Global warming and careerism

ABC Four Corners ran an interesting show last night on the anti-science interest groups who dominate the formulation and official discussion of policy on global warming in Australia. Transcript here, along with discussion from Tim Lambert and Larvatus Prodeo.

What particularly interested me was the number of scientists who had been pushed out of CSIRO, or had left of their own volition, after being tightly censored in what they could say about global warming, and the emissions reductions that would be needed to stabilise the climate (the latter point is particularly sensitive since any actual number implies a target and government policy is opposed to targets).

In particular, I was struck by the fact that global warming contrarians commonly explain the overwhelming support of climate scientists for the consensus view on anthropogenic global warming in terms of careerism. The contrarians say that if the scientists deviated from the dominant consensus, they would lose their jobs or their grant funding.

THe Four Corners report made it clear that, in Australia (as also in the US) the exact opposite is the truth. Speaking out in support of science on global warming is a very bad career move, at least for anyone employed by the government. In climate science, where the big organisations have been CSIRO and the Met Bureau, that constraint applies to most people working in the field.

215 thoughts on “Global warming and careerism

  1. There was another report somewhere else that I currently can’t remember which showed that at least they got good jobs in other countries. In this respect you might be able to to look at it positively, in the sense that if science in the US is getting underfunded and lots of really smart people are getting censored, one can imagine that more really smart people who moved to the US might start moving to other countries. In this case it could be a bit like the fall of Carthage as people with the potential to work in high tech areas move away from the US and take that potential with them.

    Perhaps the real solution to global warming is to ask the opinion of 18 year olds rather than old corrupt people who are going to die before too many problems from it emerge.

  2. Claims that the fossil fuel industry had unprecedented access to confidential Commonwealth government processes and the silencing of senior climate change scientists require an independent investigation, the Australian Greens said today.

    The allegations point to a corruption of the process for developing government policy on the most critical environmental issue facing the nation, Greens climate change spokesperson Senator Christine Milne said.

    http://greens.org.au/mediacentre/mediareleases/senatormilne/130206a

  3. Mark – I was not really convinced that they do. There is the chance that the people taped were just braggers and had no such access. I think the normal level of access they have combined with an agreeable coal mining government is sufficient to have warped the policy direction toward fossil fuels.

  4. Nothing suprises me about the Howard Government and the suppression or denial of the truth. We see the same forces at work in the US . There is a recent book on the Republicans war of science…on the matter of global warming,on stem-cell research,on evolution…a host of other matters too.
    So in Canberra the same culture dominates.Even if the fact were even more obvious,they would still lie and distort. They are congenitial liars and like their US buddies,they will deny the facts until they no longer can…and then someone else will have inherent a vast crisis. One should read the writing of the emminent UK authority ,Sir James Lovelock,who sees the long term effect of global warming as threatening the basis ofg human civilizatioin itself…but don’t expert John Howard’s mates to listen…only profit and “the economy” matters to them. Liars all !!(Iraq, WMD’s,children overboard,wheat-deals,whatever !!)

  5. In terms of Johns argument about careerism I agree with him. People might keep silent about their beliefs in order to preserve a well paid job, however very few people will fabricate their entire belief system purely for material gain. Some belief systems are things that people will often die for rather than change. Whether a particular belief system correlates with the truth is open to debate.

    The suggestion that pro AGW scientists are just making stuff up for grants and promotions does not wash in my view. Hopefully we can also see an end to the claims made on this website that those in favour of privatisation, tax cuts and smaller government are on the take.

    On global warming John Quiggin has previously explained how the Kyoto protocol is a low cost solution. In this I think he is also largely correct. However I am still keen to see John Quiggin explain why he thinks that the Kyoto Protocol is NOT a low benefit solution.

    To paraphrase the details:-

    1. John Quiggin has argued that over a decade the Kyoto Protocol would defer economic growth by merely a few weeks.

    2. Others have shown that over a century the Kyoto Protocol would defer global warming by merely a few years.

    So to me the Kyoto Protocol looks like a low cost solution with very minor benefits.

    Clearly the advocates of the Kyoto Protocol envisage that it will evolve into something of high benefit. And the opponents envisage that it will evolve into something of high cost.

    I am keen to see John Quiggin explain why he thinks that the Kyoto Protocol is NOT a low benefit solution. Or perhaps he agrees that it is a low benefit solution.

  6. Terje,

    In regarding to the ‘cost-benefit’ analysis of Kyoto as it is, versus, a beefed up Kyoto, versus inaction, which you demand of Professor Quiggin, you are truly nit-picking.

    If you would only take off your neo-liberal economic ‘rationalist’ blinkers, you would understand that most of the manufactured items for which so much greenhouse pollution has been generated, which is either now in landfill, or destined, in a matter of months to end up in landfill, is of virtually no long term benefit to humankind, anyway.

    We don’t need expensive time-consuming research to understand that.

    The unfettered ‘free market’ has clearly failed to make rational use of this planet’s scarce non-renewable resources so far, and is bringing our environment, and our civilisation, to the brink of catastrophe.

    The ‘free market’ is highly unlikely to change its behaviour in the near future, that is, until unless our elected parliamentary representatives finally decide to use the powers vested in them to rein in the selfish behaviour of our corporations in the interests of the broader community.

    When they do, there is no question that they should act to dramatically act to vastly curtail the current levels of consumption of fossil fuels and implement plans to allow our society to cope with less energy, as it has, before.

    That is a very small price to pay for our future and for the sake of future generations.

  7. I am continually struck by the similarities between the operation of the Howard government and the operation of Republicans in the US. It almost seems that the current crop of political operatives in Canberra, both those in and outside the government, learnt their craft in Washington.

    Things like industry lobbyists writing ministerial briefings make me feel like I am reading about US politics. In the US it has gotten to the point where industry lobbyist actually write some of the legislation affecting them, which is then passed without an opportunity for anybody to actually read it beforehand. I wonder if the Coalition having control of the Senate will result in the same thing happening here one day.

  8. Does anyone remember Mr Howard’s first energy minister, Senator Warwick Parer, a rich Queensland coal-miner? Does anyone remember that he got sick of being a minister because questions kept being asked about his continued involvement in the management of his coal companies, but not before he had brought about the abolition the Energy R&D Corporation, which mainly funded R&D into renewables?
    Why should anyone be surprised at the continuing coal-first policies of this government? But remember, it’s not ‘picking winners’ in subsidising coal research because it always lets the market decide. Doesn’t it?

  9. I am keen to see John Quiggin explain why he thinks that the Kyoto Protocol is NOT a low benefit solution. Or perhaps he agrees that it is a low benefit solution.

    yeah, well i am keen to see some substantiation of this, and, should such be forthcoming, an explanation of the errors therein:

    Hopefully we can also see an end to the claims made on this website that those in favour of privatisation, tax cuts and smaller government are on the take.

    oh well, i guess we can’t always get what we want.

  10. Terje, firstly I do think you have fairly characterised the question.

    But the answer to the question is obvious, and it lies in international politics and diplomacy rather than economics. Kyoto is both low cost and low benefit (although IMHO the benefits outweigh the costs), however given the recalcitrance, shrtsightedness and sheer wilful bloodymindedness of many of the negotiating parties, all seeking to maximise their short term advantage and not giving a crap about future generations or the biosphere, it was about as good as was going to be gotten at the time. It was only ever considered a prelude for real action.

    If we stay in the current fettered view of what an economy and a society should look like, then Kyoto II will be high cost, I agree. It will unfortunately be totally inevitable (to pay those costs) unless we all want to live in a dystopian wasteland. I still think that an economic/industrial revolution towards a low carbon economy is quite achievable and will be much less painful than many people who cannot get out of their mental straightjackets will admit. I beleive that the much vaunted (particularly by the free-marketeers) human inguenity and novel technology will be able to rapidly transform the world.

    But I also believe that we’re on a trajectory towards ecological armageddon, so I like to think happy thoughts that we’ll all pull through to keep me sane.

  11. Terje,

    The point of Kyoto was that while it’s direct benefits would be small, it was believed that it would smooth the way for bigger and better things. There were several ways in which it was hoped it would do this. So far I think the jury is still out on its success, but as long as there is a reasonable prospect that it might work it should be supported, even if it itself won’d do very much.

  12. It almost seems that the current crop of political operatives in Canberra, both those in and outside the government, learnt their craft in Washington.
    Well one of Howard’s sons did work on Bush’s 2004 campaign.

  13. Adoption of liability for greenhouse induced loss would set a cat among the pigeons. If Australian coal produces 10% of the world’s GHG, then maybe we should pay up prorata. For example $US30bn towards the reconstruction of New Orleans.

  14. Ender,

    It maybe that the braggers may just be pumping up their own egos, but their comments was used in a peer reviewed work (the PHD). Because of this I would expect that it would be a bad idea for the author of that PHD to use these interviews (if they were dubious) and I expect he and his supervisors knew this.

    Secondly, it is important to keep in mind that this government has had a “put all our eggs in one (coal) basket” mentallity on this problem and has not tried to hard to hide it. This is reflected in its heavy backing of geosequestratoin and poor backing (when compared to other countries) of other energy technologies. Now, this could be in part due to our former head scientific advisor working half time for Rio Tinto which may have skewed his view slightly…. I do not wish to suggest that he was corrupt or anything like that, but I have always wondered what the bosses and shareholders of rio tinto would have said (to him) if he had suggested a broader multi energy source direction (wind/solar/hotrocks/tidal & wave power etc) and encouraged the government to adequately subsidise the needed research in this direction.

  15. It certainly looked bad on 4 Corners, but unfortunately I’m not surprised. Howard himself is pernickety about things like Cabinet docs (its part of his control freakery), and is in any case far too smart to be so blatant, but some of his ministers – especially early in his government – were different.

    Merredin though misses the point. Even if the best chance *globally* of averting catastrophe is a focus on renewables research, though, it doesn’t follow that Australia should focus its efforts there. We clearly should use our extremely limited resources to chase solutions – even less likely solutions – that favour us. We can safely rely on others, with much bigger resources, to explore the solutions that don’t favour us.

  16. Terje,

    Partially the answer depends on what you mean by “Kyoto”.

    The impact of the cuts agreed to for the five five years on climate will be modest and the costs of those cuts will be relaitvely high because much of the cost of settign up the institutions such as national carbon accoutnign systems and trading exchanges are front-loaded.

    Without knowing what targets are adopted for the period past 2012 it is impossible to quantify either the costs or benefits.

  17. Terje,
    I asked this question of our good host some months ago. His response was that Kyoto was low benefit of itself, but was a good way to set up for further, future cuts. In essence, it established the principle.

  18. Derrida,

    I don’t agree that putting more time and money into renewables research doesn’t favour us. After all, Australia gets plenty of sun, we are surrounded by oceans near our big cities and the hot rocks (geothermal) potential is looking good. These are all resources to be tapped and many can be easily exported. A good example is the new method of extracting power from waves featured on Catalyst last year. From what I’ve read there is already interest in this from around the world.

  19. I guess my question is “what’s so special about climate scientists”?

    When I worked as a scientist in the public service, if I’d made unauthorised public pronouncements about policy, I would have been fired. I’d be sure the same would have been true of my Dad, who was a “top” scientist in a Federal department.

    If these “top” scientists want to quit and run around with the WWF crying that the sky is falling, fine, but why should they feel that they should be able to do that on the public dime?

  20. James Lane says: “If these “topâ€? scientists want to quit and run around with the WWF crying that the sky is falling, fine, but why should they feel that they should be able to do that on the public dime?”

    In my view scientists on the public payroll have a right and a duty to address the public on the issues that concern them. The public’s right to hear what scientists actually think is far more important than the right of a Government to avoid embarrassment.

    Those who are on the public dime should be true “public servants”, not robots under the thumb of pollies. Does that make sense James?

  21. I think it is more complex than that Steve, employees are paid by corporations (public and private) to do work for that corporation and that work remains the property of that organisation and anyone who releases information of that work without approval of the owner could be seen as a thief.

    Imagine if you paid me to come to your house to build a shed with your tools and materials and I took home some of the materials, how would you feel?

    Its all property.

  22. Rog, don’t be such a fool. Climate change research is not “property” and subject to patents. It is information that belongs in the public domain without any restrictions.

  23. If we lacked confirmation that GW “contrarians” are anti-science authoritarians, we’re getting plenty in this thread.

  24. Steve,

    I don’t know what you do for a living, but you seem to have a poor understanding about how government (or business for that matter) works. What if a bunch of “top” scientists have different (but heartfelt) views. Should they all issue divergent press releases? How’s that going to help the public?

    The only way the process is for the experts to argue it out, and the senior bureaucrat make a balanced recommendation to the Minister. It’s an imperfect system, but the only one that will work in the long term. It’s also frustrating for people with contrary views – fair enough, you can quit and do what you want.

    I mentioned earlier that my father was a “top” scientist in a government department (in fact, he was a department head). He was once strongly opposed to a policy decision (actually a famous one), but (publically) kept his counsel. As it turned out, my father was quite wrong, and the policy was spectacularly successful. If my father had “come out” publically at the time, it would have likely hindered public acceptance of the policy, which in fact saved thousands of lives.

    In this instance, the “system” worked. No doubt there might be contrary examples. But if you work for the government, you should play by the rules, unless there are issues of corruption or malpractice.

  25. JQ, the 4Corners program while interesting was a bit of a mixed bag. I was unconvinced of the conspiratorial view proposition but did find it strongly supportive of the ‘group-think’ problem associated with all organisations. The evidence since Senator Parer’s non-demise early in the Howard years, the strong support of the extractive industries for the HR Nicholls society merely demonstrates, to me anyway, that the Liberal government is not a captive of these interests but rather has always been a strong supportive spokesparty for such Australian interests. I do not know why we are constantly suprised by what is obvious. The ‘Mafia’ tag is but a sign of that policy and political arrogance.

    The counterpoint was that good science and credible scientists buck the ‘group think’ trend, thus those who speak out suffer the consequences, good science -v- bad policy. The CSIRO has been gradualy gutted for years as they have been forced to either commercialise or fund from commercial outcomes to the detriment of good science which sometimes has no real commercial outcome, there have been a lot of good people shoved out beside the climate scientists. The contrarians will find any explanation to suit their ideology, ala the AWB and Vaile’s assertion today that it was basicaly unAustalian for people to criticise the AWB and hence threaten the wheat trade.

    Still better to keep speaking the truth and patiently arguing for what is right, pity is at the moment, every one has cloth ears.

  26. JQ,

    Why do you think I’m anti-science? I’ve always loved science. My father was an internationally recognised scientist, and impressed on me the importance of critical thinking.

    Maybe it’s because I’m standing up and expressing a contrary view… hang on, what was the theme of this thread?

  27. Ignoring whether it is Climate Science, or health or defence or whatever department you work for in a Government – it is the elected government that sets policies. It is not the employees’ right to go pontificating in public on policy unless policy is their job.

    Steve Munn, your theory on a public policy free for all is a recipe for disaster. You actually undermine the ability of public servants to provide sound advice without fear or favour to Governments. Despite the real problems and the media beat ups and the carping from all sides of politics, public servants generally do a good job and this is because they have the discipline required to implement policies, even if they didn’t vote for the government they work for or disagree.

    As for the view that “How terrible is the Howard Government” for controlling public policy – well, it applies to all Governments at all levels. They all do it. A recent example in WA was when a Doctor from the Childrens’ Hospital spoke about alleged problems risking the lives of children. Within 24 hours the Doctor was saying it was “misquoted” and having met with the Minister the issues were being clarified and dealt with.

    Slightly off topic but when it comes to public pontificating about policy and issues – what is it with Academics who write to Newspapers and give their address as the University so that it implies that their personal opinion is the view of that University?? I don’t mind them using Dr or Prof in their title by why not use their own suburb address rather than their University.

    JQ – perhaps you could throw some light on the practice.

  28. Razor says: “Steve Munn, your theory on a public policy free for all is a recipe for disaster. ”

    Your point is extremely weak. How is it that CSIRO scientists publicly expressing their views on climate science will lead to disaster? How will this cause the sky to fall in? Are you being honest?

    We live in a democracy and it is generally accepted by supporters of democracy that open public debate is a good thing. It may be old fashioned, but I support that view.

    The public gains nothing from being kept in the dark like mushrooms. We need to know what eminent scientists think in order to make informed judgements on scientific issues.

    By the way, I was a federal public servant for 15 years and I never hesitated to comment on government policy.

  29. John Lane: The only way the process is for the experts to argue it out, and the senior bureaucrat make a balanced recommendation to the Minister. It’s an imperfect system, but the only one that will work in the long term.

    Ever worked in the policy section of a government department, John?

  30. Steve,

    You must have been in a pretty timid department or one where the policy issues weren’t terribly earth shattering. I spent 10 years working for the Federal Government in a Department where commenting to the public about anything outside your field of expertise, let alone policy, drew anything from a ‘meeting without tea or coffee’ through to formal action.

    I’ve got nothing against spirited open public debate. Public servants do not have the right to go into public debate on Government policy in their persona as public servants. One of the big criticisms of Governments at State and Federal Level is the politicisation of the Public Service. Part of the cause of Governments wanting to install their own people in place of Public Servants is due to Public Servants politicising themselves. Public Servants need to be able to give frank and fearless advice and they undermine their ability to do that if they are active in open public debate that clearly exposes their personal biases.

    The same logic applies to why Cabinet Papers are kept from public release for so long – it allows members of cabinet to have free and frank exchanges on matters of policy without it being in the public arena. It is a strength of the Westminster system.

  31. The fallacy in James Lane’s argument is to equate the position of bodies like CSIRO and the Met Bureau with that of government departments with a function of advising the executive government on policy, and of administering government policy.

    Clearly there must be (and always have been) significant constraints on the freedom of public servants employed in such departments to express publicly their own personal views on government policy. But neither CSIRO nor the Met Bureau performs such functions. The role of CSIRO especially is better equated with that of a university, where traditionally academic freedom of speech (at least in the academic’s area of expertise) has always been jealously guarded and broadly accepted, as an essential part of the open discourse without which human knowledge cannot flourish and increase.

    There is no sensible basis for suppressing that sort of freedom of speech on the part of scientists employed by a body whose primary function, as its name indicates, is to undertake and disseminate scientific research rather than advise on and administer policy. Similarly with a meteorological bureau whose function is to research, understand and publicly disseminate knowledge and prediction about weather and its long-term cousin climate.

  32. To pre-empt an obvious response, it is certainly true that CSIRO conducts industry-based/applied research. There are therefore obvious and perfectly reasonable “commercial-in-confidence” reasons why governments might (and do) place some constraints on the freedom of speech of its scientists to discuss such research publicly. But it would be difficult to argue, for instance, that Graham Pearman’s views and conclusions about climate science ought to be suppressed for commerical-in-confidence reasons. A fortiori for the Met Bureau, which conducts little or no commercial research.

  33. If you would only take off your neo-liberal economic ‘rationalist’ blinkers

    Actually they are vision enhancing super goggles. You should get yourself a pair.

  34. Ken – the first letter in CSIRO stands for Commonwealth – it is a Federally funded Department. If the employees of the CSIRO want to be treated like University Academics then go and work for a University. Otherwise, the people who pay the bills get to make the rules. The same applies for the BOM. They are Public Servants.

  35. Yeah, that’s an intelligent comment, Razor. It’s not like the Feds fund universities or anything…

    Of course under Brendan Nelson the universities were headed on exactly the same path as the CSIRO. That doesn’t excuse what happened at CSIRO, it’s just further evidence of malfeasance on the Feds part.

  36. Again, I think it’s clear from all this that the contrarians, despite their pose as heroic independents, are eager to enlist the support of the government to suppress the truth whenever possible. I haven’t seen a single comment yet from the contrarian side of the debate to suggest that the government ought to encourage, rather than suppress, open debate on scientific issue.

    Yet if an EU government were sacking totally unqualified public servants who were attacking climate science and Kyoto, I bet we’d never hear the end of it.

  37. Who do you think pays the salaries of university academics in Australia, Razor?

    Whatever the merits of James Lane’s argument as it applies to government departments, there are plenty of government funded institutions that serve the public better by allowing all opinions to be voiced, even when these are contradictory. As Ken says, this applies to the CSIRO in the same way it applies to universities. There are numerous institutions, in which research is conducted, that have an official doctrine, but whose employees employees can still freely state their own views. They only have to include a rider like: ‘Opinions expressed in this paper should not be taken to represent the policy of [say] the Reserve Bank of Australia.’

  38. I haven’t seen a single comment yet from the contrarian side of the debate to suggest that the government ought to encourage, rather than suppress, open debate on scientific issue.

    I am not sure if I fit the tag of “contrarian” but let me just say that I think governments should defend the principle of free speech.

    Yet if an EU government were sacking totally unqualified public servants who were attacking climate science and Kyoto, I bet we’d never hear the end of it.

    English botanist David Bellamy recently expressed a view along the lines that critics of AGW were being silenced. Not that his opinion proves anything. See the following article:-

    http://driving.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,22750-2012854,00.html

    EXTRACT:-

    “But we simply cannot get our stuff published. They don’t tolerate dissent because they are not telling the truth. There is no consensus whatsoever on global warming; there are just as many people dissenting but they will not publish those papers in journals.�

  39. I am still hoping that John Quiggin might address the questions I raise in my post earlier up on “February 15th, 2006 at 5:17 am”.

  40. Terje

    Bellamy is a cuddly TV personality who does PR for companies that want to improve their green image. That piece is from the Murdoch Times motoring section, which is forever hyping ‘eco-friendly’ new car models. I wouldn’t be at all susprised to find that the article was part of an advertorial package paid for by one of Bellamy’s employers.

  41. JQ – I’m all for active debate on policy issues. Much of the issue here is perhaps that there isn’t a clear enough understanding of the role of the CSIRO. Is it a goverment Department or an independent statutory body like the RBA. Maybe the staff aren’t clear on the role of CSIRO and their obligations within the organisation.

    In a way I see this much like the peer reviewing of other Academic work, except in this cse the peer review process results in policy positions rather than academic publications.

    I’m still interested in your opinion on the Uni employees writing to newspapers issues I raised above.

  42. The public gains nothing from being kept in the dark like mushrooms. We need to know what eminent scientists think in order to make informed judgements on scientific issues.

    This type of statement, IMHO, is part of the FUD. This argumentation arose around the hockey stick argument that an amateur couldn’t ‘audit’ someone’s data. It has blown up into a mantra-like talking point.

    Some boy sitting in his parents’ basement isn’t going to ‘audit’ these data and make some world-breaking discovery.

    Yet, the system continues to work. I’m quite sure a postdoc in a climate discipline can contact a paleo scientist and get their data.

    Trouble is, some scientists aren’t releasing data to parties that have shown a tendency in the past (and now) toward character assassination. That is: some scientists are saying “Too bad. You can’t have the data, you’ve used it against me before.”. That response is then blown up into a green conspiracy and a cabal against truth.

    It’s like some folks are making a career out of character assassination, by using clever little phrases.

    Best,

    D

  43. Good point John, I have not heard of any EU govt encouraging open debate on scientific issue by unqualified public servants – therefore they must be very authoritarian!

  44. Well, this is all very interesting but there is a growing and sometimes urgent need for knowledge that does exist to be dumped on the public, come what may. Here in Canada the pulp mill owners knew a long time ago what damage they were doing to the land, the air, and most importantly the water. They hired experts to study environmental issues, and the experts reported pretty thoroughly, often adding notes on trends they had observed as well. But these experts had signed contracts promising not to tell anyone but those who hired them what they had seen or reported, and such obligations are considered sacrosanct by the various professions. Huge mats of rotting dead fish, yards deep rusting metal garbage, gigantic fish kills after a mill maintenance shut, intense bursts of murderous chemicals sluiced into the salt chuck (while pen graphs are falsified by putting a bit of tissue under the pen), nearby waters guaranteed to kill fish. These millls would take up to 80 million gallons of the purest mountain water, run it through mills that only William Blake could reasonably describe , and pour torrents of the residual crap into fish bearing waters. That’s in pulp industry and lots of other stories can be told of other industries where that which belongs to all, the environment, is used as a garbage can by private parties.
    It is just plain stupid, and gutless , to let such bastards keep a zipper on the mouths of experts whether they are privately employed or have government positions. Whose bloody servants are they, in the latter case, anyway? I want all experts who believe they have encountered something that cuts into the public interest to be required by law to send a copy of their report to an independent body, on pain of legal punishment if they do not, with that body to decide if the information does affect the public interest. If it does a public report is to be produced forthwith.
    I don’t know if 19th Century rules on confidentiatity were ever justified in an industrial society with large populations concentrated in tight zones, but they are not now. The posturing of the private interests on this point is truly disgusting. Look at the performance on biological hazards. Private claims must be stopped where public interest is affected.

  45. Steve, please don’t let on to Michael Mann or Phil Jones that, as you say,

    Climate change research is not “property� and subject to patents. It is information that belongs in the public domain without any restrictions.

    Mann famously said that asking him for his information is “intimidation”, and Phil Jones refuses to release his information at all. I’d hate to see you burst their bubble by pointing out that it “belongs in the public domain” …

    w.

  46. As someone who has commented on these issues in the past, I fear my comments may have been misunderstood.

    My point has never been that scientists will get fired for speaking their minds, on either side of the divide. That is a separate discussion from my point.

    My point is that if a man’s job and salary depends on the hypothesized existence of AGW, he is not likely to spend too much of his day trying to prove that AGW doesn’t exist, because if he can prove that, he’ll be out of a job — but not because he’s been fired, because the game will be over.

    Much is made of the fact that some AGW opponents have received occasional grant money from institutions that don’t believe in AGW.

    However, the opposite is even more true. Many AGW proponents receive money, in some cases grants and in some cases their entire salary, from institutions that do believe in AGW.

    It is worth noting, however, that both of these are “ad hominem” arguments, which tell us nothing about any statement or any scientific study. It doesn’t matter who is paying JQs salary, or my salary, or James Hansen’s salary. What matters is, are our statements and studies correct or not?

    w.

  47. I know the following is a strong statement, but I feel strongly about this, and I’m interested in people’s comments:

    Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.

    w.

  48. Willis says: “It doesn’t matter who is paying JQs salary, or my salary, or James Hansen’s salary. What matters is, are our statements and studies correct or not?”

    This is only true in some type of fantasy world that has never existed and which never could exist. The fact of the matter is that none of us mere mortals are capable of expertise in any more than one or two pinpricks in the vast ocean of human knowledge. We have no option other than to employ various heuristics in our endeavours to understand the world.

    Hence, as an example, we may value the opinion of Government scientist more than the opinion of a tobacco lobby scientist on an issue such as whether smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer. We do this because, as laypeople, we are incapable of grasping all the complexities of the science involved.

    Willis understands my point perfectly well and is yet again being disingenuous. For example, he has previously dismissed science on the basis that it is the product of “Michael Mann and his mates” [Willis’s own words]. On the other hand Willis obviously gives tremendous weight to anything that Steve McIntyre says.

  49. My statement did not concern whether we “value the opinion” of someone over someone else. In fact, Steve is right that we value one man’s opinion over another based on a whole host of reasons.

    But I was not talking about opinions at all, I was talking about science … and science, at least on my planet, doesn’t have much to do with someone’s opinion. It’s either right or wrong, no matter what anyone’s opinion might be. Which was my point.

    Nor was I responding to a post of Steve’s. Hard as this might be for him to believe, not everything people write is in response to his points. In fact I don’t have a clue which “point” of his he thinks I was being “disingenuous” about.

    Anyhow, Steve, care to comment on my most recent statement (in bold, in the post just above your most recent)? At least then you will be right, when I reply I’ll be responding to your post and your point.

    w.

    PS – Steve also misrepresents my position. I have not dismissed the science of “Michael Mann and his mates” based on who they are. I have said that the “independent confirmations” of Mann’s MBH98 study were not “independent”, because they were done by Mann’s co-authors and co-workers, who I described as his “mates”, and more to the point, because they used the same flawed data and methods that Mann had used in the MBH98 study.

    I dismiss the science of Michael Mann for scientific, rather than for “ad hominem” reasons — bad data, bad methods, and bad statistics.

  50. In reply to Willis:-

    Willis says: “But I was not talking about opinions at all, I was talking about science … and science, at least on my planet, doesn’t have much to do with someone’s opinion.”

    This is an absurdly naive proposition. Science is a human endeavour and consequently it cannot be divorced from human prejudice, frailties, limitations and agendas.

    For a more sophisticated understanding of what science is I suggest you acquaint yourself with philsophers of science like Kuhn, Lakatos and Feyerabend.

    Earlier in this thread I answered your question on the proper role of scientists. I think the public is the loser when scientists are gagged.

    In a democracy the public is supposed to be sovereign. Scientists have a duty to inform the public of their research, subject to any legitimate commercial-in-confidence requirements. Also, their is no valid reason why scientists should refrain from offering their opinions on “policy matters”.

    I again reiterate the “4 Corners” program that prompted this debate showed CSIRO managers and Departmental boffins adopted the broadest possible definition of policy so that scientists were effectively neutered. For example, CSIRO scientists were categorically told that public discussion of emission abatement targets and the proportions by which emissions should be cut were forbidden.

    For those like Willis and Razor, who support scientific censorship, I would to point out what the appropriate Government minister, Senator Campbell, had to say on the “4 Corners” program:-

    “If a bureaucrat is giving directions to a scientist not to say something, then it’s not something that is being sanctioned by me.”

    Unless Senator Campbell was being dishonest, even he is not in favour of Willis/Razor style censorship.

    I hope you censorious autocrats never get elected to Government!

  51. I can understand why a scientist researching for a company may not be able to release research data and results, but in organisations like CSIRO this is not so clear. Indeed, CSIRO encourages publication and you’re position there (increase in salary etc) is heavily reliant upon it. Furthermore, you are encouraged to give talks at conferences etc so their work is hardly secret (I should point out that the same goes for Uni’s as Uni’s make their reputations through research).

    From a scientific point of view there is nothing wrong with openess in publications and presentations as it is the way that scientists interact, exchange and discuss results. It is also the way that a result can be scutinised by peers, who can sometimes ask some tricky questions. At this some will say that these scientists are all in the same club (so to speak) and hence will not be critical of each other, but the reality is that that is not true for the most part. At the end of the day being a scientist means that you both interact and compete with your peers.

    Now, comming back to the thread of this discussion i.e., should scientists make comments about their and others results that do not follow what the government want, I would say yes if the information is already in the public domain. This will help the general public understand the breadth of the issue.

  52. I am still hoping that John Quiggin might address the questions I raise in my post earlier up on “February 15th, 2006 at 5:17 am�.

  53. Richard Lindzen has had interesting things to say on this question in the past. Eg, this presentation to the British House of Lords early last year:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/5012507.htm

    Well worth a read, eg:

    Q135 Lord Lawson of Blaby: You have been very eloquent and it is fascinating, but are you a lone voice or is there substantial support for your views among the scientific community?

    Professor Lindzen: I think there is no core of the scientific community.

    Q136 Lord Lawson of Blaby: You must speak to your fellow scientists from time to time?

    Professor Lindzen: Yes, of course, all the time, because some of the work is really just quite independent of one’s position on this. I think, at MIT, Chicago and other places I deal with, even at the Laboratory for Dynamic Meteorology in Paris, where I spend a lot of time, most people realise the issue is a bit dodgy, but there is a problem, and you say it and it is kind of like being a skunk at the party. In Europe, the Laboratory for Dynamic Meteorology’s climate modelling effort exists because of global warming. At the Max-Planck Gesellschaft, their climate modelling effort exists because of global warming. The Hadley Centre exists because of global warming. The only place in the world where there were efforts before global warming was the US, but even in the US the first President Bush responded to the alarmism with two billion dollars a year for research. I do not think you are going to see much objection to the alarmism, but the points of agreement, when they say that scientists all agree, it is basically what I have written in this deposition. Scientists have learned of what I call the iron triangle of alarmism, that they can utter innocent statements, such as the one the Prime Minister said, that are completely consistent with nothing much happening, so they have not compromised their scientific integrity and yet these will be interpreted with alarm, and the body politic, at least in my country, will respond by feeding money to the science. Why would anyone get in the way of that?

  54. Richard Lindzen has had interesting things to say on this question in the past. Eg, this presentation to the British House of Lords early last year:

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeconaf/12/5012507.htm

    Well worth a read, eg:

    Q135 Lord Lawson of Blaby: You have been very eloquent and it is fascinating, but are you a lone voice or is there substantial support for your views among the scientific community?

    Professor Lindzen: I think there is no core of the scientific community.

    Q136 Lord Lawson of Blaby: You must speak to your fellow scientists from time to time?

    Professor Lindzen: Yes, of course, all the time, because some of the work is really just quite independent of one’s position on this. I think, at MIT, Chicago and other places I deal with, even at the Laboratory for Dynamic Meteorology in Paris, where I spend a lot of time, most people realise the issue is a bit dodgy, but there is a problem, and you say it and it is kind of like being a skunk at the party. In Europe, the Laboratory for Dynamic Meteorology’s climate modelling effort exists because of global warming. At the Max-Planck Gesellschaft, their climate modelling effort exists because of global warming. The Hadley Centre exists because of global warming. The only place in the world where there were efforts before global warming was the US, but even in the US the first President Bush responded to the alarmism with two billion dollars a year for research. I do not think you are going to see much objection to the alarmism, but the points of agreement, when they say that scientists all agree, it is basically what I have written in this deposition. Scientists have learned of what I call the iron triangle of alarmism, that they can utter innocent statements, such as the one the Prime Minister said,, that are completely consistent with nothing much happening, so they have not compromised their scientific integrity and yet these will be interpreted with alarm, and the body politic, at least in my country, will respond by feeding money to the science. Why would anyone get in the way of that?

  55. Indeed, Brainiac, this is exactly the sort of claim I was pointing to as being totally refuted by the actual experience reported in the Four Corners program.

    Far from benefiting by stating the scientific evidence accurately, the CSIRO and NASA scientists have suffered. Meanwhile contrarians, including Lindzen, can cash in on their willingness to muddy the debate in a way that suits powerful interests.

    Thanks for pointing to this example, which illustrates the point perfectly.

  56. I expected a higher standard of debate from someone in your position jquiggin.

    Lindzen’s point is that vast sums of money flow into the global warming industry, fuelled by alarmism. You did not address that point at all.

    Your link states only that “Lindzen was reported in 1995 to charges[sic] oil and coal interests $2,500 a day for his consulting services”.

    I imagine Lindzen probably charges everyone the same amount, but it sounds so much more sinister if you only mention his coal-interest consultancies. I pay my lawyer $500 an hour for his advice – does that make him a crook? Should Lindzen not consult?

    What’s your consulting rate Quiggin? Better be pretty high; your denigration of Lindzen is borderline libel, and that can get very expensive.

  57. Willis, I thought your summary in this comment on the last GW thread was very interesting:

    https://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2006/01/24/yet-more-nonsense-on-global-warming/#comment-44037

    Particularly this claim:

    The problem is this: we don’t know why the climate is stable. We know that it is stable, but we don’t know why. This is shown by the fact that, despite the sun’s heating up by about 30% in the last couple of billion years, the temperature of the earth has not gone up by 30%. Why not? Clearly, there is a limiting mechanism of some kind that has kept the earth’s temperature from rising.

    Do you have any references?

    TIA.

  58. Brainiac, you are being disingenuous. You have simply cut and pasted from Lindzen’s House of Lords statement in which he accuses his peers of alarmism based on self-interest. Professor Quiggin has in turn pointed out that there is money to be made if you are a denialist and that Lindzen is the recipient of such money.

    Exxon Mobil alone has forked out many hundreds of thousands of dollars to AGW denialists. In America there are dozens of cashed up think tanks like Froniers of Freedom, George C Marshall Institute, Scaife Foundation and John M Olin Foundation that do likewise.

    The money flows like milk and honey in some denialist cornucopia.

    I further note that Richard Lindzen’s denialism has not affected his university job. The same goes for many other denialists who feast at the public trough.

    Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate made a post on 14 February 2006 that draws attention to the clumsy errors that Lindzen made when addressing the House of Lords. I thought Lindzen was a useful contrarian. He now appears to be just another hack braying nonsense.

    see http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=222#more-222

  59. Lindzen must be appalled that the Royal Society got conned, not to mentional all the other G8 premier science institutions.

    I wonder whether we such also question all the fuss about bird flu just think about the money and new research groups these dishonest scientists have appropriated through the alarmism there.

    If they hadn’t have got away with that Ozone hole con we probably wouldn’t be in this postion now.

  60. Steve, you say:

    For those like Willis and Razor, who support scientific censorship, …

    where did I ever, ever say I support scientific censorship?

    You also say:

    Earlier in this thread I answered your question on the proper role of scientists. I think the public is the loser when scientists are gagged.

    Which question was that? What was your answer? I didn’t ask any question about the proper role of scientists.

    “Censorious autocrats”?!? Dude, I think you’re losing the plot here. Please provide some citations and quotations for whatever I actually said in these two cases you are referring to.

    w.

  61. Oh please Willis.

    You made a post at 11:18 am today which says in big bold letters that in your opinion scientists must quietly do their research and not become engaged in policy debate.

    I previously touched on points you later raised in a several earlier posts on this thread. You can easily find them using the “Find” function on your browser should you wish to do so.

    I also note with considerable amusement Brainiac’s quote of your post at 3:45pm. You have hammered away like buggery on the validity of climate model reconstructions and the proxies used in the models yet you confidently assert that the climate has been “stable” for the last “couple of billion years”.

    How do you know this? Did Gaia tell you?

  62. Steve, you say:

    Oh please Willis.

    You made a post at 11:18 am today which says in big bold letters that in your opinion scientists must quietly do their research and not become engaged in policy debate.

    I see that you are referring to the post where I said:

    Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.

    Unfortunately, you have done your usual boneheaded stunt of judging something by who said it, not what was said.

    JQ, or anyone else, perhaps you could help Steve out here. He won’t listen to me. Can anyone explain to Steve why he is wrong here?

    If not, I’ll be glad to once again go over the idiocy of judging the content of a statement by who said it … but like I said, I’d prefer if someone else did it. My opinion counts for nothing with Steve, but he might listen to one of you.

    w.

    PS – Life as we know it on earth can only exist within a fairly narrow temperature range. The sun has increased by something on the order of 30%. If the earth’s temperature had risen correspondingly, it would have started out at an average temperature of about -50°C. There is no evidence of this, either in the geological record or the record of life, so I called the temperature “stable”, meaning it had not increased by 30%.

  63. Oh, Steve, one thing I forgot. I said:

    You [Steve] also say:

    Earlier in this thread I answered your question on the proper role of scientists. I think the public is the loser when scientists are gagged.

    Which question was that? What was your answer? I didn’t ask any question about the proper role of scientists.

    I guess you think you replied when you said:

    I previously touched on points you later raised in a several earlier posts on this thread. You can easily find them using the “Find� function on your browser should you wish to do so.

    This is typical of the handwaving you do when you make unsupported accusations. I did a search before posting my question. Nobody but you has said anything on this thread containing the words “proper role”.

    If you are claiming you “answered my question”, we have several possibilities for your unwillingness to say which question, or what the answer was. None of them look very good for you.

    Answer the question, or admit you made it up, Steve. Handwaving won’t do. Perhaps I did ask such a question, but I don’t remember doing so, nor can I find it with the search function.

    You, on the other hand, “remember” the question, and you “remember” the answer, but you haven’t said what either one is …

    Coincidence? … we can let the readers be the judge.

    w.

  64. Willis you are being a buffoon.

    Let me cut and paste into this post what I have previously said on this thread about the importance of free speech in science, ie the proper role of scientists.
    **************
    15/2/2006 5:29 pm

    In my view scientists on the public payroll have a right and a duty to address the public on the issues that concern them. The public’s right to hear what scientists actually think is far more important than the right of a Government to avoid embarrassment.

    Those who are on the public dime should be true “public servants�, not robots under the thumb of pollies.
    ****************
    15/2/2006 4:52 pm

    Climate change research is not “property� and subject to patents. It is information that belongs in the public domain without any restrictions.
    ****************
    15/2/2006 6:36pm

    Razor says: “Steve Munn, your theory on a public policy free for all is a recipe for disaster. �

    Your point is extremely weak. How is it that CSIRO scientists publicly expressing their views on climate science will lead to disaster? How will this cause the sky to fall in? Are you being honest?

    We live in a democracy and it is generally accepted by supporters of democracy that open public debate is a good thing. It may be old fashioned, but I support that view.

    The public gains nothing from being kept in the dark like mushrooms. We need to know what eminent scientists think in order to make informed judgements on scientific issues.
    ****************
    16/2/2006 12:56pm

    In a democracy the public is supposed to be sovereign. Scientists have a duty to inform the public of their research, subject to any legitimate commercial-in-confidence requirements. Also, their is no valid reason why scientists should refrain from offering their opinions on “policy matters�.
    ***************

    I therefore clearly think that scientists should be engaged in all facets of public debate concerning their area of expertise and that includes discussion of policy options. Bureaucrats should not be trusted to censor scientists on issues of “policy” or anything else for that matter. As the CSIRO and NASA scandals have demonstrated, bureaucrats will invariably abuse such power.

    Your advocacy of limitations on the rights of scientists to express their opinions in public is a proven recipe for repressive censorship. In other words, your position is to the detriment of the public interest.

  65. Once again, Steve, it’s all handwaving. You said:

    Earlier in this thread I answered your question on the proper role of scientists. I think the public is the loser when scientists are gagged.

    I asked, which question earlier in this thread? Which answer?

    You still have not answered. You have done a lot of posting of things you have said … so what?

    Steve, let me put this clear. Your repeated refusal to answer this simple question strongly indicates that either you were lying when you said I had asked a question and you had answered it, or you were simply mistaken. Your choice …

    There was no question on my part, nor was there any answer on your part. Which is why you can’t say what either of them were. It’s either a lie, or it’s an error, but in either case, you should just admit it, you wouldn’t look so foolish.

    There’s no point in posting your views in response to my question about your deliberate or erroneous misrepresentation. I know what your views are, but they are simply obfuscation which is not related to your evasions. You are trying to distract people by volume. You’d do better to attract them with the truth.

    Finally, you still haven’t understood what I meant when I wrote:

    Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.

    I appeal again to anyone to JQ, or anyone, to explain to Steve why this doesn’t mean what he thinks it means, and how he is once again being blinded by looking at who wrote something, rather than thinking about what it means. If not, I’ll explain … but he won’t believe me.

    w.

  66. Willis Eschenbach Says: “You are trying to distract people by volume. You’d do better to attract them with the truth.

    Snort.

  67. I’m still hoping that John Quiggin might address the questions I raise in my post earlier up on “February 15th, 2006 at 5:17 amâ€?.

  68. Willis

    I haven’t been following any of these global warming threads with any care. But the note of desperation in your last comment made me curious enough to read the preceding discussion, just to see what the problem might be.
    I found that Steve has made it very clear that (1) by ‘your question’ he meant your challenge to respond to the statement in bold; (2) by saying he had ‘already’ answered it he was referring to the comments he made before the challenge appeared, and (3) given the vagueness of the infamous statement in bold, he feels that his earlier answers are adequate.

    So you really have no grounds for complaint. If you make a habit of complaining, without any basis, that people are not communicating with you in good faith, then no one will take you seriously when it actually does happen.

  69. I’m surprised that, after 1200 plus comments on this over the last few weeks, there is still anything meaningful to say.

  70. Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.

    Some seem to have taken the above quoted comment by Willis to mean that scientists should be gagged. Willis did not say that active researchers should be “compelled” to stay out of policy discussions. I believe he just expressed a view (or infered a view) that once a scientist takes sides in a public political debate they then become tainted and they would be better off not doing this.

    An analogy might help. Personally I don’t think people should eat spagetti with their fingers whilst in a public restaurant. However this does not mean that I think eating spagetti with your fingers whilst in a public restaurant should be prohibited.

    Also the above quoted comment by Willis was clearly marked by him as a “statement”. To think it was an answer to a question seems to me to be a mistake. He preceded it with the following:-

    I know the following is a strong statement, but I feel strongly about this, and I’m interested in people’s comments:

    Of course none of this means that I agree with the statement made by Willis.

  71. James, thank you for posting. You say:

    I haven’t been following any of these global warming threads with any care. But the note of desperation in your last comment made me curious enough to read the preceding discussion, just to see what the problem might be.
    I found that Steve has made it very clear that (1) by ‘your question’ he meant your challenge to respond to the statement in bold; (2) by saying he had ‘already’ answered it he was referring to the comments he made before the challenge appeared, and (3) given the vagueness of the infamous statement in bold, he feels that his earlier answers are adequate.

    So you really have no grounds for complaint. If you make a habit of complaining, without any basis, that people are not communicating with you in good faith, then no one will take you seriously when it actually does happen.

    James, I fear your first statement says it all, so let me bring you up to date.

    Before I posted the statement in bold, Steve, who spends most of his time attacking me rather than the points I raise, said he had “answered my question on the proper role of scientists”.

    I said “huh?” Since I had not asked a single question on this thread, I naturally said “which question”.

    Steve then said I should use the “Find” button to find it, which was bullsh*t. He followed this with his usual handwaving, but still no answer, he just said he was answering a later advance on an earlier discussion or some such wonderful thing, hang on, let me find it, it was beautiful … OK, here it is:

    I previously touched on points you later raised in a several earlier posts on this thread. You can easily find them using the “Find� function on your browser should you wish to do so.

    He had previously touched on points I later raised in an earlier post? … say what?

    He was not “communicating in good faith” as you suggest. He was lying, James, or he was mistaken, and in either case he’s much too small a man to admit it. I never asked a question, he just made it up, and now he wants to weasel out from under.

    Terje, although you are waiting for an answer from JQ (and may wait that way forever), thank you for stepping up to the plate. Your discussion of the statement:

    Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.

    is most excellent and insightful.

    I had hoped, however, that someone might recognize the source of the statement. Was I “desperate”, as James says? No way. You see, in a no doubt vain attempt to house break Steve of his nasty “ad hominem” habits, I though I’d give him a nice bone to chew on.

    The statement above is not from me. It is from that king of censorship, that doyen of putting scientists in their proper place, that well known advocate of keeping scientists under someone’s thumb, of preventing them from speaking out on politics, that popular provocateur …

    Dr. James Hansen of NASA.

    Now Dr. Hansen has been involved in his own discussions with his own government on this matter, so I’m sure he’s given the question a lot of thought.

    Personally, I agree with him. When I want medical advice, I go to a doctor, not a lawyer. When I want scientific advice, I go to a scientist, not a soccer player.

    And when I want advice on policy, I go to a politician … hey, call me stupid, but that’s her/his specialty.

    Finally, one of the most important reasons to take policy advice from politicians is that (generally) they are elected, and for just that purpose, whereas the scientists are not elected at all. I prefer to have my political decisions made by people that I have chosen. That way, I can get rid of them if I don’t like their advice.

    And obviously, Dr. Hansen agrees …

    Does that mean that scientists should be “gagged”? No. They are as free to speak on policy as I am, provided that they do so in their capacity as a private citizen.

    What they should not do, and in many organizations such as universities, businesses, or government departments are forbidden to do, is to speak ex cathedra on matters of politics. The head of CSIRO should be as free as I to say that the emperor’s new political plan has no clothes, if he does so as a private individual. What he should not do is say “I am king of the scientists, head of CSIRO, and in my official capacity I say this political decision is wrong.”

    He is trained as a scientist, we have hired him as a scientist, and he should not use that pulpit to intrude into politics. If he wants to be a politician, he should learn the political ropes and run for office like anyone else.

    Terje, thanks for the insights about Hansens statement.

    JQ, your silence on Terje’s question, like your silence on producing evidence for AGW, is of a length that it is becoming an answer in itself.

    Steve … thanks for the amusement. Stop judging statements based on who said them, and start actually thinking about what was said. And admit your mistakes, it’s easy, costs nothing, and prevents you from looking like such an idiot …

    w.

  72. Well I am still hoping that John Quiggin might address the questions I raise in my post earlier up on “February 15th, 2006 at 5:17 am�.

  73. Dear John Quiggin,

    If I have been rude or impatient in my line of inquiry then I apologise. I can never tell if perhaps you might have missed my inquiry. When you can spare a moment I would please like to know if in your opinion the Kyoto Protocol is both low cost and low benefit?

    I am not trying to be a jerk. I would just like to know where you stand.

    Regards,
    Terje.

  74. Terje, the post is coming. I’m just very busy right now. But as several people have noted, I’ve written on this quite a few times before. Just search for “Kyoto”.

    Willis, your continued demands for the production of evidence in comments threads, when the relevant evidence runs to tens of thousands of journal pages, for which I’ve already pointed to summaries running to hundreds of pages, are getting tiresome, so I’ll turn it around.

    Can you point to ten articles in reputable natural science journals (not E&E) published since, say, 1995 by independent scientists (that is, not members of any anti-environment thinktank or lobby group) that conclude that the balance of evidence is against the AGW hypothesis? This shouldn’t be too hard. I’ve pointed you to a list of nearly a thousand going the other way.

  75. John, I have said from the start that I am an agnostic on the question of AGW. You have said you are an AGW supporter. Not only that, you have made a quite nasty claim that I am not just misguided, but that I am actively denying the evidence for AGW. This is a serious, derogatory accusation of scientific misconduct.

    It is thus quite logical for me to ask you to reveal the evidence that you have claimed that I am denying. Since you made the claim of scientific misconduct, since you are the one doing the insulting, you should at least have some idea of which evidence I am denying, beyond your vague handwaving and saying “it’s in these thousands of journal articles somewhere.”

    Why am I an agnostic on AGW (more commonly known as a “sceptic” because I don’t agree with the AGW theory)? My point all along has been that at this time in history, there is both insufficient theoretical understanding of how the climate works, and insufficient evidence about its workings, to decide either way. Now, after I’ve said many times that there’s not enough evidence to decide, you want me to point to papers saying the “balance of evidence” goes against the theory? If that wasn’t so sneaky, it’d be funny.

    Sorry, bro’, you are the one saying there is evidence that I’m denying. I’m the one saying we don’t have the evidence we need about the climate to decide yet. Asking me to provide evidence which I have said doesn’t exist is a cheap rhetorical attempt to avoid taking responsibility for your own scurrilous, unsupported statement.

    As a bozo simple example of how far this lack of evidence extends, we don’t even know what the average temperature of the earth is, or how much it is changing. Three groups of well-known scientists give us three significantly different answers (GHCN, GISS, and HadCRUT). That’s how bad the “evidence” is in this branch of science, we can’t even agree on the answers to the most basic questions of the science — what the temperature is, and how much it has changed in the last century.

    Since you claim the evidence exists, and since you are using this supposed “evidence” to make an ugly ad hominem attack, you should provide it, both as a matter of science and as a matter of common decency. Saying it’s in the IPCC report, or saying it’s out there somewhere in a thousand pieces of paper, Willis, you go look, is pathetic. I’m not asking for all the evidence, just whatever pieces of evidence you based your statement on. When you made the statement, you must have had some pieces, bits, tatters, even shreds of evidence in mind that I’m denying … what was that evidence?

    If you can’t provide the evidence, that’s OK, then simply say that you made the statement about denial of evidence without any … well … without any evidence, and we can move on.

    In other words, back up your nasty claim of scientific misconduct, or retract it, John. You have made a vicious, slanderous accusation that a whole host of people, myself included, are not merely wrong but are guilty of scientific misconduct. Now you refuse to reveal what evidence we are deliberately ignoring? Thats both unscientific and unethical. Have you been taking lessons from Phil Jones? He won’t reveal his evidence either … or perhaps you’re waiting for a letter from a congressional committee before revealing part of the evidence, like Michael Mann did.

    Whatever your reasons are, trying to put it back on me is a joke. I’m not the one who made the puerile claim, you are. Either back up your ugly words by revealing your evidence, or retract them.

    w.

    PS – I’d also be interested in your ideas about James Hansen’s quote, since it speaks to the subject of the thread … but don’t let that distract you from providing the evidence you claim I’m denying.

  76. I’ll take that as a “No”, Willis.

    Just to remind anyone who’s coming in late, the evidence to which I’m pointing is summarised here.

  77. John, I busted out laughing when I read your last post, at least we are maintaining a sense of humour about this … however, your refusal to substantiate your accusation of scientific misconduct remains quite disturbing …

    In addition, pointing to the IPCC report as “evidence” as you have done in your last post is simply handwaving and misdirection intended to fool the credulous or those who have come in late. What the IPCC calls “evidence” are the results of computer modelling. I believe everyone, even you, John, agrees that the results of computer models are not evidence … otherwise, they wouldn’t disagree so badly. Some computer runs, for example, show cooling over the next century … does this constitute evidence that the climate will cool? Of course not.

    John, pointing at the IPCC report and calling it “evidence” is a deliberate lie. The fact that you know it is a lie is shown clearly by your refusal to say where in the IPCC report is the evidence you are citing. Have you even read the section of the report that the IPCC calls “evidence”? Until you say where the “evidence” in the IPCC report is located, you’re just blowing smoke in people’s eyes and screaming “FIRE”, in the hope that no one will notice that nothing is burning …

    w.

  78. Willis,

    Hate to break it to you, but you’re not allowed to lay claim to the null hypothesis. You want to operate under the assumption that human production of greenhouse gases has no influence on global climate, it does not suffice to apply a high burden of proof to the theory that it does. Evidence is required and if you are able to conjure it, God knows there are plenty of petrodollars in search of a person like you. Else you are simply trading on fallacy.

  79. Please correct me if I am wrong Willis but I believe Professor Quiggin’s use of the word “denialism” was directed at the scientists, think tanks and politicians who should no better. It wasn’t directed at an armchair dabbler such as you (or me). Let’s make this clear; you are NOT a scientist in spite of your pretentious carry-on. Your faux outrage only makes you look like an hysterical self-important kook.

    Moreover, to my knowledge Professor Quiggin has not accused all denialists of “scientific misconduct” (your words). People with integrity can be deluded. Most of us mere mortals are probably deluded about one thing or another.

    If you were a more respectful and mature individual you would accept that it is totally unrealistic to expect Professor Quiggin to provide a summary of the evidence for significant AGW for your exclusive benefit. This a task that would require no less than a 1,000 word essay. You may not have noticed but Professor Quiggin has a university position, writes newspaper articles, attends numerous conferences as well as running this website for our benefit. On top of that he has a family. Stop being such an unreasonable brat. The world doesn’t revolve around your every whim.

  80. RAZOR, earlier in this thread you raised two issues separately but have worked a theme of public officers bound by government policy. This is a modern invention essentially undemocratic and poor administrative practise. Every citizen has the right to comment publicly on matters of interest to them. A public servant may even comment in their own field of expertise providing they breach no confidentiality or commercial issues pertaining to source material. To dispute policy publicly where you are involved is still an appropriate no no, otherwise the gag has to be contractual. Do AWA’s or other contracts forbid democratic participation? Of course they do not, thus all public servants have the right to a view as much as any other citizen and a right to discourse. Thus there have been many public servants who have left to contest elected positions, without rancour or restriction. You can look back through decades of public administrative law as illustrative, re-examine the old Commonwealth and NSW Public Service Acts. However if you leak because you disagree then you rightly ended up being jumped on but you can comment because you have a right to, you might never be promoted but that is another issue. These days because few do, ministers believe it is an administrative right but it is simply a vacuum.

  81. Steve, you say:

    Please correct me if I am wrong Willis but I believe Professor Quiggin’s use of the word “denialism� was directed at the scientists, think tanks and politicians who should no better.

    Glad to correct you, Steve, although it’s turning into a semi-permanent task. His remark was directed at all “sceptics”, not at people who should “no better” [sic], and he accused all of us of denying evidence. He made no distinctions as you are attempting to do, it was all sceptics.

    I asked him, not for a thousand word summary of the evidence as you pretend, but one or two pieces, shreds, scraps of the evidence that he claims we are denying.

    He, like you, has provided no evidence … zero. Zip. Nada. Nothing.

    You obviously think that’s reasonable, to make a scurrilous accusation and then refuse to back it up. Given your past behaviour, I can understand your position perfectly, because if he had to back up his irresponsible accusation, you might have to do the same regarding your own past irresponsible accusations.

    Me, I think it’s sleazy to accuse someone of denying evidence, and then refuse to produce the evidence, just as it was sleazy of you to accuse me of lying, and then refuse to say what you thought I lied about.

    w.

  82. Majoraram, thanks for posting. You say:

    Hate to break it to you, but you’re not allowed to lay claim to the null hypothesis. You want to operate under the assumption that human production of greenhouse gases has no influence on global climate, it does not suffice to apply a high burden of proof to the theory that it does. Evidence is required and if you are able to conjure it, God knows there are plenty of petrodollars in search of a person like you. Else you are simply trading on fallacy.

    I think I see the source of your confusion. I am not operating “under the assumption that human production of greenhouse gases has no influence on global climate.”

    I am not saying it has no influence. I am saying that we don’t know if it has an influence, and if it does, we certainly don’t know the size of the influence. This is a very different thing.

    This is because our understanding of climate is only in its infancy.

    We don’t know the average temperature of the earth, the three main groups of scientists studying the question disagree significantly.

    We don’t know how much the earth is warming, again the groups disagree.

    Computer simulations of the future climate give us everything from incredible heat to impossible cold, and everything in between, thus proving once again that they are not evidence.

    We don’t understand the climate. In the last year, we’ve discovered two large forcings (plankton affecting clouds, and plants emitting methane) previously unknown to science.

    We don’t understand the internal energy exchanges between the 5 main systems (atmosphere, lithosphere, ocean, cryosphere, biosphere) well enough to model those interchanges at all.

    We don’t agree about the nature and strength of the external drivers of the climate (solar magnetism? cosmic rays?).

    We just found out that rising CO2 means that plant transpiration is changing, significantly affecting the amount of water in the rivers … what does that mean for climate? No one knows.

    We don’t know the size, and in many cases even the sign, of the internal feedbacks of the climate system.

    Now you come along and say “a little bit more CO2 is going to make a big difference in temperature”.

    OK, you’re making the AGW claim, provide some evidence for it. I have repeatedly asked for evidence for that theory on this forum. I have been given only one piece of evidence, that CO2 absorbs IR.

    Yes, it does, but what effect will a small change in IR absorption have on a hugely complex, driven, chaotic, coupled, multi-stable constructal system with unknown feedbacks?

    We simply don’t know.

    So, I hate to break it to you, but our lack of understanding of climate is monumental. I do not place a “high burden of proof” on the theory that a small increase in CO2 will lead to a large increase in temperature. I merely ask for some evidence that it is true, in the normal scientific fashion. Evidence is required, as you point out, and to date, the AGW adherents have not provided it.

    If you have it, bring it on, but nobody on this forum, including JQ for all his bluster, has provided anything more than the fact that CO2 absorbs IR.

    Now as you point out there is no evidence to disprove the AGW theory either, but that’s exactly my point — conclusions right now are premature, because there’s not enough evidence, in either direction, to come to any conclusion.

    People talk of a “consensus”? … it’s a joke, we don’t even have a scientific consensus on what the average temperature is …

    w.

  83. Willis, it’s clear that you have no credible evidence to cite against AGW, and you’re not willing to accept links to surveys/summaries of thousands of articles as evidence for it. So while I thank you for helping to generate the longest comments threads in the history of this blog, I think it’s probably time to call a halt.

  84. Willis’ approach to the issue seems somewhat like the blindfolded man being asked to feel an elephant and guess what it is. He can feel it’s large, has rough skin, tusks, trunk and large ears. His response – I’m not saying it’s not an elephant, I just don’t know if it is, but even if it is I don’t know if it’s an Indian or an Arican elephant.

  85. I noted a story on tonight’s SBS news about Greenland glaciers. Apparently they are melting twice as fast as previously thought. The story is based on research published in last Friday’s Science magazine. The abstract says:

    “How much meltwater the Greenland Ice Sheet may be contributing to global sea-level rise depends on the mass balance between the inte-rior of the ice sheet and its margins. The present understanding is that the interior is gaining mass but the margins are eroding even more rapidly. Rignot and Kanagaratnam present an ice velocity map of the entire Greenland Ice Sheet and estimate the rate of ice discharge around its entire margin. A comparison of their results to past data shows that there has been a widespread acceleration of ice flow since 1996, that mass loss has doubled in that time, and that ice dynamics, which are particularly dependent on warming, dominate the rapid retreat of Greenland’s glaciers.” (1)

    Of course this new finding does nothing to support the AGW theory. Afterall, as slick Willis tells us, it may well be all due to something else, like cosmic rays in the magnetosphere or magnetic fields or Gaia suffering some heartburn ….

    (1) http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/311/5763/913f

  86. well if we are going to halt, I would just like to say thanks to everybody for a grear chat. and an extra thanks to willis for trying to keep the bastards honest.

  87. I am also in favour of a halt to this AGW debate.

    My main concern is that if we allow it to go on the amount of hot air expelled by slick Willie will exacerbate the AGW problem.

  88. jquiggin Said:

    February 17th, 2006 at 8:33 am

    Can you point to ten articles in reputable natural science journals (not E&E) published since, say, 1995 by independent scientists (that is, not members of any anti-environment thinktank or lobby group) that conclude that the balance of evidence is against the AGW hypothesis? This shouldn’t be too hard. I’ve pointed you to a list of nearly a thousand going the other way.

    I say:

    When will you explain why Karlen’s article (published by Royal Swedish Academy) showing that Arctic temperatures do NOT match the usual ever upward portrayal of instrumental temperature readings since 1850 is not taken into account by Briffa et al? (Karlen shows it was warmer in the Arctic in 1930s than now) Anyway even if only one, and even if Karlen is a member of a pro-tobacoo lobby (just as you are a de facto member of the so-called Australia Institute, which is a front for the ALP), at least Karlen should be weighed against the 1,000 refs you keep citing.
    Whilst I support majority voting in politics, in science it takes us back to the medieval period. I note that 100 cities in America’s mid-west out-vote temperature readings from my home village in Somerset (England), which since November has been having its coldest winter in 30 years, yet “globally” 2005 was the hottest ever. Bullshit! Tell that to the Muscovites.

    Best

    Tim

  89. JQ, while I can’t understand how you can point to evidence but not be able to cite one single piece, I’d like to thank you for hosting the discussion. It’s curious to me, however, that

    -The discussion is still alive

    – It doesn’t cost anything to keep it open

    – You’ve been called on to produce evidence, and have not produced a bit. I’ve looked long and hard at the IPCC report, JQ, and I can’t find anything in their “Evidence” section but computer models. You seem sure that it’s there, JQ, but WHERE IS IT? Give a page number, a reference, something. At your request, after you pointed at the IPCC as a source of evidence, I’ve looked long and hard and have found nothing but computer models. You say it’s there.

    – I say, where?

    – You say, let’s close the thread.

    Probably a coincidence.

    Steve, you called me a liar, and are likely happy to close the thread without having to back up your scummy accusation. You specialize in attacking me, but have not answered any of the scientific questions, and have responded to very few of the scientific issues, that I have raised.

    Terje, you’ve been solid. Although you have disagreed with me at times, your interest has always been on the scientific questions. With the thread closed, where will JQ answer your question?

    And to everyone else, my profound thanks. In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that only one piece of evidence has been produced — the fact that CO2 absorbs infrared. If you wish to believe in the AGW hypothesis based on that …

    … just be aware that you are standing on a very flimsy base.

    Again, my thanks to all.

    w.

  90. Willis,

    Appreciate your misspelling of my moniker. Again. It’s nearly as clever as the remainder of your shenanigans. And speaking of, your ‘skepticism’, which seems to largely rest upon, “Computer simulations of the future climate give us everything from incredible heat to impossible cold, and everything in between, thus proving once again that they are not evidence.”- a fallacy- is threadbare. Computer models allow us to know the meaning of a set of postulated dynamics. In this case, they show that, if you take the proven physics of the greenhouse effect and combine that with the known massive quantities of annual carbon emissions, (a little bit more CO2????), and educated assumptions about the nature of the remaining forces that bear on annual average temperatures, the result is x. If you want to attack the validity of x, it is incumbent upon you to build your own hypotheses about the nature of the global climate system and to argue that its assumptions are more valid. Simply stating, “computer models are not evidence”, is a yellow argument, and what’s more, horse hockey. Now, we don’t expect you to do that on this blog, but surely with the legions of petrodollars waiting to reward the scientist that can build a credible model of climate that would yield stable or declining temperatures, there must be something you can point to. Something. Anything. This is what JQ has been patiently trying to get you to do (you can lead the sterile offspring of a horse and a donkey to water…).

    And by the way, the physics of the greenhouse effect and the known quantities of carbon emissions are not all that’s going for the AGW hypothesis. We also have dramatic and potentially dire warming. What’s your hypothesis to explain that? Oh yes *shrug*, it’s nature’s mystery- let her sort it out. I like it warm anyway. Fill er’ up!

  91. Willis, it’s clear that you have no credible evidence to cite against AGW, and you’re not willing to accept links to surveys/summaries of thousands of articles as evidence for it. So while I thank you for helping to generate the longest comments threads in the history of this blog, I think it’s probably time to call a halt.

    Let me just say again that this to me looks like JQ saying:-

    there is a God and we must be bound by the laws of the Bible. If Willis wants to reject this he must produce the evidence that God does not exist.

    God = AGW.
    Bible = IPCC reports.

    If the Bible contains the proof of God, but the high priests can’t quote or paraphrase it to the lay people then I find that very concerning.

    Regards,
    Terje.

    P.S. JQ, thanks for reaffirming that you will be answering my question. It sounds like it is going to be a detailed response.

  92. Merredin mentions that organisations like CSIRO need not be secrtetive.

    Such organisations have always had problems with intellectual piracy and the commercialisation of products or techniques that they ‘invent’. How often have you heard of some novel invention being snatched by greedy corporations for huge profits whilst scientists go begging?

    Institutions such as CSIRO and Oxford now use companies that take new product and move it through to commercialisation ie patents, trials, licenses, funds.

    EvoGenix is one, Immunotec is another.

  93. Thanks, Willis for your contribution. I’m not sure what motivated you to keep going against all the crap that was thrown at you. (Steve Munn is a disgrace who should have been made to pull his head in or banned, but John Quiggin seems to follow the Labor tradition of confusing juvenile insults with robust argument).

    It seems the only way John can declare the debate over is by closing the thread. (First insult the opposition. If that doesn’t work, take your bat and ball and go home).

  94. Yes, bravo valiant skeptics. Your facility with non sequiturs is only rivaled by the mastery with which you can spin specious analogies.

  95. I appreciate Paul Williams’ honesty in making clear that, for most contrarians, global warming is a party-political, and not a scientific, issue. As I said quite a while back, only financial motives, ideological motives or a dogmatic adherence to previously held views can explain GW contrarianism, and Paul illustrates one part of this conclusion very nicely.

    But he’s at least the third right-wing contrarian in the last few threads to assert that I’m doing all this because of affiliations with the Labor Party, and or hopes of a job with them. I don’t have any such affiliations, and if you care to search the blog for “Labor”, “Beazley” or “Ferguson” you’ll find that I haven’t exactly sought to curry favor with the ALP, particularly its current hereditary leadership.

    [In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I was a member of the ALP from the early 70s to the mid-80s. I haven’t been a member of any political party for 20 years or so.]

  96. I”m sorry Paul Williams, but people like yourself and Willis do not command my respect because you knowingly set out to deceive those who are new to the AGW debate. For example you say:

    “The failure of the warmers to acknowledge past climate changes such as the Medieaval Warm Period ….”

    This is a blatant lie. Take for instance Mann and Jones (2004) in “Reviews of Geophysics” which I linked to previously. What the IPCC and mainstream climate science object to is the inference that MWP was a global phenomena.

    I am heartily sick of following up Willis’s red herrings and finding that he has lied or deliberately misled. I have provided evidence to show that he has lied or misled on a dozen or more issues including issues related to his supposed speciality of coral reefs. For example he lied about reef recovery times after bleaching events, he lied about coral growth rates, he misled by ignoring the fact that the more biologically significant branching corals are often crowded out by less biologically significant forms after bleaching events and he misled by implying that in general “the warmer the better” for coral reefs.

    On other issues he lied and misled with respective to CO2 forcings (although he later changed to admitting 3.7 W/m2 stefan-boltzman), he deceived in claiming that the IUCN Red List is up-to-date and the final word on species status when in fact I showed an example of it being 10 years out of date and he deceived by saying lab results and modelling results are not evidence but later brazenly using both of these to shore up his own arguments without a hint of shame. And so on it goes.

    I have long since given up researching and drawing attention to each of Willis’s falsehoods. Most other folk have neither the time or inclination to do so and hence he has used this and the preceding threads for his self-absobed grandstanding. I do not believe this serves any useful purpose for those of us who honestly seek out the truth.

    I do not resile from labelling Willis a charlatan. His own actions betray his nature.

  97. Good on you John, I voted Labor in the early 80’s too, but then I grew up. Apologies if you were offended by being linked to Labor. I know I would be!

    Steve, you sure spent a lot of time responding to Willis, but it was rather the slurs within your comments that I found disgraceful. Still, your comment to me was quite polite. Thank you.

  98. I’ve seen some fabulous arguments put by the disbelievers when presented with science including having “no experimental evidence” become “yeah but what about the real world” when experimental evidence was provided. Not one of the “compelling” arguments has survived when scrutinised by scientists active in this field, no matter how convincing on the surface. but lay people such as myself can, with a bit of internet searching, find where ideas and arguments originate and the disbelievers are seriously lacking in credible scientific sources, as JQ has pointed out. The AGW science originates in credible scientific institutions and peer reviewed publications, the disbelievers arguments seem to lead back to paid-for-opinion think tanks who deal in rhetorical arguments aimed at pressing peoples ‘buttons’.
    Still, we have seen a reluctant shift from the Federal Gov’t – at least our top scientists can speak about AGW like it is real even if they are prevented from saying what actions are needed to do anything about it.

  99. It really is really time to move on and maybe start a search for those of the right who have a clue about how science works, the standing and qualifications of those from the premier science institution that world powers get their scientific advice from and who know when to stop beating a dead horse.

    Like the creationists no amount of argument or evidence will say this lot, nor point pointing out the scientific debate is now over and mainstream science is moving on. The AGW recalcitrants just like the creationists are not taken seriously and thought of as jokes in the scientific community maybe we should do the same.

    Some from the pro-business right have seen the writing on the wall have been able to accept the umpires decision and move onto constructive input and policies, realising there is actually benefits and profits to be from a more enlightened and rational business stance that incorporates sustainability and ethical behaviour.

    There must be some moderates from the right out there that don’t let their ideological bias blind them to the reality of the situation, they sure as hell ain’t here!

    Piers Akerman and Andrew Bolt would be so proud, never let evidence or reason get in the way important debate.

    Lets move on to solutions.

  100. “Good on you John, I voted Labor in the early 80’s too, but then I grew up.”

    If you’re not liberal when young, you have no heart. If you’re not more conservative when grown, you have no brain. 🙂

  101. “If you’re not liberal when young, you have no heart. If you’re not more conservative when grown, you have no brain.”

    From the opinion polls we can see that “grown” means over 55.

  102. I think it’s actually a bit younger that most people become more conservative. Around 30ish in the US. Of course the arrival of children tends to accelerate the change for many people.

  103. Steve Munn:

    This is a blatant lie. Take for instance Mann and Jones (2004) in “Reviews of Geophysics� which I linked to previously. What the IPCC and mainstream climate science object to is the inference that MWP was a global phenomena.

    But the MWP was a global phenomenon, as referenced by the 240 some proxies surveyed by the metastudy of Soon and Baliunas, and from proxy studies done since from around the world. Oh and don’t bother boring us with a whinge about how the meta-study was partly industry-funded, unless of course you’d like to go for broke and inquire about industry-funding paid to Greenpeace (and we’ll start with Enron for starters)

    It was the Mann Hockey Stick that made the claim that the MWP and LIA were not global phenomena, one claim made against a mountain of evidence from all over the planet. The Mann Hockey Stick has been shown very successfully and completely to be a fake.

    I’ve no idea how the deeply flawed statistical techniques of Mann and Jones came to be viewed by some as “mainstream science”, but let me assure you, mainstream science has nothing whatsoever to do with refusing to reveal sources of data and key methodological steps for the purposes of replication until told to do so by a Congressional committee.

    Oh and by the way, the outputs of climate models are not evidence, in the same way as the outputs of large scale economics models are not evidence, and for exactly the same reasons. People who bet on the predictions of the big economics models quickly went bust. Now if only we could get climate modellers to predict climate change for five or ten years – nah, it’ll never happen, they know what happened to the economists, and they’re running scared.

    It’s difficult to see what climate models are for, except of course, to rewrite the past according to the fad belief of the moment. If they were useful, they would have predicted something useful, such as the next El Nino, but sadly no-one is going to put his testicles on the block for that one.

  104. John A, I don’t think a post that starts off with a reference to Soon and Baliunas is likely to do you much good here. Indeed, it’s a strong illustration of the point that most contrarians are acting from ideological/financial motives.

    If you want to quote Baliunas, start off by defending (or explaining away) her claim that CFCs don’t harm the ozone layer (search here on “Baliunas”) and you’ll find it.

  105. JQ, what Soon / Baliunas said about CFCs has nothing to do with what they said about anything else.

    This constant repetition of ad hominem arguments on this blog is sadly typical of AGW adherents everywhere.

    If you have some kind of evidence saying that their study of the MWP is flawed, bring it on, bro’ … but just claiming “they were wrong about something else” means nothing. So what? You were never wrong about one thing and right about another? Should I discount where you were right, simply because some other time you were wrong?

    In fact, as Soon and Baliunas clearly demonstrate, there is evidence of a MWP all over the world, from Asia, from South America, I just looked at the Greenland Ice temps and found it there, the evidence shows it was a world-wide phenomenon.

    Now if you have evidence that says that all or even some of the references in the Soon/Baliunas paper are incorrect, you can present it and we can discuss it.

    That’s how science works, not by ad hominem argument. I don’t care if the evidence has been submitted by a known pathological liar, or by a faulty computer, or whatever. That’s not the question in science. The question is:

    IS THEIR EVIDENCE TRUE?

    Oh. I forgot. You don’t do evidence, just ad hominems and hand waving … my error.

    w.

  106. “JQ, what Soon / Baliunas said about CFCs has nothing to do with what they said about anything else.”

    On the contrary, the argument on CFCs was almost identical to that on global warming, and Baliunas explicitly linked the two.

  107. “From the (Australian) opinion polls we can see that “grownâ€? means over 55.”

    “I think it’s actually a bit younger that most people become more conservative. Around 30ish in the US. Of course the arrival of children tends to accelerate the change for many people.”

    If that is the case then that’s another difference between Australia and the US.

  108. Steve A,

    Your turn to carry the torch I guess. As that goes, this statement:

    “Oh and by the way, the outputs of climate models are not evidence, in the same way as the outputs of large scale economics models are not evidence, and for exactly the same reasons. People who bet on the predictions of the big economics models quickly went bust.”

    is a canard- and a discordant quacking one at that. Models of climate or of the economy are not intended to be evidence, rather to make use of it. And if economic models are indeed useless than you ought to inform the world’s central banks, money managers, brokerage houses, etc. whose point of view on that subject tends to diverge decidedly from your own.

    The fact of the matter is that, where decision making is involved, forecasting is not an elective enterprise. Either a decision is made based on an explicit forecast of its consequences, (i.e. some sort of model), or it implies one. And that is particularly instructive in this case, as it underscores the fact that AGW denialists are not passively questioning scientific theories, but actively postulating global climate dynamics. By advocating a drill and guzzle energy policy, denialists are postulating a model of global climate in which carbon emissions have a negligible effect (or, at worst, an effect less economically wrenching than a slightly higher price for energy). The thing is, as this thread so capably demonstrates, the denialists don’t seem particularly keen to produce that model or argue for its validity. Now, why would that be, I wonder? Could it be they’re underfunded??

    PS Willis, Steve Munn has cited a high number of instances in which he claims, credibly given the high degree of specificity, that you played fast and loose with the facts. Maybe, for the purposes of fostering constructive debate if nothing else, it would behoove you to step off the soap box for a moment and address his post.

  109. http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=1666

    Statistical results generally involve observing data from which correlations can be drawn to indicate possible cause-and-effect. An example is the much-acclaimed research on mouth cancer for which Dr. Jon Sudbo of the Norwegian Radium Hospital observed a database of 908 participants. Sudbo has admitted to fabricating his database. Many questions addressed to statistical studies involve little more than closely analyzing the specifics of the data. For example, when 250 of the 908 people studied by Sudbo shared the same birth date, a red flag should have fluttered.

    Results, such as those claimed by Hwang and the Newcastle team, are “yes/no.” That is to say, the cells and embryos were either cloned in the manner indicated, or not. The questions addressed to “yes/no” experiments may be more fundamental than those addressed to statistical claims but all research should be able to answer them. Those questions include:

    + Is the report, including all data and methodology, available for examination? If not, then the researcher is asking you to accept his word for the findings.

    + What is the researcher’s reputation? More credibility should be accorded to the claims of a scientist with a sound track record than to an unknown factor who comes out of nowhere.

    + Who funds the research? A questionable source of money does not invalidate research but public skepticism should sharpen if the funder stands to profit from a specific finding and, indeed, that finding results.

    + Have the findings been independently verified? Claims should be sufficiently documented to allow replication. (Unfortunately non-scientific concerns, like patents, sometimes interfere with disclosure.)

    + Does the claim contradict previous data? A breakthrough that achieves a difficult result is qualitatively different than one that achieves a result previously believed impossible. A ‘paradigm shift’ demands a high degree of proof because it involves invalidating previous findings.

    + Does the claim include policy recommendations or changes in law? Research that includes a political agenda is more likely to express the researcher’s personal beliefs than work that merely states data and findings.

    + What is the response of the scientific community?

    + Where was the research published? The differing levels of prestige for scientific journals has been quantified in terms of their “impact factor.” If a researcher publishes in a low impact journal, then asking ‘why’ becomes appropriate.

  110. JQ, thanks for your reply. I said:

    “JQ, what Soon / Baliunas said about CFCs has nothing to do with what they said about anything else.�

    You replied:

    On the contrary, the argument on CFCs was almost identical to that on global warming, and Baliunas explicitly linked the two.

    We were talking about the Soon / Baliunas paper on the MWP being a worldwide phenomenon, and listing over 200 proxies.

    What on earth does that have to do with CFCs?

    My point is simple. Soon and Baliunas presented evidence to show the MWP was a worldwide phenomenon. If you want to refute that conclusion, you have to refute that evidence.

    Refuting their arguments or evidence re: CFCs means nothing about the Medieval Warm Period.

    Do you have anything to refute their evidence about the MWP? if not … once again, John, we’re to the “put up or shut up” time regarding evidence. Handwaving and talking about CFCs won’t do it. Ad hominems are not enough. They’ve listed over 200 proxies showing the MWP existed all around the world. You claim it was only a local European phenomenon.

    And your evidence for that claim is? …

    w.

  111. Willis, your claim is that I should accept a summary of the evidence even if it comes from known liars (your example, and applicable here, as I’ve already pointed out). How does this work?

    Have you checked each of the 200 proxies, and made sure there are no others omitted? If not, what do you have to go on apart from the authority of Soon and Baliunas, which is worthless?

  112. 20 Feb 06

    I am always intrigued by the uncrticial attitude of JQ and his acolyte to anything on Kyoto which supports their core beliefs. Frankly I find it hard to belive any reputable economic or econometric journal could have published the article by Osborne and Briffa in Science (10 Feb 06) that has been widely reported as confirming AGM and in particular the IPCC’s controversial reliance on Michael Mann’s (et al.) “hockey stick” portrayal of global temperatures over the last millennium to the present.
    However O&B actually demonstrate that there was in fact a period of significant warmth around 1400 (without admitting that Mann et al. had not shown this), and that it was not much less pronounced (their Fig.2) than the present warming (allowing for uncertainties over whether tree rings are truly an accurate temperature gauge within not more than 1 degree C margins of error). Nevertheless O&B still conclude “the late 20th century was the warmest period during the last millennium” (p.841).

    But there are other problems with their paper:

    1. The authors used only those proxy records (14 in all) that “are positively correlated with their local temperature observations” (since those became available about 1850). This is a bit like joining up only those dots in a scatter diagram that fit a preconceived hypothesis, or in other words, there appears to be some cherry picking here. Why are the many other tree ring series Not “positively correlated”?

    2. This leads on to the validity of the correlations as presented. Only two of the 11 tree ring series used by O&B have correlations greater than 0.5. This suggests that the null hypothesis of b = 1 for the equation TR = a + bt (which is required for use of tree rings as proxies for temperature) is not confirmed.

    3. Whilst O&B rely on the equation

    TR = a + bt …… (1)

    (where TR are tree ring widths, and t is temperature)

    for the instrumental period since 1850, since it is known that tree ring widths are somewhat correlated with – and caused by – changes in temperature, they also perforce have to rely on the somewhat more dubious relation

    t = d + cTR ……(2)

    for the earlier period before 1850, when we have no general instrumental temperature record, so in effect temperature is “caused” by tree ring widths. Yet O&B assume that the correlations they find between TR and t after 1850 hold for the earlier period. For that period the nul hypothesis is

    c = 0

    and is supposedly refuted by the correlation coefficients cited by O&B.

    But if the correlation coefficients as cited by O&B are correct and both >0 but

  113. JQ, thanks for posting. You ask why we should believe Soon/Baliunas, which is an excellent question.

    First, I like to look at the history of an idea. The idea of the Medieval Warm Period was first postulated by Bryson et. al. in 1963, followed by Lamb in 1965. Lamb believed, and produced a variety of evidence to support the claim, that the MWP was a worldwide phenomenon.

    This contention was not seriously challenged until the MBH98 “hockeystick” paper by Mann et. al., although the idea that the MWP covered at least the Northern Hemisphere has been supported by one of Manns co-authors (Briffa 2000), as well as by Esper et. al. (2002)

    So the idea of a worldwide MWP is not Soon’s, nor is it Baliunas’s. It was actually orthodox belief among climate researchers until the Mann hockeystick.

    In response to Mann’s claim, Soon and Baliunas looked at a wide range of proxies that were not available to Lamb or Bryson. While I have by no means checked all of the Soon/Baliunas proxies, the ones that I have checked do indeed show that the MWP existed in a wide variety of places (I chose a couple from each of the areas to check on).

    So that’s what I have to go on, that and the fact that I have not heard of (nor can I find on Google) anyone saying that the cited proxies do not show what is claimed. People have disagreed with the Soon/Baliunas conclusions, but the proxies have not been disputed.

    The main objection to the Soon/Baliunas paper seems to have been that the peak of the warming has occurred at different times in different proxies. Given the generally low resolution of the proxies, along with the fact that the modern warming, while worldwide, has not affected the world equally in either timing or amount of warming, this is not surprising to me.

    In addition, I look at other studies. Here are some typical references about the MWP from around the world:

    Reference
    Daniels, J.M. and Knox, J.C. 2005. Alluvial stratigraphic evidence for channel incision during the Mediaeval Warm Period on the central Great plains, USA. The Holocene 15: 736-747.

    Description
    Alluvial stratigraphic data from the upper Republican River, southwest Nebraska, USA, provided evidence for major channel incision between c. 1100 and 800 14C yr BP that correlates with a multicentennial episode of common, widespread drought, which the authors state is associated with the Medieval Warm Period, which occurred between AD 900 and 1200.

    Reference
    Williams, P.W., King, D.N.T., Zhao, J.-X. and Collerson, K.D. 2004. Speleothem master chronologies: combined Holocene 18O and 13C records from the North Island of New Zealand and their palaeoenvironmental interpretation. The Holocene 14: 194-208.

    Description
    Temperatures were inferred from δ18O data obtained from four stalagmites found in caves at Waitomo (38.3°S, 175.1°E) on New Zealand’s North Island for which 19 TIMS uranium series ages were measured. The Medieval Warm Period occurred between AD 1100 and 1400 and was warmer than the Current Warm Period.

    Reference
    Mauquoy, D., Blaauw, M., van, Geel, B., Borromei, A., Quattrocchio, M., Chambers, F.M. and Possnert, G. 2004. Late Holocene climatic changes in Tierra del Fuego based on multiproxy analyses of peat deposits. Quaternary Research 61: 148-158.

    Description
    Changes in temperature and/or precipitation were inferred from plant macrofossils, pollen, fungal spores, testate amebae and peat humification in peat monoliths collected from the Valle de Andorra about 10 km to the northeast of Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina (54.75°S, 68.4°W). Mauquoy et al. report finding evidence for a period of warming-induced drier conditions from AD 960-1020 that “seems to correspond to the Medieval Warm period (MWP, as defined in the Northern Hemisphere)” and “shows that the MWP was possibly synchronous in both hemispheres.”

    Reference
    Khim, B.-K., Yoon, H.I., Kang, C.Y. and Bahk, J.J. 2002. Unstable climate oscillations during the Late Holocene in the Eastern Bransfield Basin, Antarctic Peninsula. Quaternary Research 58: 234-245.

    Description
    General climatic features were inferred from a study of the grain size, total organic carbon content, biogenic silica content and, most importantly, magnetic susceptibility of 210Pb- and 14C-dated sediments retrieved from the eastern Bransfield Basin (61°58.9’S, 55°57.4’W) just off the northern tip of the Antarctic Peninsula. Most of the Medieval Warm Period (AD 1050-1550) was warmer than the Current Warm Period.

    Reference
    Qian, W. and Zhu, Y. 2002. Little Ice Age climate near Beijing, China, inferred from historical and stalagmite records. Quaternary Research 57: 109-119.

    Description
    General climatic conditions were inferred from analyses of several data sets, one of which was a record of annual calcite accumulation in a stalagmite found in Shihua, Cave, Beijing. The Medieval Warm Period occurred between AD 940 and 1200.

    Reference
    Cini Castagnoli, G., Taricco, C. and Alessio, S. 2005. Isotopic record in a maring shallow-water core: Imprint of solar centennial cycles in the past 2 millennia. Advances in Space Research 35: 504-508.

    Description
    Plotted δ13C data from a two-millennia-long tree-ring record of Japanese cedars growing on Yakushima Island, southern Japan (30°20’N, 130°30’E). The authors describe the Medieval Warm Period as an interval of high temperature between 800 and 1200 AD.

    OK, so in addition to Soon/Baliunas’s list of proxies, that’s other evidence of a warm period starting around 800-1000 AD and continuing to around 1200-1400 AD, from North America, South America, Antarctica, China, Japan, and New Zealand. Note that some of these authors themselves, not anyone else, say that their research shows that the MWP was a global phenomena.

    Lamb, in his 1965 study, said “‘[M]ultifarious evidence of a meteorological nature from historical records, as well as archaeological, botanical and glaciological evidence in various parts of the world from the Arctic to New Zealand . . . has been found to suggest a warmer epoch lasting several centuries between about A.D. 900 or 1000 and about 1200 or 1300.” Soon and Baliunas found the same.

    Now, if you don’t believe those proxies, John, you can’t blame Soon and Baliunas. They didn’t do the studies. They didn’t come up with the idea of a worldwide MWP. If you don’t believe the MWP was a worldwide phenomena, as Lamb believed based on all of his research, and as climate scientists generally believed from 1965 until the Mann “hockeystick” debacle, go find a hundred proxies that say it wasn’t warm during that period in some part of the world.

    There are a couple such proxies … and they are listed by Soon and Baliunas in their paper. The majority of the proxies all around the world, on the other hand, show a warm period during that time.

    You ask what basis we have for believing Soon and Baliunas? I read the paper, I read the history, I read selected proxies from their paper, I read other proxies. I found that Soon/Baliunas made no revolutionary or new claims, they just agreed with Lamb and with lots of proxies and with 40 years of climatologists.

    In other words, I made up my mind based on the EVIDENCE. The preponderance of the evidence says yes, as Lamb said, and as climatologists believed for decades, the MWP was a worldwide phenomenon.

    What do you do? You may not believe Soon/Baliunas for some ad hominem reason … but on what basis do you not believe Lamb, or Briffa, or Esper, or the evidence of the proxies themselves?

    w.

  114. Tim (Curtin), your excellent post was cut off, likely because it included the “less than” symbol, the opposite of the “>” symbol. It seems the WordPress software interprets the “less than” symbol as the start of a meta-tag, and goes off the rails. You might try posting it again and replacing the symbol with the words “less than” … hope this makes sense, when I can’t actually type the symbol or my post will be cut off.

    w.

  115. 20 Feb 06

    My first posting was cut off in full flight! Hope this gets through the filters!

    The article by Osborne and Briffa in Science (10 Feb 06) has been widely reported as confirming AGM and in particular the IPCC’s controversial reliance on Michael Mann’s (et al.) “hockey stick” portrayal of global temperatures over the last millennium to the present. However O&B actually demonstrate that there was in fact a period of significant warmth around 1400 (without admitting that Mann et al. had not shown this), and that it was not much less pronounced (their Fig.2) than the present warming (allowing for uncertainties over whether tree rings are truly an accurate temperature gauge within not more than 1 degree C margins of error). Nevertheless O&B still conclude “the late 20th century was the warmest period during the last millennium” (p.841).

    But there are other problems with their paper:

    1. The authors used only those proxy records (14 in all) that “are positively correlated with their local temperature observations” (since those became available about 1850). This is a bit like joining up only those dots in a scatter diagram that fit a preconceived hypothesis, or in other words, there appears to be some cherry picking here. Why are the many other tree ring series Not “positively correlated”?

    2. This leads on to the validity of the correlations as presented. Only two of the 11 tree ring series used by O&B have correlations greater than 0.5. This suggests that the null hypothesis of b = 1 for the equation TR = a + bt (which is required for use of tree rings as proxies for temperature) is not confirmed.

    3. Whilst O&B rely on the equation

    TR = a + bt …… (1)

    (where TR are tree ring widths, and t is temperature)

    for the instrumental period since 1850, since it is known that tree ring widths are somewhat correlated with – and caused by – changes in temperature, they also perforce have to rely on the somewhat more dubious relation

    t = d + cTR ……(2)

    for the earlier period before 1850, when we have no general instrumental temperature record, so in effect temperature is “caused” by tree ring widths. Yet O&B assume that the correlations they find between TR and t after 1850 hold for the earlier period. For that period the nul hypothesis is

    c = 0

    and is supposedly refuted by the correlation coefficients cited by O&B.

    But if the correlation coefficients as cited by O&B are correct and both >0 but

  116. Willis, just in the list of citations above, you’ve got the MWP running from 800 to 1550 (overlapping the Little Ice Age) while one of the cited studies gives it only 60 years. One study has it *ending* in 1020, in other it doesn’t *begin* until 1050. It looks as if the same label has been attached to events at radically different times and places, just as claimed by Mann et al.

  117. I am always intrigued by the uncrticial attitude of JQ and his acolyte to anything on Kyoto which supports their core beliefs.

    I’m curious: what’s the acolyte’s name?

    Frankly I find it hard to belive any reputable economic or econometric journal could have published the article by Osborne and Briffa in Science (10 Feb 06) that has been widely reported as confirming AGM

    Wow. In the ten days since publication, this thing must have been widely reported indeed.

    Google News Search: osborne briffa

    Your search – osborne briffa – did not match any documents.

    Or maybe not.

    And what’s this AGM stuff anyway? Annual General Meeting? Assistant General Manager? Air to Ground Missile?

    And yeah, it’s hard to believe that a reputable “economic or econometric journal” like Science would have published it, isn’t it?

    Sheesh.

  118. 20 Feb 06

    Thanks Willis, here it is #3 without offending symbols.

    The article by Osborne and Briffa in Science (10 Feb 06) has been widely reported as confirming AGM and in particular the IPCC’s controversial reliance on Michael Mann’s (et al.) “hockey stick” portrayal of global temperatures over the last millennium to the present. However O&B actually demonstrate that there was in fact a period of significant warmth around 1400 (without admitting that Mann et al. had not shown this), and that it was not much less pronounced (their Fig.2) than the present warming (allowing for uncertainties over whether tree rings are truly an accurate temperature gauge within not more than 1 degree C margins of error). Nevertheless O&B still conclude “the late 20th century was the warmest period during the last millennium” (p.841).

    But there are other problems with their paper:

    1. The authors used only those proxy records (14 in all) that “are positively correlated with their local temperature observations” (since those became available about 1850). This is a bit like joining up only those dots in a scatter diagram that fit a preconceived hypothesis, or in other words, there appears to be some cherry picking here. Why are the many other tree ring series Not “positively correlated”?

    2. This leads on to the validity of the correlations as presented. Only two of the 11 tree ring series used by O&B have correlations greater than 0.5. This suggests that the null hypothesis of b = 1 for the equation TR = a + bt (which is required for use of tree rings as proxies for temperature) is not confirmed.

    3. Whilst O&B rely on the equation

    TR = a + bt …… (1)

    (where TR are tree ring widths, and t is temperature)

    for the instrumental period since 1850, since it is known that tree ring widths are somewhat correlated with – and caused by – changes in temperature, they also perforce have to rely on the somewhat more dubious relation

    t = d + cTR ……(2)

    for the earlier period before 1850, when we have no general instrumental temperature record, so in effect temperature is “caused” by tree ring widths. Yet O&B assume that the correlations they find between TR and t after 1850 hold for the earlier period. For that period the nul hypothesis is

    c = 0

    and is supposedly refuted by the correlation coefficients cited by O&B.

    But if the correlation coefficients as cited by O&B are correct and both greater than 0 but less than 1, then there is some reason to believe that the temperatures asserted by them for the period before 1850 should be at least doubled, since on average their 11 tree ring correlations are less than 0.5. Thus the medieval warm period they admit to for around 1400 may well have been twice as warm as they claim, and therefore at least as warm as the period of the later 20th century.

    4. Another curiosum in O&B is that nearly all of their proxies show a DOWNTURN in northern hemisphere temperatures in the first half of the 1990s.

    5. Oddly enough, only one of the proxies used by O&B is from ice cores (from W. Greenland). Is that because the well-known cores from elsewhere are not “positively correlated” with instrumental temperatures as appears to be implied by their exclusion by O&B? That is quite likely, as much of the ice core data implies that temperature is a function of CO2 rather than the converse, because of the lags between first temperature increases and then increases in CO2. On the other hand the Greenland ice core seems to confirm the warm period there when dairy farming was possible (according to Jared Diamond).

    JQ – please forgive any spelling mistuks in the above.

    Tim Curtin

  119. Tim, maybe I’m missing something, but when I did econometrics a proxy was a variable correlated with the variable of interest.

  120. Professor Quiggin, Willis is now repeating stuff from about 500 posts ago. He has already posted on the MWP and another even more obscure supposed global phenomenon, the Rome Warm Period.

    Wouldn’t it be better to close this debate off until something new and substantive happens in the AGW debate?

    The findings of the recently convened NAS panel to assess the scientific evidence on temperature reconstructions might provide a good topic for further discussion.

    I realise slick Willie and his acolytes will wave their fingers and complain of censorship but I cannot see the point in going around in circles for another 1,000 bloody posts!

    Willis can go play somewhere else like TechCentralStation or JunkScience if he wants to win further disciples to his anti-science crusade.

  121. Steve weighs in with his usual ad hominem … although the idea that I have “acolytes” is kind of cool, I always wanted “acolytes”, all of the evil overlords in the comic books have acolytes … he says shut it down, John, shut down the conversation quickly …

    JQ, what you seem to be ignoring is that the idea of a global MWP was the common, prevailing, orthodox belief, taught in schools and accepted by climate scientists, for about 30 years.

    Then, Michael Mann published the “hockeystick”, which claimed there was no global MWP. To my knowledge, no evidence of this claim other than the “hockeystick” exists. If you know of some evidence other than Mann’s paper, please tell us.

    For true believers such as yourself, Mann’s paper alone was enough to overthrow the 30 year belief. Other people, however, said “huh? Where’d the MWP go?”

    Now, the old saw says “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Mann’s paper has been found wanting by many people, is by no means generally accepted, and does not therefore qualify as extraordinary evidence. Me, I don’t think it’s evidence at all, because of poor data, poor methods, and poor statistics. By any description, however, it’s not extraordinary evidence.

    It is certainly not enough to overthrow a 30 year old belief based on, as Lamb said in 1965, “[M]ultifarious evidence of a meteorological nature from historical records, as well as archaeological, botanical and glaciological evidence in various parts of the world from the Arctic to New Zealand …”

    Nor is the fact that according to some proxies, in some parts of the world the warmth continued to as late as the 1500’s, enough to overthrow the idea of a global MWP. While you might not like that the proxy in question says that … well, that’s what it says. All that means is that according to the evidence, the warmth lasted longer in some parts of the world.

    But throw that proxy entirely out if you want, John, that’s fine. It does not disprove the global MWP, just says it lasted a long time. There’s still, as Lamb noted, multifarious proxies that support a global MWP.

    The one thing that stands out in this discussion, though, is that you haven’t produced one bit of evidence to support your claim that there was no global MWP. You attack the odd proxy that you disagree with, you say that Soon and Baliunas are not believable, but you don’t produce any evidence … this is getting familiar …

    I keep asking for evidence … Steve says I’m on an “anti-science crusade” and doesn’t offer any … John repeats ad hominems, throws out the odd proxy, and doesn’t offer any … what’s wrong with this picture?

    w.

  122. Willis, I agree with Steve. Your continued complaints about lack of evidence are just silly. I don’t have time to repeat the thousands of studies that make up the case for AGW, and neither do you. On the other hand, whenever I have looked at any of these issues in any detail, starting with urban heat islands and going on to satellites, solar cycles and so on, it’s turned out that the scientists were right and their critics were wrong. In this case, it only took me five minutes to point out glaring contradictions in the case you assembled, which leaves only the summary assertions of a pair of well-known hacks with a track record of predictable error.

    You’ve had your say on demands for evidence. Unless you have something new to say, I suggest you take this point to the IPCC. Please don’t raise it again here.

  123. Good question Willis, and it’s hard to know where to start. From where I sit, the most egregious flaw in this diorama is the aplomb with which you ignore counterarguments, (or in my case, counter-arguers). In just the last few posts, you have neglected to address JQ’s very valid point about the dissonance across your “global MWP” sources, (even as your indignance with the hockey stick gains intensity). You have neglected address the multiple specific instances cited by Steve where, according to him, you made patently false statements and passed them off as fact. And you ignore JQ’s, mine and others requests for reputable scientific work that rebuts the AGW hypothesis.

    To make matters worse, you refuse to back off your high handed italicized bold pleas for evidence as if somehow you were the one playing it straight. Get off of it. If you want to play the child who in the throws of a temper tantrum insists he cannot hear you, don’t expect us to pull your fingers out of your ears.

  124. Majorajam, I believe that I have addressed each and every point brought up by Steve. He doesn’t like the evidence I have presented, and insists that I am “lying”, which is nonsense. OK, fine, he doesn’t like the evidence I have cited, but I’m neither lying nor am I ignoring his points. Steve, of course, has repeatedly refused to back up his slanderous claims of “lying” with any specifics … he said I “lied” about the Medieval Warm Period, for example, and about coral reefs … but he has repeatedly refused my reasonable requests to say where I lied, or what I lied about. Believe him at your peril, he’s real quick to call a man a liar, but he’s a pusillanimous, craven coward when it comes to backing up his nasty insinuations.

    Nor have I ignored JQ’s point about the “dissonance” of one of the papers I cited. I addressed it directly in my last post. I said OK, throw out the dissonant papers, there are still (as Lamb pointed out in 1965, and as was not questioned until the Mann “hockeystick, and as was expanded upon by Soon and Baliunas) hundreds of proxy studies from all over the world showing a global MWP. To disprove this, you need to start by disproving Lamb’s original proxies, and then disproving the Soon/Baliunas proxies, and the Esper proxies, and the Briffa proxies, all of which show an MWP which is not just a local phenomenon.

    JQ’s merely saying that a single proxy I quoted shows warming until 1550 does not come close to doing that. For you both to think that his comment about a single proxy somehow settles the issue speaks volumes about your misunderstanding of the weight of evidence supporting a global MWP, evidence which was very convincing as far back as 1965. John’s assertion that the case for a global MWP rests only on Soon and Baliunas is a tragic joke. And contrary to your claim, I have not ignored the issue, I have dealt with it in detail, and am doing so here again. You have not read, or perhaps have not understood, what I said. Disagreeing with one proxy (a proxy which in any case is not cited by either Lamb or Soon/Baliunas) does not disprove their work.

    Nor am I ignoring JQ’s and your request for reputable scientific work that rebuts the AGW hypothesis. I have explained patiently and at length about the weakness of the evidence for either side, which is why I am agnostic on the question. I have not seen good scientific papers for either side. You have ignored this entirely. I am not claiming that AGW is false. I am saying that we have neither the theory, nor the raw data, nor the evidence to decide either way. Is that so hard to understand?

    I have asked repeatedly for evidence of AGW, precisely for this reason — it doesn’t exist. Your handwaving is not playing it straight, nor is JQ’s saying “it’s in the IPCC report”. I have read that report very carefully, and found only computer model results, which are not evidence. Yet when asked where the evidence is in the IPCC report, JQ refuses to answer.

    Majorajam, I have asked here for evidence in part because of John’s rather ugly claim that I am denying the evidence. I reasonably said “what evidence am I denying?”. It is a matter of common courtesy, if you are accusing a man of denying some evidence, to tell him what evidence you think he is denying. Seems like a simple enough question to me … but it is still unanswered.

    Now JQ just says ‘don’t ask for evidence here again’, which could serve as the inscription on the gravestone of this blog as far as science goes … don’t ask for evidence in a discussion about science? … oooh, that’s too good, the AGW case in a nutshell …

    Done, John, done, I shan’t bother you with requests for evidence again, I won’t ask for facts again, your minds are clearly made up … bear in mind, though, that in the event, you have not provided any evidence on this blog for AGW, despite rubbishing me and every other skeptic for “denying” your supposed (but mysteriously invisible) evidence.

    My congratulations to everyone for being engaged and passionate about this issue, my regards to all of the lurkers, my apologies to anyone I may have wronged, my thanks to those who have read all of this with an open mind.

    w.

  125. Willis – at the risk of setting of another 500 posts I will wade in here with my thoughts.

    There is no real dispute that there was a warming period in medieval times. It is shown fairly clearly in MBH99 and all the other studies.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temperature_record_of_the_past_1000_years
    There are also SOME tentative evidence that it was not just confined to Europe despite very misleading descriptions of research at CO2Science.
    http://stevegloor.typepad.com/sgloor/2006/02/bogus_descripti.html

    Now this is presented by contrarians as the smoking gun that present AGW is wrong however this argument is as false as it can be. You and other contrarians are using the MWP as another wedge argument to confuse the issue. I must admit you do stay on topic very well with the Hockey Stick bogus argument followed closely by the MWP and LIA argument.

    So what is wrong with it? It is very very obvious that even though there was a MWP that does not preclude in any, way, shape or form the present warming we are experiencing now being caused by human emitted greenhouse gases and land use changes. Climate change and warming have many causes and to try to say that the MWP happened before large scale human activity occcured therefore present day warming is not being caused by human activity is so wrong that I am continually surprised that contrarians get away with even mentioning it.

    Also how do you know the MWP was not caused by human activity? You have offered no evidence at all of the causes of the MWP and LIA. These could well have been caused by large scale deforrestion carried out by medieval people – you do not know that it wasn’t. It could have been caused by a volcano or methane burp from an area that there is no records for and be completely unconnected with the causes of the present warming. Please give all of us a rest from this bogus argument.

  126. Hey, Ender, thanks for the post, but you’re pursuing a straw man. Check my posts. I never said that either the MWP, or the LIA, either proved or disproved anything about the existence or non-existence of AGW.

    Also, you are wrong to say the MWP shows up in “MBH99 and all the other studies”, as this whole MWP issue rose to prominence precisely because the MWP didn’t show up in the MBH98 “hockeystick” study.

    At that point, AGW adherents faced an ugly choice — accept the “hockeystick” and deny the global MWP, or vice versa. Unfortunately, they opted for vice rather than versa, and the modern attempt to deny a global MWP began.

    It is worth keeping in mind that the global MWP was first postulated by Lamb way back in 1965, and was an accepted tenet of climate science for decades — it’s not a modern denialist idea dreamed up by evil anti-AGW forces. It’s an old, well accepted idea. Those of you struggling so hard against the truth of the global MWP seem curiously unaware of the age, the decades of acceptance, and the huge amount of evidence supporting the idea.

    So, I fear I can’t “give all of us a rest from this bogus argument”, as I have not been making the argument that the existence of the global MWP proves anything except that the “hockeystick” wasn’t accurate … it’s just a straw man to claim I said it proves anything about AGW.

    All the best,

    w.

  127. Willis – have another look at the graph of MBH99 – there it is in blue

    You can clearly see the peak and the dip. The conclusion that that the IPCC made from MBH99 is that recent GLOBAL warming is unprecedented in the last 1000 years and all the proxy studies, without denying the MWP or LIA, show that current temps are indeed unprecendented. No amount of nit-picking or wedge tactics can take this away. The main question that we have is whether the MWP was regional or global and what caused it.

    So what is the point of mentioning the MWP at all?

  128. At that point, AGW adherents faced an ugly choice — accept the “hockeystick� and deny the global MWP, or vice versa. Unfortunately, they opted for vice rather than versa, and the modern attempt to deny a global MWP began.

    Actually, there is a third chose here. AGW adherents could read MBH99, and realise that the paper supports the existence of a hemispheric MWP. The authors of the paper state this quite clearly.

    Next time Willis, could you read the MBH papers before making stuff up about them.

  129. Ender, thanks for the post and the reference. Please note that I have never referred to that graph or that study. I have referred exclusively to the MBH98 “hockeystick” study.

    The hockeystick basically flatlined both the MWP and the LIA, leading to the dilemma I mentioned above.

    The 99 study, as you point out, shows both. However, both studies suffer, as has been reported by various investigators, from problems with method, with data, and with statistics.

    The method problem involves improper centering of the PC components, leading to an algorithm that mines for hockeystick.

    The data problems are also severe, involving both the use of unarchived or “grey” versions of proxy data, and the inclusion of proxies known not to be sensitive to temperature.

    The statistics problem is that temperature data, as well as temperature proxy data, is strongly autocorrelated. The determination of various statistical measures of significance is quite different in autocorrelated series. This has not been taken into account, and has led to claimed signicance where none existed.

    Finally, an overarching problem with tree ring data (which comprises most of the problematic data sets, as well as most of the data sets) is that there is no way to tell if a narrow ring means the year was really hot or really cold, as both produce narrow rings … as far as I know, to date there is no practical solution to this problem.

    Now, one of the effects of this is that in dendrochronological studies such as MBH98 and others, narrow rings mean only one thing — cold. The effect of this error is to flatten any high parts of the record … such as the MWP.

    Finally, narrow tree rings in hot weather are a function of available water. With enough water, a tree grows happily and produces wide rings at a temperature where it is withering and hardly growing without water, and producing narrow rings. The effect of this confounding variable can be large, and is not accounted for in the Mann studies.

    So me, I don’t draw any conclusions from either of those studies. Too many problems to conclude anything.

    w.

  130. Ken, thank you for posting. You say:

    Actually, there is a third chose here. AGW adherents could read MBH99, and realise that the paper supports the existence of a hemispheric MWP. The authors of the paper state this quite clearly.

    Next time Willis, could you read the MBH papers before making stuff up about them.

    I have never referred to the 99 paper prior to this evening, only the 98 paper, which I have read quite carefully, thank you. I have also read the 99 paper, but nowhere near as closely.

    Indeed, the 99 paper shows the MWP was at least hemispheric, which kinda ups the odds that the other hemisphere was affected … then add in all of Lamb’s 1965 proxies, and whichever of the Soon and Baliunas proxies you don’t throw out (perhaps justifiably throw out, but by any reasonable a priori criteria it won’t be all 240 proxies) and hey, it’s a global MWP.

    But that’s not really the question. The question is, was it warmer in the MWP than it is today? If it was, then the current termperature is not unprecented. Eric the Red says yes, subsistence agriculture in Greenland was possible then, but after a few centuries of good times, it cooled down and the ice came down and the cattle died and the crops failed and the colonies got hungry and left.

    What do the Mann studies say?

    I have dealt above with the documented problems with the Mann papers, problems of method, data, and statistics. I have also mentioned the flattening effect of the tree ring linearity assumption. Because of those problems, any conclusion that the MWP was more or less warm cannot be drawn from either of these papers.

    What do I think? Hey, I’m a sailor … I gotta go with Eric the Red, along with other historical records, and northermost plantings of vines, and dates of harvest, and treeline variations, and of course Lamb’s and other proxies … my best guess is, the MWP was at least as warm as today, and probably warmer.

    w.

    PS – Curiously, this conclusion that the MWP was warmer than today is supported by Mann’s original MBH98 study if done properly. If you correct all of the errors of method and data in that study, and re-run Mann’s original analysis, it shows a warmer 14th century than the present … but of course, it’s still not significant, still very low R2.

  131. Somthing relevant from Steve Gilliard today:

    Which is why we toss trolls here. You can not have an argument with a dishonest person, and you have to keep in mind that while they play on your decency, they will not follow the same rules.

    The context is slightly different – Steve is talking about dishonest wingnut Republican trolls rather than dishonest wingnut greenhouse sceptic trolls – but the conclusion is still valid: “You can not have an argument with a dishonest person, and you have to keep in mind that while they play on your decency, they will not follow the same rules.

  132. Curiously, this conclusion that the MWP was warmer than today is supported by Mann’s original MBH98 study if done properly. If you correct all of the errors of method and data in that study, and re-run Mann’s original analysis, it shows a warmer 14th century than the present … but of course, it’s still not significant, still very low R2.

    Out of interest do you have a reference of who and where this was redone “properly”.

  133. SJ, if your post is a roundabout way of accusing me of dishonesty, I would again ask as a matter of decency that you make your accusation plain … what are you saying I am “dishonest” about?

    And if not … then who are you talking about, and what are they dishonest about?

    I’ve never seen a blog with folks so fast to call a man a liar … and so slow to back up their words …

    w.

  134. I saw the program in question, and it appeared to me that there were two separate issues discussed.

    The first was whether the environment minister’s policy documents on global warming issues were written for him by people in the energy industry rather than his own staff. Leaving aside the question of the credibility of the whistle blower, of whether he understood what he was told, of whether the people he talked to were stringing him along, and so on, there is another glaring credibility problem. If you are left wing, pro environment, and politically driven, the place in government where you are going to want to end up is the environment ministry. It’s surely not unfair to say that a large number of the staff there are not going to be prepared to stand for any sort of dodgy behaviour from energy industry representatives. So how could this happen for years without anyone noticing and commenting? It’s normal practice for anyone to submit comments to the minster which can end up being incorporated into his briefing by his staff. I would suggest that it is thus more likely that there is a misunderstanding somewhere in the process about what information was being suppied to who, and that it’s probably the energy people who are fooling themselves.

    The second issue was the question of whether CSIRO scientists were being censored. If a Coles checkout girl were to publicly announce that Coles were selling cornflakes for 10c a box on a particular day, the result would be to place a great deal of pressure on the management of Coles. They would either have to honour the offer or publically deny it and accept the ensuing bad publicity. The problem is that because the checkout girl works for the company, her pronouncements gain a level of credibilty that they would not otherwise have. This applies to all companies, political parties, and other organisations: management do not like to see juniors forcing their hand, and it is normal for people who work for an organisation to be expected to understand this and self censor their comments appropriately. Imagine what would happen if the deputy vice president of the NSW branch of Greenpeace announced that nuclear testing did no real harm to the environment and that in future greenpeace would be lobbying for more of it? How long would he keep his job? If he held such an opinion he would be expected to keep it to himself. Academics and scientists are normally given a lot of leeway in expressing their opinions, but outside of universities it’s not open slather. You can understand that academics think they have a right to say what they want, and you can understand that the government don’t, and you can also understand that this causes resentment. The director of the CSIRO seemed to me to take the view that his staff could say what they wanted within their own fields, but if they went outside their fields they should not say things that could be used against the government. That seems to me to be an eminently sensible compromise. It appears that the scientist at the centre of the argument wasn’t prepared to accept that, and was fired for it (or “made redundant”). I don’t find that surprising, or particularly sinister. It seemed clear to me that the issue was not one of suppressing comment about a particular field of study, but one of acceptance of authority.

    In short, it seems to me that both stories were beatups. The reporter’s closing comments left no doubt about why she would choose to present the stories as she did.

  135. Willis,

    Appreciate the thorough response, but I’m not so sure it passes the smell test. Starting from the top, your statement: “Steve, of course, has repeatedly refused to back up his slanderous claims of ‘lying’ with any specifics … he said I ‘lied’ about the Medieval Warm Period, for example, and about coral reefs … but he has repeatedly refused my reasonable requests to say where I lied, or what I lied about.”

    Does not square with a cursory reading of this thread. Steve’s most recent post states- “he lied about reef recovery times after bleaching events, he lied about coral growth rates, he misled by ignoring the fact that the more biologically significant branching corals are often crowded out by less biologically significant forms after bleaching events and he misled by implying that in general ‘the warmer the better’ for coral reefs.

    On other issues he lied and misled with respective to CO2 forcings (although he later changed to admitting 3.7 W/m2 stefan-boltzman), he deceived in claiming that the IUCN Red List is up-to-date and the final word on species status when in fact I showed an example of it being 10 years out of date and he deceived by saying lab results and modelling results are not evidence but later brazenly using both of these to shore up his own arguments without a hint of shame.”

    which sounds pretty specific to me, (in particular “warmer the better”, the IUCN Red List, etc.). Now, perhaps there is a history here that you don’t care to rehash, but these are serious enough accusations that you should acknowledge them and perhaps link or refer to a prior rebuttal if there was one. If not, it doesn’t reflect well your credibility.

    Some way further on, you summarize: “John’s assertion that the case for a global MWP rests only on Soon and Baliunas is a tragic joke. And contrary to your claim, I have not ignored the issue, I have dealt with it in detail, and am doing so here again. You have not read, or perhaps have not understood, what I said. Disagreeing with one proxy (a proxy which in any case is not cited by either Lamb or Soon/Baliunas) does not disprove their work.”

    However, there you have incorrectly represented John’s counterargument: ” you’ve got the MWP running from 800 to 1550 (overlapping the Little Ice Age) while one of the cited studies gives it only 60 years. One study has it *ending* in 1020, in other it doesn’t *begin* until 1050. It looks as if the same label has been attached to events at radically different times and places, just as claimed by Mann et al.” Now, my interpretation is of this is, “various unrelated proxies have been connected by hacks to ‘debunk’ a theory that goes toward the lack of precedent for current warming.” Hmm.. That does sound a bit fishy, right? And speaking of, it is furthermore insufficient to “throw out” the various selected proxy studies that are in discord. You don’t have to be a scientist to realize that picking and choosing the evidence that supports your theory isn’t a sound methodology. What is required, and I imagine we can agree with this, is academic work that summarizes the sea of evidence to conclude on the nature of the MWP. In that, JQ is not happy to except such a synopsis from scientists who’ve shown themselves to be more interested in (and probably more rewarded by), an agenda than in science. I can’t say as I blame him.

    Finally, I read this, which irked me something awful:

    “Nor am I ignoring JQ’s and your request for reputable scientific work that rebuts the AGW hypothesis. I have explained patiently and at length about the weakness of the evidence for either side, which is why I am agnostic on the question. I have not seen good scientific papers for either side. You have ignored this entirely. I am not claiming that AGW is false. I am saying that we have neither the theory, nor the raw data, nor the evidence to decide either way. Is that so hard to understand?”

    Your being ‘agnostic’ is a thinly veiled ruse. Every reasonable person understands that there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty inherant in any model of global climate, (though this is not by any means unique to climate models. Many more mundane predictions- such as budgets- are also fraught with uncertainty). What defines your position in this debate is not your acknowledgement of that uncertainty, but your judgement based on the EVIDENCE about the likelihood/potency of the AGW effect. If you are a “AGW proponent”, (and a reasonable one), your judgement might be that there is a 70% likelihood that carbon emissions have a considerable effect on average temperatures, and that preponderance of probability will cause you to advocate policy that reduces carbon emissions. If you are an “AGW skeptic”, (and a reasonable one- presuming any exist), you might propose the reverse, and therefore believe that based on the small risk, no measure of caution is required. The point is that no one in this debate, outside of looney tunes like Michael Crighton, is assured about their understanding of the global climate system. In other words, this idea that you are “agnostic” is not so much superfluous as it is a sorry cop out.

    Given that, your refusal to cite evidence that rebuts AGW and tilts the scales against the evidence that supports it, cited here, (e.g. the proven physics of the greenhouse effect, the evidence of the anomalous nature of the current warming and the multitudinous models of climate that support AGW) is damning. As any lawyer will tell you, it takes more than cross-examination to win a case and, as I will tell you, the flimsy argument that, “computer models are not evidence” is not even that. Please see further up this thread for my response to that ruse. Even more worryingly on a subsequent post it became clear that not only was your claim to being ‘agnostic’ beside the point, it was also disingenuous. This further impinges on your credibility. I say that after reading (which as an aside borders on the farcical):

    “What do I think? … I gotta go with Eric the Red, along with other historical records, and northermost plantings of vines, and dates of harvest, and treeline variations, and of course Lamb’s and other proxies … my best guess is, the MWP was at least as warm as today, and probably warmer.”

    So, to summarize your personal views 1) computer models are not evidence and therefore the physics of the greenhouse effect has no bearing on the AGW debate, (non sequitur, strawman) 2) the current warming is not at all anomalous in historical context, (which, notwithstanding the expert summation above, is unsubstantiated) 3) what warming there may be is actually good for coral reefs, the environment and my summer holiday. All of which makes you about as agnostic as Dick Cheney.

    I’m new to this debate Willis, but I know when I smell a rat.

  136. Majorajam, thank your for your detailed reply.

    Steve has said:

    … he lied about reef recovery times after bleaching events, he lied about coral growth rates, he misled by ignoring the fact that the more biologically significant branching corals are often crowded out by less biologically significant forms after bleaching events and he misled by implying that in general ‘the warmer the better’ for coral reefs.

    As usual, Steve is being deliberately vague, and improperly insulting. Let me take just this one as an example, as I’m sick of dealing with Steve’s unwarranted insults.

    I started by saying that the recovery times for coral reefs in Fiji from the latest bleaching was about 5 years. I also provided evidence that it can be as short as six months, or as long as ten years or more.

    What of that is a lie? He doesn’t say.

    I did not deal with the question of branching vs other coral types. I have only so many hours in an day, and can’t answer everything tossed my way. Was this done to mislead? No. I don’t know anything about this particular question, and didn’t have time to do the research.

    I gave two scientific studies about coral growth rates, plus recounting my own experience with watching the coral grow in Solomon Islands. Which of the two scientific papers was a lie? I know my report about having to re-clear a channel through the reef was not a lie, so it must be one of the scientific papers. Once again, he doesn’t say.

    Nor did I ever say, or imply, “the warmer the better” for coral.

    Did I “deceive” about the “Red List”? No, I just said that it was the best resource we have. Some parts of it are newer, some are older, depending on the exact species. In general, this is a problem with the entire field (species locations are not visited every week or even every decade, so some information is old or simply not available) and not just a problem with the Red List.

    So no, Majorajam, in general Steve has not said where he thinks I lied, and where he has, it’s not true. But that’s not the real problem. When Steve is wrong, I say he’s wrong. When I’m wrong … he says I’m lying. It has gotten very old and boring. I don’t lie about any of this stuff. I may be wrong, and have been many times in the past, and no doubt will be in the future, and have admitted being wrong on this very blog … but to claim I am lying is both slanderous and untrue.

    He also said I don’t believe in experiments unless they support my case, which is nonsense. What I actually said was that an aquarium couldn’t tell us much about calcium carbonate in the ocean, in part because of the important buffering processes that only occur under 4,000 kg/m2 pressure … funny, Steve never got around to discussing how the aquarium solved that problem .

    I have nothing against experiments, I just said that experiments that are that far from the real situation can’t tell us anything. Which is true.

    So. Forwards to your issues.

    You say that the proxies I cited are “various unrelated proxies [that] have been connected by hacks to ‘debunk’ a theory that goes toward the lack of precedent for current warming.�

    I’m not trying to “debunk” a theory … that’s your job. My point is that even if we ignore the Soon/Baliunas proxies entirely, Lamb in 1965 gathered a “multitude” of proxies to show that the MWP was global in scope. This evidence was enough to satify 30 years of scientific examination and discussion of the idea of a global MWP, and to make the idea of a global MWP an established part of climate science for thirty years.

    Now you folks are saying we’ve been wrong for thirty years, it isn’t global … OK, but to do that, you need to debunk Lamb to start with, and neither you, JQ, or anyone I know of has done that. Your cited evidence (Mann 99) shows clearly that it covered half the world, so it is incumbent on you to show that Lamb (and Mann) were wrong and that it was just European warmth as y’all are claiming, not global. None of you, nor anyone else, has done that debunking as far as I know.

    Then you say “Your being ‘agnostic’ is a thinly veiled ruse.” Veiled? I said it straight out. A ruse? What is it with you guys? Can’t we just have a discussion without you accusing me of lying and deception every post?

    I don’t think there’s enough evidence to say either way regarding AGW. I’ve already given my guess on this forum, which is that humans likely influence the climate, but that the influence is too small to measure.

    Now you may not like that stance, you may claim there is enough evidence to make a decision. That’s your right. Calling my counter-claim a “ruse”, however, is an unwarranted personal attack. I don’t think that the theory of climate, nor the data available about the climate, are sufficient to do anything more than guess. That’s not a ruse. That’s not done to hide anything. That’s my honest opinion. If you don’t like it, fine, but spare me your nasty insinuations, they do nothing but lower your credibility.

    You say my refusal to agree with the evidence for AGW, which you say is “the proven physics of the greenhouse effect, the evidence of the anomalous nature of the current warming and the multitudinous models of climate that support AGW)” is “damning”. I have already dealt with all of these at length, so let me recap:

    1) While the physics of the greenhouse effect are known, the effect of a small change in forcing on the climate system is definitely not known. To take just one example, in the last fifteen years, the solar forcing changed by about 10 w/m2, some three times the effect of a CO2 doubling, without a significant change in temperature.

    Why? Well … we don’t know. All we know is that a 10 w/m2 change occurred. By you guys theory, from that change in forcing the temperature should have changed from 3.5°C to 12°C, but guess what … it didn’t. We don’t know why.

    Thus, to claim a 3.7 w/m2 change from CO2 will have a pre-determined effect is contrary to what we see happening. The ugly reality which you are ignoring is that we don’t understand the climate, and cannot predict it, because it is a chaotic, multi-stable, buffered driven, constructal system with multiple feedbacks, both known and unknown. You claim to know what a small forcing will do to this system. But our experience says no, we don’t have a clue, in fact we just saw a 10 w/m2 forcing change with no discernible effect.

    2) Is the current warming anomalous? At present, the Arctic is still cooler than it was in 1930, as are many parts of the planet. Large areas, such as the whole southeastern US, have hardly warmed at all. The Southern Hemisphere has not warmed anywhere near as much as the Northern. Siberia seems to have warmed, but the data there is very unreliable due to the Soviet practice of paying cities extra money if they were cold.

    And three groups of scientists can’t even agree how much it has warmed, offering significantly different answers. GISS says that the globe has warmed 0.4°C per century.

    The fastest warming in a couple of the longest temperature records we have (the CET and the Armagh records) occurred in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s respectively, so the recent change is not anomalous in those records.

    So is the current warming anomalous? Once again, we don’t know, we don’t even know if the GISS figures we are comparing to historical records are even correct themselves.

    3) Are computer models evidence? Out of 10,000 recent Hadley model runs done on distributed computers as part of the latest distributed computing experiments, hundreds and hundreds of them show cooling, with a number of them forecasting our dropping into an ice age in thirty years or so.

    Are these hundreds of cooling model runs evidence that the world will cool? Of course not, no more than those runs that show warming are evidence that the world will warm. All a computer model can do is make calculations based on the assumptions of the programmer. Since in the climate models this involves hundreds and hundreds of untested assumptions and “parameters” (fudge factors included to tune the models), the idea that their output is evidence is … well, let me just call it a hopeful fantasy.

    Finally, you seem to think that I have claimed that warming is beneficial, either for coral reefs or in general. I have not said that. What I have said is that climate is always changing, either up or down. It is never stable. Given the choice, I’d choose warmer, as excess warmth is easier on humans than excess cold … and yes, I’ve provided citations for that claim in this discussion.

    Best regards,

    w.

    PS – I’ve also said that (within limits, of course, and ceteris paribus) a coral reef (and plant life in general) grows faster when it’s warm than when it’s cold. This happens to be true (because the underlying chemical reactions proceed faster), but doesn’t mean it’s beneficial. Just true.

    PPS – Finally, do you have to close with an un-necessary insult? Does it make you feel better or smarter? Maybe I should try it, sure, why not, might make me feel better too … here we go …

    Majorajam, if you’re smelling a rat, a shower may be in order … your computer doesn’t have an olfactory interface, so it can’t be me …

    Naw, didn’t make me feel any better, I take it back, my apologies … but why do you do it?

  137. Oh, and back to the topic of this thread on JQ’s excellent blog, I’m still inviting comments on the statement I posted above, viz:

    Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.

    True? Not true? Irrelevant?

    Thanks,

    w.

  138. “Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.’

    A reasonable position, but one that would knock out virtually all of the prominent contrarians/sceptics, notably including Lindzen, Baliunas, Michaels, Christy (to the extent you call him a sceptic) and Paltridge. If there are any notable sceptics who haven’t engaged in policy comment, I’m not aware of them. And, as far as I know, there are absolutely no sceptics who’ve taken the (quite reasonable) policy line that, while the science may be uncertain, it would be a good idea to take precautions such as Kyoto.

    On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that opposition to Kyoto and similar interventions comes first, and scientific contrarianism follows.

  139. while the science may be uncertain, it would be a good idea to take precautions such as Kyoto.

    Except that the benefits of Kyoto are not very far removed from zero.

  140. “Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.’

    A foolish and naive position. Any scientist worth a pinch of salt will have well considered views on policy matters related to his/her field of expertise and the public can only benefit from hearing these views.

    As I mentioned earlier, the CSIRO mannagement boffins had a ludicrously broad definition of policy and this stopped scientists from commenting on issues that pertained to science as well as policy. This included prohibitions on the discussion of GHG emission targets and the proportion of GHG reductions necessary to stabilise the climate.

    For God’s sake, scientists shouldn’t be treated like naughty schoolboys who have to be watched over by ham-fisted bureaucrats. The public should also be credited with enough intelligence to hear different views and make up their own minds.

    I think we should also acknowledge Professor Quiggin’s point. Most of the denialists merrily bleat their anti-environmentalist and anti-regulation views. They also berate mainstream scientists as people who have a vested interest in the “AGW hoax”.

    Why the hell shouldn’t mainstream scientists be allowed to counter these claims? What is the real agenda of Willis and others who wish to muzzle our best and brightest scientists?

  141. Willis – “To take just one example, in the last fifteen years, the solar forcing changed by about 10 w/m2, some three times the effect of a CO2 doubling, without a significant change in temperature.”

    I think you need to provide a reference for this claim. I have not heard it before. I can only find this:
    http://ams.allenpress.com/amsonline/?request=display-figures&name=i1520-0442-11-12-3069-f09
    the graph shows that there has been less than 1W/M2 solar irradience changes.

  142. “Science and politics don’t mix. I believe that active researchers should offer objective assessment of the science problem and leave it to others to extract policy implications.’

    Steve, thanks for posting. You do realize that the quoted statement is by James Hansen of NASA? While Jim Hansen is many things, I seriously doubt your claim that he is “foolish and naive”, he does not strike me that way in the least, but rather as a dedicated and sophisticated scientist. I disagree with his ideas a lot, but I have a lot of respect for him.

    His statement makes perfect sense to me. We have our government hire scientists to be scientists, not politicians. They are trained as scientists, not politicians. Their jobs involve studying scientific questions, not policy questions. They are employed to provide scientific answers, not policy answers. Hansen is correct, they should “leave it to others to extract policy implications”, scientists are not trained for the job.

    When Jim retires from NASA, far as I’m concered he’s free to say anything about policy he wants, just as I am. Using his government post as a “bully pulpit” from which to do that, on the other hand, is not what he is hired for and paid to do.

    John, thank you for your post, in which you say:

    And, as far as I know, there are absolutely no sceptics who’ve taken the (quite reasonable) policy line that, while the science may be uncertain, it would be a good idea to take precautions such as Kyoto.

    On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that opposition to Kyoto and similar interventions comes first, and scientific contrarianism follows.

    Kyoto can be seen, as you urge, as a kind of an “insurance policy” … the only problem being, it costs billions and the payoff on the policy is too small to measure. I oppose Kyoto because even if everyone signed up and were able to meet the targets, even its supporters say it would only change the temperature about 0.06° in fifty years … to me, that’s an incredibly poor insurance policy.

    My opposition to Kyoto comes neither before nor after my views on AGW … I oppose it because by any scale, the cost/benefit ratio is totally unacceptable. Even if I thought the AGW theory were 100% correct, I’d still be against Kyoto, and for the very same reason —

    Despite a huge cost … it doesn’t deliver.

    I found it interesting that at the recent Kyoto COP/MOP in Montreal, the only decision taken was that the signatories changed the rules to eliminate the penalties if they can’t achieve the targets …

    w.

  143. Willis- surely a scientist, as a citizen in a democracy, should at the very least be free to speak about policy matters in his or her own time. As far as I can see this cannot possibly harm the public interest.

    Its funny that Hansen made such a comment then failed to abide by it. Oh well, I guess all of us contradict ourselves at times and sometimes without even being aware of it.

    Hansen is no fool but I stand by my claim that the statement you have furnished is naive, foolish, undemocratic twaddle.

  144. Willis- surely a scientist, as a citizen in a democracy, should at the very least be free to speak about policy matters in his or her own time. As far as I can see this cannot possibly harm the public interest.

    I think Willis has already answered this point when he said the following:-

    Does that mean that scientists should be “gagged�? No. They are as free to speak on policy as I am, provided that they do so in their capacity as a private citizen.

    What they should not do, and in many organizations such as universities, businesses, or government departments are forbidden to do, is to speak ex cathedra on matters of politics. The head of CSIRO should be as free as I to say that the emperor’s new political plan has no clothes, if he does so as a private individual. What he should not do is say “I am king of the scientists, head of CSIRO, and in my official capacity I say this political decision is wrong.�

  145. Willis,

    You never said that “warmer is better” for coral reefs, but you say now that coral grows better where its warm. It would appear that duplicity comes naturally to you Willis. In the interim you’ve said, “I’m not trying to “debunkâ€? a theory … that’s your job. My point is that even if we ignore the Soon/Baliunas proxies entirely, Lamb in 1965 gathered a “multitudeâ€? of proxies to show that the MWP was global in scope. “. First of all, my (self-appointed) “job”, is to keep people honest, not to debunk theories. You have no basis on which to presume I have a point of view in this debate and yet you have me as a firm AGW believer. Given your devout agnosticism, I find that rather ironic. Secondly, I didn’t imply you were attempting to debunk any theories. I am by now well aware of your lack of opinions and agenda. You’re citizen tabula rasa. I was attempting to interpret (as per what I wrote in the post), JQ’s argument. And speaking of, the only person talking about Lamb is you. So before you set the smoker on full blast again, let’s get off the topic of Lamb, por favor. JQ’s argument, and having reread your post and his I have revised my view of it slightly, is that you’ve made reference to numerous studies that refer to non-overlapping warming events (by hundreds of years) in highly localized areas, and that this is consistent with the flawed analysis of a global MWP cited by Mann. I think. What’s more, a central point of his was that Soon & Baliunas are hacks and that their synopsis of evidence is difficult to take seriously. For clarification, my personal foray into this was to make the point that you had ignored this comment, a valid counter to the references you posted. To try to keep you honest. Perhaps I have bitten off more than I can chew.

    You’re right about my closing line being an insult, but I don’t feel the need to retract it. It was an insult that matches the insult of hiding behind “agnosticism” in a debate fraught by uncertainty. Do you think a CFO is likely to be happy with a manager who claims they cannot forecast the cost of their operations due to the uncertainty involved? This constant appeal to ignorance is nothing more than a ruse thinly veiled by ‘scientific skepticism’. From there, let me get back onto this “computer models are not evidence” horse hockey that keeps rearing its fallacious head (which coincidentally, you continually ignore). There I cannot thank you enough for posting:

    “Out of 10,000 recent Hadley model runs done on distributed computers as part of the latest distributed computing experiments, hundreds and hundreds of them show cooling, with a number of them forecasting our dropping into an ice age in thirty years or so. ”

    As it is especially damning for denialists who can’t get over this refrain. If I told you there was a .05% chance your home would lose 70% of its value on any given day, would you sell it? And on that basis, is the fact that a few simulations out of 10,000 forecast dramatic cooling mean anything? Hate to break it to you, no. 10,000 simulations were run precisely to confront the uncertainty that confounds this debate. To produce probabilistic outcomes on which decisions can be made. Parameters, assumptions- yes- this is how models get built (as an aside, the term “fudge factor” is misleading, as parameters are not mythical. But then misleading from you isn’t exactly front page news). Don’t like it? Well, I’m not a huge fan of capitalism, but that has yet to make me a marxist. If you want to take issue with these models, best formulate a few of your own.

    But what’s really rotten in Denmark is that your appeals to ignorance appear in a context where everything that comes out of your pie hole puts you firmly in the Michael Crichton school of AGW skeptics. At least he has the cahones to come out and say what he is. You prefer to affront debate by hiding behind some nebulous concept of neutrality, while cheering on denialist posters, claiming that warming is more beneficial than cooling, claiming that current warming fits neatly with the historical record, making probabilistic statements about the benign impact of AGW (“warming, but not enough to be measurable”), claiming that Kyoto “is a bad insurance policy”, etc. (the correct baseline for which, btw, is not current but forecasted global climate). So, for the love of Pete, spare us the pretense Willis. It’s farcical.

    PS As regards Kyoto, the “billions” it would cost is a rounding error in comparison to the economic consequences of global warming. A raise in sea level alone is a catastrophic, multi-trillion dollar expense. Sounds like an insurance policy to me.

  146. Majorajam, I ask you again, let up on the insults. You’re so steamed up that you are making a fool of yourself. You start out your latest post by saying:

    You never said that “warmer is better� for coral reefs, but you say now that coral grows better where its warm. It would appear that duplicity comes naturally to you Willis.

    Once again, you are making things up. I did not say coral grows “better” where it is warm. In response to your claiming this exact same claim before, I said:

    I’ve also said that (within limits, of course, and ceteris paribus) a coral reef (and plant life in general) grows faster when it’s warm than when it’s cold. This happens to be true (because the underlying chemical reactions proceed faster), but doesn’t mean it’s beneficial. Just true.

    Have you been taking lessons at Steve’s kindergarten in misrepresentation and abuse? There is absolutely nothing “duplicitous” about my statement. You claimed the same thing before, so this time I went out of my way to make it clear that I did not mean “better”, I meant “faster”, and you are claiming, now for the second time, that I said better? Get some reading glasses …

    w.

  147. Great point Willis. You did say ‘faster’ and I did write ‘better’. Now perhaps you can close the loop by revealing the relevance of the semantic differentiation. If I say, “that plant is growing well”, is it possible I am not referring to the extent to which it has grown? All apologies if it is obvious that I am a neophyte in the art of word splicing.

  148. Majorajam, onwards to something a bit more substantive. You say,

    First of all, my (self-appointed) “job�, is to keep people honest, not to debunk theories. You have no basis on which to presume I have a point of view in this debate and yet you have me as a firm AGW believer. Given your devout agnosticism, I find that rather ironic.

    My apologies if I have misrepresented your position. However, you definitely “have a point of view in this debate”, that’s not a presumption …

    Next, you said:

    Secondly, I didn’t imply you were attempting to debunk any theories. I am by now well aware of your lack of opinions and agenda. You’re citizen tabula rasa. I was attempting to interpret (as per what I wrote in the post), JQ’s argument.

    Again, my apology if I misunderstood your statement about the discussion of the global MWP. What you said was “various unrelated proxies have been connected by hacks to ‘debunk’ a theory that goes toward the lack of precedent for current warming.�

    Since JQ had not said a word about debunking, I assumed this was your point of view, not his. However, from your post I now know that you don’t have a point of view in this debate.

    So it’s fine for you not to have a point of view in this debate … but you insist I have to have one, I can’t be agnostic … say what?

    And speaking of, the only person talking about Lamb is you. So before you set the smoker on full blast again, let’s get off the topic of Lamb, por favor.

    None of you want to talk about Lamb, poor fellow, because y’all don’t want to admit that in 1965, he scientifically established the well-accepted idea that the MWP was global in nature. People now want to believe it’s some new idea invented by anti-AGW forces, or only supported by Soon/Baliunas. I fully understand and sympathise with your reluctance to discuss Lamb … in your position, I wouldn’t want to discuss Lamb either …

    JQ’s argument, and having reread your post and his I have revised my view of it slightly, is that you’ve made reference to numerous studies that refer to non-overlapping warming events (by hundreds of years) in highly localized areas, and that this is consistent with the flawed analysis of a global MWP cited by Mann. I think. What’s more, a central point of his was that Soon & Baliunas are hacks and that their synopsis of evidence is difficult to take seriously. For clarification, my personal foray into this was to make the point that you had ignored this comment, a valid counter to the references you posted. To try to keep you honest. Perhaps I have bitten off more than I can chew.

    I was honest before you arrived, Majorajam, and will be when you have left. My point is simple. I made reference to a host of studies on the global MWP question, starting with Lamb and ending with Soon/Baliunas. John says Soon and Baliunas are hacks. OK, but the case for a global MWP was established firmly for thirty years before they wrote their paper, so whether they are hacks is irrelevant to the existence of a global MWP.

    You’re right about my closing line being an insult, but I don’t feel the need to retract it. It was an insult that matches the insult of hiding behind “agnosticism� in a debate fraught by uncertainty.

    How does my agnosticism about AGW “match” you calling me a rat? You’re going off the rails here …

    You seem to think that the answer to uncertainty is “pick a side, any side”. While there is a childish glee in that, and an adolescent craving for certainty in a subject we don’t understand, at times we just have to grow up, to be honest, and say “we don’t know enough yet to decide”. That’s science. I know you don’t like it, but sometimes deciding on virtually no evidence is simply foolish.

    Do you think a CFO is likely to be happy with a manager who claims they cannot forecast the cost of their operations due to the uncertainty involved? This constant appeal to ignorance is nothing more than a ruse thinly veiled by ’scientific skepticism’.

    If said manager had as little evidence about the business as we have about AGW, and the boss comes in and asks “will we be making a profit in fifty years”, then the maximum the manager can do, all he can make, is what in scientific terms is called a WAG, or a “wild assed guess”. I’ve made mine about AGW, right here on this blog.

    The reality is, sometimes a WAG is as good as it gets. I’ve given you mine, and explained why that’s all it is. What more do you want from me? I don’t think the evidence supports more than a WAG.

    From there, let me get back onto this “computer models are not evidence� horse hockey that keeps rearing its fallacious head (which coincidentally, you continually ignore). There I cannot thank you enough for posting:

    “Out of 10,000 recent Hadley model runs done on distributed computers as part of the latest distributed computing experiments, hundreds and hundreds of them show cooling, with a number of them forecasting our dropping into an ice age in thirty years or so. �

    As it is especially damning for denialists who can’t get over this refrain. If I told you there was a .05% chance your home would lose 70% of its value on any given day, would you sell it? And on that basis, is the fact that a few simulations out of 10,000 forecast dramatic cooling mean anything? Hate to break it to you, no. 10,000 simulations were run precisely to confront the uncertainty that confounds this debate. To produce probabilistic outcomes on which decisions can be made. Parameters, assumptions- yes- this is how models get built (as an aside, the term “fudge factor� is misleading, as parameters are not mythical. But then misleading from you isn’t exactly front page news). Don’t like it? Well, I’m not a huge fan of capitalism, but that has yet to make me a marxist. If you want to take issue with these models, best formulate a few of your own.

    Ah, I see the problem. You mistakenly think that repeating the runs of an erroneous computer program somehow allows us to determine what you call “probabilistic outcomes on which a decision can be made.”

    The idea that multiple runs of an unstable climate model somehow add up to a probability distribution about future climate is … no, I won’t say it …

    What I will say is that you might profit by some study of the field of computer modeling, as your idea is laughably untrue. If a model is producing junk, if it is so unstable that starting from the same point, some times it’s saying “ice age, ice age, get out the wool socks” and sometimes saying “so hot we can’t stand it, we’ll all be drowned”, running it 10,000 times definitely does not give us a “probabilitiy distribution” of future climate.

    It only gives us a probability distribution of what that particular computer model might say.

    But what’s really rotten in Denmark is that your appeals to ignorance appear in a context where everything that comes out of your pie hole puts you firmly in the Michael Crichton school of AGW skeptics.

    Dude, I don’t have to “appeal to ignorance”, there’s lots on this blog already. And while you may write with your “pie hole”, I generally use my mind and my fingers … your insults are becoming non-stop …

    At least he has the cahones to come out and say what he is. You prefer to affront debate by hiding behind some nebulous concept of neutrality, while cheering on denialist posters, claiming that warming is more beneficial than cooling, claiming that current warming fits neatly with the historical record, making probabilistic statements about the benign impact of AGW (�warming, but not enough to be measurable�), claiming that Kyoto “is a bad insurance policy�, etc. (the correct baseline for which, btw, is not current but forecasted global climate). So, for the love of Pete, spare us the pretense Willis. It’s farcical.

    Take a deep breath, my friend, it will be all right, no need to hyperventilate. Let me take your claims one at a time. You say I:

    1) Cheer on denialist posters.

    I cheer on anybody I agree with. Most of the time on this blog, though, it’s the pro-AGW folks making ludicrous claims unsupported by evidence. No, I don’t cheer them.

    2) Claim warming is better than cooling.

    I didn’t “claim” that, I demonstrated it by citation and evidence. Doesn’t mean that I believe or disbelieve in AGW. I said I’d rather be poor where it’s warm, and showed that cold kills many more people than heat. It seems you don’t believe that’s true. If so, the answer is not to insult me, it is to go out and show that I’m wrong. And again, it means nothing about whether AGW exists or not.

    3) Claim that current warming fits neatly with the historical record.

    Umm … no. Reread my post. What I actually said is that we don’t have data good enough to determine the answer to that question. We don’t even know how big the “current warming” is, three groups of scientists disagree on even that simple question. And again, I gave you my WAG, which is that the data seems to indicate that no, it is not remarkable by historical standards, and again I surrounded it with the disclaimer — this is only a WAG, our data is bad, scarce, and spotty, etc.

    4) Made “probabilistic statements” like “warming, but not enough to be measurable”.

    You keep insisting I take sides. I say there’s not enough evidence to do that, but my WAG is that a) humans are warming the planet, and b) that the warming is very small, too small to measure. I identified this as a WAG at the time I made it, and said nothing about probabilistic statements.

    I say it is too small to measure in part because the debate continues to rage. If it were large, it would have been measured and its existence would be firmly established by now.

    How can you possibly now complain that I have made that guess, when you yourself have demanded that I do so? I am an agnostic on the question, and I’ve given you my best guess … now you want to bitch that I made the guess you insisted I make? Get a grip.

    PS As regards Kyoto, the “billions� it would cost is a rounding error in comparison to the economic consequences of global warming. A raise in sea level alone is a catastrophic, multi-trillion dollar expense. Sounds like an insurance policy to me.

    I agree with you here. Kyoto is, as you point out, an insurance policy. You missed my point about it, though, the critical part of any insurance policy — the cost/benefit ratio. How much is the cost, how much is the potential benefit.

    Since even the backers of Kyoto say the cost will be billions and there will be no measurable benefit (a 0.06°C cooling in 50 years, far too small to measure), that’s a … watch my lips now, this is tricky …

    BAD DEAL!

    Paying billions for no measurable result is not insurance … it’s idiocy …

    w.

  149. Majorajam, always interesting to hear from you.

    You said:

    Great point Willis. You did say ‘faster’ and I did write ‘better’. Now perhaps you can close the loop by revealing the relevance of the semantic differentiation. If I say, “that plant is growing well�, is it possible I am not referring to the extent to which it has grown? All apologies if it is obvious that I am a neophyte in the art of word splicing.

    As you say, it is possible “that plant is growing well” could mean it is getting bigger. It could also mean it is healthy and full of life, and is not getting bigger at all.

    This whole bogus dispute came from Steve. You’re crazy to believe what he says without re-reading the initial posts, but that’s your lookout. Steve said

    … and he [Willis] misled by implying that in general ‘the warmer the better’ for coral reefs.

    Fast implies speed, velocity.

    Better, on the other hand, implies a value judgement.

    Steve’s claims I’m implying that “the warmer the better” for coral reefs, which makes no sense. That statement means that any amount of warming is beneficial for coral, which is not true, and which I neither said nor implied.

    What I did say was within limits, and ceteris paribus, reefs grow faster when it is warmer. This is not just my claim, I provided several citations for this fact — moderate warming increases coral growth.

    Steve was upset that he couldn’t back up the claim that increasing CO2 harms corals, particularly when it is accompanied by mild warming. I cited studies that in fact, despite rising CO2 levels, the growth rates of the corals studied have not decreased during this century, they have increased. I added that some of this increase in growth may have come from a slight rise in sea temperature. Steve provided no studies to refute this. All he has done is claim I said “warmer is better” for coral, which is a total misrepresentation of what was shown by the studies I cited.

    In none of this have I lied, or misled. Scientific studies (other than Steve’s aquarium study, which tells us nothing for the reasons discussed above and previously) do not show the “CO2 goes up, coral growth goes down” effect Steve claimed — they show the opposite. He gets upset, and calls me a liar … and you, quite foolishly, think he knows whereof he speaks …

    Now, I’m happy to continue to discuss this scientific question about coral reefs, some of my best friends are coral reefs, and I am fascinated by them. I have plenty of studies I haven’t even mentioned yet.

    But you and Steve seem to want to make this a “hotter is better” dispute and claim I am misleading you about coral. I didn’t say “hotter is better”, nor am I trying to mislead.

    Studies of coral reef growth in the ocean don’t agree with Steve’s claims, but if you have other studies, bring them on. Do not make the mistake, however, of assuming that because the precipitation rate of calcium carbonate is in fact a function of pCO2, that this rules the rate at which corals grow.

    This is because coral mediated calcium carbonate precipitation is not ruled by chemistry, but is driven by life. Coral polyps actively build the reef, and do so despite the fact that calcium carbonate, at surface temperature and pressure, doesn’t precipitate at all …

    w.

    PS – see, for example, Lough, J.M. and Barnes, D.J.  1997.  Several centuries of variation in skeletal extension, density and calcification in massive Porites colonies from the Great Barrier Reef: A proxy for seawater temperature and a background of variability against which to identify unnatural change,  Journal of Experimental and Marine Biology and Ecology 211: 29-67.

    Lough and Barnes’ study showed that on the Great Barrier Reef, calcification rates were linearly related to the average annual SST data, such that “a 1°C rise in average annual SST increased average annual calcification by 0.39 g cm-2 year-1.” 

    They also noted that in the whole of their larger study area,

    Calcification = 0.33 * Sea Surface Temperature + .707,

    with an r^2 of 0.65. They said that “this equation provides for a change in calcification rate of 0.33 g cm-2 year-1 for each 1°C change in average annual SST.”

    In other words, this study shows clearly that warmer temperatures lead to faster reef growth, which is what I said, what Steve said I lied about, and what you jumped into without, as far as I can tell, first reading the underlying discussion.

  150. Willis,

    This is getting diabolical. For starters, the statement: “However, you definitely ‘have a point of view in this debate’, that’s not a presumption …”, betrays your general carelessness with fact and argument. This is made more obvious by each passing fortuitous misinterpretation of what I’ve written, a practice that you have utilized to epidemic proportions. Another case in point: “Since JQ had not said a word about debunking, I assumed this was your point of view, not his. However, from your post I now know that you don’t have a point of view in this debate.” Except that this strawman bore little resemblance to the original point, which was your pattern of ducking counterarguments and giving high-handed proclamations about being denied evidence of AGW. In case you can’t be asked to scroll backward:

    “However, there you have incorrectly represented John’s counterargument: â€? you’ve got the MWP running from 800 to 1550 (overlapping the Little Ice Age) while one of the cited studies gives it only 60 years. One study has it *ending* in 1020, in other it doesn’t *begin* until 1050. It looks as if the same label has been attached to events at radically different times and places, just as claimed by Mann et al.â€? Now, my interpretation is of this is, “various unrelated proxies have been connected by hacks to ‘debunk’ a theory that goes toward the lack of precedent for current warming.â€? ”

    Difficult to be more clear than “My interpretation of this is…”. Or at least, one would think. Likewise, this prized little nugget: ” I fully understand and sympathise with your reluctance to discuss Lamb … in your position, I wouldn’t want to discuss Lamb either ….” Assigns me a position I don’t recall taking. Furthermore, this business about Lamb has been a smokescreen all along- as I pointed out to you in my last post (as if that were an effective means of communication) and as is clear again now by reviewing those few lines of JQ’s that I’ve reposted. In particular, my original point was that that you had ducked JQ’s counterargument, at least insofar as it is totally inadequate to address his critique by saying, “just throw out those proxies that disagreeâ€?. As this is pretty straightforward, I have to presume it’s not lost on you. Either you either didn’t read my post or preferred another argument to respond to.

    And on it goes, “You seem to think that the answer to uncertainty is ‘pick a side, any side’.� Hardly. What I have said, and will say once again, is that the existence of uncertainty is not a profound discovery of yours. It is a reality on which all sides can agree. What I have furthermore said is that it is not enough to hide behind that uncertainty, especially as policy making demands a forecast, (or rather, a forecast is implied by policy, whether it is made explicitly or not). My problem is that we have a few pieces of evidence that indicate that human activity lead to warming the climate, something you concede, additional evidence that shows the climate is warming to levels without modern precedent and then people try to forecast that effect (partially to support policy decisions) but then your type say, “yes, but there’s all this uncertainly�. Well, tell us something we don’t know! The need for scientific certainty is all well and good- I’m all for it. But every day across myriad human endeavors we make decisions without that certainty because certainty is unobtainable.

    Finally we arrive at a counterargument to an argument of mine that for the most part you haven’t hackneyed:

    “Ah, I see the problem. You mistakenly think that repeating the runs of an erroneous computer program somehow allows us to determine what you call ‘probabilistic outcomes on which a decision can be made.’
    The idea that multiple runs of an unstable climate model somehow add up to a probability distribution about future climate is … no, I won’t say it …�

    I don’t recall saying anything about an “erroneous computer program�, nor do I recall you claiming it was erroneous. You did claim that it was unstable but going from one to the other is a non sequitur (again, no newsflash). But your point about the instability of a computer model is taken- that is undesirable, but it is far from sufficient to invalidate the model in question. The point is, instability may be a feature of climate models- as would make sense and as seems to be your claim- but that doesn’t make them useless. Instability is also a feature of economic and financial models, but yet they are used to make decisions every day. What’s more, the distribution of a climate model’s outputs does indeed relate to the probability distribution of future climate, irrespective of the estimation error, if the parameters are unbiased. Do you have any evidence that Hadley’s parameters were biased? Or do you prefer to continue to insist on the “computer models are not evidence� fallacious hand waving?

    Subsequent to that flawed but otherwise somewhat reasonable argument, you get back to ad libing my statements: “I am an agnostic on the question, and I’ve given you my best guess … now you want to bitch that I made the guess you insisted I make? Get a grip.�.

    My complaint, in context, is with regards to the following sequence. 1, proclaim yourself agnostic, so that you can cite as much when evidence countering the AGW hypothesis is requested, 2) argue against all the “pro-AGW� crowd, (here I refer to JQ, SJ, etc. not me), cheer on the denialists, 3) come to conclusions that are perfectly aligned with the denialists, 4) state your opinion but disclaim it as a “guess� so as to maintain consistency with your faux-agnosticism. Just fyi, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself. And before you draw a false analogy to me, I should point out that I have done neither 3 or 4 (nor aside from with yourself and others making fallacious claims about the role of computer models, 2).

    Finally, you close with a doozy- even for you:

    “You missed my point about it, though, the critical part of any insurance policy — the cost/benefit ratio. How much is the cost, how much is the potential benefit. Since even the backers of Kyoto say the cost will be billions and there will be no measurable benefit (a 0.06°C cooling in 50 years, far too small to measure)�

    Actually I didn’t miss your point, I’m just not ready to take it on face value, i.e. I don’t believe you. I don’t believe you, not only because it’s you, but because the claim itself is so unbelievable. You are basing your cost/benefit analysis on what the backers of Kyoto say, yea? And they say the program has much cost but no (0) value. Interesting sales tactic. So what’s your specific source? In particular, I’ll be looking to confirm that number, .06 degrees C, and its context (as compared to, etc.). Also, I’ll want to know if that forecast of climate reduction incorporate only those that have ratified the treaty or all nations that signed onto the treaty in the first place?

    What surprised me more than the claim, was to see you take such a strong stance on the subject. It would seem in the few paragraphs that passed between your rant about climate models and this you rediscovered faith in forecasting the effect of carbon emissions on the climate. Halleluiah. I say this because, if indeed, as you claim, AGW is possible, and in fact unknowable, then the probability of Kyoto having an impact on the climate is also unknowable. Right? Therefore, given the massive economic implications of warming, Kyoto is indeed an insurance policy and perhaps maybe even a GOOD DEAL. Just following your logic sunshine.

    PS A counterargument to: “I identified this as a WAG at the time I made it, and said nothing about probabilistic statements. I say it is too small to measure in part because the debate continues to rage. If it were large, it would have been measured and its existence would be firmly established by now.� just occurred to me. What about carbon sinks? They are not limitless, and thousands upon thousands of tons of CO2 have already been dumped there. Couldn’t this go toward the muted effect to date?

  151. Willis – still haven’t seen a refererence for this claim – proabably got lost in the noise:

    ““To take just one example, in the last fifteen years, the solar forcing changed by about 10 w/m2, some three times the effect of a CO2 doubling, without a significant change in temperature.â€?”

  152. Willis,

    I wasn’t aware that “growing well” could also mean “not growing at all”, as per: “As you say, it is possible ‘that plant is growing well’ could mean it is getting bigger. It could also mean it is healthy and full of life, and is not getting bigger at all.” This is an interesting take. Also, my text books always had it that fast implied speed, while velocity implied speed and direction. Apparently they are synonyms. Who knew? Chrs, M

  153. Majorajam said:

    ” … let’s get off the topic of Lamb, por favor.”

    I said:

    â€? I fully understand and sympathise with your reluctance to discuss Lamb … in your position, I wouldn’t want to discuss Lamb either ….”

    Majorajam said:

    “Likewise, this prized little nugget: â€? I fully understand and sympathise with your reluctance to discuss Lamb … in your position, I wouldn’t want to discuss Lamb either ….â€? Assigns me a position I don’t recall taking. ”

    I give up. Perhaps you don’t recall saying anything about Lamb … but you did. Your stated position was that I was not dealing with the “dissonance” of the evidence for a global MWP. Look it up.

    I said theres no underlying dissonance about the MWP evidence, because the main evidence for a global MWP predates any dissonance, the scientific question was settled by Lamb in 1965.

    You then say “let’s get off the topic of Lamb”, and when I say I can understand your (and everyone else’s) reluctance to discuss Lamb, you say I’ve assigned you a position you don’t recall taking …

    I can’t do this any more, Majorajam. I can’t respond to your witless personal attacks.

    If you ever do decide to discuss the science of climate science, I’ll be happy to do so … but to date, there’s little sign of that. You have not cited a single study, you just want to do things like tell me over and over that computer model results are evidence, long after most people on this blog have given that ridiculous claim up for dead.

    Oh, and you want to insist I do more research so you can continue to do none? … enough.

    If you truly care how much temperature difference Kyoto will make, GO FIND OUT.

    If you don’t, I’ll figure you don’t really care, you’re just arguing to argue.

    But I’m happy to be surprised, come back with a couple scientific citations on that question to prove you’re truly interested, and we’ll disscuss them.

    Until then … I don’t have time to debate a man who persists in ugly, unfounded allegations as you have done. Like my poppa said, “Never mud wrestle with a pig, son … the pig likes it, and you just get muddy.”

    w.

    PS – at least you say that regarding the effect of a possible AGW, there has been a “muted effect to date” … replace “muted” with “not measurable” and we’re in agreement …

    Also, you say the “carbon sinks” are not limitless. However, the name is a bit misleading. In general, a carbon “sink” is not a basin that can get filled up. It is in reality a carbon pathway from the atmosphere to the lithosphere, the ocean, or the biosphere, and of course has a corresponding path the other direction, and other paths onwards in other directions, as part of the overall carbon cycle.

    For example, a large amount of CO2 goes from the atmosphere to plants, from there to the soil, from the soil to the water, from the water to the ocean, and then back into the atmosphere …

    In one sense you are right, in that the CO2 from fossil fuels must be ending up somewhere. It was in the ground before, where is it now?

    However, it’s generally not appreciated how trivial this amount of fossil fuel carbon is compared to the total of carbon being cycled. Over the last 150 years, about 250 gigatonnes of carbon has been sequestered, which sounds like a lot, a quarter of a trillion tonnes.

    However, this is only about 0.6% of the amount of carbon in the ocean … which is why I’m not terrified about coral reef growth. Our margin of error regarding the total oceanic carbon content is larger than the anthropogenic contribution, we’re lost in the noise.

    In response to rising atmospheric CO2, total transport of carbon out of the atmosphere has increased. Rather than falling over time (as you presuppose under the assumption that the sink gets “filled”), this increase in the capacity of the planet to cycle the carbon has continued over the last half century. It has stayed at about 45% of the carbon emitted, despite increasing emissions.

    The reason is that this only represents a surprisingly small change in the overall planetary cycling of billions of tonnes of carbon. It’s about 3-4 gigatonnes of C per year out of a total atmospheric loss (to the land, plants and ocean) of about 155 gigatonnes/yr, or about a 2% change in the flux.

  154. That’s it Willis, cop out. “Perhaps you don’t recall saying anything about Lamb … but you did.” What did I say about Lamb outside of requesting you not bring up the superfluous topic incessantly?? The point was indeed about the dissonance across sources- BUT IT WAS NOT MINE. That was JQ’s point that I claimed you were ducking. And no need to go and look it up, because I have repeated that in every single response I’ve made to you. How many times do I need to repeat that before it sinks in?? And yet you are the one who’s exasperated?? What a joke.

    It’s not lost on me that citing your terribly hurt feelings (without citing what it was I did to hurt them- and ignoring your own veritable cornucopia of insults) is a ploy to get out of responding to my post. Not that you didn’t manage to get in a closing fallacy for good measure: “you just want to do things like tell me over and over that computer model results are evidence, long after most people on this blog have given that ridiculous claim up for dead.”- an appeal to authority (an unfortunate name in this case as leading climate scientists aren’t so convinced of the obviousness by which computer models are pointless. Not least the ones that spend their time building them).

    So spare me your delicate sensibilities Willis. If you want to make silly uninformed claims about the nature of computer models, if you want to pick and choose the times that you want to use forecasts when it suits you, (e.g. good in weighing up Kyoto, bad in weighing up AGW)- go right ahead. But don’t be surprised when someone takes the time to call your bluff. Check and mate, mate.

  155. Has Willis attained the status of a Troll yet?
    He’s given it a very good try!

    If so maybe its time to stop feeding him and he can take his crap to realclimate and waste their time.

    Since corals has been a hot topic this is the latest study in the new on the subject.

    Oceanic Acidity: Researcher Outlines Coral’s Future In An Increasingly Acidic Ocean
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060220231628.htm

  156. You are right, Majorajam. In mathematical terms, speed is a scalar, velocity is a vector …

    Thanks,

    w.

  157. Dear Simonjm, here I thought you were pointing me to a scientific study when you said:

    Since corals has been a hot topic this is the latest study in the news on the subject.

    Oceanic Acidity: Researcher Outlines Coral’s Future In An Increasingly Acidic Ocean
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060220231628.htm

    But when I went to look, it wasn’t a study at all. I thought, well, maybe it’s a transcription of a scientist’s talk …

    Nope, not that either. Ah, well, a report about a talk, the reporter can tell us what the scientist said, mayhap? …

    Not that either …

    What you have cited is a press release for an upcoming talk by a scientist … along with some scary quotes the press office threw in …

    Be still, my beating heart …

    Although the idea of citing a scientific study clearly hasn’t quite jelled with you, it is a step in the right direction in an often citation free landscape.

    Being incurably curious, I followed your step, and after some further research found out that the scientist in question is none other than the team leader for the aquarium experiment which we have discussed here at some length. So rather than your citation being the latest thing … the JQ blog has already been there, blogged that …

    My thanks to you for your post,

    w.

  158. JQ

    Apologies re Paltridge – I had gone straight to this thread and had not yet seen your home page comments, they seem much to the point. What a clot to spoil a valid point with bromides and wrong dates.

    Tim

  159. Willis – You may have not personally used the argument “the MWP was as warm as today so therefore AGW is not true” however I quoted it as a general skeptic argument.

    Here is a perfect example of it:
    “If for the sake of the argument, we accept human activity is the cause of global warming, which activities are to blame? The mainstream argument points to record and increasingly high levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since 1840 that in turn are presumed to be caused by burning fossil fuels.

    In reply sceptics point to a period of warm temperatures covering about 400 years from the 10th to the 14th century and which was followed by the Little Ice Age, a period of cooling that lasted until the 19th century when the present period of global warming began. If industry is the cause now, what was the cause back then – the Crusades? ”

    from
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17815217%255E28737,00.html

    This is an example of the MWP being used to cast doubt in the minds of the public about climate change. Also regarding the MWP you and others are fond of quoting the “grapes in Greenland – MWP was good” line of argument. I have never seen you or any other contrarian mention the bad effects of the MWP. No evidence that you have presented mentions increased droughts or tropical storm increases. You cannot be sure that the downside of the MWP was worse than the supposed benefits to Northern Europe. You cannot say with ANY certainty that the MWP was global and/or it was more beneficial than bad. No written records would exist from the areas that would experience the bad.

  160. There are three global average temperatures calculated by GISS (Goddard Institute of Space Studies), GHCN (Global Historical Climate Network), and the Jones or HadCRUT (Hadley Climate Research Unit) average temperature records.

    Willis says

    “The only problem is … they’re all different.

    Since 1880, the GHCN record says we’ve warmed by 0.76° per century. The Jones record says we’ve warmed by 0.64° per century. And the GISS record says we’ve warmed by 0.48° per century.”

    Willis later said he got the GISS record from http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/new_Fig.A.txt which I found in the Google cache. I presume the GHCN record is the one pointed to on http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/anomalies/anomalies.html . When I calculate regressions on these figures I get a warming of 0.57° per century from the GISS record and a warming of 0.50° per century from the GHCN record. So using the exact same figures for GISS as Willis uses gives a result of 0.57° per century when somehow Willis comes up with 0.48° per century. And using the presumably same figures for GHCN (Willis didn’t bother saying exactly where he got them from, perhaps he could point out if he didn’t get them from a denialist website) gives a result of 0.50° per century when somehow Willis comes up with 0.76 ° per century.

    Maybe Willis could tell us how he came up with these figures and try to convince us that it’s not another Willis howler.

    Willis later said

    “Assuming the forcing numbers for CO2 of 3.7 w/m2 for a doubling are correct, we also know that this (295ppm to 370 ppm) represents an additional forcing of about 1.2 watts/m2.

    Finally, we know that the sun’s total irradiation has increased by about the same amount over the century, about 1.4 w/m2. Assuming once again that these are the main variables (which we don’t know, but we can assume for the moment), this gives a net temperature change of 0.6° C for a forcing change of 2.6 watts/m2.”

    Well, I’m sorry Willis but you’re actually adding two numbers that have different units. One is W/(m2 of the entire earth’s surface). The other is W/m2 orthogonal to sunlight. The 1.4 W/m2 for increased solar irradiance orthogonal to sunlight is shared over the entire earth’s surface so you have to divide this 1.4 W/m2 by a factor equal to the ratio of the earth’s surface area to the cross sectional area that the earth presents to sunlight. I’ll leave calculating this factor as an exercise for Willis. It might redeem him a tiny bit after making another howler.

    Willis then tried to use his exaggerated forcing figure (you can get a much better idea of forcings at http://www.giss.nasa.gov/data/simodel/F_line.gif ) to calculate a climate “sensitivity”. Unfortunately he didn’t say whether he meant static or dynamic sensitivity. He just changes the meaning whenever it suits him. He had actually made an attempt at calculating a dynamic sensitivity. Discussion is usually on the basis of static sensitivity unless stated otherwise. Maybe Willis doesn’t understand the difference. The difference between static and dynamic sensitivity is mainly due to thermal inertia of the oceans which are currently absorbing 0.85 W/m2. Compare this with total forcing according to http://www.giss.nasa.gov/data/simodel/F_line.gif of 2 W/m2. Effectively the oceans are taking 0.85 W/m2 out of 2 W/m2. The oceans are currently making a HUGE difference. Willis appears to be completely ignorant of this.

    We then get a repeat of another Willis howler:

    “as I showed long ago on this thread, by direct thermodynamic calculations. These show that at the earth’s surface temperature, a forcing change of 3.7 w/m2 gives a difference in temperature of ~0.7 degrees.”

    Incredibly, Willis likes to quote definitions at people without himself actually understanding what they mean. Definitions such as the IPCC’s for radiative forcing:

    “The radiative forcing of the surface-troposphere system due to the perturbation in or the introduction of an agent (say, a change in greenhouse gas concentrations) is the change in net (down minus up) irradiance (solar plus long-wave; in Wm-2) at the tropopause AFTER allowing for stratospheric temperatures to readjust to radiative equilibrium, but with surface and tropo-spheric temperatures and state held fixed at the unperturbed values”. In the context of climate change, the term forcing is restricted to changes in the radiation balance of the surface-troposphere system imposed by external factors, with no changes in stratospheric dynamics, without any surface and tropospheric feedbacks in operation (i.e., no secondary effects induced because of changes in tropospheric motions or its thermodynamic state), and with no dynamically-induced changes in the amount and distribution of atmospheric water (vapour, liquid, and solid forms).”

    In particular it says “the change in net (down minus up) irradiance at the tropopause”

    Somehow Willis thinks that because the net irradiance changes by 3.7 W/m2 under the definitional conditions at the -tropopause- that this means that the outgoing -surface- radiation merely needs to increase by 3.7 W/m2 at the surface in order to restore radiation balance at the tropopause. I have news for you Willis, the definition also says “but with surface and tropo-spheric temperatures and state held fixed at the unperturbed values.” i.e. the definition is based on holding the temperature constant at the surface. Working out what the surface irradiance and temperature have to change to in order to restore thermal equilibrium at the tropopause is not a trivial exercise as Willis so blithely assumes. We could try using a program like Modtran to look for a surface temperature that restores thermal equilibrium but Modtran is just a beginning, it decides how a lot of variables change when you change the surface temperature. Modtran won’t generally give a forcing of 3.7 W/m2 from doubling CO2 for example. In principle the methods used by Modtran could be used to work out the response but Modtran as it is won’t let you control all the variables.

    One thing I’ve noticed about Willis is that he doesn’t ask pertinent questions about any significant issue at realclimate.org. If he did manage to ask a pertinent question on anything significant it would be interesting to see how long he’d last. Of course, trolling non-climate-expert blogs like John Quiggin’s is much easier for the likes of Willis. For a student of climate science he makes a good coral surfer.

  161. Chris, did you notice this Willis gem:

    the sun’s heating up by about 30% in the last couple of billion years, the temperature of the earth has not gone up by 30%.

    Not understanding Stefan’s Law is probably worse than not getting opportunity costs.

  162. I note Willis has employed sarcasm to fob off simonjm’s reference to a link about a marine biologist who has raised concerns that increased CO2 emissions are making the ocean more acidic and that this will adversely effect or maybe even wipe out coral reefs.

    Willis say: “Being incurably curious, I followed your step, and after some further research found out that the scientist in question is none other than the team leader for the aquarium experiment which we have discussed here at some length. So rather than your citation being the latest thing…�

    The scientist in question isn’t a little known hack. It is Dr Christopher Langdon who is the associate director of the National Center for Caribbean Coral Reef Research and an assistant professor in marine biology and fisheries at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

    I presume that the “aquarium experiment� Willis refers to is the one I quoted much earlier in this debate and which involved Jean-Pierre Gattuso. Willis tried to wave away the implications of the study and effectively implied that the researcher’s involved were incompetent. (1)

    Yet I pointed out that Jean-Pierre Gattuso was a team member for a report that Willis had earlier quoted (but completely misconstrued) in support of his own arguments! It is apparent that scientists are only good so long as they say what Willis wants to hear.

    Google Scholar yields 210 hits for: coral acidic “carbon dioxide” “climate change”. There seems to be plenty of support for Dr Langdon’s concerns among these papers and a paucity of support for Willis’s belief that there is nothing to worry about.

    It should also be noted that other creatures with calcium carbonate based exoskeletons will also be affected by increased oceanic carbon dioxide uptake. This includes oysters, clams, lobsters and crabs.

    Most importantly, plankton, which is the linchpin of many oceanic food chains, may be affected. This is no laughing matter and Willis’s gobbledygook cannot make this concern go away.

    I see that some of Willis’s other posts over the past couple of days involve misleading claims and “historical revisionism. I’ll attend to these in later posts.

    (1) see my post of February 2nd, 2006 at 5:32am on previous AGW thread

  163. Steve as far as I’m concerned Willis is now a confirmed troll and should not be feed and should only be dealt with for amusement purposes.

    Maybe we should all put in our Willis Howlers, mine was when he couldn’t understand that if an animal lived within a optimal living range of multiple degrees why it should worry about a rise one or more degrees.

    Before he or others claims we are unfairly treating him, making mistakes or having errors in your posts is nothing against someone if they through their posts show themselves capable of correction, This cannot be said of Willis.

  164. Someone said:

    One thing I’ve noticed about Willis is that he doesn’t ask pertinent questions about any significant issue at realclimate.org. If he did manage to ask a pertinent question on anything significant it would be interesting to see how long he’d last. Of course, trolling non-climate-expert blogs like John Quiggin’s is much easier for the likes of Willis. For a student of climate science he makes a good coral surfer.

    I’ve tried it. After I was blocked from posting a couple of times for asking questions they didn’t approve of, I stopped posting there. I don’t want to be involved with any site that claims to be there to provide answers to climate questions, and then censors the questions that are allowed to be asked.

    I’ve also asked Gavin (Schmidt, of realclimate) questions directly. He dones the same thing. He’ll sometimes answer, but not if it’s a tough question.

    My most recent question to Gavin was this:

    From the website of the UK Met office, I find the following (emphasis mine):

    ————————————————————-

    The Monthly Outlook includes forecasts of expected temperature and rainfall categories. Five categories are used; (1) well below average, (2) below average, (3) near average, (4) above average or (5) well above average conditions for the time of year.

    To assess the accuracy of the forecast we compare the predicted category with the category that was actually observed to occur. We use a points-based scoring system in which maximum points are awarded to forecasts that are ‘spot on’ (i.e. the forecast category exactly matches the category that actually occurred), fewer points are awarded for ‘near misses’ (e.g. the forecast is wrong by one category), and points are subtracted for misleading forecasts (i.e. a forecast of above normal when below normal is observed). The score used is called the Gerrity Skill Score (GSS), and is one of the scores recommended by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) for evaluation of long-range forecasts. The score is designed so that forecasts that are always ‘spot-on’ would achieve a score of 1.0, and forecasts based on simply ‘forecasting’ the long-term average (category 3) would receive a score of zero. Thus a positive score means the forecast is better than guesswork and better than assuming future conditions will be similar to the long-term average. Although the theoretical maximum score is 1.0, best scores achieved at the monthly range are of order 0.6, and found in the more predictable tropical regions.

    —————————————————————–
    Having seen that, it looks like a great way to determine the “skill” of forecasts. An “average” forecast nets you zero … and here’s how the Met Office is doing depending on forecast length:

    Gerrity Skill Scores for forecasts over the period June 2002 to September 2005 (115 forecasts)

    0.35 : Period 5-11 days ahead
    0.10 : Period 12-18 days ahead
    0.05 : Period 19-32 days ahead

    Rapidly heading towards zero as the forecast increases …

    Now, here’s the thing. This seems like a great method to assess the “skill” of the climate models. The climate models, of course, are just the weather models writ large … and the claim has always been that although the reliability of the weather models rapidly goes to zero, somehow it will rise up again in the future.

    I’d like to see a graph of some kind of predictive measurement of this type for the GCMs. In theory, the scores would dip in the short term, but the model would do better than chance in the longer term.

    Gavin, how do you guys assess the “skill” of your models? Do you use “Gerrity” scores, or some other method? I mean, since you’re the ones claiming that GCMs work in the long term although they don’t work in the short term, on what kind of measurement are you basing that claim?

    Many thanks for your answer,

    w

    A very reasonable question. They claim they can forecast long range climate, but not short range. What are they basing that claim on?

    Unfortunately, Gavin has not replied …

    Realclimate is quite happy to hit the softballs that the faithful lob over the plate, and to tell us how Michael Mann is such a wonderful fellow … but when it comes to the pointed questions, they never even make it up on the silver screen.

    w.

  165. Willis – Now you would not be guilty of the kindergarten mistake of confusing weather and climate would you? Perhaps that’s why Gavin didn’t reply.

  166. jquiggin said

    February 20th, 2006 at 10:01 pm
    Tim, maybe I’m missing something, but when I did econometrics a proxy was a variable correlated with the variable of interest.

    I say:

    Fancy! The question is how closely. To how many decimal points do tree rings match your K temperatures let alone F or C?
    Or are they just approximates, and not very close at all, with R2 less than 0.5?

    Tim

  167. I pointed out earlier on this thread that Willis had implied that generally the warmer it is the better coral grows. Willis denies saying this in his above post of 23/2/2006 at 8:47am.

    The following is a quote from Willis’s post of 22/1/2006 at 2:25 am.

    “Why not just cite a study that shows that coral grows slower in warmer water?

    Oh, right you can’t find a study that shows that actually, I can cite a number of studies that show that coral growth increases with temperature, so I’d be very careful about your claims regarding coral and temperature. Krill, maybe. Coral? No way. It grows faster when it’s warmer.”

    I’ll let the reader judge who is telling porkies.

  168. Willis Eschenbach says:

    “Lamb, in his 1965 study, said “‘[M]ultifarious evidence of a meteorological nature from historical records, as well as archaeological, botanical and glaciological evidence in various parts of the world from the Arctic to New Zealand . . . has been found to suggest a warmer epoch lasting several centuries between about A.D. 900 or 1000 and about 1200 or 1300.”

    Willis earlier said:

    ” Lamb believed, and produced a variety of evidence to support the claim, that the MWP was a worldwide phenomenon.

    This contention was not seriously challenged until the MBH98 “hockeystick” paper by Mann et. al.”

    In MBH98 it says (in the abstract):

    ” Northern Hemisphere mean annual temperatures for three of the past eight years are warmer than any other year since (at least) AD 1400.”

    Also, MBH98’s Figure 5 a and b only go back to 1400.

    Willis seems to think the period “between about A.D. 900 or 1000 and about 1200 or 1300” occurred after AD 1400.

    Yet another howler from Willis.

  169. Tim, IIRC, my comment was in response to a post of yours complaining that putative proxies had been thrown out if they weren’t correlated with observed temperature.

  170. jquiggin said:
    February 24th, 2006 at 9:05 pm
    Tim, IIRC, my comment was in response to a post of yours complaining that putative proxies had been thrown out if they weren’t correlated with observed temperature.

    I say:

    My point was that throwing out some tree ring “proxies” because they weren’t is not a valid basis for retaining some that are. Ever seen a scatter diagram? Joining up the dots that happen to be on the line you wish to see and discarding the rest because they don’t may qualify for Econometrics I at the Quiggin-Lambert School, but not at mine.

    How are you going on nuclear?

    Tim

  171. Tim: As a general rule, you don’t get on my right side by suggesting I’m ignorant of basic economics/econometrics. That is, after all, what I do for a living, and I make a pretty good living at it, I’m happy to say. I don’t really feel the need to engage in discussion once a claim like this is made – the suggestion itself is enough to show that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I’m willing, however, to eat humble pie if the person making the suggestion has published more in the field, in better journals, than I have. Feel free to point me to your CV, Tim.

    On nuclear, I haven’t changed my views much since last year

  172. 26 Feb 06

    JQ: Yes I see from your AFR piece (24 Feb) that you still cannot bring yourself to recognize that if one is serious about CO2 being responsible for AGW as you claim to be, then nuclear energy is the only meaningful alternative energy source (even if it was true, which it is not, that it is more costly per kWh than fossil fuels, since you would presumably be prepared to pay something for reducing our CO2 emissions?)

    JQ and Chris O’Neill: As for statistical analysis, I remain disappointed that despite JQ’s undoubted skills in that area he has not applied them to the work of Mann, Briffa, and Osborne. For example, the tree-ring proxies for temperature relied on by Osborne & Briffa in their Science article this month assume that there is a POSITIVE correlation between tree rings and temperature, such that

    y(t) = a + x(t) …….(1)

    where y is the predicted temperature, and x is the “regional growing season temperature” from the “predictor” (i.e. tree rings) (equation from Briffa et al, 2002). (I have left out his complicated efforts to gloss over the large SEs resulting from omitted variables)

    But in reality tree ring widths are the result of several factors, including site slope and orientation, soils, temperature and – above all – precipitation.

    Recently derived tree ring data from Bighorn Basin shows that there, tree rings (x) are positively correlated (over 100 years to 1995) with precipitation, and NEGATIVELY with temperature, so that we have

    x(t) = a – y(t) + z(t)…..+ u(t) …..(2)

    where z denotes precipitation and u all the other factors ignored by Briffa & co.

    Thus Briffa’s equation should read:

    . y(t) = a – x(t) …….(3)

    But to all you global warmers, for whom current very cold NH winters and record Arctic snowfall are proof of AGW, what does it matter whether signs are plus or minus?

    So am I right that tree rings are hardly a valid proxy, being evidently based on bogus correlations that became possible only because precipitation was ignored?

    Tim

  173. Tim, I consider you nothing more than a troll and until now I haven’t bothered responding to your feverish rants.

    Can’t you continue this at ClimateAudit.org? Ian Castles and Willis Eschenbach also hang out there.

    I think you chaps would make a happy threesome.

  174. Steve

    I thought terms such as “troll” were supposed to be off limits here? Why not address the issues raised and offer corrections where necessary?

    BTW in addition to their omitted variables I see that while Osborne & Briffas’ citations of themselves and co-authors are more than 50% of their refs (2006), they seem to have no space for tree ring studies (eg S. Gray passim) that are at variance with their beliefs.

    Tim

  175. Tim, you have raised the nuclear issue over and over and over again. I and various others have already expressed views on that subject. Why keep flogging a dead horse?

    As regards snow, it is well known that Arctic snow fall and hence ice cover often increases when the weather is a bit warmer than usual. This has been noted in Greenland for instance. I assume you know this as well and simply wish to muddy the waters and hoodwink people who are knew to the AGW debate.

    As to the validity of proxies I think it would be wise to refrain from further comment until the recently convened NAS panel on this issue delivers its findings.

  176. Tim curtin: nuclear energy is the only meaningful alternative energy source (even if it was true, which it is not, that it is more costly per kWh than fossil fuels….

    Tim, care to back that statement up with evidence?

  177. Ian

    How’s this for starters?

    I do have more and will provide but do not wish to overload energy strapped JQ’s site (joke!).

    ——————————————————————————–
    Sources:
    Chapman P.F. 1975, Energy analysis of nuclear power stations, Energy Policy Dec 1975, pp 285-298.
    ERDA 1976, A national plan for energy research, development and demonstration: creating energy choices for the future, Appendix B: Net energy analysis of nuclear power production, ERDA 76/1.
    ExternE 1995, Externalities of Energy, vol 1 summary, European Commission EUR 16520 EN.
    Held C. et al 1977, Energy analysis of nuclear power plants and their fuel cycle, IAEA proceedings.
    IAEA 1994, Net energy analysis of different electricity generation systems, IAEA TecDoc 753.
    Kivisto A. 1995, Energy payback period & CO2 emissions in different power generation methods in Finland, plus personal commucincation 2000 with further detail on this.
    Perry A.M. et al 1977, Net energy from nuclear power, IAEA proceedings.
    Rashad & Hammad 2000, Nuclear power and the environment, Applied Energy 65, pp 211-229.
    Uchiyama Y. 1996, Life cycle analysis of electricity generation and supply systems, IAEA proceedings.
    Vattenfall 1999, Vattenfall’s life cycle studies of electricity, also energy data 2000.
    Voss A. 2002, LCA & External Costs in comparative assessment of electricity chains, NEA Proceedings.
    Alsema E. 2003, Energy Pay-back Time and CO2 emissions of PV Systems, Elsevier Handbook of PV.
    Gagnon L, Berlanger C. & Uchiyama Y. 2002, Life-cycle assessment of electricity generation options, Energy Policy 30,14.

    Edited for excess length. Link it don’t paste it

  178. Ian

    Here’s some more.

    Tim

    Energy Subsidies and External Costs
    UIC Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper # 71

    November 2005

    Tim, this is massively too long for a comment. Please provide a link. Also, any further offensive comments and you’ll be on automoderation. I’ve been very patient, but you’re wearing out your welcome here

  179. Ian

    JQ’s site does not accept graphs, hence truncation.
    You could also Google the Nuclear Energy Agency of OECD. and look for Bertels & Morrison “Nuclear Energy Economics in a Sustainable Development Perspective”.

    Tim

    Edited for silly trolling

  180. Tim,

    Ian asked you to back up your statment “even if it was true, which it is not, that it is more costly per kWh than fossil fuels….

    The obvious interpretation of “more costly per kWh” would be in terms of dollars per kWh.

    Yet your quoted paper deals with life-cycle energy budgets, and so does not answer the obvious question that was posed to you.

    Is it that you don’t know the subject well enough to know the basics, or that you know the basics well enough to avoid them whenever you can?

  181. The paper Tim has quoted is from the Uranium Information Centre which was set up for the sole purpose of spruiking the virtues of the nuclear industry. Relying on the UIC is like relying on Philip Morris for objective information on tobacco. You are wasting our time Tim.

  182. Steve

    Of course the UIC has an interest. What is yours? sighting the first cuckoo in spring?

    BTW where can I access your CV and website plus peer reviewed contributions?

    JQ

    How can I suggest to Google that they desist from trolling non-peer-reviewed – and non-editor accepted- contributions to Blogs like Steve Munn’s and mine and the rest? Blogs seem to confer more immortality than most peer-reviewed contributions to academic journals, not that peer review in itself guarantees “truth”. If I could I would post some of my jolly cartoons to your site, assured of wide dissemination via Google.
    Shame eh?

    Tim

  183. Contest the data.”

    Um, I already did. I said it was irrelevant to the question you were asked. Somehow you didn’t seem to notice.

    So no truth is possible other than “spruiking�?

    For you, that certainly seems to be the case.

  184. SJ Says quoting me:”‘Contest the data.’ Um, I already did. I said it was irrelevant to the question you were asked. Somehow you didn’t seem to notice.”

    I say where did you provide contestable and authoritative data?

    and I previously said “So no truth is possible other than spruiking?”

    You said “For you, that certainly seems to be the case”. I say, how so? NOBODY is paying me – but I am open to offers (joke – you lot have no sense of humour that is why I now have to flag jokes).

    I say: Who are you, SJ? What are you scared of that you hide your identity and address?

    Tim

  185. Just answer my (or rather Ian Gould’s) original question, Tim.

    Or else explain why you think a paper on life cycle energy budgets answer the question Ian posed to you, which was quite obviously about dollar cost per kWh generated.

    If you can give a straight answer to a simple question, fine. If not, we’ll take it from there.

  186. On Hans Erren’s How does CO2 respond to temperature ? he reaches the conclusion stated above:

    “Stefan’s law explains only one third of the observed surface warming due to CO2. Approximately 1 K/2xCO2” partly based on results using Modtran.

    There’s a couple of problems with this, one relatively small and the other relatively large. The relatively small problem is that when you use Modtran to work out the forcing from a doubling of CO2, you don’t usually get the 3.7 W/m2 commonly given for this change in CO2. For a change from 280 to 560 ppm for a US standard atmosphere with clear sky, the forcing at the top of the atmosphere (70km) comes to 2.8 W/m2. Thus if you use Modtran to find a surface temperature sensitivity for doubling CO2, it implies an underlying forcing (in this case) of 2.8 W/m2, quite a lot less than the 3.7 W/m2 commonly accepted. This difference will have to be reconciled before we can accept a (feedback free) temperature sensitivity of less than or equal to 1 K/doubling of CO2.

    The relatively large problem is with the water-vapour-feedback-enhanced sensitivity that is determined at How does CO2 respond to temperature ? using Modtran by asking it to apply constant relative humidity. The problem arises because when you look at the output tables from Modtran, it shows that it doesn’t actually keep the relative humidity constant in the troposphere at different temperatures (although the absolute humidity does increase somewhat). I calculated what the absolute humidity should increase to and used the water vapour scale input in Modtran to control this. The result is that water vapour feedback adds 50% to the feedback-free temperature sensitivity.

    You might say the constant-relative-humidity assumption may not apply but if you don’t make this assumption it would imply that rainfall would decrease substantially. Maybe this might happen but it’s not such a great outcome either.

    It’s also possible to work out how much feedback from clouds there might be under the assumption that there is no change in cloud cover or structure. I believe such an assumption leads to a positive temperature sensitivity feedback. The really difficult problem is the feedback effect from changes in cloud cover and structure. e.g. an increase in cloud cover leads to a negative feedback.

    So I don’t think anyone can say that the surface temperature sensitivity over and above 1 K/doubling of CO2 is (climate) models and hype until they work out what the sensitivity would be under reasonable assumptions i.e. constant relative humidity and constant cloud cover and structure. This calculation doesn’t require climate models so despised by the denialists. The models and hype come into it when someone optimistically claims that increasing cloud cover will cause negative feedback.

    The problem arise

  187. Quiggin’s basic economics in his AFR review (Feb 24) are a real worry in terms of his career prospects, for it is certainly no better than his insecure understanding of energy. He explains to AFR readers, evidently assuming most know no economics, that if price rises of 10 per cent produce a reduction of demand by 10 per cent, “the price elastiscity of demand is one”. He then states that since carbon-based fuels account for about 8% of GDP, and “the price elasticity of demand is greater than one in the very long run”, if there is a “doubling of the effective price of oil” (i.e. 100 per cent), this will “produce a reduction in demand of 60 per cent at a welfare cost of about 3 per cent of GDP”. But of course if it is possible for the price elasticity to be more than one for a 100% price rise (it is not, see below), that means more than 100 per cent, say 120%, implying a doubled cost in GDP of 6 per cent. Try selling that to John Howard or even the ALP.

    But in any case JQ would fail the Economics I multiple-choice test:

    If price elasticity of demand is greater than one, at 1.1, and the oil price doubles, will demand reduce by

    1. 10%?

    2. 60%

    3. 100%

    4. 120%

    Actually 3 is correct as the quantity demanded cannot fall to less than zero with doubled price and more than unit elasticity, even if we do have “the end of oil”. Moreover with end of oil, which JQ needs for his exercise, the impact on GDP would not be a one-off, as Zimbabwe’s experience shows. There expropriation of white tobacco farmers meant the country could no longer afford to import oil and energy at the previous volumes, and the result has been a reduction in GDP of about 60 per cent over 5 years.

  188. Tim, you’re showing your ignorance here in so many ways that I won’t bother to count them, except to mention that you were warned about this kind of thing.

    I’m putting you on automatic moderation. To keep the burden manageable, please submit only one comment per day.

  189. JQ

    I will try, but SJ asked for this response:
    SJ Says:

    February 26th, 2006 at 10:19 pm

    … answer the question Ian posed to you, which was quite obviously about dollar cost per kWh generated.

    I say:

    1. Cost of electricity generated by nuclear energy vary by plant depending on age and type and discount rate for valuing the capital cost component. The most expensive of 14 nuclear power plants for which I have data is one in Japan, at US$70 per kWh with a discount rate of 10%; One in Canada comes in at less than US$40, and there’s one in Korea at US$30. The fuel costs are much less of course, as little as US$3 per MWh in the Korean case. The OECD’s NEA paper by Bertel and Morrison (“Nuclear Energy Economics in a sustainable development perspective”) that I have cited at least twice previously confirms these data, but also shows that at a 5% discount rate the all-in generating cost falls to as little as US$25 per MWh for the Canadian plant for which the fuel cost is US$9.

    Lecture notes by Dan Kammen at UCLA include data (from US Utility Data Institute) on nuclear energy costs from 1981 to 1999 in a range between US$20 and US$30 per MWh, by 1999 just below the comparable cost of coal fired power, and well below oil and gas, in constant 1999 US$.

    Australia’s NEMMCO publishes average electricity prices which can fluctuate widely in the course of a week, eg first week in February, from as little as A$15 per MWh at weekends (US$11) to as much as A$57.48 (US$42) on weekdays (NSW, 1st Feb 06). Other things equal, it would appear that nuclear power could well be competitive even with coal in Australia.

    2. Nuclear and Kyoto. I still find it staggeringly dishonest and hypocritical of the Kyoto Protocol not to allow credit for switches to nuclear under the CDM etc. Without existing nuclear power in the OECD, total power plant emissions of CO2 would be about 33% more than they are now. Existing nuclear plants produce an “annual saving of 1,200 million tonnes of CO2, or about 10% of total emissions from all sources”. That amount is more than the total Kyoto target for reductions of 700 million tonnes by 2008-2012. Thus the Kyoto target will swamped by the increases if the Greens as in Sweden and Germany succeed in closing down all nuclear energy around the world, as windmills and the like have no chance of plugging the gap at the same price of power. My source? OECD, “Nuclear Energy and the Kyoto Protocol”.

    No more from me unless specifically requested.

  190. Tim Flannery has become something of a picture boy for the pro Kyoto lobby since he published “The Weather Makers”. I have read the book and he certainly tells the story in a captivating way.

    Recently Tim Flannery started selling himself to advertisers. Apparently in return for “a donation” the “Solar Shop” in Adelaide has been able to obtain the services of Tim Flannery to appear in a commericial promoting its product. No doubt he might gain some profile from air time also.

    Now I have been pretty quick to point out before that a conflict of interest should not exclude somebody from a debate. Others feel differently about such things. As such I am surprised that Tim Flannery has been willing to raise eyebrows in this way. However I suppose a mans has got to eat.

  191. The man already receives a substantial salary courtesy of the Australian taxpayer as Director of The South Australian Museum. Good to see we’re also funding his moonlighting activities. Flannery is a rather adept self-promoting charlatan. He has no climatology credentials whatsoever.

  192. I have also read Flannery’s book. He doesn’t pretend to be a climatologist. He is very clear about this in the book. Nonetheless he had the book reviewed by a number of climatologists before having it published.

    Do you have any evidence to support your claim that Flannery is a charlatan Dogz or are you simply barking false accusations?

    By the way, I thought you had retired from the blog world? Good to see you back.

    Flannery has written a number of very successful books and I have three of them. I doubt this bloke is short of a quid.

  193. Terje says

    “Apparently in return for “a donationâ€? the “Solar Shopâ€? in Adelaide has been able to obtain the services of Tim Flannery to appear in a commericial promoting its product.”

    And this commercial didn’t get very far because of blatant political interference.

  194. The commercial is now being shown, the blatant political interference having been overthrown. Obviously it’s ok to mislead the public when you’re on a mission to save humanity.

    It’s great to know I can avert “the greatest threat facing humanity” just by buying a solar panel. Who knew it would be so easy?

  195. I can’t wait to read Paul Williams’s stunning exposé on hyperbole in breakfast cereal commercials.

    Go get ’em tiger!

  196. According to Paul Williams “it’s ok to mislead the public”

    Thank you for your opinion.

  197. Steve, I agree with your unspoken premise that climate change advocacy is hard to differentiate from the worst excesses of the advertising industry.

    Chris, thanks for enlightening us about your character.

  198. “Chris, thanks for enlightening us about your character.”

    What’s the problem? Don’t you like it when someone writes a corrupt statement like, for example, “it’s ok to mislead the public when you’re on a mission to save humanity” with the presumption that the intention is to mislead.

  199. The term “donation” suggests that Flannery is donating his fee for appearing in the ad to a charity of soem osrt.

    Is there no end to the man’s evil?

    Can I just say how wonderful it is that when rightwingers have money it’s proof of their industry, virtue and keen understanding of how the real world works and how when leftwingers have money it’s proof of their venality and corruption.

  200. My understanding is that the donation was to the Museum that he runs.

    For what it is worth I think it is great that Tim Flannery makes a buck promoting solar cells. I don’t think it is evil. I merely raised the point to see if there is consistency in the view (held by JQ and others) that those that make a buck from expressing a particular view should be treated as suspect in any debate.

  201. The first Ice Age had a combination of buddy bonding and a little bit of danger. Remember the Sabre pack constantly harassing Diego and pushing him to get the child? Since we werent sure what he would do we were all rooting for his bond with Manny and Sid to triumph. Less of that here.

    In the sequel we are catching up with the trio in some sort of wildlife sanctuary in a valley lined with ice walls. Politics come on early with the mention of global warming leading to the impending melt and the ultimate collapse of the ice walls that hold back enormous amounts of water. So our friends and all the other animals embark on a trek to reach a boat (read giant log) at the far end of the valley in order to save them from the impending flood. Insert Biblical reference here.

    As in the first movie, the antagonist here again is the weather. The secondary antagonist (keenly written in the first movie for the Sabre pride) has been reduced to a couple of characterless crocadilian-fish that seem to have a particular taste for migrating mammals. Decent concept, given the flood, but the movie gave them no teeth. I think this is the missing link to making this movie work. Too bad because overall its a pleasing way to spend an hour and a half. Mannies love interest subplot is ok. The concept of Ellie thinking that she is a possum and only realizing that she is in fact a mammoth after she stumbles across the place she was found by her possum mother and the subsequent flashback, makes you thinks that Mannys comment about Ellies …tree not going all the way to the top…, can be applied to the writers.

    If nothing else Scrat is reason enough to go see this. He is no longer just an aside as in the first film as he actually gets into the plot here. Albeit, his role in the plot is an overly easy (and early) seque to the films resolution.

    Kids will love it. Adults that liked the first one, will be dissapointed.

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