Sunday, February 08, 2009

That famous consensus

Yet another example of the `research' masquerading as science that is used to reinforce the man-made global warming fraud. One of the difficulties the green zealots have had is that Antarctica has been not warming but cooling, with the extent of its ice reaching record levels. A few weeks ago, a study led by Professor Eric Steig caused some excitement by claiming that actually West Antarctica was warming so much that it more than made up for the cooling in East Antarctica. Warning bells should have sounded when Steig said
What we did is interpolate carefully instead of just using the back of an envelope.

To those of us who have been following this scam for the past two decades, `interpolate carefully' makes us suck our teeth. And so it has proved. Various scientists immediately spotted the flaw in Steig's methodology of combining satellite evidence since 1979 with temperature readings from surface weather stations. The flaw they identified was that, since Antarctica has so few weather stations, the computer Steig used was programmed to guess what data they would have produced had such stations existed. In other words, the findings that caused such excitement were based on data that had been made up. Even one of the IPCC's lead authors sniffed a problem:
`This looks like a pretty good analysis, but I have to say I remain somewhat skeptical,' Kevin Trenberth, climate analysis chief at the National Center for Atmospheric Research said in an e-mail. `It is hard to make data where none exist.'

Well, yes. But then the invention of data that does not exist and the obliteration of data that does exist has been precisely how the man-made global warming scam has been perpetrated right from the get-go. The most egregious example of this was the piece of `research' that underpinned the entire IPCC/Kyoto shebang from 2001 when it was published -- the so-called `hockey stick' curve, which purported to show a vertiginous and unprecedented rise in global temperature in the 20th century.

The problem with pegging such a rise to the evils of industrialisation had always been the Medieval Warm Period, during which global temperatures were warmer than in modern times. So the `hockey stick' study dealt with that by simply managing to airbrush out the Medieval Warm Period and its subsequent corrective Little Ice Age altogether. Some seven centuries of global history were simply excised from the data -- because an algorithm had been built into the computer programme which would have created a `hockey stick' curve whatever data were fed into it.

This shoddy research was subsequently torn apart so comprehensively that it has been called the most discredited study in the history of science (and has been quietly dropped by the IPCC, leaving man-made global warming theory with no more substance than the grin on the face of the Cheshire Cat. Go here, here and here for a history of the titanic battle that ensued over its unmasking). The creator of this discredited `hockey stick' curve was Michael Mann. And guess what? Michael Mann was a co-author of the Steig study of Antarctica.
`Contrarians have sometime grabbed on to this idea that the entire continent of Antarctica is cooling, so how could we be talking about global warming,' said study co-author Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University. `Now we can say: no, it's not true ... It is not bucking the trend.'

And now as Andrew Bolt has noted Steve McIntyre, who with Ross McKitrick uncovered the `hockey-stick' nonsense in the first place, has delivered the coup de grace to the Steig/Mann Antarctica claim. Steig used data from a weather station called Harry. Bolt observes:
"Harry in fact is a problematic site that was buried in snow for years and then re-sited in 2005. But, worse, the data that Steig used in his modelling which he claimed came from Harry was actually old data from another station on the Ross Ice Shelf known as Gill with new data from Harry added to it, producing the abrupt warming. The data is worthless". Or as McIntyre puts it:
"Considered by itself, Gill has a slightly negative trend from 1987 to 2002. The big trend in `New Harry' arises entirely from the impact of splicing the two data sets together. It's a mess."

With their reputations thus disappearing faster than the snows of Kilimanjaro, the zealots have become hysterical. Mann attacks a prominent sceptic, Lawrence Solomon, for citing the scientists' criticisms of the Antarctica study, and is in turn answered by Solomon -- an exchange reproduced in Canada's Financial Post, for which Solomon writes, here and here. Mann repeatedly accuses Solomon of lying. In doing so, he has left himself dramatically exposed. Claiming that Solomon
repeatedly lies about my work

he cites as evidence of this that his `hockey stick' study was
vindicated in a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences

and seeks to back up this assertion by citing the way the media reported this study as
`Science Panel Backs Study on Warming Climate' (New York Times), `Backing for Hockey Stick Graph' (BBC), and so on.

This is, to put it mildly, disingenuous. While it is certainly true that the media reported it in this sheep-like way -- thanks in part to the manner in which the NAS chose circumspectly to spin its own conclusions -- it is nevertheless the case that in every important particular the NAS actually agreed with the McIntyre/McKitrick criticisms. Far from vindicating the `hockey stick' graph, the NAS said that although it found some of Mann's work `plausible', there were so many scientific uncertainties attached to it that it did not have great confidence in it. Thus it said that
Mann et al. used a type of principal component analysis that tends to bias the shape of the reconstructions

and that they had downplayed the
uncertainties of the published reconstructions...Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that `the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium.'

What Mann also does not say in his diatribe is that a subsequent House Energy and Commerce Committee report chaired by Edward Wegman totally destroyed the credibility of the `hockey stick' study and devastatingly ripped apart Mann's methodology as `bad mathematics'. Furthermore, when Gerald North, the chairman of the NAS panel -- which Mann claims `vindicated him' - and panel member Peter Bloomfield were asked at the House Committee hearings whether or not they agreed with Wegman's harsh criticisms, they said they did:
CHAIRMAN BARTON. Dr. North, do you dispute the conclusions or the methodology of Dr. Wegman's report?

DR. NORTH. No, we don't. We don't disagree with their criticism. In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.

DR. BLOOMFIELD. Our committee reviewed the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that some of the choices they made were inappropriate. We had much the same misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length by Dr. Wegman.

WALLACE: `the two reports were complementary, and to the extent that they overlapped, the conclusions were quite consistent.' (Am Stat Assoc.)

As Mark Twain might have put it, there are three kinds of lies -- lies, damned lies and global warming science.


Another Dalton Minimum predicted!

Journal abstract below:

Forecasting the parameters of sunspot cycle 24 and beyond

By C. de Jager, S. Duhau

Solar variability is controlled by the internal dynamo which is a nonlinear system. We develop a physical-statistical method for forecasting solar activity that takes into account the non-linear character of the solar dynamo. The method is based on the generally accepted mechanisms of the dynamo and on recently found systematic properties of the long-term solar variability. The amplitude modulation of the Schwabe cycle in the dynamo's magnetic field components can be decomposed in an invariant transition level and three types of oscillations around it. The regularities that we observe in the behaviour of these oscillations during the last millennium enable us to forecast solar activity. We find that the system is presently undergoing a transition from the recent Grand Maximum to another regime. This transition started in 2000 and it is expected to end around the maximum of cycle 24, foreseen for 2014, with a maximum sunspot number Rmax = 68 ~ 17. At that time a period of lower solar activity will start. That period will be one of regular oscillations, as occurred between 1730 and 1923. The first of these oscillations may even turn out to be as strongly negative as around 1810, in which case a short Grand Minimum similar to the Dalton one might develop. This moderate to low-activity episode is expected to last for at least one Gleissberg cycle (60 - 100 years).

Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, vol. 71 (2009), 239 - 245

Greenies can't take criticism. They respond with abuse, not facts and reason

They can't deny that Hitler was a Greenie -- because he was. So they just attack the messenger. See the wail below

Even if you don't know who Glenn Beck is, because you might have the good sense to avoid blowhard talking heads on Fox News, he seems to think he knows who we are. He thinks the youth climate movement are "Hitler Youth", brainwashed by Al Gore to lead us into fascism.

Glenn Beck said: "Well, tonight - oh dear, this may not go well - when I finish this story, some may believe we're on the way to the Hitler Youth . Are we having the new Hitler youth? Is that what this is? The new Hitler youth? I'm sorry, that's so politically incorrect. The new green guard."
You can see his scaremongering for yourself, recorded by Crooks and Liars:

Well, I know who and what Glenn Beck is. Glenn Beck is a bigoted, paranoid liar who will stoop at nothing to smear and destroy those who he sees as foes to the voodoo economics and dirty energy companies his ideology supports. He is a fossil fool and he should be exposed as one.

For a sampling of his smears and lies:

The first environmental justice advocate elected to congress, Keith Ellison, also was the first Muslim representative. Rep. Ellison was a mentor to me and a proud American who has stood up against the excesses of the Bush Administration. What did Glenn Beck ask him, when Keith went on his CNN show?

"With that being said, you are a Democrat. You are saying, `Let's cut and run.' And I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, `Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies.' And I know you're not. I'm not accusing you of being an enemy, but that's the way I feel, and I think a lot of Americans will feel that way."

Glenn seems to enjoy labeling environmental activists as fascists or communists or socialist, referencing Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, saying "It's like Hitler" and denied Global Warming by using fossil fuel funded `experts' on numerous occasions.

He also lied about oil production from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, claiming it would produce seventy times more than it could and decades earlier.

The fact that a someone who is a serial liar and slanderer has such a prominent position in our media shows how far we have to go. Glenn has a right-wing radio show, and has a national cable TV show.


Leaky Jonathan, chief science distorter for "The Times", defends Warmism amid Britain's unusually cold winter

He even calls on the nutty "Gaia" Lovelock, who predicts that only Antarctica and Siberia will be livable in the near future. See full dissections of a couple of Leaky's earlier deceptions here and here

It seems a bizarre contrast: as James Lovelock issues his latest warnings on soaring global temperatures, snow has been blanketing much of Britain. How can the world be warming yet still produce weather like this? Met Office scientists see no contradiction. For them, the real issue is not whether we have a cold snap but how many compared with the past. Britain can now expect a winter like this only every 20 years, but records show they occurred every five years before the industrial revolution. ["Before the industrial revolution" is a long time ago. Are we referring to the Medieval Warm period?] Vicky Pope, head of climate change advice at the Met Office, said: "This winter seems so bad precisely because it is now so unusual but the deep freezes of 1946-47 and 1962-63 were much colder and longer. "In fact winters in central England nowadays are on average 1.2C warmer than they would have been without man-made climate change." ["Would have been"? How does she know?]

In England the lowest temperature ever recorded was -26.1C at Newport in Shropshire on January 10, 1982, while the highest was 38.5C at Brogdale in Kent on August 10, 2003. The range between temperatures shows how much natural variation there is in our weather. The impacts of climate change do, however, stand out over longer periods.

Rowan Sutton, professor of climate science at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, said: "If you look at the whole Earth over several decades the impacts of climate change are clear in the form of rising temperatures, rising sea level and so on. Average global temperatures are now 0.75C warmer than they were 100 years ago, and since the mid1970s temperatures have increased at a rate of more than 0.15C per decade." [Note that "0.75C". Less than one degree of warming over the entire 20th century, a fluctuation so small as to be well within the margin of error]

Lovelock himself pointed out: "Most of the extra heat caused by greenhouse gases is stored in the surface waters of the ocean. If you want to know what is happening, don't bother with the air or surface temperature, look at how much the sea level has risen. The ocean expands as it warms and is the true thermometer for global heating. It is rising faster than the International Panel on Climate Change predicted." [Odd that there has been no sea-level rise over the last 2 years, then]

So why is it so cold at the moment? Adam Scaife at the Met Office said the powerful winds that usually keep Britain warm have changed direction. "There was a major warming in the stratosphere at the end of January and the winds reversed from their usual westerly at this time of year to easterly, leading to cold weather coming in from the Continent," he said. [But what caused that?]


Leaky Jonathan again!

"Polar ice caps melting faster". True -- but only if you ignore recent data. Summary of what Leaky omits: Global sea-level rise is not accelerating and has levelled off recently; ice caps are not melting faster; the Antarctic is not warming; global climate is cooling. But it's true that it's a little warmer now than 100 years ago when the climate started recovering from the Little Ice Age. And Leaky definitely does NOT mention what Cazenave said just two years ago: "ice sheets currently contribute little to sea-level rise"

The ice caps are melting so fast that the world's oceans are rising more than twice as fast as they were in the 1970s, scientists have found. They have used satellites to track how the oceans are responding as billions of gallons of water reach them from melting ice sheets and glaciers. The effect is compounded by thermal expansion, in which water expands as it warms, according to the study by Anny Cazenave of the National Centre for Space Studies in France.

These findings come at the same time as a warning from an American academic whose research suggests Labour's policies to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050 are doomed.

Cazenave's data show that in the past 15 years sea levels have been rising at 3.4mm a year, much faster than the average 1.7mm recorded by tidal gauges over the past 50 years. Cazenave said: "This rate, observed since the early 1990s, could reflect an acceleration linked to global warming." Met Office figures suggest sea levels in the Thames could rise 8in-35in by 2100 and possibly by as much as 6ft 6in. Cazenave's work, just published, will be presented at this week's American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Chicago.

Its release will coincide with a lecture in Britain by Professor Roger Pielke, of the University of Colorado, in which he implies that the UK's emission target is unachievable for population and economic reasons.


The Collapse of Climate Policy and the Sustainability of Climate Science

The political consensus surrounding climate policy is collapsing. If you are not aware of this fact you will be very soon. The collapse is not due to the cold winter in places you may live or see on the news. It is not due to years without an increase in global temperature. It is not due to the overturning of the scientific consensus on the role of human activity in the global climate system. It is due to the fact that policy makers and their political advisors (some trained as scientists) can no longer avoid the reality that targets for stabilization such as 450 ppm (or even less realistic targets) are simply not achievable with the approach to climate change that has been at the focus of policy for over a decade. Policies that are obviously fictional and fantasy are frequently subject to a rapid collapse.

The current shrillness that has been observed by many politically-active climate scientists and the feeding-frenzy among their skeptical political opposition can be explained as a result of this looming collapse, though many will confuse the shrillness and feeding-frenzy as a cause of the collapse. Let me explain.

If you think that the current consensus on climate politics rests on a foundation called the scientific consensus, you might see signs of weakening in the political consensus as prima facie evidence that the scientific consensus must be itself weakening, or if you'd prefer, that people are making it look to be weakening, regardless of the reality. Thus, like the apocryphal Hans Brinker, the politically active climate scientists are actively trying to plug holes in the dike, as the skeptics try to poke more holes. The climate scientists (and their willing allies) have taken their battle to the arenas of politics, waging a scorched earth campaign of bullying, name calling, threats, and obnoxiously absurd appeals to authority. The skeptics participate in similar fashion, and the result is an all out brawl that we see escalating still before our eyes. The skeptics think they are unraveling a mythical scientific consensus imposed by an evil elite, while the climate scientists think they are waging an all out battle of righteousness against know-nothing hordes. They are both wrong.

Has climate science changed since the publication of the IPCC AR4? Not appreciably. Has the acceptance of the IPCC consensus changed among those who make decisions and advise them? Not at all. Does it matter for current commitments among policy makers whether or not, for example, Antarctica has been warming or cooling? Not at all. Or if, to pick another example, whether the West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse might be 4, 5, or 10 meters in Washington, DC in hundreds of years? Not in the least. Battles over climate science are a side show, increasingly looking like a freak show, observed simply for the spectacle.

Climate politics is collapsing because of political realities, and not real or perceived changes in how people see the science. As I have often argued, in the ongoing battle between climate scientists and skeptics there will be disproportionate carnage, because the climate scientists have so much more to lose, and not just as individuals, but also for the broader field, which includes many people simply on the sidelines.

The collapse of the political consensus surrounding climate could well be an opportunity to recast decarbonization of the global economy and adaptation to climate impacts in a manner that is much more consistent with progress toward policy goals. If climate science can be saved from itself, that would be a bonus. However, for climate science I fully expect things to get worse before they get better, simply because the most vocal, politically active climate scientists have shown no skill at operating in the political arena. The skeptics could not wish for a more convenient set of opponents.

I don't expect everyone reading this to accept my assertion that the political consensus surrounding climate is in collapse. So I'll spend some time in the coming weeks making this case. At the same time, I will spend very little additional time on the self-destruction of the politically active subset of the climate science community, even though I know that many won't accept my assertion that debates putatively about climate science are largely irrelevant to the current state of climate politics. And for those fighting to address the sustainability of climate science in this mess, good luck, you will need it to avoid getting pushed onto one side of the Manichean battle and becoming part of the carnage. However, if you really do want to learn more about my views on scientists in politicized debates, pick up a copy of The Honest Broker and then send me an email.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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