything, I would like to see the climate change happen, so the science could be proved right, regardless of the consequences.” (LINK)

More alarming than the sniping and snide comments of the researchers are the comments from the code. Programmers, as a standard practice, put comments in program code to provide a road map for others (and for remembering where they were when they come back to it). Some illuminating comments found in the program code:

“OH **** THIS. It’s Sunday evening, I’ve worked all weekend, and just when I thought it was done I’m hitting yet another problem that’s based on the hopeless state of our databases. There is no uniform data integrity, it’s just a catalogue of issues that continues to grow as they’re found.”

From the file data4alps.pro: “IMPORTANT NOTE: The data after 1960 should not be used. The tree-ring density’ records tend to show a decline after 1960 relative to the summer temperature in many high-latitude locations. In this data set this “decline” has been artificially removed in an ad-hoc way, and this means that data after 1960 no longer represent tree-ring density variations, but have been modified to look more like the observed temperatures.”

More on the code comments can be found here.

Even some ardent pro-climate change journalists are expressing deep concern about the tone and tenor of the emails, and calling for more analysis of the data called into question.

Hans van Storch, savaged as helping “junk science” get published in some of the released emails, has a more measured response. Rather than striking back, von Storch, a director of the Institute for Coastal Research of the GKSS Research Centre and professor at the Meteorological Institute of the University of Hamburg, keeps the issue in perspective:

# 24. November 2009 – The scandal around the stolen CRU-mails is rolling on; the interest, as documented by traffic on the internet is enormous – and likely the damage done to the credibility of climate science by the unfortunate writing by Phil Jones and others as well. But in spite of this, one can interpret the whole affair also in positive way – namely that science was strong enough to overcome the various gate keeping efforts, even it may take a few years. The self-correcting dynamics in science is robust and kicking. And the practice of allowing our adversaries to use our data (after a certain grace period) will become finally common.

We need to publically discuss the ethical norms, science is to operate under. Obviously, science can not define itself which these norms should be, but this is a task for society at large – who pays for the efforts and is looking for utility of science. The main guard to this respect is with the media – and it seems the media beginning to become serious, finally. An example is from Wall Street Journal – online. In Germany, journalists judge the affair more cavalier, e.g., in the Tagesspiegel.

Cross posted to FrankHagan.com


This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 25th, 2009 and is filed under Climate Change. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

27 Responses to “You Know its Serious When it’s a Gate”

  1. frankhagan.com » You Know its Serious When it’s a Gate Says:

    [...] Cross posted to Donklephant.com [...]

  2. kranky kritter Says:

    I think Van Storch is spot on. I share his faith in the robustness of the scientific method. A big part of that is the willingness to speak fearlesslly when you disagree. Another big part of it is constant awareness of how very much is still unknown within the domain you’re studying.

    I’ve felt that lately the fear had been getting ahead of the science, and that’s never good. Hopefully this episode is a useful opportunity to educate, instead of a vehicle for political opportunists to sell their spin harder.

    Here’s the thing: it would be a shame if this leads to more folks assuming that there’s nothing to global warming or climate change. There’s data which suggests that it has existed for a long enough time to be worth ongoing concern. And there’s recent data which apparently has failed to show continued warming. That lack of continuation in the warming could mean a number 9f things. It could mean that the previous trend was not closely related to human agency. Or it could mean that some other recent natural phenomena has come into play and is swamping a warming trend that was due to human agency. Or due to something else. Or it could be evidence of a more complex interaction of climatological mechanisms than we currently understand.

    We just don’t know. That’s why we should keep paying close attention, keep collecting new data, and keep finding ways to collect data on past ages as well as to analyze the existing data on the past And like I always say, it makes sense to focus on changes that are virtues all by themselves, like conservation. I think an extremely strong argument can be made to conserve resources just because, and just in case. It’s a virtue.

  3. Tweets that mention Donklephant » Blog Archive » You Know its Serious When it’s a Gate -- Topsy.com Says:

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  4. Frank Hagan Says:

    Kranky, I couldn’t agree more. I understand the “end zone celebrations” of those who have been skeptics, but I think that’s premature. We should continue to look at the issue because we simply “don’t know what we don’t know.”

    I have always labeled myself as an agnostic on the issue of man-made climate change, waiting for a real consensus and not a politicized consensus. There are things we can measure and are true: CO2 is increasing due to burning long-buried carbon. How much that forces warming, and how fast warming happens are still open to question in my mind. The idea that no one in science disagreed always seemed to me to be an over-reach. We now know that it was: those that disagreed were actively prevented from having a respected forum.

    I’m still very concerned about reliance on Arab oil, and the enrichment of people who fund ideologies committed to our destruction. So I still favor energy independence as a matter of national security. Alternative energy projects, including the rapid decline in the cost of solar, can play a role. Expansion of nuclear power, wind and other projects make sense as well.

    Van Storch has it right. The only thing to do is to open up all the research and let the scientific method work its magic.

  5. Jim S Says:

    There is a scientific consensus that warming is happening. There is a scientific consensus that human activity is the primary cause at this time. There is not, nor has one ever been claimed to exist, a consensus on some exact figures concerning how high it will go or how soon we’ll get there. Of course, the bad thing is that most of the time when serious studies publish their results lately, it seems that the news is worse than previous estimates instead of better.

  6. Frank Hagan Says:

    Jim S – the word “consensus” seems to be used to stifle discussion, as if to say “that’s been decided; now we must figure out what to do about it.” But the science is not settled on the extent of CO2 forcing at all, and a significant minority of scientifically trained people question it. Often, in the history of science, those significant minorities become the majority.

    Even if anthropogenic warming is accepted by the majority (as we are assured it is), the recent controversy requires addressing. The obfuscation and attempts to stifle any dissent from other scientists means that the issue is not only not settled, but reveals that we don’t know how much dissent actually exists.

  7. kranky kritter Says:

    There was probably more “consensus” a few years back before the last few years’ data. IMO it’s not quite as settled an issue as some folks have tried to insist. Folks are wondering about what NPR has called Global Warming’s Missing Heat.

    I think agnostic is a great word choice Frank. I started using that a few years back for things like “I’m agnostic on whether Jed Lowrie is the Red Sox shortstop of the future.” It carries a great point, which is that you’re not saying it’s wrong, only that you’re not convinced yet.

    I’ve had people trying to bully me off my doubts for years now, and been accused of being all sorts of hideous creatures like a shill for big business, an apologist for big oil, a useful idiot for the republican party and so on. I’ve met college students with clipboards who knew less about the subject than I but were quite sure to the point of zeal. Politics has had an adverse effect on the science. That’s quite clear.

    And I understand that it comes from a place of genuine concern about our future. The concern is quite admirable and worthwhile. The bullying is not.

  8. mw Says:

    Prior to Galileo, there was a scientific consensus that the earth was the center of the universe. Prior to Einstein, there was a scientific consensus that Newtoninan mechanics explained all motion in the universe.

    Science is not determined by elections. There is nothing more meaningless in the determination of scientific truth than a scientific consensus. A scientific argument stands on its own, regardless of the number of people who initially agree or disagree.

    On the other hand, advancing a political goal, such as imposing a massive new tax like Cap & Trade requires a political consensus. To achieve such a political consensus some will use fear tactics by claiming a scientific consensus predicting disastrous consequences if the measure does not pass.

    The science is unsettled. It appears there are at least two reasonable hypothesis for the global warming that was taking place up until about 10 years ago. One was related to human activity and CO2 greenhouse effects. One was related to variations in solar output. The CO2 hypothesis is brought into question by the inability to explain the apparent cooling of the last 10 years. It’ll probably take another 10 years to get enough data to settle the question. It appears that some scientists invested in the greenhouse theory have been using extraordinary and questionable techniques to make the data fit the theory. Scientific scrutiny and more data will settle the question.

    However, it would be madness to agree to treaties limiting production and impose new job destroying, economy throttling regulations and taxes like Cap & Trade based on unsettled science. Even those who subscribe to the theory that man-made CO2 is the cause have shown that CO2 limitations as considered in Kyoto or Copenhagen or Cap and Trade are not the solution.

    Obama may agree to limitations in Copenhagen and choose to push Cap & Trade for a lot of reasons. None of them have anything to do with science.

  9. Jim S Says:

    If you want to break scientific consensus you have to have the stronger argument. Present real research. Have it stand up to analysis by others, including being the best explanation when presented to your peers. The solar variance explanation has failed as an attempt to explain all warming and discredit the idea of AGW.

    And, mw, will people who try to pass themselves off as skeptics ever quit lying about the last 10 years? I think it’s unlikely.

  10. mw Says:

    @ Jim S
    You are joking with those links right? One is to a wikipedia reference under the disclaimer “This article may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia’s quality standards. Please improve this article if you can. (June 2009)”. the quality problem is obvious. The footnote to the assertion you link in no way actually supports the assertion in Wikipedia carrying the footnote: The actual conclusion in that paper:

    “Radiation from the Sun ultimately provides the only energy source for the Earth’s atmosphere and changes in solar activity clearly have the potential to affect climate. There is statistical evidence for solar influence on various meteorological parameters on all timescales, although extracting the signal from the noise in a naturally highly variable system remains a key problem. Changes in total solar irradiance undoubtedly impact the Earth’s energy balance but uncertainties in the historical record of TSI mean that the magnitude of even this direct influence is not well known. Variations in solar UV radiation impact the thermal structure and composition of the middle atmosphere but details of the responses in both temperature and ozone concentrations are not well established. Various theories are now being developed for coupling mechanisms whereby direct solar impacts on the middle atmosphere might influence the troposphere but the influences are complex and non-linear and many questions remain concerning the detailed mechanisms which determine to what extent, where and when the solar influence is felt. Variations in cosmic radiation, modulated by solar activity, are manifest in changes in atmospheric ionisation but it is not yet clear whether these have the potential to significantly affect the atmosphere in a way that will impact climate…. With regard to the climate, further data-mining and analysis are required to firmly establish the magnitude, geographical distribution and seasonality of its response to various forms of solar activity. Understanding the mechanisms involved in the response then becomes the overriding objective. Current ideas suggest three main avenues where further research is needed. Firstly, the means whereby solar radiative heating of the upper and middle atmosphere may influence the lower atmosphere through dynamical coupling needs to be better understood. Secondly, it needs to be established whether or not variations in direct solar heating of the tropical oceans can be of sufficient magnitude to produce apparently observed effects. Thirdly, more work is needed on the microphysical processes involved in ion-induced nucleation, and, probably more importantly, the growth rates of the condensation nuclei produced. Perhaps when these questions are answered we will be confident that we really understand how changes in the Sun affect the climate on Earth. “

    The second link is laughable. Your source – Joe Romm – as described in the sidebar “Rolling Stone: “America’s fiercest climate-change activist-blogger lets it rip”

    He is an advocate for one side of a scientific argument with a book to sell. He is not an arbiter of the truth.

    The assertion is that the science is not decided. You link to one side of the argument and then describe the other side as liars. That does not undermine the assertion. It only says which side of the argument you are on. You are not even making an argument so much as proclaiming your faith in religious dogma.

    I reminded of this exact translation of a quote from the Inquistion:

    “Galileo, will people who try to pass themselves off as scientists ever quit lying about the earth revolving around the sun? I think it’s unlikely.”

  11. Frank Hagan Says:

    Jim S – the issue is the attempt to silence those who believe they have a stronger argument through political pressure on editors of journals and smear campaigns. Its a nice trick; declare a consensus, then conspire to prevent others from publishing and challenging your consensus. It gives the impression that the fix is in, and any dissent will be punished with ridicule and pressure to get you fired, your grants revoked, or even physical threats (“beat the crap out of him” – a quote from one of the emails.)

    I suspect that some of these guys will need to resign before climate science will be able to recover. The scientists who are committed to fair and open inquiry realize they need to open the data up. The others have lost the faith of the public. We have to rely on the smart guys because we cannot do the calculations ourselves. But what we can do is judge the character of the people advising us, and because they are evidently lying, we can’t trust them.

    Publish all the data, and the code, and let’s find out what is going on.

  12. kranky kritter Says:

    Jim is modeling a pretty useful procedure here: which is to really dig into the data and the research. Jim is IMO 100% right that any warming skeptics who want to provide fair-minded feedback need to do much more than search the net for 15 minutes until they find someone who sorta sounds like they know what they are talking about.

    That’s what weak-sense critical thinking is…you start with an opinion you want to support, look only for that support, and then stop when you find it. We need to do better if we really care about the truth. Right? Anyone REALLY disagree with that? If not,. then man up. Right?

    Atmospheric CO2 is rising. Hard to dispute that. There is at this point substantial correlation between recent warming trends (the hockey stick etc) and growth in CO2 levels. IF any of you out there think the hockey stick is wrong, please keep reading and researching into views from a variety of sources.

    CO2 traps infrared radiation. That can cause more temperature rises. We’re at about 390 ppm and almost halfway to a doubling from levels prior to the industrial revolution. That may well be a serious problem.

    At this point, from what I have been able to discern so far, we don’t seem to have a very comprehensive idea of just how sensitive Earth’s climate is and will be. There are many factors involved in figuring how much heat will really be trapped as opposed to radiated off of Earth. Especially measuring it. The presumption seems to be that absent the human injection of CO2 into the atmosphere which causes warming, that the Earth was and will be in balance. In other words, subtract humans and the amount of heat absorbed by the Earth and the amount radiated back into space is basically equal. My view is that this presumption deserves more exploration.

    And don’t forget, there are also many factors involved in trying to forecast the nature and extent of changes humans will experience should global temperatures continue to rise slowly until we either substantially decrease the use of fossil fuels voluntarily, or run out.

  13. Nick Benjamin Says:

    On global warming the simple fact is there will always be controversy as long as a) Miami hasn’t drowned, and/or b) there’s a sizable minority with a political stake in keeping the controversy alive. And we will have b) as long as a) isn’t true. Probably even if Miami drowns.

    A major reason I’m pro man-made global warming, pro-Kyoto, and pro-cap-and-trade is that that I did a simple analysis of the costs of fixing the problem. And they weren’t exactly unbearable. Cash-for-clunkers cost like $8 per capita. Cash-for-caulkers would help too, and it would cost about the same.

    Manufacturing loads of solar panels would be more expensive but a) historically as technology gets adopted in masse it gets much cheaper; and b) we’ve got spare manufacturing capacity out the whazoo. The same can be said for windmills. Heck check out the “waste heat” article on Wikipedia. We could add a simple generator to pretty much every smokestack in the country.

    Contrast this with the benefits. I’ll ignore global warming and ocean acidification for the time being. Let’s look at the technical benefits. A simple fact is somebody’s gonna figure out how to make millions of solar panels cheap. Same with windmills. When the rest of the world has adopted cap-and-trade and Kyoto their companies have an extra incentive to be the ones who figure this out. Which means that without Kyoto we’ll be choosing between German solar panels and Saudi oil.

    Now look at the foreign policy benefits. Right now dozens of island nations believe in global warming. 54 African nations believe global warming will turn much of that continent into a desert in the next few decades. You think it’s gonna be easy to get those guys to turn over a radical preacher if we don’t have cap-and-trade? How about convincing those guys to use their UN Vote to support us? Especially when the Chinese are there offering a blank check, no bitching about democracy, and a very plausible excuse when asked why they don’t deal with global warming (there’s no point if the US doesn’t).

  14. Tully Says:

    If you want to break scientific consensus you have to have the stronger argument. Present real research. Have it stand up to analysis by others, including being the best explanation when presented to your peers.

    Problem being that, as the CRU leak demonstrates, the so-called “consensus” was largely manufactured by AVOIDING and actively REPRESSING all those things, something I’ve been noisily pointing out for bloody fucking years. The thoroughly politicized IPCC proclaims itself as the voice of “consensus,” a self-fulfilling prophecy. The argument is circular — only those taking the “consensus” view are allowed to be heard, anyone not echoing the “consensus” is automatically dismissed as unworthy, regardless of the validity of their criticism and contra research.

    For the millionth time, for those who don’t know the difference, “consensus” is a term of politics, not one of science. There is ZERO need to “break scientific consensus” as a validifier of claims when the so-called “consensus” itself fails to meet the criteria of the scientific method. REAL science requires no “consensus.” It is self-demonstrable — it stands on its own. REAL science discloses primary data, full modeling construction, etc. It opens itself to full examination for purposes of testing and replication and confirmation. Real science does not hide behind pompous pronouncements of authority — that’s what religion does.

    RELEASE THE PRIMARY DATA. RELEASE THE FULL MODELING CODE. RELEASE THE DETAILED JUSTIFICATIONS OF THE “ADJUSTMENTS.” RELEASE IT ALL. RELEASE IT NOW.

  15. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Tully,

    Every scientific consensus is supported in part by BS evidence and suppressing dissent. The BS happens because scientists are people and people are frequently full of it, and suppression happens as a defense mechanism. It ensures that a consensus only changes when major new evidence shows up, not every time some smart cookie thinks up some clever hypothesis. This is what the Intelligent design crowd hasn’t figured out. They’re clever, but most of them don’t even know what biogeography is; none can explain why the intelligent designer decided against African kangaroos.

    I am troubled by some of the stuff that’s come out. But so far it doesn’t seem to be much worse than the stuff that happens normally in science. “hiding the decline”, and some of the comments in the computer code could be damning for individual scientific careers because they certainly sound like falsifying evidence. But you have to keep in mind: this is one group. It’s a fairly extreme group dedicated to convincing everyone else to become more extreme.

    You wanna change the consensus you’re gonna have to prove less extreme AGW advocates like the IPCC are lying.

  16. kranky kritter Says:

    I agree with Tully. Nick your defense of the IPCC (no worse than many others) may be marketable, but it doesn’t speak to Tully’s main point about releasing primary data and prediction models.

    If global warming is so real and obvious, why can’t our ongoing understanding of it be an open source effort. I distrust people who make statistical claims without showing their actual data as a matter of course. That’s not personal or political to me.

    Tully, awhile back I recall you shopping the idea that over the last 10 years the previous warming trend hasn’t continued. Do you still believe that? After digging into it, it now seems that many folks shopping that meme are basing it on an oversimplification that overemphasizes 1998. Thoughts?

  17. Jim S Says:

    The problem with Tully’s post is that it doesn’t matter when they do release all of those things. The “skeptics” still claim that they haven’t done it. Here is a post from RealClimate where they are providing links to the types of things that Tully is claiming they never provide. Here is their post on the CRU hack. As far as Tully’s support of the cooling since 1998 meme, that one is still a big favorite among the denialist network. But of course the facts don’t really support it.

  18. Nick Benjamin Says:

    A working link to the data Jim provided:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/data-sources/

    The trouble with Tully’s argument is that it’s always possible to demand more data.

    This is particularly true when a statistician has based his reputation on mining your data for flaws. You send him the stuff you used, and thus kept pristine copies of, he mines it, finds nothing amiss, accuses you of cherry-picking your data, and demands that you turn over data you didn’t use. data that may never have existed, or may have been thrown out because some idiot broke the test tube before the data collection was complete. Heck it may be data some other scientist collected and turned over to you.

    AGW predicted the current rise in temperatures 10 years ago. You don’t believe me fight the math:
    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

    Until such a time as somebody comes up with a sensible alternative, and actually manages to convince most experts there alternative is true, we should act as if the theory was gospel truth. To do anything else would be foolish.

  19. kranky kritter Says:

    Well, Jim the problem with your post is that Tully has repeatedly shown himself to me to be both willing and able to crunch raw data and comment on the methodology in a fair-minded way.

    I understand your general point, which is that the raw data is likely to be spun by opponents, and that data adjustments are likely to be spun as proof of chicanery and untrustworthiness even if they are sound or defensible approaches. Of course that will, happen, sadly.

    I don’t think any excuse is very good for not releasing your raw data. It makes you look like you have something to hide.

    FWIW, Tully never has said to me that recent years have shown cooling, which is what so-called denialists have shopped. What he said to me is that over the last few years, the previously predicted trend had not continued. That’s quite different. In the graphs someone above linked to, the lines are virtually flat. Without knowing what linear regression was used on what data, flat is the best adjective for those bullets.

    Until such a time as somebody comes up with a sensible alternative, and actually manages to convince most experts there alternative is true, we should act as if the theory was gospel truth. To do anything else would be foolish.

    No koolaid for me thanks. I think the opposite, that acting precipitously on incomplete understanding would be foolish. We don’t even know how “balanced” Earth’s climate is, or how sensitive it is to more CO2. Surface temp varies year by year while showing a slight upward trend. The presumption is that the ocean is storing energy when the surface temp averafes aren’t showing it. But some of the expected heat went “missing,” according to NPR. The amount of heat radiated off of Earth varies depending on cloud cover and other factors.

    There is a lot to keep track of, and we just don’t know for sure that there is an enduring positive imbalance. We just don’t know yet. There are troubling signs that merit more and closer study. But if we had been able to entirely define the nature of the levels of inputs and outputs, there’d be more agreement on the warming projections.

    I’m not taking anything as gospel at this point. There are many chapters yet to write before we start thinking about any sort of climate bible. I’m not going to lose my mind because global surface temperatures seem to have increased by about 3/4 of a degree or so from 1850 to 2010. And neither should anybody else.

  20. Nick Benjamin Says:

    @kk
    The graphs you’re talking about ignore roughly 2/3 of the earth’s surface. In the past few years the land is not getting warmer, but the oceans are.

    As for wisdom, we’ll probably have to agree to disagree.

    I have just one question for you:
    Climate scientists believe Miami is likely to be under water within a few decades if we don’t stop global warming. What are the odds you think they’re right? In your mind how much would it be worth spending to mitigate that risk?

  21. kranky kritter Says:

    Climate scientists believe Miami is likely to be under water within a few decades if we don’t stop global warming. What are the odds you think they’re right? In your mind how much would it be worth spending to mitigate that risk?

    Who are these climate scientists?

    Do you have any sort of actual citation for this claim?

    How many decades is “a few decades?”

    How much of a sea-level rise are they predicting?

    How much of a rise do they say would be sufficient to “put Miami underwater?”

    What percent of climate scientists actually agrees with their prediction?

    How could I possibly quantity the odds without their raw data and models?

    What are the odds I’ll take them seriously without their raw data and the models they are using to make such an alarming prediction? Wait, that one I can answer. Zero.

  22. Jim S Says:

    kk, I know Tully very well. I’ve known him for years. This is one area we disagree on a great deal. One thing that he does is offer the same critique of climate modeling that he does for financial models, which is the field that he is most familiar with. What’s the difference? Climate models try to account for huge numbers of variables but they are all physical ones, though extremely complex. They also offer a range of possibilities. Deniers attempt to claim that the models are wrong by cherry picking which of the possibilities presented can best be used to make climatologists look bad. Economics deals with human actions and psychological factors that we have not even come close to being able to model mathematically. Hari Seldon does not live, except in the pages of the Foundation books.

  23. Nick Benjamin Says:

    Who are these climate scientists?

    97% of the ones the Heartland Institute interviewed:
    http://tigger.uic.edu/~pdoran/012009_Doran_final.pdf

    Do you have any sort of actual citation for this claim?

    How many decades is “a few decades?”

    How much of a sea-level rise are they predicting?

    How much of a rise do they say would be sufficient to “put Miami underwater?”

    According to wiki Miami is only 2 M above sea level:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miami

    That’s 200 cm. 59 cm was the IPCC’s highest estimate in 2007, apparently there’s reason to believe it should be at least doubled:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/08/ups-and-downs-of-sea-level-projections/

    59 cm is almost 2 ft, so we don’t have much room for error on this issue.

    That’s by 2010, BTW. So we have time. But if the chicken littles are right we’re probably gonna start a feedback loop where Antarctic ice melts, exposing dark rock, which heats up when the sun hits it…

    What percent of climate scientists actually agrees with their prediction?

    It’s a minority.

    But we’re talking risk mitigation here. And as the last few years of black swan events have proven it’s never foolish to mitigate risks. It’s foolish to overspend on risk mitigation, but this excersize is designed to figure out how much we should spend on mitigating that risk.

    What are the odds I’ll take them seriously without their raw data and the models they are using to make such an alarming prediction? Wait, that one I can answer. Zero.

    So in other words there’s nothing they could possibly do to convince you that global warming is a problem.

    Because there will always be some cleaver bastard who wants one more piece of data, or disagrees with the process they used in step 67. And rather than create his own model, or attempt to improve the model realclimate uses that clever bastard will get lots of money to tour the country denouncing global warming as an evil conspiracy.

  24. Jim S Says:

    Also note that the claims of the trend not continuing depends on two factors. Ignoring ocean water warming and using data sets that ignore the Arctic.

  25. kranky kritter Says:

    So Jim, then would you take a bet on Miami being underwater in “a few decades?’

    How about $100 each in an escrow account with a 60 year time frame? I’ll be dead, but maybe my nephew’s kids can use the money to buy a loaf of bread. Or do you think that Miami can survive a century without cap and trade?

    The claim I’ve heard related specifically to surface temperatures not continuing to rise as predicted. The answer has been that the heat was stored in the ocean instead. Which is plausible, even if as NPR described there has been trouble accounting for some heat which was expected but not in fact found.

    I continue to remain an open-minded agnostic about this Jim. Since you seem fairly knowledgeable about the science and the data and how it is being measured and modeled, maybe you can point me in the direction of some stuff that speaks to what I view as a big missing piece of the puzzle. Obviously, whether Earth heats and by how much relates not just to how much energy Earth absorbs but how much it retains.

    Apparently, the surface temperatures seem to have continued to rise slowly but still fluctuate on an annual basis. And the oceans see capable of storing vast amounts of energy and then occasionally venting them in things like El Nino.

    So, how are we doing with measuring the amounts of energy that manage to escape entirely? This relates in part to CO2 as we know, but what about cloud reflectivity for example? Are there other factors? We know that if all other factors are kept equal then extra CO2 will lead to more trapped energy. But how do we figure out what the other factors could be and whether they are in fact being kept equal?

    JIm, do you think Tully is a cherrypicker?

  26. Jim S Says:

    I’m not the one who brought up Miami and sea levels, kk. But here is some information on the latest science concerning that issue. Here is information about ocean warming.

    Here is a Scientific American article that refers to a Science Magazine article that I thought I remembered reading about concerning warming and clouds. The actual Science article is unfortunately behind a pay wall.

    Here is a series from New Scientist about climate change myths. This article addresses your questions of energy imbalances in the context of answering the question of how we know that the Earth is still warming.

  27. Donklephant » Blog Archive » The University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit’s New & Improved Scientific Method Says:

    […] news, but only after being confirmed as a real story by Jon Stewart. Frank has been all over the climategate story, but he left a few angles for me to […]

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