by Judith Curry
The MSM and blogosphere are still roiling over David Rose’s article last Sunday, here is the latest, including a new article by David Rose.
The Carbon Brief has an article: This weeks top six rebuttals of David Rose’s warming has stopped claims. One of these is of interest:
Number 5. An article yesterday by Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, dug deeper into the Met Office’s Hadcrut4 dataset and suggests Rose manipulated it to create a false graph. The article also describes Rose’s track record for producing similar pieces for the Mail on Sunday.
The key excerpt from Ward’s article is this:
These data define a warming trend of 0.047°C per decade. Applying simple linear regression using ordinary least squares to the data shows that this trend is statistically significant at the 95 per cent level. It should be noted simple linear regression using ordinary least squares is not really the best method for assessing these data as it depends on assumptions which are violated by global temperature measurements. Nevertheless, it can be used to show that Rose’s claim that “from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures” is entirely false.
It is also worth noting that this plot differs from the fake graph that accompanied the article by Rose – for instance, in the HadCRUT4 dataset, January 2007 is the warmest month ever recorded, whereas Rose’s graph suggests that it was much cooler.
Now this is worth investigating/discussing — auditors, have at it.
The Guardian’s latest response to Rose: Climate change: journalism’s never ending fight for facts. Subtitle: An Australian DJ must undergo ‘accuracy’ training after saying falsehoods about climate change. But will this improve journalism? Excerpts:
What, for example, can realistically be done about David Rose and his periodic articles in the Mail on Sunday purporting to cast doubt on climate science? The Press Complaints Commission has confirmed to me that it has received complaints about the latest article’s accuracy. But it adds that it takes, on average, 35 working days for it to investigate and adjudicate on such cases. How could that ever correct the fact that the story was picked up and repeated all around the world within hours? Will all those outlets publish any adjudication if, indeed, it rules against the Mail on Sunday? I think we already know the answer.
Perhaps the scientists interviewed for the article should have smelt a rat,given Rose’s form? After all, Professor Judith Curry complained that she had been misattributed not just for this week’s article (she claims she never said climate models were “deeply flawed” despite the article attributing this comment to her), but for the Mail on Sunday article last year where he also quoted her. Why would she trust him second time round? Warning bells must have been sounding inside her head, surely? The result was that she spent the rest of the week posting ever-longer articles on her blog trying to clarify and better explaining the “facts” within the original article.
But, ignoring for a moment that she had already been stung by Rose once before, what measures could she realistically have taken to ensure the article printed was an accurate portrayal of the basic facts, as well as her own views? This is a dilemma that faces all climate scientists when they are approached by journalists. The last thing we want is for scientists to retreat back up into their ivory towers.
One of the best forms of rapid rebuttal we now have to counter misinformation is the fact that an increasing number of scientists are taking to Twitter meaning they can react instantly if they spot mistakes in the media. And they can also directly and publicly field questions via Twitter, not just from journalists but from the wider interested public. Sure, a very small section of society actually use Twitter, but it is closely followed by most journalists so you would hope comments posted by scientists crying foul would be picked up, absorbed and disseminated.
What about “punishing” the journalists who persistently mislead on climate change? Is exposing their mistakes and wilful misinformation enough? Or do they need to face some kind of tougher sanction? If so, who would act as the judge, jury and prosecutor? Are ombudsmen a powerful enough deterrent?
I certainly have mixed views about the training course that Alan Jones has been ordered to undergo. On the one hand, it has the benefit of shaming him – and his associates – very publicly. But, equally, is it really likely to make much of a difference to his “journalism”? As a professional controversialist, he knows the prejudices of his audience intimately and he plays up to them relentlessly. His “martyrdom” might even improve his standing with his supporters, such is their logic.
David Rose’s response to the controversy is published today in the Sunday Mail, entitled The really inconvenient truths about global warming. The subtitle of the article is “Last week we explosively revealed a 16-year ‘pause’ in rising temperatures – triggering a bitter debate. You decide what the real facts are…”
The excerpts surrounding my quotes are appended below:
Another critic said that climate expert Professor Judith Curry had protested at the way she was represented in our report. However, Professor Curry, a former US National Research Council Climate Research Committee member and the author of more than 190 peer-reviewed papers, responded: ‘A note to defenders of the idea that the planet has been warming for the past 16 years. Raise the level of your game. Nothing in the Met Office’s statement . . . effectively refutes Mr Rose’s argument that there has been no increase in the global average surface temperature for the past 16 years.
‘Use this as an opportunity to communicate honestly with the public about what we know and what we don’t know about climate change. Take a lesson from other scientists who acknowledge the “pause”.’
The Met Office now confirms on its climate blog that no significant warming has occurred recently: ‘We agree with Mr Rose that there has only been a very small amount of warming in the 21st Century.’
The 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said: ‘For the next two decades, a warming of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade is projected for a range of emission scenarios’ – a prediction it said was solid because this rate of increase was already being observed.
But while CO2 levels have continued to rise since 1997, warming has paused. This leads Prof Curry to say the IPCC’s models are ‘incomplete’, because they do not adequately account for natural factors such as long-term ocean temperature cycles and a decline in solar output, which have suppressed the warming effects of CO2.
Other experts point out one of the biggest natural factors behind the plateau is the fact that in 2008 the temperature cycle in the Pacific flipped from ‘warm mode’, in which it had been locked for the previous 40 years, to ‘cold mode’, meaning surface water temperatures fell. A cold Pacific cycle causes fewer and weaker El Ninos, and more, stronger La Ninas.
Prof Curry said that stripping out these phenomena made ‘no physical sense’. She added that natural phenomena and the CO2 greenhouse effect interact with each other, and cannot meaningfully be separated. It’s not just that the ‘cold mode’ has partly caused the plateau.
According to Prof Curry and others, the previous warm Pacific cycle and other natural factors, such as a high solar output, accounted for some of the warming seen before 1997 – some say at least half of it.
When will the warming start again?
The truth is no one knows. It is likely that in the 2020s, the Atlantic cycle – currently in warm mode – will also flip to cold, so that for some years both the Pacific and Atlantic cycles will be cold at the same time. When this happens, world temperatures may decline, as they did in the Forties.
Prof Curry said: ‘If we are currently in a plateau and possibly headed for cooling, then sometime in the middle of the century we would likely see another period with a large warming trend.’
She added: ‘Because of natural variability, it is impossible to pinpoint what 2100 would look like. The climate sensitivity to greenhouse warming is still pretty uncertain, and it is not clear whether or to what extent man-made factors will dominate the climate of this period.’
For the world to be two degrees warmer in 2100 than it is now – as the IPCC has predicted – warming would not only have to restart but also proceed much faster than it has before.
Since 1880, temperatures have risen by around 0.75 degrees.
JC comments: I think that David Rose’s 2nd article is well done. He lays out the arguments that the other ‘side’ is making, and provides his response. It is a reasonable portrayal of the debate surrounding this issue. (no gripes about my picture this time :) )
This whole situation is a very interesting example of the interplay betweeen the MSM, the blogosphere and twitter. The MSM goes with a provocative headline. There is more detailed analysis and broader discussion in the blogs. And there is a cacophony of barking tweets from both sides.
The ‘facts’, such as they exist, are the data; in this case the latest release of HADCRUT4. This is new data, so people haven’t yet had much time to analyze and interpret it. However these data end up being analyzed, the trend since 1997 is very small, much smaller than the decadal trend of 0.2C that we have been led to expect by the IPCC for the early part of the 21st century. The whole issue of cherry picking start and end dates is a red herring, as I’ve argued in my previous post Trends, change points and hypotheses. It depends on what hypothesis you are trying to test. If you are using data to evaluate the IPCC’s projection of 0.2C/decade warming in the first two decades of the 21st century, with plateaus or pauses at most of 15-17 yrs duration, well then you can pick whatever start date you want. It will be very interesting to see what Press Complaints Commission comes up with regarding Rose’s article.
The Guardian makes the point that they don’t want scientists to go back into the ivory tower if their views are misrepresented. In fact, that is exactly what I did after the infamous brain fossilization incident. Which scientists do reporters choose to talk to, and why? The answers to this are probably all over the map, varying with the story and with the reporter. For better or worse, I’ve put myself out there as being willing to talk to reporters (after brain fossilization and heretic, I now have the hide of an armadillo). I’m prepared to work with reporters on their articles. This time, David Rose sent me my quotes in advance, along with the content surrounding them; I made a few minor changes to make the message more clear and more accurate and he incorporated these changes verbatim in the article.
The bottom line for me is that David Rose’s article has stimulated an interesting debate on an important and controversial topic. These exchanges in the MSM, blogosphere and twitosphere have hopefully enlightened and provoked critical thinking amongst the group that pays most attention to these things. Of course both sides are using this exchange in the MSM to ‘keep score’ in the climate wars, where the casualty tends to be honest debate.