In comments, several readers suggested that I examine a recent report from the U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail that attempts to tie the research of modeller and IPCC author Mojib Latif to the current cold spell in Europe. Now that Latif has responded to this latest distortion of his views in an interview with the Guardian, I’m happy to oblige.
And, while I’m at it, I’ll also take a look at the short and dubious track record of newly-minted contrarian climate “investigative journalist” David Rose, whose very first climate change article was an overview of Climategate “research” from Steve McIntyre, with generous assistance from Ross McKitrick.
David Rose’s article in the latest Mail on Sunday gets right to the point:
The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world’s most eminent climate scientists.
Of course, this is exactly the sort of distortion that Latif has been subjected to before, most recently in the wake of his presentation at the World Climate Conference in Geneva last October, as I noted in my post Anatomy of a lie: How Marc Morano and Lorne Gunter spun Mojib Latif.
Perhaps ruefully reflecting on that sorry experience, Latif has responded to this latest outrageous exaggeration in no uncertain terms in an interview with the Manchester Guardian.
The Mail on Sunday article said that Latif’s research showed that the current cold weather heralds such “a global trend towards cooler weather”.
It said: “The BBC assured viewers that the big chill was was merely short-term ‘weather’ that had nothing to do with ‘climate’, which was still warming. The work of Prof Latif and the other scientists refutes that view.”
Not according to Latif. “They are not related at all,” he said. “What we are experiencing now is a weather phenomenon, while we talked about the mean temperature over the next 10 years. You can’t compare the two.“
“The natural variation occurs side by side with the manmade warming. Sometimes it has a cooling effect and can offset this warming and other times it can accelerate it.” [Emphasis added]
The Mail also characterized Latif’s research this way:
He and his colleagues predicted the new cooling trend in a paper published in 2008 and warned of it again at an IPCC conference in Geneva last September.
However, the referenced Keenlyside at al paper projects reduced warming (not cooling) for the coming decade 2010-2020 relative to previous decades, as I explained previously. And as Latif makes clear above, his discussion with Rose was limited to the “mean temperature over the next ten years”. All that is a far cry from a “global trend towards cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years”.
Rose also attempts to contrast Latif’s views on attribution of twentieth century warming with the well-worn canard of the supposed conventional IPCC view of 100% anthropogenic attribution over the last century.
The scientists’ predictions also undermine the standard climate computer models, which assert that the warming of the Earth since 1900 has been driven solely by man-made greenhouse gas emissions and will continue as long as carbon dioxide levels rise.
However, Latif spiked this as well:
Latif said his research suggested that up to half the warming seen over the 20th century was down to this natural ocean effect, but said that was consistent with the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “No climate specialist would ever say that 100% of the warming we have seen is down to greenhouse gas emissions.”
Despite the obvious distortion – or because of it – this latest travesty has been reverberating in the echo chamber, with over 2000 hits so far and counting. So it might be good to look at the short career of this latest star of contrarian journalism.
David Rose made his debut as an environmental investigative reporter with a rambling, um, analysis of Climategate. A large part of this piece was given over to Steve McIntyre’s absurd explanation of the implications of CRU head Phil Jones’s “hide the decline” email.
However, the full context of that ‘trick’ email, as shown by a new and until now unreported analysis by the Canadian climate statistician Steve McIntyre, is extremely troubling.
Derived from close examination of some of the thousands of other leaked emails, he says it suggests the ‘trick’ undermines not only the CRU but the IPCC.
Rose summarized McIntyre’s post, stating that the true “context” of the emails leading up to Jones’s, was an attempt to pressure Briffa to produce a “tree-ring” chronology that would show a reduced Medeival Warm Period and enhanced warming in the 20th century.
Rose wrote that in September 1999, IPCC author Michael Mann was pressuring CRU dendrochronologist Keith Briffa to change a tree-ring based reconstruction to be used in a key IPCC chart, but that at first Briffa’s “conscience was troubled”. Eventually, though, Briffa “changed the way he computed his data and submitted a revised version” with significantly cooler “earlier centuries”. But that created “another, potentially even more serious, problem”:
According to his tree rings, the period since 1960 had not seen a steep rise in temperature, as actual temperature readings showed – but a large and steady decline, so calling into question the accuracy of the earlier data derived from tree rings.
This is the context in which, seven weeks later, Jones presented his ‘trick’ – as simple as it was deceptive.
All he had to do was cut off Briffa’s inconvenient data at the point where the decline started, in 1961, and replace it with actual temperature readings, which showed an increase.
On the hockey stick graph, his line is abruptly terminated – but the end of the line is obscured by the other lines.
As I explained in a previous post, this absurd account simply does not stand up to scrutiny. First, McIntyre’s explanation in its original form was contradicted by key passages that were deleted from the referenced emails. Not only that, but in another email passage that McIntyre conveniently omitted, Briffa pointed to a previously published reconstruction that he considered to be more appropriate, one very similar to that eventually published. And Briffa’s 1999 chart already contained the truncation after 1960, along with a separate instrumental curve post-1850 – just like the later IPCC chart.
The main noticeable difference is that Briffa’s IPCC version went back to 1450 instead of 1550. So clearly, on top of everything else, Briffa’s discussion of the MWP also had nothing to do with his contribution to the IPCC chart.
Even Chip Knappenberger (of Climate Research News fame) stopped by ClimateAudit to say McIntyre had it completely wrong (and Gavin Schmidt had it right):
So, upon my read, the IPCC’s “trick” amounts to the original authors [i.e. Briffa and Osborn] feeling uncomfortable about their own results in the post-1960 period and not wanting them included in what was to become IPCC TAR Figure 2.21. Hardly much of a “trick.”
In an extraordinary series of comments at ClimateAudit, David Rose related further details about his auspicious start as a climate journalist with the scoop of the previously “unreported analysis”. First, he stopped by to pay homage to the master:
As a veteran member of the MSM (Vanity Fair and the UK’s Mail on Sunday) may I state for the record: Sir, I salute you. Bravo!
Then, after ClimateAudit covered his article, Rose explained how it all came about:
I am honoured by the kind comments on my article. For the record: without Steve’s brilliant work and this magnificent website, it could not have been written. May I also pay tribute to Ross McKitrick, who gave me several hours of his time on Thursday and helped clarify the issues in my mind.
I am not a scientist, but an open minded investigative journalist. I have not written on climate before. For the record, the article appeared in the Mail on Sunday, the Daily Mail’s Sunday stablemate. It sells well in excess of 2 million copies a week. I hope to return to this subject in future.
And so he has. Thus does another contrarian star journalist burst onto the scene. Indeed, it becomes harder and harder to “hide the decline” – in climate science “journalism”.