Reversing the direction of the positive feedback loop: Part II

by Judith Curry

I can’t predict in advance when a thread will generate a lot of activity; I’m learning that anything with “climategate” in it is likely to have a lot of traffic.  Since the first thread  has almost 500 comments, I would like to address some of the questions and issues raised, and redirect the discussion.

The previous post was written for the Purdue event, I had 10-15 minutes to make a statement.  I put forth an argument (the feedback loop) with premises.  To many, the premises I put forth seem self evident.  Others are demanding “proof” and “evidence” of my premises.  My argument, and the premises that it is based on, are offered up for discussion on this blog.

Are any of you tired of the endless debate over who is hero and who is villain in the scenario unfolded in the CRU emails?  Even if we were to get rid of all of the “objectionable” characters on both sides of this, would climate science be fixed? Would we have sensible energy policies?  No and no. And we can’t frame/narrate/communicate our way out of this either.  The problems and the issues are much bigger: geopolitics, economics, clashes of values.  An extremely wicked problem for which science does not provide a solution.

I’m surprised that people thought I was attacking climate scientists in my original post.  Climate scientists have been pawns in all this; some have been victims and others have benefitted.  If anyone can be labeled as a “villain” in all this, it would arguably be the UNEP/UNFCCC; but in a way that begs the question of how all this started and who started it.

The point of my previous essay is that there was a complex set of mutual reinforcing motives and policies that snowballed without any checks and balances.  The “system” was running out of control.

So on this thread, I would like to talk about big picture issues related to the institutions and the larger forces at play in all this.  And speculate on how we can fix this situation, or at least get some checks and balances in the system.

Moderation note:  no discussion of emails or individual scientists on this thread (keep that on the other thread, if you haven’t had enough yet.)

A simple history of the IPCC and UNFCCC

The relationship between the IPCC and UNFCCC is summarized, see also the wikipedia.

1988:  IPCC is established under the auspices of the UNEP and WMO

1990: AR1 Report published

  • WGI conclusion: “The size of this warming is broadly consistent with predictions of climate models, but it is also of the same magnitude as natural climate variability”
  • WGIII:  entitled “Response Strategies”; mitigation and adaptation received pretty much equal consideration

1992: UNFCCC treaty (precautionary principle, dangerous climate change, and all that)

1995:  AR2  Report published

  • WGI conclusion: WG1 conclusion:  “The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.”  Ben Santer takes major heat for “discernible.”
  • WGIII: focused on “no regrets” opportunities

1998:  Kyoto Protocol

2001:  TAR Report published

  • WGI conclusion: “Most of the warming of the past 50 years is likely (>66%) to be attributable to human activities.”  The icon for the TAR was the “hockey stick.”
  • WGIII: entitled “Mitigation”

2007: AR4 Report published

  • WGI conclusion: “Warming is unequivocal, and most of the warming of the past 50 years is very likely (>90%) due to increases in greenhouse gases.”
  • WGIII: entitled “Mitigation”


Once the UNFCCC treaty was in place,  there was pressure on the IPCC to back this up with science.  Hence the “discernible”  in the SAR.  Ben Santer has taken huge heat for that, but look at where the pressure was coming from.  The whole UNFCCC treaty wouldn’t make sense unless there was at least “discernible” evidence that this was actually happening.

Once the Kyoto Protocol was in place, the emphasis of WGIII was clearly on mitigation and stabilization targets (the FAR WGIII was on mitigation and adaptation, and the SAR WGIII was on robust policies, the TAR and AR4 are on mitigation).  Building political will for the Kyoto Protocol was a high priority for the TAR.  The hockey stick icon fit the bill, with Michael Mann plucked from graduate school to serve as a lead author.

With political will not solidifying around the Kyoto Protocol, there was pressure on the AR4.  We are now seeing the words “unequivocal” and very likely, although there wasn’t really much evidence beyond that provided in the TAR.  In the AR4, political pressure actually acted to moderate the conclusions.

The “discernible” and the hockey stick should never have made it into the summary for policy makers.  Do we blame Mann and Santer for this?  Heck no (well they were complicit, but not to blame).  These were decisions made by people that were higher up and with pressure from policy makers.  At the time of publication of the TAR in 2001, Mann was 3 years post Ph.D.    Santer is a few years younger than I am, which was pretty young (early 4o’s) in the early 1990’s when the SAR was being prepared.  Whatever their scientific talents or contributions, they were put into a highly political situation that required a lot of judgment and experience to navigate these things.

In spite of being “burned” as part of the IPCC process, both Mann and Santer remained very loyal to the IPCC and defensive of it, and have been rewarded professionally.  I argue that they have also been victimized by the IPCC (they can hardly enjoy the threats, etc.)  Some prominent climate scientists left the field because it was too political, notably Starley Thompson.

So, do we spend time beating up or defending scientists like Mann and Santer, or do we try to understand the nature of the system that both victimize and rewarded scientists like Mann and Santer?  I for one am trying to get at the issues with the system and to understand how this all went so wrong.

380 responses to “Reversing the direction of the positive feedback loop: Part II

  1. David L. Hagen

    Re: “speculate on how we can fix this situation, or at least get some checks and balances in the system.”
    1) Minority Report: Require each IPCC and country report to require a “minority report” for EACH section to give climate “realists” (or “skeptics”) an opportunity to summarize opposing evidence.

    2) Fund the “red” team Provide greater funding now to the “red team” to challenge, test, and verify IPCC assumptions. Since the public is being asked to foot trillions of dollars, it is prudent to invest at least 1% into a “second opinion”, to “kick the tires”, and to validate / correct the models.

    3) Evaluate “adaptation”. Pierre Latour has shown that climate cannot be “controlled”, and thus “mitigation” is moot. Consequently, we need to focus efforts on the benefits/costs of “adaptation” compared to all other major global humanitarian projects.

  2. David L. Hagen

    apologies Judith

  3. speculate on how we can fix this situation

    There’s nothing that drives kids crazy like a wrapped gift under the Christmas tree. Especially if they can’t touch it, shake it, or feel the weight to help them guess what’s inside. The climate data, and analyses have had the same effect on otherwise calm, rational adults.

    On the other hand, an unwrapped bike or X-box under the tree fails to incite curiosity. If the climate scientists would just put the data & code out in the open, a fair amount of the controversy would calm down.

  4. Dear Professor Curry,

    Former President Eisenhower warned on 17 Jan 1961 that a federally funded scientific-technological elite might one day take control of government policy and pose a serious threat to “the supreme goals of our free society”.

    That is exactly what happened.

    Today Western science and Western forms of government face a self-inflicted crisis: Loss of public confidence caused by unbridled greed and selfishness and byabuse of federal science as a tool of propaganda.

    The Solution: Eliminate the concentration of power without accountability in:

    a.) Anonymous reviews of research proposals and papers, and in

    b.) National Academy of Sciences (NAS) control over federal research agencies by annual budget reviews for the US Congress.

    NAS is a private, self-perpetuating group that seems to operate without oversight.

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

    • Oliver is right on target. If you do not understand how the government grant system operates, then you cannot understand the problem of how climate scientists have become government pawns. I recommend that you read the following treatise (pdf):

      The Government Grant System. Inhibitor of Truth and Innovation?
      Donald W. Miller, Jr.
      Journal of Information Ethics 2007; 16(1, Spring 2007):59-69.

      Quoting from the above:
      “Over the last 60 years a new power structure, the state, has taken control
      of information. It uses federal tax money to fund and control research through the peer-review grant system. It forms mutually advantageous partnerships with industry and the academic community, which do its bidding. The state holds sway over education. And to round out its control of information, an increasingly powerful centralized government bureaucracy has persuaded the mainstream media to accept and espouse state-approved ideas. The Western tradition of information ethics dating from ancient Greece to the 20th century, characterized by freedom of speech and inquiry, has been co-opted by government. Knowledge advances by questioning accepted paradigms (Hillman, 1995). The state thwarts this and requires its tax-funded scientists to conform to the official establishment view on such things as global warming and HIV/AIDS. Government-sponsored scientific research reflects the biases, preferences,
      and priorities of its leaders (Moran, 1998). The state uses science to
      further its social and political purposes. Its actions follow Lang’s First Law of Sociodynamics, where “The power structure does what they want, when they want; then they try to find reasons to justify it. If this does not work, they stonewall it (Lang, 1998, p. 797).
      When inconvenient facts challenge paradigms the state promotes, it justifies them by consensus.”

  5. Yes, an honest attitude is needed even concerning climate issues. In particular if it true that the (physical) climate issues are so important as it is claimed.

  6. Sounds part twelve step (the first step is admitting you have a problem) and part Herbert (the first step in avoiding a trap is knowing of it’s existence). I commend your efforts and agree whole heartedly. The problem isn’t science, but political/quasi religious with a side of big business (both ways). The solution would require bringing sanity and a removal of conflicts of interest in the decision making process. It will be very difficult to find someone who fits the bill.

    My idea would be scientists who are tenured, respected by a majority, and who have no financial needs to fulfil. One that I could think of is Freeman Dysom, but some on the alarmist side would balk at choosing him.

  7. What a lovely moderation note for the purposes of this thread, Dr. Curry.

    I’ve put forward before, but in more loosely-defined terms, applying Carnegie Mellon’s Capability Maturity Model ( or to organizing the disjoint enterprise of Climate Science.

    Sure, it originated as a tool for evaluating competing software proposals. However, this model is much more flexible and can be used, for example, to organize sets of competing and coherent ideas into maturity levels, as well as to guide development of all component ideas to the next level of maturity. I’m not talking about people, or even groups or institutions, but of the ideas themselves.

    This does not mean that the ‘most mature’ idea wins, or the first to cross the finish line to the top of the CMM is best.

    To paraphrase the CMM Wiki page, CMM offers:

    -a place to start
    -the benefit of both community’s prior experiences
    -a common language and a shared vision
    -a framework for prioritizing actions.
    -a way to define what improvement means for Climate Science.

    CMM would only offer that the development of the body of knowledge and thought of each competing (and supporting) school could be separated from personalities, compared where commensurable metrics apply, examined for potential utility and for flexible adaption to other processes, and built on to feedback into the furtherance of effective discourse, decision making, and action.

    To further cut and paste shamelessly from the wiki, CMM has five levels:

    1.Initial (chaotic, ad hoc, individual heroics) – the starting point for use of a new process.
    2.Managed – the process is managed in accordance with agreed metrics.
    3.Defined – the process is defined/confirmed as a standard business process, and decomposed to levels 0, 1 and 2 (the latter being Work Instructions).
    4.Quantitatively managed
    5.Optimizing – process management includes deliberate process optimization/improvement.

    I think we can agree our ideas are pretty much at best at CMM level 1 when taken as a whole, or for most of our ideas(my own included), level zero.

    It’s possible to argue that much of the IPCC body of work is approaching level 3. Remember, this does not mean the IPCC’s _ideas_ are winning, strongest, ‘better’, or in some way have an advantage. Just that they are sometimes and some of them managed mostly in accordance with agreed upon metrics (or where they are not, the ideas can be identified by that trait and moved back down to level 1 or 0), and that the idea process is mostly defined, and usually confirmed as a standard science process (or where not, can be moved back down to level 2, 1, or 0).

    However, the IPCC body of work is not the whole conglomeration of Climate Science knowledge, theories and ideas, and there is good reason to ask for a network of the individual and disparate parts of the discourse to be treated as if they (the ideas) agreed to seek deliberate process improvement on both sides.

    Especially advantageous, when applied to ideas cut loose of the baggage of their authors, CMM (or CMMI) does not require a single hierarchical structure, a single authoritarian leadership, or even majority rule. The parts still get to be separate parts unassociated in any way.

    As for who should start the ball rolling on the CMM process.. There’s extraordinary levels of distrust of the UN for various historical reasons, and just as good reasons to distrust single governments or the results of diplomatic efforts between nations.

    Is there an obvious impartial candidate to nominate to vest with this venture?


    A group of the nature and scope of AIESEC ( could have the international credibility to connect educational research institutions worldwide without much thread of perception of bias. AIESEC, for example, isn’t a ‘green’ group, or a libertarian thinktank, though I doubt anyone in that association of students would thank me for offering to link them to the Climate Change debate. To be honest, I don’t know their stance on Climate Change. I just googled for the world’s largest student run organization. But who in their right mind would want to be linked to all this mess?

    In any case, the organizational group would only be a conduit, a network to join the working groups at each local university.

    Whether clubs, or classes, or undergrads working for extra credit, or tenured professors, or some mix thereof, the working groups would gather ideas/knowledge/works, fillet them like fish to decant idea from author, and plug the ideas into the CMM evaluation matrix to find where they fit by CMM level, using a transparent and well-documented process.

    Wiki can do it. Facebook can do it. Youtube can do it. Well, in theory Wiki could do it.

    The higher in the matrix any idea or work, the more interest it will generate.

    Hot, but chaotic and ill-formed ideas, divorced from the ‘hero’ who proposed them, would draw interest from those who wished to promote them because of their merit to the next higher CMM level. More mature arguments against less mature statements would tend to gravitate upwards by the natural bouyancy of the attention they generate.

    And at every point, this living document could be traversed by maturity of idea, and individuals could decide for themselves where they believe the science is.

    No one would control judging the science, nor censor the ideas, but merely provide a framework to suggest continuous improvement of the science.

    And at the end, we’d have some idea of where the most interesting work remains left to be begun.

    • now this is interesting, I am flagging this one.

      • Just be careful, everything you said in Essay 1 about the feedback process applies to the bogusness that went into CMU’s Software Engineering Institute.

        In particular, ask practicing software engineers. CMU’s SEI CMM should have stopped at level 3, level 4 and level 5 are an amazing example of bureaucracies need to perpetuate and grow bureaucracy ignoring the actual project needs. VERY SIMILAR TO IPCC.

    • This interesting comment did not show up in my RSS reader.

      Am I the only one who has problems getting all the comments in his reader?

      Judith, if you ever have a WordPress guru, please tell him that the RSS feed seems broken.

    • Good grief. As a scientist/manager working with a company who recently achieved CMMI level 3 based on a government scientific support services contract I have to wonder about this idea. I guess I haven’t consumed enough of the kool-aid but I’ve found it extremely difficult to adopt the CMMI process model in doing real science. It’s mostly an impediment that we’ve only gotten involved with because the procurement environment is beginning to require it. YMMV.

      • FiveString

        You have an excellent point, moreso if I were proposing CMMI on the scientists themselves.

        CMMI is comparable to trying to install SAP. It costs five times as much and takes three times as long as original estimates, and opens you up to poaching of your key staff because SAP (or CMMI) skilled professionals are worth their weight in gold on the open market.

        And then you have to put up with being a muscular, efficient organization with excellent transparency for audit purposes, qualified to support multidecade multinational projects on merit rather than political lobbying power or a reputation for credibility earned by individual heroics.

        In my experience with real science, I’ve run across labs that repeat exactly the same work over 25% of the time, not to prove reproducibility or correct for error or to calibrate equipment, but because they’ve lost the data or the last group to do the experiment for reasons (at best, given the benefit of the doubt about their integrity) of professional jealousy hid and refused to share their results. Which a good CMMI would quickly expose and clean out, for much less than 25% of operating budget.

        I’ve encountered a lab that stored its results on paper for a year and then transfered the paper to microfiche of all things for archiving, because that’s the way it’s always been done, and they needed to clear out the paper storage space by shredding the old material. One year, the microfiche clerk was on honeymoon, so the manager reversed the order of the process to accommodate. That’s right. Shredded first, then attempted to microfiche. No word of a lie. Three years output gone. An organization with over 100 advanged technical degrees among a staff of 110 and it just threw away everything it produced for three years. That would, be the cost of twenty or more CMMI processes.

        Do you have any idea of the number of supposedly scientific organizations attached to corporations under one year shred orders, by the way? Any employee caught in possession of a piece of paper or data exceeding one year old is in violation and gets walked out the door. This is a standard corporate practice, but lousy real science much worse than the burden of CMMI.

        But since I’m only talking about using CMMI on the ideas once they have been made public, and inviting participants to use the CMM framework to organize and help evaluate the maturity of the parts of the field, these issues shouldn’t pertain.

        No one would be obliged to drink any kool-aid.

    • What a fascinating idea.

    • The purpose of CMM is to deliver software on time and on budget for large projects within hierarchical organizations. I personally do not know of any cases where CMM has been used for safety critical or quality affecting software development processes. I could give many reasons and examples for why this is true and should be true.

      The experimental support for CMM is weak. Almost all the evidence is anecdotal supplied by entities whose objectivity could be questioned.

      The CMM process itself is non-optimizing and non-self-correcting. For example, CMM is now CMMi. There was no way for CMM to have evolved into CMMI. The same is true for CMMi.

      I could go on and on. But I believe this entire idea is off topic.

      • George Crews

        I’m absolutely agreed, on all points.

        Even with the last point, if there is a proposal for better alternatives attached, or any proposals left to resort to that do not share at least all of the criticisms you offer, or for modification of the model proposed to better adapt it to the project at hand.

        I’d kill the Climate Science CMMi faster than a megalomaniac would wipe out democracy, with any of those givens.

    • Good idea, and a place to start. However, remember that CMM is a model for developing and improving software and enterprise/business processes and practices. It is not the end product (the process and practice to be used in an enterprise). In fact, the enterprise’s process/practice should allow modification for particular projects (such as the the use of R or other Commercial Off-The-Shelf {COTS} products).

      In developing the process and practices, there are steps that must be included:

      * Identify the stakeholders (Management, Sponsor {payer}, End User)
      * Determine the requirements of the stakeholders
      * Specify the processes and practices that will deliver those requirements
      * Design the processes and practices that will meet that specification
      * Plan for and design validation and verification processes to assure that the result will meet requirements and specification

      The IPCC/UNFCCC regarded itself as the ultimate stakeholder and authority for requirements. Since the charter was to find and demonstrate actionable human influences on the climate, these became the primary requirement. And the fatal assumption.

      Since “quality” is defined as meeting requirements, the reports can be advertised as quality work (wink, wink, nod nod). But, only under the aegis of “Post-Normal Science”. Under standard Science, it fails to meet requirements.

      However, I suggest that vesting “students” with the authority to exercise the CMM process is unwise. They lack the wisdom that comes from experience and are under the influence of their professors. There are alternatives in the blogosphere. Finally, the military had a quaintly-named process for improving plans: the Murder Board..

      Various. “Scientific methods.” Encyclopedia Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, September 30, 2010.

      Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering observable, empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of reasoning. A scientific method consists of the collection of data through observation and experimentation, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

      • Pooh, Dixie

        Thank you for your kind and helpful analysis and addition to the thread.

        I’m a near total neonate to CMM, so don’t expect to have gotten it all right, or used the correct terminology in the correct way, but this blog is read by those who do know what they’re talking about, and hope nothing prompts the attention of the wise like the opinion of the daft.

        You’ve put more succinctly one of the points that prompted my proposal: quality is meeting requirements.

        If I can extend your point. Climate Science is failing on quality. The requirements are being ignored by many stakeholders; the requirements were not a good fit for these particular stakeholders.

        I believe there’s far more value in including a wider population of stakeholders in science than in trimming out dissenting voices to satisfice the debate for the sake of time, resources and perceived threat of inaction.

        I’m willing to go so far in that belief to venture proposals that might help extend that population of stakeholders in time, within resources (in particular if the proposals are less costly than the status quo), and to enhance the possible range of actions if needed.

        If all proposals that meet these requirements fail, then I’m comfortable with the fallback of dropping the dissenting participants from the stakeholder list until a proposal that can work is accommodated. Of course, by the time that happens, no one really knows whether their side will be the one doing the cutting, or being cut.

      • Bart R, I appreciate your response. If I may, here are a few more suggestions for consideration.

        1) The fallback option you mention involves a hazard. If the dissenting participants are dropped from the stakeholder list without their agreement that the decision process was fair, then there is no consensus. The current Climate Change brouhaha may be an example of that result.

        2) In the 1990s, the Quality Assurance Institute observed that Cost, Schedule and Quality are interconnected. For example, Schedule may be reduced by adding people, but then Cost increases. Cost and Schedule may be reduced, but then Quality is at risk. Reducing all three by dictate introduces a fourth factor: Failure.

        3) One of the main disputes is the integrity of the temperature data. If we want to employ people, let us recover the original raw temperature data, subject to an independent and fairly merciless audit panel. This might be regarded by the current custodians as a task from the “Mikado”: “On a cloth untrue / With a twisted cue, / And elliptical billiard balls.”

        4) Here is a starting point for CMM. It is a heavy slog. Remember that it is a process for developing a process.
        Bate, Roger, Dorothy Kuhn, et al. A Systems Engineering Capability Maturity Model (SM), Version 1.1. Carnegie Mellon University, Software Engineering Institute, November 1995.

        I have not read the following:
        Godbole, Nina S. Software quality assurance: principles and practice. Alpha Science Int’l Ltd., 2004.|CMU/SEI-95-MM-003+v1.1%22&source=bl&ots=iLR-hKjYww&sig=1li4VMULDHNTuhUsOhS4cW4vlt4&hl=en&ei=MoDVTL-4PISdlgfTgO38CA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CCEQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q&f=false

      • Sorry. The URL of the Godbole book got mangled. If you copy the whole thing (through”false”) into the browser’s address bar, it will work.

      • Addendum
        I neglected to mention one CMM key practice that has been central to the dissatisfaction with temperature records.

        That key practice is “Change Management”. The enterprise must document, control, test and retain every change to requirements, specifications, process (including software and algorithms) and data definition including metadata.

        I have neither space nor time tonight to flesh this out, even as a thought-starter. (We only gained an hour changing to standard time; it would take a month for starters.)

      • Every project needs a starting point.

        I’m interested to hear more of your thoughts on the subject.

  8. I don’t really believe that there are any villain in all this. But for some reason people are really taken to heart the whole AGW situation, and I include myself in this.

    I really believe that scientist, whether they are sounding the alarm or whether they don’t, are certain to be right and that is why they are holding their position. So maybe the climate scientists are misguided in whatever the position they hold, but there are no villain, but only people who want the best.

    Of course, if someone believe, and in the case of climate change it is belief since there exist no experiment of the atmosphere, in any forthcoming doom they might react more strongly to those who don’t agree with them or hold a different point of view.

    An example that is often cited is Nazi Germany. When Hitler came to power everyone was afraid of what might happen. Their was two groups who wished to take action, the appeaser with Chamberlain as the leader and those who wished to oppose Hitler aggressively with Litvinov as the leader. Both group wanted to prevent the war and save countless lives. While the appeasement strategy was the most popular, it still lead to WWII. We don’t know what would have happened if the other solution had been implemented, but the possibility of a war was just as great. The debate between the appeaser and hardliner was about as intense as the debate about climate policy.

    What we have at the moment is a debate about what policy to adopt. Roger Pielke jr has demonstrated many time that climate science is irrelevant to policy making since in the future we will need other sources of energy if we want to have enough of it. Fossil fuel is a great energy that renewable or not, doesn’t renew fast enough, so their is a limit to how much we can rely on it. So climate change or not we need a new energy policy that will ensure our future energy need.

    To reframe decarbonization of the economy in terms of energy policy will win a lot more support since it doesn’t matter whether one believes or not in catastrophic AGW.

    Sadly for some people decarbonization doesn’t have to only happen. It has to happen because of climate science.

  9. Dr. Curry,

    I’ve seen a lot of people label climate change a wicked problem. I’m not convinced, in all honesty.

    First, is climate change one problem? If we grant (as we certainly should) that concentrations of CO2 raised to double their current value by human emissions are quite likely to raise temperatures by between 1.5 and 4.5 degrees C this century, what are the likely consequences?

    I personally think that the work of those attempting to delineate the consequences has not been up to the level of other areas of exploration. I think the SREs are a way of refusing to make a prediction, although whether that is because those working in WG2 and WG3 were somehow at fault or they just did not have time or money enough, I cannot say–and am not particularly interested at this point. Their over-reliance on grey literature and overly facile assumptions about population and income make their contributions less than coherent.

    I also think that the Stern report has done a huge disservice to the debate by choosing to create a controversy by the use of a discount rate that is quite literally as controversial as many aspects of climate change.

    While I would cheerfully vote for a magic box that would spit out the correct atmospheric sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 concentrations at the push of a button (hopefully not a red one), until such a box has been designed I would be extremely happy to see more work done in establishing what stakes we are actually playing for.

    What is the size of the bet? Since the scenarios developed to date resemble science fiction, so do my alternatives–for now. Is it Waterworld or Bladerunner?

    Is climate change of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees C a threat to humanity? To all of civilization? To the developed world? To the developing world?

    As I personally think this is where the most damaging misinformation springs from, I think this is the area that most needs good work done quickly.

    • Tom,

      It helps when asking a question to properly phrase it according to the currently accepted facts.

      The oft quoted 1.5 to 4.5 C for a doubling of CO2 concentration is for from the preindustrial 280 ppm to 560 ppm, not as you have noted from the current 390 to 780, for which there would be a different range, due to the different amount of forcing involved.

      As for the amount of the bet, look at the paleontological evidence for when temperatures were about 3 C higher than preindustrial levels, find the difference in sea levels, call it a conservative 1 meter, now total the world property values for the land that is less than 1 meter above sea level and see how much that is.

      Compare that to the trillions it is said that would be spent to move the world economy away from burning CO2.

      You ask for work to be done, but I find that it already has been done and the answers are not good for all of us.

      • Bob, in fairness to Tom Fuller maybe you should state the time scale involved in the shore front propeties being inundated!

        You also say the work has been done but the work is being challenged on a daily basis. The comments here have been on the models and from my understanding, as an electrical engineer, the models stink! I would hate to think of electricians wiring your house using theories that have not been proven.

        Judith, sorry but your defense of some IPCC scientists just does not hold water for me. It is no good blaming pressure from the politicos within the U.N. If a scientist is giving evidence that will cost billions to people around the world, then he has a duty to protect those people from fraud.

        It’s no use saying Mann, for instance, was just out of grad school! Remember this, and I notice you never mentioned this in your narrative, some scientists within the IPCC resigned because they would not toe the line. Any thoughts on those guys?

  10. Erik portrays the problem as ‘political/quasi religious’ and I fear he is right. In a society which has lost much of its cohesion, issues like ‘climate change’ bring a sense of meaning and purpose to the lives of many. Heroes are worshipped and opponents demonised in rhetoric redolent of the religious conflicts of Christianity in the first millennium and the Reformation. All this is intertwined with the notion that humanity is somehow greater than the planet it inhabits and now capable of unleashing or taming forces once thought to be the sole province of the gods. Interestingly Schneider’s invocation of climate as an angry beast seems to tap into a residual ambivalence as to our relationship with Nature (capitalised).

    A touch of humility on all sides would be a good start.

    A revisiting of fundamental values would be another useful corrective. Pielke Jr points out (rightly I think) that solutions which would defy economic imperatives are non-starters. Moreover, while climate may well be changing and warming, I doubt very much that it’s doing so at a rate that vastly outstrips our capacity for adaptation. I equally think that sooner or later fossil fuels will become increasingly uneconomical and we will find ourselves turning to alternate energy sources. However, so long as fossil fuel remains cheaper and readily available, alternate technologies are likely to remain second or third best options ill suited to current demands.

    It’s worth remembering in this context that steam power was known to the Romans and Greeks – however, a slave based economy had no incentive to harness its potential. Moreover, economic imperatives drove the development of steam power and the fossil fuel based economy – not vice versa.

    Similarly, the debate is permeated with the assumption that climate change will bring ecological catastrophe in its train with major loss of species diversity in its train. Paradoxically, I’m struck more by the sheer persistence of biological systems in the face of human encroachments. Our rats, mice, cockroaches, and other highly adaptable species are doing very nicely – they may not be cuddly or beautiful any more than the weeds which spring up inside an abandoned building. However, our perception of these fauna and flora as somehow less valuable is an entirely subjective judgment. In evolutionary terms, these are highly successful species. Mind you, I would greatly prefer a world replete with greater species diversity – I see it as part of good stewardship of our planet.

    I’m not suggesting that we should all stick our heads in the sand blithely thinking that we will ‘just muddle through’ or adopt an unthinking anti-Malthusianism. However, catastrophising the future doesn’t generally lend itself to clear minded problem resolution.

  11. Personally, I think the action is going to be elsewhere than waiting on the latest scientific prognostications which are all over the place anyway given a) the complexity of climate science (and I think Mike Hulme’s characterisation of climate science as a wicked problem v tame problems like acid rain is correct) and b) the sheer number of departments/organisations, programmes, $$$ and scientists working on its characterisation.

    Generally, I think Pielke Jr in The Climate Fix has got it right, though non fossil fuels cheaper than current fossil fuels seems overly hopeful. But he is right over a small carbon tax dedicated to the technology issues, if only the politicians could oblige and not dissipate the tax in other ways.

    The fossil fuels are all going to be extracted whatever anyone in the West might rabbit on about the need to cut emissions. China, India and other developing nations will make sure of that.

    Australians are genuinely concerned about the need to restrict their (paltry) share of global CO2 emissions, yet we are flat out filling the developing (and developed) world’s requirement for fossil fuels. You play the pipers tune and we will dance for anyone. We seem to be quite content with this paradoxical if not hypocritical state of affairs. Pielke rightly calls this the “iron law of climate policy”.

    The focus of the science ought to be on trying to determine the likely effects of expanding CO2 emissions on a regional basis so that nations get some forewarning of the adaptive measures that are likely to be required in the future.

    • Alex Heyworth

      Spot on, David. No chance of stopping fossil fuel use for some time yet. There are some minor areas where fossil fuels could be not used. For example, Australia could decide not to use its (very extensive) brown coal deposits. The cost of shipping these elsewhere is too high compared to their energy value for anyone else to use them. It would make reasonable economic sense to cease using the brown coal when the current power plants using them reach the end of their useful life.

      My view is that the focus of science spending should shift to making non-fossil fuel energy (including nuclear) cheaper. If it can be made cheaper than coal, the argument for coal use is diminished (not completely done away with, as coal prices will decline in response to reduced demand).

      Coal fired power generation has taken over 100 years to reach its current efficiency (five times more efficient than Edison’s first efforts!). Nuclear can be made far more efficient. Because it provides baseload, it should be the main focus at present. Large scale storage is another area of worthwhile research, as it could greatly improve the value of solar and wind power.

  12. Alex Heyworth

    I would have to say that my number one priority would be to get the whole issue out of the hands of the bureaucrats, and in fact to dismantle all the bureaucracies. I don’t mean just the IPCC, but all the Departments of Climate Change all over the world, and bodies such as the U.S. Global Change Research Program. I think a decentralized, bottom-up approach to climate science is far more likely to produce good results (in terms of the enduring quality of the science). This is how science used to be done. Leave it to the scientists.

    Not going to happen, though. Once these processes become captured by bureaucracy, there is no going back. The bureaucrats sell their role as ensuring that taxpayers get value for money from the science they fund, when in fact their role is to expand their role and push their own agendas (preferably via innumerable conferences in nice locations).

    • Since when is the IPCC a ‘bureaucracy’?

      There’s a secretariat and the individual working groups have smaller support groups. They basically act as committee and conference organisers and to save the committee members and the leading authors the tedium of following up every tiny organisational detail. Otherwise known as herding cats.

      Several hundred unpaid scientists with full time commitments to other jobs do not amount to a bureaucracy. Their participation is very like, but much more onerous than, voluntary involvement in a professional association.

      • Alex Heyworth

        The IPCC is just the front organization for the real bureaucracies, which are the various government departments who send representatives to haggle over the wording of the IPCC report, particularly the SPM. Nevertheless, it is a (small) bureaucracy.

    • If you dismantle the GCRP you will fire a dozen bureaucrats. Most of the GCRP money goes either to NASA for satellite programs, or to the usual decentralized bottom up science that you advocate, mostly at universities. Other bureaucrats would have to manage those funds if you are not proposing to defund science.

      Where did your idea of a vast bureaucracy come from? What would a climate science bureaucrat in such a bureaucracy do all day?

      • Alex Heyworth

        I didn’t say the GCRP was a huge bureaucracy. I was aware that it was mainly just a coordination office.

        “Other bureaucrats would have to manage those funds if you are not proposing to defund science.”

        Why? Couldn’t the funds be given direct to university research departments? It all comes from various US government departments, anyway. No doubt they already have bureaucrats deciding their funding priorities.

    • Alex,
      I concur with the context of your comment. Prof. Curry noted in her post:
      “1988: IPCC is established under the auspices of the UNEP and WMO.” I would point out that this was about the time that the Cold War with the USSR was ending.

      Having been involved in that “war” for nearly 30 yrs at that time, it was clear to those of us in industry engaged in nuclear weaponry , as well as those in USG agencies and the national labs, the we needed to redirect our efforts post haste because the funds were going to be cutoff. I have no quatitative measure of the response of DOE’s to that event but it is quite clear to me that DOE and the national labs immediately shifted their focus to alternative energy sources and GW.

      At about the same time, NASA/NOAA increased their emphasis on spaced-based sensors and other GW related activities. I’d be interested in knowing what the GW-related flow of funds has been since, say 1970.

  13. Brandon Shollenberger

    adelady, your post makes very little sense. Here is a quote from Wikipedia to highlight why:

    Examples of everyday bureaucracies include governments, armed forces, corporations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), hospitals, courts, ministries, social clubs, sports leagues, professional associations and academic institutions.

    Your post reads as, “The IPCC isn’t a bureaucracy, it is more like a bureaucracy.

    • The AGU is the professional organization for geophysicists. The staff of the AGU are 180 people who form the bureaucracy of the organization. The 50,000 members contribute to the organization with dues , authorship, presentations and participation. The vast majority of the time put into AGU is nonbureaucratic, yet there is an AGU bureaucracy.

      In the case of IPCC, the bureaucracy has been particularly small and the volunteer labor by participants has been prodigious.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I have absolutely no idea why you made this response. It has nothing to do with anything I said, so I can’t tell if it is meant as some form of disagreement, or just a random info-dump.

        Would you care to enlighten me?

      • He’s delicately providing perspective that subtly accuses your sophistry of being sophistry. Er, your equivocating of being equivocating. I mean, your reply of being misleading smoke and mirrors, which any familiar everyday example deflates.

        To be blunt.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        This is absurd. adelady said the IPCC was not a bureaucracy, then said it was more like a professional association. I pointed out this made no sense as professional associations are bureaucracies. It was purely a matter of definitions.

        You accuse me of sophistry, equivocation, and deception, by way of attributing such accusations to Michael Tobis, yet neither of you have said one word regarding the definitions being discussed. You completely ignored the issue at hand in favor of personal insults.

        What kind of nonsense is this?

      • This is absurd. adelady said the IPCC was not a bureaucracy, then said it was more like a professional association.

        No, adelady said “Several hundred unpaid scientists with full time commitments to other jobs do not amount to a bureaucracy. Their participation is very like, but much more onerous than, voluntary involvement in a professional association.” You chose to take it in the direction of quibbling over semantics. Michael Tobis said “In the case of IPCC, the bureaucracy has been particularly small and the volunteer labor by participants has been prodigious.” You’ve had no substantive response to this.

        So, in review, the response was that the administrative staff (which may be called “a bureaucracy”) is small, and so the remedy suggested in Alex Heyworth’s post (“my number one priority would be to get the whole issue out of the hands of the bureaucrats”) is missing the point, at best. Do you have any comment on this?

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Puh-leez. Alex Hayworth had referred to the IPCC bureaucracy in his post. adelady said, “Since when is the IPCC a ‘bureaucracy’?” This is clearly a rhetorical question designed to imply the IPCC is not a bureaucracy. Mentioning that hundreds of scientists participate voluntarily in no way changes the fact the IPCC is a bureaucracy, just like saying hundreds of people participate in professional organizations in no way changes the fact they are bureaucracies.

        As for your question here, my comment is quite simple. “Quit conflating things.” Your post implies I somehow am obligated to defend points raised by Alex Hayworth. This is absurd. All I did was comment on definitions. In no way does this obligate me to pick sides in a dispute.

        People are allowed to discuss what a bureaucracy is without saying whether or not a particular bureaucracy is bad.

      • Your post implies I somehow am obligated to defend points raised by Alex Hayworth. This is absurd. All I did was comment on definitions. In no way does this obligate me to pick sides in a dispute.

        I implied nothing. I asked “Do you have any comment on this?” A simple “no” would have sufficed.

        You keep using that word, “absurd.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        You responded to me defending myself against personal insults stemming from people acting as though I was defending Alex Hayworth’s points, saying, “You chose to take it in the direction of quibbling over semantics.” You followed this with (in regards to another comment), “You’ve had no substantive response to this” and, “Do you have any comment on this?”

        Calling my comments meaningless and saying I haven’t offered an substantive response while responding to me defending myself against accusations of dishonesty is implying I am obligated to provide such a response.

    • An interesting meaning of “bureaucracy”:

      > Any organization in which action is obstructed by insistence on unnecessary procedures and red tape.

  14. The choice reminds me of another one: how much to put into ‘curative’ medical research compared with ‘preventative’ medical research. In Australia by far the larger proportion goes into curative.

    I would like to see a switch in climate science funding into, if you like, measuring natural variability, or at least not assuming anything about human activity. For the many reasons that have been advanced, there is too much research into questions whose answers are said to be consistent with AGW. That doesn’t help us.

    I certainly agree that money could be found by dismantling departments of climate change, unless they are about ‘adaptation’, not mitigation. I think that is actually what will happen, too.

    But a lead has to come from somewhere in the political system.

    Open to suggestions…

    • Preventative medical research. Trouble with that one is we’ve picked all the low hanging fruit, in Australia at least. Clean water, sewage systems, immunisation programs, asbestos, lead, food inspection and regulation – we’re now mainly left with the lifestyle issues and the more subtle matters of possible toxins in food, air, water, environment that would be silly to concentrate on in other parts of the world.

      As for research results “consistent with AGW”, most of the data is routinely collected for meteorology anyway. Glaciologists, biologists and agricultural scientists just do what they do, so if the results are/ aren’t consistent with AGW they’re going to report accordingly.

  15. > I’m surprised that people thought I was attacking climate scientists in my original post.
    Interesting observation! Perhaps reflect on what you wrote it!

    You don’t want to name the bad guys. Perhaps a better approach, nevertheless, is to name the good guys. Can you list a few high profile climate scientists that do a really good job, aren’t dictated by the IPCC dogma (even if authors), and can be a role model for others? Otherwise, the implication of your above quote is as it was interpreted.

    Personally, I think you are barking up the wrong tree. If you replaced “IPCC” with “swine flu vaccine” you will have a very convincing argument that the vaccine was just to line the pockets of multinational drug companies. If you place “IPCC” with “astrophysics” you have a very convincing argument that astrophysics are governed by self-interest to get more funding.

    Oh, dare I say, if I replace “IPCC dogma” with “anti-IPCC dogma” you have a convincing argument that you yourself are governed by the same laws of self-interest. For example, it seems your current activities have earned an invited paper in Climatic Change and your blog is extremely popular. My point being, is that you have to be an active promoter of your views to have an influence (silence often won’t get you anywhere)!

    It is perhaps more constructive to look at the issues in a broader scientific context instead of blasting the IPCC and the science it represents. I see problems with:
    * you have to be an active promoter of yourself to get articles read
    * the review process (mainly there is no ability to assess why rejected articles are rejected and the time wasting because of pedantic comments)
    * project-based funding and treating research like consulting (if I can tell you how much a project will cost, then by definition it is not research)
    * since academia seems to be drifting towards consulting, researchers start to become underpaid compared to peers in consulting
    * the focus on the number of publications weighted by the rank of the journal
    * status is based on if you publish in a high-rank journal, “selected” to be a lead author, and so on, and not whether you do good and creative research, good collaborator, good colleague to peers, etc.

    It would be nice to see some discussion of these types of issues, rather than constant innuendo that climate scientists are pawns to some evil institution called the IPCC.

  16. The snowballing of the importance of AGW and the feedback mechanism described in the previous thread depend on the way the research is financed.

    It used to be that individual institutions were financed and researchers in various universities were financed either by their universities or by grants from private citizens. Governments were funding by supporting institutions, not researchers.

    These allowed a “democracy of schools of thought” in the various disciplines, schools of thought that fought it out in conferences and then publications. No school could corner the market and thus scientific arguments had the final word.

    After WWII and the Manhattan project centralization started because of the advantages to politics of having control of where the money went, and it expanded from there.

    We have reached the point where research money is controlled by a few central bureaucracies and the money distributed not to the institutes for redistribution within their peer community, but to individual researchers.
    Hierarchy within institutions was demolished and universities started depending on the grant money brought by researchers.

    This has resulted in practically monocultures, not only in climate but in many disciplines, because it allowed the scientific markets to be cornered by people more adept with political ( in the general sense) manipulative intelligence than the average geek scientist. The normal competition, which might not be efficient but certainly is the basis of scientific creativity was destroyed in the structure. Climate science and its impasse is in the forefront because of the social and economic importance of the science and the prophetic pronouncements that can come out. All sciences are facing or will face such domination of one school over the whole discipline.

    What I am saying is that financing control and choice of research should go back to the universities and institutes and apportioned within each system according to the internal peer review. This will allow a variety of schools to flourish again. Competition should be for good science and not for money.

    The financing has gotten so out of hand that young research group leaders have to spend most of their time filling applications and maneuvering for funding with the various bureaucracies , instead of doing the research they were good at .

  17. The reason that research applications are so onerous is not that the ‘financing has gotten so out of hand’, it’s that so many projects are chasing so little money. And so much financing is so short term that the applications have to be resubmitted when the researcher’s time would be better spent on science. But people want “accountability” – paperwork is the price that has to be paid.

    • This is not anything new; submissions for grants/studies/projects etc have always been a pain and involving a mountain of paperwork.

      Accountability is a perfectly reasonable endeavour. ‘Pure’ research scientists could certainly benefit from more QA. Just ask the CRU team…

  18. Ian Blanchard

    In addition to the above-highlighted issues with centralised funding (i.e. not enough of it, too much time chasing the money and not enough doing the research), the academic system at present tends to support relatively ‘conservative’ research proposals – because of the ‘publish or perish’ ethos, most proposals will tend to be written knowing what the answer will be, and in the knowledge that there are at least a couple of publishable papers at the end. The problem with this is it tends to support the mainstream rather than offering really new thinking and results that will test the existing science (after all, there is a much higher likelihood that more speculative research will lead to a dead end – no papers to demonstrate value for the grant money provided).

    Another issue of course is that grant money tends to get directed at those topics that have a high profile, and there becomes a tendency to ‘tack on’ a couple of lines in the proposal that links whatever your research is to this ‘issue of the day’. I was in geology departments for most of the 90s, and the joke there was that if you wanted a proposal accepting you had to have something about mass extinctions in the application, even if it was about Precambrian metamorphic petrology. The same obviously happens with ‘Climate Change’, as can be seen by the number of things (on more than a few occasions including two contradictory trends) that have been attributed to it – obviously this says nothing about the correctness of the fundamental research and mechanisms, but if I see another newspaper story along the lines of ‘Scientists say shrinking sheep due to global warming’ i’ll……..

  19. I can’t help thinking we need to be far more pragmatic on the issue.
    -we don’t actually know how a rise of upto 2’C may affect the planet
    -we don’t know if we can actually measure the rise effectively
    -we don’t know if china/india will follow the climate legislation

    Arbitrary limits on co2 like the economically crippling ones the UK and ONLY the UK are signed up to are completely pointless if we are the only ones doing it.

    It’s literally an all or nothing scenario. Given that ‘all’ is never going to happen, we need to move to dealing with the effects of change (if any) rather than performing a king kanute.

    • OT however, a detailed ‘plan of attack’ is needed.

      The uncertainties need to be identified, common misconceptions (on BOTH sides) addressed and finally put to bed and the whole ‘picture’ needs to be pruned back to the bare bones; i.e. what we DO know. Remove the assumptions, predictions, ‘expert views’ and effectively start fresh.

      We can then move forward (quickly too, as most of the ‘extra’ work will have already been done), but only down avenues of scientific merit- i.e. ditching a lot of the models and repairing the temperature records.

      In fact- scratch all that- we need a thorough, independant audit of the temperature record. Let’s make sure that’s 100%, then we can move from there. Anything else is just trying to fix the roof while the foundations are crumbling.

      • Ian Blanchard


        Some of my professional work involves acting as an Expert Witness in civil proceedings (relating to construction engineering – not quite sure how I ended up here from academic geochemistry, but so be it…). As an Expert, I might be employed by one side in a dispute (where there is a necessity to be truthful, but also a need to do as much as possible [which varies from very little to a lot] to defend your client’s position) or occasionally as a single joint expert – oddly it is much harder to do the second one and be fair to both parties involved, especially as in such cases I’ll often only meet one of the parties (usually the building owner).

        However, my main reason for raising this is that when acting as a ‘normal’ Expert, one of the requirements in most cases is an Experts meeting with my counterpart on the other side of the case, which is designed to produce an agreed document that highlights points of agreement and points of disagreement (and a short summary of why there is disagreement on these points). The objective of this is to assist the Court or Arbitrator in understanding where the contentious issues are and allow them to arrive at a decision regarding who makes the better case regarding these issues.

        Something like this would certainly be helpful with regard to things like:
        1 – Fundamental mechanisms of Climate Change (with say Hansen and Lindzen acting as the respective experts )
        2 – Palaeoclimatology and the ‘Hockey Stick’ – obviusly Mann and McIntyre would be the participants

        The reason these would be helpful is that not only would they narrow the debate, but the necessary combination of confrontation and co-operation is a very good way for both parties to test and refine their own opinions as well as understanding the issues raised by the other Expert.

      • Sounds like an emminently sensible idea. i’d be all for it.

      • Great idea. There should not be a single person for each “side” but many such documents. Steve McIntyre tried this idea with some hockey team members but they said it would be bad for their career to interact with him. This points to the problem that for many of the alarmist advocates, the people who disagree with them are “enemies” not colleagues. An enemy can not possibly have a valid point of view and even if they point out that your lat -long coordinates for data are switched, you won’t acknowledge it. This is nuts. I will point out that when Gavin Schmidt pointed out errors in one of my papers I corresponded with him and issued a correction. That is the way it should be done. No enemies lists.

      • Exactly.
        I still struggle to get me head around this mindset. If someone points an issue out with my data/conclusions i engage with them thoroughly- after all they may have spotted something i missed.

        Do i see it as a threat? an attack? No, of course not. I see it as a way to advance my, and their knowledge- i.e. something to be actively encouraged. Some of the best discussions i’ve had were with people of differing view points or interpretations of results, net result? Greater understanding for all concerned.

        To shut oneself off and to attack rather than engage, as a scientist, by people puporting to BE scientists, just confuses me and if i’m honest- makes me more than a little bit sad.

      • Thus, there are 2 strong positive feedback to discuss, in the models that assume a strong positive feedback to give us the greenpeace alarmism, and positive feedbacks in the ppersonal networks of the IPCC science…

        The natural assumed strong positive feedback are where I am most sceptical, partly because of my MSc degree.

        Reading University,UK
        Cybernetics is about systems (and most things are a system), in particular, systems with feedback. Useful principles are equally well applied to technological systems as to those in humans and other animals, the environment and (in principle) the economy. The subject transcends traditional academic subjects – hence it provides a different perspective on looking at systems – and thus we have the Escher inspired view (below), showing aspects of the subject.

        Reading are having a public lecture, with a lead author of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th IPCC reports mnext week. Other members of the Walker institure most likely on the panel, include the deputy head of working group technical supprot group 1, and co editors of the 2001 synthesis report, amongst others. One of the above is a good friend.

        Reading University: Climate change – the science explained
        Wednesday 10 November 2010, 8pm
        Palmer Building, Whiteknights

        Professor Nigel Arnell, Walker Institute Director

        With all the media attention on climate change, it can be hard to separate media hype from scientific fact. So what is the science behind climate change? How are people warming the climate and to what extent does it vary naturally? This talk will describe the risks posed by climate change for water, food, and biodiversity focusing on what we know and, importantly, what we don’t know. There will also be a chance to put your questions to a panel of experts.”

        Anybody UK based able to come?

        the tagline is;

        “The Science Explained, With all the MEDIA attention on climate change, it can be hard to separate MEDIA HYPE from scientific fact.”

  20. Alexander Harvey

    Warning : This is a rehash from a posting on the “heresy-and-the-creation-of-monsters” thread. If it were boring then it be boring now so skip it.

    Personally I doubt that there is all that much wrong with the formation of the IPCC but it might benefit from being formally divorced from the UNEP. I do not hear much clamour against the WMO so perhaps they are fit for purpose in their current role. By formation I only mean its structure of governance not its methods or decisions.

    The UNFCCC/COP process is a different matter, it is a bit of a train wreck. The actual convention seems incredibly ambitious. At its heart it seems to be a framework for setting up emission treaties but contains articles that cover much more diverse topics e.g. Article 6 (EDUCATION, TRAINING AND PUBLIC AWARENESS). Which is very noble. Some of these other topics offer ample opportunity to agree on things to pad out vacuous accords. The UNFCCC does however set up the COP process.

    Now the COP seems to be were the real action (sic) is. It along with various subsidary and other agencies beavers away and stages spectacles. It comes to decisions (mostly about itself) and makes declarations.

    It seems to lack fitness of purpose if it be in the business of supporting progress towards emission treaties. Perhaps that is the point.

    The COP and subsidary bodies share that strange other worldliness typical of UN framed institutions. From the outside it appears that COP15 ran into the buffers not due to anything to do with the science or the scientists but due to its fundaments and perhaps its naivete.

    I really do doubt that its structure be in anyway complementary to the actual decision making process which is a political one involving powerful sovereign states.

    There is a wonderful statement on the UNFCCC/ COP15 main page:

    “Governments engaged at the highest political level, and the outcome of that engagement was reflected in the Copenhagen Accord.” Indeed it was.

    When governments engage at the highest politcal level, the bottom falls out of the UNFCCC/COP process and you get a train wreck.

    Perhaps Copenhagen’s greatest achievement was to set a new attendance record with 24,000 participants, to crash and burn in front of 3000 of the media, and somehow not see it coming.

    This is no way to eat an elephant.


  21. Adelady, for a nation that’s supposed to have picked all the low hanging fruit, Australians have the dubious distinction of an indigenous subpopulation living in worse than third world conditions (rampant poverty minus the social cohesion plus glue, alcohol, and violence).

    I tend to agree with Labmunkey about the need for accountability. It’s not just about getting value for your dollar but also about ethics . After all, ‘climategate,’ whether construed as criminally motivated theft of private correspondence or whistleblowing exposure of scientists behaving badly, is peanuts compared to .

    • Chris, the indigenous health statistics would be a disgrace in any country. And the lack of appropriately focused funds and activities in a country so wealthy is even more of a disgrace. (I know that indigenous populations in the US and Japan and other places have similar issues but that’s no excuse.)

      I suspect that even we made even modest improvements in indigenous welfare, Oz might find itself knocking Japan off the top of the long life league table.

      But this comes back to general political decision making in the face of evidence. We absolutely know what should be done about indigenous health (housing, education, medical care), we just need to get on with it. We also have accumulating evidence about the dangers of a warming climate – Australia more than any other OECD country – and we should just get on with that too.

  22. Oh well, another badly posted link takes the wind out of my sails. Last word is ‘Tuskegee.’

  23. Judith,

    I find institutions have a closed door policy.
    Anything that may go against the current teaching of the “general consensus” is not even look at or considered.
    The correspondence I have had is more that the line of my research is threatening the current 300 year old theories that have been expanded upon. “Don’t rock the boat” instead of embrassing new ideas and opened areas of science. New technologies incorporated to old science shows some of theories fail or collapse.
    But then, this makes more like minded and closed minded students.

    If you follow current science and theories closely, there should be absolutely no changes from the creation of this planet up to today.
    Current science has not incorporated rotation nor has it included planetary pressure or planetary slowdown to the models or theories. These all have a function to the current complexity to understanding the current life and current science.
    A constant science is taught as the current science with the moon blamed as slowing down the planet even though it is moving further and further away.

    • You are right, Joe.

      To end that “closed-door” policy, the concentration of power without accountability must be eliminated in:

      a.) ANONYMOUS reviews of research proposals and papers, and in

      b.) National Academy of Sciences (NAS) control over federal research agencies by annual budget reviews for the US Congress.

      The late Dr. Dwarka Das Sabu and I encountered the unbridled power of NAS at the 1976 AGU Meeting in Washington, DC.

      The 1975 experimental observation shown in this slide has been un-officially banned by NAS since then:

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel

    • When it comes to closed-door policies and the general consensus, all I can say is that institutions vary tremendously. It’s not always a closed-door policy! Situations vary depending on the institution, the field, and the people.

      For example, I recently completed a mid-career Ph.D. at the top school in the world for my field (it’s actually a 4-way tie, but…), while being openly and vocally skeptical of the main orthodoxy of the research in my department. Over the course of my time there, my position softened a bit from “What you folks are doing has absolutely no relevance to anything that is happening in the real world of our field” to “OK, it’s not relevant NOW. But it’s early-stage research that may possibly have an impact in a few decades, if it goes really, really well. If it pans out, it’ll be a big deal. But I remain exceedingly dubious.” By comparison, my research was relatively late-stage work, that was much closer to productive application. My colleagues in my department did a much MUCH better job of accepting my work, than I did of accepting theirs.

      Egg on my face, and kudos to them.

      Part of the reason I was able to get away with being very skeptical about the bulk of the research in the department is that I arrived with 20 years experience as a practitioner and with a decent reputation and publication record. Rather different from the typical graduate student. But the BULK of the reason that it worked is that the faculty were laudably open-minded and accepting of alternative approaches — as long as you could demonstrate actual progress by going down you’re particular path.

  24. Dear Judith, I also think that you focused on actual values – and not on particular people – which is the right thing to do.

    While I realize that your writing is still courageous given the atmosphere that persists in certain circles (and the deafening silence of the Academia when it comes to the defense of integrity is something I know from very different contexts, too), I am among those who find most of your findings so self-evident that it would be hard for me to view you as the discoverer of some novel insights. Sorry for that. ;-)

    Of course, you are totally right that there have been positive feedback loops that made this panic exponentially grow for years.

    You say that some scientists gained, some scientists lost. Well, this sounds balanced except that in the climate science, while 1/2 of the pre-IPCC scientists could have gained and 1/2 of them could have lost, the counting is completely different if you consider the present community to be 100%. In the new community, 90% of the people were either added or “heavily amplified” relatively to the pre-IPCC era, for the money acquired from the panic, and 90% of the current community has gained.

    The losers were more widespread among the general population although, of course, scientists who kept their integrity and who realized that no new “radical” insight that could change the climate science had been made, so there was no sudden reason for any panic.

    Concerning your historical question how it started, it’s clear that there were feedbacks but if one wants to be more detailed, one would have to talk about particular people and institutions. They would clearly include environmental activists, scientists who honestly believed a threat that was a fringe science a few decades ago, but maybe even Margaret Thatcher who previously wanted to suppress the mining unions (before the IPCC was born).

    Many of the initial people did “almost” legitimate things. Again, I have no doubt that some scientists had legitimate concerns and they honestly believed that what they preached followed from the physics. However, there abruptly came a moment for “speculators” – people who made bets that this thing would grow and they could grow with it.

    The people were in many sectors – media, politics, activism, and of course science – and these parts of the society, with a vested interest to support the alarmism, managed to do so, indeed. They could support each other by having alternative tools.

    Why did such bets work? Well, for the same reasons why all bubbles – in the financial markets etc. – can grow. When people begin to believe that a thing has a “momentum”, they will make bets that the price of it will keep on increasing, which is why it will indeed be increasing as the demand grows.

    This comment is true both for memes as well as houses, dot-com stocks, or anything else. If the “momentum players” begin to dominate, positive feedbacks prevail and one gets closer to an unstable behavior where things easily get out of control.

    However, in healthy stable markets – including markets of ideas – most people are not momentum players. They have an independent idea what the absolute price of a house – or an idea – should be, instead of an idea about its time derivative. If they have such an idea, they inevitably drive the price towards an equilibrium where the supply and demand match – given the existing knowledge – and their acts stabilize the market. If they think that too much interest is dedicated to the alarm, they will leave it because it is overpriced, and vice versa.

    So the momentum players are the true sources of instability in the markets – and markets of ideas. They’re clearly pure noise-that-turned-systematic and they don’t contribute anything independent to the correct evaluation of prices (in the markets) or the convergence to the truth (in science). What goes wrong that such people begin to dominate?

    Well, under stable circumstances, it doesn’t pay to be a momentum player. If you know that things are stable or meritocratic, the rationally unjustified increase of price – or an unreasonably elevated interest in an idea – will be probably followed by a decrease, so it’s unwise to make a bet when the price is peaking or after it just went up.

    However, sometimes players just know that the behavior is unstable and goes out of control, so they benefit – until the bubble bursts. People in the markets and/or science will be more eager to participate in new irrational bubbles if they learn that they can gain but they cannot lose much. That’s why I find it important to punish the people who were responsible for this thing’s having gotten out of control as long as we can show that they were not honest (which is hard).

    We’re not there yet because it’s not really clear who is in control right now. But I am telling you: if and when the sensible people who don’t like bandwagons and uncontrollable strengthening of ideologies take over, it is necessary to wisely, moderately, yet resolutely punish those who drove science – and policies – in wrong directions at uncontrollable accelerations. Such a punishment, however cruel it may sound to the nice people on the sensible sight, is necessary for these (and perhaps worse) things to be avoided in the future.

    • Thoughtful comment from Luboš Motl. I suggest a fitting punishment would be a few years coring treering samples on the Yamal peninsula. At least it would keep them from interfering with the new climatology being developed by those without vested interests.

    • Excellent comment. Momentum players and memes and bubbles. Yes. There have been meme bubbles in the past. For decades Freudian analysis was such a bubble in the USA among the elite. Everyone was either in analysis or talked the psychobabble. It burst. There was a bubble in claims of childhood abuse, to the point where it was claimed that all mental illness was caused by childhood sexual trauma and that everyone had been abused as a child. We are lemmings. The media have a big role in meme bubbles because they publish the outlandish claims without comment, acting as meme amplifiers, but ignore the analysis that would burst the bubble. They play the same role in financial bubbles, where doubters get very little press until the crisis finally hits. The most outlandish claims about climate change, those that are not even in the IPCC reports (the world will be burned to a crisp and become like the Sahara, for example), should be treated with not quite so much credulity–after all, there is always someone willing to make some outlandish claim every second of the day, about alien abductions or secret plots or health claims. Where is the media BS detector? Laid off? Probably.

    • I’ve long studied and still study the earth, its atmosphere, and climate. I wasn’t focused on many of the activities that amplified the positive feedbacks in the human system dynamics re AGW until I became a small peripheral negative forcing factor just a few years ago. After that, I began seeking ways to deal with vicious attacks and blatant attempts to silence me. I found the climate blogosphere, and because the whole mess is so incredibly interesting and important, I’m now (mostly anonymously) back and focused.

      The biggest problem I see right now, because thanks to Judith I’ve learned more historical background, is how IPCC/UNFCCC agreements regarding anthropogenic climate change are supposed be based on the precautionary principle. If we must find someone or entity at fault, I would say, as an American citizen, the fault lies with the American representative (delegation) who signed off on it. I do not believe the precautionary principle to be scientifically sound or in any way practical. It’s stifling. There are far better ways to deal with risk. So, if anyone knows, tell us, what American agreed to precautionary principle based action?

      As for a meme I’d like to see coming from the halls of science …….

      The science of global warming IS NOT settled, and catastrophic anthropogenic climate disruption is not unequivocal (even without change from business as usual).

      I think, even if those truths caught on, and with a little humility and lots of POLITE discourse, perhaps we can progress, make a difference, and find ways to leave our descendants an environment as good as it was (maybe even better) than when we were born.

  25. ” To many, the premises I put forth seem self evident. Others are demanding “proof” and “evidence” of my premises. My argument, and the premises that it is based on, are offered up for discussion on this blog.”

    Ah, that’s your excuse. Let me try it too. Judith Curry is criticizing climate science because she is a shill for the fossil industry. To many, the premises I put forth seem self-evident. My argument, and the premises that it is based on, are offered up for discussion on this blog.

    Is this really, how a scientist acts?

  26. And you’ve got time to offer up a non sequitur of an excuse for failing to provide data points… but still no time to respond to Eric Steig whose example (data point) falsifies one claim…

    • Lazar – OK, you found someone who was treated well by the IPCC. There may be more, but that does not negate the cases where reviewers were not treated well. You are being a stickler over one statement and technically you won the battle. But you still lose the war.

    • I’d like to think of this as less as a war, but more like a picnic in the rain… with pastries

  27. Judith,

    When you look at the checks and balances that water created to stay a liquid, there is absolutely no way for the planet to overheat. Considering the fact that it is also moving away from the sun.
    Any overheating would effect the compressed gases to evaporate generating massive cloud cover. Rotation and centrifugal force are the only reason these gases do not stay on the planets surface. Considering atmospheric pressure and the magnetic field try to pull everything to the surface.

    But, none of these are considered or looked at.
    Just overall temperature measurements and CO2.
    Even that is wrong as temperatures are regional events on a round planet with no cloud cover EVER crossing the equator.

  28. I’m working on additional content for this post, more later this a.m. The POINT of this discussion, is well, discussion. I am trying to redirect this dialogue away from the behavior of individual scientists, and even to some extent the collective of IPCC scientists, to the broader institutional issues. Consider something else beyond the nuances of what a particular email message meant.

    These are issues that we need start talking about. In terms of my making a pronouncement on things, such as should we disband the IPCC, or whatever, no, that is not what I do, i try to stimulate people to think about complex issues in new ways and exchange ideas.

    This is an extremely busy time for me in terms of my “day job,” and it will remain so until the week of thanksgiving, with 1-2 trips per week. I will do my best to stay on top of things. But when things happen quickly, I am busy in my day job, the best way to get my attention is to send me an email.

    • The aim of generating discussion is a weak excuse for making false statements that are presented as your own and genuine opinions, failing to provide evidence for those stts, and refusing to engage when someone provides evidence that those stts are false, with a request for engagement. Especially when those stts question the integrity of professional scientists. Given this post and your other comments, you’ve had plenty of time to respond to Steig.

      • well at this point i have no idea what steig said or where to find it. give me a link, send me an email or whatever, if you think a response to this is needed. I can either spend time weeding through 500+ comments and let myself get distracted by many possible responses, or i can focus on what responders think is important, or I can keep writing an update with additional information to this post.

      • Steig’s comment is the link in the previous comment, and my followup is here

      • In addition to the above link the word “Steig” only appears six times on the entire discussion page with the comment being the second occurrence.

      • I looked at the question, “who are those scientists who were thwarted ..”.

        1) Maybe they should come out of the closet, (like etudiant upstream), all those young people who changed research direction because of being thwarted by the mainstream orthodoxy and stranglehold on the grants, anonymously on the blogs. An anonymous poll might be set up.

        2) You start sounding like a heckler. Do you really expect a teacher to start throwing names about of young people?

  29. You have described better than I ever have the essential social movement nature of AGW.
    Thank you very much.

  30. I’m afraid I disagree.
    “Are any of you tired of the endless debate over who is hero and who is villain in the scenario unfolded in the CRU emails?”
    No, this is the core of the problem.
    “Even if we were to get rid of all of the “objectionable” characters on both sides of this, would climate science be fixed?
    Yes it would. If the mainstream IPCC view of climate science was the view represented by, for example, you and some other people I’m not allowed to mention by name, instead of by the shouty activist wing of climate science, (let’s just denote them by J,M,R,S…), then we skeptics would have no material – CA would fade away. As you recently put it yourself very succinctly, “they lost”.

    • PaulM, are you serious? Do you really mean that skeptics would have “no material” if certain personalities were not involved?

      I don’t believe that. Firstly, I thought it was about the science and the data and the research. Secondly, a lot of sceptic comments I see run with the notions that “it’s not happening” or “it’s not bad” or “it’s not us”, changing the names of the scientists won’t affect the data or the publications so I don’t see how your notion would fit in with that.

      I am still amazed by the idea that you could possibly be serious that your view of a dozen or twenty(?) people completely cuts out the possibility of making dispassionate judgments about the work of a couple of thousand scientists.

  31. “…talk about big picture issues related to the institutions and the larger forces at play in all this. And speculate on how we can fix this situation, or at least get some checks and balances in the system.”

    “BIG PICTURE” Issues and “LARGER FORCES” at Play:
    International Politics (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)
    National Politics (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)
    State/Local Politics (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)
    Personal Politics (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)
    International Commerce/Business (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)
    National Commerce/Business (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)
    State/Local Commerce/Business (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)
    Personal Commerce/Business (Long/Short Term Gains, Advantages)

    There is NO System Fix.
    There are NO System Checks and Balances.
    Climate Issues will gradually be replaced by other developing issues.
    Climate Issues may suddenly be replaced by unforeseen issues.

    The BIG Picture issues relative to institutions and the “larger forces at play” are much like climate itself, they cannot be managed. There is NO fix, nor are there any checks and balances for institutions and the “larger forces at play”. Governments, Businesses, Bankers, Investors, and Individuals will determine the Big Picture Issues and how they are handled.

  32. The biggest obstacle to changing the system will be two powerful groups of people. Those who are making millions off AGW, and those who have staked their entire reputations on promoting AGW (and that includes the MSM).

    They will do what ever they have to do to discredit any attempts to make climate science legitimate again. Environmentalist groups will smear, lie, misrepresent, threaten, and maybe even act (violently) against any attempt to change the status quo. Desperation will set in with these people. Expect to have a huge uphill battle on your hands. Many of us are here for at the least moral support. Others here will do what we can to help push change through.

    • The ‘science’ is totally lost in the politics and economics. And, it will be so for some time to come. Climatology is now synonimous with technology, taxes and tax write offs, the future, education, Green, the New World Order, a Better Future, Ecology, Art, sales, international law, local development, state cuts in federal spending, national prestiege, and religion, to name but a few.

      Setting and getting the science ‘right’ is going to be near impossible. It would almost be easier to let it die and start an new ‘science’. Would be smart to NOT use the term ‘Climate’.

  33. “I put forth an argument (the feedback loop) with premises. To many, the premises I put forth seem self evident.”

    Dear Dr. Curry, why being so vague here? Do you yourself believe that a statement like ” The entire framing of the IPCC was designed around identifying sufficient evidence so that the human-induced greenhouse warming could be declared unequivocal, and so providing the rationale for developing the political will to implement and enforce carbon stabilization targets” is self-evident and does not need any support to back it up? To MANY people, this is not self-evident and I find it hard to believe that you do. If you do not find it self-evident, why don’t you back it up with at least some proof? Making such harsh accusations without any proof, does not help in this already polarized debate.

    • Well, I am working on that particular statement right now with a brief history of the IPCC/UNFCCC. The rest pretty much falls into place after that.

    • That is EXACTLY correct. The IPCC was set up to promote a specific political idology. I have posted this before, you need to read up on who started the IPCC and why. Maurice Strong, who is quite outspoken in his desire to kill Western Capitalism.

  34. I’m repeating myself, but climate scientists need to start a Climate Science Society and make that the premiere organization for Climate scientists. Create a journal as the official organ for it. Once established, the society should admonish climate scientists to cease and desist any and all work with the UN. That would be a reasonable start to sorting out the mess.

    • Dear Jim, while I share your negative attitude to many similar U.N.-sponsored institutions, I am afraid that your policy recommendation is misguided.

      While the influence of international organizations may increase or decrease in the future, it will remain a fact that the U.N. will be a natural collector of the national politicians’ interest to work on international issues. You won’t be able to neutralize its influence in all sectors of human activity.

      That’s why, I think, one should take the existence of the U.N. and its arms – reaching to many sectors of human activity (and science) – as a fact. So the right solution is actually for the genuine science to try to regain even the organizations like the IPCC.

      There’s no doubt that the very predetermined purpose of the IPCC was to selectively look for arguments against the carbon dioxide and give these arguments a scientific image. However, this is just about the past and present IPCC. It doesn’t follow that the organization has to be biased and constrained by dogmas forever.

      In fact, so much irrational and expensive stuff has been created because of the IPCC-driven activity in the world that a similarly influential organization may be needed to peacefully deconstruct some of its deeds, too. Now, not everything that an opponent of the IPCC says about the science or policy has to be right. Still, there’s a lot of things that have to be solved – concerning the bringing of the inflating market with carbon indulgences and renewable energy back to the realistic market conditions, and many other things.

      Also, there’s some minor but nonzero interest about the question what the atmosphere does in the very long run – and concerns about various other big climate-related events, not necessarily man-made. People are going to agree once again that it is not an Earth-shattering question but some limited groups of people will be doing so, much like others are trying to contact the extraterrestrial aliens. ;-) The number of people and resources paid to such things will be vastly smaller than today but they will be nonzero. There’s no reason why it should be exactly zero.

      It’s not easy to “take the IPCC back” – or many other institutions – because these institutions have literally grown themselves by attracting lots of people who supported the official orthodoxy, while rejecting the people who disagreed with some of the orthodoxy. That’s why it’s just a fact that the “philosophical” and even “political” composition of the IPCC – but maybe even the broader climate-related community – is very distorted today. That’s why its future can’t be left to the same community, whether it’s just the IPCC or any other orgaization above the climate scientists.

      There must be an important role played by the outside people (hopefully competent ones) who have nothing to do with it – including the commercial sector, think tanks, and whoever else has enough to say about these matters. After some time, the climate community has to be rebuilt according to more impartial templates – which will significantly change its composition of political opinions, among other things, and also reduce its size. However, I don’t think it’s constructive to pretend that there won’t be any influential international organization related to these matters that’s linked to the only official truly international bodies – and they are and probably will be parts of something called the U.N. whether you want it or not.

      • Hi Luboš,

        The UN and subsidiary units will continue to do as they do, but why shouldn’t there be a Climate Science Society? If it became the central repository for much of climate science, the IPCC could still draw from that repository. I’m just saying the scientists should band together and run their own show. Their own organization should publish opinions on global warming. Maybe they could even allow a minority report. It just seems climate science has been hijacked by the likes of the UN and IPCC. It seems to separate the scientific body from the political one would be a good start.

      • “it will remain a fact that the U.N. will be a natural collector of the national politicians’ interest to work on international issues. ”

        Then why isnt there an Intergovernment Panel on Medicine, or an Intergovernment Panel on Physics, etc? Why just climate? In no other science is a consensus dictated by a political organization.

  35. Your original post was about “a cadre of scientists whose careers have been made by the IPCC [and] used the IPCC to jump the normal meritocracy process by which scientists achieve influence over the politics of science and policy.” These scientists, you tell us, “will tolerate no dissent, and seek to trample and discredit anyone who challenges the IPCC” and “have used to IPCC to gain a seat at the “big tables” where they can play power politics with the collective expertise of the IPCC, to obtain personal publicity, and to advance their careers.”

    Today, you claim to be “surprised that people thought I was attacking climate scientists in my original post.” Today, you claim to be “tired of the endless debate over who is hero and who is villain in the scenario unfolded in the CRU emails.”

    I’d actually have less of a problem if you stood your ground and had the courage of your convictions. Instead, you threw bleeding red meat to the psuedoskeptic ideologues who dominate these comments, and left town for a couple of days, professing to have no idea what caused all the fuss upon your return. Now you’re attempting to shift focus to “the system,” which is nothing other than climate scientists plus a handful of professional administrators.

    You’re attempting to create a narrative of an earnest reformer, who tried to change the system from the inside, but who was driven out when she dared to question climate “dogma.” I see someone who was never on the inside, whose beliefs are far closer to those of Anthony Watts and Willis Eschenbach than she ever lets on, and who is jockeying for a position of power and influence with the new Congressional majority.

    It gives me no pleasure to say this. I think I’ve made a genuine effort to meet you half-way, engaging with you on the substance of your posts, and offering my personal blog as a venue for a dispassionate debate of issues with the Italian flag. No more. I feel like I’ve been duped.

    • Hmm . . . lets look at how this whole thread originated. I was invited to Purdue to participate in a panel, and provide an opening statement. This statement was prepared on the day I was traveling to Purdue. I posted the thread when it was finished, shortly before the panel started. I was tied up all evening with the panel. I checked in briefly to moderate, then left at 4:30 a.m. to return to Atlanta, whereupon I was greeted with the responsibilities of my day job, and tons of reporters contacting me, not about my post here, but about helping prepare their climategate one year later articles. So there is evidence that refutes your hypothesis about me posting something controversial and then leaving town to avoid the heat.

      I now understand what caused such a blogospheric fuss over my post. People can’t seem to get away from the narrative of individual scientists, and think the whole climate issue can be boiled down to Mann vs McIntyre. Not even close: this is noise, a symptom of much deeper and more fundamental and more important issues. If you interpret my motives in doing what i do as enjoying attacking scientists and throwing red meat to the “denial machine,” well you are not even close to understanding the situation. By stating my opinions openly and engaging with skeptics, I’ve pretty much committed professional suicide in terms of my climate “peers.” Well if that is the case, I’m redefining my peer group to be the broader scientific community that is outside this particular system.

      I’m bothering to reply to this message because you have been a frequent commenter and active participant.

      • Judith,

        Some people are so focused on one issue only, that they are blinded by the broader picture.

        I know you are trying but in many cases it is a waste of breath.
        One day, once the climate hupla collapses, common sense may prevail in these individuals.

      • Dr. Curry,

        This is your blog. Don’t be distracted those who disagree with what you say or how you do or don’t respond to specific comments.

    • “Leaving town to avoid the heat” is nowhere near the point of my comment. Neither are predictable tropes like “the denial machine” or “the narrative of individual scientists.”

      Rather, I’m saying what you are saying: you are “redefining [your] peer group to be the broader scientific community that is outside this particular system,” including the “extended peer community” you’ve referred to elsewhere. The last post and this one appeal to different segments of your new peer group: these are the “bridges” which you will build in the future. Your narrative is that you were forced out by the indifference/hostility of your peers; my own observation is that you chose this.

      “Suicide” is a purposeful action. You weren’t pushed, you jumped.

      • My observation is that Judith’s honesty and itegrity and willingness to openly discuss what the rest of the world already knows, in contrast to the omerta of the cadre of scientists made it inevitable she would be shunned by them.

        They are still in denial of climategate, she is not.

      • Yes, all this is very purposeful. I’m not a sheep. and I won’t be herded like one. again, you are defining the battle between Steve McIntyre and Mike Mann. Not even close, this is all a sideshow.

      • I did not mention either name, or even allude to them. Methinks the professor doth protest too much.

        How about you just make your case without reference to all this “battle” nonsense, or name names? This shtick is way past its sell-by date.

      • PDA, this is going nowhere. you mentioned willis eschenbach etc. I was trying to relate to what I thought was your reference frame.

      • It’s OK. I’ve said my piece, and I’m either very wrong, or you’re deluded or disingenuous. Neither of us will be able to convince the other, and since this is your place, I’ll take my leave.

      • Exit stage left in a puff of innuendo.

      • Tallbloke, you should know that “hiding the decline” refers to the much discussed divergence problem in the paleo (specifically dendro) data right?

        Now why did Curry let you get away with that piece of innuendo?

      • Ok, PDA, we read what you wrote.

      • Voluntarily left because the science was corrupted. You cannot possibly understand because you think there is nothing wrong with the science, and everything wrong with anyone who disagrees with it. That’s classic dogma.

    • PDA:
      Your original post was about “a cadre of scientists whose careers have been made by the IPCC…”

      Actually, it was about a whole lot more than that. Your narrow focus reveals where your concern really lies. Not with the legitimate concerns of society at large with the climate scientific enterprise and it’s interwoven relationship with policy makers, but with guarding the reputations of the group of actors at the centre of the cyclone.

    • That’s how i read it TallBloke.

      It does seem that you’ve come to the table with an idea of what Dr Curry MUST be like and are fitting her words into this picture.

      I didn’t for a second think she was behaving as you suggested, which would suggest that personal points of view ARE playing a role here (whether you’re right or i am)- therefore you have to deffer to her explanation, which she’s made, at length.

      You’re making conclusions and assertions that i simple don’t see in what she’s written.

    • It is inadvisable to assume, regardless of the subject. It takes more time than we all wish to admit to learn enough about anything or anyone. The subject is pertinent. It is something you are interested in. The blog is fruitful and well attended. We are not so stupid, are we? The opportunity is evident. For you and the Doctor and the rest of us. You do not have to agree to be of value to the discussion; the most agreeable tend to be the least valuable to a discussion and seem to repeat what someone else has already said. But, the most disagreeable can also fit that status too; especially if they resort to temper tantrums, hissy fits, and/or acting like the class clown. You don’t have to buy anything. Stick around.

    • I think the system is falling down around your legs and you are trying to blame someone for this (Judith) when the blame is in the mirror.

      • What?? Where the Dickins did that come from?

        To what possible constructive use does that post have??

      • PDA is trying to smear Judith as to why she is now rejecting the AGW mantra. He is unwilling to realize that AGW is collapsing, and he cannot see that because he is blinded by his own faith in AGW. That makes him as much of the problem with AGW as a faith as any of the scientists practicing it.

      • AH my mistake- i read that as you were talking about Dr Curry, not about PDA.

        Complete misunderstanding on my part- apologies.

      • NP, easy to do here.

        I have been waiting for someone like Judith to come out for a long time. I knew it would eventually have to happen, just a matter of time.

    • You’ve been duped, all right.

      the response should try to somehow label these guys and lazy and incompetent and unable to do the huge amount of work it takes to construct such a database. Indeed technology and data handling capabilities have evolved and not everything was saved. So my feeble suggestion is to indeed cast aspersions on their motives and throw in some counter rhetoric. Labeling them as lazy with nothng better to do seems like a good thing to do.


  36. Relating to the Wicked Problem issue only minimally raised and discussed so far, it bears pointing out that the US and other countries already have huge economic incentives to research, develop, and install new energy production.

    While vast global coal reserves make this question more neutral with regard to carbon per se, it a more complete socio-politico-economic experiment nonetheless to examine how good we have been at steering the oceanliner of energy policy with regard to foreign oil in the United States, obviously a more simple problem than all fossil fuels together.

    The answer is that we are not very good, but it is a truth more aptly delivered through humor for now. This clip from The Daily Show is well worth the several minutes to download and watch. Will more “scientific” certainty of extreme risks 100 years out make us (or China or India) better? One has to wonder…

  37. My big picture is pretty simple. The climate change debate arose from a big push by a major political movement — environmentalism. Science got sucked in because this movement, which has grown steadily more powerful for 50 years, relies on scientific scares. The movement really hit its stride around 1990, with the Montreal Protocol on ozone and the acid rain SO2 provisions. So it took on CO2 (basically fire) but that has turned out to be too big, because our civilization is still based on fire. The IPCC and UNFCCC were set up by many of the Montreal people.

    Now the movement has run out of gas (sorry for the fossil fuel analogy). But there is a lot of damage to undo, especially in science. What we need is a balance in research, between AGW issues and skeptical issues. Moreover, this movement is not going away. For a while at least it will be a hotly contested second tier political issue, like gun control, where little happens because the electorate is deeply divided.

    • Regarding balance in research, today the $1.7 billion USGCRP budget is dominated by (1) basic carbon cycle research, which assumes AGW, and (2) applied modeling that looks at the following question: “given AGW, how bad will it get in the future?” So what we need is (a) a basic research program on natural variability and (b) a modeling program that explores natural variability. These programs can be funded by reducing the pro-AGW research, so no new money is needed and the overall program remains whole. However, the USGCRP is spread across a dozen different agencies, each with its own funding, so the change is not trivial.

    • “The climate change debate arose from a big push by a major political movement — environmentalism. ”

      Don’t for get to add that organizations like Greenpeace got hyjacked from the political left once the Berlin Wall fell.

  38. The Big Picture of Institutions and Larger Forces at Play:

    1. NAS reviews budget of funding agency (NASA, DOE, EPA, etc.)

    2. Funding agency (NASA, DOE, etc) gives research funds to scientist.

    3. Scientist reports findings that support NAS views.

    4. Scientist receives more funds; Appointed to IPCC committee.

    Oliver K. Manuel

    • The above scenario worked well in the space age.

      That is why students of astronomy, astrophysics, climatology, cosmology, and physics receive false information today:

      1. The Sun is a giant ball of Hydrogen (H)
      2. H-fusion heats the Sun and the Earth
      3. Solar neutrinos oscillate away
      4. DOE is earnestly seeking new sources of energy.

      Oliver K. Manuel

    • Oliver,
      I don’t think the NAS has all that much influence, not that I have seen. Congress controls the agency budget and the USGCRP agency program managers control the individual funding decisions in climate research. The NAS responds to Congress, which owns them politically. They may have influence when a decision is controversial, but that is about it. The typical NAS report is done by an ad hoc work group, with only one or two NAS members on it.

  39. @PDA

    I agree with your sentiment. As a (non-climate) scientist, I know that science isn’t always pretty. Just as in any other field, mistakes are made, people try to make career, etc. A big difference to other fields is that in science we have a system in which scientists check each other. And it works, although certainly not perfectly. To believe that climate science is as corrupt as dr. Curry wants us to believe, not only the IPCC, but the whole the peer-review process, ALL leading journals (nature, Science, PNAS, etc), most academies of sciences must be involved. It even appears that dr Curry believes this : “Eager for the publicity, high impact journals such as Nature, Science, and PNAS frequently publish sensational but dubious papers that support the climate alarm narrative. ” I find this shocking to hear from a scientist and difficult to take seriously, certainly when such claims are made without any evidence whatsoever.

    • On the contrary, there is plenty of evidence. Some of it will be going before courts and congressional hearings soon.

      • Some of it will be going before courts and congressional hearings soon.

        Please elaborate. Who is going to court/which congressional hearing? I hope you are not referring to the ridiculous attempts of Cuccinelli?

        There have been plenty of studies already into “climategate” and to my knowledge nothing has been found really, apart from the (indeed serious) FOI avoidance that Labmunkey mentions. But that really does not imply “corruption of climate science”

      • milanovic- i would also suggest you look into the reviews of the reviews themselves, if you follow.

        Things aren’t (as ever) as quite clear cut as you may have been lead to believe.

        Re- court/congressional hearings- i believe he’s reffering to the recent filed courtcase/sue action against nasa giss

      • ” i would also suggest you look into the reviews of the reviews themselves, if you follow.”

        I have. But again, I can believe what independent reviewers say, or
        WUWT or a similar site. Knowing how much scientific nonsense is placed there, I have little confidence that they do a good job in “reviewing” these reviewers. I did try to keep an open mind when reeding these pieces, but no, they were not convincing.

        Re- court/congressional hearings- i believe he’s reffering to the recent filed courtcase/sue action against nasa giss

        I agreed with you that avoiding the FOI of CRU and NASA were serious. But if in this court case is found that NASA was not guilty or the court rejects the case altogether, will you change your mind on this topic, or will you cry that the judicial system also does not work properly?

      • I’ve followed this one pretty closely, will be interesting to see how this plays out.

      • Last things first.. erm as it were.

        If the courts come back and say NASA GISS did nothing wrong, i’ll accept it 100% unless someone gives me an ECEPTIONALLY compelling reason not to. The courts at least, tend to be rather thorough.

        First thing- i.e. the reviews. I was not actually reffering to WUWT etc here.

        The reviews themselves were, insufficient, to say the least. Taking the last UK one- they didn’t examine the emails, they didn’t check if the data/emails had been deleted, they didn’t interview all the people involved and they didn’t examine all the calims against the CRU.

        There is no way on this earth that you can claim anythingwas achieved by this (or any) of the reviews.

        Had it been thorough and came back with the ‘all clear’ things would be different. But to not even examine the emails and data in question, is unforgivable.

      • sorry, replied to the wrong post:

        I am glad to hear that. I am afraid many sceptics will not. I from my part will then accept that scientific misconduct has taken place. Actually, I already believe that this is probably the case, I however very strongly disagree with the idea that this is widespread.

      • I don’t think anyone is trying to say scientific misconduct is widespread. Judith’s post is about the way a small group can generate expanding influence, amplified by another cadre ‘The Society of Environmental Journalists’, who regurgitate without question the press releases fed to them by university departmental PR teams, who themselves don’t understand the level of uncertainty underplayed by grant seeking scientists.

        For some inconvenient facts concerning the climategate Inquiries, I suggest you read the recent threads on, with a sceptical eye open.

    • Indeed.

      Couple that with whats already known:
      -deliberate and illegal FOI avoidance in the UK
      -evidence of professional misconduct
      -Misrepresentation of data

      Again, these points don’t necesserily prove the cAGW theory wrong- but without getting these issues out into the open, discussing and then dealing with them, we’ll never make any progress EITHER way. Blind defence of the theory, without accepting that these kind of issues do actually exist, helps no one.

      • I am glad to hear that. I am afraid many sceptics will not. I from my part will then accept that scientific misconduct has taken place. Actually, I already believe that this is probably the case, I however very strongly disagree with the idea that this is widespread.

    • The evidence is all over the place, presented by thousands, in many different places. A whole lot of people posting here know what I’m talking about. I’m preparing something on the UNFCCC/IPCC issue you raised earlier. The issue of professional societies, journals, etc. is a much bigger topic, and I will leave it to others. Read the editorials from Nature and Science on the subject of climate for the past 5 years (especially the ones related to climategate). Read the statements from professional societies on the topic of climate change; from professional societies where climate change is not relevant to the expertise of their society, and also listen to the dissenters from those professional societies that disagreed with their conclusions (surely you didn’t miss Hal Lewis statement regarding the APS statement on climate change). and on and on. Draw your own conclusions. Tomas, you have been doubting the confidence of the climate models regarding, well, just about everything, for good reasons. Why is everyone so united in defense of this?

      • “Corruption” is the wrong word. What we have is a fascinating and probably unique combination of a Kuhnian paradigm shift and a major political movement. Many climate scientists have accepted AGW as their paradigm and, as Kuhn pointed out, paradigms are not tested they are defended. This is normal science. But this paradigm is central to the political push by environmentalism for dominance of energy policy. As such its acceptance is often ideologically motivated. As a result there is a great deal of advocacy in this issue but very little dishonesty. Science has grown itself a political machine, one that is based on high principles, and it is not really sure what to do about it. That is the question that Dr. Curry is trying to raise.

      • thank you, well said.

      • I agree corruption is the wrong word and I accept dr. Curry does not imply that.

        As you correctly point out “paradigms are not tested they are defended. This is normal science.” . But what choice does politics have apart from following the current paradigm? I see no other option.

      • I did use the “c” word once, in terms of corruption of the IPCC process (regarding reviews and what got included in the report).

        Regarding corruption and the IPCC, i just spotted this article on the infamous Sci Am survey, where 80% of the respondents thought the IPCC was corrupt.

      • yes, and I see that only 30% believes that climate change is caused by greenhouse gasses, while 76 % think it is due to natural processes. So if you don’t mind, I do not take it too seriously. This poll only tells me that climate science has a huge PR problem, but it doesn’t tell me anything about whether that is justified or not.

      • Regarding your question “what choice does politics have apart from following the current paradigm?” It can recognize that the paradigm is politically motivated and react against it, and that is precisely what has just happened in the USA. The majority of the people now reject what the majority of scientists claim is true, siding with the minority of scientists. (My estimate is that there is a 70-30 split, not 90-10.)

        I expect to now see science swinging away from the catastrophic AGW paradigm, in favor of a more uncertain stance. To what degree remains to be seen, but there will be more to study. It is a grand show.

        But science chose to become political so now it is at the mercy of the political system, a system not known for mercy. All of the structures and safeguards which science has maintained to insulate itself from politics are now gone for climate science. In fact the reason we hear such a loud chorus of terms like corruption and fraud is because they are political terms.

      • You previously stated “As such its acceptance is often ideologically motivated”, with which I agree. That is something totally different from “the paradigm is politically motivated” as you state now. The paradigm already exists for decennia, even before the politization of climate science

        “But science chose to become political”
        Again I disagree: The science is politically very relevant, climate science itself is not political. The IPCC IS political. But IPCC doesn’t do any science, it tries to review scientific knowledge. Whether it does that accurately is a second issue (I think by and large it does).

      • Dr Curry.
        Thanks for your reply

        “The evidence is all over the place, presented by thousands, in many different places”

        Well, yes, but apart from ancedotes, I haven’t seen enough evidence to conclude that the IPCC SYSTEM is corrupt. But I will await your statement.

        “Read the editorials from Nature and Science on the subject of climate for the past 5 years (especially the ones related to climategate). ”

        I read Nature and Science regularly, although I can’t say I read everything climate-wise. I have also read some of the statements from professional societies on the topic of climate change. That, to me as a non-climate scientist, is enough reason to believe, that, indeed, by and large there is a consensus that AGW occurs and is likely to get worse. Of course I respect that some individual scientists disagree with that, but from a political point of view, that should not carry too much weight.

        The idea that both professional societies and respected journals are all somehow involved, I find very hard, if not impossible, to believe. In all other fields, these journals and peer review work well. I have seen the Climate-gate emails, and indeed it appears that individuals scientists have behaved badly, but I see no reason to doubt the entire peer review process and the quality of respected journals.

      • “large there is a consensus that AGW occurs and is likely to get worse.”

        What exactly is getting worse in the climate? Make sure you have references that points out that CO2 emissions are making these events “worse”.

      • If you like, it could find them, but I was somewhat sloppy, I agree. As a biologist I know that every environmental change, be it one way or the other, is most often detrimental, because we are adapted to the current environment, not to any other. I think this is also very much the case for our society as a whole. If some areas get for example more inhabitable and other areas less, massive migrations would occur. Although “worse” is a subjective statement, it doesn’t appeal to me.

      • As a biologist you should also know that humans evolved in the hottest driest place on the planet, Central East Africa. We had to invent ways of dealing with colder climates. Of course events occur in the climate that may make some areas uninhabitable. That’s been a problem for humans for 500,000 years. Changes in the climate have also been good for humans (MWP).

        The onus is on the AGW faithful to show that our emissions of CO2 have anything to do with any changes in any direction — good and bad.

      • Yes, indeed I know. Physically, we are well adapted to higher temperatures. However, as I tried to explain, our society isn’t. (e.g migrations, large cities almost at sea level and so on). Furthermore, some plants and animals are already “migrating” because of climate change

        Of course events occur in the climate that may make some areas uninhabitable.

        Yes, and to what kind of consequences will it lead if say, Bangladesh becomes uninhabitable? It was much easier to adapt to changing environment when world population was low. Secondly climate change as large as projected has not occurred in a long time.

        The onus is on the AGW faithful to show that our emissions of CO2 have anything to do with any changes in any direction — good and bad.

        Of course, and that is precisely what has been done. There is a large body of evidence for AGW. Actually, the only debate still worth having is about the strength of the changes (climate sensitivity) and most estimates don’t look good. Of course we can be lucky, but I’d rather not take the chance

      • “There is a large body of evidence for AGW”

        Really, like what? What changes in the climate or weather today are beyond normal variation? What changes in the climate have empirical links to CO2 emissions?


        If you are so concerned about population of peoples in harms way why are you not advocating moving everyone from active tectonic zones? Should you not be calling for the entire population of Haiti to be relocated after 300,000 of them were killed this summer? How many people have been killed from AGW? Zippo.

      • Really, like what? What changes in the climate or weather today are beyond normal variation? What changes in the climate have empirical links to CO2 emissions?


        Really, if is difficult where to start. I guess dr. Curry would do a much better job in explaining all this. It would be very much appreciated if dr. Curry would indeed educate some commenters here, but I will give it a try.

        “What changes in the climate or weather today are beyond normal variation?”

        Current temperatures are higher than in the last 1000 years, even in temperature reconstructions with the strongest MWP (such as Loehle). This of course doesn’t mean this is caused by CO2, but “normal variation” is very unlikely. Secondly, there are many experimental observations other than global temperatures that cannot be explained by “normal variation” as you call it, but are predicted by the greenhouse theory. Polar amplification and stratospheric cooling to name only a few. For a good introduction into the science see for example But from your comments it appears that youa re not actually interested in the science, otherwise it is hard for me to understand statements as “there are no emperical links between climate change and CO2 emissions”

      • David L. Hagen

        To correct the systemic funding feedback loop, it is important to expose the gross errors caused by such abuse of science.

        See Lord Moncktondetailing some of the IPCC’s corruption.
        “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen” 1st Chairman IPCC Science Panel, Sr. John Houghton
        “We have to offer up scary scenarios” Stephen Schneider
        “It is appropriate to have an over representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is.” Al Gore

      • “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen” 1st Chairman IPCC Science Panel, Sr. John Houghton
        regarding errors, can you find the source of this quote for me?
        Note there is another quote by Houghton which apparently says something similar (although it is crucially missing the word “invent” so I’d say the meaning is very different)
        Any “detailing” of corruption should be right about the details.

      • Ok, I will admit that Houghton is on my list of “IPCC is dogma”

      • Whoops, I guess I misquoted Monckton misquoting Houghton above it’s “announce” not “invent” but my general argument stands.
        Houghton has made some, ahem, problematic statements over the years, but it’s a stretch to use a fabricated quote as evidence that the IPCC “lied” by inventing AGW. There’s plenty of other ways of being critical of the IPCC, quotes just have a lot of “zing” appeal.

      • David L. Hagen

        Per your reference, I withdraw the quote above attributed to Houghton. That appears to have been a rephrasing of Houghton’s actual quote in: “The Sunday Telegraph (UK) on September 10, 1995, in which Houghton told writer Frances Welch”:

        “God tries to coax and woo but he also uses disasters . . . If we want a good environmental policy in the future we’ll have to have a disaster. It’s like safety on public transport. The only way humans will act is if there’s been an accident.”

        See: Piers Akerman is Being Victimized DenialDepot
        What the weatherman never said, Christopher Booker, The

      • The links with maybe the best context is:

        Clearly this article does not do Sir Houghton too many favors, especially if his religious views make you make you uncomfortable around his science. But what is he really saying here? The sentiment that society will not change its ways unless provided with visible evidence of disaster is not a terribly novel one in this issue – I have a sociology article from 1992 (Sheldon Ungar) that argues more or less the same, except with some actual analysis and without the religious overtones.
        That being said, I think the very appeal of the disaster narrative gets “warmers” in trouble from time to time. Now, we can make a leap from this sentiment to assume that John Houghton has manipulated the climate science to create a disaster, that he has “lied” in order to scare us into certain environmental policies.
        But that’s quite a leap.

    • milanovic

      I have personally experienced the corruption of science and the hiding and manipulation of experimental observations since 1960. Today I know from many independent experimental measurements that:

      1. The Sun is made mostly of Fe, O, Si, Ni, S, Mg and Ca (like Earth).
      2. The Sun selectively moves light elements H and He to its surface.
      3. Solar H is a waste product from the solar engine.
      4. Neutron-repulsion powers the Sun and the cosmos.

      These empirical facts were explained at the 2001 Lunar & Planetary Science Conference [“Sun’s origin, composition and source of energy”, paper 1041, 32nd Lunar & Planetary Science Conference (March 12-16, 2001)]:

      Three months later one hundred and seventy eight (178) claimed to have solved the solar neutrino puzzle and confirmed the Standard Solar Model by showing that neutrinos oscillate away before they arrive at the neutrinos detectors [Q.R. Ahmad, et al. (+177 other coauthors) “Measurement of the rate of interactions produced by 8B solar neutrinos at the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory,” Phys. Rev. Lett. 87, 071301 (2001)]:

      Unfortunately, milanovic, that is the way science operates today.

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

      • Sorry, I am not very knowledgeable about nuclear physics. Could you elaborate what is “corrupt” here?

      • Is it corrupt for scientific journals (Nature, Science, PRL, PNAS, etc) and scientific organizations (NAS, FRS, IPCC, EPA, etc):

        a.) To distort or hide experimental observations,
        b.) To ban papers/comments by dissenters, and
        c.) To present falsified information as scientific fact.

        Do editors of science journals and leaders of scientific organizations have scientific credentials and training (BS, MS, PhD, etc) specifically to protect science from social manias?

        Does social mania excuse editors of scientific journals and leaders of scientific organizations from hiding or ignoring experimental evidence about the true nature of Earth’s heat source in order to promote AGW [“Earth’s Heat Source – The Sun”, Energy & Environment 20 (2009) 131-144: ]?

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

      • Thanks for your elaboration, but for your harsh accusations, you provide little evidence. Your point b) is I think really mistaken. I can also claim that my paper has been recently been “banned” by PNAS. Maybe your paper was just not good enough, or at least the editors thought it was not good (or new) enough.

    • Social manias do not require overt corruption or great conspiracies.
      AGW fits the defintion of social mania to a ‘t’.

  40. Alexander Harvey

    “America where are you now”

    Well at the very least I am showing my age, but it is a key issue.

    It is easy for one such as I to feel like an interloper in the climoblogoshpere. Much of the discussion appears to be as much about what it means to be a USofA citizen as it is about science or process.

    This is an impartial comment, an observation.

    Where America “is” at this moment is crucial to discriminating between what can and cannot be achieved, and importantly between what does and does not need urgent fixing.

    Like all transformative powers, America is sometimes a great nation, it does many good and some bad things.

    It is a “founded” nation. A principled nation, a nation that does still have a coherent and communicable idea of what it stands for and what it stands against. I would put an emphasis on “still”, but that is by the bye. Or is it?

    If my time has taught me anything about America, it is that no one gets anywhere with its citizenry by handing them the yoke and telling them where it fits.

    At one level it puzzles me why your leaders have not completely struck the climate burden ball out of the park. At another level I wonder if that would be in your best interests. There are I think other forces at play and, whether one might like it or not, the climate pawn, is just that a pawn, a small piece in a game played for other existential stakes.

    Crucial to settling the question of how much GHGs are to be produced, is the question of where they are to be produced and to whose benefit and at whose cost. It is the duty of all nation states to create winners not loosers.

    This, you must understand, is a view from afar.

    I sha’n’t apologise for meddling, that is the lot of the interloper.


  41. In your original post you stated : “The entire framing of the IPCC was designed around identifying sufficient evidence so that the human-induced greenhouse warming could be declared unequivocal, and so providing the rationale for developing the political will to implement and enforce carbon stabilization targets. ”

    The question is …. why would anyone want to do that ? What was the purpose ? What is the need ? What is the most basic driver ? What needs do they serve, these villains that you seek ?

    • take a close look at the agenda of the UNEP and the enviro advocacy groups. And I’m not seeking a villain, I’m trying to take the narrative away from the idea that scientists or “deniers” are the villains. my point is that all of this got caught up in a self perpetuating positive feedback look, lacking checks and balances. Even the normal libertarian vs the enviro advocacy/UN side didn’t have much oomph because the UNEP had SCIENCE behind it in the form of the IPCC.

      • Positive feedback loop = inflationary bubble

        Even the normal libertarian vs the enviro advocacy/UN side didn’t have much oomph because the UNEP had SCIENCE behind it in the form of the IPCC.

        Perhaps you don’t realize/recognize it?

        Physical scientists and environmentalists make for strange bed fellows. Environmentalists are fundamentally ‘holistic thinkers’ (anti-science, Luddite). I am using hyperbole to emphasize the distinction but the dichotomy is more widespread. It passes unappreciated.

        ‘Physical science’ = logic, objectivity, ‘timeless overview’, autistic perspective.

        Humanity can be divided into autistic type thinkers and ‘NT’ (Neuro Typical, non-autistic)

        Autistic and non-autistic people are both drawn to forward looking, timeless, objective reality. Most philosophers are autistic type thinkers. There are limitations to the autistic perspective. Being overly logical/rational creates problems …

        ‘Physical science’ is essentially anchored in autistic perspective.

        Ecology is essentially heuristic and holistic. It deals with fragmented, distributed,multiply directed processes evolving asynchronously over a spectrum of timescales. This sort of problem is very hard to describe in a “well formed” manner.

        The AGW topic makes for dissonant allies. ‘Physical science’ (autistic perspective) lends substantive credence to a non autistic paradigm. On other topics, holistic thinkers would be very critical of physical science.

        Thus physical scientists find themselves in the peculiar situation of being supported rather than being criticized.

        No physical science ‘modeler’ would take it upon themselves to claim ‘high confidence’ and ‘consensus’ for what must surely be a complex and difficult to describe scenario. For the topic of AGW, the modelers confidence is bolstered by support from the heuristic/holistic/(non autistic) community which might otherwise be strongly dubious.

        Finally, this entire debate has been shaped by the ‘creation science’ challenge to evolutionary biology.

        Dogma was met with dogma. Unwavering refusal to consider any alternative to natural selection became acceptable and was recognized as an an effectiveness counter stance.

        I repeat …
        Positive feedback loop = inflationary bubble

        Most of the problem with AGW research,, response and mitigation is that is inflationary …

        .. that and treating ‘deniers’ as if they were ‘creation scientists’.

    • Good question. Given the global economic implications of carbon dioxide emission mitigation and the fact that geopolitical strategising tends not to be shared with the public at large, it seems inevitable that any attempt to answer your question will be denounced as a conspiracy theory.

    • One can postulate good faith and hearts of gold on the part of all scientists involved and still easily see a path that leads to our present situation.

      The IPCC was set up by political organisations with frankly stated political goals. And those goals were, if not admirable, certainly not contemptible–to advise governments on the magnitude of the global warming that was then being observed, chart its future course, provide guidance on its effects and possible actions to mitigate them.

      The IPCC subcontracted with a number of scientists working almost for free (quite a few were reimbursed by national science funds or universities) on their assessment reports, which were then processed through a consensus producing political pepper grinder, where every participating government had to approve every statement.

      The IPPC isn’t evil. It just failed in its mission. This is hardly an earthshaking revelation–many political creations are not successful.

      And it is not necessary to describe the actions of any of the participants as either evil or criminal to get to where we are today. Normal people responding to normal incentives with normal and societally approved desires and ambitions ranging from the noble to the pecuniary, are enough to bring us to where they are today.

      Most of the bad actions have occurred by outside groups defending the IPCC and its findings. This includes very open rent-seeking behaviour, guarding newly acquired political power or media celebrity and educational position and reputation. Some of these bad actions were performed by scientists, but the large majority were not.

      There are just a few truly odious actions that have occurred, but they have sadly become considered representative. One such as Rajendra Pachauri’s attack on an Indian scientist for pointing out for four years that the IPCC’s claim on Himalayan glaciers was incorrect during the period that the consulting firm he led, TERI, was negotiating for a large contract to study the glacial melting of Himalayan glaciers.

      But the actions that inspired all of this were denial of data to a curious blogosphere, something that would not have been considered wrong, unusual or even physically possible at the time the IPCC was created.

      There may be very few organisations that could have done what ‘we’ (the blogosphere) all wanted from Phil Jones, something that ‘we’ may find it hard to remember. Not defending what he did, but noting it.

      The important thing for me is that the IAC did not address the deficiencies that a generation of bureaucratic process have engendered. That the inquiries into Climategate were designed to frustrate the public desire to know what actually happened, or to point out the areas that badly need to be redesigned to conform to this brave new world we have invented.

      And the worst is that all of this has been hijacked for domestic political consumption in country after country, from Australia to the U.S., to nobody’s benefit.

      • Thanks for that. Bit of perspective i think i needed.

      • Yes, no one (at least not me) is talking about individual professional misconduct. I think that some scientists showed poor professional judgment and put other things (be the political views or personal professional advancement) above scientific integrity. But all of this would be irrelevant without the positive feedback loop in this big system.

      • Here where it gets dicey…
        To review any science currently today, there MUST be someone who is able to understand the science.
        In an area never explored or looked at by science, where is the expert to say it is right or wrong?

        What I have had to do is rely a great deal on mechanics which doesn’t exactly fall under physics. This is where my big fight is…if the mechanics are proving the physics, then it must be correct.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        This is a strong charge that needs to be clarified. Who put professional advancement over scientific integrity? Did this impact the outcome to the point where the climate science related to AGW was invalid?

        This blog has become some sort of combination of mystery story and gossip column couched in nonsense about systemic feedback loops.

      • The forces of advocacy, groupthink, and self-selection of scientists involved are sufficient to explain the feedback (amplification) process. The bad behavior just makes it worse and in a sense is a consequence of a bubble. Bankers who said the market was a bubble in 2006 lost their jobs.

  42. What to do? The science needs to clean house a little.
    1) Stop attacking those who question or don’t believe your proclamations. Evolutionary biologists don’t make public statements and issue press releases attacking those who don’t believe in evolution. And when the issue is valid statistics or choices of data to go into your meat grinder, there is no basis at all for having “enemies lists”.
    2) Important data needs to be made public. This includes ocean heat content (it is more or less), GISS, Hadley etc global data –and includes raw data and adjustment algorithms/codes.
    3) Clear statements of assumptions and uncertainties need to be made and discussion of these allowed.
    4) IPCC needs to stop citing grey literature such as WWF and Greenpeace reports with untraceable “data”.
    5) When Gore proclaims 20 ft sea level rise, major scientific figures need to repudiate it as absurd. Not doing so makes it part of the accepted consensus. Same with entire ice sheets “slipping” into the ocean or 90% of species going extinct (my colleagues and I did object to this last one in public: (Daniel B. Botkin, Henrik Saxe, Miguel B. Araújo, Richard Betts, Richard Bradshaw, Tomas Cedhagen, Peter Chesson, Margaret B. Davis, Terry Dawson, Julie Etterson, Daniel P. Faith, Simon Ferrier, Antoine Guisan, Anja Skjoldborg Hansen, David Hilbert, Peter Kareiva, Craig Loehle, Chris Margules, Mark New, Flemming Skov, Matthew J. Sobel, David Stockwell, and Jens-Christian Svenning. 2007. Forecasting Effects of Global Warming on Biodiversity. Bioscience 57:227-236) so I try to practice what I’m preaching here.

    • agreed

    • Dr. Loehle,

      Re: your 5), I agree but what is the appropriate forum for other scientists to refute or repudiate absurd claims? IMO, peer-reviewed journals are too slow and not widely read and professional societies stand mute on the issue.

    • AnthropoceneEndGame

      1) Yes, evolutionary biologists do make public statements attacking those those who don’t believe in evolution. And thank your personal gods they have the gall to defend biological science, against creationists especially. Levin is busy over at Amazon.
      2) The data is available. Ask for it.
      3)Uncertainties were made clear to me in IPCC 2007. How would improve this? Shall they quantify it, for the policy makers? Gulp.
      4) Grey lit be gone. THIS is a big issue?
      5) Gore as an issue? Absurd. Buy the AG voodoo doll, it’s made of straw.
      Your hit list is laughable.

  43. Another suggestion is that anyone in charge of critical data/models/research institutes should, in the interest of removing conflict of interest, be severed from political advocacy. This would include Hansen at GISS who goes on protests and officially endorses candidates or anyone acting as an author/editor for IPCC. This is not about free speech, but about propriety. How can we trust the GISS data when the head of the organization is an activist?

    • agreed. for the first time, as a result of the IAC review, the IPCC says it is going to address the conflict of interest issue. we’ll see.

      • How about the “conflict of interest” of Spencer and Christy, Judith? Does your inane rule apply to them as well? Why does their dataset go unmentioned or not concern you in this context? Have you forgotten about their intriguing confirmation bias when they loudly and erroneously claimed that the planet was not warming, but allegedly cooling?

        What about Lindzen associating himself with Watts (an activist on the other side of the spectrum) and coaching him(in an email sent from his university account) how to obtain a statistically insignificant warming trend (at 95% confidence level) in the CRUT data? Does that not concern you as much as what Hansen does in his spare time?

        And both of you should know that GISS is trustworthy (that myth was put to rest a long time ago, so what an alarmist thing for you to declare here), that is unless you are happen to entertain the wild conspiracy theories being floated on the internet. Interesting how you have forgotten/ignored the fact that GISTEMP has been independently verified (e.g., CCC), not to mention being corroborated by measurements made from independent data platforms (both surface-based and space borne). There is a very cohesive and coherent picture emerging that the planet is warming, and the observed warming has nothing whatsoever to do with what Hansen does as a free citizen.

        I sense an astounding double standard here. Actually, this blog represents one very large double standard, not to mention the libearl use of words like “fraud” and “hoax” and other accusations against climate scientists that you give free pass. Judith, is this really the time to be playing irresponsible games, and aiding and abetting ideologues in their vendetta against science?

        We we are going to delay taking action because of the yelping of the likes of Craig, then their ‘climate science’ must be subjected to equally rigorous scrutiny. Yet, failure to do so represents a double standard, and it is also false equivalence, because ‘skeptical’ science has been subjected to critique, it has repeatedly shown to be seriously lacking in rigor, repeatability (e.g., Loehle and McCulloch– it is impossible to compare their analysis with other reconstructions, and that is just the start of the problems), and has failed to even meet acceptable scientific standards (e.g., works by Douglass , McLane, Lindzen and Choi, Soon and Baliunas, Carter, de Freitas, McIntyre and McKitrick et cetera).

        Distressing then that you are OK with second-rate science and political antics being used to advocate delay and inaction Judith…..or can we look forward to your extensive and rigorous critique of “skeptics’ science” in coming months?

      • Mapleleaf, conflict of interest has nothing to do with the quality of science or its scrutiny. It has to do with conflicting interests. Read what the Wikipedia has to say.

      • And Christy and Spencer have interests which are in direct conflict with the theory of AGW. Why do you refuse to acknowledge that?

        If you wish to subject the IPCC and climate science to your scrutiny , fine; BUT, to maintain balance and integrity and credibility, you have to apply that scrutiny equally Judith. You are very clearly failing to do so.

        And if you are so concerned about the integrity of science, why are you OK with the examples I provided above? That is why I provided them– they were to address a separate issue from the “conflict of interest”, sorry if that was not clear.

        Anyhow, how come they get a free pass? Some of them represent the very antithesis of scientific credibility and practice. Please state for the record what you position is on these and other sub par ‘skeptics’ paper’ is.

        Failure to do so is why you keep running into trouble as a self-proclaimed “bridge builder”, and will continue to do so until you apply your skepticism and scrutiny equally.

        Right now you might be building a bridge, but it is not going where you think or say it is.

      • What physical evidence do you have that “Christy and Spencer have interests which are in direct conflict with the theory of AGW.”

    • Calling for the muzzling of your political opponents. Classy.

      Fortunately, under our system of government, free speech trumps any particular person’s idea of “propriety.” I don’t like unrestricted corporate spending in elections either, but it’s called the First Amendment.

      • I think the US also has for juries the term “recused: To disqualify or seek to disqualify from participation in a decision on grounds such as prejudice or personal …”
        Do you mean US courts are violating the first amendment?

      • Wow.

        Other than being a flagrant straw man, a statement revealing next to no familiarity with how difficult it is to get recused from jury duty for grounds, nor what narrow and specific restrictions are placed on the process in even the most selective of courts.

        What interesting content to leap to the conclusion offered.

      • When the first amendment is invoked to justify the IPCC not looking at conflicts of interest, what is so strange than to show that there are exceptions to the first amendment ? no matter how stringent?

        One could make them as stringent for the IPCC: nobody getting money from carbon trading or such should be on a post with decision powers.

      • Which would be a more interesting point than the comparison to recused for grounds from a jury.

        And yet, also not arguing to what PDA said. He didn’t say to use the First Amendment to not look at conflicts of interest.

        PDA merely opposed muzzling of scientists who disagree. The one is in no way the same as the other. Which is how this is a straw man.

        Please read harder.

      • It is standard practice for a judge with $ or family interests in a company to recuse himself from being judge on a case regarding that company. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech. I’m not talking about 99% of scientists, I’m talking about the head of the GISS data, or key authors of IPCC being advocates while serving.

      • And you’re not taking about a judge recusing himself from a case. You’re talking about stripping a United States citizen of his right to free speech, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Your resort to argument to analogy is telling, and unconvincing.

        Despite the fact that Capitol Hill is crawling with lobbyists advocating policies that directly benefit them and/or their clients, in this one area you’re asserting conflict of interest as a justification for prior restraint. Gee I wonder why.

  44. Note, I’ve added some new material to the original post.

  45. Dear Dr Curry,

    This is a fascinating discussion- though it raises more questions than answers- which is, I suppose, the point.

    Where is all this leading? The issue seems to be that it is not the science itself that is under question but rather that the very institutions responsible for fostering the science that are under scrutiny. All well and good- any institution would benefit from an overhaul of its practices ensuring that it becomes more transparent and more efficient, and it is highly probable, and necessary, that the IPCC learns some important lessons from its past mistakes and that its next report will be more rigorous.

    Yet that does not seem to be the aim of some of the criticisms. A lot of effort is being expended in the argument to get rid of the IPCC entirely. It is deemed so corrupt/sloppy/biased/etc that the whole of its conclusions are therefore contaminated and useless. Indeed, it would appear that that if one was to acknowledge the failure of the IPCC in its practices then one would have to doubt the veracity of the science it presents. This neatly avoids having to make any decisions on whether to act on emission reduction now, and paves the way for an entirely new institution with an entirely different agenda.

    How best could the IPCC be replaced?- and who is to say that any new mechanism would not be subject to the same problems and failings? The IPCC is, imo, rather like democracy- it may not be perfect- but it is the best we have. It was set up in order to test the hypothesis that humankind are affecting the climate by altering the composition of the atmosphere by the addition of radiative gases, and its conclusions support that hypothesis. Are we to abandon that hypothesis for one that sets out to determine whether it is natural variability that is responsible for the changes we are experiencing? Surely that is part and parcel of the first hypothesis?

    If we are to make the excuse that the science is too uncertain, the scientists too incompetent, the institutions too inept and the politics too corrupt, in order to avoid taking action by reducing emissions, then we are making the decision to keep emissions rising. If we were to scrap the IPCC, demand a complete revision of all temperature record, throw out all the data as contaminated and go back to the drawing board to start afresh, then we would need- what?- another thirty years of research at least? Who is to conduct this research and through which institutions?

    One thing is certain, if that is the road down which we decide to go- there will be plenty of real world data to consider, especially if the AGW hypothesis turns out to be, in fact, correct.

    • Sarah, I suspect that the IPCC may have outlived it’s usefulness. Other groups are better equipped to deal with the vulnerabilities, economics and policy options (the domains of WGII and WGIII). With regards to WGI, the current path they are on for trying to tease out ever higher confidence levels to the same findings isn’t going to help decision making. The climate scientists (notably the IPCC) have identified a threat that society needs to consider.

      As I will discuss in Parts II and III of the Decision Making Under Climate Uncertainty series (I will get back to that soon I hope), there are a lot of other types of studies and analyses that climate scientists might be doing to support decision making, that the current focus of the IPCC is arguably distracting from.

  46. Prophecy as a scientific endeavor should be undertaken very carefully:
    The only true prophecy comes from the ice records which tell us that we are already on the down slope to the next ice age, coming like clockwork but with large, with respect to our life time, time interval errors.
    It is sobering to contemplate this data , where the downslope is evident.

    Maybe next generations will be cursing us for fools spending all that ingenuity and funds on a trivial warming problem when they will have to hide underground from the cold. We should be spending world funds to study how to adapt to an ice age and even how to geo engineer extra heating ( mirrors from space increasing insolation? cloud dispersal? soot on ice?) to extend the mild climate we have the past ten thousand years.

  47. Judith:

    I’ve been at your sit for all of 10 minutes and all I can see is you trying to refute your peers.

    I was introduced to your blog by some nutter that uses your site to show that there is decent in the scientific community over the reality of climate change.

    Is that your intent? To refute the changing of the climate?

    • Skip, I am not refuting the changing of the climate. I am concerned about over confidence in the IPCC assessment, and about the integrity of climate science. That is what my blog is all about. If you want a better flavor for the blog than this thread, look at the threads under the “uncertainty” tag.

    • “Is that your intent? To refute the changing of the climate?”

      Is your default position that any changes in the climate are caused by human emissions of CO2?

      Climate changes, always has. Normal cycles. What I and others object to is the dogmatic claim that our CO2 emissions are causing all climate change. What I and others object to is the dogmatic unwillingness of the AGW faithful to look at any contradictory evidence and the belittling treatment skeptics get from the faithful.

      • Well, I’ve looked at it. And I’ve asked you questions, which have gone unanswered.

        Repeatedly using terms like “dogmatic” and “religious” isn’t a substitute for answering reasonable questions about the conclusions you’ve drawn. You demand that all science be subject to rigorous critique… except your own.

      • The Scientific American article called me a heretic. The only mainstream climate scientist (as far as I know) to publicly state that I am not a heretic was Roger Pielke Sr. And its not like people aren’t paying attention to the article, apparently it has almost 200,000 hits. I clarified what that “heretic” seemed to mean, and its hard to be a heretic if there is no dogma. These two posts are about the sociology of scientific institutions, not about the facts of climate science. I am raising questions and issues that I think need to be considered in the context of the sociology of the institutions that support climate science. This kind of issue is the “Etc.” in Climate Etc. I have presented an argument along with premises, and I’ve opened it up for discussion. I’ve received a lot of critiques and a lot of support (maybe somebody should do an Italian flag analysis :) ) But the important point is that I have people talking about something other than the emails, and hoping to for people to discuss something other than me. Lets have a dialogue about the issues I’m raising. These pieces are in the nature of an op-ed that raises issues that I think should be pondered and further investigated.

      • My comment was to Richard’s use of the terms, not yours. We’ve gone around and around on this, and as I noted elsewhere on the thread, we’ve probably passed the point where we’re able to communicate productively about it.

        I’d note for clarity, however, that one SciAm editor chose to put the word “heretic” in the title of the article about Curry. It was not Lemonick’s choice, and he did not use any word like “heretic” or “dogma” – or use any imagery even remotely similar -anywhere in his article. In my opinion, overmuch focus on the choice of one word in the title of one article in one publication is unhelpful.

      • Right, unanswered. I did clearly. TMax and TMin are converging, and must at some point diverge regardless of CO2 emissions, which means this is part of a normal cycle.

        When are you going to answer my questions:

        What is the default position in climate science, that all events are human caused or all events are naturally caused?

        How do you explain the increase in temps from 1850 to 1945 when our emissions were puny compared to today? Or emissions of CO2 from wood was far more than from FF in the 1800’s.

      • You did not answer my questions, you’ve merely doggedly repeated your assertion over and over and over again that TMax and TMin are converging. For the nth time, your analysis is not global, and cannot be used to assert a global trend. I don’t know how many times I can say this.

        I will answer your questions. In return I courteously request that you answer mine, which have been outstanding for some time:

        What evidence do you have in support of your assertion that “deep long cold winters are abnormal?”
        What evidence do you have in support of your assertion that the “trend has to be part of a normal cycle?”

        What is the default position in climate science, that all events are human caused or all events are naturally caused?
        Climate science, like all science, has no “default position” about “all events.” Some events (e.g. the changing of the seasons) have a clearly defined cause (i.e. the tilt of the Earth). Many events do not. For these events, scientists formulate and apply hypotheses about their causes. In order to test an hypothesis, the results are compared to the opposite explanation. This is the null hypothesis – the assertion that the results are the product of unknown or random events.

        How do you explain the increase in temps from 1850 to 1945 when our emissions were puny compared to today?
        The temperature increase has mostly occurred since 1900 and can be attributed to higher solar intensity and decreased volcanic activity. Since 1945, solar intensity has decreased and there have been more eruptions, but temperatures have continued to rise. Why? Scientists have investigated other potential causes: cosmic rays, sunspots etc. but they do not provide sufficient energy to account for the increase. The absorption and reradiation of thermal energy by CO2 and other greenhouse gases is the best hypothesis yet found to explain the warming.

      • It will be found to be global, already shown to be true in Australia and Ireland. Someone in Australia is currently looking at TMax and TMin elsewhere, and finding the same thing. It is world wide. When that is proven, then what?

        What evidence do you have in support of your assertion that “deep long cold winters are abnormal?”

        I will turn that around. What evidence do you have that a warmer climate is abnormal? Winters in geological history are rare events. They occurred only during glacial periods, such as this one, which are also rare events. Tropical climate is the normal state of the planet, has been for much of the last 500my.

        This is the null hypothesis – the assertion that the results are the product of unknown or random events.

        Then explain why every time an event happens in the weather it is blamed on AGW (such as this summer’s Russian heat wave)? Actually you are quite incorrect. The default position in all of the other science is that events happen by natural mechanisms.

        CO2 and other greenhouse gases is the best hypothesis yet found to explain the warming.

        Interesting, normal temp increase until 1975, then humanity took over. Yet the AGW faithful blame industrialization on all the warming. Go tell RC they are wrong because they seem to think ALL the warming from 1800 is from us.

        Also, which is far more likely to be true? That the “warming”, that is milder winters and not as hot summers, that started in the 1800s continues today, or that magically it stopped in 1975 and we kept it increasing with our CO2? Parsimony requires the simplest explanation. And the simplest explanation is the “warming” that started in the 1800s continues today from natural causes.

        So explain how increasing CO2 causes summers to be less hot, at least in North America, Australia and Ireland so far.

      • I will turn that around.

        Why won’t you answer my questions? What are you afraid of?

      • I did. I gave you direct evidence as to why cold is not normal for the planet. Reread it.

      • climate is always changing…
        just a natural cycle…

        “What I and others object to is the dogmatic claim that our CO2 emissions are causing all climate change.”

        The dogma is that our CO2 emissions are causing most of the current change. So add a strawman to the two red herrings above.

      • Yet the ultimate strawman is that your assertion is proven.

    • To all you nutters:

      There are 6 billion people on the planet to date. Mathematically the number increases faster and faster, year after year. The mere fact that so many humans live on the planet, and, under Capitalism, which is very efficient at exploiting everything, denotes that change will occur. For the negative I might add.

      To think that change on the planet, at this point in time, in one form or another, are random, dictated by natural occurrences, is to say you have no understanding of nature.

      The things I expect from scientific researchers are, to find out what changes are occurring, and then to figure out how, we can handle those changes properly.

      If that implies taking a political stand on a subject, then so be it.

  48. Judith:

    You fell into a trap. Your enemy is not your peers, it’s the bourgeoisie with their capitalist dogma. You live in the USA, the epicentre of world capitalism.

    Your environment dictates your consciousness.

    Your blog is confusing and leads people to distorted thinking on this subject.

    Your arguments are long and distracting.

    Letting everyone have a voice is a distraction in it’s inefficiencies.

    You should break it up in to groups. Group 1 is filled with educated scientific researchers. Group 2 is all the others, they are allowed to listen in on the discussion.

    You can only talk to people in your own group but everyone is allowed to read everything.

    You have to be the one that directs people as they go astray. Much like a class room. The scientific researchers are the teachers and the others are the students. The teachers talk amongst themselves and the students learn.

    Or like a debate, you pose the questions, you and your peers debate and we listen and learn.

    • “You fell into a trap. Your enemy is not your peers, it’s the bourgeoisie with their capitalist dogma. You live in the USA, the epicentre of world capitalism.”

      Excellent example of why the AGW movement is not about science, but about killing Western Capitalism.

      • Enough with the ludicrous conspiracy theories already.

      • It is what it is. AGW is the left’s attempt to kill capitalism and use the UN to impose a one world unelected government. That’s what Copenhagen was all about.

      • Uh huh. Here, a tin foil hat for you. Really, how do you expect to be taken seriously when you talk such nonsense. This is the nonsense that the discredited and alarmist Chris Monckton goes around spewing.

        Judith, please explain to this person that this is not what is going on. You know, to set the record straight, to state your position clearly on AGW/ACC and to apply some balance to the discussion…..

      • Really, how do you expect to be taken seriously when you hide behind pseudonym.

      • Again, I point you in the direction of who started the IPCC and why. Why at the last minute was the global governance removed from the Copenhagen deal?

        It’s clear you are unwilling to look at ulterior motives of those who push the AGW faith, yet quite willing to profess about unsubstantiated motives of skeptics.

        What’s your stake in keeping the AGW faith alive?

      • Copenhagen was always about global governance, but it was never about a One World Government. The deal collapsed because national delegations (who make up the UN) were too busy looking after their own interests and backstabbing each other.
        Check out the secret recordings – nothing about destroying capitalism, nothing about a one world government, just politics.,1518,692861,00.html

      • jrwakefield:

        I’m sorry, but you seem confused. Your statement is false.

        I on the other hand, have no qualms with the dismantling of American Capitalism. Though its economic philosophy is very good in the realm of exploitation, it has proven to be a horrendous social construct.

        To date, Capitalism has proven ineffective at solving homelessness and hunger , let alone changes in climate.

    • Certainly you are joking.

    • Cool…
      You have a brain, over there.
      You don’t have one on this side…

      Shows total ingrained blindedness.

    • Your consciousness is developed in and by your environment.

      Living in a Capitalists society, people think that everything must conform to this economic condition.

      The bourgeoisie, with capitalist dogma, insist that any remedies of climate change must live in the realm of this stated dogma.

      These two forms of thought are not correct.

      All remedies for the negative climate change we face, are acceptable under two conditions. This conditions are, can humans create said remedy and will it be safe?

  49. The way to get checks and balances into the system is by doing exactly what you and others are doing, questioning it, probing it, examining it, finding problems. It is slow and messy, just like democracy, but it is the best that we can do, so far.

    The main problem confronting us with the snowballing of AGW is our confusion with the two nouns, science and scientist. Science is “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws”. A scientist is a person who studies or practices science. But people are imperfect, and just because someone studies or practices science does not mean that they do it well or even at all.

    There are many historical examples of incorrect scientific theories gaining widespread acceptance, and once that happens it can be difficult to overturn them. Inevitably they are proven right or wrong by simple observation. Someone sails a boat around the world, a star is observed to be optically displaced during an eclipse, single electrons form interference patterns when traveling through a narrow slit. AGW will be proven wrong by observing that the earth is not getting warmer, at least not in any way that can be associated with humans.

    I can think of as many of these pseudo scientific alarms as years I am old, meaning they come around pretty often. Alar, acid rain, DDT, ozone. Med fruit fly, Avian Flu, H1N1, soil depletion, over population, on and on, and they come around as frequently as new claims of free energy or over unity machines. Not all of this is bad, however, getting rid of DDT (USA) was probably helpful and some interesting ideas have come from the “scientists” claiming over unity. Certainly controlling population growth would be good, but by and large these claims are just scams and hoaxes generated to garner publicity and fame, sometimes money.

    So you ask, what mechanism or process or set of rules can we put in place to minimize these scams and hoaxes? None, you will only make it worse by trying to do so. This is evidenced by the workings of OSHA or the EPA, which I truly believe mean well but in reality do more harm than good. Read “The Death of Common Sense” by P. K. Howard for a reference to that statement. A well educated, informed and free society is the best check and balance that can be hoped for, for now. Keep up the good work!

    • So the fact that the oceans are becoming more acidic is completely lost in your analysis of the situation.

      How about you leave science to the professionals. I’m sure they are putting their thoughts to the test, on a daily basis.

      • Sorry man, but your post is way to long. I decided to reread it. You have some valid points at the end.

        My whole idea is that all these conditions you talk about take place in an environment. The environment that you live in dictates that the conditions you experience will take place.

        People don’t choose, they react.

        At some point we must come to terms with this and then do what we can to reconcile the obvious.

        When it comes to the earths climate, we have to reconcile the obvious.

        Don’t worry, the obvious will make itself ever more so, as time passes, and the bourgeoisie practice their dogma.

        And then, as always, we will react.

  50. Alexander Harvey

    I think, and I am pretty sure, that in 1992 there was a supplementary report to the 1st Assessment Report. The first AR was actually just called something like “The Scientific Assessment”.


    • Alexander Harvey

      I know very little about the supplemental report except that is a bit of an oddball event. I guess that AR2 was underway but it was decided that something more was needed by 1992. I really have no idea if it was prepared under the same guidelines or what was the perceived need.


  51. Regarding the feedback loop, is the evolution of the WGI position due to feedback or the slow accumulation of evidence? Was nothing learned in the intervening years? I think your opinion on that is pretty clear, but outside of the blogosphere, that case needs to be made.

    As to WGIII, it is easier to see – and defend. If the world decided – rightly or wrongly – to pursue a certain policy (Kyoto), then it makes sense for an intergovernmental body looking at policy to focus on that method.

    • Nothing wrong with the evolution of the WGI position (other than maybe AR4). the key points were “discernible”, which was put into the summary for policy makers without approval of the rest of the lead authors, under pressure from the policy makers, and the brandishing of the hockey stick as an icon.

      • Judith,

        Can you elaborate on your points about the SAR, Ben Santer, and the “discernible” claim a little more?

        Are you claiming that there was no justification made in the SAR WG1 for the “discernible” claim?

        In the main post you say “Once the UNFCCC treaty was in place, there was pressure on the IPCC to back this up with science. Hence the “discernible” in the SAR. Ben Santer has taken huge heat for that, but look at where the pressure was coming from.”

        By “heat” do you refer to the Seitz WSJ article? Or are you referring to wider criticisms from the scientific community?

      • Paul, see the wikipedia page for Santer, points you to the basics of the controversy. Others can chime in.

      • I’m well aware of the of the publicized attacks made against Santer i.e. the ones mentioned in the wikipedia article. I’m interested to hear if there were any criticisms made within the mainstream climate community at the time. Perhaps you can provide some comment on this? I’m only interested in this because you seem to be alleging the motivation for the “discernible” comment is political not scientific. Therefore, I’m interested in whether Santer and the “discernible” statements are out on a limb scientifically. The presence of mainstream scientific criticism would support the politically motivated narrative.

        Continuing on the scientific vs. political motivation for the “discernible” claim, you say that the discernible statement was made in the SPM of the SAR and that it was not supported by the other lead authors. Can you provide evidence of this? I can see that the WG1 of the SAR concludes with the statement that:

        “The body of statistical evidence in Chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points towards a discernible human influence on global climate.” With a following qualifying statement that due to uncertainties the magnitude of this effect is limited.

        Therefore it’s not just the SPM that is suffering from the alleged political interference and lack of support from the other lead authors. Given the wider presence of the “discernible” claim and its apparent justification in the WG1 I would really appreciate your comment on this; are you claiming that there was no justification made in the SAR WG1 for the “discernible” claim made in the SPM?

        Link to the SAR:

      • I do not have any knowledge of this situation beyond what is reported in the standard sources. This issue has been widely discussed and disputed. There is no particular reason to rehash it here, i brought it up as a key issue in the history of the IPCC and the debate surrounding it.

      • “I do not have any knowledge of this situation beyond what is reported in the standard sources.”

        I thought you might have been aware of other criticisms, oh well.

        “There is no particular reason to rehash it here, i brought it up as a key issue in the history of the IPCC and the debate surrounding it.”

        Based on the letter written by Santer endorsed by 3 lead authors of chapter 8 your “key issue” appears to be founded on baseless accusations. I’m surprised that you’re not willing to discuss this issue since it formed an important part of your narrative that the politics was driving scientific statements in IPCC reports. Surprised because if the premise is a false one, as the letter indicates, then the argument you put forward falls down. Consider me un-persuaded.

      • I’ve found the AMS and UCAR response to Ben Santer:

        Please note the letter Santer submitted to WSJ signed by 40 colleagues as attachment 2. Please also note that 3 of those colleagues were lead authors on chapter 8, which is the chapter that caused so much of a stir. How is it that 3 other lead authors of chapter 8 would publicly repudiate the allegations that Santer made the alterations to include the “discernible” claims for nefarious reasons if those accusations had any merit? Were they politically pressured too? The conspiracy widens.

  52. David L. Hagen

    Federal/National and International funding to “mitigate” or “control” climate has and will strongly amplify this insidious feedback loop. Lord Monckton warned that mitigating global warming is being used as the wedge to establish global government. The UN is continuing to seek ways to tax carbon. Where UN funding is currently “voluntary”, such a climate tax would establish a permanent growing economic base for the UN.

    There was substantial opposition to such taxes at the Copenhagen Climate Conference. The 2010 US elections appear to have brought in numerous representatives who are for smaller government and are skeptical of “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming”.

    Continuing vigilance is required to preserve freedom, steward our resources and environment, and uphold scientific integrity.

    “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

    –Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4,1777

    “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    — Edmund Burke

    “Eternal vigilance is required and there have to be people who step up to the plate, who believe in liberty, and who are willing to fight for it.”

    — Milton Friedman

  53. Hi Judith

    I posted this on Part I by mistake:

    One cannot assign blame to scientists alone nor is it necessarily constructive to focus on individuals; the IPCC is a political rather than scientific entity.

    I recently gave a presentation to the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment in London, “Is Carbon Trading and Investment the next Sub-Prime Crisis?” which prompted the audience to revisit (and some to recant) their belief in man-made global warming and draw parallels with the sub-prime crisis. Click here for the podcast (sound and slides) of the presentation:

    Individuals respond to incentives and in the sub-prime crisis, everyone involved was incentivised to perpetuate the myth that sub-prime mortgage backed securities warranted AAA ratings. Investment banks and the credit rating agencies colluded to optimise the risk profile of securities.

    The IPCC exists to assess and address “human induced” climate change. Climate science funded on the same premise. Politicians who have supported the AGW theory have much to lose should it be abandoned. A carbon industry has evolved and would have no raison d’etre without AGW. The media has a attracted large audiences through apocalyptic prophesies.

    $billions have been spent proving and promoting the AGW hypothesis.

    These are structural incentives to obscure the truth.

    Your feedback premise goes way beyond the science.

    • Clive, your analysis does extend my argument. I originally included the politics of enviros vs libertarians/oil companies. But now there is real “investment” in terms of $$ and politician’s careers. The plot thickens.

      • Hi Judith

        A bit like climate science, the influences supporting the AGW agenda are very complex.

        Some $140billion was traded in carbon credits in 2008 and only the credit crunch moderated trading the following year. Had the US adopted cap and trade, this would have been (and may yet be) a multi-trillion dollar market. Interest in carbon credits has slumped in the US: the Chicago Climate Exchange ceased issuing trading reports this April and is suspending trade at the end of this year, probably caused by the swing to the Republicans against a background of increasing scepticism in the US.

        In Europe, legislation forces companies/governments to adhere to emissions reductions targets which artificially supports trading and the price of credits on the European Climate Exchange. Those trading in credits aren’t interested in the science, it won’t impact them unless they happen to be long of carbon credits when the market collapses.

        One constituency which is little discussed in this debate is the banks. Goldman Sachs was a key player in the sub-prime crisis (hence the $500+ million fine imposed by the SEC recently), played a significant role in establishing carbon trading and together with Al Gore had a substantial stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange (which in turn owns the European Climate Exchange).

        The pro-anti global warming debate is habitually framed in terms of left and right. This paradigm doesn’t apply. The debate is polarised between those who depend on the hypothesis for power, prestige, employment or profit and those who are seeking the truth. Big oil/coal funding sceptics is a red herring and if it ever applied, has long ceased to be a factor. BP, Shell, Exxon et al are all on the climate change band-wagon.

        What science can do is demonstrate that if one adheres to the scientific method, the AGW hypothesis has no validity. Overcoming the forces ranged against disclosure of the truth will require concerted effort. If Climategate couldn’t do it, what will?

  54. Dr. Curry,

    Though I am a bit late jumping into this discussion, I think there is part of the feedback loop that you have skipped over. That is the part played by the general public. It is the dynamic of that that is interesting.

    First off, we humans are programmed to search for cause/effect relationships in things around us. You know what I mean: stick your hand in a fire, it gets burned. That kind of thing. That is basic survival.

    When presented with a problem described by the media as the “Global Warming Crisis,” we immediately look for a cause. A single cause. The CO2/Warming scenario looked like a reasonable candidate cause/effect relationship. Thus, immediate public acceptance of that proposition.

    However, the general population is not permanently locked into any such logical relationship. Gradually the extent of the crisis is considered: Are the initial claims consistent with observed facts? Does the cause/effect relationship appear solid? What is the cost of proposed responses? What would happen if we don’t respond? What if we did something different? What was happening outside academic and political circles was that folks were considering and discussing these questions.

    I doubt that ClimateGate had much direct effect on the US population. After all, it was all but ignored outside the web blogs. Most folks in the US have probably still not heard of ClimateGate, or know anything about any specific climate scientists.

    From what I have seen, the shift in the poling numbers about AGW in the general public reflects a underlying distrust of the science that had been building. It is simple as the effect part of the cause/effect relationship not showing up as described. AGW has been pushed as a problem for nearly 30 years. Most folks would expect some of the horrible effects of warming that were predicted all those years ago to be evident. Remember, the early and subsequent claims were about some very drastic consequences such as very noticeable sea level rise or very frequent huge hurricanes by now.

    The calculation the general public has made is that the cause/effect relationship between CO2 and Warming is bogus. Or it is at least weak enough that sacrificing today’s economy to reduce CO2 production is not warranted.

    Politicians are discovering the public is not buying into the “reduce CO2” push so are dropping it. Now part of that positive feedback system is weakened.

    Anyway, I’d just like to throw this into your mix.

    • Gary, very interesting point. Hurricane Katrina actually fueled public awareness and concern over the global warming issue. Then distrust set in (largely fueled by climategate.)

  55. Dr. Curry,

    I believe you are on the right track, please stick with it.

    Regarding the question on how to move forward from the uncomfortable place we find ourselves in, I keep thinking about Feynman’s first principle: “you must not fool yourself”, which seems like an impossible task for any human being to achieve, scientists included.

    I might be willing to reword this principle to say:
    you must try VERY HARD not to fool yourself, but don’t be surprised if it happens.

    So when I think about publicly funded science, the key thing I think is missing is a formal requirement to try and separate the wheat from the chaff. How do we do this crucial function today? Peer review? Wait around for knowledgeable outsiders to try replicating a study?

    I think this goes to the heart of what you are trying to say. Uncertainty is much easier to identify/characterize if there are opposing points of view trying to poke holes in any scientific endeavor. The most interesting thing I’ve seen on your blog was the link to the Atlantic paper about medical research entitled “Lies, damned lies, and medical science”.

    Seems to me it would be most valuable to the public to have the scientists perform this task themselves; formally, through the grant processes. What I have learned from climate science is that peer review in the present sense does no such thing. I’ve also learned that for policy purposes, the study isn’t valuable without the proper critical analysis and rebuttals.

    So the question I would like to ask is: would it help to have a formal requirement for publicly funded scientists to do replication studies in addition to their original work? I think the answer is yes, but I’m not sure how to attach research grants to such a requirement.

    • Thank you David. Re what to actually do about this. Scientists are just uninterested in doing this, and it should be done by independent people. Here is where I think the extended peer community and blogospheric auditors can play an important role, with a little bit of organization.

      • Only if those “blogospheric auditors” and “extended peer community” rare genuinely interested in advancing the science, actually have the ability and experience to constructively critique what the subject at hand, do not have an axe to grind with the scientists and do not have any political affiliations or affiliations with think tanks or have not participated in any protests or signed any petitions. Right Judith? How are you going to ensure that?

        JC “Scientists are just uninterested in doing this”

        Nonsense, and at the very least an unsubstantiated and sweeping generalization. You seem to keep forgetting about the CCC– why? Not to mention this recent post at RC:

        You would not be trying to deceive people now would you Judith?

      • I agree that scientists would be uninterested in doing what I’m suggesting, but I don’t believe that publicly funded scientists should necessarily have that much say in how our grant money is spent. :-)

        If the original work was top notch, then I would expect that the replication of any scientific research would be much easier than the initial effort. Previously I’ve posted the following suggestion on another blog:

        Upon completion of the original work, publicly funded scientists must perform the following two tasks before receiving further funding for new research:
        1) replicate another scientific study that they are not affiliated with
        2) have their own research replicated by interested, but unaffiliated scientists

        Would this not increase the quality of publicly funded science, and eliminate many of the problems revealed in ‘climate gate’? Wouldn’t this increase the return on investment from our science research grants?

        I would like to think of a better way, but this is the best I can come up with.

  56. Judith,

    You are not listed as an author or review editor for AR5. Will you be a reviewer for AR5, and if yes, then for which group (e.g.., WGI, II or III).

    • I have not been asked to participate in AR5. Had I been asked, i would have declined. If asked to review, I would certainly do that.

      • As far as I know one does not have to be invited to be a reviewer.

        And why would your decline to participate in the writing of AR5? It would be a perfect opportunity for you to put your money where your mouth is and contribute constructively to addressing some of the issues that you frequently lament about. That said, there would also be some accountability to go with that, so perhaps that was/is your concern? Much easier to throw stones from the outside, all the while claiming to be concerned about the science?

        And please carefully re-read my post about the conflict of interest of Christy and Spencer and the UAH AMSU data. Why do your rules apply to them? And please do not defer me to Wikipedia.

      • One person cannot change that system. What is the conflict of interest with Spencer and Christy? This does not make any sense to me that this is a conflict of interest.

      • I just knew that would be your come back. That is nonsense, if we all adopted that attitude the world would be a chaotic mess and no progress would be made, period. You seem to not care that much then about the science or the issues with IPCC to become directly involved.

        And please think some more about the conflict of interest of Spencer and Christy managing the UAH AMSU data. The example of their confirmation bias mistake should have been a big clue, not to mention their affiliations with politically funded think tanks.

      • David L. Hagen

        Lay off the slander and ad hominem attacks.

        Dr. Spencer’s research has been entirely supported by U.S. government agencies: NASA, NOAA, and DOE. He has never been asked by any oil company to perform any kind of service. Not even Exxon-Mobil.

        Everyone makes mistakes. Evidence indicates that Christy and Spencer are doing a very professional scientific job in managing the UAH AMSU data, correcting errors as they are discovered.

      • David,

        I take exception to your characterization of my critique of Judith’s position on this. That and please learn how to use ad hominem correctly– although I sympathize, it is a tricky one.

        Spencer has affiliations with the George Marchall Institute and Heartland Institute:

        Spencer is/was affiliated with ICECAP. And he has signed at least three politically motivated open letters on the subject of climate change. He is every much an ‘activist’ as Hansen is in this context.

        Christy has ties with the Heartland Inst. as well as the Marshall Inst.

        Now why does that not bother Craig or Judith? They are applying a double standard if they do not express some concern about this.

      • Roy Spencer is on the Board of the Marshall Institute. That is the kind of conflict one would disclose, but this would not disqualify you from serving on various committees, etc. The key issue is whether money exchanges hands, i.e. whether Spencer is paid by the Marshall inst or contributes. Sourcewatch does not identify any flow of funds.John Christy has no formal connection with the Marshall Institute or the Heartland Inst. Attending a conference or giving a talk at a venue sponsored by an advocacy group counted as a conflict, just about every scientist in the field would have one. I have attended events organized by various enviro groups, such as ED, NRDC, Pew Climate, UCS.

      • Why the extra hurdles Judith? Regardless, money has very likely been exchanged, speakers at Heartland can be paid an honorarium of $1000.

        And, Christy has had ties with the George Marshall Inst. He participated in a Marshall Inst. roundtable discussion on climate change in 2006. And that is just what we know and what is in the public domain.

        But Spencer does most definitely have close ties to some political think tanks, and has written open letters sponsored by same.

        Judith, why all the squirming? The same rules that apply to Hansen apply to Christy and Spencer, EOS. Why is that so hard to accept or agree that at least one of them (Spencer) is in a position of conflict. You agreed with Craig ‘s assertion without so much as a second thought it seems.

        And someone brought up Wegman on this thread…I suppose that he gets a free pass from you too?

      • Are you paid by Al Gore to be here? Would it matter if you did or didn’t?

        Conflict of interest: RealClimate owned and funded by the radical left wing political lobby group Environmental Media Services who make millions litigating climate cases. RC also gets donations from Al Gore. Now that’s conflict of interest.

      • Mapleleaf,

        When I click on your name, which I assume is a hperlink to your website, I receive and error message, “… this is not a valid address.” Why does that happen? Do you have a website?

  57. Judith,

    I see that you wish to step away from focus on the climate scientists in your Part II and start looking at the process that generated the scenario of the unrestrained positive feedback that lead the climate science astray.

    Yes, I think there were (are) ideological environmentalist groups, pro-authoritarian gov’t groups and green profit focused businessmen (etc) who looked upon scientists as useful tools to serve their pre-determined agendas.

    But this absolves the individual scientists, university science program administrators, professional scientific societies and science journals involved in the positive feedback loop of nothing. They voluntarily served. At best they were just willing accomplices and at worse they were fundamentally involved in enhancing the positive feedback mechanism itself. Where the integrity mechanism is found inoperative there is no innocence or excuse.

    Is there a universal code of scientific professionalism & ethics that guides the body of science? Where is the explicit self-correcting mechanism against abuses like those that are evident in climate science? Is there a scientific Hippocratic Oath? If no on any of these questions then you need to go no farther. That is the fundamental problem.

    Scientists would do well to adopt the Hippocratic Oath’s general ideas with some lessons learned from the climate science problems included. Here is the modern version of the Hippocrathic Oath:

    “I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

    I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

    I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

    I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

    I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

    I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

    I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

    I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

    I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

    If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.”

    [Written in 1964 by Louis Lasagna, Academic Dean of the School of Medicine at Tufts University, and used in many medical schools today.]


    • John, it’s an issue of integrity, as per Feynman’s quote. That is a real failure of the scientists and the institutions, and one of the main things I have been speaking out about. There are new guidelines coming down the pike on the “responsible conduct of research.” This is good, it helps the misconduct issue, but not really the integrity issue.

      • Judith,

        I agree you, although I would like to chat someday with you over cocktails about the fine distinctions between misconduct versus integrity. : )

        I admire your unfolding efforts. Do not run out of energy . . . . . . volunteers await your call, I am sure.


  58. One problem the IPCC has is their belief in the self righteousness. Going back few years I use to think that the CO2 global warming was a fact. After plotting data available from Met office, NOAA, NASA, SIDC etc, initial doubts turned into distrust and finally scepticism.
    There are two types of sceptic
    – larger majority motivated by economical, financial, political or other reasons, without deeper knowledge or interest in the background science.
    – small minority interested in science, data, correlations, historical records etc.
    First group is dismissed as ‘ignorant crowd’ and the second are often described as lunatics, their output as numerology, pseudo-science or astrology.
    If the IPCC think the problem is PR, they are wrong.
    The first group is not over-impressed by gross exaggerations, fear and doom mongering, it insults their intelligence.
    The second tiny minority has to be taken more seriously, universities and research institutions should allocate up 10% of their resources (financial and otherwise) to investigate crop of various ideas floating around. Thorough scientific analysis with a negative output, is a useful step towards defining true facts. Declaring CO2 as main or only cause, than setting to prove it by ‘data manipulations’ was patiently a wrong approach. Process of systematic elimination with high degree of certainty, would have been far more constructive, but then that opportunity may be irretrievably lost.

  59. “I would like to talk about big picture issues related to the institutions and the larger forces at play in all this. And speculate on how we can fix this situation, or at least get some checks and balances in the system.”

    Thanks for giving us an opportunity to be proactive and Thank You for taking the moral high ground on behalf of Science and Reason in the debate, which has been reduced to a sophomoric diatribe.

    I hate Conspiracy Theory Prattle but I’ve done enough research to understand the alliteration in folklore. The “sounds” coming from the IPCC and governments are a serious cause for concern and the solutions they propose Do Not support Science nor do they reflect anything insightful.

    Someone is creating a “Crisis” to cost justify inadequate solutions.

    In my opinion, the Forces At Play is Entropy, Sophism, Pragmatism, and Alarmism. Thankfully, none other than Entropy has a true role over time.

    There is another force in play that dates back to the origin of the Industrial Revolution; Freedom of Thought. Newton and Descartes wrenched free thought from the oppression yet we appear to be retesting the event.

    The simplest fix for the current situation is to admit the World isn’t mature enough to properly manage a UN Science Organization and to disband the IPCC.

    Governments need a “time-out” to separate Fiction from Fact and to do proper due-diligence to the emerging Discipline they hope to rely on. Scientists must be Free or all is lost.

    We’re are a very disturbing crossroad yet the forces in play are likely to wake up as we begin to lose Freedom of Thought and rediscover Science.

    • thanks, good post

      • Really Judith. What exactly was good about it? Where do you agree, or disagree.

      • the post was well written and raised some interesting points that make a valuable contribution to the dialogue, which is what we do here.

      • What points in particular did you find interesting? Please be specific.

        I’m all for dialogue but it has to be coherent.

      • Maybe it was these gems;

        “Someone is creating a “Crisis” to cost justify inadequate solutions.”

        “Governments need a “time-out” to separate Fiction from Fact and to do proper due-diligence to the emerging Discipline they hope to rely on. Scientists must be Free or all is lost.”

        “we begin to lose Freedom of Thought”

        The random capitalization convinced me.

      • What do you find incoherent about John Whitman’s contribution?

  60. “I argue that they have also been victimized by the IPCC (they can hardly enjoy the threats, etc.)”
    Has the IPCC been threatening them?

  61. MapleLeaf,
    Dr. Curry does not need to waste time your self-serving comment(s). But, bring it on, she asked for a discussion of “big picture issues”.

    What portion of what I just posted do you fail to understand?

    John from CA

    • John,

      I directed my question at Dr. Curry, not you. Please let Judith fight her own battles.

      And who said that I failed to understand your diatribe?

      • Its a dialogue MapleLeaf or are you just a “Troll”here in the hope of disturbing her?

        LOL, you don’t have the skill to do that so far.

      • Maple Leaf, I don’t see much point to replying to these questions that you are raising. they don’t make much sense to me and you appear to be trying to play “gotcha” with me, but its not very effective. So if others want to answer for me, by all means they should go ahead.

      • Dr. Curry,

        Contrary to what you might believe, I am not here to play games. My questions about a) Christy and Spencer are relevant to the points raised on this thread by Craig Loehle abourt conflicts of interest; b) My points and questions about you failing applying skepticism and scrutiny equally is also relevant to the whole point of your blog and claims about caring about the science and building bridges.

        So far, you have been mostly evasive. Hardly convincing nor encouraging. If anything, you seem to be feeding/reinforcing your own positive feedback loop on this blog, and seem opposed to those who wish (with good intentions believe it or not) to reverse its direction….

        The point in answering my questions (and those put forward by others) is to state clearly for the public record where you stand on some important issues, and to demonstrate that you are not guilty of some of bias.

      • Yikes,
        Maybe you’ve been exposed to the “Boob Tube” for too long. It gets cold in Canada is no worries.

        Dr. Curry seeks “big picture issues” and related Muse before details are equtaed.

        Thus far you seem to be lost in the details?

      • Christy and Spencer are relevant to the points raised on this thread by Craig Loehle abourt conflicts of interest;

        All that matters is the evidence. Is the evidence they present credible and correct? Yes.

        This is another common tactic by the faithful when challenged. “They are pay by Big Oil!”

        What’s your interest in defending AGW MapleLeaf? Or what ever your real name is. Who are you?

      • John,

        Relax, all comments here are fair game, no matter who they are directed to. N’est-ce pas? It is a public forum.

        Dr. J and anyone can look after themselves, sure. At the same time it is frequent the case that some commenters feel supportive and empathize with other commenters. Natural.


      • Fascinating Issue!

        good for you!, the rules in debate “Science”are flawed and thus the cause — what possible outcome other than Null.

      • John from CA,

        My mistake!!!!!!

        I was actually addressing MapleLeaf. Follow the verticle line up from my post. It goes to Maple Leaf’s comment.

        Sorry about that. Duh.


      • No Worries : )

  62. Dr Curry, this has probably occurred to you but. Your blog is actually another example of imposition of a stopping time onto the wicked problem of AGW theory. What the AGW “establishment” (Pachauri and Dr Mann would be good examples) don’t seem to realize is that it is the year 2010 where the Internet, and blogging in particular, forces wicked problems to be tamed by collaborative approaches rather than by authoritative means (to a lesser extent competitive approaches also tend to switch to collaborations). The more complex the problem the more likely it will eventually be handled in the wide open spaces of the Internet where willing participants from both sides join forces to resolve foundational problems. In democratic games (where all participants are playing by the agreed upon rules), and if the theory of AGW is considered a game, then the original game participants have had their current approach discredited. And they now find themselves at odds with the better strategic approach. This causes “storming” in the group whereby the new participants are being actively resisted from joining the game. However, the more resistance that is encountered, the less credible the authoritarian solution approach appears to external disinterested parties. This in turn attracts more participants to the game. Thus, “climate science” has been joined by a massive group who seek to collaborate in order to impose a stopping time to the game and determine the winner (which is to find the correct answer to the primary question). The resistance of the original participants forces the newcomers to operate a parallel game and this has been going on for some years now. Climategate provided the required catalyst needed to begin the transition from two parallel groups playing slightly different games (with poorly structured rules) to a game solution based on the collaborative approach. Resistance from both of the established game participants will be overcome because once a game shifts from authoritarian to collaborative approaches it never returns to authoritarian because game participants must leave the table willingly only after they have been satisfied that the solution was reached through collaboration.

    • well said, a “power struggle” between the credentialed experts belonging to a certain group, and the extended peer communities (with many experts also) that are enabled by the blogosphere

      • Who exactly are these “extended peers” Judith? Please be specific. Should we all have a role in designing the shuttle or space station? Or should we be led to believe that we are all entitled to have a role?

        Just because one is an expert in ice sheet dynamics, for example, does not mean you are qualified to speak to the work/research of say, an oncologist. Well, you could speak to it or try to, but you would likely make a fool of yourself for pontificating. There is a reason that someone defending a PhD in say, engineering, is quizzed by someone in the field in question and not by a biologist, for example. There is actually a point to all this and it has served humanity well.

      • “Should we all have a role in designing the shuttle or space station?”

        Poor choice. After both shuttle accidents NASA did enlist the help of outside experts.

        Besides, this is much bigger than the shuttle program. The calls for action affect everyone who will have their pocket picked by this. So, yes, when someone demands I pay for this or that, and I find the reason highly dubious, I do act. I do get involved. It is my right to do so. No science get’s a free pass to dictate to anyone without careful examination of the evidence that the science brings forth.

      • The space program is a good example. And it certainly was not designed by Joe Moe on the street now was it? Many people, from many specialized disciplines (who studied and trained for many years) were required.

        The budget for NASA and the space program is enormous, so is the budget for the military. So please feel free to contact NASA and tell the that you demand to be involved in the development for the replacement for the shuttle, for example, b/c you are a tax payer and they are using your money to do so and so it is your right to be directly involved and sign-off on the blue prints.

        The science is not dictating policy. It is telling us that we very likely have a serious and long term problem on our hands. Maybe not you and me so much, but how much future generations are going to be affected is going to be largely dictated by our actions, or perhaps more appropriately, our inaction.

      • What evidence do you have that we have to act? What evidence do you have that acting will actually do anything? What evidence do you have that acting will not do more harm than good?

        Of course the biggy, what evidence do you have that the climate is doing anything more than normal natural variation? Please, don’t even try with any computer models. Models are not evidence.

        I’m not in the US, but my understanding is there are a wide array of people outside NASA that can and do have input.

      • Jr,

        I’m not engaging in a pointless argument with you about climate science or the theory (not hypothesis) of AGW/ACC. No matter how many facts I present to you, no matter how much evidence I show you, I am pretty sure that you will remain unconvinced.

        It does raise the question why you are here, because Dr. Curry does not dispute the greenhouse effect or radiative forcing of GHGs. So maybe Dr. Curry could convince you?

        Anyhow, a good (and easily accessible) place for you to start would be the scientific literature presented and discussed at

        Have a good weekend.

      • You grossly misread me, and others. We do not refute the GHE, or CO2’s ability to trap heat. What we object to is the DEGREE with which the GHE is caused by CO2, and the planet’s reaction to any additional heat as claimed by the alramist AGW faithful. The history of the planet is clear. CO2 plays a minor roll, if at all. CO2 has been much higher and the planet didn’t cook. The average temps have been higher (no winters) and the biota did better. Glaciation periods are rare. Other interglacial periods in the last 200K years were “warmer” than today including having an ice free summer Arctic Ocean. There are cycles of climate change, within other cycles. There is no physical way to parse out a normal climatet event from one that is supposed to be cause from our CO2 emissions. CO2 levels now are at geological lows, almost suffocating levels for plants (they go we all die). The planet’s mechanisms for dealing with incoming heat is complex and cannot be accurately modeled with computer programs.

        Now do you understand where we are coming from? Please do NOT be condesending and assume we do not understand what is going on. We understand very well indeed. And that is your problem, not ours, because the onus is on you people to prove your cause beyond resonable doubt, and you have not, and in fact cannot, do that.

      • Please do not insult climate scientists by claiming that the “climate always changes”. They get that. Almost all of your “concerns” have been addressed in the scientific literature. SS is a good place to start.

        Even Roy Spencer thinks that transient climate response to doubling CO2 is +1.7 C, that is equivalent to an equilibrium climate sensitivity of almost +2.5 C. And with BAU we will very easily double CO2. This is still very early days in this foolish experiment that we have embarked on.

        Now I’m done “arguing” with you. I’d much rather invest my energy in finding ways to reduce our GHG emissions and developing a sustainable society.

        I have to go now. Enjoy your weekend.

      • Even Roy Spencer thinks that transient climate response to doubling CO2 is +1.7 C,

        Quoting Dr Roy Spencer:
        “One of the most robust feedback relationships across the IPCC climate models is that those models with the strongest positive water vapor feedback have the strongest negative lapse rate feedback (which is what the “hot spot” would represent). So, the lack of this negative lapse rate feedback signature in the satellite temperature trends could be an indirect indication of little (or even negative) water vapor feedback in nature.

        When global warming is discussed, the warming effect of greenhouse gases is obviously of prime interest. But it is seldom if ever mentioned that about 50% of the surface warming influence of greenhouse gases has been short-circuited by the cooling effects of weather, as just discussed.

        When Danny Braswell and I did similar calculations in 1997 to better understand the physics, we found that 1 deg. C of surface warming was true even for the pure radiative equilibrium case (no convective cooling by weather processes). This would mean that the REAL enhancement of the greenhouse effect with 2XCO2 is really only about 1.5%, not 3%, since the natural greenhouse effect is trying to warm the surface by over 60 deg. C, not by 33 deg. C.

        Is this Simple Evidence of Negative Feedback?

        These climate basics, which have been known since the 1960s, also raises an intriguing question: If the surface warming effect of 2XCO2 before surface cooling by convection is 1 deg. C, and (as even the IPCC knows) 50% of that natural greenhouse warming is then short-circuited by convection, might this then tell us that negative feedbacks in the climate system can be expected to reduce anthropogenic global warming to only 0.5 deg. C (per doubling)?

        I believe this is entirely possible. ”

        My parentheses.

        So no, Dr Spencer does not think the atmospheric temperature will rise 1.7C for a doubling of co2.

      • Of course the biggy, what evidence do you have that the climate is doing anything more than normal natural variation? Please, don’t even try with any computer models. Models are not evidence.

        Asked and answered.

        How many times are you going to refuse to look at evidence presented to you? Is your faith so shallow that you’re afraid to look at anything that might question it?

      • PDA,

        You probably know it, but you are wasting your time. Why does Curry does not step in to set the record straight? Instead she provides these guys with a pulpit from which to pontificate, mislead and misinform.

      • You included? Sounds to me you wish she just shut us all up and play your game of not allowing discussion and challenge to AGW? Very typical of a dogmatic position.

      • As I stated, but you do not wish to asknowledge, those are just normal variation. Or do you deny that CO2 was several times higher in the geological past with no ill effects?

      • As I have asked, numerous times, where is your evidence for the claim that “those are just normal variation [sic]?” As a helpful note, assertion is not evidence.

        In response to your argumentative question, when CO2 levels were that high, solar irradiance was much lower.

        You assumption that you are the only person to have thought of these most elementary questions shows beyond doubt your unwillingness to do even the minimal amount of research any “skeptic” worth the name would undertake.


        ‘Ancient Evidence That CO2 Does Not Control Climate’: CO2 forcing alone insufficient to explain Palaeocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum warming’

        ‘It is CO2 that is the feedback, not the primary driver…The importance of CO2 has been constantly overestimated and all evidence of its impotence ignored by mainstream climate scientists.

      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Zeebe and Zachos are not deniers. How could that be? Perhaps your cherry picking has sometinig to do with how you interpret scientific pubs..and reality? Your quote above is not by the authors of the paper in Nature Geoscience. Read the abstract of this paper online.
        This type of tactic you practice is insidious.

      • John,

        I am sure you can see that many commenters here and on all other blogs related to climate science are NOT anonymous. I am sure you are capable of doing your own homework on who they are.


      • John from CA,

        My mistake!!!!!! My mistake both on this comment of mine and the won further up too.

        I was actually addressing MapleLeaf. Follow the verticle line up from my post. It goes to Maple Leaf’s comment.

        Sorry about that. Duh.


      • The space shuttle program is a great example. I am glad you mention it. The space shuttle program has so far had two catastrophic failures out of many successful missions. This gives the entire “NASA” game group plenty of credibility for being able to find successful solutions to tractable problems in human space travel. That is, external observers are able to develop a trust relationship with NASA due to its success in defining the rules of the game and then reaching stopping points (solutions). However, when NASA experienced those two catastrophic failures they were forced to admit failure and that other participants (external peers) were required to be present in their game processes in order to determine if their failures were the result of systemic problems within their game rules. It is worth noting that the level of scrutiny and “storming” that occurred after the Challenger disaster was far less inclusive of external participants as when compared to the Columbia disaster. And the analysis and scrutiny was by order of magnitude very different indeed. A quick google of the two disasters highlights how much external analysis (some of it top rate) was done by completely heretofore disinterested parties. The process started by the immediate stepping down of the top dog at NASA. Followed by the establishment of multiple public inquiries. Experts through to politicians and the public were all heavily involved. Jockeying for position and influence also occurred. Ultimately, the public as well as involved parties were satisfied that NASA had altered its systems and processes to rebuild confidence that they knew what they were doing and then shuttle program returned to service. NASA was taken off of probation. But with two important outcomes. First, the space shuttle program was improved. Second, the public were significantly more knowledgeable about the science, technology and risk profiles of the shuttle program. This allowed the public to voluntarily leave the NASA game table. This *inevitable* process is only just beginning to sink in to the AGW establishment.

      • patrioticduo,

        Good points about the problems with shuttle program– although I’ll have to take your word for it concerning statements like “Experts through to politicians and the public were all heavily involved”. I’m assuming you are not talking about involved with addressing design issues with O-rings.

        Anyhow, you missed the relevant point entirely.

        This is why I am trying to get Judith to be specific exactly who she means by “extended peer communities”. The very use of the word “peer” would suggest people working in a similar field with similar qualifications and not Joe/Jane public.

        But how about we let Judith answer for herself for once?

        And for the record, there is no such things as “the AGW establishment”. That is rhetoric, plain and simple.

      • When I use the term “peer” I am talking not from the limited definition of “peer review” but rather from the concept of autonomous systems that agree to communicate with each other with agreed upon rules for doing so. When I use the term “AGW establishment” I am not referring to a specific organization that is defined within the usual legal or political constructs (say Union or corporation or NGO etc) but rather I am referring to the multiple groups, associations and other peering relationships that are “established” within the climate science/political/economic worlds. You don’t need to take my word for it regarding the NASA disasters, it’s all in the public record if you want to go look. The difference between NASA and climate science in general is stark. I have sitting on my bookshelf a mission log for Apollo 13. Every single word and action of that entire mission (and the rest) is in the public record and I (though not a rocket scientist) have read every word of that log. I learned a great deal doing so. Now I may not be able to calculate the launch inclination angles for a Saturn V rocket but I most certainly do know that they are damn important. In the same sense, I know that urban heat island effect is damn important to the validity of Dr Phil Jones claims that China has seen significant temperature increases. The problem is, whereas I can look up almost anything I want about the Saturn and shuttle programs, I cannot get my hands on ANY of the metadata that Dr Jones used for his papers on the Chinese temperature record. And that is but ONE small example out of many where such scrutiny is unable to proceed. Do you see a difference?

      • The silence is deafening…

      • If you don’t feel that outsiders are entitled to a role in this process, feel free to not participate, ML. We won’t miss you.

      • Judith, notice Mapleleaf is employing the ” you are not an expert” fall back position I noted in a previous post.

        Sorry, ML, it doesn’t cut it. People are quite capable of understanding complex things that are not part of their expertise.

      • Jrwakefield,

        “People are quite capable of understanding complex things that are not part of their expertise.

        A dangerous and naive generalization. Do you understand the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’? Does it violate the second law of thermodynamics?

      • Do you understand the so-called ‘greenhouse effect’?


        Does it violate the second law of thermodynamics?


      • Thanks for demonstrating that what you said “People are quite capable of understanding complex things that are not part of their expertise” does not apply to you, at least in this case.

        Not to mention that your two answers to the questions contradict each other– you cannot claim to understand the greenhouse effect and then claim that it violates the second law of thermodynamics.

        And please, do not argue with me about the greenhouse effect violating the second law of thermodynamics…go and argue with Dr. Roy Spencer here:

        Really Dr. Curry , these are the people who you are entrusting our future with, not to mention aiding and abetting them?

      • Of course I expected nothing different from you.

        The planet is not a greenhouse. Greenhouses keep heat in because of the lack of convection. The planet has convection that moves warm air to higher altitudes which expands and cools. Cloud formation being the big factor in liberating heat as these air masses rise. Low pressure systems develop under these conditions of rising warm air, which causes frontal systems to move, mixing cold and warm air masses. That wind has friction with the ground and water surfaces which dissipates energy too. The planet is constantly moving energy from warmer locations to cooler locations, be it the atmosphere or the oceans. This means the
        planet cannot over heat, cannot go into a runaway greenhouse.

        The fact is the energy budget of the planet is not understood, has huge gaping holes in it. Clouds are a huge wild card factor on how energy is transported through the atmosphere. So in reality, CO2 is not a “greenhouse” gas in the strict sense because the planet is not a greenhouse.

        As for the second law:

        So, does that answer your questions? Likely not.

      • Please read more carefully. That is why I said “so called Greenhouse effect”….Jr. The name is a misnomer, but it is firmly entrenched now, so it is the term which most people use.

        And G&T have been soundly refuted, by Halpern et al., for example.

        Anyhow, please argue with Dr. Roy Spencer and Halpern et al.

      • And G&T have been soundly refuted, by Halpern et al., for example.

        No it hasn’t:

      • Sigh,

        I know you like to believe that G&T is valid. But the science and physics say otherwise. Right Dr. Curry?

      • Thank you for recalling this discussion.

        Cthulhu’s comment is worth the read:

      • “In our falsification paper, we have shown that the atmospheric CO2 greenhouse effects as taken-for-granted concepts in global climatology do not fit into the scientific realm of theoretical and applied physics.

        Halpern et al. did not refute our conclusions. Rather, they make false statements about the content of our paper, on which they erect their system of objections. Their main mistakes are:
        (1) Halpern et al. make false statements about the contents and the rationale of our paper.
        (2) Halpern et al. do not understand what a physical effect really is.
        (3) Halpern et al. — adapting Georg Hoffmann’s view — apparently do not know how to apply the second law of thermodynamics.
        (4) Halpern et al. do not understand our critique on the abuse of diagrams in the context of simplistic radiative balance models.
        (5) Halpern et al. like many others do not understand that any supposed warming effect (or cooling effect) cannot be derived from spectroscopic analyses or radiative transfer equations.
        (6) Halpern et al. neither define a greenhouse effect nor offer a mechanism how the concentration change of the trace gas CO2 influences the climates.
        (7) Halpern et al. do not recognize the fundamental errors of the paper by Bakan and Raschke.

        In summary, the paper of Halpern, Colose, Ho-Stuart, Shore, Smith, and Zimmermann is unfounded.”

      • The climate obviously follows the laws of physics. The theory of AGW doesn’t for a very simple reason. Climate science has not been able to balance the heat budget of the planet. So how can the theory possibly be within the laws of thermodynamics when it can’t account for where all the energy goes? Since the theory is continuously miscalculating what the climate is doing, then the theory is violating the laws of thermodynamics.

        Have I been able to satusfy your first objection, I don’t understand?

  63. Who is this MapleLeaf Clown?

    Dr. Curry, I know you HATE censorship but exercise the button on the mouse to maintain the dialogue you defined.

    What portion of this diatribe relates to an honest discussion about “the big picture”?

    • Actually I think ML is bringing up a big picture. “extended peer communities” should be defined. I would define it as anyone and everyone who has a stake in the issue. And since actions to “fix” AGW will affect everyone, that means everyone is part of the “extended peer communities”.

      Not everyone is going to be able to participate, but what has dramatically changed, at the chagrin of the AGW establishment, is that the “extended peer communities” is no longer their small clique.

      • And you believe “defined Peer Review” defines Science?

        Ouch, defined Mafia within Labor Relations defines City and Regional Planning?

        Yet, Peer Review without Defined Statistical Analysis Review was the Smoking Gun in the Wegman Report.

        Let’s get beyond what has gone wrong and look at the “Big Picture”.

      • John,

        It is probably not wise to use to cite the plagiarized and discredited Wegman report to support your statement. Fretting over MBH98 is dwelling in the very distant past, the science (and statistical analysis techniques) has long move on. Regardless, there are now more Hockey-stick shaped paleo constructions than you can shake a stick at.

      • WOW,
        I honest haven’t met may Trolls who are this brain dead but I’m an eternal optimist — perhaps I can’t teach a stone to swim.

        Nah, the ROEI is foolish.

        MapleLeaf, do you have anything to say about the “Big Picture” and or a fix for the situation?

      • You elected to bring up Wegman. Then resort to calling someone a “troll” because they called you on it, hardly a convincing defense.

        Anyhow. The “big picture”? We need to reduce our GHG emissions and move towards a sustainable life style and energy supply. The rest is a side show.

        As Canadian astronaut Robert Thirsk said recently:

        “Earth’s life-support system is much more sophisticated than that of the space station, and relies upon finely tuned interactions among land, oceans, atmosphere, the freshwater cycle, flora and fauna. Its resources are limited. No cargo ships will visit Earth to replenish its atmosphere, water and topsoil or to remove its trash.

        Living in space is precarious, whether we fly as six astronauts aboard the International Space Station or as seven billion astronauts aboard Spaceship Earth. In both cases, our ultimate goal is to develop an advanced life-support system that is reliable, repairable and 100 percent renewable. For us to succeed on Spaceship Earth, each one of us will have to think – and act- like an astronaut.”

        He has seen the “big picture” and it does not look good under BAU.

      • Sorry MapleLeaf,
        I probably shouldn’t have referred to you as Troll despite your complete lack of manners and disrespect for Dr. Curry.

        Wegman Report:
        “…it is common for data analysis and pattern recognition
        experts to use a training sample for calibration. Normally one would seek to have the training data to be representative of what one might expect from the entire dataset. Because the temperature profile in the 1902-1995 is not similar, because
        of increasing trend, to the millennium temperature profile, it is not fully appropriate for the calibration and, in fact, leads to the misuse of the principal components analysis. However, the narrative in MBH98 on the surface sounds entirely reasonable on this calibration point, and could easily be missed by someone who is not extensively trained in statistical methodology. Dr. Mann has close ties to both Yale University and Pennsylvania State University. We note in passing that both Yale University and Pennsylvania State University have Departments of Statistics with excellent reputations. Even though their work has a very significant statistical component, based on their literature citations, there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimatology studies have significant interactions with mainstream statisticians.”

      • John,

        Did you miss the part where it has been shown that Wegman report is bunk, nothing more than a politically motivated hack job courtesy of Republican Joe Barton? Not to mention that Wegman is being investigated for plagiarism and having legal action taken against him for copyright infringement?

        Anyhow, have you done an analysis of Wegman’s social network? Please do. Anyhow, last time I looked it was 2010, and there are many more Hockey Sticks around than back in 1998/1999.

        Anyhow, like I said to Jr, I have to go now.

      • As observed elsewhere (I don’t have the reference at hand, sorry):
        Either (a) The hockey stick paper (MBHxx) had bad statistics, and Wegman & co-author plagiarized various material for their report, or (b) the hockey stick paper (MBHxx) had bad statistics and Wegman & co-author didn’t plagiarize various material for their support.

        Simple boolean logic leads to the observation that the possibility of plagiarism has no bearing on the Wegman report’s conclusions regarding statistics in the MBH paper.


      • Not sure what you are driving at. I didn’t mean peer review as in the scientific process of evaluating papers.

      • Jr,

        Are you aware of the term “consilience”? E O Wilson is. Anyhow, the theory of AGW is supported by findings from many independent scientific disciplines. There are over 2500 scientists directly involved in climate science around the world, and that tally probably includes modelers, oceanographers, glaciologists, paleo people etc (i.e., a diverse range of expertise). Now add to that total all those geologists, biologists, ecologist, zoologists et cetera who are investigating different parts of the same problem. Hardly a “small clique”.

        Do yo know how many authors and review editors are going to volunteer their time to contribute to AR5? 831. Now that is admirable, and they most definitely do not represent a “small clique”.

        Anyhow, if by “extended peer community” Curry means other pertinent scientific and professional disciplines (e.g.,. professional statisticians, professional computer scientists), then I agree with her. But as I said before, that is already happening– see the Clear Climate Code project run by computer scientists. And the paper that Tamino (a statistician) recently wrote with some climate scientists.

      • Who are you?

      • Who are you? And why does it matter who we are? The facts and science speak for themselves.

      • I have no problem being here on my real name. Who you are might matter very much if you are one of “those”.

      • JR,

        It is the net, you can be anyone you want, and I have no way (or interest) in determining that you are indeed a JR Wakefield. Besides. What would the point be?

        Regardless, I do not care who you are, it is irrelevant to the discussion. But since you brought it up–who is Steve Goddard?

        I would use my real name, but I have seen what happens to those scientists who are outspoken on AGW– they, like Santer, tend to have eviscerated rats left on their porches, or receive death threats, or become victims of with hunts by the likes of the Virginia AG and Inhofe. No thanks.

      • Like what you guys have been doing to “deniers” all these years? How does it feel to get back some of your own medicine.

        Personally, I can’t wait for Congressional Hearings to get started.

      • Jr: “Like what you guys have been doing to “deniers” all these years?”

        One, unsubstantiated accusation and generalization. Two, I have done no such thing Jr, and neither have the scientists that I know. Three, do not even try and invoke the martyr/victim card. You have no idea what Jones et al have been through. Need I remind you of Morano, Limbaugh, Beck, Inhofe etc?

        You want a witch hunt, looks like you will get one. How very nice of you. Why do you have to be so aggressive?
        These scientists have families, children, grand children even. I would not wish this kind of stress and anguish that Mann and Santer and other prominent scientists have had to endure on on my worst enemy.

        Judith seems to have an ax to grind. If true, her using something as important as AGW/ACC as a means to that end is enormously irresponsible.

        It will be interesting to see if Judith Curry denounces calls by ideologues for Congressional hearings. This is McCarthyism all over again. God help us.

      • Or it will be an inquiry to finally get at the truth, long over due. Personally, I don’t give a damn what Jones et al have gone through. You reap what you sow. Had they been more up front, kept the historical data, made the data public, not illegally tried to stop requests for data, they would not be in the mess they are in. Sorry, I have no sympathy for anyone who screws around with science for their own personal quest.

      • Ask Tim Ball what he’s been through with your ilk.

      • MapleLeaf,

        Then you would accept that the IPCC process be totally anonymous. Correct?


      • No idea what you are driving at.

  64. jrwakefield,

    The extended peer review is defined to the extent it is non-anonymous.


  65. It’s an extraordinary open wound that you’ve exposed, Dr Curry, and it seems some are not reacting well. With you, I think the time line is clear, and I think the causation is clear, but, I feel, it must be unproductive to talk about this ‘causation’. What must be important is looking forward, which means, of course, learning from our past, but also, not dwelling on it. Hence, I make this as vague as possible and an appeal for people to examine the real issues hear and not the to and fro nonsense that we seem to have.

  66. I don’t understand half of you people, in the sense, I don’t understand how you don’t seem to feel the ground moving beneath you. Things are happening both very slowly and very quickly (history!). No one, in the real world, takes much notice of the IPCC, or the NAS, or PNAS, or SciAM, etc etc etc. These are western pre-occupations in a west that is becoming constantly marginalised – ie, it is a talk among ourselves. But what is happening in the real world is that nations and people are continuing the historical ‘liberation’ from the west. That is, they don’t believe a word we speak. But all you want to do is argue over hokey sticks and stupidity. Pathetic.

  67. One last try at the topic:
    “I would like to talk about big picture issues related to the institutions and the larger forces at play in all this. And speculate on how we can fix this situation, or at least get some checks and balances in the system.”

    Thanks for giving us an opportunity to be proactive and Thank You for taking the moral high ground on behalf of Science and Reason in the debate, which has been reduced to a sophomoric diatribe.

    I hate Conspiracy Theory Prattle but I’ve done enough research to understand the alliteration in folklore. The “sounds” coming from the IPCC and governments are a serious cause for concern and the solutions they propose Do Not support Science nor do they reflect anything insightful.

    Someone is creating a “Crisis” to cost justify inadequate solutions.

    In my opinion, the Forces At Play is Entropy, Sophism, Pragmatism, and Alarmism. Thankfully, none other than Entropy has a true role over time.

    There is another force in play that dates back to the origin of the Industrial Revolution; Freedom of Thought. Newton and Descartes wrenched free thought from the oppression yet we appear to be retesting the event.

    The simplest fix for the current situation is to admit the World isn’t mature enough to properly manage a UN Science Organization and to disband the IPCC.

    Governments need a “time-out” to separate Fiction from Fact and to do proper due-diligence to the emerging Discipline they hope to rely on. Scientists must be Free or all is lost.

    We are the disturbing crossroads yet the forces in play are likely to wake us up as we begin to lose Freedom of Thought and rediscover Science.

  68. FWIW, the best description of the bus that rolled over Ben Santer is in Myanna Lahsen’s “The Detection and Attribution of Conspiracies,” in G.E. Marcus, ed., Paranoia Within Reason (Chicago, 1999) as pointed out by Jonathan Gilligan at Kloor’s

    This is an essay well worth reading, but as Lahsen points out Seitz had no grounds for his complaints. Let Eli close with Gilligan’s conclusion, something that Eli sadly agrees with:

    Why do I rehash this here? Because we see the same thing with Curry. She presents some very nasty innuendo, cloaked so it can’t actually be tested (echoes of Joe McCarthy refusing to show his list with the 205 names of Communists in the State Department) and lots of people on her blog immediately attest to the truth of these charges, even though no one can actually tell exactly what the charges are.”

  69. I wonder if part of the problem with certain areas of science – notably climate science, is that nobody seems to need to justify the feasibility of a task before they begin.

    I mean, given the noise in the temperature data + assorted cyclical phenomena of various time scales, shouldn’t someone have given a numerical estimate as to how long it would be before any warming trend could be detected with any statistical reliability? This would clearly be a function of the observed temperature rise, but a plot of the time required to detect a temperature rise of x deg/year would have been useful.

    Likewise, shouldn’t someone have been in a position to assess the state of climate models and justify if these were ready to be used to make a prediction, rather than simply be tested against past data?

    Again, shouldn’t it be mandatory in an interdisciplinary subject, that techniques should be validated before use? For example, how could tree ring data from one or two isolated locations on earth ever be expected to reflect global temperature data!

    If science filtered proposed projects to ensure that they could be expected to work, BEFORE serious work began, the results might be more acceptable. Just being forced to place a numerical estimate on the statistical precision to be expected, might sober researchers up a bit.

    Being realistic, I am not optimistic about Western science – it seems to have lost its way.

    • how could tree ring data from one or two isolated locations on earth ever be expected to reflect global temperature data!

      One thing that is also lost on tree ring proxies. If the growing season is short, the rings will be smaller, even though there was no decrease in summer temps. Tree rings denote growth, which could be larger from short hot summers, or larger from long cool summers. There is no way to know that with tree ring sizes.

  70. Why do I get the feeling that MapleLeaf has his/her back against the wall? That somehow he/she has a major stake in AGW that would be lost when it comes crumbling down? Or is it just me that gets that feeling?

    • Just finished replying to someone else before signing off.

      You are fishing, and entertaining fantasies– that would suggest that it is you who has their back to the wall. And your suspicion would be wrong. I, like everyone else who inhabits this planet, do have a stake in the sense fact that my children and future generations will inherit the mess we have made.

      Now I really do have to go.

      • For tomorrow then. And my stake is the billions in tax dollars wasted on a “fix” that will never work because there is nothing to fix. The billions you want to waste on mitigating AGW will be the economic mess made that my grandchildren will have to pay for. So yeah, my back is against the economic wall.

      • I want to leave you with this though my last for tonight. You complained that I, specifically, have no empathy for what Jones et al and their families are going through.

        Well, how about what the 6 million Brittons who are going through economic hell because they live in energy poverty because of the AGW policies of the previous UK government? Or how about empathy for us here in Ontario who have seen our utility bills triple in the last 8 years because of the Liberal government’s policies to “save the planet” from CO2 emissions. Or those who are cut off from power because their power bills are more than their mortgage payments? Or those who can’t sell their homes that are near huge industrial wind turbines?

        How will restitution be paid to these millions of people? How will justice be served for them?

        Where is your empathy for the lives destroyed by government “save the planet” policies enacted because your scientists demanded they do enact “save the planet” policies?

        Should these scientists be found guilty of breaching science, losing their jobs would mean they get off too lightly for there is nothing they can do to fix the economic damage they have caused.

        Empathy for these “scientists” please, put it into perspective.

      • Jr,

        You need to calm down and stop parroting BS gleaned from internet blogs.

        Please present a study conducted by a reputable economics group which shows that the costs of mitigating AGW/ACC will harm our children. Really, these emotional and unsubstantiated rants and conspiracy theories convince no one.

        People around the world are hurting right now because of the financial crisis brought on by the banking and mortgage crisis in the USA. If you want to vent, vent at the banking executives…..

        And I feel sad for you that you are unable to feel empathy, because I do feel empathy for you and your “ilk” (as you like to say).

        And for the record, I am not a Gore acolyte, nor does anyone pay me to post here, or elsewhere– my conscience drives me to. Really, if you have to bring Gore into the equation (maybe it was not you, but one of your groupies here) it shows that you have no substance to your argument.

        I have not once questioned your motives for posting here.

      • You’re joking aren’t you. You cannot be serious that there is no economic hardship inflicted upon people because of AGW. Do you not follow what is going on?

        Let me spell it out for you right here in Ontario. The Liberal government invoked the Green Energy Act as a means to REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS! Coal fired plants were planned to be shut down TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS! They then went on a mission to build “GREEN ENERGY” TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS! That has raised our utility bills by 300% since they took office 8 years ago.

        So either you are unwilling to see the damage you have caused, or you are willfully ignorant on what is going on politically, the VERY actions your people wanted governments to impose.

        I think this winter when you sit down to a Xmas dinner that you think about the elderly who cannot pay their hydrobills eating cold beans in the dark. Or maybe visit someone in the UK who is burning books to keep warm. You people caused this. Think about that in your coasy warm home.

      • BTW, last December my hydrobill was $750+. 8 years ago it was barely $200.

      • “Now I really do have to go.”

        Ho hum

  71. The issue is accountability; are you accountable for what you say or do. And, as you asked, in the big picture of things, the answer is: yes to both. Even if you say or do something under duress, that counts only at sentencing, not at assessing the validity or guilt of what one says or does. Steve McIntyre doggedly sifts through detail after detail of what was said, when and to whom. And to what end? Will there be a trial of the CRU or Penn State perpetrators? No. What will come out is: who said what to whom and they were wrong in what they did. Under duress, as you speculate, they behaved badly, “un-scientifically” (such a word?). They have betrayed climate science for which they need to be “outed.” Going forward is actually in my mind relatively easy, embrace uncertainty, it is your friend. It keeps one from making an ass of one’s self by not going off onto some tangent. Uncertainty keeps one questioning one’s self and especially one’s data. Then the words come easily: “I believe….; I may be wrong yet I think….. ” and my favorite: “I don’t know.”

  72. jrwakefield vs MapleLeaf:

    What a fascinating exchange! Sadly, the courtesy initially displayed on this blog was too good to last.

    For what it’s worth, saying that the so-called Greenhouse effect violates the second law of thermodynamics strikes me as a non-physicist with a modicum (and I do mean a mere modicum) of background in science as a touch eccentric.

    And MapleLeaf’s fear of persecution as a reason to hide his/her identity seem a touch grandiose though s/he’s totally entitled to post under whatever identity that takes his/her fancy.


    But then again, I’ve got to commend Judith for giving folk free play. Natural selection will eventually win out.

    MapleLeaf, I do kind of sympathise with Phil Jones – it is awful having your ‘private’ thoughts publicly aired. On the other hand, he’s had to fess up to writing some ‘awful’ emails suggesting he like all humans sometimes does some awful things. Unfortunately for him, he has had to live with the consequences like other mere mortals sometimes have to do.

    Equally unfortunately, the public enquiries following ‘Climategate’ have been to say the least very cursory conducted in a hurried and almost lackadaisical manner. This creates a perception of whitewash even if ‘all’ Jones et al did was pretty much par for the course in what happens in all too many research facilities as they compete for funds, seek to magnify their publication footprint, and jostle rivals off the playing field.

    In this case however, Jones’ behaviour (and that of others) did have very major policy and economic implications. Consequently, members of the public who like to give some thought to these issues feel entitled to a much higher standard from those playing in a field with such high stakes. Actually, these standards probably should apply across academia given that all academics are employed using public funds but in an imperfect world, the public gets most exercised about high profile issues especially when it’s being told that it’s all about the future of our planet.

    • High stakes should mean high standards. After all, we are being told that the future of humanity (let’s leave ‘the planet’ aside) are at stake. To be persuaded that this is so requires, at least for me, my probing every point of the argument, and I feel capable of doing so. I’m not satisified that what I am being told is of high enough standard to justify either the claim or the proposed solution.

      I would think that every citizen could say the same.

    • What JR Wakefield meant about the greenhouse effect and the second law of thermodynamics was that although it complies with the second law, our measurements don’t enable us to draw conclusions about the role of a trace gas in it because the Earth is never in equilibrium, and we don’t even know the signs of water vapour or cloud feedback, let alone their magnitude.

      Although we do know that without these feedbacks, the GHE would be more like 60C than the 33C observed. Evidence in itself that strong negative feedbacks operate in the climate system.

      Maple leaf declined to discuss the science, and given that his/her stated objective is to get on with limiting energy use, I’m not surprised. Let’s do the science first, and consider what action is desirable, or indeed feasible afterwards.

      • our measurements don’t enable us to draw conclusions about the role of a trace gas in it because the Earth is never in equilibrium,


    • Chris, you are using a pseudonym as well…..and how do we know for sure who Jr is? It is the internet. Would it make you feel better if I posted as Collin Bingham?

      Jones said some stupid things. I am not going to defend them.

      The intimidation though extends way beyond Jones. Hansen, Santer, Mann, Weaver, Trenberth have all received threats or intimidating emails/letters, and they are not the only ones.

      So is really raises my ire, when “skeptics” try and play the victim card.

  73. On another topic, MapleLeaf, I’m quite familiar with the notion of consilience which in the context of climate science has been linked with multiple converging lines of evidence as evidence for AGW.

    However, consilience in this context is often misused and amounts to little more than amassing of circumstantial evidence. For example, AGW is said to increase the likelihood of extreme weather events, species extinctions, and the like. As soon as an extreme weather event is reported (eg, Pakistan’s recent monsoonal flooding) it’s cited as evidence of further catastrophes in the pipeline. If someone points out that the flooding was within the range of natural variability, s/he is immediately portrayed as a ‘denier’ even though we have no way of determining whether or not a particular event was in any way linked to AGW. Likewise, a species extinction may occur because of habitat loss or because of the emergence of disease in a population (eg, decimation of frog populations and the Tasmanian devil) rather than AGW.

    My point: over-reliance on consilience in the context of climate science unfortunately lends itself to circular reasoning. In its original framing, the notion of consilience simply stated the obvious – that laws in one science depended on laws in other sciences. Hence, the laws of biology need to be consistent with the laws of chemistry, which in turn need to be consistent with the laws of physics and mathematics.

    Interestingly, McIntyre’s quarrel with Mann et al is very much an argument based on a genuine consilience dispute in that McIntyre questions the statistical (ie, mathematical) validity underpinning Mann’s methodologies. I don’t pretend to have even the remotest capacity to voice an informed opinion on the latter. However, in this context, McIntyre’s requests for computer code and data were entirely valid. Moreover, availability of such data for independent verification is required in a range of disciplines – I believe the American Physics Society requires of authors:

    The results of research should be recorded and maintained in a form that allows analysis and review. Research data should be immediately available to scientific collaborators. Following publication, the data should be retained for a reasonable period in order to be available promptly and completely to responsible scientists.

  74. Layne Blanchard


    You have addressed this issue with absolute honesty. In the decades ahead, many reputations will be sullied by adherence to the dogma you’ve described. You will stand tall among them.

    I see your assessment as spot on. In my view, the rabbit hole goes much deeper.

    1. Why did the COP15 treaty attempt to institute gigantic taxation from western economies, and hand vast powers to the UN?
    2. Why did this plan also include worldwide redistribution of wealth from western economies? Similarly Cap n Trade?
    3. Why are the mitigation strategies so focused on Malthusian rationing of energy? Wind and Solar are not adequate alternatives. No solutions can be envisioned which allow industrialized societies to continue development? The ONLY path, as John Holdren says, must be planned “De-development” of industrialized societies?
    4. Why the guilt trip over consumption and venomous hatred for private enterprise which simply deliver this energy commodity to societies hungry for growth and prosperity?
    5. Why is it that those who we would then purchase our energy from have no such guilt about energy production?
    6. Where have we seen such political and sociological changes in the past?
    7. Did not many culminate in the denial of resources and genocidal starvation of whole nations?

    If CO2 ultimately proved a threat to man, it would be purely coincidental, for the impetus of this entire political, scientific, ideological and religious phenomenon was set in motion before much scientific study began.

    A powerful Political Elite, possessed of a Malthusian, Pantheistic, Marxist Ideology begat this fantasy. Science was merely manipulated to serve a political/religious purpose of very Malevolent intent.

  75. Also, I just want to say, any thread that involves the wabbit must have degenerated down Alice’s hole. There were books on either side that he could have grabbed, during his decline, but never bothered to. I’ll give you a challenge wabbit – read!

  76. Einstein's definiton of insanity

    The state of affairs we find ourselves in is one where people keep debating the process and the politics do to there impotence and inability to effect change and predict outcomes.
    None of you have any way to predict the impact of any solution you propose to solve the broader problem of unpredictable climate change.
    I say its time to put up or shut up. Convince me that you have enough knowledge to show the outcomes of actions to reduce CO2. I know none of you are capable of doing this.

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