The Island of Doubt

The revelation that at least one group of authors working for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change would rely on grey literature or even popular media sources for their reporting could end up being a real blow to the Nobel prize-winning organization.


If you haven’t heard by now, a section of the Fourth IPCC report, which came out in 2007, cited a prediction for the complete disappearance of all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas by 2035. This alone would be sufficient justification for describing the consequences of climate change as catastrophic, as something like 40% of the world relies on annual meltwater from the area.

But now we learn that the authors in questions took the prediction from a 2005 WWF publication, which wasn’t peer-reviewed. And the WWF paper took it’s warning from a 1999 New Scientist story by Fred Pearce, who reported that Syed Hasnain of Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi wrote that “all the glaciers in the central and eastern Himalayas could disappear by 2035 at their present rate of decline.”

Now, New Scientist is a fine publication (and one in which my byline has appeared from time to time), but it’s not peer-reviewed. Neither was the WWF paper. And yet we’re told time after time that the IPCC based its reports on the best peer-reviewed science available.

Fred Pearce now reports on the fallout:

However, the lead author of the IPCC chapter, Indian glaciologist Murari Lal, told New Scientist he “outright rejected” the notion that the IPCC was off the mark on Himalayan glaciers. “The IPCC authors did exactly what was expected from them,” he says.

“We relied rather heavily on grey [not peer-reviewed] literature, including the WWF report,” Lal says. “The error, if any, lies with Dr Hasnain’s assertion and not with the IPCC authors.”

One could argue that the IPCC authors were specifically expected not to rely on the grey literature. Even worse, the WWF paper qualified Hasnain’s prediction:

As apocalyptic as it may sound, it needs to be underlined that glaciers need to be studied for a variety of purposes including hazard assessment, effects on hydrology, sea level rise and to track climatic variations. There are several problems associated with retreating glaciers that need to be understood in order to proceed to the next stage of quantifying research and mitigating disaster.

Not good.

UPDATE: RIck Piltz points out at Climate Science Watch that the IPCC report in question lifts entire phrases not from the WWF report supplied as a source, but from “Glaciers Beating Retreat,” in the online publication Down to Earth published two months before the New Scientist piece.

This only makes the IPCC authors look even more more careless than before. Not only is Down to Earth not peer-reviewed, but the authors couldn’t even get their attribution right. Even worse, the problems with the reference were pointed out by reviewers, but those comments were ignored. You can bet that future IPCC reports (if any) will be more carefully edited.

Comments

  1. #1 Alteredstory
    January 18, 2010

    Whats so frustrating about this is that there’s not exactly a shortage of peer-reviewed work out there. This kind of unnecessary sloppiness opens the door for opponents of ANY concept to say “See, they lied” regardless of whether the basic concept is sound.

  2. #2 David Marjanović
    January 18, 2010

    Ouch.

  3. #3 dhogaza
    January 18, 2010

    A point to stress and remember: that information did not make it into the Summary for Policy Makers.

  4. #4 Mike Haseler
    January 18, 2010

    There is now no way so called climate “scientists” can deny the fact that much of the “evidence” for manmade global warming has been shown to consist of cherry picked, biased, even “sexed up” data. Not only is this wholly unacceptable, but to put it bluntly, it drives a cart and horse through the idea “the science” backs up the hypothesis of manmade warming.

    Nor is it acceptable for those in the area who have tried to apply the proper scientific methodology to suggest it is only one or two bad apples, because the systems should already be in place to weed out such bad apples by peer review. The fact it hasn’t clearly shows the system of peer review is corrupt suggesting the rot is widespread in the subject. It is a failed system which is not living up to that standards necessary to call itself a science.

  5. #5 Lance
    January 18, 2010

    Yes, less than two hours after James posts the embarrassing but hardly surprising revelation that the IPCC takes WWF activist misinformation and spin as valid scientific evidence, dhogaza slides in with damage control.

    His point is of course irrelevant and meant only to reassure the faithful and distract the impertinently inquisitive.

    Perhaps he can apply for a position at the IPCC Ministry of Truth.

  6. #6 Alan
    January 18, 2010

    The “summary for policy makers” is itself a matter of considerable scandal, considering it bore little relation to what the scientists had said.

    Hence a lot of them resigned.

  7. #7 Michael Tobis
    January 18, 2010

    The IPCC is not infallible. We already knew that. A mistake got into the WGII report, what a surprise.

    There is no real consensus on impacts anyway; the question is so multifaceted that it’s hard to understand how there could be.

    There is still a consensus on the geophysics and WGI reports it fairly well.

    Also, please note John Nielsen-Gammon’s comments about IPCC and consensus in the light of this error: http://is.gd/6xbKu

    Re #6: “a lot” of them resigned, does “a lot” exceed one, i.e., Landsea? Note that Reiter’s “resignation” is disputed on the grounds that he was a reviewer, not a participant. He is simply trying to make a fuss. http://is.gd/6xCZQ

  8. #8 Stephen Downes
    January 18, 2010

    Doesn’t matter. There’s still global warming, there lots of credible evidence showing that there is global warming, and that it is human-caused, and zero credible evidence showing that there is not global warming, or that it is not human-caused. This stuff is just politics, and is playing to a very small and almost 100 percent U.S. audience.

  9. #9 Don
    January 18, 2010

    You can cherry pick small points, but you lose on the general theory of AGW.

  10. #10 ligne
    January 18, 2010

    Alan: first i’ve heard of that, and i can’t find any other reference to it. care to throw in some further details? how many scientists resigned, and what were their stated reasons?

    Mike Hasler: which are these corrupt papers of which you speak? do you mean Douglass, et al’s 2007 paper in the International Journal of Climatology? or Soon and Baliunas’s 2003 paper in Climate Research? or maybe Gerlich and Tscheuschner’s paper in IJMP-B? i agree, those were all execrably bad pieces of work that should never have got past the review process.

    anyway, why do you think that peer review, which works prefectly well everywhere else in science, might suddenly break down in the area of climate research?

  11. #11 jules
    January 18, 2010

    The Achilles-heel of IPCC is that it relies on people doing things in the margin of their day time job. This opens the door for sloppyness here and there.

    Even though it would increase the criticism that “IPCC-scientists” are defending their fundings, maybe IPCC should become a professional organisation with, let’s say, 200 full time employees.

  12. #12 Nils Ross
    January 18, 2010

    It’s obviously a problem for the IPCC, but Lance and his ilk can hardly complain. They’ve been telling us for a long time not to rely on the peer-reviewed literature. The IPCC does what they suggest, and BAM! they kick up a stink.

    Seriously guys?

  13. #13 EKoh
    January 18, 2010

    @7 Stephen you are entirely correct. The physics at work will not change because of the sources IPCC cited, anymore than sloppy reporting or sensationalism can change the course of a hurricane.
    It will affect the politics of response regarding the issue unfortunately. Not to be cynical, but the people and their governments will not accept it anyway until the situation becomes dire.
    I’ve given up fighting with denialists on many issues, I just keep track of who they are for the day the “storm” hits.

  14. #14 Brian Schmidt
    January 18, 2010

    The IPCC hasn’t said it exclusively relied on peer-review, it expressly said it sometimes used non-peer reviewed info, including industry reports:

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/IPCC%20Procedures.pdf

    Some info like industrial production etc. can’t be obtained from peer review, so this makes sense in the abstract, but there needs to be a better guide on when to use non peer reviewed.

    The other problem with this issue is the IPCC didn’t chase the citation back to the original source. That’s an even bigger problem IMHO.

    To respond to the various denialist comments: the guy who blew the whistle on this doesn’t appear to be on your side of the fence – he acknowledges the Himal glaciers are melting. I’ve personally measured glaciers in Alaska and Montana and can verify that they’re melting.

    Finally, the issue has been known for two months – I blogged about long ago. All that’s happening is the IPCC is finally dealing with it.

  15. #15 Phyllograptus
    January 18, 2010

    Can’t really speak for Alan, but what I assume he may have been refering to is probably Richard Lindzen’s Senate Testimony and subsequent resignation from the IPCC.
    The IPCC 3rd report summary for policy makers was released prior to the actual main scientific report and contained a couple of statements that were significantly different than the draft submitted by the scientists writing the main scientific report. In cases the text of the summary for policy makers was changed after agreements had been reached on drafts with the scientists and in other cases significant pressure was applied to the scientists by non-scientists to tone down criticisms of the models.

  16. #16 Cade Foster
    January 18, 2010

    The best stance is to have evidence on your side implying that the hypothesis/theory has applicability.

    Science is evidence-based not concensus-based.
    With the critical evidence not being present, the alarmists used the “concensus” trick as a propaganda to attempt to sway the masses.

    If my applied-science PhD was based on “concensus” and not on cold-hard-experimental/theroretical evidence then it would have been thrown out during it’s final review.

    Likewise, in addition to the CLIMATE-GATE and related scandals, the work of the “concensus”-proclaiming scientists needs to be reviewed in a transparent manner.

  17. #17 dhogaza
    January 18, 2010

    Yes, less than two hours after James posts the embarrassing but hardly surprising revelation that the IPCC takes WWF activist misinformation and spin as valid scientific evidence, dhogaza slides in with damage control.

    His point is of course irrelevant and meant only to reassure the faithful and distract the impertinently inquisitive.

    Of course it’s relevant, it’s the summary for policy makers that most of them will read.

    More to the point, though, why didn’t it make it to the SPM? It’s because the working group in question didn’t include the glaciologists working on AR4, and the chapter written by the latter didn’t include the bogus reference. If the bogus statement and reference had made it up to the SPM the glaciologists reviewing that document would’ve undoubtably caught it.

    It appears on one page in one volume of a three-volume report, in a chapter not written by the relevant experts. Obviously the experts on glaciology (minimum, one) should’ve been consulted.

    Hey, Lance, how many blunders of this sort made it into the report? Thus far it’s the only one, it was caught by the research community (not the vaunted community of auditors AGW denialists, was reported a couple of months ago, and now it’s being addressed.

    And glaciers world wide are, for the most part, retreating and also losing considerable mass.

  18. #18 Stephen
    January 18, 2010

    I’d just like to point out that I chased this one down on my blog a month ago, following a half-assed attempt by a guest contributor on Pielke’s blog to find the source of the 2035 figure, and concluded that it was a transposition of 2350 from some unrelated report.

  19. #19 John A. Jauregui
    January 18, 2010

    Are you angry about this obvious RICO Act fraud and the national media’s complicity in the cover-up, misinformation, reframing and misdirection of the issue and the related “carbon derivatives” market Obama’s Administration is spinning up? Take responsibility and take action. STOP all donations to the political party(s) responsible for this fraud. STOP donations to all environmental groups which funded this Global Warming propaganda campaign with our money, especially The Environmental Defense Fund. They have violated the public trust. KEEP donations local, close to home. MAKE donations to Oklahoma’s Senator Inhofe, the only politician to stand firmly against this obvious government/media coordinated information operation (propaganda) targeted at its own people. People that government leaders and employees are sworn to protect. WRITE your state and federal representatives demanding wall to wall investigations of government sponsored propaganda campaigns and demand indictments of those responsible. WRITE your state and federal Attorneys General demanding Al Gore and others conducting Global Warming/Climate Change racketeering and mail fraud operations be brought to justice, indicted, tried, convicted and jailed. Carbon is the stuff of life. He (Obama) who controls carbon, especially CO2, controls the world. Think of the consequences if you do nothing! For one, the UK is becoming the poster child for George Orwell’s “1984” and the US government’s sponsorship of this worldwide Global Warming propaganda campaign puts it in a class with the failed Soviet Union’s relentless violation of the basic human right to truthful government generated information. Given ClimateGate’s burgeoning revelations of outrageous government misconduct and massive covert misinformation, what are the chances that this Administration’s National Health Care sales campaign is anywhere near the truth?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bdneX1djD

    http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/81559212.html

  20. #20 dhogaza
    January 18, 2010

    Are you angry about this obvious RICO Act fraud and the national media’s complicity in the cover-up, misinformation, reframing and misdirection of the issue and the related “carbon derivatives” market Obama’s Administration is spinning up?

    Oh please, please, please, if you believe this …

    sue.

    Of course you won’t. You’ll go “RICO RICO RICO” and won’t actually go to court.

    Fuck, I want you to sue so badly I will donate $50 *after* you file.

    Not before.

    After.

    Pocketbook safe …

  21. #21 DavidS
    January 19, 2010

    The skeptical consensus now seems to have taken the moral and technical high ground. Each stone unturned seems to reveal poor scientific practice and the lack of proper peer review by appropriate disciplines. Surely its time for the amateurs to get off the stage and industrial strength mathematicians and physicists to engage properly. It really feels as though a bunch of social scientists hit lucky and are now being found out. Ouch!

  22. #22 dhogaza
    January 19, 2010

    Well, yeah, DavidS, like you’re some sort of expert on science …

    Have you heard about the new ice age? 2000-2009 was the warmest decade on record, ice age is really ramping up, isn’t it?

  23. #23 Tarby
    January 19, 2010

    As already pointed out, the IPCC mixup may have not been based on the New Scientist article but “a transposition of figures in a report published in 1996 by Vladimir Kotlykov of the Russian Academy of Sciences — which predicted significant Himalayan glacial melting by 2350 — may be to blame.”
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/un-glacier-blunder-a-300-year-mix-up/story-e6frg6nf-1225821001387

    At least the IPCC are holding their hands up, looking into it, and will be making a statement soon, unlike some scientists I can think of.

  24. #24 Buckaroo Banzai
    January 19, 2010

    Terrible. Not so much for the consequences that it would have if everyone was reasonable, but by how it will be twisted. It will probably be pushed as the “IPCC isn’t based entirely on peer review, so AGW is basically a hoax, they lied to us [...] Al Gore [...]“, with the an implied “but let’s not worry about with what peer review science actually has to say about AGW, nevertheless.”

    One thing I’d like to know, though. Worrisome. Do peer-reviewed papers on climate science cite the IPCC reports, in other words, there is the risk that these claims were reproduced on peer review literature having these speculations as the ultimate source? I guess they don’t, and I hope they don’t. That would be really bad.

  25. #25 dhogaza
    January 19, 2010

    . Do peer-reviewed papers on climate science cite the IPCC reports

    Can’t imagine that would fly. The IPCC report sources the literature, any scientific paper would go back and cite that literature.

  26. #26 Buckaroo Banzai
    January 19, 2010

    11 articles citing “Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability”, according to google scholar:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=14368991009685251186&hl=en&as_sdt=2000&as_ylo=2007

    Judging by their titles, they not appear to cite the IPCC regarding these specific claims.

  27. #27 Buckaroo Banzai
    January 19, 2010

    Ops, much worse, 28. Here’s a correct link that appear to be more specific to “Asia. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”.

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?cites=4262931187162450288&hl=en&as_sdt=2000

    Weird. I would expect that searching for the “wider” search, the whole chapter (“Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability”), would give results including the sub-chapters, not that the sub-chapters could have more results than the chapter it’s within.

  28. #28 Bill Dillard
    January 19, 2010

    A personal hero of mine once said that the once said, “The purpose of an open mind is to close it, on particular subjects. If you never do — you’ve simply abdicated the responsibility to think.”

    I admittedly start from a bias of suspicion about global warming because I am strong believer in free markets, and skeptical of the efficacy of government planning.So there is a part of me which inclines to the view of the whole global warming enterprise as an effort to resurrect socialism, which failed miserably on the economic merits in the 20th century, as an environmental imperative for the 21st century.

    My true belief is that we are in a period of scientific uncertainty which has been sadly characterized by warmist advocates as “scientific consensus” requiring immediate and drastic action; that on this issue of AGW, the time has not come to close our minds; and that to do so, and contrary to Mr. Buckley’s admonition,would itself be an abdication of one’s responsibility to think.” The mantra of “settled science” where it is in fact unsettled, is truly regrettable because, as the overreaching claims of such advocates are exposed, the more political, and less scientific, will be the general public’s approach to the issue.

    I think we all can agree that we prosper when we make smart decisions based upon accurate information. The smart decisions here may include a much healthier dose of adaptation as opposed to regulatory intrusion into the energy decisions of private actors, or not. But the public discussion would be better served if the pro-market and pro-statist forces would quit using global warming as a political football to advance other, unrelated social and economic agendas.

    What I believe that the “the time for scientific disagreement is over” crowd needs to realize is that the time for scientific disagreement is never over; and to the extent that they feel that the science is, in fact, more settled than it now appears to be, they have only themselves to blame for overstating and misrepresenting their case. Whether we look at Prof. Mann’s Hockey Stick; NASA’s “inadvertent” use of September 2008 temperature records to claim that October 2008 was the hottest in history; the continual claims by persons portrayed by the media as “experts” throughout the early and middle part of this decade that this given weather event or that is the product of global warming, and the recycling of these same experts to explain that 12 straight years of no measurable increase in warming is irrelevant because, in the mantra of the day, “weather isn’t climate”;the serial exaggerations of “An Incovenient Truth” which was force fed to students around the globe by an educational establishment whose statist tendencies are well-known to all; the fantastical claims that the Arctic will be “ice-free” in the Summer within the next 2-3 decades, which also appear to wither under closer scrutiny; the failure of all of the climatological models to predict the current lapse in warming because of an outsized importance attached to anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere as opposed to other factors; the frustration of the East Anglia researchers in trying to massage the “normalized data” to get it to say what Dr. Jones wanted it to say while Dr. Jones prattles on about “settled science”; and now this, where only last November Rajendra Pachauri accused Dr. Raina of “voodoo science” for having the temerity to issue a report challenging the IPCC 2007 conclusions on the Himilayan glaciers, which itself was based upon pure ephemera.

    For my side, I think we need to face the fact that it is itself an exaggeration to say that the great body of scientific evidence amassed in support of AGW theory is all riddled with fraud and exaggeration.

    So yes, there are those who will blow this up and take it out of context. But I need to be more worried about those folks and you need to be more worried about the folks who, by their exaggerations and overstatements, which went unchallenged by your side for years, has created greater skepticism than a more objective, and less result oriented, presentation might have engendered.

    The good news is that we all start with at least one common ground; a desire for smart decisions based upon good information.

    Doggedly committed to recognizing my own biases and striving for an open mind.

    Kind Regards,

    Bill Dillard

  29. #29 ligne
    January 19, 2010

    Bill Dillard:

    Sadly, the scientific evidence for AGW doesn’t go away simply because it conflicts with your political beliefs. Or mine, for that matter. The world would be a much easier place if it did!

    I agree that the solutions proposed so far have trended towards large-scale government intervention. The trouble is, this is a global-scale problem, which means we need to look at global-scale solutions. I perfectly understand how this will make people like you uneasy — all the more reason it be useful to hear some solutions that you would feel comfortable supporting.

    There seems to be a pernicious tendency towards rubbishing the science and hurling abuse at the scientists. Yes, there have occasionally been mistakes, as we’ve see here. But they’ve mostly been trivial, and the evidence is so extensive that we’ve long passed the point where fairly minor mess-ups will cause the whole thing to fall down.

    If you’ve not done so already, I definitely suggest reading the IPCC summary for policy-makers, which provides an overview of the science as is generally agreed upon, presented for a non-scientific audience: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf

    Spencer Weart of the American Institute of Physics has also written a rather good book on how our understanding has progressed in the century or so since the greenhouse effect was discovered. It’s available online here: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/

  30. #30 Bill Dillard
    January 19, 2010

    Thank you, Ligne. I will read your links.

    Kind regards,

    Bill

  31. #31 James Hrynyshyn
    January 19, 2010

    Wow. So nice to see commenters behaving nicely. Thanks Bill and ligne.

  32. #32 dhogaza
    January 19, 2010

    What I believe that the “the time for scientific disagreement is over” crowd needs to realize is that the time for scientific disagreement is never over

    Bill Dillard, this simply is not true for many things in science.

    For example, do you believe that “the time for scientific disagreement” on whether or not the world is more than 6,000 years old is not over, and never should be?

    Most of what follows that statement in your post is tiresome denialist falsehoods that make it clear that you’ve not studied any authoritative scientific sources on the subject. I would guess that your acknowledged political bias has led you to decide to read words written by non-scientists who share your political views rather than actually study the science objectively.

    Just to pick one of the fallacies in your statement:

    the fantastical claims that the Arctic will be “ice-free” in the Summer within the next 2-3 decades

    By the way, this is known as an “argument from incredulity”, and is a staple of the creationist set. Don’t fall into the trap. Look at data, instead, and learn *why* some scientists believe this might happen, rather than simply claim it’s “fantastical” to make the statement.

    Because there’s nothing fantastical with claims that this might come true within the next 2-3 decades. I’d say five decades is closer to the consensus position. Does this make you feel better? It shouldn’t.

    It’s a veritable certainty that it will be close enough to true over the next decade that commercial shipping will routinely take advantage of the fact. Shipping companies are positioning themselves *today* to take advantage. They’re investing *money* based on the reality that arctic sea ice is disappearing at a rapid rate. A shipping company saved millions by sending a ship through the northeast passage last summer. While it was accompanied by two ice breakers, as it turned out they weren’t needed to break ice (though they probably were needed to satisfy Russian security concerns).

    Look closely at this graph.

    That’s for ice extent, i.e. the amount of sea covered with at least 15% ice. It says nothing about thickness. We only recently deployed satellite instruments that are able to measure thickness (which allows for computation of volume). The volume story is much *worse* than the extent story. Thick multi-year ice has been largely replaced by thin, first-year ice in much of the Arctic. The volume trend is steeper and more disturbing than the extent trend in the graph I referenced above, and the extent trend is worrisome enough.

    It’s going away. There’s nothing “fantastical” about this at all.

    You’re entitled to your own political beliefs and opinions, but you’re not entitled to your own facts.

    Please read the links provided by ligne, If you have intelligent questions to ask while reading them, please ask.

    But please, don’t deny facts out of hand. You won’t get anywhere doing that.

  33. #33 dhogaza
    January 19, 2010

    Bill Dillard …

    Another graph to look at.

    The most important plot there is the black line, which shows ice thickness in winter, when it is at its maximum.

    In *four years* this has declined by 22%. FOUR YEARS. Of course, that’s a very short period of time, but the figure is *staggering*. It also puts the lie to denialist claims that “arctic sea ice is recovering”.

    Of course, Bill’s post demonstrates the biggest problem with denialism – he puts forward a long list of denialist claims each of has been debunked many times. But each requires a detailed post to debunk. I could spend the rest of the day debunking Bill’s claims, which he may or may not read or understand, and yet, tomorrow someone else will come by with the same old stuff.

  34. #34 mandas
    January 19, 2010

    Bill Dillard

    “…..I admittedly start from a bias of suspicion about global warming because I am strong believer in free markets, and skeptical of the efficacy of government planning….”

    I am totally confused by this statement. What do global warming and free markets have to do with each other? You also might like to consider that there are no free markets in the world – everything is regulated and there are tarrifs and government subsidies in just about every industry. So to then be skeptical about government planning is somewhat contradictory – unless of course you are an anarchist.

    So you can believe in free markets if you like – that is a political and economic view of the world. But climate change is a scientific issue. You need to consider it based on science, not politics.

  35. #35 Buckaroo Banzai
    January 20, 2010

    I’m a sort of libertarian-leaning centrist, even though people at both sides tend to say I’m on the extreme of the other side, so I can relate a bit with Dillard’s post a bit.

    However, I make a clear distinction between the skepticism about the envisioned governmental policies to prevent global warming, and the science itself.

    I’m still skeptic about carbon taxes, for instance, and I presently find the geoengineering solutions convincing and more feasible (given skepticism and disagreement over carbon taxes, and, as far as I know, lack of means to actually hold parties accountable by their emissions, to actually measure whom emitted how much). I admit I haven’t read much about these things, however. Only very superficially. But I think that the core of my skepticism makes sense: I’ve heard that the cost on prices would only be marginal, well, if that’s so, I think it’s very unlikely to succeed. It seems clear to me (but I might well be mistaken) that if it something is only marginally more expensive, the demand will not be meaningfully affected. To actually affect the demand, the raise should be more substantial, but then, it’s also a damming cost, specially on the poor. But, who knows, maybe there’s some math where everything make sense due to the big numbers in consideration (I’m not being sarcastic).

    With the climatology itself, in the other hand, as far as I’ve been reading, things appear to be much more clear. It’s not like “it’s all propaganda”, or just a hype from journalists, or that the “unsettled” part is the fundamental question of the global warming or even the significant role of greenhouse gases. Ironically, the bulk of the purported scientific skepticism is layman skepticism fueled by an often well meaning, but not without undesired consequences, intention from the media in being impartial. Chris Mooney has an interesting article on that:

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/intersection/2010/01/15/blinded-by-science-how-balanced-coverage-lets-the-scientific-fringe-hijack-reality/

    Not that I deeply understand all these issues (I even have my own “skeptic”-like questions I want to ask someone about eventually), but that’s how I perceive the “debate”. Not comparing the hypothesis of “non-AGW” with creationism, but the “debate” itself; it’s much like the “debate” that there is with creationism. Mostly lay people repeating argument-memes from self-appointed experts, readily accepting what these experts say are fatal flaws on AGW, never bothering to check. Even Penn and Teller fell for the “they predicted global warming in the 70s” argument, that’s embarrassing, both as a skeptic and as a libertarian-leaning person, as it is made to look more like a religious faith to which the reality should be adapted, than a principle that we’d ideally follow as much as possible, as much as reality does not present situations where it seems to be necessary to compromise that principle.

    Well, not that the lay people defending AGW are necessarily much better, anyway. Many, maybe most of them, may only have a superficial notion of the whole thing, readily accepting eventual hype on that sense. But again, that may be not that different with evolution, most non-specialists and or people not specially interested will probably get only the basics right, but have very wrong notion of other things. And then there are the polar bear cosplayers. These also make me ashamed, both of being a “defender” of AGW and, I don’t know, being a person… who even cares for polar bears, it’s not that I don’t care, but… I don’t know, it just look ridiculous.

  36. #36 Brian X
    January 20, 2010

    Climate”gate” showed only a rush to judgement on the part of denialists.

    This was, more than anything else, a case of sloppy editing.

    Still doesn’t change the science.

  37. #37 dhogaza
    January 20, 2010

    Well, not that the lay people defending AGW are necessarily much better, anyway. Many, maybe most of them, may only have a superficial notion of the whole thing, readily accepting eventual hype on that sense.

    I think the major difference is that the lay people who defend AGW are like you: they recognize that they don’t have the specialist knowledge to understand all the nuances of the science. Knowing that, they tend to trust those who actually *do* the science, as it appears that you do. Rather than the “self-appointed experts” (as you put it so well) in the denialsphere. When it comes to trusting someone with no science degree like Watts, or thousands of working scientists, rationale people will come down on the side of science. Even if they don’t fully understand it. Even if their limited understanding leads them to, at times, exaggerate or misstate what science is telling us.

    And, yes, you have questions, but judging from your post, my guess is that your questions are going to be asked a lot more honestly than the usual cut-and-paste, long-debunked denialist craptrap we’re used to seeing here.

    So ask some of those questions … there’s no “open” thread here, but Deltoid recently opened up a new one and there are plenty of knowledgeable people to answer there, too (in many cases the same people who you see here).

  38. #38 Mal Adapted
    January 20, 2010

    Yes, less than two hours after James posts the embarrassing but hardly surprising revelation that the IPCC takes WWF activist misinformation and spin as valid scientific evidence, dhogaza slides in with damage control.

    And a mere hour later, Lance was here advertising his ignorance, again! Lance, surely even you must realize it’s not enough just to be “smart”, you need to actually know something about the subject! Please, go back to school!

  39. #39 supra shoes
    January 20, 2010

    The fact it hasn’t clearly shows the system of peer review is corrupt suggesting the rot is widespread in the subject. It is a failed system which is not living up to that standards necessary to call itself a science.

  40. #40 True Religion jeans
    January 20, 2010

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work.

  41. #41 mandas
    January 21, 2010

    I love when denialists like supra shoes proclaim that the peer review process is corrupt etc, without any idea what the peer review process is.
    So come on shoes – give us the benefit of your wisdom. In what way is it corrupt? What is your evidence for that view?
    I await your response with bated breath.

  42. #42 outeast
    January 21, 2010

    Bill Dillard,

    The specific question of where there is a *possibility* that the Arctic may be ice-free in Summer is one that is hotly contested – it’s far from being a consensus position, and even those who do see it as a possibility (I do) are usually ready to concede that it is very far from certain.

    I actually have a bet on it, so I’m on the more committed side – and even I only go as far as saying that a combination of bad-case Arctic warming plus a coincidentally particularly warm summer due to natural variability is somewhat likely to lead to an ‘ice free’ Arctic within decadal-level timescales, for a fairly limited definition of ‘ice free’. And even that position is so far from the accepted that my bet is with noted Denialist William Connolley (‘Stoat’ on Scienceblogs)! (WC, incidentally, has found very few takers on his Sea Ice bets – further reinforcing the conclusion that ‘Warmista Alarmists Claim The Arctic Will Be Ice Free Next Decade’ is a serious straw man. The overwhelming majority do not hold to this position.) Oh, and actually I am increasingly of the opinion I’m going to lose my money anyway:)

    I guess my point is: don’t start out by considering the more outlandish claims made with regard to AGW. That will just lead you into a straw-man perception of the science, which in turn will lead you to respond with unwarranted incredulity.

    Regarding free markets, govt intervention etc… Much could be said, there is much room for debate. But don’t judge the science on the basis of the (widely varying) policy responses that arise from it: too many conservatives do this. That’s one reason we have such a pronounced left-right divide – conservatives seem to reject the science because they dislike the liberal conclusions regarding the policy implications. This is arguing from the consequences, though… It would be more constructive (and intellectually honest) to accept the science and investigate alternative responses. (Also: the reverse is true – many liberals accept even the less-scientifically-founded claims about AGW because the policy implications fit liberal bias. This cuts both ways.)

  43. #43 Marco
    January 21, 2010

    @mandas:
    Supra shoes may very well be a bot. The link in his name goes to a website trying to sell stuff, so the comment itself may be a recycled one which may well be accidentally in apparently the right thread…

  44. #44 romunov
    January 21, 2010

    I apologize if this has been uttered in the comments above, but I feel like sharing. IPCC consists of a number of people, some are from the scientific communities, others are not. What stays in the report is decided by one person, who’s objectives might collide with those of the contributing authors. Thus, these reports should be considered as mere observations and a waste of paper and disk space.

  45. #45 Marco
    January 21, 2010

    You are wrong, romunov. It is NOT one person who decides what stays in the report.

    Here you can read the procedures:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ipcc-principles/ipcc-principles-appendix-a.pdf

    Oh, and don’t you think a few of those contributors would have reacted when one person had been so mightily powerful and imposed his “objectives” ?

  46. #46 DavidinWC
    January 21, 2010

    When I see what happened in “Climategate” and now “Glaciergate” PLUS the UNEP Document “113009_IISDreport.pdf, I think it is high time that the public demand that the IPCC and UNEP be disbanded immediately!!!
    ——————

  47. #47 Fashion watch
    January 21, 2010

    You can cherry pick small points, but you lose on the general theory of AGW.

  48. #48 DegreeFinders
    January 21, 2010

    Another sign that one lapse in judgment can be bad for an entire company. It’s easier to remember the bad and this is surely going to stick out to anybody who pays attention for much longer than the good will.

  49. #49 dhogaza
    January 21, 2010

    Fashion watch, like supra shoes, is a cut and paste advertising bot

  50. #50 Mary Joe K
    January 24, 2010

    This just in – 2008 and 2009 the coolest years since 1998. Which once agains proves manmade global warming. somehow.

    Now, remember to “Hide this after James checks it.”

    ‘AGW’. what a joke.

  51. #51 Marco
    January 24, 2010

    Well, Mary Joe, good that you think it is a joke. Perhaps you can explain that joke to migrating animals, in particular birds, the Arctic, the pine beetle, a whole range of glaciers, and our dear friends down under. Apart from the pine beetle, they are not laughing…

  52. #52 andy
    January 24, 2010

    More stuff not looking good for the IPCC report… http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6999975.ece

    Now I’m convinced of the reality of anthropogenic climate change because of the underlying physics, but the peanut gallery is certainly cheering the “take down the scientific establishment” attitude.

    Here comes the Disenlightenment?

  53. #53 dhogaza
    January 24, 2010

    This just in – 2008 and 2009 the coolest years since 1998. Which once agains proves manmade global warming. somehow.

    Now, remember to “Hide this after James checks it.”

    ‘AGW’. what a joke.

    AGW a joke? I didn’t realize that Anthony Watts’ middle initial was “G”.

    Mary Joe, sweet dear: the United States is not the world.

    Now why do you think that high-school educated Anthony Watts responds to recent data regarding global temperatures with a entire post gloating that the US temperature actually has been rather cool the last two years?

    The US is less than 2% of the world, dearie.

  54. #54 dhogaza
    January 24, 2010

    More stuff not looking good for the IPCC report…

    The WGII section of the report alone runs to 1,000 pages.

    I challenge everyone to find a report of that length without any errors.

    Someone elsewhere pointed out that there are roughly 10,000 references in the combined reports of the three working groups.

    Thus far there about 16 have been shown to be not peer reviewed (and given that actually properly sourced articles are allowable that aren’t peer reviewed, these aren’t a priori a problem).

    Think about that for a moment and the please explain to me why a handful of ten thousand references don’t look good for the IPCC?

  55. #55 Phllograptus
    January 24, 2010

    Its not the fact that non peer reviewed papers were used and as you point out that this is allowed if properly sourced. The problem is that the papers are not “in-press” or “personal communication” or internal documentation from working labs or some such thing. They are WWF OPINION pieces designed specifically to influence public opinion and public policy, without any worry about truth or facts messing up a good story and deigned to make sure that the alarmism bell gets rung.

  56. #56 Phyllograptus
    January 24, 2010

    In addition the IPCC lead author that included the Himalayan glacier piece today admitted that he knew it wasn’t true when he included it but “It related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action” & “It had importance for the region, so we thought we should put it in”
    That is not science but rather using the IPCC report specifically as a forum to promote a political agenda

  57. #57 Marco
    January 25, 2010

    @Phyllograptus:
    Expect Lal’s supposed quote to be a quote out of context. He has previously noted that the Himalayan data was not peer reviewed, but because it was of importance to the region, they added it anyway. This is not the same as “we knew it wasn’t true”. The latter comes from the same spinmeisters who twisted Mojib Latif’s comment on short term variations into a 2-3 decade cooling prediction.

  58. #58 andy
    January 25, 2010

    Think about that for a moment and the please explain to me why a handful of ten thousand references don’t look good for the IPCC?

    Sure I know that, you know that, but those who have a vested interest in climate change being false certainly can spin these things for the masses who damned well don’t want to pay more taxes and in any case distrust the scientific establishment and want to see it fail. Especially since this is explicitly linked to policy and everyone loves a good conspiracy theory.

  59. #59 Phyllograptus
    January 26, 2010

    @Marco
    Here is the article that refernces claim that Lal knew the claim was untrue. The article goes on to mention that several researchers tried to have the IPCC remove the statement from the report during the draft phase but they were ignored by Lal.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245636/Glacier-scientists-says-knew-data-verified.html

  60. #60 dhogaza
    January 26, 2010

    Lal says he never said any such thing and that the Daily Mail is lying.

    Given that recently they also lied about Latif’s statements, I am not surprised.

  61. #61 Phyllograptus
    January 26, 2010

    @dhogaza
    Do you have somewhere that references his denial.
    Given the libel laws in the UK and the ease with which they are applied. If he claims they are lying it will be very easy for him to sue them & win the suit. If he does not sue them, I would say thats an indication that they are accurately reporting his comments.

  62. #62 Phyllograptus
    January 26, 2010

    In addition to the section on glaciers the IPCC lifted & used pieces out of another non-peer reviewed WWF report. The authors of the WWF report were not scientists. Yes it was properly cited, but if properly cited would it be OK to use something from the National Enquirer? I think not.
    http://eureferendum.blogspot.com/2010/01/and-now-for-amazongate.html

  63. #63 dhogaza
    January 26, 2010

    In addition to the section on glaciers the IPCC lifted & used pieces out of another non-peer reviewed WWF report. The authors of the WWF report were not scientists. Yes it was properly cited, but if properly cited would it be OK to use something from the National Enquirer? I think not.

    The National Enquirer is right more often than you think …

    Look, that loophole is in there, as much as anything, to allow the citing of *industry sources*, which are explicitly listed as being acceptable.

    Before y’all go too far down this “not peer reviewed!” rathole, you might ask yourselves if hmmm Exxon and the coal industry etc might not get upset if you get that little escape hatch closed.

    Eh?

    Do you have somewhere that references his denial.

    Yes, Joe Romm of Climate Progress called him up directly and asked him, just as he did with Latif. In Latif’s case, there are all sorts of claims as to what he’s said that are refuted by the VIDEOTAPE OF THE TALK IN QUESTION. Given this history by the Daily Mail (and others in the denialsphere), I have no reason to think that Lal’s lying about what he said.

  64. #64 DerHogHozer
    January 26, 2010

    There are trolls and then there are trolls. There are TCO style trolls, talented, maybe even brilliant, but the point of every encounter is yourself…. but you are not confident enough to come out from behind an anonym. Then there are Flanagan style trolls… who enjoy a kind of blogging S-M… and, of course, there are Don Baccus (better known, perhaps, as dhogaza) type trolls, who are simply vicious, poisonous ankle-biters who are easily stomped on sight.

    What’s with unemployed photographers and writers from Canada and Oregon having an opinion on anything?

  65. #65 dhogaza
    January 26, 2010

    Oh, I’ve been outed, so brilliant!

    I bet you think you’re the first person to discover the google.

    For what it’s worth … a dho gaza is a kind of net used to trap raptors – in my case for banding, or for outfitting with a satellite telemetry device. It’s been my online handle since 1996, and yes, it’s true, google will immediately uncover my real name because I make no attempt to conceal it.

    What’s with unemployed photographers and writers from Canada and Oregon having an opinion on anything?

    It’s true that my photography and nature writing has been published internationally, that I’ve worked as a field biologist, for many years taught natural history classes, and have been paid to lead natural history tours.

    But in reality my income has always come almost entirely from being a software engineer.

    easily stomped on sight

    Which, of course, is why you viciously and poisonously needed to “out” my name, and fling insults my way, while using a pseudonym that does *not* yield your real name when googled.

  66. #66 DoGasser
    January 27, 2010

    Would you please stop torturing birds?
    You know you capture them because they won’t come anywhere near you voluntarily.
    You know you deliberately make them uncomfortable and interfere with their lives so you can claim to be sensitive and get a paycheck from the public trough and wear a spandex labcoat.
    Nobody cares about your name- that’s not what pollutes the air when you enter the room.

  67. #67 dhogaza
    January 27, 2010

    My work trapping and banding hawks has always been done on a voluntary basis, as has been my work doing migration counts.

    The basic git-go of our 30 years of monitoring raptor populations in the intermountain western United States?

    Most species are doing fine.

    I would think anti-science, anti-conservation types like you would be happy we’re doing work that shows that drastic conservation measures for most species of diurnal raptor aren’t necessary in the intermountain western United States.

  68. #68 mandas
    January 27, 2010

    dhogaza
    Didn’t realise you worked in the field as well. Good for you. It gives your opinions on science issues a lot more weight than those who pontificate from a position of ignorance, and who’s posts are based more on personal abuse than any rational thought.

    Have you ever written anything on the reintroduction of raptors to an area from which they have been largely eliminated, either through habitat destruction or hunting etc? If so, I would like to read it as it relates to what I am working on at the moment (although not raptors specifically).

  69. #69 dhogaza
    January 27, 2010

    First of all, I’m a field slave, though I have reviewed (and was named) one 10-year study done for the USF&W.

    However …

    Have you ever written anything on the reintroduction of raptors to an area from which they have been largely eliminated, either through habitat destruction or hunting etc? If so, I would like to read it as it relates to what I am working on at the moment (although not raptors specifically).

    I’m not sure where to find the information to back this up, but estimates I’ve heard are that peregrine reintroductions have cut in half, roughly, the amount of time to re-establish healthy populations after indiscriminate use DDT was banned.

    However, this is meaningless outside the species involved because …

    1. Peregrines … peregrinate! widely.

    2. Populations in Canada and Alaska north of the latitudes where DDT usage was indiscriminate (i.e. ag) were always healthy, thus there was a healthy source for natural re-colonization, which combined with their tendency to peregrinate means it was clear there’d be birds coming south to potentially nest.

    3. Peregrine habitat overall wasn’t degraded – nesting sites, prey availability, etc wasn’t the problem. Eggshell thinning is still an issue, but in most parts of their range, no longer severe enough that they crush their eggs while brooding. So they can breed naturally, incubation to avoid crushing combined with raising in hack boxes is no longer necessary (at least in the parts of the West I’m familiar with).

    4. Because of their endangered status, they were under a microscope. Falconry take of young birds was stopped, for instance, and while this take shouldn’t be a problem for a healthy population, it helped recovery, I’m sure.

    The reason many re-introduction efforts fail is often because the underlying habitat issues that caused the haven’t been addressed (i.e. perhaps have been misunderstood and the wrong issues addressed), but I’m sure you know all this…

    Overall, re-introducing species that have been hunted to extinction (or to a limited range, or whatever) is going to have a much higher likelihood of success than when habitat destruction is the case.

    Look what happened to polar bear numbers when northern countries agreed to institute controlled hunts rather than allow indiscriminate “varmint killings”. Exploded! (and exploited by climate science denialists, but that’s another story).

    Closer to (my) home, cougar populations in states like Oregon and California exploded when they were reclassified as game, and (like polar bears) subject to controlled hunts (with harvest levels set to ensure their recovery) rather than indiscriminate killing.

    So if you’re working with a species that’s suffered severe declines from hunting, shouldn’t be too difficult. Habitat restoration is still as much art as science, IMO, research goes slowly IMO in part because restoration can take such a long time in human terms.

  70. #70 mandas
    January 27, 2010

    I am working on a project which involves degraded area rehabilitation. Essentially, this involves taking former grazing land and rehabilitating it to an extent suitable for national park or similar.

    As you correctly point out, the issue is extremely complex because the vegetation has been severely degarded by overgrazing by both farm animals (in this case sheep), and by introduced herbivores such as goats and rabbits. Into this mix throw the removal of predators such as the dingo and wedge-tail eagle, and the introduction of mesopredators like foxes and cats.

    I am very interested in how area rehabilitation can be assisted by restoring the predator-prey balance, so we can control the introduced species and reintroduce locally extinct herbivores such as wallabies. So it’s not just one species – its a complex ecosystem rehabilitation – including vegetation.. I have read a lot on the reintroduction of wolves to the mid west, and would like to follow it up with other studies etc on other predators, particularly raptors. It’s a long slow process, and frustrating at times as well

  71. #71 dhogaza
    January 27, 2010

    Yeah, interesting. I assume that grazing in Australia has the same side-effect as here, facilitating the spread of weedy, opportunistic introduced species of vegetation, which really complicates issues here (in reality, restoration projects just have to live with some of them, while others can be reduced or made to disappear with careful restoration of native plants) …

    I have read a lot on the reintroduction of wolves to the mid west, and would like to follow it up with other studies etc on other predators, particularly raptors. It’s a long slow process, and frustrating at times as well

    Reintroduction to places like Yellowstone yields interesting stories, but again of limited utility – the habitat’s too damned good to be a good example for severely hammered regions.

    One interesting story, though, which you may already know of, demonstrates how introducing a predator can be a real lever for improving habitat. One habitat type that was severely hammered in north eastern portions of Yellowstone National Park was the riparian zones along the Lamar Valley. The elk love to browse on young willow, and would pretty much just laze around and denude an area over some time, then move on. Most of the riparian zone along the river was thoroughly hammered.

    Enter wolves. Suddenly, elk found it somewhat precarious to spend all their time dependably lolling around the riparian zone munching on the willow that managed to hang on. They began moving around much more frequently, and away from the riparian zone, traveling distances to other areas with sufficient browse.

    This led to an unexpectedly rapid improvement of the riparian zone along the Lamar.

    When reading about wolves repopulating the western US, keep in mind that they’re mostly turning up in protected wilderness and that relatively few foray into the ranches that tend to border such areas (or the less-protected, but still overall generally fairly good, national forest habitat).

    Predators typically (as I’m sure you know) aren’t all that particular about veg or prey species specifics. They are adapted to a particular structure of habitat, and to hunt prey of appropriate size. This is especially true of raptors. Thus peregrines nesting on the vertical columns of bridges, where little out-jutting bits of metal are structurally equivalent cliffs with ledges. Or on buildings with window ledges.

    I don’t know how good raptors are at cats and foxes, they’re the right size for something like a wedge-tailed eagle (which I’ve seen – I’ve been to Oz) but tend to be nocturnal …

    Is there any experience with this scale of restoration in Australia, or is this a pioneering project? So much knowledge is ecosystem-specific in terms of how the system will respond, and here in the US, at least, early attempts were certainly much more valuable in showing what doesn’t work rather than being great successes.

  72. #72 mandas
    January 27, 2010

    I have read about the reintroduction of wolves to Yellowstone and how that has assisted with riparian vegetation recovery, hence some of my work on dingoes here in Australia. Its very much pioneering work, and as you might imagine, there is a lot of resistance from farmers who spend a lot of their time trying to keep predators from their sheep, especially native predators such as dingoes as well as introduced predators such as feral dogs. Sheep are perfect prey for dingoes – they are the right size, and tend to move a lot slower than kangaroos.

    Habitat degradation in the region has been accelerated by feral goats and rabbits, which is as much the cause of the land being unsuitable for grazing as some of the farming practices. The issue is complicated further as the main predators of the introduced rabbits are foxes and cats, which are both introduced themselves. Unfortunately, both these animals prey on native herbivores such as wallabies and bilbies, and if you control rabbit numbers, will the foxes and cats switch to the native animals? My view, and it is supported by some limited studies, is that they won’t, and controlling rabbit numbers (we use RCV and myxamatosis as biological controls, as well as chemical fumigation and warren ripping) actually reduces fox and cat numbers as well. Unfortunately, there are no effective larger predators for the goats (wild dog numbers are limited) and the only control right now is shooting, baiting and herding – expensive and not particularly effective.

    That’s why I have been looking at – among other measures – the reintroduction of larger predators to control the introduced herbivores. There is some evidence to suggest that top order predators also restrict the population of mesopredators as well – hence my interest. As you can imagine, this is fairly controversial, and there is resistance to the idea from several quarters. I would like to undertake field trials by firstly restricting numbers of rabbits in an area, then reintroducing dingoes to see the effect on all the other species. Eagles have also been effectively wiped out from the area, and I believe they would be an important control for rabbits.

    The trial would include substantial revegetation efforts as well – mechanically and chemically controlling invasive species and reintroducing native grasses and shrubs. A lot of work, and it will take time to produce results, but I think it has implications for the whole field of habitat restoration, not just in Ausralia but world-wide. Now if I can just convince the powers that be……

  73. #73 dhogaza
    January 27, 2010

    Sheep are perfect prey for dingoes – they are the right size, and tend to move a lot slower than kangaroos.

    Well, here in Oregon, farmers may shoot domestic dogs on sight that are harassing their sheep, no questions asked.

    Sheep excite canids like nothing else in the world :)

    Yeah, I imagined you were talking about pioneering work.

    Eagles have also been effectively wiped out from the area, and I believe they would be an important control for rabbits.

    Here goldens (the north american/european equivalent of wedge-tailed) are protected, and ranchers are much less prone to shoot them than in the past – they used to aerial hunt them from planes. Sheep ranching is much less extensive than cattle ranching, and fortunately, over the years ranchers have become educated to the point where most understand that predation of herbivores ranging from jackrabbits to belding’s ground squirrels is a benefit. And also that most eagles found on a sheep carcass are scavenging, that it’s extremely rare for an aquila sp. to prey directly on sheep.

    But it’s taken decades of education, regulation, and law enforcement (including some jail time for some offenders) to get to this point.

    And we still lose some to shooting but nothing like in the past.

    The trial would include substantial revegetation efforts as well – mechanically and chemically controlling invasive species and reintroducing native grasses and shrubs.

    Yeah, these are used here, also, of course.

    Fire? It’s been successful to the point here where some ranchers employ controlled burns on their private holdings, after seeing how well it has worked on some parcels of public land. Of course there’s still a lot of opposition as well …

    I think it has implications for the whole field of habitat restoration, not just in Ausralia but world-wide.

    Well, australia, which has been particularly vulnerable to devastation by introduced species, particularly placental mammals, despite being about the same size as the lower 48 US states, is probably the most difficult place in the world to attempt habitat restoration on the scale you’re talking about.

    So, yeah, lessons learned in such a tough scenario would be very interesting to the field world-wide, I should think.

  74. #74 david becher
    January 28, 2010

    Serious damage to climate researchers due to misuse of due process in effort. Read papers in peer reviewed journals and that is very clear. We have forgotten all we learned on epistomoloy of knowledge and scientific method from Berkeley, Hume, Russell, Whitehead, Wittgenstein, the Vienna Group, etc. The issue is not whether one believes or not believes (there is no place in the scientific process for branding those who question as skeptics – indeed, skeptics should be rewarded, not castigated. The issue is – this is a policy matter. Wolfe discusses this very well at http://climate-check.blogspot.com/. The issue is – this is a policy matter.

    Rene Magritte, the surrealist made a famous painting of a pipe titled “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe). Of course, it’s a painting of a pipe. The image is a model seen through our minds lens … how well this fits your idea of a pipe depends on your own lens or world view of a pipe and not looking through the eyes of the painter.

    IPCCs probabilities are not statistical tests of scientific hypotheses about whether a model describes an outcome (… the IPCC assigned probabilities are truly nonsense). The model outputs are not capable of being verified or falsified by testing a hypothesis. The defining of values for GHG “forcings” in the IPCC work is science … applying these in a nonverifiable way to long term forecasts of warming of the earth’s temperature is not science. It is computer code … and computer code is not science. The models do not explain important departures from the theory as in the 1940-s through mid 1970s and in the past decade.

    Policy models are not required to be “correct” models of actual working systems. They simply have to be deemed acceptable for making policy decisions.

    If the policy is defined before the model is completed and validated it is a policy model and should not be mislabeled as a scientific model.

    If the prescription involves trillions of dollars of tax burdens, serious restrictions on economic growth resulting in restructuring of the world economy, it is intellectually dishonest to hide this behind the label of consensus (which in any case must be verifiable) what are in fact nothing more than policy models, with the purpose of promoting your world view of a pipe.

    If the policies are being pushed by those who don’t give a damn about the science but are only looking after their own agendas, and especially personal gain, they are more than intellectually dishonest, they are doing the work of the devil.

    Labeling something as consensus does not give one permission to eschew the scientific process. And labeling those who have reasonable legitimate questions even though they may disagree with your world view of a pipe is a basic form of propaganda. Oxford historian Norman Davis outlined five basic rules of propaganda in “Europe – a History,” Oxford Press, 1996, pp 500-501):

    Simplification – reducing all data to a simple confrontation between Good vs. Bad or Friend and Foe.

    Disfiguration – discrediting the opposition by crude smears and parodies

    Transfusion – manipulating the consensus values of the target audience for one’s own end

    Unanimity – presenting one’s viewpoint as if it were the unanimous opinion of all right-thinking people; drawing the doubting individual into agreement by the appeal of “experts” and “star- performers,” by social pressure, and by ‘psychological contagion’

    Orchestration- endlessly repeating the same message in different variations.

  75. #75 dhogaza
    January 28, 2010

    David Becher – yawn. Come up with a new denialist spin rather than regurgitate the same ‘ole, same ‘ole falsehoods.

    This, for instance:

    The model outputs are not capable of being verified or falsified by testing a hypothesis

    is simply a lie, pure and simple.

  76. #76 Der Hog Hozer
    January 28, 2010

    bb bb bbb but bbb b bb bbut “You’re a liar” another classic Don Baccus comment.

    getting seriously fed up with the state of the Australian data. so many new stations have been
    introduced, so many false references.. so many changes that aren’t documented. Every time a
    cloud forms I’m presented with a bewildering selection of similar-sounding sites, some with
    references, some with WMO codes, and some with both. And if I look up the station metadata with
    one of the local references, chances are the WMO code will be wrong (another station will have
    it) and the lat/lon will be wrong too. I’ve been at it for well over an hour, and I’ve reached
    the 294th station in the tmin database. Out of over 14,000. Now even accepting that it will get
    easier (as clouds can only be formed of what’s ahead of you), it is still very daunting. I go
    on leave for 10 days after tomorrow, and if I leave it running it isn’t likely to be there when
    I return! As to whether my ‘action dump’ will work (to save repetition).. who knows?
    .
    .
    I am very sorry to report that the rest of the databases seem to be in nearly as poor a state as
    Australia was. There are hundreds if not thousands of pairs of dummy stations, one with no WMO
    and one with, usually overlapping and with the same station name and very similar coordinates. I
    know it could be old and new stations, but why such large overlaps if that’s the case? Aarrggghhh!
    There truly is no end in sight.

  77. #77 mandas
    January 28, 2010

    DHH

    At least try and write your own posts please, rather than just cutting and pasting from elsewhere. It’s a bit of a giveaway when the formatting doesn’t match (at least try and be a little sneaky and adjust the formatting to try and fool us!).

  78. #78 Danley Wolfe
    January 29, 2010

    dhogaza. In re to the discussion with Becher “…is a lie, pure and simple.” Is that a kind of vitriol?

    Matter of fact – IPCC say that the models cannot inform on temperature increase over decadal periods (let alone millennial periods).

    SRES scenario authors warned IPCC leads in 2004 about representing scenario based model outputs as forecasts – they are not. Intro Modeling 101 principles do not permit long term out of sample projections. It is truly nonsense.

    Nevertheless, the push for policy action is based largely on story line on the long term ramp up over 2010-2100 with most of the damage concentrated in the last couple of decades.

    Steven Schneider even said before the FAR issued that the next assessment should take the projections out to two centuries to create even greater alarm.

    IPCC also say that the models do not provide adequate treatment of other things such as water vapor, clouds, solar variability and other interactions / feedbacks. This is IPCC not my observation.

    So these models are underspecified and more like models used for macroeconomic policy so I say call a spade a spade and call them “policy models” not represent them to be well established models built on of scientific theory which gives incorrect and misleading impression to the public and policy makers.

    As you know, the models are parameterized in making forecasts based on someone’s – a modeler person’s assumption. You might be better served to study the model structure and code yourself. The models can be used to develop long term outlooks but the modelers need to clearly state the shortcomings esp. when the policy remedy involves trillion dollar cap and tax policies and restructuring the economy considering only anthropogenic carbon footprints which is just a small piece of the problem.

    The communication needs to improve to avoid polarization and reach a policy conclusion – not going to happen anytime soon unless there is a sea change in how this is being handled.

  79. #79 dhogaza
    January 29, 2010

    dhogaza. In re to the discussion with Becher “…is a lie, pure and simple.” Is that a kind of vitriol?

    It’s a simple statement of fact.

    SRES scenario authors warned IPCC leads in 2004 about representing scenario based model outputs as forecasts – they are not. Intro Modeling 101 principles do not permit long term out of sample projections. It is truly nonsense.

    No, it’s not nonsense. Even if the models could predict future climate to 1 millionth of a degree if we knew exactly how much CO2 we’d spew into the air over the next century …

    We still would have no way of predicting how much CO2 we’d spew into the air over the next century.

    It’s a statement in regard to our ability to predict future emissions, which are dependent in large part on politics. Thus “projections” based on possible emissions scenarios, rather than “forecasts”.

  80. #80 dhogaza
    January 29, 2010
    You might be better served to study the model structure and code yourself.

    I have (NASA GISS Model E), and this statement:

    As you know, the models are parameterized in making forecasts based on someone’s – a modeler person’s assumption.

    Is simply false – other than the above-mentioned assumptions of future CO2 emissions, when it’s being used for the purpose of generating future climate projections based on various emissions scenarios.

    The so-called “assumptions” you discuss are backed up by references to the relevant literature, and are physics-based. There are uncertainties in some areas of the physics, in particular related to clouds, and this uncertainty is reflected in the models. It’s not modeling that’s the source of the uncertainties, and it has nothing to do with “modeler’s assumptions”.

    The models can be used to develop long term outlooks but the modelers need to clearly state the shortcomings

    The modelers are open about the uncertainties in the physics, and the uncertainties that arise because of limitations of computing power that drive things like grid size, number of layers modeled in the atmosphere, etc.

    The most obvious reflection of that openness is the fact that sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is given as a *range* of roughly 2-4.5C, rather than something more precise, and statements that the uncertainty is mostly due to limited physics regarding cloud feedbacks.

  81. #81 dhogaza
    January 29, 2010

    I skimmed your blog and quickly caught two more inaccuracies:

    The models fail to explain lack of warming during the past century, specifically the 1940s – mid 1970s

    Actually they do fine when appropriate levels of aerosol emissions are included.

    and 1998 to present (as Kevin Trenberth anguished about in his CRU emails.)

    This (lack of warming 1998 to present) is not what Trenberth was anguished about in his famous e-mail, and he’s said so over, and over, and over again. Yet you denialists continue to dishonestly misrepresent his statement by ignoring context AND THE VERY PAPER HE REFERENCED IN THE E-MAIL.

    And actually, individual model runs do show exactly the same kind of natural variation we see in real life, among other things generating ENSO-like phenomena.

    What you see from the IPCC is many runs that are averaged, which damps out the variation. They do this precisely because they’re interested in looking at long term trends. Climate scientists look at 30 year trends for the same reason, you need a long period to sift the signal from the noise (natural variation).

    Of course, I’m sure this has all been pointed out to you before, and you’ll reject it, because knowledge isn’t your goal.

  82. #82 Danley Wolfe
    January 31, 2010

    @dhogaza. We agree on some things.

    Re your …“Is simply false – other than the above-mentioned assumptions of future CO2 emissions”

    You are wrong – the models have lots of inputs and parameterization especially initial/boundary conditions, how they are all plugged and used.

    Re your … “….could predict future climate to 1 millionth of a degree if we knew exactly how much CO2 we’d spew into the air over the next century.”

    You don’t really believe this. We can’t speak about model accuracy for a 100 year projection – out of sample. But this is what is used to sound the alarm for remedies from the policy makers. The issues for long term modeling are: 1) data error 2) model error and 3) structural change in the model (in macroecon this is the “Lucas critique” about regime changing) over the long time horizon. You can talk about 100 year projection but everyone needs to be more candid and transparent on the meaning and restrictions. IPCC really does not communicate this clearly in the SPM to policymakers.

    The range of temperature anomalies / outputs usually quoted, i.e., 1.5 deg C – 6 deg C with mean of 3 deg C over 100 years suggests to “dumb readers” (dumb meaning MSM, general public and politicians) an average annual prediction error of ~0.5%. Ain’t so! This is not a measure of prediction error (or “accuracy” of the model predictions). It’s the range of the outputs for the scenario cases across the collection of models used. Not accuracy of the model outputs. It is nonsense to speak of the accuracy of the model projections for 100 year forecast “out of sample.” We look at “in sample” or backcast model prediction accuracy but this can’t be extrapolated to 100 year projections. There is no null hypothesis. Why IPCC “jimmy up” qualitative Delphi expert voting rank ordering of “likely”– 90%, “very likely” – 95%, and “virtually certain” – 99%, etc. making this “sound” scientific (IPCC Guidance Note on Uncertainties).

    The global climate models (GCMs) work hard to represent the physical processes and have consistency check on conservation of mass and energy. They are useful in making scenario comparisons which inform on the structure and functional relationships among climate variables, not for absolute forecasting. They make projections (are not predictions / forecasts) for given scenarios informing on sensitivities – “if this, then that” questions.
    ———————————————————

    Re your … “it is a simple statement of fact” (no elaboration given) … we still would have no way of predicting how much CO2 we’d spew into the air over the next century.” This sounds a little like Obama speak – rhetoric. You miss the point – the models take the CO2 emission as input and then do their thing to assess the output – impact on climate. Scenarios define the assumptions on energy demand growth, supply mix – and any science / engineering sophomore can calculate the CO2 off gassed (our database covers 100+ countries x all energy types x 100 years in database – software model format). We agree that the policy and technological improvement interplay will determine the output and energy supply mix. The extent of policy remedy depends on what happens post Copenhagen COP15 plus ongoing improvement in understanding of the science.
    ——————————————————–

    Re your … “Is simply false – other than the above-mentioned assumptions of future CO2 emissions, when it’s being used for the purpose of generating future climate projections based on various emissions scenarios. The so-called “assumptions” you discuss are backed up by references to the relevant literature, and are physics-based. There are uncertainties in some areas of the physics, in particular related to clouds, and this uncertainty is reflected in the models. It’s not modeling that’s the source of the uncertainties, and it has nothing to do with “modeler’s assumptions” The modelers are open about the uncertainties in the physics, and the uncertainties that arise because of limitations of computing power that drive things like grid size, number of layers modeled in the atmosphere, etc. The most obvious reflection of that openness is the fact that sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 is given as a *range* of roughly 2-4.5C, rather than something more precise, and statements that the uncertainty is mostly due to limited physics regarding cloud feedbacks” … backed up by references to the relevant literature, and are physics-based. There are uncertainties in some areas of the physics, in particular related to clouds, and this uncertainty is reflected in the models. It’s not modeling that’s the source of the uncertainties, and it has nothing to do with “modeler’s assumptions. What you see from the IPCC is many runs that are averaged which damps out the variation. They do this precisely because they’re interested in looking at long term trends. Climate scientists look at 30 year trends for the same reason, you need a long period to sift the signal from the noise (natural variation).”

    Note the sensitivity range in IPCC is not modeling accuracy but the range of outputs or deviation across / among models AND scenarios cases. It’s meaningless to speak of “model uncertainty” for a projection 100 years out of sample. The modeler does have lots of input on the models in choice of assumptions e.g,, initial / boundary conditions and parameterization and how they are plugged. And the models used in IPCC by their admission are (as you say) weak on clouds and water vapor – the most important GHG. The term “parameterization” here is not to suggest a purely econometrics approach just that there are a lot of inputs on the myriad data (and data holes) and equations of the physical science.
    ———————————————————

    The uncertainties suggested by IPCC are not in the model data and code (algorithms). Your story line that the data is 100% correct based on what is in the literature and the models are completely 100% specified sounds a lot like Obama speak “let me be perfectly clear” rhetoric to me.

    Steven Schneider said before the FAR issued that the next assessment should take the projections out to two centuries to create even greater alarm. YOU VANT a 200 year projection (not forecast), I’ll give you a 200 year projection … or 300 or 500 years. So what’s the meaning?
    ——————————————————–

    We continue to learn more on the science. As you know case in point is the just issued peer reviewed paper by Frank, Esper and cohorts in Nature, 463, 527, Jan 28, 2010 titled “Ensemble reconstruction constraints on the global carbon cycle sensitivity to climate.”

    Warming of the climate tends to cause a net release of CO2 which causes an amplification of warming. Estimates of the magnitude of this effect vary widely, leading to a wide range in global warming projections. Previous work suggested that the magnitude of this positive feedback might be about 40 ppmv per deg C of warming.

    “About 40% of the uncertainty related to projected warming through 2100 stems from the unknown behavior of the carbon cycle –positive feedback of the carbon flux and carbon storage of the atmosphere, ocean and terrestrial biosphere. The Frank paper shows determines a mean value of 7.7 ppmv CO2 per deg C of warming, which excludes the earlier value of 40 ppmv per deg C with a confidence of 95%. The mean value represents ~ 80% reduction in the CO2 carbon cycle feedback effect vs. previous total contribution of 40% of the uncertainty.”

    A significant new finding – time will tell as other groups study this. Interesting the I have seen two reports on the Nature article by MSM which draw 180 deg opposite conclusion vs. what the paper concludes. Because they are stupid and are conditioned to interpret things a certain way. The message has been heavily pitched based on the 100 year projections and this has been “dumbed down” and these people have no idea what they are talking about.
    ——————————————————

    My point is we are still learning about the science. So what else might we learn in the future that will significantly improve our understanding… and affect our thinking on the policy remedies?

    IPCC now is rethinking what and how the message should be delivered, partly as a result of the recent negative publicity.

    IPCC FAR says the models are “not useful for multi-decadal forecasting.” That’s right. For long term forecasting the models are not falsifiable, there is no null hypothesis.

    I think we should call the GCM models “policy models” analogous to economists’ treatment of macro models – policy models built on physical science. They are not useful for prediction but for developing scenario comparisons including the no change and business as usual cases. based on different scenario cases plus do nothing and business as usual (BAU). Better for communicating clearly what is known and not known.

    “The climate consensus is in a double ethical bind,” as Stephen Schneider correctly noted They are permitted to have points of view and opinions but science is not about opinions. Scientists are allowed to further their beliefs but promulgating into the public realm still requires strict following of scientific (and intellectual) principles and scientific method.

  83. #83 Danley Wolfe
    January 31, 2010

    Follow on to above, the following from Susan Solomon just out in Science Express also looks important new contribution to our understanding of climate science and modeling, “Contributions of Stratospheric Water Vapor to Decadal Changes in the Rate of Global Warming” http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/rapidpdf/science.1182488v1.pdf

  84. #84 koolaid
    February 5, 2010

    Two points:
    1)Global Warming is a Fact. (a statement without regard to how it is warming)
    If I were posting this 10000+ years ago I would be under four thousand feet of ice and snow. As I look out my window I sit atop four feet of fresh snow.

    2)Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is an opinion. (a statement indicating why it is warming)

    Reasoned debate seems to break down when “opinion” is perceived to be fact.

    -koolaid

  85. #85 koolaid
    February 5, 2010

    It is the opinion of many people that catastrophic AGW is one of the greatest threats to life on Earth.

    Carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor (H2O) are two of the Green House Gases (GHG) that are believed to be the main drivers of AGW.

    CO2 is generally accepted by biologists to be food… more specifically, the first link in the food chain i.e. plant food.

    H2O is considered to be necessary for life to exist.

    Here is my question:

    When talking about the climate (perhaps the most complex system on the planet) does it make sense to say that Food(CO2) and Water(H2O) are a threat to life on Earth?

  86. #86 Marco
    February 5, 2010

    @koolaid:

    Ah, the “food” claim. If only CO2 and H2O were only food. Unfortunately, they also have other activities, which includes the greenhouse effect. Get too much of it, and its function as greenhouse gas gets more problematic for many life forms than its function as food for plants.

  87. #87 dhogaza
    February 5, 2010

    When talking about the climate (perhaps the most complex system on the planet) does it make sense to say that Food(CO2) and Water(H2O) are a threat to life on Earth?

    Hmmm … speaking personally, I was almost swept overboard while crossing the columbia bar on a 42 foot fishing boat that ran into a 40-50 foot wave of H2O. H2O is both necessary for and a threat to life, often in the same context (water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink).

    WWII submarines had difficulty staying submerged for more than 24 hours, even when lying on the sea floor to conserve battery power, due to inadequate technology for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Relatively modest quantities of that “plant food” in the atmosphere will kill you…

  88. #88 pough
    February 5, 2010

    Reasoned debate seems to break down when “opinion” is perceived to be fact.

    Not to mention when fact is perceived to be opinion.

  89. #89 koolaid
    February 5, 2010

    “WWII submarines had difficulty staying submerged for more than 24 hours, even when lying on the sea floor to conserve battery power, due to inadequate technology for the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere.

    Relatively modest quantities of that “plant food” in the atmosphere will kill you…”

    Very true.

    Too much of anything is not a good thing.

    Comparing the climate’s CO2 level with WWII submarines
    is comparing 385ppm with 13,850ppm.

    When has Earth ever reached that level of CO2 in the last, say… 500 million years?

    If CO2 levels tripled from today’s level, life would be very pleasant for both plants and animals. More CO2 is a good thing.