There has been a major dust-up in the climate denialist world. A study published in late July made false claims and was methodologically flawed, but still managed to get published in a peer reviewed journal. The Editor-in-Chief of that journal has resigned to symbolically take responsibility for the journal’s egregious error of publishing what is essentially a fake scientific paper, and to “protest against how the authors [and others] have much exaggerated the paper’s conclusions” taking to task the University of Alabama’s press office, Forbes, Fox News and others.

Let me break it down for you

The paper, by Spencer and Braswell, was called “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” and it made the claim that the Earth’s atmosphere releases more heat into space than climate scientists had estimated, thus removing concern about the warming effects of fossil CO2 being released into the atmosphere. The following things were also true:

1) The paper was published in a journal, Remote Sensing, that normally does not address climate science, although there were some atmospheric scientists on the editorial board.

2) The authors, in particular Spencer, had a reputation for being “climate change denialists” which is not a kind of scientist, but rather, a politically motivated contrarian pretending to be a scientist, in this case with some scientific credentials.

3) Author Spencer was known to have made major mistakes in his research in the past.

4) The research in the paper had glaring errors, discussed in more detail below.

At the time, I wrote in a Research Blogging review of the paper:

“On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” is a big ol’ bunch of hooey. I eagerly await an explanation from the journal’s editors, Dr. Wolfgang Wagner and Mr. Elvis Wang and the editorial board as to what they are up to with this paper.

Dr. Wagner’s resignation as Editor-in-Chief, which is available in print here (pdf), is a rather startling and definitive explanation! In short, the paper should never have been published.

What was wrong with the paper?

There were two major things wrong with the paper. First, the conclusion that the Earth’s atmosphere could not heat up with extra CO2 contradicted the very important facts that the Earth’s atmosphere has heated up and this heating up correlates to increases in atmospheric CO2 very much in the manner expected if the “greenhouse model” was correct. In addition, the basic idea of a greenhouse effect is pretty simple, solid, and well understood science. If something other than the greenhouse effect was happening, that would be major news.

But that sort of “flaw” — a claim that contradicts what we are very certain of — could be a virtue. A paper contradicting what everyone knows to be true would be brilliant, an amazing discovery, the stuff of awards and accolades. But, unfortunately for the paper’s hapless authors, there were other things wrong with it as well.

The numerical results presented in the paper lack statistical significance, but this is hard to detect because error bars or estimates of statistical uncertainty are presented poorly or left out. The methods used in the paper are not described well enough to verify that they could work.

When these results were examined more closely they were found to be not replicable.

The statistical strangeness of the results are explained in part by looking at the scale at which the work is being done. Standard climate models look at climate variables over various time scales from less than a decade to centuries of time. The Spencer and Braswell research inappropriately mixed time scales in a way that seems to have given them results they were looking for rather than a valid finding.

What they did, essentially, was watch a car veering towards the curb because it was trying to avoid hitting a cat, extrapolating the direction that car was moving at that moment to predict a long term pattern (which would put the car in a neighbor’s back yard rather than grocery store, where it was actually going).

In this case, Spenser and Braswell used observational data from a short time period (veering around the cat) in a model involving long term variation (the whole drive to the grocery store averaging out all the little backs and forths one effects while driving anywhere).

Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo exposed this aspect of the work’s flawed nature in an essay posted here on Real Climate. The flaws of the paper are also discussed here and here.

Clearly the research was flawed. Likely, it was intentionally flawed to support an unscientific politically motivated denialist view. This would make the paper a scientific fraud. As Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Dr. Wolfgang Wagner might have seen himself a little like a bank manager who accidentally left the vault open so crooks could steal the gold, thus his resignation. But how much of a failure of the peer review process was this?

There is another element at work here, I think, that should be considered. Remote Sensing is one of a new breed of journal, called “Open Access” which has a very different model for how journals should work. It is, frankly, the much preferred model over the traditional way things are published, but the fight between “closed” and “open” styles of publishing has been rather vitriolic. Indeed, the term “Open Access” uttered in some academic settings will produce sneers and disgusted looks among those who don’t understand what it is or how it works. And, to make things worse, it may even be the case that there are some commercial Open Access journals that are over-commercialized (though I have no credible evidence of this at hand … it is just something that “people say” as far as I know).

Had a major well established traditional “Closed Access” journal published this paper, it is possible that the Editor-in-Chief of that journal would not have resigned just because of a major dust-up over one paper. However, in this case, it may have been necessary because of the somewhat tenuous nature of this sort of publishing venture. Dr. Wagner does not explicitly state this in his resignation but he does make direct reference to the challenges of earning a good reputation in the scientific publishing field and the qualities of the two and a half year old journal.

In the end, the peer review processed worked because a paper clearly recognized as something that should not have been published has been rather spectacularly identified as such with this resignation, which is published in the very same journal in the form of an editorial. It could make sense to also withdraw the paper but it may be the case that there is no mechanism for this. And, this is the scientific literature after all. The paper is a testament to the efforts, worthy or not, of its authors. It should stay there amid the literature surrounding it, for posterity.

There is an explanation for why this paper was published that applies generally to all bad papers as well as to good papers. The peer review process is designed to meet several different objectives. Relevant to the present case are two of them: 1) Filtering out true drek — A zoology journal would not even consider the latest summary of bigfoot sightings from the north woods, and a medical journal would not even consider a study comparing different ways to make healing solutions from homeopathic crystals; and 2) Ensuring the quality of the research itself, methodologically, logically, substantively, and so on with carefully done and thoughtfully managed peer critique.

The first objective is sometimes summarily met by editors who simply do not consider manuscripts that are inappropriate, or by reviewers to whom the manuscripts are sent. When one receives a manuscript there is the option to return it unreviewed or with a note that it is out of range for the publication being considered. (This step is often avoided by sending potential reviewers an abstract, asking if they would be able and available to conduct a review.) The second objective is met by having appropriate reviewers … people who know the relevant specialty and literature very well … carefully go over the paper and critique it, and along with the detailed critique, provide a recommendation about publication.

In this case, according to Dr. Wagner’s resignation letter, three reviewers looked at the paper and had only minor criticisms. Given that this paper is deeply flawed, this means that either the reviewers did not really look closely at the paper (meaning, frankly, that they did not do their jobs) or they are also climate denialists and this was all some sort of conspiracy. I can think of no other alternatives to explain this pattern.

How likely is it that a given reviewer would simply glance at a paper, pretend to have read it carefully, and send back a poorly done review having ignored the details? This is not likely but I would guess that it does happen. What are the chances that three reviewers would do the same thing, by random chance? Very very unlikely, but it is also possible that all the oxygen molecules in a room could randomly migrate to one corner, suffocating everyone present. Well, OK, the latter is significantly more unlikely, but the chance of three poorly done reviews happening at once for a paper is not large.

If there happen to be three bogus reviews from slacker reviewers, one would expect the editor managing the paper to notice this. There would be signs. The editors read the papers and must have some idea of the quality of the reviewers’ critiques when they come back.

However, there is another way that this could happen, if an editor is not really on top of the game, a way that reviewers (or some subset of them) end up providing an inappropriately positive ranking for a paper on purpose. The authors could have submitted the paper to an inappropriate journal but made a reasonable argument that the journal should publish it anyway. That leaves open the possibility of the authors writing their own ticket for passage through the peer review process.

Many journals allow, or even encourage, authors to submit names of potential reviewers. For that matter, authors can submit names of people who either should not review a paper, or if they do, should be watched closely by the editors because of potential bias against the authors. This is a reasonable and even necessary part of the peer review process because there are factions and there is infighting in science, and there are historical quibbles or institutional rivalries or other similar cultural phenomena that should not stand in the way of science, and need to be worked around by sensitive and thoughtful editors.

It is quite possible that this paper was submitted to a journal that wouldn’t quite know how to handle it, along with “helpful” information of the kind that in other cases might have been, well, helpful, but in this case served to derail the normally earnest and honest process of peer review. That something like this happened was certainly on my mind when I first saw this paper in this journal. Since certain parts of the process of review are kept confidential (for good reasons) we may never know this. Ultimately, though, Dr. Wagner may have felt that the gate-keeping (in a good way) function of the editorial staff was inadequate, and thus his very powerfully symbolic resignation.

ResearchBlogging.orgIt is possible, I suppose, that the research in Spencer and Braswell’s “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance“, way down deep beneath the trickery, the bad methodology, and the scandalous politically motivated lack of scientific rigor has in iota of scientific merit. If so, this paper is on the table and available for examination, and the hypotheses embodied there could be further considered by climate scientists.

As you know, I’ve just started blogging at a second venue, called “The X Blog.” I’m going to use this opportunity to put a list of links related to Wagner’s resignation and the demise of Spencer and Braswell’s credibility over there.

Sources:

Spencer, R., & Braswell, W. (2011). On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance Remote Sensing, 3 (8), 1603-1613 DOI: 10.3390/rs3081603

Wagner, Wolfgang. (2011). Taking Responsibility on Publishing the Controversial Paper “On the Misdiagnosis of Surface Temperature Feedbacks from Variations in Earth’s Radiant Energy Balance” by Spencer and Braswell. Remote Sensing 2011, 3, 2002-2004; doi:10.3390/rs3092002

Comments

  1. #1 Joe Hern
    September 2, 2011

    It’s too bad this happens, because the people most likely to run off with the fake story are those who wish it to be true: Fundamentalist Christians (FC’s). I know, I used to be one. And by practice, FC’s deliberately maintain a closed community of contact, only looking to the outside for secular ideas (science) that support their beliefs (thus giving them a false perception that they are not closed off), then re-circulate the later-to-be-debunked story/finding among their faithful for years to come, and continue to block out any disconfirming information from the outside. So, like the prayer study, they will only talk about the original flawed study for years to come, and be ignorant of the scientific process that discovered the original story to be bunk and published that debunking article.

    It is why FC’s look ridiculous when years after being debunked, they are using those debunked stories or concepts thrown around their churches all those years that necessarily cut them off from the real world out here, to try and ‘argue’ with ‘worldly’ people. They then take the scoffing that necessarily occurs, and call it Christian persecution.

  2. #2 Gordon Andelin
    September 2, 2011

    Greg,

    All I want to know is if you have any evidence other than temperature proxies and GCM’s to support your position. I’ve looked thru all sides of this issue and see no empirical evidence to support your warmist ideas.

    Gordon Andelin

  3. #3 Greg Laden
    September 2, 2011

    Gordon, are you asking if there is any evidence for global warming other than increased temperatures and the scientific measurement and modeling thereof?

  4. #4 Gordon Andelin
    September 2, 2011

    Please don’t insult yourself by evading the questions. Do you have empirical proof? If so, please provide it.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    September 2, 2011

    Gordon, the proof that temperatures have gone up is that … well, temperatures have gone up. The proof that it is linked to CO2 is the basic well established science behind green house gasses and the straight forward measurement of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    I’m wondering, if when you use terms like “proxy” you are trying to fool people wh don’t know much about this stuff into not trusting basic scientific data. You do know, right, that when you read a thermometer nailed to a post outside y

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    September 2, 2011

    … continued … your home, you are reading a proxy of temperature?

  7. #7 Rattus Norvegicus
    September 2, 2011

    Greg,

    I see a few problems at work here:

    1) This journal was marginal for this paper. They should have rejected it as inappropriate immediately.
    2) Per the journal’s policy Spencer had to provide a list of 5 potential reviewers. I think you could come up with a list of 5 potential reviewers (starting with Lindzen…) who would all look favorably on this paper.
    3) Not being familiar with this particular debate reviewers who are specialists in the earth energy budget field (such as Trenberth). I think this was the hole that Spencer was trying to exploit.
    4) Reviews come back generally positive and Spencer deals with the criticisms. Paper gets (rightly so, as Wagner says) the green light.

    The caca hits the air movement device when:

    1) UAH issues a presser overhyping the results.
    2) Targeted press outlets overhype the results.
    3) Scientists who are actually familiar with this specialty take the paper, rather convincingly, to task. Trenberth in particular was able to point to a 2007 paper which brought the results into question, the results of which were not addressed in the Spencer paper. (Fatal flaw).

    Wagner seems to feel that he got taken for a ride by factors 1 and 2 in the in the first list and then was used by the authors for factors 1 and 2 in the second list. He was honorable enough to realize after reading the literature on this subject to realize that he had been taken for a ride. I suspect there is some backstory to this that we will never know having to do with MPDI management…

    As far as for sale open access journals, take a look at Bentham Science. They recently published a rather gruesome exercise in curve fitting by Lohle and Scafetta and have developed quite a reputation for publishing anyone who will pay the page fees.

    And as you well know there are some very good open access publishers, PLoS One and associated journals being a well regarded example, especially in biology.

  8. #8 dogmatichaos
    September 3, 2011

    Gordon, here’s a good breakdown of temperature measurements:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998-intermediate.htm

    The EPA’s got a more elementary breakdown:

    http://epa.gov/climatechange/indicators/slideshow.html?placeValuesBeforeTB_=savedValues&TB_iframe=true&height=550&width=800

    NASA’s got a good list of reference papers:

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/GlobalWarming/page7.php

    If those are not good enough. What would you accept as evidence?

    Greg, love the blog. I saw this one single paper in my local conservative newspaper. Then I sought it make the rounds shortly after on every conceivable right-wing denialist outlet.

    Imagine if every paper that confirmed the consensus on global warming got half the coverage?

  9. #9 Neil
    September 3, 2011

    That some open access publishers are sharks is clear. I get multiple invitations every month to be on the board of journals published by these sharks – they don’t care whether I have relevant expertise or not. They require that members of the board submit to the journal at least once per year, and pay near $1k ‘submission fee’. They publish rubbish (or in a few cases, nothing at all). But there are plenty of good open access journals (PLoS, for instance).

  10. #10 Vitis01
    September 3, 2011

    Yes, but do you have any other evidence besides the evidence you have??

  11. #11 Doug Bostrom
    September 3, 2011

    Please don’t insult yourself by evading the questions. Do you have empirical proof? If so, please provide it.

    This post doesn’t seem to be about fundamentals, it’s about a sad story having to do with a journal that has been bamboozled. Did you notice?

    Anyway, assuming you’re not just trying to change the topic and divert discussion from the post topic, learn more about anthropogenic global warming by visiting Dr. Spencer Weart’s comprehensive Discovery of Global Warming. It’s on the web, a permanent feature of the American Institute of Physics: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/index.htm

  12. #12 Remo
    September 3, 2011

    About a month ago you pointed out the paper and said quite prophetically that it was a bunch of crock.

    While I agreed that your analysis was most likely correct, and being reasonably well versed in the subject matter, I decided to give it a read. Based on my recollection, I believe you overstate one point where you state:

    “First, the conclusion that the Earth’s atmosphere could not heat up with extra CO2″

    My recollection is that the paper gave a pretty standard start with:

    1. CO2 will heat up the Earth’s atmosphere,

    2. The amount of temperature rise will be based on the forcing by CO2 plus or minus the feedback loops.

    (Feedbacks loops either increase the temperature by more than would be expected by C02 alone, or have a negative feedback below the expected value. (While mathematically possible to have a negative feedback strong enough to actually decrease the temperature, my opinion is such a result would be practically impossible in a system driven solely by CO2 forcing per Spencer, et al’s, modeling.))

    3. They then blamed clouds for lack of accuracy in satellite data (why do they always use the excuse of clouds?), come up with an LRC Circuit equivalent by adding in thermal mass, and come to the conclusion that their model fits the data better than the IRC without having to have a large climate sensitivity to C02.

    So, in other words, I think you did not correctly analyze the paper’s conclusion. I think a better phrasing would be that the paper concluded that more data and analysis is needed before it can be determined how much warming is caused by CO2 and how much is caused by environmental noise from clouds. (Basically BS, just kicking the ball down the field).

    ……………………………

    My own analysis was that I could find no internal flaws with the paper (which is probably the reason it got by the review board), but I did have some significant questions which the review board missed such as:

    A. This is a pretty extraordinary claim for a pretty skimpy paper. (Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence). This journal is about remote sensing, but the paper is not about remote sensing, but instead about challenging the accuracy of remote sensing using environmental model, not data per se.

    B. One would expect those boneheads at NSAA and the NOAA to program the satellites to parse through cloud problems. I mean clouds do give a different IR signature, don’t they?

    C. The system modeling used is pretty simple, wouldn’t someone else have done it already and come up with these rather unusual results.

    D. What, indeed, is the data that they’re basing the paper on?

    At this point my personal conclusion was that Spencer, et al, were probably crackpots. But not being an atmospheric scientist and being without access to how the satellites were programed, or the raw data itself, I decided to let someone.

    ……………………

    I’ll give 10 points to anyone who can explain why this NASA Earth observatory picture of the day is so red on the west coast. The picture looks at long wave IR radiation — the same type used by the Spencer, et al, paper. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=51848 It has been cold all summer. My kids keep trying to turn on the heat. The picture is quite interesting, but NASA’s explanation is a little off.

    Specifically, on the date in question July 22, 2011, I was in Santa Cruz, CA, which is on the north side of Monterey Bay, just south of the San Francisco Bay Area. There are a ton of Redwood trees in the area, i.e., lot’sa foliage. It was not a hot day.

    Oh, here is a NASA picture for temperature for that week http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=51617 . Like I said, it has been cold.

  13. #13 charlotte
    September 3, 2011

    But the climate gate emails showed the reality , they rigged the peer review , kept real science out , rigged the computer code and even stated its not about science it political It is impossible to predict chaotic theory with models which is what climate is , they did not even take into account the normal climate and it is also impossible to measure all the c02 in the oceans which is where most of it is stored , and not counting live volcanoes ? what a racket .

  14. #14 Sven Türpe
    September 3, 2011

    You spent too many words on a barely relevant matter. There is no reason to be pissed about a bad paper unless you are a reader of the journal it appeared in. The only purpose of peer review is to improve the signal-noise ratio for the reader, making a journal more useful. Peer review will never be perfect an deliminate all noise. And it does not have to. Our knowledge is not what has been published in scientific journals, our knowledge is what remains relevant. If the paper is as bad as you write it is, and I have no reason to doubt that, it cannot matter in the long run. What is your motivation for not simply ignoring something that must, to the best of your knowledge, remain irrelevant and become forgotten soon?

  15. #15 radioredrafts
    September 3, 2011

    It’s an interesting fact that if you graph CO2 level, temperature, human population, use of technology, travel, sea level, pollution from fossil fuels, and energy consumption, all these graphs will have lines that show an increase since the start of the Industrial Revolution, and several for the past fifty years will look like hockey sticks.

    Coincidence? Not impossible, but rather unlikely.

  16. #16 Chris O'Neill
    September 3, 2011

    Gordon Andelin:

    I’ve looked thru all sides of this issue and see no empirical evidence to support your warmist ideas.

    The empirical evidence is very plain: CO2, H2O and other gases absorb IR as empirically determined in the lab. Most of the exiting greenhouse effect comes from H2O and there is no reason to believe that will not continue as the CO2 increases.

  17. #17 Joe Hern
    September 3, 2011

    I am not an atmospheric scientist either, but I will provide the information I received a few years ago in my liberal college (read, not fundamentalist Christian college), named the Ohio State University, that caused me to recognize, as a layman, why it seems more likely that Global Warming is occurring due to our CO2 levels.

    It was a graph which I can’t reproduce here, but it was based on polar ice core readings (pioneered by none other than an OSU researcher) which are demonstrably very good records of when and how intense CO2 levels were going back several hundreds of years. There is a rise and fall (cycle) of CO2 level throughout history which correlates exactly (on such a geographic scale) with the global temperature rises and drops being slightly delayed (again, on a geographical scale) behind CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    This goes on up until we get to the mid 1700′s, when we start putting CO2 into the air with our industrial age, where at first a gradual introduction of extra CO2 slowly raises the temperature peaks along with it, and the drops are not as deep.

    But then as we progress past 1900, the natural CO2 peaks and valleys stay the same, but human cause of CO2 begins to spike VERY high, where CO2 readings show the CO2 levels off-the-charts so to speak, spiking exponentially higher than they ever have in the past… and guess where the temperature bar is…?

    On a upswing, exactly where ii should be if it is to follow suit with the CO2 levels and spike straight upward along with CO2 like it ALWAYS, 100% of the time, has in the past.

    In other words, even if it is UNPROVEN, there is SUCH good reason to take it seriously and plan for it even if it turns out not to be true. The levels and related temperature projection is terrifying.\

  18. #18 Joe Hern
    September 3, 2011

    I am not an atmospheric scientist either, but I will provide the information I received a few years ago in my liberal college (read, not fundamentalist Christian college), named the Ohio State University, that caused me to recognize, as a layman, why it seems more likely that Global Warming is occurring due to our CO2 levels.

    It was a graph which I can’t reproduce here, but it was based on polar ice core readings (pioneered by none other than an OSU researcher) which are demonstrably very good records of when and how intense CO2 levels were going back several hundreds of years. There is a rise and fall (cycle) of CO2 level throughout history which correlates exactly (on such a geographic scale) with the global temperature rises and drops being slightly delayed (again, on a geographical scale) behind CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    This goes on up until we get to the mid 1700′s, when we start putting CO2 into the air with our industrial age, where at first a gradual introduction of extra CO2 slowly raises the temperature peaks along with it, and the drops are not as deep.

    But then as we progress past 1900, the natural CO2 peaks and valleys stay the same, but human cause of CO2 begins to spike VERY high, where CO2 readings show the CO2 levels off-the-charts so to speak, spiking exponentially higher in recent years than they ever have in the past… and guess where the temperature bar is…?

    On an upswing, exactly where it should be if it is to follow suit with the CO2 levels and spike straight upward along with CO2 like it ALWAYS, 100% of the time, has in the past.

    In other words, even if it is UNPROVEN, there is SUCH good reason to take it seriously and plan for it even if it turns out not to be true. The levels and related temperature projection is terrifying.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    September 3, 2011

    Remo, I don’t agree at all. The paper may have a few words in the beginning that give some credit to the idea that the greenhouse effect is theoretically real but it then proceeds to make the case that what is thought to be warming is not, and to explain this.

    Please go back to my original post and see why the claim is being made by me and others that the paper is wrong.

  20. #20 Greg Laden
    September 3, 2011

    You spent too many words on a barely relevant matter. There is no reason to be pissed about a bad paper unless you are a reader of the journal it appeared in.

    Then I’m OK, because I “read journals” … all of them. Not every paper in every one, but journals, generally. Thefore I am a reader of the journal it appeared in. So therefore I have your permission to be pissed! Thank you very much.

    Peer review will never be perfect an deliminate all noise. And it does not have to

    That is true to some extent but there is a limit. Parents are supposed to reduce the noise of their children too, but we give them a lot of slack. Yet, there are limits even to that and occasionally parents do in fact, under social expectation and as part of normative behavior, walk out of the conference hall with the screaming toddler so that all the people who paid to see the talk can do so.

    In this case, your concern that nothing happened here is firmly obviated by the actual resignation of an actual Editor-in-Chief. That weakens your claim that this is all normal and every day and of no consequence. Which, in turn, is the point of the words I spent on this matter.

    I do admit the essay could be tightened up a bit but you are doing little more than producing a distraction here, I’m afraid. I wonder why.

    it cannot matter in the long run. What is your motivation for not simply ignoring something that must, to the best of your knowledge, remain irrelevant and become forgotten soon?

    My motivation is stated in the first sentence.

  21. #21 Gordon Andelin
    September 3, 2011

    You are so typical. Nothing of what you just said is empirical proof of anything.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    September 3, 2011

    And you do get that you are the perfect denialist, right? You don’t
    like something, like “higher temperature is higher temperature” so you
    stomp you feet and whine and cry and say “IS NOT IS NOT”???

    You make me laugh. At you, not with you.

  23. #23 Gordon Andelin
    September 3, 2011

    Laugh all you want. Your movement is dying on the vine. Phil Jones even said there has been no warming since 1995. Where have you been?

  24. #24 Greg Laden
    September 3, 2011

    Phil Jones has made the claim that global warming is for real and warming is for real. Your statement about his “no aarming since 1995″ is a very serious bit of misquoting and cherry picking. He was asked by a rather aggressive interviewer if he could show a statistical significance of temp. change over a certain five year (or so) period, and of course, you can’t.

    Think of it this way: If you measure your own body weight over a few weeks, will there be a statistically significant change over that time? Almost certainly not, ever, for most normal humans who don’t get an amputation or something. However, do people grow much larger or much smaller over time, as they eat more or diet a lot or whatever? Yes.

    Nice try, but you are once again quite wrong, Gorodn.

  25. #25 StevoR
    September 3, 2011

    @Gordon Andelin | September 3, 2011 10:17 AM :

    Laugh all you want. Your movement is dying on the vine. Phil Jones even said there has been no warming since 1995. Where have you been?

    Please watch this :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cp-iB6jwjUc&list=PL029130BFDC78FA33&index=34&feature=plpp

    informative youtube video or read this :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Phil-Jones-says-no-global-warming-since-1995.htm

    Also note from that site :

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-global-warming.htm

    answers your original and repeated demand – and plenty of other evidence is all around if you do a few minutes research.

  26. #26 Turboblocke
    September 3, 2011

    Gronod sounds like another “citizen auditor” suffering from DK syndrome.

  27. #27 Jason Thibeault
    September 3, 2011

    The problem is, as usual, not that there’s insufficient empirical evidence to prove that global warming is happening — it most assuredly is happening, and there most assuredly is abundant evidence, itemized in the lists @25. The problem is we’re dealing with people who not only move the goalposts for convincing them that the science is the science and that the temperature is the temperature — they don’t even have goalposts at all. They’ve disassembled their goalposts and no amount of perfect field kicks will ever score. They’ve decided it’s not happening, and they’ll keep screaming “there’s no empirical evidence” even if we were to compile all the evidence in heavy binders and drop them one at a time on their heads.

  28. #28 Jason Thibeault
    September 3, 2011

    Since it’s grossly unlikely any denialist will actually click those links, I’ll take the liberty of pasting a blockquote from the BBC interview with Phil Jones explaining the statistical significance problem of “no warming since 1995″.

    BBC: Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming

    Phil Jones: Yes, but only just. I also calculated the trend for the period 1995 to 2009. This trend (0.12C per decade) is positive, but not significant at the 95% significance level. The positive trend is quite close to the significance level. Achieving statistical significance in scientific terms is much more likely for longer periods, and much less likely for shorter periods.

    BBC: How confident are you that warming has taken place and that humans are mainly responsible?

    Phil Jones: I’m 100% confident that the climate has warmed. As to the second question, I would go along with IPCC Chapter 9 – there’s evidence that most of the warming since the 1950s is due to human activity.

    Emphasis mine.

  29. #29 Ender93
    September 3, 2011

    I’m wondering, is there a Global Warming Awareness Day? I mean I know there is Earth day, but maybe something more specific to global warming? If not, I think we should make an attempt to organize one, and on that day spam all denialist boards with rebuttals to all 3 major “proofs” they have against global warming (they are, if you don’t know, climate-gate, last month’s article that is refuted above, and Phil Jone’s quote that was misinterpreted). I’ve never seen a denialist argument that wasn’t centered around at least one of the above, and right now we have undeniable evidence that refutes all of those (Michael Mann’s vindication, cloud-gate, and the real quote from Phil Jones). It’ll be much better to make a coordinated effort than to sporadically attack as a lone wolf and be driven away by shouts of “NO IT’S NOT. NO IT’S NOT.”

  30. #30 Mal Adapted
    September 3, 2011

    Mr. Andelin sounds like an evidence junkie.

    The recommended response to the evidence junkie is to demand evidence for their own claims. So, Gordon: what evidence can you give us that you’ve “looked thru all sides of this issue”?

  31. #31 morganism
    September 3, 2011

    and don’t forget, the THREE satellites that could have showed the complete evidence for atmosphere warming have all failed on launch. at least 2 of them were by ULA, and had identical skirt/fairing failures. the other one out of Vandenburg,with a questionable check out failure.

    another one going up next month. lets see if it gets to orbit.

    there have been some questions…..

  32. #32 Neil Bates
    September 3, 2011

    To me, the most curious thing about denying that the Earth’s atmosphere could not or did not heat up from *extra* CO2 is that concept being incongruous with the basic idea that there is known to be a basic “greenhouse effect” of a planet’s surface being warmer due to an atmosphere than if it had none – and experimentally verified, true? Most people don’t realize that technically, the “greenhouse effect” means that basic effect, rather than *mean* a specific claim of how much more or what response curve and possible feedbacks, randomness etc. affect final result of given state and/or changes.

    Furthermore, if you realize that if there were no CO2 at all the atmosphere would have to be cooler, then there has to be some baseline response curve (like the generally accepted logarithmic curve of X degrees C per doubling.) The only question is, “how much” and how in combination with other effects (forcing factor etc.)

    Finally, radiative balance is not the same issue as whether the Earth is getting warmer on average over a long time scale. Indeed, a warmer or colder planet “in radiative balance” would stay the same temperature, it’s not the same issue as “change.” If the Earth radiated less or more than it received in any significant way, the temperature change would be dramatic and more defined over time. I don’t think you’d expect to see radiation budget changes well enough to account for a few tenths of degree C average per decade, true? So the premise of the paper is basically misframed, correct?

  33. #33 TMLutas
    September 3, 2011

    The paper does not seem to have been retracted.

    As I understand things, the usual scenario when things go badly wrong with a paper submission, the paper gets retracted. Only after the retraction, or simultaneously with that retraction are there any resignations. This does not seem to be the chain of events here.

    How often does this sequence happen?

  34. #34 Greg Laden
    September 3, 2011

    TMLutas, I’m pretty sure that is not true. First, retractions are usually done by authors or with the author’s involvement. Second, I can’t think of an editor resigning because of such a retraction though I may simply be remembering wrong.

    Having an editor admit that a paper should not have been published is rare but it happens: Usually related to creationism or denialism of some kind, as is the case here. Again, resignation of the editor is fairly rare. Do you know of any cases?

    I’m sure the authors do not want to retract this paper. And, they will write similar papers in the future and try to get them published.

  35. #35 Chris O'Neill
    September 3, 2011

    Gordon Andelin:

    Nothing of what you just said is empirical proof of anything.

    Since you deny the emprically observed absorption of IR by CO2, first measured by John Tyndall 150 years ago and re-measured many times since, the only logical name for your behaviour is science denialist.

  36. #36 JMurphy
    September 4, 2011

    Phil Jones has, of course, updated his comment with regard to the statistical significance of the current warming :

    “The trend over the period 1995-2009 was significant at the 90% level, but wasn’t significant at the standard 95% level that people use,” Professor Jones told BBC News.

    “Basically what’s changed is one more year [of data]. That period 1995-2009 was just 15 years – and because of the uncertainty in estimating trends over short periods, an extra year has made that trend significant at the 95% level which is the traditional threshold that statisticians have used for many years.

    “It just shows the difficulty of achieving significance with a short time series, and that’s why longer series – 20 or 30 years – would be a much better way of estimating trends and getting significance on a consistent basis.”

    But those who misunderstood/misquoted/misinterpreted/ the original quote will not be interested sadly.

  37. #37 jimspice
    September 5, 2011

    Isn’t there a way to just summarily respond to deniers bringing up the same ridiculous points over and over and over again. Perhaps just a brief link to one of the excellent stock answer sites? That or just ignore them?

  38. #38 Birger Johansson
    September 5, 2011

    Advice for dealing with deniers: Offer them a journey to the glaciers in Scandinavia / Alaska and let them see for themselves how much the glaciers have shrunk the last decades. Or let them see how much apine tundra that has been transformed into woodland in a short while.

  39. #39 Midnight Rambler
    September 5, 2011

    How likely is it that a given reviewer would simply glance at a paper, pretend to have read it carefully, and send back a poorly done review having ignored the details? This is not likely but I would guess that it does happen.

    Hahahahahahaha…Greg, I’m guessing that you haven’t reviewed any papers for journals that send the reviews to the reviewers as well as the authors? Because many of the ones I review for do, so I’ve seen the results. And I can tell you that when you have three reviewers, the chances that one will give it a pass and completely very serious flaws is nearly 100%. One paper used different naming conventions in the captions of photos and the labels on the photos themselves, but the other reviewer didn’t even notice that.

    The chances of all three being so careless is obviously much lower, but throw in one or two who are recommended and therefore friendly, and their odds are dramatically improved. Some journals may only use two reviewers in the first place, so that makes it easier as well.

  40. #40 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2011

    Midnight, we know for a fact that three reviewers were used, and we know what the summary sentence is for what each reviewer said, so we don’t need any conjecture there.

    The chance that any one reviewer actually liked the paper for valid reasons I set at zero because it is impossible. The chance that someone “passed” it because they never really looked at it is non zero, the chance that a reviewer “passed” it as part of a conspiracy is non zero. So, some combination off the two is likely.

    Greg, I’m guessing that you haven’t reviewed any papers for journals that send the reviews to the reviewers as well as the authors? Because many of the ones I review for do, so I’ve seen the results.

    I’ve reviewed a lot of papers, but I’ve got to say, I’m not sure that I’ve seen that ever as part of the normal routine. That might have to do with the nature of the disciplines; these tings do vary across disciplines.

    I have been asked to do special reviews a number of times where I get the reviews done previously and I’m supposed to help settle some question or convert, say, vitriolic reviews that are obviously biased or ad hom. but that include valid points, into something an author and editors can use (and add my own review). For this reason, it is possible that I’ve gotten copies of other reviews but that is not standing out in my memory.

    By the way, FWIW, I don’t think I’ve ever done a review where I did not uncloak myself to the extent allowed/possible. I think the ability to be anonymous is more important than actually being anonymous.

  41. #41 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2011

    They should all be required to clime Mount Kilimanjaro during those periods when the mountain is “closed” because what is left of the glaciers are falling off the side of the mountains.

  42. #42 tony
    September 5, 2011

    “Laugh all you want. Your movement is dying on the vine. Phil Jones even said there has been no warming since 1995. Where have you been?”

    Gordon, if you were intellectually honest, you would at this point withdraw the claim that Phil Jones admitted there has been no warming after 1995 since Greg, Jason and StevoR have provided evidence debunking your claim. But I don’t expect that you will.

  43. #43 Juice
    September 5, 2011

    Hasn’t it been well established that deforestation in the lands surrounding Kilimanjaro is the cause of the ice cap retreat, not global warming? The temperature up there has not increased and remains well below freezing. The moisture that makes it up there is decreasing because of deforestation. So when are you planning your hiking trip, Greg?

  44. #44 Neil B.
    September 5, 2011

    Juice: perhaps the deicing of Mt. K is not from increased CO2 after all, but any general trend would be expected to have additional events including counter moves, coincidental changes for other causes, etc. BTW, the is less CO2 above a high mountain to absorb IR anyway.

  45. #45 dean
    September 5, 2011

    They are melting in Peru (and Bolivia, and Columbia, and Ecuador, and Venezuela) also Juice – what are you going to cobble together in a lame attempt to explain that?

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17113441/ns/us_news-environment/t/perus-mountain-glaciers-are-melting-away/#.TmU2Oxz5xTc

  46. #46 Greg Laden
    September 5, 2011

    Juice, no, not at all. I assume you are referring to Kaser et al 2004. There is a reasonable argument that reduced precip has reduced glacial size at Kilimanjaro (which may or may not be, in turn associated with deforestation…)

    However, if there was such an effect, is was certainly only part of the effect, and the assertion that the reduced precip accounts for Kilimanjaro’s glacial loss is probably not true.

    The idea that it is “well established” is certainly not even close to the mark.

    If you have data over the pertinent time scales (i.e. ca 1850 to the present … because the Kilimanjaro argument links to a parallel Lake Victoria argument covering data going back to the mid 1800s) the I’d love to see it! (And a ride in your Tardis would be great too!)

    If you are talking bout the troposphere at that level generally, then no, it has not cooled. For the period for which we have data there is a pronounced warming trend from 1960 to the present in the tropics. Which is what you would expect if warming was melting glaciers.

  47. #47 Midnight Rambler
    September 5, 2011

    Greg, I was speaking generally because that’s what it sounded like you were doing, rather than the specifics of how this paper was reviewed. FWIW, I’m an invertebrate biologist. Among the ones I know of, Molecular Ecology/ME Resources, Insect Systematics & Evolution, and the Journal of Morphology send out the decision letters (including editors’ comments and all reviews) to the reviewers as well as authors; Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution and Biological Journal of the Linnaean Society don’t.

  48. #48 hoogreg
    September 6, 2011

    morganism: “…there have been some questions…

    What a novel concept: U-Pick conspiracy theories!

  49. #49 TTT
    September 6, 2011

    Hasn’t it been well established that deforestation in the lands surrounding Kilimanjaro is the cause of the ice cap retreat, not global warming?

    If you don’t believe global warming is a problem, there is no reason to take seriously your feigned concerns over deforestation.

  50. #50 Raging Bee
    September 6, 2011

    Hasn’t it been well established that deforestation in the lands surrounding Kilimanjaro is the cause of the ice cap retreat, not global warming?

    First, how, exactly, would deforestation cause an ice-cap retreat, except by contributing at least to regional if not global warming?

    And second, how could global warming NOT cause ice-cap retreat?

  51. #51 Greg Laden
    September 6, 2011

    Raging Bee:First, how, exactly, would deforestation cause an ice-cap retreat, except by contributing at least to regional if not global warming?

    Deforestation (reginoally) can contribute to reduced rainfall. It might actually be the case that I was the first scientists to suggest this (in 1992) but my work was IGNORED!!!!

    Anyway, reduced rainfall means that the grow-melt-grow-melt cycles of glaciers over the normal seasons would have less grow but the same amount of melt, thus decreasing their size. And that could happen, but it is not the reason for the melting of all of the tropical glaciers.

    And second, how could global warming NOT cause ice-cap retreat?

    While the lower atmosphere heats up, the upper atmosphere cools down. Thus, the idea that glaciers, stuck up high and all, would be in a place that does not warm up. However, the part of the upper atmosphere that cools down is not where these glaciers happen to be! So that idea is dead too.

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