Obesity (?) of the U.S. scientific research enterprise

by Judith Curry

The scientific enterprise is not immune from the perils of obesity.  – Mike Kelly

BishopHill points to an essay in Science about U.S. federal funding for scientific research, entitled Am I Wrong? by Bruce Alberts.  The relevant excerpts:

Now, on top of that comes a mindless budget “sequester” that will make the situation considerably worse, causing the U.S. National Science Foundation to announce last week that it may award 1000 fewer research grants in 2013 than it did in 2012.

I was fortunate to become a scientist at a time when the U.S. system of research was flourishing, thanks to visionary national leadership. It is no accident that the U.S. economy and global status subsequently flourished, or that the success was built in partnership with many of the best minds from other nations. The brilliance of U.S. science and engineering enabled its universities to attract a very large number of the most energetic and talented students from around the globe. A major fraction of these young scientists and engineers decided to remain here after their training, where they have made enormous contributions not only as academic leaders but also as leaders in industry and government.  It is hard to imagine a Silicon Valley, or any of the other U.S. centers of innovation, prospering without such talented immigrants.

Other nations have been increasing their research intensity at an impressive pace. With the latest cuts created by the shortsighted political gridlock in Washington. DC, are we headed to a future where the world’s most talented young scientists and engineers no longer want to pursue careers in the United States? If so, in what nation will the next Silicon Valley be developed? The declining opportunities for research funding have made survival for some of the most able researchers resemble a lottery—or perhaps Russian roulette is a better analogy. The effect on the U.S. research system seems devastating. Am I wrong? To what extent do you think the current grant-funding environment is undermining the intellectual environment and creativity in your institution?

In response to his “Am I wrong?” question, there are some interesting comments.  Mike Kelly of Oxburgh Panel fame writes the following comment:

Some points that you have not considered, which blunt the strength of your argument: The scientific enterprise is not immune from the peril of obesity. Periodic downturns in funding provide an opportunity to weed out the less than effective. Even you I think would agree that much of the ‘science around climate change’ is second rate – repeatedly drawing unwarranted conclusions from incomplete data and extrapolating from simulations of model climates that have not been robustly verified in terms than an engineer would regard as essential as the basis for future action. I could go round other subjects, you will have your own, where a bit belt-tightening would be positively beneficial. If much of the second-rate were squeezed out, US science would be in a better place. During Mrs Thatcher’s period as Prime Minister, UK science was squeezed hard, and I would argue came out of it better, leaner and fitter. Like dieting, it is not a healthy permanent state, but its absence is definitely unhealthy. In times of plenty, one ‘lets a thousand flowers bloom’ and in tough times, one redoubles the effort to exploit the stock of recently acquired new knowledge, rather than generate more new knowledge and leave it unexploited. This makes sound economic sense. It is the point I made in a lecture (sponsored by Intel) to the Irish Academy of Engineering in Dublin in December 2011. Science should not be privileged above all else in the nation’s finances: a little privilege only. When everyone else is feeling the pinch, and I mean those who are hungry and in fuel poverty, it ill behoves the ‘rich man in his laboratory’ being immune. If support for the arts is being cut, then the ‘cultural’ science of ‘innate curiosity’ should take a commensurate cut, and ‘science with a consideration of use’ should be privileged in what is left to spend. The US is just ending a period of artificially high federal R&D spending because of the stimulus package. Now is the time to reset the national balance between R&D and genuine entrepreneurship. You must be aware that there is not a one-to-one reciprocal relationship between science spending and social prosperity, and it is a dangerous myth to rely on or perpetuate. There has been a letter in The Times (of London) in the last week special-pleading for science. If the signatories had been industrialists rather than the scientists themselves, the case would have been more appealing and convincing.


There is a fundamental tension in U.S. science policy and in university academic communities between curiosity driven discovery research versus ‘use-inspired’ research. The most famous example of ‘use-inspired’ research is the development of the atomic bomb; it is illuminating in 2013 to read Vannevar Bush’s 1945 essay As We May Think.

Vannevar Bush’s 1945 report to President Roosevelt Science, the Endless Frontier led to the development of the National Science Foundation.  Excerpts:

The Government should accept new responsibilities for promoting the flow of new scientific knowledge and the development of scientific talent in our youth. These responsibilities are the proper concern of the Government, for they vitally affect our health, our jobs, and our national security. It is in keeping also with basic United States policy that the Government should foster the opening of new frontiers and this is the modern way to do it. 

Therefore I recommend that a new agency for these purposes be established. Such an agency should be composed of persons of broad interest and experience, having an understanding of the peculiarities of scientific research and scientific education. It should have stability of funds so that long-range programs may be undertaken. It should recognize that freedom of inquiry must be preserved and should leave internal control of policy, personnel, and the method and scope of research to the institutions in which it is carried on. 

A more recent perspective on U.S. science policy is the 2007 NRC report Rising Above the Gathering Storm.  Excerpts:

This report emphasizes the need for world-class science and engineering—not simply as an end in itself but as the principal means of creating new jobs for our citizenry as a whole as it seeks to prosper in the global marketplace of the 21st century.

Although the US economy is doing well today, current trends in each of those criteria indicate that the United States may not fare as well in the future without government intervention. This nation must prepare with great urgency to preserve its strategic and economic security. Because other nations have, and probably will continue to have, the competitive advantage of a low wage structure, the United States must compete by optimizing its knowledge-based resources, particularly in science and technology, and by sustaining the most fertile environment for new and revitalized industries and the well-paying jobs they bring. We have already seen that capital, factories, and laboratories readily move wherever they are thought to have the greatest promise of return to investors.

What I particularly want to highlight here is text from Box 3.1 on p 69:

The writers of this report, like many others, faced a semantic question in the discussions of different kinds of research. Basic research, presumably pursued for the sake of fundamental understanding but without thought of use, generally is distinguished from applied research, which is pursued to convert basic understanding into practical use. This view, called the “linear model” is shown here:

basic research -> applied research -> development -> production operations

In his 1997 book, Pasteur’s Quadrant, Donald Stokes responded to that complexity with a more nuanced classification that describes research according to intention. He distinguishes four types:

  • Pure basic research, performed with the goal of fundamental understanding (such as Bohr’s work on atomic structure).
  • Use-inspired basic research, to pursue fundamental understanding but motivated by a question of use (such as Pasteur’s work on the biologic bases of fermentation and disease).
  • Pure applied research, motivated by use but not seeking fundamental understanding (such as that leading to Edison’s inventions).
  • Applied research that is not motivated by a practical goal (such as plant taxonomy).

In Stokes’s argument, research is better depicted as a box than as a line:

Presentation2In contrast to the basic–applied dichotomy, Stokes’s taxonomy explicitly recognizes research that is simultaneously inspired by a use but that also seeks fundamental knowledge, which he calls “Pasteur’s Quadrant.”

For some further context and a different perspective, Roger Pielke Jr has published a provocative paper entitled Basic Research as a Political Symbol, and discusses the economic arguments  for ‘basic research’ versus the actual evidence.

Obese climate research enterprise?

With this context, lets ponder the climate research enterprise.   The climate research enterprise in the U.S. has been the recipient of a very substantial amount of federal research funding over the past two decades.  The sequester provides an opportunity to rethink priorities and overall make better use of the federal research funding for climate research.  While there is arguably ‘fat’ in the system in terms of places where substantial funds are being spent with little meaningful or useful return, there are also areas where the funding is too ‘lean’ in terms of places where increased investment could substantially improve the overall research enterprise.  Below are some topics and questions that I think would benefit from reflection in terms of allocating federal funding on climate change research:

Taxonomy of impacts.  There is a substantial amount of research funding flowing into the impacts of anthropogenic climate change on public health, ecosystems, agriculture, happiness, obesity and a whole host of topics.  Are we able to realize the potential value of such studies at this time given the meta-uncertainties surrounding attribution analyses and deficiencies in climate models?

Civil servants versus university researchers.  Government labs that conduct climate research include  the NOAA and NASA labs, and also the NSF funded NCAR.  A problem with civil servants doing research is that a fixed cadre of scientists with particular areas of expertise can result in  ‘stiff’ organizations that lack the flexibility to move into new areas of need and opportunity.  The end result can be a mismatch between strategic plans and institutional capabilities. University research tends to be much more nimble, and university scientists are effectively encouraged by the ‘system’ to move into new research areas by competing for research funds and other professional rewards. Given the mission needs of these agencies in terms applications, what is the appropriate balance for federal funding between civil servant versus university researchers?

Field experiments.  There are exceptionally important insights to be gained from carefully designed process-oriented field experiments.  However, too often it seems that the same scientists are funded to do essentially the same experiment over and over again in different locations, without ever actually synthesizing the results of individual or the cumulative collection of field experiments.   There is a chicken and egg problem here; some scientists complain they can only get funding if they propose a new field experiment and that there is never any funding to actually analyze and synthesize the data in a more comprehensive way.  Program managers claim there is endless demand from researchers  for resources to conduct these field experiments.  Particularly when they involve multiple research aircraft or ships and deploy in remote areas, these field experiments can be very costly.  Would the scientific yield from these field experiments increase if more funds were allocated to analyze and synthesize the field observations?  Such analyses could also support improvements to the experimental design for the next field experiment.

Climate model production runs for the IPCC.  The development of large Earth System Climate models and the running of many long simulations for the IPCC takes up a huge amount of resources not only in overall $$ but also in researcher time.  Have we reached the point of diminishing returns on continued large expenditures on such efforts?  Are we learning much at this point from the climate models about how the atmosphere and ocean actually work?  Or is the main outcome to feed the taxonomy of impacts research?  Is the current path of developing higher resolution earth system models going to result in the desired outcome of skill on the regional and decadal time scales?

Base observing systems.  Data from weather satellites and key climate monitoring satellites, along with the supplemental ground based observing sites,  are  assimilated into weather prediction models, used in climate dynamics research, and  used to evaluate climate models.  Are we effectively making the arguments for the value proposition of these base observing systems?   Have we optimized the involvement of the private sector in establishing these base observing systems?

Basic research.  Much of research funding in climate science supports the large infrastructure of observing systems and climate models, and also personnel at the federal labs.  In spite of the ‘consensus’, there is substantial need for fundamental research particularly related to climate as a complex dynamical system, the physics of climate influences, physics and chemistry of paleo proxies, inference methods, and computational methods.   Should more of the funding and research effort be directed to the basic research needs?

Applied research.  The ‘use-inspired’ climate research has mainly been inspired by the policy makers’ desire to reduce uncertainty about the 21st century impacts of adding more greenhouse gases.  While knowledge is growing, uncertainty is increasing as the dimensionality of the problem increases.  A reorientation is underway for applied climate research towards adaptive management of renewable energy generation, mitigating the impacts of disasters, managing water resources, etc. However, these applications require ‘use-inspired’ basic research.   NSF is poised to make a huge impact in this area with its SEES program, which requires that proposals include massively interdisciplinary collaborations and partnerships with decision makers. What is the optimal involvement of the private sector versus federal funding in applied climate research?

JC summary: While I make no attempt to predict the future of federal science funding, my decision making under uncertainty research suggests that we need to consider scenarios of substantial and prolonged budget cuts.  The budget cuts should motivate a discussion on reordering priorities and how to get better bang per buck for federal research dollars.  I think the climate research enterprise is overdue for such reflection.  A key issue is balance among pure basic research, use-inspired basic research, and pure applied research, and how federal funding can be best allocated in this overall balance.  We have a problem when too much funding goes to applied research with no obvious use.

Moderation note:  I would like to treat this as a technical thread, please keep your comments on topic.

178 responses to “Obesity (?) of the U.S. scientific research enterprise

  1. Historically, obesity’s been the sign of health, or prosperity, or both.

  2. The problem as I see it, is a question of who decides what the priorities should be. I am not a US citizen, but we have the same problem in Canada. As long as politicians believe the myth that CAGW is real, then those scientists who support CAGW will have an inside track to obtain the necessary funds to promote the scientificly unsupported hypothesis of CAGW.

    This situation will continue to exist in Western democracies as long as the leading scientific learned societies continue to promote CAGW. Until learned societies, led by the Royal Society, the American Physical Society, and the World Meteorological Organization, change their uncompromising support for CAGW, research funding into trying to prove the unproveable, that CAGW is a real and dangerous threat, will continue to be obese.

  3. Just speaking from my own experience: Thirty years ago, I got a PhD in Math from one of the best programs in the country. I had a top GPA as an undergraduate from another of the best schools. And by the time I got my PhD, I knew I didn’t want to do math any more. I wasn’t needed. I did a pretty good piece of work for my doctorate, other people liked it and quoted it – but I knew I wasn’t _needed_. Most people I knew weren’t needed. We were filling in gaps, looking for things to work on that no one else had done yet, but I knew that if someone really good would take notice of my problem, he could solve it better in a short time. There were lots of mediocre people like me in my program, and one or two really really good ones, and we all knew the difference. David Hilbert said it once: There are two kinds of mathematicians – those who tackle and solve hard problems, and those who don’t.

    I guess I don’t have the right to speak to any field but math, but I wonder if it’s the same: The really important work gets done by a few really good people, and everyone else makes a living.

    • If I’m not mistaken, there were many fewer scientists in the 60’s when funding was so good. If you have so many PhD’s now that there are not jobs for them and many have to spend more than 5 years in postdocs after spending 5 years in grad. school, it’s a sign that you have funded too many. Grad students are cheap labor for research scientists and many students in math/science go to grad school just because it is easier than finding a job and they can go to school for free. But then are disappointed when they come out and have no job. So, in a way we are a victim of our success. We have lots of good researchers but can not afford the exponential cost to keep training more and more researchers who will never do research.
      I also would prefer that more money go to biomedical research rather than climate science but that is another story. We have a lot of crap science to “save the planet” but take funds away from science that actually addresses real problems.

      • I also would prefer that more money go to biomedical research rather than climate science but that is another story. We have a lot of crap science to “save the planet” but take funds away from science that actually addresses real problems.

        I agree.

      • Lots of people stay on in grad school for other reasons, too:

        1. Doing grad research with relatively little supervision is more fun than working for a company in a highly structured – and practical results oriented – environment.

        2. Faculty actively discourage people from going into industry where they’ll make “dirty profits”. I recently visited a faculty geologist friend who was quite vexxed that one of his favorite students accepted a job from the Exxon, the Evil Empire.

        3. Because faculty think industry and it’s dirty profit are immoral, they have no contacts in industry and, in general, not much clue about what’s going on there. They can’t help students get work in industry, and that generally doesn’t bother them.

        I think a little trimming is more than overdue.

  4. Personally, I find Kelly’s comments on point. Lost in the political posturings of the reactionary left (don’t touch entitlements) and the reactionary right (don’t tax or spend) is the fact that the US has about $2 T to invest each year (once we take out entitlements) – even assuming a balanced budget. Some of it will go to roads and infrastructure; some of it to defense; and the rest? That’s what we pay politicians to do – make those tough choices.

    Up until ~2005, their choice was to heavily invest in the health sciences. This resulted in an ocean of intellectual capital, forming the nucleus of what is quietly supplanting IT as the growth engine for our country’s economy – biotech.

    Then the decision was made to shift the investment emphasis to the physical sciences (at least until the Great Recession hit). Of most importance to readers of this blog are the huge sums expended on “climate change” and on “renewable energy.” There is a tremendous case to be made that both of these were poorer investments than many others that could have been chosen. In the renewables field, we have wasted billions on ill-considered attempts to instantiate a solar industry, which has been proven to be non-competitive compared to other countries (not even considering the crony capitalism involved). Investing in development of more efficient solar cells is silly when the real problems that have to be solved relate to siting and land use, and solar’s intermittent availability (shared by many renewables).

    If we look at climate science, I am appalled by how many use model predictions of a future climate (based on linear projections of the past) to predict dire consequences for homo futurus. I am appalled at how many make excuses for those scientists who have tried to prevent others from publishing findings that contradict theirs. I am appalled at the funding going to those scientists who refuse to let others look at their data.

    While I find the NSF’s “we’ll have to cut 1000 grants” somewhat amusing (how can a 3% cut in the growth of the budget really have that impact???), a part of me really hopes it is true. It may force us all to go back to basics, and do what we should have been doing all along – making the best investments we can with the imperfect knowledge we have. If we do, Science most likely will benefit.

  5. Models: too many. Pick one

    Taxonomy: too much time spent opining on what will be vs how things work

    Government Labs: too many sucking dollars from other core missions: consolidate. NASA is best at shooting rockets. NOAA studies weather when they can get around to it.

    Basic research: too much focus on models: see #1

    IPCC: too much politics and lobbying for resources. Abandon is the hope.

    Field observations: too much of researchers’ investment in outcomes when gathering data. Separate acquisition from analysis. Fund analysis when there is enough data.

    Applied research: too much coveting the data; need more open access and transparency. Academia and researchers side companies are a slippery slope.

    Young investigator’s awards: too few.

    The old and dodgy: too many, too comfortable, too powerful in directing resources: the current state of Pal Review; Consensus; clogging up the ladder (science advances one funeral at a time).

  6. Marcott etal 2013 is a poster child for obesity of Climate Science. The quality of the paper is so poor that one questions any peer reviewed published paper.

    Journals need money to continue to publish. By this very need, the race to the bottom seems to be in place, rather than the race to excellence.

    I look forward to proper use of dollars, the publishing of verifiable results based on observation.

    If a little bit of belt tightening produces this result, it will be a diet well worth the effort.

    • With Marcott in particular and alarmist climate science in general, the obesity is not mere prosperity, the swelling is tumorous.

      • I should add, the tumor is cancerous and metastatic. This is also rubor, calor, dolor et functio laesa.

  7. From Roger Pielke Jr via email:

    Hi Judy-

    Just a few FYIs motivated by your latest post …

    1. I recently had a paper out on the history of the phrase “basic research”:


    Relevant blog posting here:

    2. When it came out I did a multi-part review of Rising Above the gathering Storm here:


    3. This debate with Anthes et al. over supply/demand of atmospheric scientists a decade ago speaks to the issue of obesity in the atmos sciences:


    All best!


  8. a quick google search provides numerous links regarding the U.S. federal climate research budget, this one provides a good summary overview (albeit a few years ago)

    • Burn all that money and it continues to not get warmer while the money funds scientists and models that continue to say it will get warmer. Two decades of no skill in forecasts should trigger some reduction. Outside intervention by people with other skills are called for. They clearly cannot fix themselves. Once they reached consensus, they quit looking for what is wrong with the theory and models. 2012 has passed and was not a year that moved the decadal average up, again, and 2013 is starting out with massive snows that will go a long way to keep the global average from rising again.
      The number of years that they can make no skill forecasts and still say they have a low uncertainty of being wrong just went up by one and next year will be another.
      Climate Change Sends Plants North
      Tough winter forces owls South

      These are normal and natural events. The roman warm period and the medieval warm period did the same as this warm period is doing. People and plants move north. The ice that covered much more of earth during the little ice age did retreat when northern oceans were cold and frozen and it did not snow much and ice retreated and caused earth to warm. Now that the oceans are warm and the Arctic opens in the warm seasons, more snow is falling and it is getting colder in the cold season. The increased ice volume will build up and start to advance us toward the next little ice age or something similar. Cold periods do follow every warm period. Look at actual data. A correct climate theory and correct climate models will do the same thing.

    • willard (@nevaudit) | March 17, 2013 at 12:50 pm |

      There’s quite a bit of meat on that bone.

      Have a closer look.

      For one, we absolutely know none of this money would be spent were it not for the carbon extractive industries. Every penny of this spending comes about as an inevitable result of their lucrative activities. Why are the full costs of all of these borne entirely* by those industries on the Polluter Pay principle?

      The EPA has the power to collect on this basis. Federal courts have ruled (we know this from previous threads) the EPA must find CO2 to be a pollutant and the EPA has exclusive power to determine costs. Well, it looks like the AAAS report has done the EPA’s work for them, and all that is left is for the federal government to enforce collection action on the polluters.

      And what will happen when that process gets under way? Well, for one thing, carbon industry lawyers will go through the AAAS report with a fine tooth comb looking for expenses ascribed to Climate Change that are not really due to Climage Change. What do you think are the odds they’ll find some?

      *Entirely, as based on the Deep Pockets principle of Torts. Courts favor administrative simplicity, and the most direct route to settling the damages is through the bank accounts of the largest polluters.

      And.. for another. Let’s say those carbon industry lawyers have a peek at bullet four of the Highlights section:

      The Department of Energy (DOE) request would increase funding for
      renewable energy (up 37 percent) and energy efficiency (up 12 percent), and eliminate $2.7 billion in subsidies to high emitting industries. Robust funding would continue for Energy Innovation Hubs, Energy Frontier Research Centers, and the Advance Research Projects Agency-Energy.

      Excuse me? We know from Lamar Alexander’s reports that ‘renewable energy’ is 90% carbon industry energy. We know from detailed investigations that of the 10% remaining, some 80% goes to research into non-carbon alternatives by — you guessed it — the same carbon industry companies. And those $2.7 BILLION in reduced subsidies to high emitters (subsidies so many deny exist).. what are they as a percentage of overall subsidies to carbon emitters? And these Energy Innovation Hubs, Frontier Research Centers, and Advanced Research Projects.. aren’t they mainly money spent on carbon industry support?

      The closer you look, the less of the money claimed is going to actual climate change research, and the more is going to carbon burning subsidy.

      The entire budget for atmospheric models isn’t even a rounding error in the amount of federal carbon subsidy.

      Which is why I asked for citations, knowing what they held because I of course do my homework before making claims.

    • The AAAS Report states this as if it is settled science:

      Past scientific research demonstrates that the Earth’s climate is changing, that humans are very likely responsible for most of the well-documented increase in global average surface temperatures over the last half century, and that further greenhouse gas emissions, particularly of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, will almost certainly contribute to additional widespread climate disruption. This climate disruption poses considerable risk to society because it can be expected to cause major negative consequences for most nations and to a wide range of species.

      Every year that models show no skill in forecasting is another year that they strengthen the wording when they should be increasing the uncertainty. Being wrong again does not support being right. This AAAS report should not be of any help the the EPA. This does not prove anything about what causes climate change. They say so is not proof.

    • David Wojick

      The USGCRP has just released their annual budget report.
      http://library.globalchange.gov/products/annualreports/our-changing-planet-2013 The numbers are in the back.

      This is the US climate science research program, about $2 billion a year. The problem is not the money but rather that the program managers who control the money are CAGW advocates. Cutting this budget cannot hurt.

    • Almost all of it is for satellite construction, launch and operation.

      • So.. that would be $2 billion a year to UAH under the control of Spencer and Christy?

        Or do I oversimplify the situation too much?

      • Steady Eddie

        So your typical government scientist thinks
        – more science is always better, evidence of “foward-thinking” (and vice-versa)
        – science creates jobs (and vice-versa)

        Drivel; self-interest dressed up as the common interest.

        Illustrating that science and academia are not – as many imagine and wish and have been told – a high-minded, pure endeavor distinguished from the rest of us great unwashed, but are actually as grubby an outfit as any. Think of Climategate; and, worse, the official coverups of it, and the almost total lack of repentance and regret over it..

        Scoundrels in mortar boards.

      • This is a curiosity, total lack of repentanace and regret over it. It’s there, witness Phil Jones when the blow struck, but it is masked. For what?

        For awhile?

      • Now some, not Eli to be sure, might think so. Spencer and Christy directly are small change (maybe 200-400K$/year. The real cost is the construction of the AMSU units, their mounting on satellites, launch and operation.

      • Repent, or your placement is uncertain.

      • David Wojick

        I think roughly half of the USGCRP budget goes for satellites and launches. Given that we are also getting several thousand journal articles a year there must be some research in there somewhere. Unfortunately most of it assumes AGW and CAGW as the paradigm.

      • Most researchers assume Newtonian Mechanics.

        All models are false. Some are useful.

        AGW has the same level of evidence and reason to support it as Newton had 300 years ago. Give it a couple hundred years and maybe an Einstein will extend it meaningfully.



      • Bart

        That may be your dumbest comment ever

      • David Wojick

        Bart’s comment misses the entire scientific debate. No mean feat that.

      • Rob Starkey | March 19, 2013 at 10:13 am |

        That may be your dumbest comment ever

        Oh please. Not even in my top ten dumbest comments ever.

      • BartR, Are models are wrong some are useful is a great quote. What the model users are supposed to do is look at where the models are wrong, determine why, then make corrections.

        Right now the model users are in the revelation stage just past denial. They will correct the over adjustment of aerosols, revise the southern hemisphere since the Antarctic is thermally isolated and attempt to use more absolute values instead of anomalies because with 10% of the globe outside of the radiant models, it has to be done.

        Call it the 55S catastrophe and start the do over.

      • AGW has no evidence at all. CO2GW neither. Basic physica requires the heat transfer problem at the surface to solved properly, not by handwaving.

      • This is in response to Bart R, the Cargo Cultist.

      • Edim | March 19, 2013 at 10:38 am |

        You overloaded my irony meter. Now I can’t detect sarcasm.

        These things aren’t cheap to repair, y’know.

    • Judith

      What you seem to either not realize, (which I greatly doubt) or avoid discussion of; is the fact that the financial environment is not the same as it was in the past. The US will need to reduce spending and the question is which programs will be cut and how much. Climate science is no exception and to assume otherwise is fooish dreaming. Imo, approval of funding for climate science by the US government needs to be narrowly focused on projects that will provide benefits to US citizens. You ideas of reliable short erm forecasts clearly meet this criteria, but many other items do not. tough choices will need to be made, and unfortunately we currently live in an environment where politicans tell people what they want to hear (like we can always spend more that we earn) instead of the truth.

  9. I just spotted a relevant 2010 essay by Richard Lindzen:
    Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?

  10. The old saying “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me; tax the fellow behind the tree” comes to mind when I read Judith’s post except in this case we should replace the word “tax” with “cut” for the saying to be appropriate.

    The problem is that the US is currently spending just under 40% more than it is generating in revenues. This is completely unsustainable.

    The US government has taken advantage of the current economic environment by converting (essentially refinancing) most of our existing debt into longer term notes at lower interest rates that the US actually now owns. This has lowered the amount of our current budget that goes to servicing our debt and made the US less vulnerable to harm when interest rates inevitably rise in the future. It also was a positive action by making the US less vulnerable from harms by other nations holding to high of a percentage of our debt and being able to manipulate interest rates. Those were aggressive and wise actions made possible because the US economy is currently so large as compared to the rest of the world and due to the perception that the US economy is fundamentally stronger right now than that of the other major nation’s economies.

    Those positive action do not mean that the current unwise actions should not be corrected. The longer term notes have not eliminated the issue but have pushed it down the road a decade or two depending on when the notes mature.

    Given the current levels of spending our budget could not be balanced unless unemployment was reduced to approximately 4%. Imo, basing economic policy on sustaining a 4% unemployment rate is extremely poor policy. In very good times you get to this rate but it is historically closer to 6.5% over a long term basis.

    The new debt the US continues to create every day IS a significant problem that WILL result in other nations devaluing US currency in relation to their and thereby creating hyper inflation if there is not a plan to correct this imbalance. Plan to balance our budget will be made by cutting many expenditures that are less than $1 billion. It will take a lot of small cuts to get there but we will only get there by being realistic and being willing to realize that.

    The US government does needs to invest in R&D wisely. We simply do not have the revenue to do otherwise.

    Currently US debt is negatively impacting the economy by making business far less willing to invest because businesses are worrying about the long term strength of the economy. This is slowing the rate of businesses hiring new employees.

    Perhaps even more importantly on a slightly longer term basis there will come a time when the rest of the world will abandon using a US currency that is manipulated by the US Federal Reserve to try to make up for a fundamental budgetary imbalance. When confidence is lost in a countries financial system that countries currency collapses quite quickly when it finally occurs. There have been many historical examples of this occurring.

    It is really not much different from a person’s personal financial situation. If you have a lifestyle where you are spending 40% more than you are earning you may not think that is a major problem. Then suddenly your credit cards are maxed out and you can not borrow any more and you are in a situation where you have a large debt to service and you are forced to immediately adjust to having far less disposable income. Obama should present a plan to balance the budget in 10 to 12 years that will combine significant spending cuts and some tax increases.

    People who say otherwise are either ignorant, are lying, or are trying to appeal to a political constituency. Paul Ryan is doing this by claiming we can balance the budget without raising taxes. Obama is doing it by claiming that all is well and we do not need to address the problem. Both are being untruthful and imo both know it and are appealing to the ignorant in

    • David Springer

      Holy crap, Starkey. If there was a comment of the year competition here I’d nominate the gem you just penned.


    • David L. Hagen

      Judith & Rob
      Re: “we need to consider scenarios of substantial and prolonged budget cuts.”
      I second Rob’s post.
      Compare the House budget vs Senate budget. With the US already borrowing to spend 46% more than revenue – with revenue at historic peacetime highs – the Senate budget would force a severe rapid descent into bankruptcy.

      Forbes compares: Paul Ryan’s House Republican Budget vs. Patty Murray’s Senate Democrat Budget

      the size of the federal government today is nearly 20% bigger than it was during the 60 years after World War II, . . .Ryan’s Republican budget . . .restores federal taxes and spending back near the long term, stable level as a percent of GDP that prevailed for 60 years after World War II, from 1948 to 2008. . . .Senate Democrats propose to spend $5.7 trillion in 2023, which would be the highest government spending in one year by any government in world history, almost double Bush’s $2.983 trillion in 2008

      Fed Debt/GDP > approaching 80% tipping point (or past it?)
      US Federal debt is now 73% of GDP and rapidly approaching the 80% tipping point.
      The True National Debt (Gross Federal debt is 103%).
      Crunch Time: Fiscal Crises and the Role of Monetary Policy,

      coauthored with David Greenlaw, Peter Hooper, and Frederic Mishkin. Presented at the U.S. Monetary Policy Forum, New York City, February 22, 2013. Countries with high debt loads are vulnerable to an adverse feedback loop in which doubts by lenders lead to higher sovereign interest rates which in turn make the debt problems more severe. We analyze the recent experience of advanced economies using both econometric methods and case studies and conclude that countries with debt above 80% of GDP and persistent current-account deficits are vulnerable to a rapid fiscal deterioration as a result of these tipping-point dynamics. . . .In simulations of the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, we find that under our baseline assumptions, in 2017-18 the Fed will be running sizable income losses on its portfolio net of operating and other expenses and therefore for a time will be unable to make remittances to the U.S. Treasury. Executive Summary of the paper.

      (Or, gross public debt has ballooned from ~45% in 1980 ~125% in 2013.)
      Unless a severe course correction is made, the US is rapidly on the path go Greece’s fiscal crisis etc. That could lead to loss of world reserve currency status. If those happen, then interest would rapidly overtake all other spending, forcing severe reductions in R&D spending.
      Imposing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars in debt on each of our children is immoral and a severe breach of historic stewardship. Better to restore balance now than being forced into severe austerity in the not too distant future.

      • “Ryan’s Republican budget . . .restores federal taxes and spending back near the long term, stable level as a percent of GDP that prevailed for 60 years after World War II”

        In what year? Ryan’s budget is designed to balance the budget by 2018. It’s the most ludicrous thing I can imagine.

        OTOH, Murray’s budget is just as bad the other way. No spending is too much spending for the Dems. Obama claims to want to cut waste, but we should understand that he accepts that all programs are good programs, so “cutting waste” doesn’t mean cutting programs that deliver poor returns, it means cutting the photocopying costs in those programs.

        This is the problem in Washington: No middle ground. What we need is a responsible right that can address issues on their merrits rather than through broad, unachievable and probably undesireable ideological goals.

  11. From the climate perspective, the main need now is data that constrains the earth’s energy budget. The ocean heat content, global surface temperature, and global solar and infrared radiation budgets at high time and space resolution would constrain the models to a better-defined truth. Imagine if we had enough data to explain the pause in terms of solar changes and ocean cold upwelling anomalies, or other factors like aerosol effects from China. A regional accounting would have reduced the uncertainty that this pause has caused, and explain why the land temperature is continuing to rise fast while the Arctic continues to melt even during the pause, and why the tropical oceans are warming more slowly. Only more observations can answer these questions.

    • JimD, What makes you think we don’t have enough data to explain the pause in terms of solar and ocean cycles?

      The Drake Passage and the Bering Strait are choke points for ocean energy transfer. We have data on both sides of both of those choke points.


      The southern ocean is better at transferring energy than the northern oceans. It takes time for the hemispheres to equalize, producing long term pseudo oscillations. Climate is long term and we are attempting to use “weather” indexes to figure out climate. The data is there.

      • Actually, there may be enough data to explain the pause, but that brings up the problem of why the “skeptics” aren’t daring to look at it and publish something to counter the observation that the ocean, sun, and aerosols have had negative effects recently. Perhaps there is too much data already for their views to survive such scrutiny. Anyway, I still think more data will help reduce uncertainties, and narrow the error bars on climate sensitivity.

      • JimD, I am for more data, but I doubt it will do much good until scientists like Manabe, Toggweiller, Stott, Lawrence and others at the GFDL get a bigger audience. They actually have a clue about the magnitude and timing of natural internal variability caused by the oceans.

        Just look at the difference in those trends. That is not due to any combination of “forcings” that is all mixing efficiency. The noise is solar forcing.

      • Yes, ocean variability can explain up to 0.2 degrees of plus/minus deviations around the climate change signal. Important to resolve arguments about decadal variability, such as the current ‘pause’ debate. Not so critical in the long term, but the loudest debates are on every short-term wiggle, unfortunately.

      • You need to look at what Vaughan Pratt, Girma and Muller did in terms of filtering to see the underlying signal. They all come to the same conclusion of an accelerating trend.

  12. Bart R,

    I presume this is the report you are talking about.
    The entire report can be found by following the embed link at this page.

    This report, which was undertaken at the request of Senator Lamar Alexander, shows that Federal electricity subsidies and support per unit of production (dollars per megawatthour) varied widely by fuel in FY2007. Coal-based synfuels (refined coal) that are eligible for the alternative fuels tax credit, solar power, and wind power received the highest subsidies per unit of generation, ranging from more than $23 to nearly $30 per megawatthour of generation.

    The smallest subsidies on a per unit basis were for coal, natural gas and petroleum liquids, and municipal solid waste, all at less than $0.45 per megawatthour of generation.

    While gross subsidies may be larger for fossil fuels. The unit cost for those subsidies is less than 2% the cost of renewable subsidies.

    • So we get a huge payback from fossil fuel subsidies and zilch from alternative fuel subsidies.

      • http://www.wtrg.com/oil_graphs/USpetroleumconsumption.gif

        We get zilch payback from fossil fuel subsidies. Compare Lamar Alexander’s figures with the graph of oil price vs consumption.

        What gives Americans payback in fossil fuel prices is dropping fossil fuel consumption. Zero correlation from government subsidized research or other programs contributing to price drops.

        So alternative energy replacing fossil fuel use has a double dividend for Americans.. except those ‘Americans’ that are fossil fuel corporations. Remembering that corporations are people, my friend.

        And oh, look: http://bnef.com/PressReleases/view/139-

        Dropping electricity consumption, and research, both correlate to dropping wind energy per unit cost.

  13. It is obvious to me that no one is willing to address the the plain and simple dynamics of federally-funded research in the not-for-profit government-education industry. The product will be corrupted by ideology. And, the more funding the more slanted and biased product there will be.

  14. Dr. Curry raises interesting issues that are both simple and complex.
    Simple. The sequester affects discretionary spending including R&D. It does not touch ‘non discretionary’ funding, which is where the deficit problem lies in Social Security, Medicare /Medicaid, and interest on the enormous deficit already accumulated. Of these three, only interest is truly nondiscretionary. Obama’s own bipartisan deficit commission proposed solutions for the other two in 2011 that have been ignored. Cutting R&D while ignoring these does not solve the deficit problem, while further impoverishing the future to benefit the present.
    Complex. Anything associated with the federal government is probably obese. But that is in the eye of the beholder. Perhaps there are two guiding R&D generalities. First, neither of the bottom two quadrants in Stoke’s categorization merit any federal funding. The lower left (no/no) because useless. Yet there is plenty of it. The lower right (no/yes) because if the private markets won’t fund it, it probably does not have sufficient economic merit. Edison ran a private lab, and his inventions made him and many others wealthy. Second, choosing among the top two quadrants is very hard, and there undoubtedly is a significant role in both for federal R&D support ( not necessarily federal R&D per se). One guide for the upper right quadrant of translational research (Pasteur) would be magnitude and urgency of the issue researched. By that criterion, climate research should be put on a very severe diet. It is not nearly as big a problem as has been hyped. And is not as urgent as many others like, for example, energy.

  15. Spending on climate science research in the US is not an aspect of obesity. It is one of the intended consequences of the CAGW political strategy.

    First, it simply does not fit the analysis above.

    “A key issue is balance among pure basic research, use-inspired basic research, and pure applied research.”

    Climate science is none of these. Climate science is both the product, and protector of, the underlying political goals of those in government who direct the funding. The “consensus” on decarbonization of the global economy was delivered, fully grown, in 1988. The gestational period was simply the length of time it took Hansen to draft his seminal CAGW paper. This is why there was never any debate about CAGW in the peer reviewed literature.

    The purpose of much CAGW “science” is the centralization of power in the government. The research since 1988 has been funded by the government, to justify massive taxation by the government, to justify ubiquitous regulation by the government, which in turn necessitates massive increases oin research funding. The unending funneling of tax receipts to climate scientists is both a form of growth and centralization of power, and creates the justification for ever further expansion/taxation/regulation. Those who were directing the CAGW freight train knew that some day they would have to reveal their actual goals. And for that time, they needed both a history of predictions of calamity, and a steady stream of ongoing claims from “scientists” that “it’s worse than we thought.”

    The climate science budget in the US is not analogous to fat in an obese patient. It is the disfiguring muscle of a patient over dosing on steroids. And like over use of steroids, one gets the appearance of strength, which masks the enormous damage being done to the body politic.

    • k scott denison


    • I disagree that there is an underlying political agenda by climate scientists for the centralisation of govt power. Climate scientists are not homogeneous political animals, only that they are generally good at identifying who butters their bread.

      • Peter Davies,

        No, most climate scientists are what I call default progressives. They believe in increasing the power of government because that is what they have been taught since grade school, virtually all of their their teachers and professors taught the same thing, all their colleagues and friends and family believe the same things.

        But they as human beings are just as susceptible to the corrupting influence that is the promise of “free money” from government. Funding, advancement, prestige, are there for the taking, and the only way to achieve it in “climate science,” is to produce what the customer (the government) wants.

      • Peter, yes, I agree, and I think their theory breaks down when you consider that the Bush administration was not at all in favor of climate-change science, so how does that work? These sweeping accusations have some issues with them that don’t stand up to any scrutiny.

      • Bush 41 administration was extremely generous for climate change research.

      • Sharper than the serpent’s tooth.

      • George “Read My Lips No New Taxes” Bush was indeed generous with research funding, as well as the growth of government in general. So was his son. The fact that both Bushes were free with the steroids too does not mean we should continue administering them.

      • David Springer

        Bush 41 probably had Star Wars money to burn since in 1987 American Physical Society declared SDI impossible. Focus then shifted over to theater defence i.e. Patriot Anti-missile Missile Battery which was then successfully deployed in 1991 defending Israel and Egypt from Iraqi SCUD missiles in 1991. Also by 1988 there hadn’t been any costly wars for about 15 years plus Reagan handed a good economy over the George HW Bush. That was also the time Hansen made a successful CAGW pitch to congress when he notoriously conspired to kill the air conditioning in the hearing room.

        If anyone had any inkling back then that there’d be even less progress and practical knowledge gained in theoretical climate science than there has been a dearth of same in theoretical physics both might have had government handouts suspended indefinitely. There’s been more progress in nuclear fusion and that’s not saying much because fusion power is a huge bust. Instead of wasting money going down useless rabbit holes we could have directed American time, talent, and treasure into bio-technology which has yielded more practical applied science than just about anything since semiconductors.

  16. I spent my scientific career in basic science (Physical Chemistry) working on topics like the lattice inverse isotope effect for Helium diffusion in amorphous solid water. People would ask, “what is this good for economically”. Nothing, except it might provide an excellent reference for a text book chapter on transition state theory in Chemical Physics.

    However, the scientific rigor required to publish this type of research is high. The recent news on the Higgs Boson exemplifies the rigor exhibited at the highest levels of science. While the Higgs science requires a great deal of funding, the direct outcome of this science has a minuscule chance of having an economic impact.

    One is tempted to argue that in some way, the product of scientific quality times direct economic impact is conserved. The very best people in science typically go into the hardest, most rigorous, and least economically applicable areas (astrophysics, high energy physics, quantum electrodynamics, theoretical chemistry, statistical mechanics, …).

    I have argued elsewhere that if we consider the Higgs research (from the original postulate to the current experimental effort) “science” then we can’t also consider “climate science” science. The recent Marcott paper is a clear demonstration of this. I have not read the paper (I will) but I have read the PhD thesis from which the paper is derived. The statements made in the press by Marcott are, in my view, scientific fraud. Since the work was funded by US taxpayers, there should be a mechanism to prosecute him.

    The thesis data shows a very different picture than reported in the press (and quotes from Marcott I heard on NPR). The thesis data shows the current temperature to be lower than all but the past ~120 years in an 11,000 year span (about 1% of the time period). Because of it’s temporal convolution it is unable to show changes on short (hundreds of years) time frames. So it’s not scientifically possible to say that the work shows the current warming is faster than ever (as Marcott was quoted on NPR) observed because 1.) the data can’t show rates on this scale, and 2.) the data shows only moderate warming over the past 200 years.

    Interestingly, the main point of the thesis is about long ago periodic large ice transfers from glaciers to the ocean, and the argument (postulate) in the thesis is that large (~ 2 K) (short, reported as 1000 year, but without addressing the fact the data can’t really show shorter) rises in upper ocean temperatures driven by subsurface warming drove these events. In other words, the main postulate of the thesis is that short, large, increases in top level ocean currents have occurred.

    It would be nice if reductions in funding separated the wheat from the chaff, but I suspect that the quality x economic impact factor dominates science. In a perfect world, we would simply hire a few hundred Higgs level scientists to review the climate science literature and summarize it at the Higgs level of scientific rigor.

    • The Higgs research was one factor driving for increased computer computational speeds, so I don’t think its economic impact was miniscule.

      • David Springer

        Higgs number crunching network came along pretty late in the game and is not really suitable for any practical application that I know of. Although I’m somewhat familiar with the hardware and networking set up to pore through massive data from the hadron collider there might be a practical application for it I’m not aware of. Perhaps you have something specific in mind but I doubt that as the modus operandi around here is just to make crap up out of thin air and pretend it’s more than that.

      • David Springer

        Refreshing myself on LHC data processing it’s just grid computing using off the shelf hardware. I designed a grid computing system for the Bank de Paris currency trading room in London in 1991 using 19″ equipment racks piled up with tiny form factor off-the-shelf ethernet workstations. It was actually off MY shelf since I was VP of Engineering at the company that produced the ethernet workstations and they were entirely my design. Bull (formerly Honeywell) had the contract with the bank as some of their mainframes and mini’s were already intricate parts of the system. To make a long story short we built a grid computing system for less than $1,000,000 that replaced a $10,000,000 IBM mainframe. That was the largest currency trading room in the entire world with hundreds of workstations for currency traders and massive amounts of data pouring through it. It was a fun project and got an extended trip to London out of it which wasn’t as much fun as it sounds because it was in the winter and I can’t recommend wet snow and dirty slush to anyone. Pubs within crawling distance of everywhere was cool though and I love good beer by the pints and quarts from a tap. I stayed in the house of the grandson of Percy Northey, one of the founders of Rolls Royce Motors, some distance outside London. The detached motor garage used to be a stable and was built in the 1600’s. The house itself was much newer built in the late 1700’s. The road connecting the house to the rest of England was built by the Romans around 1000AD. A pub just a short walk down the street was of log construction with ceilings barely 6 feet high, heated by fireplaces, and sunk into the ground so only a couple feet of walls and the roof were above ground. That’s such an alien environment for an American and I’ll never forget it. Heck milk was still delivered to the house at zero dark thirty in the morning in glass bottles left on the kitchen doorstep. I hadn’t seen that in the US since I was a child in the 1950’s.

        But I digress. Grid computing used by the LHC is only new in scale of the project while the concept itself has been around for decades at least.

      • “The Higgs research was one factor driving for increased computer computational speeds, so I don’t think its economic impact was miniscule.”

        I thought I said direct economic benefit, but if I didn’t it’s what I meant. There are often indirect, unpredictable, benefits of basic research. But history has shown that these developments, while sometimes huge, are hard to predict. I doubt the original developers of the maser and then the laser could have imagined it’s vital importance in the world today.

        A crucial difference between what I would call “real science” and “climate science” is that while the “real scientists” do occasionally make somewhat outrageous claims in an effort to lobby for more funding, they are not engaged in political policy efforts.

    • Nice post. +1

  17. David Springer


    Under sequestration, NSF could lose a total of $2.5 billion in funding. Cuts of this size could return NSF’s R&D budget to roughly FY 2009 levels.

    OMG! 2009 funding level!. Will NIH survive on the funding level it received four whole YEARS ago? Stay tuned and find out. I’m betting it will. ;-)

    A little bit more discretion about which departments have to cut back and which don’t would be nice but congress no longer knows how to compromise and reach mutually agreeable budgets so the the best they could do was reach a mutually disagreeable budget. Isn’t that just precious?

  18. David Springer

    The heretofore unpublished portion of the OP is extremely well written and organized for a blog article. What’s the provenance? Looks like it would have made a great part of, say, a climate policy briefing to congress that was cancelled due to inclement weather.

    • actually no. motivated by the BH post and some discussions at GT re curiosity driven vs use inspired research

      • David Springer

        Maybe I’m just frustrated with the low quality of the guest posts lately and this merely appears outstanding in comparison. It would be outstanding in congressional testimony too but that’s not a very high bar either. It looks like journal quality, or from a draft intended for a journal, which is why I was curious about the provenance.

  19. At the risk of introducing heretical notions into climate science let me offer the following:
    — As the non-forecast of the drought of 2011-12 indicates, we have no reliable ability, none, to forecast climate at the 3 month or 12 month scale.
    — The ability to RELIABLY (not a forecast that is occasionally correct for unknown reasons) is of far more benefit to society than a forecast of unknown quality 50 years into the future.
    — The inability of our climate models to forecast the current stoppage/pause in global warming in the 1-3 year range should seriously call into question their utility.

    So, I suggest we repurpose much of our climate research into forecasting and verifying climate conditions in the two month to two year ranges. Once we are able to consistently produce forecasts with value, we more into the longer time periods. Crawl…walk…run.

    • Hi Mike, I vote for the 3 week to 3 month range.

      • Yes, finally a real goal!

      • +1

        A meteorological basis for the analysis of regional climate trends rather than GCM’s is a good step forward.

      • Mike’s got two great books, too; one is about the development of early warning systems for severe weather and the other a case study of the failure of such a system. Useful reading for the future.

    • it should also be useful to estimate how the probability of droughts in 50 years, for example, is changed from the current probability. While difficult, this information is useful in long-term regional planning, so it should be a goal to achieve. Hurricanes, floods, storms, wildfires, winter snowpack, freshwater resources, and agricultural productivity may also fall into this useful-to-know category.

      • k scott denison

        While a nice goal, JimD, the time it would take to verify and validate that any predictions of events over the next 50 yrs basically makes the effort impractical.

      • Science can contribute several what-if scenarios that may have clear signals. What if the land continued to warm faster than the oceans? What if the Arctic ice all melted in the summer? Do these affect drought occurrence? Valid scientific questions and even if they are only academic studies, they should generate interest from policymakers.

      • k scott denison

        Yes, JimD, give policy makers a lot of uncertain scenarios to consider. Nothing could possibly go wrong with that idea.

        We’ve known for, what, 100 years or more that New Orleans was a disaster waiting to happen. Or that NYC would at some point experience a strong storm surge. Yet instead of acting, the policy makers ban 16 ounce sodas and set new records for graft and corruption.

        By all means, all we need is to arm them with more pseudo-science that they can use to enrich their friends (and themselves) under the guise of saving us all.

      • Scenarios are needed for planning in high uncertainty, and climate science is well capable of providing those, better than people sitting around a table and dreaming them up from scratch. This is something Judith has advocated too recently.

      • k scott denison

        Or, we could save a bunch of money and just look at historical records for the scenarios JimD. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Katrina wasn’t the first hurricane to hit New Orleans, was it?

      • ksd, the point is that the CO2 amount is a new thing, at least in 20-30 million years, so the best analogs are back then.

      • You say 50 year modeling projections may be useful to know.

        My question is how useful in comparison to accurate 3 week to 3 month projections, as Dr Curry mentioned? If you do not have unlimited resources, you are usually forced to make choices and trade offs. In this instance, a choice on which timeframe you can focus on. Much shorter term projections appear to me to offer far greater value than less certain 50 – 100 projections.

    • k scott denison

      Mike, you’re right on… First get regional forecasting right at short time scales, then either extend from regions to bigger regions or extend the same regions in time. Validate and verify at every step before moving to the next.

      The idea that one can skip all these steps and go straight to the entire world at century scales is absurd.

    • I would argue that it is at least as important to predict the changing probabilities of droughts than just the next one. These require different types of action, resilience versus stop-gaps, for example. At some point, it is more economical to plan for the long-term changes than wait and plan for each event as it occurs, if it is even forecast. Resilience also doesn’t rely so much on the forecasts, as it is built into the system.

      • k scott denison

        Hey JimD, what is the ROI on predicting the changing probabilities of drought? What are all the variables that could impact drought? How much better can we be at predicting? What is the likely change in probability? From what % per year to what %? What would we do differently if we knew there was going to be a 20% increase in the probability of a drought in Iowa next year?

      • These are the questions. What would you advise if the drought probability doubled? I don’t know, but good to have that warning, isn’t it, if you are a farmer.

  20. “Climate model production runs for the IPCC. The development of large Earth System Climate models and the running of many long simulations for the IPCC takes up a huge amount of resources not only in overall $$ but also in researcher time. ”

    This is were good scientific po[icy and good political policy clash. The IPCC supports around 20 (different?) models which is good politicallyfor an international organisation, but poor scientifically when one good,proper;y validated model could do the job.. This has resulted in silly procedures like plotting the clinate predictions of each model on the sane graphic sheet and then drawing a mean line throgh the centre. There is no science to suggest that such a prucedure will provide a more accurate result.One has to understand that any good simulation model will contain the same random elements as real life and those elements come not from lack of knowledge of physics, but from depth of knowledge.

  21. Spaghetti in, spaghetti out. I watch the Weather Channel during my morning coffee. During those few minutes not taken up with ads and promotion of their evening storm programs, they’ve recently begun showing the various models for several hours to several days out. What a hoot. For instance, when Washington got the one inch snowfall recently, the various models projected between 5″- 20″ of snow, and this was only 36 hours before the storm. Sometimes the “European model” is more accurate, sometimes one of the American models. To their credit, the weather channel has made it very clear that the modelling is sometimes skillful, but often not until 3 days or even 24 hours before ETA. I like Judith Curry’s suggestrion of 3 days to 3 months model funding. We obviously should continue some funding for climate modelling, but first can someone knock those climate modelers off their pedestals? Oh wait, the temperature data has already done that, but the journalists haven’t figured it out yet.

    • k scott denison

      Doug, it’s the same with climate models. We run a bunch of them, and a bunch of runs of each of them, then wait to see which one is close, then claim we know how to model climate. It’s like the guy who sends a letter to 1,000,000 people one day predicting the Dow Jones will fall the next day. H also sends a letter to a different 1,000,000 saying it will go up. Whichever is right he divides that group and sends a second letter, etc. ends up looking like a genius to many people that way.

      • In science the results are published for everyone, so this can’t happen. I think there are some private forecasters like Piers Corbyn that operate this way, however.

  22. I had a reply to GaryM moderated out, but apparently this is the kind of tinfoil hat stuff that we cannot make fun of.

    • the issue is taking this in a tangent that is not relevant for the thread

    • OK, I’ll leave it at having severe concerns with the accuracy of his assertions. Maybe a post could be developed by him for a fuller argument on this topic if he is regarded as being serious.

  23. I tend to lean towards the linear model as being more correct. Climate science is at the basic research stage. This is where the funding should go. Once we have the data collection systems in place and the ability to accurately state that if A happens then B happens, we can progress to those less useful projects such as psychoanalizing deniers. In the mean time there is a need to prioritize and not just throw money at any project that happens to contain climate change in the title.

  24. No personal experience with NSF (Non-Stop Funds) for climate science, but plenty with Economics and Decision, Risk and Management Science. Some observations on those areas.

    Program Heads and Program Officers for those directorates and programs are not political appointees in any obvious sense. I’ve been asked to be a program officer (for a two-year stint) several times, and turned it down because it is the very last thing I want to do. But it’s clear that I only had to say the word, and I would be in charge of rounding up reviews (from whomever I desired) to comment on grant proposals. Since it is clear to me that I am wholly out-of-step with current fads and fashions in my fields, it seems clear that I was not asked because I was part of the in-crowd, or because I could be relied upon to steer funds in the direction of contemporary fashions. The sad truth is that almost no scientist wants to do these administrative public-good chores. If you have a pulse and can be tricked into it, you’re hired.

    There is no coherent Marxian class analysis of government science funding. Money IS NOT carefully parcelled out in the direction of certain ‘interests’ whatever they may be. This is a laughable model of Federal government behavior. Do I need to remind you that for better than thirty years, the US government’s policy toward tobacco was ‘grow it but don’t smoke it.’ If you’re looking for a homogenous agency in the behavior of the US government you are in for a big disappointment, not to mention you sound like a moron. Get over it. It’s bloody obvious that no one who comments here has ever done any quantitative research on the political economy of science funding. You all have swell anecdotes, but I have yet to see anyone cite any study that corroborates their assertions on this score. It’s far more accurate to describe the funding of science as a largely random dog’s breakfast… just like the reviewing of papers, only more so, since the reviewers are frequently even less connected, skills-wise, with the proposed research areas they are reviewing in a grant application.

    Ok, curmudgeon off. Is science funding obese? I won’t speak for climate science, but in the economics and decision, risk and management science areas, I would say YES. And we have a vicious circle here. Most of the research is forgettable, but this is partially because it is overfunded, so that there are way too many papers, which breeds more journals, which breeds higher demands on junior faculty for numbers of publications, which breeds more grant proposals, more mediocre papers and so forth.
    The very worst thing going on in my fields today is that we give young scholars the motivation (ridiculous tenure standards in terms of quantities of pubs and specific rankings of journals) and the means (too many sources of grant funds) to do lots of quick, mediocre research and publish it wherever. We no longer seem to care about influence, which to me should be the true coin of the realm. I should not care whether Peter Junior Prof published in Science or thirty times in lesser journals. I should care how often Peter is cited. But contemporary university P&T committees are not set up to evaluate influence. It’s much easier to count lines on the vita and total up external funding.

    And so, we get fat on vita lines and total dollars of external funding, bad obesity if you will, rather than plumping up on influence, the good kind of obesity.

    • Unfortunately, citation counts are not much better than other mechanical methods of evaluating research quality. Subfields vary systematically in average number of citations per paper (e.g. management science articles are much less promiscuous citers than org. behavior); large percentages of citations are incidental not substantive; self-citation and citation mafias bias the numbers; journal editors and reviewers can exploit their clout to generate citations of their work; and many of the most-cited articles are cited because everyone else does, rather than actually read, understood, and related to the material in the citing article.

      There is no substitute for personal, subjective, expert evaluation of scholars. Quantitative shortcuts save time but are little better than peering into sheep entrails.

      Finally, it pays to remember that Sturgeon’s Law applies to every creative field: “90% of everything is crap.” This is apparently a view also held by elite physicists such as Nobelists David Gross (as told by Frank Wilczek in Longing For The Harmonies) and Murray Gell-Mann (who was quoted somewhere as having used a 95% crap ratio). It takes a lot of mediocre swings to get a few home runs.

      • @srp Sturgeon’s Law applies to every creative field: “90% of everything is crap.”

        LOL It begs the question how Sturgeon’s Law would apply to climate science. How about we say that fiction predominates? Especially wrt to projections based on dodgy data?

      • Thank you for raising this point. I have a draft post in my pile of unfinished posts ‘Tyranny of the H-index’, which dominates the research awards given to scientists (and is very important in the promotion process). Papers that get cited alot tend to be of the taxonomy type (yawn). Also, if you describe a data set or a model that is publicly available, that will generate a lot of citations. It is the deep physics-based papers that generally do not receive very many citations, and these are arguably of the most lasting importance (in addition to the data sets).

    • NW Someone on this blog once said to me that if you are not grumpy then you have not been paying attention!

      “Successful” scientists tend to be the ones who get involved in the more normative topics with political appeal and who seem to be able to attract plenty of funding. Climate science falls into this category.

    • Good post, thanks!

    • It’s bloody obvious that no one who comments here has ever done any quantitative research on the political economy of science funding.

      Indeed, someone here has.

      Scientists vastly undervalue their work (almost universally mistaking the cost of the information for the value of it), are non-collaborative with efforts to add value to their work due adverse incentives in scholarly organizations, and subvert programs to increase the value of the work they do.

      Science funding is largely influenced by the attitudes and behaviors endemic to the science research world, but it is also frequently gamed by cynical experts at obtaining funds rather than producing value for money. Even where funders have every good intention, put into place accounting practices and follow prudent business measures, they are invariably balked by petty empire building, data hoarding, baloney-slicing, refusal to self-administer data management, rejection of data science and noncompliance with documentary and systems disciplines.

      If there is political economy of science funding, it is the illegitimate child of accident and cynical manipulation. The forced marriage of scientists and economic efficiency invariably is unhappy and will be cheated on in every petty manner imaginable.

      Citation count has indeed been attempted as a system of recognizing merit; friend-citation, clique-citation, citation to the lowest common denominator, citation influenced by publisher.. it is an admirable intention, but it is invariably ignored or gamed as a system.

      Nor is influence on other scientists even a good measure in the first place of the value of science, even in pure research. Influence outside of science, assuredly, is a valid measure too, and not only in the obvious case of intellectual property — though that is one that frequently is grossly mishandled through ill-defined expectations and poorly drafted agreements. Look at the University of Regina’s massively mistaken efforts to privatize and obtain royalties from its CCS research.

      In short, the political economy of science funding is in about the same state as any other form of funding was in the USA, fifty years ago. The difference is, by and large, every other form of funding has followed an improving trajectory in management of the issues.

    • You all have swell anecdotes, but I have yet to see anyone cite any study that corroborates their assertions on this score.

      What are you looking for? Skeptics? You’re here looking for skeptics who validate their claims with evidence?

      Good luck with that!

      The very worst thing going on in my fields today is that we give young scholars the motivation (ridiculous tenure standards in terms of quantities of pubs and specific rankings of journals) and the means (too many sources of grant funds) to do lots of quick, mediocre research and publish it wherever

      Seems to me that something has to change. Given the trend towards reduction in funding from the NSF, NIH, CDC, etc., fewer and fewer junior faculty will be able to get tenure. Seems to me that something will have to break? Would that be lower tenure requirements? Higher tuition? God forbid – more emphasis (not lip service) on teaching as a tenure qualification as opposed to research funding?

    • > Most of the research is forgettable, but this is partially because it is overfunded, so that there are way too many papers, which breeds more journals, which breeds higher demands on junior faculty for numbers of publications, which breeds more grant proposals, more mediocre papers and so forth.

      Instead of linking to a Spartan meme, I’ll ask for citations that would support such explanation of the forgettabillity of actuality of research, pretty please with some sugar on it, if only because that’s the main presumption of the blog post.

      Those who argue that what does not kill you makes you better should experience an infarction to test their claim experimentally.

      But I’ll +1 the rest of NW’s comment, as I always would.

      • willard,

        been away from the computer the last 4 days and just saw your comment back to me from another thread. Thanks. Good advice about trying to enage someone who isn’t here for the purpose.

        RE the military’s position on climate change. I provided a couple of detailed responses awhile back when fan made silly claims about this. I believe it was last year the GAO released a report on use of biofuels by the military. It basically concluded that production is nowhere near being able to meet the quotas ; that in addition to being far more expensive per gallon, use of biofuels added costly infrastructure and logistic trains for storage, transport and handling. Basically, they saw no value in relation to all of the negative aspects.

        I’ve been a member of the US Naval Institute for many years (ever since I left the service). There is almost zero discussion on biofuels or climate change in their monthly Proceedings publication. When you hear top brass comment on the subject it is because they have been ordered to or because they know how the game is played with regard to budget dollars and are more than willing to sign in harmony if funding dollars are involved.

        Want to guess which federal agency has spent the most on breast cancer research?

    • Instead of linking to a Spartan meme, I’ll ask for citations that would support such explanation of the forgettabillity of actuality of research, pretty please with some sugar on it, if only because that’s the main presumption of the blog post.

      Heh. Good catch. Motivated reasoning is a slippery beast.

    • NW

      “Money IS NOT carefully parcelled out in the direction of certain ‘interests’ whatever they may be.”

      combined with

      ” It’s bloody obvious that no one who comments here has ever done any quantitative research on the political economy of science funding.”

      The implication being that you have conducted quantitative research on the political economy of science funding. Otherwise, it may become bloody obvious that the first sentence quoted is…well…anecdotal, not to mention a wee bit hypocritical.

      So perhaps with your research into this area you can answer a question I have repeatedly asked, and that the consensus advocates here have been uniformly unable to answer.

      Can you point us to the government funded research that supports the first sentence I quoted from your comment above? In other words, can you cite to the skeptical climate science research that has been funded by the government? And by skeptical, I mean that runs contrary to the CAGW consensus.

      When I have asked before, none of the regulars here have been able to point to any peer reviewed research, let alone government funded, that demonstrates that there was ever a debate about the “consensus” in the “climae science” community. But I assume that is because “no one who comments here” has your expertise and knowledge of the “quantitative research on the political economy of science funding.” Hopefully though, it won’t be any trouble for you to list several of the government funded, skeptical climate research papers of which those other poor commenters were ignorant.

      • http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/simpleSearchResult?queryText=lindzen&ActiveAwards=true&ExpiredAwards=true

        That was way too easy. But at least you didn’t cover your ears and yell “la la la la la la la,” which was essentially the response of several others above. Or to be more precise, there was a round of name-calling using the favorite neologisms of the psycho-babble-analysts, such as “motivated reasoning” and “confirmation bias” (useful new terms of ad hominem).

      • I’m anticipating a couple of criticisms, so I’ll address those.

        Q: So these are just NSF grants that Lindzen got. I asked for papers. Where are those?

        A: I’m not your research assistant. Rest assured: If Lindzen got 10 NSF grants, they produced papers. It’s up to you to find them: Look at the title footnotes or acknowledgments, to find out which ones were supported by the NSF grants. I have better things to do than finish your literature review for you.

        Q: Why doesn’t Lindzen have any NSF grants after 1999? Surely because he was frozen out after that.

        A: Ah, no. Do you know what a f*****g tax it is to write and process NSF grants? And relatively speaking, NSF is the most user-friendly government grant-giving organization. Try the Department of Transportation sometime. Hell, there are PRIVATE FIRMS that specialize in filing grants to DOT, and most academic engineers who study transportation hire those firms to manage the damn application and compliance process for them. (Yes, it is that bad.) The truth is, no academic with much better things to do with their time (for example, Lindzen) puts up with the Federal bowl of alphabet soup any longer than he or she absolutely has to. As soon as they can (by virtue of their reputation), they get their funding from some private source, like a foundation or corporation, because those kinds of organizations are way, way easier to deal with than the government. In other words, if I were Lindzen, I would have stopped applying for NSF money as soon as I possibly could. For instance, after 10 NSF grants, at which point I would be a certifiable superstar.

      • NW
        So Lindzen didn’t get NSF grants after 1999, but scores alarmists did.
        You explanation, is that this is because filling in grant forms is a hassle. So you’re saying alarmists are more motivated than Lindzen, and so less hassle-averse?

        No, government grants are surely biased to alarmist conclusions, since that’s where the vested interest of government lies. That’s why Lindzen was shut out. Perhaps though, the NSF adds far more hassle to non-alarmists applying, to ensure they get as little as possible.

        As regards getting private grants instead, private grants are miniscule compared to government ones.

      • Ya know Punk, it’s hilarious to find you, Josh, GaryM and willard all vigorously defending one form or another of a class-based social model, but it’s particularly hilarious coming from you and GaryM. Josh and willard, after all, are left-center folk and they come by this nonsense naturally. You ought to have an immune system against this claptrap.

      • NW
        Having no actual response, you resort to “defending one form or another of a class-based social model,”

        Phew, what are you smoking, dude?

      • NW –

        Or to be more precise, there was a round of name-calling using the favorite neologisms of the psycho-babble-analysts, such as “motivated reasoning” and “confirmation bias” (useful new terms of ad hominem).

        There are plenty of studies that corroborate the phenomenon of motivated reasoning. I’d be happy to point at least some out, but I wouldn’t want to do you research for you.

        On the other hand, I challenge you to cite one single study that corroborates your assertion that motivated reasoning is “psychobabble.”

        It seems that your standards of evidence – specifically the standard of expecting studies to verify assertions – are highly selective. Funny that you would demonstrate such selectivity as you pooh-pooh the motivated reasoning – wouldn’t you agree?

        Oh, and btw – despite your hand-wringing, (1) there was no ad hom on my part and, (2),

        Ya know Punk, it’s hilarious to find you, Josh, GaryM and willard all vigorously defending one form or another of a class-based social model, but it’s particularly hilarious coming from you and GaryM. Josh and willard, after all, are left-center folk and they come by this nonsense naturally.

        Arguably a straw man on your part, but undoubtedly a straw man. That is, unless you can actually show a “defense” for a “class-based social model” in anything I said.

        At any rate, all that aside, any evidence that you could provide, as willard politely requested, would be appreciated.

      • Oops,

        That should have said “arguably an ad hom on your part, but undoubtedly….”

      • NW,

        You asked the wrong question, not to mention not answering the question I asked.

        I didn’t check every grant on the list you posted, but after checking the abstracts of half a dozen, not a one posited a skeptical take on climate. The fact that the NSF funded Lindzen on climate related research does not mean it funded studies he had proposed that went contrary to the CAGW “consensus.” 5 that predated the Hansen delivery of the CAGW stone tablets to Congress in 1988. The abstracts six for which I viewed, that post dated Hansen’s revelation of sacred CAGW scripture, had no indication of any proposed research that would be considered skeptical of the emergent climate science dogma.

        And by the way, no one asked you to do any research. I just posited the fact that so far no CAGW advocate here has been able to present any government funded research that ran contrary to the “consensus.” And you have continued that streak.

        If you don’t know of any, you could have just said so. But your own follow on comment above indicates you didn’t even bother to check the abstracts of the grant requests you posited an an answer to my question.

        Epic fail.

      • Gary the lawyer said:

        “I didn’t check every grant on the list you posted, but after checking the abstracts of half a dozen, not a one posited a skeptical take on climate. “

        I suppose grant proposals could have been made for the 60+ of the opposing theories that I have listed here:
        http://tinyurl.com/ClimateClowns .

        How many of those hypothetical proposals would you have recommended for a grant?

        Or like me, would you have rejected each one of these as the ravings of a lunatic?

      • Webhub deftly avoids the point : government grant committees have a built-in bias and duty to favor projects most likely to advance the cause of government – which in the case of climate, means a finding of CAGW and alarmism.
        Unless you believe in fairies, as Webhub seems to.

  25. Many of the issues raised here have been explored by Steve Fuller in his study of Thomas Kuhn’s impact on the perception of the role of science in society and the role of government in supporting scientific research. [Thomas Kuhn: A Philosopical History for our Times. University of Chicago, 2004]

    This is not an easy read, partly because of the subject matter and partly because of Fuller’s turgid style and unnecessary use of multi-syllable words. Hemingway he is not, nor Richard Dawkins! Nevertheless, close reading of the text will reward the reader. Fuller describes and explains the history and role of big science and how the normative model of science reinforces politicization of science.

    James bryant Conant was Kuhn’s mentor and my mentor too, though unlike Kuhn, only though his books, which I read around 1960. I never met the great man himself (Conant) but I used his teaching methods, which led me to Kuhn’s work early on and then to the work of Naomi Oreskes.

    Naomi Oreskes applied the Kuhnian model to the rejection of “continental drift” in a brilliant study. [Oreskes, N., 1999. The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science, Oxford University Press, 1999. Having shown how Kuhn’s normative model of science obstructed the development of geology and geophysics, Oreskes (with Conway) proceeded to recount how and why skeptics now obstruct climate science in a less than brilliant study: Merchants of Doubt, Bloomsbury Press, 2010.

    Continental Drift

    Oreskes demonstrated that “continental drift” was rejected despite the evidence because there was no theoretical explanation for lateral movement of the Earth’s crust. At the same time the geophysicists preferred theory over evidence. The dispute about continental drift recapitulated the experience of James Hutton and Charles Darwin, both of whom had discovered “deep time” at a time when the physicist, Kelvin, based his “shallow time” estimate for the age of the Earth. Kelvin’s estimate delayed the acceptance of vulcanism in geology and natural selection in biology until heat generated by radioactivity was discovered..

    As late as 1975, undergraduates were taught that isostacy comined with erosion generated fold mountains by forming geosynclines. Plate theory existed as early as 1960, but we had to be cautious about revealing that we were using it. The consensus did not allow lateral movement of the plates. Oreskes did a brilliant job explaining all of this. The major themes were explored by Fred Colbourne and are presented on his website:

    Climate Science

    Oreskes should have known better than to cast her lot with the climate alarmists. Stephen McIntyre had already shown that the statistical basis for the “hockey stick” was flawed. [The method of principal components analysis was well known — I included PCA as a topic in a graduate seminar I conducted in London in the late 1960’s.] And Wegmann had demonstrated with a sociogram how the flawed methodology had been propagated within a small network of scientists to form “the consensus”.

    Rather than write about how the skeptics were obstructing science, Oreskes might better have shown us how the Kuhnian normative model works in modern times. How the model leads to suppression of evidence that does not confirm theory, selection of observations that do fit the theory, and when that does not work, adjustments to the observations to make the observations fit the theory.

    The same process that lead to rejection of continental drift leads to the rejection of natural climate cycles. Except that, government support for “big science” has compressed the time it took to create a consensus and to impose the consensus norms upon the scientific community.

    [I do not deny the existence of consensus science and its power to enforce norms on the scientific community. However, apart from its convenience for pedagogy, I regard normative science as a perversion of the scientific method because it tends to prioritize deductive reasoning based on theory to the detriment of inductive reasoning based on observation.]

    In respect to climate, what is being rejected is the body of observations that supports the null hypothesis. Climate fluctuates naturally over time scales of decades and centuries in a range not less than what has been observed since 1650, which was probably the bottom of the Little Ice Age. [http://www.geoscience-environment.com/lia/lia.htm].

    Having admired the work of Oreskes, I was greatly disappointed with her position on climate skepticism, specifically the implication that the proper role of the scientist is to enforce normative science via a consensus.

    We may have reservations about the Popperian model, that the proper way to progress in science is to set up and then attempt to falsify a null hypothesis. But we can hardly object to Richard Feymann’s restatement, that no matter how good a theory is, once the evidence fails to support the theory, it is the theory that must go. That was what happened with the theory of continental statis. Big science found crustal spreading on both sides of the mid-Atlanctic Ridge. Plate tectonics overturned the theory of continental stasis because the evidence was overwhelming.

    What would be needed to confirm the theory of man-made secular global warming as opposed to natural cyclical global warming and cooling? Thirty years without global warming would do it. Or one degree Celsius of global cooling.

    Or possibly, confirmation of Murray Salby’s hypothesis that warming drives CO2 from the oceans. In effect, the causality is in the opposite directon of what is in the global climate models. He touched upon this in Chapter 17 of his new book (Physics and Atmospheric Science). We can expect to hear more about this in future.

    Or possibly, econometricians will develop techniques to analyse time-series data that will convince the climatologists. [Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming, M. Beenstock, Y. Reingewertz, and N. Paldor]

    My personal opinion is that the climate system is so complex that there are probably too many degrees of freedom in the models (GCMs). If so, we may have to wait another ten or twenty years for Nature to confrm or falsify the theory of anthropogenic global warming.

    Meanwhile, it makes no sense to spend trillions of dollars trying to stop global warming based on a theory that has been confirmed by models that are tuned by adjusting feedback parameters to fit the theory. This is not the scientific method; this is theological method.

    • Missing URLs.

      Fred Colbourne on Oreskes’s themes, URL: http://www.geoscience-environment.com/es767/index_es767.html

      M. Beenstock, Y. Reingewertz, and N. Paldor on Polynomial cointegration tests of anthropogenic impact on global warming,
      URL: http://www.earth-syst-dynam.net/3/173/2012/esd-3-173-2012.html

    • Frank, thank you very much for your post. If you would like to do a guest post on this general topic, pls send me an email

    • > I regard normative science as a perversion of the scientific method because it tends to prioritize deductive reasoning based on theory to the detriment of inductive reasoning based on observation.

      ClimateBall shows this is might be the other way around, at least as far as reasoning is concerned: contrarians asking for engineer-level formal derivations and spick & span methods, while the establishment induces from the consilience of evidence that AGW is the best explanation we got.

      Not that these two attitudes are incompatible, mind you. There’s always a good reason to raise concerns.

    • frankpwhite

      Excellent summary!


    • Steven Mosher

      “But we can hardly object to Richard Feymann’s restatement, that no matter how good a theory is, once the evidence fails to support the theory, it is the theory that must go.”

      Luckily that is not how science in fact operates. The notion that there is a critical test for a theory is specious. Even Popper recognized that one can and often should employ auxilary hypothesis to improve a theory rather than reject it. There is no simple rule that allow ones to isolate which portion of theory to drop and which portion to change, as Duhem and Quine neatly point out. Finally feynman himself was engaged in the activity of making an adjustment to theory when it didnt fit the facts, I should hardly have to mention renormalization. Theories stay around as long as they work. They are not rejected leaving a vacuum. When something else works better they are forgotten, not rejected. It takes some discipline to be scientific about science: popper wasnt and neither was Feynman.

      • In the vast, philosophically barren expanses of climate blog commentary, what a relief it is to find a single soul hip to Duhem and Quine und so weiter. But I’ve tried to cast those pearls before the, uh, assembled folks before with little success. I wish you better luck than I.

      • Steven Mosher

        All the fancy rationalizations in the world do not change the basics of the scientific method, i.e. hypotheses can only be corroborated (or falsified) by empirical scientific evidence.

        The CAGW hypothesis, as outlined in detail by IPCC in its AR4 report, has not yet been given this test, despite all the model simulations, theoretical deliberations and 1,000+ page IPCC reports.

        Yes, the CAGW hypothesis will “stay around as long as it works” (i.e. until it is falsified), but it will remain an uncorroborated hypothesis (and not something to put the entire world economy on its head about IMO).

        And, if the current “lack of warming” (i.e. slight cooling) continues for another decade or two despite unabated human GHG emissions and concentrations reaching record levels, the CAGW hypothesis is very likely to be falsified, in which case it will have become a falsified hypothesis.

        That’s the way it works, Mosh, like it or not.


    • What would be needed to confirm the theory of man-made secular global warming as opposed to natural cyclical global warming and cooling? Thirty years without global warming would do it. Or one degree Celsius of global cooling.

      I will assume that what you meant there was…. “What would be needed to disprove

      If that assumption is correct..

      I thought that I’ve read that “skeptics” think that AGW is not a proven hypothesis because natural variability is not well-enough understood, and thus could explain 20th century warming.

      But here we have a “skeptic” – impressive with his self-description of his credentials – standing on the shoulders of great theoreticians to tell us that it would not be necessary to control for natural variability in order to disprove AGW. All it would take is one degree Celsiius of cooling.


      “Skeptics” are always interesting.

    • Your clouds are explained by a combination of anthropogenic increases and a positive feedback to warming. Also quite small in W/m2, but maybe measurable like the solar 11-year cycle which has that type of magnitude.

    • Clouds are always the tail. Their lifetime is too short for a sustained self-effect. Their changes are always caused by something else changing, as I outlined, adding or removing aerosols and positive feedbacks to warming.

    • Anyway, Skippy, you missed the original point. Solar variations being small and regular are detectable, which argues against any noisiness in the forcing, doesn’t it. It is quite a clean record to detect forcing changes, so if the forcing change is ten times that of the 11-year cycle, you would expect to see ten times the effect, especially as it is sustained and doesn’t reverse like the 11-year cycle. A simple message, but sometimes these obvious things have to be stated to show the climate isn’t the complex mess people try to make it out to be when we have the observations.

    • Agsin – you have this narrative that has no basis in science at all. Clouds are constantly being formed and reformed depending on patterns of ocean and atmospheric circulation. The ongoing changes to the energy budget in the period are enough to offsett any warming in the IR and cause an order of magnitude more change in SW at toa.

      In this case the dog is the planet itself – and the tail is the minor greenhouse gas effect.

    • The change in ocean heat content over the decades is explained much more with the sustained GHG forcing than anything that the random cloud changes can integrate to over time. I am not sure what you define as minor as regards the ocean. I don’t think Argo shows a minor change at all, but perhaps you have a different perspective on the data, or chose not to believe it.

    • Attribution studies rely on multiple regression against a very noisy record. If an important forcing is missed – then the results are utterly misleading. The slight changes in TSI seem almost irrelevant. Although ISCCP/ERBS is suggestive CERES/MODIS is answering a fundamental question.


      Your intransigence is really quite bizarre. At this stage it is really just sociological observations to see how crazy warmists can get.

    • “And Wegmann had demonstrated with a sociogram how the flawed methodology had been propagated within a small network of scientists to form “the consensus”. – patrick

      Is this a joke???

      • Michael

        No joke.

        Read the report.

        It’s all in there.

        And the NAS panel agreed under oath before the congressional committee that the findings of the Wegman panel report were accurate.


      • No Michael, it is very clear how (as Wegman showed) a small in-bred cadre in a new discipline came to create a fake consensus. Remember, these are the same people who went on to hide data, hide the decline, destroyed evidence of their wrongdoing, etc etc.

      • Weren’t these the guys who cut and pasted the social network stuff from wikipedia, and who consisted primarily of Wegman and couple of his ex-grads??

      • Your framing of the Wegman Report is a pale shadow of the reality of the perversion of climate science by a coterie.

      • Circle the wagons kim!

      • Michael

        “Circle the wagons”?

        But certainly not for that discredited piece of junk science, the “shtick”.


      • Yes, I like it. General Custer-Mann’s Last Stand.

      • See no evil Max.!

  26. Paul Vaughan

    NASA JPL is doing the best US work on climate. Jean Dickey is the US leader most qualified to set priorities for climate research:

  27. Judith, This is an excellent post. I would argue that GCM development may have reached a plateau and may be limited by lack of fundamental understanding. This suggests to me that resources should be shifted away from running GCM’s toward basic research to try to increase our understanding of such mechanisms as clouds. Another favorite of mine is better numerics for models.

  28. michael hart

    I’m in agreement with funding “use inspired” science research.

    By that I mean funding research into finding solutions for problems, not inventing new problems, as most ‘climate’ research appears to do.

  29. If the institutions of learning are fearful of losing funding for science research it is perhaps because they spend a good deal of that science research money on things other than science research and they actually fear for the loss of those other things.

  30. patrioticduo

    Eisenhower said it best: “… The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite. It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system — ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society…”

    I firmly believe that the America of 2013 is solidly held in the grip by a conflation formed by greedy/corrupt politicians controlling a scientific-technocratic elite who are their fellow travelers. The former have no conscience and (in the whole) no longer hold to foundational principles of liberty and justice for all. And, the latter know that they cannot exist in the private sector so they support, aid and abet to keep the corrupt in power so that they can continue their work safe in the errant belief that they’re doing it for all of us for our own good. Hello Climate Science.

  31. What’s wrong with science today?

    Nothing is wrong with science, per se, the problem is with “science”.

    When government becomes a major sponsor of anything, it becomes politicized by definition.

    When very large sums of money are involved, the problem becomes exacerbated.

    Science is no exception – that’s how it evolved to “science”.

    So what’s the difference?

    Science and the scientific method have been described by many. They have served us well throughout the centuries, arguably leading (along with the ready availability of low-cost energy) to the extremely high quality of life and average life expectancy that we in the developed world enjoy and take for granted today.

    But, first of all, we have begun to deviate from “normal” science (Kuhn) to “cargo cult” science (Feynman), going through the motions of science in order to arrive at a pre-conceived result, then to “post-normal” science (Funtowicz and Ravetz), whereby science gets misused in order to support a policy preference or political agenda, and finally to its extension, “normative” science”, which is actually nothing more than stealth policy advocacy (Lackey).

    Climate science has gone through this progression.

    The Climategate emails showed how a group of influential climate scientists bypassed or bastardized the scientific process in order to further the IPCC political agenda.

    These were followed by revelations that IPCC had reported false or exaggerated data in its climate summary reports in order to sell its concept of potentially harmful AGW.

    The more recent attempts to rationalize away the current lack of warming, or to attribute the recent colder-than-normal winters to AGW are further examples.

    “Science” may have become obese, as the article suggests, but “climate science” has, in addition, become corrupt, arguably as a direct result of the IPCC “consensus process”.

    It’s time not only for a strict diet, but also for radical corrective surgery.


    • Steven Mosher

      Max dreams of a science that never was. A bit of checking into the history of science would show him this.

      • Steven Mosher

        You write that I dream of a “science that never was”.

        You are probably correct, when it comes to climate science.

        This is a new field.

        It never really had a chance to mature into a real science before it got hijacked by the IPCC and its forced “consensus” process and became “science driven by a political agenda”.

        And yes, I dream that it will some day become a real science (rather than a “post-normal”, “normative” or “cargo cult science”, as it is today).


      • I think the view of MaX is completely wrong. It is propaganda and projection. Instead what you want to do is flip over your own rocks and see what kind of disgusting behavior lurks underneath.

        Let me amend it, and pardon the twisted grammar as it is difficult to polish a ….

        What’s wrong with science today?

        Nothing is wrong with science, per se, the problem is with “anti-science”.

        When the church and corporatocracy becomes a major sponsor of any issue, the issue becomes marginalized by definition, and that’s what they are doing with the widespread anti-science campaign.

        When very large sums of money and mind control are involved, the problem becomes exacerbated.

        Science is no exception – that’s how it evolved to “anti-science”.

        So what’s the difference?

        Science and the scientific method have been described by many. They have served us well throughout the centuries, arguably leading (along with the ready availability of low-cost energy) to the extremely high quality of life and average life expectancy that we in the developed world enjoy and take for granted today.

        Yet, we have begun to deviate from “normal” science (Kuhn) to “krackpot” science (Sky Dragons), using rhetoric to reach a pre-conceived result, then to “pseudo” science (Inhofe), whereby science gets misused in order to support a policy preference or political agenda, and finally to its extension, “fake skeptic” science, which is actually nothing more than stealth policy advocacy (13 of 17 top science blogs are fake climate science).

        Real climate science has had to manage as best it can through this downward spiral.

        The progressive media and scientific academia has shown how a group of skeptics have bypassed and bastardized the scientific process to further the right-wing agenda.

        These were followed by revelations that climate krackpots and kranks have volunteered ridiculous theories and reported misleading trendology to convince us that nothing is wrong.

        The more recent attempts to spin the fluctuations in warming as cooling, or to attribute the recent hot-summers as normal are further examples.

        “Anti-science” has become an embarrassment of misdirection, while real climate science has steadfastly maintained its objectivity in the face of this onslaught, resisting the temptation to call out the idiots on the other side, but occasionally failing because, well, sometimes good men or women can take it no more.

        It’s time not only for a strict diet, but also for radical corrective surgery on anti-science .

        Read this piece on Meta-Rationality, an explanation on your own abilities to comprehend

      • Steady Eddie

        Web has it utterly wrong on the topic of vast sums of money and vested interest turning science into anti-science.

        The foremost textbook example of anti-science is of course actually government-funded climate science – documented bias, dishonesty, motivated reasoning, rigged peer-review, resentment of – and attempts to close down – criticism, etc. The continuing lack of any regrets over what Climategate revealed surely proves that.

      • I think there are plenty of regrets, witness Phil Jones when the Miracle happened. Imagine Doctor Marcott without regrets today.

        But the regrets are repressed and repentance inexpressible. We will entertain delegations from the Vatican City and from Vienna for the upcoming conference.

  32. I’m sorry, did the US Government actually reduce it’s budget? Or just the amount of deficit spending?

  33. Michael Kelly is completely wrong about what Thatcher and the conservative government did to research at British universities but the story is instructive.

    The first move was to arbitrarily declare all of the polytechnics (locally focused teaching institutions) universities in 1992. This greatly increased the pool of those who could compete for support. Of course, the amount of support stayed the same or went down and the polys now unis didn’t get anything near the level of support needed to move into the research university ranks.

    The “response” was to institute departmental rankings, the effect of which was to kill research at many of the older (red bricks) universities. Almost no departments in the former polytechnics were able to compete and thus received little research funding, while departments at the “best” places, Oxbridge and such, got more of the pie.

    A number of very good research groups were left high and dry by this especially since assessment was done by department and not research group. Eli pointed out that the entire farce was a poisoned pawn at the time to friends at both the polys and unis. Eli is Cassandra.

  34. If you would be happy with appointing a certifiable lunatic in charge of your finances, you should be happy with the way your Government disburses money collected from you into the pockets of the Warmists.

    Have a look around for the characteristics of “delusional disorder”, and decide if they fit anyone you are aware of.

    Never has so much been spent by so few for so little.

    All is not lost.

    This too will pass.

    Live well and prosper.

    Mike Flynn.

    • Every day in every way climate is getting warmer and warmer. Er, make that changier and changier. Oh, please, it’s weirder and weirder. There, that’s the ticket and the punch.

      • Yeah, Kim. And taxpayer funding to promote the CAGW story are getting phatter and phatter (is “obeser” a word?)


  35. Ya Eli, skeptics are all for data, and observation, and archives and free access until they see the Bill.

    • David Springer

      Maybe more like they see the bill then want free access to what they paid for. Does that seem unreasonable to you?

    • And Steven Mosher is for data, observation and archives until they can’t be used to promote Warmerism. He’s very subtle about it, too. lol


    • What’s Nye got to do with this?

  36. A few points here:

    1) I prefer a “wasteful” multiplicity of sources to a “rational” central organization. It’s a good thing when individual, idiosyncratically oriented program managers at the Office of Naval Research or Darpa or DOE can disburse moderate funding to outside-the-mainstream ideas. Otherwise we end up with too little framework diversity. The first dollar spent exploring an idea that has a 10% chance of being right/useful is often more worthwhile than the billionth dollar spent on an idea that has a 60% chance of being right/useful. One case study would be the fusion power research program’s too-rapid convergence on tokomaks, a classic example of “choosing a horse before you know if it’s lame.”

    The saddest thing I read about science funding was the excitement caused at Princeton by Project X


    when the engineering school got a private donation for a special grant system so that scholars could do innovative work outside their narrow expertise where the answers hadn’t already been pre-determined. It’s pretty depressing to be paying taxes into a system where, at best, researchers can only attack new problems by post-dating their research accomplishments like check-kiters. Indicative quote from a researcher:

    “Most sources of funding require you to prove something works and then you get the funding,” McAlpine said. “Here you show something risky — within the bounds of reason — and you’re encouraged to try it. I think that’s the best way to get breakthrough science. It allows you to do revolutionary science rather than evolutionary science.”

    I’m sorry, but the public thinks it’s paying for what Project X does, not what the NSF and NIH do. At least for basic research, the system seems pretty far below what it could be.

    2) The economics case for government support of basic research or applied research in non-commercial areas is easier to make than for commercializable research. It’s basically a public-goods argument: It’s hard to capture the benefits of basic research and so profit-motivated entities will underfund it. (Although the history of American science suggests that charitable support for basic research along with cross-subsidization from teaching and industrial research was pretty effective before WWII. Also it’s interesting to read the provocative arguments of Terrence Kealey against government funding of science.)

    3) Austin Goolsbee, before he was Obama’s economic adviser, published some interesting papers showing that increases in US research funding had very little effect on the quantity of research effort but large effects on the salaries of R&D workers. The reason for this is the relatively low elasticity of supply of researchers–it takes a big increase in salaries to call forth more of them, especially in the short run. In my opinion, cognizance of this effect is why the US government pursues the seemingly counterproductive practice of requiring new PhDs to be produced as part of most grants. The funders are dimly trying to compensate for the low elasticity of supply, thereby generating new cohorts of grant-demanding investigators in an unsustainable fashion.

    4) Speaking with and reading the manifold and harrowing complaints of natural scientists about the current system of funding research brings to mind a number of analogies, not all of them flattering: Churchillian resignation, Stockholm Syndrome, and Battered Spouse Syndrome.

    The first refers to Churchill’s point about democracy being the worst system of government, except for all the others. Many scientists seem to feel this way about the current system of grantsmanship.

    The second refers to hostages’ alleged tendency to begin to identify with their captors. The same scientists who complain about the evils of government officials interfering with research defend directed research programs such as AGW research, finding extraterrestrial life, and so on that force investigators to contort their actual interests to fit these topics.

    The third refers to the way battered spouses are often afraid to leave their dangerous situations and tend to forgive and excuse the batterer for past acts of abuse, with the contrast between the abuser’s good and bad behavior heightening the salience of the good behavior. After hearing the 100th comment about how completely screwed up the peer-review granting system is, a naive person might think that the commenter was ready to think about alternative models. One would be wrong–instead you’ll hear anecdotes about how sometimes a proposal gets approved and that feels really good, or claims that having to lie by pretending to be doing research whose results one already has in hand “really isn’t so bad.”

    If cutting back the money would lead to structural reform, I’d be willing to support it.

    • NSF does have a mechanism for this, although the awards are small


    • If cutting back the money would lead to structural reform, I’d be willing to support it.

      How would you see that working? How would cutting back money, simply in and of itself, create structural reform? And how would you know that any such benefits would outweigh the cost in terms of research findings?

      I think there’s a fair amount in your critique to chew on, but in the end, it tastes like binary reasoning to me. Like all social institutions, it is imperfect. The current system is quite flawed. Argue in favor of a better system. Have at it. Arguing that the system is flawed doesn’t support an argument that we’d be better off with less.

      A “Churchillian resignation,” while less desirable than a perfect world, is still better than the realistic alternative.

      Of course, then there’s the joke that Woody Allen borrowed:

      “There’s an old joke – um… two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of ‘em says, ‘Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.’ The other one says, ‘Yeah, I know; and such small portions.’

      • The argument that cutbacks, on the margin, might be useful is only heuristic. It follows from the observations that:

        1) The pathologies described appear to have been less severe in the past (e.g. grant success rates were higher, proposals were shorter, people spent more time doing science and less time managing the grant process) back when funding was lower and the grant system didn’t systematically lead to over-training of PhDs,

        2) The natural elitism of US science (for all its own pathologies) will tend to cause the better researchers to get a higher percentage of the money at lower funding levels,

        3) A reduction in the quantitative rate of article production would make it easier to discern what work is good and important,

        4) Government research funding probably crowds out some private funding, which, as NW points out elsewhere, is usually better for the researcher,

        5) A shrinking or more-slowly accelerating funding pipeline is more likely to induce qualified members of the scientific community to publicly advance currently unspoken destructive criticisms of others’ poor work in order to cut them out of the funding pool.

        6) A cutback will reduce the current sorcerer’s apprentice overproduction of marginal PhDs who then go on to soak up still more research funds unproductively and jam up the grant-approval and paper-evaluation processes. The loss of extra trained hands (“alarming contraction of the scientific work force”) would be compensated for by a reduction in compensation growth for established R&D workers (as per Goolsbee above), so the total social expenditure for the same level of research might be lower.

        I have other ideas besides cutbacks for reforming R&D funding, but those are largely speculative and should be experimented with rather than implemented wholesale. Some would not require government action.

  37. Stokes’s discussion on categories of government-funded research neglects to mention
    – research calculated to advance the cause of government, by making it appear more government interference is needed.

    As with climate science, this is likely to be an emergent phenomenon rather then something planned from the start, And, as in climate science, will only happen where government has a large vested interest in the outcome.

  38. Parse that argument. An infrared photon has less energy than necessary to directly vaporize a molecule of water.

    What you refer to as mid infrared is between 0.01 and 0.1 eV which is less than the 0.4 eV heat of vaporization.

    What is more operable is that the MIR adds to the vibrational and rotational modes, and aided by diffusion, the temperature of the local thermal bath increases. Then the Boltzmann activation energy kicks in and the occasional h2o molecule will gain enough energy to vaporiz
    Springer always has these clever sneaky arguments, that if you are not on your toes, sound extremely plausible. The gauntlet he faces with me is that I was raised in semiconductor physics, and there you see all the statistical mechanics arguments, whether they be faulty or not.

  39. I am glad to see the comment by Chief Skippy regarding energies of infrared photons get deleted. It would only have served to lower the IQ of everyone reading it.

    • Generalissimo Skippy

      Really – Judith deletes my polite response to webby’s poorly defined physics and leaves the nonsense and the follow up nonsense behind? I am disapointed.

      Calculate the eV of a photon – or anything except Kelvins – yourself – E = hv – http://www.calctool.org/CALC/other/converters/e_of_photon

      ln P = -ΔHvap/RT + C

      This is called the Clausius-Clapeyron equation, after its discoverers. P is the vapor pressure in atmospheres, T is the temperature in kelvins, R is the ideal gas constant (8.314 J/mol-K, a variation of the constant you’ll learn about in the next page), ΔHvap is the enthalpy of vaporization of the liquid (the amount of energy necessary to vaporize one mole of liquid) in joules, and C is a constant specific to the liquid under study.’

      Of course there are a number of other factors involved in evaporation

      In any water body – indeed in ice – some molecules have enough energy to kick off. What we can’t tell in the real world deviations from Clausius-Clapeyron. Mnd you – webby deviates from it a way that is inreible anyway.

      • Generalissimo Skippy

        What terrible spelling…

      • You and Springer claimed that an infrared photon by itself could vaporize a water molecule. That is the comment of yours that got deleted manually, which is the equivalent of getting an F on a homework assignment.

        Chief, you really do not understand physics, but you continue on with the pranking because you think it entertains your ocker buddies.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I neither know no care what springer claimed. The comment I made was that your photon energies are way out – and much more if we consider the full IR bandwidth.

      You understand nothing about the physics of water and atmosphere coupling and make up bizarre maths as you go along. For instance .




      This looks a bit like Clausius-Clapeyron – ln P = -ΔHvap/RT + C – if you assume that C/Co = P (it isn’r) and didn’t forget the gas constant and that 0.42eV does not equal 4873Kelvins by a factor of the Boltzmnn constant.

      You define C and C0 as water vapour – but vapour in the atmosphere depends on more than the enthalpy of vaporisation for a singe molecule. Molecules in a large enough space occupy all the energy states avialable – so some can escape the water surface despite the fact that the water is not boiling. The number depends on wind speed, temperature, condensation and humidity. I don’t know what they teach you in electrician school – but it is certainly nothing to do with water, the atmosphere and rainfall. You have shown that time and time again.

      Your fantasy physcs is more than a little tedious. I keep saying it is as mad as Doug Cotton or any of the other extremists on the web. You’re not capable or willing to answer this – just arm wave and abuse. You seem proud for instance of not understanding chaos theory. A core physics idea. This is all typical behaviour of wack jobs like you on the interweb.

  40. Here is an interesting exchange:

    [1] captdallas2 0.8 +/- 0.2 | March 17, 2013 at 1:33 pm:
    “JimD, What makes you think we don’t have enough data to explain the pause in terms of solar and ocean cycles?”
    [2] Jim D | March 17, 2013 at 1:46 pm:
    “Actually, there may be enough data to explain the pause, but that brings up the problem of why the “skeptics” aren’t daring to look at it and publish something to counter the observation that the ocean, sun, and aerosols have had negative effects recently.”

    I don’t know about other “skeptics” but here is how I see it. That “pause” in question is the present lack of warming. It has lasted for 17 years according to Pachauri. These guys are refusing to accept the obvious. Namely, that adding carbon dioxide to air will not warm the atmosphere for the simple reason that the alleged greenhouse warming is a myth. Because that is what it is but no climate scientist will admit this. A scientist doing an experiment to see if carbon dioxide can warm the atmosphere would have to add carbon dioxide to air daily and measure its temperature also daily. If I were that scientist I would have decided by now that my experiment is a failure: if nothing happens for seventeen years there probably is nothing there. But if seventeen years is not enough for you, consider the work of Ferenc Miskolczi. In 2010 he used NOAA database of weather balloon observations that goes back to 1948 to study the absorption of infrared radiation by the atmosphere. He determined that IR absorption had been constant for 61 years while carbon dioxide at the same time went up by 21.6 percent. The addition of this substantial amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere should have caused absorption according to the Arrhenius theory of global warming but nothing happened for 61 years. That is a lot more than 17 years. And the ocean, the sun, the aerosols and whatever else may be there simply did not help. And no absorption means no greenhouse effect, case closed. This is not derived from any theory but is an empirical observation of nature. It overrides any deductions from theory that do not agree with it. Very specifically, it overrides all IPCC predictions of warming, including their prediction that warming in the twenty-first century shall proceed at the rate of 0.2 degrees per decade.There is your explanation for the “pause.” But there are other consequences you should know about. First of all, the existence of AGW is totally dependent upon the existence of greenhouse warming. Absent greenhouse warming, there can be no anthropogenic global warming. Another consequence is need to re-evaluate history of actual warming in recent times. IPCC loosely claims global warming since the middle of the twentieth century. Laws of physics demand that if you want to start greenhouse warming you must simultaneously increase the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That is because the infrared absorbance of carbon dioxide is a property of the gas and cannot be changed. Looking at the candidate warming periods since the end of the nineteenth century there are none that qualify. The early warming of the twentieth century started suddenly in 1910, after ten years of cooling. It stopped equally suddenly with the World War II cooling in 1940. That was a steady warming for 30 years. Bjørn Lomborg thinks it had a solar origin and I agree with him. There were two other warming spurts, both of them step warmings. In 1976 there was the Great Pacific Climate Shift, said to have raised global temperature by 0.2 degrees Celsius. It was over by 1979 and cannot possibly be greenhouse warming. The next warm period was due to the Super El Nino of 1998. It brought a large amount of warm water across the ocean and this caused a brief step warming. In four years global temperature rose by a third of a degree Celsius and then stopped. There has not been any warming since then. This step warming and not any greenhouse effect is the cause of the very warm first decade of our century. There was one additional warming that was local, and that is Arctic warming. It started suddenly at the turn of the twentieth century, paused in mid-century for thirty years, then resumed, and is still going strong. There was no increase of carbon dioxide at the turn of the century and that rules out the greenhouse effect as its cause. Arctic warming is very likely caused by warm water carried into the Arctic Ocean by North Atlantic currents. That is why the Arctic is the only place in the world that is still warming. And now I have a question: How is it possible for those obese fat cats doing “climate research” to totally ignore Miskolczi for two and a half years? That is how long his peer reviewed article has been out there. No peer reviewed articles opposing him have appeared, undoubtedly not for lack of trying. If they cannot fault his science they will have to get off their sinecure and start looking for alternate employment.

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