Open Thread #7

By Deep Climate

Yes, Wegmania continues on and on, but readers no doubt would like to discuss other topics as well.

The return of the Daily Mail’s David Rose and his claims that global warming “has halted” [h/t MapleLeaf] has brought forth a scathing rebuttal from the Guardian’s George Monbiot, apparently with the able assistance of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team. For background on Rose, see my post on  Rose’s first coverage of climategate and Mojib Latif’s supposed twenty-year global-cooling prediction, as well as the later gullible regurgitation of Steve McIntyre’s “hid the decline” falsehoods, complete with fake graphs.

Also from the Guardian come tales of Christopher Monckton’s shenanigans [h/t Holly Stick] at the climate conference in Cancun (where the government of Canada has been earning “Fossil of the Day” awards – five so far -  and no doubt will garner the overall “Fossil of the Year” award). Meanwhile, the UNFCCC process appears to be in deep trouble, as the political will to support effective action on climate change seems weaker than ever.

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41 responses to “Open Thread #7

  1. I’m waiting for Bernie Sanders to mention Deep Climate- someone call his staffers and give them the talking points!

  2. Hello,

    I am reading Montford’s book, in which is mentioned a forum called **Climate Skeptics**. Is it still alive, where can I find it?

    I think this might be useful to search that site for future network analysis. Lots of stuff around there in the beginnings.

    Thanks!

    • Willard, possibly this is the site you were thinking of? It’s not one I’ve visited before (nor am I likely to again). It seems to just aggregate/repost whatever is playing at ClimateAudit, Bishop Hill, and other denialist blogs. Today’s topic is Steig et al. (2009) is refuted, claims McI.

  3. Ahh, Montford, HWQDAJ (He Who Quotes Dog Astrology Journal, in honor of current movie). See JSE @ Rabbit Run.

    Montford quoted JSE twice for a key idea, and then wrote an untruth derived from them about Jonathan Overpeck. See Wikipedia discussion. This post caused stunned silence for a day, followed by frenzied efforts to make it disappear, continually reverted by the Stoat.

  4. Your link leads to a link to McKitrick in Australia pp.4-6..

    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/McKitrick-hockeystick.pdf

    In which McKitrick complains that the satellite record in the TAR was not given the prominence he thought it deserved, because it displayed a low rate of warming, while referring to the demolished hockey stick. In reality, the hockey stick is still with us, and the satellite record was wrong. McIntyre must have missed that one.

    • McKitrick made the same point in the infamous May 11, 2005 M&M presentation that served as Barton staffer Peter Spencer’s blueprint for the Wegman report.

      http://www.marshall.org/pdf/materials/316.pdf

      But McIntyre went one better, suggesting that the “Hockey Stick” disappears if one “grafts” the UAH satellite record onto the Moberg 2005 reconstruction, instead of the surface record. See p. 20-21 for the chart and McIntyre’s commentary.

      I actually plotted up Moberg’s line in an IPCC form (Figure 12) and the blue line is what the proxy data shows. When I first plotted it, I said that doesn’t even look that much like a hockey stick anymore. There is a big Medieval Warm Period and the 20th century is a little different because it is coming up to the Medieval Warm Period, but it is not blowing it off the chart. What blows it off the chart is the Jones instrumental series, which is the one for which he won’t let people look at the data. I thought just as a little experiment, what happens if I splice the satellite data on to this instead of the Jones data? The blow-up on the right is on the same scale. The purple line is the satellite data so if you just take the rate of increase, you are not even getting the oddness of the 1990s with satellite data spliced onto the proxy data. This is a little different twist on the satellite debate because everybody is now saying we are looking at tenths of a degree or .01 degree growths. I say if you splice that back into the proxy record, it takes a lot of the steam out of it.

      Now it’s not clear which series McIntyre actually used, NH or global. But as we now know, the UAH record contained errors, the correction of which led to an eventual doubling of of the slope of UAH lower troposphere series by the end of 2005 (from 0.05C/decade to 0.12C/decade). Even worse, at the time of the M&M presentation the RSS analysis had already been published and it showed an even higher slope. And these guys have the unmitigated gall to accuse paleoclimatologists of cherry-picking? What a crock!

      Also notice that none of this made it into the Wegman report. Why? Because by the end of 2005, the UAH record had been corrected (thanks to the efforts of RSS’s Mears and Wentz) and the RSS record was clearly established as an alternative to UAH, a likely superior one at that. I suppose not even Peter Spencer could figure out a way to fudge that one.

      And, to this day, UAH’s Roy Spencer and John Christy have not released their code as far as I know (Mears and Wentz found the sign error in the UAH diurnal adjustment by emulating the steps).

    • Nor have Christy et al. corrected the serious statistical error in their 2007 International Journal of Climatology paper, “A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions,” a post-Wegman paper, but it speaks to their credibility.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Taylor B, even more, they have deigned to attack the correcting paper by Santer et al. mendaciously by non-scientific ‘arguments’ outside the literature (in the American Stinker, of all places!).
      Speaks to their credibility allright.

    • True, GP. Ben Santer’s Open Letter (linked above) is a detailed rebuttal to Christy’s and coauthor Douglass’ non-factual claims in the “American Thinker,” which is about as ideologically biased (far-right/libertarian) a mouthpiece as you’re likely to find. One wonders if it occurred to them how ironic their accusations of bias in the scientific peer-review process are, given their choice of venue. Somehow, nearly 3 years after their ballyhooed press conference at the U.S. National Press Club (where all great scientific discoveries overturning decades of scientific consensus are announced), one might think they’d have sufficient time to figure out their error and announce a correction. Ben Santer very charitably referred to the problem with Christy et al.’s 2007 IJoC paper as an “error,” given that the problem in their choice of statistical test had been clearly pointed out to them when a previous version of their paper had been rejected for publication. The sordid history was also clearly laid out by Dr. Santer here and here. I know I’m going over old ground here, but it’s interesting how such a case of misrepresentation of the science doesn’t seem to merit much attention by the self-appointed “skeptics” and hasn’t resulted in any sanctions against the authors.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      > as an error,”

      Yep. The proper word is fraud.

  5. Note that the MCKitrick APEC talk (SSWR’s MCk05) is followed in a few weeks by that May 11 presentation for GMI (MM05x).

    The earlier talk at least correctly cited Deming’s quote in my favorite dog astrology journal, JSE.
    By May 11, somehow JSE had become Science, a useful falsification to enhance credibility.

    • Here’s the quote John is talking about (p. 6 of the May 11 transcript I linked to):

      “With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said, “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”
      – D. Denning, Science 1995.

      I don’t believe this was deliberate falsification, as logically Deming could not have commented on reaction to his Science 1995 article in the same article. (And the attribution introduces another error by misspelling Deming’s name). Nevertheless, McKitrick has never acknowledged the error or the real source of the commentary.

  6. Every time I see the Deming bit I imagine a couple of contexts

    Now that we know that temeratures weren’t that warm we have to get rid of the medieval warm period terminology and use , maybe, anomaly instead

    We have to get rid of the medieval warm period trem because it is misleading.

    We have to get rid of the MWP misinformation if we want to be honest.

    Editing can be creative and completely change the meaning without lying (except ommission).

    • There is a “climategate” email from Overpeck where he discusses dealing a “mortal blow” to “misuse” of the term MWP (*not* a “mortal blow” to the term MWP or the MWP itself, as McIntyre and others have claimed). Whether or not Overpeck was the author of the mysterious email to Deming, the real point of this email, presuming it exists, may merely have been that the MWP was not a global, synchronous period of warmth, in contrast with the late twentieth century. That is certainly the point that scientists have made over and over.

      In reading Valerie [Masson-Delmotte]‘s Holocene section, I get the sense that I’m not the only one who would like to deal a mortal blow to the misuse of supposed warm period terms and myths in the literature. The sceptics and uninformed love to cite these periods as natural analogs for current warming too – pure rubbish.

      So, pls DO try hard to follow up on my advice provided in previous email. No need to go into details on any but the MWP, but good to mention the others in the same dismissive effort. “Holocene Thermal Maximum” is another one that should only be used with care, and with the explicit knowledge that it was a time-transgressive event totally unlike the recent global warming.

      So Overpeck says terms such as MWP “should only used with care”, and that it should be clearly explained that the MWP is not a “natural analog” to the “current warming period”. This an entirely defensible and correct scientific position.

  7. DC illustrates the reason why Bradley just focused on the plagiarism, which is straightforward.

    This OSU talk, p.5 has a nice chart.
    It is often difficult to distinguish between incompetence and falsification on any given instance.

    My belief is that:
    a) If there are a few errors
    b) and the errors display no obvious bias

    then they are probably honest errors.

    As errors accumulate, and if the pattern of errors is strongly biased, then at some point it looks more and more like falsification/fabrication. When I was doing SSWR, I originally had a category for errors or meaning changes that favored MBH (vsMM) … but it turned out to be an empty set.

    Converting JSE to Science could be a simple error that anyone could make.
    The question is: given this was M&M, and the numerous other anti-science memes and biases, what is he probability that this is simple error or purposeful?
    Any opinions from others, like Sam?

  8. Can anybody explain to me the editorial policy of the International Journal of Geosciences The first two papers of the current issue are particularly bizarre. I would think that such ground breaking consensus overturning papers would indeed warrant immediate press releases and hastily arranged conferences at the National Press Club.

    • IJG’s “Aims and Scope” appears to have been translated from a foreign language, as does the “About Us” of the umbrella organization, Scientific Research Publishing. Years ago, a friend purchased a guitar which came with a little pamphlet describing the tuning machines thus, “It is new manufacture, whose screw is not loose and whose knob is fixed with a shaft.” IJG gives me a similar impression.

    • Good question, Thomas.

      A recently published estimate of Earth’s global warming trend is 0.63 ± 0.28 W/m2, as calculated from ocean heat content anomaly data spanning 1993-2008. This value is not representative of the recent (2003-2008) warming/cooling rate because of a “flattening” that occurred around 2001-2002. Using only 2003-2008 data from Argo floats, we find by four different algorithms that the recent trend ranges from –0.010 to –0.161 W/m2 with a typical error bar of ±0.2 W/m2. These results fail to support the existence of a frequently-cited large positive computed radiative imbalance.

    • Apparently, part of their Editorial policy is to have no proofreading of the manuscripts by anyone at the publisher. From the second article I quote (page 105, bottom of the left column):
      “Finally, complete content and organizational editing before formatting. Please take note of the following items when proofreading spelling and grammar.”
      And that’s apart from the host of spelling errors and bad English (Equador? Whatthat? Oh, the EQUATOR!). And then the author thanks someone for proofreading…

    • Well, the editorial board seems to be loaded with chinese researchers who are working overseas, that may explain some of the english language problems …

    • Errr….no, it does not, dhogaza. That the reviewers misses the mistakes, OK. But respectable publishing agencies have a proofreading stage at the Publisher itself.

      But this Publisher has “problems” in other fields too:
      http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2010/12/pallacken_abdul_wahid_is_back.php
      (second link).

    • “explains” is not a synonym for “exonerates” – the high percentage of non-native english speakers seems like a likely explanation and makes one imagine that the lack of professionalism (i.e. reasonable editing, publishing bulls**t articles etc) indicates a very low-rent operation, among other things …

  9. Good spot Tomas Lee Elfitz. Skeptic on the editorial board a la Soon and Baliunas? Douglass is a familiar name from the first paper, clearly likes the ‘short-term over climatically significant long-term’ cherrypick; the second paper looks to be full of egregious errors (basic failures in the understanding on the properties of the CO2 molecule), judging by the abstract. Countdown to denier echo chamber fanfare. 10 … 9 … 8 …

  10. Rattus Norvegicus

    The various discussions of McShayne and Wyner are up now. Take a look, most are highly critical.

    • In the editorial, the editor of the journal finishes his piece regarding the paper and ensuing discussion with the words:

      My understanding is that the major uncertainties in climate projections on time scales of more than a few decades are unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Thus, while research on climate change should continue, now is the time for individuals and governments to act to limit the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions on the Earth’s climate over the next century and well beyond.

      Somehow I think that in green-lighting the paper he wasn’t doing the authors any favors. Oh, and I remember the blog of one of the authors was rather revealing of his politics and ignorance of the science he was criticizing.

  11. As they say, Daily Mail, Daily Fail.

  12. I just took a look at the MW rejoinder- they are quite confident in their response to the avalanche of criticism. They seem to feel like they have it in the bag. I would love to know if this were true.

    • Look at it this way: the MWP is irrelevant as each decade passes, and we continue to observe each being warmer than the previous.

      The MWP argument is nothing more than a delaying tactic, as events are outstripping even the most extreme MWP temp + rate of change claims.

      They’re just hoping to delay action until we’re all dead, so our children and grandchildren can deal with the mess. Sort of like the Treaty of Versailles and the middle east.

    • I started with the MW rejoinder (short form) to get an idea of the outlines of the criticisms and how they would be addressed. Their response to these criticisms is that there is no single, best way to analyze proxy data, although they defend the Lasso method quite vigorously. They conclude that uncertainties are larger than climate scientists have appreciated, and this conclusion is robust (according to them) to various methodological choices. They claim that some criticisms of their paper are based on misunderstandings of what they were trying to show (although, in part, this may be due to strict time and space considerations imposed on the commentators by the editor of the journal: one month and two pages maximum). They focus a lot of effort on disputing arguments made by Schmidt, Mann, and Rutherford (SMR) and give a lot of credit to M&M, but they give the most recognition to Smerdon and Kaplan. I’d guess that M&M will probably spin this as a victory, but I don’t think this would be justified.

      MW offer a number of areas that would benefit from further study. I thought one of the most interesting appeared in footnote 8, “Though it is beyond the scope of our work, we note that, by making use of additional information (e.g., the spatial locations of the proxies and local temperatures), it is possible that the proxies might become considerably more predictive/informative than they have so far proven to be.”

      Then I read the editorial by Michael Stein, which I think sums things up quite well: “In particular, the presence of even substantial uncertainties does not necessarily mean that the appropriate response is to wait for better information about the future climate. Any potential benefi ts of waiting depend in part on estimates of how much our uncertainty is likely to decrease over the next several years. My understanding is that the major uncertainties in climate projections on time scales of more than a few decades are unlikely to be resolved in the near future. Thus, while research on climate change should continue, now is the time for individuals and governments to act to limit the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions on the Earth’s climate over the next century and well beyond.” This is clearly not the approach that M&M and the denial industry have been advocating.

    • Rattus Norvegicus

      They’ve been ripped a new one up and down by several participants on the choice of the Lasso as the regression method. I suspect that they lose in the long run.

    • Gavin's Pussycat

      Yep — they’re bluffing. They get away with it because comments and rejoinders in this journal are not peer reviewed, unfortunately. It un-levels the playing field: only folks with domain expertise can now tell with any confidence who’s right.

    • Gavin Schmidt also pointed out some “interesting” details in his dealings with McShane: not shy to ask, rapidly corrected an error Gavin pointed out, but kept an inconsequential math error by Gavin secret so they could attack it in their rebuttal (well, Gavin didn’t really say the latter, but it’s quite clear they did).

  13. From one of the critiques at the statistics journal:

    Hold-outs at the end of the calibration period would provide a more powerful test; for hold-outs in the middle, one can be fairly confident that if the Lasso finds a match at both ends, then the middle will fit reasonably well. In section 3.5, the finding that large numbers of pseudo-proxies are selected can be explained in the same way. Moreover, the Lasso procedure will have a bias against selecting actual proxies, if they are correlated with each other.

    Discussion of “A Statistical Analysis of Multiple Temperature Proxies: are reconstructions of surface temperatures over the last 1000 years reliable?” by McShane and Wyner
    By Jonathan Rougier (pdf)

    Same criticism was made here in the earlier McShane and Wyner 2010 thread and the comments that followed, e.g., where Gavin’s Pussycat stated:

    The reason why you validate using the start and end blocks is simple: you want to test extrapolation. Interpolation is easy, especially for those null proxies that bring their own smoothness to the table, like those autoregression variants. Extrapolation on the other hand is hard, yet that’s what real paleoreconstructions are doing. It’s a test, remember?

    Actual paleoclimate reconstructions aren’t exercises in mathematical interpolation but are the results of models based on principles of physics — and thus extrapolate beyond the evidence, and if they are good models that incorporate enough of the physics, they do so skillfully.

    • And don’t forget that M&W’s argument on this point focused on interpolated holdout periods that were “near” the front and back. But when one examines the very first and very last holdout blocks, it was a very different story (see my original post for more on this). Just as one would expect, the “pseudo-proxies” (actually null proxies) performance relative to the real proxies was *worse* on those specific blocks (the ones actually used in paleoclimatology), than on average over all blocks.

  14. Hmmm … my August post on McShane and Wyner, already the second most viewed Deep Climate post, is getting renewed interest.

    It seems that over at RealClimate, Gavin Schmidt and Michael Mann have responded to the M&W reply to discussion (which was focused largely on the Schmidt et al comment). They point out that the discussions and reply were not peer-reviewed, which probably accounts for some of M&W’s more fatuous statements. Perhaps the most egregious of these is M&W’s characterization of MBH screening for sufficient “replication” (i.e. a minimum of 8 tree series for each site chronology) as an “ad hoc” procedure, when in reality it was a clearly documented (and necessary) step in the methodology.

    The original paper, discussions and M&W rejoinder can all be seen here.

    It’s interesting that McShane and Wyner declined to address the criticisms of their overview of the history of the “hockey stick”. That overview was supposedly based on the scientific literature, but was really a highly confused rehash of M&M and the Wegman report. That was probably a good call for them – there’s only so far one can go in defending the clearly indefensible.

    Need I add I have more coming on McShane and Wyner? In fact, I have almost completed a report that includes a paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of sections 1 and 2. That analysis demonstrated unequivocally that much of their “scientific history” was derived from the third-party grey literature descriptions in Wegman et al and M&M, while many of the actual citations given by M&W were clearly not actually read by the authors. The report will also include exposition of a very telling mistake in their discussion of empirical AR1 in section 3, along with a review of points previously raised concerning this section.

    • The way the M&W rejoinder reads, and the fact that it makes a number of invalid criticisms of SMR, it seems more like a collaborative effort between them and M&M, which seems quite possible given the date it was saved (12/08/2010). In the interest of openness and transparency, could we see those e-mails, please?

  15. I’m at AGU with just iPhone right now, but read SSWR A.12, for some if the tip-offs on Wegmsn sourcing and fabricated Bradley reference, but towards the end, a discussion if the general level if “confidence” exhibited in blog posts and some speculations on social network connections with M&M.

  16. Here’s an example of some legitimate “social network analysis”: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hedge-probe-20101217,0,6308577.story

    Excerpt:

    “What makes these cases so unique is that these are insider-trading cases on a systemic level,” said David Segal, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in New York.

    The probes grew out of a 25-person hedge-fund task force created by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2007, which developed a computer program to analyze stock market movements and identify not only suspicious trading but also suspicious relationships between traders, according to people close to the investigations who were not authorized to speak on the record.

    The arrests of Contorinis and Stephanou were the first fruits of that technology, those people said. A statement issued by the SEC after Contorinis’ arrest alluded to the new software, saying the case was the “direct result of innovative investigative techniques that the SEC is using.”

    With those techniques, the SEC “does not have to rely on traditional methods of looking for a low-level informant to get to a bigger fish,” said Arthur Laby, a professor at Rutgers University’s law school who worked at the SEC until 2006.

    More recently, the government also has used wiretaps to try to follow the trail of illegally shared information.

    It can be hard to tell where one trading network ends and another begins.

    Now, what does all this have to do with climate-scientists? Well, it shows that brilliant mathematical minds like James Hansen and Ben Santer chose the wrong profession if they were looking to get rich!

  17. Over at lucia’s, mosher makes this declaration

    “[...] we have no consensus to defend we get to attack each other and still be friends . . . Unlike the Team there is no thin green line to defend. Heck, I think I even agreed with a criticism that deep climate made of SteveMc.
    That’s the strategic advantage we have. The Team MUST PROTECT its weakest member. because they are a team. those outside the team have the freedom to attack each other, support each other,ignore each other.”

    My challenge to anti-team would be for McIntyre to allow you to guest post a version of your findings, unedited and without inline commentary, regarding the top “1%” random-hockey sticks documented here: http://deepclimate.org/2010/11/16/replication-and-due-diligence-wegman-style/

    Furthermore, the writing style can be in the same snotty voice that McIntyre uses when he uncovers his latest outrage.

    e.g.
    http://climateaudit.org/2008/08/08/caspar-ammann-texas-sharpshooter/

    Do you think he’ll accept?

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