Testimony followup: Part II

RESPONSE TO THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Pursuant to Judith Curry’s Testimony for the

Hearing on “Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response”


I would like to thank the Committee for this opportunity to expand upon my testimony.  I found the questions to be particularly insightful and profound.  The answers to these questions about a very complex situation are not simple or straightforward.  In preparing my answers to these questions, I sought input from participants in my blog Climate Etc. (at http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/03/testimony-follow-up/), which received 265 comments from a diverse group of scientists, other professionals and anonymous citizens, from the U.S. as well as internationally.  The diversity of opinions and ideas regarding these questions is evidenced by the broad range of thoughtful and insightful viewpoints expressed on the blog, and I acknowledge the contributions expressed on my blog in preparing this statement.

1.  It is clear from your public statements that you generally agree with the mainstream view of global warming and cannot easily be characterized as a climate change “denier” or “skeptic.”  Nonetheless, you have been quite critical of the process under which climate science is conducted, saying that “it is difficult to understand the continued circling of the wagons by some climate researchers with guns pointed at skeptical researchers by apparently trying to withhold data and other information of relevance to published research, thwart the peer review process, and keep papers out of assessment reports.”

a.  Why are so many scientists “pointing their guns” at skeptics when sharing data and embracing debate seems to be an obvious way for scientists to increase the credibility of their arguments and influence public debate?

While the majority of climate scientists are not engaged in these adversarial tactics, the CRU emails revealed a siege mentality adopted by a group of influential and highly visible climate researchers.  Understanding how and why this situation evolved in the way it did is a topic that should be investigated by historians and sociologists of science.

My own understanding of this situation is described in the context of the IPCC/UNFCCC ideology.  What I’m referring to as the IPCC/UNFCCC ideology is described in my blog post at http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/07/no-ideologues-part-iii/ and is apparent in this interview with Michael Mann http://bos.sagepub.com/content/66/6/1.full.  The basic elements of this ideology are outlined as:

1.  Anthropogenic climate change is real.

2.  Anthropogenic climate change is dangerous and we need to something about it.

3.  The fossil fuel industry is trying to convince people that climate change is a hoax.

4.  Deniers are attacking climate science and scientists, and their disinformation is misleading the public.

5.  Deniers and the fossil fuel industry are delaying UNFCCC mitigation policies, providing a political motivation to counter the disinformation from the deniers.

The book “Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway describes “how a loose–knit group of high-level scientists, with extensive political connections, ran effective campaigns to mislead the public and deny well-established scientific knowledge over four decades. . . showing how the ideology of free market fundamentalism, aided by a too-compliant media, has skewed public understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our era.”   The “circling the wagons” strategy revealed in the CRU emails was designed to counter the tactics of the merchants of doubt and other deniers in delaying the UNFCCC mitigation policies.  This strategy was apparently designed under the tutelage of advocacy groups, learning lessons from the wars with big tobacco, etc.

While free market fundamentalism and “big oil” may have been a major source of skepticism in the past, the current dominant group of skeptics, enabled by the blogosphere, seeks accountability. Many of these skeptics have professional backgrounds and extensive experience with the practical application of science and regulation, without any particular political motivations and certainly without funding from “big oil.”  Failing to recognize this new breed of climate skeptics, and dismissing them as politically motivated deniers or merchants of doubt, led to the events that were revealed by the CRU emails.

An additional motivation for circling the wagons seems to be insecurity and fear that uncertain or flawed analyses will damage professional reputations, as a result of this extraordinary scrutiny of their research. This motivation is revealed by Phil Jones’ email to Warwick Hughes saying: “Why should I give you my data when you only want to find fault in it?”   Scientists who have invested considerable work and their professional reputations in developing a certain line of research want to be “right”, and defend their research against challenges from skeptical researchers.  The normal process of scientific debate eventually sorts things out.  However, when the battle lines were drawn between the “virtuous” scientists and the anti-science deniers, other scientists lined up in a “consensus” to fight against the forces of anti-science, without a careful examination of the scientific issue at hand.  The end result is that genuine skeptical arguments were marginalized and ignored, which diminishes the credibility of science that is being defended.

Another issue is the evolving importance and changing dynamic of climate research.  Two decades ago, climate science was conducted in a purely academic environment and there were no data quality requirements or regulatory requirements for models.  As climate science has become increasingly policy relevant, demands on quality and traceability (particularly retrospective ones) could not be met. This produced defensiveness amongst the scientists, who did not want to provide any ammunition for the merchants of doubt; they sought refuge in the “consensus” and argued by appealing to their own authority.

In the midst of all this, scientific best practices became compromised.

b.  Given the potentially enormous influence of climate science on economic and environmental policy – which ultimately boils down to jobs 00 — shouldn’t it be held to a higher standard in the public debate?  For example, should Congress consider blocking funding for researchers that do not make their data and materials available for public scrutiny?

The key issue is openness and traceability.  Scientists supported by government funding should ensure that their data and methods are made available to any researcher for purposes of replication.  However, the practical aspects of wholesale enforcement of this are not straightforward. U.S. agencies that supervise and fund climate research (e.g. USGCRP, NSF, NOAA, NASA) already have substantial requirement in place for data archival and full and open access to data. Many journals also have requirements for archiving data and ensuring that the data and methods used are made available for purposes of replication.  These requirements are not uniformly enforced.  How to enforce these requirements in a cost effective way is an important topic to address.

Climate science used for public policy should be held to a higher standard, in a manner similar to medical/pharmaceutical research that is used in the health marketplace.  There is normal academic peer reviewed medical research, but higher standards are required in the context of regulated science before a drug or procedure can be marketed.  The analogy for climate science is normal academic peer reviewed science, versus an accountable assessment process for policy makers. As part of the assessment process, greater accountability is required, which might consist of fact checking, statisticians auditing the statistical methods, computer scientists auditing the algorithms, etc.

With regards to funding, as part of the proposal process, scientists should state how they will archive their data or otherwise make available data and other information to others attempting to reproduce their results.  Scientists should be held accountable for actually having made their data available in consideration for future funding.  I am aware of some funding programs and program managers that actually do this, but overall this does not seem to be enforced.

The principal climate data records should be maintained by government agencies, with full documentation, quality and version control, complete documentation, and support to respond to user queries.  University research groups are ill equipped to handle this, and researchers generally find the painstaking work of quality control to be scientifically boring.

c.  Should such research be excluded from use in policy debates and scientific assessments such as those by the National Academies or IPCC?

There is no prima facie reason to exclude any relevant information from policy and scientific debates.  The “scientific juries” of the IPCC and National Academies will use their own standards to decide which scientific studies are suitable for inclusion in their assessment reports. However, there is a significant gap between a scientific assessment of research and accountable information for actual policy making and regulatory purposes.  Accountability for issuing regulations under the EPA endangerment finding could demand that all relevant information be independently assessed for its accuracy and reliability to determine its usefulness. Information that has not been assessed or cannot be assessed owing to unavailability of data and other source materials would not be used in this context. Such a requirement would motivate the science community to ensure that its products are useful in the context of policy making and government regulations.

2.  You state in your testimony that the conflict regarding the theory of anthropogenic climate change is over the level of our ignorance regarding what is unknown about natural climate variability.  For a long time, the scientific community did not consider uncertainty a bad thing.  In fact, the word “certainty” was something that was almost never used (you are not certain the sun will rise tomorrow morning, but you are reasonably sure that it is very likely to occur.)

a. At what point did uncertainty become a bad thing in the climate community?

Uncertainty became a bad thing in the climate science community with the creation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Treaty in 1992.  The UNFCCC states that future greenhouse gas emissions are uncertain, as are climate change damages. However, following the precautionary principle, “lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.” While lack of full certainty does not preclude action, the level of certainty needs to reach some sort of threshold before action is triggered under the precautionary principle. While this threshold of certainty is vague, reducing the uncertainty makes action more likely.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, climate research programs were aimed explicitly at the reduction of uncertainties in future climate projections.  By the mid 1990’s, climate modelers were beginning to realize that the increasing complexity of climate models and the fundamentally chaotic nature of climate system precluded full predictability of the climate system.  Nevertheless, the emphasis from policy makers and funding agencies was on the reduction of uncertainty.   The U.S. Climate Change Science Program Science Plan (published in 2003) emphasized reducing uncertainty, using the phrase in many of its goals.

Classical decision making theory involves reducing uncertainties before acting.  There has been a growing sense of the infeasibility of reducing uncertainties in global climate models owing to the continued emergence of unforeseen complexities and sources of uncertainties.  While reducing the overall uncertainty isn’t viable, at the same time not acting could be associated with catastrophic impacts.  Since a higher level of confidence would make decision makers more willing to act, political opponents to action sold doubt and the scientists countered by selling certainty and consensus. Scientific statements about uncertainty became viewed as political statements.

b.  How did this shift within the scientific community occur?  How does it shift back?

Climate science got caught up in a highly charged political debate: the consequences predicted by the models were dire, and many of the climate scientists were persuaded by the predictions of the models.  Climate science is a relatively young field, and one that was ill prepared for participation in such a highly charged political debate.   The traditions of science in disclosing all of the weaknesses of their work were at odds with this adversarial political process.

The actual shift within the community seems to have occurred in the context of the IPCC process. The entire framing of the IPCC was designed around identifying sufficient evidence so that the human-induced greenhouse warming could be declared unequivocal, and so providing the rationale for developing the political will to implement and enforce carbon stabilization targets in the context of the UNFCCC. National and international science programs were funded to support the IPCC objectives.  Scientists involved in the IPCC advanced their careers, obtained personal publicity, and some gained a seat at the big policy tables.  This career advancement of IPCC scientists was done with the complicity of the professional societies and the institutions that fund science.  Eager for the publicity, high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS frequently publish sensational but dubious papers that support the climate alarm narrative. Especially in subfields such as ecology and public health, these publications and the media attention help steer money in the direction of these scientists, which buys them loyalty from their institutions, who appreciate the publicity and the dollars.  Further, the institutions that support science use the publicity to argue for more funding to support climate research and its impacts. And the broader scientific community inadvertently becomes complicit in all this. When the IPCC consensus is attacked by deniers and the forces of “anti-science,” scientists all join in bemoaning these dark forces fighting a war against science, and support the IPCC against its critics. The media also bought into this, by eliminating balance in favor of the IPCC consensus.

The bottom line is that scientists worked within the system to maximize their professional reputations, influence, and funding.  Rather than blame the scientists for optimizing their rewards within the system, we need to take a careful look at the system, most particularly the climate science-policy interface and the federal funding of climate science.

How does it shift back? Change the system to improve the science-policy interface and change the funding priorities. A top priority for research funding should be exploring the significance and characteristics of uncertainty across the range of climate science, not only the climate models themselves, but also solar forcing, surface temperature datasets, natural internal modes of climate variability, etc. Change the decision making framework from the classical “reduce the uncertainty before acting” paradigm to a robust decision making framework that incorporates understanding of uncertainty as information in the contemplation and management of environmental risks.

Changing the funding priorities is key. We need to reduce reliance on building ever more complex climate models for being the primary source of reducing uncertainties regarding climate change. Climate researchers need to engage with a broader range of expertise in and build strong links to disciplines experienced in complex nonlinear modeling and statistical inference, among others. We need a much better understanding of natural climatic variability.  More research is needed on understanding abrupt climate change and developing a more extensive archive of paleoclimate proxies.  And finally, greater resources need to be provided to accelerating the establishment of definitive climate data records.

Openness and transparency enables critical examination by a broad range of scientists and citizens.  Recognition of the extended peer review communities enabled by the blogosphere is essential, and frank discussions with skeptics are needed.  We need to eliminate the elitism that argues that certain scientists are more “important” voices in the debate than others (by virtue of their academic recognitions, citations, etc), that scientists with expertise outside of the traditional climate disciplines can be ignored, and that the only valid contributions come in the form of peer reviewed journal publications. With regard to the latter point, well-documented analyses/audits of data sets occurring on technical blogs have provided significant contributions to understanding and improving data quality. This elitism is counter to the traditions of science, characterized by physicist Richard Feynman as “Science is the belief in the ignorance of the experts.”  It is the merits of the scientific argument that count; not the qualifications of the person making the argument.

c.  Are there any efforts within the scientific community to self-correct this paradigm shift?  If there is not, what does this mean for the decision-makers needing objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies?

Science is subject to human fallibility, and such shifts have happened in the past.  Science always manages to correct itself, but the process is not necessary quick or painless.   Scientific professional societies and universities have a key role to play in setting the standards for scientific research and for establishing a useful interface between science and policy.

That said, the first reaction of the climate establishment to the release of the CRU emails and the errors identified in the IPCC reports has generally been one of defensiveness, and lacking introspection and discussion of correction. Some of the climate scientists at the center of “storm” seem to be battling a scientific version of post traumatic stress syndrome, overwhelming their ability to cope with the issues.  Dealing with these issues requires active involvement by the broader climate research community and particularly by the institutions that include climate researchers but are not dominated by them, including the American Geophysical Union, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Academies.

If the government wants objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies, then the guidelines and incentives need to be changed.  Stop asking for scientists to reduce the uncertainties; rather, ask for our understanding of the range of risks that we might be facing from climate change (both natural and anthropogenic).  Fund climate research that is much broader, not just studies designed to support the IPCC/UNFCCC. Support the development of improved connections with disciplines that conduct research into complex nonlinear systems, statistical inference, and decision making under uncertainty.  Change the nature of the “carrot” and the scientific community will respond.

Finally, I have to state that my own efforts to stimulate such a correction have been highly controversial within the field of climate research, and relatively few climate researchers are speaking out publicly in support of what I am trying to do.  I regard my own scientific reputation as secure, as well as my research funding, so I don’t feel that I am risking anything that I can’t afford to lose by speaking out. But other scientists feel much more vulnerable if they were to attempt to rock the boat in some way, and I have received many emails from scientists expressing this kind of concern. This culture that has developed in climate science that greatly concerns me, particularly in the context of university departments and government labs. Ten years ago, I used to think that university tenure was irrelevant in my field.  Right now, the controversy surrounding climate science makes tenure seem essential.  Scientific debate should be the spice of academic life; climate research lost this in the midst of the politicization of the subject.

3.  Do you believe the current IPCC processes are working?  If so, why?  If not, what specific actions can be taken to repair them, and in the meantime, why should the product of a process that isn’t working be relied upon as the basis for policy actions that would impose enormous costs on the United States economy?

A number of people have put forth arguments that the IPCC is structurally unsound and fatally flawed, owing to its connection with the UNFCCC. Some people who have been supportive of the IPCC view its work as being finished.  I view the major flaws of the IPCC to be:

  • A focus on providing scientific information on anthropogenic climate change for use as justification of a Treaty, at the expense of a thorough assessment of natural climate variability, the limitations and uncertainties associated with climate model projections, etc.
  • The requirement for broad based international participation in the IPCC assessment, resulting in a heavy emphasis on participation by scientists that are merely industrious rather than those that are exceptionally qualified, experienced and insightful.  Compare the list of authors on the IPCC AR4 report with those involved in the 1979 Charney Report on Carbon Dioxide and Climate, which included the premier U.S. scientists of the time.  The broad geographical and international distribution of authors, some with relatively meager qualifications and experience, seems motivated more by political reasons to gain support for the Treaty rather than by the needs of the scientific assessment itself.
  • Working Groups II and III on impacts and mitigation have produced reports that are judged by many to be inaccurate and misleading.  The emphasis of these reports seems to be to convince policy makers that anthropogenic climate change is dangerous and the problem of carbon mitigation can be addressed feasibly and without economic damage.

So in one sense, the IPCC process is “working” in terms of garnering support for the UNFCCC treaty.  But as a scientific assessment of climate variability and change and the vulnerabilities to climate change, I would judge the IPCC process not to be working.  I don’t think that the IPCC can be repaired without a major overhaul of its justification and organization.  For an IPCC under the auspices of the UN, I would recommend that the WG I assessment  be undertaken under the auspices of the WMO/WCRP (and not the UNEP and UNFCCC).

Many other initiatives with international implications are undertaken without the involvement of the UN. An approach whereby disparate organizations conduct assessments would be beneficial, producing new ideas and new directions and a more diverse scientific and policy debate. An alternative to the IPCC is to conduct assessments within individual nations or a group of nations who share a common interest.  However, the recent U.S. assessment reports seem to mostly parrot the IPCC assessment, with many of the people participating in the U.S. assessments having also participated in the IPCC.  A broader base of scientists should participate in the assessments, including those whose scientific reputations and funding aren’t tied to climate change.  Skeptical perspectives should be sought and included.

Regarding use of the scientific assessments as a basis for policy actions, I argue that an intermediate step is required, analogous to that for regulated science such as pharmaceuticals, food safety, human genetic manipulation, etc.  Independent assessment, auditing, due diligence, whatever you want to call it, can insure that quality standards are met and that the assessment addresses the wider interests of the public.

There are no simple answers to addressing the complex and wicked problem of climate change, but a rethinking of our broader strategies is needed.


369 responses to “Testimony followup: Part II

  1. I would like to thank everyone who provided comments on the previous thread. As you can see, I included a number of ideas and even some of the phrasing from the comments that were provided. I look forward to a continued discussion on these issues.

    • Richard S Courtney

      Judith:

      Excellent! Thankyou. I sincerely hope that the Committee takes note of your words.

      The obvious fact that you have considered views of people – including me – who do not share your views on AGW (and whom you call “d***ars”) adds weight to your arguments.

      It can only be hoped that people on all ‘sides’ of the AGW issue will use your submission to the Committee as an example of how to return to honesty in climate science. Again, thank you.

      Richard

  2. Brilliantly stated with great clarity, Dr. Curry. Bravo!

    Now, all we need is for that committee (and/or it’s successor) to respect the fact that you are calling a spade a spade – and to take your advice!

  3. Superb response as usual.

  4. There is a great deal of soft-pedalling here. “The end result is that genuine skeptical arguments were marginalized and ignored, which diminishes the credibility of science that is being defended.” Diminishes? Destroys, rather. Can you think of any science with “credibility” which ignores arguments against its theories and hypotheses?

    • Take it easy. For a knowleadgeble person, half word is enough (portuguese saying)

    • Judith is attempting to persuade people to change things…writing to persuade is a different skill from writing to win the argument.

      To my ex-corporate salesman’s eye, she has got the tone pretty well spot on. Calm, measured, analytical and reflective, I think that it will contrast very favourably with further contributions from many of the other participants at the hearings….who will just be trying to prove that they are right or to win the argument and ‘demolish’ their critics. Which will not be good strategy for the primary audience concerned.

      To be crudely unscientific – Nice One Judith. She Done Good!

      • Absolutely 100 percent correct IMHO.

        Dr Curry might just be the one person who is capable both of steering this debate into calmer, more rational waters and saving, at least partially, the scientific community from the train wreck it’s currently experiencing in the arena of public confidence.

  5. Splendid replies.

    One suggestion that should be taken up by your interlocutors is to make mandatory that no author of any part of AR5 should have previously published on any aspect of climate science. There are more than enough good scientists in real scientific disciplines to undertake the review of the climate science which is what the IPCC ARs are supposed to be; when the reviewers are the authors they cannot be relied on for independent assessment. And there should be an inflexible rule that any reviewer who feels impelled to cite him/herself should be immediately disbarred.

  6. David Wolff 1236

    Thank you Judy for posting your thoughts for all of us to read. Your testimony follow-up comments really hit the target. The public needs to have a voice in the climate change discussion. You are doing a wonderful job helping that to happen.

  7. Very well put.

    You may have already seen this, but Keith Kloor has a piece over on his blog dealing with instances of flawed science. I can’t help but wonder if some of this has contributed to the public skepticism that others are attributing to “Merchants of Doubt”.

  8. Very well put. To the point, yet diplomatic. I’m almost tempted to say “wicked”, but you may misconstrue.

  9. Theses follow-up comments are remarkable. It is inconceivable that the creator has placed us on a planet whose laws can not be figured out and with certainty. We just have not tried correctly or hard enough!

    • No, it just so happens that it is a very, very, very hard problem.

    • Physical laws don’t exist. Objects and events exist. Laws are our descriptions thereof.

      And “inconceivableness” doesn’t matter. BLAM! [Modification and paraphrase of Eastwood in "Unforgiven".]

      • It depends what you mean by “exists”, doesn’t it? Physical laws are simply our short-hand for describing the regularities of our shared conscious experiences. I’m sure if you asked a Physicist what a Quark actually was, the answer would be “***k knows!”.

  10. AnyColourYouLike

    Two small typos:
    “but the process is not necessary quick or painless” should probably be “but the process is not necessar(il)y quick or painless”

    “This culture that has developed in climate science that greatly concerns me, particularly in the context of university departments and government labs.” should probably be either, “This culture that has developed in climate science (is one) that greatly concerns me, particularly in the context of university departments and government labs.”

    I think this is really a wonderful, far-reaching and very thoughtful response to what were unusually intelligent questions. I predict it won’t win back any friends on Real Climate, but I feel it is totally in line with everything you’ve been blogging about for the last few months, and you haven’t fudged on either the scientific issues, nor the personality questions amongst some of the players involved.

    I commend your honesty and integrity in responding to what could be a once-in-a-career opportunity (I sincerely hope it isn’t!) to stand up for the principles of proper science in a heavyweight political context.

    I only hope you are listened to Dr Curry. Well done.

  11. I’d like to put forward the following, as fodder for comment; I’d written it without intending to post, but when I saw some consilience with Dr. Curry, felt it worth seeing what people thought:

    1. a) Rather begs the question, but that’s entirely beside the point.
    The premise of the question has merit; why have scientists responded as they have?
    Perhaps the best answer is in the first sources.
    Within the Climategate emails themselves, scientists describe:
    i) what they believe to be a barrage of FOI requests designed to disrupt their work;
    ii) a pattern of behavior by those making requests that the scientists concluded was meant to persecute the scientists for their views without reference to the merit of their work;
    iii) requests for data from those unqualified to perform the purported audit analyses;
    iv) requests for data available from other, original resources;
    v) past bad behavior by those requesting data, or the expectation of future bad behavior by those requesting the data.
    vi) extraordinarily poorly organized files covering many years and many projects, difficult to manage and present.
    In addition, the publish-or-perish value system of academicians and research scientists places a premium on original works; as a result, hoarding of data prior to publication is not only a common behavior, but by far the most strongly encouraged behavior by the structure of the academic system, and retention of this hoard following publication remains endemic and tacitly approved by all large scientific and academic institutions.
    Moreover, private organizations have an even more narrow view of sharing proprietary or valuable original research material.
    1.b) This statement also begs the question, and in a way that China, for example, profits from taking the opposite approach at America’s expense.
    Economies that innovate and conserve in the field of energy simply win; economies that lag behind and waste simply lose.
    Still, there is no amount of Congressional funding in Climate Science that can measure up to even a fraction of a percent of the need of scientists to publish, or of researchers to trade on the value of what they regard as their proprietary files, whether they are obligated by merit of their public funds to disclose or not.
    Even in the hearing itself, one witness made a prominent point of speaking of ‘Academic Privilege’, which many academicians treat as a law unto itself and will not easily be moved from.
    What restricted funding will most probably do is — in a field where experts make career decisions spanning decades based on their view of future stable funding — simply export the talent to those countries seen as more stable. Fortunately, most of those countries have better habits of data management, so perhaps some of the enumerated complaints will be resolved simply by the mechanism of moving the science to friendlier shores.
    If Congress threatens funding, then not only in the Earth Sciences but also in any related field researchers may consider taking work in Asia or Europe.
    Cyclone research in Asia could easily absorb the entire American cadre of hurricane experts, setting America back decades if there were such a flight of talent resulting from Congress destabilizing the field.
    1 c. It is easy to deprecate information from suspect sources (which after all would describe sources who are not sufficiently open with their information), and may be more worthwhile to footnote the flaws in data than to exclude it entirely.
    More to the point is the traditional response of experimentalists: “Get your own data.”
    Where data can be argued to not fully belong to the public (as is some of the data in dispute in this case), and it is of public interest, then the one truism of science is that no one has exclusive control of the truth.
    Publicly fund research entirely with the goal of producing public datasets, rather than either attempting to expropriate what may be private property, or to interfere with the business and activities of others by seeking to hurt the value of their property.
    2. a) Uncertainty became a bad thing in the climate community, at the behest of Congress and like bodies, which repeatedly (and understandable) demanded clarity from scientists.
    The now infamous claim, “The science is settled,” was no more nor less than a reaction by non-scientists to the complaint by elected officials that there was no consensus among scientists, to the degree that laymen could feel no confidence in what science was saying.
    2. b) Proponents of confidence mistook inflating claims of consensus and certainty with improving clarity.
    That behavior has largely evolved in the decade or so since it began to views more like what Dr. Curry espouses, though plainly more can always be done by concerted efforts to solve the clarity problem. Look at the uneven clarity of the witnesses of the hearing:
    The presentation by Dr. Cullen stood out among the testimony for its cogency, organization of thought, polish, precision and accessibility. Others’ presentations were by comparison often muddled, unduly abstracted, or misleadingly impenetrable.
    2. c) Dr. Cullen did not achieve these better results by accident, nor without a long career of honing those skills and proficiencies needed to produce clarity in the delivery of scientific information.
    Clearly, Dr. Cullen’s role, her organization, and a large segment of the scientific world are focused on shifting toward greater clarity in science, and ought be encouraged by every means Congress has at its disposal to go further.
    Those who do not share this focus ought be encouraged to pursue this example.
    3. The IPCC is an organization that constantly changes its approach in efforts to improve its outcomes, listen to objections, enlist a wider audience, and integrate new information. It doesn’t always fully meet the hopes of all audiences; it works in an evolving and controversial field, so how could it? As such, how can any observations from yesterday be applied to the IPCC of tomorrow?
    However, if the United States economy is seeking to best allocate scarce resources, mitigate suffering and maximize satisfaction, acting contrarily to what does remain the largest, best-organized, most advanced and most rapidly advancing body of climate science would at best be described as cutting off America’s nose to spite the IPCC’s face.
    The only message of action contrary to IPCC information would be that Congress has higher priorities than mitigating suffering and maximizing satisfaction of Americans.

    • i) what they believe to be a barrage of FOI requests designed to disrupt their work;
      TIMELINE PROBLEM:
      in 2005 before receiving a single FOIA, Jones and wigley discussed how to dodge them. In 2007 there were less than 5 FOIA. in 2009 there were
      50. Those 50 were on one topic: confidentiality agreements. Those 50 were combined into one response. The time spent on that response was less than the regulated 18 hours. the response consisted of 1200 word essay and a posting of 4 agreements. The agreements and the finding of the appeal office was that the CRU team had not represented the record correctly. The investigations of CRU behavior found that they brought the trouble ( less than 18 hours of work) on themselves by their delaying tactics. TACTICS contemplated YEARS BEFORE any request.

      “ii) a pattern of behavior by those making requests that the scientists concluded was meant to persecute the scientists for their views without reference to the merit of their work;
      iii) requests for data from those unqualified to perform the purported audit analyses;”

      1. in 2002 Jones shared the data with McIntyre. At that point McIntyre was unknown. had no qualifications. In 2007, The data was requested by an unknown Willis Eschenbach. After some delay ( for which the independent investigations blamed CRU) the data was released. Basically, They didnt deny the data to unknowns. between 2002 and 2008. In 2009, they denied the data to a published author. They claimed ( wrongly) that the agreements precluded sending data to NON academics. When other published academics requested the data, they changed their story and argued the agreements precluded the release to anyone ( also a mistake as CRU appeal office concluded on Nov 13th 2009)

      “iv) requests for data available from other, original resources;”
      Here too you cannot follow the facts. CRU claimed that 98% of the data was available from GHCN. The request was made to identify the names of the countries ( original sources) for the 2%. CRU could not do that because they claim to have lost the confidentiality agreements. So, we FOIAed them.
      Also, peter webster had been given the data. he requested it and it was produced. in violation of the confidentiality agreements. Further, in the appeal the request was ammended and McIntyre requested only that data
      that could be released. This was denied on the grounds that CRU could not figure out how to separate the two. After climategate, however, CRU would go on to publish the non confidential data.

      “v) past bad behavior by those requesting data, or the expectation of future bad behavior by those requesting the data.”

      1. Several of the academics who requested the data ( statisticians) had no
      record whatsoever of any “bad” behavior.
      2. FOIA requests cannot be denied upon the basis of the requestors
      “intentions” Intention or motive is speculation.

      “vi) extraordinarily poorly organized files covering many years and many projects, difficult to manage and present.”

      1. after climategate CRU made quick work of getting it all organized
      2. Jones had no trouble sending the data the rutherford (2005)
      3. No problem sharing it with Mcintyre in 2002
      4. No problem sharing a portion with Mcintyre in 2007
      5. No problem sharing it with Webster in 2008/9

      “In addition, the publish-or-perish value system of academicians and research scientists places a premium on original works; as a result, hoarding of data prior to publication is not only a common behavior, but by far the most strongly encouraged behavior by the structure of the academic system, and retention of this hoard following publication remains endemic and tacitly approved by all large scientific and academic institutions.”

      1. Then there would be no reason to share it with Webster who would use
      it to publish and to keep it from people who had a slim chance of publishing.
      2. Jones himself in 2004 argued that the data should be made public under WMO 40.

      You basically have not aquainted yourself with the facts. I think it is pointless to discuss the climate with skeptics who refuse to understand the fundamentals of physics. I think it is equally pointless to discuss fixing the IPCC with people who dont know the facts of the mails.

      • steven mosher

        I don’t dispute your interpretation of others’ statements. I doubt anyone questions your dedication to this topic or your depth of study of the subject, a level of interest few could pretend to. Certainly, I haven’t spent enough time on this sordid little event to write a book about it.

        The judgment of due process under the laws of at least three countries have come and gone, each with slightly differing interpretations, and none of them very popular. In short, all these reinterpretations add little to clarifying the facts of the mails, and mostly in my opinion make hardening of positions more rather than less likely.

        I suggest where there is doubt in any question, first-hand accounts are best sources for people to judge for themselves.

        You refer to the 2005 note from Jones to Mann:

        “And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days?—our does! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind.”

        Clearly not in the spirit of science, and antagonistic to the FOIA process.

        Also clearly not the emails I was referring to, which followed the perceived ‘barrage’. Indeed, the ‘barrage’ complaint worried that the number of FOI requests was almost into the double digits, and as others point out rightly too, actions taken to balk FOI only made the situation worse.

        Personal responses to FOI vary.

        I’ve never met and worked with anyone who didn’t start off treating FOI as an imposition and gripe about the waste of time and loss of productivity, but many have written how harmless the experience is; experiences vary, and clearly some people can manage their time to address FOI better than others, or have better attitudes toward public service.

        There’s nothing that says we must take what’s written in the CRU emails as valid complaints. Indeed, even the most charitable reader has to say they are soaked in poor judgment and bad policy.

        Odd twist that a pair of Canadian political operatives (the two MMs) leveraged rules meant to protect UK and US citizens to forward the agenda of one of the five most AGW-antagonistic nations on the planet so effectively, even when they were balked by their targets so stubbornly. This isn’t paranoid conspiracy theory; indeed, the two MMs couldn’t be called plotters or agitators by any stretch. They appear on their face to be concerned citizens (albeit of other countries) acting in what they believe to be their best interests.

        My point is that the scientists anticipated (it seems with some cause) a loud and long conflict and so took an unproductively defensive attitude.

        The mistakes panicked people make ought be illustrative for us here and now. Do we wish for Congress to repeat Phil Jones’ mistakes, or to avoid them? Do we wish to split hairs on the timelines and shadings of meaning of what after all were just emails, or do we want productive outcomes?

      • Please do not mistake any of the inquiries conducted in the UK as being anything to do with ‘due process of law’. They were not conducted under any legal process recognised in this country.

      • Is that because the only crimes that had been committed were the theft/hacking of the e-mails and the resisting of FOI requests?

        I believe that both of these crimes were investigated with ‘due process of law’. The culprit who stole/hacked the e-mails has not been identified but the police have attempted to do so – following due process of law of course.

        The fact that you dislike the law that imposed a statute of limitations on the FOI resistance does not mean that ‘due process of law’ was not followed in that case either.

        Your statement “Please do not mistake any of the inquiries conducted in the UK as being anything to do with ‘due process of law’. They were not conducted under any legal process recognised in this country.” is blatently false.

      • Michael Larkin

        Louise,

        I don’t think parliamentary or other enquiries are legal proceedings, though of course they are sanctioned proceedings that are quite legal.

        There is no oath taken by witnesses, and so no penalty of perjury. You can lie your head off and they won’t be able to touch you for it unless a separate criminal case is made against you, in which case you will have to go through real legal proceedings.

      • Michael – I was not referring to the parliamentary enquiries but the police ones. Two crimes were identified, the theft/hacking of the e-mails and the resisting of the FOI requests. Both of these crimes were subject to the due process of the law and to suggest that they were not is untrue.

      • Michael Larkin

        Fair dinkum then, Louise. We might hold different views on AGW, but I appreciate your civility.

      • On a slightly pedantic note, I don’t think that resisting the FoI requests was a crime, even if was not proper for them to do so. Those making the requests had recourse to appeal to the Information Commissioner if they felt the requests were improperly refused.
        What would have been a criminal act was if they had actually deleted data in order to avoid releasing it. Whatever may have been said
        in the emails it has not been established that this was actually done.

      • The information commissioner thought that CRU had not complied with the legislation, but that he was unable to take action because of the statute of limitations.

      • I’m not denying that there would have been grounds for an investigation if the matter had come to the attention of the information commissioner withing the required timescale, but I don’t think that we can assume what the outcome would have been.

      • You have missed the point. Bart is referring to the Oxburgh and Russell inquiries. Neither of these were conducted under any ‘due process’ of law.

        And jfi – the police pursuing inquiries in any matter, or the FOI commissioner issuing an opinion are not ‘due process of law’ either.

        ‘Due process’ involves charges, some form of trial in front of a court and a verdict.

        Paying somebody to write a report that says in essence ‘our employees are innocent’ is a million miles away in practice and in spirit from this. Do not confuse the two.

      • Latimer Alder

        I’ve asked Bart what he meant, and he indicated that Louise has the correct gist of what Bart was suggesting.

        Perhaps you’re not as close to Bart as you think?

      • Perhaps you will tell Bart, next time that you and he are in communication, that his readers can only see what he wrote, they cannot necessarily understand what he meant.

        If his posts are ambiguous, then the fault lies with him, not with his audience.

        And at least within UK, nothing has been concluded ‘with due process of law’.

        No charges, no trials, no verdicts.

      • Latimer Alder

        He says, “Read harder.” How rude of him.

        For my part, I commend, “read with more charity to the focus of the original topic.”

        It’s nice that you’re demonstrating the unpopularity and lack of clarity inhabiting the haze of opinion and third-hand re-interpretations that form the basis of the point that original sources are best, and that polarized approaches to problems are unproductive, but it remains.. unproductive, then, doesn’t it?

        What specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timely action do you propose be done about it, after all?

        What specific, measurable, actions have you undertaken yourself?

      • Perhaps you could ask Bart to reframe the last postign so that I can understand it.

        It seems to say that the context of a document is meaningless and has no part to play in understanding it. I disagree – as will historians from every continent. You cannot fully understand a document without understanding that context.

        Example. There are alot of joke son Shakespeare’s works that weer contemporary and no doubt had the audience rolling in the aisles of the Globe. Or in Dickens. But they are meaningless to today’s audience who do not have that ‘context’.

        Are we, when we read or perform Dickens or Shakespeare to simply assume that these guys were writing gibberish? Or would it make sense for us to try to understand the jokes within the conditions of the time?

      • Latimer Alder

        I know. Understanding is hard.

        Are you saying that you’re concerned that the audience doesn’t understand the contemporary context?

        It happened this decade. It happened in English. It happened among people with similar interests to the audience.

        The benefits gained from fourth-hand reinterpretation do not outweigh their liabilities in such a case.

        You’ve convinced any reader that you are earnestly upset about the incident, but are going to do nothing concrete about it.

        Fair enough. Thanks for that.

      • I find this post even harder to understand. Perhaps you had Bart to help you.

        I have tried but cannot make head nor tail of your paragraph

        ‘The benefits gained from fourth-hand reinterpretation do not outweigh their liabilities in such a case’.

        And the one

        ‘You’ve convinced any reader that you are earnestly upset about the incident, but are going to do nothing concrete about it’ kind of presupposes that there is anything concrete I *can* do about it. What do you suggest? Picketing CRU? Burning an effigy of the staff at the stake? An armed takeover of UEA and forcible occupation of the IT department with compulsory attention to data quality and curation for all operatives?

        Please be more specific. Otherwise I suspect I will not be alone in finding your remarks rambling and without a point.

      • Latimer Alder

        Brainstorming. It’s a start.

        Perhaps if you’re serious about black letter-of-the-law legal process, you’re willing to lay a private complaint? It’s my understanding that this resort remains available.

        If you’re serious about actually solving the problem, you’re willing to start a collection and chip in a fiver to help the CRU pay for the services of someone qualified to manage their data?

        Or, you could get your own data?

      • I suggest that CRU use their generous grants from Big Oli and the US Department of Energy to actually do the job they are paid to do….properly maintain their data.

        If they are in nay doubt about what and how to do it, we can discuss a proper, achievement assessed and rewareded, professional contract via my normal representatives. One of my first tasks would be, as ever, to check the job requirements for a ‘world class’ organisaton against existing skill sets. And when they fail to match, the answer would not be to change the requirements.

        The idea that we should have a whip round to support these incompetents in their current situation is ludicrous. An amateur and shoddy approach is what has got them all into this mess in the first place. Further reinforcement of that behaviour is not the solution.

      • Louise fyi…the poice investigation into the liberation of the Climategate e-mails is still underway (December 2010). It has not even been demonstrated that any crime at all has been committed. No arrests have been made, no charges brought, no judicial proceedings undertaken.

        There is a good thread on the current progress (or lack of it) at Bishop Hill. See:

        http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/12/9/some-correspondence-with-norfolk-police.html

        So I disagree entirely that this investigation has been completed with ‘due process of law’.

        It may be the best ‘The Law’ (ie Norfolk Constabulary) can do, but that is not the same thing at all and it is misleading to pretend that it is.

      • And I’m very hard pressed to understand how four academics from Pen State conducting an ‘enquiry’ into allegations about one of their colleagues is a ‘due process’ in the US either.

        Especially when their primary reason for dismissing the allegations is that the guy in question brings in a lot of money. So, m’lud, did Big Bernie Madoff.

      • It is also possible that the CRU has been “politically” parked in the long grass for future use should global warming turn pear shaped in the future, Following the “Climate change act” and the fact that no other countries followed suit at Copenhagen some politicians may have felt more than a little nervous reading the emails. Given that Uk politicians overriding interest is self preservation they may have seen the emails as more than a scratch on their Teflon coatings. On past performance it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a file is hidden away in Whitehall containing draft resignation letters and redevelopment plans for the CRU

      • “On past performance it is not beyond the realms of possibility that a file is hidden away in Whitehall containing draft resignation letters and redevelopment plans for the CRU”

        This is a novel approach to the conspiracy theory

      • “conspiracy theory”

        scrollby list, meet Louise.

      • Time will tell Louise!!

      • ‘Yes Minister’ was not TV fiction masquerading as fact. Most who have seen it and know about these things remark that it was the opposite…facts dressed up as fiction. I agree with John. Sir Humphrey will have covered all his bases like a good operator should.

      • The MET office seems to be distancing tself from CRU. It has just announced a long term partnership with three UK universities.
        The University of East Anglia isn’t on the list…

      • The Who put Leeds on the map Not Monty Python and Creative Writing.

      • I read this too – very telling….I think the “long grass” argument has legs perhaps – to use waaaay too many metaphors!

      • Isn’t it usual when an accusation of academic misconduct is made against someone in Mann’s position for the university itself to conduct an enquiry? Isn’t that what’s happening in Wegmann’s case as well?

        Certainly there is not a shred of evidence that Mann has been involevd in any criminal activity that would warrant an investtigation by a higher authority.

      • Fine. No real problem with what you say. But you can’t hav eot both ways. Either it was an internal investigation, or it was the far more consequential ‘due process of law’

        Describing the one as the other is ‘being economical with the truth’

      • I don’t think Louise was referring to the Mann when she mentioned the “due process of law”, but I agree that in this case it was an internal investigation.

      • “Odd twist that a pair of Canadian political operatives (the two MMs) leveraged rules meant to protect UK and US citizens to forward the agenda of one of the five most AGW-antagonistic nations on the planet so effectively, even when they were balked by their targets so stubbornly. This isn’t paranoid conspiracy theory; indeed, the two MMs couldn’t be called plotters or agitators by any stretch. They appear on their face to be concerned citizens (albeit of other countries) acting in what they believe to be their best interests.

        Here too you misunderstand the process SteveMc went through.
        His firsts requests for data use the standard form of request. An email to the author. If that fails then the journal the paper appeared in is asked to uphold their data archiving standards. In the case of CRU steve was asked by his readers to issue an FOIA. He didnt. The first FOIA was issued by one of his readers. Willis eschenbach. Willis was silent about his request for several months as he went back and forth with CRU. At last, when it was clear that CRU was obsfucating Willis made a comment about it. Steve followed with his FOIA and CRU complied. That was 2007. McKittrick, as far as I know, may have done 1 FOIA. I would hardly call either of them political operatives and have seen no credible evidence that they are. This is especially true in the case of McIntyre who I have known personally for 3 years. This is not to say that there arn’t political operatives in the skeptical camp. There are. It pretty clear from what they say publically and privately that their motivation is political. Steve’s a different cat. His primary motivation is solving puzzling. It’s a hobby horse. he’s the kind of liberal who does not like it when the color of authority is misused. That is why a libertarian like me can see eye to eye on certain things. We see eye to eye on the mis use of official power.

        Finally, by focusing on M&M FOIA you miss the most important FOIA character in the plot. As I explained in the book there are TWO FOIA threads that go to two core areas of scientific debate

        1. Thread one: FOIA to CRU from Eschenbach, and McIntyre to get
        data from CRU to examine the UHI question.
        That effort gets the attention of Watts and others.
        2. Thread two: FOIA to MET, then CRU from Holland to get IPCC
        communication. That effort is focused on paleo chapter 6 and
        gets the attention of McIntyre.

        The second thread has always been more important than the first thread. That in fact is where the ICO found fault with CRU.
        Holland. You might consider checking on his nationality.

      • steven mosher

        You give me far too much credit.

        I make no effort to display understanding of the lengthy and tangential passages you refer to, which while I’m sure they’re important to you, have next to no interest to me, since they don’t address Congressman Hall’s questions. In fact, my own trivial observation was pretty tangential to the original question too.

        It merely indicates to me that with a truly international Internet, things formerly easily managed as national affairs are no longer.

        The word ‘local’ has almost no meaning left.

      • “ii) a pattern of behavior by those making requests that the scientists concluded was meant to persecute the scientists for their views without reference to the merit of their work;

        Climate science denial includes denying this.

        If your goal is to unsettle the science you’re going about it the right way. The resemblance with tobacco is uncanny. Too bad there isn’t still a well-regulated militia, they could have dealt with this promptly.

        Your pseudoscience garbage really sickens me.

  12. Dr. Curry, the points you and others make regarding the IPCC are well taken, but the problem is that there’s basically nothing to be done with an organization that operates under the jurisdiction of the UNFCCC, which would cease to exist (along with numerous other government
    bureaucracies, the Kyoto Protocol, carbon trading, climate conferences and billions of dollars in research funding) if the IPCC were ever to conclude that human-induced climate change wasn’t a
    problem. The IPCC in fact underpins an enormous growth industry. It’s bound to find that AGW is potentially hazardous to our health, whether it is or not, for as long as it publishes reports on the subject. There’s just too much third-party pressure for it to do otherwise.

    You believe that the solution is “(a new) approach whereby disparate organizations conduct assessments … producing new ideas and new directions and a more diverse scientific and policy debate …. A broader base of scientists should participate in the assessments, including those whose scientific reputations and funding aren’t tied to climate change. Skeptical perspectives should be sought and included.” I agree wholeheartedly. But how to implement this? Where are these new ideas and directions going to come from? Where is this broader base of scientists?

    Based on what I’ve read, I think we’re all here on your blog.

    How about it?

  13. Bart R;
    what drivel. “the largest, best-organized, most advanced and most rapidly advancing body of climate science” is malformed garbage. The best garbage is still garbage. It is, in any case, not even on the horizon of being good enough to justify a massive remake of the national and global economies and political structures, as demanded.
    I repeat, drivel.

    • So, you remain on the fence, then? ;)

      Might one observe, “massive remake of the national and global economies and political structures,” is going to happen one way or the other.

      America at these crossroads has to decide does it choose to control its future, or does it choose to be controlled by its future?

      You seem to of the view that the kindness of Nature and the friendliness of foreigners will put America’s interests before their own.

      How’s that been working out for you?

      • “Might one observe, “massive remake of the national and global economies and political structures,” is going to happen one way or the other.”

        All the massive remake has been happening for quite awhile, and all during the most unprecedented warming period in the history of the world.

        “How’s that been working out for you?”

        Pretty darn well.

        U.S
        1850
        Total population: 23,191,786
        Farm population: 11,680,000 (estimated)
        Farmers made up 64% of labor force

        1980-1990
        Total population: 227,020,000 and 246,081,000
        Farm population: 6,051,00 and 4,591,000
        Farmers made up 3.4% and 2.6% of labor force
        ( http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/blfarm4.htm )

        Bart, ever been a farmer, a real soil of the earth farmer?

      • Kan

        Spent summers on the farm with the grandparents, who were from the days when salt of the earth meant something. Thanks for asking. Nostalgia’s always fun, however obscure the point of it.

        Do you mean you think the agricultural shifts of the US of the past 150 years are what’s being discussed, or is it just your favorite topic?

        You may have missed a bit of my original question. See, the “working out for you?” referred to trusting foreigners and relying on the kindness of Nature. Which Congress knows well historically the impact on American farms of that sort of thinking, one believes.

      • I read your post (even quoted it). The use of efficient energy (carbon based) is what has allowed many, many less people, as a percentage of US population, to pray for the kindness of nature.

        It has allowed you to not have to worry about what you will be eating 6 months from now.

      • Kan

        “even quoted from it”

        See, you quoted extracts to improve your argument, which is called the straw man technique.

        Observe:

        “..US population, to pray for the kindness of nature. ”

        vs

        ‘..US population, pray for the kindness of nature.’

        See, anyone can use that trick.

        Silly, when the source is right above.

      • Kan

        Getting back to your own point, which it would be rude of me to ignore, however tangential to mine;

        The use of efficient energy (carbon based) is what has allowed..

        Just what sort of farming do your people do, Mr. Kan?

        This sounds more to me like what a farm equipment salesman might say.

        My own direct family memory of this period of farming, expensive farm equipment, expensive farm loans, unstable fuel prices controlled by foreigners, and even more unstable government policies controlled by urbanites led to my generation’s engrained distrust of big industry, banks, oilmen and politicians.

        I recall nothing efficient either about carbon-based energy use on most farms. Farm vehicles don’t list their fuel economy.

        The type of farming you talk about is hardly the only way to farm, and with what we know now, we’d have never gone down that same path starting 150 years ago, to be sure.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Bart R:

        You assert:
        “I recall nothing efficient either about carbon-based energy use on most farms. Farm vehicles don’t list their fuel economy.

        The type of farming you talk about is hardly the only way to farm, and with what we know now, we’d have never gone down that same path starting 150 years ago, to be sure.”

        Say what!?

        Your assertion is plain daft.
        1.
        We now produce more food per capita of world population than at any time in human history.
        2.
        If farming efficiency (i.e. agricultural productivity) were similar now to 150 years ago then farmers would avoid the cost and complexity of modern farming equipment and revert to the methods of 150 years ago.

        Richard

      • Farms of today are radically different from the farms of most of the past 150 years.

        Energy efficiency on farms has practically doubled in the past quarter century, and still has a long way it can go.

        The reward to farmers’ pocketbooks is also reflected in increasing stability in farm price of food, insulating consumers from the unstable price of fuel.

        For over a century, farmers were the prey of foreign oil and urban capital, and suffered for it.

        The smaller the target the farmer paints on his back for this sort of exploitation, the better for us all. Well, unless you’re a foreign oilman or speculative mortgage lender.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Bart R:

        Nonsense is not converted to rationality by repetition.

        The human population is now larger than at any previous time but agricultural production per capita is also larger than at any previous time. This was not achieved by using the agricultural practices of previous ages.

        Farmers are not stupid. They would abandon or reduce their use of the fossil fuels they buy if that would benefit them.

        Of course, farmers – and everybody else – would benefit from economic stability and lower costs. Reducing the use of fossil fuels would increase both economic instability and costs.

        Those are the facts. Live with them.

        Richard

      • Richard S Courtney

        You’ve fallen victim it seems of your own strawman.

        I by no means propose the farming practices of the Dark Ages to replace the farming practices of the age of cheap oil and easy mortgages.

        Nor do I suggest farmers were ‘stupid’ for being convinced to depend on cheap oil in a world that seemed too ready to promise it would last, and to make capital-intensive equipment dependent on it. Farm families were preyed upon, and you insult farmers to suggest that many believed what they needed to get by with what they had available to them because of their ‘stupidity’.

        Farm facts. I’ve lived with them.

  14. Nicely stated.

  15. Michael Larkin

    Dr. Curry,

    Magnificent. Straight-talking but not denigratory, and covering the salient points in what I think is a fair manner. Would that we had more like you in the climate science community. I feel privileged to have witnessed the open way in which this was produced, with input from contributors to your blog. I do so hope that what you say is taken on board and acted upon.

  16. David R Wilson

    Dr. Curry,
    What a fantastic job you did in laying out key problems with many aspects of current climate research, and providing important directions for a better path forward. I have been following this discussion for several years, and I am convinced that not only do I not know if AGW is real and serious, but neither does anyone else. However, we really do need to find out what is real about all this as a matter of science, not belief or opinion. Your suggestions could really make a difference. I hope Congress, funding agencies, the UN, and most importantly the scientific community changes because of your input and the input of other new voices that seem to be emerging.

  17. Judith,

    As others have said, a fine and temperate response that answers the questions, and poses problems that the legislators need to solve.

    Congratulations.

  18. cagw_skeptic99

    Your post speaks as one who has never actually read the emails or followed the events. What you have done is read the defenses put up by those who wrote the emails and their PR flacks. For example, the barrage of FOIA requests occurred after the refusal to provide data. The refusal to provide data was because the requester wasn’t part of the team and intended to find errors in the work. Etc. ad nauseum.

    The defensive actions taken by you and your fellow believers are what is meant by circling the wagons and having an inward firing squad. Your behavior has done immense harm to the reputation of scientists, and likely the damage to many of the player’s reputations will follow them to the grave.

    • cagw_skeptic99

      Reply is for Bart R. Don’t know why it is out of sequence.

    • cagw_skeptic99

      My post speaks as one who tries to impose as little interpretation or viewpoint on the CRU emails as possible, in the interests of clarity and objectivity. By no means does answering the question, “why would scientists do X” mean I agree with their reasons, support their actions, or condone the wrongs they do.

      It just means I can focus on answering what is asked, not what I want to rant about. (Well, I could do, earlier.)

      You’re free to dispute how others see these emails; if you could do so with actual citations, all the better. Some of what you say has merit, especially if developed into a point.

      And it seems you’ve misidentified my party.

      I’m a skeptic of the old school, who believes all things ought be examined before being vested with belief, especially one’s own assumptions.

      This “Your behavior” malarky, while I’m sure you believe passionately some offense against your person has been committed and your sense of affrontery legitimate, is mis-aimed.

      My main point is that first sources are best, and the natural resort of the skeptical inquirer.

      My subsequent point is that a bunker mentality cropped up because of polarization and an overblown sense of persecution, as can be seen when one reads the emails, and can be observed to feed on itself in a spiral.

      Someone who just repeats others’ interpretations is merely a fanatic, with neither interest in truth nor value to contribute.

      Someone who slings mud while doing it is just obstructing progress.

      Is that really where you’re going?

      • cagw_skeptic99

        My apologies.

      • Bart – “How to Avoid a Barrage of FOIA Requests relating to your Published Work, 101″

        Step 1. You receive a request for the data and workings demonstrating your result.

        Step 2. You supply them.

      • One suggests Step 0. Start with the premise that your work will one day be of interest to others, and organize yourself and it accordingly.

        And also Step 1.5. You are not the Custodian of other’s use of your publicly-funded research; get a private patron if you want private control over who uses your work and how.

        Possibly Step 2.b) Go one better, and supply the data in a manner that most clearly communicates its meaning.

        There’s also a step 0.995, specific to private institutions and business in the related “How to Avoid Your Information Being Subpoenaed,” which is shred everything. Most multinationals have an expiry date on information – if it’s over a year old, the employee found in possession of it is terminated on the spot.

        I mention this because 0.995 in publicly funded shops is “Everything is verbal-only.” Bogs down progress, but in a bunker-mentality office generally preferred to giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

      • Please provide examples of ‘most multinationals’ that have the policy you describe. I am very familiar with at least one household name that a. does have a ‘records retention’ policy, but it is not at all like the one you describe.

        Its primary purpose is to ensure that valuable records over two years old *do NOT* get destroyed, as it could be potentially commercially damaging if they did….a corporate failure to remember how some equipment was designed, for example, might lead to them not being able to correctly service that equipment for example.

        And any sanction would be against the employee for allowing the records to be destroyed, not for retaining them

        No doubt you can describe the policies of other multinationals where the opposite policy applies. Please do so to justify your assertion that ‘most’ do.

      • I can’t say. I’m under NDA.

        Which, also a good way to keep down the subpoena nuisance level.

      • I suspect the Phil Jones defence #2 – ‘Confidentiality’ here.

        We have a saying in UK.

        ‘Put up or shut up’.

        It may not be a familiar phrase in your culture, but I commend it to your attention.

      • Let me put it this way; you’ll never read a fully-documented history of the SUV.

      • I’m not sure I even know exactly what an SUV is. Is it sort of a pickup truck with four wheel drive? We have a sort of equivalent…the Range Rover aka Chelsea Tractor.

        But I can’t imagine that there is anything remotely interesting about SUV history – complete or abridged…

  19. Michael Larkin

    Bart R

    Just a few comments:

    i) what they believe to be a barrage of FOI requests designed to disrupt their work;

    First, IIRC, a representative of the Information Commissioner indicated to the British parliamentary enquiry that the volume of FOI requests wasn’t at all unusual. Second, there wouldn’t have been any need for FOIs had data been made freely available upon request: as it had been to preferred, “trusted” requesters.

    In light of this, their belief was mistaken. They created a rod for their own backs by being so defensive.

    ii) a pattern of behavior by those making requests that the scientists concluded was meant to persecute the scientists for their views without reference to the merit of their work;

    This only serves to reinforce what I said above. The narrative is of poor downtrodden scientists, the only holders of truth and beauty, who are assailed by wicked and ignorant deniers who only want to find fault with their work.

    iii) requests for data from those unqualified to perform the purported audit analyses;

    If they are unqualified, might as well let them have at it and show their incompetence for all to see. But if you are referring to Steve McIntyre, he’s as, or more, qualified to analyse data than most climate scientists, who may not be as expert in statistics as he.

    v) past bad behavior by those requesting data, or the expectation of future bad behavior by those requesting the data.

    “Bad behaviour” seems largely to consist in having the temerity to ask for data in the first place.

    As regards your idea that sparing time to properly document and archive data can be blamed on the publish-or-perish principle, I find that to be suspiciously like a belated apologia for the poor beleaguered climate scientists. Who, in actuality, never wanted to be distracted by doing things they found boring and unnecessary. Boring they might be, but unnecessary? I think not. Not when trillions are at stake, with contributions from my own back pocket.

    Private organisations are a different kettle of fish. They fund their own research and make no secret of their pursuit of the profit motive. They aren’t asking for handouts from me, and if their products don’t work, I don’t have to buy them.

    AFAIK, the Chinese don’t currently innovate to anywhere near the same extent as the USA, Japan or Europe. It’s more that they manufacture things based on foreign innovation. The only use they might have for importing hordes of climate scientists would be to find ways of using them to encourage the developed nations to engage in economic suicide while ploughing ahead with their own exploitation of coal reserves and deployment of nuclear-powered energy. And all power to their elbows if the developed nations were silly enough to oblige.

    • Michael Larkin

      Thank you, sir. Your remarks are appreciated.

      i) You have a perfectly valid interpretation of others’ interpretations of investigators’ interpretation of what happened. But, as a skeptic, I must deprecate the value of statements so remote from the original source material when unaccompanied by citations and references. Certainly, I’d be the last to call you wrong in your opinions.

      The authors of the emails became in large part the authors of their own misfortunes, and needlessly so.

      ii) everyone wants to be the hero of their own story. Dr. Jones painted himself as being martyred, and his actions the valiant work of a rebel oppressed by whatever. This bunker mentality, polarization and isolation from people who could have done much good for his case, and less harm than he ended up inflicting on it himself by his actions, is clearly the nub of the lesson we want to learn. It’s so much clearer in the source material than in the countless diatribes written about the material since, for readers to decide for themselves, I think.

      iii) The complaint the scientists pretended to wasn’t of McIntyre’s statistical abilities, but of the requester’s abilities to follow the mathematics and methods in the non-statistical work requested. This is not an atypical attitude of scientists or engineers. To paraphrase, ‘Here, have the raw files, figure it out for yourself, you should be able to. I included a high-level description of my method, so it will be simple.’

      That the ‘unqualified auditor’ argument is not without its weight is beside the point; certainly it was overstated and needless, I agree; how can one audit a process one cannot comprehend? One can do a lot with processes one doesn’t understand. Otherwise, how do you explain the success of songwriters?

      v) No one wants to be told trillions are at stake if they don’t do a boring task. I knew one grad student who spent four years daily counting specks on photoplates as part of his PhD thesis in nuclear physics. (If he hadn’t quit, the odds are good he’d have gone bonkers. He was replaced by a computer, which did a much better job.) Similarly, a bit of planning ahead of time, and a better attitude toward data sharing, would have been much better in the CRU case, too. And indeed, “bad behavior” is an attitude that came out of the polarized and antagonistic relationships on all sides, is just more finger pointing, and led nowhere good.

      The publish-or-perish problem is hardly novel to the CRU, and if you’re not familiar with the culture, there’s no explaining it. The paranoia, obsession and possessiveness of researchers toward “their data” cannot be described without reference to chastity belts, barbed wire and Hunter S. Thompson.

      Chinese innovation was just one example, though I can’t entirely discount that they may indeed recruit climatologists simply to better their trade position. (After all, they hold up the one-child policy as a climate action. How is anyone going to top that?)

      It’s far more likely Japan would recruit a cadre of cyclone researchers, than China. The Chinese would be likelier to use the opportunity to advance their client base for satellite launches and to increase scientific exchanges advantageous to the state.

      No matter what Ford tells you, the SUV is not a technological advancement, and I doubt most readers of this blog read enough Cantonese to testify to the real present state of Chinese innovation.

      • Michael Larkin

        Bart R,

        And thank you for your spirited response. Lest I be deprecated for what might have been a lapse of memory (having watched the video of the British parliamentary enquiry into Climategate last March), I will not refer you to the video as it tends to be a bit flakey and in any case is difficult to find the exact spot I referred to.

        But I can more easily refer you:

        http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/hc-387-i-uea-final-embargoed-v2.pdf

        This is the relevant official House of Commons report on the hearing. Point 98, just over half-way through the document, has this to say:

        ‘There are two issues here: the adequacy of CRU’s handling of the FOIA requests and whether the increase in the number of requests in July 2009 was a deluge. On the latter, Mr Thomas said that, whilst agreeing that UEA had faced a significant rise in FOIA requests in July 2009, he did not consider that a total of 61 was a “huge number”.’

        Richard Thomas, by the way, was the British Information Commissioner from 2002 until June 2009.

      • Between zero FOIs in 2005 to over five dozen in 2009?

        A typical FOI is between two and ten man days in an organization with the CRU’s set up.

        Between over 120 and 300 man days in under four years?

        Hard to credit the view that this was a non-consideration.

        Hardly likely Richard Thomas, the Briton whose career was built on promoting FOI would not stiff upper lip it, and he can’t be faulted for sticking to the party line, but just because a bureaucrat says something, doesn’t mean it outweights transparent facts staring us in the face.

      • I suppose the FOI act could not have been expected to allow for the dis-functional nature of a CRU type establishment

      • I’d be very interested to know how it would have taken ten man days to go the filing cabinet (or electronic folder) where confidentiality requests were kept and look to see whether the paperwork for France, Finland, Germany, Gambia and Greenland were. Then write down the date they were signed and send back the answers.

        Nor how, having done so originally, it would take another ten man days to do exactly the same for Haiti, Honduras, India, Iceland and Ireland…..and another ten days for the next five and so on. Up to a total of 200 countries. The Information Commissioner did not view these requests as too arduous. Especially since it was the apparent existence of such requests that the CRU had previously relie dupon to refuse an earlier request for data.

        You clearly think differently. Please explain why you think these requests were so overwhelmingly difficult for them to comply with.

      • Penultimate para should read: ‘existence of such agreements’ , not ‘existence of such requests’. Sorry.

      • Latimer Alder

        The difficulty of the task was unlikely a significant component in the time it took within the organization to carry out this function. But then, you surely realize this at some level, else you wouldn’t have chosen so absurd a scenario as your complaint.

        Many organizations suffer this sort of dysfunction in many types of tasks. Identifying and correcting such often takes an outsider, plus a serious threat.

        That said, FOI rules are not much shaped to account for the difficulties of the target or the complexities or hardships the organization faces. Most institutional responses overall to FOI would get a failing grade by any objective standard. The segment who do it well, quickly, painlessly and accurately are to be commended and copied.

        Likewise, many FOI requests themselves have the quality of a shot in the dark, and letter-of-the-law interpretations of these requests usually generate something less than useful leading to something unlike a true picture of the situation, to the detriment of the requester and target both, even where there is no malfeasance or ill-will on either side.

        In a case like the CRU FOI’s, the disaster was compounded by, I believe, those factors I’ve previously described, as one might observe by referring to the original files. Of course, mine is just one interpretation, and clearly there are others.

      • ‘But then, you surely realize this at some level, else you wouldn’t have chosen so absurd a scenario as your complaint’

        What was absurd about the complaint? Jones had said he wouldn’t show the data because of these confidentiality agreements (which many thought was a very ‘convenient’
        excuse. So the next step is to ask him about the confidentiality agreements. Nothing absurd at all.

        And I find it very difficult to follow the rest of your piece. Are you suggesting that crass incompetence at basic filing should be a get out clause when you are a curator of ‘the most important data in the world?’ Because that is putting the cart the wrong side of the horse bigtime.

      • Latimer Alder

        “.. crass incompetence at basic filing should be a get out clause when you are a curator of ‘the most important data in the world?’ Because that is putting the cart the wrong side of the horse bigtime.”

        Well said, and I’d like to borrow this to use professionally if I may. I’ve encountered surprisingly many instances where it would apply persuasively.

        The methods of filing used in the CRU case in specific and many organizations in general do not well match the needs that follow when the organization miraculously succeeds so well at its mission that its data actually comes to matter outside the source organization.

        Methods of meeting FOI requests, too, likewise fall far short; to a great degree this is the fault of badly-framed FOI, regulations built with no regard to how much awful filing goes on in the world.

        And again, using bad filing, or pretty much any other invalid reason, as an excuse to hide data from the public that the public have a strong and legitimate claim on is unforgivable.

      • Hi Bart

        Glad that we can find some common ground somewhere. You’re welcome to use my words anywhere you like. Just so long as its the complete quote.

        Of course, in CRU’s case the problem was not the filing, it was their ‘economy with the truth’. They could not produce 196 of the 200 agreements they claimed to have. They could produce only 4.

        And at least one of the four agreements actually said ‘give it to whoever you like, but don’t bugger about with it first and pretend its our data when you’ve ‘adjusted’ it. Which is a very different version of ‘confidentiality’ than was claimed.

        These major acts of obfuscation, HRM’s revelation of complete incompetence within the data acquisiton and analysis side and the general defensiveness of UEA?CRU lead me to conclude that they should not left in charge of a small collection of used bus tickets, let alone anything remotely important to ‘the future of humanity’

        That nobody at all from the wider climatology establishment has come clamouring to say that the processes and practices in CRU are unacceptable and unreliable (If they can be said to have any processes and practices worthy of the name), suggests to me that they are not the only – nor necessarily the worst – offenders. Just the ones who got caught.

      • Dr Michael Cejnar

        Bart R,
        “…how can one audit a process one cannot comprehend? One can do a lot with processes one doesn’t understand.”

        For any who are not experts in quality auditig, they may not be clear on the distinction between quality auditing and peer reviewing – they are complimentary but very different processes.

        Quality audit requires expertise in quality and auditing of processes, which is in fact done typically without specialist knowledge in the field. Audits cover clear definition of inputs, expected and actual outputs, calibration of instruments, document and data versioning and control, specifications, verification, validation, definitions of people roles, responsibilities and authorities, independent review, handling of non-conformances , to name a few.

        It is surprisingly difficult to falsify or hide data in a well qualified process – there are typically multiple people involved (else a danger flag raises), many interdependencies between data, dates and actions which become very difficult to retro-engineer of falsify consistently . Much easier to just do it right as you go.

        The HARRY_README.TXT said it all to me – a mess typical but probably tolerable for academia, where reproduction of results by other independent workers should verify the results. However a mess not tolerable to climate science driving policy, where other workers share data and model theories and most importantly share strong motivation for a common outcome.

        Peer review, on the other hand, of course cares little for process or data quality, which it assumes to be OK (journals are very rarely asked for raw data), rather it examines necessarily with expertise the methods, data analysis and interpretations.

      • Dr. Michael Cejnar

        “..a mess typical but probably tolerable for academia, where reproduction of results by other independent workers should verify the results. However a mess not tolerable to climate science driving policy..”

        Very much also reflects my experience with multiple academic and research institutions in general, thank you for your analyses.

        Just because all the other scientists were jumping off that bridge didn’t mean Phil Jones should have, from a certain point of view.

        In a world of science where peer review and correct interpretation is king, process review comes up as a pauper and is very often abused and kicked to the curb. Small wonder McIntyre might take offense, coming from a field where process is all, and correctness almost nothing, if not a liability.

      • “coming from a field where process is all, and correctness almost nothing, if not a liability.”

        And what field, exactly, would that be?

      • The two MM’s are both Economists by education.

        It’s not called the Dismal Science because of a reputation for correct results.

        It’s coincidental that they’re both said to be practitioners in this field sometimes employed by extractive industries, and with an intermittent track record of speaking to (originally their native Canadian) governments in a capacity many would describe as lobbying.

        I know of no special need to be incorrect to qualify as a mining executive or Policy advisor.

        The two MMs’ successes at forwarding the Canadian business agenda in the US and UK and prevailing at swaying opinion in countries other than their own ought be commended. They’ve made great strides in their own nation’s interests on a shoestring. (Well, unless you don’t like foreigners meddling in your government.)

      • Bart, you start with factual errors re McI’s education and career. You then ascribe motives and conduct which are patently and blatantly false to both Ms, and have clearly little interest in anything but your own agenda and grandification. Um, click.

      • Mark F

        Take it up with wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_McIntyre):

        “McIntyre, a native of Ontario, attended the University of Toronto Schools, a university-preparatory school in Toronto, finishing first in the national high school mathematics competition of 1965.[3] He went on to study mathematics at the University of Toronto and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in 1969. McIntyre then obtained a Commonwealth Scholarship to read philosophy, politics and economics (PPE) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, graduating in 1971.[2][3] Although he was offered a graduate scholarship, McIntyre decided not to pursue studies in mathematical economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[3]”

        (emphases mine)

        Mr. McIntyre’s an economist. He declined to commit to becoming a master of the field, but that doesn’t demean his credentials or prove he hasn’t made use of his training in his profession as a mining executive, where economics is mainly useful in framing arguments to stakeholders such as investors, regulators and legislators.

      • I’d conclude math, as that was his baccalaureate degree, and the field in which he was offered further study. Statistician, primarily. The rest stands.

      • It was Thomas Carlyle who originated teh term “dismal science” and quoting Robert Dixon

        “he .. used the phrase in the context of discussing the relationship between White plantation owners and Black plantation workers in the West Indies where he felt that the
        laws of servitude, which he admired, should dominate over the laws of supply and demand, which he did not admire. …after that time, both in his own published works and in a letter to John Ruskin, Carlyle continued to use the term “dismal science” as a term of abuse but here also it is clear that he was objecting to what he understood to be the general thrust of Political Economy at the time, especially its emphasis on
        supply-and-demand, laissez faire etc.” Nothing to do with correctness or anything of the sort everything to do with a conservative romantic rejection of 19th century capitalism.

        Bart does not seem to know much economics. Modern graduate training involves significant amounts of econometrics, which appears to be more sophisticated than anything taught in the paleoclimate world.

      • mikep

        Right, but we’re talking about training in the early 1970′s, when ‘sophistication’ had more to do with the sophistry than the elegance or complexity of the Economic arguments.

        It seems sophistry still is a strong element of an education in Economics today.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Bart R:

        Please raise your game. That comment lacks any rationality and evidence: it smacks of desperation.

        Richard

      • Richard S Courtney

        I think we’re seeing plenty of evidence of my claims in-thread; how rational is it to proclaim someone a Statistician and deny he’s an Economist, when his formal training and credentials declaim Economics, and nowhere formally denote Statistics?

        This irrational sophistry is all the sophistication one sees in these rather pointless claims.

        It’s not speaking ill of a person to cite their credentials, so why get bent out of shape making up appellations that are unearned, when perfectly good earned ones apply and are apparent?

        Or, if wiki has it wrong, again, take it up with them. I understand they have some sort of mechanism for correcting their postings.

        What game do you believe is in play?

      • Richard S Courtney

        Bart R:

        I repeat, please raise your game. You are spouting twaddle that is devoid of any evidence and logic.

        A statistician is a person who conducts statistical analyses whether or not he/she has formal qualifications in statistics. Similarly, a physicist is a person who conducts statistical analyses whether or not he/she has formal qualifications in physics. According to your view Michael Faraday was not a physicist.

        If McIntyre were incapable of doing the analysis then he would not want the data. And if he obtained the data but failed to do the analysis then he would be a laughing stock. In fact, several independent studies have confirmed that his demolition of MBH98 was correct, so he has demonstrated that he is more than capable of doing the analyses.

        Richard

      • Richard S Courtney

        OOps!

        Of course I intended to type;
        “Similarly, a physicist is a person who conducts physical analyses whether or not he/she has formal qualifications in physics.”

        Sorry.

        Richard

      • Richard

        It reads well either way, and were we all held up for our minor slips in the blogverse, we’d end up disputing ad naseum over trivialities, destined to miss the main point while the world goes on without us.

        Lucky we’re both far too mature to fall into such a pattern.

        I’ve spent too much time defending a non sequiteur from the accusation of being founded on factual error, and to no purpose.

        I’m content to concede that Mr. McIntyre is a statistician now; it little impedes my tangential and inconsequential giggle about the coincidence of where the two MM’s came from, just as nothing I say here attaches to the quality of their work nor is intended as commentary on their character; they’ve certainly both arrived very differently than they started, and are other than this glib and slim similarity in many ways unlike.
        The Internet makes for strange bedfellows.

      • “iii) The complaint the scientists pretended to wasn’t of McIntyre’s statistical abilities, but of the requester’s abilities to follow the mathematics and methods in the non-statistical work requested. This is not an atypical attitude of scientists or engineers. To paraphrase, ‘Here, have the raw files, figure it out for yourself, you should be able to. I included a high-level description of my method, so it will be simple.’”

        Actually, not. When mcintyre requested data and code from Jones it was because Mcintyre could not reproduce Jones results from Jones description. Jones wrote to Mann and said that he knew why Mcintyre could not reproduce the results: the description in the paper left out key steps. In short, the paper did not adequately describe the approach. Mcintyre attempted to reproduce the result from the description. he could not. He wrote to Jones and requested the code to clarify matters
        ( much as Gavin Schmidt and ERic Steig requested code from Scaffetta when they could not reproduce his results) and Jones denied him. he denied him knowing that the code ( if he could find it) would reveal that the paper and the code DIDNT MATCH. which is why people like me believe that a paper is just an ADVERTISEMENT for the science and not the science itself and that data and code need to be made available.

      • Exactly! Well said Steven.

      • steven mosher

        Hence ‘pretended’.

        You’re falling into the trap, it appears, of believing that because a person cites a thing, they promote a thing.

        I’m referring to these passages to see if others share the questions I have about them, not to support them or sway others to believe.

        Though I do admit I have one attitude in common with the “work it out yourself” viewpoint used as a bludgeon by Dr. Jones; it is best if a person reads the originals and decides for themselves what they’re seeing.

        They certainly don’t need you or I to interpret for them what is so freely available.

        If they can’t fill in the blanks for themselves in what is afterall an incomplete compilation by their own ingenuity, lacking the professional training or expertise to make the intellectual leaps required to appreciate what is there, then they might do like the Congressman, and perform the hard work of inquiry and examination for themselves. The additional context and insight of a Steven Mosher in this capacity is quite useful. The extraneous interpretations and opinions, I think less so in that they tend to harden positions on both sides and make resolution and reconciliation more difficult.

        Then again, there are many who are quite happy to promote dissention and discord.

  20. Steve Mosher Your true “warmist” credentials showing at last! Steve McIntyre has a first class honours degree in Mathematics.

    • Michael Larkin

      Come come, John. I don’t think Mosh meant to imply that SM had no academic qualifications; but that he didn’t, and doesn’t, have qualifications in climate science, if that can be characterised as a discipline with university qualifications associated with it. Nor would the team deem him as qualified by virtue of his wanting to audit their data and methods.

  21. Dr Curry
    Belatedly may I offer my congratulations on an excellent response that hits just the right note!

  22. Great work, Dr Curry. Many thanks.

  23. Alexander Harvey

    Judith:

    Your following point is something that I have often thought to raise but lack the knowledge to have done so:

    “The requirement for broad based international participation in the IPCC assessment, resulting in a heavy emphasis on participation by scientists that are merely industrious rather than those that are exceptionally qualified, experienced and insightful. Compare the list of authors on the IPCC AR4 report with those involved in the 1979 Charney Report on Carbon Dioxide and Climate, which included the premier U.S. scientists of the time. ”

    I have often pondered whether the subject is really taken seriously enough. If it be the most pressing issue for mankind why aren’t the best and brightest still engaged with it.

    I think that your sentences may ruffle a few feathers.

    I doubt it matters much. There seems to be a definite limit to what can be known about climatic change in advance.

    Since JASON and Charney we have a view on the direction, the approximate amount, and the approximate timescale. We know a lot more detail but I would argue that has not brought much more clarity.

    It might be a good move to have one final independent review of the JASON type just to judge the useful progress that has been made in the last 30 years and the prospects for advancement in the next decade. If these prospects are meagre then that is a lesson that we could take to heart, sum up the state of our knowledge and its inherent uncertainties, and assume that is what we have to run with until new evidence informs us more fully.

    Alex

  24. Firstly I admire Judith’s courage in actually looking over the parapet to evaluate the field of battle. This blog is now my favorite for what I perceive as rational, intelligent and mostly polite debate.. I am only an interested foot soldier with very little to offer in the overwhelmingly technical debates, but like many, have an inquiring mind and hopefully the ability to grasp the fundamentals. Two years ago it was either hot or cold, now I’m following the battle of radiative forcing – I think! While I am probably cannon fodder for most well constructed scientific arguments – pro or skeptical, I believe I am savvy enough to recognize spin and especially the argument that has significant propaganda potential. Unfortunately whenever I see the letters “UN”preceding the named organization I immediately go into skeptic mode. Actually I’m fed up with being taken for a ride by big “anything”

  25. Tomas Milanovic

    Judith

    Support the development of improved connections with disciplines that conduct research into complex nonlinear systems, statistical inference, and decision making under uncertainty.

    This is an important statement that will never be repeated enough.
    I have been wondering for the last 5 years why it didn’t happen much much earlier and why it was not the principal focus of the scientific strategy to attack the problem.
    There is probably a historical reason for this but the climate science in 2010 is still dominated by the 19th century physics.
    Of course there is nothing wrong with (some) 19th century physics and thermodynamics is certainly a robust branch of physics.
    But the biggest problem I see is that 19th century physics is with few exceptions all about steady states and equilibriums.
    Now as the Earth system has never been in a state even remotely approaching any kind of equilibrium or a steady state, it should be clear that these hypothesis are not relevant for the system under study.

    This can be best seen in the dominating paradigm in the climate science that the climate is a boundary condition problem.
    While most scientists saying that don’t understand what they are saying, this statement implies that time does not matter.
    This paradigm sees the climate as a non dynamical problem what is obviously wrong.
    Alerady from the mathematical point of view, as the climate states (descibed by the values of the dynamical fields such as velocities, temperatures, pressures, densities etc) are given by the solution of a non linear PED system, it is obvious that this solution can be only obtaind when one specifies both the boundary AND the initial conditions.
    Saying that the initial conditions don’t matter, what is exactly what the statement that this is only a “boundary value” problem does, condemns to stay forever in ignorance about the dynamics of the system.

    On the other hand non linear dynamics is (almost) all about initial conditions and the dependence on initial conditions of the evolution of the states of the system .
    As a great number of examples in fluid dynamics shows, this dependence is paramount and even a very slight modification of the boundary and/or initial conditions may change dramatically the dynamics of the system.
    Specially studies of spatio-temporal chaos show that the systems are only rarely if ever described by an invariant stochastical distribution of future states which would be independent of the initial conditions.
    Conversely when such an invariant probability distribution exists, it is called the ergodic hypothesis.
    But the ergodic hypothesis is not a given, it must be proven and it is extremely unlikely that the hypothesis is valid for the complex climatic system.

    Yet there are many scientists working in non linear dynamics who could shed very valuable insights in these questions if the climate science left the 19th century paradigms and opened itself to real dynamical questions about the system.
    Reading Ruelle, Takens, Li, Yorke & Co would be a beginning.
    For me it is not understandable why experts of non linear dynamics of similar caliber like those mentioned above are not involved in climat studies.

  26. Excellent work, Dr Curry. Are you prepared to be asked by the sub-committee to specify some examples of “…high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS frequently publish[ing] sensational but dubious papers that support the climate alarm narrative.”?

  27. The whole response is great, but I particularly like this bit:

    Judith Curry:
    “A top priority for research funding should be exploring the significance and characteristics of uncertainty across the range of climate science, not only the climate models themselves, but also solar forcing, surface temperature datasets, natural internal modes of climate variability, etc. “

    Bravo Judith!

  28. A solid job. I would quibble with parts, but an overall good job. I think the use of “wicked” in the last sentence was a bit over the top. At present, climate change hasn’t been established to be any kind of problem at all. We face unsubstantiated concerns about speculative disasters in the future. The inability of scientists to substantiate those future disasters might be a “wicked” problem, but that is different from climate change itself.

  29. stan, I believe that is what was meant. A “wicked” problem is a hard and complex one.

    Dr. Curry, please allow me to include my congratulations on well thought out and presented answers to the questions.

  30. In response to hr who said on Testimony followup: Part II
    December 10, 2010 at 6:36 am
    Excellent work, Dr Curry. Are you prepared to be asked by the sub-committee to specify some examples of “…high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS frequently publish[ing] sensational but dubious papers that support the climate alarm narrative.”?

    If Dr Curry is asked such a question, I can supply a list of completely meretricious articles that recently appeared in Nature, Science, and PNAS.

    For example, Nature in its issue of 30 April 2009 had a symposium of 9 papers (Meinshausens et al et al et al) that all argued that it is not the atmospheric concentration of CO2 that determines the IPCC’s radiative forcing formula, but the aggregate accumulated emissions from fossil fuel burning since about 1650 (when they began in London). This means ignoring the annual uptakes of emissions by the biosphere, which have averaged 57% of emissions since 1958 (Curtin E&E 2009, Knorr GRL 2009) (and which largely remain embodied in us for our lifetimes and those of our successors).

    Then we had Solomon et al in PNAS 2009 who claimed that the growth rate of the atmospheric concentration of CO2 this century would not be the actual since 1958 of 0.296% p.a. but 1% p.a. (even Bernie Madoff claimed only to double normal returns of 10% p.a, Susie Solomon offered triple the actual since 1958 without a shred of evidence – and then said climate change is “irreversible for the next 1000 years” anyway, so why bother, let’s eat drink and be merry, and so say I).

    But PNAS goes from strength to strength, and none of its members, a few of whom are quite distinguished, dissent when it further publishes such rubbish as that by Nathan Pelletier and Peter Tyedmers, Forecasting potential global environmentalcosts of livestock production 2000–2050
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1004659107

    I find it astonishing that no member of the NAS has resigned when PNAS publishes such unmitigated nonsense, since this paper implies that they ALL believe that non-plant living matter manages to be non-carbon-neutral. At the age of 10 I was taught that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but the total membership of the NAS tacitly agrees that is not the case, so livestock succeeds in belching/farting more CO2 and CH4 than it ever consumed in the form of grass, cereals,etc.

    That rubbish is only the tip of the iceberg, as we next have “Rice yields in tropical/subtropical Asia exhibit large but opposing sensitivities to minimum and maximum temperatures” by Jarrod R. Welch and other nitwits, at
    http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1001222107

    Welch and his fellow twerps of the IRRI rushed out a media release on 9 August 2010 claiming that Rice yields will “fall” under global warming on the basis of field trials in 1995-2000 that excluded the CO2 fertilisation effect (even though rising CO2 is blamed for the claimed but non-existent global warming, for which their paper provided no evidence, as there is none for that period).

    Not only that, their paper published in 2010 in the ineffable PNAS had no data post-2000 to test whether their predictions on their “1995-2000″ evidence were correct, and of course they are not, check FAO, showing rising rice yields in all but one of their 5 countries, despite rising CO2 and “climate change”.

    But if you are a distinguished member of NAS, why would you care what rubbish is published in your name without even the most cursory checks?

    Answer. One of its lead editors on climate change issues is Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber of Potsdam.* (William Clarke also has form in these areas).

    *The Gestapo and STASI were both of Potsdam. The PNAS’ Sustainability Science editors are
    Barry R. Bloom
    William C. Clark
    Partha Sarathi Dasgupta
    Robert W. Kates
    Pamela A. Matson
    Elinor Ostrom
    Hans Joachim Schellnhuber

    PS One of the problems with PNAS is that its Chief Editor, Randy Schekman, knows a heluvva lot, but only about very little, so any old rubbish gets into his climate pages without any quality control.

    • T R C Curtin – you say: “I find it astonishing that no member of the NAS has resigned when PNAS publishes such unmitigated nonsense, since this paper implies that they ALL believe that non-plant living matter manages to be non-carbon-neutral. At the age of 10 I was taught that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but the total membership of the NAS tacitly agrees that is not the case, so livestock succeeds in belching/farting more CO2 and CH4 than it ever consumed in the form of grass, cereals,etc.”

      I find it astonishing that you don’t seem to recognise that additional CO2 can be released into the atmosphere when livestock is reared for human consumption. This need not be solely belching/farting but from the fossil fuels used in the production of foods that these animals then eat (e.g. fertilizers, vehicle fuels, etc) before we then eat them.

      Do you seriously believe that this is carbon neutral?

      • Hi Louise

        I find it astonishing that you don’t seem to recognise that additional CO2 can be released into the atmosphere when livestock is reared for human consumption. This need not be solely belching/farting but from the fossil fuels used in the production of foods that these animals then eat (e.g. fertilizers, vehicle fuels, etc) before we then eat them.

        I don’t need to see funded studies by men wearing white coats running around measuring things, to know that my cattle consume (read recycle) carbon, they don’t create it.

        Regards the energy used in production/transport etc, this is no different with any type of food.
        Unless you are advocating local production and consumption, (which has issues of its own) your professings are misguided.

  31. To take just one point

    “livestock succeeds in belching/farting more CO2 and CH4 than it ever consumed in the form of grass, cereals,etc.”

    I believe that the carbon ‘footprint’ of livestock is not related solely to the amount of carbon ingested but also that involved in the whole of the livestock rearing process, e.g. fertilizers used to grow the crops that the livestock then ingests, fuel used by the vehicles involved in growing and transporting the foodstuffs, etc.

    To ignore this aspect and to claim that all livestock is carbon neutral surely reduces any further points you make (or am I misinterpreting you?)

    But your final point of comparing the stasi and gestapo to the editors of PNAS because they were all from Potsdam just makes you sound like a nutter (again, my apologies if I’ve misunderstood and that this was supposed to be irony).

  32. FYI, the person that actually submitted the questions was Ralph Hall, currently the Ranking Member, but soon to assume the Chairmanship of the House Committee on Science and Technology.

    • Wow! I would say that this is a very encouraging sign. His bio indicates that he’s a lawyer (or at least was). As such, it seems to me that it’s unlikely that he would have posed to you the questions he did without some measure of confidence – or even a high level of certainty;-) – in his expectations of your replies.

      And from where I’m sitting, this is a good thing!

  33. The bottom line is that scientists worked within the system to maximize their professional reputations, influence, and funding. Rather than blame the scientists for optimizing their rewards within the system, we need to take a careful look at the system, most particularly the climate science-policy interface and the federal funding of climate science.

    Long replies, no matter how well written or insightful, are actually part of the ‘system’ and the problem. At some point someone in academia will act like a normal person and just tell the ‘truth’, at least as they see it, unvarnished and naked. That will be a change to the ‘system’. The ‘system’ is not some vague, hypothetical boogeyman, it is truly, you and I. And only you and I can change it.

  34. Judith – FWIW I think you have done a first-rate job. Like the US in WWII, methinks you were a bit late arriving at the party, but as then, thank goodness you did arrive! I find it very disheartening that only a few scientists have been prepared to voice any kind of non-consensus view, but you do explain why.

    I sought input from participants in my blog“. I wonder what they made of that. Is this a first for testimony to the House of Reps? You argue for more of this kind of involvement, and I hope and think that you have just given a major nudge forward to this paradigm shift.

    Not the kind of people power that the people power people had in mind, perhaps.

  35. Really first class, Judith. Your sense of balance and objectivity are the reasons that this site had become my main source of reading on the matter. I just hope that your optimism concerning the effect this missive will have on your professional career is not misplaced. There will be many scientists involved with the IPCC who will regard your views with great concern and most likely a direct threat. Unfortunately, many of the excellent points you have made will now be substantiated by the vitriolic response which will surely follow.

  36. *applauds*

    Brilliant post, brilliant reply!

  37. Judy – Thank you for sharing this latest chapter with us, as well as the earlier ones.

    I expect that without intention on your part, your views have made you the swing vote – the Anthony Kennedy – of climate science in the eyes of Congress. That confers great influence on you. It will also make it harder for you to equivocate when contentious issues arise. However, wherever you align yourself, you will be blamed – when it is with Richard Lindzen, you and not he will be deemed wrongheaded, and when it is with James Hansen, it will be you charged with treachery. ( And if it’s with Marc Morano – Oh well, I won’t go there.)

    In my view, there are too many wise points you make for me to enumerate them all, so I’ll perversely mention a couple of quibbles.

    First, I’m concerned that your characterization of the climate system as a whole as “chaotic” will be taken out of context to claim that all future attempts at prediction are futile. I would have seen a more accurate characterization as stating that the climate system harbors chaotic elements.

    Second, in referring to U.S. reports on climate science, you state that they often “parrot” IPCC reports. I wonder whether the word “parrot” was the best choice. I don’t know the individuals involved personally, while you do, but is it your view that these authors (Susan Solomon comes to mind as the author of an NRC report) have not arrived at their conclusions based on their own assessment of the evidence, but have simply taken their cue from what the IPPC says?

    Those few reservations aside, I want to congratulate you for successfully undertaking an arduous task in a manner that should earn you the gratitude of objective observers, including those who might disagree with you and each other on specific points.

    Fred

  38. add my words of appreciation for the thread and those that preceeded it: the discussion here has been spirited and well-engaged, and, I suspect, a lot of fun for all involved. Nice to see it all wrapped up and packaged for the House Committee so eloquently.
    So the simple solution is abondon the IPCC, hire the Climate Etc. denizens and send the cheques!

  39. The actual shift within the community seems to have occurred in the context of the IPCC process. The entire framing of the IPCC was designed around identifying sufficient evidence so that the human-induced greenhouse warming could be declared unequivocal, and so providing the rationale for developing the political will to implement and enforce carbon stabilization targets in the context of the UNFCCC. National and international science programs were funded to support the IPCC objectives. Scientists involved in the IPCC advanced their careers, obtained personal publicity, and some gained a seat at the big policy tables. This career advancement of IPCC scientists was done with the complicity of the professional societies and the institutions that fund science. Eager for the publicity, high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS frequently publish sensational but dubious papers that support the climate alarm narrative. Especially in subfields such as ecology and public health, these publications and the media attention help steer money in the direction of these scientists, which buys them loyalty from their institutions, who appreciate the publicity and the dollars. Further, the institutions that support science use the publicity to argue for more funding to support climate research and its impacts. And the broader scientific community inadvertently becomes complicit in all this. When the IPCC consensus is attacked by deniers and the forces of “anti-science,” scientists all join in bemoaning these dark forces fighting a war against science, and support the IPCC against its critics. The media also bought into this, by eliminating balance in favor of the IPCC consensus.

    The bottom line is that scientists worked within the system to maximize their professional reputations, influence, and funding.

    There are some pretty strong accusations here against the integrity of other climate scientists and scientific institutions and journals. If you can back these up then fine but don’t be surprised if they return fire, and please don’t start complaining about being labelled a “heretic”.

    • andrew adams – “If you can back these up then fine

      Maybe you have missed the paradigm shift. There’s now a whole blogosphere sifting through evidence, and the evidence includes Climategate. The opportunity for someone like Judith to be able to make statements like these firmly based on evidence is surely unprecedented.

      I have read and re-read Judith’s statement, trying to find places where she leaves herself open to attack or accusations of spin. The climate science establishment will obviously throw everything they can at her, but I think she has put up a very solid, thorough, and supportable case. I get the same feeling reading Judith’s statement as I did when I first read Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (but on a smaller scale of course) : she has left them nowhere to hide.

      • Mike,

        Well I’m not sure I had quite the same reaction you did or that I share your confidence that Judith can back up her claims with hard evidence, but maybe I’ll be proved wrong – we’ll have to wait and see.

      • I some of your concerns, Andrew. I don’t doubt Dr. Curry’s perceptions, but I worry about the extent that they come across as generalizations about individual and institutional behavior that should be applied more narrowly to specific instances. Perhaps she will clarify.

      • misssing word in first sentence is “share”

      • I think that the committee is interested in understanding her opinion about the matters in hand. It is not a legal case, where every remark and every word must be capable of being picked over by lawyers.
        Nobody is going to be sued on this testimony.

        Nonetheless I think that there is ample evidence to back up all of her assertions, even if they aren’t phrased in legalese. Climategate is the gift that keeps on giving. And a few key players seem still to be content to flail wild and unfounded allegations around in their tiresomely frequent ‘damage limitation’ interviews.

      • There is a whole blogosphere just coming up with a jumble of disparate opinions, some mutually contradictory, and very little substance. The scientific content is about zero.

      • What an excellent description of Real Climate recently!!!

    • randomengineer

      There are some pretty strong accusations here against the integrity of other climate scientists and scientific institutions and journals.

      It’s amusing and ironic that you seem to downplay Dr Curry’s identification of clear cause and effect whilst rigourously defending a claim of cause and effect that has far less evidence.

      It’s less amusing that you conflate her criticism of a political body with obvious inherent and attendant political ramifications with an attack on the character of scientists themselves. Clearly she’s saying that a political entity will find a way to deliver the desired political answer and *necessarily* corrupt some as a byproduct. This is an entirely different thing than claiming corrupt scientists are abusing a pristine process. Money and influence corrupts everything it touches, as has been observed throughout history. Dr Curry is merely stating what is obvious to even a schoolchild.

      If any position seems overtly ideological, it’s yours.

      • Political entities are composed of people – if you accuse a political body of pursuing an agenda then you are by extension accusing those people involved in the workings of that body. The implication of Judith Curry’s words are clear – scientists are compromising the integrity of their work in order for the IPCC to deliver the “desired” political answer. There are also specific allegations against certain scientific journals.
        And we are supposed to just accept the premise that the IPCC exists to pursue that “desired” political answer without any explanation of why such as answer should be desired at all.
        Maybe some scientists are swayed to an extent by the prestige of being involved with the IPCC, scientists are only human after all, but Curry’s comments go far beyond that.

      • randomengineer

        Political entities are composed of people – if you accuse a political body of pursuing an agenda then you are by extension accusing those people involved in the workings of that body.

        That’s not necessarily true.

        I think you’re misreading Dr Curry’s words.

        Jerry Pournelle posits “The Iron Law of Bureaucracy” (go ahead and google this) which holds that the nature of any organisation is such that there soon become two types of people involved — those who work on what the organisation’s goals are, and those who work for the organisation itself. At some point the former will be outweighed by the latter. Hilarity rarely ensues. Corruption does, although the nature of the corruption isn’t necessarily in the Hollywood story sense, but rather in the furthering of the organisation. Argue this with Pournelle if you like; his site is accessible and his email published.

        Moreover, it’s obvious the IPCC/UNFCCC has a political agenda. One doesn’t call an entity a quorum on climate change without the initial premise of climate change being understood, and why bother with a quorium at all if climate change is good? BY DEFINITION we see that the politics are that climate change exists and it’s very very bad else there’s no reason for these political bodies to even exist.

        Start with a political entity existing solely to work on a claimed problem. Add Pournelle’s Iron Law.

        Dr. Curry’s commentary describes the expected result.

      • Its the same concept as McPherson’s ‘institutional racism’. You need not necessarily be an out and out racist to contribute to a racist institution.

        But of you want to be a policeman in London, you don’t have many other choices than the Met. If you want to be a climatologist, what other game has there been that wasn’t compliance with IPCC dogma? Climategate reveals that your career would be short and inglorious if you tried.

  40. Dr Curry,
    This is a consensus I can sign up to! Have a good weekend!
    DavS

  41. Very balanced and insightful response, Thank You for not ducking the issues!

  42. I just read this on Seth Robert’s ( Psych Prof, Berkeley) blog (full post at http://www.blog.sethroberts.net/2010/12/09/the-decline-effect/ )

    “Science (search for truth) and profession (making a living) are not a good fit. In a dozen ways, the demands of a scientist’s job get in the way of finding and reporting truth. You need to publish, get a grant, please your colleagues, and so on. Nobody pays you for finding the truth. If that is a goal, it is several goals from the top of the list. Most jobs have customers. If a wheelwright made a bad wheel, it broke. Perhaps he had to replace it or got a bad reputation. There was fast powerful feedback. In science, feedback is long-delayed or absent. Only long after you have been promoted may it become clear anything was wrong with the papers behind your promotion. The main customers for science are other scientists. The pressure to have low standards — and thus appear better to promotion committees and non-scientists — is irresistible.”

    Does seem to be relevant to 1 a and 2

  43. It has been pointed out that the UN agencies have an agenda. When the agenda is an imagined future harm in some vague manner, many people can not be convinced of the absence of such harm. For example, air and water quality in the US and Europe has gotten dramatically better the past 50 years, and many species have returned to abundance that were nearly gone, but many remain convinced that we are being poisoned and all of nature is nearly gone. This gap between reality and perception influences the climate debate as well as other issues.

    • “many” species have returned to abundance, perhaps, but far more are extinct or headed to extinction.

      http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/library/03/2/l_032_04.html

      What is your agenda?

      • Of course it is only fair to ask an anonymous person what their agenda is?

        http://www.thefreedictionary.com/snide

        snide
        adj
        1. Also snidey [ˈsnaɪdɪ] (of a remark, etc.) maliciously derogatory; supercilious
        2. counterfeit; sham

      • If one admits that many species have increased in abundance such as eagles and wolf (and even deer and turkey) then perhaps conservation can be successful. You think that anyone is without an agenda? Ha! Trying to eliminate all use of pesticides is an agenda.

      • If I ever decide to be against all pesticide use, I shall remember this comment. You name a few species, and then decided that extinctions are not happening. Can you seriously call yourself a statistician?

      • I don’t see where Craig says anything at all about extinctions. Please point out his passage that does.

        He *does* say that some conservation efforts have been successful..and gives examples. Do you have evidence that in these cases he is wrong?

        Because if not, I fear you are arguing about what your caricature of him tells you you think he ‘should’ be saying, not what he actually wrote

      • To paraphrase the words of the Great George Carlin…

        “Over 98% of all species that have ever existed on this planet are extinct…that’s over 98%..WE DIDN’T KILL THEM ALL.”

      • How is this relevant, again?

        It was over 98% before we evolved, too.

        It’s hardly the job of a comedian to talk about things we’re doing right.

      • A good comedian will often bring people back down to Earth. Remind them of reality if you will.
        Raising the subject of extinctions in AGW debate is pure alarmism based on speculation. Designed to tug at heart strings. You’ve been tugged.

        The globe has been warming since the end of the little ice age, very few doubt that.
        In light of that warming over 130 yrs, can you name me one species that has been made extinct because of the warming?
        I’ll even settle for a flock, herd, troop, swarm,horde, gang, battery, shoal, cluster, tribe, boogle or flotilla.

      • Baa Humbug

        That’s quite the interesting point of view.

        The logical conclusion of a line of reason is alarming, ergo the people examining that line of reason are alarmists.

        I’ll remain casually skeptical of the claim of the globe consistently doing anything that can’t be proven, for spans of millennia, in a subject where many feel acquitted to be ardent sceptics of things happening for only a few scant decades and easily demonstrable, since it’s unimportant to me what the globe did in the past under its own mechanisms.

        Before I go further, George Carlin was a Great comedian, not a good one. He could make you laugh about pocket lint and nose hairs.

        And to quote the Great George Carlin about himself, “Not only do I not know what’s going on, I wouldn’t know what to do about it if I did.”

        As for your extinction list challenge, I believe you’re confusing the alarming conclusion of certain lines of reasoning that CAGW may become an ‘Extinction Level Event’ with individual species extinctions.

        So we haven’t wiped out notably many species in this manner yet. We’re still new at it, we’ll get it done eventually if we keep trying.

      • So you have absolutely no evidence that any species have become extinct for the reason of warming.

        But despite this ‘null result’ you are sure that it will happen in the future.

        Faith, not science. OK with me for you to believe whatever you want, but please don’t pretend the former is the latter

      • Latimer Alder

        *yawn*

        This tired trope again?

        Before human powered flight, there was ‘no evidence’ humans could fly by the same set of contrived assumptions as Baa Humbug and yourself cling to here.

        In circumstances where capable and diligent people, such as Dr. Curry, have established high probability of conditions that may lead to an outcome, and also high uncertainty, it is reasonable and prudent to contemplate that outcome and prepare contingencies and remedies.

        Like the story of the police officer investigating the death of a man at the foot of the Empire State Building, who concluded the deceased suffered an irrational episode leading to his jump from the Observation Deck. Howso? Window cleaners at the fifteenth floor heard him say, as he plummetted past them, “Sooooo far, so gooooooooood.”

      • @Bart R

        There s no evidence either for spiritualism, the Da Vinci Code, the Gospel according to the Giant Lizards of David Icke, the imminence of the Second Coming or the present existence of the Vogon Constructor Fleet somewhere just a few parsecs to the left of Alpha Centauri.

        But by your argument, the very lack of evidence means that we should be expecting them all to pop up imminently from behind the nearest Christmas Tree waving a minstrel’s hat and singing O Come All Ye Faithful to the popular tune of John Francis Wade.

        Lack of evidence means exactly what it says.

        But I hope Santa brings you some nice prezzies. Don’t forget to hang up your stocking and leave a mince pie (but no glass of sherry) by the fireplace. Vogons like mince pies. But after sherry they can become poetic….which is no way to start Christmas Day. Hold the sherry.

      • Latimer Alder

        Again with the contrived assumptions of no evidence, willingness to put words in the mouths of oters, and pretense that you can’t read the plain language meaning of simple text.

        How do you make it through ordering breakfast, with a communication style like that?

      • M’learned friend Baa Humbug asked you to

        ‘name me one species that has been made extinct because of the warming?’

        You have been unable to do so.

        I see nothing ‘contrived’ about this lack of evidence.

        And please point out exactly where I have ‘put words into the mouths of others’. I have done no such thing.

        I have extended your line of reasoning to the point of possible ridicule…(‘We haven’t got any evidence for Crime A m’lud, because the defendant hasn’t committed it yet,,,but lots of clever people say that he will commit it at some time in the future….so lock him up now just in case), but I have not attempted to misquote you at any point.

        As to breakfast, my Big Oil shill paycheque has yet again failed to come this month, so I’m reduced to cooking it myself rather than ordering out. Porridge today to warm me against the very unseasonable ‘global warming’ predicted to come to UK direct from the Arctic over the next few days.

      • The above was meant as a reply to Bart R | December 14, 2010 at 11:49 pm |

  44. Dr Curry,

    Brilliant….Absolutely Brilliant! That is the most balanced, comprehensive and insightful summary – in answer to those searching questions – that I could have wished to read.

    What particularly impressed me was that you had included some of the themes from your blog posters within your answers!

    The most difficult – and yet the highest – standard to reach for in academia is to have an open mind. You have demonstrated this ability in a way that is truly humbling.

    I’m now convinced that you will rightly become one of the most important and sought-after scientific opinions in this ongoing debate.

    Thank you.

  45. From the opening post:

    1) >More research is needed on understanding abrupt climate change and developing a more extensive archive of paleoclimate proxies … frank discussions with skeptics are needed<

    My experience on this website is that once people such as Colose and Lacis began to reply to honest questions with honest answers, the quality of debate rose several orders of magnitude

    Overall, this reply to the Congressional Sub-Committee is akin to a sunny morning after a month of dreary rain

    • My take is that once ‘real climate scientists’ started participating here they got the intellectual surprise of their lives.

      Having believed their own propaganda that the world of the sceptics was composed of knuckle-dragging innumerate deniers worried about no more than the next paycheque from Big Oil, they attempted the handwaving ‘you lot are just too stupid and unqualified to understand our great thoughts’ argument. Which I guess had worked very well at RC et al where any ‘difficult’ questions got moderated out of consideration.

      But not here. Having decided to engage, they soon discovered that there was a knowledgable and vastly experienced audience here who weren’t going to swallow the warmist agenda without very stringent examination – perhaps more stringent than they had ever experienced from within the peer-review cabal. And they struggled.

      For that is always the problem with making caricatures of one’s opposition. You erect your defences against the caricature, not the reality. If you truly believe that the intellectual quality of the ‘bad guys’ is on a par with Bozo the Chimp (*) you don’t bother to plan for Bozo and Bimbo coming at you with a fair understanding of the maths, the physics and the arguments. And with more DPhils and serious ‘grown up’ science qualifications and experience than you can shake a (hockey) stick at. Not an audience that will likely be cowed by a quick wave of a climate science thesis and a dismissive gesture of superiority from a pointy head.

      Bad strategy bigtime. But I guess its good to know that at least one ‘thought leader’ within climatology hasn’t even begun to recognise this yet. The interview with him that Judith links to above is still the classic denier/tobacco/orchestration/all the media’s fault whinge about how unfair it all is.

      For supposedly very clever guys, they seem to be taking an enormously long time to wake up to the simple fact that sceptics ain’t like that. The longer it takes for them to do this, the more their credibility and influence will sink.

      (*) No chimpism intended. Merely a figure of speech.

      • (*) No chimpism intended. Merely a figure of speech.

        Well thank goodness for that coz I’m one of those uneducated knuckle draggers.
        I am getting an education on this blog, but not in the way Pratt Lacis et el expected.

        Now must get back to the court where Willis has served, waiting for Lacis to return.

      • Yes, the exchange on the ‘Confidence in Radiative Transfer Models’ thread has become absolutely compelling if occasionally a little complicated for this particular knuckle dragger. To my mind, this kind of informed and objective scientific debate cannot be found anywhere else on the web and is a real credit to Judith and what she is seeking to achieve. You know, Baa, I think Willis may just have Andy Lacis on the run!

    • Lacis and Colose are doing nothing different to what they would always do. If you are saying they are being asked honest questions, and not the ‘only trying to find fault’ type, then that would raise the level of the debate.

      • finding fault and correcting it improves science…

        as is finding a nothing – an important result..

        Many scientist spend years in the labs just findings that show nothing.
        thus allowing others to pursue further investigation, because these previous results/experiments do not need to be repeated

  46. Most of the warming during last 350 years in the area of NE Atlantic, as expressed in the CETs, happened in the winter months, when the Gulf Stream effect is predominant.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CET3.htm

    This would imply either warming of the equatorial Atlantic or change in the Gulf Stream thermal efficiency. There are three major 50 year long warming periods 1680-1730, 1810-1860 and 1960-2010. There also 3 major cooling periods (2 x 50 and 1 x 40 years).
    This would suggest that the winter CET’s variations are more part of natural cycles, then anthropogenic. If so then implication is that the CET’s winter temperatures are on the threshold of several decades of cooling, the last and current winter may be precursor of what is to come.
    In this case any anthropogenic CO2 generated warming would be more than welcome, in order to ameliorate even lower temperatures and so reduce demand for heating fossil fuels. What is valid for the CET area it is applicable to the most of NW Europe, one of most dense populated regions of the globe.
    Conclusion must be that the AGW may not be a disaster, but actually a beneficial at the periods when natural cycles turn downwards.

  47. Judith, very nice summary, nothing missed from what I can see. I have book marked this threat for future use.

    Now we wait and see if your seed bares fruit. Fingers crossed it does.

  48. This is a landmark summary, written with great perception and obvious probity. Great work.

  49. Prof. Curry,

    I commmend you for your thoughtful response to Congressman Hall’s questions. IMO, congressional inquiries have limited abilities to absorb new information and insights. Obviously, you have established an important linkage to Congressman Hall and his staff. I assume that you plan to ask if he has any follow-up questions.

  50. A great discussion of the politicization of the science of climate change research. It’s great to see thoughtful and reasoned discussion like this presented. However it is only reaching a very small audience of mostly like minded open individuals. It would be even more commendable if discussions like this were to be brought to the forefront by the main stream media and presented to the public at large.

  51. JCH | December 10, 2010 at 10:03 pm | Reply “CO2 is relevant to climate change because the anthropogenic component of it doubles every 32.5 years. …” – Vaughan Pratt
    JCH and Vaughan Pratt: you are both wrong, as is your source, Pieter Tans of NOAA and Mauna Loa Slope Observatory, and you exemplify the total failure of almost all climate Scientists (as in AR4 and Meinshausens et al Nature 30 April 2009) to grasp that a 3% increase in emissions does not produce a 3% increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2, for 2 reasons:

    1. A 3% growth of emissions at about 10GTC in 2009 means new emissions of 300,000 GtC for a total of 10.3 GtC in 2010. Even if none of the total emissions of 10.3 GtC in 2010 were absorbed by the global biota, the increase in the global atmospheric mass of CO2 would only be from c. 831 GtC at end 2009 to 841.3 GtC at end 2010, an increase of just 1.24%.
    2. In fact as I (E&E 2009) and Knorr (GRL 2009) have documented (see also Canadell and Le Quere at Global Carbon Project website), on average 57% of total emissions are taken up by the biota, so only c43% remains airborne. 43% of 10 is 4.3 GtC, or 0.52% of the 831GtC in the atmosphere. Now even at that overstated growth rate, it will NOT take only 32.5 years for the atmospheric mass to double to 1,670 GtC, it will actually take until 2145. But…
    3. I used round numbers. The actual growth rate of the atmospheric mass of CO2 since 1958 has been only 0.296% p.a., and at that rate it will take until 2246 for that mass to double from the end 2009 level.
    4. JCH’s link to the NOAA statement cites Pieter Tans (with whom I am in correspondence and he has been most helpful with data for my submitted paper Regression Analysis of Temperature Change) as saying “We need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the point where they match levels that can be absorbed by Earth’s ecosystems.”
    Unfortunately, reducing emissions reduces the partial pressure of [CO2], namely pCO2, and reduces the biota’s ability to absorb those emissions (and generate the extra food we need to feed the growing world population).

    May I end by saying that hopefully one day we may be able to locate climate scientists who can (1) do percentages and natural log (LN) growth rates, and (2) distinguish between gross emissions and the net airborne fraction thereof, plus their respective quite different growth rates.

  52. More important would be “climate scientists” who had clue one about the actual nature of the effects of CO2 on life on the planet, including human. These are historically and demonstrably so positive that maximizing CO2 should be a top global priority. Climate scientists’ campaign against its presence is perverse.

  53. I think Judith might agree that a thank you to Keith Kloor at collide a scape is in order, as well.. Collide a Scape was the location where sceptical and pro AGW views were able to have a debate,(no pro AGW moderator sceptical view deletions) many months ago, where a number of the ideas in the response to congress were formed.

    His post some Spicy curry is a classic in the blogosphere..

    Plus, Judith Issued the ‘THe Hockey Stick Illusion’ – A W Montford, book reading challenge to ‘climate scientists there.

    as are the posts where Judith Curry defended herself at RealCLimate, whetre the moderators could not delete her, as someone important might notice (ie Judith), leaving the regulars somewhat puzzled.

    • This is true, fair do’s. A valiant cold turkey triumph. But doomsaying is an addition, unfortunately.

  54. An additional motivation for circling the wagons seems to be insecurity and fear that uncertain or flawed analyses will damage professional reputations, as a result of this extraordinary scrutiny of their research. This motivation is revealed by Phil Jones’ email to Warwick Hughes saying: “Why should I give you my data when you only want to find fault in it?”

    You are completely misrepresenting Jones words. Hughes, if you look at his blog, is only interested in finding fault with the science behind AGW. He only wants to find fault. This does not mean at all that Jones was worried that a fault would be found with his work. Jones and other scientists are interested in advancing the science, that is, if there is some better knowledge out there than has been provided so far, then so be it. That is how science progresses. Science does not progress by people only ‘finding fault’. That is exactly what the ‘merchants of doubt’ do, find fault, but never tell you what is right. The temperature record created by the CRU has been demonstrated independently by other scientific groups to be essentially correct, and, if anything, understating warming.

    It just goes to show why the emails were stolen, not to find out any truth or hidden evidence, but to misrepresent what the scientists think and do. There are numerous other examples all over the web of other misrepresentations.

    • And if he cannot find fault, then the science is robust…

      If he does find fault, the science
      can be improved…

      Your point is?

      I asked Sir John Houghton once, what if a critic found fault, that showed that AGW had been UNDERestimated….

      Where are the ethics then.. JOnes attitude is undefensible in that light.

      Does anyone imagine that Steve Mcintyre would not publish anything that he found that would improve the case for AGW, if he found it.

      • Yes. He avoids the science that is beyond dispute, and focuses on the ‘doubt’. Perhaps you can find where he does publish something that improves the case for AGW, because I can’t find it. I can find endless topics that argue against the case for AGW. That is, he only wants to find errors, or rather, he claims to have found errors even where there are none. That is not science. That is what Jones wanted to defend against.

      • Jones has to allow his work to be shown that might be his critics, even his enemies, otherwise he is not a sceintists…

        Or in the words of Graham Stringer MP, on the Sciece and technolgy comittee, when he was describing Briffa’s inability to reproduce his OWN results…(Briffa is Jones’ colleague at CRU)

        “That just isn’t science. It’s literature”…..

        “If somebody can’t reproduce their own results, and nobody else can, then what is that work doing in the scientific journals?”

        Graham Stringer MP – science/technolgy select committee

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/10/oxburgh_science_select_committee/page2.html

        the scientific process does not let you choose who you supply data to… As I said, a critic outside of the groupthink, may even find something that reinforces their science (ie AGW worse than was thought) so where are the ethics/reasoning in denying access.. – do you belive that Huges or Mcintyre would not publish this?)

        But, why should I discuss this with a ‘brave’ anonymous person called ‘snide’ who would smear Warwick Huges.

        Neither does the FOIA laws..

        Which Jone’s and company were trying to work out how to avoid. BEFORE they received any..

        Professor Kelly’s word are worth repeating ref ‘computer models as ‘experiments’ !!

        “I take real exception to having simulation runs described as experiments (without at least the qualification of ‘computer’ experiments). It does a disservice to centuries of real experimentation and allows simulations output to be considered as a real data. This last is a very serious matter, as it can lead to the idea that real ‘real data’ might be wrong simply because it disagrees with the models.”

      • In the latest paper (O’Donnel et al with McIntyre in press, J. Climate) that rebuts Steig et al 2009, they show more warming in the Antarctic peninsula than the paper they criticize.
        As to “claims to have found errors even where there are none”, good luck with that assertion.

    • randomengineer

      Hughes, if you look at his blog, is only interested in finding fault with the science behind AGW. He only wants to find fault.

      Big deal.

      The entire function of QA in a company selling a product is to find fault in it. Clearly the function is useful and necessary as is demonstrated daily in the real world of products. Apparently your position seems to be that a required and necessary function of R&D worldwide is somehow magically not required in climate research.

      I find your remarks vapid and lacking of any merit.

  55. Phillip Bratby

    An excellent response, Professor Curry. I would add a thought to the first question about climate scientists circling the wagons and “pointing their guns” at skeptics when sharing data and embracing debate :

    This question has to be looked at from the historical perspective. Twenty or so years ago climate science (however you define it) was a minor field of study and did not attract leading scientists. It tended to attract people with an interest in the environment. Take two examples. Firstly, the University of East Anglia was a new university in a remote backwater of England and could never attract good staff – it was and remains a third-rate establishment. It set up the School of Environmental Studies within which was the Climatic Research Unit. It attracted low quality staff and students, who were unfamiliar with the hard sciences, but were keen on the environment, where poor quality was acceptable and the right results were wanted. Jones and Briffa are examples. They suddenly found themselves at the forefront of media and political interest and their poor quality work and lack of quality/rigour was coming under scrutiny. The only way they could survive was to hide the data and methods (effectively pull up the drawbridge). Secondly, consider the meteoric rise of Mann – from a PhD student to IPCC lead author overnight, due to the publication of MBH98. The only way he could maintain his reputation was to conceal from scrutiny the methods in the hockey stick construction.

    Both these examples show that the group of so-called climate scientists, of whom Jones and Mann form an influential part, have to circle the wagons because they know that their publications will not stand up to external examination by experts (e.g. statisticians, software engineers, physicists). Their work has been driven not by the desire to do good science, but some other aim. It may be environmental concerns, political concerns or career concerns. Only they can answer, but it is evident that once having started down the path of getting the required results regardless of the data, they had no choice but to circle the wagons, point their guns and prevent external scrutiny.

    • Richard S Courtney

      Phillip Bratby:

      Nobody could be more skeptical of AGW than me. And few if any have as long and continuous a track record of such skepticism than me. But I have to dissent from your comment that says:

      “Both these examples show that the group of so-called climate scientists, of whom Jones and Mann form an influential part, have to circle the wagons because they know that their publications will not stand up to external examination by experts (e.g. statisticians, software engineers, physicists). Their work has been driven not by the desire to do good science, but some other aim. It may be environmental concerns, political concerns or career concerns. Only they can answer, but it is evident that once having started down the path of getting the required results regardless of the data, they had no choice but to circle the wagons, point their guns and prevent external scrutiny.”

      Your assertion that they “started down the path of getting the required results regardless of the data” may or may not be right. But it would require either that they admit such behaviour or for there to be undeniable proof of your assertion for it to be known to be true.

      What is certain is that all science has had its reputation damaged in the public opinion as a result of overstatement of issues pertaining to climate change. And all of science would benefit from repair of that damage.

      Comments such as yours do not help to repair the damage because they encourage the defensive attitudes which caused the damage.

      Richard

  56. In response to curryja on December 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm: Snide said
    citing Judith Curry: ‘An additional motivation for circling the wagons seems to be insecurity and fear that uncertain or flawed analyses will damage professional reputations, as a result of this extraordinary scrutiny of their research. This motivation is revealed by Phil Jones’ email to Warwick Hughes saying: “Why should I give you my data when you only want to find fault in it?”’

    Snides’s comment is: “You [JAC] are completely misrepresenting Jones words. Hughes, if you look at his blog, is only interested in finding fault with the science behind AGW. He only wants to find fault”.

    That is a gross calumny, typical of all those cowards who hide behind their anonymity, unlike Warwick Hughes. I know Warwick, and he is the perfect gentleman, interested only in the truth, unlike Snide. If the latter was, he would repeat his libellous statement under his real name and face the consequences. If Judith Curry was not the host of this Blog, I have lawyer friends who would sue her and her provider in lieu of Snide. But as she is not to blame for Snide’s despicable comments, we will not.

    • Yet your comparison of the editors of PNAS to the stasi and the gestapo because they all come from Potsdam was a considered comment?

      • ducking your view on Warwick and Huges…..

        If their is any ‘anti-science’ going on it is in Jone’s statement.
        And the apparent willingness to excuse it.

  57. Louise added a new comment to the post Testimony followup: Part II.
    December 11, 2010 at 6:07 am
    In response to T R C Curtin on December 11, 2010 at 5:52 am:
    In response to curryja on December 9, 2010 at 7:26 pm: Snide said citing Judith Curry: ‘An additional motivation for circling the wagons seems to be insecurity and fear that uncertain or flawed analyses will damage professional reputations, as a result of this extraordinary scrutiny of their research. This motivation is revealed by Phil Jones’ [...]”

    “Yet your comparison of the editors of PNAS to the stasi and the gestapo because they all come from Potsdam was a considered comment?”

    Well, neither Schellnhuber’s Institute nor PNAS in its climate section has ever allowed any view contrary to their orthodoxy to see the light of day, just like Goebbels and the Stasi. Prove me wrong, by naming any occasion when Schellnhuber invited say Lindzen to give a seminar at Potsdam or allowed somebody like him to publish in PNAS!

  58. While lack of full certainty does not preclude action, the level of certainty needs to reach some sort of threshold before action is triggered under the precautionary principle. While this threshold of certainty is vague, reducing the uncertainty makes action more likely…

    Nevertheless, the emphasis from policy makers and funding agencies was on the reduction of uncertainty.   The U.S. Climate Change Science Program Science Plan (published in 2003) emphasized reducing uncertainty, using the phrase in many of its goals…

    Stop asking for scientists to reduce the uncertainties; rather, ask for our understanding of the range of risks that we might be facing from climate change (both natural and anthropogenic).  Fund climate research that is much broader, not just studies designed to support the IPCC/UNFCCC…

    Support the development of improved connections with disciplines that conduct research into complex nonlinear systems, statistical inference, and decision making under uncertainty.  Change the nature of the “carrot” and the scientific community will respond.

    I don’t at all understand what you are asking Congress to do here. Take away funding for research designed to reduce uncertainty, but fund research designed to making decisions under uncertainty? Why?

    Perhaps the terminology is just confusing, but what exactly are you saying here? The reason the USCCSP includes language about reducing the uncertainty around climate change is because that’s exactly what science is supposed to do. It seems as though investigating other natural phenomenon is exactly how to reduce uncertainty, it is not an add-on that gets neglected unless explicitly asked for by some random funding source because it was inferred from a description in a plan. Just using Google scholar tells me this. Studies don’t, by their nature, support one side or another, it is the results of the study that matter, so unless you think that the last thirty years of research is tainted by conforming results to the ideology you think is rampant in climate science, than I don’t see what any of this means.

    When basic physics, oceanic chemistry, and paleoclimate research tells us that what we are doing can be harmful to humans, the only prudent action for science to take is to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the evidence. Any suggextestion otherwise is very unnerving.

    • Richard S Courtney

      gryposaurus:

      You assert:
      “When basic physics, oceanic chemistry, and paleoclimate research tells us that what we are doing can be harmful to humans, the only prudent action for science to take is to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the evidence. Any suggextestion otherwise is very unnerving.”

      What “evidence”?

      Assertions, suggestions and conjectures are not “evidence”. And they are not converted into being “evidence” by being spoken, by being written, or by being codified as computer programs.

      Anything “can be harmful to humans” (even getting out of bed), and that only has relevance to politics (n.b. not to science).

      The uncertainty concerning climate change will remain very large until the science obtains sufficient data for clear interpretation that provides understanding sufficient for prediction (with defined probability) of climate change(s).

      Any suggestion otherwise is very unnerving.

      Richard

      • Assertions, suggestions and conjectures are not “evidence”. And they are not converted into being “evidence” by being spoken, by being written, or by being codified as computer programs.

        Perhaps there is need to go over why “basic physics, oceanic chemistry, and paleoclimate” aren’t “assertions, suggestions and conjectures”. Not really a topic for thread though.

      • Richard S Courtney

        gryposaurus:

        It seems that nobody has explained to you what empiricism is.

        I could list why each of your assertions is not supported by “evidence”, but in attempt to help you understand your error, I ask you to address a two-part question concerning ‘ocean acidification’ for yourself.

        How is it possible to assess the pH change to the ocean surface layer over the past century when
        (a)
        the magnitude of the putative change in ocean surface layer pH over the century is an order of magnitude less than its daily variability at measurement sites, the pH of the ocean surface layer has been measured at only a few locations, and the pH has not been measured at any location for most of the last century
        and (b)
        if the change does exists then how could it be determined if altered atmospheric CO2 caused the change to ocean pH or was caused by the change to ocean pH?

        I repeat;
        “Assertions, suggestions and conjectures are not “evidence”. And they are not converted into being “evidence” by being spoken, by being written, or by being codified as computer programs.”

        Richard

      • How is it possible to assess the pH change to the ocean surface layer over the past century when
        (a)
        the magnitude of the putative change in ocean surface layer pH over the century is an order of magnitude less than its daily variability at measurement sites, the pH of the ocean surface layer has been measured at only a few locations, and the pH has not been measured at any location for most of the last century

        The rate at which the levels are changing are 100X faster than normal. This is not at all a natural phenomenon, and any illusion otherwise would be wrong. The natural process that keeps the pH levels relatively stable is called CaCO3 compensation, and that will not be the overriding mechanism as rates accelerate at this natural pace. It is also ten X faster than the last mass oceanic extinction event. This is found in analyzing fossil records. It is possible to see the pH levels of the ocean over millions of years through paleo data.

        (b)
        if the change does exists then how could it be determined if altered atmospheric CO2 caused the change to ocean pH or was caused by the change to ocean pH?

        We know the ocean uptakes CO2 from the atmosphere and we know it changes the pH levels. And there is a difference in the isotopes, much the same way we know with great confidence about the atmospheric changes.

      • You wrote 3 points- (and I am not trying to prove you wrong)
        1. The rate at which the levels are changing are 100X faster than normal. This is not at all a natural phenomenon, and any illusion otherwise would be wrong. – I ask– Can you reference the data upon which you have reached this conclusion?

        2. It is possible to see the pH levels of the ocean over millions of years through paleo data. I ask- when you look at “paleo data” to make these assessments, what do you believe the margin of error to be in the estimates?

        3. We know the ocean uptakes CO2 from the atmosphere and we know it changes the pH levels. And there is a difference in the isotopes, much the same way we know with great confidence about the atmospheric changes. I ask- if you are referring to C12/C13, can you show how this was measured/calculated? If the estimation was based upon these isotopes and the measurements were taken from plants, what do you believe the margin of error to have been?

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rob Starkey:

        Thank you. As your questions demonstrate, the answer from gryposaurus seem to confirm that he does not understand the basic principles of empiricism.

        I find it ironic that AGW-supporters often claim that AGW-skeptics are “anti-science” when so many of the AGW-supporters demonstrate an abysmal lack of knowledge of the difference between scientific evidence and conjecture.

        Richard

      • You wrote 3 points- (and I am not trying to prove you wrong)
        1. The rate at which the levels are changing are 100X faster than normal. This is not at all a natural phenomenon, and any illusion otherwise would be wrong. – I ask– Can you reference the data upon which you have reached this conclusion?

        Here is a review of the paleo-data The oceans have acidified 0.1 over the industrial era, and while that may seem minor, the number is logarithmic. The effect will be very different for different species and different hemispheres, but the effects will likely be seen first in shell forming life in the arctic on a decadal time scale.

        2. It is possible to see the pH levels of the ocean over millions of years through paleo data. I ask- when you look at “paleo data” to make these assessments, what do you believe the margin of error to be in the estimates?

        Yes, see the above link and it’s references. As far as uncertainty, a paper analysed this in PNAS:

        Long-Term Trends in Seawater pH. At Station ALOHA, pCO2oce was well below pCO2atm most of the time (see Fig. 1). The ocean was therefore a net sink for atmospheric CO2 at this site during each year of observation (17). Although pCO2atm and especially pCO2oce exhibited seasonal and interannual variability, their overall 19+-year trends (mean ± SE) were statistically indistinguishable: +1.68 ± 0.03 and + 1.88 ± 0.16 μatm y−1, respectively. The long-term rise in pCO2oce was mirrored by a decline in surface ocean istotpHcalc (see Fig. 1); the observed rate of pH decline (−0.0019 ± 0.0002 y−1) compared well with the rate predicted based on equilibration of atmospheric CO2 with the surface seawater (−0.0016 ± 0.00003 y−1; see Table S1). Although based on fewer data, the trend in surface layer istotpHmeas (-0.0014 ± 0.0002 y−1) was only slightly less negative than, and statistically indistinguishable from, the trend in istotpHcalc (see Fig. 1 and Table S1).

        They were able to get results with fairly high accuracy considering the lack of data in areas around the globe.

        3. We know the ocean uptakes CO2 from the atmosphere and we know it changes the pH levels. And there is a difference in the isotopes, much the same way we know with great confidence about the atmospheric changes. I ask- if you are referring to C12/C13, can you show how this was measured/calculated? If the estimation was based upon these isotopes and the measurements were taken from plants, what do you believe the margin of error to have been?

        It uses carbonate skeleton of corals, not plants, and it involves C13 again for fossil fuel burning, but uses o11 for the past isotope levels. You can read about this in a study done in the Great Barrier Reef last year. The error bars for the o11 isotope are within ±0.02 pH units.

      • Richard S Courtney

        gryposaurus :

        You need to stop digging.

        You have failed to answer my original questions; viz.

        “How is it possible to assess the pH change to the ocean surface layer over the past century when
        (a)
        the magnitude of the putative change in ocean surface layer pH over the century is an order of magnitude less than its daily variability at measurement sites, the pH of the ocean surface layer has been measured at only a few locations, and the pH has not been measured at any location for most of the last century
        and (b)
        if the change does exists then how could it be determined if altered atmospheric CO2 caused the change to ocean pH or was caused by the change to ocean pH?”

        You have not answered either of those questions but have merely asserted;

        “The oceans have acidified 0.1 over the industrial era, and while that may seem minor, the number is logarithmic. ”

        And the reference you cite in support of your assertion does not show what you assert.

        An assertion is not metamorphed into evidence by repetition.

        Richard

      • You have not answered either of those questions but have merely asserted;

        I have, you just don’t seem to like the way in which I do it. It seem you have nothing to offer the debate except to sit on the side and confuse things by setting up parameters in which you think are suitable for scientific discussion. It’s a bunch of scientism and Popper-empirism, and has little to offer to the scientific world or show any understanding of the true nature of discovery, but it sounds good for your audience, right?

        the magnitude of the putative change in ocean surface layer pH over the century is an order of magnitude less than its daily variability at measurement sites the pH of the ocean surface layer has been measured at only a few locations, and the pH has not been measured at any location for most of the last century

        The question is answered here:

        Temporal variability exists in seawater pH, often in the
        formof cyclic oscillations of various amplitudes and periodicities. Several physical variables and biological processes drive this variability in pH, including temperature, salinity, upwelling, water currents, river runoff, sea ice melt, photosynthesis, respiration, calcification and dissolution. This variability is oftenmore extreme in coastal areas. Two
        examples of daily variability in pH in very shallow coastal areas are shown in Figure 1b [20,21]. This variability is typical of coastal environments dominated by calcareous organisms and is of significantly higher amplitude than the characteristic annual pH cycles of the open ocean. This is despite the fact that the development of phytoplankton blooms in the open ocean often amplifies the variability of the CO2 system chemistry for short periods of time [22]. Seawater pH in particular coastal areas is also heavily influenced by riverine inputs [23,24] and by the upwelling of cold and low-pH seawater, a natural phenomenon with biological impacts that are being exacerbated by the marine absorption of anthropogenic CO2

        This is why paleo research is used, particularly the the boron isotopic composition of long-lived corals to determine changes over decades.

        f the change does exists then how could it be determined if altered atmospheric CO2 caused the change to ocean pH or was caused by the change to ocean pH?”

        I also answered this. Just going to copy from my last response.
        “It uses carbonate skeleton of corals, not plants, and it involves C13 again for fossil fuel burning, but uses o11 for the past isotope levels. You can read about this in a study done in the Great Barrier Reef last year. The error bars for the o11 isotope are within ±0.02 pH units.”

        Do you have anything to add to the scientific debate?

      • Richard S Courtney

        gryposaurus:

        You ask me:
        “Do you have anything to add to the scientific debate?”

        I answer, yes, but – on the basis of what you have swritten here – I doubt you would understand it.

        My addition is covered below by T R C Curtin at December 14, 2010 at 5:22 am. He clearly bothered to read the literature from which you selectively quoted and obvioisly do not understand.

        Richard

      • I see you have nothing to offer considering you’d easily hitch your wagon to first person to come along who had the appearance of knowing something, in reality or fantasy. He doesn’t, I’m sorry to say.

      • Notice how Courtney deflects our attention from the questions asked by gryposaurus to Judith, which were:

        > I don’t at all understand what you are asking Congress to do here. Take away funding for research designed to reduce uncertainty, but fund research designed to making decisions under uncertainty? Why?

        Notice how the ensuing discussion (albeit interesting in iself) has no bearings on these questions.

        Notice how Courtney “asks” for evidence, whereas he clearly believes there are none.

        Notice how nothing gryposaurus will say will change his opinion one jot.

        Why should it?

    • When basic physics, oceanic chemistry, and paleoclimate research tells us that what we are doing can be harmful to humans, the only prudent action for science to take is to reduce the uncertainty surrounding the evidence. Any suggextestion otherwise is very unnerving.

      The actions you want taken to reduce this supposed “harmful to humans” future is akin to suggesting we should move all cities from active techonic zones. There is less certainty about when the next “big one” will hit the US west coast than we do about future possible climate change. We know for certain that earthquakes kill. We have no inclination at all that future climate changes will be bad.

      Yet we do not hear you people screaming to save lives from earthquake zones. Why is that?

      • The analogy has two parts. One, the “bad” event, earthquake = climate change. Two, the strategy, move everyone from zone = mitigation, adaption strategies for climate. This ignores that “the actions you want taken to reduce this supposed ‘harmful to humans’ ” are used as a preventative measure to the event happening. Earthquakes do not have a mitigation strategy, only an adaptive one, ie, building structures, shatterproof glass, etc. It is also part of the my value system, as well as many others like myself, that the cause of climate change is a choice, while the cause of earthquakes is not. Also, there is shared responsibility in climate change mitigation. Living along a fault line does not effect others, but emissions do, and have an external cost to third parties and the economy as a whole. There is also a choice as to whether to live in volatile fault line areas, but this does not hold true for global climate change.

    • I think the term “uncertainty” is being used in two contexts here (“uncertainty.1″ and “uncertainty.2″ below).

      If you have a system that is in inherently uncertain.1 (complex, non-linear) then that uncertainty.1 is as important part of the science as anything else (and one of the criticisms of climate science is that it has tended to ignore/minimize uncertainty.1 rather than seek to study/describe it).

      On the other hand by systematically studying and describing the uncertainty.1 in the system to understand it (and this is what statisticians and the like do for a living) rather than discount it you will reduce the uncertainty.2 in the application of climate science, even paradoxically if you find the climate is more uncertain.1.

      At the most basic you get to know what you don’t know.

      I think the point being made is that too much pressure has gone on science to ignore uncertainty.1 (driven perhaps by political imperatives to find simple answers), and not enough on studying it and thereby robustly reducing uncertainty.2 (even if the answers aren’t so pat).

      A trivial but perhaps important point.

      • I think it is important also. If it is true that Judith thinks “too much pressure has gone on science to ignore uncertainty.1 (driven perhaps by political imperatives to find simple answers), and not enough on studying it and thereby robustly reducing uncertainty.2 (even if the answers aren’t so pat).” then what I said, earlier, “the last thirty years of research is tainted by conforming results to the ideology you think is rampant in climate science, than I don’t see what any of this means” are Judith’s true feelings on this. It’s an attack on the Bayesian statistical method and that using it has weighted climate in one direction. But the reduction of uncertainty can only come through a full examination of the both the natural/man-made evidence. Asking scientists to reduce uncertainty does not effect the results of decades of research in weighing evidence. A full examination of where the evidence is wrong or bias or ignored is prudent before making statements like the ones Judith made, I’d think.

      • Richard S Courtney

        gryposaurus:

        “A full examination of where the evidence is wrong or bias or ignored” is required before any expensive and harmful action should be undertaken as a response to the debateable and unaudited “evidence”. This examination is “prudent” and Dr Curry’s comments explain why the requirement has not yet been undertaken. Please read her cogent explanation.

        Richard

  59. same data very different interpretations – is the issue…

    As a chemist – ocean acidification, is just a blantant piece of manipulative propganda… (ie emotive use of the word acidic – ref ‘acid rain’ scares)

    the oceans will never be acidic, even neutralisation is strecthing it..

    • > As a chemist [...]

      … you really ought to understand basic terminology.

      • Please explain to me – a chemist as well – which basic terminology we are both missing. Or that was a dreadful joke……..

      • I think he means that as an loose anology, when the temperature at the south pole drops from -40 C to – 39.5C we should be describing the process as the boiling of the antartic (when melting is stretching the description)

        ;)

      • The analogous term you’re struggling to avoid using there is “warming”.

      • Acidification.

      • acidification is misused.. it is designed to scare a general public… it does not really describe what is happening.

        The general public understand acidification to make something acid… (not less alkaline)

        Whatever happens to the oceans they can never be made acid..

        It is a pedantic use of the word, designed to appeal to the sensibilities of the general public, ie who remember ‘acid rain’ which actually was acidic.. and think acid = bad

        Scientist should choose their words carefully.. to educate and inform the generalpublic..

        The use of acidification is surely counter-productive nowanyway (see this comment thread), as many of the public ARE aware the oceans are alkaline, and just see the ‘ocean acidification’ as just the latest ‘alarmist scare’ by rent seeking, ‘climate scientists’ and eco lobby groups who wish to use it to push for their own goals.

        If I add something to an alkaline soultion to make it less basic, I am neutralising it….

        pretend otherwise, patronise, condescend all you like… more people read comments than ever actually comment.. and they will surely make thier own opinions.

      • I don’t think that Dave H is a chemist. He did not get the ‘basic’ reference…

      • You have a number of possible terms, but acidification is both the most descriptive and the most succinct. Neutralisation is much less correct and refers specifically to an acid/base reaction that produces a salt, which is nowhere near an accurate description of what is occuring in the oceans. Continuing your tortured analogy from earlier, its like you want to insist that rather than “warming” or “becoming less cold”, instead “unfreezing” would be a better description of what’s going on in the antarctic, despite the fact that that has a specific meaning that is less applicable than the more general term.

        Amazing that you so want a simple descriptive term to be an “alarmist scare”. Paranoid, even. Would you make the same arguments that, because it is not T-shirt weather in the antarctic, use of the word “warming” to describe an increase in temperature is deliberately misleading the public in an act of “manipulative propaganda”?

      • Richard S Courtney

        Dave H:

        You assert:
        “acidification is both the most descriptive and the most succinct … accurate description of what is occuring in the oceans.”

        Really? You can prove that ” is occuring in the oceans”?
        How?

        Richard

      • ‘Neutralisation is much less correct and refers specifically to an acid/base reaction that produces a salt, which is nowhere near an accurate description of what is occuring in the oceans’.

        Please can you tell us exactly what you think is happening if you add a very small amount of a slightly acidic solution (CO2 in H2O), to a very large volume of slightly basic solution (seawater).

        To my remembrance, the acidic solution is neutralised by the basic solution. Because of the complexity of the makeup of seawater (it is composed of many different inorganic ions) a lot of different salts are produced.

        But you say that this is ‘nowhere near an accurate description’. Please provide a better one, and indicate exactly where and why you feel ‘neutralisation’ is not the correct term.

        Just saying ‘things are more complicated’ doesn’t help to persuade me that you are right. And I think my chemical understanding would be sufficient to cope with one or two more levels of complexity. Try me.

      • And I’d use another analogy here.

        If the acid football team is losing 17-1 to the basic team (i.e being overwhelmed), it is a long stretch to suggest that they are winning the game if they happen to manage to make it 17-2.

        They are still being overwhelmed, but by just a little less. To claim victory (acidification) they would need to be 17-18 ahead.

        I don;t have time to calculate the real score in seawater, but its a far wider gap than 17-1 I think.

      • Another analogy.

        Imagine that you are standing on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, New York City. If you then walk ten blocks up Broadway you will be going north in the general direction of Canada. You are maybe 0.1% of the way to the border where you would get to be completely in Canada.

        But you are still firmly in New York City. You do not have any more Canadian characteristics than you did ten blocks to the south. You have not been ‘Canadafied’ in any sense.

        So with acids and alakalis. Until you cross the border to pH <7, you are still firmly in alkaline territory. It is disingenuous to refer to a gradual decrease in alkanlinity as 'acidification'. Any more than it would be sensible to describe the traveller now going south back down Broadway as being Mexicanified.

      • Latimer in your 2 analogies, it could be accurately said that you are travelling TOWARDS Canada or Mexico as the case may be.
        But ofcourse, if the alarmists used that terminology viz “oceans are heading towards acidic” they would be immediately shot down with the truth i.e. at the current rate, it would take 1000′s of years to acidify. End of alarm. So it is acidification.

        Please do remember Latimer, “We have to offer scary scenarios.”

      • > It is disingenuous to refer to a gradual decrease in alkanlinity as ‘acidification’.

        What’s the tolerance to pH of the various calcifying organisms? And you realize that pH is a logarithmic scale, correct?

      • You keep coming up with more and more outlandish analogies, when the ideal one was given further up the thread, but phrased in a ridiculous way that avoided the obvious terms.

        The temperature of the antarctic increases from -40C to -39.5C. Is that “warming” or “becoming less cold”? Just because you cannot describe the temperature as “warm” is the term “warming” incorrect?

        As for neutralisation – it is true to say that some of the CO2 taken up is neutralised as different carbonate ions – but some is not, and remains carbonic acid or just dissolved CO2. By using the term “neutralised” you refer to only one specific part of the interchange in the solubility pump, while “acidification” adequately describes the net effect – a decrease in pH. I suggest eg. http://eprints.ifm-geomar.de/7878/1/965_Raven_2005_OceanAcidificationDueToIncreasing_Monogr_pubid13120.pdf as a digestible primer.

      • But to pick up on your directional analogy – its like I’m standing in Australia and saying I’m going to walk North.

        You object because I’m in the Southern hemisphere, and it is foolish to say I’m heading North as I will never cross the Equator. Rather I am “becoming less South”.

      • Dave H, your point is well made but it is not the principle point of concern. The literal implication of “acidification” is different from the inferred implication of “acidification”.

        So, to adopt your analogy: I agree that it is reasonable to describe heading North from Australia as “walking North”, rather than “walking less South”, but I assert that you have an additional burden of responsibility to ensure that your “walking North” is not interpreted as “invading Europe”.

        The issue for sceptics is that alarmists are comfortable with this representation of “walking North”, or “acidification”, knowing full well that your particular phrasing will be popularly misconstrued. The issue is this purposefully misleading representation.

        Have at it, Dave H, all you want. But please don’t fool yourself into believing that this deliberate literal trickery is endearing, or that it in any way helps to restore the decimated trust in climate science, or encourages observers like myself to take what you or your ilk have to say at their word.

      • randomengineer

        I concur with Simon. The technical term for “vulgar” is simply “ordinary” but in today’s use equates to “disgusting.” The problem is that few use it in the original meaning.

        “Acidification” is a similar term: the normal use tends toward sulfuric acid dripping from the Alien’s mouth and Acid Rain and so on.

        Meanwhile, claiming that one is brilliant and the proles are stupid because they don’t get the now elderly and increasingly meaningless dictionary definition that very few use is little more than yet another mechanism used by the weak to declare some sort of intellectual victory. People using the term “acidification” KNOW how it’s interpreted by the public and use it for that very effect, and then keep themselves warm with the certainty of public stupidity (we’re smart, we know what it means; they’re stupid, they don’t, bwahahahahaha.)

        And as Simon correctly points out, this is but one more small reason why the public finds climate alarmists condescending. The public, you see, isn’t anywhere near as vapid as the alarmists reckon.

        Do you more alarmist types really think the public doesn’t detect your sneering arrogance? Please.

      • @Derech064

        Thanks, yes I do realise that pH is a logarithmic scale.

        Somewhere along the line in my undergraduate degree (major in Physical Chemistry), this fundamental fact was mentioned to me. And though it alters the argument even more in favour of not using the word ‘acidification’, I didn’t feel it necessary to add an extra level of complexity in case any non-chemists were reading.

        But you seem to feel that the logarithmicity of the pH scale is important…please explain why?

      • @ Dave H

        But you cannot say that you ‘are northified’ just by heading North. You do not adopt detectable ‘northern’ characteristics by going 100 yards in that direction.

      • @simon

        You put it much better that I was struggling to.

        ‘Deliberate literal trickery’. Bravo!

      • simon:
        > The literal implication of “acidification” is different from the inferred implication of “acidification”.

        > you have an additional burden of responsibility to ensure that your “walking North” is not interpreted as “invading Europe”.

        > knowing full well that your particular phrasing will be popularly misconstrued. The issue is this purposefully misleading representation.

        > deliberate literal trickery

        randomengineer :
        > claiming that one is brilliant and the proles are stupid because they don’t get the now elderly and increasingly meaningless dictionary definition that very few use is little more than yet another mechanism used by the weak to declare some sort of intellectual victory.

        > People using the term “acidification” KNOW how it’s interpreted by the public and use it for that very effect, and then keep themselves warm with the certainty of public stupidity (we’re smart, we know what it means; they’re stupid, they don’t, bwahahahahaha.)

        I read the above sentences, and I cannot believe how paranoid it comes across. “Purposefully misleading representation” and “deliberate literal trickery”? For providing an accurate description of observation in scientific publications? And from that it leads into a followup rant about arrogance?

        Seriously – what you’re arguing for is the creation of new, more politically correct terminology that is less likely to be *perceived* as confrontational than existing language. That someone using plain, descriptive, correct terminology has a responsibility *not* to do so, for fear of upsetting you. Never mind whether the terms actually *are* confrontational or alarming – you just perceive that it could be, therefore it must be hamstrung.

        @Latimer

        > But you cannot say that you ‘are northified’ just by heading North. You do not adopt detectable ‘northern’ characteristics by going 100 yards in that direction.

        My directional response was merely a restatement of your one in terms that made more sense to the actual subject under discussion and your criticism, such as it is, applies equally to your own scenario. I see once again you ignore the obvious warming/cooling comparison. That aside, of course you adopt detectable characteristics by moving North. This is an analogy, in which your position in space is compared to a point on a pH scale or a temperature guage. The change of your position is a detectable characteristic – indeed, is the key characteristic for the purposes of comparison.

      • Acidification = becoming more acidic.
        As a solution is not acidic until thePh falls below 7, anything with a Ph greater than 7 must be less alkaline even if the Ph is falling.

      • Dave H, as I said before, have at.

        I have absolutely no fear whatsoever that advocacy science’s deliberate PR conflation of the term “acidification” will survive the alarmist hype. Climate science is no longer trusted, and this is simply a new reason why. Just don’t be surprised when it backfires again.

      • @robb
        To paraphrase:

        Warming = becoming more warm.
        As temperature cannot be considered “warm” until it rises to conventional room temperature of 20C, anything with a temperature less than 20C must be less cool even if the temperature is rising.

        @Simon

        What you say has all the hallmarks of a paranoid conspiracy theory, with basic language being called into question to support your constructed worldview. You want to believe scientists are not to be trusted, and that warnings of serious future consequences are exaggerated. Therefore, you assert that simple descriptive terms are actually premeditated attempts to mislead (or at least culpably allow to be uncorrected) as evidence to support this notion. Your assertion is all you have – but to you (and many others here) it simply must be true. Therefore it is.

        There is no arguing with insular logic like this, and I am under no illusions that I could ever convince you to believe anything contrary to that which you had already made your mind up on.

      • Dave H – All I was doing was pointing out the facts as they pertain to the use of English. I have no preconceived ideas about the ‘acidifiation’ (or decreasing alkalinity lol) of the oceans and feeely admit that I know little about the matter. Your accusation of my belief in a conspiracy theory is unfounded and incorrect.

      • Well in fairness, Dave, it’s true that you’ll never convince me that climate science has not taken a massive credibility hit in the last 12 months since Climategate. I don’t know anyone, away from the warmist blogs, that doesn’t eye-roll at the very mention of climate catastrophe these days – including every person I know in real life.

        As for conspiracy theories; that you think you can identify my worldview speaks more to your state of denial than it does anything about me. I don’t choose to believe that climate scientists are not to be trusted, I merely observe that they are NOT trusted. I observe that they’re caught in their own paranoid wagon circle, I observe that they react explosively to criticism and I observe that they employ anti-scientific tactics to defend their claims. Whether or not you believe alarmist advocacy scientists can be trusted, their behaviour does not reinforce that belief.

      • @RobB

        You seem to have missed that the second half of my comment was addressed at Simon, not you.

        @Simon

        I think we need a new Godwin-equivalent for allusions to “climategate” in an unrelated thread. Perhaps we can describe this thread as having been Moshed, or something.

        You also don’t seem to differentiate between observation and commentary.

      • Censorship/banning of the word Climategate, as was attempted early in the life of “Climate Etc”, and I see occasional attempts like yours to Godwinize its use.

        Godwin’s Law refers to mentions of Nazism and Hitler in unrelated topics. Climategate marks an explosion of revelations about advocacy in climate sciences, and marks an important turn in public opinion as a result. It is highly relevant to any discussions regarding the science/public/policy interfaces.

        I heartily recommend that, instead of attempting to widen the scope of your personal state of Climategate denial, you (and the climate science community more broadly) finally come to terms with, and properly address the issues raised by, the Climategate event. These issues will not go away by themselves, by ignoring, censoring or trying to Godwinize the collective term for the issues raised last November onwards.

      • Dave H:

        “Rob B – you seem to have missed that the second half of my comment was addressed at Simon, not you”

        I did indeed miss it, and in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I apologise for my unjustified remarks.

      • Richard S Courtney

        DaveH:

        Alkalinity and acidity are mutually exclusive states.

        However, as you say, chemists may use ‘acidification’ as a jargon term to describe reduction to the degree of alkalinity. Adopting that jargon when talking to others is certain to mislead because people know that alkalinity and acidity are mutually exclusive states. And they react negatively when they discover that they have been misled, especially if they suspect they were deliberately misled.

        But you are saying “acidification” is the correct term for ‘becoming less alkaline’ because it is technical jargon. This ignores that jargon is only useful for those within the discipline where the true meaning of the jargon is understood.

        The general public know that alkalinity and acidity are alternative states. The understanding of the public is important when communicating with the public, and the public knows the following.

        Either a solution is alkaline or it is acidic: it cannot be both at the same time. But the degree of the alkalinity or acidity may change without the change of state. And it is a falsehood to assert that a change to the degree of alkalinity is akin to its changing state from alkaline to acid.

        Similarly, pregnancy is a state that a woman may have. She is pregnant or not. When pregnant she is not capable of conception; i.e. she is not then fertile. The condition of her pregnancy may change (hopefully, her condition develops healthily) but she remains pregnant until she gives birth. And she is not increasing her fertility as her pregnancy develops.

        So, in the public’s understanding, a claim that the oceans are acidifying is similar to a claim that a woman is becoming less pregnant.

        If you want to have another PR disaster for alarmism then use the phrase ‘ocean acidification’. Otherwise, rethink your assertion.

        Richard

      • There are some bad analogies higher up the thread, but this one is worse.

        To save time, perhaps you could just take the rest of your post and replace the words “acid/alkaline” with “warm/cool”. Perhaps if you did that you’d realise how utterly silly this whole thread is. Or perhaps not.

        Again, it amazes me just how many people are willing to jump in and claim there is something wrong (nay, wilfully and dishonestly misleading!) with using an existing term to refer accurately to observations. Description of direction of change of a property along an axis can be given irrespective of the start and end points of that property.

        Warming. Acidifying. Accelerating. Aging. Lengthening.

        No counter example has been given that actually refutes this, and all arguments so far hinge just on a restatement that it must be so. Its all a lot of handwaving around pH 7 being a tipping point between alkaline/acid, and assertions that things on one side should not be described in terms that relate to the other.

        If something is moving in the direction of increased age, is it incorrect to say it is aging when it is still in an infant state? Is it not just becoming less young? Is it un-younging? Will it continue to un-young until it hits maturity? Will it then tip over into “growing old”? Could we not determine an average mid-point age for a given organism, class things on one half as young and the other as old, and subsequently fall afoul of the same tortured logic you’ve displayed here?

        Travelling from Europe to South Africa are you moving un-North until you hit the equator, at which point South becomes applicable?

        Also, your misrepresentation of my rationale for the use of the word “acidification” and subsequent rant about “jargon” is empty and irrelevant, but par for the course it seems.

      • These guys hung up on ‘acidification’ are just arguing to argue.

        They’ve probably been suckered by Watts’ allegations that “cool stations” were dropped, so a “cooling signal” has been deleted, never mind that “cool” and “cooling” are not synonyms.

      • We are arguing for the correct use of terminology.

        I have proposed that ‘seawater neutralisation’ fits the bill far better than ‘ocean acidification’, and explained the reasons why I think so.

        If you have any sensible objections as to why this terminology should not be adopted, I’ll be pleased to hear them. And modify my view if I am wrong.

      • ‘To save time, perhaps you could just take the rest of your post and replace the words “acid/alkaline” with “warm/cool”. Perhaps if you did that you’d realise how utterly silly this whole thread is’

        I’ve pointed out elsewhere on this thread that the two situations are not comparable. Acid/alkaline is not a continuum property like cool/warm.

        That is why ‘acidification’ is a misleading term and why this discussion is not silly. Silliness comes with a refusal to acknowledge some basic facts of chemistry and the properties of acids/alkalis…however inconvenient.

      • @Dave H

        Perhaps I have failed to emphasise one very important point that illustrates why acid/alkali is not comparable to cool/warm. Sorry – it was so obvious to me that I failed to realise it may not be so to others.

        As you add a small amount of acid to an alkali, the effect is to reduce the alkaline properties of the result (its pH decreases towards 7). If you add enough acid you will arrive at the neutral state of pure water – neither acid or alkaline at pH7. It is only by adding yet further acid that the pure neutral water will begin to take on acidic qualities as its pH decrease below 7.

        There is no suggestion by anyone that there can ever be enough CO2 available or dissolved to take any seawater even to the neutral level of pH7, let alone to an acidic state. There just aren’t enough sources of CO2 around – fossil fuels or not – and carbonic acid is too weak to ever make it happen.

        Seawater will always be alkaline, just may be slightly less so. It will not be ‘more acidic’ since it has no acidic properties. Hence ‘acidification’ is an incorrect and misleading term. Neutralisation is correct.

      • Worked example for clarity.

        Assume that we have an alkaline solution that contains 100 units of hydroxyl ions (OH-) in 1000 units of pure water. We now add 1 unit of acid (H+).

        The acid neutralises one unit of hydroxyl ions according to the reaction (H+) + (OH-) –> H2O.

        We now have a slightly weaker solution of hydroxyl ions (pH reduced towards 7) with 99 units of hydroxyl in 1001 units of pure water.

        And so on. After another 49 units of acid are added we have a still weaker solution of 50 units of hydroxyl in 1050 units of pure water. And clearly after all 100 units of acid are added we have just 1100 units of neutral pure water. We have not at any point ‘acidified’ the solution. It has no acidic properties. Throughout it has shown only weakening alkaline properties.

        It is only when we add the 101 st and subsequent units of acids that our solution now starts to take on acidic characteristics….until we arrive at a solution with, say 100 H+ units in 1100 units of water. This is acidic, (pH<7). We can now neutralise it by adding hydroxyl ions where the same reaction as above will generate more water. But at no point until we get to neutral water and beyon, do thi sonce acidic solution now demonstrate alkaline properties.

        This example demonstrates why acid/alkali is not a continuum property like cool/warm.

    • Uh.

      Wow.

      I’ll have to talk to those loose-termed, alarmist physicians about daring to call de-alkalosis such a propagandized term as ‘acidosis’ in all of their medical textbooks and medical dictionaries and medical discussions.

      Those wily medicos are clearly out to skew the debate about blood plasma pH.

      • They are medico talking amonsgt themselves, nothing to do with cAGW PR and a process that is driving trillions of dollars of investement, that will be wasted, that could solve all the REAL environmental problems we have

        It is mis-used to influence the general public…

        Ie the public with think that it will be made ‘acidic’ (cf acid rain – ph <7)
        The oceans will never be acidic (due to human co2)

      • This astoundingly Orwellian excursion into doublespeak boggles.

        Are people in your experience so thin-skinned as to hear the word ‘acid’ causes them to panic and hear the doom bell tolling?

        Really?

        Most in my experience hear ‘acid’ and think Timothy Leary or of a Rolaids commercial, and are utterly indifferent to the propagandic value of these two little syllables.

        This Not-Uppian usage brings to mind a tall tale of Texas.

        A Texan was describing for an out-of-town preacher the directions from the local church social to his home. “Now, Preacher, you face South, then turn left toward Beaumont, and start on your way with Lubbock over your shoulder behind you..”

        The preacher, to clarify, asks, “You mean, ‘head East?’”

        The room fell silent.

        “Now Preacher,” intoned the Texan giving the directions, “I know you ain’t from around here, but I’m surprised to hear a man of the cloth using such language in mixed company.”

      • This astoundingly Orwellian excursion into doublespeak boggles.

        Indeed, sir, indeed. I’ll see your boggle and raise “global climate disruption.”

        The problem you have is a lack of perspective. It’s not the general public who is doing the doublespeak.

      • Meh.

        Complaining of every word people you disagree with use as propaganda doesn’t make you the plain-spoken one.

        It just means you can’t tolerate plain speaking.

        Ocean pH is heading down, not less up. That’s acidification. The same as if I’m trying to get my hydrangeas to change to pink, I lime the soil, not ‘de-acidify’ it, to make it more alkaline (even though the pH is below 7.0).

        The usage pretended to of those objecting to ‘acidification’ is a contrived bit of silliness the likes of which I have never heard in three decades of dealing with chemists, gardeners and others professional and amateur interested in the subject.

        If the terminology ought be ruled by those ignorant of the subject or blatantly seeking to spin it for advantage in response to simple usage, then perhaps we ought resort to one syllable words and slang?

        Here. I’ll start.

        Make up your mind.

        Are the words bad for what they mean, or for how they sound?

      • Seconded.

        I’ve complained elsewhere about loaded language used in “skeptical” reporting of AGW so I’m not going to pretend that terminology is not important, but I’ve also seen often enough in debates on contentious subjects an absolute determination by some people to take offence at the most innocuous language used by opponents, and this certainly seems to be the latter case.

        ISTM that there are two key questions here. Firstly, is the language used to communicate the issue to the public different from that used in the academic research? If it was then there might be a case for suggesting that the science is being reported in an “alarmist” way. Well I’ve only looked at a small number of papers on the subject but they all use the term “acidification” so it does seem to be standard terminology, not a term invented for propaganda purposes.

        The second question is “is this phenomenon real and likely to be a problem”. After all, if it’s not then the objection should be to raising the issue at all rather than what it is called. But it seems that it is likely to be a problem – see Orr 2005, Fabry 2008 and Kroeker 2010 for example.

        The problem here seems to be an inability to accept that one’s opponents are acting in good faith (and I won’t pretend it’s always confined to one side). In this instance it doesn’t matter that much, it’s just a silly argument over semantics, but in general it doesn’t make for meaningful debate.

      • I’ve stated elsewhere that the word “acidification” is received differently by scientists and by the masses. It’s entirely up to the scientists if they want to let “acidification” be misinterpreted and allow the alarm to spin up around that word. It’s their PR campaign, their shots, their call. Their bubble.

        My point is that, by letting this happen, the scientists are setting themselves up for another trust issue moment further down the road, when it becomes known popularly that “ocean acidification” does not actually mean that the oceans will turn to acid.

        When it transpires later that the scientists knew this all along, and deliberately failed to communicate this important distinction in the usage of the word “acidification” in their alarmist PR spin to the public, it will not matter one jot if the term “acidification” was the best term to use. It won’t reflect well on the scientists when their “acidification” bubble bursts.

      • Look, I’m always in favour of effective communication so if there is actual evidence that the public is confused by the use of the word “acidification” and you can think of a more meaningful one then I’m not going to quibble about it. What I would object to is the notion that scientists are wilfully engaged in some kind of propaganda exercise on this issue.
        Personally I would give the public credit for being able to see the word “acidification” without thinking that they are going to lose their toes if they go for a paddle. I’m a member of the public after all and the meaning is clear enough to me. Ultimately scientists will be judged on how the effects of increased CO2 levels in the ocean compare against those predicted in the literature, and the most important thing is to communicate effectively what those effects are likely to be and the wider ramifications.

      • > I’ve stated elsewhere that the word “acidification” is received differently by scientists and by the masses.

        Citation needed.

      • Acid and alkaline are not relative terms like cooler and warmer.

        An acid solution is defined as one where the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) is greater than that of hydroxyl ions (OH-), and an alkaline (aka basic) solution as one where the hydroxyl ion concentration is greater than that of the hydrogen ions. Pure water has equal quantities of both and it so happens that the pH of pure water is 7.

        Note that this is a see-saw relationship. Either acidic or alkaline. You cannot have both. Like Dave discussed earlier….but with the proviso that you are either in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere. You cannot (except in the very special case of straddling the equator) be in both. The see is up and the saw is down or the opposite.

        This is a true example of a tipping point. We hear a lot about unproven tipping points in climatology, but here is a real one. Slightly reducing the weight on the down side (which is what your definition of ‘acidification’ does, does not move the seesaw until the tippong point (pH7) is reached. And there is universal agreement that there just isn’t enough CO2 around (nor is there ever going to be) and it is far too weakly acidic to make that happen.

        Start to panic when you see the White Cliffs of Dover starting to fizz….before then, use another term than ‘acidification’.

        And thanks for the heads up about hydrangeas. I’d naively assumed that the changed colour based on on acid/alkali, but on further research it’s to do with the takeup of aluminium sulphate. I’ve learnt something at least.

      • > use another term than ‘acidification’.

        Suggestions?

      • This all reminds me of the fantastic soil acidification controversy.

      • I know not of this. Sounds fascinating. Do tell!

      • A term that more accurately describes the science is ‘seawater neutralisation’.

        I use the term ‘seawater’ since there has been universal agreement that whatever effects increased CO2 may have, they are limited to the top few hundred metres and do not affect the deep oceans where the vast majority of all oceanic water is located. Seawater gives a better account than the misleading ‘ocean’.

        And ‘neutralisation’ is an accurate description of the effect of adding a small quantity of a weak acid to a very large quantity of a weak alkali solution. The pH of the alkali is marginally reduced towards pH 7 (neutral). It is not ‘acidifying’ the alkali.

        But I guess it wouldn’t get the headlines on the TV News

        ‘ Scientists discuss mild Seawater Neutralisation’ doesn’t have the same oopmh as the misleading and inaccurate ‘Oceans are Acidifying – Scientists Warning!’

        But that’s climatology. Never let the few facts get in the way of a good alarmist story.

      • Likewise, don’t ever let the facts get in the way of your “everything’s fine, nothing to note or see here, just move along” narrative…

      • @derech064

        Which facts do you think I am ignoring?

        If I may be so bold as to make a rare personal remark, I detect that you are very free with your accusations about other people and what you impute their motives to be. But very lightweight when challenged to justify these with any evidence. This pattern of behaviour does you few favours.

        PS – please see my worked example below of why ‘acidification’ is not the correct term. If, having studied it, you have actual points to make, please do so.

      • Hint: “Warming” does not mean “warm” (or “hot”); “acidification” does not mean “acid”.

        BTW, have you figured out my other question, namely, “What’s the tolerance to pH of the various calcifying organisms?”

        That’s the important question – not whether or not you think “acidification” is politically correct.

      • I have no opinion at all on whether ‘acidification’ is politically correct. I do have the opinion that it is not scientifically correct, and have explained why at some length – both generally and numerically. I assume that you have read both and cannot rebut either. Hence your irrelevant remark about ‘political correctness’

        You have not pointed out either the ‘facts that I am conveniently ignoring’, nor the ‘glaring factual error’ that you accused me of elesewhere.

        Re calcifying organisms. Since we know that CO2 levels have been much higher in the planet’s history and that primitive organisms managed to lay down soem pretty good chalk hills in what is now UK, I think we can assume that they will be able to survive small changes in pH. I also note that the pH varies pretty widely around the world, and even where it is lowest (least alkaline), there seems to be no shortage of seashells. This reassures me that millions of millenia of evolution have produced resilient creatures that will not be too worried about minor changes in hydroxyl ion concentration.

        If you have evidence that such very minor changes have serious consequences, please present it.

      • Latimer -
        I recommend that you peruse this Review Article, and its seven pages of references, for evidence of serious consequences.

      • Thanks. I’ve already read it.

        Lots of ‘if’s and ‘may’s and ‘could’s. But very little actual data. Stick coral in water at pH 7.4, and it doesn’t calcify. Fine…but there is no expectation that we would ever approach a pH as low as that. Nor that such a change would happen overnight so that the organism had no opportunity to evolve a response.

        So – heavy on rhetoric and on ‘not well understood, more research is needed’. But light on actual relevant facts. I am not going to lose sleep over it tonight.

      • Well then, I recommend the article to other readers who might get more out of it.

      • Oh, and other readers (not you, Latimer) may also be interested this article by coral reef expert J. E. N. Veron on the outlook for the Great Barrier Reef.

      • @Pat

        Were there some particular points in the review article that you wished to draw my attention to? It may be that I missed something important.

      • @Pat

        You have linked to what is effectively a puff piece for his own book by Veron. And he makes a lot of handwaving arguments about terrible things happening in the future.

        But its level is summed up by the phrase ‘in a long period of deep personal anguish…….’

        There are some interesting comments afterwards as well. Once the ‘Mother Gaia is dying’ nonsense stuff has been dispensed with there are some thoughtful pieces on the changes that reefs have seen in geological history.

        So – unless you are especially interested in Veron’s deep personal anguish and handwaving about doomsday, I suggest that you don’t spend too much time on this one.

      • Ummm… Bart, I don’t have a dog in this fight. I was only pointing out that the doublespeak doesn’t come from the skeptic side, it comes from the advocacy side. The silly “global climate disruption” business is yet another example of how it is that the advocates want to “frame the narrative” such that the public’s pavlovian reaction includes widespread involuntary knicker wetting. Apparently the belief here is that the public is vapid and requires framing of any narrative more complex than NFL games. Frame something to where the public is self-soiling and perhaps they’ll pay attention. (Conversely much of the public tends to perceive advocates as arrogant twits who think they’re a great deal more clever than the public. I wonder why.)

        As far as I can see your foils in this partucular sidebar argument are making a valid point — if not for advocates screeching at volume 11 regarding acidification, the skeptics would pay it no attention whatsoever.

        This is a sad thing to observe. Why? Because this feeds back to the scientific community.

        The problem **scientists** have is that as this gets more and more politicised, the screechers become the focal point. No it’s not fair to the scientific community to have to pay attention to PR. Sorry. Life ain’t fair.

        ANDREW ADAMS — nobody is taking offence to the terms themselves. What people object to is the hijacking or passing of ownership of an innocent enough term that is then used for the express purpose of instilling fear (see my comment re global climate disruption replying to Bart R.)

        As I see it, the lay of the lands is that every time things start to quiet down enough for rational discussion, some imbecile decides to ratchet the screech mechanism via silly pronouncements like GLOBAL CLIMATE DISRUPTION, which is a string of 3 words designed to promote ***FEAR***, not discussion.

        If you can’t see this, you’re simply not paying attention.

      • G. L. Alston

        See, I understand your argument, but you’re using doublespeak in a way unlike the definition and usage I know.

        Doublespeak is used to obfuscate and warp. As has been pointed out, and better, by others, the language which specialists use among themselves is no different from the language they tend to use publicly. If anything, their adherence to technical correctness hurts them when they present it to not the public, but the skeptical watchdogs of the public dialectic.

        The people who redefine terms they dislike, who politicize or polemicize ordinary words to better fit their contexts, are seldom technical specialists, nor should be allowed the camouflage of melting anonymously into the innocent multitudes. If you’re going to harangue about word choice, then its simple cowardice to use plain-speaking people as body shields to deflect inquiry into your agenda.

        You may argue that there is an inherent bias in word choice that leads to unconscious prejudices, and that such sentinels of the public mind are merely helping keep our minds pure and balanced.

        This has been argued in gender power politics and racial language stereotyping debates, but it is a heavy hammer to use except in the most extremely fragile sensibilities, and when people get down to numbers and mathematical symbols, this argument runs out of steam entirely.

        Even the choice of the mild and inoffensive word ‘advocates’ seems by comparison spinny and prejudicial, when held side by side with a sigma or a delta, a zero or a one.

        I’m sure by pigeonholing people as advocates you are innocent of attempt to spin the discourse, as you accuse the ‘advocates’ of doing. It would serve no good end to complain of this label. I’m sure individuals in the public can figure out for themselves what you are saying without my help in framing the words they’re allowed to hear.

        However, the ‘advocates’ resort to sigmas and deltas, ones and zeroes, and choose their words as determined by cold calculation and belaboured logic, reasoning and testing and subjecting their ideas to careful, close scrutiny by habit of a lifetime. Joe Public might not be used to it, but if he’s like the Joe Public I know, he’s smart enough to handle a bit of inconvenient truth.

        Just like, I’m sure the ‘skeptic side’ believes of itself, and of what they say to Joe Public, too.

        I’ve sometimes, as a lifelong skeptic, wondered how my label got appropriated to a side that, from time to time, is credulous of anything that tends to flatter their lazier notions. Hard mirror to look into, for me, and a goad to Skeptic Harder.

        However, to my memory, most of the most contrived terms, like ‘global climate disruption,’ and ‘the science is certain,’ and ‘de-alkalinization’ come not from any particular calculus or statistic, but from pedantic reactionism, as we have seen here in the case of objections to ‘acidification.’

        The trait I ascribe to doublespeak, however, which distinguishes my usage from yours, is that it can’t come from those who are first to voice an idea. Original thought, by definition, at its source has no double. So.. ‘advocates’ of an original idea are immunized from accusation of doublespeak, as I spin the world. Er, see the world. ;)

      • I propose above that this discussion can simply be settled by using the accurate term ‘seawater neutralisation’.

        It is truly a ‘neutral’ term and should be acceptable to all sides. No emotional baggage that I can see.

        Does anyone have any objections to this? Scientific or otherwise?

      • I pointed out the less accurate nature of the term “neutralisation” to you a day or two ago. You did not respond.

        Neutralisation has a specific meaning, and one which represents part of the process underway – whereas “acidification” is a better and more accurate description of the general process. The only controversy in the usage of that term is the one you and others in this thread choose to create.

        It is quite disingenuous to create a spurious controversy, then claim a solution to said controversy that suits you, and represent your favoured solution as if it where completely reasonable and one that ought to be acceptable to everyone. Passive-aggressive, even.

      • The expression “ocean acidification” is already in use in the litchurchur.

        The expression “seawater neutralisation” is already taken elsewhere.

      • How are we all on the related term, “coral bleaching?”

        Should it be dimmed to “calcification correction?”

        Or “overpredation,” and “overfishing,” to “population control,” or “wildlife management,” or “efficiency improvement?”

        “Dehabitation,” to “recreational use?”

        “Extinction,” to “historification?”

        “Gormless” to “skeptical”?

      • Ocean delimification?

        Like reducing the British influence?

      • Haha don’t start on the Coral Bleaching Bart because corals actually do not bleach in the same sense as most people understand bleaching i.e. chemical or sun bleaching.

        Just don’t go there lol

      • @ dave h

        Respond I did, and asked you to desceribe exactly why you did not think ‘neutralisation’ was the correct term. You reproduced a textbook definition, but with no explanation as to why it did not apply in this case.

        Here is your opportunity once again to explain. You state that ‘neutralisation’ is only part of the process that is under way. OK – please explain what other process you think is occurring. And why you prefer that together with the agreed neutralisation you think that the total process should be called ‘acidification’

        Assume, if you will, that I am reasonably well educated in Chemistry, having a Masters degree in that subject. But my study of inorganic chemistry – which this is – finished at Bachelor level.

        A hint you may find useful. Many chemical salts are soluble in water at ‘ordinary temperatures’.

      • @willard

        I did not know that ‘seawater neutralisation’ is already in common use. Please guide me to where that is so.

        The ‘literature’ used to refer to phlogsiton, the lumineforous ether, bodily humours and the Steady State Theory of Cosmology. They were shown to be wrong and the literature eventually caught up. I see no reason why this shouldn’t happen in this case as so often in the past.

      • The Google Scholar is your friend, Latimer.

      • Bart

        Nicely written rebuttal. Well put.

        There’s one thing though I’ll address —

        I’m sure by pigeonholing people as advocates you are innocent of attempt to spin the discourse, as you accuse the ‘advocates’ of doing.

        I have an utterly neutral position on the climate subject; i.e. I reckon it’s real enough, but I’m not going to go off the deep end. Skepticism rules the day.

        I tend to view extremists at both ends though through the same filter: there are certainly advocates as well as their anitpodal opposites who screech “hoax!” Of course there are extremists. There always are.

        Merely noting that advocates exist isn’t spin, else one could observe nothing whatsoever. The conversation seems to be veering into Charles Murray territory where Murray is accused of racism by noting differences. Noting a thing exists isn’t fungible with endorsement of a thing.

        The main thrust of my point however was that certain terms, phrases, etc. (especially those that can fit in a bumper sticker or compress into a sound bite) are being used fairly exclusively by one side as clubs.

        And again, noting that this is the case is neither endorsement not complaint. I find it curious that many of those who seem to be aligned with the AGW side seem to not notice the obvious. This too is an observation.

      • You are not makimg the soil ‘more alkaline’. You are using lime (an alkali) to neutralise some of the acid. You are making the soil less acidic (nearer to neutral). Only when you have first neutralised all of the acid will adding lime start to give the soil alkaline properties.

        I have shown in another contribution how this works with a worked example to illustrate. You need no more than O level Chemistry to follow it.

  60. Dr. Curry,
    While I think the case against the consensus is far stronger than you allude to, you are the one who was asked these questions. I think you gave a fair and ethical set of answers and I thank you for seeking to involve the ‘rabble’ of your community as well as for sharing your answers here in such an open way.

  61. Dr. Curry
    Most of the scientists ‘absorbed’ into CO2 molecule have lost touch with the real causes of climate change.
    Graph No. 4 in: http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NPG.htm
    should at least be of interest to
    Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Oceans
    University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.
    declaring: At the time of this writing, causes for (and predictability limits of) the PDO are not known. What is known is that the nature of the mechanisms giving rise to the PDO will determine whether or not it is possible to make decade-long PDO climate predictions.

    http://www.atmos.washington.edu/~mantua/REPORTS/PDO/PDO_cs.htm

    • vukcevic thanks for this. i am planning a post on this general topic in the context of decadal scale predictability, but i am running behind

      • Thank you.
        Currently only one North Atlantic Gateway has been identified. It appears to be the AMO driver. It has been added to the above web page.

      • I will be talking generally about the modes of natural variability. on your gateway plots, it is not clear what the lines represent. do you have any text written up on the gateway idea. also its hard to navigate through your site and find things, without having the specific link. there are interesting ideas here, but i’m having difficult sorting through them and figuring them out from your plots

      • Dr. Curry
        Thanks for the note. I started wandering through the climate jungle about 16 months ago, after stumbling on this correlation .
        My website is disorganised, but there is an odd logic to it. Most of the stuff there is totally irrelevant; ‘gateways’ is a new angle of attack, since magnetic correlations failed to come up with a ‘viable transfer mechanism’, no such problems here.
        The ‘Gateways’ is just a working title, as a practical engineer (electronics background) I am far more interested in getting product out, then describing it.
        Only reasonable articulated text I wrote is here .
        The data I use are widely available, but in this case I am retaining some details, in case I am tempted to enter into a co-authoring arrangement with an academic institution (any brave souls out there to make me an offer ?); no FOI applicable before than .

      • Vukcevic,
        Interesting that you of all people should pick up on an interesting correlation to: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/12/09/the-story-told-by-the-southern-oscillation-index/

        I found the time frame to the salinity changes in the oceans surface to be incredible in almost overlapping.

      • Vukcevic,
        Something to consider.
        Salt has more crystalline type properties than it does to magnetic properties.

      • Mr. Lalonde.
        Magnetic field in the equatorial Pacific is very weak (GMFz equator = 0), and most likely is irrelevant.
        From my post: ‘gateways’ is a new angle of attack, since magnetic correlations failed to come up with a ‘viable transfer mechanism’, no such problems here.
        Of course, there is a link between salinity and thermocline.

      • Vukcevic,
        Here is the kicker though, of having weak gravity at the equator.
        You have a strong centrifugal force that exerts on the atmosphere.

  62. Dr Curry
    I just want to wish you all the luck in the world for your endeavors.
    You are going to need it, And you deserve it.

  63. There is of course a fundamental perverseness of logic when considering climatic warming today in comparison to climatic warming in the historic record. Historically, warmings have resulted in crop abundance, prosperity and highpoints in cultural civilization. In the interests of political advocacy, any references to the recognised beneficial effects of warming, such as frost free growing season length, crop yield and plant growth rates, increased food supply to both human and natural biota, are regarded as off message and politically incorrect, at least as far as the media, advocacy and political public information sources are concerned. Where recognised in the IPCC, they tend to be marginalised in summary. This mischief is quite deliberate, not scientific, and clearly intended to convey inflammatory alarm. The literature is awash with negative impacts of warming compared to benefits. So what, if climate cools, is the corollary? A Garden of Eden, not.

  64. Dr. Curry, this is an excellent post. Your answers are to-the-point and well thought out. The perspective and tone you take to frame the answers is scientific in the best sense of the word. Well done.

  65. Judith,

    I really liked this followup – it seemed clear and to poke a sharp stick into murky corners will hopefully be explored by the House.

  66. Dr Curry

    I too would like to thank you for sharing this response with us. The thing that strikes me is that you have dealt with this request for further testimony in the full light of public scrutiny via your blog. Truly a valiant effort and a lesson to those who call themselves scientists but do not embrace the need to share data and code.

    You are top banana!

    Gary

  67. I believe the discussions of uncertainty at this blog and Dr. Curry’s testimony follow up accurately portray the actual uncertainties of climate science. I am in complete agreement with Dr Curry’s testimony. Unfortunately, the regulatory policy impression of uncertainty in the United States and elsewhere is more often characterized by the New York Climate Action Plan Interim Report.

    The New York Climate Action Plan Interim Report is available at http://www.nyclimatechange.us/InterimReport.cfm. It outlines a proposed response necessary to meet Governor Patterson’s goal of an 80% reduction of 1990 greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (http://www.nyclimatechange.us/ewebeditpro/items/O109F24028.pdf). The rationale for meeting this goal is described in Chapter 2, Introduction to Climate Change (reference 1)

    “Climate change is occurring in New York and around the globe. Global mean temperatures and sea levels have been increasing for the last century, accompanied by other changes in the Earth’s climate. While Earth’s climate is subject to natural variation, the changes we currently see in our climate result largely from human activities, which have increased atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs), as well as aerosols (black carbon and sulfate). The natural greenhouse effect keeps the Earth warm enough to support life, but higher amounts of GHGs from human activities have increased average global temperatures and led to other climate changes and effects. Relatively small increases in average global temperature can cause large changes in the Earth’s climate system. Warming of the Earth is unequivocal, documented by observations of higher global average air, land surface, and ocean temperatures; widespread melting of mountain glaciers and ice sheets; and rising global average sea level. (reference 2)”

    “Reference 1: Climate science is complex and evolving. Much of the text in this chapter on New York’s climate and vulnerability to climate change is from the ClimAID project (see Appendix H for the draft summary report). For a more thorough description of climate change in New York State, including references, please see the draft of the full ClimAID report available at http://www.nyserda.org/programs/environment/emep/home.asp . For additional information on climate science and national and global impacts of climate change we recommend the reader consult summary documents from the US National Academy of Sciences, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), United States federal agencies including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and peer reviewed scientific literature. “

    “Reference 2: Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change. Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report; Summary for Policymakers. 2007. “

    http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/publications_ipcc_fourth_assessment_report_synthesis_report.htm

    This chapter then goes on to address “uncertainty” in the following section:
    “Uncertainty and Likelihoods”
    “Projections of future climate conditions are characterized by large uncertainties. At the global scale these uncertainties can be divided into two main categories:
    • Uncertainties in future land-use changes and emissions of GHG gases and other climate drivers, such as aerosols and black carbon
    • Uncertainties regarding the sensitivity of the climate system to GHG concentrations and other climate drivers. “

    “When considering future changes at local and regional, geographic scales, uncertainties increase, for two additional reasons:
    • Climate variability, such as precipitation extremes, can be especially large over small regions, partially masking more uniform effects of climate change.
    • Changes in local atmospheric processes that operate at small scales, such as land or sea breezes, may not be captured by the global climate models used to make projections. “

    “Uncertainties may be reduced by using projections generated from a range of global climate models and GHG emissions scenarios as was done with ClimAID, but they cannot be fully eliminated. Additionally, averaging the projections over 30-year time periods and showing changes in climate through time, rather than absolute climate values, reduces the local- and regional-scale uncertainties. However, these techniques do not address the possibility that local processes may change with time. “

    This section perfectly illustrates the problems with the current process addressed in Dr. Curry’s testimony, especially the focus on ”on providing scientific information on anthropogenic climate change for use as justification of a Treaty (in this case the NY Climate Action Plan), at the expense of a thorough assessment of natural climate variability, the limitations and uncertainties associated with climate model projections, etc.”

    By the way you can comment on the document until 2/7/2010.

  68. Louise said: “I find it astonishing that you don’t seem to recognise that additional CO2 can be released into the atmosphere when livestock is reared for human consumption. This need not be solely belching/farting but from the fossil fuels used in the production of foods that these animals then eat (e.g. fertilizers, vehicle fuels, etc) before we then eat them.
    Do you seriously believe that this is carbon neutral?”

    Well here is what your lovable authors Pelletier & Tyedmers have to say:

    “To date, no full cradle-to-plate estimates of global
    food system greenhouse gas emissions are available (10). However,
    the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (8) estimates
    the direct contribution from agriculture at 10–12%, not
    accounting for land conversion effects. If the latter is included,
    one recent study (11) estimates agriculture’s contribution at
    17–32% of anthropogenic emissions. Estimates of full supply
    chain emissions are available for the European Union (EU)-
    25, which suggest that the food system contributes 31% to total
    emissions (12). A large fraction of these emissions are attributable
    to the livestock sector (5).”

    Neither there nor elsewhere in their inimitably horrible paper do they mention the CO2 taken up by livestock in their bodies much of which is stored for their lifetimes, and respired only at death, but as the FAO’s Livestock’s long Shadow recognised, with a growing global livestock population, that population is a net sink of CO2.

    Speaking personally, few things give me as much pleasure driving around rural NSW as the sight of millions of sheep, horses and cattle contentedly munching on grass in unimproved paddocks. Have them killed off where you live by all means, but do keep away from us please.

    • Argh! You fight the hook, but swallowed it anyway!

      CARBON NEUTRALITY is BS! Plants do best at 1,000 – 1,200 ppm. CO2 producing activities should be subsidized and supported.

  69. Judith,
    That was excellent!
    Not a word on warming or cooling, just strictly to the science field.
    I don’t think current government has the power or will to change but…
    It will definately be looked at for it’s straight forward candour and honesty with the problems at hand.

  70. In case no-one has mentioned it yet, Roger Pielke Sr has a blog post on his site, the title of which is self-explanatory

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/12/10/my-comments-on-an-excellent-weblog-post-by-judy-curry/

  71. Does it make sense for climate scientists, in their ardor to receive funding, to downplay uncertainty (as Judy alleges) in favor of certainty? Schneider and others have made the same point – basically, that Judy’s argument lacks logic or reason. Certainly more money is given to scientists addressing uncertainties, not those researching settled questions.

    If climate scientists are only in it for the gold, why do they allow any certainty at all?

    • Richard S Courtney

      Derecho64:

      In attempt to demean Dr Curry’s excellent middle-of-the-road arguments you present a straw man; viz.
      “If climate scientists are only in it for the gold, why do they allow any certainty at all?”

      But she does not suggest, state or imply that “climate scientists are only in it for the gold”.

      And you make a false and demonstrably untrue assertion; viz.
      “Judy’s argument lacks logic or reason”.

      Clearly, you have not read her argument(s), or you have reading comprehension problems, or you are deliberately misrepresenting what she has written.

      Her arguments are balanced. So, as a ‘AGW-skeptic’ I could dispute some of her arguments, and it is possible to make an honest ‘AGW-supporter’ dispute of some of her arguments. The fact that you choose to misrepresent what she says – instead of disputing it – tells about you and says nothing about Dr Curry’s arguments.

      Richard

      • Judy’s *raison d’etre* is that the climate science community has deliberately downplayed uncertainty. I’ve seen her use that word almost endlessly here. Am I lying?

      • Richard S Courtney

        Derecho64:

        Please read Dr Curry’s answer to Question 2b . I fail to understand how that answer can be equated with your untrue assertions of what Dr Curry has said. Perhaps you can explain the discrepancy (but I doubt it)?

        Only you can know if you are “lying”. As I said;
        “Clearly, you have not read her argument(s), or you have reading comprehension problems, or you are deliberately misrepresenting what she has written.”

        Richard

      • I read her comments. I stand by what I wrote.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Derecho64:

        In response to my asking:
        “Please read Dr Curry’s answer to Question 2b . I fail to understand how that answer can be equated with your untrue assertions of what Dr Curry has said. Perhaps you can explain the discrepancy (but I doubt it)?”

        You have replied:
        “I read her comments. I stand by what I wrote.”

        Of course you do. I was expecting that because it is normal alarmist behaviour to make an absurd assertion (e.g. the globe is warming in an unpredented manner, polar bears are a threatened species, the oceans are acidifying, etc.) and when the assertion is challenged to then expect the assertion to be accepted unless disproved.

        In this case, you made untrue assertions concerning Dr Curry’s written Testimony that is the subject of this thread. For example, you suggested that Dr Curry has asserted that “climate scientists are only in it for the gold”.

        Your suggestion is a falsehood and I called you on it.

        Anybody can scroll up and read that Dr Curry actually wrote; e.g. this:
        “The bottom line is that scientists worked within the system to maximize their professional reputations, influence, and funding. Rather than blame the scientists for optimizing their rewards within the system, we need to take a careful look at the system, most particularly the climate science-policy interface and the federal funding of climate science.”

        Working within the system that employed them is not being “only in it for the gold”: it is the normal and proper way that any human being avoids losing his/her job.

        And your assertion is a gross distortion when Dr Curry specifically says;
        “Rather than blame the scientists for optimizing their rewards within the system, we need to take a careful look at the system, …”.

        Your refusal to withdraw your unwarranted distortions of what Dr Curry has said is dishonourable, but is typical of anonymous alarmist trolls.

        Richard

      • Judith also says:

        “A broader base of scientists should participate in the assessments, including those whose scientific reputations and funding aren’t tied to climate change.”

        She means that scientists who are studying climate change are perverting the science to secure funding. She’s made any number of comments in which she’s claimed (without solid evidence) that “some” scientists are engaged in what amounts to little more than financial fraud. She won’t be specific, of course.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Derecho64:

        Your selective quotations taken out of context are reprehensible. On your own admission, you are using them in attempt to justify your ascribing a malign motive to Dr Curry.

        And they are fooling nobody (except perhaps yourself).

        Apologise for your misrepresentations.

        Richard

      • @derech064

        So you don’t think it would be a good idea to have a people whose job is statistics look at the stuff that is primarily statistics, but where the statistical data just happens to be about climate?

        Or to have people whose fulltime job is IT data analysis and curation take a look at how climatologists look after their climate data and show better ways to do it? Especially when those climatologists are self taught amateur programmers working at weekends.

        Or to let people whose professional expertise is in validating computer models have a gander at the models so frequently used – but so rarely validated – in climatology? Especially when the practitioners have convinced themselves (but nobody else) that such models positively don’t need validation.

        Dunno about you, but if my GP tells me she thinks i have trouble with, say, my pancreas, I expect her to refer em to the [pancreas expert..who may see 500 cases a year, Not to rely on her expertise where, however fine a GP she is, she may not see more than a handful of such cases in a decade.

        The same is true of cliamtology. Very litttle that falls within that field is not stuff that’s already done elsewhere. It is ridiculous to imagine that just because data is ‘climate-related’ it has some special mystical significance that means it is immune from well-developed techniques from other fields, and contains secrets only available to ‘trained climatologists’.

        Perhaps you have an alternative view. Please share it.

      • All those strawmen painfully executed.

        Do you honestly believe that the climate science community doesn’t work with statisticians, data management experts, and experienced software engineers? Really.

        Lemme guess – your basic knowledge of the field comes from the stolen emails. You interpret them to comport with your biases, so of course you believe the climate science community is full of “shysters”, and the stolen emails are proof, in your eyes. You’ve made more than one roaringly bad error of fact, so you’re basically pontificating and judging from near-total ignorance. And doing it a lot, too.

      • ‘Do you honestly believe that the climate science community doesn’t work with statisticians, data management experts, and experienced software engineers? Really’

        I see no signs in their work that they do, and plenty of evidence (Mikey Mann and the Hockey Stick for example) that they don’t.

        Please convince me otherwise. You could begin by describing the data management processes at the CRU/UEA who are custodians of one of the three ‘most important datasets in human history’. Or which of their staff are ‘experienced software engineers’. Here’s their current staff list

        http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/people/

        And I must have been distracted when I made a ‘roaringly bad error of fact’. Please remind me what it was so that I can make suitable amends if needed.

      • All of climate science is contained within Mike Mann and the CRU. Can you figure out how many ways that’s wrong?

        Here’s a couple of examples of statistics, data management and so on…

        http://www.samsi.info/workshop/climate-change-workshop-0

        http://www.image.ucar.edu

        http://www.agu.org/meetings/fm10/outreach/communications_workshops.php#data

        Now, if the climate science community was as ignorant and incompetent as you claim (“shysters”) then why would any of the above exist?

        Again, your knowledge about the science and the community is from little more than the hacked emails. Yet you feel wise enough to pass judgement on the whole enterprise. I can think of a few words that would describe your beliefs.

      • Thanks Derech for those interesting links.

        I’m truly delighted to see that real efforts have been made in 2010 to make a start on changing the ‘climate science communiy’s past and inadequate practices. I also note that all of these links are to seminars on the relevant subjects, rather than to examples of tested and tried existing working practices.

        But we must applaud the participants for at least recognising that these problems exist and and beginning to take the first steps on a long and painful road.

        Some specific comments on each of the three links you provided:

        Stats and Climatology seminar (February 2010):

        ‘The field would benefit from increased interaction between statisticians and climate researchers–an interaction this workshop is aiming to foster’ (from the programme).

        My comment: Excellent. Just twenty years too late.

        Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe)

        Theme of the Year (2010): Mathematicians and Climate

        My comment: Excellent. Just twenty years too late.

        AGU Communications Workshop (current today)’

        ‘Writing your Data Management Plan’ 90 mins workshop.

        Excellent. Just forty years too late. And you not only have to write the plan, you actually have to carry it out. Commercial organisations have been doing this effectively since the 1960s.

        All these workshops an seminars are indeed steps in the right direction. But that they are needed at all just shows how bad the old practices have been.

        I hope very much that when embedded and a natural part of the culture, rather than topics discussed once a year at a conference (a process that will take 10-20 years in a very conservative profession like climatology), we will start to see the results in far better climate science that is worthy of its name.

        Until then, I see no reason to withdraw my criticisms of what has already been done and published. Nor of some of the participants involved.

        Still waiting to be reminded of that ‘glaring error of fact’

      • The interactions between the climate science community and others (statisticians, data experts, software engineering) are not new as of 2010, despite your snide insinuations to the contrary.

        I merely presented a very small selection of recent events – not a set of brand-new ideas that are just beginning to be learned.

      • Fine. I can only read the evidence that you chose to present – and how those seminars describe themselves.

        If you have more persuasive evidence, you are entirely free to present it. But the descriptions of both the climate & statistics and the data management seminars do imply that they are innovations rather than ‘business as usual’.

        I am not making ‘snide insinuations’. I am reading what you asked me to read and quoting what it said.

        If the evidence you have shown is indeed unrepresentative, then I suggest that you look for better exhibits, rather than criticise me for taking the time to study it in detail.

      • Why don’t you do your own research, instead of relying on others? Oh yeah – I pointed you in the direction of “A Vast Machine”, and since you didn’t find the terms you wanted in the index, you dismissed it out of hand. Do you have an objection to primary sources, or would you rather just argue on a blog and no more? I suspect that you argue just to argue.

      • You asked me:

        ‘Do you honestly believe that the climate science community doesn’t work with statisticians, data management experts, and experienced software engineers?’

        I replied that I had seen no evidence that it did. You presented some…which did not prove the point that you had made..ie that these things were commonplace and in day-to-day currency within climatology. If anything they indicated the opposite.

        I conclude therefore that you have been unable to demonstrate the truth of your belief that they are commonplace.

        Re ‘The Vast Machine’. I have several times asked you to illustrate exactly how this book speaks to the point under discussion. And you have failed to do so.

        Since it is only available to me by spending a significant amount of my own money (twenty quid is still twenty quid – half a day’s work or more for me), I need more than a simple pointer from you to shell out such an amount. Especially when I looked in detail at what was available to me without such cost and wrote a reasoned and backed up piece about why I wasn’t disposed to buy it.

        Maybe you are lucky enough to have big cash resources from Big Oil or somewhere, and twenty quid is but a drop in the ocean to you. But I don’t.

      • Use some of your google-fu and poke around. Given that climate is the statistical representation of weather, don’t you think the climate science community isn’t ignorant of statistics?

        As for “A Vast Machine”, perhaps a local library has it.

      • ‘Given that climate is the statistical representation of weather, don’t you think the climate science community isn’t ignorant of statistics?’

        Too many ‘not’s in there for this time in the morning. But I think what you are saying is

        Given that climate is the statistical representation of weather, do I think the climate science community is ignorant of statistics?’

        Not just me who think so. So does the seminar organiser: I quote once more:

        ‘The field would benefit from increased interaction between statisticians and climate researchers–an interaction this workshop is aiming to foster’.

        Clearly, the existing level of interaction between statisticians and climatologists is insufficient.

      • You’re assuming that “increased” means “increased from zero” or “increased from epsilon”.

        Why?

      • @derech064

        I see no evidence that the most insightful statistical brains on the planet have been flocking to work on the ‘problem’ of climate change. ‘The most important problem humanity has ever faced (or some such guff)’

        Given that the only way to even discern that such a problem exists is by crunching huge quantities of numbers supposedly to find a very small signal among an extremely noisy background, it seems even to me (who finished studying maths at 1st year undergraduate level), that what is needed is some deep understanding of statistics.

        One of the panel members at the Climategate debate in London in the summer put it very well when he said said ‘temperature records are just a time series of data and you use the same statistics on it whether its temperature, stock prices or any other set of variables. Its statistics.’

        But the ordure heaped upon one (in)famous member of the extended climatology community for daring to comment on one particularly egregious bit of statistical trickery was quite revealing. In essence the nub of the matter was

        ‘How does he dare to know about climate – he’s only a statistician?’

        We call that ‘shooting oneself in the foot’ in my country. Spectacular Fail!

      • Blindly applying statistical analysis to observation-based data is that you can have problems like this:

        Particle speeds (units = 1000s miles/second):
        180, 181, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186
        mean = 183
        sigma = 2.2
        +/- 2σ values: 178.7, 187.3

        Do you see the problem?

        Statisticians need some knowledge of the data they’re crunching so that they don’t make mistakes like the above.

        M&W 2010 showed that.

      • Gosh.. that’s a hard one. I imagine that I was probably about 13 when I had learnt enough science to recognise lightning quick that we were approaching a place where some funny things might be going to happen.

        But has climatology got such things that a competent statistician couldn’t bone up on in half a day with his tame climate scientist? Are there ‘universal climate limits’ that mean some temperatures are impossible or meaningless?

        Please provide a couple of real climate-related examples where a statistician might fall foul of such an analysis.

        And if you are going to make ‘dark noises’ about somebody;s papers, you could at least do us the courtesy of explaining which errors you think they have made. Like the ‘roaringly bad’ factual error that you have said I made, but have been unable to identify for several days (and after several prompts) now.

      • > Are there ‘universal climate limits’ that mean some temperatures are impossible or meaningless?

        Can you think of a few? What about other climatological quantities that aren’t physical, which require some knowledge of the subject rather than just ignorantly accepting some number dropped out of an analysis.

        And it takes more than “half a day” to learn climate science. I don’t consider statisticians to be than brilliant – just like I wouldn’t consider statistics to require just “half a day” to be taught by a tame statistician.

        There are many responses to M&W 2010, linked at RealClimate. You may want to look over them.

      • So that’s a ‘no’ to both questions then.

        No – you can’t think of any statistical traps to use as an illustration. But you do know that they must be there.

        And No – you can’t describe anything wrong with the paper you cite. But you know that there are statistical errors in it, even if you can’t quite recall what they are.

        BTW – I didn’t say you can learn all of climate science in half a day. But unless there are zillions of statistical traps built-in (and you haven’t managed to cite even one), I can’t imagine that it is too hard to learn to avoid them. Especially if that is your raison d’etre. To find signals in noisy data.

        Why this belief that there is something ‘otherworldly’ about climate-related studies? Can you name one aspect that is unique to climate science and does not have a considerable overlap with the fields, methods and techniques of more established science?

      • I pointed you to responses to M&W 2010; is RC anathema to you such that you won’t even go there and look? Wow.

        Consider temps > 60C, negative precipitation, salinities 150 m/s, etc.

        Knowing something about the nature of the climate system sure does help avoid blindly dumping out numbers. See my physics example above. The stats are correct, yet they’re also wrong. Do you get that?

      • Wow – I’m sure that no statistician would be able to work that those things are a bit weird all by themselves! I’m sure that 60C temperatures wouldn’t ring any bells with them. Assuming that they have had a roughly ‘maths and science-based’ pre-university curriculum, such things would be completely unknown…let alone their own experiences as a human being who might occasionally have looked at a thermometer or heard a weather report in their 25+ years on the planet.

        And they might possibly know just enough science to wonder what negative rainfall would be without needing to study climatology for three years.

        Yoru salinaites greater than 150 m/s rather baffles me though. Salinity is a measure of ‘saltiness’ and measured in units of mass/volune or even percentage. Your example (m/s) is a speed…distance per time. Maybe there is some truly climatological reason to this conundrum — please explain it.

        Please reread my earlier post. And study the unusual phrase ‘lightning quick’. Does my choice of this term give you a clue that I had understood that it was (probably) impossible to reach speeds of 187.3 (greater than 186, the speed of light) even though it was 2 sigma plus the mean.

        If these are the most frightening unique to climatology examples you can find, then I;d exepcet a competent O level student to avoid such traps…let alone an experienced statistician. Cut the half day with a climate scientist to a quick coffee and an occasional exchange of e-mails if really stumped.

        Re the paper you cite. I was interested to know if you could actually illustrate any of the deficiencies you claim exist therein. You can’t, but have to refer me elsewhere.

      • Wow – I’m sure that no statistician would be able to work that those things are a bit weird all by themselves! I’m sure that 60C temperatures wouldn’t ring any bells with them. Assuming that they have had a roughly ‘maths and science-based’ pre-university curriculum, such things would be completely unknown…let alone their own experiences as a human being who might occasionally have looked at a thermometer or heard a weather report in their 25+ years on the planet.

        And they might possibly know just enough science to wonder what negative rainfall would be without needing to study climatology for three years.

        Yoru salinaites greater than 150 m/s rather baffles me though. Salinity is a measure of ‘saltiness’ and measured in units of mass/volune or even percentage. Your example (m/s) is a speed…distance per time. Maybe there is some truly climatological reason to this conundrum — please explain it.

        Please reread my earlier post. And study the unusual phrase ‘lightning quick’. Does my choice of this term give you a clue that I had understood that it was (probably) impossible to reach speeds of 187.3 (greater than 186, the speed of light) even though it was 2 sigma plus the mean.

        If these are the most frightening unique to climatology examples you can find, then I’d expect a competent O level student to avoid such traps…let alone an experienced statistician. Cut the half day with a climate scientist to a quick coffee and an occasional exchange of e-mails if really stumped.

        Re the paper you cite. I was interested to know if you could actually illustrate any of the deficiencies you claim exist therein. You can’t, but have to refer me elsewhere.

      • Wow – some text got truncated. I meant “salinities 150 m/s”.

        Now, you may think that such numbers will be readily apparent and obvious. Consider unit or other conversions, or derived quantities, and then non-physical numbers aren’t so obvious.

        It’s clear you think the climate science community is just full of dolts and imbeciles, such that a teenager with a smidgeon of math could teach the community quite a few things.

        Interestingly, despite climate science being such a trivial subject, you’ve never bothered to spend even a short tea break to educate yourself on the subject. Clearly, someone of your brilliance should be able to pick it up very quickly – then you can really illuminate where the community has made spectacular fail after spectacular fail.

        I’ve pointed you to critiques of M&W 2010; why don’t you examine them? Why should I merely cut-n-paste them here? Just how lazy are you?

        Oh here’s another educational opportunity for you. Won’t cost you a thing.

      • Now I got it – can’t use lesser-than or greater-than signs without escaping them, lest they be interpreted as HTML. How ’bout this:

        “salinities less than 20 ppt, winds greater than 20 m/s”.

      • ‘It’s clear you think the climate science community is just full of dolts and imbeciles, such that a teenager with a smidgeon of math could teach the community quite a few things’

        I have no such view. But I do wonder why such a community is so quick to critcise anybody from ‘outside’ as ‘not a climate scientist’ and yet claims particular expertise to itself when dabbling in fields such a statistics about numbers that happen to be temperatures, or seawater chemistry that just happens to be affected by one particular gas that may have something to do with temperature. As if the ‘cliamteness’ of the subject under discussion somehow gave absolution from applying sound scientific principles and also bestowed freedom from criticism.

        Re teenagers. It was you who suggested that professional statisticians should not be involved in climate science as they might fall into particular potholes. When asked to suggest examples of such potholes, you provided a risible list (including ‘negative rain’).

        I merely pointed out that a scientifically educated teenager would be able to avoid such beartraps, let alone a professional statistician. If you think otherwise, please provide better examples.

      • Re your ‘educational opportunity’ I found teh idea of climate researchers ‘risking life and limb on the high seas’ quite a fun one. Which ‘climate reserachers’ were these? The much derided weathermen and ordinary sailors who gathered the raw data? Or is there a posse (a la NCIS) of climate scientist waiting to wizz off anywhere at the drop of a hat to measure the temperature?

        But the bit where I gave up was

        ‘Even as they stretched their minds to the limit on intellectual problems that often proved insoluble, their attention was diverted into grueling administrative struggles to win minimal support for the great work’

        H’mmmm. Suitable for a six year old’s ‘Lives of the Climatology Saints’ perhaps. But a bit too gushing for me.

  72. Replying to gryposaurus said on Testimony followup: Part II
    December 13, 2010 at 10:38 pm “In response to Rob Starkey on December 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm: You wrote 3 points- (and I am not trying to prove you wrong) 1. The rate at which the levels are changing are 100X faster than normal. This is not at all a natural phenomenon, and any illusion otherwise would be wrong. – I ask– Can you reference the data upon which you have reached [...]……”
    Grypo said…” The oceans have acidified 0.1 over the industrial era, and while that may seem minor, the number is logarithmic” and then gives a useful link to the study by Dore et al in PNAS 2009.

    Sadly that study is misleading, given that its conclusions are rather different from those in the Abstract – which by stressing “a significant long term decreasing trend in 0f 0.0019 in surface pH” are no doubt what secured its publication. Yet the concluding paragraph reluctantly admits that from 1999 to 2003 at Aloha there was a 5-year period of rapid INCREASE in pH. So much for the long-term in the Abstract.

    Not mentioned by Dore et all is that 1998 saw the record El Nino, followed by return to more La Nina conditions. What are the pH levels today at Aloha? PNAS will see to it that we never know.

    The Dore et al paper begins with the usual PNAS confusion between CO2 emissions and atmospheric [CO2] increase: “Atmospheric CO2 is increasing at an accelerating rate primarily due to fossil fuel combustion”. The actual annual rate of growth of [CO2] has not budged from 0.296% p.a. since 1958, unless you go to the 4th decimal point.

    Ironically the very absorption of CO2 of the oceans which they depend on for their analysis of pH is what keeps the growth of [CO2] flat at not even half of one percent p.a. Yet Dore et al claim without a shred of supporting data that they expect pH to fall this century by up to an arithmetic 4 times the claimed rate since 1750, and of course much more logarithmically.

    Real scientists check their facts, especially those in their opening statement, but when you know PNAS will publish any old tosh on climate, why would not even one of Messrs Dore, Lukas, Sadler, Church, and Karl bother?

    • Sadly that study is misleading, given that its conclusions are rather different from those in the Abstract – which by stressing “a significant long term decreasing trend in 0f 0.0019 in surface pH” are no doubt what secured its publication. Yet the concluding paragraph reluctantly admits that from 1999 to 2003 at Aloha there was a 5-year period of rapid INCREASE in pH. So much for the long-term in the Abstract.

      No, it’s not misleading, just needs to be read correctly. The anomaly is described in the paper well before the final “reluctant” admission, which isn’t reluctant actually, it’s actually discussing geo-engineering possibilities there, but that’s not even the point. The point is that these natural processes that keep the levels don’t disappear, of course, and I’m not sure why you would think any scientist would want to hide this, or need to “admit” it considering it’s already well described in the literature. You can even find in the Wiki entry on Ocean Acidification, if you want. Eventually the amount to CO2 uptaked from the atmosphere will overwhelm these processes. This is happening faster in the Northern Hemisphere, especially in Arctic coastal waters.

      Not mentioned by Dore et all is that 1998 saw the record El Nino, followed by return to more La Nina conditions. What are the pH levels today at Aloha? PNAS will see to it that we never know.

      Not sure what shadowy conspiracy you are alluding to, but the data, just for this study, goes through 2007. Is there an X file for the PNAS yet?

      The actual annual rate of growth of [CO2] has not budged from 0.296% p.a. since 1958, unless you go to the 4th decimal point.

      You are using decimal points instead of the mole fraction for whatever reason, I assume to show that we need to “go to the 4th decimal point” as if that actually means something. It’s like saying that bacteria isn’t harmful because it’s so tiny. The dry air mole fraction number of CO2 molecules / number of molecules in the air after H2O has been removed. People use the ppm distinction and everyone is in agreement that the statement made by the authors here is quite correct.

      • This the first sentence in Dore et al (PNAS 2009):
        “Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing at an accelerating
        rate, primarily due to fossil fuel combustion and land use change.”

        The term “rate” generally means rate of growth in % per time period, usually annual. Atmospheric CO2 (i.e. [CO2]) has actually grown at less than 0.5% p.a. since 1958 (the latest figure is 0.296% p.a.). There is no evidence that the rate of growth is accelerating.

        It is true that most American scientists do not know what a rate of growth is or how to compute it, eg at NOAA, CDIAC etc, where they define absolute increases in CO2 in ppm as “rates of growth”. This is a perversion.

        Be that as it may, it is true that there has been a barely noticeable increase in the year on year increases in CO2 in ppm since 1958, and in the month/year levels. The linear trends are respectively 0.0256 ppm p.a. and 0.0022 ppm p.a., with respective R2 of 0.4072 and 0.3025. There is some acceleration for the period since 1990 but the R2s fall in each case. Much the best fits are the #5 polynomials in all cases, which mostly (3 out of 4) show declining trends in this decade. All the polynomials are fully consistent with ENSO, in fact you can tell El Nino/La Nina years simply by looking at the graphs of [CO2]; Every El Nino year shows the biggest increases in [CO2] because of the negative effects of droughts on uptakes of CO2 emissions by the terrestrial biota.

        Dore & co neither know nor want to know anything of this, although it has major implications for variations in oceanic pH. What about you?

      • What about you?

        Please explain “the perversion”. I’m going to guess it is more silly conspiracy. Atmospheric CO2 is increasing at an accelerating rate. The authors, as well as everyone else, are unequivocally aware of this. Either you don’t understand how the carbon cycle works and why CO2 accumulates or you are just pulling numbers out of the air. Since your idea is way out of the mainstream, perhaps you can cite the numbers exactly and explain why they are different from the ones measured directly. You would also need to explain how the carbon cycle is broken, or doesn’t exist, or whatever else you think is going on. Otherwise, this looks like trickery.

      • TRRC has presented some mathematics to show that (according to his figures) atmospheric CO2 is not *increasing at an accelerating rate*. You merely assert that it is. With no figures to back it up.

        Note that TRCC does not argue about whether CO2 is increasing…he argues that the rate at which it is increasing is constant. Hence the statement that ‘it is increasing at an accelerating rate’ is untrue.

        Can you show that not only is CO2 increasing (not in dispute), but also that the rate at which it is increasing is itself increasing?

        Numerical examples please.

      • I’m sure that TRRC can answer for himself, but you seem to be talking about different things.

        You say ‘each decade had an acceleration of emissions’. No claim has been made about emissions. He is specifically referring to the sentence ‘Atmospheric CO2 is increasing at an accelerating rate’. You later say ‘perhaps he is mistakenly discussing the air fraction of CO2 – which hasn’t any significant rate increase’

        Even to my naive eye, these two things are not the same. Related perhaps, but definitely not the same. The amount retained in the atmosphere is obviously influenced in some way by the emissions (among with a lot of other things I guess). But emissions is not the question. I’ve no idea what you mean by ‘air fraction’, but is sounds suspiciously like ‘atmospheric CO2′. Which is exactly what was discussed in the paper in question and which TRRC challenges.

        Please explain why ‘air fraction’ is not synonymous with ‘atmospheric’. And why you feel that a discussion of estimates of total emissions is more directly relevant to the matter in hand.

        Unless I have misunderstood, you appear to be actually agreeing with TRRC despite your claims to the contrary.

        Thanks also for providing some numbers.

        In reply I’ll merely say 54 years: 4233.7, 1.71056, 3.14159, 2.7816

        Unannotated and uncommented numbers are not explanations. At least not in any science outside paleoclimatology. I have no ide awhat your string of numbers was supposed to tell me, as you didn’t see fit to provide any key. Have fun working out what mine are.

      • The number are 10 yr, 15 yr, and 20 yr averages of the Mauna Lau data which I linked to. I’m not sure how else to annotate. Averages are fairly straight forward. You have not held TRCC to the same standard (Gee, I wonder why). He has provided no links and given no reason for the statistical analysis he has used, or given a reason as to why he is not using the ppm but instead using pa decimals. In reality, no matter how you parse it, the rate has been accelerating, with a short time in the early nineties that it stayed stable because of the fall of the Soviet Union. The emissions rate and the CO2 growth are not the same but related, not perfectly from year to year because carbon sinks differently at different times during the year and different Earth scenarios, but overall, a trend in an increase in emissions is going to be a trend in atmospheric CO2 accumulation.

      • FWIW using Firefox as my browser, *all* your links point only to the top of the article – starting at ‘USE OF NOAA ESRL DATA’

        Hence the linked numbers are meaningless. Perhaps you use a different technique and all is well, but that’s not how it was received here.

      • The problem isn’t your browser, it’s my mistake of not correctly closing the “a href” tag for the link, so it appears to a post full of links. It isn’t, my bad. There should be only one link. I derived all the conclusions from that one set of annual readings of CO2 concentration from Mauna Loa. I’m just taking different blocks of time to offset the problem of length selection bias and endpoint selection bias as much as I can for this quick exercise.

      • Thanks Grypo. That explains the problem,and my ‘meaningless numbers’ remarks.

        I will look at it again ‘with new eyes’. Cheers

      • Latimer Alder is spot on. I too have no idea what Grypo’s númbers refer to, certainly not to the annual data from Mauna Loa on the atmospheric concentration of CO2 which is always stated in ppm. The unadjusted annual levels (Dec-Dec) yield a growth rate of 0.295% from end 1958 to end of 2009 and 0.296%p.a. from end 1991 to end 2009.

        If we consider only the annual INCREASES at Mauna Loa since 1958, these increments have been growing at the stunning rate rate of 0.013367 % p.a. For the period from 1991 to end 2009, there has indeed been some acceleration, to 0.024993 % p.a., just what one needs to become Formula One World Champion. The graphs of these trends show absolutely flat straight lines.

        As for total emissions they have been growing fast, but seemingly at a decreasing rate. Knorr (GRL 2009) confirms what my analysis shows, no statistically significant increase in the airborne fraction of emissions, because of the efficiency of the biotic sinks.

      • It’s ain’t money:

      • Great. Thanks. Really helpful.Two unannotated graphs that presumably are telling us something, together with the cryptic message ‘Its aint money’

        Forgive me if my breakfast coffee hasn’t kicked in yet, but wtf are you trying to tell us? Please spell it out for the caffeine-challenged among us.

      • Too much wine.

        In my opinion, and I’m just a layperson, it isn’t like money.

        The pre-industrail 280 ppm is not earning an equivalent of interest. It does not grow over time. The anthropogenic CO2 that is building up in the atmosphere is not producing additional CO2 over time. Unlike money, neither is being put to work. Neither produces additional CO2.

        To double the pre-industrial CO2 level of 280 ppm, something has to put 280 more ppm up there.

        So as a for instance, the growth rate from 280 to 300 has nothing to do with 280 ppm; it’s the growth rate from 0 ppm of anthropogenic CO2 to 20 ppm of anthropogenic CO2. The growth rate from 300 to 350 has nothing to do with 300; it’s the growth rate from 0 to 50.

        Humans have to produce each additional ppm on the way to 280.

        To double, it’s the growth rate from 0 to 280. The rate of growth is driven by human choices. We quit; it quits. We put the pedal to the metal; it, the rate of growth, puts the pedal to the metal.

        In roughly 1975, we put the pedal to the metal, and later on we activated the supercharger. If we keep it up, we will double at about 2050.

      • OK. Followed your logic.

        And your next point is?

      • “Not true, in fact a lie. The growth rate of the atmospheric concentration of
        CO2 has been 0.296 percent p.a since 1958 (check CDIAC for the Mauna LOa data), which means it would take 236 years to double from the 1958 level. …”
        – T R C Curtin

        That the above, a response to Vaughan Pratt’s claim that anthropogenic CO2 doubles very 32.5 years, is wrong.

        We’re at 108 ppm now (388 – 280.) The graph indicates 280 in 2050. According to Chairman Pratt, we should hit 216 in 2042.5. I haven’t checked to see if he’s right, but I would bet on that amateur.

      • I too have no idea what Grypo’s númbers refer to, certainly not to the annual data from Mauna Loa on the atmospheric concentration of CO2 which is always stated in ppm.

        Yes it is. I linked to the data and did averages in ppm.

        Knorr (GRL 2009) confirms what my analysis shows, no statistically significant increase in the airborne fraction of emissions, because of the efficiency of the biotic sinks.

        As I expected, you are using the airborne fraction of emissions, but this does not change the rate of increase in the atmosphere. You have misread the study. It only means the the percentage sinked has not changed. The more we emit, the more gets sinked, but also the more that accumulates. You are confusing totally different processes. This was a fairly common mistake when the study was released.

      • Tim, using the data from

        ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_annmean_mlo.txt

        Decade Average change (ppm)
        60-69 0.86
        70-79 0.88
        80-89 0.87
        90-99 0.90
        00-09 1.07

        No reason to get obfuscatory with percentages and excessive digits.

      • Whoa – did I ever make a mistake with those numbers. Here’s the correct numbers:

        Decade Average annual change (ppm)
        60-69 0.86
        70-79 1.22
        80-89 1.61
        90-99 1.52
        00-09 1.92

        Last I checked, 1.92 was bigger than 1.52, 1.61, 1.22 and 0.86. So the claim is correct – the CO2 rate of change is increasing, i.e., it is accelerating.

      • Derek: You seem to forget that the IPCC’s “Radiative Forcing” is all about the LNs of ABSOLUTE levels of TOTAL atmospheric CO2 in any year relative to the base year’s 280 ppm in say 1900. Expressed as percentages of the respective TOTAL levels, the increments you cite are trivial even if they are increasing somewhat. I repeat, the ABSOLUTE level of [CO2] is growing very slowly, at only 0.29% p.a. since 1958. That is why the IPCC’s radiative forcing formula fails to correlate with the even slower rises in temperature. The rising increments you cite are derisory in the scheme of things, and that is why Dore et al were misleading in their opening statement.Feel free to tell me the increase in radiative forcing of 1.92 ppm relative to 0.86. Answer: undetectable.

      • Th goal posts keeps moving around. It actually is very detectable. Because CO2 accumulates the rate of increase is very important, especially when you consider that we are in unchartered territory for amount in the atmosphere. The point is very clear that rates should not be increasing if we have chance of meeting any kind of emissions targets.

        But you are now onto radiative forcing and natural logarithms. When this conversation stated we were talking about CO2 rate increases and ocean acidification, which radiative forcing isn’t a direct variable in ocean acidification. But whatever, let’s disentangle this confusion also. The radiative forcing equation is 5.35 (CO2 radiative transfer number from studying satellite data) times the natural logarithm of the change in CO2. We can do 2 equations to see if the rate of radiative forcing has increased.

        1958-1980
        5.35 X ln(338.68/315.98)
        5.35 X ln(1.07) the ln of 1.07 = .068
        5.35 X .068 = .36 w/m2

        Now, same equation with 1981 – 2009 CO2 numbers in ppm.
        5.35 X ln(387.35/340.11)
        5.35 X ln(1.14) the ln of 1.14 = .131
        5.35 X .131 = .70 w/m2

        The rate of radiative forcing has also changed and it’s rate is increasing.

      • Tim is well-known for goalpost moving and Gish galloping.

        Despite his attempts to obscure the truth, the average annual growth rate in CO2 concentrations is indeed increasing.

      • Derek and Grypo:

        You both clearly have all the qualifications needed for membership of NAS, if not already members. If you are not I have friends who are members and could propose you.

        The minimum requirements (which you both exemplify) are

        1. Cannot compute percentages, so cannot show trend values, like ALL 2500 IPCC authors of AR4;
        2. Cannot do calculus so cannot distinguish between absolute changes in a variable and percentage changes in that variable.

        1. The linear trend in absolute changes in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 (i.e. [CO2] as measured at Mauna Loa since 1958 are:
        y = 0.0256x + 0.7753
        R² = 0.4072

        That is to say, [CO2] has increased at 0.0256 ppm p.a. using the least squared linear fit. However the level 5 polynomial has a better fit:

        y = -3E-07×5 + 4E-05×4 – 0.0018×3 + 0.0328×2 – 0.1952x + 1.0585
        R² = 0.4554
        and is trending down as of 2009.
        2. The trend in percentage changes in [CO2] is
        y = 0.0057x + 0.2619
        R² = 0.29
        Clearly, the rate of growth of the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is minimal (it is half that of the absolute values) and not statistically significant. Do try to learn some calculus!

        Again the level 5 polynomial has a better fit and is also trending down as of end 2009:

        y = -9E-08×5 + 1E-05×4 – 0.0005×3 + 0.0094×2 – 0.0557x + 0.3244
        R² = 0.3566

        Thus there is no evidence for statistically significant accelerating growth in [CO2], because the oceanic and terrestrial sinks are keeping pace over the long haul with the current 3% p.a. increase in emissions.

  73. Replying to Bart R who said on Testimony followup: Part II
    December 13, 2010 at 11:05 pm
    “I think we’re seeing plenty of evidence of my claims in-thread; how rational is it to proclaim someone a Statistician and deny he’s an Economist, when his formal training and credentials declaim Economics, and nowhere formally denote Statistics? This irrational sophistry is all the sophistication one sees in these rather pointless claims. It’s not speaking ill of a person to cite their credentials, so why get bent out of shape making up appellations that are unearned, when perfectly good earned ones apply and are apparent?”

    Bart, did you ever go to University? Certainly not to to Oxford! Its PPE degree is in Politics Philosophy and Economics, but within those fields one can focus more on one than on the others, and in the Economics field one is bound to have to do statistics, and may well quite possibly specialise therein. That was true of my own University of London 1st degree, which included a Statistics module within the Economics portion of a 3-subject degree. Statistics is not mentioned in my Certificate, but that does not mean I did none.

    Bart, as before you show you are too literal minded to be of much use. Demonstrate that you are a better statistician than Steve Mc. (e.g. by faulting one of his papers). You cannot nor ever will as he is one the best around.

    • Plus Steve’s work will have been subject to the well known and established career long or career short quality control system of “You have cost us money do not darken our door again”.

  74. JC: Since a higher level of confidence would make decision makers more willing to act, political opponents to action sold doubt and the scientists countered by selling certainty and consensus

    IOW, the scientists’ primary true motivation is political. They lean to the totalitarian end of the poltical spectrum, they want political action. And to that end, produce politics-compliant science.

    JC: If the government wants objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies

    Mostly, government wants what most benefits goverment.

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