Recent challenges to the credibility of climate science

The unauthorized release of emails from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia initiated extensive public scrutiny on climate research.

The subsequent defenses of the science and scientists, the slow response of most of the institutions, discovery of errors in the IPCC reports, and broader concerns of bias and conflict of interest in the IPCC have damaged the reputation of the IPCC and climate science as a whole.

I’m hosting this thread so that participants can air their ideas and discuss their differences of opinion on this.  In the coming months, I am planning several threads that relate to this topic, including reflections on the IPCC, responsible conduct of research, and open knowledge initiatives.  At this point, I don’t have anything in particular to say about this topic, but here are links to my previous essays on the subject:

Appropriate topics to discuss on this thread include:

  • The IAC report on the IPCC
  • Andrew Montford’s assessment of the inquiries
  • Ross McKitrick’s assessment of the inquiries
  • Media coverage
  • Communicating climate science
  • Role of the blogosphere
  • The reaction of the climate establishment
  • Suggestions on how to restore credibility to climate science

Inappropriate topics to discuss are:

  • Citations from the emails
  • Attacks or criticisms of individuals mentioned in the emails (particularly Jones, Mann); criticize a type of behavior but not an individual.

304 responses to “Recent challenges to the credibility of climate science

  1. The entire situation is, I think, a total mess. The inquiries in the UK at any rate have proved to be well below standard. Some of us were hoping that the inquiries would clear the air, even if at the cost of some damage to reputations and egos. Sadly that has not happened. The fact that Lord Oxburgh claimed that his study was based on reports selected by the Royal Society, when it has since transpired that this was not the case pretty much sums it up.

    We need real inquiries that can separate fact from fiction, allegation from reality and data from conclusion.

    Only by a careful study can credibility be restored. This really is too important for us to allow allegations of a cover up to fly about, and sadly be given credibility by the emerging truths about the inquiries.

  2. May I add, the apparent software devlopment practices, data management procedure, version control (lack of) and many other failings, identified within the harry_read_me.txt file, these appear endemic at CRU. TH e defence seems to be that this is how ‘scientists do it. ie everyone does it, therefore it is OK.

    On the surface, the unit at CRU would seem to fail to comply with any professional /or governments IT standards in all these areas..

    It would surely benefit ‘climate science’ as a whole. IF the scientists using the tools of computer science, follow, at the very least, the standards and methodlogies in any UK government sponsored IT project..

    Ideally, given the self proclaimed ‘global significance’ of the work at CRU (quoting an extract from a proposed piece of PhD research) I would expect that CRU would want to follow BEST practices in these areas..

    The procedures/standards need not COST a great deal, it is a discipline and methodlogy that needs adearing to. In fact, it is self evident, the introduction of even ‘minimum’ standards of documentation of the code and the project, would have saved poor ‘harry’ hundreds of hours of time, and prevented (his words) the project being over a year late. I am sure many IT professionals ‘sympathised’ with the mess that apparently the code is in, this is why over many years the UK government via The Staionary Office’ has published many of the procdures that should be worked to…

    An audit of the procedures/methodologies would go along way to ensure confidence in the output of this unit, whose work they say has ‘global significance’

    An audit does NOT require that data and code be made available to the public, even though that would be beneficial, and the workings of HADCRUT, CRUTERM, etc are hardly state secrets.

    • Barry Woods wrote: An audit does NOT require that data and code be made available to the public, even though that would be beneficial, and the workings of HADCRUT, CRUTERM, etc are hardly state secrets.

      If you expect me as a taxpayer, aka the public, to shell out hard earned money to fix a problem, the code and data darn well better be made public. The scientist also probably used public funds for the study in question, so the public has a right to it. It is not his or her intellectual property. Other than possible argument that the code and data are intellectual property, what other argument do you have for keeping this information from the public?

      • I would like both..
        Just trying to provide one less excuse not to do either..
        This issue has not been looked at AT ALL by ANY enquiry.

    • It would be really nice if the CRU stepped up to industry level, when it comes to software development.

      I find it very sad that scientists used long forgotten programming languages (Fortran) and have no idea that nobody else uses text files to store data.

      The software industry uses relational databases to store data, keys to insure coherence of data, indexes to improve performance of data calculations, and the CRU uses none of that. It took me about one day of work to create an SQL Database to store the CRU data… It is a pity the CRU has not done that already. Object oriented programming languages, like Java or C#, allow the creation of solid pieces of software, instead of the chaotic pieces of code from the CRU.

      That is the case for tools. Then comes the case for methodologies.

      Software development is a mature science with many well established methodologies, that address documentation, requirement management, risk management, stakeholders involvement in the development process, quality control, software patterns and architectures, and so on… A software laboratory should implement the best practices for software development, the problem would be to chose one of the many complete and complex methodologies available, e.g. RUP, CMMI, Agile or Prince2.

      Climate scientist may not be very comfortable to discuss such matters, I have seen little debate about this, but to me it is a key issue to restore credibility on climate science, after the release of the CRU source code.

      I will take CRU findings seriously when I believe they handle data properly, and they use the right tools to draw conclusions from that data. At the moment they are still 40 years old technology to produce results, on a subject considered to be critical for mankind’s future.

      • You *seriously* want to make a case for Java/C# vs Fortran for number crunching? I’m flabbergasted. Old and outdated? You might want to look at what Fortan is actually good at.

        > Software development is a mature science

        I would strongly disagree with this statement. Software development is absolutely not a mature science, with a large amount of repeatability to this day still down to individual talent rather than standardised practices. The most effective methodologies these days involve mitigating risk and inevitable feature creep, while flagging up issues while there is still time for stakeholders to deal with them. What constitutes best practice in terms of quality and documentation varies from institution to institution, as does the manner and level of enforcement.

        None of which is particularly applicable to the sort of temporary code that was “exposed” as part of the CRU email theft. You can make a case that where the primary output is software a high standard should be applied – and here I’m thinking eg. of the GISS GCMs. You can make a case that where a paper uses software, the code should be made available, and I’d agree that that’s a good thing (high visibility tends to encourage higher uality code). But I think that suggesting a shift away from a language pretty much dedicated to number crunching to a managed OO language simply because it is more modern is pretty ludicrous, as is suggesting that RUP might be applicable to the development of what boil down to a handful of throwaway scripts by a handful of individuals.

      • Dave H,

        I couldn’t find the button to reply to your comment, so I am replying to my own.

        Obviously we differ when it comes to evaluating the state of the art of software development, I won’t respond to that, we would digress.

        I should clarify one thing: In Java/C# development number crunching is done at a database engine. So I would be comparing Fortran code with Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL or any other Relational Data Base Engine as a number cruncher. I don’t think Fortran is a match to any RDB.

        Unfortunately, the issue is not number crunching, it is about data management. Storing such sensitive data in text files that are crunched by Fortran code, is like storing enriched uranium in cardboards.

      • > In Java/C# development number crunching is done at a database engine. So I would be comparing Fortran code with Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL or any other Relational Data Base Engine as a number cruncher. I don’t think Fortran is a match to any RDB.

        Please stop. As well as being massively off topic now, this is just embarassing.

        Just going off that performance assertion, you need to take a long hard look at what Fortran is, how it’s used and why, what it’s good at and how it performs. Then you need to put down that DBMS hammer and leave it well alone until you come across a suitable nail.

      • The real problem with binary data comes when trying to ingest data meant for a machine with a different (and possibly unknown) encoding schemes. This is especially true of floating point data. Fortunately this is somewhat alleviated by standards such as IEEE 754. Even if the encoding is known there may still be byte order issues.

        One of the things a good engineer learns early on is that there is no such thing as an objective ‘best’. It is defined solely by requirements. That means, sans requirements, there is no clear way of determining that language A is better than language B or method X is better than method Y. Any statement otherwise borders on religious fervor.

        Your requirements obviously differ. Assuming yours are superior is a bit arrogant.

      • I do believe DBMS are a much better solution to handle the CRU data than text files and Fortran. My belief is based on my professional experience as developer and IT architect in the banking industry.

        You disagree.

        I guess there is nothing more to debate.

      • Rui, I certainly agree that there simply is no argument for not migrating to a relational database. It’s indefensible.

      • SimonH

        That’s not the part I take issue with, and I’ve been abundently clear on that. Sure, stick data in an RDBMS – although saying its “indefensible” that it isn’t there already is silly.

        The parts I take issue with are:

        1. Assertion that a managed language is *better* than Fortran for number crunching operations by virtue of being more modern.

        2. Assertion that “number crunching” should be done in an RDBMS because it will be faster than Fortran.

        Both of these comments are empty, and betray a very narrow view of the “right” way to solve a problem, coupled with a fallacious belief that all problems are the same (or even similar) to one’s own and a complete lack of understanding of what Fortran is or how it is best used.

        Statements like:

        > The software industry uses relational databases to store data, keys to insure coherence of data, indexes to improve performance of data calculations, and the CRU uses none of that.

        Again betray a very narrow view of what the “software industry” does with data.

        Yet I am accused of arrogance in this thread when I am pointing out the arrogance of the original claims.

      • Dave H, I was very specific about the part of Rui’s point that I was agreeing with, and to Rui – that a flat file is simply not the format to store and/or draw data from. With respect, whether or not you disagree with that aspect is not really relevant.

        Nevertheless, to your further point, I do think that a failure to migrate to a structured, clustered, load-balanced data storage landscape – something, in industry, that we’ve been doing progressively for decades , and that we’ve been doing for good reason – whether Informix, Oracle, SQLServer, MySQL, MSAccess (LOL! Joke!) or whichever, Rui and I could probably debate happily for days which of these structures are better – but defending filesystems as an equal or better alternative is most certainly defending the indefensible.

        There’s nothing wrong with FORTRAN, but there’s something wrong with the idea that it’s a better or more efficient process in data analysis to pull data – whether from a database or from a filesystem – perform statistical analysis on it and feed it back into a table or filestructure. When you can use the database’s own internal language (SQL, whichever nuanced version) to do this, it just doesn’t make sense to claim any measure of efficiency. Add databases’ transaction, relationship, fast indexing, replication and snapshot features into the mix and using filesystems rather than databases for mission-critical data is just silly, bordering on irresponsible.

      • This is far from being off-topic, by the way. Onlookers like myself and Rui, who are not in academia but are instead reviewing and considering “challenges to the credibility of climate science” post-“Climategate”, and who are coming at the subject from an industry perspective, are certain to be impacted by discoveries such as the CRU’s and other academics’ attitudes to data storage and integrity.

        I cannot for a moment imagine a body of core data in industry with broad real-world significance would ever be handled by its guardians so blithely or so disrespectfully. I really hope this attitude is not endemic to the field.

      • As to data formats, I lot of this type of data is handled as netCDF.

        I don’t see anything wrong with Fortran or C.

      • SimonH,

        > defending filesystems as an equal or better alternative is most certainly defending the indefensible.

        > I cannot for a moment imagine a body of core data in industry with broad real-world significance would ever be handled by its guardians so blithely or so disrespectfully.

        Again this is applying a very narrow view of the world, and it is precisely the unwarranted and unsubstantiated assertion I take issue with.

        You might want to look at what, eg. the human genome project does. Then you might want to consider why. Then perhaps you might want to ponder the old adage about the nail-like appearance of all problems once one is in possession of a hammer.

        Yes, I know that for certain classes of problem an RDBMS is the default starting position for any solution, and it surprises me not in the least that the instigator of this little exchange has a background in financial systems. An RDBMS is not a panacea, it is a compromise just like anything else, and without understanding the tradeoffs and whether or not they matter to a specific problem is foolhardy.

        Just to throw it out there – one of the key benefits of fortran is that the language is highly similar to the problem domain it is specifically trying to model. The clean mapping between language idioms and the actual problems being solved is one of the key reasons fortran can outperform C in specific use cases. Caiming that it *must* be more efficient to do it in SQL because its part of an RDBMS is… baffling.

        By the way, listing technologies doesn’t impress people that work with them. Particularly when you’re just naming products or don’t consider whether those features you mention are relevant to the problem at hand, or whether they might actually be an impediment. For example, when you are subdividing a large, unchanging dataset and performing billions of calculations across a computational grid and then producing a combined, unchanging response – what good are transactions? What good is database-level enforced consistency when what your problem actually demands is eventual consistency?

        I see this whole discussion as irrelevant and an excuse for people to use elements of a narrow expertise to pontificate upon problems in another field. I’m sure that, given enough information, I could find way where I might personally do things differently than has been done at the CRU (and, FSM knows, I have an ego just as much as the next guy). But the criticisms here have been plain wrong, and a little humility about whether one’s own experience is *really* indicative of the entire software industry wouldn’t go amiss.

        Had the original comment been something like “it seems to me that an RDBMS would bring benefits and I can’t see any drawbacks, why don’t CRU do that?” that could have been grounds for a fruitful discussion. But it wasn’t. It was more like “CRU practices are shoddy *because* they don’t use a modern language like C# and an RDBMS which would clearly be faster than fortran+flat files”. That is arrogant and false on its face.

      • Dave, I’ve since been looking at (crash-coursing) FORTRAN and willingly concede that it appears particularly adept at dealing with intense scientifically oriented computing tasks.

        I’m still not convinced that a failure to migrate to some RDB format for storage and retrieval of climate data, particularly that of the type used at CRU, is justifiable, especially in tandem with the development of an appropriately comprehensive industry-standard XML schema to facilitate useful data extraction/sharing. This would be a natural progression resulting from the standardisation of climate data storage. I do recognise that data sharing is not necessarily a high priority for some in the field, however.

        I read the NetCDF literature with interest. I am under the impression, lifted from Ian Harris, that CRU don’t work with NetCDF but with plain ASCII. They may occasionally work/convert from NetCDF, however.

      • Incidentally, Dave, I don’t list different db technologies to feign authority. I don’t thank you for that inference. I list them because they’re all capable and, despite each being proprietary, are all willing/eager to share data comprehensively with each other.

    • An audit does NOT require that data and code be made available to the public

      How does one audit what one cannot see?

  3. I look forward to a robust inquiry of the information the e-mails revealed.
    This has not been done yet, but I am still hopeful.

    • What about the emails that were not revealed?
      What about the phone calls and meetings that were not taped?

      • Well, as for the e-mails, my bet is when an actual inquiry is made, we will find out that the advice regarding deletion was not idle, and that enough time has passed to do the difficult job of actually erasing every incident of the e-mails a reality.
        But one of the purposes of whitewash is to give time to hide stuff, after all.

  4. I think it has become very difficult for non-scientists (or even for scientists from other fields or working outside academia) to quickly get a good feel for the reality of knowledge in climate science. Speaking for myself (a trained physicist, now working outside academia), this confusion is due to a conflict between the very strong public statements made by many scientific institutions and government scientists and the far more measured opinions and the range of opinions expressed by many senior scientists working in the area. From the point of view of credibility, I think it is important that the public face of climate science is very clear about the degree of uncertainty involved and careful to avoid exaggerated or unbalanced claims. I also think it will be important to avoid confusing scientific statements with either specific policies or with the objectives of environmentalist groups.

    • The Royal Society has hitherto, been an august, authoritative and objective scientific body. It is about to publish a new “guide to the science of climate change”

      The link is to an introduction to the RS’s plans and includes a background statement:


      It is certain that increased greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and from land use change lead to a warming of climate, and it is very likely that these green house gases are the dominant cause of the global warming that has been taking place over the last 50 years.

      Whilst the extent of climate change is often expressed in a single figure – global temperature – the effects of climate change (such as temperature, precipitation and the frequency of extreme weather events) will vary greatly from place to place.

      Increasing atmospheric CO2 also leads to ocean acidification which risks profound impacts on many marine ecosystems and in turn the societies which depend on them.

      The Society has worked on the issue of climate change for many years to further the understanding of this issue. These activities have been informed by decades of publicly available, peer-reviewed studies by thousands of scientists across a wide range of disciplines. Climate science, like any other scientific discipline, develops through vigorous debates between experts, but there is an overwhelming consensus regarding its fundamentals. Climate science has a firm basis in physics and is supported by a wealth of evidence from real world observations.”

      This is the RS’s view before it produces its new guide and an analysis of the statements in this background matter does not bode well for the objectivity of its content. Because of the interest in global warming the scientific quality of the new guide will come under close scrutiny and any doubts that arise about its scientific credibility will, probably reduce the credibility in its other disciplines. And finally, much as I would like to be proven wrong, I have a suspicion that the ‘scientific method’ will not feature too highly in the new guide’s demonstrations of cause and effect.

  5. As Mosher points out frequently, the science is separate from the scandals.

    The physics of radiative transfer do not depend on the ethical behaviour of scientists or their handlers. We still have prima facie evidence of at least one crime and a lot of evidence of unedifying behaviour. None of which bears on the issue of anthropogenic contributions to climate change.

    Which makes it all the more amusing to watch the antics of those more vested in the politics than they ever were in the science scurry around trying to defend every paper, statement, cough and belch emanating from the clique of what I consider to be a small group of scientists who worked together to mask uncertainty.

    When the day comes that those scientists can be admitted to having acted unethically and the results of their work held apart for closer examination (which most emphatically was not done by the various inquiries), it will take about 5 minutes to move on.

    Those guys? Yeah, they acted like the bad guys from the elite frat in every dumb college movie ever made. They set climate science back by a couple of years and everything they did now has to be replicated.

    Now, let’s talk about the sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2.

    • Tom Fuller writes “Now, let’s talk about the sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of concentrations of CO2.”

      In particular, let us note that there is no experimental data that bears on relating a change in radiative forcing to a change in global tempertures. Specifically, the estimate of a rise of 1.2 C for a doubling of CO2, without feedbacks, can NEVER be measured. Any attempt to do so would be confounded by the feedbacks.

  6. If one has read even some of the emails, it is clear the scientists involved were very evasive. The attempts to whitewash the phrase “hide the decline” were numerous and fierce, but unconvincing. It is clear that data was left off the temperature chart because it didn’t add positive evidence to the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis, in fact it added negative evidence. There is every reason to doubt that trees even make good thermometers in the first place. Fertilizer availability, CO2 concentration, precipitation, the proximity of other trees, insolation, even fog, haze, and other factors control tree growth.

    The journals that published papers from these individuals in many cases circumvented their own rules by not forcing scientists to reveal code and data and then had the temerity to basically flip off the public by not enforcing the rules even when the matter was discussed in blogs and elsewhere. And there definitely were attempts by the climategate climate scientists to control peer review and avoid journals that published views incongruent with their own.

    Most of the inquiries into Climategate were a joke, a whitewash. The scientists should have been forced to field questions from skeptics for the record. If that had been done, there would likely have been more reason not to trust the scientists. In fact, that is probably why skeptics were disallowed.

    • I think finding out the real facts should take precedence over a witch hunt lasting 10 years.

      • *****
        harvey says:
        September 18, 2010 at 7:46 pm
        I think finding out the real facts should take precedence over a witch hunt lasting 10 years.
        I’m all for that. How do you propose to make it happen?

    • We all agree on this point, the problem is the East Anglia researchers destroyed the original climate record they had produced making replicating their work impossible. Thus, if they were right we may never know which is just as damaging as if they were wrong.

      I think we are on the right track, several groups are trying to rebuild what was destroyed. The problem is, I think it was probably destroyed as it was not as simple as the hockey stick graph portrayed, and they knew it. If this is true, when rebuilt the record will show a much fuzzier opicture of man-made influences and the climate record generally, thus we will likely be in a place where science is not that helpful to the discourse as it will be “messy” and difficult.

  7. The thing that I’ve found most revealing / depressing is the role that peer review has played (or rather, failed to play in the way I’d imagined it).

    What becomes apparent is that peer review’s totemic status as the gold standard for measurement of accuracy and accountability is fatally undermined.

    Peer review may be necessary, but it certainly isn’t sufficient; it relies too heavily on the theoretical objectivity of the participants, who may asymptotically approach objectivity depending on experience, self-knowledge and circumstances, but who *all* sit at some intermediate position on the subjective / objective see-saw.

    The failure of the majority of scientists in other disciplines to lambast climate science for subverting the process has now cast every discipline under the same shadow as far as I’m concerned: if findings aren’t open to public scrutiny according to FOI or similar legislation, my default position is now of active mistrust in addition to scepticism.

    Of course this mainly applies to matters of public funding and public policy; I don’t really give a toss how things are conducted in private research, right up to the point where that research has a bearing on the public domain.

    • Peer review has been bastardized by the warmaholics. All it was originally, was a standard for any specific scientific publication. Phil. Trans. of the RS requires a very high standard; Nature a high standard for it’s articles, and a lower standard for Letters; some publications are prepared to publish what is little more than rumor. And that is how it should be. There are places were it is nice to know that scholarly writing has been found to be excellent. And it is also nice to read someone’s guess.

      The warmaholics have tried to sell the idea that peer review means that the science has been proven to be correct. This never was, is not now, and never will be the purpose of peer review. Peer review is like the alpha testing of software; necessary but not sufficient. It is the beta testing, when the general sceintific community reads and discusses any paper, that the real appraisal begins.

      • > It is the beta testing, when the general sceintific community reads and discusses any paper, that the real appraisal begins.

        I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone on the consensus “side” that disagrees with that – indeed, this has been repeated so many times it beggars belief.

        This is why so much frustration is expressed at unsubstantiated sniping from the sidelines rather than actually taking that “necessary but insufficient” first step of going through peer-review, and again so much frustration that every newly published “anti” paper is immediately hailed as a slayer of AGW on the day of publication. Essentially, I read your comment as a rebuke mainly of the behaviour of, say WUWT, or commentators that blindly cite G&T, or Lindzen & Choi 09, or Mclean 09.

        Which is why having a process like the IPCC assessment reports is so important in performing the kind of necessary meta-analysis that actually gets to the bottom of which of the published work has the most worth in pushing scientific understanding forward.

      • (Of course, I meant Mclean 2010)

      • Dave H writes ” Essentially, I read your comment as a rebuke mainly of the behaviour of, say WUWT, or commentators that blindly cite G&T, or Lindzen & Choi 09, or Mclean 09.”

        Then I have expressed myself very badly. When a scientific paper is written, the only thing that matters is the science that is in the paper. I could not matter less if the peer reviewers think it is the best thing since sliced bread, or utter garbage. When the paper gets published, then, hopefully, the science will be debated, and that is what matters. And it does not matter how the paper gets pulished. Except on the cv of the author. Obviously it is more prestigeous to have one’s paper published in a proper journal.

      • It took years of “peer review” for Dr. Roy Spencer to get a recent, well relatively recent, paper published. So, the shenanigans are still ongoing. Peer review should check that the work is original, that it credits supporting and related previous work, and that there are no egregious errors or other problems. There is no way it should take years!

        From Dr. Spencer’s blog:

        “After years of re-submissions and re-writes — always to accommodate a single hostile reviewer — our latest paper on feedbacks has finally been published by Journal of Geophysical Research (JGR).”

      • People have totally missed the point and reason for peer review.
        They think it is supposed to validate what has been published.
        This is incorrect, the purpose is to ensure that the article is reasonably presented.

        “Pragmatically, peer review refers to the work done during the screening of submitted manuscripts and funding applications. This process encourages authors to meet the accepted standards of their discipline and prevents the dissemination of irrelevant findings, unwarranted claims, unacceptable interpretations, and personal views. Publications that have not undergone peer review are likely to be regarded with suspicion by scholars and professionals.”

        and even then, it is up to the editor whether to publish the paper or not…

      • Harvey, true, but there was a time before political correctness completely dominated the science at our federal agencies and in every scientific nook and cranny realting to the IPCC and climate change, a slightly better background is we can hope for, agreed.

    • > Peer review may be necessary, but it certainly isn’t sufficient

      You may not have noticed, but this is often repeated at Realclimate – peer-review is a necessary, but insufficient, step.

      • But one of the big problems has been fierce gate-keeping, using peer review to keep critical articles out of the debate. Just to take one example, the IJOC refused to publish McKitrick’s response to the Schmidt article (2009) which pointed out two fairly elementary errors in the Schmidt paper (autocorrelation is a problem for a regression if it appears in the residuals, not if it just appears in the dependent variable; and the coefficents estimate by Schmidt were actually significantly different from those estimated by McKitrick, thus supporting not refuting Mckitrick’s point )which invalidated its criticisms of Mckitrick. It’s (some of) the papers that don’t get past peer review that have been the problem. McKitrick’s refutation has now been published – in a statistics journal – but it would have helped advance the debate if it all could have been in the same journal.

      • It is up to the Journal editor whether or not to publish a paper.
        McKitrick eventually got published, but has that paper really made any impact?

        The point is that just having a paper published means really nothing, its whether that paper is accepted by the majority of your peers that make it an effective paper or not. I mean really in many ways only experts in a field can judge if the paper is valid or not.
        This may come from people reproducing the results your present, or refuting your results using new experiments/measurements. If you do not like this, become an expert in the field, get some great papers published and refute all the rubish claims about global warming.

        Even so, most papers published in ALL areas really have no major impact on their field, most just add to the preponderance of evidence for a theory, or suggest new research paths.
        (its sad to see the Newspapers harping on the latest “cancer” research paper)

        Now there have been “rogue” papers published in the past that eventually led to changes after being vehemently rejected. But this was because the paper was eventually vindicated.
        eg ” the effect of hand washing before surgery”

      • Have you guys ever dealt with journal editors? Ever gotten anything published? The game is as political as ever, and if you get reviewers that disagree with you you have ten times the fight to ever get your data published, not because it isn’t great data, but because your reviewer, and possibly the journal editor, have a vested interest in stopping you from publishing. The effect of this is TONS of “me too” science that adds little to the discourse. This looks like exactly what happened in the “climate change” debate, and thus we really need to go back to the papers BEFORE the political correctness and start over. Even NASA used to publish how the MAunder Minimum led to global cooling…even NASA…

      • fredfriendly

        LOL there is no BEFORE political correctness.
        You really dont know how the world works…

      • Harvey,
        The Mckitrick paper may not have made an impact – though it’s only just out. But that’s my point really. He demonstrates (it’s not just a matter of opinion) that Schmidt’s criticisms were wrong. But mainstream climate journals don’t seem to want to know.

  8. The imediate issue is to separate the science from the various and sundry political and ecological special interest groups. The only agenda needs to be

    What is going on?

    All other issues should fall by the wayside until we determine what the science is. It is enlightening to hear the phrase ” the science is finished ” from a wide variety of different sources, just once I would like to hear somebody ask one of these people ” what is the scientific method?” Perhaps if they can actually answer that question they would at least start on the path to the reduction of ignorance.

    • None of the climate scientists have EVER said the “science is finished”.
      I have never found a quote.
      I have seen it mentioned by politicians and gah “reporters” but thats all.
      In fact most scientists are probably more skeptical than many “skeptics”.

      • Harvey – there are many occurrences of the phrase “the science is settled” in the archives of this blog and of RC and others. Just to split a hair.

      • yes there are.
        But i have never seen a scientist actually say that phrase, other than quoting someone else.

      • Note in Science, nothing is EVER settled.
        There may be a preponderance of evidence, but even then, it may be wrong.

      • This is more complex than many seem to think. From the publisher’s description of “merchants of doubt”:

        “…some of the same figures who have claimed that the science of global warming is “not settled” denied the truth of studies linking smoking to lung cancer, coal smoke to acid rain, and CFCs to the ozone hole.”

        It’s not clear whether this is a direct quote from the book, but you would expect the authors to agree with it.

        So the bad guys are those who claim that the science is not settled? Except that RealClimate, for instance, has claimed just that. Very odd contradiction.

    • So does tobacco cause global warming?
      That particular argument by distraction is popular with the AGW community, but is less than relevant.

  9. When I was an undergraduate at Cavendish Labs, I was taught that physics relies on hard, measured, independently replicated, experimental data. I learned of the dangers of the Kelvin Fallacy.

    What strikes me as being the fundamental problem with AGW credibility, is that it is claimed that the science is beyond dispute, when in fact, there is little or no experimental data to support AGW. You, Judith, have agreed that AGW is a only a hypothesis.

    Until physics returns to the belief that truth lies only in experimental data, it will continue to lack credibility.

    “To the solid ground of Nature; Trusts the mind that builds for Aye” William Wordsworth.

    • “What strikes me as being the fundamental problem with AGW credibility, is that it is claimed that the science is beyond dispute, when in fact, there is little or no experimental data to support AGW. You, Judith, have agreed that AGW is a only a hypothesis.”

      Interesting, nobody I know in the field says that the “science” is beyond dispute. your disputing of it actually shows that the science can be disputed and is disputed.

      ALL SCIENCE IS ONLY A HYPOTHESIS. all science can achieve is conditional truth. Put another way, if you want to explain the warming from 1850 to today, your BEST theory is AGW. That is, If you want to explain…

      Now, there are certain things, like radiative physics, that are so well understood ( I woulda been fired for questioning the physics of a Lowtran or Modtran run way back when) that if people do dispute them, we will dispute their
      A. intelligence OR
      B. commitment to understanding the truth.

      We can fix A.

      Now, I find the same thing WRT mails. There are some things in the mails that are so clearly wrong, that they are beyond dispute.. MEANING if you dispute them then I have to question your intelligence or commitment to the truth.

      • Steve,

        Please stop your contributions here.

        You’re being much too fair and logical.

      • steve mosher writes “ALL SCIENCE IS ONLY A HYPOTHESIS.”

        I could not disagree with you more. Hard, measured, independently replicated, experimental data is NEVER a hypothesis.

      • The point went over your head.
        Measurement is used to CONFIRM a HYPOTHESIS.
        thats science
        otherwise its statistics

      • Jim,

        Tons of empirical data (gathered loosely or methodically) won’t elevate a hypothesis to something greater. In the end it is still a hypothesis. We have such things as critical rationalism to deal with the problems of empiricism. Even then, we still have yet to achieve perfect truth (and probably never will).

        So until we eliminate the fallible nature of what we consider knowledge, science is just a collection of hypothesis. Some will be cast on concrete and some in clay. None will ever be impervious to new observations.

      • Data may not be a hypothesis, but data and its interpertation form hypotheses. All scientific hypotheses are properly subject to continuing scrutiny and criticism.

        There are no sacred cows in science and no final truths, only the propogandist’s playbook contains such items. Undoubtedly, it was once thought by many that no intelligent person could possibly doubt Newtonian physics. Now we think we know better.

        The obligation of the critic is merely that their criticism be based on verifiable data and cogent interpretations of that data.

        Unfortunately, the inherently uncertain and corrigible nature of scientific knowledge doesn’t serve the needs of politicians, plutocrats, and true believers who need “scientific” cover to realize their agendas, hustles, and brave-new-worlds. Sad to say, science is funded by the latter interested parties Hence the feed-bag of carrots offered to those whose “science” happens to produce the “right answer.” Carrots like tenure, full professorships, Nobel Prizes, knighthoods, even Academy Awards. Not to mention the sticks for the politically incorrect.

        Sorry for the sermon, but the situation in climate science is maddening and the corruption is probably so embedded that reform from within is impossible. Actually, this blog seems about the best thing going in terms of climate science reform. Maybe a critical mass of bloggers can outflank the anti-science legions (and I don’t just mean the evangelicals).

      • Mike
        I am interested in your view of “corruption” in climate science, and corruption of society in general.

        Do you believe all climate scientists and all climate data is “corrupt”.
        Do you mean “corrupt” in the meaning of incorrect, or “corrupt” in the meaning of dishonest practices, bribery, lacking integrity.

        Would you agree with me that under this definition, you would lump all politicians and government officials?

      • Harvey,

        Thanks for the question. The corruption in climate science is of a special kind. As the juiciest of the climategate e-mails show, some of the most prominent practitioners in the climate science field have shown a reckless contempt for the scientific method. There is a “trust” that a credentialed individual, claiming the authority of science for his work, has scrupulously followed the scientific method. Any betrayal of that trust is an egregious corruption of the science, I would say.

        Let me add, the defense that was, in part, offered on behalf of the climategate revelations–a defense along the lines that the relevant e-mails merely offer us a peek at “real” science and only the naive expect scientists to strictly and ethically adhere to the scientific method, shows just how profoundly the corruption lies. Those with greater competence than myself in climate science have, on the surface, at least, argued persuasively that the investigations of climategate and related matters lacked credibility, were even whitewashes. If true, then my common-sense tells me that’s most likely an indication of further, impacted corruption.

        As for corruption on a broader scale. Though we may quibble on the detail and particulars, we all know something’s rotten. But since we don’t individually have an army of investigators, subpoena powers, rendition flights, or the like at our disposal, the nitty-gritty detail is hard to pin down.

        According to someone (Jomini? Maybe Clausewitz. (It’s been a while)), the mark of a good commander is his ability to size up the battlefield, with all its confusions (Clausewitz’s fog of war), in a “coup d’oiel”–an intuitive instantaneous grasp of the situation. That’s the method I use to arrive at my conclusions. Not as sure a method as the scientific method, or a courtroom dialectic, but when science and the courtroom aren’t available, the best there is. And, frankly, I don’t think you need to be much of a “general” to spot the corruption that is rife in our country’s institutions.

        Harvey, that’s my best shot off the top of my head. It’ll probably take a few more back-and-forth iterations to get my thoughts fully refined–and I remain open minded. If you can convince me that the corruption I perceive (however dimly) is an illusion, I’m all ears. But in “coup d’oeil” logic, it takes a better “coup d’oeil” to prevail (I’ll know one when I see it).

      • Harvey,

        I see that I didn’t answer some of your specific questions. Without trying to put a rigorous definition to the term corruption, I do mean it to refer dishonest, unethical, and unprincipled practices. Only those individuals, in or out of government, who are dishonest, unethical, and/or unprincipled and who occupy a position of trust are corrupt. Again, that’s off the top of my head.

      • Harvey,

        Sorry to dribble in my response to you. The concept of coup d’oeil is most closely associated with Fredrick the Great.

      • Steve and Dr. Curry:

        I think the following describes one area of confusion relating to CO2 forcing. I like to refer to this area as the Engineering Area.

        I have a question regarding the Modtran / Lowtran, etc. In my area of work, we are required to solve for the amount of radiative energy absorbed by intervening gases in the atmosphere. Rather than resorting to Modtran, Hitran, etc., the path length approximation is used. We traditionally used Hottells curves. More recently, we use Leckner’s curves. Is there a good reason why the path length approximation gives such a radically different estimate of forcing than Ramanathan et. al? Specifically, Leckner’s equations which develop a set of curves show a levelling of emissivity as CO2 concentration increases. The absolute value of emissivity varies over temperature, but the concentration at which this levelling occurs is less variant. The maximum seems to be about 200 (about 300ppm) with no change to 500 (about 800 ppm). These are approximations that are (as I understand it) fully supported by Modtran.

        Best regards

        JE (I am committed to understanding, but I may be unintelligent).

        Heat Transfer Handbook, Bejan and Kraus, 2003
        pg 616, shows HiTran absorption coefficient spectrum at 4.3 micron, pg 618 shows emissivity curves for use in the path length approximation.

  10. Texas is expressing doubt in court that the EPA should be using the IPCC to support its latest activities.

  11. It looks like the federal courts will now be involved. Both the US Chamber of Commerce and the State of Texas have now filed independent suits against US EPA’s endangerment finding that led to EPA’s attempt to regulate greenhouse gasses under the Clean Air Act as criteria pollutants. The rational for EPA’s finding is based upon conclusions of the IPCC. The Texas suit, in particular, alleges that the IPPC’s findings have been shown to be wrong. So actions in federal court against US EPA’s reliance on the work of the IPCC will end up focusing on the “science” or lack of it, that underlies the IPCC work.

    Unlike the scientific community based whitewash panels to date, the Federal Courts have to follow rules of evidence based upon discovery and eventually direct and cross examination of witnesses. Whatever the eventual rulings say, climate “science” will be on trial and all sides will have their day in court.

  12. There seem to be two areas of hot discussion. One is whether the specialists did perfect work. This is the main area for the comments above.

    But the area that most concerns me is the proper role of the outsiders. The instant reaction of the party under attack is often to label all dissenting outsiders as the anti-science party, or some such dismissal. And it is quite true that the outsiders are a mixed bag. If you are looking for silly comments by outsiders, it is not hard to find some. However, there is also a sizable core of outsiders with serious credentials in many areas of science and life. When these guys say, for instance, that this peer-review process appears completely gamed and subverted, it won’t do to dismiss them as the anti-science party, or as ignorant outsiders who didn’t catch the entire conversation from the beginning. It just won’t do. That isn’t good enough.

    Lord Turnbull just asked whether this version of academic freedom includes the right to atop your opponents from ever being published at all. Good question. I haven’t heard a ringing answer yet.

    • It has always been hard for “outsiders” to gain any kind of credibility in any kind of field of expertise. Why should the society of architects pay any attention to an “outsider” with no architectural training?

      It is only rarely in the past where an “outsider” has eventually presented an preponderance of evidence that his/her position is correct, that the ideas are accepted by the mainstream.

      Sorry, but this is life.

      Look at the current argument over whether stent insertion into cartoid veins can cure MS.

      • That is not what I am talking about, your point is true, but shows little knowledge of how peer review really works. I am talking about well funded, good scientists at top universities who have trouble getting published because high in their field, often with his students at other top institutions, drives a meme in a particular area of science. Happens every day, peer review is an excuse for some to drive the field to them and their ideas is very unscientific and unacademic ways.

      • Can you please provide some evidence for you allegations?

      • Again, two different questions are getting confounded here. I’m not referring to whether climate scientists accept each others’ work. That isn’t the reputation I am talking about here. I’m talking about whether other people accept their work. About their reputation in the general public. And that won’t be completely healthy in this case until the outsiders with serious credentials and serious concerns are also included in the conversation. Judith has pointed out that as climate science becomes a more important arena, the old insiders have to make some adjustments in their thinking. That new importance brings more stakeholders into the conversation, and the old insiders will NOT have the choice of shutting them all out. I understand what what they are used to, but those rules are fading fast, and adjustments will have to be made.

        If Congress, the newspapers, and a bunch of big companies were seriously questioning stent usage as a matter of regulation and public policy, you would quickly see what I am talking about. you are used to some of the big egos in question, but there are some other big egos out there besides those.

      • Hi fredfriendly
        Hm, so here you are discussing the prestige of a cabal of scientists with a general public.
        This is a big can of worms.
        Why does the average person trust a scientist? a politician? a mafia member? their neighbor?
        It is not easy, and I think it comes down to again the “gut” feeling you mention.
        But I hate to disallusion you, cause the general public really don’t care.
        I know, I taught them for a while in high school.
        They are more interested in America’s Got Talent, or Survivor.
        They really dont care about global warming, CRU, McIntyre or anyone else.
        It’s really only the vested interests who care..

      • *****
        harvey says:
        September 18, 2010 at 10:42 pm
        It’s really only the vested interests who care..
        In this case the public have not only their money but their standard of living and lifestyle on the table in this bizarre poker game. Not all of them know it, but it does make them one of the “vested interests.”

      • I would say almost ALL of them dont know whats going on.
        The very few involved in these blogs are infinitesimal in their influence.

    • Evidence of my “Allegations.” LOL! Have you worked at a large research institution, applied for a grant, met a Nobel prize winner, or published a paper? I have, so my knowledge of the system, well, comes from actual experience.

      That said, start here:

      • Judith – I would encourage a post from the author of the above paper, as I believe he is on the right track about happened in Climategate – noone thought they were committing fraud, they were just doing what scientists, and poeople, do in political situations. Here is the link again, see if you can re-post it here.

      • Yes I have.
        But I did not do my research for any grant money :)

      • Lucky you. Grant money has corrupted science, and I think it is even deeper than the linked article implies…

      • Fred, thanks for this link, a very useful one, i will include it in a future post on the responsible conduct of research

    • The issue is not perfect work. The issue is hiding manipulating and corrupting information, reviews and summaries to advance an agenda.

  13. On the topic of media coverage, and communicating climate science.

    Do not use green media companied to communicate the science, they will jusyt use the creative tools of the media…and discredit the science.


    I commented that I was a “Climate Cynic” on another thread.
    That wasn’t merely me being flippant…..

    There are actually some media messages coming out now now and it is very deliberate, planned. ‘Global Climate Disruption’ I imagine was NOT an off the cuff remark.

    Anybody else come across; ‘Climate Cynic’ yet,
    The new way of saying ‘Climate Deniers’ without the holocaust denial smear, in a media/spin attempt to label people in such a way that anything they actually say is ignored…
    Similar to Gordon Brown’s ‘flate-earther comments on sceptics, pre Copenhagen.

    From a green media company – Futerra:

    Sell the Sizzle – The New Climate Message

    “Cynics versus Activists
    If you think the climate argument is won, then think again. Myriad climate battles continue to rage. On the science, or the policy response to the science, on the responsibilities of business, government and people, on the right moment to act, on who gets the blame, on who pays, on who benefits…

    However, these battles have largely taken place beneath the public’s radar. Played out between CLIMATE CYNICS and Climate Activists in boardrooms or staterooms but only recently in living rooms.”

    These guys Futerra were way ahead of me… on ‘climate cynic’

    They provide their service to the UN environment Program, UK Government,
    In fact, the UK government used them in creating the UK Climate Change Communications strategy.

    Futerra – Rules of the Game. (Cru had this file, though freely available, from Futerra)

    “Futerra and The UK Department for Environment published the Rules of the Game on 7 March 2005. The game is communicating climate change; the Rules will help us win it. The document was created as part of the UK Climate Change Communications Strategy.”

    I mentioned DECC earlier – The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was created in October 2008, bringing together energy policy previously with BERR and Department for Environment.

    And yet, Futerra still can’t quite help themselves though….
    “Sell the Sizzle – The NEW Climate Message”

    “Climate Change Deniers
    Unfortunately, these guys are back (if they ever went away). The edge of this group are the conspiracy theorists who are sure that climate science is an excuse for either (a) the environmentalists to curtail consumption or undermine our way of life, or (b) for the developed world to hold back the developing world.”

    Fun Quotes From – Branding Biodiversity

    “Need is essential
    for policy makers
    and business”

    My favourite:

    “Our audiences are
    emotional rather
    than rational.”

    About Futerra.

    “Futerra is a communications agency. We do
    the things great agencies do; have bright ideas,
    captivate consumers, build energetic websites
    one day and grab OPINION FORMER’S attention
    the next. We’re very good at it. But the real
    difference is that since our foundation in 2001,
    we’ve only EVER worked on green issues,
    corporate responsibility
    and sustainability.

    Not that I’m trying to point it out, they advice the UN ENVIRONMENT Program.

    “Futerra, in partnership with the UN Environment Programme, published Communicating Sustainability: How to produce effective public campaigns in September 2005.”

    So a reasonable, direct from the source, bit of evidence that the ‘creative’ tools of PR are being used by government and the UN, (futerra since 2001) see their client list (Greenpeace, etc) has/is being used to ‘win’ the AGW consensus amongst the public..

    As a bit of popular culture. Anybody remember when ‘carbon footprint’ actually started being widely used…?!?!

    Futerra focus grouped it in 2007….. in ‘Words That Sell’

    • As I commented elsewhere, the Guardian has just now started to use the term ‘climate realist’ for an AGW proponent. Hitherto this tag was being used by sceptics for sceptics, since the ‘sceptical ground’ was being poached by sites such as Skeptical Science.

      I think the Guardian would only have used ‘climate realist’ in this context if it was approved at a high editorial policy level.

  14. I think that IPCC processes meet general scientific standards, as do the behavior of the vast majority of climate scientists. But climate change is not a typical scientific endeavor. The policies being advocated by some based on the results of the research have implications far greater than for most scientific enquiry. This means that the IPCC needs to meet a different standard, and I think that’s what the IAC recommendations deal with. The IAC was fairly complimentary to the IPCC as is, but I consider it’s recommendations to be to institutionalize the IPCC. That will enable it to devise some new standards it now lacks, like conflict of interest, as well as better meet those standards that already exist, which is hard for an organization whose work is mostly volunteer.

    The same applies to climate scientists. Like it or not, their field is far different than other fields and the kind of standard back-and-forth that might be common in fields that get little attention will have far different results here. The same applies to availability of the research. While most of it is already available, that isn’t going to satisfy. Climate scientists are and will be in the hot seat for a long time to come, and if you want to be a climate scientist, you’re going to need thick skin.

    Dealing with the above will not lessen the controversy around the issue, and there will always be some who can never be satisfied. But this can’t be used as an excuse to not try. And I think that whether or not general public perceptions regarding climate science changes for the better depends more on issues beyond the science than it does on the science itself, though it won’t hurt. Good science is the starting point, but that gets processed through media and politics before the vast majority of people are involved. It’s not new that nuance is not a strong point in politics.

  15. As I mentioned on various blogs, it’s my opinion that climatology has prostituted themselves to politics. It started with the founding of IPCC which only task was to establish a scientific alibi to sell the common “enemy”: CO2 and exclude ANY form of counter opinion or sceptic ideas and re-inventing peer review to reach this goal.

    Next thing was a disgusting (and Oscar winning, Heidi Riefenstahl would be proud of him) piece of propaganda by Al Bore, fully supported by the Hollywood mob, many heads of state and last but not least Lance Armstrong! If that would not convince the Hoi Polloi, then nothing would.

    The fact that apparently AGW, now suddenly renamed in “Global Climate Disruption”, has been dropped by the same Hoi Polloi like a hot patatoe must have a reason. It can’t be the persistance of sceptics or the Climategate emails alone, it must be more than that. Could it be that the doom and gloom stories which has been poured out over the poor Polloi and apparantly not becoming true, or just the gut feeling that the mere fact that politician ran away with this phenomen together with notorious en(vi)ron-mental activists just triggered all alarm bells? Future will show…

    • Or, if there are 1 or 2 more cold snowy winters in Washington (and the USA), will the US public buy into it is beacsue of ‘global climate destruction’ caused by man made CO2, or will they just not by the latest media messa. Will the USA, sign up to cap and trade, or the EPA’s CO2 is pollution and tax the ‘polluters’ driving US jobs abroad.

      Whilst, China, India and Russia ignore any co2 limiting measures, and china and India rush to build ever more coal, nuclear and green technologies to fuel their populations desire for economic prosperity, at the expense of USA, and emmision will still rise.

      I live in the UK, so will just have to watch on the sidelines in interest.

      • At the expense of USA? Do you think the US, UK and many other western countries who built up their prosperity completely unristricted for centuries long are in the position to demand China, India to postpone their prosperity because some obscure scientists found out that climate maybe, could possibly be changing because of their dispicable ambitions? The surpreme irony.

      • Hoi Polloi,
        If the world is at risk from a newly discovered, imminent climate catastrophe why do you find that ironic?

  16. The biased, incorrigible UK reviews and rabid hype from sections of the media, have destined the AGW hypothesis to a long, slow, painful death.

    Regardless of the veracity of aspects of the science, large sectors of the public who care about the environment, now believe they have been lied to. The IPCC is seen as a body that “cried wolf” at every opportunity.
    Factor in those who, don’t care, disagree with solutions, mistrust motivations, or have never accepted the hypothesis, and you have a majority who’s views will eventually win through, right or wrong.
    As Politician’s and the media realize that their self righteous green rhetoric has become a liability, they will change their tune. This will be a messy,long, drawn out process, over a number of years.
    Scientists, who are for the most part diligent and principled, will feel the repercussions from recent events for many years to come. There were opportunities to speak out and some did. But most did nothing while science was manipulated for ideological or financial gain.

    It was inevitable that it would end like this. Once a rainbow alliance of vested interests hijack an idea for their own agenda, it’s impossible to reign in the extremes.
    As for the science, without a full, honest and open reappraisal of contentions and uncertainties, plus the removal of influence from partisan agencies, you might as well flog a dead horse.
    The reviews demonstrate vain hope for a return to “business as usual”. That’s not going to happen. Scientists are complicit by their indifference.
    Many more must speak out and ask questions, as you have.

  17. One of the unsettling lessons from the social psychology and philosophy of science is that what was revealed by the CRU emails is not unusual and well understood (see Rom Harre and Luc van Lagenhove’s (1999) ‘Positioning Theory –moral contexts and intentional action’ Blackwell which gives an excellent account of positioning theory in scientific discourse). There is a natural view that what scientists seek is truth. All the evidence suggests this is far too simplistic – ‘reputation’ is the real coinage of science . Building reputation means positioning oneself on the side of the rational and your opponents as irrational, contaminated by special interests and as (invariably)misusers of data. The common dismissal of opponents’ arguments because they do not appear in the peer reviewed literature or because the individuals concerned are outsiders to the discipline is an example of this positioning behaviour. Numerous studies starting with Latour and Woolgar’s (1979) flawed but very interesting investigation of laboratory life suggests that nothing that happened at the CRU was out of the ordinary. The big difference between 1979 and now is that email and FOI means that private gossip can become public property and in that there is a warning to us all.
    I have no doubt that the scholars at the CRU, if they knew that their various comments would enter the public domain, would have been much more circumspect. I also suspect that they also fell into the trap of considering their opponents’ criticisms not only for their scientific merit but also their potential impact upon their own reputation. Given the role that climate science now has in public policy the reputational issues are severe and extreme defensiveness is what we would expect. There is some who would argue that this type of behaviour is immoral and that there is a higher standard of truth which should prevail in science. But the nature of science is not like that – even in the hard sciences theories are provisional and observations ‘theory laden’ to use Hanson’s term. Science is a social process with its own rules and norms. What is changing is the openness of modern systems of communication and the role of the web in the process of debate and the dissemination of ideas in science.
    The big lessons of the CRU affair: the private sphere has now radically contracted – indeed nothing written electronically can now be regarded as truly private. Second, the web is rapidly emerging as the vehicle were effective debate is being conducted and third, in science what really matters is reputation and the bigger the stakes the less willing scholars are to admit error.

    • A slight but significant modification of this view can make it more hopeful – that there is a continual struggle going on b/w scientists seeking truth and scientist building reputation and probably other conscious and subconscious motivations. Some scientists do go against the “consensus” tide.

    • Michael Larkin


      An excellent post, IMHO, and I look forward to more from you. However, might I politely suggest that you divide future posts up into digestible paragraphs? Once one gets beyond about 10 lines, it becomes fatiguing to read.

      No offence meant. Just trying to be helpful.

      • No offence taken Michael – we social scientists rarely say in one word when ten will do.

      • Bob-

        IMHO, we need more people studying the social science of how science gets done, why certain types of fraud and group-think are not only acceptable but encouraged, and how that leads to group-think like Climate Science today, and Climategate.

        The only department I saw attempt this was at Northwestern, but the Australian paper I linked elsewhere in the thread “gets it” and understands the group think inherent in modern science funding and peer review.

    • My take for a few years now is that the social movement AGW- the strong belief in a climate apocalypse caused by CO2 is the real issue. The science, until it was hyped beyond all reason, was about as pressing as plate tectonics.

    • I don’t think there’s anything much in this except human behaviour. And the whole journal system/peer review etc, is an imperfect attempt to minimise the confounding effects of humans attempting to explain the world.

      The ‘reputation’ issue is real enough, and one that stems from the nature of the system that demands individuals prove their basic competence before moving onto more complex arenas. Basically it is a system of excellence with checks provided by co-workers acknowledged to be leaders in their fields. Ego’s and reputations seem part and parcel of that, though it is a system that has proved itself superior to anything else so far.

      And one of its main achievements is to prevent, for the most part, flights of fancy disconnected from reality. Even when they occur, they are eventually corrected by the same system.

      On the other hand, a system that doesn’t guarantee basic competence and regular reality-checks tends to wander off into a self-reinforcing echo chamber of comforting opinion. Examples that spring to mind might be WUWT and Climate Audit, (and this thread isn’t far off).

      • If only peer review were that, you might be onto something. Since peer review is as much or more about making sure the peer reviewer’s papers are cited and the peer reviewer’s idea are not belittled or disparaged (can’t me hurt me on the next grant cycle!) then what we have is a corrupt system, likely more corrupt in areas big grants are required to be competitive (climate change, genomics, etc.).

    • Re: “There is a natural view that what scientists seek is truth. All the evidence suggests this is far too simplistic – ‘reputation’ is the real coinage of science.”

      But facts emerge that can ruin a reputation, and there is much to be added to a scientist’s reputation by by bringing such facts to light and thereby exposing the error, incompetence or fraud of another.

      So in scientific terms, fraud is unlikely to pay unless (a) one is a genius who has correctly guessed the nature of nature, (b) one’s activities are confined to some remote and unimportant field where fraudulent claims are unlikely to face competent challenge, or (c) political and financial interests so skew the rewards of scientific activity that large parts of the scientific establishment are corrupted, in which case the normal self-correcting processes of science may, at least temporarily, be disrupted.

      Funding of climate science and the distribution of honors in the field have been heavily influenced by political and financial interests thereby creating conditions for endemic corruption. However, the greater the corruption the greater the scientific credit for those who expose it. Thus, for the ambitious, there is now much promise in challenging the “scientific consensus” on AGW.

    • > Building reputation means positioning oneself on the side of the rational and your opponents as irrational, contaminated by special interests and as (invariably)misusers of data.

      It would be tough to argue that this is what positioning “means”.

      > I also suspect that they also fell into the trap of considering their opponents’ criticisms not only for their scientific merit but also their potential impact upon their own reputation.

      Somehow, this notion of “scientific merit” is interpreted as incompatible with the positioning of scientists. Positioning theory is seen to describe a very important sociological aspect of the scientific endeavour, both successful and unsuccessful. A scientist that looks at the arguments “on its scientific merit” is practicing good positioning.


      The problem is, as always, how to evaluate the scientific merit of such and such blog post, commission report, FOIA request, etc. This could be because everything is so “theory-laden.” This could be because it’s more economical and efficient to filter out the few pearls in the ocean of swine stuff, most of the times. This could be because communication is tough, a bit too.

      Stonewalling might be criticized for making the stonewaller look bad: in the long run, it’s an unwinnable strategy. But it also slows the opponent down: in the short run, it’s an unloseable strategy. Who will win the middle run will be decided by how one’s own positioning.

      Talking about positioning is always very good for one’s positioning.

  18. We need to go back and look at the data before the IPCC and before the politically correct view of climate change took over.

    What NASA was saying then:

    And this more recent view:

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Uh, dude, those are two completely different questions. Nobody questions the influence of the Maunder minimum on the LIA. Nobody. I also doubt that anyone questions the influence of orbital eccentricities on climate either.

      The problem is that this year is going to be one of the warmest, if not the warmest, on record even though the sun is at a large (perhaps record) minimum.

      Get your argument, if that is what you are making, straight.

  19. So the discussion can not include the following: citations from the emails or criticisms of individuals mentioned in the emails (particularly Jones, Mann).

    Whatever. Now is not the time to muzzle the critics of climatologists. If climatologists can’t police themselves on these issues that have huge impact on society, then society will have to police them. If the Republicans win the House in November (which seems likely), there are going to be investigations into the mess of the IPCC and Climategate and climatology. Many will be outraged about the injection of politics into climatology but the truth is that climatologists have brought it upon themselves and have willingly accepted the politicizing of their branch of science.

    Separating the behavior of climatologists from the science they produce is difficult to do. Until we have faith in the climate science process, it is nearly impossible to trust their results.

    • Science has always been an old boys club where specific hypotheses are driven and memes created that are hard to challenge. Peer review actually makes the over-turning of a group think hypothesis much harder, as the new ideas challenging the old guard are muzzled by the old guard reviewing their papers.

      • this has been true for 300 years.

        For an “outsider” to influence a group of scientists he really has to be convincing ON THE SCIENCE not playing the political angle or nit-picking.

        This has worked in the past, albeit slowly and there are many examples in many fields (medicine, geography)

      • The point is, science DOES WORK.
        and in the long run, TRUTH will change the prevailing view.

      • I am not talking about outsiders, I am talking about other good competent well-funded scientists. One or a small group of folks can change the funding and the view in whole areas of science. See my other post below. You clearly have an idea of how science works, but seem to have never done it. You must get funded – which requires that your work not be risky and generally is a “me too” approach. Then you have to publish, which is much easier if you toe the party line in your field.

        Science should be about great thoughts and great thinkers, it isn’t though, like all other areas of human endeavor it is a political power play in many cases…

      • Thats right fredfriendly
        Science has always been that way.
        To think anything else is too naive.

  20. The credibility of any science rests on the quality of the data from which hypotheses are formed.
    There is considerable doubt as to the credibility of the existing temperature data, because of poorly documented adjustments to earlier years measurements as well as to the impact of effects such as UHI or poor placement or infilling missing locations.

    Climate fluctuates widely, so teasing out a signal from “adjusted” data will not command credibility.
    Without a solid base of temperature data that has a transparent derivation, there is no case, imo.

    • You have it backwards.
      Science works by observing a phenomena, creating a hypothesis, then doing measurements/tests to verify the hypothesis.
      In many cases, no measurements are done first.

      • Science only works like that in sixth grade. Most often you are looking at many diffenret sources of data, some of which disagree, and trying to form a hypothesis from that data. Then you try to develop an experiment that allows you to either plug a hole in that knowledge, or test your hypothesis. The idea that you just “dream up” a hypothesis to test is a bit far fetched.

        In this case scientists are trying to unscramble crappy temperature records that are incredibly short from any direct measurement standpoint, insufficient tree ring data, limited glaciation data, limited sea temp data, and then form a hypothesis and a conclusion. To have them come forward with a new “meme” that the planet is going to melt, tied conveniently to a political message that is the same, is just too “perfect” to be real to anyone who has done science. They work very hard to create the right data and the right hypothesis, but long before East Anglia I smelled something from climate science- the data was too perfect, the story too clean, and the story perfectly fitting the political drive was a suspect at best. This is not how science works, science is messy and contentious like all human endeavors, when it isn’t suspect something…

      • I guess I am in grade 6.

      • The observation of the phenomenon of unprecedented global warming is based on measurements and proxies about which there is considerable doubt.

        In this case, it is questionable whether a phenomenon has actually been observered which warrants any hypothesis.

      • Hmmmmm….. do you think the world view of the observer does not influence what they perceive or how they interpret it
        Here are some questions I think worth considering:
        Is science infallible?
        Can scientists hold and defend wrong ideas over time?
        Can scientists promote policies that are wrong?

      • ******
        fredfriendly says:
        September 18, 2010 at 8:47 pm

        Science only works like that in sixth grade. Most often you are looking at many diffenret sources of data, some of which disagree, and trying to form a hypothesis from that data. Then you try to develop an experiment that allows you to either plug a hole in that knowledge, or test your hypothesis. The idea that you just “dream up” a hypothesis to test is a bit far fetched.
        Actually, you and harvey are both right. Sometimes people come up with a hypothesis out of thin air, but more often they are created due to the failure of the current theory. Take the ultraviolet catastrophe for example. Classical electromagnetism failed and led the search for a new hypothesis. Even though Einstein has sometimes been described as pulling relativity out of the thin ether, he did have a degree in physics and therefore did have previous work on which to draw. I see it as a chicken and egg sort of question.

    • Well, maybe high school. Try this:

      • The hypothesis can certainly precede the data and the data may be wretched in quality, fragmentary and inconsistent These are routine situations in research.
        What is not routine is to for the data to be adjusted in an undocumented fashion, especially when the adjustments are substantial compared to the effect purportedly measured. That makes independent verification problematic, perhaps impossible.
        So how can anyone have confidence in the hypothesis?

  21. “Suggestions on how to restore credibility to climate science”

    The legislative authorities need to acknowledge there is a problem with the drains and get them dug up and opened up and inspected now instead of spending years chasing around one bad smell after another.

  22. The silence from the “move along…nothing to see here” crowd is DEAFNING.

  23. harvey says:
    September 18, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    “”It has always been hard for “outsiders” to gain any kind of credibility in any kind of field of expertise. Why should the society of architects pay any attention to an “outsider” with no architectural training?

    It is only rarely in the past where an “outsider” has eventually presented an preponderance of evidence that his/her position is correct, that the ideas are accepted by the mainstream.

    Sorry, but this is life.””
    In this vein I posted a comment yesterday and it remained invisible to the masses, and all I suggested is that I have found a way of clearing up the background noise level. To where the real CO2 and solar forcing components can actually be seen.

    Why was not this seen as an honest attempt to help solve the unknowns of the problem with out taking sides on the issues raised in this tread?
    Richard Holle says:
    September 17, 2010 at 6:37 pm

    So what if all of the recognized periodic oscillations that comprise a whole laundry list of acronyms supposed to be primary, but unpredictable internal forcings of the natural variability, were but the secondary result of the interactions of the sun with the rest of the solar system, topped off with a local tidal focus created by the moon?

    Grant funding for the study into these effects was stopped 60 years ago when the field switched from cyclic studies, to the exclusive use of models.

    Now that the field of models with out coupling to the solar, planetary, and lunar effects, has hit a plateau out about 7 to 10 days, isn’t it about time to use the increasing fund of satellite data collected, to reappraise these possible connections?

    If a cyclic pattern could be found that is a natural analog for these atmospheric oscillations, and upon investigation be found to out preform the lead time of the models, with as good a resolution as the 5 to 7 day modeled forecast, shouldn’t that be at least considered?

    If we could get a much better handle on the causes, effects, and timing of the natural variability, thus removing more of the unknowns from the weather/climate equation, it would be much easier to see the actual amounts of CO2 forcing.

    I have been working toward this end for the past 30 years. Included on site is 72 months of daily forecast maps created and posted in December of 2007, for your enjoyment.

    • Very nice post and approach. Your situation is exactly what I have been talking about on this thread, science is about funding and funding is inherently political. Good luck in your research.

  24. The madness of crowds
    Is provoked by bellowing.
    Cliffs lurk, the wise see.

  25. Dr. Curry,

    One of your allowed topics is: “The reaction of the climate establishment”.

    I believe this might particularly have impact on Joe Public, who may not be able to understand much of the science, but can nonetheless recognise certain familiar signs:

    – An orthodoxy that it is taboo to challenge
    – Some kind of scandal
    – Reflexive establishment defensiveness
    – Alleged rigged enquiries and challenges to those
    – Predictable responses on both sides by special interest groups, politicians and MSM outlets

    Now: there are some examples of this kind of story arc that turn out in the end to vindicate orthodoxy, and others, the critics. The ones that tend to stick in the collective conscious and be most frequently brought out as cautionary tales (we all enjoy being on the right side with the benefit of hindsight) are the latter.

    Causes célèbres have a habit of playing out to the bitter end; protagonists can’t easily hide from scrutiny, and there are reputations at stake. They are great spectator sport, if nothing else. We are in the middle of the (C)AGW punch-up, and it isn’t going to go away, however much supporters of the orthodoxy might wish it would.

    I feel a watershed was reached with Climategate. It made it more acceptable to openly break the taboo. Joe Public senses blood in the water, whether or not there actually is any. The establishment is increasingly losing control of the agenda. However, it has become ossified and doesn’t know how to react other than by doing more of the same whilst trying to pretend it’s different.

    Since in the end, the truth will out, the sensible thing to do now is to abandon the defensiveness, admit to any past shortcomings, and establish a different, more open forum for debate. If there is nothing wrong with the hypothesis and the case for CO2 reductions, the truth about that will come out that much sooner.

    I think Joe Public knows this, and the longer it doesn’t happen, the stronger will become the suspicion that that’s because the emperor is naked. Carrying on business as usual is the surest way for the establishment to cut its own throat.

  26. This thread is entitled “Recent challenges to the credibility of climate science”. The sceptics often state that it is a good thing to challenge the credibility of individual parts of climate science – temperature records, models etc. The argument goes that a scientist should then adapt their theory, experiment etc to respond to the criticism, and the result will be an improvement in the subject.

    The broader question of whether the credibility of climate science as a field is open to question depends upon how we define climate science. If we include the criticisms as part of climate science – things like this blog – then it seems unlikely that we can challenge climate science as a thing in itself.

    So that’s my suggestion – include everything, GISS, Climategate, Realclimate, Steven MacIntyre, the stoat, Wattsupwiththat, Judith Curry, Lords Oxburgh and Monckton, AL Gore, Jo Nova… etc – all these crazy characters and competing ideas as “climate science”, and you will be beyond criicism.

  27. Bob Ryan says:
    September 18, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Your comments essentially appear to exonerate the CRU scientists on the basis that this is the way science works. In doing so, I think you are confusing the many. no doubt accurate, accounts of what actually does occur in the rough and tumble of scientific debate, with a normative prescription of what ought to happen.

    It is undeniable that scientists are human, and as such their actions are not always beyond reproach, in that reputation and funding are often more immediate motivating factors than the search for scientific truth. But hard as I might, I can think of no justification as to why this is the way it SHOULD be.

    Scientists OUGHT to be motivated purely by a search for the truth about the natural world, and to any extent that they fall short of this aim, they are failing in their vocation as scientists. It is inadequate to excuse the kind of deceptive, politically motivated and tribalistic behaviour revealed on the basis that “what was revealed by the CRU emails is not unusual”. “Not unusual” and “morally correct” are two very different concepts. It is , after all, not unusual to drive home drunk after a party, but I doubt any judge will be persuaded that this makes it acceptable.

    It may in fact be more common that we would like to believe, but in every case where it occurs, it is to be deplored. To suggest that the behaviour of “the Team” is laudable, or even excusable, because other people do it, is to turn our notions of scientific propriety on their head.

    • Michael – I understand what you are saying but I was not making a judgement on the ethics of what happened. We must be careful in interpreting what was essentially gossip. Gossip does not always reflect intention. We rarely express in our private exchanges what we would say and do in practice. I agree with you that normatively science should have a higher calling but I could debate with you all day long what that should be. However the debate about that is for another day: what is important in debating and understanding the CRU affair is to turn the scientific method on itself. From my perspective science is first and foremost a social process where groups of individuals form clans that have an internal language and high degrees of cohesion. Those clans have certain core beliefs about their science that they regard as irrefutable – what Lakatos referred to as the ‘core’ of the research programmes. What we see in the emails is the willingness of one set of clan members to compete and fight to the proverbial death to protect their core beliefs.

      I do not condone bad behaviour but in trying to understand what happened and to learn from it I believe that we too must be willing to put aside our normative judgements about what is right and wrong and aim to adopt the best standards of scientific enquiry. We cannot accuse the originators of the emails of failing to meet the standards of science if we in our turn are not willing to accept those standards ourselves. As far as I understand her motives in establishing this blog, Judith Curry does not want it to be a place where members of different clans shout at one another. We can all get into the game of my standards are higher than your standards but to what point? There are many lessons to be learned from this affair. At the most trivial we learn the personal dangers of email – as I have noted in my own blog it is not the same as a telephone call or a chat in the bar. But what is more serious is that by understanding the reality of the social process involved in a scientific way we can learn more effective strategies for building bridges across the science and influencing the public debate. That surely is what this is all about and why I have the greatest sympathy and support for what Judith Curry is trying to do.

  28. Does climate science take in all factors into reaching a good viable conclusion?
    No, of course not.
    There are thousands of researchers looking for the funding pot to keep going and the more sensational the claim, the more media.
    In the whole world of science CO2 is a “fart in a windstorm”.
    Do we know the actual mechanics of evaporation?
    Not a single scientist has included the effects of planetary rotation.
    Without it, there would be no atmosphere to squabble over insignificant science.

  29. We have created an arrogant closed system that an individual cannot contribute his knowledge as “IT MAY” conflict with the current conscencous of theories that do not go together when combined to understanding the whole.
    You need theories to support theories.
    Is this good science?
    No, just guessing and teaching others the same mindset to reach the same conclusions.

  30. Roddy Campbell

    I see over 100 prior comments, so undoubtedly this has been said before, but surely the four official reports into climategate (3 UK 1 Penn) should be included in the post under ‘appropriate topics’ along with the reports on the reports? They are highly relevant.

  31. The debate as to whetehr Fortran or C++ is used is quite pointless since calculations done with both, if properly implemented should result in the same answer. As for “data handling” I would understand the function of a GCM is more about analysing the atmospheric and ocean movements, temperatures and mixing, divergence and circulation, convection and radiation rather than being data handling machines, even though a large number of basic paramaeters and their initial values must be fed into the system
    On the other side of the coin of course is the analysis of temperature data which is stored hopefully in its raw form for future reanalysis and comparison of the different techniques and assumptions that may be used in determining what the data is saying about the global temperature. It is crucial that this be done as accurately as possible using well publicised techniques to allow any one observing the process to understand fully what has been done. The avaialbility of the initial raw data is absolutley essential to enable others who wish to analyse the material perhaps to check the work done or to apply other techniques which might interpret the data differently. Again the storage techniques, while important, should be such as to emphasize permanence and availability. The raw data as a list of “associated numbers” must be unambiguous in determining accurate codes such as place and date as well as wind and other necessary parmaters. However, there are many different techniques which allow this to be done, and as many different preferences among workers, usually because of familiarity with a particular method.

    The matter of key importance in both the GCM code and the data bases is that they be open for criticism by anyone who wishes to study them.
    John Nicol

  32. To restore the trust in climate science and IPCC, it’s above all necessary that the questions surrounding the nature of the IPCC and its reports be resolved openly and reasonably. I haven’t had time to study the IAC report, but this is what I glean from the earlier reports and investigations:

    1) Will the IPCC reports be comprehensive and balanced reviews of the science (as the IPCC official documents claim) or can they reflect the opinions or judgments of a select group of scientists as the Muir Russell report suggests?

    2) Will the IPCC be policy neutral?

    3) Will the IPCC continue to make “risk-oriented” summaries as the Dutch reports calls them? In other words, highlighting only the adverse effect of climate change and ignoring the beneficial ones? And if it does, will it be open about it as the Dutch report recommends?

    Dutch report:

    4) Will the IPCC continue to deny even simple errors, or will this change? Will a strengthened leadership only improve the IPCCs ability to dismiss criticizms before it has time to check the facts, as with the IPCC statement on trends in disaster losses?

  33. The distinction of being named the/a “Founding Father (or Mom)” of a new modern science is one that takes time and is generally settled years after the fact by the practitioners of that later day and age, not the practitioners of the day and age of the founder. The Founder of Climate Science I do not think is yet known. That individual will likely be recognized in the 22nd Century. But, the way things are going a present, it may not happen until the 23rd Century. Why am I beating this drum? Because the Founder sets the tone or ‘je ne sais quoi’ which sets it truly apart, and what we have today is a cacophony of noise and various, shall we say, individual, organizational, institutional, and political motives for claiming to be a Climate Scientist.

    You would think it would be based on an established science, like, …. ah… meteorology or something related to the subject. Oh well! What do I know, I from the ancient past of the real Climate Science. Aren’t we all?

    • “The Founder of Climate Science I do not think is yet known. ”

      I beg to differ. I would think that H. H. Lamb has that title hands down

      • Maybe. Time will tell.
        (I am a little worried about the impact that Climategate will have on CRU’s reputation
        and –indirectly– on Hubert Lamb’s.)

  34. How to explain that the CET from 1690-1725 achieved sharpest ever rise in the recorded temperatures history, including the latest rise.
    How to explain that from1695-1705 (10 years) the CET rose by the similar amount as it did from 1970-2000 (30 years), period that AGW are quoting as ‘unprecedented’.
    Anyone pretending to know reasons for the CO2-Sun-Earth-etc-temperature link, has to have an answer for the above, if to be on the right track.

  35. As a layperson (and latecomer to the “climate wars”), doing my own due diligence which began about 10 days BC [Before Climategate], I was often struck by the response pattern that kept repeating – a pattern which appeared to have been “inherited” from responses to any criticism of any aspect of “the science”; i.e. denigrate the messenger and dismiss the message.

    This pattern kept repeating even in the aftermath of 11/17 … from initial science (and MSM) establishment reactions through their responses to the reports on the various inquiries. Not to mention the somewhat more subdued/polite (?!) message of the various inquiries – although I do wonder how (as McKitrick noted) they could all have concluded that “the science is sound” (owtte) when none of the inquiries examined “the science”.

    Back in January, CBC radio’s The Sunday Edition had a very interesting (approx. 30 minute) panel discussion on the role of the media in covering climate science. With the exception of one panelist’s somewhat admiring reference to Borenstein et al’s AP “investigation”, I found the discussion to be quite enlightened. Bottom line: no, the MSM has not done a good job of reporting on climate science – either BC or AC (for a variety of reasons). The program is well worth a listen, IMHO.

    (Scroll down the above page to “Listen to Hour Three” … segment begins at 13:50, although if you’re a fan of the late poet, P.K. Page, as am I, then you may want to listen from the beginning :-) )

    But that aside, I find it ironic that so little attention has been given to the Oct. 26/09 (i.e. BC) words of Joseph Alcamo, the “Chief Scientist” of the UNEP, (a parent organization of the IPCC). In his opening address to the IPCC’s Bali session, Alcamo – an IPCC alumnus – said (inter alia):

    as policymakers and the public begin to grasp the multi-billion dollar price tag for mitigating and adapting to climate change, we should expect a sharper questioning of the science behind climate policy. [emphasis added -hro]

  36. *****
    Dusty says:
    September 19, 2010 at 8:42 am

    The Royal Society has hitherto, been an august, authoritative and objective scientific body. It is about to publish a new “guide to the science of climate change”

    The Society has worked on the issue of climate change for many years to further the understanding of this issue. These activities have been informed by decades of publicly available, peer-reviewed studies by thousands of scientists across a wide range of disciplines. Climate science, like any other scientific discipline, develops through vigorous debates between experts, but there is an overwhelming consensus regarding its fundamentals. Climate science has a firm basis in physics and is supported by a wealth of evidence from real world observations.”
    This is the long way to say four words: The science is settled.

    • Your post is just propaganda – where is the RS Guide so we may read and decide 1st ?

      Does it address the question of feedbacks with genuine integrity ? Perhaps it expediently airbrushes this issue into the “already settled” box

      Just answer my questions, please and not some other question that you simply make up

    • Well, the basics of climate science are settled.

      If you deny that the greenhouse effect exists, you have to find an alternative way to explain why the planet and oceans are not frozen solid.

      The debate, such that it is, is over the magnitude and timing of the response of the climate and hydrosphere to increased levels of greenhouse gases. Given that recent geological history shows large changes in sea level and rapid changes in climate in response to apparently minor changes, it seems reasonable to be worried.

      • The stance adopted by the Royal Society in this matter gives me the greatest sorrow. They of any should have remained at arms length from politically highjacked science, instead of jeopodising their hard-won reputation for scientific pre-eminence in a madcap mission of advocacy-led campaigning. Of course the greenhouse effect is important. But CO2 is not the only game in town, and indeed the geological evidence would suggest that it is very far from being the star player in the team, and we are only a minute or two into the first half of the climate paradigm game. We have Svensmark warming up on the touchline, for instance.

      • You make a good point. Perhaps the RS should have summarized the parts of climate science they consider settled and those that aren’t. Very few skeptics claim that CO2 isn’t a “greenhouse gas” and I agree with you that and water vapor are what is keeping the Earth habitable. (Water vapor is still present at very cold temperatures and it might be able to do the trick by itself, but that is another issue.) Unfortunately, there is a lot more to climate science than that. The feedbacks claimed to amplify the basic CO2 warming are definitely in question. Also in question are the feedbacks themselves. Are all of them accounted for? Are there negative feedbacks associated with clouds that are not accounted for? Do climate scientists truly understand it all? If so, why are we still spending money on it?

    • ian18888 writes “Your post is just propaganda – where is the RS Guide so we may read and decide 1st ?”

      Wait a couple of weeks. For those not familiar with the history, the RS was due to make a routine update of it’s support for AGW. Sir Alan Rudge, along with 42 other Fellows who were prepared to “put their heads above the parapet” challenged the RS to do a proper survey. Two sub committees, with Fellows from both sides of the debate represented, presented reports to the Council in July. We have heard from Sir Alan that a draft report has been completed, by the Council. He has sent his comments in on this report. He says the Council will issue it’s final report before the end of September. I am sure, whatever the report says, it will make headlines on the blogosphere.

    • “The Science Is Settled!” is a political statement, it is an editorial statement, it is the statement a banker uses to settle the nerves of an investor with weak knees, it is a statement that a professor or teacher uses on occassion to squelch an over active mind and move to the next teaching point. But, and this is the important issue, there is nothing in science that is settled so what are we speaking about?

  37. There have been quite a number of suggestions here that outsiders don’t get to play, and that’s just life. Of course we all know it is life in some communities, but not in the most effective communities. The CEO of an Israeli software firm explained this in Forbes some years ago. He said that your IT guys are the smartest guys on your staff, and you can’t tell them a thing. They fight and compete to be on the coolest projects, by which they mean the most technologically advanced projects. You would think that this culture could never be changed. But it takes just a month to turn it completely around. Here is how.

    You simply put these guys on the telephone help line for a month. Once they have worked with real customers and their real issues all day for a month, a light goes on in their head. From that point on they will always have a customer service component to their thinking. Of course they will still bite and scratch to be on the coolest projects. But now their definition has switched. They care most about the projects that will help your customers the most.

    I call this process “phone camp.” It’s amazing how well it works.

    You can tell in approximately ten seconds in a business or IT setting who has been to phone camp and who has not.

    I am not sure precisely how best to implement phone camp in the climate science community. But I am sure it can and should apply some way. You will all be more effective when you figure that out.

  38. Obviously the science IS NOT settled or we wouldn’t be having this discussion. The issues have been stated so many times on these blogs I’m reluctant to reiterate them.

    But if I was a CAGW proponent, my first goal would be to take the media darlings off their platform. Sorry, but Al Gore making mistakes with simple SI notation while living in carbon mansion doesn’t help your cause. Hollywood stars, media moguls and politicians with vested interests don’t help either.

    I believe that most actual scientists, including the CAGW crowd are acting in what they consider the most altruistic manner. Take out the hype and I might believe the science.

  39. Hi Judith. Interesting thread, but I’ll stay out of it at this point. I’d like to take issue with the assumption underlying your title “… challenges to the credibility of climate science”, which seems to take as read that the “challenges” you’re talking about (Climategate scandal writing, McKitrick’s and others’ criticism of the CRU “inquiries” and so on) come from some antiscientific cabal, and are all about beating up on science.

    I object to this assumption. It is fatuous in the extreme to characterize McKitrick, for one, and the broad class of critiques to which you refer as antiscientific, or as challenges to “climate science”. They are largely challenges to posturing, pretense and politics that wear the mantle of climate science. Many of the critics are, themselves, credentialed scientists (as am I, technically, holding as I do a PhD in Math and having spent my career teaching and doing mathematical research within faculties of Science at various universities). These folks are most emphatically NOT anti-science.

    I certainly hope you do not regard the well-known meteorologist and blogger Anthony Watts, repeated winner of best science blog awards (and host to more than one of your own articles) or the most prominent critic of all, excellent amateur data analysis and mathematician Steve McKintyre, or preeminent numerical analysis and dynamical systems expert Chris Essex, or outspoken skeptical climatologist Tim Ball, as being “critical of climate science”.

    On the contrary, each one of these individuals would regard themselves NOT as opponents of climate science, challenging its credibility but as defenders of the same — against corruption that has stained the field. And you have written along similar lines yourself, one reason you have a hearing within the so-called “skeptical community”.

    The threat, or “challenge”, as you put it, to “the credibility of climate science” is not that anyone of repute is trying to undermine the science — it is that the behavior of many who identify themselves as being within the climate science community is less than respectable, and quite unscientific. It is those individuals who are undermining confidence in the science among the general public, who have difficulty distinguishing between various kinds of players players and who don’t understand what constitutes science versus politics.

    Further, the sources you cite are largely not criticisms about science; they are largely about behavior of people. The authors themselves do, indeed, have much to say about science (not generally in these reports, but elsewhere), but they are not ATTACKS on science, but rather participation in the process of science, by presenting alternative analysis and challenges to what they regard as faulty analysis or methodology.

    If this is what you characterize as a “challenge to the integrity of climate science”, then my respect for you, Judith, cannot be sustained. Please tell us that this is not what you intend, and that it is not your purpose to accuse any of these individuals of being “antiscientific”. Let us please play fair and ditch this silly canard.

    • Well said Dr. Craigen.

      The challenges have been to the credibility and believability of various climate “scientists”, and their claims about the “science”.

      That is one of their problems. They have invoked the mantle of the science for themselves and cannot separate the two.

      • Very good observations!

        Arrogance and the fear of being incorrect has triggered an attack by some scientists into protecting at ALL costs an inferior theory or model that only they can find the path to where this “science” came from.
        Molding science to what outcome you want is politics and not science.

        Openning up research for all to see, observe, marvel or criticize is what science should allow.
        The opposite is happening though that a theory once publicized in a reviewed magazine is now the law and cannot be changed without great difficulty as now it is also being taught as science.

    • R. Craigen, I define credibility as a combination of expertise and trust. The CRU emails, the glacier issue etc. resulted in a huge loss of trust of the climate establishment, the “gate” used in the media speaks to a perceived scandal. I am one of the few climate scientists that is saying that all this is about much more than PR, and that there are a whole host of problems that need to be dealt with. I have also taken much flak for my public defense of Steve McIntyre and for asking people to read Andrew Montford’s book the Hockey Stick Illusion.

      The criticisms being made by McIntyre and McKitrick in my opinion bring much needed probity to the whole thing. Whether or not each of their criticisms is appropriate or accurate is another issue, but each of these issues that they raise are valid and should be discussed and rebutted if not correct. I have gone further to claim that the expertise brought to these issues by McIntyre, McKitrick plus the technical blogosphere in terms of auditing and statistical analysis is a welcome contribution to the discourse on the subject. I am vilified at ClimateProgress and other places for making these statements.

      The people criticizing climate science using actual arguments and evidence regarding the behavior of scientists or the process of science are not anti-scientific, this just isn’t a word I use.

      • Judith-

        Unfortunately credibility, or what I have implied is small scale, but rather rampant fraud, is found every day anyone looks at the IPCC or many of our national labs when “global warming” or anything green is in the mix, here is another – see WUWT and look at this change to a report from NOAA where they seemingly intentionally incorrectly reported arctic ice.

        I am “green” and live in a very energy efficient home, buy local food, etc. – but the whole green movement seems filled with this type of rampant mis-reporting, from the Himalayan glaciers are going to melt in a few years, to Al Gore saying all Greenland ice will be gone in ten years, to grossly over-reporting sea level rise (currently at about 3.2 mm/year), to the IPCC conveniently deciding to under-report solar forcing so they could increase the effect of man-made CO2. When scientists do this, it is fraud. When scientists do not correct it from others or encourage it, it is gross incompetence.

      • The truth of the matter is that if you try to build bridges you are likely to get shot at from both ends. But I do hope you keep trying.

      • Thanks Bob. I am definitely getting shot at by both sides, but so far the buckshot is just bouncing off :)

      • Semper Fi. You’ve got the point; we’ve got your back, Judy. Dr. Craingen makes his point.

      • From what I see on here, the discourse is rather pleasant overall. Stay focussed on the science and the problems in its creation and dissemination, and stay out of the politics and you will be just fine – as that should be the firm ground.

      • Hi Judith. I am not trying to “shoot at you”, only to show a point where your language (ie in the title of the post) is quite unhelpful. I am only here in the first place because I believe you treat dissenting viewpoints in good faith. I gave up long ago on trying to have rational discussions with the likes of Gavin Schmidt and Mike Tobis.

        You say

        I define credibility as a combination of expertise and trust. The CRU emails, the glacier issue etc. resulted in a huge loss of trust of the climate establishment, the “gate” used in the media speaks to a perceived scandal.

        Then, surely you can see that your title, “…challenges to the credibility of climate science” conflates, or encourages the conflation, of the credibility of climate science and the credibility of certain climate scientists. I have enough faith in you to believe that you grasp this distinction—I was expecting that you’d simply agree that speaking of “challenges to the credibility of climate science” skews the discussion in a very unfortunate way. Again, none of the examples you cite involve any antiscience perspectives and shouldn’t be characterized in that way.

      • R. Craigen, I’m not sure what you’re having such difficulty with. The word “challenge” in the title clearly refers to “credibility”, and the phrase “of climate science” describes, pretty straightforwardly, what it is that is having its credibility challenged.

        It’s hard for me to imagine that either of us would disagree that there are those who challenge the credibility of climate science as it stands.

        I don’t use the term “anti-science,” either, though I suppose it would have meaning to apply it to arguments that actually assert all of science is bunk, if such even exist. Nevertheless, there are people who criticize mainstream science based on belief, just as there are those who defend mainstream science based on belief. Such folks are “using actual arguments” but not “evidence,” and I think that’s a distinction worth making.

      • PDA, this is not about the semantic meaning of “credibility”. I am contending that there is a difference between credibility of science and the credibility of scientists.

        The instances Dr. Curry cites as examples to start off this thread all pertain to the credibility of (certain) scientists. Whether one uses the term “anti-science” or not, speaking of such discourse as if it were a direct assault on the credibility of climate science is somewhere between misleading and manipulative. Exactly how do Montford’s and McKitrick’s assessments of the Climategate inquiries in any way threaten the credibility of science? Both men hold science in esteem — indeed, their clear motives are in defense of science against what they regard as the misbehavior of men appearing to misappropriate the mantle of science.

        You say “It’s hard for me to imagine that either of us would disagree that there are those who challenge the credibility of climate science as it stands.” This all depends on whom you refer to as “those who challenge”, and on whether we agree about what constitutes “climate science as it stands“. Much is widely promoted as “settled science” that is not–in some cases it is simply dead wrong, and demonstrably so. Challenging such things is not about the credibility of “climate science” but it is about sorting out the false from the true. It is defense of the credibility of climate science, not an assault on it. I think Dr Curry would agree with this position though it is likely likely she would disagree with me on some particulars—but I doubt she would disagree with the following:

        An example of widely accepted “climate science” that is simply wrong is the commonly cited understanding that the correlation between carbon dioxide levels and temperatures over the last 800,000 years as determined from ice cores shows carbon dioxide driving temperatures (as promoted in Al Gore’s Nobel-and-Pulitzer-winning “documentary”). In fact, the opposite is true — the record clearly shows temperatures driving CO2 levels. No surprise to anyone familiar with the temperature dependence of the Henry’s Law constant. To point such things out is not to assault climate science, but to dispel misinformation about it. It is defense of that science.

      • The distinction you make regarding the credibility of the science vs the scientists is important. But I would add a third dimension to this: the credibility of scientific assessments and how this is communicated to the public. There are thousands of solid publications on climate science. But how this is assessed and integrated (and in particular the confidence levels given) is the chief problem, IMO.

      • Thanks Judith. You are right about the “third dimension” of this issue too (we could probably cut it finer and distinguish a couple more dimensions too). Sorry about the hardball — I’ve gotten tired of this debate being pitched in quasireligious terms, with “science” in place of “God”, in which sides try to color opponents as being “fer” or “agin” science.

        I think the blurring of the distinction between science and scientist happens so much because of a postmodernist approach to the subject that has crept into the western mindset. I read a book by Reuben Hersch, a postmodernist writer, called “What is mathematics — REALLY?” in which he promotes a definition of “mathematics” as “What mathematicians do”. He arrives — quite soberly — at numerous profoundly silly conclusions (like that a Theorem becomes an un-Theorem if mathematicians decide later that it is false, though it was true while mathematicians agreed so) by his inextricable confusion of subject matter with the behavior of those who examine that subject matter.

        Such fatuous nonsense ought to be relegated to the fringe where it belongs, and society should be enabled to separate scientific knowledge from those whose profession is to expand that knowledge, their flaws and foibles. Unfortunately I see in the case of these “climate wars” that AGW proponents are very quick to blur the distinction by insisting that questioning their methodology or analysis is tantamount to “challenging the credibility of science”, whereas (as you have written elsewhere) when it is done well, such questioning is a critical part of the process of doing science, and the opposite is true.

  40. Our planet generated an inter-relationship to the resourses on hand to generate science.
    The current physics and science we use today in math and the calculations fail when history of this planets past is included. Physics is bases on never-ending motion. This needs many theories to support this claim as suns and planets slow down or expand.

    What was the factors that allowed huge flying mammals in the past and not today?
    The planet was rotating faster making more centrifugal forces.
    In gravity being measure at 9.6 m per sec. today, it would take 10.5m per sec. in our past. Allowing for more massive growth.

    We have all the resources to trace measurements of this planets path to the past but are locked by the current “LAWS” and individual areas of science.

    • Interesting inference re the gravity. Geological evidence and estimation of decreasing rotations/year are such as the following

      ‘Daily growth increments and monthly markings on Silurian and Devonian corals and brachiopods were counted using a maximum count method. Early and Middle Silurian fossils indicate that the number of days per year during these periods was 421 and 419, respectively; the number of days per year in the early Middle Devonian Period was 410.’

    • Hi,

      There is an answer here:

      Regarding centrifugal force. Essentially the earth would have to rotate at least 10 times faster to make a real difference.

      • Andrew,

        Centrifugal force was written off long ago as Newton and the boys could not figure out exactly what it is.
        The study of rotation is from Piccasso’s rotating table.

        A simple number will show how the statement of 10 times more rotation is massively incorrect.
        The planet rotaties at 1669.8 km/hr and at 10 times it would be 16,698 km/hr.
        Quite a massive discrepency that there would be no life on this planet, not even water.
        I’m finding more and more that scientists were too lazy to do actual measurements and calculations.

  41. It is the integrity of science we are talking about here on this open thread.

    My post here is addressed to those commenters above who post favorable to the theme that we should separate the science (of climate) from the scandals thereof . . . implying the science of climate is somehow basically OK.

    I disagree with you completely. I do not think that is the high road out of the situation climate science finds itself in. Those commenters are pushing the fuzzy warmy “it is all really OK” road out, it will be a warmy fuzzy “we already know the answers” result.

    I take an entirely different approach. The scandals are a corruption of the scientific process. Therefore, we must questions all aspects of the science from the beloved “GHGs cause warming” to “man’s contribution to CO2 is significant when compared to natural sources” to “scientific bases of all the GISS/CRU/NOAA/etc adjustments to data” to “finally using professional reputable use of statistical methods/people” to “formal bias analysis versus uncritical acceptance” to . . . . . ad infinitum.

    I see no other way except “to question everything”. Everything. The questioning must be open and include people who are independent of the past “accepted”/”consensus” scientists. STRICT COMPLIANCE TO IAC recommendations by all universities, institutes, gov’ts, etc


    • Agree completely, but the problems in funding and peer review creating fraudulent papers and outcomes extends far beyong climate science, I experienced them in human genetics…

      • fredfriendly,

        Thanks for your comment. I think it is wonderful that Judith has graciously provided this venue so we can interact on significant topics like this. : )

        Could there eventually be or is there already a spillover from the loss of credibility in climate science to highlighting similar problems in other areas of science or science in general? I need to yield answering that question to people who have been focusing on the other sciences (like you in human genetics) or science in general. I do not know.


      • Yes John, I think this is broader and the paper I linked elsewhere in this thread shows how science is done – essentially across the board – at today’s large research univerities. The author likely goes a bit too light on the activities and the consequesnces, but he is on the right track.

        That said, the long term trends in science are still positive and entire areas being moved by politics (as happened with climate science) is rather rare – most sciences just stink when you get into the details.

    • Completely agree. It would also be prudent to consider where we are these days in the 21st Century. Science has come a long way from the early days. Various changes have brought us to this point. It is not unreasonable to think that additional changes are required to take us to the end of this century and into the next.

      Who are the masters that science serves?
      Who are the Masters of science?
      Who/what are the controls? the gates? the chains? the restrictions? the impediments? the limiting factors?
      How is knowledge shared?
      Who/what controls the flow of knowledge?
      Where/what are the slippery slopes? the traps? the quicksand?
      Is BS, MS, PhD enough today?
      In addition to the “Method”, should there also be the “Code”.

  42. If you want an example of the media handling of the IPCC and climategate.

    Take a look at this thread at Bishop Hill about the Guardian, Guardian deletions/moderation, etc and the IPCC chairman..

    read the comments as both the authors, add detail in the comment section.

  43. Judith asks for “•Suggestions on how to restore credibility to climate science”

    I think the BEST place to start is for “climate scientists” to stop advocating ANY mitigation to “global warming”, “climate change” or “climate disruption” until ANY hypothesis on climate forecasting has been accepted as a theory. Currently NO hypothesis can hold up to this standard. Perhaps, as one poster here stated (paraphrased), Put another way, if you want to explain the warming from 1850 to today, your BEST HYPOTHESIS is AGW. But remains just that a Hypothesis. NO action should be taken based merely upon an hypothesis.

    I note that the original poster of the comment used the word “theory” which I replaced with HYPOTHESIS. It was one “trick” of argument when you start to claim that science is nothing by hypothesis and then elevate your hypothesis to the level of “theory”.

    To re-iterate, IMO the best way to restore credibility to “climate science” is for “climate scientists” to stop advocating ANY regulation, policy or action on CO2 emissions until the AGW via CO2 hypothesis has scientific proof.

  44. The transcript of Lord Oxburgh’s oral evidence to the HOC Select Committee is up

  45. From WUWT:
    “Physicist Dr. Denis Rancourt, a former professor and environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa, has officially bailed out of the man-made global warming movement, calling it a ‘corrupt social phenomenon’.

    He writes this in an essay on science trust issues plus adds this powerful closing passage about climate science:

    And there is a thorough critique of the science as band wagon trumpeting and interested self-deception [4]. Climategate only confirms what should be obvious to any practicing scientist: That science is a mafia when it’s not simply a sleeping pill.

    Now he thinks that fossil fuel burning isn’t a problem of significance based on the scale. ”

  46. The Pedant-General

    “The unauthorized release of emails ”

    I think this phrase alone merits some examination as it, or rather the reaction to it, can be richly illuminating.

    One’s attitude to the unauthorised release of any information is almost always coloured by one’s view of the information. If it paints you – or the side you support – in a bad light, you treat as a scandalous criminal act. If you think it shows your opponents in a bad light, it is a brave act of a whistleblower who has had to act anonymously for his own protection yada yada.

    This case is no different in that regard. However…. we should consider the relative likelihood of this being an inside vs an outside job.

    AFAIK no-one denies that the actual zip file was compiled inside CRU, in response to various FOIA requests.

    So either the outside cracker was fantastically lucky in finding this one file (unlikely) or he had complete undetected access for some time to be able to root around to find this file and yet released absolutely nothing else except this one dossier (vastly unlikely) or, wait for it, it wasn’t an outside job.

    Not only is this by the most likely scenario (in that it does not such a massive and sustained breach of network security that the IT director should have been fired on the spot), but it fits with the timings. We know that this material was being collated in response to an FOIA request and that that request was subsequently rejected. This material becmae available the very next day

    Crucially, if it wasn’t an outside job, we have a rather different set of motives at play. My view – you may guess – is that someone inside CRU was sufficiently alarmed at the material being gathered and the urgent need to make it public that they took matters into their own hands following the refusal of the request. This seems to be logical, Occam’s razor type stuff to me.

    What’s the Occam’s razor view from the other side?

    • The Pedant-General,

      My reply to you is actually posted below at:

      John Whitman says:
      September 20, 2010 at 1:00 pm

      Sorry, I am used to posting on blogs where there is just a chronological commenting theme, like the Bishop or WUWT etc. Old dogs, new tricks.


  47. The Pedant-General,

    Your treatment of the released emails vibrates in resonance with my own general thinking.

    If your treatment correctly applies to CRU then by extension there is that vague, nagging, far-view question floating in the background. I won’ t say it, but you know what follows from the example of the CRU release scenario . . . .

    Ahhhhh, we sorely miss Michael Crichton doing a novel on this theme. Instant bestseller . . . . drama, intrigue, money, politics, belief, violence (of the intellectual sort) . . . . but, other than that masseuse thing in Seattle, no sex.


  48. Well, on the integrity of the investigations:

    we have this:

    “Q39 Chair: Moving on to the memo, the e-mail of 16 November 1999 that we keep hearing repeated in various arenas, the sentence that has been commented on extensively, “I’ve just completed Mike’s nature trick of adding real temps to each series for the last 20 years”, etc, did you seek to interpret what was meant by it?

    Lord Oxburgh: Let me start by saying I did not study the e-mails. We were told that Muir Russell was going to be looking at those carefully. But certainly I was aware of that from the attention it got in the newspapers and so on at the time. I looked up “trick” in the Oxford English Dictionary, actually, at that time, and, if I remember rightly, the Oxford English Dictionary gave it nine different meanings, one of which was “Special technique or way of doing something.” I think, having looked at that, that anyone in the field reading that with an open mind, would actually take that meaning of the word “trick”.

    Q40 Chair: So you concluded that the approach that Professor Jones had adopted was one of dealing with presentation of the data rather than an attempt to deceive?

    Lord Oxburgh: Absolutely. I think when you come to the presentation of complicated scientific observations and making them available to a much wider audience, you come up against some very tough “honesty” decisions. How much do you simplify? It is the same when you are teaching undergraduates. How much do you simplify in order to get a general idea across? I, personally, think that in various publications for public consumption those who have used the CRU data and those who have used other climatic data have not helped their case by illuminating the very wide uncertainty band associated with it.

    he did not study the emails. he went to the OED.

    he did not take evidence from people who had read all the emails.

    he went to the OED

    he did not ask Jones what jones meant by the trick.

    he went to the OED.

    he did not investigate other evidence surrounding the mails.

    he went to the OED.

    Now, the trick doesnt change the science. The trick is chartsmanship. When communicating with policy makers, I personally think chartsmanship is not the best practice.

    The fact that CRU disclosed the “untricked” data in other publications is beside the point. The reason why chartsmanship is NOT the best practice is best illustrated by considering this:
    what would cause more delay to action on climate change:

    1. ‘tricking up” a chart and getting caught.
    2. Presenting the data sans trickery.

    Hard to argue #1 is the best practice, either scientifically or rhetorically.

    But I assume that somebody here will argue that if they had to do it over they would engage in the same trickery. If not, then just come clean. the trick was chartmanship. its not a standard approach. it was a bad idea. don’t do it again.

    • His oral evidence is to become a Hansard record, in perpetuity. No undo button there, unfortunately.

    • “He went to the OED”. You could add “And chose the one definition of nine that best suited his position”.

  49. “honesty” decisions – sounds alot like the fraud cited above in the paer I linked…just a little fraud is OK right? What if we all do fraud, does that make it OK?

  50. Extreme positions are not succeeded by moderate ones, but by contrary extreme positions.
    Friedrich Nietzsche

  51. I recently had a chance to discuss with a meteorologist/climatologist (Prof. Takehiko Mikami, Teikyo University) in a TV program. I personally respect him for his work on the heat island effect in Japan. I showed him the results of Anthony Watts (and those of Junsei Kondo, Prof. Emeritus of Tohoku University, Japan) on the errors of temperature measurements. He did not know the results of Mr. Watts, and claimed that the temperature data of NASA or Hadley center were suitably calibrated and had no problem although he did not mention how the calibration was made. I certainly was disappointed because I knew he was an excellent researcher.

    I later heard opinions of my friends who were watching the TV program. All of them said the claim of Prof. Mikami was not convincing while mines were. I am an environmental physical chemist, and neither a meteorologist nor a climatologist. And, the temperature data should be the basis of the discussion on the global warming issue. Why on the earth are my opinions more convincing than his professional opinions?

    This experience and others make me think that professional meteorologists and climatologists tend to be narrow-minded because they are too professional unless they intentionally seek alternative viewpoints. So, to recover the credibility of the climatology, I should say, those researchers must try to have wider views and admit that climatology is its infant stage compared with other fields of science; in fact, I sometimes feel that the present development stage of climatology may correspond to that of medical sciences before the discoveries of DNA or viruses.

    Kiminori Itoh (Professor, Yokohama National University)

    • Hi,

      I didn’t realize that Mr Watts had published his paper on surface station temperature measurement problems – do you have a link?


    • Professor Itoh, thanks for your comments. The key is to seek alternative viewpoints and actively defend their position, and change it as appropriate. Apparently because of the politiciziation of the issue (very heavy in the U.S. anyways), this isn’t done unfortunately.

  52. Judith

    Cannot we hold the IPCC accountable to its projections given below?

    For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2°C per decade is projected for a range of SRES emission scenarios. Even if the concentrations of all greenhouse gases and aerosols had been kept constant at year 2000 levels, a further warming of about 0.1°C per decade would be expected.

    Here is the above IPCC projection in a graph:

    • Girma, the IPCC has done something that isn’t too bright: they’ve taken their century scale projection, and divided into a temperature increase per decade. The decadal values don’t make any sense because in any given decade the natural variability can either counteract or enhance the anthropogenic forcing, and the models do not consistently make any kind of realistic predictions of decadal variability

  53. I see the reestablishment of credibility to climate science as a call for fundamental changes in public accountability and methodologies in the climate sciences. While I can’t speak authoritatively to some of the unique disciplines of climate science, I am a medical research scientist with a number of peer reviewed and leading journal published studies to my credit. I can speak at least to research methodologies and a little medical research history.

    Medical research went through somewhat of a house cleaning some decades ago following events like the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment and the Willowbrook Experiment where orphan children were intentionally exposed to Hepatitis, to name just two notable examples of medical research betraying public trust.

    When one looks back at how such horrific practices crept into research, there stands out a clear set of root causes that promoted them: 1) There was no peer accountability outside of the closed circle of individuals conducting the research, 2) The scientists believed the results justified their methodologies – the public’s good was being served, 3) The scientists believed that the public was not qualified to critique their methodologies, understand the value proposition of their work, and therefore were not entitled to disclosure or discourse, and 4) The studies were mostly government supported with lax to no oversight.

    Following whistle blower’s bringing these studies to public attention, there was the usual “we’ve done nothing wrong, our methods were acceptable”, and demonization of the critics that took place, which served to further undermine the publics trust. Growing public distrust and outcry eventually forced research practices and more notably, accountability to the public, to change, leading to many of the government and institutional oversight and accountability practices found in medical research today. It took many years and evidence of accountability to restore public trust to what it is today.

    In defense of these studies one might argue that the basic hypothesis of the studies weren’t wrong and our understanding of syphilis and hepatitis increased significantly as a result of the research. I would argue that had it not been for public faith lost in these studies medical research would have made significantly greater advances. In hindsight, it is now clear that the public interest was not being served and considerable harm was done to individuals and to the reputation of medical research.

    Climategate (or whatever label you wish to give the event) brought to light many parallels to the dark era of medical research. The public is growing increasingly distrustful of the message and the science and for good reason. As a scientist, I am willing to accept sound science. I am not willing to accept tribalism, non-disclosure, shoddy methodologies, demonization of critical inquiry, nor shutting out public discourse as acceptable behavior by scientists. True, the theories and hard physics don’t change just because behavior is called into question. However, where behavior and practices are questionable, so must the conclusions and message be suspect. The public intuitively understands this.

    Climate scientists must understand that University inquests exonerating the players in question does no more to build pubic trust than the Public Health Services’ initial exoneration of its researchers involved in the Tuskegee experiments. If anything, it further fueled pubic outrage. Denying that public distrust is founded will ultimately backfire.

    Climate researchers must be willing to openly establish new lines of public accountability, expand their scope of research collaboration (include mathematicians, physicists, and geologists as required elements in study protocols for example), properly quantify uncertainties and unknowns, provide transparency in methodologies, data, and results, and implement open and independent institutional review of the proposed methodologies and procedures of a study to make sure they meet acceptable industry and public standards as a condition of funding.

    • Mr. Hancock,
      This has happened to more than just climate science.
      Physicists will not give you the time of day if it may interfere with the proudly protected theory on motion and all the other theories springing up from this.
      Now ingrained as part of motion is quantum physics.
      These theories totally disintergrate when given actual measurements on rotation and solar movement. What is produced in two stable points in a lab is not what is actually happening in the solar system.

    • An extraordinarily good contribution Hank and I will now have a look at the examples you quote.
      As I have noted earlier there are many lessons indeed we can learn from this affair and in particular how the pressures to build and maintain reputation can take the groupings that inevitably emerge in all scientific disciplines to act inappropriately. To illustrate: if I deconstruct your own words for a moment you signify your status with the words ‘with a number of peer reviewed and leading journal published studies to my credit’. That indeed is the real coinage of modern science – in the university world this is how research is assessed – not what has been discovered, truths uncovered or contributions made to the advancement of the human condition.
      In the UK in particular the Research Assessment Exercise conducted by the Higher Education Funding Council in England (HEFCE) focuses almost exclusively on publication and citation count. The team at CRU were under overwhelming institutional pressure to yield more and more publications in the peer reviewed literature. With those publications flowed research funding, grants and overhead contribution to what in many other respects is a poorly ranked university. The university – which I have passing knowledge of – would have top-sliced the income earned by the unit to finance other activities. I have seen this elsewhere in the UK (and I suspect it is true in the US) highly rated research groups in weak universities get squeezed and never get the resources they need or deserve to do their job properly especially under the intense scrutiny the CRU faced.
      In many respects I have great sorrow for what has befallen the group of individuals involved at CRU and make no mistake this is not an apologia for what they did. We need to understand what happened and why. The pressures of modern science with its focus on peer reviewed publication, the need to create and sustain strong networks of relationships, the pressures of a weak university squeezing every penny from its research milk cow all led to over-defensiveness and inappropriate responses. It is worth remembering that as the group were under the most sustained questioning by their critics they were approaching the next RAE and desperately attempting to enhance their research CV. Their frustration and the fury with what thought were ill-informed attacks on their work is all too evident from the email traffic.
      As I have said elsewhere I have many questions of the science and I agree with so much of what you have said Hank. However, in my judgement the CRU team are good people, great scientists who really want to do good work and make a contribution to understanding our climate. They went badly wrong and it is clear the university has not learned the lessons. Its response has been a scientific and a PR disaster. It must take the lion’s share of the blame.

      • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I am confident that most of the scientists involved are indeed brilliant, clearly accomplished, and have the best of intentions. In addition to pressure for publication, relationships, and enhancing their CV, where was also the pressure to conform to established standards, practices, and produce results. The scientist’s frustration and resulting behavior was symptomatic of their environment.

        The issues that I find most grievous are more systematic – shoddy data handling practices, poor disclosure of processes, methodologies, and reasoning behind adjustments and splicing of data sets, unwillingness or restrictiveness towards including related disciplines like mathematicians to validate their models and processes to lend robustness, and a general view that the data, methodologies, and computer programs were proprietary, thereby restricting them from disclosure (critique and reproducibility). I don’t believe you can point the finger at one person and lay the blame. Rather, I see it as more of an evolution of accepted practices that eventually became too exclusionary and eventually got exposed. Here, is where I see some parallels to what drew public outcry and distrust in the examples I gave of my field of medical research.

        Yes, you are correct. I did wear my “peer reviewed” press badge so to speak. When I took an interest in climate change, I sought out seemingly authoritative web sites like Real Climate and Climate Progress where I could ask questions to sort out the facts from hype. I quickly learned that there was a subjective ranking system that determined to what degree I would be welcomed to the discussion forum. It seems that the first question always asked is “are you a peer reviewed and published scientist?” A no automatically disqualifies you to participate. A yes will garner enough respect to get through the censorship gate and an opportunity participate if only at an academic level with rules applied. Alas, I found these sites too mean spirited, too quick to censor, and dismissive of honest inquiry to waste my time. Climate Etc. is a welcomed and refreshing change in venue that I hope will allow us non-climatologist folks to participate in a balanced discussion. Perhaps I can now put my “press badge” away, at least here anyway.

      • Hank, I am actually very pleased and intrigued that so many technically educated people including academics for other fields are spending time here. My biggest personal regret about the events of the past year is the loss of respect for the climate field among the broader scientific and technical communities. I personally recognize how much people with outside perspectives have to offer this field; not just technical expertise but also an overall sense of of the sociology and practice of science and the science-policy interface.

      • As an academic I also notice such things. I think you’ll find, Judith, that many blogs on both sides have a pretty good cadre of technically literate participants. At the top by this measure would be Steve M’s Climate Audit. A. Watt’s WUWT has a lot of credentialled scientists but also a large number of highly literate and capable science amateurs (and a few that are a bit less impressive). I don’t give much weight to whether someone carries a “Press Card”, but presence of large numbers of scientifically literate people says something about the value of a science blog.

        While Mike Tobis’ alarmist site is the diametric opposite of yours in terms of collegiality, I will grant that he also attracts a lot of serious academics. Indeed, he gatekeeps rigorously, grilling newcomers about their credentials or ridiculing them for their lack thereof. It’s morbidly entertaining to visit his site just to see the creatively vile putdowns he manufactures to demonstrate his evident high self-regard and low regard for dissenting views. I occasionally hold my nose and visit for that purpose.

      • Judith,

        First, my congratulations on your new site. I am encouraged by the range of discussion and openness to inquiry from all perspectives.

        It may come as no surprise to you that many of my peers and colleagues, which includes medical physicists, doctors, clinicians, statisticians, information theorists, biophysicists, geneticists, etc…, express doubt concerning the message and even the credibility of the messengers of catastrophic climate change. You can’t imagine how slogans like “the science is settled” and “there is no debate” act as red flags in my world where the science seems to never be settled and debate is a time honored tool that tests the robustness of theory. It may well be that climatology is a very different science but I suspect the slogans are a wall behind which less robust theories and confounding variables hide. I look forward to joining in with an engaging and enlightening community at Climate Etc., my new daily source for balanced information on climate, etc.

  54. Judith

    The solution to the question of restoring credibility to climate science rests almost entirely on the willingness of mainstream climate scientists to resume behaving a scientists, rather than political activists.

    In particular, as well as adopting the practices and standards of proper scientists, they need to completely abandon the assumption that their expertise in science, whatever it may be, extends in any way to expertise in the nature of the remedies required. The idea that “climate Scientists say we need to take X or Y action, as a result of their findings, betrays a lack of humility which is a large part of climate sciences undoing.

    Climate scientists are not economists, so when they advocate drastic social and economic reform, they do so from a state of extreme naivety as to the actual consequences of the actions they advocate. To suggest that reducing CO output by whatever percentage is something that can be done easily, or even at all, is very clearly wrong. To explain why (and I would be happy to in another forum), would involve my explaining to these expert climate scientists about something most of them have little expertise in, economic and political reality.

    Having typically little or no economic training, few climate scientists evidently appreciate how intimately the welfare and progress of the human race is interlinked with the availability of cheap reliable energy, or the catastrophic consequences of removing our current energy supplies without replacing them.

    And very few are also expert in the kind of energy solutions that would be required, or how impracticable they are in the foreseeable future. But then why should they have – they are climate experts, not energy experts, and are utterly unqualified to give advice on this or any other policy matters.

    If that lack of expertise were to stop climate scientists from asserting that, because they have measured some tree rings (for instance) they know what course of action mankind should take as a result of their untested findings, respect for climate scientists might start to return.

    • Peter, well said. I think the real challenge in this regard is for the relevant institutions involved in climate change assessments (particularly the IPCC) insist on this kind of behavior for all participants in the assessment process. Further, we need to include some education of climate students and researchers on the policy process to help eliminate this naive and troublesome behavior.

      • A real ethics requirement, instead of the “ethics light” currently required for a grad degree is in order. This requirement should be tied to all gov grants, and cover a broad range of behaviors, not just the blatant ones currently covered. Lawyers also have a true code of conduct, that is followed and actually worried about by me and my fellow snakes. When a lawyer tells you have an ethics issue bigger than the law profession, well, …

        just an old washed up Ph.D. human geneticist.

      • Is it ‘well-said’ Judith?

        What we see here is that climate scientists are attacked by dubious people who try to undermine their work.

        We have seen the same thing a few decades ago where scientists in the health profession were undermined when they were reporting links between tobacco and various cancers.

        To restore science, we need to identify and cut off those who undermine it for their egotistical personal benefits (or ignorance).

      • Janet-

        If you are commenting to me, then you are very misguided. The cancer/tobvacco link is not comparable. The cancer /tobacco battle was old fashioned BS PR by large companies and anyone who looked at the underlying science found it was good. I should know, I worked on a PH.D. in genetics a bit later, and although I did not work on cancer directly I can asure we have made some very good scientific insights, not the least of which is the analysis of apoptotic genes. Anyone who looks deeper into the science on the global warming side will find the same crap spewed by Al Gore types, comparable to what the tobacco companies were doing, but a look deeper shows a problem with the science. Destroyed data by key labs, IPCC that does cite to valid scientific papers, suppression of alternative views – none of which happened in the real science behind tobacco.

        Sorry, but you are just dead wrong, and throwing crap like you just did into the discourse shows a problematic true believer mentality…

    • Hi,

      Do you have any examples of climate scientists engaging in this behavior?


      • Andy,

        Surely you jest?

        When making sweeping generalisations on the perfidy of climate scientists, no evidence is required.

      • Michael –

        Sorry, I forgot.. this whole ‘postmodernnormal’ science thing takes a bit of getting used to. I’ll go back to my Yurt.

      • Here’s my favorite example of climate scientists acting as political activists. I would be pleased if you try to shoot it down. I refer to RealClimate’s hockey stick parade at:

        Look at the three first hockey stick diagrams in this article. They go 400-600 years back. The problem with this is so obvious that it’s surprising they would even try it. The hockey stick controversy is over the medieval warm period ~1000 years ago earlier warm periods. No one has suggested that there have been such warm periods during the past 600 years; in other words, the fact that these diagrams should look like hockey sticks is not at issue. The impression that these diagrams could be relevant to the hockey stick controversy is therefore misleading, but clearly they are trying to give that impression.

        The RealClimate guys are climate scientists, so they don’t get to plead ignorance. They must know that it’s misleading.

        Now, I don’t know their exact motivation for doing this, but I would definitely say that it’s a kind of behavior more typical of propaganda-loving political activists than scientists.

      • That’s not really what was asked for.

        Peter Wilson was saying that climate scientists were making policy prescriptions, and that due to their being climate scientists as opposed to economists or politicians (two groups with an excellent record of such prescriptions, evidently), their policy suggestions were hopelssly flawed.

        The hockey stick has nothing to do with this particular argument. I just wanted examples of climate scientists making silly policy prescriptions.

        Hope this clarifies.

      • Andrew, I suggest this as one place to start.

      • Andrew, when you’ve finished, have a look here. There are plenty of other examples on Google. Seek, and ye shall most certainly find.

      • SimonH,

        That still isn’t what Andy was asking for examples of.

        I suspect that there aren’t many, if any.

      • Michael,

        Probably not, now that he’s restricted it to “silly”. I don’t know if that’s a deliberate straw man, but it’s not very relevant to this discussion.

      • Dagfinn –

        Well, by ‘Silly’, I mean something impractical, or something the consequences of which would be so bad for humanity in general that global warming would seem like a walk in the park by comparison.

        For example, I’ve seen a Guardian columnist (sorry no reference) say that we should cement up all the oil wells and close down all the coal mines , and ‘just get on with it’. This looks a bit silly to me.

        So, any actual examples?

      • Andrew,

        James Hansen’s “CEOs of fossil energy companies…should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature” would be silly if it weren’t so sinister, given the way “deniers” are being treated. There are more examples in that vein.

    • I agree with Peter Wilson that climate scientists are, by and large, not experts in economics, politics or energy issues.

      I trust that Wilson uses the same line of thinking towards the many contrarians who think they know better than the vast majority of climate scientists, without any expertise in the matter.

      I note with some irony that when I point out the latter I am frequently taken to task (as if it is an argument from authority to argue that expertise matters), yet seemingly this argument is allowed to be made in the other direction?

      What I see the average climate scientists do is not wading into economic/political/energy issues (except perhaps on blogs, such I do too), but only to point out what the climate issues are, and that under the assumption that we’d like our offspring to enjoy a somewhat stable climate that society has been adapted to, GHG emissions ought to be reduced.

      *How*, that’s a question for the other folks.

      But *that* is a question for climatologists.

      Even if it has political implications.

      • Bart

        I’m sorry you are quite wrong here. Neither how nor if we need to reduce CO2 emission are a subject for climate scientists. Their role is the determine whether or not such emissions have an effect of the climate – that is all (wrt CO2 at least).

        The issues of whether the effects are welcome or unwelcome, or whether CO2 cuts are more cost effective than mitigation, or whether it is morally justified to sacrifice the present generation of poor in favour of their theoretical descendants, or even whether the degree of certainty of the science is adequate to justify action – none of these matters (except perhaps the last) are illuminated by climate science one little bit. These and similar issues are for the consideration of economists, social scientists, politicians and governments, NOT scientists.

        There is no straight line of reasoning which takes us from “CO2 is warming the atmosphere” to “we need to radically alter our industrial society, thus giving up many of the gains of the modern civilisation”, as many climate scientists turned activists explicitly assume. Of course most activist scientists do not actually realise that is what they are saying, but that is due to their own lack of expertise in the areas they choose to become involved in.

        And Bart, while as an economist I often feel the kind of frustration you claim when listening to uninformed “scientists” wading into my area of speciality, I would never claim that anyone has no right to comment of hold an opinion on economic matters – merely that they should not presume that their expertise in one area extends into my area.

        One other point Bart. While many of us who comment on these natters are not “climate scientists”, it does not take a specialist to recognise when theory does not match observations, or when arguments are circular, or when scientists are behaving unethically. These are also not matters on which climate scientists have any superior knowledge to the rest of us.

      • It seems to me that what Roger Pielke Jr. calls the linear model of science and decision making is a better description of the core problem.

        Scientists pretending to be expert at subjects they are not expert at–and others believing them–is only a part or a symptom of that. It’s not the scientists’ fault, it’s a misguided belief system.

      • Peter Wilson,

        You’re making a caricature of my position and then proceed to attack the strawman.

        I don’t share your alarmist view of that curbing CO2 emissions would amount to “giving up many of the gains of the modern civilisation” and indeed, I don’t need much economic expertise to see that such an opinion is merely a belief rather than a clearly deducable fact.

        Perhaps I take the ethical responsibilities of a scientist more seriously than you. Scientists who discover a new very deadly weapon or a new drug have a responsibility to at least warn society of the dangers/side effects. Then society can chose its course of action based on those risks.

        I am not saying that scientists should have the primary voice in deciding that we should change our course of action. But they do have the needed expertise to warn society of the physical dangers/side effects of certain courses of action.

        I expanded more on this issue here:

    • I think when hansen clamors for 350, the chinese are probably thinking that he is off by 100. that would explain why they respond er bia wu.

  55. On the subject of credibility of climate science, and the efforts to create doubt on the work of climate scientists, here is the rebuttal to the Monckton testimony a few months back at the (US) Congress,

    (there is an attached PDF file at the above link)

    • Janet-

      I do not think you have read this thread, Mockton, Anthony Watts, and many others are not scientists, and my comments on this thread are not about them. Some comments made by these individuals and Anthony Watts ability to find issues with “real scientists” data is laudable, no matter what side he is one:

      That said, my comments and most others on this thread, are about peer reviewed, nationally funded scientists at major universities and our national labs. To confound comments about the issues with the destruction of data, which our tax dollars spent literally millions of dollars collecting, or to act as if peer review is really a truly excellent system that does not require significant changes for the credibility of science to be restored across the board (lets not even discuss big pharma funded “peer-reviewed” health studies…) means that either you do not get it, or you are simply trolling….

  56. One thing that disturbs me is when it is claimed, as in the Royal Society missive, that the physics is well-understood, or that climate science is a mature field, etc. A climate model is NOT basic radiative physics. There are approximations that are needed because no computer on earth can now or ever do the pure physics. And these approximations (to fluid dynamics, to how albedo of a complex surface is averaged, to column radiative processes, to cloud distributions and effects) can not be tested by looking at the output of the model. There are not experiments one can do on a globe, so “testing” such a model is problematic. There are fewer degrees of freedom in the output than in the many parameters that went into the approximations used to make the model–it is overdetermined. In fact the different models do not agree on how to make these approximations/parameterizations or even on the input data such as the amount and history of aerosol forcing. If they do not agree, then it is not “physics” it is “modeling” (which, by the way, is my field), and modeling is never a priori correct. Pure physics only works for clean, isolated, homogenous systems. When systems are heterogenous (and fluids on top of that) then it gets complicated, which is why we still can’t predict earthquakes. If you break it down, the models do not produce the same outputs for polar ice, the jet stream paths, strengths of el Ninos, N atlantic westerlies, monsoons, local droughts, frequency distributions of rainfall, absolute totals of rainfall, or even global mean temperature. Check Lucia’s site for some examples. Thus lumping it all as “climate science” and claiming it is good and shouldn’t be “attacked” is disengenuous–there is plenty to criticize just like in any science. The big defensiveness is because people want to use “the science” to justify political action.

    • “There are fewer degrees of freedom in the output than in the many parameters that went into the approximations used to make the model–it is overdetermined.”

      This is, I believe, very wrong.

      The output of a fully three-dimensional dynamical climate simulation model has, in this sense, literally billions of degrees of freedom. The input has some dozens, perhaps on the order of a hundred; these are somewhat but not perfectly constrained by physical and observational constraints. Yet it rains where it is supposed to, when it is supposed to, and most paleoclimates are successfully replicated. It is exactly the success of models in this regard that makes them interesting.

      • As always in a short post, I left something out. The degrees of freedom in the output was in reference to the key variable of global mean temperature, which is used for calibration of the models and to demonstrate their validity. When you say “it rains where it is supposed to when it is supposed to…that makes them interesting” I would agree that they are successful enough to make them interesting, but they are not engineering grade and their detailed outputs do not match one another or the real world at a detailed scale. There is nothing “settled” about these models in the sense that they give accurate predictions of anything if you look closely-as I mention in the rest of the post above.

      • Craig and Michael, your discussion provides a good lead in for a post i will do either next week or the following week on “What can we learn from climate models?”

      • Judith Says: Craig and Michael, your discussion provides a good lead in for a post I will do either next week or the following week on “What can we learn from climate models?”

        Should be a short post. Brings me to mind of a certain Hegel quote.

    • “Climate is not simple physics” – I could not agree more. No matter whether you believe the Maunder Minimum is causative of the Little Ice Age are , or they are simply coincident, one cannot talk with a straight face about either without a much deeper knowledge than simple physics…the science is not settled…

      For it:

      Against it:

      And recent studies showing how little we really know about the major driver of heat on earth, the sun. Interesting reads:

      NSF literally pulled their article about how bad their sunspot prediction was for this cycle, but ScienceDaily has it!

      And then there is this completely wacky, peer-reviewed article that if true, shows we know nothin’ about solar output:

  57. Judith,

    Your last question (how to restore credibility to climate science) seems almost unanswerable. But my sequential thoughts go like this.

    (1) Do we have a clear sense of what ‘climate science’ is? It is only just becoming a university subject, and most of those involved in it appear to me to have degrees in something else. Many of the jousts in the blogosphere are about who has status in the domain. To me it looks like a giant quarry in which people with differing skills and tools and experience mine away, producing nuggets which other miners dismiss as fools gold. Does climate science have core journals? Does it have a founding parent? (There have been suggestions above.) Does it have a career path, great places you have to go to, a common core of understood theories and praxis? I would tend to say ‘No’ to all these questions, but I’d accept contrary opinions if they are backed with good evidence.

    (2) We’ve got to do something about ‘peer review’, which has been an occupation of mine for 30 years. It’s the best mechanism we have, but it can be shoddy, as I learned a long time ago. The CRU emails pushed me into arguing that there should be a mandatory ‘double blind’ reviewing mechanism in journals, but I know that such a device works best in experimental work, and there’s very little of that in climate science. Likewise, the mandatory availability of data and code, again something not followed.

    (3) As already said above, we need to separate the science from the advocacy, but that too is arguing for the ideal.

    (4) We need respect for each other. The stakes could be high, and they could be low, but we should recognise that nearly all the people we are talking with believe that they are honest and are arguing from what they see as good premises and good evidence. Labels and categorisation and denunciation are anathema to me.

    (5) Almost finally (and I hope not too controversially), while there are still people who say that there is no time left, or we have one year, or six months, or six minutes to do whatever they think we have to do, time alone will show whether or not some hypotheses have much to them. We need to be able to wait, and not be too impatient. In any case, we will have to wait.

    (6) I would agree with those above who want evidence, always evidence (data), to back up whatever is being put forward. For example, I don’t have much doubt that the earth has been warming, in an irregular way, for the last 150 years, and I accept that all the measures seem to show this, more or less. But the data on which this supposition is based really worry me, and the ‘fact’ of warming does not mean that humans are responsible for it.

    (7) What seems to me to have happened is that a part of ‘science’ has got caught up in politics, religion and the human search for meaning in life. Biology has endured this in the past, as has physics. At the moment the sufferer is ‘climate science’. The quicker it gets out of this bind, the better for everyone — especially for the great human endeavour called ‘science’.

    • To Don Aitken :
      Excellent comment, I agree wholeheartedly with all your comments. You have highlighted all of the componants necessary to restore credability to climate science. I think comments such as yours are an eye-opener to many of the so called alarmists who are pushing an agenda , and there is no doubt in my mind that you are not a paid shill from an oil company, or a lobbyist…you are an individual with an education and can actually see the wool which has been slowly pulled over the eyes of us ” regular folks” , or proles …they almost had it , but THANKS to the whistleblower who released the emails, the proles have been awakened, and we can finally pull back the wool .
      Thanks .

  58. curryja said

    “September 22, 2010 at 8:24 am
    Craig and Michael, your discussion provides a good lead in for a post i will do either next week or the following week on “What can we learn from climate models?”

    Can I be the first to complain in advance about the obvious bias shown to both sides in your forthcoming article :)


  59. Dear Dr. Curry:

    First, I thank you for this blog.

    You are a relatively young scientist, and legitimately concerned whether scientists can “rebuild the public trust in climate science”.

    You are right to worry that graduate students will not want to become part of the corrupt system of science. That is, in my opinion, why interest in sciences is declining.

    As an older, emeritus professor – a former NASA PI for Apollo – I assure you that the problem is much, much bigger and extends far beyond the field of climatology.

    The e-mails, the “Climategate” scandal, and the “investigations” that tried to whitewash unprofessional conduct simply exposed the widespread, unholy international alliance of politicians and other world leaders that are misusing science as tool of propaganda.

    Some of the problems are identified in the paper I published last year, “Earth’s heat source – the Sun”

    Others are identified in this paper under review, “Neutron repulsion”

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel
    Former NASA Principal
    Investigator for Apollo

    • Thanks Oliver. I tried the link for “Neutron repulsion” and it didn’t work. I am collecting papers for a future post on the sun.

      • Thanks, Judith.

        If the link still doesn’t work, try copying and pasting it, or send an e-mail to and I’ll send you a pdf file.

        For your future post on the Sun, may I recommend the following?

        1. “Attraction and repulsion of nucleons: Sources of stellar energy”, J. Fusion Energy 19, 93-98 (2001).

        2. “Composition of the solar interior: Information from isotope ratios”, Proceedings 2002 SOHO/GONG Conference on Helioseismology, European Space Agency SP-517 (editor: Huguette Lacoste, 2003) pp. 345-348

        3. “The Sun is a plasma diffuser that sorts atoms by mass”, Physics of Atomic Nuclei 69, 1847-1856 (2006); Yadernaya Fizika 69, number 11, (Nov 2006).

        Thanks to the Climategate scandal, the public is aware of the experimental data in these papers and will no longer go along with the obsolete model of a Hydrogen-filled Sun.


      • fizzy water solution

        Dr. Curry: Please examine Dr. Manuel’s papers and let us know what you think of them.

      • Dr. Manuel,

        I made a cursory read of your paper and I was fascinated at its implications not only upon our climate but also on a broader scope. I look forward to rereading it over the weekend when I can digest it more completely.

        If you don’t mind my asking a novice question… I’m trying to make a connection between the forces and processes that led to the asymmetric collapse of the precursor star and relate that to the current Sun. In your Conclusions you state that measurements suggest the precursor star operated as a plasma diffuser much like the current Sun following presumably the same sequence of the four processes (neutron emission, neutron decay, migration of H+ and fusion, and escape of excess H+). Following you address the balance of gravitational attraction and neutron repulsion. Now, in your Introduction, it is seems that conservation of angular momentum ultimately overrode the balance of gravity and repulsion (my assumption here), triggering the asymmetric collapse. Do the current Sun’s rotational forces and processes then lend to a repeat of an eventual chemical layering, upset of the balance of gravitational attraction and neutron repulsion, ultimately leading to another collapse or do the Sun’s smaller scale of forces and processes dictate a different demise this time around?

      • I am trying to reply to Hank (below):

        Thanks for your comments.

        Please read the paper on “Neutron Repulsion” this weekend and contact me directly at

        There is still a great deal that we do not understand, after 50 years (1960-2010) of careful measurements with instruments like this:

        This research profile may lead you to related papers.

        With kind regards,

      • This research profile may lead you to related papers.

      • Thank you Dr. Manuel. Your manuscript titled “Attraction and Repulsion of Nucleons: Sources of Stellar Energy” (2001) pp 7. answered my question. The processes may be different (attractive force between unlike nucleons in first generation vs. repulsive forces between like nucleons in the second).

        Kind regards,


      • If you’re collecting papers on this topic, you might also want to solicit a viewpoint from Michael Ashley, as he has commented publicly on this work in passing when criticising Ian Plimer:

  60. I think something that would help the credibility of climate science is to 1) take criticism seriously and 2) not viciously attack any one who disagrees with you. If a statistician takes issue with some statistics done by climate scientists, he is legally allowed to make this criticism, and he might even be right. If there are things that are funky in the climate models, admit it. If you arbitrarily chose some sites and not others for your tree ring data, anyone can see that this might be problematic and they need not be a dendro person. The venom and spit that come out of the mouths of prominent climate scientists when they are disagreed with is hardly seemly. You won’t catch Spencer or Christy or Tim Ball or most other critics saying such things. When the public hears a critic say “the UHI seems like a problem that is not corrected for” and the climate scientist starts screaming about oil-funded conspiracies, it is easy to see who is coming unglued, and it isn’t the critic. I debated Michael Schlesinger (a big-cheese climate modeler) at a small college and he insulted me, was nasty, would not shake hands, called me names, interrupted the moderator, went over his time, and would not even respond to the points I made. He referred to his “Nobel Prize” to impress the audience (and to shut me up), though hopefully he understood it was the “Peace Prize” and not a science prize! It was quite unpleasant. Afterwards, the poll of students showed a strong dislike for him and that I sort-of won the debate.

    • Craig, I agree with you absolutely here. Unfortunately, I am regarded as some sort of climate science freak for engaging with critics/skeptics of climate science and trying to see what can be learned from them.

      • I’ll support Judith’s claim here. As a skeptic (of a sort) myself I find Dr. Curry quite respectful, and have never gotten the sense that she merely dismisses or ridicules opposing viewpoints.

        I confess to being a little bewildered (*) that she can remain as firmly as she does in the AGW/alarmist camp given that she doesn’t wear the blinders so common there. But she’s one to whom I’ll listen — agree or disagree. Respect and collegiality demands respect and collegiality in return.

        (*) “Bewildered”, I mean, considering such things as the known pattern of holocene climate Optima and how the current warming fits into it nicely; that records of these warm periods consistently show civilizations prospering, while cold periods are marked by disease, disaster and warfare; the rather obvious fact that CO2 , on balance, is beneficial to the environment (as in the biosphere) in any of the ranges we are likely to see in the most dramatic century-scale projections (as demonstrated by literally thousands of studies on plant response to extreme CO2 enrichment); that the oceans have risen at approximately the same rate over the last 8000 years with minor fluctuations and displaying no statistically significant “AGW signal”. One needn’t be a scholar to parse the weight of these facts upon the “Climate Debate”, but scholars like Curry cannot simply claim ignorance or dismiss them as trivialities.

      • The repeated issue Judith is that this scepticism and doubt on the work of the scientists is manufactured.

        There are business outfits (in the US) that can help you pass your message, whether it is that tobacco is not that bad or climate change is not happening.

        Let’s see what they say about tobacco:

        There are many reasons to be skeptical about what professional anti-smoking advocates say. They personally profit by exaggerating the health threats of smoking and winning passage of higher taxes and bans on smoking in public places. The anti-smoking movement is hardly a grassroots phenomenon: It is largely funded by taxpayers and a few major foundations with left-liberal agendas.

        Heartland Institute, in the same page, also attacks science:

        How harmful is smoking to smokers? Public health advocates who claim one out of every three, or even one out of every two, smokers will die from a smoking-related illness are grossly exaggerating the real threat. The actual odds of a smoker dying from smoking before the age of 75 are about 1 in 12. In other words, 11 out of 12 life-long smokers don’t die before the age of 75 from a smoking-related disease.

        Here they are pulling some statistics out of the ether, and even claim that 1 in 12 to die is not that bad.

        What does Heartland say about climate change?

        Click there to read about ‘leftists’, ‘evangelicals who look silly’. Or gems like ‘Why do Alarmists and Realists disagree?’

        The whole ‘scepticism’ is a manufactured debate.

      • This is Heartland Institute latest,

        Organizing a conference in Australia to spread doubt and misinformation and attack science.

      • Would it be too unscientific to wait and see what comes out of the conference before we judge the product? Who knows, might be some real wheat in the chaff, might even be pure gold. What do you think, Janet?

      • First of all, what ‘Heartland’ organizes is not at all close to an academic conference where you expect something new to come out.
        This one is a publicity event, and the people presenting are ‘advocates’ of a specific line.

        For Heartland, this PR stunt is not dissimilar from the tobacco work they are doing for the tobacco industry.

        In both cases, the message that Heartland wants to pass is not to trust scientists because they science says their message is wrong.

      • That settles it! We should judge the conference’s product before we’ve even seen it. Great post, Janet.

      • You can judge a Heartland event by what they did during previous events.

        2010 ICCC event by Heartland Institute

        Heartland Institute invites people such as Christopher Monckton, who is a shame to science. His gross misrepresentations of climate science are criminal.

      • Criminal?! Let’s lock ’em up and throw away the key!

        In this grim, censorious PC world, you’re a ray of pure light, Janet. Keep up your vigilance. Wish there were more like you.

      • ‘grim censorious PC world’?

        Monckton lied to Congress! He uttered lies and misinformed our elected officials. The best expert that the republican party could bring was Monckton? He is a joke in Britain. Read this interview of Monckton from 2007 by the Observer (UK).

      • And that is why we should judge whatever might come out of the conference before we even see it. I get it, Janet.

      • Mike,

        There’s an Answers in Genesis conference coming up in a couple of days. All their previous ones have been anti-scientific garbage, but lets hold out hope that the next one is Nobel-worthy.

      • Wow, amazing. The website is one of a kind. It is not an elaborate hoax!

        What does it say about climate change? A scientific and biblical exposé of climate change with hidden facts revealed. Talks about the myths of global warming and all.

        Can I say case closed?

      • Yes, Janet, you can say, “Case Closed.”

      • In other news, we have completely missed the coming plague caused by this horrendous composition:

        Where are the NGO’s on this one?

      • Dave,

        The simple point is that one judges the product of credentialed and accomplished scientists on the basis of a reasoned scrutiny of their work, if one has intellectual honesty. An intellectually dishonest person tries to discredit the work of others, sight on seen, by attacking their person, associations, by means of invidious comparisons and the like. The sort of contemptible cheap shots indulged in by you and Janet. My recommendation, read the papers from the conference and then fire away. Until then, reserve judgment. And yes, comparing accomplished scholars to a “Answers from Genesis” group is an invidious comparison. Contemptible–not quite, beneath contempt.

        Having said all that Dave I’m tiring of this little game of yours. You got the field to yourself.

    • Dave, thanks for the heads’ up on these Heartland guys. I mean I had no idea they were down there with the “Answers in Genesis” crowd. You know, three of the speakers claim to hold PhD’s–one claims to be a climate scientist (de Freitas), one claims his Doctorate from Standford (I went to Berkeley–believe me I’m not impressed with a Stanford degree) along with six other degrees (Evans), and one (Carter) is the head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University. Obviously, this bunch of flat-earthers, know-nothings, and tools of the Koch brothers have no chance to adding anything but garbage to climate science.

      I’m just glad that I took Janet’s advice and chose to judge anything that might come out of this conference before I’ve even seen it. Your linkage to the “Answers in Genesis” conference clinches it (not that I ever doubted Janet).

      Thanks guys.

      • Janet, Mike et al: “Judge Heartland by [religious associations, people’s academic qualifications, titles of other meetings sponsored..]”, “Case closed”; “That’s all I need to know about Heartland”, etc. … Actually I think Mike is being facetious here ;-)

        …tells me all I need to know about Janet (and Mike?) et al. Prejudice, arrogance, guilt by association. Anything but actually dealing with substance.

        How about reporting on the actual content of the climate conference in question and assessing the value of points raised? I am not in the habit of dismissing someone’s arguments because of their associations, their past actions, or their academic credentials. If they are right or wrong it is on the basis of the substance of what they’re saying. This ad hominem and prejudics just makes you look silly.

        Mike, as I indicate I think your comments are tongue-in-cheek; very clever, but I’d recommend you flag irony a little more clearly…

      • Thanks Dr. Craigen for the good advice–I’ll try to make my irony a little more apparent next time.

      • Sorry for hitting on you for that Mike, I did think it was very clever, and it’s too bad to have to compromise good deadpan humor. I guess I’m a bit thicker than average, it took me a while to catch on. But I’ve learned the hard way myself, one should be careful in using irony in text form.

      • Again, Dr. Craigen I thank you warmly for you wise counsel. However, the comments on Dr. Evan’s Stanford Degree still stand.

      • Thanks, Dr. Craigen, for help with the communications here.

      • I think I’ve neglected Dr. Craigen’s good advice. With respect to Dr. Evan’s degree from Stanford–just kidding! Go, Bears!

      • Mike,

        Thanks for once again demonstrating your unwavering ability to miss the point.

        Thanks also for a textbook content-free passive-aggressive reply.


      • Geez, Dave, that was something of a provocative comment there, guy. I guess you’re a little sore about that “Answers from Genisis” shot not going over so well. Your little pseudo-religion is taking on water, and you’re suffering, aren’t you pal–and I understand. But it always a pleasure to see your two-bit psychology powers in full display. You and Janet are a heck of a team.

      • Mike,

        See my previous reply to you. (Passive aggressive) + (missing the point) – content.

      • You know, Dave, this is beginning to get to be a tit-for-tat. The content you’re looking for is contained in Dr. Craigen’s post of 23 September 5:30 p. m. I’m trying to be gentle with you and Janet. Dr. Craigen is more to the point. Give me a break!

      • It’s easier to see the filth that I cannot change, but . . .

        May I suggest that we each sweep our own side of the street?

      • Mike,

        So you admit you provide no content and that I have to go elsewhere to find it?

        R. Craigen makes the same mistake you do, although to be fair he seems to have done it based solely on a reading of your comment. Please point to the part where I claimed a direct comparison between AiG and Heartland or any religious association. The point made was one about the foolishness of treating each conference as a clean slate when every single past experience is negative. There is having an open mind, and there is being naive.

        You’ve been linked to a discussion about the presentations. The discussion covers the speakers and the subjects, with links to past criticisms of those speakers, often on the very same topic that they are speaking on once again. The content is discussed every conference, and every conference it is pretty uniformly bad. IIRC, Dr Curry went through the last one looking for things that were potentially not total garbage. Eli and others had a look at those points and quite a few fell down after more scrutiny:

        Pretending that the content is not being discussed so you can pretend that attacks are purely Ad Hominem is pretty weak.

        This conference is if anything substantially weaker than the last. That you respond with De Freitas’, Evans’ and Carter’s credentials rather than addressing the content yourself is just obfuscation bordering on argument from authority. These people have been shown to be wrong in detail numerous times, and yet they are being given a platform to repeat the same line once again.

        Notice also that those three people whose credentials you wave around are not talking about *science* at this conference. They are talking about *policy*, making the whole thing doubly irrelevant – people who time and again stick to a scientifically unsupported line talking about policy from that basis rather than presenting new science that actually supports their position.

      • Dave, my response was mis-posted and is in with the threat between Janet and myself. It’s a 7′:53 posting. Don’t know how to change the location so please see above.

      • Sorry about the typo in the last post–should be “thread” not “threat”.

    • I think it’s a matter of perspective: I feel fairly certain Michael Mann and ,a href=”>Phil Jones could tell you a great many stories about “venom and spit.”

      When it’s coming at you, I’m sure it feels very jarring. My own perspective is that there’s a fairly even distribution of screamers and cool heads on both sides. While it’s true that Dr. Curry is generally well-received on the skeptic side, when she says things with which they disagree she is treated in a manner that is, shall we say, less than “seemly.”

      • Dratted SHIFT key. Dr. Curry, if you have a moment and could edit the mangled tag on my 4:07 pm, I’d be much obliged.

      • PDA, as a skeptic who participated in some of these exchanges with Dr. Curry on WUWT, I have three things to say about the unseemly behavior to which you refer.

        First, it is a minority voice. I have first-hand experience attempting to present dissenting views at sites like Real Climate and InItForTheGold. “Dogpile” would be an appropriate description of the result, or maybe “feeding frenzy”. Dr Curry received some snark, this is true, but nothing that compares to the default welcome for dissent at alarmist blogs. You cannot run a site like WUWT, one of the 2 or 3 most popular science blogs on the internet without expecting a few rotten eggs in the basket. Similarly for the other “skeptic” site I visit (as does Dr. Curry), Climate Audit.

        Second, this behavior is not propagated by the site admins, and is frowned upon, and castigated, by them and most regulars. In contrast at RC and IIFTG the site admins are the biggest offenders, and many regulars are evidently there just to watch or participate in the daily stonings of heretics.

        Third, the tone of criticism coming at the likes of Dr. Curry is not in the same league as that at the alarmist blogs. Ad hominem, in particular, is not regarded highly. Abuse of dissenters and any other uncivil language or behavior that goes above a certain threshold is snipped. At the alarmist blogs it is the dissenters who are not merely snipped, but banned outright.

  61. Janet – yes, there are people out here who don’t share your views, but compared with Fenton (google them) they’re small potatoes. Get over it.

  62. Re Dr. Curry’s statement: “The subsequent defenses of the science and scientists, the slow response of most of the institutions, discovery of errors in the IPCC reports, and broader concerns of bias and conflict of interest in the IPCC have damaged the reputation of the IPCC and climate science as a whole.”

    This is true, but the impacts are not limited to climate science. When scientists in one discipline give the public the impression that they may be as intellectually corrupt as politicians, the whole of science is at risk of public doubt. I care very little about the reputations of unethical climate scientists, or even climate science as a discipline, as compared to the public perception of science, the scientific method, and the peer review system. The Royal Society and other scientific and political bodies need to take this into account in conducting inquiries. There are already enough Luddites out there, we don’t need more. Sunshine, not whitewash, is the better antiseptic.

  63. R Craigen,

    It sounds to me like you turn a blind eye on some of the things that are found on WUWT and CA, including by their propietors:

    Watts recently elevated to a headline post a comment that was extremely offensive.

    And what to think of a McIntyre post entitled “try not no puke” with a picture of Mann.

    Try to apply your “critical” look in all directions, please.

    • Bart, You characterize actions of McIntyre and Watt in a way that sounds nasty. Though I visit both sites I don’t recognize the specifics of either one.

      As the only thing Watt elevated to the top of his site in my recent memory was his appeal for donations to the start-up ranchers being “bullied” off their land — a campaign I suspect is ill-conceived because I don’t think both sides of the story have been adequately heard, but as far as I perceive it is at worst misguided, but not in any way “offensive”. I’m afraid you’ll have to be more specific.

      I will check out McIntyre’s “puke” comment and return to let you know what I think.

    • Ah. Okay I found the “puke” comment on Climate Audit. Bit of a trick, that — you’re going back over 2 years. You had to sort through a lot of McIntyre’s writing to find that one.

      For one thing there is no “picture of Mann” on that page, only a link to a BBC segment over on YouTube, presumably one on which Mann appears. The reader is exhorted not to regurgitate at what they see — clearly meaning not Mann himself, but shoddy analysis and some real groaners in the interview. This is not ad hominem, it is fair comment. I hope you understand the difference.

      Even so, some of McIntyre’s regulars were uncomfortable with the word and he engages them in dialogue about it. I think this in itself illustrates the tone of the site. Anyone interested in this can go to the page and simple text-search “puke” for a complete run-down of the conversation. Parts of one subthread:

      DaveR: Steve, your excuses just don’t wash. Read your “Try not to puke” comment and calmly ask yourself how it will be perceived. To me your thread just looks like you’re trying to wind up your echo chamber for a bit of Mann hating.

      [“Dave” doesn’t suspect Steve of propagating hatred — he is concerned about how Steve’s comment might be perceived by the likes of … uh, Bart]

      Steve: People have been talking about the BBC commentary for a few days and this was the first Youtube availability. I thought that the BBC commentary on the Hockey Stick was completely uninformed and deserved criticism on many counts….What is newsworthy in the BBC program (and what should make people puke, including AGWers) is the extremely low level of analysis in the program. It’s not like Mann and I are pals, but I assure you that I don’t “hate” him.

      I can’t stop you from imagining things about what I “feel”, but I can assure you that I simply do not bother “hating” someone. It’s a distraction and doesn’t do any good. You’re probably younger than I am and may not understand this, but I’ve disciplined myself over the years not to indulge in “hating” or “dislike”.

      DaveR: Steve, I neither know nor care how you “feel”. However, I do worry that you undermine the useful things you have to say by comments and threads such as “Try not to puke”, “Is Gavin Schmidt honest?” and “those nasty little men at realclimate” etc. They make you look immature and crankish.

      Steve: It’s nice that you worry so much about maximizing the impact of this blog.

      Schmidt and Mann have made defamatory and slanderous comments about me. But try to find a single slanderous comment by me about these guys – you won’t be able to.

      Nice try at cherry-picking, Bart, but you fail to convince me that McIntyre is cut from the same cloth as Tobis or Scmidt. Not even close.

  64. Is anyone refuting the assessments into the inquiries – by Montford and McKitrick?

  65. Bart Verhaggen –

    As you know, there’s been long-standing animosity between McIntyre and Mann. They must have recently “buried the hatchet” though since they’ve apparently given up the hockeystick debate and opened a carpet company together in Kansas:

    Why carpet? Why Kansas?

  66. A bit more scientific fraud, I expect it happens daily…see my link above.

    • Fredfriendly (may I call you FF?). I appreciate most of your postings here. As a mathematician I’m not entirely in tune with your recasting of the scientific process but we have our own analogues of what you describe, so I “get it”.

      However, I think with this link you’re jumping a bit fast to the conclusion of scientific fraud. Nothing in this story, except for the tidbit that there is an ongoing investigation of the previous retraction, suggests that there is any fraud going on. Looks to me like an overenthusiastic or incompetent graduate student and a supervisor who believed over-generously in the student’s ability. Errors were made, papers were submitted. Errors were eventually discovered and the papers withdrawn.

      The withdrawal of the papers speaks to integrity, not fraud. The rest is for the ongoing investigation to sort out. I have withdrawn papers for several reasons. Once I discovered that the proof of the main result was wrong. Not fraudulent, mistaken. It happens. In fact for that particular result (a certain famous conjecture) it is common. I was lucky enough to withdraw before my paper became part of the growing list of incorrect “proofs” of that “result” (which remains an unproven conjecture). Another paper I withdrew after putting 2 years work into it when I discovered that another group in a different field of Math had solved the same problem years before but under a completely different name. At the time I was the only one who realized the connection, and could have “gotten away with” leaving it to publish, but for me it was a matter of integrity to withdraw.

      It is possible (but by no means a clear conclusion) to infer from this article that the student may have done some hanky-panky. But there is nothing in it to suggest any kind of indictment of Dr. Buck.

  67. The IAC Report listed 20 excellent and essential recommendations for use in producing AR5.
    If the recommendations were made to fix known problems in AR4,
    then the reasoning at derives the 20 related AR4 problems and groups them into the 7 major AR4 problem areas below:

    AR4 was poorly managed.
    AR4 panelists were poorly selected.
    AR4 disregarded alternative views.
    AR4 handled uncertainty poorly.
    AR4 Lead Authors disregarded critical review.
    AR4 used unpublished and non-peer-reviewed literature inappropriately.
    AR4 Summary for Policy Makers was tainted by political interference.

    These seem to destroy the credibility of AR4 and might halt some of the actions based upon AR4.
    Instead of directly listing the problems of AR4, the IAC Report states “the IPCC assessment process has been successful overall and has served society well”.

    The IAC report is deliberately not the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
    This is an example of what is wrong with Climate Science.
    How can there be any trust when actions like this occur?
    How many more active skeptics has this created?

  68. When I see the letters PHD I assume that a considerable effort will be made to eliminate fundamental, silly, foolish, easily avoidable errors when this person performs research and then publishes the results. What I do not expect when I see the letters PHD is perfect or anything near to it. The world of the PHD is a dog eat dog world, that is, you are beholding to your paymaster. The problems with science today stem from that inescapable fact. Hear is another fact, if you cannot communicate your thoughts to the average college educated person clearly then you need further education!

  69. I have no idea if you are still soliciting on this issue.

    If you are, here is my two-cents worth:

    The major thing about global warming that got me turned off to it is that the evidence didn’t meet any level of honesty that I thought science should have. I had no opinion one way or another, until out of curiosity I thought one day it occurred to me to see what was behind it. The more I read of mainstream media articles, the more baffled I was the people would accept such weak evidence.

    In science, I always thought that until a group of researchers had something solid, they either a:) Kept their mouths shut, or b:) mentioned what they were doing, but with strong caveats about uncertainty, lest they end up making fools of themselves down the road.

    So, basically, I would advise that we all just roll back the calendar to 1988 and tell Jim Hansen to not jump the gun – to go to the people who disagreed with his assessment and come to some agreement on what studies were needed and how to conduct honest research and communicate the new information dispassionately.

    The pro- side pontificates unendingly as if there was no contrary evidence, while the anti- side (which only exists because of the excesses of the pro- side, BTW) keeps pointing out what the pro- side conveniently seems to not be aware of. Science with blinders is not science. If one side wants to pretend that inconvenient facts don’t exist, what can they possibly expect, other than to end up with manure all over their faces some day.

    “Some day” came in November last year. Until then, the pro- side had the field to itself. Their own behavior kept making the anti- side more insistent that there was something crooked in Denmark. Ironically, it was while the pro- side pow-wowed in Denmark that evidence turned up that something crooked, indeed, might be going on.

    I’ve drawn an occasional parallel between Climategate and Watergate and Nixon’s behavior. The recent panels had few precedents in history, much less scientific history. Whitewashing a scandal is simply not the way to get past it and go on with life. Ask the ghost of Nixon about that.

    I believe what you are asking is going to be taken differently by the two sides. The pro- side wants to get back to last October, when they had the field all to themselves. I could be wrong on that, but what else could be the reason for such weak, WEAK review panels? So obviously NOT intent on getting at facts. So obviously attempting to wiping the egg off their faces, yet missing the point altogether – that their side had been overstating its case, for a very long time. They want to go back to a time when everyone accepted what they announced, without question, because THEY were the authorities on the subject. But now, caught screwing the pooch, they don’t get that free pass anymore.

    The anti- side wants all the cards on the table. They doubt global warming as much because they can see through the veil of obfuscation and self-declared authority as for any factual reason – but factual evidence they’ve got, in spades, that argue the entire point of global warming. And that entire point MEANS entire: Almost every position taken by the pro- side is debatable. Even the ONE point conceded most often by the anti- side – that the global average temperature has gone up by 0.7°C since 1900 – is acceded to even as they laugh about it having been in the middle of a low point on the curve, so of COURSE it is going to make the increase look large.

    If there is a way for the science to go forward, do you really think the issue is HOW it is communicated? Is THAT the issue? Or is the issue that the science is very new, and therefore it is really only in the nascent stage of data collection – prior to the period when solid conclusions can be drawn? Isn’t the real issue that they shouldn’t BE drawing conclusions yet? With little over 100 years of semi-accurate accurate instrument readings, how can long term history and prognostications be known or asserted? It is bad enough that we read instrument temperatures in full degrees (with +/- 0.5° accuracy), but that the global average is asserted to +/- 0.1 degrees. But then we blend that in with proxies which are both sporadic in time and space, and which are clearly affected by other things than simple temperature – so their precision is one or two magnitudes worse.

    With such imprecision added to so many other uncertainties, I am just flummoxed that anyone can assert – communicate to the public – anything at all with a straight face.

    From so-so accepter of the pro- side, I’ve gone to the point of believing it is all a case of Chicken Little mixed with The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Now with apparently millions of people around the world seeing at least a little of that, is simple communicating going to be enough? Does someone – ANYONE – on the pro- side believe that it is only a matter of everyone getting back on the same page? The toothpaste is out of the tube, and they are scratching their heads, wondering how to put it back in.

    Their day in the Sun has past. They shot themselves in the foot – care of whoever the latest Deep Throat is. If the CRU folks hadn’t been so arrogant, they might have carried it off indefinitely. But (IMHO) someone on the inside decided the flim-flam had gone on too long and took a shot at outing them all. Maybe it is time to bring in another fairy tale story: Humpty Dumpty. Perhaps someone gave Humpty a push.

    A lot of scientific effort has gone down the drain. A lot more might. But the one thing they have to base their future on is solid science, not how to get the public back on their side.

    Look at it this way: The way is being cleared for that solid science to get a foot in the door – where it should have been all along.

    But based on the weak oversight panels, it will be a while before that happens.

  70. Am I the only person to have read the IAC report?
    Does no one else see that the 20 essential recommendations must have been based on problems in AR4?
    Why are we discussing esoteric issues when the IAC report seems to totally discredit AR4? What is wrong with my reasoning?

  71. Steven Sullivan

    Maybe because the IAC report also praised the AR4?

    This is my first time checking out Dr. Curry’s blog, having followed her journey across the internet climate battlefield. While the articles are interesting enough, albeit with the now-predictable ‘maverickyness’, the discussions on the whole appear to be little more than another nest of self-appointed-‘skeptics’ flaunting the Dunning-Kruger Effect, with precious little input from actual working scientists from fields related to climatology. Which , IMO is what is really needed in such discussions. In my own field, when I’m hoping to learn more about the state of evolutionary biology today, the comments of e.g., ‘skeptical’ software engineers aren’t authoritative.

    I do follow what climate literature appears in the ‘big two’ journals — Nature and Science — but haven’t the time now to keep track of the more specialized journals. Getting a sense of the field’s hot debate topics, through scientists’ comments and articles on blogs like this, would be ideal.

    Judith, do you plan to aggressively solicit comments (and articles) from your professional colleagues, or will it all be the same old angry noise from those whose minds are already inoculated against climate science and full of dark melodramatic musings on the corruption of it all?

    • Steven, I have commitments so far from 5 scientists that are publishing papers on the physical aspects of climate; I hope that more will be persuaded to lead threads. You may not recognize their names, but a number of card carrying climate scientists have posted comments here. Personally, I find the perspectives from software engineers, experts in nonlinear science, mechanical engineers, etc. to be quite valuable. With the three different types of threads, I am trying to keep the “melodramatic musings” to the posts on Friday (open threads) and some of the Wed threads (more on the Etc. topics), with Monday’s posts being technical. So there will be a mix, with one thread per week being technical.

      Note, the thread you commented on was designed for people to focus their angst on this topic onto a single thread. The strategy has sort of worked, much less of this is apparent on the recent threads.

    • p.s. the “maverick” label is interesting

    • Alexander Harvey

      Hi Stephen,

      May I say that, given the variety of blogs available to critcise, your choice of comment here seems a little mean.

      Raising the “Dunning-Kruger Effect” when many of the posts and much of the comment deals with uncertainty could be seen as prejudical or even paradoxical. Perhaps you think we (I mean I) are too certain in our expressions of uncertainty.

      I think I might like to claim credit for self-appointed-skepticism but alas I am not the author but just the subject of scepticism. Perhaps that might be better viewed as my scepticism engendered out of an apparent overbearing certainty and palpable intolerance expressed on another blog, and elsewhere, which maybe you would view as more authoritative due to a larger number of regular contributors with climate science backgrounds. If you have the same blog in mind as I do, then think of me as not so much as a sceptic of the underlying science, but as a refugee, branded heretic, and censored commentator.

      I do hope that Judith does not “aggressively solicit comments” from colleagues, at least allow that the grace of the norms and practices of human rights and conventions against extraction of evidence be allowed.

      Best Wishes


    • Steven, as one who probably would fall into this category in your mind, I object to being characterized as making that same old angry noise from those whose minds are already inoculated against climate science and full of dark melodramatic musings on the corruption of it all? and wonder what you might mean by with precious little input from actual working scientists from fields related to climatology.

      I happen to have a PhD in mathematics and am active in professional research in this field. No, I do not consider myself a “climate scientist”, but I assure you that many people who are genuine “climate scientists” are so with no specific academic qualification beyond a PhD in mathematics. Being a mathematician merely qualifies me to make the same kind of general assessment of the value of scientific work as any other person with a degree in science. Presuming from your comment that your field is “evolutionary biology” I would think that my degree in mathematics, despite being far from that of statistical inference or dynamical systems, qualifies me at approximately the same level as you to make intelligent comments about the value of “work being carried out in the name of climate science” (as opposed to simply “climate science” — the difference between the two is critical, but it is one you appear to be prepared to blur).


      Steven Sullivan: Count me as a skeptical software engineer.

      I’ve been following this debate for years, including reading IPCC reports and listening to a pro-AGW series of college lectures. I’ve had an open mind about AGW and tended to defend it, within my limits, to skeptical friends. However, after Climategate I concluded that there is something broken with the way top climate scientists are conducting their business.

      This wouldn’t matter much if their field were tree frogs or cultural diffusion, but the stakes are high. These scientists are demanding a huge, expensive restructuring of the way our world works to stave off serious, perhaps civilization-threatening, repercussions in the future.

      This makes it everyone’s business. However, although the scientists and many of their colleagues, seem to expect the rest of us to passively accept their pronouncements and remedies, we’re past that now. The trust between climate scientists and citizens has been broken.

      As annoying as it may be for these scientists, and perhaps you as well, to have to make their case to the rest of us and, even worse, hear our questions and criticisms, that is the way it’s going to have to be in a democracy before we support the legislation and carbon taxes for climate change. That’s how I see it anyway.

      Dr. Curry’s blog, as I understand it, is about addressing this divide. It’s probably not the best place for catching up to the latest on climate science. It may not be what you are looking for.


    Here is the observed global mean temperature trend for 90-years from 1910 to 2000:

    1) Global warming rate of 0.15 deg C per decade from 1910 to 1940, which gives a global warming of 0.45 deg C during the previous 30-years warming phase.

    2) Global warming rate of 0.16 deg C per decade from 1970 to 2000, which gives a global warming of 0.48 deg C during the recent 30-years warming phase.

    3) Slight global cooling from 1940 to 1970.

    As a result, the effect of 60 years of human emission of CO2 between the two warming phases on the global warming rate is nil.

    Also, the effect of 30 years of human emission of CO2 during the global cooling phase from 1940 to 2000 is obviously nil.

    The data above describes the global mean temperature trend for 90 years until year 2000. What is the global mean temperature trend since 2000?

    4) Since year 2000, the global mean temperature anomaly trend is nearly flat at 0.4 deg C as shown in the following plot:

    In conclusion, man-made global warming is not supported by the observed data.

    According to the data, the effect of human emission of CO2 on global mean temperature is NIL.

  73. Why would an ethical scientist have to “hide the decline”?

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  75. What’s Going down? Since 24 Oct 1945:

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