Hiding the Decline: Part II

by Judith Curry

The significance of the debate over the hockey stick and “hide the decline” is the following:

Sir John Houghton made the hockey stick into an icon for the climate change problem, which became of substantial importance in the marketing of climate change to the public; therefore, challenges to the hockey stick, while maybe not being of particular scientific importance are highly important in the public debate on climate change.

The subject of climate change is complex and important topic; the public is counting on scientists to provide the best available information.  When the public saw in climategate, with “hide the decline” being its slogan, there was a substantial loss of public trust. This is not a good thing for climate science, nor for policy deliberations.

The response to climategate (of which hide the decline is the slogan) of the climate scientists and the broader climate establishment has been to say to the public “not to worry, the science is still sound, nothing has changed.”  No one is standing up to acknowledge the problems and talk about addressing them so that this kind of thing does not happen in the future.  Restoring trust would have been easier a year ago than it is now.

In terms of the actual science, it is critically important that have a better understanding and characterization of uncertainty regarding regional climate variability over the past 1-2 millennium.  This is needed for evaluating climate models, testing our ideas about climate sensitivity over a range of conditions, and understanding the interplay of forced and unforced climate variability on decadal to century time scales.  The hockey stick and its more recent incarnations have acted to diminish the importance of unforced climate variability on these time scales.


Analogy to the hurricane conflict

On the previous thread, Gavin brought up the Webster et al. (2005) Hurricanepaper, in the context of an argument about how it would be equally easy to make the same criticism of the main Webster et al. figure that was made of the hide the decline figure.   Not even close (details discussed on the earlier thread), but there are some interesting parallels between the hockey/decline debate and the hurricane/global warming debate that are worth pointing out (for background on the hurricane debate, see previous thread.)

This paper ignited a major #$%^storm, as intense as anything seen in the hockey stick debate.  There was one big difference from the get go:  we published the data set on our website upon publication of the paper.  In addition to the climate change debate on this topic, meteorologists all over the world were digging into the data set, comparing ours with other data sets, identifying discrepancies, etc.  Things got really really heated, with the full debate and controversy taking place in full glare of the media, we were fighting both the AGW skeptics and meteorologists who were questioning the data.  The conflict peaked about 6 months after it started, with the “brain fossilization” crisis, which resulted in the combatants agreeing to disagree with more civility and to work together to sort this out.  10 months after the initiation of this tempest, scientists on both sides got together and made this joint statement.

See any parallels with the hockey stick/hide the decline debate? Er, no.   So why did the hurricane debate proceed so differently?  Here’s why:

  • publicly available data
  • scientists who care first and foremost about science and wanted to get it right, and who were prepared to put there personal egos in the back seat over this important debate
  • both sides acknowledging uncertainty
  • leadership (kudos particularly to Kerry Emanuel) and cooperation

When I ponder the hockeystick debate, and its differences with the hurricane debate, and then I read those emails, well, I don’t have much sympathy.  They could have taken a different path in all this.  The hurricane group (and certainly myself) are no saints, but they did the right thing and it didn’t take them all that long to do it.

Demographics of the response

When I posted this, I did not expect a particularly big response, since all of this is pretty much an old, hashed over topic in the climate blogosphere.  There has been a big response at Climate Etc., but it is mostly contained over here; not newsy enough for most places, but fodder I’m sure for the “Curry as crazy aunt” meme.

Some quick stats on the blog dynamics of the response to the previous thread (as per 6 pm).   Total number of hits today is almost 22,000 (well above previous CE high already, which equates to an average day for WUWT).  Of these, 8,000 were referrals  (5,000 from WUWT; then more than 100 ea from Climate Depot, Climate Audit, Bishop Hill).  Compared to normal traffic, about 15% of the daily hits are from referrals.  Of the total hits, 16,000 are for the two hiding the decline threads, with the normal daily number landing on the home page and much lower than normal traffic on the other threads (usually I get a significant fraction of hits on older threads).  Seems that there are relatively few first timers showing up for the discussion (few hits on the About page), with most people apparently spending significant time on the thread and hanging around for discussion.   While this thread is linked to at Bishop Hill, WUWT and Climate Depot early on, it has now been picked up at Climate Progress (fear not; Gavin has “eviscerated” me).   Richard Muller’s video has gotten 330 hits.

So what does this mean?  I don’t really know.  But it seems that this subject remains as a really sore spot on both sides among the hard core denizens of the climate blogosphere, and an unresolved one at that.  The topic raises a whole host of issues about the scientific method, the IPCC and professional ethics.

Whither paleoclimate research?

While these threads have been compared to “War and Peace” and “Crime and Punishment,” my main interest and intent is trying to address the problems with the integrity of climate science and the path of paleoclimate research.  I think the field of paleoclimate should be an important one in the context of climate research, but I see some serious problems.  And I am running out of steam, I hope that we can discuss some constructive suggestions for moving forward.

801 responses to “Hiding the Decline: Part II

  1. Thank you, thank you, Professor Curry, for all that you are doing to restore confidence in government science.

    • I wish leaders of the scientific community recognized the necessity of addressing the problem directly and candidly, removing the cancerous growth that Eisenhower warned about in his 1961 farewell address, and working together to restore public confidence in government science.

      In my books you are a very courageous saint!

      With kind regards,
      Oliver K. Manuel

  2. What no comment number 1000?

  3. This is a sequel to a Russian novel.
    How does anyone get any work done??

    • War and Peace? We don’t seem to have reached the latter, though admittedly it’s early in the second volume. Perhaps, given The Devils (aka The Deniers?). That has that awesome phrase “The fire is in the minds of men”. Ever since James Billington drew my attention to it it’s burned in mine too.

      • It looks like we are gradually drifting from Tolstoy (War and Peace) to Dostoevsky (Crime and Punishment) – even though the “punishment” is simply ridicule of those who committed the “crime” and nothing more serious.

      • Richard Drake,
        The climate community has not yet accounted for the GHG 324W/m2 back radiation in KT97’s energy budget for the past 15 years. To me, this is very sloppy if you call climate community ‘science’. The Devils could be those AGWers not the The Deniers.

        BTW, presumably you are one of the AGWers, have you accounted for that 324W/m2 yourself? If yes, I would like to be persuaded to be one of the AGWers. If not, I assume that you are one of the AGW gullible believers, based on non-science deduction.

      • You may have me the wrong side of the fence but as I don’t believe in fences, it’s got to be good for me.

      • Richard Drake,

        My apology if I were mistaking. Since the AGWers here are unable to account for the 324W/m2, will you help me to understand how K&T get this magic number, TIA.

  4. The fact that the last thread garnered almost 1000 comments in one day is very significant as far as the demographics of the debate is concerned. So is the fact that many of these comments were hyperbolic and emotional. The sound bite of “hiding the decline” was the turning point in the political war. There was a phase shift in which skepticism crystallized around this simple phrase.

    • I believe it was the charge of dishonesty from one scientist to another group of scientists that caused the uproar. That seems to me to be no way to build bridges or aim for reconciliation.

      • To clarify, Judith said only that Hide the Decline was dishonest. She refused to allocate blame to individual scientists. But if the group you refer wants to take responsibility for the dishonesty, that would I think be an awesome step.

      • However you wish to phrase it, it was still the use of the word dishonest by one scientist to describe the acts of other scientists that led to the hullabaloo.

        You choose to say that this means that Dr Curry did not say that individuals were dishonest. I see very little difference between calling somebody dishonest and calling their actions dishonest.

      • Buy some glasses. There is a wide difference between dishonesty being produced by a faulty bureaucratic or cultural process and being produced by a malignant character.

        What is important is that these people acknowledge it and “move on”. That would be great. The fact that they won’t is even worse than the original offense.

      • Beer on the keyboard for that one!
        “a faulty bureaucratic or cultural process” Sadly there were no people in the process. If there were, surely one of them might have mentioned that the graph could mislead people to believe something that wasn’t true……………oh, wait……

      • They could have been incompetent, or just blind to the fact that what they see as evident is not so evident for those outside their specialty.

      • So much the worse, I would think Luis. These are supposed to be scientists engaged in research. As such, the process they are engaged in (if accepted protocols are followed) would not “blind” any of them to the evidentiary problems in their data.

      • Louise i agree- this is part of the reason why the response was so, vitrioloc. Though i would wager a significant portion of my mortgage that the main reason was the perceived position of Dr Curry (re: to the debate; i.e. as an insider) that caused the big hoo-har.

        I feel like i’m personally flogging a dead horse here and i hope that people think that i am not a troll in my posts- but i feel again that i have to re-iterate; had i behaved as the CRU team has (specifically with the hide the decline issue) then i would be facing criminal charges (i work in industry).

        I have said countless times, perhaps on deaf ears, that academia desperatly needs to learn from industry- but it’s true. Had the proper QDC/QA procedures been in place, this issue would never have arisen.

        Finally, while i disagree with Dr Curry on a number of the minutae, i have nothing but the upmost respect for the honesty and courage she’s shown in this and the previous-connected post- she can only have been acutley aware of the attention that such a post would garner.

        As far as i’m concerned you are well within your rights to call another scientist dishonest if you cannot justify their methods and they seem to be misrepresenting data. If the scientist in question is right, they will defend their position. So far all Gavin has offered are platitudes and misdirection.

        I put it directly to him and yourself that the position they hold is untenable.

        In science there is absolutley nothing wrong with admitting a mistake.

        Defending one however is inexcusable.

      • You are not flogging a dead horse. You are 100% correct and I’m sure that you reflect the views of millions. I too would have been, at the minimum, sacked, and at the worst, facing criminal charges, if I had done this sort of thing in industry.

      • Gavin is the one taking a whip to a long dead horse, saying, “Hide? Hidden? We hid no-thinK, Col. Hogan, NO THINK!”

        Well, to all you Hogan’s Heroes fans out there, that one was for you. ;)

      • Labmunkey good comment your last two sentences are spot on

        “In science there is absolutley nothing wrong with admitting a mistake.

        Defending one however is inexcusable”.

        Absolutely definitive.

      • @LabMunkey – Ditto what Peter Whale said.

        It is good to know there are still people working in science that support and adhere to scientific principles of enquiry.

        Thank you from all of us non-scientists who rely of you folks to get it right.

      • “Birds of a feather” (i.e. one scientist should not refer to another as “dishonest”, even if the evidence clearly points in this direction?)

        Some people think that medical doctors often fall into this trap. Lawyers do, of course, but that is simply following the “precautionary principle”.

        How about investment advisors or hedge fund operators – should they refrain from calling Bernie Madoff “dishonest”?


      • Seth Pecksniff, we hardly knew ye.

      • Go read the article again. Judith said and I quote:

        Not only is this misleading, but it is dishonest (I agree with Muller on this one). The authors defend themselves by stating that there has been no attempt to hide the divergence problem in the literature, and that the relevant paper was referenced. I infer then that there is something in the IPCC process or the authors’ interpretation of the IPCC process (i.e. don’t dilute the message) that corrupted the scientists into deleting the adverse data in these diagrams.

        This is entirely fair and not an ad hominem. It’s a fair description of events. If you see that an end product is misleading and disingenuous, either (a) bad people done it or (b) the process they were in done it. It’s completely straightforward and logical, feelings be damned.

        But what is one to think when we read these e-mails in conjunction:

        This is the problem we all picked up on (everyone in the room at IPCC was in agreement that this was a problem and a potential distraction/detraction from the reasonably concensus viewpoint we’d like to show w/ the Jones et al and Mann et al series. So, if we show Keith’s series in this plot, we have to comment that “something else” is responsible for the discrepancies in this case…. Otherwise, the skeptics have an field day casting doubt on our ability to understand the factors that influence these estimates and, thus, can undermine faith in the paleoestimates. I don’t think that doubt is scientifically justified, and I’d hate to be the one to have to give it fodder!

        I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.

        To me it is patently clear that anyone who still negates the intentionality of hiding the problems with the reconstructions is in denial. This is not incompetence, but straightforward activism science in full gear: it does not matter what is the truth, it matters more not to “give fodder” to the sceptics, thus presenting something that apparently is “perfect”, a beautiful graph that is shiny, new and decisive.

        Now, are these people “dishonest”? That depends. If you don’t think that not disclosing to the wider public of lay men and fellow scientists who do not read the entire literature of everything the “problems” so that any “sceptic” won’t be given “fodder” is dishonest, we will have a communication problem between you and me.

        Other point may be, “Isn’t this overblown? I mean, they are humans after all”. Two points here. First, they were the ones who sprayed this graph all over the IPCC report and it was used ad nauseam in every environmental organization, etc. This graph was ubiquituous and a “symbol” of man-made global warming so clearly and unambiguously detected and caught. Now that it is in shambles, with the PNAS report, the Wegman report, and the 2010 statisticians’ papers who demolish the whole statistical practice of it, McIntyre, etc., etc., it “doesn’t matter”?? Well, I would agree with that, but then you are just having your cake and eating it, aren’t you?

        Secondly, the fact that these practices are defended, irrespectively of its importance, is damning for those who do, and for the science that these people produce. It’s a litmus test. I use it quite efficiently. If a scientist that reads all about this doesn’t come to the simplest of conclusions that Judith has arrived, I won’t trust his/her papers anymore.

      • I didn’t say this was an ad hom. I said that it was use of the word dishonest by a scientist to describe the actions of other scientists that caused the uproar.

        That’s all

      • Well, point taken although I don’t buy it. I just think that Gavin had to snipe it someway, and that was the most vulnerable point, emotionally, not rationally, so he hit there.

        But that’s just me who hasn’t a good opinion on the gentleman.

      • Can you suggest a better word to describe those actions?

      • To be specific, Curry is actually saying that the results of the actions of the scientists presented a dishonest picture of the knowledge at the time. She then goes on to say that if she takes the word of the scientists as to their motivation, the fault must be a corrupting process within the IPCC.

        She is not saying that they are dishonest, or that their actions were directly dishonest. However the simplest interpretation of their motivation and communication at the time does reveal a will to present a picture other than the truth. In their case, the target was the message, not the accuracy of it.

        For someone who wants to be respected as a scientist, this attitude is dishonest.

        More importantly Dr Curry is saying, “This type of representation of data should not continue to be defended by mainstream climate scientists”.

      • I think it is also reasonable to agree that the graph was the product of a committee, and might be understandable in that context. It is well past the time to admit that the presentation was misleading now. Maybe it does make sense now to hold up this one graph as an example of why the science is still doing its best to avoid making progress.

      • It certainly would not be first time Gavin’s honesty has been questioned. In fact it’s been going on quite a long time.


        My opinion is no, he is not honest. Nor respectable, nor even respectful. His role in the hockey stick debacle has been to act as Michael Mann’s attack dog which he has been doing for a very long time. Gavin had nothing to do with the stick – and everything to do with defending it. Any question about his motivation? It is surely not a desire to make friends.

        I have no interest in Gavin, his opinions, or wacky mood swings. My nutter alarm goes off when I read him, Romm, Trenberth, Oliver, and others that are monotheist in their responses. They are a coin with no flip side.

      • Luis makes a good point that it was “activism science”. The rationale was we need to hide the decline from the policy makers lest the figure out just how weak the claim was for “unprecedented” warming. Without unprecedented warming then the raison d’ être for an entire industry of solutions to global warming goes out the window.

        Luis goes on to say that “when a scientist that reads all about this doesn’t come to the simplest of conclusions that Judith has arrived, I won’t trust his/her papers anymore.” I agree but I also cynically begin to wonder if there is a motive related to the industry of solutions to global warming.

      • Sure. But the use in the IPCC was referenced. The unreferenced graph was for a one-time illustration in a non-refereed venue.

        Curry’s accusation uses the one incident with the illustration to impeach the other (the IPCC) when the two venues had different demands for thoroughness and where the IPCC use was explained. This isn’t a difficult distinction to understand. Unless you don’t want to understand it, of course.

      • So, use of a graphic that omits material information is okay in a “non-refereed venue” (where the audience is less likely to examine the fine print)?

      • Well, sure. Do you footnote your conversations? Do you bring along your references to everything?

        There are places where footnotes are commonplace and where they’re not. Nobody, not even academics, speak jargon and follow Kate Turabian all the time.

      • You would be surprised. I frequently find myself called upon to provide technical expertise to decision makers. Since those decision makers are business people, this involves “simplification”. It does not mean that I gloss over material issues. I provide them with facts and caveats. If it’s desired, I provide my opinion as to what is the best technical approach, making it clear that business needs may trump those.

        See here for why this is a good way to conduct yourself even if you don’t have concerns re: integrity.

      • I’ve no concerns at all because I know a ginned up issue when I see one.

        It’s on a level with the “terrorist fist bump”.

      • I know a ginned up issue when I see one.

        You know, you can save a lot of typing by jumping immediately to the “delegitimize” tactic rather than waiting until you run out of responses.

        Just sayin’

      • Funy stuff.

      • I would be wary of the extent to which I stated that the main parts of AR4 are peer reviewed. The extent to which gray and other non-refereed sources were used in AR4 are extensively documented at nofrakkingconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/citizen-audit-report-is-now-a-pdf

        Citing the IPCC AR4 as an authoritative source is questionable given these findings.

      • The unreferenced graph was for a one-time illustration in a non-refereed venue.

        Actually, the graph was used at least 7 times in different places around the IPCC. So much space wasted and yet we are told that it was a “summary” so these kinds of caveats weren’t worth a paragraph or two.

        So no, the “ink is expensive” argument doesn’t fit.

      • As Jeffrey Davis said, in the sentence right before the one you quoted, “the use in the IPCC was referenced.” Guess you really don’t want to understand the distinction, huh?

      • And I repeat:

        So, use of a graphic that omits material information is okay in a “non-refereed venue” (where the audience is less likely to examine the fine print)?

      • Of course thats OK.
        Anything that would be good enough for a hedge fund salesman is good enough for the IPCC.

      • … except that the hedge fund salesman (or oilfield promoter) might find himself suddenly playing a game of rock hockey in a striped suit. An image for Josh…

      • Doesn’t matter. Look, if a summary does not inform you correctly, then it is worthless. If you have a misleading graph that is very powerful and you believe it because you “trust the scientists” who done it, you even have a reference link towards peer reviewed literature, 99% chance you won’t bother to check it.

        And even if you do, here we have people saying that the troubles with it are “unimportant”, they just happen “post 1960”. I mean wow.

      • Pick a lane of complaint, ok?

      • Rattus Norvegicus


        You are so wrong on this it’s not even funny. The particular graph in question was only used once in the 1999 report, before Briffa developed refinements to his methodology which better reproduced low frequency variability in the record. The WMO figure (which I agree could have been better documented, perhaps by using a different color for the instrumental record and an explanation) was not reused over and over again by the IPCC.

        The graphs in TAR were based on a the newer Briffa reconstruction. And of course in AR4 the problems with *some* tree ring series in *some* places was properly highlighted and discussed as gyposaurus highlighted in the previous thread. I find it telling that nobody, not even Judith, answered the questions raised in that comment. Just what was misleading in the IPCC discussion of the “divergence problem” in AR4?

        In the TAR, the discussion was as follows:

        There is evidence, for example, that high
        latitude tree-ring density variations have changed in their response to temperature in recent decades, associated with possible nonclimatic factors (Briffa et al., 1998a). By contrast, Vaganov et al. (1999) have presented evidence that such changes may actually be climatic and result from the effects of increasing winter precipitation on the starting date of the growing season (see Section Carbon dioxide fertilization may also have an influence, particularly on high-elevation drought-sensitive tree species, although attempts have been made to correct for this effect where appropriate (Mann et al., 1999). Thus climate reconstructions based entirely on tree-ring data are susceptible to several sources of contamination or non-stationarity of response. For these reasons, investigators have increasingly found tree-ring data most useful when supplemented by other types of proxy information in “multi-proxy” estimates of past temperature change (Overpeck et al., 1997; Jones et al., 1998; Mann et al., 1998; 1999; 2000a; 2000b; Crowley and Lowery, 2000). (pp. 131, TAR)

        At the time of the writing, I think this accurately reflects the state of knowledge about the “divergence problem”. Please point out where this is misleading at the time of writing. In both TAR and AR4. I agree that this is a devilish problem and is very interesting scientifically, but as of yet it appears as though those sites which are subject to it a sui generis. There is no universal cause for it.

      • Rattus Norvegicus

        Luis, I am sorry to have misspelled your name.

      • np Rattus, and you’re absolutely right on the hockey graph/WMO, etc.

        There has been so many wrong hockey sticks since those days that I get to confuse them all. Inexcusable ;).

      • Help me out here, Rat – when did Briffa withdraw all tree ring data from the charts – before or after it was obvious the tree ring data were unreliable as proxies?

      • Rattus Norvegicus


        I think you have something wrong here. Not all tree ring data is wrong, some is unreliable in the late part of the 20th century for (at the time) unknown reasons. However, the good correlation with the temperature record in times earlier makes a prima facie case that the suspect chronologies are reliable for periods prior to the appearance of the divergence problem.

        Of course, this does call into question the error bars surrounding the MWP temperatures *for the problematic chronologies*, but this is far from a universal phenomenon and there are plenty of chronologies which do not show this problem. In the end it is a judgment call. Briffa called it one way, you would have preferred that he call it the other way.

      • Hi

        What interests me is under what circumstances can we say that tree rings are good proxies, and on what basis?

        It strikes me that the error bar issue is a bit of distraction, because error bars suggest there is some reliable causal relationship working here. To be useful we need a verifiable model that both explains why the relationship worked at some times and why it doesn’t at others.

        We don’t have that, as I understand it, so we don’t have proxies.

      • The error bars need aerror bars.

      • So he left in the tree ring data even though it wandered afield. Very professional. That seems to be like verifying a cheap yardstick with another cheap yard stick. Or several. You know when you do that you have is an average of a bunch of cheap yard sticks.

        There’s a reason we have standards.

      • actually Mcintyre asked Briffa to show the divergence.
        Briffa choose to explain it in the text.

        From the explnation in the text you cannot determine how big the divergence was.

        Briffa could have done both. Show the divergence and explain it.

        That would have been the best practice from all aspects

        1. It would show the magnitude of the divergence
        2. It would have comported with the reviewers request and would have followed advice given him by david Rind
        3. It would have taken no more space or words
        4. It would have averted the trouble we have now

        I have heard no scientific or pragmatic reason for NOT showing it. I have seen hand waving, but no argument

      • Enough handwaving to keep a couple of turbines going.

      • Sure. But the use in the IPCC was referenced. The unreferenced graph was for a one-time illustration in a non-refereed venue.


        Ever wonder why the phrase “I used Mike’s Nature trick” came about? Phil’s use with the Briffa reconstruction then makes it more than a one-time occurrence, and I’m fairly certain Nature is a refereed venue. Some might call yours a “specious claim” or maybe even “bizarre.”

      • Louise–you seem to not like it when anyone who supports the idea that AGW is a dire problem is pointed out to be less than open in their scientific positions, or when people use unfavorable terms to describle their actions. It is strange that you do not seem concerned when those same AGW supporters call others who do not accept their positions various names or minimize their opinions.

        You seem to be quite inconsistant, except in your opinion that more CO2 is bad

    • To me, the “hidden decline” chapter is almost insignificant, except for the fact that some key players in the climate arena still defend such practices today, just as we’ve witnessed Gavin doing so, while making ridiculous excuses for it.

      Now to me, if someone defends such bad practices, how can I trust these people? Specially when they ask for my trust in their analogy of the cancer patient and medicine?

      The fact that so many people in this “arena” were so adamantly against any critique, and anyone who dared to do so were immediately portrayed as dangerous “deniers”, while defending these kinds of shenanigans speaks volumes not about the science per se, but about the processes and the values of the people involved in the science.

      The chapter involved here is almost insignificant wrt the wider debate, but the trust it shatters in the public is not. The fact that people like Gavin who represent, in a way, a harder line of scientists who “hold the line” against the deluge of “denialists” have gone so low as to defend these shenanigans speaks to me that the whole process is doomed to degeneration.

      Unless some people start clearing up the mess and call spade a spade. It isn’t hard, and these aren’t “big questions” that are being criticized. But in order to do this, we must leave the fanaticism behind.

      • Absolutely. Here in the UK, we have a term for this: the ‘dossier’ about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was said to be ‘sexed-up’. That’s exactly what has been done in climate science, for much the same reasons. One for the Guardianistas to suck on, if it’s not too sour for them.

      • And the graph is still portrayed by the BBC as settled science.

      • And shills at the CBC in Canada are still spouting that line, but based on the lack of hue and cry the electorate is no longer buying it.

      • “To me, the “hidden decline” chapter is almost insignificant, except for the fact that some key players in the climate arena still defend such practices today, just as we’ve witnessed Gavin doing so, while making ridiculous excuses for it.”

        Exactly, I tried to convey that thought on the other thread. It’s only an issue because the alarmist still vigorously defend it’s use. It’s almost as if they are saying we should use deceptive graphs. How can one lend credence to people that assert such stuff? Is good for the skeptic camp, though.

    • I think it is important that none of the responses to my simple point responded to my simple point. The medium is the massage.

      • Maybe because your simple point was trivial and self-evident. Yes, the phrase “hide the decline” has been the rallying cry of the skeptics. And your point is…?

      • Trivial? My point is that this is probably a turning point in history. I think it was Macaulay who said that every political movement ultimately expires from an excess of its own principles. Environmentalism’s political power has been growing steadily for 50 years. Is this the turning point at last?

      • David Wojick

        “Environmentalism’s political power has been growing steadily for 50 years.”

        Could you explain please your basis for this statement?

        Wouldn’t it be by every appearance of the outcomes more true to say that we see a weakening of Environmentalism (despite its growing formalism, if even that) over the past quarter millennium?

      • Bart, US environmental laws are getting more and more stringent — think of the six pollutants covered by the National Ambient Air Qualify Standards. These pollutants are (1) particles in the air, (2) carbon monoxide, (3) oxides of nitrogen, (4) airborne lead, (5) sulfur dioxide, and (6) tropospheric ozone.

        Airborne lead from cars is a thing of the past in the US — a real triumph for public health — but the Bush Administration tightened the lead standard in its last year in any case, because there are a few industrial emitters that hadn’t been dealt with.

        Concentrations of carbon monoxide in the air from vehicles has been reduced by a factor of about 25 in three decades. That is a good thing, obviously, but it points to environmental strength, not weakness.

        The current administration is in the process of reducing the standards for oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide.

        The Bush administration — of all people, some might say — reducing standards for both ozone and particles in its second term. The environmental community, very predictably, criticized the Bush administration for not going far enough. It is very widely expected that the current Administration will further reduce standards for both pollutants before their term is up.

        I see the constant ratcheting down of all these standards as evidence of how much more power the environmental community has, vs. the industries which in the past would have prevented implementation of very tight standards.

        I’ll stop here, to keep it short, but you get the point….

      • John,
        “The current administration is in the process of reducing the standards for oxides of nitrogen and sulfur dioxide.”
        Reducing the standards? You meant reducing the emissions, right?

        EPA considers CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act has gone too far – becoming an absurd Agency.

  5. When you combine the temperature record over the past millennium with climate forcings, you get a climate sensitivity around 3°C.
    (http://www.skepticalscience.com/Do-critics-of-the-hockey-stick-realise-what-theyre-arguing-for.html )
    If for some reason, temperatures over the Medieval Warm Period turn out to be warmer than previously thought, this means climate sensitivity is actually greater than 3°C.

    Unless a deus ex machina is invoked.

    (also: http://www.skepticalscience.com/hockey-stick-own-goal.html )

    • Nonsense!

      • Devastating rejoinder.

      • It’s an appropriate response. It IS rubbish. Verheggen is performing a sensitivity bait and switch! Deliberately conflating all natural variability with sensitivity to CO2 is pure misdirection.

      • Nonsense!

      • The climate can tell where the energy involved is coming from and will react accordingly! She sits waiting on her red velvet settee. The scurrilous CO2 offers blandishments: fame, fortune, dental! Oh, how can honorable but downtrodden Natural Variation expect to plight his troth with smarmy CO2 getting all the attention.

        Never fear. Climate will not respond to CO2’s promises!

        The camera irises down to CO2 twirling his moustachios … nothing has worked … he harrumphs in disgust, drawing his fists down before him as if slamming a desk … wait till next time!

        Back to our lovely scene in the parlor. Natural Variation has a finger in his dimple. (Or maybe that’s Climate who has a finger in her dimple. It’s so hard to accurately attribute fingers and dimples.

        The camera tracks slowly away and out the door. The pair have earned their privacy. On the front porch glider is Pa (played by one of the Koch twins) and he’s paring an apple with a sharp knife. He slyly eats a slice and folds up the blade and pockets it. He cocks his straw boater on the back of his head and puts a thumb behind his galluses. He’s raised her right. Then coyly listens in to the billing and cooing of Climate and Natural Variation. Say, is it getting warm in there?

        The End

    • Also known as GIGO.

    • Nonsense.
      If there was a MWP, that doesnt mean that climate sensitivity is greater than 3 C. It means that the current method of estimating climate sensitivity would return a value greater than 3 C.

      All this means is that the divergence from reality of that method of estimation is all the worse.

      • The “current method” (or “definition”, if you wish) of estimating climate sensitivity is by taking the ratio of the equilibrium temperature response and divide it by the net climate forcing.

        It’s often given in reference to the climate forcing from a doubling of CO2, but the source of the forcing doesn’t matter much.

      • Dr. Bart, if we look at the equilibrium temp of the past 1,000,000 years, then can we not say that the sensitivity is really about 10*C?

      • “The “current method” (or “definition”, if you wish) of estimating climate sensitivity is by taking the ratio of what we estimate is (or in the case of centuries past, was) the equilibrium temperature response and divide it by what we think is (or in the case of centuries past, was) the net climate forcing.”

        There ya go. Fixed that for ya.

        “It’s often given in reference to the climate forcing from a doubling of CO2, but the source of the forcing doesn’t matter much.”

        Uh-huh. Of course it doesnt. Your model tells you so.

        A MWP either means that sensitivity is higher than you thought it was, or that you dont know as much about the components of sensitivity as you thought you did.

        Given there was an MWP, how ya doin on that 3C?


      • I would approximate the climate sensitivity by calculating what change in W/m^2 corresponds to a change of 1 °C of a blackbody putting out 342 W/m^2. From memory, the answer is about 5 W/m^2 — or about 0.2 °C per W/m^2. Again from memory (iffy at best, note), if a doubling of CO2 exerted a forcing of 1.7 W/m^2, we are looking at 0.34 °C for such a doubling. The factor of ten multiplication that climate alarmists would tack on is simply not believable. Personally, from my analysis of the Venus/Earth data, I know CO2 doesn’t have any temperature forcing at all, mainly because it absorbs incident solar IR, not IR from the surface. I wish there were some competent climate scientists (or even physicists) to turn to, but there are not. There are only those like you, who think “radiative forcing” is the end of all discussion. The hole you have all put yourselves in is too deep for you to see out of, so you pretend it is fine down there.

      • Your figures are wrong. Doubled CO2 can be calculated (with reasonable accuracy and agreement) to exert about a 3.7 W/m^2 forcing at the tropopause. If one evaluates the temperature consequences before applying feedbacks, this translates to about 1.2 C at the surface (where, because of greenhouse effects, the W/m^2 change is greater). If one adds feedbacks, the estimated sensitivity rises, with typical estimates putting the probable range at 2-4.5 C, although this is not universally accepted.

        The radiative forcing equations have been confirmed by field measurements showing the expected level of IR flux arising from the surface in an upward direction in CO2-absorbable wavelengths. On the other hand, CO2 is incapable of absorbing more than miniscule quantities of solar radiation because the wavelengths don’t match its profile of allowable quantum transitions.

      • Fred,

        You can not possibly believe that!

        None of those forcings, feedbbacks, sensitivities and fluxes have been confirmed or calculated with any reasonably accuracy/agreemment as you believe.

        Some of these variables have been estimated, but you can not establish any reasonable causality with CO2.

        Where is your sceptical attitude?

      • Yeh, because we’ve positively identified all of the forcings. Sophistry combined with hubris.

      • You are assuming we have a good estimate of the net climate forcing, but our estimate of solar activity 1000 yrs ago is poor, especially when you consider that the Svensmark cosmic ray mechanism is totally lacking in the climate models/attribution studies.

      • Bart, this is a great example of what I call AGW thinking. It invokes equilibrium conditions when the actual climate is a far from equilibrium system. It also refers to the 1000 year temperature record as though there were such a thing. We don’t even have a 100 year temperature record. Nobody has been recording the global temperature, not until the satellites were launched in 1978, if then.

        Regarding sensitivity, consider the very real possibility that the evidenced (not recorded) temperature oscillations are due to chaotic feedbacks. Chaotic systems oscillate with constant forcing. In that case if the sensitivity were defined as the temperature change divided by the forcing change then the sensitivity would be infinite.

        Simply put you are invoking physics that is not applicable. That is the essence of AGW. There is no equilibrium based sensitivity, because the system in question is not an equilibrium system. I don’t use the “f” word (fraud) but if I did this would be where I would use it, for invoking conditions that are known not to hold.

      • I didn’t say it was easy or very certain. Certainly the uncertainties are huge. If the climate is not in equilibrium than perhaps there are ways to estimate the radiative imbalance. You know, do some science, work with what is or can be known. As eg Hegerls (2000) who did this for the past millennium and arrived at an estimate for climate sensitivity in the way I described. If you don’t like the result, you can of course yell “nonsense!” or “nonscience” or whatever. Judith may quote your comment as very thoughtfull in response.

      • JJ, well said.

    • With all due respect Bart, it is not quite that straightforward although I understand what you mean.

      Is it basically so – this claim of yours – that what we’ve done (increased CO2 level) is likely to enhance the natural processes that created the MWP?

      This would be a valid assetion if we knew what those processes were, what kind of relationships they have etc.

      And given the presense of MWP, how do we know that the very same processes were not the primary or at least substantial reason also for the recent, currently very minor warming (i.e. some part of 0.7C). And what would be their contribution in the future?

      So, this (judging climate sensitivity as a function of a single variable) is far more complicated and I see no real justification for the statement that warmer MWP (compared to Mann et al) would mean also higher climate sensitivity.

      As a related question Bart, and by all means others, when do you consider delta GTA over the last 12 years or so, what would that suggest about the climate sensitivity?

      This brings me to the climate sensitivy figure: I find it more or less aimed to laymen. The GTA we will experience in future is a function of many other things than CO2, which might turn out to have much smaller role than some of the research suggests. Perhaps it is a nice and tidy single figure in units understandable to most for representing the issue to those unwilling to dig in details, but single figure or even a range of figures is and will be imho just a gross oversimplification of the issue.

      Another question is, of course, why go to such great lengths, perhaps even taking actions that would risk your career, reputation and even the cause you are fighting for to e.g. to deny the MWP?

      • anander,

        Climate sensitivity is defined as the equilibrium temperature in response to a net climate forcing. Usually this is taken in reference to a forcing equal to a doubling of CO2, but the sensitivity is independent of the source of the forcing (ie it’s the same for GHG, solar, volcanic, etc, except for a factor called efficacy)

        E.g. Hegerl et al 2000 (linked by the SkS post) use an estimate of the net climate forcing over the past milennium and an estimate of the (northern hemispheric) temperature to arrive at an empirically based estimate fo the climate sensitivity.

        The higher the temp variations over this time, the greater the numerator, ergo the greater the estimated sensitivity.

      • This is exactly the argument that I do not buy.

      • What constrains it? Look at the gross CO2/temperature graphs that span the last million years. The ones where the temperature spikes like an elevator ride and then falls slowly like a stair step. The steep rises roughly track Milankovich forcings from glacial maximum to minimum. The initial Milankovich forcing at glacial maximum is teeny compared to the one from current CO2 levels. And yet the climate responds like a rocket. That’s climate sensitivity like Grandma used to make. (If Grandma were 24000 years old, that is.)

      • And when the “CO2-forcing” is at its maximum (at the peak of interglacial), temperature acceleration (D2T/dt2) is at its minimum. That means, at the maximum CO2 forcing we have maximum cooling.

      • CO2 isn’t the only input into the equation.

      • Of course not. But it still stands:

        at the max CO2 forcing (interglacial peak), we have max temp deceleration (change from very steep, ~10ky, ~10°C warming to cooling). Everytime.

      • I’ve been waiting for the powers to be to decide that evil CO2 is in fact a climate cooling agent. Hey, we don’t know, do we?

      • Co2: it shades the Earth in her bounteous glow.

      • You are right kim, we don’t really know!

        So much room for science.

      • Jeffrey, there is little evidence that CO2 has much effect on temperature. During the glacial – interglacial transition, there is such a huge overlap that one can attribute any amount of effect to CO2, but the end of the previous warm period, the Eemian, has no overlap: when temperature goes down, CO2 levels remain high and only drops when temperature is already at minimum (and ice sheets at maximum). The subsequent drop of 40 ppmv CO2 has no measurable influence on temperature (or ice sheets):
        Thus, sensitivity for solar cycles: (very) high. For CO2 variations: (very) low.

      • “there is little evidence that CO2 has much effect on temperature.”

        Well there’s that whole energy thing.

      • According to Modtran, the direct effect of 2xCO2 is 0.9°C. With water vapour feedback (quite sure for the lower troposphere, but absent where it matters: at the tropopause) it is 1.3°C.
        For 40 ppmv CO2, the effect is about -0.3 to -0.4°C, not measurable within the accuracy of the ice cores.
        If one takes the official range: 1.5-4.5°C (or beyond), the average at 3°C is borderline measurable, everything higher is measurable, but not measured… Thus all doomsday scenario’s based on a high sensitivity for CO2 can be trashed.

      • The energy from GHGs won’t cut it and yet the energy from Milankovich forcing which is an order of magnitude less helped raise temps 12C.

        Good logic there, Ferdinand.

      • Point of order. GHGs do not produce energy.

      • I do agree with Bill that the initial small increase of insolation triggers a lot of feedbacks, where ice and vegetation albedo are the most important. Once started, that is a self fulfilling, rapid transition, even without any further help of CO2, until the change in ice/vegetation area is too small to induce more albedo/temperature change.
        CO2 might have been the trigger, but it is not and is not necessary to explain the rapid change once the transition has started.

      • Point of order to Latimer Alder’s point of order.

        Methane and carbon monoxide are both GHG’s.

        Burn either of them, and you obtain net energy from combustion. ;)

        Though I suspect we all know what Latimer Alder meant to say by his gloss, it’s only by pretending we don’t know what he means that we would ever raise the issue.

        Just as we must expect Latimer Alder knew what Jeffrey Davis meant by his gloss, and thereby that Latimer Alder once again stretches the truth to obtain his usual Welsh inversion of fact.

      • The “rocket” is provided mainly by the ice albedo feedback loop. As the glaciers start to shrink from their southern extremities, their white tops reflect less sunlight back into space. This causes some more warming, which then causes the glaciers to retreat further, which causes more warming, which …etc etc.
        Because the glaciers are at much lower latitudes at a glacial maximun (south of the Great Lakes for example), incoming sunlight is hitting them at a much steeper angle. As a result the feedback effect is much stronger than when the glacviers are confined to polar regions (as they are today).
        Since CO2 rises as the world warms too, it must also have some effect, but the main motor of the rapid warming is the albedo feedback

      • Sounds good except that it would take a long time for the glaciers to melt at Milankovich levels of energy. And yet — at the scale of the graph, anyway — temps go vertical. And you’re discriminating among energy, too, as if the energy from a change in albedo has a different effect than from an increase in GHGs. Why would you do that? We’re trying to understand how the climate reacts to inputs in energy. Obviously, at times, it transitions like a rocket. 12C in (geologically) the blink of an eye.

      • According to James Hansen, the transition between an ice age and an interglacial gives a change in albedo forcing of 3.5 W/m2, CO2 change gives around 2 W/m2. See:
        http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2003/2003_Hansen.pdf page 6.
        Without any help of CO2, the opposite transition shows a drop in temperature of 9°C and ice sheets growing to about 3/4th of the previous amount. When CO2 drops 40 ppmv, ice sheets decline (!) and temperature shows a drop (1°C) but immediately after that a rise of 4°C, while ice sheets melt further back to minimum.
        Thus whatever influences temperature, it overwhelms the effect of CO2…

      • “… it overwhelms the effect of CO2…”

        I don’t think you’ve thought through the issues here. The more you go on, the worse the prospects of AGW become. Nobody that I know of is overly anxious about 1-1.5C direct warming from the CO2. Because it’s impossible that that’s all there’ll be to it. They’re anxious about the feedbacks. It’s a variant of the old falling from the airplane joke — the fall isn’t bad, but stopping kills you. The CO2 isn’t that bad: it’s the feedbacks that are going to kill us all.

        Just look at the million year CO2/temp graph that’s so terrifying. 12C started from the teeny orbital forcings. That’s enormous climate sensitivity. Why do you think the stolid, faintly fubsy James Hansen has become a wreck and a ghost? Because he gets it.

      • 12C started from the teeny orbital forcings. That’s enormous climate sensitivity.

        Divided by the tens of thousands of years the orbital forcing was in effect?

        Give me a break.

      • Craig – The length of time a forcing is maintained is irrelevant, if the interval is long enough for near equilibrium to be reached, because temperature changes little after that. All that matters is the flux difference expressed in W/m^2. I’m not sure about the figures quoted above, but it’s true that a relatively meager forcing in W/m^2 induced feedbacks that substantially enhanced the magnitude of the temperature response.

      • Jeffrey, you don’t get it: the huge feedback to the tiny Milankovich change in forcing is largely the result of ice/vegetation albedo changes. Once that is settled, the albedo effect has largely worked out and plays a minor role. Thus whatever the trigger, the albedo effect is the main driver of the transition, not CO2. The ice cores also show that CO2 has no measurable effect when it drops with 40 ppmv, to the contrary, temperature and ice sheets go the other way round. Thus the effect of the 40 ppmv CO2 change is overwhelmed by some natural internal or external forcing, which effect is far beyond that of the CO2 drop.
        The main problem of Hansen and the climate models (and your fear) is the one-sensitivity-fits-all approach. There is no reason to expect such a uniform sensitivity for different forcings, as several European climate researchers expressed.

      • Ferdinand, I do get it. The point isn’t the absolute size of the particular forcing but their accumulated effect.

        Imagine a Rube Goldberg machine. A tiny BB tips a little scale and that sets off a cascade etc.

        The climate isn’t a delicate thing, but it does change and can do so dramatically given the energy. We know that a persistent forcing 1/10th the size of that from GHGs can set off the melting of glaciers. It just takes time and persistence. You’re all hepped on weighing proportions as if there’s some kind of tort to be answered.

      • From your previous message:
        Just look at the million year CO2/temp graph that’s so terrifying.

        I have not the slightest problem with that graph. It only shows that the huge climate sensitivity over the glacial/interglacial transitions is mainly from ice sheet albedo changes. The current (and previous) warm periods have a far smaller sensitivity to increasing forcings (even if you accept one sensitivity for all types of forcing), but may include the huge ice albedo feedback, if forcings go down. In my opinion the latter is terrifying.

        Further, the ice cores made it clear that CO2 has no discernable influence on temperature, compared to (unknown) natural influences.

      • Jeffery and others, the causation of glacial/interglacial transitions is a fascinating topic which well deserves lengthy discussion, but seems to be far O/T for this already oversubscribed post, which is supposed to be about ‘hiding the decline’. Drifting into irrelevancy doesn’t matter much if the total number of comments is small, but not all of us have unlimited time to wade through so much O/T material. Please can we keep on track!
        (Hmm – perhaps Great Aunt does need more help with moderation…).

      • I’ve been waiting for a number of hours to see if the chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology was really going to respond to a fairly uncontroversial statement about climate science with “this is exactly the argument that I do not buy” and nothing else.

        I mean, throw us a bone here. Maybe a clue about what part of the argument you “do not buy,” and some idea of why?

      • The Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences work day does not finish at 5 p.m.; this evening I took a candidate for a faculty position out to dinner. Now that i have a few moments, I want to try to finish the post (not to mention moderate the several hundred new comments that have arrived. Given that I don’t have much time left, all I can do tonite is refer you to previous threads:

      • This whole chunk of cometns should be removed. It has nothing to do with “hide the decline”. It is a diversionary tactic.

      • Huh? I basically laid out the definition of climate sensitivity. What is it that you don’t buy? That an imperfect estimate of equil temp response divided by an imperfect estimate of rad forcing gives you in imperfect estimate of clim sensitivity? You prefer to speculate that any temp change just happened because of natural variability? Evidence?

      • bart, please tell me which stone on mount sinai this definition was carved into, and why it has any relevance for understanding how natural unforced climate variability can influence surface temperature. This is a big topic for another time, i’ve responded to several other people on this thread related to this topic, and David Wojick also had a cogent response.

      • Charney.

        As I wrote upthread:

        A change in surface temperature can occur because of
        a) radiative forcing
        b) shuffling around of heat between different components of the climate system (eg oceans, cryosphere, atmosphere)

        There is some knowledge about each of these processes and in trying to understand what is causing some observed surface warming you try to get to a consistent picture. For modern warming, we know that all component of the climate system are gaining energy, so the reason for the warming is mostly forced (a). I am not aware of evidence for natural variability/oscillations that shuffle heat around having operated on the multi-century timescale over the past millennium. I am aware of a gradually changing radiative forcing and a gradually changing temperature, based on which climate sensitivity can be calculated, that are consistent with most other estimates for climate sensitivity from other period of the earth’s past, the instrumental record, volcanoes, and GCM’s.

      • Thanks Bart, I was referring to the most commonly used form of the sensitivity. Like I said, I understood your point but didn’t share your conclusion.

        My point being that how are we to know all the forcings and/or feedbacks, especially thousand years back in time? We can’t.
        We don’t know the relative phases and strengths of PDO etc either. Sunspots? TSI variation? Clouds? Ice cover, rainfall? Also most of the feedbacks – if this division into two interrelated concepts are even that useful – are mostly still just guesses – let alone what we might be able to say about their relationships during the MWP. Just too many unknowns!

        You didn’t comment on my other remarks, like the one concerning the recent development.

      • I am losing my mind every time somebody suggests, that warmer MWP (than Mann et al) would mean higher climate sensitivity. I know what is the idea behind it, and it is plainly wrong.

        It is only true if you assume, its only those forcings presented by Hegerl, that can result a change in GTA. Or that every change in *surface* temperature (not speaking about the total HEAT), would actually need an external forcing. Show me one paper that proves this assertion.

        Climate and ocean circulation patterns are chatioc, and can result in temporal changes in Tsurf. Earth is never in equilirium. For example, there is natural multidecadal variability (which has also been discussed on this blog), which is interpreted as unforced. Where is it proven, that climate is an average of 30 years, why not 300, or 3000 years? All of those are just blinks of an eye in geological terms.

        You should read about Tomas Milanovic’s article about spatio-temporal chaos (I dont claim to have it fully understood it but I think i’ve got the basic idea).

      • In continuation of my post, I in late 2009 when Climategate broke, the head of Finnish Meteorological Insitute claimed that the hockey stick nor the MWP is important. That they would be only interesting in ‘academic sense’.

        I do not understand how a man in such a position can make such a statement. As shown in the comments of this (and the previous thread), it clearly *is* important.

      • A change in surface temperature can occur because of
        a) radiative forcing
        b) shuffling around of heat between different components of the climate system (eg oceans, cryosphere, atmosphere)

        There is some knowledge about each of these processes and in trying to understand what is causing some observed surface warming you try to get to a consistent picture. For modern warming, we know that all component of the climate system are gaining energy, so the reason for the warming is mostly forced (a). I am not aware of evidence for natural variability/oscillations that shuffle heat around having operated on the multi-century timescale over the past millennium. I am aware of a gradually changing radiative forcing and a gradually changing temperature, based on which climate sensitivity can be calculated, that are consistent with most other estimates for climate sensitivity from other period of the earth’s past, the instrumental record, volcanoes, and GCM’s.

      • Bart, we have no knowledge from the past about e.g. cloud cover. A 2% change in cloud cover has the same forcing effect as a doubling of CO2. How do you know that there was no internal forcing like an ocean heat redistribution (PDO, ENSO,… or longer term) that influenced cloud cover in such a way that it is a self fortifying effect (to a certain extent) into two (or more) more or less stable equilibria, just like the ice ages, D.-O. events and the many other long term temperature cycles visible in the Holocene record?
        See e.g. http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/csrl/publications/pub_exchange/Wielicki_et_al_2002.pdf and
        with the caveat that later corrections of the satellite radiation budget are not included.

      • Ferdinand – Could you elaborate? I can understand a concept involving long term cycling, but I’m not sure I grasp the notion of two separate but relatively close thermodynamically stable equilibriums (zero net TOA flux). If one is stable in terms of the balance between atmosphere and upper ocean and between upper ocean and deep ocean, what preserves the stability of the other? Climatic extremes might each represent a different stable equilibrium, but we are nowhere close to an extreme.

        Regarding clouds, recent trends suggest a slight decline in total cloud cover over several decades, due to a reduction in low clouds, which exert a net cooling influence, while high cirrus clouds, which are net warmers, have remained relatively constant. This is consistent with a positive cloud feedback on the warming mediated by greenhouse gases.

        Regarding ice ages, these appear to be triggered by insolation changes (orbital forcing) that disrupted any previous equilibrium. D/O events tended to be short term and usually hemispheric, typically reflecting changes in ocean circulation patterns that produced NH effects opposite those in Antarctica. As far as I know, none occurred during an interglacial.

      • Have a look at ENSO: One mode is less upwelling of cold deep water, change in SST, trade winds and air pressure, but also cloud cover, another mode is the opposite. It all starts with a small trigger (whatever the cause), that is fortified by responses which are strong positive feedbacks, but limited (self limiting, like ice sheets in the case of ice ages) in total effect. It seems to act as a bistable (“stable” in this case not that stable…) system.
        The effect of a small trigger on ice ages/interglacials and D.-O. events is similar: it works only if there is a (relative) strong, but in total effect limited response (in this case we have more or less stable radiation budgets in the two positions).
        The D.-O. events are far more pronounced in the NH, but the temperature (proxy) graphs of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets seems more shifted in time than really opposite:
        The equivalent cycles during the Holocene are called Bond events:

        Other cycles are PDO, NAO,…with lengths of 70-90 years, Roman WP – dark ages – MWP-LIA-CurrentWP with length of ~1000 years. The MWP-LIA change is directly linked to changes in the Gulf stream position (far more south during the LIA).

        Cloud cover and resulting TOA budget are interesting items: No GCM is capable of capturing the radiation budget in the 20N-20S band and beyond, because they don’t capture the decadal variability in cloud cover, see the previously mentioned paper by Wielicki and:

        Further, according to Dr. Spencer, most of the decadal cloud cover variability is internal variability:

      • I think you were correct to refer to those phenomena as self-limiting rather than a stable equilibrium. They invoke counteracting influences that restore a previous state.

        Without getting into specifics, I believe it’s a losing proposition to cite Spencer on clouds and feedback vs forcing. Andy Dessler’s data showing positive cloud feedback may harbor uncertainties related to methods and extrapolation from the short term to longer intervals (I’ve made that point previously and Dessler agrees), but Spencer is downright illogical on this issue, as has been pointed out on many occasions.

      • Also, thanks for the Allan/Slingo GRL link. It makes a cogent point about model inability to capture decadal scale variabilities in the tropics related to clouds. I’m not sure it has improved much since 2002. (I don’t think this is related to Dessler/Spencer/Lindzen analyses involving very short term intervals, which involve mainly ENSO).

      • I had several disagreements with Dr. Spencer on other topics, but tend to agree on this one. The main point is that some initial warming may reduce cloud cover, which gives for more insolation, which warms SST etc. Thus cloud cover in this case is both feedback and driver, triggered with an internal (or solar?) forcing. The question is if this type of cycle can be extrapolated to any long term trend (GHG or solar induced). The same for the solar cycle, see Fig.1 in
        Quite huge reaction of cloud cover on TOA solar changes, but what does that say about longer term trends?

      • I am not aware of evidence for natural variability/oscillations that shuffle heat around having operated on the multi-century timescale over the past millennium.

        Dokken, T., Andrews, J., Hemming, S., Stokes, C. and Jansen, E. 2003. Researchers discuss abrupt climate change: Ice sheets and oceans in action. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union 84: 189, 193.

        Keigwin, L.D. and Boyle, E.A. 2000. Detecting Holocene changes in thermohaline circulation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97: 1343-1346.

        Gedalof, Z. and Smith, D.J. 2001. Interdecadal climate variability and regime-scale shifts in Pacific North America. Geophysical Research Letters 28: 1515-1518.

        … and these are just some old ones.

      • How is an estimate divided by an estimate “empirically based”?

      • Bart, there is no ‘equilibrium’ in the climate. It is always changing, even if the ‘forcing’ is constant. You need to get away from this very naive view of the climate as something that simply settles to an equilibrium determined by the forcing. Go back and read the spatiotemporal chaos thread.

    • If the sensitivity is greater than 3 deg, how much warming might we have expected to have had since the last IPCC forecasts in 2000? Would the forecasts now be falsified?

      • ‘If the sensitivity is greater than 3 deg, how much warming might we have expected to have had since the last IPCC forecasts in 2000?’

        An undetectable amount of warming given the noise in any ten year period of time. We would need several ensembles of ten year periods with the same climatic parameters (GHG concentrations, solar output, ocean-atmosphere coupling, etc.) to average the noise away to a meaningful signal.

        That is the inherent problem with this field. To get good data in time scales meaningful to us (weeks to months to years) you need thousands of identical earths to beat back the noise.

        We, unfortunately, just have one.

      • According to the NOAA State of the Climate 2008 report published in BAMS, a period of 15 years with no warming invalidates the current climate models at the 95%. It would seem reasonable to assume a higher sensitivity would require less time with no warming since non forcing internal variables wouldn’t be affected by the sensitivity and the forcing would differentiate from the noise in a shorter span of time.

      • According to the NOAA State of the Climate 2008 report published in BAMS, a period of 15 years with no warming invalidates the current climate models at the 95%.

        Really? On what page?

      • “Near-zero and even negative trends are common
        for intervals of a decade or less in the simulations, due to the model’s internal climate variability. The simulations rule out (at the 95% level) zero trends for intervals of 15 yr or more, suggesting that an observed absence of warming of this duration is needed to create a discrepancy with the expected present-day warming rate.”

        Page 24

      • Good, only 2 more years to go. I wonder if they can “adjust” historical temps that quick.

      • It does have to be ENSO adjusted. The same NOAA report states that the ENSO adjusted trend from 1999 to 2008 was 0.0 +/- 0.05C. Assuming the ENSO adjusted trend has not gone up in the last two years we still have 3 years of no warming to invalidate the models.

      • I’m looking for the AMO to go negative soon. La Nina…..IDK.

      • That would be true only if the observations still showed no warming after adjustment for ENSO. In addition, the rate of warming for a given CO2 trajectory is sensitive to both positive (CO2) and negative (aerosol) forcings, and so higher sensitivity to both will change in the trend in an uncertain direction depending on the balance of these forcings.

        Given the likelihood that aerosols will rise less steeply than CO2 (or even decline), it seems improbable that a no-warming trend extending for the next 15 years will be observed. It’s important, however, to compute trends by legitimate statistical methods

      • Yes, the ENSO adjusted temperature. I can only assume the scientists at the NOAA use legitimate statistical methods unless someone shows them to be in error.

      • What I find most humorous (or is it hubris?) about your post is thus –

        Where were you when the PDO was positive with all this “taking out ENSO” signal?

        Let me save you the trouble – Since no one seems to be able to explain said cycle, you claiming that anyone can account for it rings rather hollow on all ears hearing it. Did they think of step changes in that? I seriously doubt it.

        It amounts to this “Oh crap..we no long have that awesome el Nino helping to pump up temperatures and make our case for us, so now we’ll blame La Nina for temps not going up” Um news flash, temps weren’t heading up before 2008 (1998-2008) either. You guys can’t have it both ways.

      • ‘According to the NOAA State of the Climate 2008 report published in BAMS, a period of 15 years with no warming invalidates the current climate models at the 95%.’

        Good thing I said 10 years then…

      • Which explains why GISS is out of sync with the other global temperature records. Since GISS (read taxpayer funded) models can’t be wrong, it must be the raw data that is wrong. The solution, correct the raw data so it matches the models, and only use adjusted data.

        The other global temperature records are therefore wrong because they haven’t taken into account the corrections required as predicted by the models and are therefore using the wrong adjustments.

      • I have always been amused at the thought that the 1960 deviationist tree rings might well have been right and that the grafted on instrumental record was simply a product of confirmation bias in the temp adjustments and, of course, Jones getting the UHI completely wrong (and then having his raw Chinese data “lost”.

      • Jay, I’ve long felt this might be exactly the solution to the Divergence “problem”. No doubt when the Berkeley project bears fruit we shall see…

      • I always assumed the Divergence was simple regression to the mean. Assume there’s some degree of random noise in tree ring series. While temps are rising, implement any process you like – algorithmic or subjective – that selects for trees that show recent especially strong growth pulses. Look at the trees in that instant and it’ll seem like they’re temperature responsive – a publishable finding! But if you wait a few years and look at the same trees again you’ll see their average implied temperature has declined. Because that growth pulse didn’t really reflect temperature at all, it was mostly an artifact of your selection process.

      • Yes, it is excellent support for your answer and allows you to even expand it to a more practical solution then making alternative earths. You’re welcome.

      • Thanks, those numbers seem about right.

        But imagine anyone trying to prove that recent temps are inconsistent with the null hypothesis, with 95% confidence.

      • Trying to have it both ways, Bishop, a warm MWP and low sensitivity?

      • Bart,

        Fail on the logic.

      • No, a warm MWP and the models falsified! :-)

      • Lord BeaverBrook

        But the models can not be falsified! As the models are always right then the temperature data has to be adjusted regularly to the ever increasing accuracy of the model output.

      • Bishop: sensitivity is estimated in 3 ways:

        1. Observation. See schwartz and others. Its a nice engineering trick in the good sense of the word)
        2. Models: also how we estimate sensitivity in complex systems (like aircraft)
        3. Paleo.

        Each of these three methods gives different estimates of the range. So, Bart is right, but didnt tell the whole story. (not blaming him)

      • What (roughly) are the ranges?

      • Explain to me why that is not a possibility please?


        Forcing factor = 1.0 degrees, sensitivity = 1.1 , answer = 1.1 degrees
        Forcing factor = 0.5 degrees, sensitivity = 2.2, answer = 1.1 degrees.

        The former has both a warm period and a low sensitivity.

      • Latimer, I believe that this (workings of our climate, temperature response to some change) cannot be simplified into what you propose. And I believe you know it, too…

      • No I b…y don’t ‘know it too’.

        Please explain in simple terms why my straightforward working is wrong.

        You cannot solve the equation ab=x uniquely. For any value of x there are a range of values of a and b, not a single answer.

        a=1 b=6 is one answer, a=2, b=3 is another, a= 0.1, b=60 is a third.

        If you can only measure (or even worse estimate) x, the you cannot tell which of these value pairs is the correct one.
        To do that you need to measure a second variable – and that will give you the third.

        This is basic 11 plus maths. If you can show me how it doesn’t apply, please do so.

      • Look Joe, my point being that it is most probably not a liner first order function, or just a constant function that would presented if we were able to represent anything resembling a analytical representation. We aren’t. The sensitivity is most probably dependent on pretty much every variable you can think of about atmosphere, sea and land. And probably different set of initial condinitions would yield you a different “sensititivy value”.

        I see it as a tool to (over) simplify things which just throws most of the variables out. Nice and tidy to tell the politicians how much it would warm for 2xCO2 whileas the truth is we don’t know. It could be anything between 0 and 10 degress, really.

      • Sorry I misunderstood what you meant. It was late. My bad.

        Yup – agree with you.

      • Please find me good solid historical numbers of ocean heat content down to 4,000 meters going back say 1,000 years.

        Without knowing how much heat is remaining in the system it’s impossible to determine forcings.

        We don’t even have good ocean heat content data going back 10 years.

      • Exactly. One of the biggest problems with the consensus scientists is jumping to conclusions. And avoiding the most interesting questions like divergence for example.

      • Ocean heat storage is relevant to the rate at which temperature changes in response to forcings, but has nothing at all to do with the calculation of forcings themselves. The latter is determined by the change in net radiative flux at the tropopause in response to a climate perturbation, and is defined as the change in flux that occurs in the absence of any temperature response.

      • If the mixing rate of the oceans slowed, due to factors not currently understood, this would increase air temperatures globally as well as TOA flux. The effect would mimic warming as currently attributed to CO2.

        Given the amount of heat in the oceans as compared to the air, even a tiny change in the oceans will dwarf dramatic changes to the atmosphere.

      • “If the mixing rate of the oceans slowed, due to factors not currently understood, this would increase air temperatures globally as well as TOA flux.”

        That is referred to as an El Nino.

      • For example, changes in the surfactants produced by plankton trying to keep warm, or some other biological factor that has been totally ignored.
        I was astounded to learn that trees maintain a constant 21.4 C, regardless of whether they are living in cold or warm climates. Who would have thought that trees were warm blooded?
        Has anyone accounted for this in climate science? 21.4 C is very close to 72F, the same temperature we like to maintain our houses at, the same temperature that the earth averaged for much of the past 600 million years.
        Maybe, just maybe the rest of life on earth is struggling to raised the temperature to a more comfortable level, and isn’t really happy with the cycle of ice ages.

      • Well, I’m not a statistician – but the answer is Yes

    • “Sceptical Science”, roflmao.

      Look, the issue is simpler. If the hockey stick version of climate history is true, then we have good evidence that CO2 does indeed drive the climate much more strongly than any other drivers. It means that most of the warming in the past century may be due to CO2.

      This, irrespectively of overall “climate sensitivity”.

      Now if the climate history is more about random walks, then to blame the past warming of the past century mostly on CO2 is unfounded and unjustified. While climate sensitivity may be “higher”, whatever that means, the overall effect of CO2 in the climate may well be lower than expected, in comparison with other drivers, iow, the projected warming will be lower.

    • Bart, that is contested by several European climate scientists, see:

      So, what would it mean, if the reconstructions indicate a larger (Esper et al., 2002; Pollack and Smerdon, 2004; Moberget al., 2005) or smaller (Jones
      et al., 1998; Mann et al., 1999) temperature amplitude?
      We suggest that the former situation, i.e. enhanced variability during pre-industrial times, would result in a redistribution of weight towards the role of natural factors in forcing temperature changes, thereby relatively devaluing the impact of anthropogenic emissions and affecting future predicted scenarios.

      The main problem with current climate models is the equal sensitivity for equal forcings as assumed in the models: 1 W/m2 more solar has (more or less) the same effect as 1 W/m2 more retainment of IR by GHGs. But that is far from sure. More GHGs have their main effect in the troposphere, where more IR is absorbed in the upper fraction of a mm of the sea surface. On the other side, more UV from the sun has its main effect in the stratosphere, changing the jet stream position, and downward further penetrating/warming the oceans to deeper layers. Not to mention the direct or indirect effect on clouds (empirically proven, but no clear effect of GHGs).

      That current models underestimate the solar influences, even within the constraints of current models (like a fixed response to aerosols) can be read here:

      • The forcing effect on the surface layer of oceans would not differ much for forcing from increased solar radiation and increased CO2. The difference would be that the solar radiation penetrates deeper. Thus the mixing of the uppermost ocean might change a tiny bit, but otherwise both would lead to increased incoming radiation reaching the ocean surface from above.

        There would be some small changes in the radiative heat transfer within the atmosphere, but this would also have a very small effect, because the convection compensates the changes automatically in troposphere. The stratosphere would change a bit more.

        One difference concerns polar regions. Increased solar radiation would affect them very little, but increased CO2 influences the heat transfer most strongly in polar regions.

        There are certainly differences, but not very large ones.

      • I am not sure about this:
        IR is absorbed in the upper fraction of a mm. That makes that the “skin” temperature of the oceans is a few degrees higher than the layer just below it during the day (and less at night). That may be translated into:
        1) direct reflection or more radiation back into the atmosphere and beyond.
        2) more evaporation.
        3) heating of the rest of the ocean layers.

        Most visible light penetrates deeper and thus has a direct warming effect of the total layer.

        Further, while the effect of more CO2 should be most polewards, the main warming of the oceans is in the subtropics, where sunlight has its largest effect, due to less clouds (at least in de period 1985-2003). See Levitus e.a. Fig. 2:
        No heat content increase in polar waters over the past near 50 years…

      • No it doesn’t make the upper layer warmer, because the skin is emitting even more and also losing heat through evaporation. Therefore it is heated from below from those layers that are warmed by the sun, but cannot get rid of that energy in any other way than by heating the surface.

      • Pekka, so basically if we a fluxes of 1W/m^2 of IR and sunlight directly towards a very deep column of sea water, the total heat content change of the water column is (more or less) identical, so the longer penetration distance of sunlight (visible/UV) doesn’t matter?

        One would think that the one (relatively) more capable of concentrating more of it’s energy in the surface layer instead of distributing it more evenly, would relatively also 1) cause more evaporation and also 2) lose more of the energy radiatively due to higher deviation in surface temperature?

        Oh well, would need to calculate to figure out the difference.

      • There would be very little difference. The layer of approximately constant temperature would be slightly thicker, but the surface temperature would still be the one that leads to equilibrium. Thus the surface temperature would not change between the two different ways of changing the incoming radiation, the whole tiny change would be deeper down in the ocean.

      • Was that measured somewhere in a laboratory under controlled circumstances? Including evaporation rates etc.?

      • Pekka, just to elaborate a bit. You are most probably right, but I have this bad habit of making the same question twice. So bear with me:

        Consider we have two different sources of energy, whose net energy flow resides on different wavelengths, namely UV-visible and IR. And we have two water columns, say C1 and C2 at same initial temperature.

        Now we heat the C1 with UV-visible (i.e. sunlight). Of this radiation, say k J of energy is absorbed into C1, say to 10 meter column over time t1. Not evenly of course, I suppose the curve (absorbed energy vs depth) would have logarithmic shape, more or less where bulk of the energy is absorbed by the first few centimeters of water.

        Then same amount (k Joules) of IR radiation is absorbed in its entirety over first few micrometers (something like that) over the same time t1 to the column C2.

        Now what is the difference in surface temperature at t=t1 of C1 and C2? Mixing of the water can be ignored (or would it be the key here?)

        I would imagine the IR-heated surface (C2) being hotter.

        Yes, I realize this is not the real world setting of course and I most certainly cannot teach any physics here to anyone, especially Pekka.

        I’m just wondering is there a real difference (just a ballpark figure – 1% – 10% in surface T?).

      • Anander,
        If the radiation changes rapidly, what you say is true, but it does not take long for the uppermost tens of meters to reach an equilibrium and in the equilibrium the heat transfer from the surface to atmosphere (and space) must equal the radiative heating. That leads to exactly same skin temperature and exactly same amounts of outgoing IR and evaporation, when daily variations are not considered. There will be a small difference in the daily variation as the increased solar radiation comes during the day while the CO2 has its influence over all 24 hours and perhaps even slightly more during the night.

        Consequently also the daily skin temperature variation are slightly different. Even for this contribution the increased solar radiation case has a higher day time maximum, although the CO2 adds only to the heating of the skin. Thus the effect of deeper penetration and daily variations in radiation have opposite influences on the change in daytime maximum.

      • As Anander already alluded to: more IR would make the skin layer less colder than without IR, thus increasing evaporation and radiation.

        But anyway the main influence of solar is from the change in cloud cover in the past decades (1985-2003) mainly in the subtropics, see:
        http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2002/2002_Chen_etal_2.pdf and

        Although the radiation budget as told in these articles needs corrections (due to corrections of the satellite data), the main effect remains: less clouds and more direct insolation of land and oceans in the subtropics.

      • Should have added: Indeed I am wrong, the skin temperature is colder than the bulk temperature, as I learned now…

      • Ocean skin temperature as measured by satellite appears to be slightly cooler than the layer immediately below it, although the difference is small –


    • William Newman

      What deus ex machina? I don’t understand your reasoning here at all. In your worldview, aren’t the actors already on stage?

      As I understand your position, there is plenty of room in the mechanisms of climate dynamics for possible positive temperature feedbacks which are larger than the first-order effect of CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Why must those large positive feedback terms only cause large politically correct amplification of anthropogenic CO2 warming, and never mischievously cause large politically incorrect fluctuations of other drivers even in the absence of anthropogenic forcing?

      One obvious candidate reason is that some of the proposed feedback terms have short time constants, and so can’t easily explain long-term climatic trends directly. However, even if humans had never existed the planet would have some long-timescale instabilities like changes in ocean currents. As long as any significant natural instability has a long timescale, all those phenomena which are supposed to conspire to amplify anthropogenic CO2 warming into a significant problem seem like suspects for conspiring to blow up the mezzo-indo-benthal multicentury countercurrent crossing of the third kind into a significant problem too.

      (I looked at your first skepticalscience hyperlink, and was not enlightened. The text there approvingly mentions sizable net positive feedback. The logic establishing that the long-term driver is substantially CO2 as opposed to other stuff seems less than ironclad to me even if I grant for the sake of argument that their error-bar-free historical graphs are reporting exceedingly high-quality historical data.)

    • Bart – I agree with your main point, but with reservations as to whether the climate sensitivity to all “forcings” is identical in magnitude. I put forcings in quotation marks because your point is valid even if the term is expanded to include internal climate fluctuations, as long as these lead to a change in radiative flux at the tropopause.

      Climate sensitivity to long term solar or atmospheric perturbations may differ from the sensitivity to short term perturbations imposed on an unwarmed atmosphere by temperature changes in the ocean (e.g., ENSO). However, what is almost certaintly true is that anything that causes OLR to decline or absorbed solar radiation to increase will warm (including internal fluctuations), and if the warming is (or was) more than estimated, it increases the possibility that warming due to anything else will also be greater than expected. It is not proof, but it is the interpretation most likely to be correct.

    • You are deliberately conflating “climate sensitivity” to any/all forcings and climate sensitivity to CO2, as you damn well know. You’re coat-racking the purported CO2 mitigation imperative on natural variability.

      Talk about sleight of hand! What a con!

    • No, Bart.

      No “deus ex machina” is required.

      Just (as yet unknown) natural variability (a.k.a. natural forcing).

      The 800-lb “uncertainty” in the room.


  6. Does Mann still stand by this statement/Response (since it’s still posted on RC)?

    Whatever the reason for the divergence, it would seem to suggest that the practice of grafting the thermometer record onto a proxy temperature record – as I believe was done in the case of the ‘hockey stick’ – is dubious to say the least.

    [Response: No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, “grafted the thermometer record onto” any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim…

    Odd that it’s gone from a “specious claim” Mann@RC(2004) to a “subjective decision about pretty much any presentation of complex data. ” Schmidt@C,e(2011). Truly and again, they’re the gang that couldn’t (and still can’t) shoot straight.

  7. Just discovered Part II, after just posting this at Part I.

    Fascinating and very lively discussion!

    The bottom line for me is that one decline which the AGW gang cannot hide is the decline in their credibility.

    Gavin and his defenders are starting to remind me of ‘Bagdad Bob,’ except not so jovial.

    • Al,
      That is going to leave a mark.

    • Thanks to the courage of Professor Curry and others who exposed the “Hide the Decline” statement, the US Congress has started to question government funding for misleading information.

      Almost overnight, I sensed a change in the attitude of mainstream scientists toward experimental data.

      I suspect that Presidents of the US National Academy of Sciences and the UK’s Royal Society will encourage editors of once prestigious research journals to change their attitudes too.

    • lol, true that. They’ve become so consumed with the hand waving their trying to convince people that they know all of the forcings and feedbacks. Why its easy as pie to estimate, you see if you only double CO2………….sigh. Apparently, they know the forcings when equilibrium is sought, both up and down. Dang, if they’d just shared earlier we could’ve saved all this time! Now we can decide when cold winters are suppose to happen and when warm ones will!!! And to whom. Drinks are on me!

      Hubris and sophistry…….what a great combination.

    • Bagdad Gavin.

  8. After reading a few responses of similar ilk, I am going to share my story as well.

    For those that continually make this a left versus right issue (and I have a huge problem with that on both sides). It isn’t and I am a real example. I can refute it plainly for those at RC and WUWT that so often have said it is about liberal versus conservative.

    I live in Massachusetts and before that California (and before that Florida and before all NY). I am a card carrying member of the ACLU. I voted against Sarah Palin and her ilk. I went to USF in Tampa for Environmental Engineering. My mother is married to a woman. My best friend is gay. In all I should be RC’s bestest friend right?

    About eight years ago I wanted to see what all the hub-bub was about and started to research the subject. What was the deciding factor for me? Gavin. One day at RC was all I needed to see to know something was seriously wrong. The arrogance, dismissive attitude, censorship et all drove me to look for an alternative side – which lead me to find Steve’s work and then blog. Here was the opposite of RC – openness and real science that was easy to understand and test. So I did.

    I am not even a luke warmer now. I am a “the signal will be swamped by variability and feedbacks..IF there was ever a signal to find”

    Show me real science and maybe I’ll change my mind, but you better have your i’s dotted because I’m no fool and understand the maths and physics involved. Show me agenda based crap, conclusions not supported by your work, assumptions not founded by science, and computer models as evidence and you make what should be someone on your side a staunch skeptic and stereotype buster.

    Oh and before those say my story is manufactured, I used my real name as I always do. I’m out there – and you’ll not find a single conservative blog post from me, you’ll see I have lived where I said, and you’ll see years past postings of my political affiliations. Gavin you personally caused me to look at the science harder where I might have glossed over it. Congrats! The whole AGW thing actually got me to register as an independent after being a registered democrat for over 18 years.

    • Hello AJ,

      Another liberal here. Warmists are not aware of the damage they are doing to liberalism and science (environmental or not).

      • James Chamberlain

        Yes, the real damage is to science. And, I feel that one of the major problems is science education. All of my non-science friends that I have don’t have a clue about the scientific method and how it should be approached. This makes them all easy pickings for the group-think that has become the CAGW freight train.

      • Me too!

        High Five!!

      • You should really make some effort to distinguish yourself from other Michaels. Are you Michael the angel or are you Michael the man?

        I had a dog by the name of Michael, and I trained him to give a high-five before each treat. He died two years ago. So it’s a little creepy seeing a Michael repeatedly saying high-five.

        Also, it is not fair to real Michael Mann, if any dog with a PC can pretend to be the great scientist by the mere adoption of his name for a moniker.

        Do that and I promise you a treat.

      • Speaking of ‘death trains’.

      • Oh no, ignorance of science would never lead them into the group think on the other side. Monkton and the sky dragon slayers follow the scientific method into every single nook and cranny, so that would be impossible.

      • James Chamberlain

        The absence of understanding of the scientific method and succeptibility to groupthink is pervasive but does not affect any reality of the CAGW movement regardless of the side that these problems lay.

    • For me, retired from a career in the conservation field, the tipping point was all the obviously absurd hysteria about the alleged plight of the polar bear. I had to wonder, if the AGW story was solid, why did they need to ‘make stuff up’ to support it? I soon found out.

      I suppose that I should not have been surprised. I had already seen the pseudoscience called ‘Conservation Biology’ steadily hijack my field for the past three decades and they made stuff up all the time. So this partnership between that pseudoscience and the AGW gang to create polar bear stories was completely predictable, in retrospect. A vast amount of the funding pouring into the Conservation Biology business is based on the ‘effects of climate change’ on x, with endless monitoring (employment) of those ‘effects.’

      Now with the AGW industry funding under threat they are pumping up the ‘Biodiversity Crisis,’ the AGW-like economic engine of the Conservation Biology industry.

      • Yes, I’ve seen that too. They have made it rather difficult to say you are an environmentalist. It’s become a synonym for “nut case”. Alas, I’m not sure what to call myself now. I’m just for policies that make sense and for real problems, not imagined ones. Real problems are never world/populace ending ones. The sky is not falling.

      • The sad thing is that toooo many of my old colleagues still working are trapped in and by that mindset, and anyone who dared question it was, until recently, ‘shipped off to Siberia’ career wise and otherwise shunned as a heretic. Thus I use a pen name so that they can still know me without being burned at the stake.

        Since I now see the word ‘environmentalist’ in a whole new light since that movement was hijacked, I call myself a conservationist now. That does fit with your goal of “policies that make sense and for real problems, not imagined ones.”

        But, of course, there’s much more funding and potential hero worship when saving the world from a falling sky.

      • I still call myself an environmentalist, for the issues and groups who I believe do not distort the science.

        I still trust the Ocean Conservancy and Conservation International, but stopped trusting the Sierra Club and NRDC and EDF two decades ago.

        For example, in my view science supports the idea that we are removing so many species from oceans that we are drastically changing ecosystems, and we don’t know how it will all come out. One of many illustrations: fishermen have removed so many sharks on the east coast of the US — to get fins for shark fin soups — that the prey of sharks now is multiplying. That prey is the cownosed ray, which eats scallops. So the scallop fishery off the Carolinas is now a shadow of its former self.

        There is a documented consequence of overfishing of a given species. This kind of thing is happening in oceans worldwide.

        But in no way would I support an environmental goal or group without doing my own study of the science. So many issues are now politicized, and policy is often driven by what voters percieve, as a result of intense media coverage, than about what is actually true in science.

        Climate change science is perhaps the most tainted by advocacy twisting and drowning out the actual science, but it isn’t the only one. But you can still call yourself an environmentalist if you specify which issue and why.

    • AJ: You pretty much mirror my own background and beliefs. I’ve never voted Republican in my life, and I always vote. AGW was dogma for me until Steve Mc started posting (I remember the days before Climate Audit). I’m a scientist in another field, and for me it was a combination of dodgy looking data and sneering attitudes (let’s not forget Tamino!) that pushed me well out of the RC camp.

      I’ve got to agree with Louise, though: it was the use of the word “dishonest” that caused this thread to explode. Luis, you can argue all you want, but when a red flag like that word gets waved at a scientist, sophisticated arguments are meaningless and the gloves come off.

      I’m still a Dem, btw. I voted for Obama and I’ll do it again; there are lots of issues and I side with him on almost all of them. Just not this one.

      • I’ll vote for whom best gives answers to issues that matter to me. I voted Obama, but I’ll have to see who steps up in the next election to know how I’ll vote next.

        Science is science – those that make it about anything else are wrong on both sides. I wish this were the only thing I have a problem with the new Liberal movement with, alas it isn’t. They’ve latched onto a few hair brain things lately. I’ve moved central, or maybe a tad libertarian (liberal libertarian) as of now. God I wish for real third , fourth and fifth option politically. Two party system just doesn’t work.

      • Oh, I don’t know… there’s a beautiful simplicity in the action of a pendulum. Unlike climate science, where nothing is simple.

      • A damped, driven pendulum is chaotic. Nonlinear and unpredictable, nothing simple about it.

      • I thought Newton’s Second Law could handle driven pendulums. Maybe I’m forgetting my physics?

      • “A damped, driven pendulum is chaotic. Nonlinear and unpredictable, nothing simple about it.”

        Sort of makes a mockery of attempts by climate science to predict the future, if such a simple model remains unpredictable.

      • I was being sarcastic, Fred. Damped, driven pendulums can be described by the Second Law; they aren’t chaotic. Climate Science wishes it was as simple as that, but it sure ain’t.

      • Ditto. I would describe myself as left wing.I also discovered Real Climate when I first started taking an interest in these matters and was rapidly put off by the arrogance, the bullying and the sneering displayed by those who run it and by some of the regular commenters. Then I found CA and other blogs and my views about the dangers posed by global warming. I think these worries are exaggerated and in any case there is little we can do about reducing CO2 levels rapidly. I have been a working engineering scientist for over 35 years and have published extensively in my field. I know about peer review and the standards and the ethics expected of doing research – certainly in my field. I am shocked that people like Gavin Schmidt continue to defend/rationalise behaviour such as displayed in “hiding the decline”. Bravo, Prof. Curry! Scientists like you could still bring the science into “climate science” !

      • Glad to see I’m not alone. I’m a life-long democrat, although being from the South, perhaps a “conservative” democrat to folks up north. It can be annoying how many flamers make assumptions (on both sides) regarding the political leanings of pro- or skeptic commenters. But it is also quite informative, and sometimes amusing. It tells you a lot about a person, when they jump to conclusions. And being a liberal with a “conservative” viewpoint certainly makes spotting the disconnect much easier.

      • Luis, you can argue all you want, but when a red flag like that word gets waved at a scientist, sophisticated arguments are meaningless and the gloves come off.

        Except that Judith never said that the scientists were dishonest. No, the practice was dishonest.

        I mean, perhaps it’s because English is not my first language, but I had no reading problems with it, because I took it literally. Judith said “look all this science is shady, mkay?”, and people went bananas “Are you calling the scientists SHADY, miss? You’re out of line ma’am!”.

        It’s completely emotional pettiness, something that alleged scientists shouldn’t get involved in. They say emotions deceive you. Here, they just put their blinders on.

      • There are subtleties in the English language. It isn’t nearly as expressive as others, so innuendo and subtleties are necessary to convey the message. When Dr. Curry stated, “McIntyre’s analysis is sufficiently well documented that it is difficult to imagine that his analysis is incorrect in any significant way. If his analysis is incorrect, it should be refuted. I would like to know what the heck Mann, Briffa, Jones et al. were thinking when they did this and why they did this, and how they can defend this, although the emails provide pretty strong clues. Does the IPCC regard this as acceptable? I sure don’t.……… she had to know it would illicit a response. I don’t think she was quite prepared for the one she got, but it is what she got. And, it isn’t out of character for either side to respond in the manner they did.

        It is noteworthy, the only ones left are the scientifically curious and skeptics.

    • You are right, AJ.

      While we were idealistically supporting environmentalism, government science became a tool of government propaganda, as former President Dwight Eisenhower warned might happen one day:

    • Hello, AJ and others. The cause celebre seems to be shifting to “ocean acidification.” I have seen at least three articles over the last ten days in the NYTimes that mention “…growing ocean acidification…” Would anyone like to calculate how much CO2 it would take to reduce the ocean’s ph from its current approx. 8.17-8.18 to 7.0?

      • Don’t need to. Already seen the calculations countless times on skeptic blogs. The whole nomenclature is ludicrous; acidification of an alkaline…

        The sky is falling only works once per 30 years or so. You got to wait for a new generation to grow up before it works again. The youth ignore the warnings of the previous generation.

      • Big sum.

        Lots more free carbon needed than there is available from any known earthbound source. So in the realms of practicality, the oceans ain’t ever going to become acidified.

        It is possible they will become a teensy bit less alkaline. If this were to happen the correct term is ‘ocean neutralisation’. But ‘ocean acidification’ sounds so much more scary – while being entirely incorrect. The oceans will never become acidic however much CO2 is produced.

    • AJ
      I hope someday you look as critically at some of your other beliefs. You might have a similar experience. I did.

      • Sorry, I didn’t intend to imply that you aren’t thoughtful about your beliefs. But there may be some evidence you haven’t been exposed to, similar to many people that are not aware of the details of this episode.

      • Chuckr

        Since you don’t know me or any of my other beliefs, I’d say your comment is about as misplaced as it could be. A ton of ASSumption in your post.

    • The fact may be that individuals can be skeptical and hold different or similar political views in relation to the mainstream of climate science (environmentalism) and it’s adherents has nothing to do with the overarching institutional structure and political persuasion of environmentalism as a social movement.

      To wit: Modern environmentalism and it’s subsets ie: CAGW etc. is born out of a 19th century counter revolutionary push to industrialism by aristocracy, arch conservatives and reactionaries. Romanticism, naturalism and social Darwinism played no small part an ultimately led to the first state with environmental laws; namely the Third Reich. Is it any wonder then that Eurocentric UN headed by former (SIC) Nazi, Kurt Waldheim, became the main political arm for environmentalism including endorsements of the Club of Rome, the paper ‘Only One Earth,’ the creation of UNEP and ultimately the IPCC.

      Whatever the political motivations of people in relation to environmentalist issues, one thing is for sure; the Greenpeace hippies, the Schmidts, Manns, Turners, Gates etc. are foot-soldier dupes for an overarching agenda by the landed aristocracy of Europe and their Fascist fellow travelers.

      • Does Europe still have a significant landed aristocracy?

        Here in UK there are a few left, but their power and influence are almost zero.

      • Very much so.

        As for their apparent lack of power, they still wield power mightily.

        From: http://www.ecofascism.com/review21.html

        “Britain’s largest landowner is Queen Elizabeth. Her holdings include the 365,000-acre Crown Estate. She is also Duchess of Lancaster, an estate of 49,000 acres, and Duchess of Normandy – 90,000 acres. She owns the 60,000-acre Balmoral estate in Scotland and the 22,000-acre Sandringham estate in Norfolk. These possessions have a notional value of $6 billion. In reality, the Crown Estate’s metropolitan acres, particularly those in London, would fetch, in a slow sale, between $10 and 15 billion. As a family inheritance, the Queen’s son (Prince Charles) is the Duke of Cornwall, an estate of 141,000 acres. This duchy includes land inside developed zones in western England and metropolitan London worth far in excess its current valuation of $750 million.”

      • Umm

        According to your numbers, the Queen and Charles own between them about 2.5% of the land area of the UK. This is not a high proportion.

        And though 15 billion quid is a lot of money to put in the bank, it is still only about a fortnight’s worth of total government revenues. Or the annual profits of BP.

        I think you are over estimating the relative size and influence of the aristocracy.

      • Wealth is extraordinarily concentrated worldwide, and one of the principal goals of wealthy families is exerting power and influence (“impact”). As of 2004, 77,000 families worldwide controlled assets totaling over USD $50T, a number almost twice what pension fund aggregate assets were. There were approximately 1mm families worth > USD $10mm, with an aggregate net worth of $90T, i.e 3x times pension fund assets. Prince/Grove, “Inside the Family Office”, 2005. Numbers are down some since then, but the distribution is unchanged.

      • Uhmm, I think you have the wrong blog. You’re connecting too many dots with too few lines. Putting Schmidts and Gates in the same box may be a bit of a stretch.

      • No. They are both stalwart environmentalist, for which I pointed out that they are merely tools of a larger agenda. Note agenda, NOT conspiracy.

        Granted I am O/T, but it has been in response to a legitimate post about ad hom attacks on people’s political persuasions and their stance on the AGW issue. Sadly those political beliefs are subordinate to a larger structure of which they are only a cog; if they support the ‘concensus.’.

      • kevin, I’m not disagreeing with you, nor am I agreeing with you. Nor am I the gatekeeper of this blog. But, it seems to me that there is a time and a place for everything. It is just my opinion, but this is neither the time, nor place for such a discussion. There are many blogs out there in which you could further you ideas and debate and discuss. I don’t believe this to be one of them. I could be wrong, but I’d be disappointed if it were.

    • A.J. Abrams,

      As I told you before many, many times. Stop reading my diary and stop pretending you are me. ;)

  9. Prof. Curry, you are everyday strengthening my belief that we realists are right and the other guys are definitely wrong!

    Thank you for your fantastic work and the endless time that you devote to the issue that is our main interest!


  10. I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1000 years ago. I do not believe that global mean annual temperatures have simply cooled progressively over thousands of years as Mike appears to and I contend that that there is strong evidence for major changes in climate over the Holocene (not Milankovich) that require explanation and that could represent part of the current or future background variability of our climate.
    Keith Briffa


  11. The first post on this subject, and several of Dr. Curry’s subsequent comments, seem to suggest to me that either I misunderstood her original intention with respect to this blog, or that it has changed. I had thought that her purpose was to build bridges between the consensus and the skeptics, with lukewarmers as facilitators in the middle. Now, if I am understanding correctly, she has determined that the more, shall we say, aggressive of the consensus proponents are beyond reach. Her bridging efforts now seem to me to be redirected to span the gap between conservatives/skeptics, and liberals/lukewarmers. I see the potential there for a dialogue to which the consensus advocates would be welcome, but are by no means essential.

    Given the sea change in the political landscape in the U.S., and the fact that it seems likely to continue its shift toward conservatism, this latter sort of bridge seems like it might actually have an effect in the real world, where policy will actually be made. Despite the caricaturization of conservatives as knuckle dragging, mouth breathing, troglodytic reactionaries, a rational, respectful presentation of real science, admitting its real uncertainties and limitations, will find a receptive audience after the next election. A willingness to concede past errors (even by one’s colleagues), is a real step in the right direction.

    On the other hand, unless there is a significant reversal of the political tide before the next election (or the unlikely adoption by the consensus advocates of Dr. Curry’s willingness to criticize past errors), it seems likely that the IPCC, RealClimate, the Hockey Team et al., will become completely irrelevant in the enactment of actual policy. A bridge built to them now would indeed be a bridge to nowhere.

    • GaryM, my bridge building was not particularly focused on connecting the consensus scientists and the skeptics. My main motive is protecting the integrity of the science. I am personally reaching out to a broad range of people and trying to get things back on a sensible track for climate science, and by now i know that this return to sensibility will not come from within the climate establishment.

      • I think you are showing remarkable courage to stray from the herd! The reaction from them shows what this is really all about… and it ain’t science. That said, with luck and time, real science will prevail. So onward Climate Soldier!

      • Well said. The personal stakes are too high, the potential profits too huge, and the possible increase in prestige and political power too great to admit compromise or reconciliation. Policy matters will be settled through political brute force rather than some exercise in PNS or the informed guesses of virtuous bureaucratic elites.

        Climate alarmism is losing the political battle and the reputation of climate science will suffer as a consequence. The integrity of the science will be restored once it is eliminated from the public policy arena. It will then once again what it once was, an esoteric area of scientific knowledge of little or no interest to those not involved in it.

      • “and by now i know that this return to sensibility will not come from within the climate establishment.”

        Probably the most salient and disappointing point of all.

        Many thanks Dr Curry:-

        “IF you can keep your head when all about you
        Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
        If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
        But make allowance for their doubting too;
        If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
        Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
        Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
        And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:”

      • Dr. Curry, I know that was difficult. It will be difficult. Thank you.

        Character matters. Always.

      • Thank you, Dr Curry – it is indeed about protecting the integrity of science, not just of climate science, because in the end how can the general public trust any scientific statement which is used as basis for political decision making if this particular instance is being waved aside? and why should they?

        I think that more and more scientist from other disciplines will speak out and thus help and encourage you in your courageous stance to get the science back into climate science, or at least that is my hope.
        The thought that bureaucrats might use this hockey-stick episode to take control of research – because they shell out the money and scientists can’t now be trusted – is simply too horrible to contemplate.

      • Judith,

        Very doubtful that the government will sponsor anything outside the current box they created.
        You’re doing good kiddo!

      • You keep it up and someday hopefully soon people will be able to look at this branch of science and say “while they had some problems starting out they have since cleaned house and have the most ethical people in any science” while I might not agree 100%with you Dr. Curry you have my total respect and admiration for the openness and frankness that you have put forward and continue to champion.

    • You are right, Gary. The Gavins of the world are not interested in bridges. Like Lenin, they are looking for an opportunity to take over and impose their views. Sort of like they impost their views and obstruct contrary views on Gavin’s RC website.

      But you can build bridges where people have at least the possibility of an open mind to nuance, to new ideas, to better understanding.

      So I think that Judith wants to build bridges to anyone who wants to join her. She isn’t trying to jam her viewpoint down everyone’s throat, unless it is a viewpoint that says, “Let’s cool it for a while, let’s agree to be positive when we inevitably disagree, let’s be open with our data and methods instead of hiding them, let’s agree that nobody is a lesser scientist if someone points out a weakness in a paper or blog entry — because that is the way science is supposed to work, nobody has everything right the first time.” If she wants to impose this view on all of us, I’m willing to have her do so.

    • Truth and Reconciliation… starts with truth…

      • Someone made the analogy on the prior thread that this discussion is like pulling the scab off of a wound. But if you let a scab grow over a wound without first cleaning it, you risk an infection that can spread to the whole body. Scrubbing the wound may hurt, but it sure beats the alternative.

      • If you’re going to carry on with the scab metaphor, if you obsessively pick at scabs, you suffer from a psychiatric disorder. Doesn’t matter how clean the wound is before it scabs over the first time — repeatedly picking off the scab means there is something wrong with your mind.

      • If you ignore the existance of several similar wounds produced over a period of time with weak/flimsy excuses as to how you got the wound, that can be a sign of self inflicted injuries or protection of an abuser.

        Ignoring the problem may help the scabs heal but it does nothing to stop the acts that cause the wounds.

      • ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ would be good.

        We have to settle for ‘Accusation and Innuendo’.

  12. An outstanding thread – summarizing much of the recent climate debate disruptions !

    An analogy for Gavin and his fellows : They are Titanic commanders ; two icebergs in a raw : M&M review of flawed maths ; fatal climategate e-mails, of which the ‘hide the decline’ is top tier. Is there still some room available on rescue boats ? in any case they decide to remain at the wheel, directing the sinking boat to next iceberg.

    Passengers who left the boat no longer discuss the ability of boat commanders. They no longer even mention this fatal trip towards paleoreconstructions ; they discuss further their previous business, it was climate change ; they rename it climate disruptions ; they (see Royal Society, French Academy of Sciences) no longer mention paleoclimate in their updated line of argument when supporting policies aiming at mitigating climate change.

    What about IPCC next report : there is still a chapter on paleo on the agenda. One CLA comes from my country, France.

    She apparently supports IPCC’ conclusions since years ; she seems to be part of a kind of “French rapid response team”, organised early 2010 a petition of French scientists against the two major sceptics (Allegre, Courtillot), is one of the authors of a book recently published re-summarising IPCC arguments (under the title : Climat, la Terre et les hommes).
    (This is a cop of my post on thread # 1 – did not see the newer one – makes more sense here)
    The ‘casting ‘ of this book is very interesting : introduction by a novel writer and a former member of IPCC’s Bureau ; 15 authors of which half selected as CLA, LA or reviewer of IPCC’s AR5 ; of which 4 or 5 as review editors.
    Will they be in a position to follow IPCC new guidelines for review editors as recommanded by the IAC review ? Are they qualified (and can we trust them) to act as edotors, or is the conflict of interest such that they should resign ?

  13. “I am not even a luke warmer now. I am a “the signal will be swamped by variability and feedbacks..IF there was ever a signal to find”

    As for the signal being swamped by feedbacks and natural variation, well, what the hell do you think has turned James Hansen into a walking shadow?The possibilty that a 1C signal will be swamped by natural variation and feedbacks! If it gets “swamped” by feedbacks, it’s all over. A PointFiver like Lindzen’s bland assurances that feedbacks will be nothing but .5C still posits a world that’s going to be radically different than what we see today. We’ve had around .9C of rise and we had major crop failures 2 of the last 3 years. Even .6C more and who knows what will happen? James Hansen looks at the geological record for clues where 3C looks writ in stone and 6-7C are far more likely than 1.5C and he’s become disturbingly alarmist.

    I figure lots of you are just Heartland-style bots, but some of you may be real and reachable. Look at the d*** geological record and imagine the world 50 years from now.
    Hell, with the recent rise in crop failures, ten years from now doesn’t look rosy.

    • world food production is at a high.
      crops fail for local reasons..

      enough bio-fuel has been made instead of feeding over 300 million people…
      I never heard of Heartland before the alarmist start banging on about it..

      There is a whole world outside of America you know.

      • Barry

        As a fellow Brit, you need to know that our US liberal interlocutors require us to have a fit of the vapours at the following words or phrases

        Glenn Beck
        Cock Institute

        Others can no doubt add to these. But with the exception of WUWT, I recognise none of them.

      • Koch Institute, – K O C H – with roots out of Wichita Kansas (vs New York as purported on the floor of the Wisconsin Assembly this morning by the D party members …)

        Koch Institute: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=opera&hs=j4M&rls=en&&sa=X&ei=sntlTdamEsKclge1zqGVBg&ved=0CB0QvwUoAQ&q=koch+institute&spell=1

        Koch Industries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koch_Industries

      • OK

        I just find it hard to get the hang of all these foreign names. Walks like cock, talks like a cock, crows like a cock, but its spelt Koch. And I once thought Kent Hrbek was an unusual name.

        But I still don’t understand why I’m supposed to have heart attack when those C/K words are mentioned.

        In case you missed the point, AGW is alleged to be a GLOBAL problem. Writing on a GLOBAL blog about purely parochial things just annoys those of us from the other 98% of the globe.

      • Latimer Alder | February 23, 2011 at 4:41 pm | Reply

        In case you missed the point, AGW is alleged to be a GLOBAL problem. Writing on a GLOBAL blog about purely parochial things just annoys those of us from the other 98% of the globe.

        Hmmm … Q: who initiated this tangent? A: Not I … pls do not assign that blame when it rests with the proper assignee to begin with … (thee)


      • OK – maybe I was a bit harsher than I should have been there. Sorry.

      • lol, yes, it might.

        You are correct global food production is at an all time high. Sadly, much of it goes to ethanol. With or without the U.S.

        The Koch brothers. …….I’m from Kansas. I’ve a video to find showing they are advocating the warmist agenda……they’re billionaires. Do they really care one way or the other? I doubt it.

        Hrbek is an unusual name, but a very good ballplayer!

        Sorry, it seems 2% of the world is what matters most to many. Well, me mostly, I can’t speak for the rest of the lot.

        Fox news is the antithesis of the CommunistNewsNetwork. So, yes, you should have the vapours.
        Beck is a political commenter. He’s very conservative and was instrumental in the tea party movement. (the most recent). So, yes, you should have the vapours upon the mention of the name.

        Heartland carries several different meanings. One is a thinktank of the conservative nature. I live in the heartland, not the thinktank, but in the midst of God’s country.

        Cock also carries a couple of different meanings. Roosters are a pain in the arse in the morning!

        WUWT…….definitely vapour material! Whatever one does, don’t read the postings http://wattsupwiththat.com/ there. It twists the mind! Almost, but not quite as bad as http://climateaudit.org/

        But whatever one does, never, under any circumstances go here, http://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/ The silly SOB will actually discuss some silly soccer game with you. Oh, as a bonus, apparently, you get to antagonize Andy Revkin.

        Hope this guide helped!

      • Latimer, lest you were being facetious, it is Koch, not Cock.

      • Facetious?? Moi???

        Perish the thought and wash my mouth out with soap……. :-)

      • “world food production is at a high.”

        And yet it isn’t enough.

        “crops fail for local reasons..”

        “Local” got pretty big in Russia, Pakistan, and Australia.

      • It isn’t? According to some studies in e.g. UK 30% of the food is not eaten, but thrown to trash (probably along the entire path, not only from private households). Biofuels – should we eat them instead? Population growth? Etc.

      • Yep. Pretty big. But still a lot lot less than global. See my post above.

        How were the crops in the USA btw? If you actually grow anything to eat any more rather than to turn into petrol for SUVs.

      • Before we started making biofuel out of corn we were storing it on the ground and letting the rats have a go, and having Willie Nelson concerts to raise money to feed the farmers.

        Now that’s 2 parts eye-witness testimony, one part conjecture and one lie.

      • Jeffrey, please show me evidence of the crop failure in Australia you talk about? Local news here is that due to lots of rain in the last year, the record wheat crop has been reduced a little in tonnage, and a big chunk has been downgraded to a lower quality. The next 2 years will see very large tonnages of all grains produced in Australia, unless we get similar rains, & prices will plunge. No doubt farmers in Pakistan, if they can get seeds to plant, will also have big crops.

      • “world food production is at a high.”

        And yet food prices rise. It rises when it isn’t enough.

        “crops fail for local reasons..”

        When local = Russia, Pakistan, and Australia, you might want to rethink your scale.

        “I never heard of Heartland before the alarmist start banging on about it..”

        I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Heartland, but I do know the wicked flee where none pursueth.

      • I missed the point of this post. Apart from a discussion of food economics, was any of it relevant to the topic of climate change – even in the widest sense?

      • “And yet food prices rise. It rises when it isn’t enough”

        Nonsense. Two big reasons for the increase are, 1) increased fuel costs for the production and transport of food, and 2) land given over to biofuel production. A large crop failure will impact prices short-term, but the shortfall is easily made up.

        “I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned Heartland”

        You have a very short memory. Just a few posts ago you wrote:

        “I figure lots of you are just Heartland-style bots”

      • Add to that:
        3) Shameless speculation by financial interests, which have nothing to do with food interests…

      • Fine. I usually refer to that part of the equation as “carbon extraction interests”.

      • I was skeptical of the feeding-over-300-million-people comment, but one minute of googling yielded a study that US farmers in 2009 had grown for biofuel enough to feed 330 million people.


        As Barry said…

      • Turn the clock back a dozen years or so in Zimbabwe when they were growing enough not only to feed themselves but to export widely.
        Since farmers got kicked off their farms, they can’t grow enough to feed themselves. there’s 10s of millions worth there alone.

        I won’t even go into Green policies in the west that force farmers off the land and into towns and cities as workers

      • And that was just the USA…

        There are other countries in the world as well you know… ;)
        How much biofuel in Brazil, etc

        for the other commentor, Some very short memories.. heartland bots, heartland not mentioned… But of course they have to believe in ‘conspiracy’ theories, as it is the only explanation that fits the alarmist worldview.

        How come the best perfoming most widely read sceptical websites are clearly indivisual, Bishop Hill, WUWT, Jo Nova, Climate Audit, etc

        And I just wrote a post for WUWT about an EU NGO funded PR and Media Pro AGW consensus rapid response team.

      • And an excellent post it was! Though I suppose Richard Black was not amused that you exposed what promises to be his new source of stories.

    • I look at the records and I see 0.5 – 1.0 °C cooling in the next decades. That will cause crop failures!

    • Ummm, Jeffrey

      Have you any evidence that the two recent crop failures were caused by anything to do with CAGW?

      And were they global in scope? If the crops fail in response to global temperature, I kinda think they ought to be. And did they fail in 1998 which was still the warmest year ever? Because surely that would have been even worse.

      And how does a plant know that the annual average temperature has gone up or down a degree here or there since 30 years before it grew from seed. And when the local temperature – which we all agree it actually experiences – goes up or down 15-20 degrees every 12 hours.

      Unless you can show some physical mechanisms – or at least laboratory measurements of such incredibly fine temperature sensitivity, then you are a very very very long way from persuading me that you have any sort of a case beyond wishful thinking.

      • “beyond wishful thinking.

        You might want to rethink your phraseology.

      • Nope. I’m quite happy with what I wrote, thanks.

        Looking forward to your answers about my substantive points, not about my choice of words and phraseology.

      • Well, you mean aside from the fact that crop failures are on of the standard predictions of AGW?

      • So therefore all crop failures are now due to AGW? Following that logic, as hurricanes are also predicted by AGW to increase in strength and frequency, all hurricanes are now due to AGW?

      • A. I predict deaths from firing a weapon randomly into a crowd.
        B. So, all deaths are now from firing a weapon randomly into a crowd?

      • Is global cooling also one of the standard predictions of AGW?

      • Not that I’ve heard.

        Regional cooling may occur. As when circumpolar winds change due to the Arcticl Ocean warming and the cold air over the Arctic dome moves down into parts of North America and Europe.

        Is that what you mean?

      • Hello! GLOBAL cooling.

      • Which isn’t a “standard” prediction of AGW?
        cold weather hot weather more hurricanes fewer hurricanes more snow less snow more rain more drought

        No wonder AGW has been re-branded as “Climate Disruption” ;-)

      • Hurricanes? In dispute.

        Average global temps? Up.

        More energy = more variation.

      • New one to me.

        Please provide a reference where this is reliably documented. Thanks.

        PS – do you have a reference for the Four Horsemen of the Apoclaypse, the Seven Plagues and the Destruction of Planet Earth by the Vogon Constructor Fleet as other consequences of AGW please. It;d just be sort of useful to get all possible consequences written down beforehand and save you the trouble of popping up every time something happens to say ‘standard predcition of AGW theory’.

        If we ha dour won public list, we could just tick them off or not when they occurred. Here’s a sample list of consequneces:

        More rainfall in some places
        Less rainfall in the places where it doesn’t rain more
        Hotter, apart from where its colder
        Lots more heat in the oceans (somewhere)
        Catastrophic sea level rise – at the same rate as the last five centuries.
        Longer growing seasons leading to catastrophic crop failures
        More snow
        Less snow
        etc etc..

        Please provide the ‘official list’. Thanks

      • William Newman

        Latimer Alder wrote “Have you any evidence that the two recent crop failures were caused by anything to do with CAGW?”

        The problem that prolongs messy disagreements like this (or e.g. efficiency of central planning vs. free markets, or heritability of psych characteristics, or effectiveness of various anti-crime policies, or the superiority of various programming languages) is not lack of any evidence, it’s an overabundance of fragmentary and inconsistent and poorly specified and controlled evidence. I’d much rather that you ask “can you point me to a sharply falsifiable prediction of IPCC which has those crop failures as a consequence? and/or do you have some authoritative source of predictions you’d like to nominate instead of the IPCC?” If you don’t restrict yourself to predictions made at least that precisely, it’s easy to waste time with fortunetellers who have no actual ability to predict the future, merely actual willingness to try to exploit human psychology.

        (Here “falsifiable” should more precisely be something wordier like “significantly more precise than the obvious null hypotheses, e.g., historical levels of climate variability noise superimposed on a small no-feedback warming trend due to anthropogenic CO2.”)

        You can also get at pretty much the same issue in less arcane language by asking “so you tell me that events since the date of publication have confirmed the analysis of [e.g.] _An Inconvenient Truth_ or IPCC TAR or AR4; now please tell me, what are some of the least dramatic events which could have occurred in the same period that would have disconfirmed their analysis instead?” (The point of “least dramatic” here is to exclude unlikely events like “a huge new Ice Age completely glaciating the Earth by 2009.” A scientific theory which can explain all outcomes except a surprise new Ice Age a few years after publication is not much of a scientific theory.)

    • I feel sorry for you…not for what you wrote about the .9C, but for this “I figure lots of you are just Heartland-style bots, but some of you may be real and reachable.”

      You do understand the irony of that statement don’t you? You came here to defend the poor misunderstood wolf crier “James Hansen” and then claim that I and others are Heartland bots? You fit that description, not I.

      As for the rest of your nonessential post, it only shows that you obviously are lacking a scientific background, have not actually done any research on this subject other than visiting echo chamber websites, or have absolutely lost your mind. Crop failures due to .9 degrees increase?? Are you kidding me? Really? First of all there Mr. Davis. .9 degrees isn’t accurate unless you are actually suggesting that man caused said climate to change pre 1900. Oh nevermind there is so much wrong factually to what you just said that it would be hopeless to point it all out to you.

      • Fine. I didn’t come here to defend Hansen.

        (Who isn’t crying wolf, btw. To extend your cunning metaphor, he’s pointing to the past when wolves tore the place to shreds and to all the rustling in the forest just 50 yards from our door.)

        “unless you are actually suggesting that man caused said climate to change pre 1900.”

        You mean when the Industrial Revolution started to increase the amount of cO2 we contributed to the atmosphere? Uh. Sure. AGW. Svante Arrhenius. pre-Industrial Revolution levels of CO2. (Stop me when any of this stirs a memory. ) Joseph Fourier. Coal burning plants. Industrial Midlands. (Have you been vetted for stroke recently?)

        Human activity has been regularly implicated in climate change in the past, too. Slash and burn agriculture, for example.

    • Why do you think that the crop failures were due to the mean temp increase?
      It seems to me that a modest increase of 1.5C is well below interannual variability, and global T has never been invoqued before for poor harvest.
      Or do you believe that global T somehow influence local precipitations, or drough, or freezing, or fires, or floods? Well, neither correlation nor validated model prediction allows you to say such things. Maybe in the future, but at this point in climatology? no.

      Well, of course, there is the “We can not find other explanation so it must be AGW”…
      What about overpopulation (or better, rapid rise in population which was fed by transient rise in crop productivity, a rise that can not be sustained for more than a few years of production)?
      shift from food production to luxury exports (tea, coffee, ..)?
      political disruption causing failure to use perfectly fine lands, like in zimbabwe?
      trading/speculation on foodstocks and other comodities?
      rise in oil price reducing farming efficiency (fertilizer price, mechanical aids more expensive,…)?
      or just the fact that we may be slowly back to a population limited by agricultural food resources (like we were for the last few milleniums, before industrial revolution and fast transportations), and that under those circumstance it just takes a few bad lucks to cause starving, or at least vastly increased food price? You should be able to check it, if you like geological records, you should be able to look at historical ones. Pre-industrial crop records are among the best quantitative data in history, for excellent reasons: it caused kingdoms to dissapear, without the help of cAGW…

      • “Or do you believe that global T somehow influence local precipitations, or drough, or freezing, or fires, or floods? Well, neither correlation nor validated model prediction allows you to say such things. Maybe in the future, but at this point in climatology? no.”

        Think about what 95% certainty on this issue would mean for a second.
        (Insert cartoon about bodies in heaps. One head rises above the offal and says to the Daumier-grim head next to him, “It’s still not 95% sure.”)

        Attribution for fairly over-determined events is dicey, sure, but at what level of concern do you act?

      • I do not act when there is no clear advantage to act, regardless if the advantage is in term of monetary savings or live savings.
        The “look at the number of death”, security and precautionary principle has been (and is) used and abused in our western society, at an alarming and increasing rate.
        Terrorism countermeasure, sanitory measure, drug fighting, road regulations, you name it. The security meme leads to a never ending amount of regulation and a lawsuit society with infantilized citizens. It is invariably used to push agenda that limit the freedom of individuals for dubious advantage (dubious in the sense that they address concern that are not a cause of a real security problem, only a spectacular and thus feared one) in term of actual security improvement.
        I am not too old, not yet 40, but I already realize that the world today is presented as more dangerous yet is infinitely more securized that the world of my youth in the end of the seventies-early eighties. You know, when the Berlin wall existed and MAD was the only thing that prevented nuclear war? The world today is also less free in many aspects, even if it is trendy to say otherwise.

        Really, I am more afraid of a more and more puritanist western world (with the associated witch hunts) than any global threat

    • Jeffrey Davis | February 23, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      Commentary reads like an alarmist ZeroHedger wrote it …

    • I’ll be more inclined to believe you if you could adequately describe the mechanism by which even one of those – hardly unprecedented – crop failures was caused by a barely perceptible rise in average global temperature.
      Or is that just yet another addition to the 99,999 things which are caused by global warming?

      • ” by a barely perceptible rise in average global temperature.”

        Think about that for awhile. 7 billion people. A barely perceptible rise in average global temperature. Crop failures.

        There’s a grim Robert Frost poem that has these lines:

        Sudden and swift and light as that
        the ties gave.
        And he learned of finalities
        besides the grave.

        ( from “The Hill Wife”)

    • When I look at the geological record, I send a prayer to the sun god.

      Please, let this interglacial period last long enough for us to develop a cheap, clean energy source that will get us through the inevitable coming ice age.

      • Thanks, Ken.

        You are right. There is no longer any reasonable doubt that:

        a.) The Sun greatly influences Earth’s climate, and

        b.) Al Gore and the UN’s IPCC based their entire anthropologic global warming story on misinformation* about the Sun.

        Thanks to the courage of those who exposed “Hide the Decline” documents and to the willingness of the new US Congress to end funding for misinformation, the Climategate dam is disintegrating rapidly before our very eyes.

        *See: arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

    • Jeffrey, it is always tempting to generalize from a couple of events, a couple of years, but I don’t think you are right to make alink between increased CO2 and other warming emissions with increased food prices, a couple of crop failures, and less food supply relative to demand this year. Have there been more crop failures this last decade, compared with decades 100 years ago? 50 years ago? Don’t you need to show evidence for such an assertion?

      First, research by the 2oth Century Reanalysis Project shows — surprisingly to its authors, including Gil Compo — no change in major weather parameters they studied since 1871. A quote from a recent article by Anne Solis:

      “In the climate models, the extremes get more extreme as we move into a doubled CO2 world in 100 years,” atmospheric scientist Gilbert Compo, one of the researchers on the project, tells me from his office at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “So we were surprised that none of the three major indices of climate variability that we used show a trend of increased circulation going back to 1871.”


      Despite ever-increasing world population, food prices have been trending DOWNward for decades. More and more food is produced. A large spike in food prices in the 1974 period was attributed in large part to higher oil prices inflating the costs of farm inputs and the cost of getting food to market; that same influence as been seen recently as well, in the 2008 oil price spike.

      A main contributor to this year’s increase in food prices, as far as I can see, is the rush to corn-based ethanol, which now takes up 1/3 of the entire US corn crop. If that land were devoted to food and not fuel, we would have more food for people. Here is a graph of food prices from 1948 in real terms:


      What about the flooding in Australia and the loss of crops there? You may have been thinking of this when you mentioned crop failures. Well, such flooding isn’t unusual in Australia’s historical record, it turns out:


      It isn’t that there haven’t been any changes in climate in the last 100 years or so; indeed, it would be surprising if there were not SOME change from the increase in warming emissions. But have CO2 and other warming emissions caused reductions in food supply? That hasn’t been shown, and seems to me to be unlikely, not just for the reasons above, but also because we have had large droughs and floods throughout history, and famines throughout history.

    • Saying ‘its all over’ is taking it a bit far. Maybe Scotland gets a climate like the med, and becomes a bunch if islands, but still that won’t be game over. A sense of perspective wouldn’t hurt much.

    • John Carpenter

      The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

      Jeff, you seem to imply that weather events are evidence of AGW. How often in past years have we heard that weather is not climate by alarmists when it behaves in ways that does not support AGW but then when it does, all of the sudden it is exactly what AGW models predicted? With the recent harsh winters here in the NE USA (and many other places in the NH), most common folk who do not follow the details of climate science are forming opinions that AGW is more hype than reality. This, of course, is cause for great concern among the alarmists who see their agenda losing traction. So now stories begin to appear that snowier, colder winters are also exactly what AGW models predicted and are in complete alignment with the theory!

      Herein lies a big problem for AGW. If every type of weather event that may occur in the future has been predicted by GCMs (coincidently all the same weather events that have occurred regularly in the past) and are thus considered further evidence that AGW is real, what type of weather should we expect that could falsify the theory? If the theory cannot be falsified, it is not legitimate, is it not? How would Dr. Hanson square with that question as you seem to be student of his theories?

  14. Question about the tree rings

    How were the tree rings originally calibrated?
    I vaguely remember reading something that the tree rings were calibrated against only 9 years of temperature data…………….

    • How were the tree rings originally calibrated?

      Answer –

    • IPCC
      Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis

      The link contains information related to the tree ring studies.

      “The considerable uncertainty associated with individual reconstructions (2-standard-error range at the multi-decadal time scale is of the order of ±0.5°C) is shown in several publications, calculated on the basis of analyses of regression residuals (Mann et al., 1998; Briffa et al., 2001; Jones et al., 2001; Gerber et al., 2003; Mann and Jones, 2003; Rutherford et al., 2005; D’Arrigo et al., 2006). These are often calculated from the error apparent in the calibration of the proxies. Hence, they are likely to be minimum uncertainties, as they do not take into account other sources of error not apparent in the calibration period, such as any reduction in the statistical robustness of the proxy series in earlier times (Briffa and Osborn, 1999; Esper et al., 2002; Bradley et al., 2003b; Osborn and Briffa, 2006).”

      • “They” (Mann et al and UN / IPCC) effectively take any change in tree ring width to be due to warmth changes ONLY.

        If you can not separate out the other factors (at least 5 – sunlight, water nutrients, atmos conc of CO2 AND warmth) and quantify them (individually) that are known to effect tree ring width, then how do you know what is left to be attributed to the one factor you are after in any particular year?

        Answer –
        You can not.

    • Latitude, my understanding is that most of the tree ring data was calibrated on temperature data from 1881 to 1940 (Briffa, 1998) or 1881 to 1960 (Briffa, 2001). I’m not sure about the validation periods used, though, and I think this is a key point. Perhaps the only validation performed is on the error for the calibration period? But maybe someone with a better understanding of the methods could comment, since I’m not sure.

  15. This is all fascinating. What all you highly technical types seem to have forgotten is that Joe Public – especially if educated before 1960 – has a good knowledge of Geography and History. We all know that Erik the Red discovered America before Columbus and that the Vikings settled in Greenland somewhere around 900/1000 a.d. What is more they were able to grow Wheat and Barley. Why else was it called Greenland? And somewhere in the deep recesses of my decrepit mind I seem to remember that in Julius Caesar’s time the Romans were growing grapes up near Hadrian’s Wall.
    We also learnt about the little ice age and other cold periods and the Fairs held on the Thames and some of us have even seen the odd Breughel painting.
    Consequently when you show us a graph which has totally ignored such climate fluctuations we smell a rat. Bearing in mind we have lived through global cooling, millenium bugs, overpopulation fears, peak oil (several times) and goodness knows how many other looming catastrophes, you will understand why so many of us are somewhat sceptical. Added to which most of have been brought up in our various religious faiths and we have no need for the New Religion of AGW.
    And some of us are fans of Julian Simons.
    So you can understand why we are not impressed by the wailings of the AGW crowd – we didn’t buy the snake oil the first time round!

  16. Why else was it called Greenland?

    In the summer Eirik went to live in the land which he had discovered, and which he called Greenland, “Because,” said he, “men will desire much the more to go there if the land has a good name.”

    • but they still grew wheat and barley……

      • And that proves exactly what?

      • I think what the Greenland names proves beyond any reasonable doubt is that political leaders have been ‘making stuff up’ in order to manipulate their followers since then… and probably since day one.

        And Greenland still seems to be a popular subject to ‘make stuff up’ about.

    • haha I love it when that’s quoted.

      Yes possibly Mr the Red said that, but still, the land WAS green wasn’t it?
      Or is anybody suggesting the land was invisible under metres of snow and ice but Mr the Red bul$hitted to con people over from the old country?

      Are there any records of Mr the Red being hung drawn and quartered halfway through the first summer when people realised they were conned?
      Or are there records that show these people lived there for many decades, erected buildings and tilled the soil? They sure didn’t do all that under a metre of snow and ice. LMFAO

      • The land was and is green along the coast during the summer. As it has been every summer since then until now.

    • But they could dig graves where none are possible now (except with dynamite), because it still is all permafrost… Graves in that area (in the Nuuk Fjord – have been there in 2000) still are simple: putting the bodies on the ground and covering them with stones. See:

      Results from Poul Norlund’s excavation at Herjolfsnes’ churchyard, which
      uncovered plant roots in shrouds covered by a layer of permafrost, indicated that the land, at the time of these Norse burials, had been subject to fluctuating temperatures

      Where “fluctuating temperatures” is an euphemism for higher temperatures…

      • The source of your source does not back up your claim that the graves are in permafrost. And the simple observation that plants are groving in the fields of that area shows that the surface of the soil thaws in the summer, then as now.

      • They write literally:

        uncovered plant roots in shrouds covered by a layer of permafrost

        Thus what they digged out is now covered by permafrost, which was absent at that depth during the time of the Norse settlement. The permafrost was still present during our visit in 2000, and nobody was buried in digged graves. Partly melting of the upper few cm in summer was only at the northside of the fjord (including the wakeup of millions of mosquitos…), due to more insolation, and even some shrubs were growing there. Some farmer even could rise a few sheep on pasture.

        But we have evidence from the ice sheet itself:

        +1 K during the MWP, -1 K during the LIA, +0.5 K in 1930, the previous warm period in Greenland, including a huge loss (70 m) of thickness and retreat of the breakup point of the largest glacier near Ilulisat (Jacobshavn). Summer temperatures at the Greenland edges until now don’t reach the 1930-1950 temperatures:

      • 1. It is possible to dig a grave in permafrost without modern tools.

        a.) Build a fire.
        b.) Let it burn.
        c.) Dig.
        d.) Repeat from a.) as necessary.

        2. It is possible for roots to grow into permafrost.

        3. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying you’re not convincing me yet with the arguments you have so far provided.

        What were the Greenland settler’s burial traditions a millennium ago? Is there any record?

        What type of roots were found, and when dated?

        Were they in areas of soil upheaval? After all, glaciers do move a lot of soil both directly and through runoff melts. What does this evidence actually evidence, and on what support?

        I have no doubt glaciers advance and recede frequently, sometimes for months, sometimes for years, or decades or centuries, and at the times of their retreats, they themselves lose the ice record of their history for the section that melts.. But what careful reconstruction has been done of surrounding extant glaciers that retain such periods in their ice record?

        Because so far.. this is not really on par even with the evidence to support the Hockey Stick, and you know how people feel about evidence that is so poor.

      • Bart R, As already said by ivpo, the excavations at Herjolfsnes is one part of the story, but there are more: the borehole temperatures were from near the summit (GRIP) and more southward at lower altitude (Dye 3), which shows 1.5 times larger amplitudes. Near sealevel the amplitude was even more pronounced and seawater temperatures were far more elevated (based on foraminafera, sorry, I lost the reference).

        Further, above gound burying was common for the Inuit, at least over the past 6,000 years, but uncommon for the Norse settlers. But I don’t think they would waste precious wood (or whale oil) for digging graves, as they needed that for heating their houses. Growing wood anyway might have been impossible even during the MWP (there were forests in Greenland during the warmer Eemian). Today, wood only (hardly) survives in shielded valleys of SW Greenland, not in the more northern Nuuk fjord:

      • Ferdinand

        I recall, but cannot locate, a study of Greenland coastal ice which showed that beneath it lay beach sand bearing wave-forms. These implied an ice-free history in which the sea broke over it. Are you familiar with the paper?

      • I suppose you are looking for this one:
        North Greenland beach showing wave patterns from more open sea polewards 6000-7000 years ago.

      • We’re talking Christian vikings?

        At the Millennium, to a christian, ‘proper burial’ would have been a much higher cultural perogative than to any Inuit, one supposes.

        To a viking, moving a shipload of precious cargo (eg fuel) for the sake of a funerary rite would hardly be novel within the cultural context.

        Isn’t this not long removed from when these Norsemen were a historically known ship-burial culture?

        And firing is only one of many options for making a grave.

        The coastal islands off the west of Ireland are known for ancient soil-building, where beach sand and seaweed were transported — sometimes miles — to allow agriculture in barren rocky zones.

        Why not for burial too?

        We’re talking funerals, and people are insane about funerals, we know that.

        Again, I’m not saying you’re wrong.

        I have next to no knowledge and zero expertise in this field.

        I rely on you to use your best judgement and best methods, and all I get amounts to “..I don’t think they would..”

        How does that come up to the standard of the paleo proxy reconstructions?

        Would you say it is more careful-sounding, or less?

      • Actually, exactly that has been found on Greenland: The earth used for burial in the cemetery close to the churches have been transported there in order to make it possible for the deceased vikings to have a proper burial.

      • If the sand was transported to the place of burying (as Reason says, reference please?), then it is of course not a valid proxy at all. Neither are many of the the Eastern findings (which in fact are at the South tip of Greenland), where much of the current permafrost is composed of blown in soils (loess). Althoug loess means higher temperatures (caused by retreat of the ice sheet)?
        And Herjolfsnes of the excavations seems to be in the Southern part, not near Nuuk (where there is also a place called Herjolfsnes)…. Sorry, I am beaten by the facts!

        There is a different story here, about a farm buried under sand, which shows farming where farming is hardly possible today:

        But fortunately we have better proxies like the ice sheet temperature…

      • You mean the article that concludes:

        Schweger believes the sand that packaged and preserved GUS, also ruined the site, polluting the river the Vikings relied on for fresh water. The soil was healthy and nutritious. Then, suddenly, farming stopped and the soil was encapsulated in sand.

        A massive ice sheet covers about 85 per cent of Greenland, about 2,600,000 cubic kilometres of ice – enough to raise sea levels by 6.4 metres if it were to melt. Sheets of ice sliding down the mountain toward GUS may have pushed sand over the eastern coast of Greenland, burying the Viking settlements. The sand slide was probably a major catastrophic event, comparable to an earthquake.

        So, advance of a glacier pushed enough sand down the fjord to choke off the farm, in this hypothesis?

        It could support what you say.

        Or it could support the opposite.

        It’s a hockey stick of unknowable dimension, applied to a single spot on a single island dominated by a single current for a single span of time.

        A bigger picture would be better.

        If only those birch trees hadn’t been all burned down, we could build a tree ring proxy reconstruction. ;)

        Sometimes, we must meekly accept that we do not yet know, and refuse to speculate.

      • Perhaps a little assist here. As I understand it central Greenland varied 2.5C over the last 2000 years but the coastal slopes varied as much as 5-7C due to changes in ocean currents. Many of the archaeological discoveries from 1000AD have only recently been made due to being packed in ice for 500 years. We are only now melting back to expose MWP settlements from that era.

      • Could you please state your source for that the Viking settlements have been “packed in ice”. No description I have ever read about them mention this. (Being washed out to the sea due to erosion has been known, but that is quite something else.)

  17. Bart V – Are you not skipping a step or seriously over-simplifying? The net impact on temperature attributed to each different forcing, solar, ghg (co2, methane), volcanic, aerosol, albedo whatever are based on historical temp data and checked for accuracy against models yes? The models do not track the historical temps well if indeed the mwp was global, because they don’t show it when used to hindcast. If the mwp was real and was ‘global’ then the models no longer validate the attribution studies and all the relative net contribution from each natural or man-made forcing are not as accurate as thought. If the mwp is accepted back into the historical temp record we may find, for example, that the correlation between certain forcings and global temp increase while others decrease. Or the lag times may have to be adjusted or who knows…

    It can’t be so simple that you can say ” if there was an mwp then our climate’s sensitivity to a doubling of co2 is higher than we thought because NONE OF OUR OTHER FORCING CALCULATIONS WILL CHANGE.” Is that really what climate scientists believe? It seems to me like you’re trying to apply a digital yes/no decision tree to a chaotic system.

    • Wow. I thought Martha was skillful at misdirecting the topic and ending a thread in a Godwin manner. Focus Sarah. Was it ethical in the practice of science create a misleading graphic for public policy makers?

    • D Robinson,
      Yes, I painted a simplified picture. This is a blog and I wrote a few lines about a complex topic. However, I think the basic thrust of what I wrote to be correct.
      Climate sensitivity is approximately the same, irrespective of the nature of the radiative forcing. That means that if in the past the climate responded stronger to a certain (natural) forcing, this will increase the respective estimate of climate sensitivity (which applies to both natural and anthropogenic forcings).
      Now there are more ways to estimate climate sensitivity, and importantly, more periods (eg LGM, volcanoes) that provide a stronger constraint on the climate sensitivity than the last millennium or the last century do. So yes, it is far too simplistic to suggest that our whole idea of climate sensitivity rests on how warm or not the MWP was. If that was the impression my previous comment left I hope I hereby corrected that.

  18. I stand by my earlier assertion that the `hide the decline ´meme has become a convenient excuse for dismissing all of climate science. It is not wise, in my opinion, to begin a discussion on the valuable information given to us to by paleo reconstructions with an accusation of dishonesty on the part of the scientists involved. This is the point I believe Gavin is making.

    You cannot seriously believe that a fruitful discussion on the paleo reconstructions can result from calling scientists´ honesty into question. If indeed a discussion on the paleo reconstructions is your intention.

    By focusing on `hide the decline´ you are stirring up the righteous indignation of the usual `denier ´ crowd who are convinced a priori of the malfeasance of scientists, thus giving them the leverage to dismiss all of the climate science- throwing the baby out with the bathwater indeed.

    The divergence problem is well known to anyone, the public and policy makers alike, who take the trouble to read the literature behind the graphic presentations of the reconstructions- graphics, which are of necessity, simplified as compared to the actual literature and show how 20th century warming is unprecendented. This is bourne out by other research not related to tree ring proxies.

    Further reading on these investigations reveal that actually nothing is hidden but is in fact openly discussed in the literature. Nobody is hiding anything and to take an unfortunate turn of phrase from a purloined personal communication and turn it into an attack on the integrity of scientific colleagues is not how science is conducted. Rather the contrary- if this `hide the decline´ meme has seriously damaged the credibility of climate science- which I doubt- then it is entirely due to the misappropriation and misuse of the term by those `interpreters of interpretations´ that pass for `science´ reporters on blogs and newspapers to provide fodder for those too idle to determine the facts for themselves.

    If the problem is indeed in showing that 20th century warming is unprecedented, or not, then it may behove the sceptics to employ their scepticism to reconstructions of the MWP, which are scanty to say the least. Accounts of vineyards in Leeds, England in Medieval times are hardly grounds for the claim that the MWP was warmer globally than temperatures today.

    This may prove useful to those who want an overview. It was published in 2006 by the National Research Council: Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the last 2000 years.


    • Sarah, don’t forget that the phrase “hide the decline” is from the climategate emails, and written by one of the “scientists” who in fact figured out the trick of hiding the fact that they conveniently removed declining temperature data, from the tree ring data which they used for earlier centuries when it was more convenient for them to use that data.

      Using their own words to show how they bamboozled almost all of us for years isn’t character assassination. It is accurately describing reality as done by and seen from the eyes of the perpetrators.

      If Gavin and those in his corner chose to see use of these words as character assasination, then meaningful communincation can never occur between the different sides.

      You say that reconstructions of the medieval warm period are scarce. Not as far as I can tell. Soon and Baliunas (2003), one of the articles that the hockey team was so exercised about, showed that about 50 or so previously published articles had shown a MWP. Briffa himself, in one of the climategate emails, said he thought the MWP might well be as warm as today. Subsequent to Soon and Baliunas, Craig Loehle also showed a MWP, using new proxies.

      As we think about the MWP, let us also consider that most of the hockey sticks that M Mann and company created denied the existence of a Little Ice Age. But in his most recent articles, M Mann now acknowledges that the LIA did exist and was worldwide.

      Doesn’t that give you a little pause about the robustness of Mann’s conclusions about the MWP, vs. the 50 or so studies in Soon and Baliunas, not to mention Loehle?

      And this is before even getting to all the issues about M Mann’s research that are now very well known, and merely culminate in his trick to hide the decline. Yes, they actually did that — that isn’t science fiction, they told the world what they did in the climategate emails.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        You have misunderstood. It’s the allegation of dishonesty attached to the use of “hide the decline” that Gavin got worked up about. I suspect lots of scientists would get worked up about the allegation too (even if they would not have constructed the graph in the same way).

        In what way have you been “bamboozled” by this. If you ask a range of scientists “What is your best estimate of temperatures over the last 1000 years?” in what way would their answer differ from the graphs given? If you ask a range of scientists “If the MWP were found to be warmer than now, what difference does that make to what we know about the effects of CO2?”, many would say “not much”, some would say “It’s a bigger risk because it implies sensitivity is higher”, some would say “It’s a smaller risk because it implies that more of current warming may be variability”.

        Claiming “bamboozlement” does seem to be overstating things.

      • Wow Steve what utter bull.

        Briffa’s own words tell a different story than the graph. So um asking a the same scientist that actually created the graph that question would give you a vastly different answer.

        One of two thing – either you are sadly misinformed of the history of the event, or you were being completely disingenuous.

      • Steve Milesworthy

        I have handed you the wrong end of the stick. It’s all in the context though. What I mean is that the construction of the graph does not affect the way the data is perceived to someone who has the patience to understand the graph. I do not mean that most scientists would think the graph is the most accurate representation of temperatures.

    • Sarah you really are looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Climategate is not an excuse for anything. It was a confirmation of what many of us had suspected ever since fashionable alarm shifted seamlessly from global cooling to global warming. For others, it was an invitation to look carefully at a field they had taken for granted was being conducted in rigorous accordance with scientific method. The more we looked, the more sceptical we became. The malfeasance in Hiding the Decline is just the most quotable of a host of unconscionable episodes which the emails reveal, and all from the Vatican of AGW “science”.

  19. NEWSFLASH: Blogger discovers flame-wars lead to more comments.

    In other news, dog bites man.

    • Michael-

      What a clever, useful and topical comment!

      The insight of you comment into your level of understanding is breath-taking!

  20. A. Abrams wrote:
    “I live in Massachusetts and before that California (and before that Florida and before all NY). I am a card carrying member of the ACLU. I voted against Sarah Palin and her ilk. I went to USF in Tampa for Environmental Engineering. My mother is married to a woman. My best friend is gay. In all I should be RC’s bestest friend right?”

    Me 3. I’m a liberal guy. I detest the whole Tea Party thing. I find Sarah “put ’em in the cross-hairs” Palin a joke. But something about the pious certainty of the alarmists got my antennae quivering. I think for myself, and have always had a bit of a contrarian streak. So I decided to investigate. 2 years on I’ve become a passionate skeptic…

    But you can see what they do of course. They call skepticism right wing, call it a denial of science akin to the denial of evolution. I bought into that naturally. We all do. I’ve loathed that kind of ignorant thinking my whole life, and yes, I attribute it in the main to right wingers. It’s difficult for guys like us to see the other side because it doesn’t occur to most of us to even ask the right questions. We have to put down our New York Times and actually do some work..

    I have liberal friends and family who are convinced I’m insane. Thank God for blogs like this, and for principled courageous scientists like Judith Curry. Otherwise, it’s an awful lonely life, being a liberal skeptic…

    • Lonely? Na, I know of others as well. We are just swamped out by the hordes of conservatives gleefully reveling in the fact that the liberals stepped in a quagmire in supporting this idiocy.

      • Pls guys, overall your ‘side’ does not have a lock on rationality; quite the contrary, it would seem seem given the ‘tenets of the liberal faith’ (still waiting for that must-watch / must-listen-to advocate who could woo me from my current Neanderthalish, unenlightened course using wisdom and logic).

        Okay, this is a fully-snippable comment but I felt obligated to throw a flag, as it were, on the play. Dr. Curry, I apologize in advance for the non-contributional nature of this post.


      • Jim – You confuse two things

        Democrat with the term liberal.

        Liberalism (from the Latin liberalis, “of freedom”)[1] is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights.[2] Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but most liberals support such fundamental ideas as constitutions, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights, capitalism, free trade, and the freedom of religion

        That is me.

        Democrat adds a host of other meanings to that liberalism word above including support of unions, fiscal irresponsibility and environmentalism (as defined here as eco-nut) that I do not support. Hence me becoming an independent some years ago.

        One can be a social liberal while being fiscally conservative.

  21. David Middleton

    Dr. Curry,

    What a great thread and discussion!
    I’m a rank amateur in paleoclimatology (unless going to work in the Plio-Pleistocene most days counts as professional experience) and here’s my $0.02…

    Tree rings – Could tools when used properly. They are one of the few pale-proxies with really good annual or better resolution; but non-uniqueness is a real issue with tree rings.

    Paleoclimate reconstructions – Essential tools. It is impossible to gauge moder climate change without a frame of reference. Reconstructions which honor the principles of signal theory can provide that frame of reference.

    Hiding the decline (Mike’s Nature Trick) – I understand the reason why the proxies have to be related to the instrumental record… But substituting the instrumental record for a proxy-derived temperature chronology is intellectually dishonest. It ignores the principles of signal theory. You can’t just splice a high-frequency tail onto a low-frequency tail. It is amazingly easy to generate false anomalies this way.

    Dishonesty – I think we have to differentiate between “intellectual” and “ethical” dishonesty.

    Almost everyone is prone to occasionally being intellectually dishonest. Scientists are human. We will often find what we are looking for. Part of being a good scientist is in realizing that we have “tunnel-visioned” on a favored hypothesis, theory and/or paradigm… And then taking a step back. Geologists are generally taught to use Chamberlain’s Method of Multiple Working Hypotheses and to have a healthy respect for non-uniqueness – But we still manage to latch on to favored hypotheses.

    Ethical dishonesty occurs when we realize that we have tunnel-visioned in on a favored hypothesis, fail to take a step back, continue dismissing inconvenient data/observations and highlighting supportive data/observations.

  22. Judith,
    It would appear that in your first interaction with Gavin here, you got taken in by his misdirection. I don’t know if you will see this comment, but it seems worth trying.

    The “hide the decline” graph shows data significantly post-1960, but some post-1960 data removed from the presentation.

    Gavin’s analogy was a presentation that was uniformly cut off at 1970.

    You responded seriously to his analogy. The analogy was completely inappropriate.

    • In addition, Gavin’s analogy involved the removal of poor/incomplete data, as opposed to the ‘hide the decline’ removal of adverse data. Quite a different thing.

      As Steve McIntyre says, you always have to watch the pea under the thimble…

    • The inapplicability of Gavin’s deceptive to quoque attack on Judith goes much deeper than that.

      The decision to not use hurricane data from earlier than 1970 was a subjective decison regarding the quality of data. There may be legitimate issues with that decision, but they are qualitatively different than the Team’s hiding of adverse results in their temp reconstructions.

      Choosing not to use pre-1970s hurricane data has no reprocussions wrt the data that were presented. It has no reprocussions wrt the methodologies used. It has an arguable effect on the conclusions drawn by that single paper, but it foes no further than that.

      Hiding the decline was not an example of questionable data selection. It was an example of hiding adverse results. The post 1960 divergence does not only invalidate the post 1960 results that were hidden, it invalidates the pre 1960 results that were shown. It also invalidates the methodology used to produce those results, and that has implications that reach far beyond the single study that exposed the falsification of that methodology. The decision to hide the divergence was not subjective, it was purposefully deceptive.

      That is all above and beyond the very different response to criticism that Judith and the other authors of that paper put forth. The RC propagandists still refuse to admit that they were wrong, let alone their wrong doing.

      Gavins pre-school “You do too” argument would be fallacious even if the accusation were true and analagous to the Team’s misdeeds, and it is not. For reasons such as this, he and his partners in crime are broadly perceived to be pathalogical liars, and not to be trusted. It is difficult to argue with that sentiment.

  23. I wonder where all these new peole are coming from.. ;)
    I’ve been commenting here since post number 1.

    • I’ve been reading this blog since then but only decided to post something today. It is just too good not to. The buzz over this story at WUWT first sent me over here last night. I suspect the same buzz there and elsewhere accounts for all this new traffic. All good.

  24. Judith: I don’t envy your need to moderate all of these comments, most of which have nothing to do with the topic of discussion. Yikes.

    • Yeh, the “hide the decline” issue is by the way-side. Now, just hand-waving. BTW, enjoyed your post earlier.

  25. Judith:
    Thank goodness we still have people with your fine character. I assure you there are many not commenting here that thank you as I do. And, I appreciate you providing that link to Dr. Matthews. Made some missing pieces very clear. Just had to say.

  26. Wow, This conversation has really gotten away from the core issue.
    At some point Judith you may want to recenter it. but for now all the usual suspect will show up and do their thing

  27. If tree-rings underestimate current warming, it is likely that they also underestimate previous warming. As a result, the handle of the hockey stick may not be a bat, but a boomerang!


    Welcome back MWP!


    • I think that it is likely that tree-rings will under and overestimate current temps depending upon the desired outcome of the one looking at them. McShane and Wyner killed it. It is about as valid as phrenology. What was the term attached to it by a vigorous defender recently seen?………hmmm, “uninteresting” I believe was the word.

  28. Judy, don’t forget the Knutson et al. (2010) Nature Geoscience article “consensus” on hurricanes and global warming.

    It is the type of review article that deserves laurels.

  29. I am neither a scientist nor a climate “expert.” I am, however, well versed in programming and logical thinking.

    the harryreadme file coupled with the code itself released in the climategate dump was all I needed to see to know just how on-target my logical suspicion of AGW has been. The code and comments are damning.

    I’ve tried to get an answer to the following question on multiple pro-AGW sites and have always been dismissed.

    In my little corner of the world, variances of 40 degrees F in the space of 24 hours are not uncommon. Within several days, temperatures can vary as much as 60 degrees F, yet all the plant and animal life manages to flourish. Given this fact, why in the world would an extra 2 degrees at either end of the thermometer mean the end of the world?

    People talk about those couple of degrees as if it’s some great threat, but at any given moment the air temperature between my home and office varies by 5 degrees F with no ill effects on anything.

    If any pro-AGW folks here would humor me with an explanation I would appreciate it.

    • “I am, however, well versed in programming and logical thinking.”

      I’m fairly versed in programming and DBA.
      If anyone truly wanted to know the answers to the many questions, they’d employ real DBA’s, with real databases, a real programing language, a couple of good programmers (the one writing the Harryreadme, was obviously a good one.) A couple of good statisticians and a few climatologists from different disciplines. Then duplicate with different people. I’m not saying they don’t exist. I’m saying you don’t have that as a functional group. I thing I keep hearing over and over again is that there is so much data that it’s impossible to manage properly. No, I’m not volunteering for anything but advice, but I receive over 36,000 values a day attached to a location and person, and receiving device. And in the business I’m in, we’re very small potatoes.

      Tree ring data…………stuff that would compel me to write the same comments as Harry.

    • The confusion may be due to the fact that the warming that is being discussed is global average temperature. If you think about the amount of energy that would be required to raise the average temperature of the entire planet, you may begin to get some idea of why this is considered to be a problem.

      The coupled ocean and atmosphere system is a vast and complex heat engine that distributes solar energy from the equator to the poles, and from the surface to the upper atmosphere and eventually out to space. The central issue with climate change is the fact that we are adding fuel to that engine. Because of the complexity of the system, it’s by no means simple to predict what will happen with any precision when we step on the gas. However, there’s more evidence for the idea that it will destabilize the system – leading to droughts in some places, torrential rain in others, changes in ecosystems, ocean currents etc. – than there is for the theory that it will all just take care of itself: that some negative feedback will emerge and balance things out. The current understanding is that the feedbacks will be positive, further destabilizing the system.

      Hope this helps. I certainly don’t think you should accept this without checking it out for yourself, but I just thought you should know people are not talking about 30°F temps in March going to 32° and that’s it.

      • PDA,
        It does not help at all, since your assertion is not supported by anything other than your wishing it were so.

      • No Hunter

        It’s also supported by a bunch of other people wishing it were so.

    • MarieE,
      I worked in Wall St. industries in the 1980’s and 1990’s, and watched the rise and immolation of Enron up very close.
      I have always followed science closely, and have had a passion for weather, geology and the space sciences. I read incessantly on these topics and have for decades. I also love and read history and am struck by the number of times social hysterics cause a great deal of harm.
      For me it was the behavior of the believers and promoters that got me suspicious. They acted far too similar to the S&L scammers of the 1980’s and the Enron people I ran into (including Ken Lay) for me to ignore.
      Gavin’s act here recently- who is infamous for his attacks and support for even worse attacks- on skeptics just underscores the lack of character and content in the AGW crisis promotion industry.
      It is fascinating to me that it is a woman who is cutting through the trench warfare of the blogosphere. Dr. Curry’s role in this is very interesting to consider from a historical perspective.

      • I knew an Anderson consultant to ENRON and a number of ENRON employees who went to work there after being laid off by a major oil company in the oil bust of the late 1980s. I told the consultant many times that doing both financial audits and consulting for ENRON would eventually cause problems. Despite hefty recommendations from my ENRON friends, I never bought their stock.

        So I am also familiar with ENRON. Comparing Gavin to ENRON is preposterous nonsense.

    • Its a very good question.

      I’m not a supporter of the IPCC consensus but here are a few of the issues I’ve run across related to rising temperatures:
      • Increase in disease due to rising insect populations and insect ranges; example Malaria.
      • Deforestation due to increased forest fires and insect infestation. If winters are warmer then the insects aren’t killed off (increase in population).
      • Food shortages due to crops that aren’t heat and drought resistant. 2 companies have just introduced strains of heat and drought resistant Corn (at least someone is using their heads instead of flapping their gums or taxing us to death).
      • Increased instance of extreme weather events (take your pick but their going to happen with or without an increase of CO2).
      • Polar Bear calamities — just kidding the Bears are doing just fine and the Arctic will never be ice free in the winter.
      • Rising sea level will inundate shorelines (Al Gore) — unless the Antarctic ice shelf decides to fall into the Ocean all at once, it will take about 300,000 years for this to occur at present melt rates and we’ll be in an ice age before it happens.

      Population explosion, limited resources, pollution, and deforestation are the actual issues.

      • Other related issues and or myths:
        • droughts — its actually warmer/wetter or colder/dryer unless you’re in parts of Africa or Australia that get droughts with El Nino events.
        • demand for energy — this one is also a non-issue/currently being addressed with innovation and hopefully decentralized power generation.
        • access to water — potentially an issue but someone has devised a way to use waste water in conjunction with solar and a fuel cell to generate power and purify water. It should revolutionize developing countries if allowed to enter the market.
        • poorly designed and inefficient appliances — example: water heaters should not run all day, s/b point of use hot water systems to save resources.

      • The IUFRO report last year concluded that there is no current impact on forests from climate change, and mostly positive impacts likely over the next 100 yrs. No deforestation. Similar reports have come out for agric. No starvation. Scare stories for children like monsters under the bed. Land being inundated by the ocean requires melting ice caps, but Antarctica is currently gaining ice and even extreme scenarios of ice melt take 3000 years.

      • Deforestation is due to population increase related to agriculture etc.

        Actually, desertification due to agricultural irrigation is another problem but it has an easy fix if anyone would pay attention.

        Reclaiming deserts would also be one of my top 10 fixes in the US after we clean up all the toxic waste sites including PCBs in rivers and streams.

        No starvation isn’t realistic unless developing countries change their agricultural practices.

      • Geoff Sherrington

        Clean up PCBs. Why? Do they do measurable harm, commensurate with the cost of their cleanup?
        As a chemist, I did a little digging the other day and wrote a short opinion piece. The empahsis was on the Big C because of the quote that started me going.

        People who comment on science blogs like this should be beyond the stage of uncritical acceptance of dogma.

      • Lets accept that all of your observations are accurate. The real question is what is the cause? Is it really anthropogenic emissions of CO2 that are causing these problems? Or could they not be local and regional effects resulting from various anthropogenic land-use issues, as Roger Pielke Sr argues.

        My problem is that this crucial question is ignored by nearly all participants in the “debate” (inverted commas coz it is not really a debate).

        The other obvious question relating to tree rings is that any gardener knows that plants grow best (add the thickest tree rings) when conditions are optimal for growth. Not to hot, not too cool. Not to wet, not too dry. Not too much fertility, not to little. Not too much shading/light, not to little. And likely a series of other issues including cation exchange ratios, the nature of bioactivity in the soil etc. Just considering temperature, it is obvious that the relationship between tree ring thickness is inverse quadratic, not linear. How can the whole corpus of Mann et al’s dendrochronology work be based on such a false foundation?

        Or maybe I have something wrong. This question has been asked many times, but never given a satisfactory answer.

      • “How can the whole corpus of Mann et al’s dendrochronology work be based on such a false foundation?”

        To be fair mondo,
        I posted this link in a comment above for Latitude:
        Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis

        If you read over the information, you’ll find they are fairly candid about the data and there is quite a bit of information about tree ring analysis.

        However, I do completely agree that they approached their conclusions and research from the wrong perspective. Regional analysis should be the basis upon which the climate system is defined.

        Yet, as Dr. Curry points out in an earlier post, they were never funded to explain how the climate system functions. They were funded to explain human impact on Climate and that, in a nut shell, is why the entire exercise has fallen short. Well that and the apparent lack of standards.

        “The real question is what is the cause?” I disagree, the real question is what can be done to fix some of the real problems. CO2 isn’t the real problem — its a byproduct of inadequate logic and poor product design.

  30. With a good deal of pain, since I think JC’s original post was important and largely correct, I have to agree with Gavin on the limited grounds of the usefullness of tossing “dishonest” into the debate.

    For me, “inappropriate and misleading” would have served just as well, and still allowed for a platform of discussing how the IPCC approach contributed to that result.

    “Dishonest” immediately, as we see here today, turns it into a big ole furball about everything but the science, and as Gavin correctly identifies (sigh, not my favorite formulation to string together) goes far towards shutting down communication about improving processes *going forward*.

    In other words, from a pure cost/benefit analysis (hello, fellow lukewarmers) it simply isn’t worth the cost of the momentary pleasure of using it. “Inappropriate and misleading” gets you all you need to have in making a strong statement about the need for change without the furball.

    • Hiding the decline was dishonest, though, and it needs to be called out. It is simply not tolerable in scientific endeavour for personalities or hurt feelings to take precedence over integrity.

      Frankly, the only defence against being called dishonest is to not BE dishonest. The Team knows what it needs to do. And we now know for certain that they will never do it.

      • At the end of the War of the Roses, the very thorny problem of “how to move on” without hanging 1/2 of what was left of the country came up. Eventually they decided to use the formulation that anyone who had followed a crowned King (as both sides had got their man crowned at some point) could not be guilty of treason.

        Sometimes the practical solutions are the only reasonable solutions if you are primarily interested in making progress and not just continuing the bloodbath.

        Or, if you like (and I suspect you won’t!), sometimes there *are* good things for science to learn from politics. . . even if they are by far in the minority.

      • Well, geo, that reads like “embrace the pseudo-science” to me, so I’m fairly sure (or, perhaps, in the main part hopeful) that I have read you incorrectly.

      • Because “inappropriate and misleading” is not as stiff as you want it to be?

        So, we can put you down for more interested in hanging yesterday’s heretics than arriving at tomorrow’s positive result?

        Oh, let me guess –you find that formulation unnecessarily offensive? Perhaps a lesson to be learned?

      • I’d certainly have little confidence in any future climatological results if the current personnel and procedures within the ‘science’ remained unchanged. They have not shown themselves to be reliable or trustworthy.

        Sometime you have to prune the affected plant right back to the roots to eliminate the disease. If that means a growing season or two is missed, that’d be a small price to pay for a much healthier eventual result.

        This is one of those times. Climatology is one of those plants.

      • geo: “Because “inappropriate and misleading” is not as stiff as you want it to be?”

        No, geo, that’s not it. It’s because contrition is absent from the perpetrators and defence of the indefensible prevails among the defenders of these “inappropriate and misleading” activities.

      • geo –
        If a man lies to me once, I assume he’ll do it again. Whether he ever does again or not, he’s still not trustworthy. Doesn’t mean he’s useless or that he should be hung – only that he needs watching.

      • Mmmm – I’m not talking about “honest mistakes” in my previous comment. We ALL make those – no exceptions. I was talking about deliberate lies, deception, misrepresentation, etc.

    • Well geo, when someone plots ahead of time, with full knowledge, to say something that they are fully aware is inappropriate and misleading……

      “just wait until your father gets home”

    • yes, “Inappropriate and misleading” is way better than dishonest. Geo, that’s a fine distinction you made.

      In my book, knowingly (and it was)“Inappropriate and misleading” = dishonest. A used car salesman, it is expected. With scientists, it isn’t wasn’t. If it is to be expected, no problem, I’ll kick the tires, check under the hood and endeavor to educate myself about the particular car I’m thinking about buying……………. Which is exactly what the skeptics have done. We went down the road to the other lot.

      Geo, I value your opinions. You’re a sharp guy.

      Dr. Curry, I can appreciate your endeavor. But yesterday and today should be a teachable moment for you. That ship has sailed. It is painfully obvious. There will be no contrition. Without contrition there will be no trust. No trust, no bridges, no reconciliation.

      The fact of the matter is, the alarmists have no compunction about misleading people. It is obvious in the case of “hiding the decline”, it was obvious when Bradley’s e-mail states his uncertainty with MBH. It was obvious with the IPCC’s babbling about the Himalayas. It was obvious when they babbled about the Amazon’s sensitivity. It is obvious today when they double-talk about the expectation of simultaneous droughts and floods, all the while pretending to know where rain will fall and where it won’t. The cold we felt this winter was heat generated…………..over the last few decades, they have shown they will say whatever they feel is necessary to convince people to see things their way, truth be damned. Even when one of the alarmists so blatantly fails, nary a word of admonishment from the alarmist side. Ironically, Hansen being the exception to the rule.

      Just look at yesterday’s comments…….in sequence.

    • Well yes, “dishonest” is a nasty word, but people who cannot accept that “hide the decline” is dishonest are never going to compromise.

      Their egos, repuations, livelihoods, and a certain amount of world wide fame and prestige are at stake. Most are also passionately committed to a huge, politicised, moral crusade. Try building bridges to someone like an Islamist – not easy.

      • When helping them “walk it back” is in your own interest, you should consider seriously if “cutting off your nose to spite your face” is really your best course of action from here.

        I have many favorite sayings, and possibly (but I won’t guarantee it) one I created myself is “When your plan starts ‘1). Build a Time Machine’ then you need to re-examine the plan”. The point being that you can never avoid that you are where you are *right now* when considering how to move forward.

        Gavin and his friends are not yet ready to walk back “hide the decline”. But the skeptics and lukewarmers do themselves no favors by making it harder for them to ever do so by attaching emotionally-loaded words like “dishonest” in describing them.

      • IDK, I think it could be time to leave them. They are remnants and nothing more. I believe, now is the time to take a true consensus. I think they’ll be left wanting. Perhaps another year or so, but it’s over. There’s too much readily available material. They aren’t consequential anymore. It is to the pity, because while I’m speaking towards the alarmists, I also know it is towards climatologists in general, and scientists in the larger spectrum. One day, when the grow some scruples, they will be considered something more than alchemists. They were told, they ignored, humanity pays the price.

        Character always mattered.

      • Lord BeaverBrook

        Personally I don’t draw any distinction between the current situation and the property bubble.
        There are young talented individuals who have been allowed free reign in the area’s that they excel causing an inflated bubble to develop. Only now that questions are being asked about their methods is the realisation that normally applicable rules were bent and even broken to achieve their goals.

        To be brutally honest the institutions responsible for the individuals have been entirely negligent in maintaining control and direction. As the bubble now pops some of those individuals are going to be held accountable, but behind all the attention grabbing stories the same process as has happened in the financial sector will become apparent. There will be a tightening of control, as there should be, and certain institutions will be quietly reprimanded and possibly neutered as current funding policies towards NASA and EPA in the US will come into play. Once sensibility returns to the field there will be the chance to progress the science but you have to realise that this is global as was the financial bubble, so the repercussions now being felt in the US have to travel through the rest of the “climate markets” around the world before normal play can be resumed.

  31. Given this fact, why in the world would an extra 2 degrees at either end of the thermometer mean the end of the world?
    Marie, it’s not
    Not one single plant, person, animal, or insect would even notice it.

    As soon as you hear someone spouting off droughts, hurricanes, floods, snow, ice, and the eternal damnation….
    … you know they have no clue. Because we have no clue about those things.

    • lol, now Lat, you know certain fishys in England won’t live in a 0.7 degree increase in the places where they used to live………why that’s why the Brit’s won’t even try to move them there. Strangely, the fish in my country seem to be a bit hardier. Even though within the past year we’ve experienced over 125F swing in temps, I’m betting the fish will be here when I bait my pole. Weird.

      • Tell me about it
        What people fail to use is common sense…
        In one location,
        ….one summer can average 10 degrees hotter or colder than another summer. or more
        ….one winter can do the same

        Some people would say those are the extremes, meaning highs and lows.

        Failing to mention that springs and falls, the middles, can do the same.

        There will be no coconut plantations in Cleveland……….

    • I did some modeling of tree responses to a change in temperature. The southern species moved north….but it took 1000 yrs.

  32. As the CONSENSUS crumbles.

  33. Aside from the integrity angle, which thankfully, most seem to get, there is another consideration to the “Hide the Decline” episode. There does exist a certain class of politician who will take advantage of someone willing to provide a too certain analysis. Whether the provider is getting an ego boost or limelight is irrelevant. The politician gets “cover”.

    Consider that those who are wont to rant seem to rant more often about climate scientists than the IPCC itself.

    • Many of us understand the nature of politicians. I wish there were no such a thing as a professional one, sadly they are. Railing against such an existence would be much akin to railing against the tide. The IPCC is a devil’s agreement between activist scientists and politicians. No, I’m not saying conspiracy, but rather, a happenstance of convenience.

      • I say conspiracy from the get go….
        brought to you by the same people that brought you oil for food…….

      • There was a photocopy of the million dollar “commission” paid by park to strong on the internet awhile back, while strong ran that oil for food (after running the ipcc). park is in jail, stong hiding in china, still pulling strings.

        it works this way: i will give you a bunch of money, all you have to do is agree to say what i tell you. it is no different than paying a boxer or sports player to take a dive. you invest heavily, and when your guy takes the dive, you clean up big time. you pay off they guy that took the dive with chump change.

        Where do you get guys like this, that will say what you want in return for money? you hire them. they are called employees.

    • Wrong sequence. The “Intergovernmental” PCC was created by and for politicians to provide cover and backing for their massive appropriation of powers and assets and rentals from all planetary energy transactions. Which is most of them.

  34. Anonymous Climate Guy

    I appreciate the conversation and tone I’ve seen on this website (I’ve never been here before today). Even the disagreement, to me, seems delivered reasonably. I often lurk at other websites (for example ClimateProgress), but it appears the moderator has trimmed all commenters from the rolls who may possibly present alternative thought… A mass ‘agree-fest’ is completely uninteresting, especially when it’s undeniably obvious that scientists are still engaging on any number of issues in the field. RealClimate and ClimateAudit also do a good job of permitting (enjoining) reasonable dialogue. Kudos all around.

    • …..(for example ClimateProgress), but it appears the moderator has trimmed all commenters….

      In alarmists blogs, reasoned dissent isn’t allowed. The only dissenting view allowed to come through is of the uninformed trollish nature and only if the there is a handy response available. Else, they get sent to the trash bin. To my knowledge, this is true for all alarmists blogs.

    • You’ll notice, they aren’t out to play today. Oh, sure a few may trickle by, not to engage, but to sneer and throw a few snide comments. Which is fine, it is demonstrative.

      Character matters. It does in all things. It is especially true in science.

    • I haven’t noticed this with RealClimate. Quite the opposite.

      • Anonymous Climate Guy

        Anytime climate scientists of the stature of a Gavin Schmidt or Eric Steig (etc.) take time out of their schedule/day to engage other scientists (or enthusiasts) on issues like these…it should be thought of (IMO) as worthy and reasonable (even with the emotions). They’re directly engaging and communicating because they think it’s important. Most of their inline comments at RC are generated with/through people they disagree with.

        It will be a chilling future if this engagement ceases, which is why it is to be encouraged…and they DO do it, and permit things with which they disagree to appear on the site. This is stimulating and good for everybody. Other websites with more controlled thought permissibility can’t lay hold to the same claims.

        Though, I must say that I hope ES’s comments about being ‘through’ with the likes of SM, RO, etc. as a reviewer were made in emotional haste. If no one is willing to review certain papers, and then editors will refuse to publish them, they then have to go to other journals, who then get criticized for being ‘gray literature’… Just think of all the layers of stigmatism being paid to thought before it even becomes known!

      • ‘Anytime climate scientists of the stature of a Gavin Schmidt or Eric Steig (etc.) take time out of their schedule/day to engage other scientists (or enthusiasts) on issues like these…it should be thought of (IMO) as worthy and reasonable (even with the emotions).’

        This is sarcasm right? That climate scientists ‘of the stature’ of Schmidt and Steig take time out of their day …we – their employers – should be frigging grateful that they deign to speak with us??? My view is that – given their past behaviour – they should be feeling very relieved that they have any employment at all to interrupt with speaking to the great unwashed masses who are not members of the one true faith.

        I can tell you are a ‘Climate Guy’. since you have got your telescope the wrong way round and are using it as a microscope.

        Lets get it straight. You guys work for us. Not the other way round.

      • Anonymous Climate Guy

        I admit that I saw that one coming :-)

        Anyway, I bet there is some variance in the perceived amount of time people like Gavin should be spending blogging vs. researching, but I bet his appointers want it to be more towards research. The same goes for many climate scientists (not just ones that are agreeable or disagreeable).

        I do like the ‘great unwashed masses’ comment :-)

        My overall point is that there are places where this sort of dialogue exists, and places where it is squelched. I appreciate the places where it is permitted to exist, as much as it may suffer the elites to deign to participate and repeat themselves sometimes ;-) . It is important.

        If it stops, it is not blame-able on some ”shrill cries of the unbelievers” nonsense, but rather the abdication of a duty to engage and convince scientifically (so the burden is not on you). Stepping into their shoes and mindset for a bit, you can see it probably is something they seek to avoid sometimes, but if they stop, they’ve lost.

      • Yep. Anybody in a position more complex than 9-5 employment has difficult balancing acts to do to satisfy demanding employers, deadlines, conflicting requirements and not enough hours in the day. Plus paperwork, regulation, maybe even families and loved ones to see. It can take some skill to balance them all out.

        But I see absolutely no reason to be especially grateful to the two individuals you mention. Neither would you have found me sitting outside Bernie Madoff’s office tugging his sleeve and plaintively begging him to give me ten seconds just to discuss the twenty million dollars of mine that he was looking after.

        It is well documented – by numerous posters on this thread and elsewhere- that Schmidt can be extremely unpleasant to people who deign to question his authority or ask him questions. This is not the behaviour of one seeking to persuade or convince. But of one who wishes to dominate.

        But it seems typical of climatologists in general over the last decade. Their arrogance has advanced way ahead of their abilities or results. And ‘hide the decline’ is an almost perfect illustration of that unhappy tendency.

      • When I first saw the equation of RC with the others in your list, my eyes popped; I had to re-read three times to be sure it was for real. I then decided you were either truly a naif, or were on a mission from RC as a shill. After reading your subsequent comments it is clear that choice #2 is the right one.

        RC is the poster tramp of biased and abusive sites, and was explicitly set up to be a spreader of confusion in the opposition to the AGW juggernaut; just read the Climategate emails concerning its founding and the policies it was to have.

        Schmidt et al. are legends in their own minds, and brook no disagreement or disparagement. Pizonem.

      • This is sarcasm right? That climate scientists ‘of the stature’ of Schmidt and Steig take time out of their day …we – their employers – should be frigging grateful that they deign to speak with us???

        You are not “their employer”. You help fund their employer, just as stockholders help fund the employers of those in private industry.

        I’ve been paid by government, by industry, and by NGOs, and in none of those cases would that make you my “employer” if you 1) pay taxes 2) invest in stocks or 3) donate to an NGO.

        Well, maybe you disagree.

        If so, that probably makes me *your* employer, if not today, than easily rectified once you tell me who you work for.

        And then I can make you “relieved to have employement at all”.

        And, more easily, we can apply the same standard to Curry. Oh! Maybe she should be relieved that I’m not going to try to get her fired! But, oh, you’d think that’s dirty pool, wouldn’t you?

      • And you are one of Gavin’s anonymous poodles, trying to defend the indefensible?

      • Unless you pay council tax in London then you are not my employer.

        I was merely pointing out that everybody who is paid for by the public purse is ultimately employed by the taxpayers, not for their own gratification.

        I wouldn’t expect unpleasant and rude behaviour from the burger flipper in a fast food diner. And I certainly don’t expect it from grown up DPhils running ‘important’ blogs with taxpayer’s money.

        Schmidt only gets to play with climatology because the people wanted somebody to do that job. It may be that they chose wrongly in his case. Good scientist – perhaps. Persuader and communicator….absolute fail.

        Re Judith. If she were to exhibit the same discourtesy bombast and downright unpleasantness as Schmidt, then I would apply my remarks equally to her. But she doesn’t – indeed she takes courtesy to the extreme – so there is no need for me to do so.

      • Oops – my friend Joe allowed me to borrow his ID for a moment there, and it may be unclear that the posting above was from me.

      • I am flabbergasted!

      • Clearly your flabber is very easily gasted. I’ve long suspected as much.

      • Dunno – I’ve never head of this guy before.

      • Given what I have seen from Gavin and Eric over the last 3 or 4 years, I’m still trying to figure out why they have any “stature”. In normal spheres of human endeavor, a track record of incompetence and a penchant for nastiness and defamation toward those with whom one disagrees tends to reduce one’s stature rather dramatically.

        Some are criticizing Judy for using the word “dishonest”, but anyone who has read the climategate e-mails and is familiar with the debate over the hockey stick knows that she is being restrained in her characterization. I’m sure a lot of people from the alarmist camp will be outraged at my use of incompetence as a description, but what else adequately describes the dogged defense of patent nonsense. Everyone makes mistakes, but the inability or refusal to understand and acknowledge obvious error over a period of years is much more than simple error.

      • Smuggery is the dominant trait amongst Gavin and Eric’s climate clique.

  35. I must say it was disappointing last year to primarily hear the ‘it doesn’t change any of the science’ refrain, coupled with rather patronizing explanations of what ‘trick’ referred to. Hmmm….really? All one needs to do is to write a paper with a scientific sounding ‘divergence’ discussion and then one can just delete the pesky data where it is unknown what is really going on?

    This is a pretty old issue though, and a pretty fine-grained issue at that. Friends of mine that don’t follow the AGW discussion are mostly unaware of low-level concerns regarding climate science and/or climate scientists. Since confidence hasn’t really been lost in the mainstream public, restoring it should be easy!

    What is noticeable to the public is that Global Warming / Climate Change continues to be associated with almost everything – in the media and in scientific proposals. Do a Google for 5-10 random animate and inanimate objects of your choosing, couple with the term ‘Climate Change’ or ‘Global Warming’ and you will normally get a substantial number of hits. (I just tried it with ‘Lawn Furniture’, and sure enough….)

    Until the Climate Change ‘funding narrative’ as Hulme puts it, is made less pervasive, continued public skepticism seems inevitable. The likely funding adjustments in coming years are probably a good thing in this regard. Can I study frogs without linking it to Climate Change somehow? I can? Really? AWESOME!!

    • “Do a Google for 5-10 random animate and inanimate objects of your choosing, couple with the term ‘Climate Change’ or ‘Global Warming’ and you will normally get a substantial number of hits. (I just tried it with ‘Lawn Furniture’, and sure enough….)”

      This is not a good measure of anything. For example, google “climate change anal lubricant” and you will see in the previews information about both the climate and lubricants. If you bother to visit any of the pages you will discover articles that discuss each but few or none that discuss both in a relational context. FAIL!

      I have to say, this kind of abuse of google results is growing wearisome. It means you have probably not done all your homework. Quit doing that.

      • Point taken and somewhat guilty as charged, but try it out and read some of the actual hits. If you don’t see my point after that in terms of climate change being coupled to a surprising variety of things, often in a research context, you win.

  36. Several of the CRU: emails that were disclosed in Nov. 2009 have been mentioned by earlier commenters including the one in which Phil Jones asked Michael Mann to delete emails and that he also ask Eugene Wahl to do the same. Mann has testified that he did not delete any emails and that he did not ask anyone else to do so. Steve McIntyre has posted part of a report prepared by the NOAA Inspector General which includes the following comment:
    “CRU email #1212073451. In an email dated May 29, 2008, in which the Director of the CRU requested a researcher from Pennsylvania State University to ask an individual, who is now a NOAA scientist, to delete certain emails related to his participation in the IPCC AR4.

    This scientist explained to us that he believes he deleted the referenced emails at that time. We determined that he did not become a NOAA employee until after the incident, in August, 2008. Further, this individual informed us that in December, 2009, he received a letter from Senator Inhofe requesting that he retain all of his records, which he told us he has done.”

    See climateaudit.org/2011/02/23/new-light-on-delete-any-emails/#more-13073

    The plot thickens.

  37. There has been a big response at Climate Etc., but it is mostly contained over here; not newsy enough for most places, but fodder I’m sure for the “Curry as crazy aunt” meme.

    You are our favorite “crazy aunt” Dr. J…

  38. Judith – I congratulate your honesty in speaking as you see the situation.
    Keep cool.
    Spend some time away from the keyboard doing other unrelated things.

    You have raised an important issue.
    Palentology, even when well and honestly done, can tell us somthing about the climate of the distant past.
    It should never be used to draw a conclusion as to how today’s temperature varies from the times before thermometer records were kept.

  39. Judy,

    It seems that Gavin is glaringly absent from this discussion. Perhaps it has to do with your pointing out of his short comings in his papers vis a vis the “Analogy to the hurricane conflict.” There is no way he could logically refute your points in that regard, but in my readings of these issues in the last 3+ years I would argue that that kind of rationality never got in his way before.

    Where are you Heir Schmidt?

    • Der Gavin only turned up for long enough to vent his spleen. (An increasingly common pattern for Gavin).

  40. Well, since Peter and Judy don’t like Gavin’s example, perhaps we can move on to Liu and Currys’ not mentioning (the great mentioner, at least in Web of Science, being the currency of science. Engineers and physicians take cash) Manabe, Spellman and Stouffer, published in 1992 as well as Zwally, Comiso and Parkinson from a decade later on which appear to have. . . .anticipated the Liu and Curry paper (see comments at Stoat and elsewhere). The comment of originality accompanying Liu and Curry, were. . . (Eli is trying to be nice and searching for the appropriate words) a bit over the top.

    Now Zwally, for example, had been cited in J. Liu and J. A Curry and Douglas G. Martinson Interpretation of recent Antarctic sea ice variability, so it was no secret to Liu and Curry, and, amazingly, the abstract and the introduction show that Zwally came to exactly the same conclusion as Liu and Curry claimed credit for. Hmm, must be a tribal thing because the reviewers missed that, or maybe they were of the Curry tribe.

    Let the harumphing begin.

    • Are you going to interpret this for the layman reader?

      Or are we all just required to marvel at its cleverness with not a frigging clue what you are wittering about?

    • So many words to say so little.
      Run, rabbit! Run!
      The lyrics seem better for Eli than the book….

    • I don’t go to Stoat since the last time I tried it there was an intrusion attempt originating from there.

    • I completely agree with everything you say, Rabett… wait, did you just try to make this discussion about alleged plagiarism? Lack of citation? Can you be more direct? Science is not about conclusions, but about a process that requires good methodology – i.e. not what was shown in Manns treering nonsense. Hockey sticks are often made of wood, though. I’ll give him that.

    • doyle seppala

      I’ve been wracking my brain for the reason this post seems so familiar. I finally got it. It looks and sounds exactly like me when I drink about a pint and then have an “earthshattering idea” and attempt to communicate it to the teeming masses! The next morning I wake with some vague recollection of having changed the world, and look back to see what I wrote that will have undoubtedly inspired the awe of millions….and find it to be barely comprehensible drivel.

      • Note: I haven’t consumed alcohol for 14 years, but I still recognize the behavior

  41. Judith Curry; Welcome to the dark side. Now that the science is no longer settled I guess we can continue to seek the real answers. Nice looking blog, I hope you can handle the extra work. Sometimes success can really suck.
    8-) pg

  42. Ah yes, knew I would find it, as Mark said over at Stoat

    “Liu and Curry, defended by The Team, selected inappropriate data and time periods, ignored data that doesn’t match the IPCC message, manipulated results, clearly engaged in misconduct, dismissed dissenting views, and ultimately pushed the notion that Antarctic Sea Ice will melt, based on fudged computer models, when data clearly shows otherwise. Read ‘The Antarctic Ice Illusion: CurryGate and the Corruption of Science’ by Montfork. It’s one of the best books written on climate science, though I can’t personally vouch for any of its conclusions.”

    • Am I correct in assuming you are trying to accuse JC of plagiarism, (In some paper entirely unrelated to this discussion)? Not easy to tell, since you seem to specialise in sneering as obscurely as possible. Could you spell it out in english?

      You are even wierder than Gavin, (in fact much wierder).

    • You remind me of Dilbert’s tie. It has a form of Peyronie’s disease – permanently bent to the left. Only in climate science does the monopole exist and thrive. Amazing.

  43. Judith,

    Perhaps the answer for now is to abandon paleoclimate reconstructions altogether until some form of universal calibration and verification procedure can be agreed upon. Frankly, whilst everyone is using different PCA methods and verification algorythms, the reconstructions will only serve to exacerbate the arguments without achieving anything positive.

    I favour the ‘start afresh’ possibility, perhaps using the new Berkley temperature metric and Satellite measurements as the basis. Then we can get back to more genuine discussions about attribution and confidence.

    Probably another pipe dream in reality but I really do think its a good idea to lose the paleo reconstructions at least for the time being.

    • I doubt statistical procedure is the fundamental problem, (albiet the short centred PC’s and hiding the very weak R2 results is unacceptable). A posibly more fundamental problem is the reliability of the proxies.

      We know that the trees have issues, (especially bristlecones), because their growth can be influenced by many things other than temps. But the other proxies have not been subject to much public srutiny – they are probably inaccurate too. If so may never be possible to have reasonably accurate paleotemperature record.

      McIntyre once loaded up all the several hundred proxies in one of the Mann datasets, so you could just flick through them by hitting the “Enter” button. There seemed to be no consistent pattern. A warm MWP, a cold LIA then a recent sharpish rise seemed the most common, (in those that went back far enough) , but that was only perhaps 30% – 50% of the proxies. A few actually showed a declining trend all the way to the present – which is ridiculous. Others just gyrated wildly.

      It would be interesting to pick a fairly small geographic area with 4 or 5 different kinds of proxies – obviously the proxies should be very consistent. If they were very inconsistent, then paleoclimate studies can probably never be convincing.

  44. Eli, Most don’t consider comments/posts by Stoat (or Rabbet Run) as being worth consideration. Specialists’ change their conjectures as more info is available or reconsidered.

  45. Can we please lay to rest this trope about “the chart wasn’t misleading because the missing information that misled everyone was in fact buried elsewhere in the ‘technical literature’ in complex terms requiring expertise and context to understand”.

    Information that may directly invalidate the primary conclusion is of *central* importance. All these excuses for not prominently featuring this vital information in plain, simple language are unacceptable and frankly indefensible.

    Anyone can make an honest mistake and I think we would have all readily granted full benefit of the doubt if only the mistake had been admitted and corrected in a timely manner. It’s this endless defense of an obvious error that is so egregious and indefensible. That’s what actually makes me believe that perhaps the “Team” has less than honorable intentions. It’s really, (really!) not the “Hide the Decline (and splice)” that I have a problem with. It’s the incessant denial and stonewalling in the face of absolutely overwhelming evidence to the contrary that is the entire problem.

    • Can we please lay to rest this trope about “the chart wasn’t misleading because the missing information that misled everyone was in fact buried elsewhere in the ‘technical literature’ in complex terms requiring expertise and context to understand”.

      When the chart became the poster child for a scorched earth future and still the dishonesty wasn’t cleared up, the time for forgiving the error had passed.

    • “Can we please lay to rest this trope about ‘the chart wasn’t misleading because the missing information that misled everyone was in fact buried elsewhere in the ‘technical literature’ in complex terms requiring expertise and context to understand’.

      I wish we could lay to rest this trope about the missing infromation being the problem. The problem was not with what they hid, but what they showed. What they showed (the tree ring circus) was a bunch of tripe. It is statistical nonsense masquerading as temperature data. The little bit of it that they hid was the proof of that, but it is *all* invalidated.

  46. Information that may directly invalidate the primary conclusion is of *central* importance.

    There is no decline. Temps are rising. Even the denialists at UAH, Spencer and Christy, publish satellite reconstructions that show it.

    and then we have stuff like this.

    and this

    • There is no decline. Temps are rising.

      Care to admit for how many thousands of years this has been true? Care to compare the rate of change of temperature with the predicted rate of change as a product of changing CO2 concentrations? Care at all to rationalize why there is an unexpected lack of correlation between CO2 increases and the global temperature increase over the previous decades? Care to elaborate on why all the models are so terribly wrong? You are yet another coin with no flip side.

  47. Wow. Finally got over to see this: ” it has now been picked up at Climate Progress (fear not; Gavin has “eviscerated” me).”

    Eviscerated is too nice a word. That response is very revealing.

    And almost all of the 19 comments posted there are in the same league. I had no idea that you were an agent provocateur for the Evil Koch Brothers!

  48. Eli, could you please, just this once, drop the allusions, and state plainly what you are saying? I work 7 days a week and get only about 4 hours sleep a night, and really dont have time to hop all over the net, chasing your bunny tales. Please, just tell me what you want to say in as plain a way as possible. It would be much appreciated.

    • If he can’t express himself plainly its probably not worth the trouble of trying to understand his remarks.

      Maybe he thinks its clever or intellectual to do so. I just find it tiresome and juvenile.

    • dont eat the raisens that Eli drops.
      he’s a rabbet, they aren’t raisens

  49. Dhog, ole buddy, good to see that you are still around. Hope life is treating you well!

  50. Judith: “No one is standing up to acknowledge the problems and talk about addressing them so that this kind of thing does not happen in the future.

    “I hope that we can discuss some constructive suggestions for moving forward.”

    It’s worth noting that Judith is acknowledging what she sees as the problems and is attempting a discussion for preventing recurrence and moving forward and others have done this too. The words “no one” are belied by their author.

    Two hundred and eighty-eight comments later, I think it’s time to take a step back and assemble the constructive suggestions. (Any comments since I began writing this are ignored.) I count seven so far, for a constructive contribution rate of about 2% (but hey, it’s better than nothing). Counting duplicates, we have five ideas so far for moving forward. Full credit to those who have contributed them. My apologies if I have mischaracterized them.

    1. Get the guilty parties to admit guilt. Richard Drake: “If the group you refer wants to take responsibility for the dishonesty, that would I think be an awesome step.” Luis Dias: “What is important is that these people acknowledge it and ‘move on’. That would be great. The fact that they won’t is even worse than the original offense.”

    2. Get the rest of the scientific community to acknowledge the improper deeds. Luis Dias: “The whole process is doomed to degeneration…unless some people start clearing up the mess and call spade a spade”. GaryM: “A rational, respectful presentation of real science, admitting its real uncertainties and limitations, will find a receptive audience after the next election. A willingness to concede past errors (even by one’s colleagues), is a real step in the right direction.”

    3. Improve oversight. Labmunkey: “Had the proper QC/QA procedures been in place, this issue would never have arisen.”

    4. Reduce incentives that tilt science toward climate change. Oliver: “Until the Climate Change ‘funding narrative’ as Hulme puts it, is made less pervasive, continued public skepticism seems inevitable. The likely funding adjustments in coming years are probably a good thing in this regard.”

    5. Don’t present novel science as settled science. Saaad: “Perhaps the answer for now is to abandon paleoclimate reconstructions altogether until some form of universal calibration and verification procedure can be agreed upon. Frankly, whilst everyone is using different PCA methods and verification algorythms, the reconstructions will only serve to exacerbate the arguments without achieving anything positive. I favour the ‘start afresh’ possibility, perhaps using the new Berkeley temperature metric and Satellite measurements as the basis. Then we can get back to more genuine discussions about attribution and confidence.”

    This is a sensible set of suggestions. It’s not clear, exactly, what level of guilt admission would be satisfactory for numbers one and two, but it seems obvious so far that “could have been clearer” is wholly inadequate. The Muir Russell report called the WMO figure “misleading” (p. 60) but not reflecting an intent to deceive, but this has not been met with a cry of “at last!” either. I hate to say it, but I think the situation is at an impasse without an investigation that the general public can buy into.

    Improved oversight is a great idea and it is, unfortunately, up to the organizations producing the reports to provide this oversight because it is in their best interest (I hope) to do so. It would be interesting to have a review panel of esteemed non-climate-scientists (people with no connections to the climate science community or a stake in global warming pro or con) critically evaluate the IPCC AR5. Where is the next Feynmann? I suppose it would be helpful for this purpose if all the major scientific organizations hadn’t already declared a position on climate change.

    Item #4 seems most likely to happen. I seriously hope that we keep the observations going (satellite, CRN, etc.). Everything else can be replaced, but there’s no real substitute for actual observations (as paleoclimate reconstructions have demonstrated).

    Item #5: Hear, hear! Let’s all avoid the temptation to focus on the latest and greatest results, because you can’t really tell if the latest results are “great” or “garbage” until two or three years down the road.

    • Thanks John. I might not have made exactly the same selection and commentary but still find it extremely valuable you did.

    • This may well be special pleading, but I think that having the community of climate science understand they are as much as anything dealing with difficult empirical problems and issues in statistical inference.

      As a consequence any paper without heavy duty input from that quarter is unlikely to be of much value if it is anything other than descriptive in nature.

      IMHO we should start expecting climate scientists who are moving beyond the descriptive to publish in peer reviewed statistical journals.

      • That’s probably a bit over the top, but I think we should confer leadership status in the field to those who consistently publish in mainstream applied statistical journals, rather than the popular press like some of Nature’s offerings.

    • 1. Get the guilty parties to admit guilt.
      I think a much more achievable goal is to get a couple of people to clearly
      state that failing to be forthright about uncertainties and adverse results
      is not BEST PRACTICES. While some won’t settle for anything less
      than an admission of “guilt”, I think there are enough mitigating
      circumstances (especially with Ar4) to accept such an admission as
      a good step.

      2. Get the rest of the scientific community to acknowledge the improper deeds. Again, early on I made such requests. At this stage I think
      using a the term “improper” deeds is not required. There appears to
      be some genuine disagreement on what constitutes “improper” Again,
      I think we could hope that reasonable parties could agree and state
      that the “trick” and not showing the divergence was not “best practices”

      3. Improve oversight. Yes, but its clear to me that in the case of Ar4 it was
      Overpeck and not Briffa who was pushing the envelop. It’s more than Oversight. Reviewers have no recourse if their objections are merely
      waved away without good cause. Independent oversight and some method
      of filing a protest is required

      4. Reduce incentives that tilt science toward climate change.
      In our book we suggested countering the funding effect the same way its handled in other areas. an HEI type organization. in short a Climate Effects Institute.

      5. Don’t present novel science as settled science.
      In pragmatic terms this issue is hard to address. One issue that Journals can address is the problem of presenting novel results from unproven novel methods. In paleo for example there are ocassions where methods are created and applied without going through rigorous methodological review.

      In a nut shell, The two side should be able to agree that what we saw in Hide the decline was not best practices. Skeptics may want More flesh than this, but both side should be able to at least agree to that modest proposal

      • “The two side should be able to agree that what we saw in Hide the decline was not best practices. ”

        Indeed. Who could not agree with that statement? Then, onward, with the best practices.

      • steven mosher,
        You are very optimistic.
        What is more likely is that the hype promoters will simply finish their careers, collect fat pensions, and spend their days talking to a shrinking group of true believers happy to pay nice honorariums about the how the world is going to die because of the Koch family.
        Think of UFO abductee profiteers and how they always find someone to buy their books, listen to their presentations etc.
        The science- that CO2 is a GHG and a forcing among multiple forcings and that it is not a bad thing to put less of it in the atmosphere will go forward. And maybe, just maybe, some rational energy policies will emerge.

      • Mosher

        I’ve been reading you..well gee seems like forever. Just want to thank your contributions on CA and elsewhere.

        Having said that I see a rather large problem with #1 as you have it.

        The team isn’t going to own up to any error. I am an optimist at heart but after each error was uncovered by a host of people (starting with M&M ) I have seen not one inch of a step back by the team. I’d fall over dead faint if they would agree that this was not “best practice”, but I have no hope for that.

        My question is this – and this is for you and John N-G

        How does climate science move forward if the principles are unwilling to admit to any errors (unless pointed out by one of their own team, and even then it’s a fight)?

        In REBT (rational emotive behavior therapy – Dr Albert Ellis) therapy, one tenet is that one cannot grow individually when you can’t move past the unreasonable expectation that you should be perfect. You tend to blame others for your own failings in vain attempt to keep your own self delusion of perfection.

        If you can’t admit that you are incorrect then you are doomed to make the same mistakes because you don’t see them as YOUR mistakes, but instead other peoples failings.

        I see this one issue as the biggest single issue. #2-5 become much more possible and plausible if you resolve #1.

      • I’m wondering about the possibility of a public (i.e. published in prominent peer-reviewed journal) analysis of the figures in WMO, TAR, and AR4, and the extent to which they meet (or fail to meet) best practices. This would have to be written at least partly by insiders (ideally including a so-called team member), to demonstrate that the climate science community is willing to acknowledge shortcomings and go on record as how to do better next time.

        We have various assessments of the level of guilt among the principals, partly because we have different facts. It’s incontestable that, even with the written Climategate record, there are wildly different interpretations out there, and I doubt they’ll ever be reconciled. But if we can’t agree on best practices, then the whole thing’s hopeless.

      • John N-G

        “But if we can’t agree on best practices, then the whole thing’s hopeless.” I agree there, but, and this is a huge issue.

        We are arguing something that is plain as day. If the climate science principles can’t even agree that what was done was an error, what hope do we possibly have that they would own more complex issues? It seems to me that we are having to argue the very basics of scientific principals here, is that fact lost on you?

        This call that they write a paper that outlines best practices is ludicrous. It’s akin to saying that they have to write a paper on the Scientific method! Um why would they need to do that, it’s already common knowledge.

        What they are doing is arguing what the meaning of “is” is. If we can’t concede something so basic and fundamental to science (you do not, under any circumstances, publish a graph that is knowingly in error) then how are we possibly going to trust those same principles with things that aren’t nearly as cut and dry (oh say things like the use of “novel” statistics to overstate one’s case on previous temperatures or “novel” statistics that spread warming from one side of the Antarctic to the other)?

      • I think that the most needed additional “best practice” that should be added in page 1 of the next IPCC report is:

        ” Data should be exposed in a way that gives as much information as possible to the casual reader, the goal is not to choose the most convincing way to support the thesis at hand (cAGW)”.

        It should be at the front of any scientific summary for educated public, or, especially, for policy makers.

        If this rule is broken, one can not call this a summary of scientific knowledge. It is a technical marketing material used to defend a proposal.

      • Like I said, different facts. My reading is that they were trying to find the most favorable way of presenting the data within the bounds of the set of all possible legitimate ways of presenting the data. I am far from convinced that they published a graph that was knowingly in error (which, needless to say, would be fundamentally wrong). The interesting part, and the part worth talking about as we move forward, is in deciding where the error or errors lie. Is that approach given by my reading fundamentally wrong? Is it wrong only in particular circumstances, with this being one of those circumstances? We’re likely to agree that our view of the set of all possible legitimate ways is much smaller than what theirs was, but how much smaller? Providing an analysis and guidance would serve two purposes: identifying and recognizing problems, and articulating a clear standard that people cross in the future at their peril.

        Most of what most people know about the scientific method is wrong too, but don’t get me started on that.

      • John N-G

        “bounds of the set of all possible legitimate ways of presenting the data”

        Could you state how you think what they did could possibly be called legitimate? I am at a loss for words.

      • Ya AMac and I worked pretty hard trying once upon a time to turn the debate back to a basis of “best practices” we never got much traction. I would say part of that is my fault. Unlike AMac I’ve said some intemperate things so huge swaths of people will disagree just because I said it. But yes, if we cant get people to agree that hide the decline is not best practices, then it is kinda hopeless.

      • “But yes, if we cant get people to agree that hide the decline is not best practices, then it is kinda hopeless.”

        Things might get so slipshod that graphs would be calibrated in a dicey fashion and supposedly “random” data would be actually be the result of a selection criterion.

        quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (don’t kn0w the Latin for “Who will skeptical of the skeptics?”)

      • John N-G:

        “the possibility of a public (i.e. published in prominent peer-reviewed journal) analysis of the figures in WMO, TAR, and AR4, and the extent to which they meet (or fail to meet) best practices.”

        This sounds like an excellent idea. If the outcome was a new paradigm – a very overused term but one that probably fits in this instance – from which point everyone could start again, I think this would be far more important than worrying about laying blame for past mistakes. (huge though they may be). Personally I think a dose of humility for certain people would be a far more useful outcome than any kind of witch-hunt which would, IMO, simply land us back at square one.

        My only concern is that it would need to be published in one of the really big journals….”Nature” would be an obvious first choice, as they are heavily involved in the whole MBH98 debate.

        Is this really possible? If it is, I believe it would be a complete ‘game changer’.

      • The IPCC AR4 WG1 report has over large 900 pages of fine print. It is rather dense listing of publications in many places. Presenting a readable well documented analysis of the reliability of all the important results included in the report is not something that can be published in any journal as it might run to thousands of pages. It would not be a small exercise but a major task requiring much more funding than IPCC has ever received to its own activities (I exclude here the costs of participants that are not covered by IPCC).

        Finding experts that would be accepted as impartial would also be difficult, if not impossible.

        All kind of cursory analyses of practices in climate science can be completed with more modest resources, but the real point is determining the accuracy of the whole scientific input, which can be done only by going once more through all relevant pieces of it.

      • Pekka Pirila,

        I can only imagine the complexity of examining the reliability of the papers contained in the WG reports…..but this would not be the point of the “best practices” idea.

        To me the whole idea of having a list of “rules’ – for want of a better description – that mandate exactly how data should be presented, archived and made reproduceable is not that complicated. The crux of the issue, after all, is not the entire contents of the various IPCC reports: the vital part, in terms of informing public policy is the assessment report.

        It doesn’t seem that complex to me to have a set of guidelines that enable scientists to present the conclusions of their work in a clear and unambiguous way, in order that policymakers can grasp their findings without fear or favour. Indeed I suggest it would be of great assistance, particularly in light of the confusion surrounding knowledge (or lack of it) of the splice in the hockey stick.

        As far as the details of each paper included in the working groups is concerned, I defer absolutely to the scientific community to work out their own version of how best to present their work to each other.

        As far as the assessment reports are concerned, perhaps any “best practice” paper should be co-authored by Andrew Montford. He is one of the few authors I’ve read who knows how to communicate complicated science in a way that’s easily accessible….which is exactly what’s requires in any IPCC assessment report!

      • Part of the research is of such type that well specified guidelines would be very helpful in improving their usability in decision making. Unfortunately I do not believe that such research covers more than a small fraction of all climate science. The rest might of course also be done following some specified rules, but without much effect on their usability.

        If the issue would be such that straightforward rules would solve the problems, they would have already been implemented. At least I believe strongly that this is the case. The whole problem comes from the fact that the evidence is complex, of wide variety and most individual pieces of the evidence are rather weak. Their totality is much stronger, but how much stronger, that is very difficult to determine.

        That the evidence is complex and difficult to judge is not a proof that it is weak. Many of the results may actually be much more precise than the scientists can give evidence for. That view is supported by the observation that the results have often been much more stable in time than would be expected unless they are more accurate. Unfortunately all this is difficult to quantify, which allows for the fighting to continue.

      • “How does climate science move forward if the principles are unwilling to admit to any errors (unless pointed out by one of their own team, and even then it’s a fight)?”

        well, and here is where I’ll say something that gets me in trouble. Back in Nov 2007 I looked at this very same issue. the context? Gores movie.
        People could not admit a mistake. I looked for an ANALOGUE of that.

        What other science had seen a similar issue. and what happened? and why? and how did it survive.

        That is when I first used the term ‘Piltdown Mann’

        My thought was evolution theory survived this. But the thing stayed in the science for 40 years. Even AFTER it was revealed as a hoax, an author in Nature refered to it. Somewhere around here on my computer I have a big old essay on it. But by using the Piltdown Mann words… ah well that may be clever but its not so good for consensus building. Still I find the paralles fascinating. How does bad science get entrenched? why does it take so long to get somethings undone?
        values are in play and stakes are high.

        Hoaxes, bad science, honest error. fascinating stuff.

        There I didnt answer your question. What I know is that AGW will survive this as scientific theory. Evolution survived the Piltdown Mann, although it DID turn certain people down the wrong research paths for a while.

      • I remember your Piltdown Mann escapade. To me it was apt and rather funny.

        I don’t agree that AGW survives this, but then I don’t believe the theory is correct currently (that isn’t saying that CO2 isn’t a greenhouse gas and that more can’t lead to warming – but that said signal is smaller than thought and swamped by other forcings to the point that it makes the whole matter moot and a non-issue. A mere curiosity or our time).

        I do have great respect for the way you go about being a supporter of the theory though and hope you don’t give up on it. We need middle of the road people on both sides.

    • Thx John, I will pull your comments and those of Steve Mosher’s as the lead for Part III (will get to this later this aft).

      • Dr Curry-

        Thx. for your efforts.

        We all say “Go gal, go.”

      • This all sounds like the start of a potentially important new paradigm, if that isn’t perhaps a little too hopeful. One thing I think can be guaranteed – the scientific community in general and the climate science community in particular are all paying attention.

        I was over at Bishop Hill when prof Jonathan Jones posted. This may only be one scientist……but there must be heaps of lurkers out there who are equally concerned by “hide the decline”.

        If you, John N-G and Steve Mosher (et al) can get something interesting together for part III, this may actually gain some traction.

        I certainly hope so – we had the un-edifying spectacle of our (Australian) prime minister announcing on TV today that we have to have a carbon tax because current temperatures, caused by man beyond any doubt apparently, are the ‘highest in recorded history’. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of carbon mitigation programmes, it is truly horrifying for me to see a head of state making sweeping statements like this. This is TAR and the hockey stick in action.

      • Richard P. Feynman’s “Cargo Cult Science” speech discusses ideas of confirmation bias and scientific “honesty”. I think this is what Judith meant by her post and that others are taking it as the more common definition of “honesty”.

        Title Cargo Cult Science

      • No thread is complete without a reference to **Cargo Cult Science.**

        Many thanks!

    • Dr. N-G,
      Great summary.

    • Firstly, let me say how much I (and I’m sure others) appreciate your new personna on the Net. I’m not sure what prompted the conversion, but at some level it doesn’t matter.

      As for the substance of these suggestions, I’m afraid it all reads like the recipe for rabbit soup. When one endeavors to turn over a new leaf, it’s important to have concrete benchmarks, so one can be held accountable. While it would be nice if we could fix the climate science by altering its culture by a collective agreement to do so, that’s unrealistic. What is needed are institutional changes, which, over time, will reshape habits, and, eventually attitudes.

      Assuming that is genuinely our goal, I would suggest that we begin by offering an amnesty to the Team, to give them some room to come out of their trenches, and then try to develop some new standards for peer review processes, data archiving and sharing, and publications of “summaries” of technical work for the public, or at least for governmental or pseudo-governmental bodies. These standards should not be merely aspirational–they should prescribe operationalized proceedures for challenging the behavior of researchers, and consequences for failure to comply.

      To give one concrete example of what these standards should accomplish, papers should not be published (and if published, should not be treated by professional scientists as “peer reviewed”) without contemporary, unqualified access to all data and methods required for others to reproduce the work.

      To give another, to the extent others agree with you that there presently exists a cultural norm of “justifiable disingenuousness,” it should be eliminated, without prejudice to those who have acted under it in the past.

  51. Here in Australia, they are about to succeed in calling the gas that we all breathe out and the gas that most plants breathe in a pollutant and tax us.

    “Hide The Decline” has done its job.


    • Girma,
      Look at the time line.
      2012. It is far from over. AGW fear mongers are still far from victory.

      • hunter

        So, am I a fear monger?

        CO2 to plants is a powerful hormone analog.

        Try Girma’s weepy, maudlin pollutant line about testosterone or estrogen exposure, and see how long before people act as if fear mongered.

        Carbon is a building block of all life, but try Girma’s Midas-of-CO2 pollutant heart-tugger about soot, or carbon monoxide or methane.

        Where revenue neutral, carbon taxes lower relative energy prices to the poor — isn’t that Lord Lawson’s objection to carbon action, that the bank accounts of the poor will suffer?

        Where used to displace more distortionary taxes (which will happen for pretty much any carbon tax plan), there is a double dividend to the economy. Just ask Dr. Ross McKitrick.

        Almost every analysis of the economies of scale show carbon-based energy is oversubscribed; you can tell generally tell a good is oversubscribed, people start fear mongering and going to war over it. Which means, it’s time to convince people to use less of the stuff.

        Over 50?

        I ask because 50 is the cut-off age for the generation that stole from the future generations in most of the Western economies, where failure to pay to maintain infrastructure, and pretense of national borrowing as cover for burglary from future opportunities have dominated spending patterns of states since the 1970’s.

        The future that was borrowed from has begun.

        The infrastructure will bear no more neglect and outmoding.

        Those under fifty must now look around for who will pay for the leisure, waste and thriftlessness of those over fifty for the past four selfish decades.

        We can’t afford to be like them, to shift the costs further into the future.

        We can’t keep subsidizing SUV’s and fossil industries.

        We’re stuck, and carbon taxes are no longer really an option, but a necessity and inevitability.

        Don’t like carbon taxes?

        Look at those over fifty, and ask them to pay back their debt.

        And know your turn will come when you turn fifty.

      • “Where revenue neutral, carbon taxes lower relative energy prices to the poor…”

        So tax the productive and redistribute the wealth to the poor. Now why hasn’t anyone else ever thought of that?

        “Carbon based energy is oversubscribed?”

        I wonder if even you know what you mean by that. The term “over subscribed” has been used in the context of government programs, some even including energy, but the term “subscribe” is a real word that has an actual meaning, even in that extended context. If you mean “we use to much carbon,” why not just say so (although that too is hardly a new thought)?

        However, I must agree that those who have saddled this country with over 14 trillion dollars in debt for their redistributive fantasies, and payoffs to their union campaign contributors, have stolen from future generations. Oh wait, that’s not what you meant is it?

        I keep telling myself not to respond to such incoherent, pseudo-economic babble, but sometimes….

      • GaryM

        By all means, respond to such incoherent pseudo-economic babble.


        Use some sound economic terms of art. Cite some published, peer-reviewed economists.

        You seem to believe you’re talking to a leftie, or someone lacking an education in economics, or not conversant with the topic, or incapable of mathematics.

        Worried about responding to incoherent pseudo-economic babble? I don’t mind. I’m doing it now.

        At an introductory and simplistic level, since it appears you would benefit from such, what I mean by oversubscribed in the context of economies of scale (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economies_of_scale) is what is meant by microeconomists in this context always about diseconomies of scale(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diseconomies_of_scale): the demand for the good has pushed the market past the downward slope of the long run average cost curve and every additional unit produced will cost more. See the sections on isolation of decision makers from the results of their decisions, Inertia (unwillingness to change), and Public and government opposition.

        Any of that sound familiar?

      • People don’t “subscribe” to goods. They purchase them, consume them, speculate in them, all kinds of things. The word just doesn’t apply. Not even in “the context of economies of scale.” (You could “oversubscribe” in futures contracts and the like, but not in the commodity itself.)

        If what you meant was that oil and coal are being used/purchased to the extent that they are now more expensive to extract per ton/barrel (a diseconomy of scale), then that is even worse than what I thought you meant.

        Economies of scale is a simple concept to explain the efficiencies that result from increased purchasing power, decreased production costs per unit, etc. Diseconomies, not surprisingly means the opposite, per unit costs increase with increased output. This is not rocket economics.

        Diseconomies of scale, by the way, are not caused by “demand for the good push[ing] the market past the downward slope of the long run average cost curve….” They are the results (when they occur), of factors relating to the production, shipping and marketing of the good.

        Oil and coal being commodities, not goods, the concept does not readily apply. They are not manufactured, but extracted. Assuming you could apply the term here though, I guess you are suggesting we have reached the point of diseconomies of scale in energy. The cost of extracting and delivering each ton of coal and each barrel of oil are now increasing. But that would mean you can show the falling per unit profits for those poor oil and coal companies. Now that would be news.

        The higher price for energy does mean that more expensive methods of extraction may become viable, but that is not a diseconomy of scale in any sense.

        My problem with your comments in general, and Michael Tobis has done much the same in the past, is the attempt to shoehorn conservative economic concepts into a framework to support redistributionist and statist goals.

        But this is way off topic and I probably shouldn’t have responded in the first place. You may have the floor (the “sub-thread?”) to yourself now.

      • GaryM

        Nice hairsplitting there.

        A market may be oversubscribed, ie have too many participants in one or the other (or both) of buyers or sellers for it to operate efficiently. If you really need that spelled out for you…

        And I’m sorry, but I just can’t put this off until I get to it in the order you wrote.. but did you actually say, “Oil and coal being commodities, not goods, the concept does not readily apply.”


        Commodities, but not goods?

        You’re using ‘goods’ as a gloss for ‘finished goods’ surely?

        Commodities most certainly are goods. Indeed, commodity-like behavior is a property of ideal goods in economics. Here, a simple introduction for you to your own term: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commodity

        Now, as you equate profitability to efficiency (what a crock) without taking into account monopolistic and oligopolistic practices, market manipulations, subsidies, or any of the elements in the article on diseconomies of scale relevant to what could keep a market running past its optimum, one must say to you one word.


        You know, as in the historic collapse of the Dutch economy in the 1630’s due to the tulip price bubble. Were tulip suppliers not making record profits until the bubble burst?

        There is nothing shoehorned about using conservative economic concepts (are there any other, really?)

        There’s nothing more redistributionist in this than your willingness to allow a scarce resource that could be administered efficiently to go unpriced, and nothing more statist in this than your turning a blind eye to the ongoing subsidies and negligence of governments to this theft.

        And really, how off-topic in hiding-the-decline is fraud like you support so grandiosely?

      • GaryM

        Now, let’s turn to your Reaganomism, “tax the productive and redistribute the wealth to the poor.”

        Pure and simply, you have it backwards.

        CO2 in air has a budget. There is a line past which for every additional unit of CO2, everyone using the air suffers a loss. We do not need to know where this line is, only that it exists.

        Air is a shared common resource. All its components are thereby shared common resources.

        CO2 budget is a scarce resource; we can show by the most elementary studies — and we have multiple advanced studies — that we move CO2 by our emissions, hence we eat into the CO2 budget. Of that, there is no doubt but the doubt of the irrational or that of those purposefully spreading mistruth.

        So, all may access this scarce resource without payment or consent of the owners (all of us). The productive and less productive and unproductive alike.

        What do we know of resources that are shared in this way?

        That they tend to make their partakers efficient and thrifty?


        We know the opposite: where any can steal without consequence to themselves, there will be some so low and immoral as to steal withot limit.

        Your scheme steals without consent from all to benefit the few.

        My plan charges a fair rent to all who chose to use this scarce resource over all alternatives, and pays that fair rent to the true owners of the scarce resource — all of us — in exchange for our consent.

        Your plan is CO2 communism. Mine is CO2 free market capitalism with fair and balanced protections for all market players and lower — not higher — overall government involvement.

        Or do you think the government expenditures to subsidize the fossil industries are so low, now?

        Please, feel free to cite any peer-reviewed economist, and use terms of art of economics, in your answer.

      • I knew I shouldn’t have responded, and I won’t again after this, I promise, not on this thread anyway.

        “CO2 in air has a budget.” Sez who? What government authority determines what the budget is who should pay how much for it?

        The government setting the cost of a commodity at a point where it become cost prohibitive for people to actually, you know, use it, is not capitalism, let alone “free market capitalism” in any rational sense of the word.

        A “CO2 budget” is a “resource?” I thought it was bad when the left started calling taxes investments, and redistributive payments dividends. But this….

        If I want to buy some CO2, it makes sense to talk about using a limited resource. But this clumsy attempt to characterize the level of CO2 that the atmosphere can safely absorb as a “limited resource” to be “priced by the government” is just ridiculous.

        No matter how hard you guys try, pushing for a program of massive government taxation and regulation will never, ever, under any circumstances, be a free market exercise.

        But you may continue to try at your leisure.

        “Rent, ” “budget,” “scarce resource,” “free market capitalism,” all are real words that have actual meanings. None of which mean anything like their usage in the above comment. Orwell is laughing his ass off.

      • Wow.

        Talk about statists, GaryM.

        You need a government to confirm for you what common sense ought make plain?

        The most conservative government in North America would be the one that has lowered taxes, government debt and deficit the most, no?

        Well, that happens to be the one that introduced a revenue neutral carbon tax on sound conservative principles over two years ago. British Columbia has dropped its income taxes 15% in the past decade, and has a broad-based revenue neutral carbon tax widely supported by industry and commerce.

        You keep using right-sounding libertarianish words, but you keep driving a statist, corporate-communist agenda.

        Wolf. Sheep’s clothing.

  52. And our denialist Nero’s kept fiddling…

    From “Reefs at Risk -revisited” (2011)

    “Changes in climate and in ocean chemistry represent
    significant and growing threats.

    • Impact of CO2: Rising concentrations of CO2 and
    other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have led to
    warming of the atmosphere and, as a result, an increase
    in sea surface temperatures. Mass coral bleaching, a
    stress response to warming waters, has occurred in
    every region and is becoming more frequent as higher
    temperatures recur. Extreme bleaching events kill corals
    outright, while less extreme events can weaken corals,
    affecting their reproductive potential, reducing growth
    and calcification, and leaving them vulnerable to disease.
    These effects also compound the local threats
    described above. Managing this threat is particularly
    challenging because it does not arise from local human
    actions, but from global changes to the atmosphere as
    a result of human activities.

    • Thermal stress: Our projections suggest that during
    the 2030s roughly half of reefs globally will experience
    thermal stress sufficient to induce severe bleaching
    in most years. During the 2050s, this percentage
    is expected to grow to more than 95 percent. These
    projections assume that greenhouse gas emissions
    continue on current trajectories and local threats are
    not addressed. Although coral reefs can recover from
    infrequent and mild bleaching, this degree of high,
    regular stress presents a significant risk of irreversible

    • Rising acidity: Rising levels of CO2 in the oceans are
    altering ocean chemistry and increasing the acidity of
    ocean water, reducing the saturation level of aragonite,
    a compound corals need to build their skeletons. By
    2030, fewer than half the world’s reefs are projected to
    be in areas where aragonite levels are ideal for coralgrowth,
    suggesting that coral growth rates could be dramatically reduced.
    By 2050, only about 15 percent of reefs will be in areas where aragonite levels are adequate for coral growth.

    • Combined impacts: The combined impacts of ocean
    warming and acidification will increase the threat levels
    on more than half of all reefs by 2030, pushing
    the percentage of threatened reefs to more than 90
    percent by 2030. By 2050, nearly all reefs will be
    affected by warming and acidification and almost all
    reefs will be classified as threatened, assuming there is
    no change in local pressure on reefs”

    • With all this at stake, you’d think that people like you and I who believe in AGW and believe in the damage it would cause would be willing to stipulate that showing the divergence in AR4 would have been the best practice.

      In any case, I think you’ve given me an Idea about Rind

    • And our denialist Nero’s kept fiddling…

      There went another nutter bell. You know, don’t you, that every time a bell rings another RC regular experiences an aneurysm.

      The world has warmed what, 0.7º in one hundred years and all that happened? I think not.

      Lemme tell you – the Seattle area temperature shifted about 30º just in the last few days and we’re all doing fine. I know, weather is not climate, but that happens a lot here. Maybe we’re all just a bit more resilient than you give us credit for.

      Take some classes, quit reading RC, get a job. All your problems will be solved.

      • It is stunning how many people think they’re climate experts and are perfectly ignorant of the difference between changes in global average temperature and local temperature variation.

        Do you folks go to the auto repair shop and kibitz too? “Look, he put the carburetor on the intake manifold! What a maroon; everybody knows it goes on the exhaust manifold!”

        By all means, let’s have people like you all reforming science. It’ll be a Great Leap Forward.

      • PDA,
        Your bizarre non-fitting analogy aside, you accidentally raised a good question:
        What is the value of global temperature averages?
        The world environment does not respond to global temp averages.
        People do not live in a global temp average.
        Can you tell us of what value this often reported stat actually has?
        And, if you can do that, please tell us what possible significance a 0.X or 0.0X degree change in that global average has?
        It is clear that in terms of weather, environmental health, extreme events, snow, rain drought and flood, the impact of a global average is trivial or less.
        I look forward to your answer. And please avoid mechanical analogies.

      • PDA,

        “Look, he put the carburetor on the intake manifold! What a maroon; everybody knows it goes on the exhaust manifold!”

        Who is he? Gallileo? Who is ‘everybody? The church at that time, the AGWers at the present time?

      • I’m not equating the two – I’m acknowledging that you and I live in local weather, not global climate. We don’t live in average conditions, we live in continuously varying conditions. We are not impacted by 0.7ºC drift in an annual natural variation of 10’s of degrees. The global temperature shift is happening in polar latitudes after the sun goes down, last I looked. How is that affecting your world?

    • “Our projections suggest…”

    • reefs are declining because of over fishing and the methods used by said fishermen, dynamiting coral is always going to have a negative effect

      in other words it increasing population thats at fault, over population btw which is the real elephant in the room

    • So you can’t link.
      And the propaganda piece you quote without link is not really credible. Like you.

    • Ianash, there are many reasons for coral reef declines. Excessively hot ocean temperatures (for the temperature range of the corals in question) is one such reason, and coral reefs (obviously) do bleach.

      But they recover. They just get recolonized. Sometimes by the same types of symbionts, sometimes by different ones. That is from Science magazine and other journals.

    • Ianash, the world’s corals have had long periods in the not too distant past when CO2 was far higher than today, and ocean pH therefore considerably lower. Yet they survived. The end of the Eocene, about 33 million years ago, featured CO2 higher than 1,000 ppm for hundreds of thousands of years, yet the reefs kept building.

      Justin Ries’ 2010 paper in Coral Reefs (A nonlinear calcification response to CO2-induced ocean acidification by the coral Oculina arbuscula) showed that the corals he tested did quite well at 900 ppm. Presumably, Ries’ work shows why coral reefs continued to do well at the end of the Eocene.

      Skeletal accretion was only minimally impaired as aragonite saturation levels dropped from 2.6 (what you get at 400 ppm CO2) to 1.6 (what you get at 900 ppm CO2) in Ries’ work. It turns out corals control their accretion rate quite well as long as aragonite saturation is above 1.0, which in tropical and temperate surface waters will be the case when CO2 is above 1,000 ppm.

      It isn’t that CO2 doesn’t reduce the aragonite saturation level; it does. It is that corals and many other creatures — when we actually end up doing the research, as Ries has done — have learned over the eons to deal with considerably different states of the world, including different aragonite saturation levels.

      Therefore your statement to the effect that in 2050 only 15 percent of reefs will be able to grow is seriously in error.

    • Explain this: http://www.heartland.org/environmentandclimate-news.org/article/29422/Global_Warming_Benefiting_Corals_Study_Shows.html.

      Then move on to this: http://www.co2science.org/articles/V13/N9/EDIT.php.

      And next: http://www.co2science.org/articles/V13/N12/B2.php.

      And don’t forget this: http://www.co2science.org/articles/V13/N34/C1.php.

      There is much more you need to explain. They are called observations rather than projections.

      The study you quote from above is the work of an environmentalist pressure group attempting to get some traction by making unfounded claims about the forthcoming and entirely imaginary ocean acidification catastrophe. This is the kind of politicized junk science that has served to discredit the IPCC in general and WG2 in particular.

  53. referenced on the 2nd page of the document:

    Front cover: Northern Hemisphere temperatures were reconstructed for the past 1000 years (up to 1999) using palaeoclimatic records (tree rings, corals, ice cores, lake sediments, etc.), along with historical and long instrumental records. The data are shown as 50-year smoothed differences from the 1961–1990 normal.
    Uncertainties are greater in the early part of the millennium (see page 4 for further information). For more details, readers are referred to the PAGES newsletter (Vol. 7, No. 1: March 1999, also available at http://www.pages.unibe.ch) and the National Geophysical Data Center (http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov).
    (Sources of data: P.D. Jones, K.R. Briffa and T.J. Osborn, University of East Anglia, UK; M.E. Mann, University of Virginia, USA; R.S. Bradley, University of Massachusetts, USA; M.K. Hughes, University of Arizona, USA; and the Hadley Centre, The Met. Office)

    They refer the reader to this document where on page 8 one finds the hiding of the decline by publishing it.

    In the immediate future, work will continue on important statistical issues
    related to the processing and interpretation of all of the various tree-ring collections. Potential anthropogenic influences on recent tree growth will become an increasingly important focus of the work. Increased tree productivity during the 19th and early 20th centuries and post-1950 declines in tree density trends have recently been identified in our data. The extent, detail and implications of these phenomena have yet to be further explored. Chronology confidence and the expression of climate forcing are most strongly expressed on short (annual to century) timescales. New data processing techniques are exploring…

    So the only complaint can be the fact the graph does not differentiate between the proxy and thermometer record.

    • Just checking, but by implication you think the representation of the uncertainty in the data is appropriately represented here, using the standards applied in mainstream statistical inference?

      If you don’t then doesn’t the client (policy makers and global community) have cause to wonder why this wasn’t done.

      Incompetence, or an agenda (no matter how well intentioned)?

    • No ford.

      Here is the problem. It takes no more space to present the divergence [graphic] in the WMO document and refer to the explanation in the footnotes than it does to hide the divergence in that document and refer to it in the footnotes. By your logic I could justify a flawed graph by refering to a document that refered to a document that refered to a document that finally showed the full data. I hope to god you never decide what goes on the warning label of medicine.

      And consider this. When reviewing another example of presenting uncertainties in Paleo data (AR4) david Rind had the fllowing advice for briffa

      “….. The discussion of uncertainties in tree ring reconstructions should be direct, not referred to other references – it’s important for this document [Ar4 ch06] “

      • Warning labels:
        take as prescribed by dr. then prescription stuck to box.
        All warnings and contra indications on sheet of paper inside.
        But even this is not the whole truth – for the full info one needs to purchase the BNF British National Fomulary where ALL nasty bits the knew at time of publication are writ.

        So yes – medicinal labelling is roughly what hide the decline is all about
        The box has the photo of the happy smiling patient taking the stuff. All problems are described elswhere!

      • Wow – didn’t think my opinion of you could possible be any lower, but nope, I was wrong!

        What utter nonsense.

      • This is why these threads end up 1000 comments long. Endless misdirection, prevarication and obfuscation by the people who need to take the meds.

      • I’m observing the Delingpole-esque outrage to the analogy but I’m not seeing what you two are so outraged about – why is Thefordprefect’s example not accurate?

        Individuals looking at the technical literature could easily feel the warning label misrepresented something particularly if they came to be afflicted by something in the literature but not in the label.

        Are these decisions also mistakes/dishonest?

      • Well he missed the point.

        If the WMO text said “For Problems with divergence in the chart, see Paper XYZ” then the person would have a warming
        that there was something more to be considered.

        he missed the trick.

      • No, the whole point is that the graph is the part intended for mass media consumption. The editors aren’t going to bother with any supplemental information. Esp. if said info dilutes the intended message (a msg. that they are sympathetic to)

      • Like Judy said. It’s dishonest.

        “I used Mike’s Nature trick to hide the decline”

        But they still want us to believe the shaft of the stick is representative of temperature 800 years ago.

        Cive it up lads. It’s crap.

  54. Judith, thank you for three things in your intro to the new thread, inserted since I went to bed in London!

    First, the mention of John Houghton and his role in how the hockey stick came to assume such prominence. I have my own anecdotes in the UK as to how important it became to lay people as they sought to convince us all of the looming catastrophe. I’m thinking of one particular lady whom I otherwise greatly admire, who shares Houghton’s Christian faith and calls herself an evangelical feminist. She has much in common with you I think – but the deep problems with the hockey stick have so far eluded her. Houghton has been influential indeed. Thanks again for reminding us of his crucial role.

    Second, the excellent contrasts between the hockey stick and the hurricane ‘storm’. I’m sure some ‘sceptics’ didn’t treat you too well at that time. Your reaction – to put good science first, not your own hurt feelings – has been crucial not just to you but to the future of your discipline. Interesting as always how they underestimated a woman.

    Third, picking up the Russian novel theme. There’s much more there. One of the key points Dostoevsky makes in The Brothers Karamazov is the desire in the young to give their life for God in a blaze of glory – but the much deeper sacrifice of a life lived each day dealing with humdrum detail, with no chance either of fame or notoriety. Climate science has to become sacrifice of the second type, in my view, minus both the glory and shame of looming catastrophe, if it is ever to get back on track.

  55. Dr. Curry writes: While these threads have been compared to “War and Peace” and “Crime and Punishment,” ….

    One of the advantages of great literature is that it says a lot about human beings. As does this blog. An additional benefit. :-)

    Yes, I read your references. Standing in line in the Army. That says a lot about the Army. :-)

  56. The conflict peaked about 6 months after it started, with the “brain fossilization” crisis, which resulted in the combatants agreeing to disagree with more civility and to work together to sort this out. 10 months after the initiation of this tempest, scientists on both sides got together and made this joint statement.

    That’s cool story Judy and I’mma let you finish, but does this mean the graphs in Webster et al (2005) aren’t misleading? What a relief.

    (There is no question that the diagrams and accompanying text in Webster et al are misleading. I was misled. Upon considering the material presented in this paper, it did not occur to me that how long satellites have been making measurements in the infrared.)

    • Three years or so after the publication of Webster et al., i would say that pretty much everyone agreed that data in many of the regions were not reliable prior to 1980. Subsequent analyses of better data sets and data from 2004-2009 have confirmed Webster et al.’s general conclusion of a substantial increase in the % of cat 4,5 hurricanes, with different data sets and analyses producing different quantitative estimates of the increase (ranging from 50% to 100%). The issues surrounding the data and appropriate caveats were described in the paper.

      • Subsequent analyses of better data sets and data from 2004-2009 have confirmed Webster et al.’s general conclusion of a substantial increase in the % of cat 4,5 hurricanes, with different data sets and analyses producing different quantitative estimates of the increase (ranging from 50% to 100%).

        Terrific. Does this mean that there is no problem with the data before 1980, and the data were actually included in the plots under discussion?

        The issues surrounding the data and appropriate caveats were described in the paper.

        But the graph is still misleading! And it’s misleading, because I was misled! How dishonest of Webster et al!

      • There is an epistemic level issue. If other scientists are misled, it is my problem. If anonymous bloggers with no apparent understanding of the subject are misled, it is not my problem but your problem

      • “If anonymous bloggers with no apparent understanding of the subject are misled, it is not my problem but your problem”

        How can you betray so many loyal followers!?

      • Corruption is an awful thing.

      • “Substantial” hides away the uncertainty.

        Science is Corrupt.

      • “with different data sets and analyses producing different quantitative estimates of the increase”

        Isn’t this O’Donnell et al’s critique of Steig, which, apparently, is devastating and a final nail in the coffin, etc etc ….??

      • Willard,

        I disagree science is corrupt, only climate community, which does not waranted as ‘science’, is corrupt. True science has a place of regard and respect carry over from the past.

      • True Science !

        Yes. With it we will discover The Troof.

        Follow Judith and and be led to The Troof.

        High Five Troofers!!

      • Michael,

        Sad that you have to resort to this kind of attitude. Have you sorted out that 324W/m2 back radiation yet?

      • Oh dear.

        I have to take my ‘Skeptics’ hat off for a second.

        Here’s a slightly clearer version of the same thing;

      • Michael,

        Thanks for the link:

        Instead of clarifying the 324W/m2 back radiation, you directed me to this 330W/m2 which is equally unaccounted for. have you figured out accounted for that 330W/m2 Energy emitted downward yet?

        Climate Community is sloppy and as sloppy as me, lol.

      • Michael, your outbursts are becoming more and more unhinged. Seriously, I think you need to stop and take stock, re-read over your recent contributions and give yourself a bit of quiet time. We’ll all be here when you get back.

      • Yes Simon.

        High Fives and backslapping all round!

      • Ok, let me try again.

        (Major premise) The climate community is corrupt.

        (Minor premise) Judith Curry is a member of the climate community.

        Please help me out with the conclusion.

  57. As a science journalist who first wrote about climate change 23 years ago, in The Economist, I think Judith is right to identify the hockey stick as a seminal icon whose debunking is therefore also seminal. When I first properly looked at that image, in a presentation by the UEA’s David Viner, it was a Road to Damascus moment for me. I had drifted in a sceptical direction from orthodox alarmism over several years. The Vostok ice core had stopped me in my tracks because it seemed to suggest definitive evidence of CO2 attribution (though we now know the effect comes before the cause), but it was the hockey stick graph that caused me to do a U-turn, because it implied so plainly that today’s temperature was unprecendented in magnitude and rate of change. I recanted my previous scepticism. Imagine then the impact of discovering a few years later (via Climate Audit and Bishop Hill) that the hockey stick graph was methodologically flawed and based on poor data. I have friends who say “Ah, but the hockey stick was never an important part of the argument”. I disagree.

    Matt Ridley

    • I agree with you Matt. Before I looked more deeply into the AGW hypothesis all I knew about it was Al Gore and the Hockey Stick graph, as did most casual observers. For the casual observer the hockey stick was the first of a series of rhetorical devices used to persuade the public that action was urgently required. After the first device had been discredited for being bad (and possibly dishonest) science politicians had gotten the excuse they needed to back away from actions that could kill economic recovery and hurt their chances at re-election. One only needs to look at the Copenhagen collapse and Cancun debacle to find validation in my claim.

    • I agree. The hockey stick was the central icon of the political campaign. It was an elegantly simple yet scary symbol that was easy to sell to anyone and everyone who didn’t then understand its creative construction. It played a major role in this whole AGW project.

    • For different people the significance of the hockey stick has been very different. I cannot present any guess about the ratio of sizes of different groups, but many scientists certainly maintained their view that the straightforward experimental confirmation remained weak at the time and that the hockey stick didn’t change their views the least.

      These scientists are not skeptics in the sense the word is presently used, but skeptics in the tradition of science, who do not accept limited evidence as proof. They may agree on, what is most likely to be true, but make always a very strong distinction between most likely and scientifically well established (not proven as this is an impossible goal, while well established is still possible).

      The first assessment report of IPCC didn’t promise rapid confirmation from science. Its realistic estimates did not satisfy the needs of activists. Many accepted the precautionary principle in a simplistic way as a justification for activism and further as a justification for representing science in a simplified form, making shortcuts like “hiding the decline”. The roles of scientist and activist were mixed. The decisions were understandable from the mixed role. As told by Matt Ridley, the tactics worked for a while, but now we know that the immediate success was an illusion.

      The approach failed in two ways. It failed from the point of view of science, which was misrepresented and whose further development was disturbed. It failed also from the point of view of activism, because the people could not see, how half-truths backfire in time.

    • As I noted in the Hockey Stick Illusion, the BBC said it was “hard to overestimate how important” the Hockey Stick had been.

      • As Bishop Hill noted in the Hockey Stick Illusion:

        > There can be little doubt that it would have been much harder to sell the idea of manmade global warming if the Third Assessment Report had been illustrated with, for example, Briffa’s reconstruction.

        It is a pity we need to rely on Bishop Hill’s armchair for that pronouncement.

    • I think the Hockey Stick was more than just a symbol. I discussed it in my earlier blog a year and a half ago and summarized things this way:

      The public needs to see temperatures rising beyond previous temperatures in order to be able to INDEPENDENTLY conclude that global warming is real. Neither the hockey stick controversy nor the recent lack of warming materially affect the science upon which the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is based. However, they powerfully affect the ability of a skeptical public to independently conclude that global warming is real and manmade.

      • Dr. N-G, let me first say that i greatly appreciate you bringing the thread back on topic. I respect that a lot.

        As to this post, I must say as a layperson I disagree strongly. I think you too easily assume that the general public are ‘skeptical…of global warming…real and manmade.’ This sets up a false dichotomy between scientists vs a doubting public. It also assumes that the total warming signal is from anthropogenic causes. (I recognize that you may not have been trying to be particulary precise.)

        However, it is important to realize that I, again as a layperson trying to keep up, have seen a lot of evidence to doubt that the entire global warming signal is from anthropogenic sources – and when I see data/graphs manipulated/contorted to, let us say, emphasize the high end of possible warming scenarios – I’m insulted and worried that I had to rely on oustide auditors to bring these uncertanties into broader public view.

        I think that from my perspective, the scientists’ narrative can only be, “Yes, humans have accelerated warming, but we’re not sure how much nor are we sure how well the earth’s natural response mechanisms will be able to adjust to this acceleration – Not to mention there’s been no statsitically significant warming in over a decade, but we’re fairly sure that it will return.” It’s not a very powerful narrative, but it does seem to me more accurate than Hockey Sticks.

        I hope I got my point across; I realize we may differ on matters of fact (and of course your great expertise) – but I want to show that I feel I’m making this decision intelligently and cautiously, not as a ‘sheep’.


      • ‘great expertise’ not intended as sarcasm…

  58. Let’s try that again with better HTML tags.

    “The conflict peaked about 6 months after it started, with the “brain fossilization” crisis, which resulted in the combatants agreeing to disagree with more civility and to work together to sort this out. 10 months after the initiation of this tempest, scientists on both sides got together and made this joint statement.

    See any parallels with the hockey stick/hide the decline debate? Er, no. ” – JC

    Yeah, none at all.

    That maybe because the first was a disagreement between 2 groups of scientists who had put their respective points of view down in the journals, as well argued, though different, cogent lines of thought (ignoring the fits of public slanging).

    The second example had only one side presenting a very clearly argued point in the peer-reviewed literature. Here, the role of the infamous public insults are now played by the blogs – but instead of a few names hurled through the papers over a very brief period, it is a never ending stream of bile, invective, accusations and poorly formed argument.

    That’s the real difference.

    • Steve McIntyre simply asked for the data in a nice way. Mann has responded ever since in a way that every scientist of any conscience knows has been completely unscientific. It is absolutely incontrovertible who started the nastiness.

      Just as Mann’s associate, Dr. Jones, summed up climate science’s anti-scientific mindset with his response to Hughes. It encapsulates perfectly in a short sentence everything that is wrong about the hockey team.

      • “It encapsulates perfectly in a short sentence everything that is wrong about the hockey team.”

        Exactly! Who cares if the accusations with regard to the incident are accurate or reasonable and who cares if it was a one-off presentation of little note and thus an odd place to worry about misleading anyone, particularly with regard to data which is openly published.

        What matters is the larger narrative and whether “trick to hide the decline” can be removed from the context of what actually happened and used instead to support that narrative.

      • sharp, I think you are the only one that doesn’t recognize the irony in your statement. To give you an assist, ……… the entire reason this is an issue is because they wanted to “support the narrative” rather than accurately represent the findings.


  59. Judith & all commentors on all sides of the discussion,

    If one is evaluating the details of Briffa et al 1998 (& other of his/their derivative articles circa 1998 and later) and based on those follow the evolution of graphics and associated paragraphs in the IPCC TAR and AR4, then by what standards should we base our individual judgments about the “hide the decline” team?

    The judgmental approach I strongly recommend is to adhere to the broadly accepted standards of professional behavior of the physical and statistical sciences themselves. The standards of the specific sciences in whose realm Briffa, Mann and associates (hide the decline team) are saying they belong.

    In letting them (hide the decline team) be judged solely as a result of uncritical (whitewashes) and/or critical evaluations by scientists in the broad scientific community of the physical and statistical sciences, then we can see if science can self correct in a relevant way if it is not interfered with.

    Then, after the scientific community has come close to their point of closure or look like they can have no closure on the “hide the decline” team, our culture will pass its judgment on the existing scientific community as a whole. Let cultural trust in science sink or swim by science’s own behavior in handling its very own scientists belonging to the “hide the decline” team. Our culture is watching climate science very closely (scientists are becoming aware of increased scrutiny) and I think the culture is slowly getting somewhat impatient and less trusting.

    The scenario I just described is not science fiction. It is the reality that the scientific community must face if they value the stature of their chosen profession within our general culture.

    I am not suggesting scientists should be biased/blackmailed by our general culture’s fashions/fads/prejudices. I am saying that, in its handling of the situation wrt the “hide the decline” team, our culture will judge science’s ability to act according to its own professional standards. It will be judged by whether its own integrity is a means to maintain its own standards (code of honor).

    I do not know if I am optimistic or not, but I want to be. I want a renaissance in climate science.

    If there is reason for optimism, it is due to the likes of CA in checking the science about the climate. They (and many others) pointed out the way.

    NOTE: it is not my view that legal actions are included in the scope of the above discussion, they stand separately by themselves . . . scientists are, like the rest of society, subject to the law.


    • Since thirty years of climate study have produced about the square root of b…r all useful results, why shouldn’t we just put it quietly to rest?

      As we would after the merciful release of the Mad Aunt that we kept in the attic.

      ‘Because otherwise the climatologits would be unemployed’ is not a sensible reply. Everybody else has to justify their existence in these hard times. Why not these guys as well?

  60. Suggestions for “fixing” per above:
    It was suggested that paleo etc methods be better tested. I agree strongly. One problem is that if you try to do a pure methods paper to demonstrate that e.g. a proxie stat method is valid, the journals don’t like it–they want an application, a “result” not just a methods analysis (unless you go to a pure stats journal, but then they want something very theoretical and elegant, not just a test of a method).
    I would also suggest that if a key assumption such as the linear response of ring width to temperature is shaky or false, one should refrain from simply going ahead as if it was ok. The whole tree ring proxy enterprise turns on this assumption which limits how far back in time one can validly do reconstructions (to a few hundred yrs in my opinion). Just because it would be really dandy to use tree rings for this purpose, does not mean it is possible. Sometimes the answer is “no”.

  61. I wonder where the Team will go from here. Their blog has turned into a PR (propaganda?) campaign moderated by a paranoid Josef Stalin. More people than ever before question why they feel the need to “hide”. Professor Muller