Testimony follow up

by Judith Curry

Pursuant to my recent congressional testimony, I have received  some follow up questions that were submitted by Members of the Committee.

Here are the questions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These are REALLY GOOD questions, with no easy answers.    I am pondering how I am going to respond (response due Dec 10).  In the mean time, I am opening this up for discussion, and hoping for some good ideas!

Moderation note: this thread will be tightly moderated for relevance.  I will consider including a link to this thread in my response to the House Committee.

266 responses to “Testimony follow up

  1. Wow, these questions were from politicians? Maybe they do have a bit of reasoning left in their grey matter :)

    Dr. Judy, the one point that I have an opinion on, is if the scientific studies are funded in any way with public money, then all data, methods, reasons for interpretation, etc. should be completely available to one and all.

    Maybe to help this along, the government can provide a bit of funding, or request some company like Google or Microsoft, make available a distinct repository for such scientific work.

    • Questions like this are written by staffers with help from experts, but they show the thinking of the Committee. As for data, in the USA publicly funded data and algorithms are the property of the researcher under present law. As such they need not be disclosed. The big exception is data developed for regulatory decision making, which must be made available. The climate case is analogous so extending the regulatory law to “policy critical” research is a relatively simple step. The determination that research was policy critical would probably have to be made at the time of funding. Even this would be a big, expensive step. The biggest problem is that you can’t impose costs beyond the contract period.

    • I’d say… just deny funding to anyone employing Mann, Trenberth or Peterson. The rest will follow along.

  2. Question 1a is the hardest to answer. There is no politically correct response. Only the scientists in question could fully answer it. But most objective people would assume that they are hiding something that they don’t want others to see.

    Qustion 2a is a great question. I will be very interested in your response.

  3. steven mosher

    Like Tom and I said in the book Judith.
    When the skeptics were construed as merchants of doubt, climate science had no choice but to sell certainty. marketing 101.

    merchants of denial would have been a better meme. merchants of confusion would even have been better. but methodological doubt is one cornerstone of science. Ceding that “frame” to skeptics was bone headed.

    There are other factors as well..

    • That’s right, it’s all the scientists fault for not being good at PR. I don’t know why scientists are so bad at PR. Maybe it’s because they are scientists.

      • steven mosher

        If you read through the climategate mails you will see Mann attempting to act as a PR coordinator. When the decision was made to circle the wagons that act dictates two kinds of communication strategies: external communication strategies and internal strategies. Again, if you read the mails you will see these discussions happening. The skeptics, Mann and overpeck assert, should be handled by
        A. ignoring them
        B. delegitamizing them ( we could say they are lazy, they are oil shills etc)
        C. we should say they dont publish.
        All of those backfired. factually, backfired. Any PR person could have advised them of different choices to take

        Internal communications are also regulated or shaped. This is very clear in the way they argue over discussing “uncertainty” with some scientists ( Rind for example) arguing that uncertainties should be highlighted and others arguing that they should not be highlighted. In the end, the internal communications trying to manage the message also backfired.
        Judy, our host, has been privy to some of these attempts to control the message ( don’t invite mcintyre to your campus) Backfired, of course a person with integrity would bristle at such naked attempts to control expression.

        From my perspective as someone in communications the strategies are clearly articulated and they clearly backfired. Now, I don’t think that Mann came up with these stupid ideas on his own. Its clear ( look at some of the attachments in the mails) that the team was getting advice from outside PR firms. It’s clear that these advisors failed them.

        To your point, yes scientists are bad at PR. Witness, Jones foolish choice to deny data to warwick hughes. Briffa sent Jones a mail with clippings showing what horrible press Mann was getting by denying Mcintyre data.
        He noted that skeptics were getting a head of steam from this. That very day, with the evidence in front of him about how this tactic of denial was a PR disaster, Jones decided to deny data to Hughes. Stunningly stupid.

      • “Stunningly stupid” – unless of course Jones knew his work was so full of holes that the only thing more damaging for his cause than withholding the data was sharing it.

      • steven mosher

        he had already shared it and 98% of it was public. There are more plausible explanations for his behavior:

        1. he wanted the publicity Mann was getting.
        2. he thought he could help Mann by “drawing fire”
        3. he truely believed skeptics would misuse the data.
        4. he was angry.

        lots of other explanations. The point is this. The social pressure was such that his personal motivation overwhelmed scientific values. i do not need to understand what exactly his personal values or motivations were. There is not plausible scientific value that says “hide data, dont share” It’d the failing to live up to the highest standards that tells me something else ( i care not what it is) is driving the decision. It’s that interjection of the personal which is troubling because the process of science works by removing the personal.

      • It is fascinating that the book you and Tom wrote, Climategate The CRUtape Letters, http://www.amazon.com/Climategate-Crutape-Letters-Steven-Mosher/dp/1450512437
        was so carefully ignored by so many in academia and media and government. It demonstrated, for me and others, how pernicious the social power of AGW has become.
        It is long past time to make sure that people in positions of responsibility actually see what these guys were doing. Their own words show it was anything but science.

      • steven mosher

        For me the most fascinating thing was how Mann and others tried to control communications with various themes and frames. I don’t for one second believe that science can be free of social pressures, scientists are not aliens. The view that they somehow are or somehow should be is shallow. What’s important is having a process that minimizes the undeniable influence of social pressure. Peer review doesnt cut it. Open data helps. Open Code helps. Open review and taking down the paywalls are steps in a better direction. Like it or not Blog science will be the future.

      • Some spending should be directed at replicating work that is critical to the justification for some public policy. The failure to replicate (which leaves badly flawed work like Mann’s or Rahmstorf’s as influential) is the achilles heel of science in general and climate science in particular.

      • > Like it or not Blog science will be the future.

        Blog “science”, by and large, is junk. Anyone can posit any nonsense they want (examples include McIntyre, Watts, Manuel, &c) and it gains traction with like-minded individuals, and becomes an entrenched belief that is very difficult to dislodge.

        Science on blogs then becomes degraded to the point that what is popular with the vocal is what is deemed “correct”. When I see McIntyre, Watts, and the rest submit their posts for review, and their (often egregious) errors corrected before publication, then your belief that “blog science will be the future” may have a dim chance of being correct. Until then, it’s just a bunch of BS being passed around.

  4. 1b) re scrutiny/funding, YES please consider blocking. As a taxpayer it drives me crazy that I have to pay for data that will be used to tax/affect me yet I can’t see it (or provide it to those in the community whom I trust to impartially audit it, such as Steve McIntyre.)

    Subjects may not object to secret data, but citizens ought to.

    • This is the key point in my view. If data is used to influence public policy, that data should be publicly available. If it isn’t, there’s no accountability.

      • Absolutely. Even if the research isn’t publicly funded. This can be likened to the right to confrontation in our Bill of Rights. As a matter of simple morality, if the government proposes to use force to deny citizens freedom or property, the people should have the right to examine the supposed evidence being used to justify the government action. Using secret evidence as a basis to take away rights is an abomination.

    • Tell your legislative representatives to remove the proviso that certain governmental bodies must make a profit (i.e., a monetary return on investment) on the data that they hold.

      It was precisely the conservative/libertarian ideology that government ought to be run as a business (selling product and the like) that is creating the problem with unavailable data.

      Yet another “unintended” consequence of that dogma.

      • Lysenkoism thrived in a culture very far from the conservative or libertarian philosophy. Your need to make this conservative/liberal over looks the only thing that really matters: integrity.
        Integrity can be lost under political system if people stop paying attention to it.

  5. Judy – Here are some first thoughts in response to the questions you list, with more later if I can refine my suggestions after greater deliberation. I cite the questions, followed in each case by a response that occurred to me.

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

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

    Response: The large majority of climate scientists are not engaged in these adversarial tactics, but it is the minority who have attracted media publicity. The media thrive on conflict. Most scientists are willing to share their data. A few have adopted a siege mentality. This is certainly an unfortunate overreaction to being challenged, but there is an underlying kernel of justification in the sense that requests for data have not always been made for scientific reasons, but on some occasions as a harassment tool for distracting scientists from their work. It will be important to have in place mechanisms for filtering out the demands of this type from the many legitimate requests.

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

    Response: Congress should consider penalizing scientists who refuse legitimate data-sharing requests. However, there is a U.S.-centric element to this question, because an enormous volume of high quality climate science is conducted in other nations as well as ours. It would be worthwhile establishing international standards. Some journals already have standards for data-sharing.

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

    Response: Please see a and b above. If standards can be established going forward, failure to adhere to them should probably disqualify the research from inclusion in decision-making. Based on the current scientific literature, I believe only a very tiny minority of published reports would be disqualified, with little effect on the current thinking on major scientific questions in climatology. As an example, the Hockey-Stick controversy has been excessively touted by both skeptics and some mainstream scientists as a determinant of the validity of mainstream climate science. The absence of the relevant “hockey stick” data would do little to alter our general understanding.

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

    Response: Natural variation and anthropogenic change are not competitors, but in fact are mutually reinforcing to some extent. It is correct to say that over some intervals, a trend (e.g., warming) attributed to anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions may have been due more to natural variability. In the long term, however, the way the climate responds to natural forces provides valuable information about how intensively it responds to anthropogenic influences. Uncertainty in this and other regards is neither a good or a bad thing, but a reality, and of course it cuts both ways – a prediction may overestimate future harms, but it may also underestimate them. It will be important to quantify uncertainty to the extent we can’t eliminate it, utilizing appropriate Bayesian and other statistical methods. I would only add that the resistance of certain scientists to acknowledge uncertainty in public (they do in the literature itself) is a manifestation of the polarized nature of some of the debate. Some skeptics have argued that because we are not absolutely certain about the magnitude of climate change and its human contribution, we are unable to arrive at reasonable approximations. That argument is false, and the approximations, along with the estimates of variability, should be fully utilized in making judgments about future actions.
    The same Response applies to b below.

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

    Response: Yes, and your blog is one example. Recent editorials in major journals such as Science and Nature are others. However, as I suggested above, uncertainty is already a staple of the literature itself. Where it tends to be de-emphasized is in media responses and to some extent in the response of the IPCC to criticism. It will be important to call attention to the ample analysis of uncertainty in papers published in the relevant journals.

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

    Response: You have already made clear your conclusion that at least some IPCC processes are not working, and you have made specific suggestions for improvement. Regarding a basis for policy actions, the IPCC ‘s Summary for Policymakers is an attempt to distill an enormous body of evidence into a few pages. It is not only vulnerable to bias but also to distortions resulting from the need to summarize. It should be only one guide to policy, and deserves to be reviewed, at least in the U.S., by a reputable group of scientists whose fortunes are not tied to the IPCC (there are many, yourself of course included).

    Nevertheless, it bears repeating that current scientific thinking on climate
    change does not come from reading what the IPCC has to say. Rather, it resides in the many thousands of findings published in the literature over the past 50 years and more, in a multitude of journals. You, of course, know what those journals are, and how many, but it might be worth pointing out to non-scientists that the list is quite large. In addition to the general science journals such as Science, Nature, and PNAS, it includes Geophysical Research Letters, Journal of Geophysical Research, Int. J. Climatology, J. Climate, Nature Geoscience, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Society, and many others. It is reasonable to ask whether what the IPCC abstracts from that literature is accurate and objective, but anyone with doubts should probably find a means to review that same literature from an independent perspective. Given that policymakers are not scientists, I’m afraid that requires delegating some of that task to reliable and objective observers with a scientific background.

    • Fred, thank you for your thoughtful and detailed reply

      • I think Fred has done your homework for you. These are great replies.

      • Thanks, Jim. I tried to put some thought into it. I don’t think Dr. Curry needs my help with her homework, and her final response will reflect her carefully considered views derived from her experience as a working climate scientist. She did, however, suggest that some of the comments in this thread might be useful in complementing her responses, and I responded with that in mind.

      • On the contrary, it’s just glib pea&thimble stuff

        eg:

        1a) response in part: “It will be important to have in place mechanisms for filtering out the demands of this type from the many legitimate requests.”

        Who decides and how ? Will such decisions and their reasons be made public ? Sliding off from answering these hard-edged points achieves nothing

        1b) response in part: “It would be worthwhile establishing international standards. Some journals already have standards for data-sharing”

        Same pea&thimble as 1a) above, plus SMc has detailed many instances where the Journals have ignored their own publishing requirements on this issue

        2a) response in part: “I would only add that the resistance of certain scientists to acknowledge uncertainty in public (they do in the literature itself) is a manifestation of the polarized nature of some of the debate”

        The “resistance of certain scientists” is not just a manifestation, but a part cause, of the polarization. Another significant part cause is the uncontrollable propensity of the MSM to exaggerate (amelioriating this propensity would be largely achieved by NOT issuing prior press releases for some new study without insisting that error bars/uncertainty limits be published with the release as an inviolable condition of aquiring the release). The third significant part cause is the persistent conflation of studies with policy – this guarantees polarization

        3) response in part: “I’m afraid that requires delegating some of that task to reliable and objective observers with a scientific background”

        Exactly the same pea&thimble as 1a) and b). Who chooses the delegates, where do those chosen publish, are they then open to hard, public cross-examination ?

      • Latimer Alder

        Re 1a.

        Openness means openness.

        It doesn’t mean openness ‘if I happen to approve of what I judge the motives of a subsequent reader to be’ – beneficial or prejudicial to whatever cause I may follow.

        If I publish a book – then whether it is used for entertainment, for spiritual enlightenment, as a giant doorstop, as emergency toilet paper or to be burnt as part of a demonstration is immaterial. Once it has left my charge it is out of my control. Judging the motives of the ‘user’ is no longer my prerogative.

      • Quite a number of posts downthread appear to say more or less the same things, so that’s spent

        My other contribution was on the vexed question of MSM exaggeration and sensationalism. I suggested that:

        “Another significant part cause is the uncontrollable propensity of the MSM to exaggerate (amelioriating this propensity would be largely achieved by NOT issuing prior press releases for some new study without insisting that error bars/uncertainty limits be published with the release as an inviolable condition of aquiring the release)”

        How to enforce that (since such a prohibition will be broken without compunction) ?

        MSM and blog outlets that flout this condition are then excluded from all further “scoops”, ie. breakthrough papers, articles, metrics are simply not supplied to these outlets

    • You say…
      “but there is an underlying kernel of justification in the sense that requests for data have not always been made for scientific reasons, but on some occasions as a harassment tool for distracting scientists from their work. ”

      Surely you cannot expect a respected, intelligent scientist in Dr Curry to go back to congress armed with this…this…drivvell. Are you trying to assist her or hinder her?
      What evidence do you have that the requests were for mandacious reasons?

      Do you have evidence which shows the motivation of the requestor leading him/her to want to “distract” scientists from their work?

      No point reading the rest of your drivvell, and I’ll keep this in mind when I come across other posts of yours.’

      I mean really!

      • PDA you obviously don’t get it either.
        I’m not interested in going back n forth about FOI claims.
        My interest was in the FACT that it is being suggested to Ms Curry that she present to congress a response that she couldn’t possibly know is the truth.

        Can you imagine the questions that could follow? A Barrister style examination would be very embarrassing.
        Worse still, it happens to be the very first question, so an answer as suggested would cause Ms Curry to lose credibility regards the rest of her answers.

        Again, I’m NOT interested in debating the motives of the FOI requestors, because nobody knows except the requestors themselves.

      • Latimer Alder

        sp !!

      • ¡Well, now I disagree with Dr. Curry on something!

        ¨thoughtful¨ was gracious and generous, but wrong, on most points.

    • I must echo the comments of others: scientists have no business questioning the motives of the people requesting data. The climategate emails show that leaving such judgement in the hands of scientists or scientist-friendly organizations will simply result in more stonewalling and secrey as this exception is abused.

      Scientists must provide everything that would allow someone else to reproduce their work following the exact steps that they followed. This must include and intermediate results if it is possible for different people to get different results depending on how they applied the methods described.

    • Fred

      I think your point about data and the Hockey Stick is mistaken. Data availability was not a big issue in the Hockey Stick story since Mann provided data almost immediately (although there were complications over whether what was released was the actual data used in the paper – error rather than skullduggery though. See the section starting at page 290 of the Hockey Stick Illusion.)

      There were issues over his refusal to release code, and I think Judy’s answer needs to address the code issue as well as data.

    • Well I think any request is legitimate and should be treated as such.

      The way of dealing with the problem of “harassment” is to upload everything on the web – for example on the website of the publishing website (preferrably on a common site where all climate science is collected . but probably too much to ask at this point). After uploading, there would be little need for any requests for data, harassing or not.

      Problem solved.

      • The problem here is that the term “data” can vary over many orders of magnitude. Archiving the raw data from a single satellite can cost $10 million a year. So depending on what your “everything” is we could be talking about a huge federal data center that consumes a large and constantly growing fraction of the $1.7 billion US climate change research budget. And for what? Just in case somebody might want to look at is someday? This is a very big, difficult and expensive issue. There is an Inter-agency Working Group on Digital Data that is grappling with it (I did staff work for several years). Also bear in mind that in the USA most publicly funded research is done on contract, so you can’t have post hoc requirements.

      • Nullius in Verba

        You need to archive sufficient data to support the conclusions you are drawing from it.

        If you find that you need to process raw data to a smaller summary set, then you can do it in two stages. First, publish the processing algorithms and samples of raw data/output to validate the processing, then archive the processed data.

        If anybody thinks you might have done something wrong, they can check the correctness of the processing, and they can check what you did to the processed data.

        I’m interested to hear that a single satellite can fill $10m of storage a year. I would have guessed that weather satellites would produce a few terrabytes per year, which would cost a few hundred dollars to store. Do you have more information on that?

      • Latimer Alder

        You can buy an awful lot of magnetic tapes for ten million bucks. Archiving does not have to mean loaded on brown and spinning.

      • Your approach is a step in the right direction. Combine it with limiting the scope to policy relevant research and you might have a viable regulatory program. (We are talking about US legislation here.) But it is hard to see what problem we are solving. For example every research project requires annual and final reports, which typically go into these methodological details. For DOE these are online here: http://www.osti.gov/bridge/.

        On the data cost this is from a NASA presentation to the IWGDD. I have no details, but NASA has a $1.5 billion data center plan: http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/enterprise-architecture/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=223300086

        NSF estimates that for some projects complete data prep and archiving would cost 30% of the research budget. These are very big numbers, not to be taken lightly.

      • Actually, NASA does a superb job of archiving the satellite data, see here http://nasadaacs.eos.nasa.gov/, and yes, it is a rather huge undertaking.

    • Boilerplate warmist twaddle.

      Fred, read the letter Judith received! And then read it again, slowly. Whoever drafted it, do you really, in your wildest fancy, think it was sent by or on behalf of the sort of person who will respond favourably to the great big turgid dollops of mendacious pabulum you are commending to Judith? This is not some credulous Believer come to sit at Judith’s feet. Those days are over. This writer doesn’t see votes in being green, he sees votes, increasingly, in being sceptical! This is a deeply sceptical enquiry, framed by someone who has read and scoffed at a thousand warmist “pea-and-thimble” exercises like yours, and could probably close his eyes after the first couple of sentences and complete it for you – a lot of us here certainly could.

      The writer is clearly asking Judith to advise on how publicly-funded science can be made to RETURN to traditional scientific method, and will not take kindly to a response which seeks to treat data-sharing as a novelty, and therefore earlier data-hiding as innocent.

      The writer is clearly well aware that the shortcomings he is asking Judith about were found in the Vatican of what he may well label “warmist” belief. He will look askance, and rightly so, at a climate scientist trying to pass them off as a handful of minnows in a school, as you urge Judith to do.

      This letter was directed at Judith but for all we know similar letters may have been sent to the other witnesses. No doubt Santer et al will provide a close facsimile of what you suggest – it is, as I say, boilerplate warmism. But if Judith values the credibilty to which she owes her invitation from Congress – and she should – she’ll have nothing to do with it.

    • I’d like to respond briefly to the multiple comments above reiterating the need for openness in data-sharing. I agree, but I would make a few points. First, Congress is aware of the history of freedom-of-information (FOI) requests and will recognize the need to preserve the public’s right to information but also of the scientist’s right to be protected against frivolous or harassing requests. This is not hypothetical, but based on experience in many fields, and in fact most scientifically-literate societies have already established protections against the unjustified use of FOI requests for purposes other than information. Congress will, I believe, see the issue as one of balance. I expect they will favor a policy that is strongly inclined in the direction of openness, and that is as it should be.

      One the other hand, there are two reasons why I believe the importance of this issue has been somewhat exaggerated. First, the vast majority of published reports will not inspire any FOI challenges, and so the principal conclusions drawn from this extensive literature will be little altered.

      The second and more important reason is this. Science employs a self-correction mechanism that over the course of time has proved far more effective in identifying error than can be expected from labor-intensive attempts to look at raw data. That mechanism is the principle of reproducibility. If a conclusion is accurate, someone else, repeating the study, will obtain the same result, allowing for minor variations due to the impossibility of reproducing every minute detail. If the conclusion is important, the work will be repeated in many different forms that converge toward the same conclusion. This is the way science staggers toward the truth, and although it requires patience, I know of no shortcut that can do a better job.

      • Fred M. You seem to be harping on FOI requests. Don’t you understand that if scientists make all the information public, there will be NO NEED for FOI requests. It is a solution, not a problem for this.

      • I agree that raw data should be archived so as to be available for request. Placing it in a public venue in the absence of a request is probably impractical, although this deserves to be considered in terms of workload, storage space, etc., and with an eye toward estimating the time, workload, and dollar cost as a function of the frequency with which unpublished data is accessed and utilized for scientific assessment (many journals already have online repositories for supplementary data so we are talking about matters of degree). I have worked for institutions that required archiving for five years, but a longer interval is probably practical as well. As I indicated above, this type of openness is desirable, but addresses a problem that is less pervasive than sometimes claimed, and which will ultimtely be addressed effiiciently via the criterion of reproducibility.

      • Hi Fred. Your statements really just point out the need for help from a professional IT staff. As a taxpayer, I would consider that money well spent. That way the taxpayers can have their data, the scientists can do their science, and the IT staff can help create professional programs (hopefully along with some professional statisticians) and handle archiving and availability.

      • Sounds like a great idea, especially since many IT jobs are going to India. More work for us!

    • This is certainly an unfortunate overreaction to being challenged, but there is an underlying kernel of justification in the sense that requests for data have not always been made for scientific reasons, but on some occasions as a harassment tool for distracting scientists from their work. It will be important to have in place mechanisms for filtering out the demands of this type from the many legitimate requests.

      That is pure nonsense. Who decides what is “legitimate” and what is not? The Team has already been doing just that, coveting their data because anyone who requests it must be for “harassment” purposes.

      That’s not their job! They do the science, they publish the results, they present the data for EVERYONE. That’s it. That’s all it should be. What I, personally, do with that data is my business, how ever I want to use it. I paid for it in my taxes. It’s not up to government nor the science community to censor me, or anyone, from getting the data and playing with it.

      We are in a democracy, not a third world dictatorship.

  6. 2. You state in your testimony that the conflict regarding the theory of anthropogenic climate change is over the level of our ignorance regarding what is unknown about natural climate variability.

    The cyclic nature of weather and climate has been excluded from grant funding since the 1950’s, most of the periods of natural climate variability can be seen to be driven by Solar/Lunar/Earth, orbital, tidal, and magnetic interactions, not investigating these natural driven periods has left a lot of unknowns in the formation of the composite periods that are driving the basic functions of the ocean oscillations.

    Now that we have satellite systems acclimating the needed data base on the solar wind, variations in the sun’s output over the whole spectrum, Lunar tidal effects on the global circulation patterns, planetary magnetic conductance, and their interactions with the Earth’s magnetosphere and the layers of the atmosphere, it would serve us well to take a better look.

    This composite signal left, is seen as background noise, but is actually most of the rhythmic movements of the global circulation, that drives the movements of the jet streams and the Rossby waves, in which the much smaller CO2 signal is lost.

    If the basic background natural drivers of the weather were studied and know, they could form the basis for a realistic set of weather models based in reality, long term weather forecasting, and actual climate forecasts would have a better chance of defining the amount of CO2 influence.

    Richard Holle

    • Here we have the nub of it. The mainstream climatologists have become so fixated with the putative CO2 anthropogenic signal, that they have, sadly, relinquished by and large the exploratory joy of objective analysis of the panoply of nomal terrestrial and extra- terrestrial natural climatic processes. That is not to say that the CO2 paradigm should not be investigated thoroughly, but it has, through the pressure of policy, exerted an unfortunate burden on the mainstream climate community, who have rather nailed their colours to its mast, far too early in the game, in my view. For they of neccessity must defend it, regardless. That handicap is not however carried by the ‘sceptical’ scientists, who are too often sidelined for policy nonconformism rather than the veracity of their results. Ironically, only they maintain total investigative freedom.

  7. Steve Fitzpatrick

    Great questions indeed! Maybe those staffers are not so terribly overpaid after all.

    It seems to me the overall thrust of the questions points towards the (I think legitimate) concern of the influence of politics on climate science. The take home lessons of the UEA email messages are that politics (the confrontation of different human values and priorities), is wholly incompatible with science (the confrontation of reality with human understanding), and that mixing the two leads always to a corruption of both.

    The discouraging thing for me is that so many well known climate scientists (and well known scientific organizations!) seem oblivious to this incompatibility, and continue to insist that climate science is as pure and innocent of political influence as the driven snows of the Antarctic spring; all evidence to the contrary is simply ignored. So long as this remains the “consensus” position of climate scientists and scientific organizations, there will be endless (and destructive) debate about the legitimacy of the consensus scientific view of global warming.

    In short, climate science needs to stop being ‘politically informed’ science, and settle for being just science.

  8. After the recent The Best of the Greenhouse thread, particularly with the Nullius in Verba’s description, climate uncertainty seems to come down to which side of the Radiative/Convective hypothesis should be emphasized. At least for a policy perspective, a Radiative emphasis leads to an interventional and mitigative strategy. A Convective emphasis suggests conservation, pollution control, a stepwise decarbonation of our energy profile and adaptive strategies is the meritorious policy. With our current understanding, the data and its analysis does not distinguish between the two policy options. That to me is what needs to be conveyed to policy makers. I believe policy makers do understand there may not be enough evidence to commit to one generally emphasizing policy over another, we see this in trying to determine which urban educational strategy (big classrooms/small classrooms) is worthy of massive funding. There are innumerable other examples in science/medicine/business. Pilot studies preceed full studies and full studies lead to more studies if there is equivocation. Policy with its hamhanded Governmental regulations becomes less onerous once the desired outcome becomes visible. What is usually difficult is for people now committed and with skin in the game having to be de-funded after they have established Governmental ties irrespective of what the outcome has been. It is difficult to move on. My gestalt is that weather forecasting will benefit when there is enough evidence to decide whether the Radiative emphasis or Convective emphasis was correct. (A prediction).

    • Nullius in Verba

      I think the radiative/convective emphasis has a big effect on how easily people are convinced, but that it has no effect on policy. Both approaches predict that (ignoring feedbacks) each doubling of CO2 will give about 1 C of surface warming. (So the 40% increase in CO2 so far will contribute about 0.5 C warming.)

      The two big questions are sensitivity and impact. Are there large positive feedbacks that multiply the CO2-only warming by big numbers, and if so, why haven’t they done so as a result of CO2 increase to date? And even if the temperature does rise by 2 C, 4 C, 10 C, whatever, is that necessarily a bad thing? Given the larger temperature variations we see at the local scale, would it even be significant? Wouldn’t it be easier and better to adapt?

      The ‘basic physics’ question is a distraction, but a tactically important one. Partly it is a rhetorical trick – scientific confidence in the basic physics is used to give the impression of confidence in sensitivity and impact. Sceptics who only doubt the latter are often portrayed or treated as if they doubted the basics – as if once you accept the basics, global climate catastrophe inevitably follows. Partly it is an issue of the authoritarian versus the educational models of scientific public outreach. By not giving the proper explanation, the general public are unable to check arguments for themselves and so are forced to rely on the scientists’ authority. This means that scientists can more easily mix in speculative or uncertain conclusions with the more solid ones, and not get called on it. And of course not providing explanations wastes a lot of sceptic’s time, which cuts down on the opposition they can mount.

      It would be nice to get it sorted and out of the way. But it won’t end the argument.

  9. I will have a go at 2a. “a. At what point did uncertainty become a bad thing in the climate community?” (Note I have changed “bid” to “bad”.)

    This occurred almost from the start of the IPCC process. The IPCC seems never to have considered what they were doing as a study to find WHY global temperatures were rising. They set out to try and prove that CO2 was the cause. So the IPCC approach was never truly scientific; they adopted the role of advocacy. The IPCC has never made any attempt to present the skeptical side of CAGW; in fact they have made every effort to suppress it . To discuss the skeptical side would have been an admittance of uncertainty. This, I believe, is where uncertainty disappeared. When the IPCC decided to play the role of advocate, and not that of analyst.

    • You are right on target, Jim.

      Public policy became “captive of a scientific-technological elite“, despite President Eisenhower’s specific warning of this potential danger to “the supreme goals of our free society” in his farewell address to the nation on 17 Jan 1961:

      http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

      • I return to Arthur C. Clarke’s 2nd Law – Any sufficiently advanced technology will appear to be magic. In my opinion congress, faced with not understanding, accepted what they were being told on faith, as most people will in the face of an expert. I think the questions posed here reflect a new ‘once bitten, twice shy’ attitude. I started off in sales and I always get itchy when I’m told that a decision must be made right away or this or that bad thing will occur. Given my increasing conviction that the world is not going to end because of AGW, I think we have the time to do the thing right, and that is what I personally want to see.
        I aslo don’t think that making the raw data available should be dismised based upon current conditions. When I bought my first 20MB hard drive, it cost $600. Now I can get a TB for $150. When I worked at HP I was told by a vice president of engineering that it was physically impossible to make an LCD screen larger than 13″ due to defect densities.
        This is important stuff and, in my opinion, my liberty and that of my progeny is at stake in many ways. If its the right thing to do, let’s get going on it. I am highly confident in the ability of our scientists, young and old, to figure out a matter of data archiving and retrieval.

      • Charles The Moderator

        Actually Chip you can get a 1 TB for 57 dollars at Amazon.

        And 2 TB for under 90.

  10. John F. Pittman

    Dr. Curry, some thoughts:

    1.a There has been a population shift in capability and apparent motive in the skeptic community. Where once it appeared that merchants of doubt were claiming to be skeptical, they have been replaced by citizen scientists who are both seeking knowledge and are skeptical. Part of the “circling of wagons” and other concepts such as b. “potentially enormous influence of climate science,” need to be viewed in this historical context. Further, many of the citizen scientists’ background are varied; and many are, or were professionals who deal(t) with the practical application of science and regulation on a daily basis. The merchants of doubt imitated these professionals, just as guilty will imitate the innocent. They entered into a conflict where the climate community could and would seek to quiet the doubt they spread. The conflict was staged by the merchants of doubt as a trap for loss of confidence. It did not work well when the population were merchants of doubt. However, when the population shifted, and the climate scientists and political activists did not recognize this, loss of confidence occurred. The debate quickly became toxic for, generally, a small, but very important group of scientists. However, the small numbers of this group are far outweighed by their importance in the IPCC and the public perception of climate change.

    1.b Many skeptics have repeatedly expressed on the blogs and publicly, that they were held to much higher standards in their daily jobs that effected far less monies than that touted by the IPCC, the EPA, and activists for climate change costs. This clash between persons who daily comply with regulations, and the scientists or activists who are promoting mandatory mitigation underscores not only are their differences of opinions on the certainty of the anthropogenic climate change, but that policies can raise substantial differences of opinion from apparently small differences in points of view or belief. Due to the history, briefly outlined above in the first comment of 1.a, the climate scientists and activists have unfortunately put themselves in the position of saying that everybody is affected, but only certain voices have a right to be heard. If they held themselves to a higher standard, it might be acceptable. But, in a democracy when it has become obvious with the mistakes in the AR4, and the scientific mistakes addressed to the Congress by Dr. Wegman, as an example, holding oneself to a lower standard, while trying to stifle skeptic voices as indicated in the Climategate emails, cannot be supported. Whether blocking funding or other measures are appropriate should be considered. This is because it should be obvious that without data and materials open for debate and scrutiny, approval of policy in an open society for such large expenditures and life changing regulations is unlikely. It will certainly be costly in terms of monies. The question is how politically costly will it be. Without openness, mitigation could be very costly, politically.

    1.c. If one were to believe, as the activists state, that we are saving the world, how can one not exclude research that cannot be viewed, challenged, and debated prior to policy debate, much less policy acceptance? This question in a most real way shows that in some respects we have the horse before the cart. Verification and validation of what we know, and what we don’t know, should have been completed with public oversight before the multitudes of policy claims. This is SOP in the world that the current skeptics inhabit. Just as the claims are that one should not go to a bookie for medical advice, one should not go to someone other than a climate scientist for climate science. That is good and correct, as far as it goes. However, one would be equally remiss to ignore professionals who in their daily professions comply with the laws and regulations that Congress, and authorities around the world have promulgated, and not listen when these professionals state that the science is not meeting acceptable standards for monies that they oversee, much less the monies that are being sought for climate change. Further, in that these citizen scientists have shown real problems with the methodology of scientists in particular, and the IPCC in general, they have proven that they have relevant input, and should not be ignored.

    • John – I’ve read your comment with considerable interest. If you have a chance to read what I wrote earlier, you’ll find that we differ less about facts than about emphasis. Yours has been on the cadre of scientists prominent in the IPCC whose failure to comply with important standards and regulations has resulted in a loss of public confidence in these scientists, the IPCC, and by extension climate science in general.

      I can’t seriously challenge that perception. Perhaps some of the generalizations about the IPCC are exaggerated, but your main points have merit. On the other hand, my perspective comes from an understanding of the basic principles of the science and from a dedicated attempt to follow the literature on climate change. The conclusions I draw do not depend on the credibility of a few individuals or the IPCC. From my perspective, the mainstream scientific conclusions are robust, and are derived from the work of thousands of individuals who rigorously adhere to the ethics of scientific investigation and the rules of society. That does not mean that current thinking is irrefutable, but it greatly reinforces its credibility.

      As I see it, then, we face a gap between the judgments that are warranted based on the well publicized infractions by a few and those warranted by a rather enormous mass of scientific evidence gathered over the course of more than fifty years. Others may harbor a different perspective, but that is how I see it. My question, based on that perspective, is how we can restore a more balanced view on the part of some members of the public and some policymakers who have been alienated by the infractions.

      Because you are viewing this issue from what I take to be outside the realm of the scientific literature where much of the evidence is presented – some convincing, some less so – I would welcome your opinion on how to reconcile the views from inside and outside that realm.

      • I agree that the vast majority of scientists are well intentioned and trying to do their jobs with integrity. Also, that quite a lot of the science is robust. But the matter of sensitivity is key and, as far as I can tell, unsettled to any degree. Also, I no longer have any doubts (in large part due to reading this very fine blog) that humanity will get by just fine whatever happens.
        What happened, in my opinion, is that hands were overplayed and a lot of people got caught up in the moment. Who knows about motive, except where it was written down. Now, people have serious reason to doubt based upon their experience of climate change over what is to them a long time (15 years is nothing geologically, but the time it takes to raise a child to a person). I do not believe there is any going back. The climate science community is going to have to slow down and admit there are important things that are unknown, and then show that the matter is serious enough to fund. The world’s economy will be years in coming back and strapped populations deserve this, I think.
        Also, I am happy to have had a chance to speak with new friends who are climate scientists and I am trying to change my own ways to that of a civil, yet lively discussion. I support climate science, like any science, because who knows what good will come of it, and because indulging curiosity is one of man’s great endeavors. But I confess I now smell the taint of politics and hidden agendas in there with the science and I am going to be watching closely and unwilling to have my questions dismissed with the wave of a hand. I think climate science must expect this same attitude now from congress and the general public. How well it embraces that as a good thing will, I believe, have a strong bearing on the future course of the discussion.

  11. Tell them the truth…”We are currently in the first stage of an Ice Age”.

    I can see the ambulances rushing in for all the heart attacks.

  12. 1 (a) Human nature and the circular nature of government funding. Here in Australia, it seems that most government research money goes to studies that seek to reinforce the current paradigm, in order to ‘inform’ public policy in a particular direction. It is entirely natural (human nature) that these researchers would seek to protect their incomes by avoiding scrutiny of their methodology that, whilst it may lead to a more enlightened view of the subject, may undermine their conclusions that were in part affected by the political requirements of their paymasters and result in a potential loss of income.

    A typical government funded study might be “Coral bleaching – its causes and the prognosis in the light of Climate Change”. A paper is produced which, by its very definition, has to support a position in which “Climate Change” is front and centre. It’s entirely understandable that researchers would feel that their future funding relies to some great degree on drawing a ‘suitable’ conclusion from their experiments. It’s also quite understandable why they would not then welcome scrutiny from the outside by others who may wish to cast doubt on their conclusions.

    Add to this the natural human instinct to want to be “right” about things you have invested a lot of time and effort researching and, in some notorious examples, a desire to advance a particular political viewpoint and I think the reasons for the current reluctance to release data and methodology become apparent. No massive conspiracy, no gross abrogations of responsibility, just an unhappy reflection of ourselves.

    As for “pointing the gun at sceptics” – this is just a means to the above, not an end in itself.

    (b) In theory yes but in practice this would require a new kind of oversight, with suitably media savvy scientists acting as ombudsmen. It’s no good expecting scientists to suddenly become superhuman paragons of virtue – they are employed because of their expertise, not because they’re on some higher moral plane than the rest of us. It strikes me that someone like you, or the Pielkes perhaps, would be ideal candidates to oversee this kind of process and make appropriate recommendations if data is with-held from the public domain.

    (c) No.

    2 (a) I think the “overconfident” assessments have gradually crept up on the scientific community as a result of the requirements of the IPCC assessment reports and, once again, the reasons I suggested in my reply to 1 (a). Essentially there is now a whole scientific ‘industry’ that requires the oxygen of continually more confident projections of dangerous climate change both to keep the coffers rolling in and to justify the massive government spending sprees on ‘mitigation’ that has crept up as a result of this overstated ‘confidence’. The two players – governments and IPCC lead authors – now need each other more than ever.

    (c) Yes! you are a case in point, although I suspect there are many others who would like to assist this necessary ‘correction’ but either lack the courage or the financial security to take the risk, due to the sheer size of the self-promoting ‘industry’ caused by 1(a). As far as decision makers are concerned I would suggest that, until this whole mess is sorted out, no new initiatives that involving huge amounts of taxpayer dollars are undertaken. It seems that this is the prevailing view amongst the richer nations at Cancun.

    3. No, clearly they are not working. Personally I think the IPCC needs to be would up. It was always a political tool, clothed in the semblance of scientific credibility. Plenty of other initiatives with international implications are undertaken without the involvement of the UN. The fact that this approach would necessarily result in several disparate organisations producing research is surely a good thing. Competition for new ideas and new directions in climate and energy science is always going to result in a more diverse and enthusiastic debate. Ultimately, in my opinion, this is the best way to gradually restore public confidence in the science of climate change and, ultimately, provide a more balanced and rational basis for informed public policy decisions.

    That’s what I reckon, anyway.

  13. Another suggestion as part of the IPCC shake-up (or closure as I proposed) should be a complete and thorough overhaul of the entire peer review process. The Climategate emails revealed something I think many people had long suspected, namely that the peer review process had broken down in the field of Climate Science. This is nothing particularly new – ever since the formation of the Royal Society in 1660, peer review has periodically suffered from major bias – but perhaps the current skewed situation lends itself to a complete overhaul of the system. Something involving the blogosphere would be a brilliant idea, introducing a massive wealth of educated opinion to the process. One only has to look at the number of very well informed scientists who frequent this site, to see the potential value of a more ‘egalitarian’ review process: by this I’m not suggesting a dilution to mediocrity in science – quite the contrary. I’m suggesting that by allowing people like me – and all the other laymen fascinated by this subject – to observe and occasionally participate in a general review process that is open to all scientists, we are far more likely to encourage better and more informed public policy, flowing on from the science.

    I have no idea how this might work in practice….but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be actively considering it.

    We may also take the first few steps toward one of my own favourite pipe-dreams: a science that is truly cross-disciplined and open. Once we achieve this, the sky is truly the limit!

  14. I think the #1 improvement the scientific community could make is a set of rules for peer reviewing all scientific papers, may I suggest.
    1. An independent unbiased committee be established consisting of pre-eminent scientists in the various fields of expertise.
    2. Each committee member would have a list of scientists and engineers competent to peer review the paper submitted.
    3. The paper would be sent to a minimum of 5 reviewers by the moderator, chosen by the committee, who were not associated with the author and whose identity would be kept anonymous.
    4. All questions would be submitted via the moderator to the author and all questions must be answered and supporting data provided or the paper would fail the peer review.
    5. The moderator should have the authority to determine if questions or requests for data were legitimate or obstructive to publication.
    6. The committee should be the only body authorize to approve a paper as peer reviewed.

    • I would like to endorse what Barry says about peer review. At about the beginning of 2010 when it was becoming more politically acceptabe to take much more notice of what ‘skeptice’ were saying, I began thinking that it would be good for committees representing Warmers, LukeWarmers, Skeptics etc etc be set up within-countries to advise Governments, with representatives from these committees in turn attending an international committee set up by the UN. But I guess all you would get would be more acrimonious debate. A peer review process along the lines suggested would avoid a lot of that. The problem is the amount of work/time that the specialist scientists would have to devote to it at the expense of their own research. But what if it was largely left to retirees or those nearing retirement, and they received some compensation for doing it?

  15. I think the terms of reference and mandate to the IPCC by the UN should be clearly published for example;
    There are obvious advantages and disadvantages to global warming so why do the IPCC reports only document the disadvantages of a warming climate surely the bias here is clear, we need an objective appraisal.
    If the world is warming for what ever reason where is the chapter on how we can mitigate the effects. For example building dykes to protect against sea level change, irrigation systems to protect against droughts and flood control to guard against floods.
    I think an objective study on the economics of mitigating global warming effects should be an integral part of the IPCC report.
    There is also a stark absence of actual scientific evaluation in terms of the laws of science and mathematics of the IPCC hypothesis that CO2 is having an effect on the surface temperature of the world. There are however many papers written by eminent physicists which prove that the effect of CO2 is saturated and no longer effects the surface temperature,. why is there not a chapter on this basic proof.
    The ice core samples are the only proxy used for identifying the CO2 levels over the past 1 million years there are many other proxies. One very compelling one is leaf stomata taken from fossilized leaves found in peat bogs around the world but the IPCC clearly ignore such evidence, I think a wider evaluation of the various proxies is required.

  16. cagwskeptic99

    The obvious unchallenged answer to 1 a is that the scientists involved have something to hide. Either their research was tainted to begin with (most likely) or they have ‘lost’ the data and programs used to produce the results and fear the embarrassment of disclosing their situation. Since there is little evidence that Dr. Jones or Mann used configuration control for their software, data sets, and procedure file, it seems quite possible that they could not reproduce their results.

    One only needs to ready the Harry Read Me file and examine the actual email text to realize that the data was being manipulated to get a predetermined result. I don’t think credibility will be returned to the IPCC and derivative processes until and unless the previous perpetrators and their direct collaborators are barred from future IPCC work.

    Deliberate exclusion of anyone who would challenge or question their advocacy based results is another sign that the process is tainted. Continuing to demean anyone who disagrees with the party line as unqualified to participate is just more of the same behavior that has discredited their work.

    The strongest possible recommendation and remedy is to remove control of the money from the people who are advocates and to demand that significant funding be provided to studies that propose alternatives.

    The ongoing discussion about filtering requests for data and procedures is just more of the same nonsense that created the problem and destroyed the credibility of the scientists involved. Data, code, and procedures should be available to anyone through public hyperlinks once a paper is published and intended for use by policy makers. Papers whose authors will not cooperate should not be funded, referenced, or considered to be useful for any policy purpose.

    • Latimer Alder

      It should be made an absolute condition of entry into the Secret Guild of Climatology that the entrant does not keep a dog.

      This will eliminate the barrier to openness and reproducibility of ‘The Dog Ate My Homework’.

      • I don’t know, Latimer, I subscribe to the idea that you should never assume conspiracy as an explanation when simple incompetence will do.
        It doesn’t mean its not a conspiracy, but after reading the climategate emails I personally see the players as committing an act of hubris on the scale of a Greek tragedy. In not accepting the limits on the authority with which they spoke, they pulled the columns down on themselves. Now, I think honest actors like those I have read on this blog must try to salvage the situation. I give credit to the scientists who are embracing openness as being quite brave.

      • I actually agree with you ..I sometimes find it difficult to remember that in writing for a primarily NA audience a more ‘in your face’ and direct style is needed than can be used in UK.

        I don’t believe that there actually is an explicit organisation called the ‘Secret Guild of Climatology’ that has Lodge meetings and Ladies Nights and sashes and all those daft things.

        But reading the climategate e-mails it is hard not to see traces of an informal meta organisation where the leading players see themselves as holding the Grand Vizier type position – whose patronage or otherwise can and should determine a young whipper-snappers rise in the pecking order – and who believe that they alone are the repository of The Truth and the final adjudicators of The Message.

        You are absolutely right about Greek tragedy. How different things must have looked for them only eighteen months ago! At the top of their power and influence. With Copenhagen to come that would cement them into an exalted place of great influnece for a generation or more. Barely challenged in their rigidly controlled ‘scientific consensus’, there were only a few mavericks and nutters writing on blogs to score the occasional pinprick. But the tactic of ignoring and ridiculing and marginalising them had worked well for ten years – there was every reason to believe that it would continue to work for ever . In summer 2009 they would have felt very content with life.

        And now, where are they? What has changed?

        Copenhagen was a flop..politicians got egg all over their faces (and snow on their motorcades). They will not revisit that ambitious but ultimately futile gesture for years – if ever. Cancun looks to be no better. A political train crash..worse because it is highly visible and spread over a fortnight.

        Climategate revealed the inner workings of ‘climate science’ and to nobody’s credit. Its ramifications are still being worked out. but this blog, unthinkable 500 days ago is one.

        Public trust in, and concern about AGW has plummeted. And will continue to erode absent any amazing new revelation. From being front page news in UK, editors now actively spike climate stories as they are a huge turn off for the public. We’re just not interested in being hollered at that we’re all going to hell in a handcart anymore. Yesterday’s news. Today’s news is the early winter freeze..the most severe for two generations.

        The political landscape has changed in US. The questions set to Judith do not herald a new Congress rampant with zeal to Save Mother Gaia. But of politicians eager to work on today’s real problems rather than worry about something that probably won’t happen fifty years hence. And which hardly resonates with voters.

        In UK, the change of approach is slower (we don’t like doing things in a Revolutionary manner :-) ) but is happening nonetheless. Only a few hundred climate campaigners could be found to march in London yesterday – the ‘highlight’ of local action around the Cancun meeting.

        In Europe, political leaders are moving in the same direction as in US and UK. Japan has refused to extend Kyoto….the examples of a crumbling politics are everywhere.

        So the temple has fallen. Mostly by their own doing (I love that beautiful German word – Schadenfreude). Some still blink in the ruins, wondering where their lovely building went and unable to comprehend why it fell so quickly. Others just disappear back to their hovels to lead lives of worthy and well-deserved obscurity. Braver souls have ambitious plans to rebuild even bigger and better, but these are pipedreams of the disappointed and disposessed.

        And I still recommend that Climatologists do not keep dogs. G’night.

      • And despite all that, nature does what it does – the planet continues to warm, Arctic sea ice continues to disappear, land ice continues to melt, ecosystems respond to the changing climate, the oceans continue to acidify, and all that.

        It’s a wonder that the political interests of humans doesn’t fool nature, isn’t it?

      • Yawn.

        And exactly what have been the appalling consequences that have occurred from all of those thing so far? We are nearly half way to max CO2, and I haven’t seen any global warming induced disasters yet.

        Plenty of things loosely linked by advocates to be ‘due to global warming’, but no actual evidence. Unless, of course, you have some. Please provide. PS – hand waving ‘forecasts’ based on no actual observed evidence of skill in such forecasts do not count. Real actual nasties where a rise of 0.64C in average global temperature has been shown to be the cause only please. And – no weather stories please. As we have been told a zillion times, weather is not climate.

        And a propos of your earlier comment about climate modelling and walking the walk – do you consider yourself qualified to discuss politics without being yourself a professional politican. If so, with what justification?

      • I wonder if you smoke, or would take up smoking if you didn’t.

        After all, doctors cannot *prove* that you *will* die because of it. Even after a decade or two, the health effects may be so slight, or difficult to detect, that a doctor can’t give you an incontrovertible reason to quit.

        Obviously you’ve not understood what the residence time of CO2 and the other GHGs means for our climate future.

      • No – I don’t smoke. Gave up thirty odd years ago and very glad I did as I have seen too many good and dear friends (3 in the last decade) die nastily of lung cancer. Please do not lecture me about smoking. It is irrelevant to this discussion.

        But rather than seeing your mates die of front of you, your ‘argument’ wanders off into a vague and handwaving ‘scary movie’ about residence times….but without any actual facts.

        When I was very small, my Mum used to threaten me with the bogeyman if I didn’t eat my vegetables. Now I’m a lot older bogeyman scares don’t work.

        So far I’m not quaking in my boots at ‘not understanding what the residence time of CO2 and the other GHGs means for our climate future’. Perhaps it is so obvious that I am not seeing the wood for the trees. Please spell it out (with the observed evidence as backup). Tx.

      • See

        http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-residence-time.htm

        and the references therein. The CO2 we’re dumping into the atmosphere today will be with us for a *very* long time, doing what it does – warming the planet.

      • And your point is…? You were going to tell me exactly why this would be such a dreadful thing.

      • Do you have a secret other planet you’re planning on moving to?

        We’re pushing the climate system outside the bounds in which the entirety of human civilization has existed. Can you see no downside at all to that? What gives this generation and the last few the right to mess up the climate system for the next thousands of years? Do you even care?

      • Latimer Alder

        I’m happy to take a sensible evidence-driven approach to assessing such a risk.

        Which is not the same as running around waving my hands in the air and crying ‘the sky is falling’ based on very little at all.

        I ask once again. Please show me some actual evidence of any of the bad things that you believe are going to happen. Because if you have none, your viewpoint is not science-based, but faith-based.

        I;m quite happy for you to have such a faith. The world is full of people with faith-based beliefs that I find profoundly weird, and I manage to rub along OK with them. But I don’t plan to join them anytime soon

      • I suspect LA would happily plunge off a 300m cliff, because until z=0, everything is just fine.

      • Latimer Alder

        Ridiculous remark.

        There is no evidence that such a cliff exists apart from in your imagination. And people claim to have been looking for it for 30 + years. If there is such evidence you haven’t managed to produce it.

        I grew out of being sacred of the dark when I was about 4yo.

      • Don’t be too quick to dismiss Cancun. Short of Treaties, there are many small bites that can move things along in the direction the delegates want.
        And Japan’s motivation, per its government, is to forge a STRONGER treaty that includes all the players. Which puts it down to China and India to hold tough and refuse to gut their hydrocarbon-fueled ascent up the wealth ladder.

        It’s a battle of economic fundamentals versus economic exploitation/”sharing”. My money is on the fundamentals — and so is everyone else’s in the end.

      • H’mmm

        Nobody in big grown up politics will be interested unless they can make grand grandstanding gestures. Like Obama thought he was jetting into Denmark to do last year and got his expectation so cruelly dashed.

        And anything ‘agreed’ by mid-ranking officials can be quietly (and thankfully) forgotten once they all get back home.

        UK Prime Minister spent more time trying to persuade FIFA to award the Football World Cup to England than he did on anything to do with that pettifogging gabfest and carbon intensive ministerial boondoggle by the beach in December in Mexico. And rightly so. That’s today’s realpolitik.

      • The C word carries a lot of unnecessary emotional overtones. There may have been no overarching, EXPRESS conspiracy perverting climate “science”, but there was, and remains, a conspiracy of silence – or perhaps of “selective utterance” which has had that effect. Believers by and large know what is expected of them by the rest of the congregation, and respond accordingly. Interestingly, as the fissure started by Climategate deepens, we are seeing Believers finding it harder to guess the “correct” response, and as a result making some absurdly counterproductive rhetorical choices, as many of the posters here so helpfully demonstrate.

        And let’s not forget that the CRU emails showed clear evidence of the formation of a soi-disant “Team”, for the express purpose of achieving less critical acceptance of their work than it would otherwise have earned. We can all judge for ourselves, thanks to Climategate, but I believe that at least some of this concerted effort amounts to a conspiracy, albeit confined people to the leading lights of the climate “science” establishment, and not extending to its membership at large. After all, with the conspiracy of silence humming along as nicely as it was, it didn’t need to.

  17. The IPCC depends on AGW (actually CAGW, or no one would bother) for it’s very existance…

    Change it’s focus:

    International Panel on Climate Research (IPCR)

    That can Include AGW, but not exclude natural climate change

    • Good idea Barry, but I’m still rather suspicious of any scientific organisation such as this being left in the hands of the UN: I have nasty feeling the only change would be the Acronym!

    • Actually, one might keep in mind that no less a luminary than Rajendra K. Pachauri – in one of his less dishonest moments – proclaimed last January:

      “I mean, let’s face it, that the whole subject of climate change having become so important is largely driven by the work of the IPCC. If the IPCC wasn’t there, why would anyone be worried about climate change?”

      http://www.sciencemag.org/content/suppl/2010/01/27/327.5965.510.DC1

      But I’m inclined to think that he did not appreciate the irony of his words!

    • Where are all the other emails and relevant documents that give these carefully-selected stolen emails their proper context?

      Do you know where they are, Steve? Perhaps a team of forensic computer scientists and private investigators, hired by the profits you’ve earned from your book.

      • It’s not necessary to inspect every plank of a ship’s hull to be certain that there’s a huge hole below the waterline which is far too large to plug before the thing sinks.

      • Whereas your “certainty” about the “huge hole” comes from those (like Mosher, who has a profit motive to protect) who are screaming “hole, hole, hole” in your ears. The reality is something quite different.

      • Should be straightforward enough for CRU to release the rest from their backups, and the documents from their industry standard archiving system.

        If, as you suggest, such context would reveal all the participants to be whiter than white, bursting with integrity and pure in thought and deed, then that’s all they have to do to illustrate this.

        It is very difficult to understand why they haven’t done so in the last year. Perhaps you could explain why not to us?

      • Sorry, but the “it’s all Phil Jones’ fault” argument won’t work.

        I’d be more interested in the communications between McIntyre, Wegman, and Barton’s errand boy Peter Spencer. It’s been four+ years since Barton’s drive-by on MBH98; how come we don’t have all sides of that story? What are they hiding?

      • Richard S Courtney

        Questions:
        “I’d be more interested in the communications between McIntyre, Wegman, and Barton’s errand boy Peter Spencer. It’s been four+ years since Barton’s drive-by on MBH98; how come we don’t have all sides of that story? What are they hiding?”

        Answers:
        We do have all sides of the story.
        Nothing is being hidden.

        Richard

      • Latimer Alder

        You need to educate yourself better. Phil Jones was not the only participant in Climategate, and my reading is that he was probably a bit of a hapless dupe. Easily led by more powerful personalities.

        But that too is irrelevant.

        You were going to inform us why you don’t think that showing the whole context (that you so loudly proclaim would demonstrate the innocence of all parties) has not been done.

        Changing the subject is not an option.

      • You really are transparently dodging this.

  18. – “For example, should Congress consider blocking funding for researchers that do not make their data and materials available for public scrutiny?”

    I don’t see why not. If all material needed to replicate the science is not openly available, it is not even science. And how is science to progress if previous research can not be built upon by others? How will bad science be rooted out? Holding back essential data will only hinder the scientific process, delaying and obstructing essential progress.

    Various events during the last few years has shown that a firm policy is needed regarding openness in climate science, since openness does not seem to come by itself without regulation.

    At the point of publishing, everything should be made available. If there are agreements of confidentiality, then this practice also needs to change.

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

    These scientists view the type of “auditing” done by talented “outsiders” like Steve McIntyre as beneath their dignity. “Real scientists” don’t receive grants to and develop an academic reputation by reviewing the details of other people’s work. From their perspective, auditing and transparency are things that are needed in the “corrupt” world of business and government; not in the ivory tower of science, where everyone “is expected to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth including all of the ifs, ands, buts and caveats” (to quote the late Steven Schneider). Unanticipated auditing can expose careless “nickel and dime” errors that can hurt their credibility, but which they (sometimes mistakenly) believe have no impact on the scientific bottom line. Such auditing therefore appears to be politically motivated and foreign to the normal scientific process.

    • This point can not be over-emphasized but often is over looked. The majority of scientists may indeed be nice people but that does not mean they are objective, exist absent of personal motives or free of ideology. The predominant ideology of most environmental scientists remains both elitist and liberal/democratic, which means they largely prescribe to an ecological meme that despite its consistent refutation is rejected by the intellectual elite who simply “know better”. So when Lomborg publishes his book (which, in turn, originally was an attempt to vilify Simon) his results are dismissed as being “wrong” and when that is not sufficient, he was attacked in the same manner as climate “denialists”. A large part of the problem is the culture of academia and the reality that the merely competent in any field of inquiry greatly outweigh the gifted and talented. Because someone is published and published a lot is not he same as saying they are insightful, merely industrious. The basic problem with the IPCC is that as a bureaucratic entity and process it elevated industry and empire building within academia and sought to equate this with academic ability and insight: they are not the same. Thus in an academic version of the Peter Principle, we had many people elevated to positions of power where they engaged in an exercise of expert politics. Notice that the word “science” is largely absent in all this. That is because the whole situation was driven by ideology and politics and the science became subsumed within this. The sad part is that few within the academy actually stood tall and called people out on this: those that did, myself included, found ourselves all the more marginalized. There is a reason skeptical voices within academia are older, senior or near retirement: to question the golden goose of research funding when research funds are not only a proxy for productivity but an indicator of excellence, is career suicide.
      Why do I blog? I blog for my own sanity and because it is the only alternative if one is to actually focus on policy within environment and actually question the pervasiveness of the environmentalist dogma.
      Lastly, non-scientists are vilified for examining “science” questions. But all manner of scientists express political and policy opinions freely without ever studying or examining these areas of enquiry with any rigor. It is a most crass double standard of hypocrisy that is blatant in practice and in its acceptance as the norm.
      Chicken and pig go for breakfast. Decide on bacon and eggs. The chicken was engaged, the pig was committed. Policy analysts have nothing to lose in this discussion: career climate scientists everything. Sadly, some lost their integrity very early. Some are just discovering the consequences of not speaking up. Others still cling to the same prevailing ideology they always have and seek to dismiss all this fuss as inconsequential. Last month another academic (an IPCC Nobel winner as he always mentions) sought to have the senior alumni at my university rescind its invitation to me to speak as my talk would be “improper” and “invalid” plus a whole host of other pejorative terms.
      No the sociology at work here can not be over stated.

      • Thank you for chicken and pig, you made my day lol.

      • Now this is is really interesting (industry and empire building analysis), an analysis i haven’t seen before. I checked your blog, this looks very interesting also. http://ecomythsmith.blogspot.com/

      • randomengineer

        Mr Smith’s wording is new; the premise, well known.

        google “The Iron Law Of Bureacracy” from Pournelle.

      • sadly, not amongst academics who consider themselves above such trivialities. Never under estimate the inherent arrogance of an academic. The only choice is whether the individual chooses to temper that aspect of academic elitism with personal humility, or succumb to its lure of ego gratification, systemic rewards and faux flattery. Most academics have higher than average IQ but lower than average EI. Not much of the group behavior documented by the Climategate emails came as a surprise to me. Most university presidents both endorse and encourage such arrogance: just as long as the research money flows in.

      • Perfectly put – this is exactly what I was suggesting in an earlier post…..but from a layman’s perspective. We need more brave souls such as yourself and Dr Curry!

      • A public log of such censorship crimes and attempted crimes should be kept.

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

    No one is going to be able to tell the scientists on the National Academy or the IPCC which scientific studies meet appropriate standards for inclusion in their reports. One way or another, the “scientific jury” will consider all the evidence that they believe is relevant, not just the evidence the judge allows in the courtroom. However, the EPA, which is considering issuing regulations on GHGs, could be told by Congress what type of scientific evidence can be used in issuing government regulations. The FDA, for example, advises drug companies about what type of clinical data it will require for approval of a new drug for a particular illness, receives all of the raw data from each clinical trial, and performs an independent statistical analysis of all results. Certain key findings in climate science certainly deserve similar scrutiny before regulatory action.

  21. David L. Hagen

    Judith
    Following are some perspectives by an outside observer.
    David Hagen

    “2a. At what point did uncertainty become a bid (sic) thing in the climate community?”

    1) IPCC AR4 2007
    “Uncertainty” became a major issue in climate science on publication of
    the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007. The “Synthesis Report Summary for Policymakers” stated:

    Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.[7]

    Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, Causes of Change “7. Consideration of remaining uncertainty is based on current methodologies.”

    IPCC made the following definitions: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis
    1.6 The IPCC Assessments of Climate Change and Uncertainties
    Definitions included:
    * Degree of Confidence in being correct: High Confidence, Nine out of Ten
    * Likelihood of Occurrence/outcome: Very confident – >90% probability

    This 90% confidence has struck many readers as unlikely and hubris.

    2) NIPCC 2009
    Subsequently, the Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) compiled its 880 page 2009 report Climate Change Reconsidered. The Heartland Institute. ISBN-13 – 978-1-934791-28-8.
    This report summarized substantial scientific publications ignored by the IPCC and published subsequent to AR4. It summarized:

    In many instances conclusions have been seriously exaggerated, relevant facts have been distorted, and key scientific studies have been omitted or ignored. . . .
    the authors had rejected more than half of all the reviewers’ comments in the crucial chapter attributing recent warming to human activities. . .
    (AR4) ignored available evidence against a human contribution to current warming and the substantial research of the past few years on the effects of solar activity on climate change. . . .
    . . .the IPCC fails to consider important scientific issues, several of which would upset its major conclusion . . .
    The IPCC does not apply generally accepted methodologies to determine what fraction of current warming is natural, or how much is caused by the rise in greenhouse gases (GHG). A comparison of “fingerprints” from best available observations with the results of state-of-the-art GHG models leads to the conclusion that the (human-caused) GHG contribution is minor.

    3) Climategate 2009
    These concerns over IPCC’s overstatements were amplified on publication of the Climategate
    The data management and software development standards in the HarryReadMe file indicated that there is likely substantially higher uncertainty over both the global temperature data and the subsequent processing than is claimed in papers and AR4.

    4) Copenhagen Consensus 2004/2008
    The 2004 Copenhagen Consensus found that an “Optimal climate tax” ranked last in terms of benefit/cost among 15 major humanitarian projects.
    The subsequent 2008 Copenhagen Consensus evaluated the top 30 major humanitarian projects. Again Global Warming mitigation only ranked dead last in benefit/cost. This strongly suggests that the major alarm raised by IPCC AR4 is overstated when compared with all other major real world problems.

    5) Uncertainty
    “Uncertainty” is the quantitative technical term preferred over the informal/popular term “accuracy”. NIST provides an uncertainty guideline page backed by its detailed technical report:
    Guidelines for Evaluating and Expressing the Uncertainty of NIST Measurement Results. Barry N. Taylor and Chris E. Kuyatt, NIST Technical Note 1297, 1994 Edition.

    Uncertainty evaluations include:

    Type A evaluation
    method of evaluation of uncertainty by the statistical analysis of series of observations,
    Type B evaluation
    method of evaluation of uncertainty by means other than the statistical analysis of series of observations.

    It is not unusual to find Type B (“bias”) type evaluations comparable to Type A (statistical) deviations. The very high confidence stated by AR4 relative to the uncertainties identified by the NIPCC indicate that Type B uncertainties have likely been underestimated.
    6)Cause/consequence:
    One fundamental yet little mentioned uncertainty is that of Cause versus Consequence: Which comes first, the warming or the CO2? Or are both natural and anthropogenic causation active and in opposite directions? The global warming paradigm assumes anthropogenic CO2 drives warming. However, there is increasing evidence for natural causes driving changes in climate which cause variations in CO2 from warming/cooling the ocean. There appears to be higher uncertainties in both anthropogenic and natural causes than indicated by AR4.
    7) Clouds 2010
    Small variations in clouds below the uncertainties in resolution of current satellites reportedly can have major impacts on climate. There is some evidence that conventional assumptions and models of Cause/Consequence in clouds vary substantially from evidence. E.g., On the diagnosis of radiative feedback in the presence of unknown radiative forcing Roy W. Spencer and William D. Braswell, JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 115, D16109, doi:10.1029/2009JD013371, 2010
    There appear to be higher uncertainties in natural versus anthropogenic cloud causation and magnitude than what was assumed by AR4.
    8) Models versus Temperature Trends 2010
    There are increasing reports comparing Global Climate Model projections versus trends in temperature, precipitation etc. Panel and Multivariate Methods for Tests of Trend Equivalence in Climate Data Series
    McKitrick, McIntyre & Herman, 2010, In press, Atmospheric Science Letters
    These indicate substantial differences between the climate models with their claimed reliability, and actual trends. This again indicates higher uncertainties than claimed by AR4.
    9) Ocean/Atmospheric oscillations
    The AR4 focuses on average trends excluding natural ocean/atmospheric fluctuations. There is growing evidence that natural ocean oscillations have a greater impact on global temperature. Temperature projections are being based on the 60 year warming/cooling trends of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation with substantial deviations from AR4 projections. See current research by Don J. Easterbrook: EVIDENCE OF THE CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING AND COOLING: RECURRING GLOBAL, DECADAL, CLIMATE CYCLES RECORDED BY GLACIAL FLUCTUATIONS, ICE CORES, OCEAN TEMPERATURES, HISTORIC MEASUREMENTS AND SOLAR VARIATIONS Dept. of Geology, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225, don.easterbrook@wwu.edu etc.
    10) Changing Solar Cycles
    The current transition from Solar Cycle 23 to 24 appears unusually low compared to the past century. This suggests higher uncertainty for modeling future climate compared to assumptions that this coming century will be the similar to the past.
    Individually and accumulatively these factors indicate higher uncertainties than have

  22. The fundamental problem behind these issues is the perceived need to shortcut the normal scientific process. The normal scientific process is slow. Scientific knowledge builds up gradually while early results are either confirmed by replication and expansion, shown erroneous or forgotten as irrelevant. The process works without written rules by the power of increasing understanding.

    Sometimes issues come up, where better knowledge is urgently needed. The scientists come to help, but they cannot do it through the self-regulating slow scientific process. In these situations more strict explicit rules are needed to get out the best and most objective information possible.

    In the normal scientific process, it is in the self-interest of the scientist to be so open that his work is considered reliable by other scientists, but sometimes to keep some of the information hidden to have a competitive advantage from its use in later work. Scientists are human and have always been influenced by real and perceived self-interests.

    In the present situation it is correct that the societies require more openness. As answering to an excessive number of separate requests is not a realistic option, the only solution is to build organized openness, i.e. to put all data and essential software available from a public database. As far as I can see, this approach has been largely accepted and is being pursued. It will take time before the results are fully available.

    One problem cannot be resolved through the openness of data. It is the fact that the issues are complex and an increasing amount of publicly available data will lead to an increasing number of erroneous usages of this data. There will be even more bad papers and second class web pages claiming that they have the right interpretation of the existing data.

  23. my tuppence: all data and code relevant to a scientific publication should be made available to be considered for public scrutiny. perhaps publication should be legally considered an initial application for patent/copyright to anything later found to be patentable (copyrightable). but publication of data should be a prerequesite for governmental consideration whether work is publicly funded or otherwise.

  24. further to bish’s comments above re. MBH98: releasing data without specifying which of the released data was used where in the publication is akin to not releasing the data.

  25. 2a) At what point did uncertainty become a [bad] thing in the climate community?

    IMO, the normal scientific approach to uncertainty was abandoned when scientists were brought together with environmental political activists in forums like the IPCC. The traditional standards for statistical significance weren’t compatible with the political needs of the activists. Everyone realized that the future of the planet could be (and still could be, IMO) at stake and that the political opposition would be strong. Politics was the impetus behind the creation of scientific abominations such as “more likely than not”, “likely”, “discernible influence”, etc. These terms allowed the IPCC scientists to convey the impression to the public and policymakers that scientific uncertainty shouldn’t be a barrier to legislation.

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

    It doesn’t shift back until there are more Judith Currys, who willing to publicly challenge the distortion/corruption of her field, while still fully recognizing the dangers of climate change. The adversarial process used in law and government tends to corrupt scientists. No one expects an attorney or a politician to present any of the evidence that contradicts their position, but scientists are expected to disclose all of the weaknesses of their work. Climate science is a relatively new field that matured in a highly political environment and lacks scientific tradition. Below are some quotes from Feynman’s Cargo Cult Science lecture. Contrast them with the infamous quote from Steven Schneider. The IPCC’s SPMs are clearly the type of political activism advocated by Schneider when speaking to the public and have little to do with science as both Feynman and Schneider define them.

    “But this long history of learning how not to fool ourselves–of having utter scientific integrity–is, I’m sorry to say, something that we haven’t specifically included in any particular course that I know of. We just hope you’ve caught on by osmosis.”

    “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself–and you are the easiest person to fool. So you have to be very careful about that. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”

    “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–not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked–to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.

    Details that could throw doubt on your interpretation must be given, if you know them. You must do the best you can–if you know anything at all wrong, or possibly wrong–to explain it. If you make a theory, for example, and advertise it, or put it out, then you must also put down all the facts that disagree with it, as well as those that agree with it. There is also a more subtle problem. When you have put a lot of ideas together to make an elaborate theory, you want to make sure, when explaining what it fits, that those things it fits are not just the things that gave you the idea for the theory; but that the finished theory makes something else come out right, in addition.

    In summary, the idea is to try to give all of the information to help others to judge the value of your contribution; not just the information that leads to judgment in one particular direction or another.”

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to 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. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both. “

  26. I find the issues around certainty in question 2. interesting, particularly the question about when this emerged in the scientific community.

    What I don’t understand is how the culture of what seems to be mainstream climate science moved so far from just a basic instinct about the inherent limitations and uncertainty in the models and inferences they have developed.

    Why did the community not feel the basic unease with their constructs that should be natural in a scientist?

    I don’t know enough about the historic development of the science to be absolutely sure about the answer to this question. The dominate view on this thread seems to be that external forces like the politicization of science pushed people in that direction. Thta is no doubt partly correct, but I doubt the politics would have run if there had been a significant countervailing voice from within the immediate climate science community.

    So I think we have to look at how that climate science community developed to work out how such a strong deterministic bias occurred. At the heart of it one suspects those who undertook the journey of modeling climate started with skills in deterministic physical models and did not build good links to the disciplines experienced in complex non-linear modeling and statistical inference as their models headed in this direction.

    In this way a particular approach, dynamic deterministic modeling got pushed beyond it utility. Also one suspects these determinists were practical people who valued highly fit to observations over model integrity. This influenced what they sought to model and what they regarded as acceptable.

    The fact that this body of work then got picked up in a highly charge political debate; that the consequences predicted by the science were dire; many in the discipline were persuaded of the correctness of what they foresaw; and there were no strong critics from within the discipline, all came together to create strong incentives to protect the discipline and its results

    There are two broad response required to this situation.

    Within the science it is imperative that the missing disciplines become part of the team – the blogsphere may want access to data for citizen scientist to play with, but perhaps more important should be a requirement that funded teams are more broadly based and led.

    And on the political side the need is to redress the sense of absolute certainty that has found its way into the various policy prescriptions being widely advocated.

  27. The Royal Society of Edinburgh invited Fellows to comment on this topic in 2009. One part of my own response might be relevant to the question of why the waggons are where they are. Here’s the comment, for what it’s worth:

    “Mass hysteria has been studied by psychologists for many years, starting with Festinger’s classic work When Prophesy Fails (1956). This dealt with a group of flying-saucer believers who had (rather unwisely) set a date for the end of the world. What Festinger showed was that when dearly-held beliefs are disconfirmed, far from the believers giving up and going home, they re-double their efforts to recruit converts and become even more vociferous in defence of a discredited creed. Adherents to the theory of man-made global warming, faced with reasonable, even plausible, challenges to their orthodoxy should not similarly close ranks. Sadly, there are already signs that this is happening, with grandiose appeals to authority and sometimes rather unpleasant abuse of nay-sayers.”

    Incidentally, everything I’ve read on this topic since (and that’s quite a bit) leads me to the pessimistic conclusion that it has very little to do with science and quite a lot to do with the new post-normal science agenda.

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

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

    A radical idea: We can base our regulation of greenhouse gases on the current RATE of climate change. There appears to be an acceptably small uncertainty and reasonable consensus on all sides about the rate of warming of the lower troposphere and the rate of sea level rise as measured by satellites. How big is our SAFETY MARGIN in years if current trends continue? Legislators can make political judgments about how much change is tolerable, scientists can tell us how fast that change is currently coming. Unless we are buying insurance, the IPCC’s limited and possibly biased understanding of climate sensitivity, 1.5-4.5, doesn’t provide any clearer grounds for current action. Buying insurance isn’t practical because the developing world can’t afford it and we can’t force it upon them (even if we bribe them with carbon offset payments). What the IPCC does tell us is that we need a serious plan for what we will do (increasing carbon tax and dividend?) if our safety margin shrinks.

    • David L. Hagen

      Frank Hobbs & Judith Curry
      Encourage you to read McKitrick’s Tropical Trophespheric Temperature (T3) tax policy. This cuts both ways depending on whether the climate warms or cools. It is a great policy in light of uncertainty – if we politically HAVE to have a tax.

      * McKitrick, Ross R. (2010) A Simple State-Contingent Pricing Rule for Complex Intertemporal Externalities. Energy Economics doi:10.1016/j.eneco.2010.06.013. Data/code archive.
      # McKitrick, Ross R. (2007) Let Policy Follow Science: Tie a Carbon Tax to Actual Warming. (Christian Science Monitor December 3, 2007)
      etc.

      • My “radical proposal” was inspired by McKitritck’s. But Ross’s idea was originally focused on identifying an economically appropriate carbon tax that would rise with the amount of damage that was currently being caused by GHG’s. From my perspective, the real damage is the reduction in our margin of safety. Legislators don’t have to believe climate models are right to make a plan that says carbon taxes of $X/tonC will be imposed in the future if/when our safety margin is reduced to Y years. (We determine cost-of-living adjustments based on measurement made by economists, so we could have policies based on measurements made by scientists.) Legislators must be confronted by the fact that “all” scientists agree that certain global climate metrics measured by satellite (troposphere temperature, sea level) are changing and – given a political choice of unacceptable total change – those rates could be converted to years of safety margin.

  29. a. At what point did uncertainty become a bid thing in the climate community.

    Nice one. Now whom do I thank, Judy, you or Congress?
    ============================

  30. Nullius in Verba

    1a. I have long suspected that it is a question of quality. Most people are inclined to take short-cuts with quality, and then dress it up to look more careful and competent than it is when it comes to presenting it to the outside world. Every now and then scientists do the same (there are many examples in the history of science) and they get trapped by it. A small and forgiveable exaggeration soon leads to the need for a bigger one, as more questions are asked.

    1b. Climate science used for public policy should be held to a higher standard. Congress should not block funding for researchers who are not open, but not being open reduces the quality of the science, and this should be taken into account when deciding funding priorities. They should also consider making extra money available to fund archiving and audit where the work is of public policy significance – preferably by specialists at those subjects. (i.e. getting statisticians to audit the statistical methods, computer scientists to audit the algorithms, software engineers to audit software quality and ensure data integrity, etc.)

    1c. No, but it should be treated as ‘grey literature’, and its credibility judged accordingly. I would expect policymakers to demand a higher standard, and so at least some of the material would need to be done to the same sort of level of scrutiny as financial data, say.

    2a. I don’t know.

    2b. See 1a. Science has often been subject to human fallibility in the past, and always manages to correct itself. This will be no exception. But the process is unlikely to be quick or painless.

    2c. Yes. That is essentially what the climate sceptics are. (We are all part of the scientific community, even those of us who are not being paid to do science.) Among the scientific profession there is some movement already too, although it is slow and stuttering so far. Decision makers needing objective and unbiased information should be aware that scientists are human and don’t provide it either. Don’t believe our marketing.

    3. It depends on what you think they were intended to do. But from a scientific point of view, they’re not working. The answers are the same as for the climate science as a whole. A lot more emphasis on education rather than authority. Absolute transparency. Being more sceptical.
    And perhaps they could also usefully act as a focus for the archive/audit infrastructure I mentioned in 1b.

  31. Judith,

    At this time, peoples lives are in the hands of the information climate scientists submit. Faulty conclusions and speculation has made some governments totally unprepared for any cold weather events.
    Who’s reputation does that fall under when the models start failing?
    Being in the media is a two edged sword and any words are recorded.

    So, if you still believe the climate is warming and it is actually changing, your words could be putting lives at risk.
    Better to be uncertained and cautioned than submit to “what my peers are doing”.

  32. Dr C,
    Many contentious papers in climate science are now long in the tooth – defended by their authors from pesky data requests, even as their citation index kept growing. The healthy number of citations then becomes a defense against the same data requests.

    I examined the historical background in Nature magazine and prevalent attitudes in 1990 to data access. This was occasioned by claims that since journals had no formal policies in place requiring authors to share data of published work for verification, such a step was not necessary or understood.

    Link to pdf: http://nigguraths.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/data-availability-in-climate-science-the-case-of-jones-et-al-1990-and-nature4.pdf

  33. Fred Moolten said:

    Response: Congress should consider penalizing scientists who refuse legitimate data-sharing requests. However, there is a U.S.-centric element to this question, because an enormous volume of high quality climate science is conducted in other nations as well as ours. It would be worthwhile establishing international standards. Some journals already have standards for data-sharing.

    There should be no question of “legitimate data-sharing requests” since data should not need to be “requested” in the first place. Indeed it is already the policy of many major journals but one that they seem happy to make exception for in the case of climate warming related papers.

    Requiring both data and code needed to reproduce the results of a study is a necessary and incontournable condition for scientific verification. Reproducibility is the corner stone of science. Without verifiable reproduction is it not science.

    The cliquey, old boys club method of just sharing data with friends upon request is not sufficient.

    Fred’s comments appear to some extent as damage limitation. He accepts the need for disclosure but instantly adds caveats, clauses and exemptions.

    Science would advance quicker, be more robust and more credible if this basic process of verification was not a five year legal and political battle but one of simple, automatic disclosure.

    It is very encouraging to see Congress are asking the right questions here and in a clear an unequivocal fashion.

    I’m also confident they are asking the right person.

  34. Latimer Alder

    re 1B. ‘shouldn’t (climate science) it be held to a higher standard in the public debate?’

    Absolutely essential. Wherever we look at Climatology we see pitiful ‘professional’ standards that would cause the practitoners to be effectively unemployable in a non-academic environment.

    In IT – HRM shows us pitiful lack of even the most basic disciplines of data analysis and control. Jones’s e-mails show that there is no idea about archiving and ‘curation’. Easterbrook argues that although his models are now so complex that no individual can understand them, it would be a waste of time trying to document what they have as it would interrupt their work on making the models yet more complex and unwieldy …and yet he wishes us to accept their output on face value as part of his drive towards the ‘information and control systems for a carbon neutral economy'(his bio).

    In auditing and accountability, the whole sorry sags of the Hockey Stick and Steve McIntyre’s oft thwarted attempts to get details of the methods, data and code shows that climatologist shave no desire whatsoever to be accountable to anyone other than themselves, and their own high opinion of themselves. A CFO of a company who point blank refused to let auditors see his books would go to in jail in UK.

    In statistics, rather than consult professional statisticinas, they prefer invent their own methods (short-centred PCA et al) that conveniently give the results needed at that particular stage in political debate…then disown their significance when the heat gets too much..but when the political debate has moved on.

    In data collection, they care not about glaring errors in the data collection process…believing somehow that bad data can somehow produce good results.

    And so on..and so on.

    For the climatologists and their predictions to be taken at all seriously it is necessary for them t demonstrate the highest possible ‘world class’ standards in everything they do. Not to grub around in the bargain basement of minimum possible – or worse.

    If they genuinely don’t know what those world class standards may be, then many here could help them – some will have been the inventors of those standards. If however, they are well aware of those standards and wilfully choose to ignore them then public policy should refuse to fund tehm or take note of their results until they do.

    Climate Science is far too important a study to be left to the capricious whims of climatologists and their reactionary prejudices.

  35. Why is this so difficult. Mostly, the questions have very straightforward answers:-

    1a.  Why are so many scientists “pointing their guns” at skeptics when sharing data and embrcing debate seems to be an obvious way for scientists to increase the credibility of their arguments and influence public debate?
    In a sense, it doesn’t matter much why they are doing it, only that they are doing it. If they had a sound case, they would not do it.
    1b.  Given the potentially enormous influence of climate science on economic and environmental policy – which ultimately boils down to jobs 00 shouldn’t it be held to a higher standard in the public debate?  For example, should Congress consider blocking funding for researchers that do not make their data and materials available for public scrutiny?
    Yes and yes. It is unacceptable (kafkaesque) for expensive decisions to be made based on concealed research.
    1c.  Should such research be excluded from use in policy debates and scientific assessments such as those by the National Academies or IPCC?
    Yes, but the IPCC is in fact the source of much of the problem. The IPCC does not itself do any research, but has cherry-picked only the research that supports its agenda, and has then presented it in a biased manner. [provide examples]
    2a.  At what point did uncertainty become a bad thing in the climate community?
    Jim Cripwell (December 3, 2010 at 8:40 pm) has answered this perfectly. Right from the start, the IPCC set out to try and prove that CO2 was the cause.
    2b.  How did this shift within the scientific community occur?  How does it shift back?
    These shifts do occur within science from time to time, this one just happens to be a particularly bad one. They eventually shift back by weight of evidence. The shift back can be accelerated by actively ignoring all arguments that are not based on actual evidence.
    2c.  Are there any efforts within the scientific community to self-correct this paradigm shift?  If there is not, what does this mean for the decision-makers needing objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies?
    Yes, there are. Decision makers need to ensure that scientists are not ignored wherever (as per 2b above) their arguments are based on actual evidence, or on the lack of actual evidence in others’ arguments.
    3.  Do you believe the current IPCC processes are working?  If so, why?  If not, what specific actions can be taken to repair them, and in the meantime, why should the product of a process that isn’t working be relied upon as the basis for policy actions that would impose enormous costs on the United States economy?
    No, they are not working – see Jim Cripwell’s comment, for example. The best way of repairing them is to return to a proper scientific process. It is possible that there is no place for the IPCC in such a process. The idea that the IPCC’s tainted findings should be used for important policy decisions is absurd.

    • Mike, thank you for this.

    • Hi Mike,

      On 2b, I am interested in your view of whether ‘homogenized’ data counts as ‘actual evidence?’ This is an important issue in mind, and because I don’t completely understand the process by which ‘homogenization’ occurs I am curious about the degree to which data that has been processed counts as data.

  36. Judith,

    Something else to consider.
    If science data is opened up, how many of the scientists will there be caught outright cheating?
    There definately will be a few. Much of the funding had a better chance if AGW was focused as the cause.

  37. 1 a) Why are so many scientists…

    A few feel threatened by the detailed scrutiny that is duly warranted by the magnitude of the decisions being guided by their work. Reading the “Harry read me” file from the UEA Climategate files, it is understandable that scrutiny of data management and version control at CRU would have been most unwelcome.

    Within a relatively small community, it is understandable too that individual scientists not themselves involved would feel moved to help friends and colleagues. Others,looking on, have perceived a conflict
    between scientists and their enemies, and naturally wish to help the side of science.

    1 c) Should such research be excluded…

    Congress should base its decisions on scientific studies where the conclusions are well founded in data and logic. Unless data and procedures are made public in full it is impossible to assess how well-founded a study’s
    conclusions are. The national academies and IPCC should not take such studies into account when making assessments.

    1 b) Given the potentially enormous…

    It follows that Congress should not fund such studies since it will not be able to rely on the results.

    2 a) b)

    The IPCC itself has been responsible for co-mingling science – “What do we know and how well do we know it ?” – with advocacy – “We must cut CO2 emissions drastically now”. As an intrgovernmental body, IPCC is moved by political considerations including the need to capture public and decision-makers attention. A nuanced view with all the qualifications and uncertainties spelt out simply does not attract attention compared to a simplified and dramatised scenario such as presented in “An inconvenient truth”.

    2 c)

    One way to restore rigour would be to switch the emphasis in funding to investigating the cause-and-effect relationships amongst the factors impacting climate. For example the factors determining cloud formation
    are at the moment very poorly understood, yet clouds have key roles in precipitation, in reflecting sunlight, and in re-radiating the earth’s black body radiation. Secondl,y the failure of the climate models to track the
    last decade’s halt in warming shows that cause-and-effect in climate is not yet fully understood. In addition, the closer science is to the fundamentals of measurements and logic, and the more distanced it is from policymakers and lobbyists, the more scientifically rigourous it can be.

    Congress can also help to restore some balance by requiring assessments to be presented in a balanced way – with arguments both for and against and a statement of the uncertainties.

    3 Do you believe IPCC processes….

    Policymakers should not accept IPCC conclusions without performing ‘due diligence’, particularly when considering far reaching tax / regulatory changes.

    HTH

    • Latimer Alder

      ‘it is understandable that scrutiny of data management and version control at CRU would have been most unwelcome’

      But it would have been very quick. ‘We don’t have any’ takes only a few seconds to say.

    • Robbo, thanks for your comprehensive reply

  38. Latimer Alder

    I think we can make a good prediction that if such a sanction were to be applied, many of today’s ‘scientists’ would suddenly become canophiles.

    This would lend a tad of credibility to their stories that ‘The Dog Ate My Data’.

  39. Judith,

    Don’t Blame Climatologists for Copying Government Science SOP

    Climatologists simply copied the practice of manipulating and/or hiding opposing experimental data that had developed in other scientific disciplines almost since the time that President Eisenhower warned of this possibility in 1961:

    http://mcadams.posc.mu.edu/ike.htm

    There is a C-SPAN news tape made on 7 January 1998 of Dr. Dan Goldin, Administrator of NASA, angrily lecturing another NASA bureaucrat and ordering the immediate release of isotope data that had been collected on the Galileo Mission to Jupiter in 1995. [“Future of Space Science”, C-SPAN Tape 98-01-07-22-1].

    The data confirmed written 1983 predictions in a paper on the chemical composition of the Sun [“Solar abundances of the elements”, Meteoritics 18, 209-222 (1983)]:

    http://tinyurl.com/224kz4

  40. Judith, my answer to 1b and 1c would include the suggestion that those questions also be directed to the head of the NAS and any other relevant organization such as AGU.

    That questioning would include suggesting to them that they develop standards of professional conduct for data release related to publication, if such standards don’t already exist, and to detail how they would credibly enforce them.

    I would rather live in a world where climate scientists and the broader science community jointly set their own standards of conduct, and that broader science body enforces those standards, than to live in one where government has to do it. Such standards should apply to all fields of science but, if that is too much for the NAS or equivalent to digest, then it should at least hold for policy-relevant fields like climate science.

    • David, i agree with this. part of my response will be who exactly should be responding to these questions and addressing these issues.

      • Judith&David: Congress gets involved in regulating things when businesses or other interests don’t treat average Americans fairly. Recent incidents include some aspects of home mortgages, credit cards, and limited-coverage health care policies. Congress could choose to tell the NAS to recommend changes in data disclosure and transparency; but Congress needs to provide a deadline, oversight of the process, and a threat of unwieldy federal regulation. Is oversight and the threat of Congressional regulation really needed? What changes have arisen since Climategate and the IPCC scandals? The IAC report has been received, but the IPCC has implemented none of its recommendations. AR5 is going to be written by authors chosen by the same flawed process as earlier reports (with Tim Osborne standing in for Phil Jones and Ken Briffa.)

  41. Doing real science is a hard and often frustrating business filled with setbacks and frustrations. The temptation to “cut corners” or manipulate data is a strong one, and the pressure to publish creates normative behavior (e.g. interpretting, or even manipulating data in order to make it “fit” the current hot trend in any field). This is what I believe has happened in climate science, namely scientists like James Hansen are true believers that AGW is going to kill us all, a fine belief for a layperson, but when that true believer mentality is allowed to drive peer review and government funding it drives other scientists to participate in the trend or risk exclusion from the “club” of accepted scientists. This is an extremely strong drive when tenure is at stake. The statements of Hansen show his view, the Climategate emails at least show a strong tendancy to push toward global warming, and reports of biased peer review are abundant. All this leads me to believe that climate science has become a victim of the type of groupthink described above, and likely for the reasons described above. I link to a paper on fraud in science:

    http://www.bmartin.cc/pubs/92prom.html

    Further, this type of groupthink is abundant in the IPCC report, most notably to me, the clear drive to reduce solar forcing as a cause of tempeture change so that the temp changes caused by man could be found to be larger (they were only off by 100%):

    http://www.agci.org/dB/PDFs/10S1_LGray_SolarInfluencesCLimate.pdf

  42. There are not a lot of legislative opportunities here. We are not going to pass a law against the politicization of science, nor against false confidence, however bad these things may be. The IPCC is beyond the reach of the Congress, although we do have some influence. You might suggest some lines of Congressional inquiry rather than lines of action.

    • There are governmental oppotunties – namely get the true believers out of government (both pro-AGW and anti-) and change the way peer review is done around funding grants.

      • How do you propose to do that?

      • James Hansen gets arrested at climate protests and pickets the White House on global warming, he also runs NASA’s Goddard where the GISS temp database you paid for via taxes and the database seems to point to warming, always. Start by moving him to an advocacy position so unbiased scientists can run the show:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Hansen

        I do not know if you have applied for a grant, I have and received them to, and the grant process is highly political and peer review plays a significant role in it. It would be possible to place new rules into place for how peer review functions. The grant administrators at NSF are scientists and know the game, and if guided to be less biased in their process, most would be.

        Finally, the NIH and NSF already require ethics training for the students and projects they fund – they need to require a much more robust system that looks more broadly at bias and fraud and then make the institutions train it.

        I have several more ideas, but there is a start. I thought these were pretty obvious actually.

  43. In my opinion all the work paid for by taxpayer funds should eventually be opened up to the general public. If the work has economic value they should get a patent. If it has military value they should get a security clearance. The work that only has value in the furtherance of human knowledge is wasted if the knowledge isn’t shared. Imagine if the first human who discovered how to create a fire said “I’ll show you the fire but you have to figure out how to make it on your own”. The idea of making each person start a process from scratch is a waste of money, some of it mine. A much more logical process would be to have the data and code available and allow a person considering a project to examine these first and make an informed decision if the duplication of the effort is likely to increase the understanding of the topic. This is not a problem confined to the climate area and I would extend my comment to all publicly funded science. There is an interesting paper published on the topic in JAMA 2002 Campbell et al “Data Withholding in Academic Genetics”.

    • I would add that in the paper the concerning data withholding in genetics, if one switched a few words they would swear they were reading the arguments over climate science and this might be a good reference to bolster arguments. I don’t see this as a climate unique problem at all.

  44. I feel strongly that any tax-payer funded research, no matter what the per cent funding, should be required to make public the paper, the data, meta-data, and un-used data … all information relating to the paper for short. The journals are living in part off tax payer money, so I don’t have much sympathy for what they would lose, although there could be a delay of a few months making the information public if that helped the journals a bit. I think the example of the Jeff ID et al refinement of the Steig effort is more than enough an example why. It’s pretty pathetic a more traditional climate scientist didn’t correct Steig. If results were public, this sort of validation would be much easier and, more importantly, faster.

  45. Dr Michael Cejnar

    Agree with Mike Jonas, though I argue for regulated science, like in medicine – meaning work to standards, and independent auditing.

    1a. Why are so many scientists “pointing their guns”

    To be fair to the scientists, I suspect they suffered requirements creep – initially, having no requirement on data quality – after all they were just climate models, but as they developed influence and impact, increasing retrospective and prospective demands on quality and traceability could not be met – hence defensiveness. This does not however allow or excuse the use of such untraceable data for public policy.

    1b. Given the potentially enormous influence of climate science on economic and environmental policy…held to a higher standard

    If you suggest use of regulated climate science, you may be challenged that regulated research will take much longer at much greater cost – (Drugs take >5 years to approve by FDA and costs are 100’s millions of dollars just to the PMA). Possible counter arguments:

    Like in medicine, have quick turnaround peer-reviewed science for progress but mandate regulated science before it can be marketed i.e. influence policy. (Nothing new)
    For best efficiency, publicly funded collection of raw data should be according to a regulated method and archived securely in public archives so it’s rock solid. Subsequent manipulation and interpretation may be ad hoc for faster progress, however, to be used for public policy, path from raw data to conclusion must be regulated and traceable – and can be independently repeated under regulated methods with extra funding if necessary.

    1c. Should such research be excluded from use in policy debates
    Yes, subject to truly independent regulated confirmation.

    2a. At what point did uncertainty become a bad thing in the climate community?
    Indeed with creation of policy-directing IPCC and its advocates – uncertainty prevents policy making.

    2b. How did this shift within the scientific community occur? How does it shift back?
    When they became policy advisers.
    Shift it back by drawing a strong line between where science stops (with strict statistical conclusions) and policy starts. Public can then distinguish science facts vs value-laden policies.

    2c. Are there any efforts within the scientific community to self-correct this paradigm shift?
    Yes, slight with your blog, Royal Society, but it is very slow.

    3 Do you believe IPCC processes….
    Abolish it – too compromised, science and policy advocacy are intertwined. Perhaps use individual country commissions.

    Generally, I wonder if the modelling type of science, especialy where it impacts on public safety, needs to be treated differently to observational science. I note a growing science fad for large scale chaotic system simulations – at least according to New Scientist. In medicine, multiple research centres with physicists, modellers and mathematicians are being set up to simulate the body and work out, say, how cancer spreads and what may trigger it. Another article talks of simulating the world economy of global people’s behaviour. Increasing computer power allows this, and then seduces us to believe them. So new standards for validation need to be spelled out and policy makers need to be educates that they are not real, data generated is not observational data.

  46. John F. Pittman

    Fred, as I believe you would suspect, I agree with your statements in general, but have some particular concerns. I am going to express them by answering the other questions. Then, it might be illuminating for us to compare and constrast our positions with the idea of progressing on the issue.

    Dr. Curry:

    Question 2’s introductory statement could be rewritten to showcase the differences of the two populations of skeptics such that the question and importance of confidence and natural variability is easier and better understood. One of the original merchants of doubt’s tactics was to proclaim the null theorem of climate change… that either it was not occurring or was not measurable. They used the work of several prominent scientists in order to usurp these scientists credibility for their own. Normally such a tactic would not work. The reasons it did work also illuminate how the population and the battlefield of public opinion have changed. Despite the claim of thousands of articles and multiple lines of evidence, the issue and claim of anthropogenic climate change is one argument, and that is attribution. To understand this point, the https://judithcurry.com/2010/12/02/best-of-the-greenhouse/ should be read. Though the physical argument about CO2 is correct, attributing the effect of anthropogenic forcings determines whether we should even be concerned. Although normally, science would have incorporated these differing views by a decrease in confidence, by expanding the confidence intervals from floor to ceiling, if necessary, this was not done. Legitimate scientists began to be labeled as cranks, nuts, and unscientific by a few, but much quoted activist scientists. Against this backdrop, between the second and third assessment reports of the IPCC, attribution went from mankind was probably causing some climate change to mankind was guilty of most of the warming that occurred in the twentieth century, and CO2 responsible for most of the attributed anthropogenic warming. This transition occurred due to the influence of paleoclimate proxy temperature reconstructions which showed that earth’s average temperature was essentially flat until the twentieth century. By labeling the few dissenting voices as cranks, their advocates as merchants of doubt, the activist scientists appeared to have triumphed, and began spending political coin on policy implementation rather than science. Fast forward to today where the policy implementation of expensive mitigation is practically DOA, and more and more these few but oft-quoted activist scientists appear to be politicians in the public mind. Now, the answers to 2 will have context.

    2.a. Uncertainty or confidence intervals have always been a big deal for science, especially when expressed with frequentist statistical approaches. The climate community chose a Bayesian approach for attribution, but in public used the more “concrete” frequentist terminology. When the population of skeptics changed to citizen scientists, they began concentrating in the area that the confidence intervals made a real difference in one’s conclusions, which is attribution, or more properly, the methodology of the science that was used for attribution. This is why most of the skeptical community is focused on paleoclimate proxy temperature reconstructions, models, and current temperature adjustments. These form the basis of attribution in the TAR and the 4AR.

    2.b. The shift was forced upon the climate community who, as indicated in the emails, drug their feet as best and hard as they could. The shift does not affect the scientific community in general, since most work is not being challenged. Attribution is. It was forced on the climate community starting with the McIntyre and McKitrick papers. It ended with the revelations of the Climategate emails that showed many of the concerns of the science by skeptics were real, and that many of the suppositions that the climate community was not pursuing science in a fair, open, and even-handed way were correct. This has resulted in a loss of confidence. To shift it back will take openness, and frank discussions as exemplified by best practices in crisis management.

    2.c. Citizen scientists are part of, and within the scientific community. The question: What does this mean for the decision-makers needing objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies? is that policy makers need to realize that if the attribution can be attacked successfully, the policy of doing nothing, as in, first do no harm, can be a legitimate response. This is where the real battle has been fought with the citizen scientists, the attribution. The problems with attribution have ended with the small group of climate scientists as being seen as merchants of political certainty, where the science is uncertain. And in this respect, it is a role reversal where now the activists are using some of the same tactics as the merchants of doubt, with the same effect; they have lost. They are being viewed as politicians, not scientists. The questions that are being asked, are the ones that need to be answered, for progress to be made on this issue, not the continual re-framing and spinning of advocacy.

    In preparation to answer question 3, discussion of just how did the IPCC attribute global warming is in order. It is both a simple and elegant argument. The proxy reconstructions indicated that the warming was unprecedented in the twentieth century. This was stated in the IPCC TAR and 4AR. The models that were used for back-casting could not show an unprecedented warming without CO2 and a positive water vapor feedback. With this, only small temperature changes could be attributed to natural variation, and thusly, the unprecedented part attributed to anthropogenic causes.

    Are the current IPCC processes working? No. The emails, and more importantly, the analysis of the comments and responses to the 4AR report, show that a small group of climate scientists fixed the IPCC system to preclude the legitimate scientific challenge to attribution. Does this invalidate the majority of the excellent work that was done. No. But the key to what should be done by policy makers depends on attribution. Firstly, if mankind and CO2 are not the primary drivers, we are wasting time and money. Secondly, the findings of harm depend on not only the attribution, but the forecasts by the models of a worsening human condition. But the usefulness of the models was determined, in no small part, by their agreement with the proxy reconstructions. Thus, attribution, and the necessity of mitigation are based on the same foundation. The foundation and the procedures that are being challenged, is where a small group of scientists fixed the system, such that legitimate concerns could not be addressed in the publication that was supposed to, and was claimed to address the science. It is one of the fundamental claims of the IPCC that their assessment reports address the science, which includes minority opinions, and/or confidence intervals.

    Should the process that isn’t working be relied upon as the basis for policy actions that would impose enormous costs on the United States economy? This question in one sense is more political than factual. Although, there are concerns that the attribution was done incorrectly; once corrected, it is possible that the science ends up at the same point. Something that has been often overlooked in the ensuing scientific debates of WG1 is that WG2, and WG3 are even more error prone than WG1. Unfortunately, review of the history of the IPCC is not kind. It was setup by a political entity with a political mandate. Their policies and goals are not often in the interest of the United States, as reflected by their policies and their make-up. The reason this is important is that as economic costs go up, the political costs will as well. And this is the problem, with the errors and advocacy contained within WG2 and WG3, it will become another political nightmare. Just as the advocate scientists sought to squelch those disagreeing voices, and preempt the direction of progress, the policy advocates of the IPCC have sought to squelch dissent and preempt the direction of policy. The proof of this supposition is the reliance of NGO advocacy positions in the assessment reports replacing independent and neutral voices. One need only look at the claims of climate justice, and wealth re-distribution reported prior and during the Cancun negotiations to understand just how far apart are the different sovereignties. These claims and plans will not be recieved well by a majority of the citizenry. For in essence, we will be implementing policies that mean we will give large sums of money to countries who will use it to put more of our people out of work. One of the other may be survivable, but not both.

    • John – a great post. I very much agree with what you have laid out so eloquently – especially your analysis of IPCC processes.

    • John, thank you for your thorough analysis

    • John, I’d like to focus on two points you make that address a critical issue – attribution. Are our greenhouse gas emissions a potent warming source? You state, “the key to what should be done by policy makers depends on attribution. Firstly, if mankind and CO2 are not the primary drivers, we are wasting time and money”

      You accurately state that IPCC AR4 attribution analysis has been challenged for bias. The challenge is directed principally against estimates of climate sensitivity to rising CO2, since there is little debate in the literature about the legitimacy of attributing the CO2 rise itself mainly to human activities.

      If you read the extensive AR4 WG1 text on climate sensitivity, I believe you will find references to a very large number of studies encompassing periods in the Earth’s history ranging back as far as 420 million years. Some conclude that climate sensitivity is low, while most place it within the current broad range of 2 to 4.5 deg C per CO2 doubling, and a few assess it at a higher level.

      Is the WG1 analysis biased, either in omitting important studies or in its interpretation of the studies it analyzes? Perhaps. It also inevitably included only studies that appeared prior to its publication in early 2007, and new evidence has emerged since then. Should the new evidence alter our perspective?

      To answer these questions requires us to go beyond the IPCC and to review the literature ourselves, possibly including at least a modicum of reports that have appeared on the Internet on reputable sites. I can state that I’m aware of much of the literature, including new reports. Among the lattter are studies by Lindzen and by Spencer concluding that climate sensitivity is low, and a multitude concluding that it is in the canonical range. My own take on the matter deserves little weight, but for what it’s worth, I find the accepted 2-4.5 deg C range to be well supported by the evidence. Dr. Curry will start a thread on this topic that will be worth visiting.

      My larger point, though, returns to a point I made earlier, which is that the IPCC is not the source of current thinking in climate science within the climate science community itself, despite public perceptions that it echoes scientific opinion. What I believe will be essential, therefore, is that the issue of attribution in general, and climate sensitivity in particular, be addressed by revisiting the primary data sources – the published literature and perhaps a selection of Internet sources (although even the most skeptical challenges do seem to appear ultimately in the published literature, such as Miskolczi’s work). The task of revisitation must fall to humans in the absence of divine intervention, but I believe reputable experts, including Judith Curry, can be persuaded to participate. What will be equally critical is that all sources be reviewed, and all analyses made public. If that is done, what will be the result?

      You also state, “Although, there are concerns that the attribution was done incorrectly; once corrected, it is possible that the science ends up at the same point”.

      From my vantage point, I expect that to be the outcome, albeit it with due recognition of uncertainty. In any case, I believe it would serve as a valuable next step, regardless of how it turns out.

  47. Dr C

    At this juncture I would recommend with the utmost respect, Robert B. Laughlin’s “The Crime of Reason”. In his introductory passage he writes:

    “When we are young, we learn that knowledge is a beautiful, logical thing that anyone can use as he likes – provided, of course, he has the patientce to read and think. This idea partly comes fro parents, who never tire of inventing reasons for us to study more, excel in exams, and so forth, but it’s also something we usually conclude on our own. Most of us decide in young adulthood that the ability to reason and understand is natural, human, and rightfully ours.

    Unfortunately, this conclusion is erroneous. While some information is indeed available for free and even forced upon use in school, most economically valuable knowledge is private property and secret. The owners of this knowledge do not want it made public and certainly do not want the state paying people to “discover” it. One can argue endlessly about whether “no trespassing” signs in libraries and schools are good things, but the debate is academic. As a practical matter, our rights to learn have already been circumscribed.

    People often have trouble speaking about the problem because it’s a worldly matter – like the practicalities of having children – that polite individuals don’t discuss. Instead they smile and insist that education is golden and that the various ways of withholding knowledge – intentional generation of confusion, stonewalling, lying, disinforming – are obnoxious but not conspiratorial. They then deflect the discussion in a new direction by declaring the concerned person to be paranoid”

    Further down he writes:

    “We don’t really accept sequestration of knowledge because it’s technical. We redefine knowledge to be technical when it becomes sequestered”

  48. Dr. Curry:

    Regarding data archiving. I suggest you contact Steve McIntyre and ask him about national instrument 43-101. It is what mining promoters in Canada must follow if they are to issue a technical report for a publicly listed company. The mining exploration business is highly competitive, but if you want to raise money, you need to follow the rules. Surely a careful scientist would have no issue or problem being as careful in archiving and as open as a “moose pasture salesman”.

    • Just a follow up, I’ve put a short note on NI 43-101 on my blog. Also, if anyone thinks I lump SM in with those mining promoters referred to as “moose pasture salesmen”, I apologize.

      Cheers

      JE

      Cheers

  49. If all data code etc had to be available prior to publication of an IPCC report, how many of the following would have been relied upon or existed:

    Jones et al 1990
    Dendroclimatology
    The Hockey Stick, and all that followed
    The Himalayan Glacier melt
    The Amazon Issue
    Dutch flooding etc
    The list goes on

    The IPCC can not claim to be victims, they got the data they wanted, and used the veil of secrecy, to protect themselves.

    Causation and solution are not complicated in this instance

  50. Two points, from a software engineer’s perspective:

    1) Climate code and data funded by government money should all be distributed under open-source licenses or equivalent to allow anyone with an interest in climate, coding, statistics, etc., to build on existing work. Let’s have more standing on shoulders and less standing on toes. If anyone can’t reproduce a graph or plot in a paper from openly-available code and data, the graph must be considered in error.

    2) If the input data is of uncertain validity, the entire computation is suspect. The work of the Surface Stations project convinced me that we need significantly more funding world wide for the unglamorous aspects of climate data collection and data quality control.

  51. Judith,

    What a wonderful gesture to open up possible input to your future response.
    My thoughts on answers:

    Note: My apologies that I haven’t done very much word smithing on this . . .

    Question 1 a. Why are so many scientists “pointing their guns” at skeptics when sharing data and embracing debate seems to be an obvious way for scientists to increase the credibility of their arguments and influence public debate?

    JMW response – This question should be answered as a chance to get at the new role of the blogosphere versus the traditional venues of scientific discussion; that is where the “pointing their guns” mostly occurs. Certainly, it cannot be answered by guessing other scientists motivations; I wouldn’t recommend going there. Let them speak for themselves why they have been “pointing their guns” at skeptics. A future hearing on why many scientists are “pointing their guns” would give them on record their motivations for doing so.

    Question 1 b. Given the potentially enormous influence of climate science on economic and environmental policy – which ultimately boils down to jobs 00 shouldn’t it be held to a higher standard in the public debate? For example, should Congress consider blocking funding for researchers that do not make their data and materials available for public scrutiny?

    JMW response – I think open science should just be open, not held to a so-called higher standard. The example given that Congress should be more directly involved in enforcing the principle of open science would tell the public that indeed the science community is not capable of self-correction and self-discipline. We know climate science is already on the gov’t radar screen about trust issues. Not good. I cannot accept the principle of gov’t intervention, except in the case where a scientist has broken a law. We need to find out how to encourage the science community to act within itself on its own behalf? Please see my answer to Question 2 c below. As an interim action I would recommend more in-depth hearings on the problematic areas of climate science activities of the past 20 plus years. That prospect might encourage science community to act first on its own accord in the process of the hearings. I do not yet recommend direct intervention by Congress, just hearings.

    Question 1c. Should such research be excluded from use in policy debates and scientific assessments such as those by the National Academies or IPCC?

    JMW response – On a matter of principle this would be a very motivating approach for the science community. It allows the scientific community to pre-emptively act to ensure its product is useable by gov’t instead of the interventionist approach suggested in the example given in question 1b above.

    Question 2a. At what point did uncertainty become a big thing in the climate community?

    JMW response – Certainly uncertainty [ : ) ] became a big thing in the climate community due, in major part, to the energy focused on it in the critical/skeptic/independent blogosphere by citizens and ‘skeptical’ scientists. Judith, that energy on the blogosphere caught your eye? N’est-ce pas?

    Question 2b. How did this shift within the scientific community occur? How does it shift back?

    JMW response – It occurred chiefly by the mechanism of openness of the critical/skeptic/independent citizens and scientists. The freest venue for that is the blogosphere. Uncertainty does not shift back in my view . . . . it shifts forward to exposing more and more uncertainty . . . with the current process of more and more openness; in any event the current process toward uncertainty identification cannot be reversed on the blogosphere.

    Question 2c. Are there any efforts within the scientific community to self-correct this paradigm shift? If there is not, what does this mean for the decision-makers needing objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies?

    JMW response – Judith this is primary question of this whole set. The USA scientific community needs to set the example here firmly and promptly. I would recommend to you, the USA climate science community and also the physics scientific community to fund a conference in NYC by early March 2011 to address the concerns raised by USA citizens, skeptical scientists and now (apparently) the USA gov’t. That would go a long long way to take control of science by the scientific body. Let the whole conference set up and proceedings be open to the public. Why NYC? Because that is where the IPCC is and proceeding in the same city would give the world an impression that the IPCC is not a scientific body but just a secondary bureaucracy. NOTE: I recommend individual countries would follow a similar process if the USA body of science did this.

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

    JMW response – As I have voiced previously on your blog, my radical thought is the IPCC is structurally incorrect and is fatally flawed. The review and assessment of climate science should reside within the major private research universities. An international consortium of them should lead the effort. Gov’t institutes (NASA, NOAA, GISS, and like institutes in other countries) and public (gov’t) sponsored universities would be involved but not in leadership roles due to the risk of political influence. I realize this is indeed very radical. But it stems from my analysis that the root cause of the trust problems in current climate science is the politicization of significant groups of its scientists and the biased political nature of the IPCC itself.

    Good luck.

    John

  52. Dr Curry,
    In pharaceuticals, food safety, human genetic manipulation, nuclear energy, mineral extraction, to give a few examples, the government creates independent regulatory oversight. In all these cases we can all understand that the experts may not always have the wider interest of the public in mind when shaping their endeavours and lobbying for social policy. Perhaps the US government could redirect resources towards creating a climate enquiry regulatory board fit for purpose for the 21st Century. I will raise this matter of independent regulation through my Member of Parliament here in the UK and to members of the Science and Technology Parliamentary Select Committee. DavS

  53. Judith – if you can trust them to act objectively, then congress should direct research funding at the areas of scientific uncertainty (if those areas can be agreed). At the moment, it seems that climate science is being ‘pushed’ at policy makers rather than being ‘pulled’ according to policy needs. And quite often, the science that is being ‘pushed’ is already contaminated by politics even before it gets to policy makers.

  54. Judith

    Regarding Question 2)
    I am currently writing an article on the History and uncertainty of our climate records, in this case those of land temperatures back to 1850 and SST’s.

    It is difficult to understand how we got to the position where anyone can give serious credibility to a modeller who has taken the basic highly problematic raw material (thermometers were only accurate to around 1 degree and bad methodology could double that) then proclaim to the world that they know to within three significant figures the precise global temperature in say 1889.

    SST’s are extremely sparse and the methodology employed to take the raw data is virtually worthless until we get to the last decade or two, yet we think we pretend that we know the temperature of some far flung place in 1900 .

    My article is to be headed ‘The Rumsfeld years’ and if he wasn’t talking about climate science he should have been;

    ” There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know.
    There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don’t know.
    But there are also unknown unknowns; there are things we do not know we don’t know.”

    Tonyb

    • Tony, I look forward to your paper. The SST issue is of particular concern, we don’t have much of a clue before 1960 over vast expanses of the ocean.

    • I love the quote, and very apropos it is. The measurement of temperature was one of the issues that originally piqued my interest in the subject.

  55. It is fairly clear that there are two very distinct issues that are being conflated, to the detriment of the discussion.

    Issue 1 is the effect of human activity on the composition of the atmosphere and the likely near term consequences to that. That has been extensively analyzed and there seems to be a consensus that it increases the atmosphere’s temperature modestly.

    Issue 2 is the longer term climate impact, which is less well understood, because we do not have a good grasp of the critical drivers of climate. We do not, afaik, have any consensus on the origin of the Roman or Medieval warm periods, or for that matter of the little ice age, although we think it may be solar related. The “hockey stick” was an attempt to avoid the issue by disparaging/denying the data.
    The effort seriously damaged the reputation of the science community, because it failed to police itself.

    Under these circumstances, the best way forward is to start afresh, because the existing protagonists and the current process are so controversial that they cannot bring consensus or even confidence in their integrity. That means rebuilding the data base in a more transparent and traceable manner than the UEA has done, try to integrate the fairly lengthy historic records and set up a comprehensive climate surveillance network, in space and on earth. While that will defer any action for at least two decades, it at least offers the possibility that some credible answers can be achieved eventually, which is not the case today.

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

    Because they have something to hide? The question has to be turned around. How come only climate scientists have guns pointed at skeptics? No other science does that. Again, do they have something to hide? Are they that insecure about their own theories to scrutiny?

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

    Absolutely yes to both questions.

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

    If not opened to public viewing yes, absolutely. Taxpayers fund the science, they have every right to its data.

    Do you believe the current IPCC processes are working?

    The IPCC is so rotten to the core that it’s likely not going to survive once the public and governments realize they have been had as they witness the planet not behaving as the AGW theory predicted.

  57. There are some excellent comments above, from much of which I have learned.

    Each time I go back to the questions asked of Ms Curry I can’t help but think that there is an overarching reason why climate scientists are “pointing guns” and “circling wagons”.
    And each time I end up at the same place, the IPCC and how it is structured.

    Here is a most recent example of what I’m getting at. (From the website of Donna Lafromboise)

    “Koko Warner is an American citizen who was selected to be a lead author of the next edition of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report”……

    “Warner is one of at least four people assigned to work on the new IPCC report who is employed by an entity called the United Nations University. First and foremost, this institution exists to further “the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations”……..

    Is it not awkward that the IPCC – itself a UN body – thinks UN employees are the sort of experts who should be writing what is supposed to be a dispassionate climate change report? Is there no concern that the UN appears to be influencing the outcome? After all, in one chapter of the upcoming climate bible (Working Group 2′s Chapter 24) two of the 11 people responsible for writing it are affiliated with this university”…..

    “Warner herself will contribute to a chapter titled Climate-resilient pathways: adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development – which will be produced by eight authors backed up by three review editors. As one of those eight authors, her judgment will inform this chapter’s findings”….

    “What does all this mean? It means Warner is not an independent scholar. She is a UN employee. Her research has been funded by the United Nations and brazenly promoted by the United Nations in a manner intended to advance the United Nations’ climate change agenda.

    And now she is an IPCC lead author.”

    Surely the current ills of climate science has it’s genesis at the heart of the IPCC. Circling wagons and pointing guns is, was and will be a natural consequence.

    • I say again, climate science needs a divorce from the UN. How bad does it have to get before this is acknowledged to be true?

    • Re: (undefined NaN NaN:NaN),
      just to clarify my final statement above…”Circling wagons and pointing guns is, was and will be a natural consequence.”

      Nations such as mine, Australia, and others like the US have enough laws, rules and regulations to fill a small warehouse.
      But this doesn’t stop people from circumventing or breaking these laws rules and regulations. They just need enough of an incentive.

      The questions to Ms Curry are from lawmakers. Their tendency is to create new laws or regulations to fix whatever problems they are presented with (e.g. how do we stop scientists from refusing FOIs, what penalties should apply if these rules are broken etc [e.g. see 1c])

      If it is possible, getting these lawmakers to think outside the square, for example by removing incentives to circle wagons or be an advocate, may be a way to fix many ills with one stroke. Maybe

  58. Richard S Courtney

    Dr Curry:

    As you know, you and I differ on our views of anthropogenic global warming (AGW): you think it is a potential problem and I do not. Also, you are a US citizen and the questions to you are from a part of the US government, and I am a British Subject.

    However, the questions seem to be from a ‘skeptical’ viewpoint, so I offer my responses to the questions because knowing the views of a ‘skeptic’ such as me may help you in formulating cogent answers of your own.

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

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

    Answer 1a.

    Only those who are “pointing their guns” can know why they are doing it, so I cannot answer for why they are.

    The failure (indeed, refusal) to openly share data and to debate seems to be a sign of insecurity. This explanation was stated by Phil Jones who is recorded as replying to a request for data from Warwick Hughes by saying, “Why should I give you my data when you only want to find fault in it?”

    Furthermore, some data has been seen to be faulty when independently examined. For example, some CRU source data was shown to be lost and a study by Briffa was clearly seen to be a result of imperfect data selection when it was eventually revealed at the insistence of the Editor of RS Philosophical Transactions A.

    So, it seems that some climate scientists have reason to doubt the worth of their own products and they seek to conceal the reasons for that doubt.

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

    Answer 1b

    All science should be conducted to the highest possible standards. Therefore, science conducted on behalf of government – including climate science – should be conducted to the highest possible standards.

    Industry ceases to fund scientific research that is conducted at below acceptable standards. The work is then reassessed for its potential merit and, on the basis of that reassessment, the research is then offered to other researchers or is abandoned. There is no obvious reason why scientific research conducted on behalf of government should be held to a lower standard of accountability than scientific research conducted on behalf of industry.

    Scientific research findings depend on the interpretation(s) made of available data and materials. The validity of the interpretation(s) depends on the accuracy, precision and reliability of the source data and materials. Therefore, it is not possible to assess the validity of the interpretations if the source data and materials are not available.

    Hence, the source data and materials must be available if scientific research conducted on behalf of government is to be held to the same degree of accountability as scientific research conducted on behalf of industry. The question then arises as to whom the source data and materials must be made available, and at very least they must be made available to other researchers and/or assessors designated by government. Preferably they should be available to any member of the public unless government specifies or agrees there are reasons for the source data and materials to be secret.

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

    Answer 1c

    There is no reason why any information should be excluded from policy debates and scientific assessments. However, all used information should be assessed for its accuracy, precision and reliability to determine its usefulness. Information that has not been assessed in this manner has to be considered so unreliable as to be useless and, therefore, should be ignored. Simply, the information is merely assertion and is not a scientific finding. But the assessment of reliability is not possible for results of research which depend on source data and materials that are not available for scrutiny and, therefore, such results should be ignored.

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

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

    Answer 2a

    This seems to have originated with the creation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC or FCCC) which was adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED: often called the Earth Summit) held in Rio de Janeiro from June 3 to 14, 1992.

    The FCCC says that uncertainty is associated with each link of the causal chain of climate change. For example, future GHG emissions are uncertain, as are climate change damages. However, following the precautionary principle, uncertainty is not a reason for inaction, and this is acknowledged in Article 3.3 of the UNFCCC (Toth et al., 2001, p. 656).

    It should be noted that the FCCC assumes “climate change” is a result of anthropogenic GHG emissions and “uncertainty” is associated with the effects and magnitudes of the emissions and their effects.

    Governments funded climate science as a response to the FCCC and, therefore, “uncertainty” was an important consideration in government-funded climate science.

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

    Answer 2b

    As stated in the conclusion to Answer 2qa (above), Governments funded climate science as a response to the FCCC and, therefore, “uncertainty” was an important consideration in government-funded climate science.

    If government wanted to alter this priority then government would need to change its funding priorities for climate science.

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

    Answer 2b

    There are no efforts to change the interest of the scientific community that is funded by government in response to the FCCC because there is no incentive to change it. If government wants “objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies” then government needs to fund a full range of climate studies, not only studies intended to support the FCCC. For example, there are apparent cycles in climate that seem to have recurred over millennia and they may possibly be responsible for all observed climate change, and climate change may be the climate system constantly seeking its chaotic attractors, but the present interest in GHG effects as the prime cause of climate change inhibits investigation of these possibilities.

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

    Answer 3

    The current IPCC processes do seem to be working, and that is a problem.

    The IPCC now operates to support the UN FCCC. Hence, it seeks information which supports the FCCC and publishes it. Thus, the IPCC exists to provide apparently scientific information for use as justification of a political Treaty.

    Hence, the IPCC Reports provide selected information that supports the FCCC in a form that most justifies the FCCC while excluding or down-playing information which does not support the FCCC (e.g. information on climate cycles, the severe limitations of climate model ‘projections’, the significance of climate cycles, etc.).

    The US is a signatory to the FCCC. Hence, it could be argued that the IPCC is supporting “policy actions” that the US government is committed to taking whether or not those “policy actions” “would impose enormous costs on the United States economy”.

    I hope my above “answers” to the questions are helpful to your thoughts when you formulate your answers to them.

    Richard

  59. Professor Curry,

    I agree with many of your contributors about the need to publicly archive all data and codes when papers are published. Research must be able to be replicated by other scientists [including citizen scientists!] The problem of cost has been mentioned and I would like to suggest a simple procedure that could relatively easily be established at least for publicly funded research. A small percentage of the fund should be ring fenced to pay for such archiving. Its surely not to difficult to establish the cost of archiving data and code in accessible format and then to apply that percentage across all publicly funded research.

    How you make journals apply the rule of no data and code, no publication, I do not know but there must be a way. Possibly peer pressure in academic circles might ensure this happens.

    A second but equally important issue is peer review. Brian Moore in an earlier post suggested that an independent committee with a moderator would control the process but did not mention cost. Again ring fencing part of the public research grants could provide a pool of money to pay for such a system. The moderators and referees, if paid, would have a reason to spend time properly considering draft papers sent to them.

    One consequence in climate science would be fewer [but higher quality] published articles – no bad outcome IMO.

    Of course we have the perfect candidate in our host to be that moderator for a large element of climate science!

    • Most journals now do require that the researchers make materials and data public, but they do not enforce it well and do not have a central repository, it is done on a researcher by researcher basis – not very efficient.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Brad:

        I fail to understand this cost issue which I suspect is often presented as an excuse to justify the unjustifiable.

        All that is required for efficient access to source data is that
        (a)
        the author(s) of each published paper ensure the source data for that paper is accessible (e.g. in an open electronic file) to those who want it,
        (b)
        the Editor of a journal insists that the source data is accessible in such a manner,
        and
        (c)
        the Editor announces withdrawal of a paper if its authors fail to make the source data accessible.

        If the authors possess the data in a coherent form then making that data accessible has very little cost to them or anybody else.

        If they do not possess the data in a coherent form then their work is poor.

        And if they do not possess the data then their paper is worthless.

        Richard

  60. John F. Pittman

    Fred, you ask “are our greenhouse gas emissions a potent warming source?” Later, you speak of climate sensitivity. As indicated in the literature, and in the IPCC assessments, the question becomes not so much as what the past 420 million years have seen, but rather the attribution. Is it potent? As a thought experiment, consider instead of the 2 to 4.5C per CO2 doubling, we extrapolate where the methodological improvements in proxy temperature reconstructions are headed. After MBH98, as more of methods and particular proxies are incorporated or eliminated, the higher the predicted temperature of the MWP has become. The shaft is no longer straight, but is starting to appear more like the Lamb estimate, rather than not. At this point, the newest prediction is close to the CWP. The next is likely to be warmer since a recent publication, incorporating some of the criticisms of past works, states there is still a tendency to underestimate temperatures of the past. What does this say for the potency of our greenhouse gas emissions? If the MWP is as warm or warmer, where does this put the literature in the canonical range? If you are familiar with Knutti and Tebaldi, then you are familiar with the lack of good testing of the models to eliminate the need for some sort of proof that the models are useful. This is what the IPCC was doing and supporting in the text for climate sensitivity and attribution.

    From my point of view, new evidence should be considered, and it should not surprise us that some change in thinking by one group or both groups, or many groups would be required. As we consider what a warm MWP implies in terms of sensitivity, what would we expect to see if the CO2 sensitivity is similar as expected. What does this do to the assumption of water vapor being positive, and the major assumptions in our models.

    The problems with attribution cut both ways, as does sensitivity. Science, I would say, is on no one’s side but the truth’s.

  61. Hi Judith– here are some of my thoughts:

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

    Reply:Skepticism is a crucial element in the development of any physical science, and indeed, people have had endless discussions about precisely what ‘being skeptical’ means in the context of the climate change discussion. The nature of ‘skepticism’ and ‘debate’ has become quite different from what, say, a biochemist or a geologist or a physicist would consider to be.

    In typical scientific discourse, ‘skepticism’ is often a rational response to the lack of robust evidence to support a particular claim. An example of appropriate skepticism was the initial responses to the theory of plate tectonics or continental drift, which was not originally accompanied by a wide variety of evidence. Eventually, various geologic records in paleoclimate, paleomagentism, fossils, etc led to an overwhelming consensus that the theory was valid. Two things are important here: the consensus was a response to the evidence, the evidence was not a response to the consensus (i.e., an appeal to authority). The importance of consensus is downplayed in climate because of this misunderstanding. Secondly, the ‘skeptics’ of continental drift ended up being wrong, but their skepticism was not misplaced, since the evidence remained insufficient until the second half of the 20th century to accept this radical idea.

    In climate science however, ‘skepticism’ has often become synonymous with a complete rejection of any evidence that supports human-induced disruption of climate change. The degree of skepticism of course ranges from the absurd (such as those who deny the existence of a greenhouse effect) to more nuanced details, yet there is absolutely no doubt that a very large campaign exists to cause confusion, and indeed, examples of the distortion of scientists work can be found in mere seconds with the aid of the internet. Since climate change is a topic with more public concern than some other fields, and the arguments the public hears are not as esoteric as the arguments made in the literature, the climate science has often also been asked to learn how to be a public spokesperson. This has been fine for some, but earning a phD in science does not make one a communications expert, or an articulate speaker to lay audiences. On the other hand, the main criticisms against climate science in the public arena have come from the opposite group– those without strong scientific credentials but are well articulate.

    ‘Debate’ in science is generally centered on rather technical claims and is confined to the peer-reviewed literature and academic conference. Astrophysicists, for instance, don’t get on CNN and yell at each other about the fusion processes leading to white dwarf formation, and let a public audience “make up their mind” about it. Yet this is what climate scientists are now being asked to do, either for public trust or policy reasons, and it’s a very different experience for many of them.

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

    Reply: As with any subject, one cannot make broad evaluations on the behavior of a few individuals. The breadth and depth of climate data that is available is enormous, and most scientists are generally very helpful in providing resources to help understand their conclusions. Certainly, this is how behavior should be at the individual to communal levels, and transparency of methodology is a crucial part of any science.

    It would be interesting to see congress place rules on data availability/requests, and punishments for not adhering to such. However, if people do in fact exist who are harassing scientists, then this would only allow them to have their way with taking up scientists time to spend on non-scientific endeavors, so such a policy needs to be considered carefully and punishments for violations considered on a case-by-case basis. Secondly, many of the ‘climategate’ e-mails involved European researchers, so such issues would need to extend internationally.

    There are of course limits to how much data, for say, plotting a linear line will be archived and passed along, and so ‘reproduction’ of results is more nuanced than many people seem to have the impression of. It is not very worthwhile to take the same code someone uses and run it on your computer. Instead, it is much more advantageous to the progression of science to determine how robust a particular conclusion is to various choices and methods. It is better to have two ice cores than two teams looking at the same one.

    There is however an unfortunate reality that in the case of climate science, the physical science and politics often overlap. This reality has led to e-mail requests which are made for non-scientific reasons, and sometimes only to harass scientists (or at least that is the scientists perception, which is really what counts if they make an individual choice to pass along data…if an individual with a history of blogging about the lack of integrity of scientists asks me for data, am I going to not hesitate to provide it, in the name of “science?” Maybe, maybe not. In most cases this shouldn’t be an issue, but unfortunately it is in this field).

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

    Reply: See Fred Moolten’s reply

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

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

    Reply: This won’t be very helpful because I don’t agree with the premise. For one thing, see my comments above– while *some* skepticism involves our lack of understanding of natural variability, other skepticism involves generating confusion. However, other skepticism is not so much a question of unknown variability, but rather the magnitude of the response, with or without natural variability being considered.

    It needs to be emphasized that anthropogenic and natural causes, or ‘science’ and ‘uncertainty’ are not competitors. Scientific results, especially in the world where you are outside the lab and are looking at nature itself, involves uncertainty. Sometimes the uncertainties are very large, sometimes they are small, and the robustness of a result needs to be made with all of these uncertainties in mind and the convergence of multiple studies with various methodologies and assumptions. Even more importantly in the public debate, these uncertainties need to be placed in a proper context of what we know well and where room for research lies. How El Nino will evolve in the future is one such question where various models disagree and no sound framework has emerged to predict with high confidence. This has absolutely no bearing however on whether CO2 is a greenhouse gas and is capable of warming the planet.

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

    Reply: Yes! The IPCC process is such a step. NAS reports, USCCP reports, etc are such steps. A number of climate blogs are making efforts, though with varying degrees of success. Uncertainties are expressed consistently in the AR4, which in fact is a very conservative rather than alarming report, as well as distinguishing between natural and anthropogenic causes.

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

    Reply: It is working as a scientific tool to inform those who want to learn, and within the scientific and policy community provides the most organized balance of evidence on the many topics being considered on climate change. It is clearly not working as a tool to motivate policy, as no large international-level action on climate change has been taken, but on the other hand mandating such policies is not within the scope of what IPCC does.

    Scientists can only inform policymakers, they cannot make the policies themselves, so the “effect” of the IPCC reports is largely out of the hands of the authors. The authors responsibility is to summarize the state of climate science, which has been done with large success; what is done with that information is up to other people, so the question as stated, ” …why should the product of a process that isn’t working be relied upon as the basis for policy actions” is a bit like asking why teachers should be replied upon for future education programs if kids who don’t do their homework fluck out of school.

    Fred also makes the important point that summarizing many decades of research into a ~1000 page document is very difficult. Even more difficult is to then take that 1000 page summary of the “broad stuff” and make a 20 page summary of the “broad broad stuff” that policy makers will actually read and understand. Inevitably, there will be people who don’t like every sentence or who would like things done a separate way.

    • Nicely put Chris, for AGW. It is good to have balance, which in the case of scientific debate means having both extremes presented, because there is seldom a viable middle ground. That is the exciting thing about science.

      I think the essence of your position lies here : The IPCC “is working as a scientific tool to inform those who want to learn, and within the scientific and policy community provides the most organized balance of evidence on the many topics being considered on climate change.”

      Some of us think not, very not. I would say that the IPCC provides the most organized body of bias, not the most organized balance of evidence. There is a big difference. In fact I think your “those who want to learn” is a telling expression.

      • Well David, you’re allowed to think what you want, but when you actually look at things like sea level rise, ice melt, etc, check the claims in the AR4 against the refereed literature, you have a very good assessment of the state of the science…and it turns out in many respects to be conservative (see the subsequent Copenhagen Synthesis report). Some people apparently don’t like that assessment since it violates their belief system, but the trick is to actually publish real results in real scientific journals. Indeed, this is being done all the time, which will set the grounds for improvements in the science that should be addressed in the Ar5. The IPCC doesn’t assess random opinions people may have and blog articles at WUWT

      • My opinions are not random Chris. I study the debate. The IPCC is an advocacy political organization. Their logic is obvious.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Chris Colose:

        You assert, “The IPCC doesn’t assess random opinions people may have and blog articles at WUWT”

        Say what!?

        The IPCC uses ‘grey literature’ when that supports its assertions. Surely, you must have heard of e.g. Himalayagate.

        The IPCC is the InterGOVERNMENTal Panel on Climate Change. Governments consists of politicians who use the expertise of others, including the expertise of scientists. Governments do not consist of scientists although a few politicians have scientific qualifications. Every phrase in every IPCC Report is approved by representatives of Governments.

        IPCC Reports are political documents and, therefore, they are not – and are not intended to be – unbiased scientific assessments.

        Richard

      • Here a gate, there a gate, everywhere a gate gate.

        I really need to learn how to think like conspiracy theorists or corrupt people. Cough, cough, what were you saying Richard?

      • Richard S Courtney

        Chris Colose:

        You really do like to present straw men.

        I do NOT believe AGW is a conspiracy. Indeed, I have refuted all such suggestions of a conspiracy; e.g. for one such refutation from over a decade ago see
        http://www.john-daly.com/history.htm

        The fact is that the IPCC uses ‘grey literature’ as and when it suites the IPCC’s purposes. I cited the infamous Himalayagate as an example because it is probably the most well known example. If you do not knows of it then see e.g.
        http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6991177.ece
        and
        http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2009/12/peer-review-in-ipcc.html

        Importantly, if you are not aware of even this well publicised example of the use of ‘grey literature’ by the IPCC then I strongly suggest that you research the matter before making assertions concerning the nature of IPCC Reports.

        Richard

      • So
        You are saying the IPCC did not rely on grey literature to make a number of remarkable claims.

        You call yourself a blogger/scientist who is closely following the climate debate?

      • Chris,
        Test your faith.

      • Latimer Alder

        ‘the trick is to actually publish real results in real scientific journals.’

        In view of the ‘revelations in the CRU/UEA e-mails’ *, do you still consider that ‘trick’ is the ideal phraseology for this sentence?? It seems unlikely to add credibility to your argument.

        * Please note I managed to avoid the ‘-gate’ word in deference to your sensibilities.

    • Chris, thanks for your thorough reply.

    • In response to Chris Colose (December 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm) :

      The IPCC jumped the gun, and tried to enforce consensus before the evidence was sufficient. So what is missing in your statement “the consensus was a response to the evidence, the evidence was not a response to the consensus” is that the evidence at that time was flimsy at best, being based on computer models’ parameterisations of unknown mechanisms [specific example : clouds] and the discarding of natural factors [specific example : the observed temperature changes during sunspot cycles]. I have given but two examples of many.

      So when you say “In typical scientific discourse, ‘skepticism’ is often a rational response to the lack of robust evidence to support a particular claim”, you have hit the nail on the head wrt climate science.

      But when you talk about scepticism becoming “synonymous with a complete rejection of any evidence that supports human-induced disruption of climate change.”, and “ a very large campaign exists to cause confusion”, you are putting up absurd stawmen and doing everyone a disservice. (And you put up some more strawmen later on).

      There is another aspect that you (and others) address when you say “It would be interesting to see congress place rules on data availability/requests, and punishments for not adhering to such”. From your comments on this I gather that you are not exactly in favour of such an approach. On this, I would have to agree with you. My feeling is that the problems that climate science is going through are not a new phenomenon, just larger in scale and importance than previous occasions. I do not believe that centralised legislation and control of science would be anything but counterproductive. Certainly, improvements are possible and desirable, but in the end science depends on openness of procedure and debate, and on the weight of actual evidence. There are plenty of examples in history of scientific theories being greeted by vehement scepticism, and subsequently being shown to be either correct or incorrect. In the end, climate science will surely be no different.

    • Chris,
      The fundamental fallacy you make is to confuse apolitical organization- the IPCC- with a scientific tool.

  62. Judith

    another trully fascinating and entertaining thread – one gets the impression that one is witness to history unfolding! (Apologies for the pompous tone)

    I cannot add to the detailed contributions but I am curious to know if you intend to publish your response? Or does it automatically go on the public record?

    Very warm wishes

    Gary

    • Gary, right now I am thinking of doing 3 separate posts, one for each question, will start on Fri Dec 10. these questions (and the replies) are soooooooo intresting . . .

  63. Latimer Alder

    ‘yet there is absolutely no doubt that a very large campaign exists to cause confusion, and indeed, examples of the distortion of scientists work can be found in mere seconds with the aid of the internet’

    It might help to persuade the uncommitted that you are indeed correct if you would provide (for example), the Google search terms needed to demonstrate the existence of this campaign. I see many assertions that it exists, but not yet any actual evidence. You clearly believe that you have such evidence to hand. Please share.

    • I agree with Latimer. A campaign requires organization, I think. What evidence do you have of such organization, Chris?

  64. I will focus on #3. Are the current IPCC processes working, and what should be done to them.

    The processes have been used to give an unwarranted air of agreement to one viewpoint. With all due respect, many of the posters in this thread ought to get out more and realize just how many different groups don’t buy into the IPCC consensus, and why. That consensus is not the worldwide consensus, but actually a fairly specific group of people. By and large, I have the strong impression that the scientific communities of Japan, India, China, and many other countries do not agree with it, for what they regard as strong scientific reasons. As a data and modeling professional, I certainly have some serious questions myself about the practices and standards in this data and modeling area. Nor would I hire anybody to pick my investments the way these models seem to be operated.

    When this is true, why is only one viewpoint allowed to talk, at least officially? Where do others get to present their cases? How are policy makers supposed to understand what is true without hearing any other viewpoint? Would this be done so in a courtroom? No. Would this be done so in investment circles? No, they are required to hire professional skeptics and verifiers, called auditors. Would this be done so in IT circles? Absolutely not. Validation and verification is required, not optional. Would this be done so in political discussions on the floor of Congress or the UN? Only to a limited degree. Other voices get to speak as well.

    When only one side gets to speak, weaknesses in their case are never heard, let alone explained. For instance, if this area had adequate standards for the correctness of computer models, the modelers would have to defend their work, or at least explain it, and not just present it as the only serious resource we have.

    What needs to be done to IPCC processes? Add an official and welcome place for dissenting scientific voices to be heard, so that recommendations are understood in context. This should not all be done behind the scenes, but in public. Public policy needs public discussion and public airing, and the scientific aspects are no exception.

  65. David Weisman

    In my opinion, the answer to 1 a is that there are many ‘skeptics’ attempting to pretend the idea of anthropic Co2 increasing global warming is somehow ridiculous, and openly attempting pretend evidence of improper data gathering and record keeping and analysis by certain scientists is evidence that anthropic global warming does not occur. These are rational reasons to attack certain skeptics, though clearly trying to ignore problems to prevent them from serving as distractions does not work.

    • Latimer Alder

      Hmmm

      Interesting remark.

      ‘openly attempting to pretend evidence of improper data gathering and record keeping and analysis by certain scientists is evidence that anthropic global warming does not occur’

      – so you absolutely agree that there is evidence of improper data gathering and record keeping and analysis by certain scientists’. Your beef is that you think others ‘pretend’ that this is evidence that anthropic global warming does not occur.

      And you view these as ‘reasons to attack certain sceptics’.

      I haven’t personally, as a regular reader of sceptic blogs, only found very few indeed who makes the claim that you assert they do. Nor would they gel with my sceptic views.

      Maybe you have better evidence of such beliefs and actions, but absent that right now, I think you are missing the points bigtime.

      Because the data gathering, record keeping and recording and analysis problem. is a BIG problem. For without this having been done to the highest standards, the whole theory is based on sand. That doesn’t of course necessarily mean that it is completely wrong…but it does mean that any quantitative discussion is likely to have huge uncertainties built-in. And that any work based on hisstorical data (i.e all of it) falls under great suspicion of having been ‘manipulated’. Much as we have recently seen in NZ.

      Unless experimental science has changed fundamentally in the last thirty years there is still no way to take reliable primary measurements of anything by doing the basic stuff badly and then subsequently adjusting it in a lab or computer a long way away and a long time later. And especially not to ‘adjust’ it in unrecorded ways based on what can only be described as ‘climatologists intuition’

      Photoshop and all the wonderful tools that digital photography allows are absolutely terrific for amateur photographers like me..to improve my work. But however brilliant they are, it is still necessary to have the good original composition if you wish to claim the finished product as a faithful record of the scene. Otherwise it becomes work of the imagination. The same is true of experimental measurements.

      Why you should feel that these self-evident truths are a reason to attack the messenger rather than get off your collective butts and fix the basic problems with the fundamental data is beyond me. Closing your eyes and hoping that it will all go away or that nobody will notice?

      Unless you have a magic silk purse generator, previously unknown to five hundred years of science, you are still dealing with a lot of sow’s ears.

      • That doesn’t of course necessarily mean that it is completely wrong…but it does mean that any quantitative discussion is likely to have huge uncertainties built-in.
        Not completely, but almost certainly substantially wrong. In fact, it would be pure coincidence if much of it were right. So, “likely to have huge inaccuracies built-in” is more like it.

      • David Weisman

        Latimer, I was actually referring to congressmen rather than bloggers.

    • Lysenkoism thrived in a culture very far from the conservative or libertarian philosophy. Your need to make this conservative/liberal over looks the only thing that really matters: integrity.
      Integrity can be lost under political system if people stop demanding it.
      As we saw demonstrated in the climategate leaks.

    • ‘Openly pretending’…you mean like when Climate Audit shows Mann and Brifa openly applied what they had to have known was bad data and stats?

  66. Richard S Courtney

    David Weisman:

    You assert that “These are rational reasons to attack certain skeptics”

    No! Absolutely not!

    They are reasons to refute what you think to be the erroneous statements and arguments of “certain skeptics”. Sadly, people like you have convinced yourselves that there “are rational reasons to attack certain skeptics”. The blogs established solely to make such attacks demonstrate that some choose to act on their conviction that it is rational “to attack certain skeptics”.

    Those attacks tell more about the attackers than the attacked.

    Richard

  67. Michael Larkin

    I hesitate to contribute to this discussion because a. I’m a Brit and b. make no claims to expertise.

    For what it’s worth, my response relates most closely to 1b: I’d put it as, how do we get things back on track?

    Scepticism is part and parcel of science when it is operating at its best. However, in areas where there are strong political effects and influences, and I think we can all agree climate science is one of those, it can be deemed inconvenient.

    I think we need to intervene and create a respectable, recognised role for sceptical views. I would suggest setting aside a proportion of funding expressly for the pursuance of those. I don’t think the proportion needs to be too high – maybe 10% or even less. This is because there is a limited number of key issues that draw the focus of scepticism. I’d also like to see a journal expressly for the publication of sceptical papers.

    As long as there is pressure to conform, we will never actually know how many practising climate scientists have more doubts than they are prepared to acknowledge. If it were respectable, nay, expected and laudable, to pursue and publish sceptical studies, and if sceptical scientists could be funded and published, then I believe we’d create a healthier atmosphere within the climate science community. To observers like me, it seems the community is infected by an intellectual disease and we must be rigorous in finding a cure for it.

    • Would these “skeptical” views include those that deny CO2 is opaque to longwave? That Beck’s CO2 measurements are valid? You must be less vague in deciding what “skeptic” means. Otherwise, you open the floodgates to every crank out there, much as this blog has already done.

      • I know of no one who claims that the 90,000 measurements cataloged by Beck did not actually occur. Do you so claim? The debate has to do with interpreting these measurements, not their validity.

      • What I meant by “valid” was “as valid as Keeling’s measurements”, i.e., equivalent in their nature and utility.

        Would you argue that Beck and Keeling’s numbers are measurements of the same thing (as “skeptics” promote them)? Why or why not?

      • Richard S Courtney

        Beck and Keeling each provide measurements of atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        Beck collated measurements from many places. Keeling obtained measurements from 2 km altitude on the side of an active volcano and near an active volcanic vent that emits CO2.

        It is not science to accept either set of results uncritically.

        Richard

      • Should we also apply that to those who claim Earth is at risk of tipping into Venus-like climate?
        Or who predicted that Manhattan would be inundated by rising sea levels by now?

  68. I would like to shift gears slightly, based on one of the questions Dr. Curry was asked regarding her Congressional testimony:

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

    Notably, and understandably, Congress is concerned with the impact of climate policy decisions on the United States, and is unpersuaded that IPCC reports are a reliable guide. I’ve pointed out earlier that the climate science community does not come to its conclusions by reading IPCC reports but by reading the literature, attending conferences, and engaging in other forms of information exchange. It would be worthwhile, then, for Congress to inform itself about perspectives within climate science through resoures independent of the IPCC.

    One important example is the U.S. Global Change Research Program, which periodically reports to Congress, and which includes substantial expertise in climate science involving individuals not beholden to the United Nations or the IPCC. A comprehensive report was issued last year –
    USGCRP Report

    I would like to suggest that this report be reviewed by members of Congress who are concerned with these issues. I expect that some members are already familiar with the content, whereas others may wish to visit it again or for the first time. By comparing this resource with other information sources, including IPCC reports, I believe it should be possible to arrive at reasonable conclusions about our understanding of climate change, its causes, and its impacts, including areas of remaining uncertainty.

    • I would add that a valuable feature of this Report, as is the case with other reports of this type, is an extensive list of references. These are derived from multiple sources (including a few from IPCC sources). The Report also includes an Executive Summary for individuals interested primarily in the main conclusions and less in their documentation.

    • Actually the US CCSP (which officially absorbed the GCRP, sort of) reports reflect exactly the same ultra-AGW artful bias as the IPCC reports, but with a US flavor. What they demonstrate is the choke hold that AGW false certainty has on the US science funding establishment. The interesting question is how to break that hold and get some balance back?

      • Restart the Global Climate Coalition – heavily funded by corporate profit-driven interests. You’re already dogmatically opposed to environmental conservation, perhaps you can get political conservatives to fund an anti-science faith-based alternative to provide “balance”.

      • A great tell someone is missing the entire thrust of the conversation is to persist in calling skeptics ‘ant-science’.

      • Well said! It also made me laugh immoderately.

  69. I doubt whether you do really agree with the premise of Q1. I mean “agreeing with the mainstream view of global warming” seems to mean that you:

    a) Agree that there is sound experimental evidence for unprecedented warming.

    b) Agree that the modeling processes used to explain the data are adequate.

    c) Agree (at least to some extent) with the suggested consequences of AGW.

    d) Are reasonably happy with the IPCC’s approach to dealing with uncertaintity.

    I’d say you have already written plenty to suggest you do not agree!

    I do feel it is important to avoid saying something that others can pretend means something else!

  70. A couple of thoughts

    About data-sharing and quality. There is, I think, an element of confusion over the implications of the sort of data accessibility, and quality control, demanded by sceptics. Some defenders of the status quo seem to infer that we are demanding that all work to a lower standard should cease, or at least be considered worthless and not worth doing or funding. This would be absurd, and would almost certainly bring scientific advance to a grinding halt. All we are asking is that a clear distinction be made between work which has yet to reach a state in which it is fit for public use, and work which has reached that standard – and that only the latter be used to inform decision-making.

    One thing I don’t see clearly enough defined for policy-makers is the one-dimensionality of the present state of climate change knowledge – that is, that it exists (so far as policy-makers are concerned) as a monomaniacal prosecution of CO2, rather than as an inquisition into a range of hypotheses likely to yield genuine insights into the climate. So far as allocation of resources is concerned, the best value for policy-makers can be had from identifying neglected and/or stymied areas of research and funding them – at the expense, if necessary, of the carbon posse.

  71. Dear Dr. Curry,

    These are important questions, indeed. And they will require a lot of deliberation and deep thought on your part. Let me add my comments.

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

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

    Answer: This question is not easy to answer. As I stated “it is difficult to understand”. It could be that these scientists, themselves, are not so sure of the credibility of their arguments or that they have seen some of the uncertainties in the data supporting these arguments, which they would prefer to ignore and withhold from outside scrutiny. It is possible that some of these scientists have “invested” considerable work in developing a certain line of reasoning, or “paradigm”, which they defend against challenges from skeptical researchers. Unfortunately, this is a common reaction among scientists, even in fields that are not as politically and emotionally charged as climate science is today.

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

    Answer: It is my opinion that if the public is paying for the research work, it “belongs” to the public and should be totally transparent and open to public scrutiny. Scientists, who withhold their results from public scrutiny, should not be publicly funded.

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

    Answer: Publicly funded research results should be open to everyone.

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

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

    Answer: This is also a difficult question to answer. “Uncertainty” has always been an integral part of climate science, a field that is still in its infancy. Uncertainty about “the sun rising tomorrow”: is not in the same category or magnitude as “uncertainty about the impact of natural climate variability or forcing” or “uncertainty that greenhouse warming from human CO2 has really played a major role in our planet’s past climate or that it represents a serious potential threat to humanity”. This hypothesis has yet to be validated by empirical data and the “uncertainties” are large.

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

    Answer: I do not believe that there has been a real “shift” within the scientific community, per se. I do, however, conclude that there has been a “shift” in public opinion, following the Climategate revelations and the subsequent exposure of IPCC malfeasance. As a result, climate science has suffered a major loss of credibility. In my opinion, the blogosphere has played a major role here.

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

    Answer: Unfortunately, I have observed that the first reaction within the scientific community in general has been defensive rather than introspective and corrective. Policymakers should be aware of the high degree of uncertainty regarding the projections of future anthropogenic greenhouse warming (AGW) and its impact on our climate and environment. There is already great uncertainty regarding the greenhouse warming to be expected from a doubling of atmospheric CO2, a basis for all future temperature projections. Similar uncertainties exist in the model projections of future scenarios and storylines regarding the projected increase of atmospheric CO2. Policymakers should be aware that AGW may not, in fact, represent a future threat, and that more work is needed before such a conclusion can be drawn.

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

    Answer: No. I do not believe that these processes are working as they should today. IPCC has become too dogmatic and defensive of its stand on AGW and its impact, in effect understating uncertainties, exaggerating impacts and, in some cases, ignoring data which conflict with its stand. Its current reports cannot today, in my opinion, “be relied upon as the basis for policy actions that would impose enormous costs on the United States economy”. More work is needed first, in order to clear up the many open uncertainties before embarking on major policy actions.

    These are my thoughts only

    Max Anacker

  72. Alexander Harvey

    Regarding:

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

    Judith:

    WARNING: I have not attempted to answer the question, just to ponder how to effectively address it, and I do so at excrutiating length.

    Were I to attempt an answer to this, I would consult:

    PRINCIPLES GOVERNING IPCC WORK
    Approved at the Fourteenth Session (Vienna, 1-3 October 1998) on 1 October 1998, amended at the 21st Session (Vienna, 3 and 6-7 November 2003) and at the 25th Session (Mauritius, 26-28 April 2006)

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles.pdf

    as it covers both the Role and the Procedures (which I interprete as process).

    I cannot see that one should comment on the process without reference to the role, which is described in that document by the following single long sentence:

    “The role of the IPCC is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

    Plus the following admonition:

    “IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they may need to deal objectively with scientific, technical and socio-economic factors relevant to the application of particular policies.”

    And a point that strikes me as being out of place (not strictly part of the role but a procedual issue):

    “Review is an essential part of the IPCC process. Since the IPCC is an intergovernmental body, review of IPCC documents should involve both peer review by experts and review by governments.”

    If there is a better document then much of what follows may be not worth reading.

    I will only deal with the first sentence as it speaks directly to the essence of the role.

    To my mind this long sentence could have been replaced by shorter and less ambiquous sentences. Unless it is clear what this sentence means then it is difficult to know whether the process is working or not.

    I can only believe that this key sentence has been gone over with a fine- toothed comb and so should be read carefully. My reading of the sentence would concur with something that you may be passionate about. Its thrust concerns understanding risk (uncertainty).

    “… understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, …”

    But, and it is a big but, it is not charged with assessing that risk, nor the understanding of that risk. Its role is:

    “to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the
    scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to” (“understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”)

    (It might be worth noting that the “its” in the final phrase may refer to either the “risk of human-induced climate change” or simply “human-induced climate change” both make some sense but I suspect that the latter is the intended sense. Also I would say that the “its” must be interpreted as subordinate to the “understanding” clause which introduces it, and not something to be assessed in its own right.)

    So although it is risk that seems to be the central motivation, it is not risk that is to be assessed (evaluated). It is:

    “the scientific, technical and socio-economic information” relevant to understanding the described risk, and to understanding “potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation” that is to be assessed.

    To me the governing intention would appear to be the defining of the role so as to imply: a selection of relevant information, and an assessment thereof.

    Now, I do not think that the IPPC can be said to have failed the assessment task unless they have failed to come to an opinion (for that is all that is required) “on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis”. Holding a different opinion would not be an argue for their failure.

    Regarding “relevant”, it should be noted that the phrase “the scientific, technical and socio-economic information” starts with the word “the”; hence an implication of inclusiveness. Not “information” but “the information” i.e. all information.

    I think that one may reasonably argue that it is not clear (e.g. transparent from the reports) that all the information regarding the understanding of risk was assessed by the IPCC process. That is not to say it wasn’t, but it could be questioned that it is not transparent that that it “all” was. It could be argued that much scientific evidence and perhaps whole disciplines that deal explicitly with the understanding of risk are not assessed transparently and possibly not even comprehensively. I could not argue for that point, as I simply have not read every word of the published assessments, and other published supplementary materials including all the review commentaries.

    The question as to whether the “IPCC processes are working” can be seen as debatable on the basis of whether the processses (which may differ from the procedures as drawn up in the above document) have led to the fulfilment of the role as described in the three sentences I have extracted.

    To question the role itself or the worth of the assesments produced goes to a different arguement. E.G. whether the IPCC “processs” (not processes) is working.

    The key issues appear to be adequacy in the addressing of the thrust of the individual segments in the following inclusive decomposition:

    “The role of the IPCC is to assess”
    “on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis”
    “the scientific, technical and socio-economic information”
    “relevant to understanding the scientific basis of”
    “risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.”

    Charges specifically against any or all of these segments would I feel be both relevant to the question as posed and hopefully instrumental to the progressing the debate in general. Arguments that the IPCC is not fit for purpose or ones based on a disagreement with its assessment would not I think address the question as posed once the role of the IPCC, as declared in the “PRINCIPLES GOVERNING IPCC WORK” is taken into account.

    Well that was a lot of words to comment on just the “Do you believe the current IPCC processes are working?” part of the question. I have, as promised not attempted to answer it, just to ponder it.

    Alex

    • Thanks Alex, this is very helpful

    • Richard S Courtney

      Alexander Harvey:

      Thank you for your very fine assessment of the IPCC’s goverrning principles.

      I would only wish to add that the inherent assumption in the principles is that there exists a significant “risk of human-induced climate change” that has “potential impacts” which require “options for adaptation and mitigation.”

      Indeed, the existence of WG2 and WG3 from the inception of the IPCC proves that the IPCC accepts this is its governing assumption. Otherwise WG2 and WG3 would not have been established until the work of WG1 had determined the existence of significant risk that determined a need for WG2 and WG3.

      But the “options for adaptation and mitigation” can only be suggestions for political policies (i.e. suggested actions for governments). And this is why each IPCC Reports contains a “Summary For Policymakers” (i.e. politicians).

      None of the Reports – especially not WG1 Reports that purport to be assessments of the pertinent science – would have a “Summary For Policymakers” if the Reports were scientific and not political documents.

      Richard

  73. Alexander Harvey

    Thanks Judith.

    To all:

    I am looking for the IPCC mandate (that which it was set up to do)

    I am trying to tease out what the IPCC is mandated to carry out (presumably by the WMO and IPCC) and what it has decided to carry out. The later being a self-imposed burden, subject to alteration.

    Now I simply cannot find a founding mandate which would surely have originated prior to the first IPCC plenary session. So far all I have found is the document above (which incles the role as approved at the fourteenth session) but no mandatory role as imposed by the WMO/UNEP. If it exists it sure seems to be well tucked away somewhere. Can anyone provide a link to an founding mandate. I can find numerous links refering to a mandate but they all seem to lead back to IPCC reports and IPCC decisions. So I am only interested in an external mandate not something that the IPCC chose to do.

    Also I am interested in oversight regarding the fulfilment of its mandate (whatever that actually is) and its self-imposed disciplines. In a real sense it is the overseer that carries the burden of holding the IPCC to task for any short-comings. Oversight seems to rest on the IPCC secretariat and its chairperson, the Sectretary. I find it a little odd but perhaps not surprising that both the Secretary and the Secretariat are a little obscure, if lacking a wikipedia entry is an adequate measure of obscurity. They have an IPCC page but it is not all that fullsome. It is whence I found the sentence “The IPCC Secretariat plans, oversees and manages all IPCC activities.”

    Can anybody give any authoritive (UNEP/WMO/IPCC) links detailing the nature of IPCC oversight (e.g. how it is carried out, to whom reports are sent). That oversight should rest with a secretariat is quite proper as the secretarial role is one apart from the rest of an organisation. But to whom does it report?

    Alex

    • Alexander Harvey

      Just to be clear:

      I can find stuff like the following (UNEP website):

      The mandate of the IPCC is to “assess the scientific, technical
      and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding
      of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation
      and mitigation.” The IPCC does not carry out research, nor
      does it monitor climate-related data or other relevant parameters.
      Rather, it bases its assessment mainly on peer-reviewed scientific
      and technical literature that has already been published.
      The comprehensive assessment process involves the input of
      hundreds of scientists in compiling, analysing and synthesizing
      existing scientific publications to draw conclusions about the
      status of our scientific understanding of climate change.

      Now this surely cannot be the original mandate as it is not worded correctly.

      The mandate of the IPCC is to “assess the scientific, technical
      and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding
      of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation
      and mitigation.”

      Note the quotes indicating that it is not an originating sentence, it might be an extract from the mandate.

      So I do not need any links to more stuff like that.

      Alex

      • you are onto something very interesting, once i get my next post finished on greenhouse, i will dig into this also, you’ve made me curious and this is probably something i should mention in my response to the committee.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Hi,

        From:

        http://www.wmo.int/pages/governance/congress/documents/939E.pdf

        “The IPCC was established by the fortieth session (1988) of the Executive Council by its Resolution 4 (EC-XL) and was endorsed by Eleventh Congress (1991) by its Resolution 11 (Cg-XI).”

        Now I am struggling to find these resolutions but they should include the mandate etc.

        Alex

      • I recommend Edwards’ “A Vast Machine” if you want to see the history of where the IPCC came from. It wasn’t conceived in the fetid imaginations of UN bureaucrats as part of their plot to run the world.

      • Alexander Harvey

        Thanks but I am looking for the resolution that set it up, if you have a link to that I would be truly thankful.

        Alex

      • The 1988 resolution seems to be included as Box 1 on page 5 of this 2007 review of the terms of reference

        http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session26/doc4.pdf

      • Alexander Harvey

        Thanks,

        That is almost precisely what I was looking for.

        It appears to me that the IPCC clarified its mission by the time of the Vienna Session. By then the notion of “risk” had been added and made central to the purpose of the assessment process.

        Alex

      • I have the sense that any member of Congress who asks “is there something wrong with the IPCC?” has already decided that there is, and that U.S.. climate policy should not be guided by IPCC conclusions.

        Whether or not current views of IPCC deficiencies are justified, that member’s reluctance to rely on the IPCC is not unreasonable. Ideally, conclusions about climate science should be based on the vast literature that has accumulated on the subject, but neither Congressional Representatives nor their staff have the time or qualifications to exploit this resource and must therefore rely on material compiled and analyzed by qualified scientists and distilled into manageable documents that are separate from IPCC reports if the latter are considered unreliable.

        For the U.S., these documents exist in the form of reports by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and by the NRC – links to these are provided upthread. I believe that members with a genuine interest in what expert non-IPCC documentation of climate science thinking has to say will welcome the availability of these alternative resources.

      • My understanding is that the U.S. govt is increasingly relying on these other assessments, by the NRC and the USGCRP.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Fred Moolten:

        You say:
        “I have the sense that any member of Congress who asks “is there something wrong with the IPCC?” has already decided that there is, and that U.S.. climate policy should not be guided by IPCC conclusions.”

        Not being an American I cannot judge if your “sense” is likely to be correct about Members of the US Congress. But in most countries politicians do not publicly ask a question of an ‘expert’ unless
        (a) the politicians know the answer which the ‘expert’ is likely to provide is the answer the politicians want to obtain
        and
        (b) the answer to be presented in public is what the politicians want to be heard by the public (or can be cited to the public).

        Assuming these general principles hold true in this case, then there are two possibilities. Either the question is asked of Dr Curry because the politicians want to ‘back off’ from the IPCC or they want justification for continuing to present an appearance of their trust in the IPCC (whether or not that trust exists).

        Unless Dr Curry has very good reason to know which of those two possibilities is true then the only reasonable response she can make is to present as clear an explanation of her personal view(s) as possible together with information which supports those views.

        And if she does have good reason to know which of those two possibilities is true then she has two honourable options whichever of the possibilities is true. The options are
        (1) to present as clear an explanation of her personal view(s) as possible together with information which supports those views
        or
        (2) to refuse to answer the question.

        Please note that your comment could be thought to be supportive of ‘skeptics’ such as myself. However, I think it important to point out that much of the mess climatology is in would have been avoided if all climatologists had based their behaviour on principles of honour and not on political expediency.

        The fact that Dr Curry (an AGW-supporter) is respected by AGW-skeptics is because she has adopted an honourable position, and I think she would be mistaken to move from that position.

        Richard

      • Alexander Harvey

        Hi,

        The report of the fortieth meeting of the WMO Executive Council is not listed in the WMO sites publication list. (Most of them are including the 39th and 41st)

        Eleventh World Meteorological Congress (1991) – Abridged report with resolutions

        is listed but it is pay-walled, so that is as far as I go. Perhaps it is in your library.

        Hopefully I have found where the resolution resides but I cannot afford to take a bet on it being in the report or it containing either a charter or a mandate.

        Alex

      • i’ll take a look

      • Alexander Harvey

        It turns out that you need to look for “terms of reference” which are ongoing ad hoc.

        See posting below and:

        http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session25/doc8.pdf

        There may be more recent terms of reference, I wish I could find something that points at the current ones or the ones under which the AR4 was produced.

        Alex

      • Alexander Harvey

        The founding resolution is documented here with a discussion of the IPCC ongoing terms of reference:

        http://www.ipcc.ch/meetings/session26/doc4.pdf

        After the preamble the resolution,

        “AGREES that an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change should be established,

        AGREES FURTHER:
        (1) That the activities of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) should be aimed at (i) assessing the scientific information that is related to the various components of the climate change issue such as emissions of major greenhouse gases and modification of the Earth’s radiation balance resulting therefrom, and that needed to enable the environmental and socio-economic consequences of climate change to be evaluated; and (ii) formulating realistic response strategies for the management of the climate change issue,
        (2) That the panel should report on its activities to the governing bodies of WMO and UNEP,”

        I would be interested to know if part (2) includes oversight reporting and whether any of these reports are publically available.

        Alex

  74. Why not require that data and methods be published along with all peer reviewed papers, sufficient to recreate the work? Until other researchers can independently recreate your work, there can only be limited confidence in your findings. Cold fusion and the hockey stick come to mind.

  75. Dr Curry
    I doubt that you need any help in responding to the set of questions from the committee. I can only hope that there is something worth using in my response to the questions below. My perspective is limited to following what is said and written by proponents of both sides of the issue of AGW. I am not a climate dilettante but an interested in climate science for intellectual reasons. I personally am more interested in the potential role of the sun if any in the warming observed since 1900. So, technically my science interests are outside the realm climatology.

    a. Why are so many scientists “pointing their guns” at skeptics when sharing data and embracing debate seems to be an obvious way for scientists to increase the credibility of their arguments and influence public debate?
    It is not clear to me that “so many” climate scientists are pointing their guns at AGW skeptics. There were a few scientists active in the science of climate that strongly disagree that there is any doubt about magnitude of global warming. There many, some who are branded as skeptics, who acknowledge that there is warming but are not sure about the magnitude of the man made contribution. The climate is warming and no skeptic I have read has said that the planet has not warmed. Some questions are how much does man made CO2 contribute? What are the mechanisms active in the rise in temperature? Is warming causing CO2 to increase? These questions relate to the science which is not completely understood. Against this backdrop of the science of climate change is a political drama generated by the UN that the science is certain and the predicted results are catastrophic for the planet. These conclusions are possible because the science is not settled completely and therefore those who in power politically can use the doubt as a means to alarming everyone with the help of mainstream media. The “gun toters” are politicians using unsettled science as means of creating fear. The politicians do not really understand the science so they read the abstracts and executive summaries, talk to sources on science, and that information is used to load their guns against anyone casting doubt on their premise that AGW is dangerous and must be stopped before it is too late. These predictions based on the science reported in IPCC documents are not scientific predictions at all but represent extrapolations of the work of the scientists. The scientific literature on climate science is void for the most part of the efforts to discredit another scientist for having doubts. Most of the proponent scientists have the same doubts but a little less strongly.
    The absence of free exchange of data and programs while work is in progress is a normal consequence of competing for research support. Almost all scientists have experienced or have had concerns about being “scooped”. This situation was and is aggravated by the need to justify the request for research funding to an agency. The agencies choose the areas of research they want to fund. Naturally when the proposed mechanism of AGW was hatched the government funding agencies choose to award grants to those who requested support to study the effects of global warming that they wanted studied. What followed was a mass ascension of trial balloons in all fields of science and engineering that propose to study the effects of global temperature rise on everything from decaying satellite orbits to butterfly mating habits. To get support the grant proposals had to emphasize the possible negative effects of the rise in temperature. The media loved these proposals and the concomitant reported results in the scientific literature and in the government reports including those from IPCC because they generated interest in the media. Thus climate science mushroomed into science and engineering research boondoggles in areas total divorced from climate science research but that depended on climate science results to justify the non climate research. Now, when some of the prominent scientists who were skeptical about the magnitude of the man made contribution to warming and the associated effect on the planet spoke out, there arose a huge clamor that the science was settled and these spokespersons were then discredited. They were ostracized before word could get out that would kill the goose that lays the golden egg. How can you seek support to study the effects of AGW if the contribution is trivial or if most of the change is a manifestation of climate viability which is probably outside of our control? It wasn’t climate scientists with the guns, but science outsiders with a vested interest that the warming is strongly manmade and deleterious to human life on earth. Thus major science bodies took stands on AGW to protect the body of scientists within their domain. There were scientists signing petitions about AGW who had at most peripheral connection to work in the field of climate research. Both sides of the AGW generated lists of scientists who were skeptics or proponents of AGW. There were uproars that resulted in ad honinem comments in the media against skeptic scientists. There were fanfares of media PR announcements that the science is settled because there is a large consensus of scientists that support AGW and that there are powerful statistical correlations that prove that the warming is caused by man. Recently you became a target by bestowing you a “denier” or “skeptic” label when you qualified an issue in science of climate. However, Scientific American is not a journal in climate science and their attack was not leveled at your scientific prowess but as a defense mechanism for their previous position statements on AGW. The fact that they placed these monikers on you sort of says that the editors do not really have a grasp of the magnitude and difficulty of defining how CO2 really works to promote warming. They want to sell magazines. When I was employed in large bureaucratic organization, one could people occasionally recite the following; “when you are up to your nose in the middle of a swamp, don’t make waves! “ That summarizes the position of the outsiders. They are saying don’t create doubt about the size of the effect on the planet.
    b. Given the potentially enormous influence of climate science on economic and environmental policy – which ultimately boils down to jobs t00, shouldn’t it be held to a higher standard in the public debate? For example, should Congress consider blocking funding for researchers that do not make their data and materials available for public scrutiny?
    My short answer is no. The enormous influence was not caused by climate scientists but by people who took it upon themselves to be spokespersons for the science of climate. The BLOG sphere is filled with examples. The influence was outside the climate science research by those who wanted to control people’s thinking and garner political influence in the name of science. Throughout history from Copernicus to the present, people outside of a given area of science have used the results of scientific activities for political gain. In this case the results of climate science are and were molded and bent by the self appointed spokespersons for the climate science to satisfy their agendas and over zealous PR groups seeking attention of the significance of the research before it is actually published.
    If the issue of the contribution of man made CO2 had not be enflamed by the UN-IPCC ecological zealots with doomsday predictions, by the mainstream media hungry for attention and if the contribution to global warming had been left to discussions in refereed journals in climate science involving climate scientists, the rules of debate would have depended on the journal’s rules for publication which generally require openness and discussion at open conferences and forums. Unfortunately, this process which has worked for other areas of strong scientific interests is too slow for climate political hacks. Congress should require those government agencies that support climate research that the results be published in refereed journals that require traceability of data and openness of computer programs used to manipulate data, as most do before any PR from the source.
    c. Should such research be excluded from use in policy debates and scientific assessments such as those by the National Academies or IPCC?
    What research? If the research results aren’t published in an open literature journal that is fully refereed. It should be ignored. No more hot articles from a rock climbing magazine.
    a. At what point did uncertainty become a bad thing in the climate community?
    Uncertainty is real. When it is ignored it is bad for science. The idea that science produces findings that are totally certain is a myth. There are elements of belief buried midst the analysis and equations. However when a politician makes a prediction about the consequences of science for humanity, there is no room for uncertainty. If the predictions turn out to be wrong, the politician may lose their job or lose face. Hence the uncertainty was not a problem created by the community of climate scientists, it is only bad when the self appointed climate science spokespersons misinterpreted or fudged the results to gain political power. An uncertain science translates into political uncertainty.
    b. How did this shift within the scientific community occur? How does it shift back?
    I don’t know because I am not a member of the climate science community. Having read and studied articles in refereed climate science journals over the last five years, I don’t see any shift. The shift about unacceptability of uncertainty in AGW occurred outside the climate science community though a few climate scientists participated in the shift. The scientific bodies of journal publishers who claimed to be representing totally different fields of science declared that there was no uncertainty as a defense mechanism for their science members. If there is uncertainty they can’t admit it or they have to eat their positions statements. These declarations are totally political. Moreover, the scientist in non climate research can’t afford to have climate science trivialize any justification for conducting the research in the first place. AGW must produce an effect that justifies the research activity. . This strategy only works when there is uncertainty. Science researchers want the answers from their research to lead to more research. Climate research spanned spin off research in many scientific fields because it was believed to be important for the survival of mankind. There will be another shift when global warming stops.
    c. Are there any efforts within the scientific community to self-correct this paradigm shift? If there is not, what does this mean for the decision-makers needing objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies?
    I don’t know what efforts within the scientific climate community are on going to self-correct the uncertainty paradigm because I am not a member of climate science community. You have first hand knowledge. The groups of scientists outside of the climate science community represented by prominent journals and professional societies have a political agenda to keep the research funding flowing in their areas of research so that their members publish in their journals the results of research on the effects of AGW. A few journals have peer review processes and methods of refereeing papers that border on unethical or unprofessional behaviors. These behaviors by the journal editors are needed to defend their position statement on AGW. With time reputable scientists will look for alternative journals in which to publish their results rather that be held hostage by a biased referee committee or an unethical editorial board of a journal.
    3. Do you believe the current IPCC processes are working? If so, why? If not, what specific actions can be taken to repair them, and in the meantime, why should the product of a process that isn’t working be relied upon as the basis for policy actions that would impose enormous costs on the United States economy?
    The IPCC cannot be trusted. They are not scientists but politicians with an agenda to use climate science to control the world’s wealth and redistribute it. To achieve this objective while altruistic if they are right about the magnitude and seriousness of the effect of man made CO2, they cannot be counted on to accept that they could be wrong about the magnitude of man made global temperature increase and that that increase will be bad for the planet. They failed to maintain scientific integrity by allowing hearsay evidence from non refereed sources as evidence for the possible effects of global warming. In essence, they are more interested in the possible effects on the planet than on the mechanisms of if or how man made CO2 effects global temperature. As long as there is uncertainty about the degree of the effect on temperature of CO2, they can project terrible consequences for the planet without fear of being wrong. However, if science finds that the anthropological CO2 is a trivial contributor to global warming or if science finds out that warming is beneficial, they would not be motivated to agree and might attempt to suppress that information to maintain their objective and to attempt to discredit any scientist or scientific body that supports a contrary position to that at the UN. They should not be used as a basis of major governmental decisions at this time and I don’t think they can be repaired without a major overhaul of the organization and its premise.
    I look forward to your response after it is submitted.

    • Jon,
      You write: “There were a few scientists active in the science of climate that strongly disagree that there is any doubt about magnitude of global warming.”

      My understanding is that there are very, very few scientists disagreeing on that there is some doubt. There are, however, more scientist who believe that they get the correct message through better by pretending that there is no doubt. They believe that understanding the relevance of uncertain risks is too difficult for the laymen. They aim at giving the “right overall message” even if that requires belittling the uncertainties.

  76. Alan Sutherland

    I am a professional person living in New Zealand. I am busy and don’t have time to read a million pages on climate change. Indeed, this is not too different to members of your Congress. I would prefer to trust scientists to be objective and inform me of the research results, though in all fields I have a healthy skepticism. But when I am going to be asked to go back and live like a caveman, I demand a higher level of proof than if I am being told I should not scratch my bottom too frequently otherwise I will cause ulcers.

    When I read the climategate e-mails, my reaction was the same as Hal Lewis. I also read Jo Nova’s site and she espouses an acid test in the form of the tropical hot spot which is missing. Therefore all the feedback assumptions built into models are wrong. Many scientists have tried to prove there is a hot spot by using very dubious references. So in reviewing the questions put to Judith Curry, why can warmers dismiss the crucial question of the hot spot and carry on with the science of doom as if the question is not important? The research gravy train just grinds on with another million pages skirting around the hot spot issue.

    Those contributing here agree there are greenhouse gases, that CO2 is one of them and its concentration in the atmosphere is increasing. The question is will a 1 or 2 degree warming actually be beneficial when combined with higher levels of CO2? There are no feedbacks, the hot spot is not there. Why is the game not yet over? Why do climate scientists use “tipping point” marketing techniques when the alternative of waiting for a decade will answer a lot of the questions?

    For research to be funded it is obligatory to have a theme reinforcing “global warming”. It is so tiresome to read press releases espousing this and that “because of global warming”. The globe has not had any statistically significant warming for the last 15 years, sea levels are not rising. Arctic ice is within historical limits. Always we hear that all the bad things are going to happen, but we can stop it now by throwing multi trillion dollars at it.

    Where does this fit into the review questions put by Congress?

    Alan Sutherland

  77. Dr. Curry, you might find the following to be helpful in formulating your response to:

    3. Do you believe the current IPCC processes are working?

    The IAC Report highlighted many shortcomings in the current IPCC review process. In addition, Peter B., an Australian programmer, has now completed the first automated – and annotated – analysis of the 44 Chapters in AR4.

    We have been able to quantify the extent to which certain IPCC chapter authors have cited their own (and/or their co-authors’) papers, the number of non-peer-reviewed references cited, as well as the disturbingly low level of unambiguous acceptance of Reviewer Comments on the Second Order Draft – and the extent to which key individuals involved in the Climategate emails have been active in the IPCC process.

    In FAR_OUT (Fourth Assessment Report – Objectively Uniformly Tagged), we have linked citations to their respective references and “tagged” each citation with the potential concern(s) in accordance with criteria we have specified (and which at this point in time are preliminary and subject to change and refinement).

    We have identified a number of key individuals involved in the emails whom we have designated as Persons of Concern [PoC]; a Journal in which a PoC has published has been designated as a Journal of Concern [Joc].

    This is not to suggest that we believe such papers are necessarily flawed, but rather that, as Joseph Alcamo noted at Bali in October 2009, “as policymakers and the public begin to grasp the multi-billion dollar price tag for mitigating and adapting to climate change, we should expect a sharper questioning of the science behind climate policy”.

    We caution that at this stage, FAR_OUT is not complete – and far from perfect; but we do believe that there are indications of areas of concern of which many unsuspecting readers of AR4 may be unaware.

    • My apologies, the original link in the following may not work. Here is the text with the corrected link:

      We have identified a number of key individuals involved in the emails whom we have designated as Persons of Concern [PoC]; […]

      • novandilcosid

        This is a really excellent piece of work, which goes a long way to answering the question why the IPCC report should be treated with caution.
        It shows which statements made in the report can be considered to be well established and which need further research before they can be accepted. (I regret to say that the latter is more usually the case).

  78. When the IPCC was formed the only “proof” they had for AGW was the seemingly common rise of temperature and level of CO2 after the Ice Age. After ca 2003 it is clear that the temperature rise comes ca 800 years before. When this was clear IPCC should have admitted that they had lost their only proof and their 90% of certainty should have dropped quite a bit. But they didn´t.

    As all (?) countries have their representatives in the IPCC the advices from this organisation becomes like a law for the gouvernments around the world = the opinions of the IPCC becomes the opinion of the gouvernments and that is not good. If the IPCC opinion is flawed this affects all gouvernments. The IPCC has too much influence.

  79. Far from being really good questions, I would describe them as really bad questions.
    Leaving aside the question as to why your testimony only provoked three questions – only three? – and from whom? – these three strike me as being blatantly leading questions.

    Let us look at question #3, as analysing all three would take too long.

    “Do you believe the current IPCC processes are working? If so, why? If not, what specific actions can be taken to repair them,”
    – and without waiting for an answer from you, goes on to ask –
    “why should the product of a process that isn’t working be relied upon as the basis for policy actions that would impose enormous costs on the United States economy?”

    I searched your testimony for the word “economy”. Your testimony says nothing about the United States, nor about the economy, so why should you be questioned about it? Your testimony says nothing about costs, enormous or otherwise. The question itself implies that policy actions would impose enormous costs, but, being formulated as a question, does nothing to explain the basis for this assumption. Quite on the contrary, one can envisage policy decisions that would have enormous benefits for the United States economy, such as reduced fuel costs resulting from improved fuel efficiency, reduced external trade deficit, development of industry and export markets for high efficiency and renewable energy related products, just to name a few. However, none of this has any bearing on your testimony, and is nothing other political posturing.

    T.

    • Hi Tom, and welcome to the world of politics mate.

      Depending on which side of this sorry AGW debate a person is on, these questions can be seen as bad, or “how does it feel when the boots on the other foot?”

      Mid term elections happen, boot changes foot. Presidential elections happen, boot changes foot. In the meantime, it’s we the citizens getting our proverbial kicked. (irregardless of which side one is on)

  80. Judith,
    I wish that I had a popular blog with tons of interested, educated folks to help me with my last congressional testimony response. THIS IS SOOOO NOT FAIR! Here’s my input to your homework. :)
    2.a. At what point did uncertainty become a bid thing in the climate community?”
    I’m not exactly sure how I would answer this. But my gut feeling is to point out that people will naturally do what they learn is necessary to get the treat instead of the punishment. Meaning, if they observe that public funding is difficult to procure without some amount of going along with the party line or making some assumptions that might mask uncertainty in the eyes of their benefactors, their behavior will move towards those observations – I’ll call this the “Pavlovian Climate Science Response”. Further, people in the ivory tower often forget that the people providing them information don’t always give the whole story based on fear of the tower’s response. I have personally seen this and tried to fight it in my role inside “the tower” in the world. Congress qualifies as an Ivory Tower. Those guys go a long time between occurences of people clearly identifying unknowns with no possible answer or spin. I’ve seen extremely senior Navy leadership show up and say things to Congress that bordered on perjury just so they didn’t have to tell Congress they had no idea what was happening. If it can happen to that group of generally Type-A personalities like that, it can certainly happen to a bunch of not-so-Type-A nerdy scientists like me. I’ve always wondered if Congress realizes that people aren’t giving them the straight dope or if they are truly just getting snowed.

    b. How did this shift within the scientific community occur? How does it shift back?
    If I’m right on 2.a, then the answer to 2.b is pretty simple: the scientists who became successful operated well within the system they saw emerging – 1. funding is granted to those projects that perform research and reach “IMPORTANT” conclusions. 2. Funding for follow-on is easier to get if you can build on those conclusions and make even more.

    c. Are there any efforts within the scientific community to self-correct this paradigm shift? If there is not, what does this mean for the decision-makers needing objective and unbiased scientific information to inform their policies?
    When requests for proposal asks scientists to justify their project in relation to policy or a preset conclusion (e.g., effects of GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE on sea level), I can’t imagine there will be very much self-correction. Who wants to volunteer to change track when the train they’re on has plenty of gravy?

    Again, these aren’t intended to be “answers”, but might key an idea in your head to get further down the road to your response. I hope I helped.