Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More "hidden" data: The Warmists are so crooked they couldn't lie straight in bed

Willie Soon [wsoon@cfa.harvard.edu], who is a well-known Harvard astrophysicist, has been trying to prise out of Madame Schuckmann [Karina.Von.Schuckmann@ifremer.fr] the data underlying her recent paper about the oceans warming while the land does not.

Rather predictably, she is not co-operating. Soon has copied the correspondence to me. It's just another example of the Warmists violating basic canons of science. And we know why. When skeptics DO get hold of the raw data, we find that the analyses have been "massaged" unmercifully to produce a Warmist conclusion. If global warming were simply a scientific question, the Warmists would have long ago been laughed into inspissated obscurity. That they instead command large audiences shows that they are for the moment almost entirely a political phenomenon: An integral part of the Protean sinister side of politics.


An email from David Whitehouse [me@davidwhitehouse.com]

After years of commentators and activists cherry-picking data and misrepresenting the science we should be thankful that mother nature herself has come to the rescue, forcing a realistic debate about what is going on and showing that what is happening cannot be described by any simple slogan or 'settled' science.

Almost two years ago I wrote an article for the New Statesman that did little else than point out that global temperatures had not increased since 2001 whilst CO2 levels had. I thought it was just a simple description of the observations. After all, do we not teach young scientists to describe data dispassionately, and not through the prism of expectation? At the time relatively few had commented on the flatlining of the world’s temperature in the past decade. Of those that had, many said it was statistically unimportant, many said it was fiction, and no doubt many hoped it would go away if they ignored it.

I was surprised that the article became the most discussed piece in that magazine’s recent history. A few weeks later the New Statesman’s environmental correspondent, Mark Lynas, said my article must go down as the most controversial ever, that I had made an elementary error, and that, intentionally or otherwise, readers were misled. (Mr Lynas’s book “Six Degrees” has a cover that shows a huge wave towering over Big Ben! Nowhere in it does he mention any idea of a pause in global warming, indeed it just points out, skimpily, that the world is getting ever warmer.)

Mr Lynas said that I was wrong, totally wrong. I was allowed no right of reply to the accusation that I had deliberately misled the readers of New Statesman, ie that I had lied to them. The online editor said he didn’t want it to become an “exchange of views.”

Now we have just one more annual temperature data point with another due at the end of this year and what a difference they have made. Two years on such comments as made by Mr Lynas look even more unwise and unscientific than they did at the time -- as a growing band of other scientists and commentators repeat such “elementary errors” in magazines and learned peer-reviewed journals by confirming the reality of the temperature standstill. It is, as I said in the New Statesman, an observational fact. In this time we have seen the slow triumph of data over rhetoric, of hard science over platitudes and sloppyness by “activists.” If it has not quite been the slaying of a beautiful theory by an ugly fact, to paraphrase Thomas Huxley, the data did not go away. Indeed, the world shows no sign of warming, quite the contrary, and this had led to all kinds of awkwardness, explanations and about turns.

True, the CO2 goes ever upwards, but we have only had barely 18 years of warming since 1940 and since the latest warming spell started, in 1980, we are approaching the point whereby the standstill is of the same duration. In all of this the overwhelming impetus has been to preserve the status quo. The standstill is natural variability, the warming anthropogenic, isn’t it?

Even Mark Lynas has had to address the issue saying that the “global cooling” saga has very little basis in science and is “widely misunderstood.”

This is nonsense. There has been a recent spate of articles and research papers addressing the flatlining problem demonstrating, contrary to Mr Lynas’ assertion, that it does have a basis in science, and, as I have said in my recent review of some of them, the take-home message is that nobody knows what will happen in the future, warming, flatlining or cooling. Some, like the Met Office, say the warming will return with a vengeance and soon because the ever increasing CO2 in the atmosphere will exert its effect when whatever is causing the cooling declines in strength. We shall see. Some predict flatlining for 30 years. The Met Office says that the long-term trend is upwards because their computer models say it will be so. They said they can predict the conditions in 50 years better than they can in 1! This surprising statement is indeed true because their computers are pre-programmed to give the “right” answer whenever CO2 increases.

One of the most talked about of the recent articles is written by the BBC. The BBC’s article is interesting, if not completely scientifically accurate, in that its opening section is almost the same as my opening section for the New Statesman. If it represents a change of tack by BBC News in its policy of reporting climate change it is to be welcomed (though knowing the BBC it is just as likely that its left hand doesn’t know what its right hand is doing). That policy was espoused by the current head of BBC Newsgathering Fran Unsworth who, during a News Xchange conference in 2005, when asked about including questioning views in climate change reporting said that the BBC had gone beyond that and that the science was settled.

Journalistically, this was an awful thing to say, as the BBC Trust’s criticism later showed. Scientifically, it was an obvious hostage to fortune. Anyone, let alone an influential BBC middle manager with little understanding of science, who in any small way takes any interest in the complex dynamics of the sun’s interaction with the earth’s environment, its layered and complicated atmosphere, its land and its thermodynamically active oceans with their many contradictions and unknowns, has any clue as to the state of climate predictions using supercomputers, or takes any notice of the variations of the earth’s annual temperature over the past 30 years, would not have been so unwise to have said the science was settled.

It wasn’t true in 2005 and it is even less true now. One can however predict a few things. The global average temperature for 2009 will again show no change if the data so far this year is consistent; that there will be more debate about what is going on that will reach no consensus and, finally, a great many people will be watching the BBC.


An email from Jon Richfield [richfield@telkomsa.net] regarding the NYT's Andrew Revkin and the challenge that skeptics should write for the academic journals. Richfield argues that peer review is obsolescent. As many of my papers have passed peer review, I might perhaps be expected to disagree and I do indeed think that peer review has some usefulness. As a source of authority it is however absurd. At best, it ensures that a few minimal criteria (not including truth) have been met and that is all. At worst, it filters out dissent -- JR

Revkin's blog entry certainly was trenchant, and the attached threads if anything more so. All very entertaining if that is the sort of thing that entertains one. In all it vividly recalled Bierce's definition: "CONTROVERSY, n. A battle in which spittle or ink replaces the injurious cannon-ball and the inconsiderate bayonet." Spittle had the upper hand in that blog, I should say.

However, the point I wish to make here hardly surfaced in the blog though it is the most important theme of this entire matter. If AGW or any other form of climate change begins to bite, the question of Humanity's continued survival eventually will assume a fascination all its own, but for the present there are more immediate concerns, in particular the question of the survival of integrity and sense in science, and the role of peer review.

Consider: "Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University said that if Mr. McIntyre wants to be taken seriously he has to move more from blogging to publishing in the refereed literature..." and "'Skepticism is essential for the functioning of science,' Dr. Mann said.'It yields an erratic path towards eventual truth. But legitimate scientific skepticism is exercised through formal scientific circles, in particular the peer review process... Those such as McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system are not to be trusted."

Such stern sententiousness, irrespective of its source, should shame the most unregenerate cavillers to kennel, except those who pause slitty-eyed, to reflect on what he actually meant. "Peer review process", hmmm...? Those operating almost entirely *inside* of this system *are* to be trusted, are they? The same system that passed all sorts of publications of the most assorted standards during the last century or so, not to mention certain particularly embarrassing examples very recently? Publications that led to blushes inversely proportional to how effectively and for how long the parties concerned could distract attention from them? The same peer review process that has served as the most powerful tool for intimidating, quashing, and crippling the slightest dissent from the approved line? For punishing anyone who breaks the ranks of the favoured? For emasculating or deferring publication of the research of upstarts? The most powerful weapon for delaying outsiders' discoveries to the point of loss of priority of publication, or even to fatal obscurity?

Surely not! Which is fortunate, because that is not the point that I had referred to. Plenty of abler critics have raised similar objections more bitingly than ever I could.

No, the peer review that I write to praise and not to bury is the peer review that for generations of scientists has been the sentinel and shield against erosion of standards. It has been a sheet anchor both of the elite and the merely workmanlike journal, the means of assuring the editorial staff that the work they publish is sound, non-trivial, constructive, an advance on preceding work, a stone in the edifice of growing human knowledge. It has been an aid to efficiency, speeding the selection and augmenting the quality of the product of the researchers' labour and ingenuity; and of course (though perish the thought of any such sordid considerations crossing the mind of the authors) enhancing the kudos appertaining to the publication of the item.

Good stuff. Very good indeed. And yet I cannot rid my mind of a framed engineering degree on the wall of the office of an erstwhile young colleague of mine. It was in a large company, employing many graduates, and yet he was the only one that I remember nailing his colours to the er, wall in such a way. Any time the standard of his work or his good sense got challenged, he would point at his degree in rebuttal. Unanswerable of course. And yet he did not last long, strangely.

Am I the only one to see this anecdote as relevant? Sorry. . . Peer review as it should be used in a perfect world should not be a major concern of the author (except when a generous reviewer offers assistance or admonition, typically anonymous).

Peer review also should not be a major concern of the reader. If I read material dealing with a field I am so unfamiliar with that I cannot even follow the train of logic, then I act in bad faith and bad sense if I accept or condemn it on the grounds that it was or was not peer-reviewed. If however I can follow the logic, but without being able to challenge actual facts or observations, then I am able, with appropriate reservations, to accept, challenge, or reject the logic in good faith, but I still cannot justify my opinion by reliance on any peer review process. If I can claim to be fully conversant with the field, then I can accept, challenge, or reject any part, context or aspect of the work. If in doing so I need to defer to the dread dignity of peer reviewers, then how can I claim competence in the field at all? If I need to ask how it was reviewed before I consent to trust the work, then why am I reading such stuff, when there are plenty of Mills & Boone books to challenge my intellect?

Peer review or no review, it is for all readers to accept or reject research results according to what they find personally convincing. In good sense or good faith no research worker can justify a decision to accept or challenge work according to whether it had been peer reviewed.

*That is not what peer review is for.*

To criticise or praise a *journal* because of its eschewal or quality of peer review is reasonable in suitable contexts; even if one assumes that the editor is omniscient, it may be comforting to reflect that independent review guarantees lack of bias. However, to challenge the work of an *author* because it had not been favourably peer reviewed, is the most breathtakingly abject tactic I have seen, short of running to mummy because these nasty people had been disagreeing with ums. The more I contemplate it, the less it makes sense.

Consider what such justification for rejection amounts to: some third parties somewhere, who hadn't been asked to vet the work, but who might or might not have approved it if they had been asked, had not actually said anything about the work. Right? So because the work was not considered by those third parties, it thereby is errr. . . to be neglected without rebuttal by those in response to whose work it had been presented? Why should we respect authors who had been unable to assess the merits of criticism of their work or defend their work independently of peer reviewers? In the example under consideration, the criticism after all, did not involve novel work or novel techniques, but a critique of (peer reviewed) work. What role is peer review of the critique to play in such a case? What sort of peril would such peer review be intended to avert? Even in the top scientific journals, letters to the editor in response to peer reviewed articles are not in general peer reviewed. Right?

Never mind! Let's get back to the real world.

This much at least should be clear: science is passing through a most painful phase. (At least I hope that "passing" is not too optimistic a word!) As scientists we have a century or so of frequently (not invariably) inappropriate reliance on a cumbersome system. We have to deal with problems of ethics, politics, information explosion, population explosion, and technology explosion. In my opinion the peer review system *in its current form* has outlived its usefulness, in many respects even its viability. Whether the next generation is to rely on something totally new or on an amended review system, I cannot say, but what served for say the 1950s is hardly likely to serve for the 2050s. Some developments apparently in process within some Internet publications, in which pre-publications are exposed to public execration or appreciation before the final editing, may point the way to the future, but whatever form it takes, something new is needed.

Whether it turns out to be in the interest of the editorial staff, the author, or the reader, the fact remains that peer review as she currently is spoke, notionally is primarily for the benefit of the editorial staff, only contingently for the benefit of the author, and usually irrelevant to the reader, whether friend or enemy. But those who appeal to the process for shelter from unwelcome assessments of their work, or their duties to their readers; for some reason recall to me two lines of Burns written in a slightly different context:

From Envy and Hatred your corps is exempt,

But where is your shield from the darts of Contempt!

In case that strikes you as insulting, I invite you to consider it in the perspective of the insult to the reader at whom certain helpful remarks were directed -- remarks of the form: "Those such as McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system [of the peer review process] are not to be trusted." We readers apparently are seen as stupid enough to swallow the hockey stick without choking on the mediaeval optimum or little ice age, but too stupid to gag at the implications of the physics of photon absorption, the history of volcanic influences on the climate, the principles of sample significance, or the implication of withheld data -- and far, far too stupid to read a statistical argument?

*Unless it is peer reviewed?*

No wonder Mann's best friends turned on him and bit him.


Another email from the irrepressible Norm Kalmanovitch [kalhnd@shaw.ca] below. His first sentence certainly sums up the matter most succinctly:

It is not that "the science of climate change is too doubtful" but that there is no science of climate change to be doubtful about.

In 1971 the climate models of James Hansen predicted that the observed global cooling would last for another 50 years and mindless environmentalists demanded that world governments should immediately undertake a program of spreading soot on the polar ice caps to stop the global cooling because of the horrific consequences continued global cooling would have on the environment. These models proved to be based on a false assumption just four years later when the Earth reverted back to warming.

In 1988 the climate models of the same James Hansen now predicted that the observed global warming would continue for 100 years because of CO2 emissions, and a doubling of concentration of atmospheric CO2 that would result from these emissions would cause catastrophic global warming of several degrees C.

In 1998 just a decade after these climate models predicted global warming resulting from the continued increase in CO2 emissions global warming stopped and by 2002 the Earth started to cool and has been cooling ever since in spite of the continued increase in both CO2 emissions and concentration.

I was watching a television show in Sydney called Q and A which features the "intellectual and political elite" debating issues in front of a studio audience.

On every subject there were opposing views debated, but when climate change became the topic there was not a single person amongst the debaters or in the audience who was aware that the Earth was cooling and the entire debate centred around whether the government was doing enough to stop global warming!

If the political and intellectual elite don't know that the Earth has been cooling for over seven years what hope is there for the common person to know the truth about global temperature considering that their only source of information is from media sources dominated by people who don't know that global warming ended over a decade ago.

Perhaps the only way to get the information public is to take a page out of the environmentalists' 1971 hand book and demand government action to protect the world against global cooling. Since the four polar bears drowned in the Beaufort Sea in 2006; four years after the current global cooling started, they obviously were the victims of global cooling and not global warming.

As global cooling worsens such tragedies will become more frequent as well the global food supply will diminish from reduced growing seasons. This is serious and more importantly unlike harmful effects from global warming; the detrimental effects of global cooling are real. "Save the polar bears stop global cooling" might be all that is needed to put an end to this global warming scam.


America is not going to bleed its wealth importing fuel. Russia's grip on Europe's gas will weaken. Improvident Britain may avoid paralysing blackouts by mid-decade after all. The World Gas Conference in Buenos Aires last week was one of those events that shatter assumptions. Advances in technology for extracting gas from shale and methane beds have quickened dramatically, altering the global balance of energy faster than almost anybody expected.

Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, said proven natural gas reserves around the world have risen to 1.2 trillion barrels of oil equivalent, enough for 60 years' supply – and rising fast. "There has been a revolution in the gas fields of North America. Reserve estimates are rising sharply as technology unlocks unconventional resources," he said.

This is almost unknown to the public, despite the efforts of Nick Grealy at "No Hot Air" who has been arguing for some time that Britain's shale reserves could replace declining North Sea output.

Rune Bjornson from Norway's StatoilHydro said exploitable reserves are much greater than supposed just three years ago and may meet global gas needs for generations. "The common wisdom was that unconventional gas was too difficult, too expensive and too demanding," he said, according to Petroleum Economist. "This has changed. If we ever doubted that gas was the fuel of the future – in many ways there's the answer."

The breakthrough has been to combine 3-D seismic imaging with new technologies to free "tight gas" by smashing rocks, known as hydro-fracturing or "fracking" in the trade.

The US is leading the charge. Operations in Pennsylvania and Texas have already been sufficient to cut US imports of liquefied natural gas (LGN) from Trinidad and Qatar to almost nil, with knock-on effects for the global gas market – and crude oil. It is one reason why spot prices for some LNG deliveries have dropped to 50pc of pipeline contracts.

Energy bulls gambling that the world economy will soon resume its bubble trajectory need to remember two facts: industrial production over the last year is still down 19pc in Japan, 18pc in Italy, 17pc in Germany, 15pc in Canada, 13pc in France and Russia. 11pc in the US and the UK and 10pc in Brazil. A 12pc rise in China does not offset this.

OPEC states are cheating on quota cuts. Non-compliance has fallen to 62pc from 82pc in March. Iran, Nigeria, Venezuela et al face a budget crunch. Why comply when non-OPEC Russia is pumping at breakneck speed?

The US Energy Department expects shale to meet half of US gas demand within 20 years, if not earlier. Projects are cranking up in eastern France and Poland. Exploration is under way in Australia, India and China.

Texas A&M University said US methods could increase global gas reserves by nine times to 16,000 TCF (trillion cubic feet). Almost a quarter is in China but it may lack the water resources to harness the technology given the depletion of the North China water basin.

Needless to say, the Kremlin is irked. "There's a lot of myths about shale production," said Gazprom's Alexander Medvedev.

If the new forecasts are accurate, Gazprom is not going to be the perennial cash cow funding Russia's great power resurgence. Russia's budget may be in structural deficit.


Cold temperatures threaten seed potato crop

Record-low temperatures in southwestern Idaho are threatening to destroy at least a portion of this season's crop of seed potatoes. Spuds still in the ground could be saved by a layer of snow; a dusting had fallen on Bozeman and the surrounding region by Sunday.

Nina Zydak, director of the Montana State University Potato Lab, said most area farmers have already started digging. But many farmers expect to lose some of their potatoes.

"It's over," Larry Van Dyke, who owns Van Dyke Farms in Townsend, told the Bozeman Chronicle. He says when it's this cold for too long, the frost penetrates and the taters are toast. The main goal now is to make sure the spoiled potatoes don't make it into his cellar.

Temperatures on Saturday evening dipped to 17 degrees; the last time it was this cold, this early, in southwestern Idaho was more than two decades ago, in 1985.



Motorists should be forced to pay to drive on the busiest roads to slash greenhouse gas emissions, the Government's climate change watchdog says today.

The Climate Change Committee, led by former CBI chief Lord Turner, wants ministers to introduce compulsory road pricing to prevent global warming.

Under the controversial scheme, cars would be fitted with electronic tags and tracked either by satellite or roadside beacon. Charges would rise at times of peak congestion to around £1.50 a mile.


Australians cooling on global warming

AUSTRALIANS are becoming less concerned about the threat of global warming, pushing environmental issues down the list of threats. Climate change is no longer rated the top foreign policy issue for the Federal Government, a Lowy Institute poll will reveal today. It was top of the list in 2007 but now is ranked seventh out of 10 policy priorities. Out of 12 possible threats, Australians rated global warming the fourth most critical, the survey found. However a significant majority of Australians, 76 per cent, still saw climate change as a problem.

The poll follows comments from Professor Ross Garnaut, author of the federal Government's climate change review, who claims the rancorous debate on an emissions trading scheme (ETS) is one of Australia's worst cases of policy making on a major issue. "I think this whole process of policy making over the ETS has been one of the worst examples of policy making we have seen on major issues in Australia,'' he told ABC television. "It is a very difficult issue so I suppose it was never going to be easy. But the way it has broken down is extraordinary.''

Professor Garnaut recommended the Labor legislation be passed. "If we could find it within ourselves to pass the ETS - and everyone knows that I don't think it is perfect - and then lay the base for implementing earlier rather than later, that would remove one bit of uncertainty in what is a very difficult and uncertain international climate for discussing these issues,'' he said.

The Government knows how difficult it would be to get its Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme legislation, which would set up an Emissions Trading Scheme, through the Senate. Preliminary negotiations underlined that the Government will need Opposition support if it is to get a moderate version of the Bill approved.

The Greens produced amendments - almost certain to be rejected by the Government - which called for harsher treatment of fossil fuel users, and Family First's Steve Fielding accused the Greens of wanting to send Australia back to the Stone Age. "If we did what the Greens propose, Australia would no longer exist because there'd be no industries left to drive our economy," he said. Their amendments yesterday called for limited compensation to emission-intensive industries.



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Anonymous said...

For those of you like me who just downed a bottle of wine after getting a call from your brother about your blind father running into walls, a brother who just bought a vintage 1950s tour bus he wants to turn into a home and if you just got elevator shoes that add a full 5.5 inches (14 cm) to your height in the mail along with a pair of Nike Free shoes that let you run barefoot "with shoes on", and you also got a hundred bucks of laughing gas canisters but they are, impossibly not working no matter how many you inflate into each punching bag balloon...then I will do you the service of hitting a dictionary site to prove that JR is holding back on his vocabulary most days, as is proved by his sudden correct use of the word "inspissated".

inspissated: (adv.) to have become thickened by evaporation.

"If global warming were simply a scientific question, the Warmists would have long ago been laughed into inspissated obscurity."


JR said...

You got it nik

I went very close to apologizing for letting my vocab off the leash

Stick to that wine