Thursday, December 27, 2007

Climate reconstructions: Loehle vs Schmidt

A Warmist attack without substance. Post below lifted from Lubos Motl. See the original for links

Gavin Schmidt at RealClimate.ORG tries to criticize the recent article by Craig Loehle (PDF). Loehle's article was the first published climate reconstruction that has only used proxies that had already been independently calibrated in peer-reviewed literature. It has eliminated tree rings because they don't seem to be good temperature proxies. The main result of Loehle's paper was that the Medieval Warm Period did exist, after all. Gavin Schmidt correctly lists five important issues that a good reconstruction must properly address:

1. Dating: correct chronology for your proxies is essential and its accuracy of the "age" must be sufficient to answer your questions

2. Fidelity: the assumed relationship between temperature and your proxy should be pretty much time-independent; temperature must be the main thing that influences your proxies

3. Calibration: the coefficient between the changes of the proxy and the changes of temperature must be correctly determined

4. Compositing: when you study global mean temperature, local data must be properly combined to be representative of the globe

5. Validation: you must check that your method works by comparing some of its results with another method that has already been established

As far as I can say, Gavin Schmidt learned these principles from McKitrick & McIntyre and other independent climate experts because they have been carefully checking these things in the context of older climate reconstructions such as the infamous Mann et al. hockey-stick reconstructions for quite some time. If you remember Richard Feynman's "Cargo Cult Science", he talked about the sloppy experiments with the rats running through labyrinths. Now, a guy called Young actually made some careful experiments and found the rules that one must respect in order to find anything about the rats. Young's work was ignored by the rat pseudoscientific establishment in the 1930s. Needless to say, the generic rat scientists play the same role as Mann et al., Young is McIntyre, and the issues one must be careful about are mentioned above.Unfortunately, Gavin Schmidt didn't learn these rules too well.

For example, his very first sentence says:

Many people hold the mistaken belief that reconstructions of past climate are the sole evidence for current and future climate change.

His suggestion that climate reconstructions may be completely avoided is, of course, untrue because of the point "5. Validation". The very existence of climate change is a tautology and you don't need any special methods to say that climate is changing and will be changing. But if you want to say anything beyond this tautology - how much it will change and what factors may influence it - you can't live without climate reconstructions.

It is because every theory or model in science must be validated and the validation must ultimately involve a comparison to reality. If a theory predicts how the temperature will change at the centennial scale, it is simply inevitable to have some data about the centennial changes of the temperature. Because of the arrow of time ;-), we can only have such data from the past.In order to figure out whether the 20th century warming was outside the natural variability, you may create a lot of theories but you won't know whether the theories are true until you will compare their description of the past climate with the corresponding information extracted from the history of Earth. Think about it: it simply can't work otherwise, especially because we know that the mostly unknown natural causes are stronger than the man-made causes, at least for 30-year-long periods (recall the 1945-1975 cooling).

Now, I am the last one who would think that it is essential to know whether the year 1005 was warmer than 2005. These are two warm years and which of them was warmer is pretty much a matter of chance. If 2005 were warmer than 1005, it is still far from a reason to panic. On the other hand, if we can show that 1005 were warmer or 1005 and 2005 were very close, it shows that the recent temperatures are not unprecedented. At any rate, it would be foolish to build global policies on a random question whether 1005 was warmer than 2005. On the other hand, you can't throw away all the data from the centennial paleoclimate reconstructions because they are the only source that tells you which effects actually matter in reality at this timescale.

Gavin's criticism

It is a standard policy at RealClimate.ORG that the authors of the articles don't offer the criticized article itself to their undemanding readers. Gavin's recent text is an exception - a link to Loehle's paper was later added to Gavin's article but it is still difficult to find it. What's important for the readers is not to learn something or compare arguments for various statements and their robustness. Instead, what they expect is their daily prayer, Oh the global warming, you're so great and holy, and oh the climate skeptics and the climate traitors, they are oh so evil. Gavin Schmidt and others are optimized to write this cheap crap for this kind of people.

Gavin tries to indicate that Loehle makes errors in all the five issues mentioned at the beginning. Unfortunately, his criticism is extremely vague and in the cases when it is not vague and where I could try to check his statements, they seem to be demonstrably wrong. So for example, we learn that Craig Loehle has confused the symbols "BP" and "BP (2000)". The former symbol means "before the year 1950" while the latter means "before the year 2000". I don't see any trustworthy evidence for this accusation by Gavin. If you go to the first sentence and download the PDF file with Loehle's paper, you may check that the paper doesn't use any of these "BP" symbols at all. This symbol should only be used for very long timescales, not timescales comparable to centuries, anyway. Moreover, Craig Loehle has thanked the very same Eric Swanson for finding dating errors as Gavin Schmidt. I just find it unlikely that Loehle's paper contains these well-defined dating errors that Gavin could find so easily but express so vaguely.

Some of the other statements by Gavin seem even more obviously incorrect. For example, Schmidt writes that the proxy Loehle #12 is also off by 50 years (???) but this proxy shouldn't have appeared at all because it only starts in the year 1440. If you actually look what the proxy is, it is from the paper Calvo, Grimalt, Jansen (2002). Click at the link and read at least the abstract. You will see that these authors don't go 550 years into the past but as much as 8,500 years into the past. This is what some of the cores from the seas are normally used for.

As far as I can say, what Schmidt writes is a downright lie and he relies on the assumption that no one will be searching for the actual papers and check his statements. Preventively, he didn't link to the paper by Calvo et al. either. OK, maybe it wasn't a lie. Maybe he just "confused" Calvo et al. (2002) with Zhao et al. (2000): it is indeed an analysis of sea cores that covers the interval 1440-1940. However, Zhao et al. (2000) was not used by Loehle (2007). At any rate, Gavin's criticism is wrong.

There might be some legitimate criticism in Gavin's text but I couldn't find any. The comparison of Gavin Schmidt and Steve McIntyre as "auditors" couldn't be more startling. While McIntyre always analyzes the finest detail of the reconstructions, he reruns all relevant programs (and does some reverse engineering when necessary), Schmidt builds on superficial, Woit-like defamations and pseudocriticism that he often makes up in which he doesn't even link to the relevant papers or sources because he probably knows himself that what he writes is not true and it only designed to manipulate with gullible readers.

If you realize that charlatans such as Gavin Schmidt are paid for their work while Steve McIntyre must work as an outsider, the state of affairs in the present climate science seems sad, indeed.

Inhofe staying on

Sen. Jim Inhofe never even considered retiring after his current term ends in early 2009. Though he'll be 74 then and a 22-year veteran of Washington, he said that he isn't close to running out of gas and that his seniority gives Oklahoma influence that it wouldn't have with a new senator.....

At least one prominent outside group is ready to take him on - the League of Conservation Voters, an environmental organization that is active in congressional elections. The group named Inhofe to its "Dirty Dozen" this year and may commit resources to try to defeat him. Inhofe, the top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee and the former chairman of that panel, has become enemy No. 1 for many groups because of his stance on global warming, which he once called "a hoax."

Inhofe has spent hours on the floor of the Senate, on radio and television programs and in speeches across the country seeking to persuade people that human-caused climate change is a myth. There is no more outspoken skeptic on the topic than Inhofe, and he has vowed to block any legislation - including one that just cleared his committee - that would impose controls on carbon emissions. He says the bill would have no real impact on worldwide greenhouse gas emissions and would burden the poor with higher energy costs.

Inhofe has been vilified by those who contend climate change poses major risks for humanity and ridiculed for his discourteous treatment of former Vice President Al Gore at a committee hearing on the subject.

None of what he calls the "demonization" of him bothers him, because Inhofe feels he's doing "the right thing." Inhofe readily conceded that he'll never be universally liked. His approval numbers even in Oklahoma, where he has won House and Senate races since 1986, are typically low compared to his colleagues. "My numbers will never be good," he said. "I know that."

Inhofe said he decided five years ago that he would raise questions about the global warming issue as it was generating an increasing amount of media attention but, according to him, not enough scrutiny. He cited the old expression that "character is doing the right thing when no one is looking." "Well, political character is doing the right thing when you know you can't explain it to the public," he said. "People are too busy to do their own research, so they have to rely on a biased media."

More here

Is global warming just the latest Salem witch hunt?

"The advent of a new ice age, scientists say, appears to be guaranteed. The devastation will be astonishing." - Gregg Easterbrook in Newsweek, Nov. 23, 1992

Global warming skeptics look on in wonder and amazement at the daily barrage of environmental doom and gloom featured in these pages and elsewhere. How is it possible that so many people - journalists, scientists and politicians alike - could be so gullible? History and sociology may prove instructive.

In 1691, a phenomenon sociologists call a "collective delusion" swept the enclave of Salem Village, Mass. As a consequence of social paranoia, hundreds of people were accused of practicing witchcraft, and perhaps two dozen lost their lives. Of course, we enlightened moderns would never succumb to superstition and mass hysteria.

Or would we? According to sociologists Robert Bartholomew and Erich Goode, collective delusions have taken place with surprising frequency, and the phenomenon's long and shameful history includes several episodes from the recent past. A relic of the Dark Ages it is not. In fact, global warming could be described as a collective delusion, a modern equivalent to the Salem witch hunt.

Bartholomew and Goode write that collective delusions are "typified as the spontaneous, rapid spread of false or exaggerated beliefs within a population at large, temporarily affecting a particular region, culture, or country." Several factors "contribute to the formation and spread of collective delusions." Among them, "mass media, rumors, the social and political context, and reinforcing actions" by "institutions of social control." Collective delusions are also distinguished "by the redefinition of mundane objects, events, and circumstances." Sound familiar?

Consider a few recent examples. In October, Thomas Friedman, a columnist for The New York Times (and mouthpiece of the liberal elite), suggested that we "may have introduced enough of man's economic activities - enough CO2 emissions - into Mother Nature's operating system that we cannot determine anymore where she stopped and we started." Man is partly to blame, Friedman suggests, for Hurricane Katrina and the California wildfires.

Unfortunately for Friedman and the doomsayers, there is no correlation between greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures. As Christopher Horner writes in the "Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming," "Sometimes a GHG rise has preceded a temperature rise, and sometimes vice versa. Sometimes they move in opposite directions." Worse, he writes that nature "produces 97 percent of greenhouse gasses currently in our atmosphere by volume."

Contrary to near-daily claims in the media, there is no "consensus" on global warming. Hurricane expert William Gray recently gave a speech at UNC-Charlotte and pointed out that there were 101 hurricanes from 1900 to 1949, but only 83 from 1957 to 2006. The inconvenient truth is that the latter period, in which fewer hurricanes developed, was warmer. Furthermore, the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history struck Galveston, Texas over a century ago - well before man's "greenhouse gasses" provoked tranquil Mother Nature.

According to Dr. Gray, man is not responsible for the warming of the planet, but "We're brainwashing our children. They're going to the Gore movie and being fed all this. It's ridiculous." We will "look back in 10 or 15 years," Gray said, "and realize how foolish it was." Indeed. Rather like those who emerge from a collective delusion.

Readers in September were accosted by an alarming headline in these pages: "Thin ice dooms most polar bears, scientists predict." The breathless lead paragraph informed us that "two-thirds of the world's polar bears will be killed off by 2050 because of thinning sea ice from global warming in the Arctic."

Evidently Canada's polar bear population did not get the memo from The Associated Press. Canadian polar bear biologist Mitchell Taylor reports that, "Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, eleven are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present."

And, about that "warming" in the Arctic. To begin with, many hysterical assertions have been based on information from the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), the participants of which chose to expand the "Arctic Circle" some 450 miles in every direction. Worse, scientists involved in the ACIA chose as their baseline the year 1966, which features the coldest temperatures ever recorded in the Arctic. Even modest warming would seem cataclysmic by comparison.

A U.N. report released last month concludes that First World nations "must immediately help fight global warming or the world will face catastrophic floods, droughts and other disasters." Said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, "I believe we are on the verge of a catastrophe if we do not act." According to sociologists Bartholomew and Goode, mobilization transforms mere collective delusion into panic. Welcome back to Salem Village.


British diplomat gets a pounding

Taking the steps needed to combat global warming would also boost the economy, improve air quality and ensure cleaner water, a British official told state lawmakers at a hearing on climate change.

But one legislator challenged the international scientific consensus that human activity is contributing to warming the world and implied that the globe might not be heating up, something conceded even by many skeptics of man-made climate change..... Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, questioned the scientific consensus that the Earth is warming. He pointed out that most scientists in Christopher Columbus' day believed the Earth was flat and that a squadron of fighter planes lost over Greenland in 1942 was found in the 1990s under 250 feet of ice, even as the world was reportedly getting warmer.

Seabaugh said he believed the theory of man-made climate change was being pushed by industries that could benefit financially. "That is the reason why I remain highly skeptical of the hysteria over global warming," he said.

Rickerd later disputed Seabaugh's characterization. "It isn't hysteria," he said. "It isn't a bandwagon." The British envoy said while some areas of the world have cooled, the average global temperature is rising.

In a separate presentation, self-proclaimed global warming skeptic Harold Brown, an agricultural scientist and professor emeritus at the University of Georgia, said many were worried about "global cooling" as recently as the 1970s. He also said some of the direst effects of a warming world, such as an increase in the number of deaths because of heat-related illnesses, might not be as bad as some feared, even if climate change were to continue.

"Global warming is a wonderful environmental disease," he said sarcastically. "It has a thousand symptoms and a thousand cures and it has tens of thousands of practitioners with job security for decades to come unless the press and public opinion get tired of it."

Environmental groups, meanwhile, said lawmakers needed to quit rehashing a debate about climate change that green organizations consider settled.

More here

Global warming: Earth cooled 0.05 degrees C in the last 10 years

Post below lifted from Bruno De Wolf. See the original for links

Talking about global warming is all in today, but talking about actual numbers seems be a lot less... We all agree that temperatures rose around 0.75øC in the 20th century. And since the official IPCC numbers warn us about a projected warming between 1.4 to 5.8øC in the 21st century, it might be a good idea to have a look how well the earth is doing in the last 10 years. After all, we're nearing the end of 2007 so the 21st century is already well on it's way.

In order to achieve just that, I took the RSS data (here) and executed a simple linear regression in Excel over the last 10 years, from December 1997 to November 2007 (with tools --> data analysis --> regression). Temperatures are indicated in difference between the current month and the long term avarage. For instance: a temparature of +0.2øC means that that month was 0.2øC warmer that the long term average for that month.

What do we see? The linear trend is going down with a rate of 0.05øC per decade. What's more, the last 8 months are situated below the trendline, so the negative trend is likely not going away in the next couple of months. The RSS data is based on satellite measurements and are fairly accurate.

Those who are talking about a 'climate catastrophe' and call for 'imminent action' should have a careful look at this graph.


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