Friday, January 14, 2011

A New Scientific Low

I am really just amazed by these remarks by NCAR’s Dr. Ken Trenberth to be given, apparently planned for the American Meteorological Society gathering this month. The pdf is here and Anthony Watt has reprinted it on his blog.

It is hard to know where to start, but the following excerpt is an outstanding example of climate science process where 1. Conclusions are assumed; 2. Conclusions are deemed unequivocal by reference to authority; 3. Debate rules are proposed wherin it is impossible to refute the conclusion; 4. All weather events that make the news are assumed to be caused or made worse by man-made warming, and thereby, in circular fashion, further prove the theory.

Normally, when I cite the above as the process, I get grief from folks who say I am mis-interpreting things, as usually I am boiling a complex argument down to this summary. The great thing about alarmist Trenberth’s piece is that no interpretation is necessary. He outlines this process right in a single paragraph. I will label the four steps above
Given that global warming is “unequivocal” [1], to quote the 2007 IPCC report [2], the null hypothesis should now be reversed, thereby placing the burden of proof on showing that there is no human influence [3]. Such a null hypothesis is trickier because one has to hypothesize something specific, such as “precipitation has increased by 5%” and then prove that it hasn’t. Because of large natural variability, the first approach results in an outcome suggesting that it is appropriate to conclude that there is no increase in precipitation by human influences, although the correct interpretation is that there is simply not enough evidence (not a long enough time series). However, the second approach also concludes that one cannot say there is not a 5% increase in precipitation. Given that global warming is happening and is pervasive, the first approach should no longer be used. As a whole the community is making too many type II errors [4].

Are you kidding me — if already every damn event in the tails of the normal distribution is taken by the core climate community as a proof of their hypothesis, how is there even room for type II errors? Next up — “Our beautiful, seasonal weather — proof of global warming?”

Remember that the IPCC’s conclusion of human-caused warming was based mainly on computer modelling. The IPCC defenders will not admit this immediately, but press them hard enough on side arguments and it comes down to the models.

The summary of their argument is this: for the period after 1950, they claim their computer models cannot explain warming patterns without including a large effect from anthropogenic CO2. Since almost all the warming in the latter half of the century really occurred between 1978 and 1998, the IPCC core argument boils down to “we are unable to attribute the global temperature increase in these 20 years to natural factors, so it must have been caused by man-made CO2.” See my video here for a deeper discussion.

This seems to be a fairly thin reed. After all, it may just be that after only a decade or two of serious study, we still do not understand climate variability very well, natural or not. It is a particularly odd conclusion when one discovers that the models ignore a number of factors (like the PDO, ENSO, etc) that affect temperatures on a decadal scale.

We therefore have a hypothesis that is not based on observational data, and where those who hold the hypothesis claim that observational data should no longer be used to test their hypothesis.

He is hilarious when he says that reversing the null hypothesis would make it trickier for his critics. It would make it freaking impossible, as he very well knows. This is an unbelievingly disingenuous suggestion. There are invisible aliens in my closet Dr. Trenberth — prove me wrong. It is always hard to prove a negative, and impossible in the complex climate system. There are simply too many variables in flux to nail down cause and effect in any kind of definitive way, at least at our level of understanding (we have studied economics much longer and we still have wild disagreements about cause and effect in macroeconomics).

He continues:
So we frequently hear that “while this event is consistent with what we expect from climate change, no single event can be attributed to human induced global warming”. Such murky statements should be abolished. On the contrary, the odds have changed to make certain kinds of events more likely. For precipitation, the pervasive increase in water vapor changes precipitation events with no doubt whatsoever. Yes, all events! Even if temperatures or sea surface temperatures are below normal, they are still higher than they would have been, and so too is the atmospheric water vapor amount and thus the moisture available for storms. Granted, the climate deals with averages. However, those averages are made up of specific events of all shapes and sizes now operating in a different environment. It is not a well posed question to ask “Is it caused by global warming?” Or “Is it caused by natural variability?” Because it is always both.

At some level, this is useless. The climate system is horrendously complex. I am sure everything affects everything. So to say that it affects the probability is a true but unhelpful statement. The concern is that warming will affect the rate of these events, or the severity of these events, in a substantial and noticeable way.
It is worth considering whether the odds of the particular event have changed sufficiently that one can make the alternative statement “It is unlikely that this event would have occurred without global warming.” For instance, this probably applies to the extremes that occurred in the summer of 2010: the floods in Pakistan, India, and China and the drought, heat waves and wild fires in Russia.

Now he has gone totally off the scientific reservation into astrology or the occult or something. He is saying that there is a high probability that if CO2 levels were 120ppm lower that, for example, the floods in Pakistan would not have occurred. This is pure conjecture, absolutely without facts, and probably bad conjecture at that. After all, similar events of similar magnitude have occurred through all of recorded history in exactly these locations.

Some Notes

1. For those unfamiliar with the issues, few skeptics deny that man’s CO2 has no effect on warming, but believe the effect is being enormously exaggerated. There is a bait and switch here, where the alarmist claims that “man is causing some warming” is the key conclusion, and once accepted, they can head off and start controlling the world’s economy (and population, as seems to be desired by Trenberth). But the fact that CO2 causes some greenhouse warming is a trivial conclusion. The hard part is, in the complex climate system, how much does it cause. There is a an argument to be made, as I have, that this warming is less than 1C over the next century. This number actually has observational data on its side, as actual warming over the last century, given past CO2 increases, is much more consistent with my lower number than various alarmist forecasts of doom. Again, this is discussed in much more depth here.

2. One interesting fact is that alarmists have to deal with the lack of warming or increase in ocean heat content over the last 12 years or so. They will argue that this is just a temporary aberration, and a much shorter time frame than they are working on. But in effect, the core IPCC conclusions were really based on the warming over the 20 years from 1978-1998. So while 12 years is admittedly short compared to many natural cycles in climate, and might be considered a dangerously short period to draw conclusions from, it is fairly large compared to the 20 year period that drove the IPCC conclusions.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Physicist Tom Sheahen [] comments:

I write to focus on one aspect of the Trenberth presentation: 'Given that global warming is 'unequivocal', to quote the 2007 IPCC report, the null hypothesis should now be reversed, thereby placing the burden of proof on showing that there is no human influence'

This needs to be fought against vigorously. Proving a negative is impossible. If the elites were successful in selling this hypothesis, then our guys would be dismissed when they couldn't prove a negative. There is enough public dissent from the AGW alarmists' position that nobody is going to "prove" anything for decades or a century; but the attempt to change the rules of science (as Trenberth wishes) is a back-door means of bolstering IPCC's diminishing credibility.

More on Trenberth’s desperate wriggling

Steve McIntyre comments

Anthony draws attention to a bilious diatribe by Trenberth against “deniers”. I have some back-history with Trenberth. In 2005, Trenberth was interviewed by Paul Thacker of ES&T about the MM articles (discussed here) where he stated: "There have been several examples of people who have come into the field of climate change and done incredibly stupid things by applying statistics in ways that are inappropriate for the data, [Trenberth] says".

I wrote back and forth with Trenberth a number of times in respect to his earlier comments about me – the correspondence is online here. After several attempts to get Trenberth to justify his allegations, Trenberth challenged me to respond to the criticism at realclimate. When I did so, Trenberth discontinued the correspondence without justifying his comment.

In his most recent outburst, Trenberth says: "Debating them ["deniers"] about the science is not an approach that is recommended. In a debate it is impossible to counter lies, and caveated statements show up poorly against loudly proclaimed confident statements that often have little or no basis. Scientific facts are not open to debate and opinion because they are evidence and/or physically based. Moreover a debate actually gives alternative views credibility."

Trenberth described his recommended tactic in a Climategate email as follows: "So my feeble suggestion is to indeed cast aspersions on their motives and throw in some counter rhetoric. Labeling them as lazy with nothing better to do seems like a good thing to do."

Trenberth now complains that the supposedly “false claims” of critics have not been “scrutinized or criticized” enough: "But their critics are another matter entirely, and their false claims have not been scrutinized or criticized anything like enough!"

However, Trenberth himself advocated the strategy of casting aspersions on critics instead of scrutinizing their arguments and, as one of the architects of this strategy, is hardly in a position to complain.

The way to counter lies is obvious – show evidence that statements are lies. For example, when Mann said that I had asked for an Excel spreadsheet and that they had inadvertently introduced errors in the process of tailoring the data for this special request, the way to counter it is to produce the original email showing that we had not asked for an Excel spreadsheet but an FTP location and that the dataset that we were directed to at Mann’s FTP site was dated long prior to my inquiry. (The data set was deleted by Mann shortly after this incident, thereby removing this evidence.)

Or when Mann told the NAS panel that he hadn’t calculated a verification r2 statistic as this would be a “foolish and incorrect” thing to do, the way to counter this was to examine his original article which showed the verification r2 statistic for the AD1820 step and, when code became available for this step, to show that the code calculated the verification r2 statistic in the same step as the RE statistic that was reported.

Trenberth also purports to justify Jones’ successful effort to keep McKitrick Michaels 2004 out of the two AR4 drafts sent to reviewers on the basis (this incident has been discussed at length on other occasions) that: "AR4 was the first time Jones was on the writing team of an IPCC Assessment."

while noting that Trenberth himself, as a “veteran”, was aware of the obligations: "As a veteran of 3 previous IPCC assessments I was well aware that we do not keep any papers out, and none were kept out."

Trenberth goes on to add that:

"[climate scientists] are unlikely to make false claims that other colleagues can readily show to be incorrect."

Unfortunately, we’ve seen too many incidents where climate scientists make false claims that are readily shown to be incorrect. We need think back no further than Jones’ claim that CRU had confidentiality agreements that contained language prohibiting the distribution of data sent to Peter Webster to “non-academics”.

Trenberth’s very claim that AR4 was the first time that Jones had been on a writing team is itself another example of an untrue statement that can be “readily” demonstrated to be untrue (although his “colleagues” have thus far not called him on it.)

Both Jones and Trenberth are listed as contributing authors of AR3. (Indeed, Jones’ correspondence about the Briffa reconstruction in the wake of the 1999 Lead Authors meeting in Arusha, Tanzania was important in the setting of the notorious “hide the decline” memo.) See the list of AR3 chapter 2 authors below, where both Trenberth and Jones are listed as Contributing Authors.

More HERE (See the original for links)

1992: Climate Scientists Tell EU “Billions To Die By 2030″

We're halfway through their prediction period and there is no sign of anything they prophesied coming true. Just another Greenie false prophecy

Time for another visit to the archives, I think. This one concerns a report entitled ”The costs of climate change,” Report to the Commission of the European Communities, Directorate General XII” and is from July 1992 by O. Hohmeyer and M. Gartner.

The following is a verbatim reprint of the Greenpeace press release covering the report:
Two German researchers, in a report for the European Commission, estimate that the total costs of climate change resulting from a doubling of carbon dioxide will exceed $900 trillion ($900 thousand billion).

The researchers, Olav Hohmeyer and Michael Gartner, are from the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research in Karlsruhe. They base their estimates on the following scenarios and cost evaluations. For the value of human life, they use an estimate based on the valuation implicit in the remuneration people expect for risking their lives in dangerous situations. The figure they use, which they call “a very conservative estimate,” is $1 million. For the value of productive land, they use the value of such land in the USA, $30,000 per hectare. As regards the number of deaths, they conclude that by 2030 (the time of doubling of concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, assuming business-as- usual emissions), the following are “likely”:

Starvation: an extra 900 to 1,800 million deaths

Storms: an extra 1.3 million deaths

Heat stress: an extra 1.3 million deaths

Tropical diseases: an extra 540,000 deaths

And costs including the following:

Land lost to sea level rise (18 cm at the time of carbon dioxide doubling), totalling 60 to 220 million square km of productive land: $2.4 trillion. Valued assets affected by sea-level rise (2.4% of the world market valued assets): $530 billion. Storm damage: an extra $20 billion per year, meaning $200 billion over the period.

The authors emphasize that they consider their estimates conservative, and that they have necessarily omitted many incalculable factors, such as the loss of biodiversity and other damage to ecosystems.

Greenpeace Press Release. Billions to Die As A Result of Climate Change In The Next Century?

It’s good to know that this report to the European Commission was “conservative” and they didn’t let panic and hysteria creep into their projections . . .


Hansen contradicts himself

Particularly in his paragraph four below we see an admission that temperatures have been effectively flat throughout the 21st century. Then in the final paragraph reproduced below he says that "Global temperatures have continued to rise steadily". Which is it?

Groups of scientists from several major institutions – NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the Japanese Meteorological Agency and the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom – tally data collected by temperature monitoring stations spread around the world and make an announcement about whether the previous year was a comparatively warm or cool year.

NASA’s announcement this year – that 2010 ties 2005 as the warmest year in the 131-year instrumental record – made headlines. But, how much does the ranking of a single year matter?

Not all that much, emphasizes James Hansen, the director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City. In the GISS analysis, for example, 2010 differed from 2005 by less than 0.01°C (0.018 °F), a difference so small that the temperatures of these two years are indistinguishable, given the uncertainty of the calculation.

Meanwhile, the third warmest year -- 2009 -- is so close to 1998, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2007, with the maximum difference between the years being a mere 0.03°C, that all six years are virtually tied.

Even for a near record-breaking year like 2010 the broader context is more important than a single year. “Certainly, it is interesting that 2010 was so warm despite the presence of a La Niña and a remarkably inactive sun, two factors that have a cooling influence on the planet, but far more important than any particular year’s ranking are the decadal trends,” Hansen said.

One of the problems with focusing on annual rankings, rather than the longer trend, is that the rankings of individual years often differ in the most closely watched temperature analyses – from GISS, NCDC, and the Met Office – a situation that can generate confusion.

For example, while GISS previously ranked 2005 warmest, the Met Office listed 1998 warmest. The discrepancy helped fuel the misperception that findings from the three groups vary sharply or contain large amounts of uncertainty. It also fueled the misperception that global warming stopped in 1998.

“In reality, nothing could be further from the truth,” said Hansen. Global temperatures have continued to rise steadily. “


Climate Scaremongering Antidote: expose the media manipulation by pressure groups

Donna Laframboise has found a website masquerading as a source of science news when in fact it is merely a conduit for WWF press releases. She writes:

'I recently stumbled across a website called It’s slick and professional-looking. If I were a high school student writing an essay I could be forgiven for thinking I had arrived at an authoritative and trustworthy source of information. claims to provide: Breaking news about the latest scientific discoveries in the fields of physics, chemistry, geology and palaeontology, biology, environment, astronomy, health, and technology'

She discovered:

'The “article” that first rang my alarm bells is dated July 2007. It begins with: The world’s top experts have just confirmed that Arctic warming is continuing its ravages of polar bear populations.

In the very next sentence, however, it becomes clear that these supposed top experts are actually affiliated with an activist group, the International Union of the Conservation of Nature – which was founded in 1948 “as the world’s first global environmental organization.”

Even worse, the third, fourth, and fifth sentence in the ScienceCentric “article” are all quotes from a World Wildlife Fund spokesperson. At the very bottom of the article, this line appears: Source: WWF

Clicking that link reveals that has been representing World Wildlife Fund blog postings and press releases as bona fide science news stories since June 2007.'

The website she discovered is apparently based in Bulgaria, and I presume it was deliberately set up as part of campaigning efforts to push the WWF line. UK newspapers such as The Scotsman are known for essentially re-printing WWF press releases, or quoting WWF 'soundbites' without challenge (try Googling 'WWF The Scotsman' to find, amidst the clutter, many examples), and there are no doubt many other victims of WWF PR success in the media all over the world.

The WWF was taken over long ago and diverted from caring about world wildlife into campaigning against the interests of humanity, an action which of course will also harm wildlife in due course since it is the industrialised nations who have done most to preserve and protect it. The UK Met Office is now led by the man who helped transform the WWF, a Robert Napier, and he is apparently hellbent on replicating that performance in his new post.

The Met Office is now something of a popular laughing-stock in the UK, but its ongoing contributions to fueling climate alarmism are no laughing matter. It incidently caused a great deal of loss in the UK and elsewhere by leaning on its computers for forecasts of volcanic dust movements which grounded commerciial aviation for days at a time. Subsequent observations taken by aircraft - real data, in other words - showed dramatically less cause for alarm, and in due course flights were resumed everywhere. This little cameo of computer-based alarmism leading to societal loss is a micro-version of what the same mentality is achieving on a much larger scale with announcements on climate.

Let me finish by repeating an earlier quote from the post which inspired this one:

'If I were a high school student writing an essay I could be forgiven for thinking I had arrived at an authoritative and trustworthy source of information.'

It thus becomes imperative that teachers urge their pupils to clearly identify their sources of information, and to encourage them to dig a little deeper in case they find powerful vested interests, such as those of wealthy multinational corporations like the WWF. They may still have to mouth their conclusions in order to pass exams, but they will at least not be fooled into actually believing them.

SOURCE (See the original for links)

Claim 2010 tied with warmest year ever lacks historical perspective

By Art Horn, Icecap Meteorologist

You would think that NOAA, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration would be an objective and sober reviewer of temperature data. Apparently they are not. NOAA has proclaimed that 2010 was tied with 2005 as the “warmest year on record.” At first this sounds impressive. But as with all political proclamations there is always more to the story. The statement “warmest on record” means the period of time since 1880 that temperature has been measured with thermometers. To say the 2010 was tied with the warmest year on record is essentially meaningless when viewed in a true historical context.

If NOAA was truly objective in their analysis of this 130 year period of temperature they would acknowledge that 130 years of record in the long history of climate is insignificant to the extreme. The reason they do not give this record its true historical context is because their statement is really political. Their true message is that global warming is causing the warm weather and that we need to abandon fossil fuels and somehow change to “renewable” energy sources.

If one takes a serious, adult look at the variability of weather and climate over time you find amazing events. In the winter of 1249 it was so warm in England that people did not need winter clothes. They walked about in summer dress. It was so warm people thought the seasons had changed. There was no frost in England the entire winter. Can you imagine what NOAA would say if that happened next year? But it did happen, 762 years ago and burning fossil fuels had nothing to do with it.

In the winter of 1717 there was so much snow in Massachusetts in late February and early March, single story houses were buried. A series of 4 storms produced so much snow that by the time the storms ended there was 10 to 15 feet of snow on the ground. People had to tunnel from one home to another to check on each other. Search parties were organized in Medford Massachusetts to find the poor and the elderly. One widow was known to have several children. They found her house from the smoke coming up through the snow. After digging down into the snow the rescuers entered through a window and found her and her children alive. They were burning the furniture to heat the house. If this happened today we would be told it was because of “climate disruption” the new offspring our government has given birth to as a replacement for “climate change.”

Isotopes of oxygen analyzed from deep ice cores drilled in Greenland’s massive two mile thick ice sheets show that today’s “record warmth” is not even close to how warm it’s been in the recent past. These oxygen isotopes can act as a proxy or substitute for temperature. What they reveal is that the earth was much warmer than today for most of the last 10,000 years by 1 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit. The entire warming of the last 160 years is just 1 degree Fahrenheit, half of which took place between 1910 and 1945 when humans could not have had any effect. In fact these ice cores reveal that earth’s temperature has been rising for 200 years, rebounding from a 500 year cold period known as the “Little Ice Age.” Further examination of the ice core temperatures show that earth’s temperature peaked some 3,300 years ago in the Minoan Warm Period and has been falling ever since.

Today’s “record warmth” may be fleeting. Statements by agenda driven government agencies can’t be trusted. Real scientific data, not shadowy half truths show that earth’s temperature is falling and has fallen nearly 4 degrees Fahrenheit in the last 3,000 years. Remember, when someone only reveals part of the truth it means they have something to hide.

More HERE (See the original for links, graphics etc.)


For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, 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 are mirrors of this site here and here


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