BEST(?) PR

by Judith Curry

The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project is giving us much to discuss.  A number people have criticized the BEST PR in terms of posting the papers before the peer review process has completed, issuing a press release, etc.

Some history

Last February, the BEST project was announced publicly, and I did a blog post on the background and rationale for the study.  At the time, this didn’t generate too much interest or controversy; people on both sides of the debate seemed to think this was a good idea.

The BEST group engaged extensively with the other groups producing surface temperature data sets and also with interested skeptics and auditors (e.g. Watts, Mosher, Zeke).

In March, Richard Muller testified before the U.S. Congress regarding the BEST project, I posted on this [here].  Muller took heat from both sides.

Since summer, people have been asking on this blog: “What’s going on with BEST?”  “Why aren’t we hearing anything about BEST?”

BEST’s recent PR

A few weeks ago, I became aware that the BEST data set was nearly ready for public release and that a press release was being prepared.  I was not involved in any of the deliberations surround this; this was merely a “heads up” saying that I may be contacted by journos.

On the two recent BEST threads, and elsewhere across the blogosphere and media, many are criticizing the BEST project particularly with regards to their PR:  issuing a press release before acceptance of the papers for publication, and the public statements made by Muller.  Of the discussions of these issues on the Climate Etc. threads, I have found comments by MattStat to be insightful:

MattStatt writes:

The BEST team has drawn some heat for putting their drafts on line prior to peer review and publication, but I think that your selection of critiques displays the wisdom of their (and, by extension, your) approach. Whatever the results of peer-review might have been, this has been in fact a very severe review by talented experts who were not likely to have been selected as reviewers. You’ll recall that the paper in Annals of Applied Statistics by McShane and Wyner had critiques by 9 teams of colleagues as well as a rejoinder, that paper was put on line well in advance of publication, and the authors referred to the online critiques as well as published critiques in their printed rejoinder and supporting online material (the published version alone amounted to 110 pp.)

I think that Dr. Muller had it right: this is a modern-day version of circulating a preprint while the paper is in review. The published version is likely to be much improved, even if not every critique can be resolved to the satisfaction of all involved.

From another MattStat comment:

As to “media blitz”, I do not think it credible that they might have put up their 4 papers and their data and code and then said (as I would have recommended them to say) “No comment” to all media inquiries. Anything they might have said, and all of their silences, would have been attacked from left and right, from believers, skeptics and deniers. Of the zillions of imperfect ways to handle the media for this politicized topic, they chose one of the imperfect ways.

JC’s Monday morning quarterbacking

The reason I think a press release was appropriate for the release of the BEST data is aptly stated by Steve McIntyre:

The entry of the BEST team into this milieu is therefore welcome on any number of counts. An independent re-examination of the temperature record is welcome and long overdue, particularly when they have ensured that their team included not only qualified statistical competence, but eminent (Brillinger).

Whatever the outcome of the BEST analysis, they have brought welcome and fresh ideas to a topic which, despite its importance, has had virtually no intellectual investment in the past 25 years.

The data set itself is of importance, the notion of public availability and complete transparency is important (particularly in the wake of Climategate and the issues with the CRU data set), and the idea of a fresh look by experts outside of the climate field is important.  If I had been in charge of the PR for BEST, this is what I would have emphasized.

Muller chose to emphasize the actual scientific results as described in 4 manuscripts that are in the early stage of the peer review process.   I am totally supportive of making submitted papers public available for public scrutiny.  However, I am not so supportive of overselling the results of the papers.  As I stated in my original post on this, I felt that two of the papers (AMO and surface station quality) were not yet ready for prime time.

I was contacted by a few journos last week, I made my points, but they were interested in the implications for trend analysis, UHI effect, station quality.  I made the point that these were complicated issues, and that I regarded the BEST papers (which were as yet unpublished) to be the first of many analyses on these topics using the new data set.  This wasn’t what the journos found interesting, and I don’t think any of my quotes on this made it into print.

The issue for which Muller has taken the most heat is his public statements regarding his analysis as being the end to climate change skepticism.  To Muller’s credit, he has taken the initiative to engage with and listen to skeptics, albeit on the narrow topic of the surface land temperature data record.  Relative to the broader issue of attribution, which are at the heart of skeptical concern, details of the surface temperature record don’t play a terribly large role in most people’s skepticism about climate change.

My bottom line assessment  is:

  • a press release on this was warranted
  • I applaud making the submitted papers publicly accessible at this time
  • the spin on the press release and Muller’s subsequent statements have introduced unnecessary controversy into the BEST data and papers
I will meet with Muller and Rohde next week in Santa Fe (more on this meeting in a few days).  I will see if they will agree to an interview for Climate Etc.  This thread is an opportunity for you to craft questions for them to respond to.

241 responses to “BEST(?) PR

  1. Please. What would Anthony Watts’ contribution look like with his recommended 30 year time series assessment vs what is purported to be a 60 year time series. Side-by-side comparisons would be helpful. Rationale for one over the other provides an opportunity to agree/disagree with the authors’s stance.

  2. An interview would be a wonderful opportunity. Hope that comes to pass. I’ve no problem with the way they’ve done things. TRuthfully, I don’t understand Anthony Watts resentment. I don’t believe he’s being objective.

    I actually look at the paper as a victory of sort for the skeptics. No one was arguing that we haven’t warmed. And that one line to the effect that man’s contribution to said warming may be somewhat overstated is the important take-away as far as I’m concerned. I wish they’d left out the qualifier “somewhat,” but I’ll take it…

    • On the contrary, a number of people have argued that it has not warmed, or not nearly as much as indicated by the statistical models. I do not see the Muller et al results changing that. They have not changed my mind.

      • Actual it was Phil Jones that said there had been no statistical signification warming over the last few years , and in science if its not that its not jack .

      • There will never have been statistically significant global warming is the last few years, because statistical significance is heavily dependent on the amount of data points and hence the length of the record you are trending.

        There has been statistically significant warming over the last three decades and there is no indication that that warming has stopped.

      • Muller says it has warmed 1.5C since 1800. Do you think this is too high? what number would satisfy you as being “right”

      • A trenberthian shifting of the burden of proof.

      • Turn that around and ask what the historical probability of seeing a 1.5 degree change in two centuries?

        I did this chart the other day from the Vostok Ice Core data:
        http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-k1vYjQ8Qthk/TqdulOhrSEI/AAAAAAAAAko/0H9kUnzIcZs/s1600/vostok_temperature_changes.gif

        The top chart is a cumulative and you can see that the probability of seeing a 0.75 degree change per century is just a few hundredths in historical terms. If it is a 1 degree change in a 100 years, it is even less. Anything higher than that and the probability drops like a rock.
        That’s what makes this topic interesting, as these numbers are really borderline in terms of extreme value probability distributions.

      • Steven Mosher

        It is not a shifting of the burden of proof. I am not asking him to prove anything. Do you believe in a LIA? that is do you believe it was colder in the LIA than now? how much colder? If Muller said it was 1C warmer now than then would that get davids approval?. If muller said it was as cool now as in the LIA I’m sure david would find a way to object. So I’m merely asking him what number will make him happy.

        1. people wanted more data, Best got more
        2. people wanted raw, they got raw
        3. people wanted professional statisticians.. well the professionals had already SHOWN that cru and giss were too low ( see below) Best gave them professional statisticians.

        So, I repeat my question to you? if muller says 1.5 and you think thats too high, just warm was the LIA?

        You know some time ago two fine skeptical thinkers at jeffIds did there own method. None other than RomanM ( of climate audit fame) and JeffId.. one of the guys who took down Steig. RomanM of course is a professional statistician. Their answer was also warmer than CRU and GISS. Nobody in the skeptic camp said boo. none of us lukewarmers said boo. we like the method because its a better method. It says CRU and GISS are too cool.

        http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/thermal-hammer-part-deux/

      • “So, I repeat my question to you? if muller says 1.5 and you think thats too high, just warm was the LIA?”

        I have no idea what the actual temperature of the LIA was within tenths of a degree (or within a degree or two for that matter). Nor do I believe anyone else does. I believe it was colder then than now because of what i have read about the extent of ice and glaciers then, as well as historical accounts of conditions in Europe. And believe is the operative word.

        No amount of statistical analysis or computer programming will, in my opinion, create data of the precision claimed by the “consensus” as to global, or even local, temperatures when the instrumentation and siting of that time was even less accurate than what we know to be the case of the weakness of modern US temperature stations.

        I don’t believe we can know what the “global average temperature” today is, let alone decades, centuries or millenia ago. So I’m the wrong guy to ask. I feel no need in criticizing the precision of someone else’s hubristic statements, to counter them with my own.

        How warm was the little ice age? Ask me how many stars there are in the sky, or how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. I find those questions as much non sequitors as the one you pose. Asking someone who believes “we don’t know the answer,” what the answer is, doesn’t make much sense to me.

      • Very interesting post, Gary – very well-considered.

        I believe it was colder then than now because of what i have read about the extent of ice and glaciers then, as well as historical accounts of conditions in Europe. And believe is the operative word.

        So while you believe it was colder then than now, you really have no idea where the climate today lies within a trend. Maybe 50 years ago it was colder than now and it is getting warmer, or maybe 50 years ago it was warmer than now and it’s getting colder (but still not yet as cold as during the LIA)? Or have you seen evidence that you “believe” is instructive at some level, of a pattern in global temperatures today relative to, say, 50 years ago?

        Are you another “sketpic” who does doubt that the “world is getting warmer?”

      • Joshua, You are wrong, right? When you wrote: “Are you another ‘sketpic’ who does doubt that the world is getting warmer?”, to GaryM…
        Did you mean to say that the Troposphere, is getting warmer? There is no, Global world/earth Temp. is there? Or is this some sort of start to GET; expensive? So now, how about it?

      • Josh-ua,

        Now this is why people don’t like you. You have to turn everything into a freaking inquisition. You are badgering the man about what he “believes”, and trying to hang “the dumb stubborn skeptic, who doesn’t believe it’s warming” tag around his neck. You are always on a witch hunt. He said that it is warmer now than it was in the LIA. What is your problem with that? Do you demand that he pretend to believe that he knows the global temperature trend down to a tenth of a degree, because somebody told him they calculated it with the messy data at hand? Grow up Josh. We know that you are somewhat intelligent and articulate. You don’t have to run somebody else down to get attention. Be like Fred, not like Josh-ua.

      • Joshua,

        See below:
        http://judithcurry.com/2011/10/26/best-pr/#comment-128326

        Don,

        Joshua asks questions because it is so much easier than taking an actual position. I am surprised he didn’t try to divert the thread into a semantic discussion on some obscure point. He’s a progressive. He sees humility as a weakness and elitist arrogance as a strength. Pay him no attention.

        Tom,

        My point exactly. We are still seeing debates about the most sampled areas of the globe – US land stations. How on earth anyone claims to know the total global average temperature today, including all layers of the oceans and atmosphere, begs belief. Maybe someday we will have sufficiently accurate instruments, in a sufficient number of locations, in each of the areas involved, to make an educated guess. But we are nowhere near that now.

        What we do have at present are limited, highly suspect (according to Muller, errors of 2 to 5 degrees Celsius), land surface temperatures. For the LIA, MWP or any historical period, we have thermometers in buckets, statistically massaged proxy records, historical accounts and not much else. I am not sure how Joshua thinks he knows the average temperature of the atmosphere and oceans 50 years ago, let alone during the LIA, but I have no interest in finding out.

        But the difference between Joshua and myself is that I make my best informed guess on the issues based on: what other more qualified people say; review to the extent possible of their basis for saying what they do; and with a healthy dose of skepticism based on my lifetime experience with the hubris and ignorance of those who consider themselves “experts” in many fields.

        If I were willing to let other people tell me what to think and be done with it, I’d just take the easy way out and be a progressive – like Josh.

      • Actually, Gary, as I said I thought your post was interesting and well-considered.

        It is unfortunate that you think the appropriate response is to stereotype me and post a cartoon – but it is what it is. Although it is curious that despite characterizing me as someone not worthy of a meaningful response, you nonetheless devote yet another post in a succession of posts focused on my comments.

        I am not sure how Joshua thinks he knows the average temperature of the atmosphere and oceans 50 years ago, let alone during the LIA, but I have no interest in finding out.

        Well – on the off chance that you might mistakenly read my response, I’ll tell you that I don’t know the average temperature of the atmosphere and oceans 50 years ago, let alone during the LIA. I think that it is an interesting and important question, and while I fully agree that there is some degree of uncertainty, I’m also not inclined to reject the analysis of experts in the area – nor the fact that an analysis that returns warming is considered probable by the majority of them. The fact that I’m not inclined to reject their analysis does not imply that I have blind (non-skeptical) “belief” in their conclusions.

        If I were willing to let other people tell me what to think and be done with it, I’d just take the easy way out and be a progressive – like Josh.

        This is neither an accurate representation of my thinking nor that of the majority of people that I know who self-identify as “progressives.”

        My point of interest, specific to what you wrote above, is to understand whether you, as a “skeptic” believe that “the world is warming,” and on what evidence you base your “belief.”

        As near as I can tell, the evidence that you trust as solid relates to “extent of ice and glaciers then, as well as historical accounts of conditions in Europe. ”

        What I don’t understand is how someone could formulate a belief about current trends given that evidence. If I understand you correctly, you don’t have a solid “belief” that “the world is warming” and you appropriately recognize that there is a distance between your “belief” and a hard-and-fast conclusion.

        As I see it, that translates into a fair conclusion that, as a “skeptic” you do have doubt that “the world is warming.”

        Since you don’t consider my opinions to be worthy of response to me, perhaps you will again direct a comment to someone else as a means of actually addressing my comment, and in that I’ll see your correction if my translation was accurate.

      • Joshua,

        I don’t reply to you directly because you are an immature “debater.” On the rare occasion you respond to a comment on point, rather than divert into semantics, you invariably find another way to divert the discussion.

        Your comments here are a case in point. In fact, you not only actually quoted what I wrote (rather than mischaracterizing it as is your wont), you paraphrased it accurately. You understand what I wrote, but rather than disagree with my comment, and take your own position, you make your usual attempt to continue asking questions.

        But just for you, since you are following my comments so closely apparently, I will humor you.

        “Are you another ‘sketpic’ who does doubt that the ‘world is getting warmer?’”

        I already wrote what I believe is the case in general since the LIA, and why. So I will pretend your comment is on something more meaningful. Yes, I doubt the global climate system as a whole is getting warmer currently; I also doubt that the global climate system as a whole is getting cooler currently; and I also doubt that the temperature of the global climate system as a whole is static currently. That is what “we don’t know” means. I don’t believe climate scientists know any where near as much as they think they do about “global average temperature,” let alone the tenths of a degree change per year they claim to detect.

        Climate scientists are quite good at conflating. They conflate “global warming” with “anthropogenic global warming” with “dangerous anthropogenic global warming.” They also conflate “surface atmospheric average temperature” with “global average temperature.”

        If you want to be treated like an adult, then argue/discuss like one. I answered your question, now you answer mine.

        What is the global average temperature today; what is the trend of the global average temperature over the last 50 years; what was the global average temperature during the LIA; and what was the global average temperature during the MWP? Please cite your source(s).

        (Cue the Final Jeopardy music….)

      • Yes, I doubt the global climate system as a whole is getting warmer currently;

        Thank you, Gary. And as always, thanks for reading. I know it’s painful for you, and I appreciate your sacrifice.

        What is the global average temperature today; what is the trend of the global average temperature over the last 50 years; what was the global average temperature during the LIA; and what was the global average temperature during the MWP? Please cite your source(s).

        I don’t know the answers to those questions precisely, Gary.

        My understanding of the viewpoint of the majority of experts in related fields is that analysis shows that relative to 50 years ago, and the LIA, and the MWP, average global temperatures are warmer, and increasing in warmth at an anomalous rate than indicated by the data on previous time periods, including the MWP. I think that you’re probably more familiar with the sources for those analyses that I am.

        And Gary – I try to make it a habit to answer direct questions when they are addressed to me – when they seem like questions asked in good faith. Sometimes I miss the questions, of course. And I would imagine that occasionally I might duck a question. If you see me doing the latter, please point it out.

      • “My understanding of the viewpoint of the majority of experts in related fields is that analysis shows that relative to 50 years ago, and the LIA, and the MWP, average global temperatures are warmer, and increasing in warmth at an anomalous rate than indicated by the data on previous time periods, including the MWP. I think that you’re probably more familiar with the sources for those analyses that I am.”

        OMG! This is the extent of Josh-ua’s understanding! That explains a lot.

      • Joshua,

        “I don’t know the answers to those questions precisely, Gary.”

        Since you base your belief on the current warming trend on the opinions of experts on the matter, do you know of their answers to the questions I asked? Or do you assume the questions have been answered satisfactorily?

      • Josh-ua doesn’t care whether or not the questions have been answered satisfactorily. He just cares about being properly aligned with the consensus opinion of the majority of the experts.

      • “Muller says it has warmed 1.5C since 1800.”

        That’s the land records only. Global warming over that period is somewhat less, since oceans don’t warm as quickly as land.

      • Latimer Alder

        And have any of the dreadful frightening consequences of such an enormous rise in temperature manifested themselves in that time?

        Or has it all been pretty much business as usual?

        Becasue if we’d had a 1.5C rise and nobody has really noticed until they started lookimg for such horrors thirty years ago, I have to question whether they are in fact as horrific as imagined. And equally whether the consequences of a suppoed future tempearature change would be anything other than banal in impact.

        Seems to me that the argument has been arse about face. If there had been some tarnge things going on that we didn’t understand, investigated it and came up with the previously unknown idea that the climate is changing, then that is a good argument. But instead some giys found the climate was changing a bit and then scurried around trying to find some evidence that the consequences were/will be scary. That’s the wrong way round.

      • What frightening things do you think you were told would happen by 2011?

        Distort much?

      • Latimer Alder

        @JCH – in consequence of a 1.5C rise in temperature we have been warned of at least 800 dire consequences. But here’s soem of them:

        Inundation by Sea
        Floods due to increased prectpitation
        Drought due to reduced precitptation
        Pestilence of every conceiveable variety
        Failure of crops
        Disappearnce of teh North Pole
        Cultivation of Greenland
        Snow being unknown in UK
        Terminal failure of European Winter Sports Industry
        More pestielnce
        50 million climate refugees
        Tsunamis (yep..that’s what ;environmental graffiti tell us)
        Cold spells (ditto)
        Increased volcanic activity (ditto)
        More dangerous thunderstorms (again)
        Death of ocean life
        (see here for some of the wierder ones

        http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/sciencetech/5-deadliest-effects-of-global-warming/276?image=19

        and most importantly – all the cute polies getting drownded.

        So my simple question is

        ‘If all these dreadful things didn’t happen so as anybody really noticed last time, what is is that makes you believe in appalling consequences next time?’ A sort of ‘failure by induction’

        Just shouting that ‘it’ll be different this time!’ will be a spectacular fail. You will need to provide some observational evidence. And ‘We are Climate Scientists – you must believe us’ is pretty thin too.

        Look forward to your replies…with reasons why the next 1.5K will have much worse consequences than the last 1.5K. Should be good!

      • Like I said, distort much?

        Start here.

      • JCH (above) guides me to the blank input screen for a Google Scholar search.

        Once I had recovered my composure after this devastating piece of razor-sharp wit and sparkling repartee, I pondered the message that he was trying to send.

        And I concluded that in JCH’s opinion *none* of the things that I had listed above – all genuinely advanced as inevitable consequences of a small rise in GAT by the alarmists – were likely plausible outcomes.

        So I wonder exactly which terrible consequences I should be wetting my knickers about? Since the whole debate will be effectviely dead if the real answer is

        ‘we think that there is going to be a bit of gloabal warming, but you won’t notice the difference’,

        then I’d expect those wo wish us to join them in their alarmism to have at least the top 5 scary things on the tip of their tongue – ready to convert unbelievers like me at every opportunity.

        But just fobbing an enquirer off with ‘do a google search’, suggests that either JCH doesn’t actually know what we should be frightened about (weak) or that he doesn’t care suffciciently to try to persuade me (bizarre).

        If I turned up in a debating forum where a man of religion was attending and asked ‘what are the basic tenets of your faith’, I’d be very surprised if he was incapable of a brief but incisive answer and insetad sent me to a computer and told me to ‘look it up’.

        Still ,…that’s alarmism fro you, Just a nameless dread that something awful will happen, but very litttle actual evidence to back up the fear. Ho hum.

      • There is no, Global world/earth Temp. is there?

        So that would put you in the “I doubt that the world is warming” category. Is that right?

      • We all know that you are a judge of such things, Joshua.

      • Josh-ua,

        Again. Tsk, tsk. Grow up.

  3. Since I’m in a position to post early in the thread, I’m going to cross-post from the one I just posted in Best of the Best:

    It’s important to note that as we move from models trying to replicate/estimate global average temperature to models actually trying to get regional effects right, this new database is going to be an enormous asset. This, IMO, is much more important than squabbling over the wording of his press communications.

  4. Making pre-prints available to all is standard practice in economics and physics, and I believe it is good practice as it ensures the widest possible review.
    I would usually frown upon drawing media attention to a paper that has yet to be reviewed. In this case, however, it was the best option. If the papers were posted without press release, the media would have picked it up anyway and the public image would be driven by someone like Joe Romm or Marc Morano. Through the press release, the BEST team kept a degree of control over the media.

    • That is if you regard headlines saying skepticism is dead, or words to that effect, as keeping a degree of control. I would say it went out of control.

      • Indeed. The de facto behavior of the Muller Team suggests an urgent desire to sell their conclusions in advance of peer review.

        As for Watt’s resentment of the Bait and Switch with the 60-yr timeline, again look to the de facto effect on conclusions. This is another version of trend manipulation by pasting on of end-points. The M-Team also gave him numerous assurances about process and analytic methods that they threw to the winds.

    • The papers could have been circulated to experts for review comments months prior to press releases. Anthony Watts had two days I think. And then BEST did not make the corrections he suggested, not even the spelling corrections.

      The paper should have been sent privately to Watts, Pielke, Henne, McIntyre, Hansen, Jones, Briggs – all of them and more – to get comments. Each of the comments should have been seriously considered, not blown off the way the comments by Anthony Watts were. Only after it had gone through this gauntlet should there be any press releases.

      It just was not done well.

  5. What the past three decades have shown, scientists on any issue that will have the least traction in the wider scientific community or publicity outside that community must be aware of and prepared for public relations.

    And no matter what PR or activism, credentials or proofs of impartiality, there will still be those who can find fault.

    Some of those findings of fault may even contribute to better future approach to PR.

    For instance, accompanying a pre-release with a more clear open invitation to comment might have gone far. Perhaps even a dedicated pre-release commentary page might be good.

  6. True / False: “Predictions of harmful climatic effects due to future increases in hydrocarbon use and minor green house gases like CO2 do not conform to current experimental knowledge.”

    • True / False: “Predictions of harmful climatic effects due to future increases in hydrocarbon use and minor green house gases like CO2 do not conform to current experimental knowledge.”

      True. And certainly true 30+ years ago.
      The fingerprints are smudge at best.

      • I have spent more of my time as a citizen scientist looking at the system as a whole rather than concentrating on global warming and climate change. The system is the global economy based on relatively cheap fossil fuels, which has created this huge debt-based machine running out of control. If we are looking for a lack of public relations, it is this issue more than any current global warming where we are currently feeling the hurt — w/o it being advertised overtly.

        The way a debt-based system works is that cheap energy allows deal-makers to raise enormous amount of capital, with the promise that the payoff will be large. In the past this has worked out fine, because cheap oil and gasoline is indeed a wondrous thing, allowing huge construction projects with really minor human involvement. However, now that we have gotten ourselves in a pinch with the cheap liquid FF energy becoming more depleted and therefore more expensive, these debt-based deals are starting to unravel. The promises of economic growth have turned into Ponzi schemes as all construction progress is starting to dry up. Financial derivatives and other instruments are creative ways to drain whatever wealth remains from the have-nots to the haves. Any economic progress that comes out of GDP numbers is attributed to financial markets and the profits of oil companies as the price of oil goes up and drags other prices along with it.

        In retrospect, we could have turned down the throttle on our energy use, but then we may not have created this wondrous modern lifestyle, full of conveniences that we now enjoy. I realize that if everyone hopped on a bike, like I do every morning on my way to work, we probability wouldn’t have created a large middle-class citizenry who got a sizable paycheck going to the factory and stamping out huge metal behemoths of one sort or another, year after year. China is making a go of it still, for while at least (we will see how that turns out for them).

        I am not a “warmist”, but a “realist” who realizes the global warming concerns is a long-term sideshow compared to our current economic concerns. Unfortunately putting a PR spin on explaining a cheap-energy/debt-based economy to the citizenry is not the right approach for the political class, and they won’t go near it with a 10-ft pole. All it would do is put everyone in a deep funk as we watch our oil supplies deplete.

        There you go, and sorry for this intermission describing our current economic reality.

      • Interesting way to look at it.

        I have a different perspective. It wasn’t the existence of an industrial economy that reflected an imbalance between input and output that accumulated into a “debt-based machine running out of control.”

        For quite a number of decades, Americans attaining middle-class lifestyles by working in an industry-based economy was sustainable. At the individual level people didn’t need to borrow money to sustain their lifestyle advances. At a global level, American middle-class lifestyles were not being built through the sweat of poorly-paid workers in foreign countries – and despite that the American economy was based on American labor, starvation rates decreased (and living standards increase) globally nonetheless.

        For the U.S., the debt-based growth largely coincided with the exponential growth of the financial sector and the accompanying decrease in the proportion of GDP generated from industry. IMO, it’s a simple matter of “physics.” Previously, the economy was based on someone making something and someone else buying that object that was made. More recently, the economy has been increasingly based on someone seeking to extract capital from that balanced equation. No longer were profits being obtained from a balanced equation of input and output. Now huge profits were being generated with no balancing value added. This required some additional resources to be added to balance the equation, and the additional resources turned out to be reduced (or flattened) wage growth, reduced expendable income (without taking on debt at the individual level – which Americans did at rapidly growing levels), and national debt.

        The massive financial sector, fueled by exponential growth, increasing made money from nothing. No input of value – only extraction of capital. Investors buy stocks in companies not based on those companies’ business plans, not based on their long-term profitability but, amazingly enough, on whether they assumed sufficient levels of debt – or based purely on speculation (i.e., a gamble on the whims of herd mentality). Look up the history of Emerson electric, a company that payed a better than expected return on investment – as well as dividends – for decades yet still had undervalued stock prices relative to other companies in their industry and the S & P 500. They took on more debt simply to attract investors (stock buy-back).

        Herd mentality and gambling based on flawed risk assessments became the new American industry. And unfortunately, the apologists for that system line up endlessly and say “Please give me more.”

      • Joshua, spot on as usual. I just think that the historically cheap oil was the “forcing function” that kept the financial weapons of destruction at bay. Now that oil is getting more expensive with no signs of relief, the financial sector is making things up to keep the appearance of business-as-usual (BAU). The things financiers make up are derivatives, options, high-speed trading, out-sourcing to cheaper labor, etc., yet these are all temporary as they are even less sustainable than depending on cheap energy (which has kept us going since the 1800’s).

        As far as correlation, look at how correlated the price of oil has been to stock market returns recently:
        http://motorcitytimes.com/mct/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/oil-vs-sp-500-e1293896552257.png
        At one time the relationship was somewhat hidden but now the causality is plain to see. Economic activity is tied to the price of energy and therefore to its cost of discovery and extraction.
        http://gailtheactuary.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/food-and-oil-prices-tend-to-rise-together.png

      • I don’t think cheap oil fueled anything other than terrible decisions.

      • WHT –

        I have to think more about your response – but my quick response is that it isn’t clear to me whether there is a clearly discernible cause and effect relationship between the economy, oil prices, and food prices, and whether either of those three variables are a mediator or moderator of the relationship between the other two.

        Any thoughts on how to determine cause and effect out of a correlation?

      • Any thoughts on how to determine cause and effect out of a correlation?

        This is a similar issue to the effects of CO2 and temperature. The CO2 can increase radiative forcing, the radiative forcing will increase the temperature of the oceans, this will draw out more CO2, and the positive feedback cycle will continue.

        This may or may not be the causality chain, and so too the same can be said with prices. Fuel gets more expensive. This means transportation, fertilization, and cultivation costs more, which leads to food getting more expensive as the farmer recoups his investment. Seems a little more plausible.

        The solution with all this is to wait it out and watch it unfold.

      • What’s a “citizen scientist”?

      • What’s a “citizen scientist”?

        By my definition, it’s a blogger that knows some science, and can place charts and math on the web for others to look at.
        The term has been around for a while, see The Citizen Scientist website: http://www.sas.org/tcs/
        I think it is “under the radar” musings in general.

      • Do you wear a cape?

      • Do you wear a cape?

        Funny in a sad way. Many of the amateur citizen scientists do things as simple as bird counts and surveys. I happen to enjoy going through the data myself, and see what I can add
        http://mobjectivist.blogspot.com/2010/10/bird-surveys.html

    • Could be true if you are a fish.

  7. Correction:

    Big Brother’s PR is absolutely no match for the Great Reality!

    http://www.tparents.org/library/unification/books/world-s/WS-10-06.htm

    • Call me a sceptic, Oliver, but that link includes quotes from Buddhism – a religion first mentioned several hundred years after the Buddha’s death; he did not found a religion – but nothing from the Buddha’s own voluminous teachings. He stressed that you can find enlightenment only through your own efforts, not via any organised religion. (As this is a climate blog, I’ll stop there!)

      • The first sentence in the link says, “Enlightenment means dispelling the darkness of ignorance.”

        Science does not have a monopoly on grasping truths about reality. Nor do any particular religions, cults, politicians or scientific organizations.

        We each find enlightenment through our own efforts. Fifty years of experimental data and observations leave little doubt that Earth’s heat source is a pulsar, encased in a mantle of the elements that comprise ordinary meteorites and rocky planets (Fe, O, Ni, Si, S, Mg and Ca), obscured from view by an Incandescent globe of waste products (91% H and 9% He).

        Please feel free to offer a better explanation for observations summarized here:
        http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1
        http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0501441
        http://arxiv.org/pdf/astro-ph/0410717v1

  8.  This thread is an opportunity for you to craft questions for them to respond to.

    e.g.,
    True / False: “If, through misunderstanding of the underlying science and through misguided public fear and hysteria, mankind significantly rations and restricts the use of hydrocarbons, the worldwide increase in prosperity will stop. The result would be vast human suffering and the loss of hundreds of millions of human lives. Moreover, the prosperity of those in the developed countries would be greatly reduced.”

    • False. I been doing it at home, and I have more money as a result.

      • That kind of analysis is of a quality that is beyond my ability to describe.

      • It’s very simple. I have reduced my consumption of fossil fuels by being more efficient in my use of electricity, natural gas, and gasoline. I have rationed myself, so to speak. I spend and invest the money I have saved, which of course creates a need for workers.

  9. Although it may be nice to think such work is intended and aimed at the scientific community, in realty climate science is so heavenly politicized and so bond with up advocacy groups , thanks to the actions of some of its leaders, you can’t ignore the work may be done to ‘achieve’ headlines not to advice knowledge .

    In the UK there is saying today’s news is tomorrow chip wrapper. Is relates to the way newspapers that did not sell on one day got used to wrap-up fast day in the next. Its used as a metaphor for the way news is transient and that the public interest is rarely maintained in a story over time .
    In this case your left with the strong feeling that the PR blitz is what really mattered ,not the science , becasue the authors are aware that even if it all goes wrong in review, that fact would get little coverage as this story would then be ‘old news’ only fit to wrap chips with. So no headlines to cover this , unlike like the media deluge we just seen.

    • “you can’t ignore the work may be done to ‘achieve’ headlines not to advice [advance] knowledge .”

      I, too, have that feeling.

  10. Pre-press papers is not new.
    Whether or not the BEST effort stands the test of time, the PR campaign is not really that big a deal.

  11.  This thread is an opportunity for you to craft questions for them to respond to.

    e.g.,
    True / False: “In effect, an experiment has been performed on the Earth during the past half-century – an experiment that includes all of the complex factors and feed back effects that determine the Earth’s temperature and climate. Since 1940, hydrocarbon use has risen 6-fold. Yet, this rise has had no effect on the temperature trends, which have continued their cycle of recovery from the Little Ice Age in close correlation with increasing solar activity.”

  12. Judith writes:
    “Relative to the broader issue of attribution, which are at the heart of skeptical concern, details of the surface temperature record don’t play a terribly large role in most people’s skepticism about climate change.”

    I agree that the details of the surface temperature record is not the key issue in any discussion of the actual impact on people’s lives or the key issue which has led me to disagree with the IPCC’s conclusions.

    I am not certain what Judith means when she discusses the broader issue of attribution however. When I think of attribution on this issue I consider it whether or not the additional heat was caused by additional CO2, and then whether that additional CO2 was caused by humans. While I also agree that the actual evidence of either of these issues is MUCH weaker than most people believe, I do not think that attribution is really the key issue at all.

    IMO, the key issue is what happens as a result of any additional heat to the different areas of the planet and what impact that will have on the lives of the people on the planet. In order to determine that it would seem necessary to be able to have a GCM that could accurately predict future measureable conditions as a function of CO2 levels. Issues such as temperature, precipitation, and perhaps sea level would seem to be what would be most important to the life of humans if CO2 rises. Since we do not have these models, it seems impossible to support anything other than “no regrets” policies on the issue and that those supporting expensive climate mitigation actions to be doing so not based on the science, but on their personal set of belief system.

    • Agreed.

    • My comment on yesterday’s Australian editorial:

      “Three years ago, Bjorn Lomborg used the UK government’s own data to show that its $250 bn windpower scheme, which would need to be replaced every 20-25 years, would reduce global temperatures in 2100 by 0.0004C (The TImes article, 30/9/08). The Australian continues to stress its support for emissions-reduction policies in Australia (“Cost of living pressures hamper carbon tax task,” 26/10). Given Lomborg’s calculations, could you tell your readers exactly what reduction in temperature you think Australia’s measures would achieve, what they would cost, and the outcome of your cost-benefit analysis?

      “Until you can demonstrate a plausible and worthwhile net benefit, you should cease your support for emissions reductions.”

      From my point of view, the implications for policy are critical, and the case for urgent drastic action has not been made, by BEST or anyone else. (The Oz frequently, and correctly, demands rigorous scrutiny and CBA of shonky government policies.)

      • I just have difficulty understanding the logic of others thinking on the subject.

        Look at all the discussion and interest on the topic of the “Best Data”. From the macro perspective the arguments are of a very point to the overall issue, but bloggers seem to love to debate the issue somewhat like argueing over “how many angels can fit onto the head of a pin”. (ok, that is a bit over the top- but we will never fully understand the issue of attributition, and it really doesn’t matter to the long term models)

  13. Judith,
    I agree with much of what you have said. The difference I think is the way in which the press release and other publicity is worded. BEST came across sounding like the issue is settled – the world has warmed and mankind is responsible. If they really wanted the community to check their work and improve their papers, they would not have sounded so confident in their results. The fact they did not seek to make the corrections given to them by Anthony Watts, even the spelling corrections, does not inspire confidence.

    When a recent experiment seemed to indicate neutrinos are faster than light, the researchers had to report the result but they asked for help in analyzing it.

    “Rather, OPERA researchers are simply presenting a curious result that they cannot explain and asking the community to scrutinize it. “We are forced to say something,” he says. “We could not sweep it under the carpet because that would be dishonest.” The results will be presented at a seminar tomorrow at CERN.”
    http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2011/09/neutrinos-travel-faster-than-lig.html

    If BEST had displayed that type of humility, they would have gotten an entirely different response. I would have preferred they had circulated the papers to a number of experts on all sides of the debate and given them enough time to properly analyze the results before they issued any press releases. What’s the hurry? This is not the newspaper business. Better to get the news right than fast.

    • I too was frustrated at the triumphalist PR. I was troubled by Muller’s Wall Street Journal title “The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism”.
      The WSJ byline “There were good reasons for doubt, until now” was particularly galling as directly contrary to the foundations of science.

      Muller emailed:

      “The title was changed by the WSJ without my OK. My title: cooling the warming debate.”

      The WSJ editors sold papers at the expense of truth.

      The article states:

      Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate.

      That got lost in the title and byline and the conclusion:

      “Global warming is real.”

      That feels like a strawman argument.

      Muller noted that their key result.

      was not that warming has occurred; it was that the level of warming was not affected by station selection bias, by homogenization bias, by poor station quality.

      Emphasizing that without the triumphalist strawman would have helped.

      • Methinks he doth protest too much.

        The headline “There were good reasons for doubt, until now” is not substantially different from “But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.”

      • No problem with the release before peer review (peer review is an overrated relic anyway). The papers will get more substantial critiques this way.

        No problem with a press release provided it is honest and accurate.

        The problem is the ridiculously ham-handed disaster that was Muller’s piece in the WSJ. “What a maroon!” He leaves us to wonder if he’s really that devious or really that dumb. Either way, he’s done enormous damage to his own credibility.

    • I agree, Ron. BEST’s UHI paper sticks out as a prime example. Are we to believe that BEST’s work to find UHI in the temperature data ranks up there with Michaelson-Morley’s failed search for the aether wind?

      Or is it perhaps, “You know, this UHI is a lot harder to quantify than we first thought. For the community, here’s what we did. It didn’t work. Don’t do what we did. Try something else.”

    • BEST came across sounding like the issue is settled – the world has warmed and mankind is responsible.

      Yes – especially those quotes from Muller where he say that the study didn’t examine attribution.

      • Joshua, of course the study did not examine attribution ’cause he’d already decided it was humans that done it.

      • “…’cause he’d already decided it was humans that done it.”

        Don’t you just hate it when that happens? If only we could prevent scientists from drawing conclusions from evaluating evidence.

        I mean if one of two of them do it, it’s not usually that big a deal – but when over 90% of the scientific experts in a field do it, the public tends to get the impression that there’s some kind of consensus. I hate it when that happens.

  14. Well put Dr Curry.

    Didn’t know you were at GA Tech. I have a niece there now, another who graduated from there and one of my brothers. GT is a school I hold in high regard.

    Of course when my brother and my dad argue which is the better engineering school – GT or Case Institute – I have to remind them they are both incorrect. It is obviously the University of Maryland, where a BA in History qualifies one to hold an engineering position at a nuclear power plant.

  15. Dr. Curry
    Paper on decadal variation:
    We find that the strongest cross-correlation of the decadal fluctuations in land surface temperature is not with ENSO but with the AMO

    Is there more info available online ?

  16.  This thread is an opportunity for you to craft questions for them to respond to.

    e.g.,
    True / False: “Official thermometers are overwhelmingly in warm localities such as near air conditioner exhaust vents, buildings, concrete, tarmac, or asphalt.”

    • Depends on whether you are Anthony Watts.

    • Wagathon

      You got the question wrong. It should read:

      True / False: “Official thermometers located next to AC exhausts tend to show higher temperatures than those that are not.”

      Max

  17. D.W. “On the contrary, a number of people have argued that it has not warmed, or not nearly as much as indicated by the statistical models. I do not see the Muller et al results changing that. They have not changed my mind.”

    You’re right. I stand corrected. Some do not accept any warming..That was sloppy on my part. And I did not mean to imply that the degree of warming is not an ongoing issue.

  18.  This thread is an opportunity for you to craft questions for them to respond to.

    e.g.,
    True / False: “The Russian, Chinese and Indian climate establishments, which are financially independent of the western climate establishment, are all skeptical. As are many scientists from other branches of science, as well as many retired climate scientists (who no longer have anything to lose by speaking their minds).”

    • False. China spends a much larger proportion of it’s GDP on renewable energy than the U.S. does.

      http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2009/04/21/172732/china-green-economy/

      • Now that is really ridiculous. China is one big scam. Do you really believe their propaganda? Google China corruption Google China pollution Google China, whatever and you will find nothing but lies.
        You must have been an investor in Sino-Forest and some of the other hundreds of reverse merger scams. I made a fortune shorting that crap.

        Here is a good one for you. Everything in China is fake. They are even ripping off the chickens:

        OMG! I can’t believe you brought up China.

        Look at this, green stuff:

        http://www.chinahush.com/2009/10/21/amazing-pictures-pollution-in-china/

      • Anyone who thinks they know what is going on in the Chines economy is delusional. The U.S. can’t get its own economic statistics right, and fudges them for the public all the time. Does anyone really believe that stats put out by the Communist Chinese government are believable? The economic geniuses who are building “ghost cities?”

        http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2005231/Chinas-ghost-towns-New-satellite-pictures-massive-skyscraper-cities-STILL-completely-empty.html

      • Thank gawd our economic geniuses never did nuthun’ that stupid.

      • GaryM and JCH

        Waal, talkin’ ’bout ekunohmic geniuses…

        Which nation is in debt over its ears: China or USA?

        On the other hand:

        Where would you rather live: China or USA?

        But to get this back on the general topic of “climate change”, it is clear to me that the leaders of China are not about to endanger their nation’s continued economic growth by engaging in the “rich, white-man’s folly” of worrying about CO2 emissions.

        Max

      • Damn Bush for borrowing all that FAKE money from China, which we will have to pay back with real dollars.

        Damn money-grubbing Wal-Mart for stocking its shelves with imaginary goods from China.

        I have a Hair toaster. I’m not sure of the spelling. It could be “Hiar” or “Hare,” it was made by one of China’s hybrid state/private owned enterprises. One side makes communist toast, and the other side makes capitalist toast.

      • Yeah, that idiot Bush borrowed a total of about 2 trillion dollars to finance his rampant government spending over 8 years.

        Fortunately we now have the genius Obama who has borrowed over 4 trillion in less than 3. Change we can believe in!

  19. Question:

    “Why does the climate establishment persist in measuring the official temperature record from thermometers that are nearly all too close to artificial sources of heat? What motive could there be, other than to inflate official temperatures? Why have we only found out about it because volunteers went out and photographed the official thermometers?”

  20. Question:

    “Is the mainstream media failing to do their job and covering up for the climate establishment?”

  21. Question:

    “Isn’t the climate establishment measuring urban warming and airport warming rather than global warming?”

  22. True / False: “The current global warming trend started before 1700, some 310 years ago. That was preindustrial, so a natural climate force must have started the current global warming trend.”

    • False, but a good example of the logical fallacy that says nature has caused warming therefore man can’t.

      • False, but a good example of the logical fallacy that says “our models can only explain it if we include human forcing”.

  23. I think a pertinent question to ask Richard Muller would concern whether he thinks the majority of sceptics predicated their scepticism on unreliable temperature records. Also, perhaps a more open-ended question would be what does he think the average sceptic MEANS when they say “I am sceptical about AGW, or CAGW, or the consensus position on climate sensitivity, or IPCC statements, or the possibility of mitigation…”

    Perhaps you could give him some rough feedback about how the results from BEST impact upon the scepticim – such that it is – of the majority of your denizens. From the murmurings I’ve picked up so far I would suggest that might be ‘not measurably’ i.e. they are pretty much irrelevant as regards scepticism goes or at least that which is expressed here on your blog. However, as many people have sensibly suggested, they are at least welcome, interesting and refreshing.

    BTW, the schedule of the conference looks fascinating – it is laid out here at R Pielke’s site –

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/schedule-of-presentations-at-the-third-santa-fe-conference-on-global-and-regional-climate-variability-october-31-november-4-2011/

    Will you be attending for the duration?

    P.S. I notice a complete lack of Team members giving talks – is that just a coincidence or indicative of something about the conference?

    P.P.S Enjoy the trip! :)

    • Perhaps you could give him some rough feedback about how the results from BEST impact upon the scepticim – such that it is – of the majority of your denizens. From the murmurings I’ve picked up so far I would suggest that might be ‘not measurably’ i.e. they are pretty much irrelevant as regards scepticism goes or at least that which is expressed here on your blog.

      I had a little trouble understanding that – but from what I understand I think I disagree. It is interesting that my impression of the reaction from quite a few “skeptics” at this blog and others to their results are that BEST’s work is yet another attempt to cover over a weak empirical basis for concluding that the “world is warming.” Not irrelevant in the least – but part of a larger pattern of overextending the science to serve an agenda.

      It’s certainly hard to quantify such a diverse set of reactions, but I’d say that comments stating that BEST’s results are “pretty much irrelevant as regards ‘skepticism'” number in the minority.

      • Do you mean from the position of the sceptics themselves? Or from the position of those who take the utterances of a few lunatics (Singer included) and generalise them to a whole lot of other people who actually don’t hold any similar views?
        I honestly haven’t heard any “sceptics” saying “Yep, that’s it, my scepticism has evaporated with the publishing of a fourth interpretation of the temperature record that agrees with the first three”
        Perhaps I really didn’t express myself very well. Can you point to any sceptics whose scepticism has been altered by the BEST results – one way or another?
        Of course, I tend to mean by ‘sceptics’, those who have serious, considered, reasonable and intellectually justifiable doubts about any one of the central findings of AR4. Those who look at the the climate issue through idealogical lenses (of any sort) aren’t affected by the results because they simply reinterpret them according to their prejudices. As you well know.

      • Hm. ‘as you well know’ was not intended sarcastically. I know it too..

  24. Our host is fond of understatements tonight.

    BEST did not just issue a press release, it contacted journalists the world over in order to have an avalanche of (piloted, and parroting) articles published at the right time.

    Having failed to say a word on this, the post above can only be classified as sub-par for this blog. But then, as I said already, it’s next to impossible for Judith or anybody else to blog openly and 100% truthfully about one’s work.

  25. Judith –

    Relative to the broader issue of attribution, which are at the heart of skeptical concern, details of the surface temperature record don’t play a terribly large role in most people’s skepticism about climate change.

    Well – credit where credit’s due. At least you have morphed from the notion that “skeptics” don’t doubt warming, to that “most” skeptics are relatively less concerned about whether it is warming than they are about attribution.

    There again, however, I’d say that your “don’t play a terribly large role” is rather unqualified, and likely understated.

    How do you quantify a “large role,” and how do you quantify “many?”

    For example, we have seen quite a number of examples over the past few days of “skeptics” at this very site posting the opinion that land surface data on temperature trends are so unreliable as to be useless. Not only, they say, are the records themselves fraught with error, but so are the statistical methodologies employed to analyze trends in those data.

    Wouldn’t that imply that they are, actually, quite concerned about the details of land surface temperatures (not to say that those concerns are mutually exclusive with concerns about attribution).

    We have seen statements from noted “skeptics” like Singer that satellite data show no warming.

    Could you pin down a bit further what you mean by “most,” and your “certainty” on the degree of concern in that group?

  26. There seem to be some disturbing parallels with IPCC behaviour viz.
    public statements of (over)confidence in results ahead of formal publication
    political overtones in the press release
    failure to respond to critical review comments (although admittedly it is ‘early days’ yet).
    Climate science still has much to be humble about IMO. I look forward to seeing the expert critiques and the responses from the BEST team in due course.

  27. Judith writes:

    Relative to the broader issue of attribution, which are at the heart of skeptical concern, details of the surface temperature record don’t play a terribly large role in most people’s skepticism about climate change.

    Correct, as far as the record since 1850 is concerned.

    Even if there were a spurious UHI warming signal, it would not explain all the observed warming.

    More important to me are the observed multi-decadal warming/cooling cycles. The IPCC explanations for these are weak or non-existent. They obviously have little to do with human GHG emissions.

    It is also strange to me that IPCC does not recognize the latest of these cycles (starting around 1976) as just another “cycle” (like the others, from which it is “statistically indistinguishable” – Jones, 2010) but describes it as “a widely acknowledged ‘climate shift’ (e.g. Trenberth, 1990)” (AR4 WG1 Ch.3 p.240), upon which it builds its AGW attribution story.

    So, yeah, “the broader issue of attribution” does indeed lie at the heart of my personal rationally skeptical concern much more so than the accuracy of the surface temperature record.

    Max

  28. Let’s hope to God that BEST is not bamboozling us.

    I have no reason to believe that it is, so I will assume that it is not.

    But, if it does try to do so, it will undoubtedly be exposed.

    Max

  29. I understand that Prof Muller’s daughter Elizabeth, who is CEO of his “GreenGov” consultancy business, was responsible for orchestrating the co-ordinated BEST PR campaign to meet the October 20th deadline.

    It was noticeable that many journalists and environmental groups used a similar story line, along the lines of “Sceptical scientist funded by Koch brothers finds that global warming is real”.

    Although he has recently made some stinging criticisms of Mann’s hockey stick work, Muller’s written work, statements and interviews over many years show that he has always been a firm supporter of AGW.

    Perhaps he could tell us whether any of the press briefings given by his team included references to his “scepticism” and the partial funding by Koch – so as to steer them towards a desired narrative.

  30. True/False? The distribution, cyclical pattern, rate, and extent of recent global warming are [fully/mostly/partially/not] consistent with natural variability in Earth’s climate.

  31. Question: “Are we currently in a cooling trend?”

    • Probably not, but Best (see link) shows a whole lot of cooling trends since 1800. I stopped counting at 20.

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/best/mean:60/plot/best/trend

      • M. carey

        Yeah. The record does show those pesky multi-decadal warming cooling cycles, doesn’t it? (The ones IPCC has had difficulty seeing but Girma has analyzed so nicely for us.)

        Of course, the first 10 years or so of the current cooling half-cycle (?) is still impossible to see when one uses 10-year averaged data. But it is clearly visible when one uses monthly or annually averaged data.

        Max

      • How many prior “cooling cycles” had a year that came an eyelash from being the hottest year on all temperature series?

        Smith et al said the initial years would be cool. Some of them have been somewhat cool. I don’t think Smith et al are sweating this thing one bit.

      • JCH

        How many prior “cooling cycles” had a year that came an eyelash from being the hottest year on all temperature series?

        Question 1: Define “an eyelash” (in scientific terms).

        Question 2: If the 1990s warm by 0.18C per decade and the ensuing 2000s cool by 0.06C per decade, which decade will have “warmer years” on average?

        Max

      • Max – obviously I’m not a scientist, and do not pretend to be one. As late as November of 2010 there were predictions that 2010 would finish as the warmest year on 2 of the 3 series: Gistemp, NOAA, and HadCrut.

        Half of 2010 was under La Nina, and the last quarter was under a very strong La Nina. To this layperson, it took that to derail 2010 from being the hottest year on all three series.

        Eyelash.

    • Answer: It depends on the time scale.

      (Multi)-Decadal: warming seems to be shifting to cooling.
      (Multi)-Centennial: warming, may also shift to cooling later in the 21st century.
      (Multi)-Millennial: cooling

      • (Multi)-Decadal: warming seems to be shifting to cooling.

        What is your evidence for this determination?

      • My evidence is:

        1) instrumental records – almost all are either plateauing or cooling in the last decade. Many predictions (oceanic oscillations) for the next decades are on the cool side.
        2) solar cycles – 1 weak cycle (23) already caused the temperature plateau, SC24 seems to be even weaker and predictions for the SC25 are also on the cool side.
        3) sea level – also plateauing
        4) the interglacial peak was ~8.000 years ago, temperature can only go down in the long term.

        That’s off the top of my head.

      • And just to clarify:

        Decadal = “….seems to be shifting to cooling”
        Centennial = “…..may also shift to cooling….”
        MIllennial =: “cooling”

        Let’s tally that up. Clearly, Edim is another “skeptic” that doubts that “the world is warming.”

      • Joshua,

        No, “the world is warming” is pseudo-scientific nonsense, without the time scale specified.

        Don’t you agree that the world is cooling, on (multi)-millennial time scales (~ 2 – 8 ka)?

      • Edim –

        It seems to me that if you think that to state that “the world is warming” is pseudo-scientific nonsense, then you doubt that “the world is warming.”

        That is, simply, what I’m trying to determine.

        I don’t know what’s happening on a (multi)-millennial time-scale.

        I haven’t studied the data, nor would I be smart enough to understand them. But while I am somewhat concerned about that time-scale, I’m not particularly concerned about a (multi)-millennial time scale, as I assume that the longer the time-scale frame of reference, the less likely there’s anything we can do to affect change. I am more concerned about the (multi)-decadal time frame. (Of course, those two frames are not necessarily independent of each other.)

      • Well Joshua, at the time frame you’re concerned about, the instrumental records show a positive trend (warming). There’s nothing special about it, apart that it concerns you.

      • Edim –

        I know it doesn’t seem that way, but I am trying to understand your perspective.

        You say above that on a (multi)-decadal scale the climate “seems to be shifting to cooling.”

        Yet then after that you say, with apparent complete confidence, that on a (multi)-decadal scale instrumental records show a positive trend.

        How do you reconcile those two statements?

      • “How do you reconcile those two statements?”

        Easy – the positive trend (warming) seems to be shifting to cooling.

  32. Wow, I have been quoted. I was just trying to imagine during my exercise what would have been the response had Muller et al taken my hypothetical advice and remained quiet: “Their silence on these questions speaks volumes!”

  33. Dr. Curry
    “I felt that two of the papers (AMO and surface station quality) were not yet ready for prime time.”
    So, why did you consent to sign on as co-author ?

    • Among the feedbacks that you get from the reviewers in the review process is a list of things to do to improve the paper. After you address those recommendations (perhaps pointing out to the editor that the paper is already really long, or that some of the recommendations contradict others), then the paper is ready for prime time.

      It is seldom that all of the authors of a multi-authored paper are really happy with all parts of the paper. At minimum, each author wants more detail in his or her specialty, which, if honored, would make most papers too long and boring for their audiences.

      Dr. Curry may have her own response.

  34. Bit of soapy suds;
    Rinse and repeat as needed.
    Got the blanny germ.
    ============

  35. Dr. Curry,
    Your sincerity and honesty in making this statement (“not ready for prime time”) is greatly appreciated.

    Maybe a more complete and formal statement to the effect, including the reasons for this feeling, is in order.

  36. “I think that Dr. Muller had it right: this is a modern-day version of circulating a preprint while the paper is in review. The published version is likely to be much improved, even if not every critique can be resolved to the satisfaction of all involved.”

    Who really cares about that?

    “As to “media blitz”, I do not think it credible that they might have put up their 4 papers and their data and code and then said (as I would have recommended them to say) “No comment” to all media inquiries.”

    Muller’s article, which I am sure the WSJ did not have to drag out of him, was on the opposite side of the irresponsible dishonest blabbermouth spectrum from “No comment”.

    Read that article and then read how that left-wing looney from the Washington Post used Muller’s assertions to paint “climate skeptics” as knuckle-dragging, die-hard, deniers. Of course he did not fail to lump Republican Presidential candidates into that ignominious group of ignorant buffoons. (I am not providing any more links, done that already in the last thread.)

    The article in the WSJ and the media’s breathless coverage of the debate ending papers has the same theme. I haven’t read the press release, but I doubt it says anything explicit about moron climate skeptics no longer having a leg to stand on. But I am sure that in behind the scenes communication with the press, that is how they are playing it. After all, the boss made it explicit in the WSJ.

    All in all, a disgusting display of dishonesty and a perversion of science. And I would still like for someone to say why there are all blue dots homogeneously mixed in with the red. A climate scientist could help.

    • correction “all those blue dots”

    • Muller wrote this: Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate. How much of the warming is due to humans and what will be the likely effects? We made no independent assessment of that.

      If you think that is irresponsible dishonest blabbermouth, then I just do not agree with you.

      • Matt,

        You must have skipped over the rest of it. Although I could have picked a couple of other sentences out of the trash talk that weren’t so bad.

    • And maybe she likes long tedious “Socratic Dialogues” and punching the tar baby.

  37. I would ask him if he has ever in the past used such spotty data (the historical temperature record) as the basis for a peer reviewed paper? And if not, why did he choose to do so now?

  38. I’m assuming one of the objectives was to assuage the doubts of many sceptics about the integrity of the temperature record – the land temperature record in particular.

    The PR campaign and the lack of interest in addressing concerns certainly did not meet that objective.

    While some sceptics might now be more accepting of the record, the majority have now put the BEST team into the category of groups that we have serious doubts about.

  39. Dr. Curry: One line of questions you might pursue concerns the one third of stations that show cooling trends. What are their characteristics, reliability of the data and meta-data, ranges and relationships of Tmin and Tmax, number of relocations, etc.? What factors explain this apparent anomalous behavior of such a large proportions of stations?

    • Good question. Yet, we also would need to ask the same about the sites that show well above average heating trends. For every cooling trend a much higher warming trend exists to more than compensate the cooling so as to keep the mean trend warming. This figure is from the BEST report
      http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-pEEYO-I0_fA/TqduktntOEI/AAAAAAAAAkg/F2PKph74I3k/s1600/berkeley.gif

      Consider this observation: If there were no cooling trends, then the distribution would need to be much narrower if it were to maintain its symmetry. As it stands the dispersion in rates is quite significant and it would be quite useful to attribute it to either natural variability or to measurement error, or fractions of both.

      As a hypothesis, it is also possible that variability increases due to a forcing function as the system moves from its long-term steady state. The whole idea of metastability surrounded by positive feedback factors supports this idea. See Lea
      http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/1520-0442%282004%29017%3C2170%3ATYCITS%3E2.0.CO%3B2

      And of course, there is the Vostok data, which shows the historical warming and cooling behavior in a single location but over 100 year periods.
      http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-k1vYjQ8Qthk/TqdulOhrSEI/AAAAAAAAAko/0H9kUnzIcZs/s1600/vostok_temperature_changes.gif
      That curve that runs through the cumulative density function (CDF) is a maximum entropy estimate. The following constraint gives a double-sided exponential or Laplace probability density function (PDF) shown in the lower curve
      \int_{I}{|x| p(x)\ dx}=w
      which when variationally optimized gives
      p(x)={\beta\over 2}e^{-\beta|x|},\ x\ \in I=(-\infty,\infty)

    • What makes you think its anomalous?

      • Mosh, “anomalous” only in the context of the twice as many stations showing a warming trend. Given the aggregate warming trend, what is it about these cooling stations that make their behavior different from the others? Maybe “different” is a less loaded term. Not taking a position here on which direction is the truth.

    • I wouldn’t use the word anomalous, and I think that the BEST team can not answer the question with the information that they have. If phrased as a question, how about:

      “Do you think that your results highlight this limitation of the current data?”
      or
      “Do you think a major effort to study ( stratified random samples of) the warming and cooling sites would be worthwhile?”

      Some “best” version of this general question should for sure be put to Dr. Muller et al. It would have to be a random sample because Anthony Watts has shown how hard it is to bet the information on all sites, and because we need the history of each site included for study. The BEST procedure of identifying jumps in the records and cutting and splicing at the jumps goes a long way toward answering part of the question.

      It could be that Steven Mosher is right and the result would be to show that he is right. Or it could be that UHI is a larger component of all warming than the preliminary analyses of the BEST team show.

      • Where does this pointless rathole end? How close to buildings and AC exhausts are the space things UAH uses for their series?

  40. Michael Larkin

    What I’d like to know from Muller is why no one, including him, actually identifies truly rural sites. I may be absurdly literal-minded, but a rural site to me is in a rural area. No buildings within miles.

    IIRC, Spencer found that UHI begins at quite low levels of urbanisation. If so, and if most temperature stations are actually in areas with some degree of urbanisation, how could it be that the UHI effect could be negative?

    • Spencer unfortunately uses Grump 30 arc second population data which is an ALPHA release. The station location information in metadata has known errors ( on average about 2.5km ). therefore, when Spencer uses station metadata to reference the Grump population data ( Or GPW data available at the same site he referenced) he does not account for station location accuracies. If he wanted to use better data I would suggest Landscan.
      Further, his test has to be confirmed by actual field measurements of UHI effects at small or zero population sites. That’s easy, he can use Modis LST (for example) to do that in conjuction with ground observations. That would be a complete study.

      • steven,

        Did BEST do a complete study? In the WSJ Muller said they compared urban to very rural, but that isn’t true. Was their methodology, correct? Or was it sloppy and lazy? Were they justified in reporting a negative result for UHI influence on the temperature record?

      • No they did not do a complete study. There methodology was weak. There definition of rural/urban was not very rigorous. I’d say the truth for UHI bias lies between Jones (.o5c) and Mckittrick (.3C) That means it will be hard to find. A couple of tweaks to their test are all that is needed….

      • Thanks steven. I wonder why they didn’t bother to make the couple of needed tweaks. I don’t have a clue about statistical analysis, yet I knew there were deficiencies in their method, after small amount of discussion here. Is this SOP in the climate industry? Is this how they do it in the defense industry, steve? Rhetorical question. I know the answer.

      • A couple of tweaks to their test are all that is needed….

        Of that I am doubtful. I think that new information is required. However, I am persuadable. What tweaks do you have in mind, and how would they settle the issue?

        I think I can write your question for you. “Dr Muller, I tweaked your procedure and got these results. What do you think of them?” Just kidding. If you do something and want to run your work by someone, you may send them to me.

  41. Dr. Curry,

    My major concern with the BEST PR strategy is similar to that outlined by Ron Cram above. I find it hard to believe that BEST was unaware of how badly the MSM has behaved for so many years when reporting developments that have any bearing (valid or ultimately invalid) on climate science.

    Yet, when I reviewed the text of the release on the BEST site, it seemed to me that (giving them the benefit of the doubt!) they were incredibly naïve – and very presumptuous in their claim to the effect that the papers were ready for inclusion in AR5.

    Seems that everything was geared towards an Oct. 20 release date. But I’d like to know what was so magical or crucial about Oct. 20.

    Why choose a deadline that evidently precluded incorporating the changes that Anthony had suggested – not to mention, a more thoughtful consideration (prior BEST to going public or submitting to journal) by quiet circulation (with ample time for discussion and incorporation of feedback) to Pielke, Watts and McIntyre amongst others?

    This was compounded by Muller’s simplistic ‘you don’t have to be a skeptic anymore because of our wonderful work’ Op Ed in the WSJ.

    I do appreciate that both Muller’s Op Ed and the Press Release do state (albeit somewhat differently):

    What Berkeley Earth has not done is make an independent assessment of how much of the observed warming is due to human actions.

    Yet there is no indication or acknowledgement that this is a major – if not the primary – point of contention from the perspective of many skeptics. (Although, it does suggest at least one reason that the RC crowd are not particularly thrilled with BEST).

    Furthermore, is that which was not done by BEST somewhat more relevant and “important in the run-up to COP 17 meetings …at which targets for GHG emissions … financing, technology transfer and cooperative action” will be discussed, than that which was done?!

    Another issue that I find somewhat disconcerting .. the Press Release indicates that the team consists of inter alia “climatologists” [note the plural!]. Yet, if one views the credentials attributed to “The Berkley Earth Team”, you are the only person who is identified as a climatologist. And all four papers (as you had previously indicated) have your name as a co-author (notwithstanding your stated limited involvement).

    Unfortunately, this reminds me of an incident that occurred – many, many moons ago in a completely different field! An academic was persuaded to participate in an organization’s project, in which the person had a strong professional and personal interest.

    However, it subsequently became apparent that the project’s principals had selected this individual only to provide academic cachet ‘n cover (for journal publication purposes) to (what turned out to be) their considerably less than ethically conducted research. Had their methodology ever come to public light, it would have destroyed the academic’s professional reputation.

    It was only by chance that the academic became aware of the methodology – at which point (to make a long story short), since the principals refused to acknowledge the error of their ways (or take the professionally recommended corrective action) the academic withdrew from the project, and severed all ties with the organization.

    The parallel I draw from this incident is that, while you were fortunate not to have been used by the IPCC, I’m not entirely confident that you may not have been used by BEST. Not to mention that ever since I learned of Muir Russell’s endorsement of the “team-work” sidestep, I have reservations about how easily responsibility and accountability become foggily diffused when I read/hear that “this was a team effort”, OWTTE.

    P.S. The premise of “Lead scientist”, Richard Rhode’s Global Warming Art Project, in combination with Muller’s consultancy focus – and some of his statements as noted in other threads here – leave me somewhat less than convinced about the objectivity and skepticism inherent in BEST’s approach (not to mention the conspicuous absence of humility).

    • Aaack … typos!

      “(prior BEST to going public…” s/b “prior to BEST going public…”

      “The Berkley Earth Team” s/b “…Berkeley…”

    • Inclusion of Dr. Curry as an author on all four papers could also have been intended to mute whatever criticism might be expected on a certain blog that seems to particularly concern the CAGW activists.

      The further the process goes, the more convinced I am that BEST was conceived from the start as a PR climate rapid response to Anthony Watt’s surface stations project.

      • Which would bring to mind a possible question for Muller if he agrees to be interviewed:

        Did you have any communications with any of the following regarding either the BEST project or surfacestations.org with any of the following prior to announcing the BEST project: Schmidt, Trenberth, Hansen, Mann any IPCC members or other prominent consensus scientists? If so, what was the nature of those communications?

      • But Gary –

        Your question would be a great one, but with your naturally trusting and honest nature you just don’t realize how devious this cabal is. Of course he’d never admit the full extent of the plot. It’s obvious that Muller is just a puppet of Mann, Hansen, Schmidt, and Trenberth. I’m sure that he’s sworn to secrecy under the penalty of death!

      • But thanks for reading anyway.

      • I think Muller actually believed there was something to Michael Crichton. I think he thought he would uncover vast incompetence and fraud, and a distinctly different temperature graph would result. As it is, NOAA and Best are as close as gissin’ cousins.

      • Muller wrote this in his WSJ op-ed:

        “A careful survey of these stations by a team led by meteorologist Anthony Watts showed that 70% of these stations have such poor siting that, by the U.S. government’s own measure, they result in temperature uncertainties of between two and five degrees Celsius or more.”

        It seems to me that with uncertainties in 70% of the reporting stations of “two to five degrees Celsius or more,” with the right statics and assumptions you can get pretty much any graph you like. I seriously doubt he was shocked by his results.

      • Well, I think it probably took him a few days to rise up off the floor.

      • I’m just wondering what is going on at the WSJ? They’ve given Rich Muller an opportunity to express his opinion and, so, are proving me wrong. There was I, thinking the WSJ wasn’t interested in scientific argument, and were intent on protecting the short term economic interests of large energy corporations at the longer term expense of the environment.
        I’m more used to their printing this sort of nonsense.
        http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124597505076157449.html

        Is this just a short term aberration, do you think?

      • Inclusion of Dr. Curry as an author on all four papers could also have been intended to mute whatever criticism might be expected [...]

        Yes, that, too!

      • Inclusion of Dr. Curry as an author on all four papers could also have been intended to mute whatever criticism might be expected on a certain blog that seems to particularly concern the CAGW activists.

        Yes! Yes! Yes!

        It’s so simple, Yet so devious. And simple. And devious.

        Poor Judith must be aghast that she fell prey to their simple yet devious plot!

    • Hilarious.

      It was all a conspiracy. Tens (hundreds?) of people conspired to rig the PR output and to time the release for the COP 17 meetings. They’re all in on it and none will spill the beans.

      Muller was only pretending to criticize climate scientists after Climategate so he could set up this ruse further down the line,

      And to top it all off, Judith was duped into falling for their tricks.

      All I can say is thank God someone like Hilary (notice the correct spelling so as to not upset her) can see through this intricate plot. I only hope that she can get to Judith in time before her integrity is even further compromised by this cabal.

      Outstanding!

    • “What Berkeley Earth has not done is make an independent assessment of how much of the observed warming is due to human actions.”

      I am sure that most readers eyes and minds had glazed over, before they got to that little afterthought, buried down in the last line of the article.

      The message Muller is selling, is in his headline:

      “The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism
      There were good reasons for doubt, until now.”

      He goes on to fail to point out that the issues skeptics are most concerned about do not necessarily include whether there has been some warming. The more relevant issues concern whether whatever warming that has occurred can be substantially, or entirely attributed to human CO2 emissions, and whether we are really in danger of burning up, if we don’t take draconian measures to stop it.

      He set up, for the amusement of the reader, a straw global-warming skeptic caveman (Tea Partier), who has been shown the evidence for Global Warming but was just too dim or un-trusting of the scientists to get it. Muller initially sympathizes with the straw skeptic caveman’s doubts, and explains that he has taken it upon himself to help straw skeptic caveman, by disabusing him of his ignorance. A very nicely planned and well executed piece of political propaganda. I could have used Muller, in a line of work I used to be in.

      Climate science is not rocket science. We would have never gotten to the moon with this stuff.

      • BlueIce2HotSea

        Don Montfort:

        The message Muller is selling, is in his headline:
        The Case Against Global-Warming Skepticism
        There were good reasons for doubt, until now.

        He goes on to fail to point out that the issues skeptics are most concerned about do not necessarily include whether there has been some warming. The more relevant issues concern whether whatever warming that has occurred can be substantially, or entirely attributed to human CO2 emissions, and whether we are really in danger of burning up, if we don’t take draconian measures to stop it.

        He set up, for the amusement of the reader, a straw global-warming skeptic caveman (Tea Partier)…

        Nowhere in Muller’s op-ed article does he discuss a “caveman” or “Tea Partiers”.

        A very nicely planned and well executed piece of political propaganda.

        You see the irony. Now, focus on this possibility. Muller is at odds with the Tea Party, the Progressive Party and ANY party that gains political advantage through distortion/exaggeration of climate science.

        Climate science is not rocket science. We would have never gotten to the moon with this stuff.

        Yes. Climate science is the new rocket science. Some of the brightest minds in the world are working to solve ‘hard’ problems. It takes enormous self-discipline to think clearly with all the political noise. Obviously some on the inside and many on the outside have failed the political test, some failing more often than others. My kudos and respect go to those who scrutinize their own motives as much as they do others.

        Not trying to pick a fight with you.

        BlueIce

  42. “But now let me explain why you should not be a skeptic, at least not any longer.”

    News of the death of CAGW skepticism has been greatly exaggerated.

    Again.

  43. Judith,

    I would like to know if Richard Muller was asked permission for the publication of (some of) his correspondence in response to the criticisms of Doug Keenan, reproduced here, among other places:

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2011/10/21/keenans-response-to-the-best-paper.html

    In fact, we do not know if he was made aware of it. I suppose so.

    Parts of these email seem to hint at the fact that he was not asked permission.

    In any case, I would like you to ask him for a public reaction to the disclosure, if it was one, of course.

    Many thanks,

    w

    • simple willard. write me and I will pass your question on to doug or i’ll ask Muller for you.

      • Steven,

        I notice that its first name terms for “doug”. The good guy? But not for “Muller” , the bad guy? Those grapes must taste real sour, eh?

      • First Romm accuses me and Richard being in kahoots. now this? read what I written elsewhere about keenan. Its not complimentary.

      • Even Romm isn’t as bad as Rain, that’s what I say.

        (His friends call him Tempter. That says it all.)

      • Steven Mosher

        I love the way guys like tt think that they can interpret motivations from word choice. I would have flunked every one their ignorant butts.
        We should mark this one Richard. I wont say why but its funny as hell.

      • No, tt, please read CA.

      • steven mosher,

        Doug has been forwarded the question by our good Bishop, but please do ask Muller for me about his personal reaction.

        If you can ask him why Billinger has not been listed as a co-author, I’m sure Nick Stokes would appreciate this.

        Many thanks and happy belated birthday!

        May you enjoy your last year in your thirties,

        w

        PS: Would you authorize MT to send me a copy of your book?

  44. I’ve noticed that the text version of the BEST data does not contain the original raw data values. Can someone tell me if the raw values are present in the MATLAB version. I’d hate to think that we are again left with no way to verify that the BEST algorithms are correct and are implemented properly.

  45. Many probably have already noticed BEST at woodfortrees.org.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/

  46. My impression when I first heard about the BEST project in April was that the problem they were addressing was less in the nature of mainstream climate science than of public relations. This is not to say the problem is easier than the central problems of climate science, in fact I would say it is at least as hard for the following reasons.

    1. Those who were already satisfied that the extant data was sufficient to base significant advances in climate science on aren’t going to be made any less satisfied.

    2. Those with doubts about the data are unlikely to feel that this additional analysis has resolved all their doubts, with the possible exception of those whose only concern was with the UHI effect. The attention to the kriging methodology notwithstanding, it seems to me that those most likely to be persuaded by BEST’s arguments that UHI is no longer an issue will be the same people that did not see it as a major shortcoming of the data to begin with.

    While the public may well be having both real and imagined difficulties with the quality of the extant data, the main issues climate science faces today have more to do with its interpretation. Under the most optimistic assumptions that every reading at every station is 100% faithful to the local temperature averaged over say a 10-mile radius around that station (as opposed say to an airport tarmac or windy valley), what could such gorgeous data tell us about where the temperature is heading in the long run, in particular in 2060 and 2100, and how much of that is our fault?

    Whether or not the public finds the BEST team’s results reassuring, they should bear in mind that this effort was originally conceived as being for their benefit. Its contribution to climate science per se might best be characterized as improvements to hygiene in data collection. Einstein said that if you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor, by which he meant it was already elegant enough for the purposes of physics. He could well have added “and leave hygiene to the hygienist.”. The BEST team itself appears to be under no delusions in that regard: its two-page executive summary has a short paragraph at the end explicitly acknowledging that they have not assessed the extent of the human component of global warming, and that their next step is to address the total warming of the oceans.

    It seems to me that the shortcomings of climate science today reside not in the quality of its data, which is already close to as good as it’s going to get with our present resources, at least for the purposes of immediate advances in climate science, but rather in its inability to answer the following questions with anything better than consensual guesswork.

    1. By how much will the temperature rise during the coming century?

    2. For any given interval of time, what proportion of the temperature rise during that interval can be attributed to humans?

    3. What informative definitions of “climate sensitivity” are possible, and what is its value under each of the best of these?

    4. What are the principal unknowns contributing to our uncertainty of the above, to what extent do they influence the values, and what are the prospects for reducing these uncertainties through improved understanding of those unknowns?

    I believe that the current state of the art in answering these questions based on the data we already have can be greatly improved. The BEST work may well be a worthwhile exercise in public relations, by raising the public’s level of confidence in the data, but it does not address any of the above questions. To its credit the BEST team seems clear in its own mind as to its goals, and has been careful not to leave that misimpression.

    • Where I wrote “climate science” in the foregoing, I probably should instead have written “global warming” as a very important hot button area within climate science.

    • Vaughan Pratt

      With respect, as one of those whose mind will change, pending review and after hearing out the critics, if BEST is largely confirmed, I disagree.

      Before BEST, there was significant thermometer data floating around one could suspect might have been used to produce a more complete picture if only enough work was done to make it fit to purpose.

      Now, a huge amount of that data has been collected into the ensemble of raw data. This is a substantial change in the state of historical global climate analyses dependent on thermometers in itself.

      Before BEST, there were many calls for thorough vetting of the data and complaints about inadequate audit of the dataset itself. These doubts in themself were an issue just by going unanswered. Now, only a paranoid conspiracy theorist could hold such an opinion.

      Before BEST, the above questions aside, strict mathematical analyses of the data could not reach above a 90% CI on any substantial span of years, nor could reach a similar CI against alternative hypotheses based on some views of ocean variability.

      Now, a robust 95% CI is available for almost 60 years, and while that 5% doesn’t sound like much, it’s a full additional sigma level in and of itself. It all by itself halves the doubt associated with this claim.

      Those with even the basic statistical training of a first year college student in any technical field ought understand that change to be significant.

      Sure, the UHI questions arising from BEST are interesting and valuable, and completely dismantle the original UHI complaints upon which WUWT is founded, and I’m with you that it’s not so much in itself as to be worth a Nobel, but it’s not nothing, and if it were all BEST achieved, it would be worthwhile.

      Likewise, the 2-15 year trend profile for ocean effects means we can re-evaluate the signal:noise problems of the dataset. Perhaps we can identify meaningful trends of less than 17 years now on the BEST dataset. That’d be helpful.

      Now, I disagree with Steve McIntyre’s opinions about LIA coming out of BEST. If anything, especially if anyone has historical knowledge of the period 1800-1880, the very existence of LIA is much less likely, and its size and span apparently much less than most claim. At most, LIA appears to have been a coincidence of Northern Hemisphere lows that either largely ended before 1800 or was very mild.

      For myself, having experience looking at the body of knowledge of various fields as they develop, BEST has achieved in one stroke what often takes decades of intensive work on multiple fronts.

      Further, the consilience of the effects of this rising tide of knowledge BEST has produced all move climate science in one direction. That’s not common.

      Even the spin machine appears to be having trouble digesting and attacking BEST. It’s too much of a mouthful to easily corrupt and obscure, at least so far. This is a substantially different case from, for example, the Wagner resignation.

      • Bart R,

        What? They didn’t have any data available to them that the others didn’t have. All they have done is to throw it all together. The results still suffer from the same problems as all the separate data sets. you don’t subtract problems by adding them together and averaging them away.. It’s deja vu, all over again. Like the model ensemble BS, there are a lot of data sets, and they ain’t so good, but if you add all of them up and average ‘em out, boy you got something you can count on.

        39,000 sites and they decided that 41% of them are “very rural”, after they admitted that using MODIS they can’t tell urban from rural. Oh, but let’s add urban to rural and call that rural, then we can call the other stuff very rural and away we go. Read the freaking paper on UHI. They say that they did not study the UHI effect on the temperature record explicitly. They did not compare urban data to very rural data. They did not address the concerns of Anthony Watts, et al concerning the well documented siting issues. They just claimed they did. And I would like to see somebody explain why the sites that they have identified as having a long-term cooling trend are so homogeneously spread among the sites with warming trends. How does that work with that kriging thing? Anybody? Steven? Judy? Josh? :)

      • Don Monfort

        Wow. Where does one begin?

        Central tendency, or reversion (regression) to the mean, says exactly you can subtract problems by adding them together and averaging them away, if you do it competently.

        Given we’re talking about Nobel laureates who show their work and have self-audited seven-ways from Sunday in addition to having external audits at every stage, I’m laying odds on “competent” being found by peer review.

        Second, “All they have done is to throw it all together,” is a specious contrivance both reflecting no understanding of the process of building a dataset, and also denying the volumes of complaints that not all the data that was available was being used.

        Perhaps you weren’t in the camp doing that complaining, but you can hardly be unaware of it, as you’re repeating one of its central planks about ensembles.

        Further, BEST’s approach curtailed error using robust methods, as well as took into account issues of propagation of error, so your ensemble issue is an apparent problem of you haven’t caught up yet with just how dead BEST killed it as a question. It’s squashed like a bug, now.

        I’ve read the UHI paper several times now. For me, UHI’s always been something of a shrug, because I can do estimation, and at most UHI’s 10% of the anthropogenic effect at first causes, and it happens to be mainly additive to that effect too, so doesn’t wash as a counter-argument.

        If you’re saying the UHI paper only claimed to address the WUWTspun concerns, but did not, that will be caught in peer review. Unsubstantiated claims are easy to spot, and one of the first things looked for. I looked for such myself. Your argument bears little close inspection, when compared to the actual paper, in my view. I’m willing to wait on peer review, just so.

        Now, the long-term cooling trends somewhat homogeneously mixed with warming trends, that is a fascinating question.

        I think it bears much more study.

        If a frequency of sites spatially and of data collection over time can produce enough dynamically significant data points to satisfy the requirements of Chaos (eg, antialiasing, bifurcation), then we can know just how badly we are measuring the climate, and whether some currently ontic variability is really aleatory, or may be semi-deterministic in some spans and scales if only we have enough granularity in our sampling.

      • Bart R,

        The data suffers from well known issues with poor siting, UHI, discontinuity, uneven coverage, moving stations, blah…blah…blah. You can’t make those separate issues go away, by adding them together and averaging. If that is the answer, why didn’t any of the geniuses in the climate science game do it before now? They have been screwing around with this crap for a long time and spending a lot of money., and they are still on square 2, at best.

        I read your reply quickly and it seemed rather silly and unresponsive so forigive me if my scotch and I don’t spend too much time on stuff like “the peer review will catch it”. Puleeeze!

        The UHI paper is a joke, and I would like to see Judy explain why it is not, if she cares to defend something that carries her name.

        I am not going to look again, but I don’t believe you had any explanation for the blue dots among the red thing. So you obviously can’t be of any further help to my understanding of this muddled BS. Like I said, climate science, ain’t rocket science. Good night.

      • Okay, Vaughan

        Don’s one for your side.

        I should know better than to bet against cynicism.

    • I am inclined to agree with this useful summary, but would add the following.

      (1) There are real and worrying aspects about the original temperature data, quite apart from UHI issues. I doubt that prior to 1950 one can say anything much about whether or not the world had warmed from thermometer data. After 1950 the data are better, but my gut feeling is that the real error bars are quite large. On the whole I would prefer satellite and balloon data to thermometers. I agree that there is a rough similarity in the pictures they present.

      (2) There seems to be much more warming over the land in the northern hemisphere than in the south. This is a puzzle, at least to me, because it doesn’t look very ‘global’.

      (3) The SST data are awful, and they cover 70 per cent of the planet’s surface.

      (4) In consequence, it may well be that the planet has warmed over the 20th century, and maybe one day we will be able to say so with confidence from new data and new methodologies (WRT proxies, of course).

      I don’t think we have much idea of how much global warming has occurred, and much of the argument about it seems almost theological to me (angels/pins).

      Finally, I agree that this is not much of a help to that debate! I would pass on to Vaughan Pratt’s four questions, which I (and many others) have asked before in various forms.

  47. Judith.
    It might be a good idea for people to do some reading.. perhaps back to the start of this idea

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/design-a-program-for-surface-temperature-records/

    http://rankexploits.com/musings/2010/design-a-program-for-surface-temperature-records/#comment-33212

    And see how well they did relative to the advice some of us gave before starting.

    I’ll quote myself:

    “Its probably best if they just announce the facts with out
    positioning statements. Its .65C. Advocacy groups can very easily spin to their hearts content. ”

    My opinion then was stay away from PR. just the facts. But what did I know?

    I note a few other things. Not a SINGLE one of the critics of the BEST method had anything to say when JeffId and RomanM created a new method that was warmer than CRU and GISS.

    In terms of methods I think BEST is an advance. In terms of data, an advance. The UHI effort raised more questions than it answered. That’s not unique for UHI. The station quality paper, likewise. AMO.. I dont read that stuff.

    The key will be is the code useable as a TOOL.. or is it code to generate answers. I’ll know more when I crack it open, in a few days. If its not a TOOL, then I’ll probably rewrite it as a usable tool.

    • Steven,

      You are good with numbers. How much cooling would you estimate occurred in the sites that exhibited a cooling trend, if the average of all sites is +.65C and the 2/3 of sites that showed a warming trend were on average between +1-2C? And why are those blue dots spread so homogeneously among the red ones? Am I making any sense, steve old buddy? Hello!

      • why wouldnt they be spread homongeneously? The charts will show you the distribution of cooling trends. For me blue dots dont cut it.. id look first at the strongest cooling trends.. tonyb found some interesting patterns that I also happened upon.. I need to finish the present work then I can get on the cooling trend stuff. see my post at my blog on cooling cities

      • Steven,

        I will have a look at your blog and hope for further enlightenment. In the meantime, I will continue to wonder why a cluster of red dots representing stations with long-term warming trends of 1-2C, surrounds a blue dot or two that show a cooling trend. It also looks like from bare eyeballing, that the dense clusters of red dots are urban areas.

      • Steven Mosher

        the red only tells you positive. blue negative.
        it could very well be that those red are .000001 positive
        and the blue is -.0000000001

        That’s why dots dont cut it. They just create a mystery

        You will find urban that warm more than rural. without a doubt. that has never been the question..

        To be clear, the red dots in the figure represent ANY positive trend
        not 1-2C, although some will be 1-2C.

        In the end if you eliminate all urban cities. the world is still warming and GHGs are a part of the cause. get this, if they were ALL cooling, C02 would still cause warming.

      • “get this, if they were ALL cooling, C02 would still cause warming.”

        If the total global average temperature (assuming there is such a thing) were falling, CO2 wouldn’t be “caus[ing] warming.” It would at best be slowing cooling.

        (Sorry, just wanted to see what it feels like to make a boring semantic argument that has no effect on the substance of the debate.)

  48. How about…
    1) Do we really have a sense of what the best metric for global temperature is? (land, sea, atmospheric)?

    2) Given what measurements are available, does any temperature change follow CO2 or precede CO2 change?

  49. The problem with BEST’s recent media blitz was not that they released the papers for wide review. The problem was the coordinated PR campaign, and the overreaching conclusions drawn by the authors and trumpted to the media. Skips right over the wider review that was the alleged motive, and moves straight on to the politicization.

    Attempting to conflate the two into one is dishonest, Judith. You know the difference.

    BEST, including you, are having trouble keeping your snouts and fangs from poking out from beneath your “I’m skeptical, really I am” sheepskins.

    • omnologos

      Since GoogleMap does not give historical data, believe it will not give any info on trends (which is what the discussion is all about).

      Here is a summary on UHI from “ice cap” with many cited references.
      http://icecap.us/images/uploads/URBAN_HEAT_ISLAND.pdf

      The question seems not to be whether or not urbanization causes warming (pretty obvious, based on all the data out there) but whether or not the UHI distortion has represented a significant part of the recorded land surface warming since the record started in 1850 and whether or not this has significantly distorted the globally averaged trend.

      I have a hard time imagining that UHI has caused a major part of the observed globally averaged warming, but I would estimate that it has been significantly higher than the IPCC estimate of “less than 0.006 degreesC per decade”.

      But even if IPCC is off by a factor of 5:1, the UHI distortion would only be 0.03 degrees C per decade.

      BTW, this is the difference between the warming trend of the surface and satellite records since 1979, so would IMO represent an “upper limit” to the UHI distortion on the global record.

      Max

      PS But one thing is certain: urbanization has NOT caused 0.019C per decade COOLING as the BEST data would suggest.

      • I’m not sure they are saying urbanization caused the cooling. If they are only going from 1950 to 2010 and taking areas that were already urbanized at the initiation of the evaluation, it isn’t difficult to imagine scenarios where lighter building materials and a reduction in soot more than counteracted any growing UHI effect.

      • steven

        Whether or not it covers the period “from 1950 to 2010″ or a longer period, BEST shows that the net impact of urbanization was a spurious cooling trend of -0.019C per decade. In view of the many local studies that show exactly the opposite trend, it is very hard to imagine anything that could make increased urbanization lead to cooling.

        And then there is the satellite record, which has no UHI effect and has a warming trend that is 0.03C per decade cooler that the surface trend, even though GH theory tells us the troposphere should be warming faster than the surface..

        But, hey, this is simply the sub-committee’s first crack at this analysis.Let’s see what BEST comes up with once they’ve done a bit of “rework”.

        And, finally, it is not all that important, as Judith has written. UHI certainly cannot account for all of the observed past warming, even if it is significantly higher than the 0.006C per decade over land, as estimated by IPCC.

        Much more important, as Judith points out, are uncertainties regarding the question of attribution (which BEST has not addressed)

        Max

      • Max, it will be interesting to see what they come up with. I think they will find out they are fairly accurate and that the deciding factor was the conversion of red brick soot covered buildings to more reflective concrete ones, but who knows. I do know that there is some indication this is possible. I would agree it probably isn’t important but I find it interesting anyway.

        http://surfaceheat.sites.yale.edu/evaluating-chicago-s-urban-heat-island-policy-remote-sensing

      • This is going to be a new issue for climate science. In the 25 years that I’ve lived in the Denver area, the skyline has definitely greened. I’ve also noticed that many more road improvement projects now have tree planting as an integral part. Hey, something that libs and conservatives can both get behind. What’s not to like about more trees? What if the 50 billion that we have wasted chasing AGW had been used to plant trees?

  50. Now that Nature agrees with my assessment on the consequences of Muller’s PR Blitzkrieg, I wonder if we really can’t get anything better on uhi in these days of Google Earth?

    • in 1977 the site of DFW airport was a cow pasture. It is now surrounded by a town of 30 K with runways and airplanes and heated buildings. [ this effect may be more pronounced in winter.]

      The change in UHI over time is what is critical to sorting it’s effect on measurement of climate change.

      It has been shown that the UHI caused by growing to a small town etc from a cow pasture is greater than a large city growing slightly.

      The BEST methodology seems suspect in that this effect seems not to be compensated for.

      • Under the BEST method of classification, a small town would still be classified as “very rural”, as long as it is at least 10km from a place that is classified as urban. So, yes, the BEST UHI test was a big failure right from it’s design.

  51. Oliver, we are in agreement on enlightenment, and I have been making efforts to “dispel the darkness” for many years. As for your papers, the material is fascinating but I don’t have the background or capacity to take a view.

  52. Oliver, we are in agreement on enlightenment, and I have been making efforts to “dispel the darkness” for many years. As for your papers, the material is fascinating, but I don’t have the background or capacity to take a view.

    [I thought I'd posted this, but it hasn't shown up, I'll risk a double-post.]

  53. Mmm, some misplacement here; I didn’t realize that my reply to Oliver’s second post appeared before his posts and my firtsreply; let’s see where this one ends up. It’s 6.43 pm in Brisbane, Australian Eastern Standard Time. (GMT + 10 hours)

  54. Oh my, it is warmer than it was in 1970. Let’s ignore that It is not warmer than it was in 1500 BC nor is it warmer than it was in 5500 BC. Carry on and have fun with your models and statistics.

  55. Tomas Milanovic

    Judith

    Relative to the broader issue of attribution, which are at the heart of skeptical concern, details of the surface temperature record don’t play a terribly large role in most people’s skepticism about climate change.

    Add me definitely to that category. Terribly large is an understatement. It doesn’t play any role at all for me. Computing surface averages of something be it temperature or whatever else from a finite and incomplete number of points dispersed randomly has no interest for the dynamics.
    It can lead to intellectually interesting and challenging discussions among statisticians but that’s about it.
    And that we are in a globally warming phase is anyway obvious for anybody who heard at least once the word “interglacial”.

    • I’m with you Tomas – as far as my limited brain can take me!

    • So, in your opinion the land surface temperature record is intellectually interesting but completely irrelevant.

      And we are in a warming phase, of that you have no doubt.

      What is the evidence that you use to conclude that we are in a warming phase – and what evidence do you use to determine whether that phase might not have paused or even ended over the last 100 or 50 years? Satellite data? Melting of glaciers? Would any particular 100 or 50 years be too short a time span to support conclusion WRT warming/cooling on a geological scale?

      • Tomas Milanovic

        What is the evidence that you use to conclude that we are in a warming phase –

        Is this question some kind of trolling? Or is it really as stupid as it looks?
        Never heard interglacial?
        If no, then this is a period that follows a glacial period. Always.
        Of course, quite trivially the temperature increases on most places during this period and this is ususually a process that is called “warming”.
        And now I observe like everybody should that we are now in 2011 and that this happens to be an “integlacial”.
        Consequence – it is currently warming as it always did and will continue for quite a long time. Even if I looked at no data, the simple observation of the time coordinate would tell me that we must be warming.
        At one time (nobody knows exactly when but it’s much more than a few centuries) we will go again towards the next glacial. Etc on every cycle.
        As the glacial period is much cooler than now or at the inversion point, to get there the system will have to cool.
        So after having warmed, it will cool again (oceans will get colder on many places, there may be more clouds, more ice, winters will be longer on many places and all those phenomena generally associated with cooling).

        What is so difficult to understand about that?

  56. If I were a cynic, I might suggest the sceptics-should-now-realise-global-warming-is-real media blitz was designed to facilitate future funding.

  57. Dr. Singer’s letter to Nature (filched from WUWT)..My understanding is they’ve published it…:

    Fred Singer said:
    Dear Editors of Nature:
    What a curious editorial [p.428, Oct.26} ? and how revealing of yr bias!
    “Results confirming climate change are welcome, even when released before peer review.”
    (above is quote from their editorial)
    You imply that contrary results are not welcomed by Nature. But this has been obvious for many years.

    Why are you so jubilant about the findings of the Berkeley Climate Project that you can hardly contain yourself? What do you think they proved? They certainly added little to the ongoing debate on human causes of climate change.

    They included data from the same weather stations as the Climategate people, but reported that one-third showed cooling — not warming. They covered the same land area ” less than 30% of the Earth?s surface ” housing recording stations that are poorly distributed, mainly in the US and Western Europe. They state that 70% of US stations are badly sited and don’t meet the standards set by government; the rest of the world is likely worse.

    But unlike the land surface, the atmosphere has shown no warming trend, either over land or over ocean — according to satellites and independent data from weather balloons. This indicates to me that there is something very wrong with the land surface data. And did you know that climate models, run on super-computers, all insist that the atmosphere must warm faster than the surface? And so does theory.

    And finally, we have non-thermometer temperature data from so-called “proxies”: tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments, stalagmites. They don’t show any global warming since 1940!

    The BEST (Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature) results in no way confirm the scientifically discredited Hockeystick graph, which had been so eagerly adopted by climate alarmists. In fact, the Hockeystick authors never published their post-1978 temperatures in their 1998 paper in Nature ? or since. The reason for hiding them? It’s likely that those proxy data show no warming either. Why don’t you ask them?

    One last word: You evidently haven’t read the four scientific BEST papers, submitted for peer review. There, the Berkeley scientists disclaim knowing the cause of the temperature increase reported by their project. They conclude, however: “The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.” I commend them for their honesty and skepticism.
    ********************************************************************
    S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and director of the Science & Environmental Policy Project. His specialty is atmospheric and space physics. An expert in remote sensing and satellites, he served as the founding director of the US Weather Satellite Service and, more recently, as vice chair of the US National Advisory Committee on Oceans & Atmosphere. He is co-author of Climate Change Reconsidered [2009 and 2011] and of Unstoppable Global Warming 2007.

    • “The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.”

      This is a classic distortion – based on an inappropriately inaccurate quotation (creating a full sentence out of a conditional clause selectively lifted out of a larger sentence) – with a deliberate intention to mislead.

      That anyone would repeat that type of “fraudulence” is unfortunate. I look forward to the day when “skeptics” seek to distance themselves from this type of input from “skeptical” scientists.

      • That is not fraudulent, it is a conclusion. That it is a dependent clause is of no matter, because in the full context the conclusion is the same.

  58. Despite all those cooling cycles, BEST tries to fool us into thinking it’s been getting warmer by coloring the cycles RED, which of course suggests hot, and then drawing a skyrocketing line through the whole thing in the color GREEN to suggest temperature has accelerated like a dragster driven by a spoiled teen age punk.

  59. For what it’s worth, I could care less when BEST posts their stuff. I do care that, by their own admission, they have posted code that won’t run.

  60. During the present ‘warming hiatus’ we need to come together and do what we must to create more warming or prepare for global cooling with no end to the cooling in sight. In either case what’s needed with what we have and we have Greece so it’s time to burn government bureaucrats and roast’m in their own snakeoil..

  61. Here is a link to a lecture by Professor Richard Muller that may give an insight on his thoughts on the whole debate
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VbR0EPWgkEI&NR=1

    Major take-homes for me:

    – Muller believes humans are changing climate with CO2 emissions
    – humans have been responsible for “most” of a 0.4C warming since 1957, almost none of the warming before then
    – IPCC is in trouble due to sloppy science, exaggerated predictions; chairman will have to resign
    – the “Climategate” mails were not “hacked” – they were “leaked” by an insider
    – due to “hide the decline” deception, Muller will not read any future papers by Michael Mann
    – there has been no increase in hurricanes or tornadoes due to global warming
    – automobiles are insignificant in overall picture
    – China is the major CO2 producer, considerably more than USA today
    – #1 priority for China is growth of economy – global warming is not considered important
    – China CO2 efficiency (GDP per ton CO2) is around one-fourth of USA today, has much room for improvement
    – China growth will make per capita CO2 emissions at same level as USA today by year 2040
    – if it is “not profitable” it is “not sustainable”
    – US energy future depends on shale gas for automobiles; hydrogen will not be a factor – nor will electric cars, due to high cost
    – Muller is upbeat on nuclear (this was recorded pre-Fukushima)
    – there has been no warming in the USA
    – Muller was not convinced of Hansen’s GISS temperature record; hopes BEST will provide a better record.

    Just to give a snapshot of how Muller sees the whole debate today.

    He is not a “skeptic” by any means – but he is also not a “believer” in IPCC.

    Max

    • Max,

      I remember watching that video some time ago, and my recollection of my impressions is similar to those you’ve articulated. With one exception:

      He is not a “skeptic” by any means – but he is also not a “believer” in IPCC.

      I agree with your conclusion that he’s not a “skeptic” – but I’m not sure how you concluded that he’s “not a ‘believer’ in IPCC”. BEST’s press release specifically mentioned ‘ready for inclusion in the next IPCC assessment report’. These don’t sound like the words of a non-believer to me! Nor, for that matter, does their claim of relevance to COP 17 – the confab of the UNFCCC (which Pachauri maintains is the IPCC’s “main customer”) – suggest … uh … divergence from the party line!

      But Muller’s WSJ Op Ed was the most troubling part of this PR media blitz to me. Methinks this project’s principal may have abandoned some principles he had articulated circa Dec. 2003:

      In most fields of science, researchers who express the most self-doubt and who understate their conclusions are the ones that are most respected. Scientists regard with disdain those who play their conclusions to the press. [...]
      [...]
      When a conclusion is attractive, I am tempted to lower my standards, to do shoddy work. But that is not the way to truth. When the conclusions are attractive, we must be extra cautious.
      [...]
      Present results with caution, and insist on equivocating. Leave it to the president and his advisors to make decisions based on uncertain conclusions. Don’t exaggerate the results. Use both hands. We cannot afford to lower our standards merely because the problem is so urgent. (emphases added -hro) [Source]

      Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t see any sign of “self-doubt” – or “caution” (not to mention “extra caution”!) -or “uncertainty” in either the press release or the Op Ed. And considering the spin that the “churnalists” have spun, if there was any “equivocation” in the press release, they must have missed that, too. And (pardon my skepticism, but) Muller/BEST probably knew that this would happen. Just as BEST seemed to know that the “churnalists” would overlook (what to me was) the most important part of the press release:

      What Berkeley Earth has not done is make an independent assessment of how much of the observed warming is due to human actions.

      • hro001

        Yes. I agree that I may have drawn the false conclusion from Muller’s statements that “the IPCC is in big trouble” and “its Chairman should resign”.

        He also openly attacked IPCC on the Himalaya blunder, human cause of increased hurricanes or tornadoes, and other points. He did, state his opinion that human CO2 has contributed to global warming – he tossed out a figure of 0.2C (since 1950, I believe).

        He confirmed that China (and India) would be the primary CO2 emitters of the 21st century, that they “have a right” to develop their economies even if this means emitting more CO2 and that any CO2 curtailment activities made by the already industrialized nations of North America, Europe plus Japan will be futile unless China and India join in. He also pointed out that they will not join in unless economically viable (i.e. inexpensive) solutions are found to get away from coal, which both nations have large reserves of.

        So, yeah, he “buys into” the IPCC claim of human GHGs (primarily CO2) causing a part of past warming and representing a possible future threat, but he rejects many of the other IPCC claims.

        This is just one snapshot of Professor Muller.

        He appears to like the media – so I’m sure we’ll see more of him. Let’s see who he really is.

        Max

      • This is just one snapshot of Professor Muller.

        He appears to like the media – so I’m sure we’ll see more of him. Let’s see who he really is.

        Indeed! I had actually started to ask myself this question in early July (that post, one of many on my backburner, I had tentatively titled “Will the real Richard Muller please stand up”) Maybe it’s time for me to consider finishing that post ;-)

    • Dan,

      You are cruel! Look, Judith is upset with Rich Muller.

      “When I saw he was saying that I just thought, ‘Oh my God’ !”

      And Judith wasn’t even consulted properly!

      “I was informed only when I got a group email.”

      The feathers are starting to fly!

  62. BBC Radio 4 news just mentioned the Mail on Sunday and Judith Curry. It was like hearing Nietzsche on Vatican News.

    • I had high hopes that they would cover it on Broadcasting House in the paper review. Holding me breath…

  63. tempterrain

    Yeah. It looks like Muller screwed up and Curry called him on it. But I hardly believe that this will result in a “spat” between the two.

    BEST estimates show no warming for the most recent 13 years, which he failed to acknowledge (big mistake).

    The world’s press jumped on Muller’s PR release in a “aha! the science is settled!” moment.

    Yet the preminary BEST study did not even address the attribution question (the biggest bone of contention between IPCC and its skeptics, which Dr. Curry has also addressed separately.

    In addition, BEST released an absurd preliminary finding that urbanization since 1950 had caused a spurious COOLING signal to the record, glossing over this finding by saying there was no impact:

    The small size, and its negative sign, supports the key conclusion of prior groups that urban warming does not unduly bias estimates of recent global temperature change.

    Pardon me, Professor Muller – the “negative sign” supports the conclusion that your sub-group’s study was basically flawed and should be redone – what assumptions were made?, how were “rural” and “non-rural” sites split?, how were airport sites handled?, etc. etc. Time for some rework here, professor. Your conclusion is not credible.

    There is enough evidence out there from studies all over the world that urbanization causes warming. The question was only: how significant was this warming signal over the 20th century? Some studies have pointed to a warming impact of 0.25C to 0.5C. IPCC has conceded an impact of 0.06C over land. But NO studies (up until this BEST preliminary study) have shown a COOLING impact from urbanization.

    To me, this is the biggest BEST screw-up.

    Max

  64. BEST confirms global temperature standstill</strong
    http://thegwpf.org/the-observatory/4230-best-confirms-global-temperature-standstill.html

    Looks pretty straightforward to me.

    Max

  65. I do not know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering problems with your website. It looks like some of the written text on your content are running off the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well? This could be a problem with my web browser because I’ve had this happen
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