Nature has started Climate Feedback, a blog on climate change. One of the first posts is by Roger Pielke Jr, who claims

Even the venerable New York Times is prone to completely botching a discussion of the science of climate change. In a front page article today, the NYT reports on how the National Arbor Day Foundation has updated plant hardiness maps to reflect recent changes in climate. (A plant hardiness map presents the lowest annual temperature as a guideline to what plants will thrive in what climate zones.) The NYT misrepresents understandings of variability and trend and in the process confuse more than clarify.

However, it is Pielke Jr who has completely botched the discussion.

He writes:

The new map updates a 1990 USDA map based on 1974-1986 data, and replaces it with data from 1990-2006. In most places the range of increased average minimum temperature has moved north as can be seen from a difference map between the two time periods. The difference map, shown here, has the horizontal lines because the zones used are so broad — 10 degrees — that the differences are only noticeable at the margins of the zones.

The New York Times reports that these differences can all be attributed to human-caused climate change, using the case of Atlanta as an illustration:

Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Arbor Day map indicates that many bands of the country are a full zone warmer, and a few spots are two zones warmer, than they were in 1990, when the map was last updated.

Atlanta, which was in Zone 7 in 1990, is now in Zone 8, along with the rest of northern Georgia. That means that areas in the northern half of the state where the average low temperature was zero to 10 degrees Fahrenheit are now in a zone where the average low is 10 to 20 degrees. A scientific consensus has concluded that this warming trend has largely been caused by the human production of heat-trapping gases.

Because the zones span 10 degrees (or 5 degrees in the case of the 1990 USDA map) and the largest change shown on the difference map is 2 degrees, then clearly no location has jumped 2 zones! This is just an error.

Indeed it is, but the error is Pielke Jr’s. The difference map shows not the change in temperature, but the change in zones (Hint: the legend says “Zone Change”). The largest change is not 2 degrees as Pielke Jr thinks but 2 zones. NYT 1 Pielke Jr 0.

Pielke Jr continues:

More important than this simple mistake is the claim in the NYT that the changes in temperature observed in Atlanta can be attributed to human-caused greenhouse gases. In fact, the IPCC argues that it needs 30 years of records to detect trends, much less make attribution. In fact, the IPCC report just out has reported that the U.S. southeast has actually cooled over the period of record as shown below.

i-07da1b3d92cac812bf73aeac683a38f8-usseipcc1901-2005.png

But Pielke Jr has shown the trends since 1901 even though the IPCC only stated that most of recent warming is anthropogenic, not warming since 1901. Right next to the graph that Pielke Jr chose to present is one that shows trends since 1979 (AR4 Chapter 3 22Mb pdf):

i-42ae7de162f2134a78c12a7cf9b38ae2-usseipcc1979-2005.png

The graph shows that the US South East has warmed since 1979. Now it is true that the IPCC has only attributed warming mainly to human influences over the past 30 years and at the level of continents, but the trend in the US South East over the past 15 years is similar to that over North America over the past 30, so the NYT is justified in attributing to human influences. NYT 2 Pielke Jr 0.

Hans von Storch and Eduardo Zorita have a post on the hockey stick that is going to annoy everyone involved in the hockey stick wars:

In October 2004 we were lucky to publish in Science our critique of the ‘hockey-stick’ reconstruction of the temperature of the last 1000 years. Now, two and half years later, it may be worth reviewing what has happened since then.

The publication in 2004 was a remarkable event, because the hockey-stick had been elevated to an icon by the 3rd Assessment Report of the IPCC. This perception was supported by a lack of healthy discussion about the method behind the hockey-stick. In the years before, due to effective gate keeping of influential scientists, papers raising critical points had a hard time or even failed to pass the review process. For a certain time, the problem was framed as an issue of mainstream scientists, supporting the concept of anthropogenic climate change, versus a group of skeptics, who doubted the reality of the blade of the hockey stick. By framing it this way, the real problems, namely the ‘wobbliness’ of the shaft of the hockey-stick, and the suppressing of valid scientific questions by gate keeping, were left out.

Mann and company are not going to appreciate the insinuation that they were involved in the suppression of valid scientific questions, while McIntyre is already hopping mad that he wasn’t given credit for totally smashing the hockey stick.

Update: Since I can’t post images in the comments, here is a graph (from the NCDC) of Jan temperatures in the US. It warmed 2°F per decade.

i-aa75e34a850d2dcb79f33315b6eafa0d-usajan1976-2007.png

Comments

  1. #1 Glen Raphael
    May 4, 2007

    Er, don’t you mean McIntyre is mad that he wasn’t given credit? *[Oops. Fixed. thanks. Tim]*

  2. #2 Marion Delgado
    May 4, 2007

    Tim:

    Why? Why would Nature do that?

    Also, can someone give us a Pielke overview? Which of the two, Jr. and Sr., have done what, said what, etc.?

    This is very dispiriting. I completely have boosted Nature, and I imagine we all have at one time or another.

  3. #3 Steve Bloom
    May 4, 2007

    I have a feeling that RP Jr. may have lobbied Nature to start this blog, which would tend to explain the presence of Kevin Vranes. Note that of the five contributors who aren’t Nature editors, three are from Boulder! Does the third one (Paty Romero Lankao of NCAR) have an RP Jr. connection?

    Also, RP Jr. may have been eager to expand his blogging horizons since the lagomorph-inspired boycott of Prometheous has vastly reduced the quality of the commenters there.

    Marion, a Pielke clan retrospective exceeds my current energy level, but IIRC Mature has been quite partial to RP Jr.’s stuff for several years at least. The obvious conclusion would seem to be that he has an in with one or more of the editors.

  4. #4 Maxine
    May 4, 2007

    Thanks for the nice welcome to tbe blogosphere.

    Not being a climate scientist myself I will not comment on the scientific comments you make, but in response to M. Delgado and S. Bloom, the contributors to the Nature Reports Climate Change (note, not a part of the journal Nature, but a blog of the separate (online) publication Nature Reports Climate Change, http://www.nature.com/climate/index.html, published by Nature Publishing Group) are clearly listed on the blog itself, if you click on the category “contributors” on the front page. http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/contributors/
    Roger Pielke Jr’s entry reads:
    Roger A. Pielke, Jr. is a Professor in the Environmental Studies Program and Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado. He has degrees in Math, Public Policy, and Political Science, and spent 8 years at the U.S. National Centre for Atmospheric Research, 1993-2001. In 2006, he received the Eduard Brueckner Prize in Munich, Germany for outstanding achievement in interdisciplinary climate research. His most recent book is The Honest Broker: Making Sense of Science in Policy and Politics (Cambridge University Press).

    Nature Publishing Group doesn’t need anyone to lobby us to start blogs, we love blogs and have been running them since 2005. You can set one up yourself if you like, on our Nature Network at http://network.nature.com.
    (I run two Nature Publishing Group blogs myself, one for authors and one on peer review. Nobody lobbied me in either case ;-) )

  5. #5 Eli Rabett
    May 4, 2007

    However Maxine, you do need someone to pay attention to the comments who is not gone for the first five days or so that the blog is opened. Eli posted a comment last night, very nice and polite it was, that pretty much matched in content that of Tim, and got an out of office reply till Wednesday.

    Let me give you a clue. The success of a blog depends on the community that it builds and comments are an important part of that.

    While Real Climate (with whom you obviously intend to compete) is going through growing pains with comments since the blorgers deal with them themselves, as a commercial enterprise you should be able to assign people to this.

    BTW trying to blow people off with Roger’s CV is not a useful tactic. We know him quite well, for good and ill as does pretty much anyone who blogs or comments on climate Roger is not shy, and neither are we. All you have done is show that you are clueless about climate blogs, which kind of contradicts your closing paragraph.

  6. #6 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    May 4, 2007

    Tim-

    1. I did write degrees when I meant zones. The point stands. To see a change of 2 zones requires a temperature change of >10 degrees if the zones span 10 degrees each. You can let me know where average minimum temperatures have increased by 10 degrees over 30 years.

    2. Your views on short-term regional attribution are counter to those of the IPCC. You are entitled to them, but climate scientists disagree.

    3. I’m happy to see that the Nature blog will attract the usual online trolls and conspiracy theorists, should ensure a continued focus on ad homs which I am sure Nature will love …

    Thanks!

  7. #7 MarkH
    May 4, 2007

    Did RP just call Tim a troll and conspiracy theorist?

    How disappointing.

  8. #8 Eli Rabett
    May 4, 2007

    Roger is not responding to Tim (and my) point, nor to what he wrote, but is moving the goalposts. His argument here is one with the USDA, who obviously did change the zones from 1990. And, btw folks that is 10 F not 10 C, and most of the zones are divided into a and b regions with 5 F differences between them.

  9. #9 oconnellc
    May 4, 2007

    I don’t know for sure who RP was calling a troll and conspiracy theorist. However, in this thread, there was someone who said “I have a feeling that RP Jr. may have lobbied Nature to start this blog, which would tend to explain the presence of Kevin Vranes.” They also said, “The obvious conclusion would seem to be that he has an in with one or more of the editors.”

    The assumption that RP was referring to Tim is, well, disappointing. Perhaps he was. Only RP knows for sure. But certainly an odd conclusion to draw…

  10. #10 Thom
    May 4, 2007

    So nice to see that Roger Pielke Jr. started his first post at Nature with yet another troll for attention. Typical Pielkieism.

    And it is also typical of him to to cite the IPCC to buttress his opinion, when only last week he called the IPCC “embarrassing” for containing a graph that he disagreed with. Classic Pielkieism.

    And it is so typical of RP Jr. that he will not respond to points that undercut any argument he makes. It looks like he must have some sort of relationship with an editor at Nature. That is the only thing that explains why they would bring him on, and it also explains why he keeps publishing opinion pieces in the magazine section.

    I don’t know what the people at Nature were thinking when they brought along people like RPJ and Kevin Vranes, but this just looks bad.

  11. #11 Tim Lambert
    May 4, 2007

    Roger,

    (1) You did not write degrees when you meant zones. Here is your comment with zones substituted for degrees:

    >Because the zones span 10 degrees (or 5 degrees in the case of the 1990 USDA map) and the largest change shown on the difference map is 2 zones, then clearly no location has jumped 2 zones!

    Because the largest change shown is 2 zones the largest change can’t be 2 zones? Doesn’t make sense does it? What you actually did was misread the map as showing differences in degrees instead of in zones.

    Show you a place where average minimum winter temperatures have increased by 10°F? That’s what the difference map shows you. If you think its wrong, I think you need to present some evidence.

    Is such an increase plausible? Well, if you look at the map, it looks like zones have moved on average half a zone north, corresponding to an average increase of 5°F. But some places have cooled, ie their increase was more than 5°F *less* than average increase. It seem likely that if some places were more than 5°F less than the average increase then others could be more than 5°F more than the average increase.

    (2) The IPCC AR4 WG1 SPM states:

    >Most of the observed increase in global average
    temperatures since the mid-20th century is very
    likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic
    greenhouse gas concentrations.

    That’s mid-20th century not 1901. So why did you show a map of trends since 1901 instead of the map that was right next to it in the report that showed trends since 1979?

    (3) [bites tongue]

  12. #12 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    May 4, 2007

    To clarify:

    Tim is not a troll, but he likes to make mountains of molehills and start fights (e.g., see this post).

    Steve Bloom displays some serious conspiracy theory tendencies here.

    Eli- What is your point? You wouldn’t be trolling would you? ;-) Perhaps you are right that the problem is with the analysis of the USDA, Arbor Day folks — and that lets the NYT of the hook, right? (see Judy Miller)

    Bottom line is that the NYT front page article has some serious problems in how it presents basic climate science for adaptive decision making.

  13. #13 Thom
    May 4, 2007

    Lambert, quit wasting your time trying to lay out a logical argument to Pielke. You won’t get a decent response, or you’ll get his typical request for “substance.”

  14. #14 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    May 4, 2007

    Tim #11-

    Well thanks for the substantive reply. A reply in turn:

    1. You basic confusion about what the graph actually shows underscores how poorly the NYT communicated this point. Had you spend a little more time looking at the map you’d have noticed that the Arbor Day folks actually got rid of 2 zones at the extremes. You write, “it looks like zones have moved on average half a zone north, corresponding to an average increase of 5°F.” Wrong. It is exactly this misleading impression that the NYT article gives. The reality is that the temperature increase is much closer to 2 degrees between the periods:
    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2007/images/usa-temps-1895-2006.jpg

    2. Why did I present the long-term IPCC graph? Well that is the one used for attribution, which was the point I was making. The southeast has cooled over the long-term. Are trends since 1979 caused by global warming? I don’t know and neither does the IPCC. This is not what the NYT said.

    Why you begin by assuming that people present information in bad faith is beyond me. Reasonable people can discuss and even disagree without a bar fight breaking out.

    Thanks!

  15. #15 oconnellc
    May 4, 2007

    I don’t know if Tim will see my comment or not, but I do have to disagree with what he terms as the “plausible” explanation for what is going on in that graph. Personally, I look at a graph like that and I think that of the places that changed zones upward, they were probably places that were within .5 degrees or less of the nearest zone. So, when their temperature went up .6 degrees, they changed zones. Same for places that went down a zone. We know that temperature on the planet has been warming for at least 100 years, probably much longer, I’m not at all surprised that the majority of the places that changed were places that changed upwards.

    And I think I agree with Roger that there is a chance that there are mistakes on this graph. Because the zones are 10 degrees, to assume that the swings are half of that doesn’t see real plausible to me. If I have time this weekend, I may try to track down the underlying data and find the places that had such enormous changes in temperature. My engineering and laboratory background has tought me that when I see something that looks odd (especially this odd. Average minimum temperature increases of at least 11 degrees? That just seems sooo high….), you should verify.

    Neither of us has any reason to think that we are right without examining the underlying data. Perhaps the only conclusion I would really draw is that a hardiness zone map is only useful for determining if your plant is hardy enough, and not for drawing climate conclusions.

  16. #16 Lee
    May 4, 2007

    a few points.

    1. The USDA map is not based n average temperature, ti is based on minimum winter temperature. The NYT article says this, lambert says this, any gardener knows this. But Pielke Jr keeps pointing to the averae ANNUAL temeprature charts, which show les than 10F warming, and saying that USDA got it wrong. Minimum winter temperatures and average annual temperatures are different things – this is b edrock basic, and Pielke Jr is getting it wrong.

    2. USDA as in the past used 13 and 15 year preceding periods to update the zone map. For this update they used 30 years. This tends to UNDERSTATE the recent change, compared to previous analyses, and this is clearly stated in the article.

  17. #17 andy
    May 4, 2007

    Steve (#3) wrote:

    since the lagomorph-inspired boycott of Prometheous

    What are you talking about??

  18. #18 JB
    May 4, 2007

    R. Pielke claims: “The New York Times reports that these differences can all [bold added] be attributed to human-caused climate change, using the case of Atlanta as an illustration:”

    But the text that Pielke uses from the Times to prove his point includes this:

    “A scientific consensus has concluded that this warming trend has largely been caused by the human production of heat-trapping gases.”

    This means just what it says. It does not mean that the Times has attributed every shift on the zone map entirely to human-caused climate change.

    Anyone who looks at a map of the temperature changes occurring over the US over the past few decades (or over the entire past century) can see that there has indeed been a warming trend for most of the US.

    Only the Southeast and southern Great Plains experienced a (slight) cooling over the entire 20th century (primarily due to the cool decades of the 1960’s and 1970’s.), but since the 1970s have had increasing temperatures as well.

    Anyone who looks at the changes to the hardiness zone map can see the same trend.

    Most people know the difference between a trend and individual details — and the difference between the words “largely”[NY Times] and “all”[RP, Jr].

    But Pielke apparently does not.

  19. #19 Thom
    May 4, 2007

    RP Jr. on Lambert, post #6: I’m happy to see that the Nature blog will attract the usual online trolls and conspiracy theorists, should ensure a continued focus on ad homs which….

    RP Jr. clarifies, post #12: Tim is not a troll, but he likes to make mountains of molehills and start fights (e.g., see this post).

    RP Jr. then writes of Lambert, post #14 : Well thanks for the substantive reply.

    Well, Lambert you’ve gone from troll to Mr. Substance, in the span of a few hours. It appears that Roger Pielke Jr. is backing off and realizing what a twit he looks like to others.

  20. #20 JB
    May 4, 2007

    Roger Pielke says above: “Tim …likes to make mountains of molehills”

    In light of the context, that has to be one the most ironic statements I have ever read.

    How many of those small “2-zone-change” spots [read: “mole hills”] are there on the plant hardiness map for the entire US?

    Very few.

    And taken together, what percentage of the entire US land surface do they comprise?

    Diddly-squat.

  21. #21 Roger Pielke, Jr.
    May 4, 2007

    #20 JB- Indeed, which is why I said it wasn’t so important as compared with the attribution and time-period issue!

    All- Thanks for the attention, and keep up the good work! There will be more stuff to pick nits at on the Nature blog before long, so keep reading ;-)

  22. #22 Thom
    May 4, 2007

    Roger Pielke Jr: Thanks for the attention, and keep up the good work! There will be more stuff to pick nits at…[snip]

    Ah yes….the back-handed compliment mixed with the subtle “nit pick” pejorative.

    Another classic Pielkieism.

  23. #23 JB
    May 4, 2007

    Roger Pielke:

    I’m not interested in stupid rhetorical games. If I were, I would post over on Prometheus.

  24. #24 Joel Shore
    May 4, 2007

    Roger: I hardly see how Tim Lambert and others are nitpicking here. You accused the NY Times of saying something that you said is “just an error” and was one of your major points in your post attacking the Times article. That is a pretty strong statement and it is in fact just plain wrong. The NY Times said that the Arbor Day map indicates that many bands of the country are a full zone warmer, and a few spots are two zones warmer, than they were in 1990, when the map was last updated.” This is in fact an accurate description.

    You may think it is silly that they pointed out these few spots rather than just ignoring them and may question the underlying data regarding these few spots that changed by 2 zones. However, that is a very different argument than claiming that the NY Times made an error in describing the map when they did no such thing and when in fact you made a huge error yourself in reading that map by apparently confusing zones and degrees…when in fact a change in zones differs from a change in degrees by an order of magnitude!

    If you are going to accuse others of making mistakes when in fact they are right and you are making the mistake, you should expect to be called on it and should be willing to eat some crow.

  25. #25 Roger Pielke Jr.
    May 4, 2007

    Joel-

    1. I am happy to admit that I made a mistake on that post. I appreciate the correction!

    2. You misrepresent the NYT piece (what about attribution?)

    Thanks again!

  26. #26 Hugh
    May 4, 2007

    Degrees or zones
    Degrees or radians
    Radians or zones

    Phew! My head’s just spinning in the confusion

  27. #27 Tim Lambert
    May 4, 2007

    Roger,

    (1) I have looked at the Arbor Day map and they did not get rid of any climate zones. You wrongly linked to a graph of average annual temperatures when the maps are based on **MINIMUM** temperatures (and I already mentioned this). I looked at the NCDC site and I couldn’t get a graph of minimum temperatures, but here is something similar: average temperatures for Jan (the coldest month) for the past 30 years. The trend is 2°F per decade, or 6°F over 30 years.

    usajan1976-2007.png

    (2) I quoted the IPCC but you don’t seem to have noticed what they said. Here it is again, with extra emphasis by me.

    >Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures **SINCE THE MID-20TH CENTURY** is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

    The IPCC is attrinuting most of the increase since the mid-20th century to humanity. I truly do not understand why you think they aren’t.

  28. #28 Joel Shore
    May 4, 2007

    Roger:

    (1) I am glad that you admit the mistake now. I assume that you also retract your statement in post #6 above in which you say, “The point still stands,” unless you used this as shorthand to mean, “The point that I was making [which is that the NY Times was wrong about the two zones] is utterly destroyed.”

    (2) You have this strange admit–attack thing going here. Where did I “misrepresent the NYT piece” [a phrase which is unclear to me, by the way…Is the “NYT piece” the NYT article or your blog entry discussing that article?]? I did not get into the attribution thing at all and the closest I came to generalizing from the one point I did discuss is when I said that this “was one of your major points in your post attacking the Times article.” Do you deny that it was one of your major points? By my count, you presented only two specific criticisms of the NYT article. Maybe you want to call one of them a major point and one of them a minor point? Fine. [At any rate, I find your attribution point to be pretty nitpicky anyway. Even assuming that the IPCC does say you need 30 years to detect a trend, once they have established from a longer trend that this trend is indeed there and it is indeed attributable primarily to humans, it does not seem unreasonable to conjecture that a change seen over an ~18 year period is likely attributable to the same factors that are producing the longer trend. Perhaps the NYT wording could have been a little more careful but I don’t see how they have made a major error of fact.]

  29. #29 Joel Shore
    May 4, 2007

    Oh…and I would add that it takes an extremely uncharitable reading of the NYT article to conclude that their statement attributing the warming to humans was meant to apply to the specific case of Atlanta. It seems fairly obvious to me that Atlanta is just a specific example and what they are giving the attribution to was not the trend in one specific city but rather the general trend for the whole map of the U.S. Again, I am not saying that the NYT wording was ideal in this regard…but it was fairly small potatoes compared to, say, confusing changes in degrees F and zones!

  30. #30 Thom
    May 4, 2007

    This new Nature blog is off to a smashing start. You’ve got Roger spreading his normal contrarian nonsense, and then you’ve got Zorita and von Storch resurrecting zombies and attacking Michael Mann for the Hockey Stick study.

    Best of all, you see in the comments below the von Storch article that the usual suspects, Lubos Motl and Hans Errens, are beating up on von Storch for not giving McKitrick and McIntyre credit for “smashing the Hockey Stick.”

    What a circle jerk.

  31. #31 Roger Pielke Jr.
    May 4, 2007

    Tim-

    Here you go:

    Vose, R. S., D. R. Easterling, and B. Gleason (2005), Maximum and minimum temperature trends for the globe: An update through 2004, Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L23822, doi:10.1029/2005GL024379.
    http://www.agu.org/journals/gl/gl0523/2005GL024379/

    If you don’t have access to GRL:
    http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/100744.pdf

    That should settle the question of the magnitude of minimum temperature increases in the US.

    On attribution the IPCC you are misinterpreting the IPCC statement. It does not mean attribution has been achieved for any time period less than 50 years, but the opposite, that its attribution is for 50 years or more.

    Joel-

    1. I’ll stand by my assertion that a change of 2 zones is a mistake, which maybe occurred when the Arbor Day foundation removed the most extreme zones, but who knows. The NYT faithfully reported this error, yes.

    2. Lets agree to disagree that my NYT discussion was nitpicky .. maybe so maybe no. When you write, “it does not seem unreasonable to conjecture that a change seen over an ~18 year period is likely attributable to the same factors that are producing the longer trend” this is exactly the sort of misconception fostered by the NYT article! Such conjectures are simply not grounded in how the climate system works. This is why you see the debate in the NYT article over short versus long records for what to expect in the coming year.

    Thanks!

  32. #32 Thom
    May 4, 2007

    Two quick points and then I’m done.

    #1 From the article that Pielke posted, we find in the Conclusion: [M]inimum temperature increased at a faster rate than maximum temperature during the latter half of the 20th century.

    This is what plant people are interested in, and it was the point of the Arbor Day Foundation and the NY Times article. And it’s what Lambert wrote (see above). So the point of you attack on the NY Times was what?

    #2 Pielke: I’ll stand by my assertion that a change of 2 zones is a mistake

    Wrong. That was Joel Shore’s assertion.

  33. #33 Steve Bloom
    May 4, 2007

    Andy, the lagomorph reference was to Eli Rabbett (an intentional misspelling), who up until a year or so ago was a fairly constant critic of RP Jr. on the latter’s blog. Along with Dano, another pseudonymous commenter, Eli was a pretty constant thorn in RP Jr.’s side (as were plenty of other who don’t use psuedonyms, e.g. me). Tiring of the criticism, most of which was quite legitimate IMHO, RP Jr. changed his blog settings to bar pseudonymous or anonymous commenters. In response, Eli called for a boycott, which has been pretty successful in that the typical Prometheus commenter (on RP Jr.’s posts, anyway) is now a fairly low-grade denialist.

    All of this may sound like a tempest in a teapot, but understand that from RP Jr.’s perspective his particpation in the blogosphere is intended to enhance his ability to influence climate change policy through e.g. Congressional testimony, op-eds and Nature articles. This would not be a problem if so many of his ideas weren’t utter cr*p.

  34. #34 Hank Roberts
    May 4, 2007

    Oh, good grief, another “science weblog site”

    Is this kind of collection of weblogs being done for the advertising revenue?

    (Using Firefox I can block the ads, so I don’t know how much advertising is being done on the Not-Really-Nature-Magazine website.)

    A few months ago I noticed another attempt to come up with a “science weblog site” —someone who happened to share my same first name was flogging his page in postings at RC for a while; I’ve lost track of it now (don’t remind me, it wasn’t impressive).

    I suppose it’s evolution in action (at least the mimicry aspect) that someone decided to create something that appears superficially to be from the well regarded Nature magazine, creating something that appears to be science weblogs.

    Instead the content’s familiar — “you don’t really understand me” argument predominates. Boring, eh?

  35. #35 Steve Bloom
    May 4, 2007

    Re #4 (Maxine from Nature): “Not being a climate scientist myself I will not comment on the scientific comments you make(.)” Then why let RP Jr. (a political scientist, not a climate scientist) interpret the science? An actual climate scientist would have been unlikely to err in that way, IMHO. Perhaps you (or the appropriate powers that be at Nature) should consider restricting him to posting within his expertise.

  36. #36 J Hamilton
    May 4, 2007

    The Vose et al (2005) paper uses mean monthly minimum temperature data (from each station in the network that was analyzed). For each station, there were approximately 30 days (one month) of observations that were used to compute the minimum value for that one point in the series. For most of the data in the northern hemisphere, we are dealing with the average daily minimum temperature for January.

    The plant hardiness zones are not based on mean monthly minimum temperatures, they are based on the minimum temperature recorded for each year.

    The two data sets are not the same. The new plant hardiness zone map is based on annual minimums for a network of several thousand stations. The differences between the two maps highlight a change in extremes, not in mean minimum temperatures computed over a monthly basis.

    So it appears that the Dr. Pielke has made an error in the interpretation of these maps and the data sets used to generate them.

  37. #37 Hank Roberts
    May 4, 2007

    As an equal-opportunity lambaster, let me make the same criticism here I made in the not-really-Nature-magazine page (where it will appear later, if they accept it).

    Please post links to the _original_ information, not to a copy.

    Neither of these images leads the reader to the original info:

    http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/usseipcc1901-2005.jpg
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/upload/2007/05/usseipcc1979-2005.png

    Rule one of database sanity: one record, many pointers.

    It’s the only way to teach people how to look at the _original_ information, read it in context, and think for themselves.

    I realize it’s a nuisance to make the effort. Please do.

  38. #38 Eli Rabett
    May 4, 2007

    Eli will admit to being a sharp carrot in Roger’s side, but he does not recall asking anyone else to leave. OTOH the lack of his wit and Dano’s wisdom did bring down the quality of the comments at the other place.

    As someone with a small garden and a postage stamp front yard, I have to agree with M. Hamilton. What you need to know is the coldest day in the winter that will cost you your plants and you need to know the day of the last frost.

  39. #39 nanny_govt_sucks
    May 4, 2007

    I can’t help but notice that the trend in minimum temperatures means good news for growers in the US, and probably elsewhere as well. As Eli said

    What you need to know is the coldest day in the winter that will cost you your plants and you need to know the day of the last frost.

    Warmer “coldest” days, and fewer frosts are good things, are they not? Certainly this balances some of the gloom and doom alarmism.

  40. #40 Dano
    May 4, 2007

    Ahem.

    I have multiple degrees in plant/environmental sciences. Not to argue from authority, but I use and think about this stuff often. I used to own a small landscape design company. I am making the plant list for my city, due next week. The announcement for this map IIRC came out mid-lateish last year and went around the plant geek listservs, & the arguments are old news.

    The map will stand, there are no significant errors to warrant change.

    Maybe Roger can share with all of us the letter and data he’ll send to Arbor Day Found and we can discuss that. Anyway,

    Plant hardiness maps (any of them, they are knock-offs of USDA’s) are based on average annual low temps. That is: where Eli and the person behind the Dano character live (Dano lives in The Internets, of course), we can expect low temps between ~10º – -20ºF. Not every year, but most years.

    Plants here expect to be chilled to this temperature for a certain time. Plants in other zones expect to be chilled to those average temperatures/times. If they aren’t, they may not perform (fruit trees, some evergreens). One of my listservs recently asked about the rhododendron leaf burn in the US Northeast – likely due to abnormally warm winter (plant never went into dormancy, no sugars produced [antifreeze]).

    This is why plants are migrating northward and higher in elevation – because they want certain low temperatures to achieve dormancy for a certain period of time. This migration is an indicator of climate change. We can guess why certain types don’t want this hardiness zone optic to be spread around. Well, too late.

    Denialists and contrascientists can atomistically quibble all they want. But plant people and ordinary gardeners have been dealing with this for at least a generation now.

    You can’t totemize this like a hockey stick, because little old ladies will laugh you out of their garden club meeting faster than you can squeeze your tea bag dry.

    Forget it Roger. Your FUD will only work on the ignorant, and it won’t work on the decision-makers. You should have tried this 6 months ago, and maybe you’d have play. Now you look like a clown. Sorry to be so blunt.

    Best,

    D

  41. #41 Dano
    May 4, 2007

    na_gs:

    No. Crops have a max heat tolerance too. Your assertion must have both things working. Warming also means more spotty precip and likely less soil moisture overall. Sorry, wrong again you are.

    Best,

    D

  42. #42 Hank Roberts
    May 4, 2007

    This mail came following my attempt to post the above at the other site, re pointing to sources. So you read it here first.

    “Heffernan, Olive”
    “Out of Office AutoReply: [Climate Feedback] New Comment Posted to ‘Confusion on Climate Variability and Trends'” …..I am out of the office until Wednesday, 9 May …

    Oy. is “nature.com” not Nature Magazine?

    Aside, posted only here: yes, I know if people post the images on their own pages, and then link to them, that increases their own Google page rank —- versus if people would post links to the IPCC page, to the original image, that would increase the IPCC page rank instead.

    Think about that.

  43. #43 Steve Bloom
    May 4, 2007

    Re #31 (RP Jr.): The Vose paper uses a 5 degree square data grid, and so seems not especially pertinent.

    Re #38 (ER): The most effective boycotts are the informal ones. Alternatively one could just say that the pattern of RP Jr.’s behavior that led him to evict the pseudonymice led others to stop participating. Certainly when I stopped commenting I hoped it would encourage others to follow suit.

  44. #44 Hank Roberts
    May 4, 2007

    This:

    > “Warmer “coldest” days, and fewer frosts are good things, are they not?….”

    is nitwittery, NanGo.

    You can look this stuff up. You’re obviously not a gardener, or you’d know better. So since you _know_ you _don’t_ know, why not make the least effort to find out?

    You could guess these search terms:
    +gardening +”low temperature” +fruit

    You’d find this typical statement, what any gardener will know, on the first page of hits:

    http://www.urbanharvest.org/advice/fruitgardening/chill_cold_data.html
    “… Latest Chill & Cold Data
    …. an understanding of winter is important in what we should consider planting. Many fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals either depend on winter chill for success or are damaged by too much cold, so it is important to use plants adapted to local cold. This depends on where you are ….
    How cold it gets on the coldest night of the year affects tropical, semi-tropical, and tender, temperate plants. …”

    It pains me to see you make ignorant comments that are so easily checked. And the garden club, who know this stuff, find pompous ignorance laughable. Please do better.

  45. #45 nanny_govt_sucks
    May 4, 2007

    Many fruits, vegetables, and ornamentals either depend on winter chill for success or are damaged by too much cold, so it is important to use plants adapted to local cold

    Exactly, and I’m certain that you’ll find a wider variety of plants that are viable with the warmer min temps and fewer frosts.

    Dano, max temps are not increasing as fast as min temps, so the question is whether the gains because of min temp increase cancel and perhaps surpass any supposed loss from the smaller max temp increase.

  46. #46 Eli Rabett
    May 4, 2007

    I bow to Dano’s plant wisdom. Eli only eats the damn things.

  47. #47 Lee
    May 4, 2007

    re: nanny and the “warmer is better” argument.

    I guess this would be why the world’s breadbaskets are in the tropics, and we get such marginal production from Kansas.
    (end snark)

    It seems to have escaped the notice of too many people who keep repeating this ‘warmer is better’ stuff that the most productive farmlands for most of our most productive staple crops are in areas with substantial winter freezes. This is nto an accident. And nanny utterly ignores the issue of impact on local ecosystems of loss of sufficient winter chilling on locally-growing species.

  48. #48 Hank Roberts
    May 4, 2007

    Yeah.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6200114.stm
    http://blog.sciam.com/index.php?title=thanks_to_climate_change_by_2050_america&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

    Billy Sunday used to say, “They tell me I rub the fur the wrong way. I don’t. Let the cat turn around.” It’s time for you to try turning in the other direction, to know you can.

  49. #49 Tim Curtin
    May 4, 2007

    Lee (#47) said: It seems to have escaped the notice of too many people who keep repeating this ‘warmer is better’ stuff that the most productive farmlands for most of our most productive staple crops are in areas with substantial winter freezes.” So how come yields of wheat (kg/ha) are 6,500 in Egypt (FAO, 2005) which has no frosts and 2,800 in USA?

  50. #50 Tim Lambert
    May 4, 2007

    Roger, here is the USDA definition

    >These temperatures are referred to as “average annual minimum temperatures” and are based on the lowest temperatures recorded for each of the years 1974 to 1986 in the United States and Canada and 1971 to 1984 in Mexico.

    and here is the Arbor Day one

    >Hardiness zones are based on average annual low temperatures using 10 degree increments.

    Despite these clear definitions and corrections from multiple people in this thread, you keep arguing that the Arbor Day map is wrong using trends that do not measure average annual low temperatures. Your latest attempt is a map that shows average **DAILY** minimums. This is not the same as average annual minimums, which is the appropriate measure for cold damage or germination. Even I know that frost can kill plants and I live in zone 10.

    The NCDC data is publicly available, so it is pretty easy to check the accuracy of the Arbor Day map. Which cam out last year, so if it was wrong, someone would have said so, since whether their plants live or die matters to a lot of people.

    So you claim that the correct interpretation of the IPCC statement:

    >Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

    is

    > We cannot conclude that most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

    I don’t think I need to say anything more.

  51. #51 Chris O'Neill
    May 5, 2007

    Pielke Jr: “I’m happy to see that the Nature blog will attract the usual online trolls and conspiracy theorists”

    Yes, the hockey team conspiracy theorists. Plenty of those on that blog.

  52. #52 Marion Delgado
    May 5, 2007

    I did find Maxine’s response helpful, and Pielke Jr.s CV was sort of useful in placing him.

    I must say I was a little confused by some of it. Does this mean I could go there and start my own climate blog? Should I try?

  53. #53 Marion Delgado
    May 5, 2007

    I didn’t want to put my ducks in a row so I haven’t applied for a blog there (I have to assume it’s an approval/moderation process). One problem is that I kept switching degrees, both undergrad and grad, and studied a lot of math physics (I suppose the computational physics selection is closest) and was most interested in thermal and statistical physics (not listed) and also it’d be interesting if you could say your interest was climate science skepticism skepticism, but you cannot. This is only the membership phase. I’ll bite the bullet soon and see what happens. If this is wide open, any commenter here with a lot to say could do worse than to go there and join and perhaps start a blog.

  54. #54 steve munn
    May 5, 2007

    Completely off-topic, right-wing think-tank hack Jen Marohasy is allowing John Berlau to work Tim Lambert over. http://www.jennifermarohasy.com/blog/archives/002024.html#comments

  55. #55 Jim Clarke
    May 5, 2007

    RE #47

    The “warmer is better” argument applies to agriculture in general, not specific crops in specific locations.

    First of all, we are talking about projections of a gradual warming of about 2.3 degrees C over the next 100 years. If farmers can not adapt to that, they should not be farming. Secondly, the land-rich Northern Hemisphere is top heavy, with much more farmable land currently subject to a very limited growing season of only the hardiest crops. Warming will make this huge amount of land much more versatile and productive.

    Finally, places like Florida are not the bread baskets of the country, but they are the fruit baskets and grow a big chunck of the domestic berry and winter vegitable supply. AGW should have less affect on Florida than on higher latitudes, so the net result will be a modest (almost indetectable) warming, with fewer killing frosts, but still plenty of the needed chill to make those oranges sweet.

    There is not doubt that ‘warmer is better’ for global agriculture; at least the magnitude of warming we are taking about.

  56. #56 Dano
    May 5, 2007

    Jim Clarke has been shown many times how his argument is likely wrong.

    Yet he continues to purvey his particular brand of FUD: lather, rinse, repeat.

    Best,

    D

  57. #57 Hank Roberts
    May 5, 2007

    Ok, one question got through on the not-really-Nature blog; I’ll post my followup here too, since it’s got a very long lag time and this info has a 24-hour expiration date if any of you aren’t yet using Firefox.

    Roger did promptly provide the original PDF link from which he took his chart, and I checked and replied thus:

    Roger, why did you show only half of their Fig. 3.9 from p. 250?

    The caption says:

    Figure 3.9. Linear trend of annual temperatures for 1901 to 2005 (left; °C per century) and 1979 to 2005 (right; °C per decade). ….”

    The white + marks indicate areas where the data is considered significant. Anything without the + isn’t.

    You’re showing the left half but not the right half of the image inline here.

    This is why links to original sources matter, to read in context.

    Not everyone uses Firefox yet; let’s see if I can share one of its advantages, the “pdfdownload” extension.

    If it works, this link should work for 24 hours to get the whole image, for anyone:
    http://pdfdownload.04340.com/070505/tmp-4lLoLs/260302016.png

    This for a while will get the whole paper, quick-changed to HTML by Pdfdownload:
    http://pdfdownload.04340.com/pdf2html.php?url=http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Ch03.pdf&images=yes

    (Images are deleted from the server at the pdfdownload site after 24 hours)

  58. #58 Lee
    May 5, 2007

    re 49, Tim Curtin’s claim of 6500 kg/ha for Egypt wheat yields. I note he didnt provide a link. A short google search finds this FAO repository doc:

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/y5863e/y5863e07.htm
    which say sthe egypt wheat yields were1147 kg/ha in 2002.2003.

    and wikipedia (fwiw) says this:

    For example, average yields of corn (maize) in the USA have increased from around 2.5 tons per hectare (t/ha) (40 bushels per acre) in 1900 to about 9.4 t/ha (150 bushels per acre) in 2001. Similarly, worldwide average wheat yields have increased from less than 1 t/ha in 1900 to more than 2.5 t/ha in 1990. South American average wheat yields are around 2 t/ha, African under 1 t/ha, Egypt and Arabia up to 3.5 to 4 t/ha with irrigation. In contrast, the average wheat yield in countries such as France is over 8 t/ha. Variation in yields are due mainly to variation in climate, genetics, and the use or non-use of intensive farming techniques (use of fertilizers, chemical pest control, growth control to avoid lodging).[citation needed] [Conversion note: 1 bushel of wheat = 60 pounds (lb) ≈ 27.215 kg. 1 bushel of corn = 56 pounds ≈ 25.401 kg]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture

  59. #59 Ian Gould
    May 5, 2007

    NGS: “Warmer “coldest” days, and fewer frosts are good things, are they not?”

    Gee, I don’t know – let’s ask the people with billions of dollars invested in olive tress which don’t set fruit if the winter is so mild that no frost occurs.

    Or we could ask the billion or so people in north India and the Yellow River valley who depend on melting winter snow for summer water flows.

  60. #60 Hank Roberts
    May 5, 2007

    I’d also appreciate a cite from Dr. Curtin on the “6500kg/hectare” wheat yield; I tried the FAO website search engine but didn’t find it; it went unavailable after several tries.

    I found one reference to a research result with that yield:
    ttp://www.insinet.net/jasr/2006/746-750.pdf

    (available for about 24 hours courtesy of the Firefox PDFdownload extension; I think other browsers may be able to see it but I’m not sure of that)

    http://pdfdownload.04340.com/pdf2html.php?url=http://www.insinet.net/jasr/2006/746-750.pdf&images=yes

    Journal of Applied Sciences Research, 2(10): 746-750, 2006
    © 2006, INSInet Publication
    Corresponding Author: Samiha. A.H. Ouda, Agroclimatology and Climate Change Unit, Department of Irrigation Research, Soil, Water and Environment Institute, Agriculture Research Center, Egypt

    Predicting the Effect of Water and Salinity Stresses on Wheat Yield and Water Needs
    Samiha. A.H. Ouda

    Several wheat strains being tested under water shortage and saline irrigation with roughly those yields here, if I can defeat the software’s tendency to collapse tables:

    Variety . . . . . . . . .Actual yield (ton/ha) Predicted yield (ton/ha)

    Sakha 93. . . . . . .. .6.96. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.67

    Giza 168. . . . . . . . .6.58. . . . . .. . . . . . . . . 6.29

    Conversion (per Google): 6500 kg = 6.5 tons

  61. #61 Hank Roberts
    May 5, 2007

    This is more pertinent info on wheat yield; it’s irrigation that allows Egypt to produce larger yields, so it’s not a relevant comparison to the large North American midwest wheat farming area where that’s not possible. That explains why the wheat production area in N. America is predicted to move into Canada — the plow follows the rain.

    http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/Y4252E/y4252e05a.htm

    From their Table 3.7, my excerpt:

    Wheat, Egypt, Actual, from 1997-1999 (latest actual numbers; forecasts also given are for slight increases above these, nothing dramatic though):

    Yields in areas watered by rainfall: …. 1.28 tonnes/hectare

    Yield in areas irrigated: …………………… 3.15 tonnes/hectare

    “Among the major producers of the region, only Egypt and the Syrian Arab Republic had higher production in 1999/2001 than at the beginning of the decade. The evaluation of the possible land-yield combinations in the future (shown in Table 3.7), as well as the prospect that there will be no return to the heavy production subsidies some countries provided in the past, do not permit optimism concerning the possibility that growth of aggregate wheat and coarse grains production of the region could exceed 1.5 percent p.a. in the projection period. Hence the need for growing net imports to support the modest increase in per capita consumption.”

    Sorry, Dr. Curtin, , near as I can tell, it appears you gave a misleading response to the comment. Perhaps you misread your source?

    Please show us your source so we can read it in context.

  62. #62 guthrie
    May 5, 2007

    With regards to the Wheat belt moving into Canada, many people have pointed out that Canada does not have the correct soils for growing wheat. So, either they grow something else, or else maybe farmers will have to invest massive amounts of money in changing the soil or making artificial growth areas, to grow wheat.

    Which means it would cost a lot of money, but that’s alright, the market will see to it….

    JIm Clarke, I note you said:
    “If farmers can not adapt to that, they should not be farming.”

    Allow me to laugh my head off. If farmers don’t adapt, a significant number of people starve to death. This is what is really pisssing me off. People have completely forgotten that they are ultimately dependent upon farming to produce their food. If the farmers can’t produce enough food, people starve. Thats it. You don’t get to use the magic wand and produce food, people starve.

    Secondly Jim, this land rich Norhern Hemisphere has a great deal of land that is only farmable if you expend vast amounts of energy in making it so, by removing boulders, fertilising it, irrigating it. Even with climate change, Scotland will not gain much in the way of farmable land, because the potential candidates for such land are so few and far between. They will suffer from erosion, or have poor thin soils, or are mostly peat on hillsides, or are too rocky.

    What on earth do you mean that AGW will have less effect on Florda than the rest of the country? What are the predicted rainfall patterns? What happens to the ecosystems that sustain the farming? What insect life cycles will change? Until you can answer question like that, you have no business asserting that it will be fine.

  63. #63 Hank Roberts
    May 5, 2007

    p.s., I’m most curious if anyone who’s _not_ using Firefox and the PDFDownload extension can see either of these files (before noon tomorrow, I think, when the copies expire from the extension’s server). I’m not sure if the files will show up for other browsers.

    http://pdfdownload.04340.com/070505/tmp-4lLoLs/260302016.png
    (The figure (complete) from the PDF page; part of it appears at the not-Nature blog)

    This for the whole paper (large!); second half of this is the ucar.edu PDF file name:
    http://pdfdownload.04340.com/pdf2html.php?url=http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Ch03.pdf&images=yes

    (Images are deleted from the server at the pdfdownload site after 24 hours)

  64. #64 Marion Delgado
    May 5, 2007

    Hank Roberts: I used Safari. Something in the web coding there claimed i was using firefox’s pdf extension, but i highly doubt it. it’d be a first for safari to be doing so. anyhow, I got the page just fine after a fairly long delay. Safari showed it in browser.

  65. #65 Aaron
    May 5, 2007

    Wow. Pielke Jr. is clearly out of his area of expertise.

  66. #66 Tim Curtin
    May 5, 2007

    Lee & Hank Roberts: try this (it’s at ProdStat on the FAO site):
    http://faostat.fao.org/site/340/default.aspx

    Egypt produced over 8 million tonnes of wheat in 2005 at a yield of 6885.8 kg/ha. Of course it is virtually all irrigated, unlike USA with its 2825 kg/ha, but then the US unlike Egypt has all those frosty winters which ought to compensate for its lesser irrigation potential. Saudi Arabia with its higher temperatures than Egypt and lesser water resources manages 5404.4. No doubt Lee imagines there are frosty winters around Jeddah.

    Apologies anyone?

  67. #67 Aaron
    May 5, 2007

    Roger Pielke Jr. wrote, Perhaps you are right that the problem is with the analysis of the USDA, Arbor Day folks — and that lets the NYT of the hook, right? (see Judy Miller)

    Interesting analogy. So, according to Pielke Jr., the National Arbor Day Foundation’s credibility is comparable to that of Ahmed Chalabi, a man who ran a forgery operation, was convicted of embezzling $300 million, and had an obvious conflict of interest.

    Meanwhile, Pielke Jr. accuses the NY Times of “botching a discussion” while he mistakes zones for degrees and confuses average annual minimum temps with average daily minimums. I suggest that Pielke look more carefully after his own reputation.

  68. #68 Lee
    May 6, 2007

    Curtin,
    Sweden is a bit over 6000, France is about 6500 kg/ha, New Zealand is a bit over 7000, Germany is about 7500, Athe UK is aobut 8000, Ireland and the Netherlands are about 8500.
    What you have shown with the egypt data is that intensively farmed and irrigated wheat in ONE middle east country can push yields up to about the bottom end of intensively farmed yields in northern temperate countries.

    Ang it loosk like egypt got a major increase in average yields very abruptly – that means they put a lot of resources into getting those yields. Egypt wheat production is primnarily in winter, BTW – wheat wont produce well in egypt summmer weather. Too hot.

    The US average yield comparison is bogus – much of the us productin is dry-farmed, low-yield production, and that dilues the numbers from th ehigh-yield inensive production areas. of

  69. #69 Craig Allen
    May 6, 2007

    I’d like to provide an Australian perspective on the assertion that a warming climate will be good from Agriculture. Down this-away it’s is currently having very serious impacts. A couple of weeks ago, our Prime Minister made an address to the nation to declare that there will probably be no allocations of water to irrigation in the Marray-Darling Basin, because of the on-going drought has reduced inflows to the system to a record low (see here). This region is responsible for over 60% of Australia’s agricultural output. In addition to the impact this will have on irrigated agriculture, our wheat harvests have been drastically reduced by the general lack of rain and the concurrent hike in evaporation rates. And to top it all off, the water levels in the reservoirs that supply most of our cities are also at extremely low levels by historic standards (generally 15 to 20%) and this has led to increasingly extreme water rationing, such as bans or very strong restrictions on outside water use (i.e our gardens and parks are all brown and dusty). There are suggestions that the price of many fruit and vegetables will increase by up to 4x and we will need to drastically increase imports of many products. If you live in an area where higher temperature is a bonus, and rainfall is not likely to become more erratic, then good for you. But on a global basic most people live in areas where this will have bad or catastrophic consequences.

  70. #70 Crai Allen
    May 6, 2007

    Correction to my above post:

    The Murray-Darling basin is responsible for over 70% of Australia’s irrigated agricultural output. It contains about 40% of the nation’s farmland and produces 40% of the nation’s food.

  71. #71 Craig Allen
    May 6, 2007

    Mr Pielke, in light of the above, are you actually going to correct the mistakes in your post on the climate feedback site?

  72. #72 Hank Roberts
    May 6, 2007

    Well, the Egypt data from the page Dr. Curtin points to is very different all the way back:

    1990 is 5,196.70 kg/hectare
    1997 is 5,599.50 kg/hectare

    — far higher than the wheat yield figures on the two other FAO pages for Egypt.

    Dr. Curtin, did you find the FAO’s several different yield figures and choose the higher one instead of the lower ones, for a particular reason? How come they differ so greatly, on the three different FAO pages? How did you decide which one to believe?

  73. #73 nanny_govt_sucks
    May 6, 2007

    Lee, is it your contention that frost is OK for wheat crops? My understanding is that frost can damage wheat and lead to low yeilds. Is this not so?

  74. #74 Tim Curtin
    May 6, 2007

    Lee # 68: “Egypt’s wheat production is primarily in winter, BTW – wheat won’t produce well in Egypt’s summmer weather. Too hot.”

    1. Egyptian winters do not have the frosts you proposed as a guarantor of higher yields.
    2. It is clear that in more than doubling the area under wheat since 1980, Egypt grows it both in winter and summer (as I observed when I worked there from 1980-1983) (it is a big country, with climatic differences between north and south).
    3. Your first post implied that frosty winters are all that matter for wheat yields.
    4. Lee, you and others on this Blog need to study the remarkable work of Mendelsohn, Nordhaus, and Shaw (American Economic Review, 1994, also same authors in Agriculture and Forest Methodologies 1996).
    5. Lee, do you know how to use Word’s spell check, or can you simply not be bothered because you deem all other human beings to be below your intellectual high ground? E.g., why should I bother to reply this kind of garbage: “The US average yield comparison is bogus – much of the us productin is dry-farmed, low-yield production, and that dilues the numbers from th ehigh-yield inensive production areas. Of” ?? It was your statement that US wheat yields are “high” because of wintry frosts, now you qualify it, too late, mate!
    6. Hank Roberts #72. Your assertion is defamatory, and actionable against Tim Lambert and his server. However I know you are not worth suing, any more than Tim Lambert. Anyway please feel free to ask FAO to explain any discrepancies between their various data for crop yields in Egypt. Having worked there and studied their data sources, I feel comfortable with what Egypt reports to FAO. Anyway I never looked beyond FAO’s ProdStat database so I did not cherry pick, but I do confess to being surprised by the amazing increases in yields since I left Cairo in 1983, when like my then EU employers I felt Egypt had already reached the limit (indeed my then boss Claude Cheysson like all his fellow Greenies considered the Aswan Dam to be “une disastre” that ought to be blown up even though it is the basis for much of the increased output since 1980).

  75. #75 Lee
    May 6, 2007

    nanny,

    it is my contention that the highly productive staple crop breadbaskets are primarily temperate, not tropical. This is what I said. Curtin mentined wheat as an alleged counterexample.

    Curtin’s counterexample consists of ONE country, a country which is committing very high levels of effort and subsidy to increae agriculture. Among other things the Toshka water projectwill pump about 10% of the nile’s flow into a new canal system to creat an ag region – this is partially operational and sending irrigation waternow, and the result is highly subsidized water for ag. And that level of effort gets them into the bottom of the ranks of high-intensity counties for average yield – IF you beleive that one source Curtin cited, which is out of line with other sources Ive seen.

    Spring fross during flowerind can reduce wheat yield. Wnter wheats are commonly sowed in fall, overwintered on land that may freeze hard in teh winter, and then grows in the spring. Frost per se is not a problem – unseasonal frost during flowering, or unseasonal early warming that leads to early flowering and exposure to frost during flowering, is a problem.

  76. #76 Joel Shore
    May 6, 2007

    Re #74: Since when does asking questions constitute defamation?

  77. #77 Hank Roberts
    May 6, 2007

    Dr. Curtin, you’re a teacher; you and two of your readers here have found three different numbers from the FAO’s web pages, for Egyptian wheat production.

    This is research, sir, we’re all trying to find facts, aren’t we?

    Isn’t this the approach you would take in a class?

    It’s not defaming the FAO to discover their information on different pages is inconsistent and ask who found what information.

    It’s not defaming anyone to ask those who found one or more of the several different FAO numbers whether they found more than one, and if so how they made a judgment and chose to rely on one, and why.

    It’s not defamation to find something someone else missed and point that out, and I don’t yet even know if you found the two or three different numbers and chose one for good and sufficient reason you could share with us, or if you were as surprised as I am to find several different numbers from the FAO.

    ‘Please explain your reasoning’ isn’t defamation, sir. It’s not even hard argument, unless your classroom rules are different than I’d expect.

    YMMV, of course.

  78. #78 JB
    May 6, 2007

    Joel Shore asked (in reply to number 74) “Since when does asking questions constitute defamation?”

    Isn’t that obvious?

    Since the microsecond before Hank Roberts posted at 4:00:00AM on May 6, 2007.

  79. #79 Ike Solem
    May 6, 2007

    Roger has a record on the manipulation of baselines that’s worth presenting:

    (The issue here is really one of how data is reported and presented – especially as it relates to the reporting of anomalies as data – and yes, as this shows, the baselines DO matter.)

    Previous exhange (on the use of baselines by NOAA):

    “As far as the NOAA issue goes, the use of a baseline to calculate temperatue anomalies relates to the issue of what is meant by ‘anomaly’. Now, in 2000 NOAA decided to start using the time period 1971-2000 as the baseline for calculating their anomalies, in contrast to the widely accepted use of the 1961-1990 time period for their baseline.

    The differences in the two anomalies are fairly dramatic; see for example

    using NOAA’s 1971-2000 baseline, summer 2006:
    http://www.emc.ncep.noaa.gov/research/cmb/sst_analysis/images/archive/monthly_anomaly/monanomv2_200606.png

    Using the 1961-1990 baseline: summer 2006
    http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/ocean/results/SST_anals/SSTA_20060625.gif

    Also, NOAA uses the 1971-2000 baseline for their 2005 Arctic Climate Report, but does not explicitly discuss this. Obvious, this gives a perception that warming in the Arctic is less severe then it actually is.

    When the word ‘anomaly’ is used in public discourse, it is taken to mean ‘deviations from normal behavior’. So, does this issue represent ‘cherry-picking’ or deliberate manipulation of scientific data for political purposes, in your expert opinion?

    Pielke response: “#65 Ike- Thanks for the clarification . . . the choice of base period for looking at anomalies makes no scientific difference, which may be what you are getting at. It does as you suggest convey a perceptual difference when the graphs are displayed. So were I a political strategist I’d suggest using an older period to emphasize trends and a newer period to downplay them. Such a decision necessarily must be made on nonscientific factors. There is no purely scientific answer to the question of what baseline to use.”

    What seems to be going on in the above post is that Pielke is choosing a baseline that reduces the trend (i.e. back to 1901) – in other words, as a political stragist, he is following his own advice and choosing the baseline that supports his political goal – which is apparently to get attention as a ‘noted climate skeptic’.

  80. #80 Ludwig Bohlke
    May 6, 2007

    It is very interesting that the lady from Nature in defence of Roger Pielke tells us he is the recipient of the Eduard Brueckner Prize. Now, this prize was given to Pielke by … his friend and soulmate Von Storch! See http://w3g.gkss.de/staff/storch/material/brueckner/laudatio-pielke.2006.pdf

  81. #81 Marion Delgado
    May 6, 2007

    If Tim Curtin resides somewhere where the equivalent of SLAPP torts exist, perhaps some should be investigated, if the false accusations of defamation are a persistent, intimidating pattern designed to have a chilling effect on controversy. But only if so.

    I would surmise that most places in the world if Curtin actually tried suing people for not themselves asking which edition of data someone believed but actually not deleting a comment asking which edition of data someone believed, that would be an open and shut case of barratry.

    And is that the science Curtin studied? Threats and Intimidation for Dummies?

  82. #82 Marion Delgado
    May 6, 2007

    Ludwig Bohlke:

    For that catch, I hereby award you the Prestigious Svante Arrhenius and Giordano Bruno Award for knowing stuff about climate and being persecuted by the blind sheep around you.

    This award is so prestigious, it has the word “prestigious” written on the bottom of it.

    It’s my privilege and honor to present this award. Never has such knowing stuff about climateness been combined with such attacks from people who are wrong about things. Your perseverence in the face of disagreement ranks right up there with when they burned Newton at the stake.

  83. #83 Tim Curtin
    May 7, 2007

    Lee @ #58: I have now looked at your FAO source, which appears to be quite largely fictitious, and certainly lacks basic arithmetic; my source was the Egyptian reprotage to FAO, your’s was FAO’s feverish imagination. Eg: Your’s Table 6 shows wheat yield of 1147 kg/ha on 1mn ha. for total production in 2002-03 of just 1.2 mn tonnes, but the 2nd sentence after the Table states wheat production in the same year was 6.8 mn tonnes; same for maize, 1mt from Table 6, and 6mt in the text. BTW the text output data in your source produce about the same yields for the cited areas in Table 6 as the yields in my source and cited by me to your disbelief. Please check your sources before attacking me and mine in future.

    Hank Roberts @ #61: How much more capital per ha do wheat farmers in England and the other northern Wasp countries cited by Lee deploy compared with the wretched peasantry in Egypt, not to mention the massive EU subsidies for wheat available in England etc but not in Egypt?

  84. #84 Hank Roberts
    May 7, 2007

    Dr. Curtin, I think the questions you ask are addressed further down on the same page
    http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/Y4252E/y4252e05a.htm

    “… the EU faces the additional constraint that it can increase production for export only if it can export without subsidies. A key question is, therefore, whether market conditions will be such as to make possible unsubsidized exports…..”

    See the text citing references 15 and 16

    I don’t know whether the Aswan dam subsidized irrigation for farming. But I see no way to implement that sort of change in North American winter wheat farming; the midwestern drought is ongoing, and there’s nothing like the Nile available.

  85. #85 Lee
    May 7, 2007

    Curtin,
    re 74 – I did not propose frosts “as a guarantor of higher yield.”

    I did post a badly edited post – I apologize. You might consider doing the same for misrepresenting what I said.

    US total wheat production is high, at reasonable cost, in large part because of dryland farming. With irrigation, higher yields are possible, and production in otherwise untenable regions becomes possible, but this will necessarily be limited by irrigation sources and capital and operating costs for the irrigation systems.

    If you look at the table you cited for your yield numbers, you find that there are many temperate regions that have higher yields than Egypt’s. France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, etc, all have significantly higher yields per Ha than Egypt. What your link shows is that intensive irrigated agriculture puts one country, Egypt, near or at the bottom end of temperate region yields for highly intensive wheat production. Your snide – and glaringly devoid of facts – rhetorical question about capital costs and ‘Egyption peasants’ in the last paragraph of 83 does not address this.
    Egypt’s irrigated wheat agriculture is dependent on the Aswan high dam – a significant capital expenditure – and ongoing construction of an irrigation system that has cost billions and is projected to cost 10s of billions of dollars. That water is not being delivered by ‘wretched peasants.’ Large scale irrigation is damned expensive. This is why these projects are constructed by governments – not “wretched peasantry” – and why all that I have looked at closely in the past run at highly subsidized ongoing losses when one looks at the cost of delivered water.

  86. #86 Tim Curtin
    May 7, 2007

    Lee #85.

    1. You did say that “the most productive farmlands for most of our most productive staple crops are in areas with substantial winter freezes”. When I then showed that Egypt exhibits higher yields without having such freezes (for wheat and maize) you resorted to abuse.
    2. You now say “US total wheat production is high, at reasonable cost, in large part because of dryland farming”.
    But it is subsidised, and like the subsidised EU levels, at incredibly high $ cost per hectare (relative to Egypt), which you fail to mention.
    3. Your #85 fails to apologise for your gross misreading of your source,which turned an actual yield of 6.5 kg/ha into the 1.5 that you cited here. If that is not charlatanry, what is?
    4. The Aswan High Dam was built, despite the best efforts of your previous fellow travellers in the World Bank, White House, and the UK, more than 50 years ago. It is therefore a sunk cost and such costs are immaterial by now (and anyway the loans from Uncle Joe and successors have been paid off).
    5. You still ignore the huge subsidies of the EU to wheat farmers in the countries that you mention.
    6. Your contributions tend to support my view that most everything on this site is a conspiracy against the wretched of the earth (see my website (www.timcurtin.com) for my peer-reviewed article demonstrating this in regard to so-called “illegal” logging by non-wasp countries of SE Asia and the Pacific).

  87. #87 Dano
    May 7, 2007

    Defamatory, charlatanry. My, my my. Thank you, Timmy C, for being so buffoonish I no longer worry whether your FUD will get play.

    Let us step back a moment re grain yields. Where are Europe’s breadbaskets? Is it cold there in the winter? What about North America? Cold there too? Why do we think the particular soil/climate types there are best for growing, say, wheat? Why do the commenters above look askance at assertions that arid semideserts are better for growing the world’s grain than the places that grow the world’s grain?

    And, as someone mentioned above, why do “some” say that warming will magically transform soil into wonderful grain-growing soil? Maybe because those same “some” don’t know the first thing about farming.

    Best,

    D

  88. #88 LogicallySpeaking
    May 7, 2007

    Re #86, pt. 6:

    I read your article quickly, so perhaps I missed it. However, I fail to see how that demonstrates in any way that Tim Lambert is “against the wretched of the earth”, unless he is affiliated with certain companies I’m unaware of. Regardless, there is certainly no evidence that there is an intentional cover-up (“a conspiracy”). This coming from the guy who shouted defamation at a question.

  89. #89 Aaron
    May 7, 2007

    Tim Curtin wrote, You did say that “the most productive farmlands for most of our most productive staple crops are in areas with substantial winter freezes”. When I then showed that Egypt exhibits higher yields without having such freezes (for wheat and maize) you resorted to abuse.

    Lee was talking about a general trend and you provided one counter-example as if it refutes an entire trend. It seems to me that you’re cherrypicking data to satisfy your argument.

  90. #90 Aaron
    May 7, 2007

    Lee wrote, Large scale irrigation is damned expensive.

    I got a chuckle out of that.

  91. #91 Chris O'Neill
    May 7, 2007

    Canada 2,724.30 kg/Ha

    Australia 1,987.20 kg/Ha

    Looks like that frost/snow cover does boost wheat yield.

  92. #92 Hank Roberts
    May 7, 2007

    Could we go back to the original posting?

    What’s inside the red circle here?
    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/upload/2007/05/usseipcc1901-2005.png

    Look inside the red circle.

    Look at what the figure caption says about the figure.

    Anything gray, or without a white +, is — not cooling, or not significant — am I reading this right?

    What’s cool?
    Can anyone enlarge the area in the red circle?

  93. #93 Hank Roberts
    May 7, 2007

    Sorry, meant to quote the full caption from the file, for anyone who can’t get that link to work:

    igure 3.9. Linear trend of annual temperatures for 1901 to 2005 (left; °C per century) and 1979 to 2005 (right; °C per decade). Areas in grey have insufficient data to pro-
    duce reliable trends. The minimum number of years needed to calculate a trend value is 66 years for 1901 to 2005 and 18 years for 1979 to 2005. An annual value is available
    if there are 10 valid monthly temperature anomaly values. The data set used was produced by NCDC from Smith and Reynolds (2005). Trends significant at the 5% level are
    indicated by white + marks.

  94. #94 J
    May 7, 2007

    Thus saith Tim Curtin:
    “The Aswan High Dam was built […] more than 50 years ago.”

    Actually, the high dam was completed 37 years ago, and the resulting reservoir filled to capacity 31 years ago.

    Just clarifying.

  95. #95 Aaron
    May 7, 2007

    Hank Roberts wrote, What’s inside the red circle here?

    Here’s an enlargement. There’s sufficient data inside the circle.

    http://img463.imageshack.us/img463/249/trend1901to2005ch3.png

  96. #96 richard
    May 7, 2007

    “Canada 2,724.30 kg/Ha
    Australia 1,987.20 kg/Ha
    Looks like that frost/snow cover does boost wheat yield.”

    Nah, Canuckistan growers are just better at it.

  97. #97 Hank Roberts
    May 7, 2007

    Thanks Aaron — so three squares — blue, with + marks — had over the past century a cooling trend significant at the 5% level; and four more squares had a cooling trend not significant at the 5% level.

    I wonder if that’s due to the regrowth of the forest after the previous century, or to some non-local effect. Having grown up in the South, I remember how it looked after the timber companies had finished with it and how it’s come back since.

    Much appreciate the magnification; I suspect the web page display makes the blue and the gray more similar than they ought to be for clarity. Of course, in the South they’re seen as very different colors (wry grin).

  98. #98 Hank Roberts
    May 7, 2007

    Thanks Aaron — so three squares — blue, with + marks — had over the past century a cooling trend significant at the 5% level; and four more squares had a cooling trend not significant at the 5% level.

    I wonder if that’s due to the regrowth of the forest after the previous century, or to some non-local effect. Having grown up in the South, I remember how it looked after the timber companies had finished with it and how it’s come back since.

    Much appreciate the magnification; I suspect the web page display makes the blue and the gray more similar than they ought to be for clarity. Of course, in the South they’re seen as very different colors (wry grin).

  99. #99 Lee
    May 7, 2007

    re 89, Aaron. As near as I can tell, Curtin is cherry picking the ONE possible counterexample.

    re 86,Curtin,

    1. Actually, Egypt does NOT have higher yields than other intensive production temperate areas. I’ve shown this, but you keep repeating the claim anyhow. The phrase “areas with substantial winter freezes” refers to AREAS with substantial winter freezes. That is why I used the word “areas.” Temperate zones, that is. The wheat belts and corn belts actually. It is a combination of appropriate annual temperatures, soils, rainfall, seasonality, etc, that make it easy and relatively cheap to engage in large scale, low cost dryland or minimally-irrigated farming of such crops. Production outside those zones is much higher cost. It is possible, but it is dependent on very high cost capital investment – which is pretty much the point in discussing the impact of AGW and shifting ag zones, isn’t it?

    2. Wheat production in the US and Europe is subsidized, yes. But so is that in Egypt, at VERY high levels – at the tens of billions in the irrigation system developments alone, for example – which you seem to have decided not to mention in your replies after I made that point.

    3. Why on earth should I apologize for finding a citation that disagrees with the one you used, especially when you failed to cite the one you used? And even more so, when examination of additional data from the one you used actually shows that your ‘example’ is cherry picked, and that appropriate comparisons to other high-intensive ag systems show results that are different from what you claimed?

    4. Sunk costs or no, the fact is that large scale irrigation systems are very, very expensive both to build and to operate. I made this point, you largely ignored it, other than your largely-irrelevant ‘point’ that one such cost in one case was incurred some time ago. Just as one example, the last time I looked at the issue closely a decade or more ago, the California State Water Project and Federal Water Project between them consumed about the full-time output of a nuclear power plant, just to operate the pumping plants for the water system. Irrigation at that scale is NOT cheap, and much of that cost is absorbed by the governments and constitutes a very large ongoing cost necessary to make such large-scale irrigated agriculture possible at all.

    5. re price subsidies – I “failed” to mention them, because they are largely irrelevant to this question. They alter market pricing and planting decisions, but not the basic ability to grow commodity foodstuffs at reasonable costs.

    6. You say “Your contributions tend to support my view that most everything on this site is a conspiracy against the wretched of the earth.” I (seeing no reason in the face of this kind of petty but vile falsehood to be polite, and therefore being blunt) say you are a despicable lying little fuck. Are you trying to imply that my statement that it is expensive to grow wheat in a hot desert climate means that I want the Egyptians “peasantry” to go hungry? How in the hell does a discussion of the costs and potential of commodity agriculture POSSIBLY support your accusation? It doesn’t – you are simply casting for a way to discredit rather than respond to the points, and attempting it by casting vile false accusations. Don’t bother to apologize.

  100. #100 Lee
    May 8, 2007

    dammit, my response to Curtin’s #4 lost a sentence in editing. A good part of the electricity used in pumping – but a long way from all of it – is recovered in generating plants at the downhill side of the uphill runs. The point is the massive infrastructure necessary for irrigation systems at this scale.

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