Uncertainty gets a seat at the “big table.” Part II

by Judith Curry

Some breaking news.  I received an email from the House of Representatives staffer who invited me to participate:

Just an FYI – Republicans will be inviting a witness for each panel.  This is a change from the usual practice of one witness per hearing, regardless of the number of panels.

Now this makes it much more interesting.  I have no idea who else has been asked.  Place your bets, make your recommendations!

261 responses to “Uncertainty gets a seat at the “big table.” Part II

  1. Hi Judith,
    I really like your new website. Great job, your’re the best.
    Are the hearings going to be available for public attendance?
    I live in Maryland and will take a day off from work to attend if
    With great respect,

  2. That’s great news!

    I hope to have four videos* completed by then showing that the best available data from the Apollo Mission to the Moon, the Galileo Mission to Jupiter, precise nuclear rest mass data on all 3,000 types of atoms, and numerous spacecraft observations on the Sun were hidden, manipulated or distorted to keep the public misinformed about:

    a.) The Sun’s origin.
    b.) The Sun’s composition.
    c.) The Sun’s source of energy.
    d.) The Sun’s influence on Earth’s climate.

    We plan to complete and post the third video, “Scientific Genesis: 3. Neutron Repulsion”, this weekend.

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

    *First video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQZe_Qk-q7M

    • Oliver

      everyone ignores you, you can stop pushing your iron sun ideas, no one wants to know.

      • Snide,
        Please watch this video of “running difference” images that the TRACE satellite recorded during the C3.3 solar flare and mass ejection from an active region of the Sun (AR9143) using a 171 Å filter specifically sensitive to light emissions from iron ions, Fe IX and Fe X.



      • I am interested.
        I just hadn’t had the chance until now.

        Knowledge is a wonderful gift for those who want to listen!

      • Knowledge is a wonderful thing. Oliver isn’t peddling knowledge.

      • Closed minded people are the reason todays science is so badly incorrect and so many people have a corrupted base of science.

      • @Snide.
        Thanks for your advice, I’ll take a look at Oliver’s video right away.

      • ditto

      • And me!

      • I have watched Oliver patiently and politely plugging his message for many months now. I have never pursued his linked material, because being a Bear of Very Little Brain I doubted my ability to follow it. But I have noticed that his assertions receive little comment. Which is not necessarily to say that they are ignored – for all we know the scientists here may have been silently swotting up on his stuff, preparatory to delivering a resounding rebuttal, or a ringing endorsement, as the case may be. Having, rightly or wrongly, disqualified myself from assessing the scientific merit of his ideas, but seeing no response to them from those I deem better qualified, I have had to conclude that they may have some merit, or at least that if they are flawed, nobody here is competent to say quite how.

        Snide’s onanistic little comment made it obligatory that I view Oliver’s movie – anything held in contempt by Snide is more than likely to worth a look. So I did, along, I suspect, with not a few others here.

        I was right. I didn’t understand the significance of the different Xenon isotopes, which seemed to be the key to the advance Oliver claims to have made. But I didn’t see anything which contradicted my own understanding of the universe, and I saw plenty of references. In short, what I saw was recognisably a traditional scientific argument, deserving of proper scientific criticism. I realise the videos are a work in progress, but as I understand it they are merely a wrap-up of what he has been posting here for months. If others are able to demolish his arguments courteously and in accordance with scientific method, would they please do so? Until then, I give provisional credence to his science, little though I understand it.

        Oliver – I sense you’d rather stick pins in your eyeballs than dumb your subject down, but as someone new to the topic I would have appreciated a “mis-en-scene”. I THINK the burden of your argument is disconfirmation of the theory that the key process heating the sun is hydrogen fusion. A few words about that theory, and some of its less well-known implications, eg for terrestrial life, would have helped me place in their due context scientific conclusions which I can’t hope to authenticate for myself. Perhaps these are coming in future instalments, but I think they would be better at the outset.

      • TomFP

        With no special reference to the very-much not Climate topic of NASA’s former principal investigator for Apollo, it behooves to offer an alternative explanation to the list of reasons others haven’t felt obliged to address the ‘Iron Sun’ hypothesis here:

        (From http://judithcurry.com/blog-rules-and-netiquette/ )

        “■Only respond to comments that you feel are deserving of your attention, and ignore the rest. By being ignored, commenters who are not deemed interesting by others will give up and go elsewhere.”

        Of course, you could be right, too.

  3. in case you missed it, Joe Romm is “glad” that I am testifying

    • I saw that. I left a comment noting that, regarding your slip of the tongue in an interview with Eric Berger, he said:

      As an aside, I must say that I think this is not a good sign for journalism, that an obviously false statement is left on a credible newspaper’s website after it was clearly pointed out to be false.

      and asking how long he would leave the same obviously false statement on his own web site after he had clearly pointed it out to be false.

      My comment did not survive moderation. It must have gotten dinged by the irony filter.

    • Did you mean to say that Climateprogress and Realclimate are a part of “Climategate” or not? Is that a true statement or not?

      • snide: I don’t know about Climateprogress, but in the Climategate emails Michael Mann wrote explicitly about using RealClimate as a propaganda outlet for sanctioned climate change science and that the comment threads would be moderated to that end.

        Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC in any way you think would be helpful. Gavin [Schmidt] ]and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, and we’ll be very careful to answer any questions that come up to any extent we can. On the other hand, you might want to visit the thread and post replies yourself. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.

        You’re also welcome to do a followup guest post, etc. think of RC as a resource that is at your disposal to combat any disinformation put forward by the McIntyres of the world. Just let us know. We’ll use our best discretion to make sure the skeptics dont’get to use the RC comments as a megaphone…

        Any skeptic, semi-skeptic, or naive commenter venturing into RealClimate learns quickly enough that RC is a rigged game. I think it’s disgraceful.

        It’s also a big warning flag that there is something dodgy about climate science that it requires this kind of manipulation. Other climate change sites follow the same approach.

        It reminds me of nothing so much of the fanatical, intolerant New Left groups I blundered into while in college back in the seventies.

      • Their site, their rules. Post on topic or go elsewhere.

      • Doug McGee: Give me a break. Unless you define on-topic as “furthering the climate change agenda since 2004,” that’s simply untrue. Lots of people — many of them post here, just ask — have had perfectly fine on-topic comments censored or deleted on RealClimate.

        “Climate science from climate scientists” is how RC advertises itself. Any reasonable person coming to that blog, as I did several years ago, would assume that RC was delivering information and discussion by the standards of science, which is to say objectively and not as propaganda to favor for a particular point of view.

        Instead we discover from Climategate what many of us already suspected: RealClimate is a propaganda organ for climate change. Kinda like Pravda was for the USSR.

        That ought to be a bitter pill but the rot has set in so deeply that many people on the climate change side don’t even notice. Their loss.

        Sure, RC is their blog and they can diddle it as they like, but now they have been exposed and all of the climate change movement is paying the price for their deception. RealClimate is part of the reason that the climate change issue polls dead last or second to last in the polls. It’s going to be hard to turn that around.

        IMO RealClimate is also part of a larger erosion of respect for science and scientists, and that is a loss we are only beginning to understand.

      • An example of realclimate being PR for the team below..

        Paul Hudson (BBC) had an article a month before climategate, entitled ‘Whatever Happened to Global Warming’, Paul Hudson.


        There was a flurry of emails about it.

        Michael Mann wrote:

        extremely disappointing to see something like this appear on BBC. its particularly odd, since climate is usually Richard Black’s beat at BBC (and he does a great job). from what I can tell, this guy was formerly a weather person at the Met Office.

        We may do something about this on RealClimate, but meanwhile it might be appropriate for the Met Office to have a say about this, I might ask Richard Black what’s up here?


        Richard Black (qualifications unknown) is a very pro AGW consensus BBC environment reporter, Mann seems to be on very good terms..

        Paul Hudson has some sensible qualifications, much better than any of the regular Environment BBC team

        “Paul was born and brought up in Keighley, near Bradford and after reading geophysics and planetary physics at Newcastle University, he joined the Met Office and did two years at Leeds Weather Centre.”

        In my mind, the ‘team’ see the BBC as a gatekeeper on all things AGW consensus.

        This may have been one of the actions that prompted a whistleblower at CRU, as someone forwarded some of the climategate emails to Paul Hudson a MONTH before, the hack/leak.


        Paul Hudson:
        “I was forwarded the chain of e-mails on the 12th October, which are comments from some of the worlds leading climate scientists written as a direct result of my article ‘whatever happened to global warming’. The e-mails released on the internet as a result of CRU being hacked into are identical to the ones I was forwarded and read at the time and so, as far as l can see, they are authentic. ”

        No one has identified who sent them to Paul Hudson yet.

        Yet the police are still investigating the leak.

      • Unconscious irony is the best irony.
        Thank you for such a nice display of it.

      • Fenton Communications (realclimate) dissembling information? Yes, their site, their rules. Not really in the spirit of blogging though, is it? And more importantly, it demonstrates the hypocrisy of these scientists who on the one hand assert the authority of their work by constantly using the term “peer reviewed”, whilst on the other hand getting together to stifle any debate or opinion to the contrary. The fact that they’re hosting their dissembling with a left-wing marketing organisation really shows that RC is more about politics than it is about science.

        Well, some of us have known this all along.

      • Where does ‘propaganda’ come into it. He has a website to publish information about climate science on it to counter the propaganda from sites like CA and WUWT. RC focuses on the science of climate, and exists to help scientists explain the science to those who want to find out more.

        I would love to see McIntyre audit one topic on WUWT.

      • OK . That explains the moderation policy of RC which appears to be straightforward…’agree with us or your comment will not be published’. Exactly as described in the Climategte e-mails (by Mann himself, from memory).

        WUWT does not claim to be a primary source of ‘truth from the scientists’…but says on its banner page:

        ‘Commentary on puzzling things in life, nature, science, weather, climate change, technology and recent news by Anthony Watts’.

        Which seems a pretty straightforward and easy to understand purpose to me.

        If your criticism is that Anthony’s style of writing and of covering the issues is less turgid and more accessible than RC’s, and hence he gets more readers, then I submit that the answer to that is obvious and does not lie in getting Anthony to write less well and more turgidly. Perhaps his rather more engaging personality – when compare with the ‘attack dogs’ at RC have an effect as well.

        As to McIntyre auditing the contents, I’m sure that he could do so with aplomb And likely find quite a few mistakes. As he would in commentary in the Grauniad, the NYT, the BBC, ABC, Greenpeace Daily News and the IPCC publications etc etc.

        But I’m not really sure what your point was trying to say ..other than that WUWT is not a primary source…which is no surprise to anyone. Apples are not pears.

      • When I posted on Real Climate pointing out the glaring error in the optical physics used in most if not all the climate models to predict cloud albedo from optical depth**, my post was taken down in less than a minute.

        **Mie solved Maxwell’s equations for a plane wave so the assumption of constant ‘Mie asymmetry factor’ is correct only when light first enters a cloud. Also, substantial direct backscattering at the upper cloud boundary is ignored yet it has an opposite dependence on droplet size than diffuse scattering. Therefore, above a threshold ‘optical depth’, pollution causes a reduction of albedo, another form of AGW.

        So, at the very least, the IPCC’s predictions of CO2-AGW should be reduced by a factor of about three, possibly much more if ‘cloud albedo effect’ heating explains most recent warming. Was it the result of Asian industrialisation [the ‘Asian brown Cloud’]? As it’s self-limiting, this might explain why according to ocean heat content, global warming ceased in 2003 and will reverse once Asian aerosol pollution is reduced.

      • Interesting. I’ve put this comment up on my blog for discussion.

    • I was wondering if you were ever going to respond to gavin and your support of Montford.


      Everything Gavin says makes sense, but you just ignore it.

    • From that blog. … Hadley center predicts 132% increase in emissions over 1990 by 2050 if it is business as usual.

      How much have emissions increased over 1990 already?

      Isn’t this rampant propaganda?

      I would think that we’ll be at 3 to 6 times over 1990 levels with business as usual. The story being told makes no sense to me. Must be the evil Western world huh.

      • Raving: I’m not sure where you’re coming from on this but a 132% increase in carbon emissions from 1990-2050 sounds reasonable to me.

        Here are some tables and charts based on data from Oak Ridge Labs breaking it down:


        China of course is where the biggest gains come from.

      • From 1990 to a projected 2010 it has already increased from 22K to 32K = 1.45 The figures on China were underestimated and the operating date for that report seems to be 2007.

        Let’s call it a 1.5 increase per 20 years from 1990 to the present 2010.

        Assuming an equivalent 1.5 increase is perhaps high but probably low. One should expect much faster future growth in India and other parts of the developing world a China starts off-shoring it’s own production. One should also expect further increases as the developing world establishes and develops it’s own internal consumer markets

        1.5 increase to 2030 and another 1.5 increase to 2050 =337% growth. With business as usual I expect it to increase at higher rates.

        Remember that the increase in the developing economies is not a popular topic. The IPCC has little direct influence and little direct moral sway in influencing those U.N. core support regions.

        The IPCC is pitching it’s case to the developing countries which can afford to respond and are open to criticism that they already emit.

        Having the undeveloped world exponentially increase and thus diminish the case that the developed countries must cut back now drastically is a very corrosive to the IPCC’s efforts. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place and have little or no choice but to down play the growth of industrialization elsewhere.

        1.5 times increase per 20 years is probably a low figure for “business as usual”.

        Put otherwise, ‘mitigation’ mostly means mitigating the mostly undeveloped developing economies

        It’s not “hide the decline” .. it’s “hide the really nasty truth”.

      • Coal is going to hit a wall.
        The price of coal in China was $27/ton in 2002. It’s $116/ton now.
        Compared to $15/ton in Wyoming and $60/ton in West Virgina.
        The estimates of Chinese Nuclear Capacity by 2020 have gone from 40GW a couple of years ago to 70 GW last year and just a few days ago it was pushed to 112GW which would be a 1/month build rate.
        At a cost construction cost of just under $2 billion/GW nuclear is cheaper in China. The build rate is a function of existing global industrial capacity for nuclear core steel forgings. Japan Steel could only output 4 core sets per year in 2008, it’s set to increase to 12/year in 2012.

        India is a bit trickier, the ban on exporting nuclear fuel to India was only lifted a few months ago. They’ve suffered thru years of running their nuclear plants at partial capacity because they couldn’t buy fuel on the international market. They’ve got plenty of thorium but thorium is a few years away from commercial reality.

        The ‘nasty reality’ is that if humanity if given a choice between sitting in the cold and dark now or flood and famine in 50 years they will pick flood and famine in 50 years.

        Given current global nuclear industrial capacity, if we build a nuclear plant in the US that means one less nuclear plant being built in India or China. So whatever CO2 savings we get from replacing a coal fired plant is lost as India and China will have no choice but to build a coal fired plant and import the coal to run it from the US. They are not going to sit in the dark.

      • Raving: If you want to argue that the Oak Ridge data and projections to 2030 are wrong, I can’t help you there.

        However, at the level of high school math you seem to be confusing ratios and percentages. A 1.5 times increase is equivalent to a 50% increase, not 150%.

        I’m working from the graph at http://photos.mongabay.com/09/forecast_co2.jpg .

        First a 132% increase from 1990 levels of 22K CO2 would be:
        22K + (132%)22K = 51K

        Then because the x-axis isn’t even for 1990-2010, and because I would assume the interval for 2030-2050 would be more like the interval from 2010-2030, I would project to 2050 based on the latter interval.

        Because that interval is essentially linear and results in an increase of 10K, I would expect a similar 10K increase. Therefore the if Oak Ridge graph were extended to 2050 the end result would be ~61K.

        So doing the math for the percent increase from 1990-2050:

        22K + (x%)22K = 61K
        x% = (61K-22K)/22K = 177%

        The Hadley projection of 132% is lower than 177% but basically in the same ballpark. Your 337% number is several blocks away.

        Perhaps your suspicions are correct that everyone is underestimating and spinning CO2 numbers down, but you will have to bring some hard data to the table to continue to rebut Hadley or Oak Ridge.

      • Yes I know what you mean about the confusion between ratios (relative term) and percentages (absolute term). Notice that it is counter intuitive (%ge was used in the relative context in that diagram) but gets sorted out in the end.

        Don’t you think it’s peculiar that they use a 132% increase over 1990 values as opposed to 232% of 1990 values?

        Hmmm ….

        Oh that’s why they report it this way…

        If we choose the “Rapid & Early Decline STARTING in 2010” *instead* of increasing emissions instead of a 132% increase, we will actually have a 47% decrease.

        … and if we choose the “Super duper Early Decline STARTING in 2010” *OPTION* we might even have a 110% decrease in emissions instead of 132% increase. …. 10% net sequestering. Just imagine that eh?

        Damn charlatans! This discussion is finished. They are lying through their teeth

      • Raving: I’m a software engineer. In my profession you either say “132% faster” or “2.32 times faster” — usually the latter if > 2.0. You would never say “232% increase of.”

        Most reporting uses percentages because usually we are dealing with small changes less than 100%. Everyone knows what a 10% cost increase is but many would be confused by 1.1 cost increase.

        There is nothing odd or tricky about Hadley’s chart of % CO2 increases or decreases. In fact it’s standard.

        So far you have not demonstrated lying on anyone’s part.

      • Everyone knows what a 10% cost increase is but many would be confused by 1.1 cost increase.

        I’m from the school of ‘Stupid’. That means that I have seen enough people who don’t understand statistics coaxed into using ‘statistical analysis’ to lend an ad hoc patina of credence to their argument.

        (Have to go out. Return later to continue the discussion on the more substantive issue of unconsidered voids.

        Continuing … is not so easy because (for an example of many) it is one thing to claim that the emissions data pertaining to China is grossly underestimated. But it is also the case that China is changing and moving to alter the future outcome. It is also the case that they have demonstrated in action, delivering on their assertion.

        Considering those voids is not easy. Ignoring them because one can get away with not doing such, sinks credibility.)

      • “Raving: I’m a software engineer …”

        According to the survey, 42 percent of the respondents said their companies have set up one of their shared services centers in China. With regard to outsourcing, 41 percent said they have a third-party outsourcing provider in China.

        Singapore stands second as a popular location for shared services at 29 percent, followed by India at 25 percent.

        Figures from KPMG show that in 2007, China’s onshore and offshore outsourcing market stood at only $7.5 billion. That amount nearly tripled to $20 billion last year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. By 2014, KPMG predicts that China’s total outsourcing market will stand at $43.9 billion.


        I have an American friend who is a software engineer. He hasn’t worked since his job got outsourced to India years ago.

        Having grown up in Canada under the shadow of the U.S., I can tell you that there are only so many jobs to go around in the service sector. There are only so many people who can be doctors, lawyers, police officers, teachers, employment councilors, social workers, waiters, retailers, builders and bankers.

        Some people need to be productively gained in primary resource creation … farmers, manufactures, designers,

        Without such a base there is no income to sustain the locally consumed service industry. [Side note: Canada’s economy seems to be partly stimulated by immigration.]

        Outsourcing from the West to the developing world is going to result in the West running out of money.

        The outsourcing from the Western economies is a big stimulus for industrialization in the developing world.

        THE INDUSTRIALIZATION of the DEVELOPING WORLD has only just begun. In 20 years we are already half way to the projected Hadley target. There is twice that long … another 40 years to go.

        We have only started to enter an exponential growth in industrialization worldwide. Can you honestly claim that the “business as usual” projected increase emissions over the next double the length of time will be similar to what has already transpired over the last 20 years under the “business as usual” assumption?

        Maybe you suppose that something like the French nuclear power program will save us all?

        Growing up in nuclear power generation friendly Ontario, Canada I heard 40+ years of how clean safe and wonderful it was only to end up paying increasing surcharge bills for expensive repairs and prematurely decommissioned reactors.

        Whatever the technology, be it wind, nuclear or solar. These are evolving technologies that frequently do not perform, nor hold the the service life that is anticipated. The original deployment of these substantive material solutions act as a strong catalysis of industrial development directly,offshore and by trickle down. The worldwide rate of emissions is boosted accordingly. Premature replacement and repair boosts worldwide emissions more so.

        The Green consumer is on the fast track to becoming the biggest producer of GHG. (and ‘science’ doesn’t enter into it)

        Sustainability begins at home. The world economy needs to be cooled. Alternately we can say hello to a bankrupt West and go beg for charity from a booming developing world.

      • +132% (ratio=2.32)
        – 47% (ratio=0.53)

        Halve it or double it and a bit?

        They are playing the game of spinning perceptions. When they are inconsistent in this regard, I expect them to be inconsistent elsewhere in a similar manner.

        I expect that the plausible future emissions picture is much worse than how it is suggested. I see a large regions of unconsidered voids which are inconvenient to consider because they speak against the efforts to mitigate.

        Stop playing perceptual games of ‘hide-the-booger’. It’s incredulous and everyone loses.

    • I can’t understand how Joe Romm can write that crap and believe it (just to take two item, the ocean acidifcation nonsense, and that ridiculous temperature plot going neary straight up). And the way he has turned on Dr. Curry continues to show what an imbecile he is. Just unbelievable.

      I sure would like to see Dr. Spencer and Dr. Pielke Sr. give testimony – maybe early next year after the new congress gets in . . . ? :-)

      • “I can’t understand how Joe Romm can write that crap and believe it”

        Who says he believes it?
        He’s a professional paid propagandist.

    • It is funny how Joe Romm wasted so many words explaining why he is not a part of the “those guys” involved in Climategate and how Gavin is an “innocent bystander”.

      What is funny as well – is how these folks try to pretend as though the leak/hack/stealing/release/purloining/theft of the emails was ‘Climategate’. It is not the leaking of the emails, dear folks, it is what in those emails that is really Climategate.

      Everyone knows Joe Romm was not in anyway connected to Climategate.

      The whole idea of marshalling so much resources, time and energy just to counter “the McIntyres of the world”, this attitude, was the very problem at the heart of Climategate.

      • Shub: Yep. It’s sadly transparent how the climate change advocates are always framing and spinning their narrative. Not only is it distasteful, I don’t think it works for them — it turns off people who are undecided.

        Dr. Curry says she would like to separate science from politics in climate change. Others point out how difficult that is.

        I can see both sides there, but what I am really keen for is to separate science from political campaigning.

        The climate change scientists and advocates have done terrible damage all around by mixing science with bare knuckle political street fighting.

  4. OK. Spencer and Lindzen.

  5. AL Gore :-)

  6. Recommendation for Roger A. Pielke, Sr.

    His work on other first-order forgings is a broad subject that can be easily explained conceptually to lawmakers that provides backup for sources of uncertainty.

  7. AnyColourYouLike

    Shouldn’t that be “forcings” Howard? Or is the irony of “forgings” intended? ;-)

  8. Rattus Norvegicus

    Here are my guesses:

    Panel 1: Cicerone. This is because they can get him to say that Mike Mann made a mistake in the 1998/99 MBH papers. Of course he’ll also say that this was a minor error which did not effect the conclusions, as shown by Wahl and Amman. There is a lot of evidence that the 98/99 methods suppressed natural variability (some of it developed by Mann himself — hint, this is normal science) but this is an inadequacy of an early analysis method and most assuredly not fraud. Twelve years on and the paleo community, including work done by real statisticians, is still trying to develop an optimum method.

    Panel 2: Feely, because they don’t know that he’s an IPCC AR5 LA.

    Panel 3: You.

    Do I win the prize?

    • AnyColourYouLike


      ” this is an inadequacy of an early analysis method and most assuredly not fraud.”

      I agree. But why did Mann defend it for so long, whilst simultaneously ranting in all directions that his critics were idiots?

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Because his critics were idiots? The criticism started years before McIntyre came on the scene.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        I might also point out that it took McIntyre until 2005 to find a valid criticism. The mistake wasn’t obvious.

      • I’m not sure that’s quite fair. The error was found very quickly once McIntyre found the code for MBH98 on Mann’s website.

      • Richard S Courtney

        It is certainly not fair.

        The stitching together of the proxy and thermometer data sets was unacceptable science practice (i.e. comparing apples and oranges), and I was saying so from within a week of MBH 98 being published. That was, and is, a “valid criticism”.

        Much, much later when the Climategate emails (one is from me but on a different subject) were leaked this matter went viral (i.e. “Mike’s Nature trick” and “hide the decline”).

        The reason why ‘climate science’ has lost credibility – and threatens to harm the credibility of all science – is demonstrated by the fact that up to and including now, there are people wanting to claim:
        “I might also point out that it took McIntyre until 2005 to find a valid criticism. The mistake wasn’t obvious.”


      • Please Richard, using one instrument to calibrate another is basic science. All temperature measurement devices use different physical principles, and they all can be calibrated against each other. Mann used the instrumental record to calibrate a variety of proxys.

      • But that is not what they did, Eli.
        They hid the problem. The used useless and misleading algorithms to force fit a pre-determined answer.
        Sort of like what the accountant for Madoff did in his statements to Bernie’s investors.

      • Even when calibrating a temperature sensor against a black body, different `models’ have to be used at different temperatures ranges. For example, you will have different calibration tables for “normal” temperatures as opposed to high-temperature calibrations (I model these for a living).

        In terms of climate proxies, the same must be true. The issue is that as the conditions for the proxy vary over time, you don’t have the necessary constraints from one time period to the next. This is most starkly demonstrated by the divergence problem.

        We don’t suffer this issue so much as one half of our calibration is an instrument with well understood physical properties (a black body). Calibrating proxies with the instrumental record, which is limited in time, would be the equivalent of my producing calibration curves for a temperature sensor over range -15C to 150C and then assuming that those calibration curves are also accurate for bodies radiating at, say, 200C, or -60C. They are not.

      • One works with what one has, which is why, when one has imperfect proxy’s error analysis assumes higher importance.

        As you point out, with a single proxy, it is an act of faith to believe that their response stays constant outside of the calibration region, when all sorts of imperfect proxys show the same general behavior it is difficult to believe that each of them is drifting in the same way. This, of course, is a strength of a multiproxy reconstruction.

      • I think that rather depends on the validity of the techniques used in the reconstruction.

      • Yes and no, many techniques are not bulletproof but are useful, and that class includes the original MBH algorithms. However, there was room for improvement and we are now using more formally correct algorithms which yield, pretty much the same answer.

      • Citation please Eli. I don’t believe for one minute that there’s any credibility in Mannian methods, or any method that shows a hockey-stick minus a MWP. That is unless substantial cherry picking is involved.

      • @Eli

        You state:

        ‘However, there was room for improvement and we are now using more formally correct algorithms which yield, pretty much the same answer’

        So if we were to work through the same raw unadjusted data as MBH did – with today’s ‘more correct’ (= less obviously rigged) algorithms, we would generate a similar hockey stick shape – with no MWP and a large recent uptick? If so, why have they not received wide publicity as yet another vindication of AW theory. They would represent a goal for the warmist agenda.

        Forgive me for being sceptical…but I think I’d prefer McIntyre to have a look before believing you on this point. Or is subjecting your work to outside scrutiny something you are still viscerally opposed to?

      • Robinson, we appear to have run out of space here, but your request is met by a statement from Prof. Gerald North at the same Congressional hearing where Prof. Wegman presented his report. Prof. North was chair of the NRC committee which considered the question of the validity of MBH 98 and 99 and paleoreconstructions in general:
        In my opinion, while the techniques used in the original Mann et al papers may have been slightly flawed, the work was the first of its kind and deserves considerable credit for moving the field of paleoclimate research forward. It is also important to note that the main conclusions of the Mann et al studies have been supported by subsequent research.

        In a letter to the Washington Post this year, Prof. North wrote
        While we did find some of the methods used in Michael E. Mann’s original papers to be less cautious than some of our members might have used, we have not found any evidence that his results were incorrect or even out of line with other works published since his original papers.
        There is more

      • Richard S Courtney

        Eli Rabbett:

        No! That is NOT what they did.

        They had a diverence problem in that the results of the proxy anaysis indicated falling temperature in the most recent decades but the temperature measurements indicated the temperature was rising in those decades. And they hid this divergence by superimposing the temperature measurement data over the proxy data in the graph which reported the results in MBH98 (i.e. “Mike’s Nature trick”).

        Any honest science would have shown the indication of falling temperature and not stuck a completely different data set over the top of it.

        In any scientific analysis when two different data sets from two different measuremt methods are to be used then they should both be clearly presented and the differences in their methods and their indications should be clearly explained. Simply, they should be compared.

        Simply stitching the two together is not science, and doing it in a manner which gives a false impression that they agree (when they do not) is tantamount to scientific fraud.

        I said it was wrong then and I have not changed my view since. This is because the divergence indicates that
        (a) their proxy analysis results were wrong
        (b) the temperature measurements were wrong
        (c) both of the data sets were wrong.

        Science would have stated this and initiated an investigation of which is true. But Mann, Bradley & Hughes (we now know deliberately) used “Mike’s Nature trick” to pretend they were both right. That is not defensible in any real science.


      • The real reason and motivation for “The Hiding” is that the divergence invalidates the proxy. All prior data is rendered highly questionable, virtually worthless. Which implodes the AGW case at its roots.

      • That’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever read.

        Because a single proxy diverges after 1960 (most likely due to anthropogenic causes), all proxies are invalidated?

      • Nope. Of course not. But the one that diverges certainly is.

      • The ‘hockeystick’ emerged when activists, apparently driven by Sagan’s fear of Venusian-style thermal runaway, tried to pin most recent temperature rise on CO2-AGW. They’re still at it to judge from the fiddling of temperatures but they might as well give up.

        It’s because the optical physics of clouds apparently inherited by the climate models from Sagan’s more general analysis, is incorrect. Not only does it wrongly assume constant ‘Mie asymmetry factor’, only true for a plane wave, it fails to take into account substantial direct backscattering at upper cloud boundaries and pollution drives that in the opposite direction to internal diffuse optical scattering.

        Interestingly, after experiment had shown no evidence of ‘cloud albedo effect’ cooling, without which the IPCC’s predictions of high CO2-AGW in AR4 are baseless, NASA claimed enhanced ‘reflection’ from increased surface area of water droplets in polluted clouds’: plausible but incorrect physics.

        As ‘cloud albedo effect’ heating may be an alternate, self-limiting AGW, global warming may have ceased in 2003 when the albedo of low level tropical clouds couldn’t fall any further. If so, CO2 has lost its monopoly, thermal runaway looks unlikely, there’s no need for hockeysticks and it’s time the science moved on.

      • Richard S Courtney

        This discussion is a ‘keeper’. It contains an extraordinary collection of various excuses for the scientific malpractice which is in MBH98.

        Rattus Norvegicus
        Says there was only one error in MBH98, it was statistical, and “The mistake wasn’t obvious.”
        So, he claims, ‘hide the decline” did not happen which of course, denies the fact that ‘hide the decline” did happen.

        Eli Rabett
        Says the methodology in MBH98 is OK because “Mann used the instrumental record to calibrate a variety of proxys”.
        Which, of course, is what MBH98 purported to do but did not. Indeed, MBH98 “hid the decline” so pretending the method worked although the resulting calibrated curve demonstrated that the method did not work.

        Eli Rabett
        Says it is OK to pretend that a failure of the method is not discerned because “when all sorts of imperfect proxys show the same general behavior it is difficult to believe that each of them is drifting in the same way. This, of course, is a strength of a multiproxy reconstruction.”
        But, of course, it is only a “strength of a multiproxy reconstruction” when differences between the proxy data sets and directly measured values are clearly presented for evaluation. MBH98 pretended the novel method adopted in that paper provided agreement between the proxy data and the measured data which did not exist (i.e. for the most recent decades).

        Doug McGee
        Replies to Brian H having said “The real reason and motivation for “The Hiding” is that the divergence invalidates the proxy” by saying, “That’s one of the craziest things I’ve ever read. Because a single proxy diverges after 1960 (most likely due to anthropogenic causes), all proxies are invalidated?”.
        This has to be one of the clearest examples of a ‘straw man’ ever presented. Brian H was talking about “the proxy” in MBH98 and not about “all proxies”.

        Eli Rabett
        Says it was OK to “hide the decline” because “The divergence problem with some (one) of the proxys was well known before the MBH papers. Mann was following the recommendations of the dendrologists.”
        Even if this were true then it would not excuse “hide the decline”. Knowledge that a problem exists is not a reason to hide its effects. A demonstration that the method of MBH98 had overcome a known problem would have been important to report. The fact that the method did not overcome a problem (whether previously known or not) is equally important to report and equally important to not deliberately “hide”.

        Asserts that pretending the results in MBH98 were other than they are is OK because, he says, “Judgment calls are made all the time in science on stuff like this.” And he says such pretence is not “tantamount to scientific “fraud”.
        No comment on his assertions is needed.

        Asserts that choosing a part of the available calibration data (i.e. for 1850 to 1960) makes the reconstruction curves “look better” than using all the available calibration data (i.e. for 1850 to the present). So, he asserts, “Therefore the correct calibration period to use is 1850-1960.”
        Say what!? Cherry picking data to get a result “look better” is “correct”? Perhaps it is in ‘climate science’ but it is totally unacceptable in any real science. And no real science makes post hoc excuses to justify having cherry picked data.


      • Richard

        This is why I dislike the practice of ellipsis. It’s only one step removed from summarization, and summarization can so tempt one to believe the source being summarized by a detractor said things in ways other than actually happened.

        Why repeat and summarize, and risk this error on the part of readers, when it is so easy to link to the particular passages for reference without losing any of the original nuance, to allow readers to judge for themselves what was actually said?

        These passages are, after all, right above in the same thread.

        For instance, in http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/12/uncertainty-gets-a-seat-at-the-big-table-part-ii/#comment-11238 there is talk of an error, but no explicit claim by Rattus Norvegicus there was only one.

        It’s an easy mistake of reading to make. That similar mistakes follow consistently paragraph by paragraph, reference by reference begins to contribute to a credibility issue for the technique of purported summarization.

        It’s almost like that thing they warned us to avoid in debate club, the.. what was the term? Oh, yes. “Straw man.”

      • Richard S Courtney

        Bart R:

        Your excuses are not adequate. If my assessment of the defences of ‘hide the decline’ in this thread is incorrect then state my error.

        You provide only one such attempt; i.e. you say:

        “For instance, in http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/12/uncertainty-gets-a-seat-at-the-big-table-part-ii/#comment-11238 there is talk of an error, but no explicit claim by Rattus Norvegicus there was only one.” AnyColourYouLike asked him/her

        That is not true, as anybody can see from reading the above.

        Rattus Norvegicus wrote:

        “There is a lot of evidence that the 98/99 methods suppressed natural variability (some of it developed by Mann himself — hint, this is normal science) but this is an inadequacy of an early analysis method and most assuredly not fraud.”

        AnyColourYouLike asked Rattus Norvegicus:

        “But why did Mann defend it for so long, whilst simultaneously ranting in all directions that his critics were idiots?”.

        To which Rattus Norvegicus replied, in total;

        “Because his critics were idiots? The criticism started years before McIntyre came on the scene.”
        “I might also point out that it took McIntyre until 2005 to find a valid criticism. The mistake wasn’t obvious.”

        Clearly, Rattus Norvegicus was asserting that

        (a) the (n.b. singular) mistake was that which McIntyre revealed
        (b) any other criticism of another mistake prior to McIntyre’s criticism was unfounded and he implied it was made by “idiots”.

        No other interpretation of his words is possible.

        I objected to that saying;

        “The stitching together of the proxy and thermometer data sets was unacceptable science practice (i.e. comparing apples and oranges), and I was saying so from within a week of MBH 98 being published. That was, and is, a “valid criticism”.”

        Only after that did the excuses for “hide the decline” start.

        In conclusion, your comment dissembles.


      • Richard


        I’ve stated your argument’s error. It’s “Straw Man.”

        Your error, I have no idea of.

        But what I’ve seen written in this thread however, that’s pretty apparent in its restatement of something somewhat like was said, then attacking the not-quite original. It’s a technique deprecated in high school debate.

        I admit I was incomplete. Apparently “Ad Hom” and “Poisoning the Well” also reside within the arguments you are using.

        I mean, this word “excuses,” what is that other than a naked attempt to color statements with no sense of excuse about them?

        Repeating the same errors of fact does not make them fact, concluding from errors entirely divorced from what is in evidence is not logic.

        Were some of the things your post said truthy?

        How can it matter, once within a Straw Man argument?

        In short, many of my comments dissemble a great deal; this one isn’t among them.

        Straight as an arrow, your claims in this thread are invalid argumentation, perhaps persuasive to the incautious, but one can easily see where such abuses of rhetorical method would, for those who love logic, antagonize. But not in a good way.

      • Thank you for this, Richard. I have kept a copy of this litany of warmist desperation, and your succinct rejoinders, for future reference.

      • Richard S Courtney (Nov 14 at 3:31am) — Please re-read the comment of mine (Nov 13 at 10:50pm, below) that you paraphrased, and also check the link in its final paragraph. Your interpretation may be in error.

      • Richard S Courtney


        OK. I have done that. And your point is?


      • Eli,
        The error in your statement is is simple. Fundementally, Mann was using a calibration technique to prove that proxies could be used as a temperature measurement device.

        He was not just calibrating two different temperature measurement devices, based on different physical principals.

        Big difference.

      • Richard S Courtney


        Yes. Thank you.


      • Kan
        “Mann was using a calibration technique to prove that proxies could be used as a temperature measurement device. ”
        The procedure selects proxies on the grounds that they adequately match “the instumental record” in an arbitrary calibration period. Other candidate proxies are rejected.
        The “Divergence Problem” asks for a leap of faith – that sensitivity has become corrupted in recent times by an unspecified (possibly anthropogenic) factor. In effect, it argues for a limited calibration period.
        If we do not accept this assertion, the calibration period may then be considered to be open-ended. This asks no more than to expect proxies which were good in the past to be also good today.
        This will reject many proxy series – especially tree rings.
        Any “surviving” proxies may be apt to rejection in the future, if they are shown to diverge a later date. That should be a good thing as it puts additional emphasis onto justifying each proxy on its physical properties.
        This may leaves us with a small number of remaining proxy series and an unhelpfully wide confidence interval for past temperature trends. So be it – if we are serous about “uncertainty”.

      • The divergence problem with some (one) of the proxys was well known before the MBH papers. Mann was following the recommendations of the dendrologists. It has always been a mystery why this was attributed to Mann, when both Bradley and Hughes are dendrologists.

        One of the amusing dances in this whole thing was McIntyre’s (and sing and dance and stomp he did) about how MBH had not used the entire Central England Temperature record without his realizing that the part they did not use was a) not instrumental and b) at least part of what was not used was not from central england. It took about five minutes of reading the effing reference to realize that Steve O was bloviating.

      • I’m not familiar enough with dendroclimatology to speak confidently about the divergence problem, what proxies it pertains to, what time intervals, etc, but the literature seems at least very clear on its existence. As such, the choice to overlay an instrumental record on a paleo-record (while cutting off the portion of the dendro record that the literature suggests is unreliable) is a scientific choice. You can argue it’s not a very good choice, but it’s reasonable, particularly to the extent that the choice is discussed or justified in the article from which a graph comes from. Judgment calls are made all the time in science on stuff like this. Much more interesting with these cases are to examine if they actually matter for anything relevant or if a conclusion is robust to various degrees of reasonable choices. In the end, the goal is to understand the climate system

        Of course there are certain people with a fine microscope looking for any conceivable way to accuse people of fraud (e.g., Richard Courtney) but this case just doesn’t qualify.

      • IMO, Kan cut to the heart of the matter upthread.

        Mainstream climatology’s solution to the Divergence Problem was to disqualify the post 1960-record for a substantial fraction of tree-ring records, meaning that 1960-on data would be excluded from the calibration period. Basically:

        1. We want paleotemperature reconstructions that are skillful, robust, and have small errror bands.

        2. The reconstruction curves for, say, 1400-1850 look better when treerings 1400-1850 are calibrated against treerings and the instrumental record for 1850-1960. They look worse when treerings 1400-1850 are calibrated for the period 1850-present.

        3. Therefore the correct calibration period to use is 1850-1960.

        4. This is okay, because rising CO2 caused a change in the responses of tree rings to temperatures, starting around 1960. Or maybe it wasn’t CO2, but some other anthropogenic influence. Or maybe some other, unknown factor.

        5. Or maybe the Divergence Problem isn’t really a problem at all (Salzer, PNAS, 2009).

        Look at the rise of the use of predefined endpoints in clinical trial design. The concept has merit exactly because post hoc reasoning comes so naturally to people. Further, you can calculate your favorite statistical metrics just fine–but after the application of post hoc conditions, the numbers aren’t readily interpretable. They certainly don’t mean what they seem to mean (see e.g. the application of the Bonferroni correction to genomics studies).

        It’s discouraging to see this type of reasoning defended. Instead, how about,”it took the pharma people a couple of decades worth of wrongly-interpreted results to figure this stuff out. So don’t be too hard on us dendros. We resolve to ease up on reinventing the statistical wheel, and to have a more interdisciplinary focus, from now on.”

        Here, I apply Divergence-Problem-type reasoning to precipitation, as a thought experiment. Pretty lame, isn’t it.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        No need to worry, Keith Briffa had a brilliant and rigorously tested hypothesis to explain the divergence…

        “In the absence of a substantiated explanation for the decline, we make the assumption that it is likely to be a response to some kind of recent anthropogenic forcing. On the basis of this assumption, the pre-twentieth century part of the reconstructions can be considered to be free from similar events and thus accurately represent past temperature variability.”

        [Interpretation for the hard of reasoning.]
        It’s….er…..probably something to do with….er…modern influences!…maybe loud rock music…almost certainly never happened in simpler times…y’know…when men were men…and ….trees were REAL trees….not these useless nancy-boy trees we’ve had since the 60’s!

        Will this do lads?


      • Eli
        Mann was “following the recommendations of the dendrologists”? That’s not a credible defence IMO. Certainly not from anybody who wants to be taken seriously. He put his name to the analysis and the articles.

        You say that McIntyre was singing and dancing and stomping. Very successful singing and dancing and stomping it would now appear, given the issues he raised and the issues that have become more publicly visible over the last year.

        While meserised by the “singing and dancing and stomping”, you failed to notice is that “outsiders” was playing the essential role of testing the analysis and claims being made by the climatological community.

        Slamming the door in the face of reasonable requests for detail of an analysis is a failure of peer review. There is now a body of opinion that considers McIntyre and others to have undertaken an important role that the community of climatologists appears to be incapable of fulfilling for itself.

        Isn’t that one of the reasons why Judith set up this blog?

        Whining-on about “singing and dancing and stopming” tell me that you are slow to learn. You would dearly love to slam the door, if you could just get a hold of the handle again.

      • Further thoughts on the Divergence Problem are downthread, here. They are in a mostly-un-nested comment that appears as a Reply to Rattus Norvegicus’ initial remark.

      • Unfortunately, by truncating the tree graph, the tree data gave a false match to the instrumental data. The tree data went down where the tree data went up. That isn’t a match.

      • “The tree data went down where the tree data went up.”

        That should be “The tree data went down where the instumental data went up. “

      • Please rattus,
        McIntyre knew something was off as soon as he saw the pamphlet from the Canadian government.

        I’ll give you an example. Just look at Joe Romm’s version of McShane and Wyner. What comes to your mind?

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      I forgot to point out that most panels in house hearings (at least in my experience of watching on CSPAN) have 3 members. So they may get another cut at the apple in panel 1.

      • Addendum — Steven Mosher’s thoughts on how the Divergence Problem was presented in the IPCC’s Fourth Report are worth reading, downthread.

    • Two points should be emphasized about the “Divergence Problem” imbroglio.

      (1) Most parties to the dispute agree that paleoclimate reconstructions are not central to the Consensus’ scientific case for AGW. Steve McIntyre has so stated on a number of occasions. I agree.

      It isn’t quite so simple, of course. Since “An Inconvenient Truth”, the first IPCC report, and the founding of the RealClimate.org advocacy website, the Hockey Stick has loomed large in public relations briefs. The field’s emphatic proclamations of the insightfulness, skill, and robustness of these types of studies have thus made it assume an outsized role in evaluations of the credibility of the Consensus’ case by scientifically-literate outsiders.

      In this regard, the pro-AGW Consensus has also created a “Have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too” problem. Hockey Sticks “aren’t that important” — yet they have been prominent in IPCC reports, and have been used to validate and to tune GCMs, the computer models that are crucial to the Consensus case (see PAGES/CLIVAR). On the other hand, the Consensus isn’t some organized dogma; each individual scientist and advocate has his or her own view (e.g. Chick Keller’s here). One person isn’t responsible for what another says, unless they make it so.

      (2) Dissenters from the Pro-AGW Consensus assert that most or all of the high-profile Hockey Stick reconstructions suffer from most of these three problems: (a) Untrustworthy methods of proxy selection; (b) Unreliable proxies (e.g. bristlecones, Tiljander); and (c) Questionable or invalid analytical methods. See e.g. The Hockey Stick Illusion or ClimateAudit.info.

      The “Divergence Problem” is claimed to fall under (c) — a claim with which I concur, for the reasons stated earlier.

      The (claimed) poor quality of scientific investigation of global paleotemperature trends over the past two millenia does not imply that the past few decades have not experienced average temperatures that are unusual or record-breaking in their warmth. Dissenters can get so caught up in their passions that this common-sense point is forgotten (“Someone you distrust says it’s raining outside…”). Indeed, there are encouraging signs that people with a sophisticated understanding of the Hockey Stick’s problems are taking up this challenge of crafting reconstructions that are genuinely robust. See Ron Broberg’s recent review of R.L. Smith’s initial foray into this area.

      I’ll end by mentioning a peeve. Certain individuals have achieved an outsized measure of fame by personalizing the Hockey Stick controversy. Other individuals on the other side of the fence are using the issue to further their political ambitions, attempting to change the venue from the literature (and scientific meetings and science-oriented blogs) to the courtroom. Both developments will set back progress on the technical issues, and thus delay the emergence of a genuine and grounded “consensus” on the Earth’s temperature history — and the uncertainty of our knowledge of that history.

      • No hockey stick = no ‘unprecedented’ global warming.

        Fine – we can live with that. We have shown that we can do it.

      • If you look at the ‘vindication’ by Ljungqvist, F.C. 2010.

        They say “Our temperature reconstruction agrees well with the reconstructions by Moberg et al. (2005) and Mann et al. (2008) with regard to the amplitude of the variability as well as the timing of warm and cold periods, except for the period c. AD 300–800, despite significant differences in both data coverage and methodology.”

        So they agree with Mann, and Loehle says he agrees with them. So Mann is right, the Hockey Stick, which does not have to represent a “Hockey Stick” at all, is correct. We have experience rapid warming, and unprecedented temperature levels.

      • Sorry – I think you’ll find that Ljungqvist FC lost at home to Barry Town FC in the First Qualifying Round of the Europa Cup and were eliminated :-(

      • snide: Not so fast. According to your quote Ljungqvist agrees well with Mann in some respects and not in others.

        You simplify that to Ljungqvist and Loehle agree with Mann and then conclude with the standard AGW claim of “unprecedented temperature levels.”

        But that’s not what L & L are saying.

        The highest average temperatures in the reconstruction are encountered in the mid to late tenth century… The temperature of the last two decades, however, is possibly higher than during any previous time in the past two millennia, although this is only seen in the instrumental temperature data and not in the multi-proxy reconstruction itself.

        Loehle concludes:

        No unprecedented warming in recent decades, just a repeat of what looks to me like a periodic pattern of warming and cooling.

      • “Most parties to the dispute agree that paleoclimate reconstructions are not central to the Consensus’ scientific case for AGW. ”

        This is not entirely accurate. Indeed it cannot be.

        In relation to AGW, the whole point of doing paleoclimate of the recent past (past 1-2 thousand years) is to gauge a baseline climate sensitivity for the climatologic segment we are in right now. Getting a good grip on centennial-scale and >100 year-scale variability for as far back we can go reliably, is therefore the objective of studies in this area.

        One viewpoint has been that, going as far back as 1000 years, the base climatologic state showed only decadal/multidecadal oscillations, i.e., – the steadiness, and then a monotonous rise of this temperature state, i.e., – a clear demonstration of the sensitive nature of this steady state to perturbations, the cause for the disturbance being human CO2.

        Secondly, for us to experience “record-breaking warmth”, we should be warm no doubt, but we should also have the records. This type of rhetoric does not help.

      • In this regard, the pro-AGW Consensus has also created a “Have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too” problem.

        AMac: I call this “trying-to-have-it-both-ways” and the climate change campaign is rife with it. In fact I’d say this is their true dilemma.

        We see the same business with “the science is settled” and later “no, of course the science is not settled — we never said that.” Then all the talk of catastrophes followed by the retreat that the very word “catastrophe” is now a smear against climate change on pair with “denier.”

        The climate change dilemma is that they want to force the debate into an either-or choice that requires all the initiatives they dream up in Copenhagen or Cancun but the science remains too uncertain to make that sale, so they have to retreat to more reasonable positions but that leads into all these boggy degrees of difference discussions about climate sensitivity, data accuracy, model reliability, confidence estimates, and on and on. Worse yet, they even have to engage skeptics.

        I don’t see any way around this. The climate change movement is going to have to work more slowly and carefully to make their case. Unlike some skeptics I do think they have a case. The delays may be frustrating and may even prove costly, but that’s the reality, both scientific and political.

      • Other individuals on the other side of the fence are using the issue to further their political ambitions, attempting to change the venue from the literature (and scientific meetings and science-oriented blogs) to the courtroom.

        AMac: I don’t want to see Mann et al. investigated in court for dealing cards off the bottom of the science deck, although I think they have

        But I draw the line at destroying data, refusing to comply with FOI requests, and shenanigans like RealClimate’s latest — deleting all the timestamps off their posts ( http://spectator.org/blog/2010/11/04/not-the-last-you-will-see-of-c ).

        Climate scientists are not above the law and if it takes hauling a bunch of them into court to get that point across, I’m all for it.

  9. Can’t say who I would name, but can list qualifications that would tend to make a witness more interesting to me.

    For Science:

    1. Field Work, moderate to good. Credibility is harder to sustain with clean fingernails.

    2. Publications. Citations by many other publications. Surviving the peer review process to the third or fourth generation of citation speaks to something more important than consensus, which is adoption and integration of ideas.

    3. Breadth of knowledge specific to the field of Climatology.

    4. Depth of knowledge specific to a subfield of Climatology.

    5. Ability to answer questions directly and clearly.

    For Evidence:

    1. Field Work, extensive. The evidence in Climatology is in the field. As broad as the Earth Sciences (etc.) are, it would be unrealistic to hope for an expert witness with experience in the field in multiple sub-disciplines, it would be unseemly for someone who has no experience in field work to speak to evidence.

    2. A background as an experimentalist. Experiment is the foundation of science; the intuition and wisdom of years of work in the lab has no substitute with regard to evidence.

    3. Mathematical and statistical qualifications and acumen.

    4. Encyclopedic memory for the history of evidence gathered, and ability to place the evidence in a broader context, by its relevance, weight and reliability.

    5. Wouldn’t be bad if the witness for evidence had a good grasp of Earth (& allied) Science.

    6. Ability to speak clearly wouldn’t hurt.

  10. I would choose Ross McKitrick and Roy Spencer. I would choose these two be presenters because Ross in an expert on statistics which is a major weak link in many of the climate studies and Roy is a very knowledgeable about the various climate models strengths and weaknesses. Both people are professional and not amateurs or climate dilatants. They are both knowledgeable about IPCC AR’s.

    • PolyisTCOandbanned

      They are second raters. Honestly. Even just in terms of base acheivements in other fields.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      Ross is a second rater, much of his work has been deconstructed. To his credit, he goes back and tries again, but he gets shot down, over and over. In general, Ross’s analyses are pretty fragile. Roy, well, he tries. Of course his early analysis of the satellite data had a huge problem (it reversed the original findings) yet I don’t see people here screaming for his head like I see people screaming for Mann’s head, even though Mann’s early analysis has been shown to be basically correct.

      • I’m sure your views would hold more weight among the general readership if we were able to judge your qualifications to make your judgments on these guys.

        Are you and Polly just like Stadler and Walldorf at the end of the Muppets? Sitting on the sidelines decrying eveybody’s efforts? Or have you really got something useful to say? Hiding behind aliases does not bode well………

      • Spencer claimed the satellites proved the models were wrong. The models were right, the satellites were wrong. And you still can’t get Spencer’s source code.

      • Spencer and Christy were pretty smart to realize that the MSU units could be used to measure atmospheric temperatures. If you want a comparison, Michael Mann was the first to realize how to do a multiproxy reconstruction. S&Cs initial algorithm had some mistakes in it, which were spotted the old fashioned way, by comparison with other attempts to extract temperatures (first Prabhakara and then RSS).

        The first was a limited nadir view reconstruction, which indicated that there were problems with parts of the UAH reconstruction. RSS was comparable, but also had some errors. The competition between RSS and UAH has improved both. It is interesting also to mention a USENET motivated publication by Eric Swanson, about one of the problems with the TLT reconstruction

        In summary it is more than a little hypocritical to come down on one of the pioneering efforts (Mann or UAH) an ignore the other, but rather each has to be evaluated on not only the initial effort, but the follow on. Eli, for one, does not think there is much of a basis to choose between UAH and RSS these days, or between the various spag proxy reconstructions (Mann and Co, Moberg, Ljungqvist etc)

        It is interesting to note that a useful interplay has developed between UAH and RSS. This is much more in the tradition of independent measures of the same system being used to spot issues in each rather than the rather sterile “audit” model.

      • MSU data can be verified since it is current data. The “multiproxy” data can’t be proved for the past since there is no global temperature data which to compare.

      • Watts sings the “alias” tune as well. This is the internet and there is no difference between you and Rattus or Poly. Your posts may as well be signed “anonymous”.

      • ‘Watts sings the ‘alias’ tune as well’

        Sorry – it being early Sunday morning in UK, you will have to explain that to me in a bit more detail.

        Are you suggesting that Anthony Watts is an alias..that he doesn’t exist? That it was actually a green alien lizard masquerading as the TV weatherman in California for all those years? H’mm.

        We have already established yesterday that you have an obsessive paranoia about ‘creationists’. Has it spread yet further into delusions about lizards?

        My point was simple. If posters wish to make unpleasant and condescending remarks about others not here to defend themselves (secondrater etc), then they should identify themselves unambiguously so that we may judge their qualifications and expertise in doing so.

        That they choose to hide behind anonymity does not give me a nice warm fuzzy feeling that they know what they are writing about. Rather that they are third rate bullshit merchants.

        The solution to my perception lies in their actions, not mine.

      • Latimer

        It appears to be another Americanism.

        I don’t know the words, but here’s a link to the tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3zNKylW5fVY


      • There ya go, just making shit up, right on cue. There is nothing obsessive or paranoid about the observations of the high over-lap of creationists within the deny and delay movement, nor is it obsessive or paranoid to observe their poor logic, lack of ethics, tactics and arguments are identical to those of the creationists.

        I happen to be very interested in the demographics and psychosis of denialism in all its forms, from evolution and vaccines to climate change.

        You’re an anonymous poster. And unless you send me your online banking information proving you are THE Latimer Alder,you will remain anonymous.

        I can determine if what someone writes is accurate w/o knowing who they are. Why can’t you?

      • OK, Doug. Show us your data on the “high over-lap of creationists within the deny and delay movement.” I’m betting you have no proof whatsoever. If you do, show it. If you don’t, quit making things up.

      • Try visiting any web board where creationists gather and bring up climate change, or visa versa.

        Look at the people who follow Palin or elected Inhofe, Bachmann or the other creationist congress critters.

      • Sounds like you have issues with prejudice, but no data. I’m not a creationist, but I am conservative. I don’t agree with everything Republicans do and I certainly don’t agree with much the Democrats do. I think you are using too broad a brush. JMO.

      • Has your medicalinsurance run out?

      • May I assume that you find nothing obsessive or paranoid about the observations of the high over-lap of hard left statists within the ‘gotta do something now even if we don’t have the science totally nailed down’ movement, and that it is not obsessive or paranoid to observe that their big-government solutions always seem mirror those favoured by the hard left, complete with poor logic, lack of ethics, tactics and arguments?

        On the other hand, I agree with you on anonymity – the argument presented is more important than the person presenting it. With this in mind, though, why do you insist on invalidating someone’s argument merely because you dislike their associations? Isn’t that much the same thing?

      • Are you saying leftists are predisposed to accept the science?

        Creationism isn’t an “association”.

      • English must be a second language. “Associations” was not being used—as in organizations. Re-read before firing off responses

      • I didn’t say it was.

      • I think leftists in general are predisposed to latch on to any cause that seems to give the opportunity to advance the goal of greater government control, and so have distorted the public perception of Climate Science towards statist solutions.

        I’m personally trying to work back toward the content of the actual science (having started from the politics), which necessitates that I not disregard anyone based on his/hers idealogical associations, but only on the strength of their argument.

        Also, as DEEBEE noted, I used association in the sense of connection, which is what you seemed to be saying.

        As well, I note that you didn’t answer my final questions. They might not have been clear, do I’ll rephrase: Why would you insist that, to invalidate someone’s science, it is enough to point out that he/she has a belief on another topic that you think is wrong. Would that not be the same as a skeptic trying to invalidate Dr. Hansen’s science merely because he appears to hold to a leftist idealogy? Would it not be better to actually examine the science?

      • The science has been addressed but all they can do is regurgitate refuted talking points, slander scientists and appeal to vast left-wing conspiracies – just like creationists.

      • Doug McGee –

        This is just hand-waving on your part, and starting to border on willful ignorance.

        How about:

        The science has been addressed but all they can do is regurgitate refuted talking points, slander scientists and appeal to vast big-oil conspiracies – just like the the Hockey Team?

        This sounds just as silly as your formulation, if you are truly interested in the science as opposed to the advocacy of AGW.

        If you don’t wish to answer the questions, don’t. Just please stop trying to pretend that your position doesn’t rely heavily on appeals to authority and ad hominems.

      • Yeah right. I’m really going to be transmitting my banking details to you over the internet. Sure I am. Let me just go and see which one I want you to hack into.

        Would it be the one with the regular payments from Big Oil, or the Koch Industries one or the secret one where my pay for being outwardly a Darwinist while secretly holding creationist views gets salted away?

        Perhaps I’ll just tell you about my general one which is subtitled ‘Evil and Dastardly Conspiracies to Burn My Descendants in The Fiery Flames of Hell (Sundries)’

        And of course such an exercise only proves that a bank account in my name exists. I could be a complete fiction…though why I would wish to maintain such a fiction for two years of pretty solid blogging as a sceptic beats even my finely-tuned conspiracy theory autogenerator.

        But I notice that you say a very interesting thing, which may be the clue to this case (said Poirot). You said

        ‘I happen to be very interested in the demographics and psychosis of denialism in all its forms, from evolution and vaccines to climate change’. Which reveals a lot.

        Primarily that you like authority and to be told what to do. You are not an original thinker. You wish to belong to a crowd. You are not a ‘maverick’ and dislike those who have maverick tendencies (you believe that they are psychotic). And yet you are fascinated by such people and maybe get a feeling of naughtiness by even talking to them on the Internet…a feeling of danger perhaps?Which is why you continue to post here. I’d also guess that neatness and order are important to you. Any resonances?

        Enough. The psychiatrist has left the building.

        No – I am not giving you my f…g bank account details. You can read my bio on the denizens thread. I guess that you’re still working on yours. Cheers

      • Then don’t whine about aliases. You’re just as much as an unknown as snide is.

        As for your projecting:
        Primarily that you like authority and to be told what to do. You are not an original thinker. You wish to belong to a crowd. You are not a ‘maverick’ and dislike those who have maverick tendencies (you believe that they are psychotic). And yet you are fascinated by such people and maybe get a feeling of naughtiness by even talking to them on the Internet…a feeling of danger perhaps?Which is why you continue to post here. I’d also guess that neatness and order are important to you. Any resonances?

        Don’t give up your day job and do seek help.

      • Pray take your own advice.

      • In response to KCH above,
        The science has been addressed but all they can do is regurgitate refuted talking points, slander scientists and appeal to vast big-oil conspiracies – just like the the Hockey Team?

        You’re putting the cart in front of the horse and making a false equivilency. Nothing’s been refuted. Responding to slander and accusations of criminal behavior with the facts, is not slander.
        Big oil (based on Big Tobacco’s model) doesn’t even try to deny it is funding, and has funded anti-science propaganda think tanks, so if it’s known, how is it a conspiracy? Exxon even claimed at one point that they were going to cease that funding, but I don’t know if they followed up or not.

        If you don’t wish to answer the questions, don’t. Just please stop trying to pretend that your position doesn’t rely heavily on appeals to authority and ad hominems.

        I haven’t stated my position and am not pretending about anything and haven’t even discussed the science because it isn’t about the science. It’s about an ideology, a la creationism, which precludes considering the science prior to forming/having an opinion.

      • Sorry, I guess I wasn’t clear enough for you.

        I probably should have put a smiley face on the first sentence you quote to emphasize that I feel it’s just as silly as your statement had been – just in the opposite direction. In either case its sole purpose is to denigrate the science on the basis of other, non-science, factors. In neither case does this kind of thinking advance the science, or help persuade those of us trying to sort all this out. Nor do I think it’s a false equivalency – I can see no difference between refusing to consider the science prior to forming/having an opinion and refusing to consider the science after forming/having an opinion.

        As for your second quote, my apologies, you are correct. Rather than the word ‘position’ I should have said ‘argument’. So I would rephrase that as:

        ‘If you don’t wish to answer the questions, don’t. Just please stop trying to pretend that your arguments don’t rely heavily on appeals to authority and ad hominems.’

        I think that the speed with which you threw in the gratuitous ‘Big Tobacco’ reference speaks to this point – an astounding number of your posts contain these kind of irrelevancies to the questions at hand.

      • ‘I happen to be very interested in the demographics and psychosis of denialism in all its forms, from evolution and vaccines to climate change’. Which reveals a lot.

        … I’d also guess that neatness and order are important to you. Any resonances?


        All my significant others are this way. It’s the Odd Couple pairing.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        “I happen to be very interested in the demographics and psychosis of denialism in all its forms, from evolution and vaccines to climate change. ”

        Yikes, that sounds a bit totalitarian! Has Doug, by any chance, heard of the condition – no doubt related to “psychosis of denialism” – called “Autistic Certainty”?


      • How’s that in any way “totalitarian”? Nuts.

        Yes, it could be related. It seems some evangelicals have been having auditory hallucinations, see Shimkus.

      • Doug McGee: Labeling one’s opponents psychotic was a classic response of the former USSR towards its dissidents. They placed dissidents in psychiatrist hospitals and punished them with electroshock and chemical treatments. No doubt other such regimes take this approach as well.

        If you have arguments to make against skeptic positions, by all means make them. But these constant and often buffoonish attempts to undermine skeptics by linking some of them with conservative Christianity, as though that were entirely proof that a person was incapable of valid scientific thought, is fallacious.

        Speaking for myself, the more someone deflects to such bogus arguments, the more I am convinced that person is incapable of mounting a substantive argument.

      • AnyColourYouLike


        Yes, that’s what I was getting at, the Orwellian irony of his own remarks seems lost on Doug, unfortunately.

        It’s no laughing matter either. We’re hearing more and more intolerant reactions to scepticism from people who ought to know better, the lastest being the idea that it is a new species of “crime against humanity”!


      • Where did I say I wanted to incarcerate anyone?

        That would also suppress and drive them underground. I prefer them loud and vocal so I can point them out and laugh.

        The conservative reactionary Christians are allied with you. Who do you think would block any attempts at a rational energy policy in Congress? The creationists. So if you’re going to use them to serve your purposes, you should take ownership of them.

      • AnyColourYouLike


        Labelling those, like myself, who demur from your consensus re AGW as “psychotic” may be meant as humourous in your post (I can’t tell). If it is meant as a joke, then no worries.

        However some folks clearly think seriously along those lines (eg, the labelling of climate “denialism” as an emotional defect, by some psychiatrists, etc), and from these memes grow the unconscious caricatures that help to deligitimise and even dehumanise opponents, sometimes to the point where it can seem ok to treat them like criminals.

        Before you jump in with, “yeah, just like Cuccinelli is treating Mann”, I’m on record, (somewhere) on this blog as being against the Cuc investigation.

      • Doug McGee: Most of the world’s remaining communists plus Osama Bin Laden are on your side agitating for the climate change agenda. I’d say they are far less savory company than Creationists.

        But on this blog we are attempting to debate climate issues on their merits, as opposed to association fallacies and that’s where I’d prefer to focus.

      • Being shot down by proven liars is not really that bad a problem, is it?
        Being shot down by people who are hiding declines and selling global climate disruption is actually a badge of honor.

      • Ah basically because

        1. Roy worked with his competitors to fix the issue
        2. He freely admits the mistake and credits the correction

        See mann’s behavior in the misplacement of precipitation proxy’s where the mistake was repeated after it was pointed out and then finally corrected with no notice or attribution.

        Personally I’ve never screamed for his head, a proper correction with proper attribution would restore some measure of confidence.

        Dont be a tool and ask me to give you the link to this case (you know where to find it) and dont be a bigger tool and try to defend it. Just say ” he made a mistake. he should have corrected it promptly, said thank you and moved on.

      • “1. Roy worked with his competitors to fix the issue”

        Has he published the UAH source code yet? Maybe it’s time to organize FOI letter campaign, or accuse him of fraud?

        “2. He freely admits the mistake and credits the correction”

        Like he credited Anthony Watts for the recent seasonal correction?

      • UAH sat temp team certainly must make public the source code. They are supposedly doing it. It seems it would be a very simple matter to post the source code files on a public file server. I am disappointed.

        “We are in a program with NOAA to transfer the code to a certified system that will be mounted on a government site and where almost anyone should be able to run it. We actually tried this several years ago, but our code was so complicated that the transfer was eventually given up after six months.”

        “I talked with John Bates of NOAA two weeks ago and indicated I wanted to be early (I said the “first guinea pig”) in the program. He didn’t have a firm date on when his IT/programming team would be ready to start the transition, so I don’t know.”


      • You should file anFOI — need help?

      • Jan Lindström

        Please enlighten us. In exactly what way did Manns early analysis proved to be correct? It is a bit surrealistic statement considering the uncertainties involved.

  11. PolyisTCOandbanned

    I hope they didn’t bring a drama queen like McIntyre. Your French postdoc had that guy’s measure. I am in favor of truth, whichever side it “helps”. so although, to the right of Ghengis Khan am disappointed when the right is unthoughtful scientifically. And I actively urge the Republicans to not be morons and bring people like McI or Watts.

    Already said before that some good ones (in addition to Curry/Webster) would be Huybers/Wunsch, Von Storch/Zorita, Emanuel. I could live with Christie or Lindzen. Not crazy about their science, but at least they write papers (to Mike’s oped point). Maybe that dude (Koslin?) who writes papers on some of the possibilities that modeling efforts are groupthink skewed in assumptions.

    P.s. don’t moderate. You asked for speculation.

  12. ‘I hope they didn’t bring a drama queen like McIntyre.’

    Wow. Anybody less like a drama queen in real life than Steve McIntyre would likely be asleep. He does not flounce about like Mikey Mann or Gav strutting and shouting about stuff. Just very quietly, thoughtfully and determinedly gets on with the job.

    You really must recalibrate your storyboard of villains and stereotypes. Or watch something more dramatic than grass growing or paint drying.

    • He has a two faced way of saying things. Compare his blog to his public presentations and you wonder who the two people are.

      • What exactly is a ‘two-faced’ way of saying things? I attended the Grauinaid’s Climategate debate back in July and saw him speak then. And of course I have read…and can sometimes follow :-) his blog

        Steve is not the world’s greatest public speaker by a long way …he is too thoughtful to be inspiring or rabble- rousing. But I noticed no inconsistencies between his writings and his speech.

        You will have to give some concrete examples for me to understand your point better – if you have one.

      • None is needed from snide . His / Her /It’s chosen name telegraphs it all

  13. Michael Larkin

    Don’t know who they will choose, but I’d love to see Spencer and Lindzen in the mix, as others have said.

  14. Congressional hearing on a subject like climate change are political stage shows intended to generate a lot of publicity for or against various political courses of action. It might be interesting (but probably impractical) to get Oxburgh or Muir Russell to testify about the Climategate investigation/whitewash. Neither of them is likely to be able to say anything that strengthens the credibility of their investigation and they could damage it.

    It might be interesting to hear from one of the physicists who wanted a vote on a petition to change the APS Society statement on climate change. This would show that the scientific consensus isn’t as strong as it appears and that the political leadership of some scientific societies is suppressing dissent in the ranks. The real question is which of these scientists has an academic record that qualifies him to speak with some authority on climate. It is absurd that an ecologist working on climate change is considered qualified to parrot the IPCC line on climate sensitivity, but a physicist working in another field is not.

  15. (Tongue in cheek) Why not go the whole hog, and invite Marc Morano and James Dellingpole.

  16. Judith: Uncertainty in climate science is obviously going to be a tough subject to discuss in front of a Congressional committee. Your sophisticated discussions of uncertainty on this blog haven’t covered some simpler topics that could have impact on your audience.

    A dramatic place to start might be to explain that an average of 1 to 3 out of every 10 conclusions that the IPCC says is “likely” are expected to be wrong by chance. When the hockey stick was made famous by the TAR, the SPM used the term “likely”, meaning that the IPCC felt there was up to a 1/3 chance that current temperatures were NOT warmer than the MWP. Then you could explain that, when scientists from other disciplines come to testify, their conclusions are usually based on statistical evidence that the IPCC terms “virtually certain” and “likely” conclusions don’t get mentioned. For example, the FDA usually requires two studies that demonstrate efficacy to a “virtually certain” level before they will approve a new drug. However, the difficulties of studying climate change and the dangers inherent in climate change have prompted the IPCC to report conclusions drawn with more modest degrees of certainty. (A company studying a new drug can always quadruple the number of patients in a clinical trial – at great cost – if they need to reduce uncertainty two-fold, but it sometimes isn’t practical for climate scientists to increase the number observations they make or wait 120 years to draw conclusions from on satellite observation of the earth instead of the 30 years of data we currently have.)

    With this foundation about statistical uncertainty, you could add issues of: a) systematic errors (off-center PC’s in the hockey stick hearings ), b) uncertainty in climate models (standard practice of using the spread of the “ensemble of opportunity” doesn’t properly describe the uncertainty inherent in the models), c) the disagreements between climate models when making regional climate projections, the IAC’s criticisms of the IPCC’s treatment of uncertainty, d) the potential bias of scientists making subjective judgments about uncertainty (Ben Santer, for example), e) the impracticality of propagating the full range of uncertainty from WGI into impact studies reported by WGII (their starting point is often the output from one or a few regional models or even a worst-case scenario) and then into WGIII. Finally, there is the difficulty of communicating uncertainty to policymakers and the public, an extremely difficult problem that scientists don’t usually undertake, possibly because they fear the information will be misunderstood or misused.

    When discussing the topic of uncertainty, it may be sensible to mention the idea promoted by Steven Schneider that we buy insurance to deal with uncertainty. Restrictions on carbon emissions are simply a form of insurance. Some aspects of this analogy could be challenged. We don’t know the true cost of the insurance or the cost of the damage we are insuring against. Developed countries like the US can probably afford the cost of such insurance, developing countries can not.

    The heart of the IPCC’s best case for CAGW may be the probability density functions used to constrain estimates of sensitivity and their agreement with climate models. We now have two additional pieces of information that are likely to change this estimate in the future: 1) “Virtually certain” evidence that the hot spot in the upper tropical troposphere isn’t behaving as predicted. 2) The current extended pause in rapid global warming is becoming increasing inconsistent with predictions from climate models.

    • Frank

      Just wanted to examine the first line of your second paragraph.

      Is that 1 to 3 wrong out of 10; or, 0 to 2 wrong out of 8?

      You do see the difference, right?

      Also, not sure about the use of the word ‘average’ in this context.

      As for the whole of the rest of your point, doesn’t that bring us to the question of Game Theoretical responses to Uncertainty, as Dr. Curry is on the Response panel?

      Wouldn’t the best-understood such response be the Precautionary Principle?

      • If there are 100 conclusions in the WGI SPM termed “likely”, we should expect 10-30 of them to be wrong. The number is likely to be higher when the uncertainty estimate purely statistical doesn’t include the possibility of systematic errors and bias.

        How Would I Respond to Uncertainty? I’m a little crazy on this subject and you had to ask! I like a version of Ross McKitritck’s proposal for a carbon tax that increases as observed global warming increases. However, an 0.1 degC increase in GW over the next decade is not really doing any measurable damage, so there is no logical way to assign a tax rate to that 0.1 degC in McKitritck’s proposal. The real damage being done right now is that our margin of safety is being used up. So I would adjust a carbon tax based on the RATE at which observed climate change is approaching “catastrophe”. One aspect of climate change that we can measure fairly accurately is sea level rise. It is an attractive climate observable that is sensitive to both temperature rise and ice-cap melting and apparently can be measured with a high degree of accuracy without controversy. Let’s suppose that we choose to define catastrophic sea level rise as 1 m/century (to pick an arbitrary round number) more than gentle rise that took place for several centuries or millennium before anthropogenic GHGs. Let’s arbitrarily say this “natural” rise was 0.2 m/century. Our carbon tax rate goes up as the rate of sea level rise increases from today’s 0.1 m/century greater than “natural” towards “catastrophe”. The size of the carbon tax should vary with sea level rise so that about halfway to a catastrophic rate of rise (0.7 m/century) most use of fossil fuel for electricity production (and many transportation uses) would become economically impractical without carbon capture.

        It might be practical to use mean global lower troposphere temperature as measured from space or ocean temperature from the Argo buoy network as an alternative or additional climate observable. (Forget the surface record, it can’t be trusted.) Some optimists think that a temperature rise of 2 degC might be tolerable, so maybe we would choose to define catastrophic change as an increase FROM PRESENT of 2.5 degC. Suppose our measurements show that the current rate (average of the most recent 30 years of satellite data) of temperature rise is 0.1 degC/decade. We have a 250 year window of safety, so our carbon tax could be low. In 2050, our temperature might be rising 0.2 degC/decade and our remaining safety margin might be 1.8 degC, giving 90 years before catastrophe. Then our carbon tax should be big enough to end the burning of most fossil fuels without carbon capture. A relatively low carbon tax in the early years will not fool anyone once it becomes obvious that our safety margin is dropping, making it prudent to make substantial investment in a low carbon future or pay punitive carbon taxes. However, everyone would be free to make their own predictions of how soon higher carbon taxes are coming and their own plans for minimizing their cost. (Given their failure to make policymakers aware of uncertainty, we really can’t trust the IPCC to do this job for us, can we?)

        I don’t think we should be funding growth of government through a carbon tax that might need to become very large or shrink if the cost of alternative energy drops. As per Hansen (tax and dividend), we should refund an equal share of the total tax to every citizen, because every citizen has the right to emit a equal, but safe, amount of carbon. (The rich will have greater incentive to invest in reducing their carbon use and the poor will get back more carbon tax than they pay and could spend the extra money on reducing their carbon use. We don’t use the tax as a Congressional slush fund to invest in everyone’s favorite energy project. If projects are valuable and the carbon tax appropriately large, projects will be funded by private enterprise or traditional government funding.) To keep jobs at home, we should refund the value of the carbon tax in goods produced in the US and exported (and let the receiving country apply the appropriate carbon tax). Goods that are imported into the US should have a carbon tax assessed at our borders, with a credit for carbon taxes or emissions permits actually paid in the country of origin and perhaps lower rates for poorer countries making a sensible effort.

        Since you had to ask, that’s how I would deal with uncertainty. Replace it with certainty. If A happens in the future, carbon taxes will be X. If B happens, carbon taxes will be Y. If C (rapidly approaching disaster with no uncertainty), carbon taxes will be Z and you won’t burn fossil fuels if anything else will replace them. (I don’t see airplanes running on anything besides fossil fuels for a long time.) Now, if climate sensitivity turns out to be 5, such a scheme might not respond quickly enough to prevent the beginning of what we defined to be catastrophe, but it could stop us from going deeper into catastrophe. A slow rise in sea level might eventually inundate Florida, but sea level during past interglacials has been higher than now. If the half-life of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere really turns out to be 500 year, future centuries might have difficulty stopping further warming. There are no guarantees in a world full of uncertainty, the only certainty is that we don’t know what will really be important to people living a century from now. My proposal should reduce the rate at which climate change arrives after 2100.

      • Frank

        Thanks, that’s where I was hoping for clarification.

        80 is very near to 100, and a bit easier for me to work with in whole numbers:

        Your 1-3/10 becomes 8-24/80; my 0-2/8 becomes 0-20/80.

        Your median is 16/80, or 20%; mine is 10/80, or 12.5%.

        And you’ve generated a case where ‘likely’ means ‘inevitably some wrong in every group’, which is for me a new definition of likely, which I’ve experienced as ‘could be some wrong in any group’.

        But it’s a quibble, I’m sure. Thanks for clarifying.

        You’re talking about McKitrick’s latest addition to the “double dividend” carbon tax, from his PhD thesis (UBC, 1996)?

        I’ve read the original again lately, and prefer it to the more recent.

        McKitrick established in 1996 that even for no AGW, replacing other taxes with carbon tax benefits the economy due to reducing price distortion in the market. Hence the double dividend.

        While I like the analysis you’ve done, it looks administratively complex.

        What’s the problem with just hitting carbon with the big hammer, and replacing all other taxes with a uniform, carbon tax? Sure, there’ll be about 15%-25% fugitive emissions in any carbon tax scheme, but much easier to impose Cap & Trade (which otherwise I detest like the cesspool of opportunity for exploitation and loopholes that it is) on that narrow fugitive emission range than the entire carbon world.

        Two price mechanisms form a complete wall around the problem, reduce price distortions in the free market to zero, simple to put into effect and maintain, and all the many thousands of solutions to the problems of GHG emissions Dr. Curry is looking for become price-effective to develop.

      • I have seen various ideas from McKitritck, but don’t remember precisely what I read before. A quick glance suggests that “Call Their Bluff”, suggests that it contains the essential idea. http://www.uoguelph.ca/%7Ermckitri/research/T3Tax.NPJune12.pdf

        In contrast to McKitritck, rather than increasing taxes with climate change that is currently causing no major damage, the system should explicitly recognize that the real damage that will take place over the next few decades is a reduction in our margin of safety. The smaller that margin gets, the larger a carbon tax should be.

        Some administrative features are worrisome, but most businesses could be allowed to claim that the cost of their goods shipped overseas includes a fixed % of carbon tax that get refunded. (The average business pays $X of carbon taxes producing $Y of goods and ships $Z of them overseas.) That way only the carbon tax in energy intensive goods would require accounting. (European businesses handle a VAT system similar to what would be required to properly account for a carbon tax credit.) Individual rebates of carbon taxes could be returned by direct deposit or used to reduce income taxes.

      • Frank

        In a perfect world, your solution sounds more conceptually fair, linking in a true Pigouvian sense the harm to the tax.

        In an imperfect world, there are under perhaps a dozen significant attempts to apply carbon tax, all of them bumping their heads on problems of administration.

        There’s only one comprehensive double dividend-type carbon tax that I’ve heard of, and it is designed to scale its rate at the discretion of the government as trading partners increase their own avoidance and mitigation efforts and public acceptance of the benefits of the tax increase.

        This explicit control, linked in principle to real harms but also under the guidance of the hand at the tiller of an elected government, has its pluses and minuses. Taking that control away from the government and putting it into a formula in the law might be better in concept, but it then merely replaces an elected government with a bureaucratic body of experts assigned the task of proving harm in terms of money.

        The real benefit of carbon tax to any economy is that it removes distortions from the market due to elasticity of demand.

        In a two-item budget of steak and potatoes, a VAT increase will shift consumers from potatoes to steak, as demand for steak is inelastic compared to the inferior goods. This is a price distortion that hurts potato growers more than butchers. It amounts to a subsidy on steak by an interventionist government.

        The fair treatment of all players in the market by a government operating on libertarian principles is to tax steak and potatoes each at different rates in the VAT, so each suffers the same loss of sales due to the VAT increases, the ratio of steak to potato remaining the same after the change.

        But that is administratively complex, and the consumer will never know what tax rate to expect in a simple and accessible way if it is done.

        Fortunately, there are uber-steak products in the marketplace, like tobacco and carbon-based fuels. They can absorb considerable price increases while distorting the market little. Indeed, over some pricing ranges, these items are termed by economists, “bads” instead of “goods” because too small a VAT on them causes their sales to go up while dragging down sales of ordinary goods. In the case of too low a carbon tax, in other words, more carbon-based fuels are used.

        Which is why the prudent economist hits “bads” with the biggest tax they can, in the hopes of hammering them into the price range of “goods”, removing this market distortion.

      • Bart: You seem to know significantly more about econ that I. And you summarized the concept perfectly: link the carbon tax to the real harm. I thought Ross McKitritck’s idea of linking a carbon tax to observed future climate change was very appealing: The deniers shouldn’t object because they claim to believe there won’t be any tax to pay. The CAGWers shouldn’t object because the believe a steep tax is undoubtably just around the corner and everyone will begin investing in alternative energy without the need for further legislation. The 350.org eco-fanatics who don’t believe that humans have any right change anything about our planet (even that change won’t happen for centuries) won’t be happy. Those who believe in central control rather than the free market would prefer something that caps CO2 emissions, but we obviously do not know how to set a sensible cap. It is absurd to suggest that we know enough about climate change to say that we need to reduce CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 to limit future temperature rise to 2 degC!

        If citizens will support any carbon tax, it will be a tax that rises as they clearly see their safety margin (and their children’s) deteriorate. There may be some disagreement about how much change is tolerable and how large a tax is needed no make large amounts of alternative energy appropriately competitive, but there should be acceptance that our safety margin has narrowed. This will happen if scientists on both sides can agree upon one or more important climate measurements that can be made with enough accuracy to determine the rate at which our safety margin is disappearing. That may not be practical.

        Since every dollar of the tax (minus administrative expenses) will be refunded to every citizen per capita (or to US businesses competing overseas), perhaps it won’t be perceived in quite the same way as other taxes. The average citizen only loses money money when he purchases expensive alternative energy (or goods made with alternative energy) because that alternative energy is now cheaper than fossil fuel.

        I may have caused confusion mentioning a VAT for purposes of analogy only. Large exporting businesses could calculate their refund of carbon taxes by having their suppliers report the “carbon-added tax” included in the cost of the materials they supplied. Do European governments rebate value added taxes to companies exporting goods?

      • Do European governments rebate value added taxes to companies exporting goods?

        Yes. At least, the UK does. I suspect others do also.

      • Frank

        Linking the carbon tax to the harm, while you’ve detailed its appeal in an optimistic way (one that almost never works when presented to the public; every group distrusts something that another group ought like, and then they distrust more something that another group ought like but doesn’t) it is, sadly known to have failings.

        1.) It hands control of a large portion of the government to technical experts. This is technocracy, and Political Scientists advise me that it has a bad name for a reason.

        2.) It merely replaces one set of poorly-accepted scientific claims with another future set of claims of unknowable quality.

        3.) It dilutes the true benefit of carbon taxes set at economically correct levels. A carbon tax set to ‘pay off the harm’ levels might induce increased demand for carbon-based fuels in a range of negative elasticity of demand. (Forget the Supply and Demand curves you’ve seen in high school textbooks; demand curves can have strange shapes, and sometimes run parallel to Supply.)

        4.) It will never get the tax level ‘right’ in social terms, which is a major concern, even for libertarians. Imagine taxing the army right out of existence by accident.

        5.) The ‘right’ level of carbon taxes to reduce CO2 emissions in a meaningful way at this time is estimated to begin at about $300/ton. Just imagine the chaos in the streets at that, even if every other tax in the country were eliminated, and the excess collected divied up and put into the pockets of everyone in the nation evenly.

        6.) There’s some benefit to lower-than-$300/ton carbon taxes in the short term, even if they increase carbon fuel use in the short run, because they begin to make research into actual effective alternatives worth doing.

        7.) Carbon taxes are administratively complex, unless every exemption possible is eliminated, and impossible-to tax ‘fugitive emissions’ are put into a tight, legitimate Cap & Trade (but only those impossible-to-tax emissions). Designing a legitimate Cap & Trade system is really hard; it’s doubtful the present way of doing politics in America could produce one. Europe certainly didn’t.

        8.) The sum of the arguments for this tax come to the exploitation of fear and the putting off of good policy until risk is imminent. This is demagoguics, and it will backfire once the public figure it out.

        So while your idea has some notional attractiveness, you’re being steered very wrong by Dr. McKitrick, who ought to know better.

        Alex Heyworth is right about rebates of VAT, and the complexities of international trade and carbon taxes make any tax policy analyst tremble, I’m sure.

        As an example, China claims its one child policy is a carbon control measure. What tax level equates to forced abortions and sterilization inflicted on an entire population? On the other hand, Europe calls its dodgy and counterproductive Cap & Trade system a carbon control measure, when it’s largely a scam and a fiasco. If you look at the problems #5 & 6 in my points above, how will even a good carbon tax escape being tarred with the same brush?

      • What is the alternative to my suggestion? Cap-and-Trade? One can’t select an optimum carbon tax when the best case scenario is for beneficial effects in 2100 (climate sensitivity = 1.5, our fossil fuel reserves are low, technology improves) and the worst case is unthinkable.

        1) We trust technocrats to make measurements that determine cost of living increases for Social Security.

        2) We currently don’t know what climate sensitivity is, but we think we can design a system to limit warming to 2 degC??? Seems absurd to me. We have a rough idea of what kind of things we would pay a lot to avoid in the next century (+3 degC?, +3 m sea level?), and we could negotiate these limits knowing that real price for avoiding that future will be a $300/ton carbon tax. Remember, the tax is refunded to everyone in a socially responsible way.

        3) We don’t know the economically correct level for a carbon tax (just that it is better than cap and trade).

        4) Governments will pay carbon taxes and not receive any rebates, so citizens will have extra money to pay higher taxes to pay the governments higher energy bills. You can’t exempt governments or they will be wasteful.

        5) I expect my rebate of energy taxes will be directly deposited every month.

        6) Who is talking about exemptions? That is the problem with Cap and Trade. When citizens are paying a painful carbon tax they can see, they won’t tolerate Congress exempting any group. If they are getting the money back, they won’t tolerate diversion to other purposes.

        7) Carbon taxes appear relatively simple because they can be applied as the material leaves the well-head or mine entrance (or manufacturing plant for CFCs). Forget about methane for right now, it’s half-life is short enough that it can be dealt with later. Harvesting forests for fuel looks like a problem, but they are already doing that under European policy. Cap-and-Trade appears much more complex and is a mess in Europe.

        8) Here is an analogy (that will undoubtably have some weaknesses, like all analogies). You need to design a retirement plan for a client who is going to retire in 2050 or 2100. You don’t know if the long-term annual return on his investment (after inflation) is going to be 1.5% or 4.5% (analogous to climate sensitivity). Do you lie to your client and say that you need to save exactly $X per month (analogous to 2.5% reduction in carbon emission per year) to guarantee $Y per year to spend for the rest of his life after retirement? What happens to your credibility when his investments do really well or really poorly for a decade? Or do you design a plan that includes adjusting his savings rate depending on how his investments perform?

      • In the analogy above, the objective of having $Y per year to spend during retirement is analogous to the objective of Cap-and-Trade: limiting temperature rise to 2 degC. (The analogy suggest that we should be paying a refunded carbon tax right now, just like one one should start saving for retirement right now. However, today’s tax should fit in with the long term strategy of raising taxes as our margin of safety decreases.)

      • Wouldn’t the best-understood such response be the Precautionary Principle?


        There is ‘uncertainty’ and there is ‘unknown’.

        In this case the ‘unknown’ is knowable and has reasonable confidence.

        The knowable ‘unknown'(‘unseen’):
        AGW hoopla creates it’s own strong inflationary bubble.

        Trying to solve the problem has the undesirable, unnoticed ‘Inflammatory Principle’ of exacerbating more than it mitigates.

        Life’s a beach huh.

      • Raving

        Having trouble resolving your points into formalism.

        Could you oblige with a set of equations expressing your meaning?

        Any reasonably common references in the Mathematical literature to further explain your reasoning would be appreciated, too.

      • The Greeks had it down to four humors but for most purposes the set can be reduced to two types of people.

        Type 1: The ‘rationalists’ or ??? or … autistic type of thinker
        (Temperamental qualities are disregarded – Irony intended)

        Type 2: Everyone else

        ( …To be continued)

  17. @BartR

    ‘Is that 1 to 3 wrong out of 10; or, 0 to 2 wrong out of 8?

    You do see the difference, right?’

    You’ll have to explain to me how many nits you have to pick to read it any way other than the way Frank clearly intended.

    • Latimer

      I’ll have to pick all the nits, of course.

      Clarity doesn’t come from assuming what the other guy means.

      It comes from establishing what the other guy means.

      • @bart

        ‘Clarity doesn’t come from assuming what the other guy means.

        It comes from establishing what the other guy means’.

        Please can you clarify this point? I may be assuming soemthing that you mean that you don’t. I need to establish exactly what you mean.

        And so on and so on and so on.

        You will find yourself in ever-deeper nests of clarifications of clarifications. Frank’s original post was clear to all bar you.

        And can you clarify why you chose to rebase your numbers to 80 from the more normal 100? And if 80, why not 40 which would have done just as well. And what exactly do you believe yor computation of the median was trying to achieve?

        Please write soon. I am agog.

      • Latimer

        We’ll have to start punctuating with emoticons to indicate irony, for the sake of clarity, at this rate. ;)

        Frank’s original post was misleading too, to all bar those who know and care the difference between “one third” and “10-30/100”.

        Why go with 80?

        It was the LCM of 8 and 10 closest to 100, as I explained and am too glad to clarify. It was a common technique for programmers, in the day when doing binary arithmetic was part of their job, to convert to Octal (base 8) and thence to decimal.

        40 would have been good for me too, as 0-10/40 and 4-12/40 are clearly also different.

        Note the incongruity of going with 10-30/100, instead of the truer approximation 1-33/100, or my preferred 0-32/99.

        A list of values containing all possible outcomes for ten random likely events, subscripted 1..10, must still contain the value 0, or it eliminates one of the possible outcomes. So f(1)=0..f(10)=9.

        Rounding errors also creep in when moving to whole numbers; choosing a near range that evenly divides by 3 when speaking of thirds gives a better result for rounding. Why go to f(10) when stopping at f(9) doesn’t introduce extra imprecision?

        Because math matters when speaking of statistics or science.

        The computation to the median achieved the result, therefore, of revealing a distinction between the rounded outcome in the curtailed domain, and the slightly-differently rounded outcome in the uncurtailed domain.

        Two methods discussing the same objective correlative produced substantially different outcomes (20%/12.5%=160%, a 60% change) when mechanically subjected to simple arithmetic.

        This is unsatisfactory, if one is trying for clarity.

      • :-(

        The IPCC used the term ‘likely’ to mean 1/3 wrong. Frank generously (from their perpsective) interpreted this to men 1 to 3 in every 10 predictions (it is not possible to have 3.33 predictions out of every ten…you cannot have ‘half a prediction’ or three sixteenths of a predcition. The number of predictions must be an ineteger. And the rest follows. Rebasing to 80 does not help either, since you also end up with fractional parts of the number of predictions s (80*1/3) = 26.6666

        You would be better off rebasing to 120 where you get nice whole numbers exactly from the original assumption 40:120.

      • Except of course you’re still excluding the domain of none wrong from any number of predictions by saying it as, “1 to 3 in every 10”, if you go from 1..120, or as Frank would have it, 12..36 of 120 (still with a mean of 20%).

        You could nicely still compare 0-30 of 119 (still with a mean of 12.5%), vs. Frank’s value, or you could go with 0-39 of 119 (exactly 1/3rd; with a mean of 16.25%). Which is closer to the true mean of 16.25%, 12.5% or 20%? They’re equal, except Frank’s value always rounds high, skewing the conclusions implicitly toward too-often rejecting the correct outcome (which in Statistics is the most undesirable error) compared to my proposal, which too-often accepts incorrect outcomes (still an error in Statistics, but not as severe).

        Also, other skewings occur, for example standard deviation is poorest of the three approaches for Frank’s proposal.

        Which is why 1-3 of 10 rankles when one has developed habits of statistical evaluation of evidence.

      • Amazing intellectual cul-de-sacs you guys end up in.

      • In Statistics, this is the difference between the dead-end and the on-ramp to the freeway.

  18. Subcommittee on Energy and Environment – Hearing – “A Rational Discussion of Climate Change: the Science, the Evidence, the Response”

    Regardless of what the hearing title says, the Democrats have stacked the witness deck in favor of continuing down the current path at all costs and dissing now the upcoming New Majority changes they anticipate. The extra Minority witness on Panel I and II will do little to address “the Science, the Evidence, or the Response”. Just look at the speakers they will have to follow. But… without hope there is nothing.

  19. I would suggest John Christy and Pielke Jr….that way you can be sure that the full range of scientific discourse will be covered, as well as a rational, considered approach to the ‘mitigation/adaption’ debate.
    Add these people to your own unique voice and I believe we may just have an enlightening discussion! Who knows, perhaps even the media might pay attention…..OK, that’s probably drawing too long a bow.

  20. If they are increasing the panels to a total of ten participants in two hours, what does it matter who is chosen? No one on either side will have a chance to do anything other than give sound-bite answers to questions/statements from the politicians. We’d all learn more if the panel members were sent to have it out over lunch while we watched.

    I am simply astounded that this is the process whereby our elected leaders justify to themselves and to us their decisions on allocating massive amounts of our money. No wonder the Congressional approval rating are so low – and the deficit so high.

  21. The Way Of The Wolf

    The wolf makes its living by way of the hunt. The wolf doesn’t hide and wait for his prey like a snake, he/she actively searches for their dinner. Sometimes solitary but most often in cooperative groups, the wolf seeks its prey, the prey seeks to avoid the wolf. The wolf, like most of its prey, is warm blooded so both are driven to action by their relentless metabolic demands. The prey, be they mice, deer or buffalo, gathers its dinner from the more sparse floral protein in its domain. The predator gathers its dinner from the more concentrated protein of its prey.

    Among the many ways of seeing and being, we in the western world often choose to use catagories as our way of seeing. Our catagories, though, are but abitrary divisons of a continous whole, they have evolved in our western culture because they are a useful tool in the triage of incoming information that might otherwise overwhelm us. Catagories allow us to make quick judgements and to act on them. Catagories, and other mental shortcuts, have been such a successful stragety that we westerners now do it unconsciously, but all shortcuts have shortcomings. One shortcoming of using catagories, like predator and prey, is that we overlook the fact that these mental shortcuts are tools not truths.

    The real world shows us that predator and prey are one. That their populations and the abundance of the their domain rises and falls in an intertwined dance. That the health of the prey depends on the health of the predator as much as on the abundance of the flora it gathers. The prey grow stronger and more efficient over time by the actions of its predator, the predator and the flora also evolve over time as each becomes a better dancer.

    Thoughts and ideas too gain strenght and efficiency over time not by the action of the herd, but by the challenge of the skeptic, the outlyer, the predator. The weak and the old, be they ideas or buffalo, fall first to the skeptic or the wolf. Like mice or moose, we men and our ideas only grow stronger from the actions of our predator cousins. We, mice and men, predators and prey, are all in this one life together.

    Might As Well Dance Eh!
    backwater bob
    The Mud Report

    • Michael Larkin

      Hi Bob,

      I enjoyed this, but wondered whether it might not be better placed in the thread “Why engage with skeptics?”

      Also, just to note a spelling mistake: it’s “categories”, not “catagories”. Wouldn’t bother pointing it out except that you might want to change it on your blog.

    • An interesting way of looking at the world, and one that I will remember. Thanks.

  22. Dr. Singer

  23. David L. Hagen

    Nicola Scafetta has recently reviewed much of the contrary evidence: CLIMATE CHANGE AND ITS CAUSES A DISCUSSION ABOUT SOME KEY ISSUES”

  24. Judith

    The following is what Feynman said about doing science:

    It’s a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty–a kind of leaning over backwards. For example, if you’re doing an experiment, you should report everything that you think might make it invalid

    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them.

    Judith, has the IPCC provided “details that could throw doubt on its interpretation” like the following?


    • That analysis is severely lacking in understanding how the climate works. The IPCC analysis in the report is far more complete, as it includes all the known forcings and how they contribute to climate change. Over the course of period of time covered by that graph, there has been more than one influencing the temperature record.

    • Simple science:
      It’s science if
      -we know where the information and ideas came from, and
      -we can rely on it.

      AGW fails both.

      • Sounds more like a personal need to take some courses in climatology than it does a sweeping a statement about an entire field….

      • Dear Dr Colose
        If criticism is directed at some overstretched conclusions drawn by a governmental panel from a field of science, it does not amount to a sweeping statement about an entire field.

        It would be nice to stop propping up ‘the whole field of climate science’ as a shield to defend the IPCC.

  25. McIntyre and Lindzen – good antidote especially if the CAGW goes full bore on hysterics.

  26. Wow you guys really go on a lot and bicker. This thread reminds me of my mother’s mashed potatoes, more work in does not improve the structure mum. It must satisfy your egos. Cliff Saunders.

    • You shouldn’t be rude about your mother like that. I’m sure her reason for making you mash is her love, not her ego.

  27. The Republicans should begin in this panel as they mean to go on in the next session. They should focus on the lack of FOIA compliance by NASA, perhaps Horner would be a good choice. Look into the funding of climate research, who benefits. An expert on the Climategate E-mails to show some “hide the decline” issues. Lay the foundation in this session of Congress for the subpoenas that will be issued in the next session of Congress.

  28. For poetic justice, Pat Michaels, if he can be seated on the same panel as Ben Santer.

  29. Most people will go with the flow, if they see that the main flow is going with climate changes caused by MAN than thats the thinking. Who is going to read through science papers and look at Earth’s cycles and Solar cycles and the dynamic properties of the Sun?
    So smile and live another day.

  30. I don’t know what this means, but maybe a Republican strategist read this thread and ALARMS went off:

    “Separately, the GOP leadership is apparently aware what a circus hearings into the allegedly fraudulent science underlying global warming would be — and how it would play into Dem efforts to paint Republicans as hostage to extremists.

    “It’s just not the best strategy,” a senior GOP aide says. …” – Washington Post

    • AGW is falling apart without any help from Republicans, oil companies, creationists, the Koch family, or the other usual suspects. AGW will not be saved by Hansen, Gore, Lovelock, Schmidt, Mann, Romm, or any other of the true believers, profiteers and wannabes who cheer lead for it.
      All it takes is time.

      • After thirty years, AGW is still consistent and correct. How many years have people been announcing the ‘final nail in the coffin’ and attacking individuals? The trend is still decidedly up.

      • Nobody disputes the trend is up. The disputes are:

        (1) whether or not it’s outside of the bounds of natural variation (discounting fantasy hockey-sticks, this is not demonstrable, in fact to the contrary),

        (2) whether or not it’s catastrophic (it may be beneficial, but nobody is getting paid to research that),

        (3) whether or not it’s caused by man (not demonstrable) and,

        (4) whether or not anything we do in mitigation will have the slightest effect (contingent on 1-3 of course) – given IPCC figures, even if we shut down our entire economy, we will affect the climate imperceptibly.

        As you can probably appreciate, 1-4 above are things you can have a belief about. But as far as evidence based policy making is concerned, I see nothing here I need to write to my MP about.

      • Robinson

        Interesting way of looking at it.

        If I may:

        “Nobody” (except those who do, loudly, often, publicly and in a way that induces MSM to believe it) “disputes that the trend is up.”

        1. Why discount the dendro and all other paleo evidence, again, as opposed to merely reducing their weight by acknowledging the uncertainties pertaining? And if these must be fully deprecated for whatever abstract philosophical reasons (if there are any valid ones), then what of other indicators of variability showing so far outside the anticipated natural range? Glaciers, Artic sea ice, animal and plant population changes… Surely the claim “to the contrary” you make here is overstated or unsupportable.

        2. Fair question, though it’s likely a gloss to say no one is being paid to look for benefits of climate disruption. It’s also a fair question that has been repeatedly addressed, and most lengthy discussions I’ve seen online where actual evidence is used and real botanical, thermodynamic and zoological methods observed cast the question of benefit into serious doubt. So far as I can tell, ‘benefit’ remains science fiction in this discussion.

        3. “Not demonstrable,” sounds very much like what was said to Rutherford and Millikan about the nature of the atom. “Too small to see, have to take it on surmise,” or some such nonsensical twaddle was the order of the day. Until experiments were designed to disprove the hypothetical surmises of their day, that is.

        The evidence against ‘not caused by man’ appears to be very vigorous, and large, so much so as to qualify as a viable demonstration, allowing for probability and uncertainty.

        4. Uh.. what? McKitrick paints a rosy picture of the economic benefits of mitigation through carbon taxation. Engineers (for example http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/12/the-denizens-of-climate-etc/#comment-11423 ) point out many advantages, too, of mitigation and avoidance also at a benefit. This “wreck the economy” claim may be based on the crackpot schemes and machinations found acceptable to committees or posited by amateurs, or may be projections from the performance of new technologies in their infancy, or possibly by inappropriate application of old solutions to new problems, but it would not stand up in the long run.

        If it did, the same argument would apply to military conquest and expansion, like the ancient Romans had. Nothing boosts an economy like taking what you want by military might, an absurdist observes.

      • Richard S Courtney


        After 30 years and tens of dollars worth of research looking for it there is still not any empirical evidence – none, zilch, not any – which confirms the AGW hypothesis, but there is evidence that refutes it (e.g. the ‘hot spot’ is missing).

        As for “attacking individuals”, those who doubt the AGW-hypothesis attack bad science practice, not “individuals”. The attacks of individuals are entirely an activity of the pro-AGW-lobby: they have even established web sites with the sole purpose of smearing and defaming climate realists.

        AGW certainly is “falling apart”. What else does the collapse of the Chicago Carbon Exchange indicate? And it is falling apart because of the lack of supporting evidence for the AGW-hypothesis and because the attack-behaviour of its supporters is starting to ‘back-fire’ as a method to convince the public of it.


      • Or, an alternative hypothesis is that you just haven’t familiarized yourself with any of the physical science to know what “evidence” of anthropogenic climate change looks like. Just like you don’t understand the first thing about the “hotspot” to grasp its physical implications. And how does the collapse of a carbon exchange indicate that a physical science is “falling apart?”

        Another hypothesis is that you’re just lying through your teeth in attempts to cause confusion.

        I would say your history is supportive of one of these two…now how to set up a test to support/reject them….hmmm

      • as I await the “IPCC expert reviewer card” to be played….

      • I think you will find that trading on the CCE collapsed quite a while back. Anthony Watts reported it here in August:


        It may be just a coincidence that the actual closure was not announced until after the Republican victories in the mid-term elections.

      • Sorry – somehow this has got out of order. It is meant as a reply to Andrew Adams @ 02:58 below.

      • Chris

        Your constant refrain that ‘unless you are a ‘Climate Science’ expert you are incapable of understanding anything at all about the subject, so listen to me sonnyboy’ is wearing thin and becoming tedious.

        But just this once, let’s forget our differences. Just for once, please explain in a couple of paras or so what is the evidence that Richard asks for. I know that you have it close to hand, as it is pretty fundamental stuff to the whole structure of AGW.

        And as you know already, I – and he – just kinda like measurements and stuff, not theoretical predictions and modelling outputs. We’ve both spent long enough working in industry and commerce to know that theories and models are great in the lab….but don’t always correspond with the real world.

        You can read both our bios on the denizens thread, to gauge the level of scientific ability we have. Simply accusing either of us about ‘lying’ as you have – and as AEG continually does, will not enhance your case. And please do not be patronising …. it annoys the heck out of people.


      • AnthropoceneEndGame

        Just repeat the big lie, over and over. Do you get paid to do this?
        Take a look at an analysis of the anti-AGW/your campaign here:
        ‘After a strong counter attack, big coal make a comeback’ by Jeff Goodell
        Do you recognize anything familiar?

      • Richard S Courtney

        chriscolose and AnthropoceneEndGame:

        You guys really are good at shooting your selves in the foot.

        I made four assertions; viz.

        1. I said, “there is still not any empirical evidence – none, zilch, not any – which confirms the AGW hypothesis”.

        If you knew that were wrong then you could easilly show it to be so by stating one single, solitary piece of evidence that confirms the AGW hypothesis. You have not done that.

        2. I said, “As for “attacking individuals”, those who doubt the AGW-hypothesis attack bad science practice, not “individuals”. ”

        If you knew that were wrong then you could easilly show it to be so by stating one single, solitary example of an attack on an individual and not on his/her bad science. You have not done that.

        3. I said, “The attacks of individuals are entirely an activity of the pro-AGW-lobby: they have even established web sites with the sole purpose of smearing and defaming climate realists.”

        Your responses consist entirely of peronal attacks on me including untrue and unsubstantiated assertions that I have made some lies which you do not state.
        Quad Erat Demonstrandum

        4. I said, “AGW certainly is “falling apart”. What else does the collapse of the Chicago Carbon Exchange indicate? ”

        If you knew that were wrong then you could easilly show it to be so by stating what you thought to be th cause of collapse of the Chicago Carbon Exchange.

        Your responses provide a clear and unambiguous demonstration for onlookers that my assertions are correct.


      • WRT your point no. 4, it is surely no coincidence that the collapse of teh Chicago Carbon Exchange comes just after the gains made by Republicans in the mid-term elections which have effectively scuppered and hope of meaningful legislation to curb CO2 emissions. Of course the Republicans have always been opposed to such legislation, nothing has changed there, so I don’t know why you think this says anything about “AGW falling apart”.

  31. Dear Professor Curry,

    Could you explain that the climate scandal exposed a very serious threat to the foundation of our free society: The same threat that former President Eisenhower warned about in his farewell address on 17 Jan 1961:

    1. First Eisenhower warned about the threat to a free society from an Industrial Military Complex.

    2. Next he warned “that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    “The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.”

    “Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

    “It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system – ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.”


    You can listen to his entire speech at:


    Or you can listen to his specific warning about the “danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite” at time (t = 9:30-11:32) of this video recording of his speech:

    This danger to the foundation of our free society is my greatest concern. This deserves congressional investigation.

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

  32. Judith, if you tell the Republicans you’ll withdraw if they invite Lord Monckton again, you’ll do more for the tenor of the discussion in Washington than anybody ever has.

    • Actually I think Monckton is the perfect witness for this kind of political enquiry. The politicians want to grand-stand in front of the television cameras rather than get to the facts of the matter. You could have Kermit and Miss Piggy sat there answering questions for all the difference it will make to already well defined positions on the bench.

    • Y’all really are absolutely terrified of Monckton aren’t you?

      Is it his felicitous way with words, his cute British accent or his excellent way of demolishing bullshit that has you all running scared of him?

      Whichever one it is – or all three, he has obviously been very effective so far.

  33. chriscolose | November 13, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    I’m not familiar enough with dendroclimatology to speak confidently about the divergence problem, what proxies it pertains to, what time intervals, etc, but the literature seems at least very clear on its existence. As such, the choice to overlay an instrumental record on a paleo-record (while cutting off the portion of the dendro record that the literature suggests is unreliable) is a scientific choice. You can argue it’s not a very good choice, but it’s reasonable, particularly to the extent that the choice is discussed or justified in the article from which a graph comes from. Judgment calls are made all the time in science on stuff like this. Much more interesting with these cases are to examine if they actually matter for anything relevant or if a conclusion is robust to various degrees of reasonable choices. In the end, the goal is to understand the climate system


    One issue with ar4 ch06 was this. Briffa had a choice:

    A, truncate the curve And not discuss it in the text
    B. trucnate the curve and discuss it in the text
    C. Leave the curve as it was in the primary literature with the divergence showing and explain the divergence in the text.

    All three graphs take the same space. So the choice is which to show. In early drafts he truncated the curve and did not explain. McIntyre as a reviwer objected. Briffa then decided that he would do B. I believe he devoted a few hundred words to the discussion. He refused to do C. He refuse to show the divergence and explain it in the text. Now, Nobody who sees the chart in B and reads the text will have any idea how severe the divergence is. Its not shown. A picture is worth 1000 words. So why not show the divergence and explain it in the text? Surely the text that explains a divergence in case B will suffice in case C. Simply, there is not reason NOT to show the divergence. It was shown before. It was “explained” before. Somebody reading and seeing option C will come away with a different idea than somebody reading and seeing B. Otherwise, briffa would just do C. Uses the same graphical space, same number of words, clearer depiction. Also more traceable to primary literature. So, yes its a choice. WHY pick the choice that conveys less information in the same space. Why pick a choice that differs from the depiction he himself used in the first place ( when he originally published)?

    I Dont know. Nobody ever asked Briffa. he merely wrote that it would be “in appropriate to show the divergence?” as if his previous displays of the decline lacked decorum.

    • That’s very generous of you. You gave him one chance to make the right choice or else….. If only more people could be so kind to scientists. I like the way you get to be self appointed judge and jury. It makes the Global Science Justice System so much easier to run when volunteers like you turn up to run it.

      • It amuses me that *anyone* is still trying to defend the practice of hiding the decline.

      • It amuses me that a problem in science is presented as a criminal act. No, it doesn’t actually amuse me, it worries me. Researchers, by the nature of their work, continually deal with problems, with the unknown, with working out why things are as they are.

      • It was an ethical lapse. In law (and politics), we try to find the truth through an adversarial system where two sides are given equal opportunity to make one-sided, misleading presentations that omit part of the story. In science, however, we attempt to discover the truth by expecting everyone to present research as accurately as possible. This is essential, it enables scientists to trust each others work without taking the time to review every detail. As Steve Schneider put it: “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts” when writing scientific documents. A WMO or IPCC report is clearly a scientific document. Now that a few auditors, like Steve McIntyre, are looking at what some of the more influential scientists are actually doing, we find that their work has been corrupted by political motivations and they are actively hiding critical parts of the “whole truth” – hurting the credibility of all scientists, even their fellow climate scientists.

        What do we do with attorneys who don’t follow the ethical rules of their profession? Do you want YOUR taxes spent funding research by individuals who do not tell YOU the complete truth about their results or by organizations that refuse to properly investigate such behavior – all because THEY want to deceive YOUR government?

      • I like this comment.

        My thoughts have been running in the same direction recently, though I would probably stop short of asserting that work has been corrupted by “political motivations” – not that this never happens, but it’s only one way that bias can creep into science as scientists allow themselves to become advocates for a given interpretation of the data. Others include:

        * Believing that some important implications of ones work are being missed by others.

        * Discounting the uncertainty in your own work on the basis of a “broader understanding” – and hence feeling that downplaying the uncertainty actually presents a more accurate picture of the truth.

        * Being in an environment in which certain conclusions and findings are more likely to be reinforced/punished (from a grants perspective, a career perspective, a personal relationship perspective or any other) and having the ability to suppress or emphasize some findings in that context.

        In a branch of science in which predictions can be tested on small time scales, the failure to propagate uncertainty through from basic research to conclusions tends to get caught quickly – see Psychology, and the constant flow of lousy research spawning strong predictions that end up being contradicted within a few months of publication. Or see physics, where high standards of experimental and theoretical certainty make for very slow but (somewhat more) certainn progress.

        Climate science seems neither here nor there – a potentially hard science (with some softer but still potentially useful components like paleoclimate) that is amenable to physical understanding, but is being used to support conclusions that can’t be tested on the timeframes involved in the policy process.

        It just seems like slowing down and accounting for the uncertainty, reconciling predictions with observations, and not rushing to advocacy for major policy moves is a wise course.

      • He was a supposedly professional scientist charged with writing an important chunk of a document that was going to influence national and international economic and social policy – possibly for generations to come.

        And he was faced with three choices…two of which led to some significant misleading of the reader. The third was clearer and less misleading.

        He did not choose the third.

        What do you imagine we should do – send him home to Mummy with a silver star and a report saying ‘tries nicely, but needs to work on his judgment’? Or point out that the guy exhibits behaviour that is simply not up to the task? And that hos word should not be relied upon.

        At a senior level in every profession, we rightly expect the professionals to get their judgments right. Airline pilots do not get rewarded for having 99% of their landings spot on…they get sacked (or killed) for the 1% that don’t.

        If the guy was incapable of making sensible judgments, he should not have accepted the job.

      • snide: “I like the way you get to be self appointed judge and jury.”

        In fact, I would like to see the matter fully discussed and explored in public open court (such as a court of arbitration). The community of climatologists do not appear to be capable of resolving the rights and wrongs among themselves. As such, I believe the public interest and governance isses are not being given due consideration.

        Please do not jump to the assumption that this is asking a court to judge on matters of the “facts” or “science”. My point is more in the realms of procedure, govenance, competence and ethics.

        “It amuses me that a problem in science is presented as a criminal act.”

        Without getting into criminality, it was blindingly obvious that presentation of analysis and results in an IPCC report would be influential to government decision making. You are trying to play it down as though were some moot point around a factual non-isssue.

        If you are incapable or unwilling to comprehend the nature of the question .. I would return to my first point – the matter should be openly and publicly examined elsewhere.

    • I didn’t see Steven Mosher’s post prior to submitting my own thoughts on the Divergence Problem upthread. Threaded comments have disadvantages as well as advantages…

    • So why not show the divergence and explain it in the text?

      If the goal is to:

      understand the climate system

      why would a temperature chart need to explicitly show the divergence when that is a problem specific to dendrology and accent obvious wrong information in that chart? Is there any question as to whether the divergence is an inaccurate temperature reading when it stops following the instrumental temperature curve? If Briffa’s goal was to accent the divergence in a paper related to dendrology and it’s problems, then it would be appropriate.

      Why pick a choice that differs from the depiction he himself used in the first place ( when he originally published)?
      I Dont know. Nobody ever asked Briffa. he merely wrote that it would be “in appropriate to show the divergence?” as if his previous displays of the decline lacked decorum.

      This depends on whether the paper is meant to highlight the denocronology problem or the correct temperature reconstruction or both or neither. Are we talking about the work for Nature in ’99 versus the IPCC reconstruction? These are two seperate issues. If you want to the the best estimate of temperature, you don’t show the divergent data. If you want to discuss the divergence problem, you show the diveregence. If you want to show both the most likely accurate temperature AND discuss the divergence, there are choices, but I don’t see how anyone could attempt to infer anything known to be important to climate was hidden in any cloices made that I’ve seen. Unless someone really thinks that the divergence is really the correct temperature anomoly, in which case that person is likely confused.

      • Good points. Unfortunately logic, reason and reality have nothing to do with the narrative they’re trying to frame. That narrative being one of criminal behavior, corruption and conspiracies.

      • AnyColourYouLike

        The narrative is one of “how much uncertainty do we attach to this reconstruction”.

        The divergence was real and measurable, and indicated a strong uncertainty that trees make good thermometers. If we have low confidence in temperature correlation and tree rings over the last 50 years, that should obviously speak to a significant uncertainty in the reconstructed historical part of the temperature record. Ergo, high confidence levels that current temperatures are “unprecedented” cannot flow from graphs reconstructed using dendro.

        What part of this simple proposition is hard to grasp?

      • The divergence was real and measurable, and indicated a strong uncertainty that trees make good thermometers. If we have low confidence in temperature correlation and tree rings over the last 50 years, that should obviously speak to a significant uncertainty in the reconstructed historical part of the temperature record. Ergo, high confidence levels that current temperatures are “unprecedented” cannot flow from graphs reconstructed using dendro.

        Not neccessarily. The other possibility is that there are factors which have influenced the growth of the trees in question post-1960 which have caused the divergence problem, but were not a factor prior to then. I have read that there are other diferences in tree-growth since 1960 other than the width of the rings which would indicate someting unusual going on – it’s certainly the kind of thing you would consider.
        You would also look at how the proxies in question performed pre-1960 against the instrumental record and other proxies – if the performance is similar, especially compared to tree which do not have the divergence problem then again that would indicate that the post-1960 period is exceptional.
        I guess that it’ ultimately a judgement call, and there may be valid objections to the choices made by the scientists in question, which doesn’t mean they acted in bad faith. But it’s not the simple proposition that you believe it to be.

      • @Andrew

        The horse is dead. Stop flogging it.

        You would do yourself and others of your persuasion a lot more good by giving it a quiet funeral and to retire the coachmen into well-deserved obscurity.

        Leaving the corpse in full public view rotting noisomely, and then drawing attention to it only invites the prodders and pokers to investigate it further…and to reveal yet more of the corruption within.

        It is an ex-proxy. It is no more. Pushing up the daisies it has joined the choir invisible…….It is not pining for the treelines of Siberia nor the bristlecones of Yamal. It is dead. Get over it.

      • Latimer,

        …yet scientists continue to produce paleoclimate reconstructions and they get published. And, yes, they continue to be of value in our study of our climate. Somehow science continues regardless of the claims of the skeptics.

      • I stopped being surprised by the antics of the ‘climate scientists’ once I had fully read and appreciated the enormity of the malpractice showed in the Climategate e-mails.

        I also observe that in an academic career structure where the quantity of publications seems to take a huge precedence over the quality (a great and regrettable change since I was a postgraduate), the incentive to publish any old junk must be quite string – as long as it can have your name on the front, the value of the contents is relatively immaterial. Mere publication of a paper nowadays surely is a testament to ambition, not to utility?

        BTW – I thought you were going to give me your thought son why a two foot sealevel rise would be catastrophic from our exchange yesterday. As I mentioned I have been asking for two years now on blogs and nobody has come up with an even remotely helpful answer. Can you?

      • Latimer,

        I don’t doubt that some papers serve mainly to up the publication count of their authors, I guess this is no mor or less true in climate science than in other fields. But paleoclimate reconstructions can give us a valuable insight into the way our climate has behaved in the past and scientists will continue to produce them and to try to improve techniques to give more confidence as to their accuracy, whatever the skeptics say.

        Sorry for not replying before to your question about sea level rise. The dangers of SLR are well understood – low level areas could in parts become uninhabitable, leading to the displacement of millions of people, other areas will suffer from increased flooding, coastal erosion and contamination of fresh water systems. Developing countries will be particularly hard hit, especially densley populated delta regions such as the Nile, Niger and Bangladesh.
        Now I didn’t use the word catastrophic to describe a two fool SLR, and in isolation a SLR of that kind of level would not be, although soem areas would certainly be badly impacted. But put it together with the various other impacts of climate change and the overall picture is pretty bad. And sea levels won’t magically stop rising once they get to two feet.

      • gryposaurus (Nov 14 at 9:02am) —

        Your post brings a lot of the important elements into the discussion, but still might not bring them all together. Consider the following hypothetical.

        Suppose I’m interested in the history of a weather-related phenomenon. Say, average wind speed in the Alps. I have 110 years of instrumental data, say 1890-2000. I also have 650 years of data for a possible wind-speed proxy: say, an Alpine lake’s varved sediments, 1400-1950.

        I correlate average wind speed (instrumental) with varve thickness, year-by-year, 1890-1950. That’s all the overlap that exists. I discover a good-but-not-perfect correlation between wind speed and varve thickness, which makes sense. More wind could mean more dust could mean more sediment settling to the bottom of the lake.

        Encouraged, I collect additional varve proxies from nearby lakes, create a reconstruction, write up my work, and publish it.

        Then something happens. More-recent varve data becomes available for these lakes. Say, from 1951 through 2000. What should I do?

        1. Incorporate the new data into my algorithms, no matter what.

        2. Disqualify the new data, no matter what.

        3. Before looking at the data, decide on the circumstances that will lead me to incorporate the new data, and on those that will lead to their exclusion.

        4. Analyze the new data, then decide on my course of action. If the new data confirm the already-established relationship, incorporate them into all new analyses. If the new data weaken that relationship, then disqualify them.

        What do you think?

        Is this parable relevant to the Divergence Problem?

      • It is a relevant situation, I think, and the answer to your question depends on several factors. I’d go with #3, the #4, Does the new varve data agree with instrumental records that are regarded as unequivocal evidence? Well, any agreement between a proxy and instruments will strengthen that relationship and any disagreement will do the opposite. But, the difference in the tree ring divergence is that there is both. A 95% confidence level of correlation between 1906-1960 and then the divergence problem after, indicating another variable besides temperature (Briffa 2001).

      • gryposaurus, that’s a thoughtful answer.

        I wish we could all sit in and listen to a discussion amongst credentialed statisticians at the top of their form… what the Wegman Report was advertised as doing, but didn’t…

        I am not a statistician. But my understanding is that for the parable that I posed (Nov 14 at 11:13am):

        #1 and #3 are good answers.

        #2 would be a statistically-valid answer, though it doesn’t make much real-world sense.

        #4 is very troubling approach.

        As I mentioned upthread, the subtle problems that #4-type strategies cause have been found to be quite significant in clinical trials, and in genomic analyses. If climate scientists could “un-silo” themselves, I think they would find that they have a lot that they could learn from people working on these seemingly-distant problems.

        But as this thread demonstrates, passions run high. People defend themselves by rebuffing criticisms, valid and invalid ones alike. There’s too much noise, too much anger, too much in the way of “sunk costs” in all of these debates.

        These circumstances definitely create “winners,” and some of the names on my list might match some of the ones on yours. But the scientifically-literate lay public isn’t among them. Neither is public policy.

      • PolyisTCOandbanned


        Agreed with all the above (I’m not a statistician, wish that heavy stats guys gotinto thais, disppaoointed that Wegman never did anything fundamental stats wise on paleoclimatolgy after his poor initial report, etc.)

        I did ask Zorita a while ago about how we have confidence based on the 20th century matching on earlier periods. His point was that more is needed than matching general trend to general trend. that you need to match some wiggles. This gives added confidence, more degrees of freedom. As a practical example, look at Kim Cobb’s corals. There are a reasonable amount of wiggles and a good match of proxy to temp over them. Looking at a tree-ring series, you see less of that. Of course, there must be ways to exrpess this mathematically (I have not).

      • TCO and I talked about wiggles with respect to Tiljander back in August. That would be an illustration of Zorita’s point, think. The Tiljander data series don’t have ’em in places where they should. The comparison came up with another type of data series from another Finnish lake, where the Little Ice Age can be plainly seen.

        That was Fig. 14 from TP Luoto’s dissertation (online), which includes a water temperature graph of Lake Hamptrask, Finland (just northeast of Helsinki) from about 1350 to the present. It’s inferred from fossil Chironomids.

        The original discussion was at ClimateAudit; abridged version here. Relevant comments have the term “Luoto” in them, proceed till you get to the image of his Fig. 14.

      • “A 95% confidence level of correlation between 1906-1960 and then the divergence problem after, indicating another variable besides temperature (Briffa 2001).”

        The divergence in and of itself indicates nothing. repeat that. nothing. It does not speak for itself. There is no meaning inherent in it. It is subject to interpretation. There are many logically possible interpretations. to wit:

        1. it could indicate a bad temperature record. In fact Rob Wilson in some of his studies has redone the temperature record for the areas of canada where the rings and temp did not correlate. In fact, in subsequent studies ( of the area in question for briffa’s trees) some researchers have looked at the “divergence” by re examining the temperature records rather than throwing out the cores.

        2. It could indicate a false correlation in the prior period.

        3. it could indicate a failure of the uniformitarian principle.

        4. It could indicate a krumholtz type phenomena

        5. It could indicate bad sampling

        6. It could indicate as you note another variable, and then we have the problem of excluding that “other variable” in prior periods.

        Basically, until you have an explanation of the divergence, you should present two calibrations. Calibration with divergence ( briffa notes this will lead to a warmer MWP) and calibration without. I have no issue with the truncation provided that the decision to truncate is ASSESSED and discussed and evaluated NUMERICALLY.
        here is what the MWP looks like if we truncate, here is what it looks like if we dont truncate. Then argue the merits of truncation. In that context the importance of the truncation to our conclusion can be assessed in a quantifiable manner. Without that analysis we are left with arguments about chartsmanship, motive, IPCC process, etc. we are left NOT discussing the science, but discussing the men.

        The difference between those two curves is methodological uncertainty. The uncertainty due to the analysts choice. Finally,
        the divergence data was deleted from the archives. Now, How do future scientists explain this divergence when the very data is deleted from archives? We know what this data looks like because it was appended to a mail in the stack. Otherwise it was lost to the bit bin of history. It is one thing to trucate data for a presentation that makes certain assumptions. It is quite another thing to refuse to archive the data.

      • Steve you say, and say emphatically, that the divergence “means nothing”, then go on to enumerate no less than 6 things that it could “mean”. Furthermore none of them is “that the dendrochronological data to hand can safely be used as a preinstrumental temperature proxy.” Isn’t that, or rather its converse, what the divergence “means”?

      • Basically, until you have an explanation of the divergence, you should present two calibrations. Calibration with divergence ( briffa notes this will lead to a warmer MWP) and calibration without.

        The difference between those two curves is methodological uncertainty. The uncertainty due to the analysts choice.

        The important uncertainty is better stated, I think. In a part of a report dealing with multi-proxy reconstructions, I think the IPCC handled that scenario fairly well. Use the best agreeing data with the error bars, described uncertainty, and a statement about the divergent data.

        In doing both calibrations, the review would reflect a false middle ground to those who don’t understand this uncertainty that only the experts have a full handle on, and anyway, I don’t think it would be a true reflection of the divergence problem uncertainty. The divergent data creates what is known to be a faulty curve. Without divergence the data agrees with instrumental and is the science’s “best analysis” (with the other agreeing proxies, obviously). I understand the need to display the uncertainty, but creating a proxy which is known to be faulty, against the one which is used in a multi-proxy reconstruction as correlative to instruments isn’t the best way to handle the overall problem of tree divergence and the use of tree rings as proxies overall.
        From the IPCC Chapter 6:

        Several analyses of ring width and ring density chronologies, with otherwise well-established sensitivity to temperature, have shown that they do not emulate the general warming trend evident in instrumental temperature records over recent decades, although they do track the warming that occurred during the early part of the 20th century and they continue to maintain a good correlation with observed temperatures over the full instrumental period at the interannual time scale (Briffa et al., 2004; D’Arrigo, 2006). This ‘divergence’ is apparently restricted to some northern, high-latitude regions, but it is certainly not ubiquitous even there. In their large-scale reconstructions based on tree ring density data, Briffa et al. (2001) specifically excluded the post-1960 data in their calibration against instrumental records, to avoid biasing the estimation of the earlier reconstructions (hence they are not shown in Figure 6.10), implicitly assuming that the ‘divergence’ was a uniquely recent phenomenon, as has also been argued by Cook et al. (2004a). Others, however, argue for a breakdown in the assumed linear tree growth response to continued warming, invoking a possible threshold exceedance beyond which moisture stress now limits further growth (D’Arrigo et al., 2004). If true, this would imply a similar limit on the potential to reconstruct possible warm periods in earlier times at such sites. At this time there is no consensus on these issues (for further references see NRC, 2006) and the possibility of investigating them further is restricted by the lack of recent tree ring data at most of the sites from which tree ring data discussed in this chapter were acquired.

        It needed more detail, even then, but it states both sides of the divergence argument and highlights possible vast uncertainty if there is a heat threshold, which as far as I know, is the most important problem in using trees for warm periods over 1000 years ago. This is already outdated as several techniques for dealing with divergence have been introduced (Wilmking 2008, Visser 2010, Wilson 2007) and two large reviews of the divergence problem in literature (Esper 2009, D’Arrigo, 2008).

      • AMac.

        There isn’t any rule that has been tested to insure that your choice will give you the “right” answer. In the past when faced with decisions like this I have always presented the analysis both with and without the new data. The difference is an uncertainty.

        WRT choice 4:

        Whenever data conflict with theory you have choices:
        1. throw out the data ( or “adjust it”)
        2. throw out the theory
        3. Modify the theory.

        This choice is largely pragmatic. The choice needs to be documented and assessed openly and numerically.

      • “why would a temperature chart need to explicitly show the divergence when that is a problem specific to dendrology”

        Because it got used as intended to fool policy makers into thinking treemometers really worked.

      • Why? You can remove that proxy and the chart is no different.

      • “You can remove that proxy and the chart is no different.”

        A point amply demonstrated by M&M when they substituted-in a red noise sequence .

      • M&M are good at generating noise. Science, not so much.

      • Doug McGee “M&M are good at generating noise. Science, not so much.”

        Great ad-hom there Doug. I wonder how Judith feels about breach of blog etiquette, and what your contribution does to improve the quality of discussion on her forum.

        Have “M or M” contributed to the quality of information available to climatologists? Consider the following:

        Pointing out that PCA needs centred data,

        Pointing out the lack of robustness of analytical techniques which cannot distinguish a signal from red noise,

        Exposing the YAD061 issue,

        Exposing inverted proxy data.

        I’m sure there are more. But if you are saying that none of the above is of any consequence to climatology, your attack on M&M can be disregarded as projection.

  34. Titfor tat

    Judith, you have challenged sceptics to argue their case against AGW “theory” in less than 750 words. – too few for such an important topic. What’s fair for the goose is fair for the gander, so why do you and other leading proponents of AGW “theory” do the same, without referring to models or any natural event like melting glaciers. Just one peer reviewed paper giving an unequivocal cause and effect link between CO2 and warming will do, provided it is at the five sigma level required in good science. Otherwise all your talk about connecting with us sceptics is so much wind!

    • Peter,

      It was about 10 days ago that Judith proposed this.
      Is she going to stop her busy life just to focus on setting this up?
      This website is her personal time being used rather than relaxing and reading a book. She also said around Thanksgiving.
      Are you impatient to rip apart someones theory?

  35. Judith, I recoil from putting words into you mouth, but….

    If a Certain Personage were to go to Washington and say words to the effect that:

    “Uncertainty analysis has an important role in both the conduct of climate science, and in enabling policy-makers to assess its public implications. However uncertainty analysis can only usefully be performed on a body of work which has been conducted in rigorous accordance with traditional Scientific Method.

    In particular, uncertainty analysis can only be of value in assessing a hypothesis where all rival or disconfirmatory hypotheses have received due study, and the resulting body of work been subjected to traditional tests of disconfirmation and parsimony.

    Unfortunately climate science has not been conducted in this way. For a variety of reasons, it has pursued the “conviction” of CO2 as a source of dangerous global warming to the effective exclusion of any rival “culprits”, or indeed of the null hypothesis – that is, that no “offence” is being committed. The resulting dichotomy – Anthropogenic CO2 responsible for /not responsible for dangerous global warming is not susceptible of meaningful uncertainty analysis, since without testing it against its rivals:

    a/ We do not know if it has properly survived attempts to disconfirm it, rendering considerations of its own uncertainty nugatory.

    b/ Even were it to survive challenge, we do not know if it is the most parsimonious such hypothesis, or among the most parsimonious such hypotheses, and therefore deserving of our uncertainty analysis.

    The good news is that the reason climate science has not studied rival hypotheses is not that no such study exists – merely that it has been axiomatically excluded from climate science. Insisting that this gatekeeping cease, and that rival hypotheses be not merely tolerated but welcomed will rapidly lead to a situation where the residual uncertainty, ie that remaining after the demands of traditional Scientific Method have been met, can usefully be analysed. Until then, any attempt at uncertainty analysis of climate “science” would be shadow-boxing.

    … said Personage would greatly gratify me:-)

  36. The idea that AGW theory has gained credibility because it has excluded the consideration of rival or diconfirmatory hypothesis is refuted by the historical record.

    When the radiative properties of CO2 where first suggested as a cause of climate variation (for ice ages) the early measurements seemed to indicate that the absorption spectra overlapped that of water vapor and was saturated. Later better measurement corrected this.

    When the rise in atmospheric CO2 was attributed to fossil fuels the rival hypothesis was that oceanic absorption would balance the carbon cycle and any excursions were inherent variation rather than caused by small percentage increments added to the atmosphere.
    The subsequent improvement in the understanding of the carbon cycle with advances in ocean chemistry and isotopic tracking of carbon confirmed the anthropogenic source of the rising CO2.

    The past correlation between proxy indicators of solar activity and climate proxies provided a possible disconfirmatory hypothesis of variations in solar input driving the climate change.
    But better measurements of the actual solar input have constrained the possible input it could have on the current observable climate change.

    There has been a century of Darwinian selection of the strongest theory to explain climate variations with the influence of CO2 often being consigned to the margins until further research confirmed its central role. AGW is a clear winner in this survival of the fittest because it has outlasted the rival and disconfirmatory hypothesis that have assailed it in the past.

    I am unsure which possible alternative hypothesis you would propose should receive due study, there would need to be two unknown processes going on.
    One to cause the observed warming/sea level rise.
    One to negate the observed effects of CO2 on the IR emissions up and down in the atmosphere.

  37. “I am unsure which possible alternative hypothesis you would propose should receive due study, there would need to be two unknown processes going on.
    One to cause the observed warming/sea level rise.
    One to negate the observed effects of CO2 on the IR emissions up and down in the atmosphere.”


    i) Increased insolation to the oceans as the jets shift poleward thereby reducing total cloud quantities and also reducing albedo.

    ii) Increased speed or intensity of the hydrological cycle as the extra downward IR gets converted to latent heat via increased evaporation.

    I’d be happy to use your funds to direct the appropriate research facility.

  38. Well, it’s Sunday morning so I guess I can take a few minutes to add my voice to this. Good morning!

    When you testify, remember that your words will undoubtedly be taken out of context by both sides–I’m sure you already know this, but speak in complete sentences and remember to use uncertainty as it applies to your own understanding.

    Remember also that members of this committee have all taken a position on the issue at hand. There are no agnostics searching for a bright light to illuminate the way forward.

    Use concrete examples whenever possible for the points you are trying to make. UK energy bills, Roger Pielke Jr’s recent post on insurance and hurricanes, California’s miscalculation at CARB to show the dangers of decision-making with too much uncertainty, thousands of examples for delay on decision-making when the broad thrust of good policy is clear.

    Force your interlocutors to make their questions clear. Answer the questions, not the prefatory gabble that accompanies them.

    Remember that you always have the option of sending clarifying statements and backup materials after the close of the hearing–you can say ‘I’ll have to get back to the committee on this.’

    Have fun. Ask the committee if they can hear you before you say anything. Pee before the hearings start.

  39. The idea that Earth is under going dangerous or unusual change fails based on reviews of history as well as reviews of the uncertainty associated with the the evidence supporting the claim.
    The issue is not if CO2 is a forcing. The issue is whether or not what CO2 is forcing the climate to do is dangerous. After tens of billions of dollars spent to study this the answer is clearly unknown. It would be a costly misapplication of scarce resources to continue the path of trying to manage the climate by controlling CO2. First, because not one policy to regulate CO2 on a worldwide basis has worked. Second because there are better things to do with our time talent and treasure.
    If the goal is a better environment and cleaner energy, then we should work towards those goals. Those are attainable. Managing the climate by regulating CO2 fails since it is clear that important areas of climate function are not well described by cliamte scientists and the true impacts of regulating CO2 are not actually known. In other words what AGW offers is is high costs and no discernible benefit.
    Public policy should focus on what can actually be attained, and not wasted as it has been to date. Clean the air. Clean the water. Improve waste disposal. Build the clean energy technologies that actually work, like nuclear.
    Stop chasing climate control. It is not going to work.

  40. The moral high ground of AGW has been the certainty of the use of the appropriate physics. I have just re-read the somewhat long article by Gerhard Gerlich on the Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Frame of Physics http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/0707/0707.1161v4.pdf whereby he argues that equations developed for behavior in a box are misapplied to a large chaotic non-equilibrium sphere. Getting past his obvious outrage at the discounting of the constraints of the originally developed concepts, my question is: has this article been deconstructed already or can anybody deconstruct it now? If not, then current GCM models don’t have a physical leg to stand on and we are back to: “I don’t know.” Please advise.

  41. as a childhood fan of Isaac Asimov, i’ve wondered about this since reading “No More Ice Ages” in his collection of science essays ‘Fact & Fancy’ ca 1960. I believe this is the article that first described the greenhouse effect for the masses. I pulled it out a few days ago and indeed nobody has improved on his numbers in the intervening half century. They are not portents of drastic change.

    As a former programmer in the field simulation i really appreciate the psychological dangers of taking computer models too seriously.

    As a former control system engineer I believe Mother Nature has constructed Mother Earth with an eye to stability.

    All the carbon that’s underground was once in the atmosphere. What will Mother Nature do if we put it back there? Look at that Mauna Loa CO2 graph: every spring she sharply reverses the slope demonstrating it’s well within her power to control CO2 so far.
    Probably she’ll simply widen the growing season. Look again at the graph – she’s already started.

    It’s not an issue of physics but mass psychology.

    old jim

  42. Prof. Curry, one of the questions that you may reasonably anticipate would be along the lines of, “Prof. Curry, there are clearly divergent views on the state of climate science and possible dangers in climate change. How do you recommend that we proceed from here in reconciling the various schools of thought?” In thinking about how to respond, I suggest that you review the not yet complete essay by Geraldo Luis Lino in which he argues for a climate science equivalent of the International Geophysical Year. His essay is posted at WUWT and at http://www.climatechangedispatch.com/climate-reports/8118-climate-change-the-keywords-part-2-of-3. I hope that this recommendation provides some food for thought.


    • Pardon my missing phrase. The first sentence should read “…questions that you may anticipate at or following the hearing is…”

  43. Demetris Koutsoyiannis has some good things to say on uncertainty:

    “Forgetting some fundamental issues related to climate may have detrimental effects in its research. A first issue that need not be forgotten is the fact that the very notion of climate relies on statistics. For example, according to a popular definition (U.S. Global Change Research Program: Climate Literacy, The Essential Principles of Climate Sciences, 2009), climate is the long-term average of conditions in the atmosphere, ocean, and ice sheets and sea ice described by statistics, such as means and extremes. In turn, long-term average conditions cannot be assessed correctly if inappropriate statistical models and assumptions are used. For example, statistical methods commonly used in climate research are based on the classical statistical paradigm that assumes independence of processes in time, or on the slightly modified model of Markovian dependence. However, substantial evidence has been accumulated from long time series, observed or proxy, that climate is characterized by long-term persistence, also known as long memory or long-range dependence. Such behaviour needs to be described by processes of Hurst-Kolmogorov type, rather than by independent or Markovian processes. Consequently, it should be remembered that the Hurst-Kolmogorov dynamics implies dramatically higher uncertainty of statistical parameters of location and high negative bias of statistical parameters of dispersion. It also implies change at all scales, thus contradicting the misperception of a static climate and making redundant the overly used term “climate change”. The fundamental mathematical properties of Hurst-Kolmogorov processes is another issue that must not be forgotten, in order to avoid incorrect or misleading results about climate.”


  44. Dear friends,

    The root cause of the climate scandal is explained in a short preface to our four-part video series on Scientific Genesis:

    Real Science vs Federal Science Elitism

    http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=GOLld5PR4ts

    I hope this will be useful in your appearance before the US House of Representatives committee that is investigating the climate scandal.

    Questions and comments would be appreciated.

    With kind regards,
    Oliver K. Manuel

  45. There is a very big problem in taking the fact that there are many projections in the IPCC reports that hav a 20 per cent probability of being wrong and saying that that means out of a 100 we can expect 20 to be wrong. The issue is one of correlation. If these were completely independent events, the argument would have some weight. But most of are clearly not.

  46. Dear Dr. Curry,
    It’s probably too late for suggestions but Dr. Kevin Trenberth (Head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, a lead author of the 1995, 2001 and 2007 IPCC assessments, and a review author for the next review TA5) would be a good choice. He could explain his recent comment on models (“More knowledge, less certainty”) where he explains ” climate scientists that comprise the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) don’t do predictions, or at least they haven’t up until now” (see http://www.nature.com/climate/2010/1002/full/climate.2010.06.html ).

    It could also be useful to have a 3×5 ft. (or 1×2 m) blow up of panel A from his recent article in Science where he shows the increased energy imbalance calculated from radiative forcing, the declining measured ocean temperatures since 2004, and the resulting significant gap which he refers to as the “missing energy”. That’s about as good a demonstration of uncertainty as any available (see http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/328/5976/316 ).