The Island of Doubt

It gives me no pleasure to pass on the facts about the lack of respect for the truth shown by climate change pseudo-skeptics. But there’s simply no getting around it.

Last year, in his book Science as a Contact Sport, veteran climatologist Stephen Schneider made much of the misuse of a quote that actually did come from his lips about the temptation to “offer up scary scenarios” and the need to stay honest. The problem was he ended his observation on conflicting messaging priorities by saying, “I hope that means being both” but that line almost never makes it into stories by denialists citing the quote.

That’s bad enough, and it continues to haunt Schneider, but the latest example of integrity-free reportage, which comes from the UK, makes such transgressions seem like something less than a little white lie. “Fabricated quote used to discredit climate scientist” is the headline in The Independent. I shall lift several paragraphs from the story, as it really deserves wide distribution:

Sir John Houghton, who played a critical role in establishing the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC), was roundly condemned after it emerged that he was an apparent advocate of scary propaganda to frighten the public into believing the dangers of global warming.

“Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen,” Sir John was supposed to have said in 1994.

The trouble is, Sir John Houghton has never said what he is quoted as saying. The words do not appear in his own book on global warming, first published in 1994, despite statements to the contrary. In fact, he denies emphatically that he ever said it at any time, either verbally or in writing.

In fact, his view on the matter of generating scare stories to publicise climate change is quite the opposite. “There are those who will say ‘unless we announce disasters, no one will listen’, but I’m not one of them,” Sir John told The Independent.

“It’s not the sort of thing I would ever say. It’s quite the opposite of what I think and it pains me to see this quote being used repeatedly in this way. I would never say we should hype up the risk of climate disasters in order to get noticed,” he said.

Even though the quotation appears on about 1.77 million web links, no one seems to know where it originated. On the few occasions a reference is cited, it is listed as coming from the first edition of Sir John’s book, Global Warming: The Complete Briefing, published by Lion Books in 1994. But Sir John does not say it in this edition, nor in subsequent editions published by Cambridge University Press.

Christopher Booker, a newspaper columnist, considers the quotation so important that he lists it at the top of the first page of his most recent book on climate scepticism, The Real Global Warming Disaster, published last year. Mr Booker also cites the 1994 edition of Houghton’s own book on global warming as the source of the quotation, even though there is no mention of it there. Mr Booker did not respond yesterday to enquiries by The Independent.

Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist at Liverpool John Moores University, also cited the 1994 edition of Sir John’s book as the source of the quote, which he used last Sunday in an article denouncing the alarmism of climate scientists. Dr Peiser admitted to The Independent that he had not read the book recently and had only used the quote “from memory” because it is so widely cited in other books on climate scepticism.

And that’s not all. Peiser actually tried to lay the blame for his failure to properly research the quote on Houghton:

“I’ve seen it printed in many books. He is well known for making these statements. I’ve used that quote on many occasions from one of the books on climate alarmism. If he makes the claim that he never said this then he has to clarify that,” Dr Peiser said.

“If he publicly says that he never made that statement then, of course, I wouldn’t use it, but this is the first time I’ve heard [his denial] and this has been going on for 15 years. This quote has been used for the past 15 years,” he said.

Worse for Peiser’s credibility is the fact that the first appearance of the offending fictional quotation only came in 2006. Same goes for everyone’s favorite extreme denier:

Christopher Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, also cites the 1994 book as the source of the quote, which he uses extensively in his writings and lectures advocating climate scepticism. The quotation, he says, is a prime example of the alarmism and exaggeration of the climate change community and the IPCC.

Although Lord Monckton replied to an email asking him for the source of the quotation, he did not reply to a second email pointing out that it does not appear anywhere in Houghton’s 1994 book.

Monkton, of course, has been discredited so many times this latest news will hardly make much difference. And yet, he’s still getting mileage out of his status, which the New York Times‘ Elisabeth Rosenthal had the nerve to describe as “a leading climate skeptic” just this week.

And this is the saddest part of all. If the New York Times of all papers can’t tell the difference between a source of reasonable criticism (and the IPCC could use a bit of constructive criticism these days) and a dishonest propagandist, then we really are in trouble. It’s one thing for agents of denial to abuse their right to free speech, but we can’t afford to see the same sort of thing contaminate the nation’s opinion leaders.

Joe Romm, incidentally, tears apart Rosenthal for that story, which really is an atrocious piece of reporting.

You might think it impossible for any newspaper — let alone the one-time “paper of record” — to run a story raising “accusations of scientific sloppiness” about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that never quotes a single climate scientist.

You might think it inconceivable that the NYT would base its attack on the accusations and half-truths provided by “climate skeptics, right-leaning politicians and even some mainstream scientists” where

  • The one climate skeptic quoted is the The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley (TVMOB) — who pushes outright lies such as “There hasn’t been any global warming for 15 years” and who labels young people who disagree with him “Hitler Youth.”
  • The right-leaning politician is Sen. John Barrasso, who is so far out he tried to stop the gathering of intelligence on the national security threat posed by climate change.
  • The “some mainstream scientists” is in fact only Roger Pielke, Jr. (!!), who has a Ph.D. in political science, who has said, “I am not a climate scientist,” who — far from being mainstream on this subject — is a long-time critic of the IPCC who has been attacking scientists’ reputations for many years.

Rosenthal doesn’t actually quote a single mainstream scientist attacking the IPCC.

There simply is no excuse for this kind of reporting. I see that Matt “Framing Science” Nisbet disagrees:

Critics on the left are alleging bias in the story, but if there is bias, it is simply journalists’ orientation to pay attention to and report on possible wrong-doing by those in positions of influence and to follow perceived conflict.

But Matt’s not a journalist. and this kind of reaction makes that obvious. For one thing, left and right have absolutely nothing to do with this issue. Yes, most climate change pseudoskeptics tend to hold right-wing political views, but that’s not the issue. We’re talking about honesty in communication. By unnecessarily introducing political ideology into the discussion, it seems to me that Nisbet has swallowed the denier talking point that climate change alarmism is a communist plot. In any event, I think it fair to say that anyone who has spent any time as a professional journalist with a reputable news outfit will side more with Romm on this one.

To repeat (because that’s what you do if you want to be heard): Leading off with the allegation that mainstream scientists (plural) say one thing, and then failing to cite even one scientist actually saying it is the sort of thing that got the Times into trouble over its coverage of the lead-up to the Iraq war. And that produced a 3,000-word apology from the editors. Apparently the paper hasn’t learned its lesson.

And that lesson is this: some sources lie; others are more trustworthy. It’s a reporter’s job to tell the difference and not give the dishonest ones a free pass. If you can’t do that, find another profession, one where you can do less damage to the public conversation about the central challenge of our times.

Comments

  1. #1 hunter
    February 11, 2010

    Nothing says denial like claiming that all of those who disagree are not just wrong, but are liars.
    Nothing says non-falsifiable like claiming that every weather event is proof of AGW- hot, cold, wet or dry.
    Nothing says phony like Joe Romm claiming that winter snows are predicted by global warming.
    The AGW promotion community, extremely well funded, dominating the editorial boards and ranks of journalists, are being defeated for the same reason that people laughed at the Emperor once the little boy pointed out his actual state of dress.
    In today’s world of course, the boy would have been accused of being a schill for high priced clothing manufacturers, and shipped off to re-education camp.

  2. #2 Paul Browne
    February 11, 2010

    hunter “Nothing says denial like claiming that all of those who disagree are not just wrong, but are liars.”

    But what are you to do when they, you know, lie?

  3. #3 Dunc
    February 11, 2010

    Nothing says denial like completely ignoring the actual point of the post.

  4. #4 Trevor M
    February 11, 2010

    Your headline ironically demonstrates just one of the reasons why skepticism is winning over truthiness. Denial Camp, indeed.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Not wild claims without foundations. Not imaginary projections. The anthropogenic global warming movement is floundering because it is not based on logical arguments and good science. It is based on “truthiness”. This truthiness foundation has now been exposed.

    1) If it were real science, it would be transparent (unlike the IPPC).

    2) Real science doesn’t involve mysterious disappearing data. We’re all just supposed to take their word that the dog ate the homework.

    3) Real science doesn’t hinge on a propriety computer modeling program that nobody else has access to and can test and experiment with. I read that now, suddenly, they’re going to let outsiders use their program, test it, and subject themselves to actual peer review.

    4) Real science can be replicated by other people. See points 2 and 3 above.

    5) Real science involves research and facts, rather than opinions and truthiness. See points 2, 3, 4 above.

    6) Real science can be used to accurately predict things. Absolutely NOTHING has ever been predicted with any accuracy by the AGW proponents. Period.

    7) There is no final authority body in science which you can’t challenge. Maybe, just maybe, that’s finally sinking in. Is it?

    The “science” of the man-made global warming movement fails on every point above, all required by the way every other science works. COMPARE THIS WITH REAL SCIENCE. LIKE, SAY, EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE. IT MEETS ALL THE ABOVE SCIENTIFIC CRITERIA IN SPADES.

    What we’ve seen out of these people is NOT science by any acceptable standard. Nor are their arguments logical. They’ve built a mountain out of logical fallacies like Appealing to Authority and Confusing Causation with Correlation, while trying everything they can to block and ridicule healthy skepticism and the normal process of peer review and the way in which science works.

    And then there’s that massive transfer of wealth in tax dollars with no certainty that anything real is being accomplished or can be proven to be accomplished. Truthiness is not good enough to support this kind of expenditure. Just like truthiness wasn’t good enough to start the Iraq war, for example.

    The AGW movement have built what resembles a religion more than anything else. It is based on faith. And that is why it has crumbled when the facts are simply brought out of the closet.

  5. #5 Denmark Vesey
    February 11, 2010

    Well done Trevor M!

    May I cut paste & credit for my blog?

  6. #6 Richard Simons
    February 11, 2010

    Trevore M says:

    The anthropogenic global warming movement is floundering because it is not based on logical arguments and good science.

    1. Energy arrives at the earth’s surface as relatively short wave radiation. It leaves the Earth’s surface as longer wave radiation.
    2. Carbon dioxide absorbs some of the longer wave radiation, reducing the amount of energy leaving Earth.
    3. Over the past 150 years, the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been increasing.
    4. Several lines of evidence point to the increase in atmospheric CO2 as having come from human activity.
    5. Increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is likely to reduce the amount of energy able to leave Earth.
    6. This will result in an increase in the average surface temperature of Earth.

    Exactly which of these statements do you believe to be not based on logic and good science?

  7. #7 MartinM
    February 11, 2010

    You know what else real science involves, Trevor? Coherent criticisms, not vague innuendo without a single shred of support.

  8. #8 guthrie
    February 11, 2010

    And I heard Pielke himself last week say that he agrees with the IPCC assessment of the science, at least the first working group, although I don’t recall that he specified that.

  9. #9 Jason A.
    February 11, 2010

    Trevor M.:

    COMPARE THIS WITH REAL SCIENCE. LIKE, SAY, EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE.

    The comparison is apt, but not for the reason you think. The arguments put forth by the climate ‘skeptics’ are remarkable similar to the arguments put forth by the evolution ‘skeptics’, a.k.a. creationists. Even the very points you posted only need a few words replaced to become a creationist screed about how evolution has no evidence, no logical basis, is unobservable and untestable, and throw in the always popular conspiracy to suppress the truth.

  10. #10 Jason A.
    February 11, 2010

    The AGW movement have built what resembles a religion more than anything else. It is based on faith.

    Lol, how did I miss that one?

    Creationist: Evolution is just another religion! It’s entirely based on faith!

  11. #11 Friends of Trevor
    February 11, 2010

    That was a far more pertinent accurate assessment than James’ pseudo-believer post.

  12. #12 Marco
    February 11, 2010

    Trevor M’s post is hilarious! If it were meant as a joke…

    1. The IPCC makes a review of the scientific body of work. It’s dealings are as transparent as a large organisation can be. In the meantime, thousands of climate scientists are publishing in the scientific literature. Transparently.

    2. No data has “disappeared”. You are free to get just about all data you want from the GHCN and the National Meteorological Societies. What? Too lazy?

    3. Most GCMs are ‘open code’. GISTEMP has been freely available for years. Many others have been able to reproduce the results based on published information. Why can’t you? Incompetent?

    4. Please provide examples of climate science that supposedly is not reproducible by others

    5. One man’s facts are another man’s opinions. Such as using more or less rainfall as a temperature proxy (Soon&Baliunas) without any corroborative evidence

    6. Please provide us with an accurate prediction based on the Theory of Evolution

    7. Challenging is not the issue, using misinformation, lies, and distortions in that challenge *is*. I’ve already caught you on some, but I’m wiling to give you the benefit of the doubt: ignorant of all the facts.

  13. #13 davey
    February 11, 2010

    Yes, my eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw Rosenthal quoting Monckton. How could she not know that he is among the most cartoonish of denialists. It is good to see this horrible article is getting the raking over it deserves.

  14. #14 the sage
    February 11, 2010

    loving the warmer nutjob hand-wringing! loving it!!! don’t worry nutjob believers, there will be another OMFGHUMANITYWILLCEASE cause you can milk for a few years. something else will come along that you can fret about. have faith (pun intended). don’t despair.

  15. #15 Turboblocke
    February 11, 2010

    “my eyes nearly popped out of my head”: such bad taste when used in proximity to Monckton!

  16. #16 dhogaza
    February 11, 2010

    And that lesson is this: some sources lie; others are more trustworthy. It’s a reporter’s job to tell the difference and not give the dishonest ones a free pass. If you can’t do that, find another profession, one where you can do less damage to the public conversation about the central challenge of our times.

    James, you might want to make that point – as a peer, a journalist (which is why I suggest you post there yourself) – at this thread at dotlrn (Andy Revkin).

    Revkin takes heat for favorably linking to a post at WUWT, and can’t understand why rational people take him to task for it.

    Your statement sums up his problem in a very concise way.

  17. #17 Rugosa
    February 11, 2010

    And today the NY Times has an article by John Broder (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/11/science/earth/11climate.html?scp=1&sq=broder&st=nyt) that cites James Inhofe, Rush Limbaugh, and Matt Drudge – and not a single climate scientist – as climate-change skeptics.

  18. #18 MikeB
    February 11, 2010

    They will continue to lie for the simple reason that they can get away with it. None of them will face any hardship or censure for their lies, because nobody who employs them can be bothered to find out if they are lying,or worse, just doesn’t care.

    Benny Peiser will continue to write seemingly expert articles for UK newspapers, and will continue to be booked on BBC news programmes as though he is an actual climate expert. No one will ask him about this incident, since if they were interested, they would have noted his past mistakes, including his failed attack on Oaskes.

    In the same why, they would have wondered why a social anthropologist with an interest in football was supposed to be an expert on climate, and why he was working for Nigel Lawson. In short, they would have bothered to look at Wikipedia. They havn’t, and they wont.

    They same goes for the rest. Rosenthal won’t lose her job over this, and nobody is going to get sued, alas. Booker may even get a bonus.

    The Guardian is crawling all over the CRU emails, but nobody is asking any questions about Watts Up, Nigel Lawsons happy band or any other denial think-tank.

    Man bites dog, even built on lies, is much more interesting than uncovering lying liars, and the lies they tell (copyright A. Franken). Thats journalism. Sadly.

  19. #19 BaldApe
    February 11, 2010

    Marko,

    I was with you until #6.

    Try this, for instance. (took me all of a few seconds on Google)

    I’m with Jason A. Climate change deniers seem to me like creationists who got tired of displaying their ignorance of high school level biology.

  20. #20 Mike M
    February 11, 2010

    I see a lot a subterfuge flying back and forth. There are three issues, can we please try to stop the cross-talk between them? Generally speaking:

    1. (a) Human CO2 causes measurable global warming. Fact or still unproven theory? I say the latter because no proof has yet been submitted by anyone.
    1. (b) CO2 concentration in general is the primary driver of planet temperature. Does anyone still believe that whopper when geologic record shows us no such connection whatsoever?

    2. (a) Global warming is still happening or it is not. Whether or not it is does actually have any bearing on #1 but if we believe satellite data showing us that the earth’s temperature has not changed much at all over the last ~9 years then that’s an extra hurdle for warmists to crawl over because the IPCC models told us in 2001 that we should expect continued warming with the continued rise in CO2.

    2. (b) What’s happening? The ice caps are melting; the glaciers are receding too fast; sea level rise is accelerating; storms are stronger/more frequent; coral is bleaching, manatees are dying, (oh wait a minute! they ARE! …from that cold water from global warming.) The ice caps are NOT melting, the glaciers continue to recede at about the same pace they have been for thousands of years; the rate of sea level rise remains relatively constant with a slight DECREASE over the last few years; there is ZERO correlation between storm strength/frequency when you INDEX the damage for inflation/population and you factor in the fact that 50 years ago we didn’t have satellites to tell us about every tropical depression for formed.

    3. Global warming/CO2 is bad. Don’t tell that to the people who lived during the Medieval Warming Period that Michael Mann made disappear. Let’s see, the greatest diversity of life species occurs in the snows of Antarctica or in the jungles of Ecuador? Plants LOVE having more CO2 – a LOT more – like 1000 to 1200 PPM, (they told me so!) More plants/faster plant growth/fatter plants mean more food and more oxygen for us animals. (And if it’s a little warmer too – that sounds closer to paradise to me.)

    4. Spending 30 billion dollars of our hard earned tax money (revenue generated mostly from using cheap energy BTW), on climate research to study/prove/spin AGW over the last ~20 years and use it to scare the public into the socialist agenda of allowing government to run our lives in order to ‘save the planet’ has been a benefit to society because? (Because some elite hacks get to keep their cushy ‘science’ jobs at the Met, NASA, etc.?)

    Ooops! That’s four! ..but you probably didn’t believe me to begin with so.. so sue me.

  21. #21 Parker
    February 11, 2010

    If the global warming skeptics really believed there own talking points: that the observed warming is natural, that we are impotent to do anything cause the world is too big then they should be advocating mass relocating of cities and many other things to prepare for the inevitable “natural” disaster of non-anthropocentric global warming.

  22. #22 dhogaza
    February 11, 2010

    That’s four! ..but you probably didn’t believe me to begin with so.. so sue me.

    No, I won’t sue you. I’ll point out that you’re wrong, and that you could *teach yourself why* in perhaps a good solid hour of researching popular explanations of the science.

    You could do worse that study http://skepticalscience.com.

    Assuming you’re interested in learning. Apparently, given the stuff you’ve posted, you believe that the only place to learn about climate science is from skeptical sites which aren’t run by scientists.

    Next time you need heart surgery, I keep a rusty chainsaw in my basement. You don’t need none of those educated types.

  23. #23 madjack
    February 11, 2010

    ‘…socialist agenda of allowing government to run our lives in order’

    Sigh + facepalm. When you get behind the malarkey people like MikeM put out, it often boils down to this – a kind of frothing paranoia bolstered by the likes of Fox News and the pure terror at having a black democrat for a president…

  24. #24 Johnson B. Long
    February 11, 2010

    IPCC lied and global warming died.

    How is all that global warming in new York and on the East coast going? It’s falling in flake format in many areas. Imagine that. Global warming sure is cold these days. maybe Al Gore has made his point. The warmer it gets, the more snow we have.

  25. #25 madjack
    February 11, 2010

    ‘Global warming sure is cold these days. ‘
    Double facepalm and suggest you book a plane to Australia for another POV.

    Also, what is it with this fascination with Al Gore? He’s really not that important. Get over him already!

  26. #26 Lyle
    February 11, 2010

    The quote about announcing disasters sounds like a line from the how to get people to watch the adds on your media handbook. Unfortunately a lot of scientific studies have adopted this meme, that lots of things are out to get us. One question that has not been seen on the polls is how many believe its to late we are all doomed? Of course the religious right is consistent in one sense because christ said to take no thought for the morrow because it will take care of itself.
    Actually the lines sort of come from last nights John Steward show where the show really made fun of global warming and skewered Al Gore. For those looking for climate change action this piece suggests that they have essentially lost the US once folks like Stewart start making fun of it.

  27. #27 Marco
    February 12, 2010

    @BaldApe:
    As your link also says: the predictions are in “degree” rather than “kind”. That is, the *accurate* predictions of evolution are as accurate as the predictions of AGW.

    Just to be sure here: I see no evidence for the Theory of Evolution being wrong.

  28. #28 Marco
    February 12, 2010

    @Johnson B. Long:

    Tell Roy Spencer and John Christy to fix their sattelites. They have just recorded the highest *positive* January anomaly ever. The US as a whole has also recorded January temperatures 0.3 degrees (Celsius) *above* average.

    It’s cold…in some very selected places.

    Oh, and snow in New York is probably something very recent, right? Never happened before? What? Every year? What a surprise!

  29. #29 llewelly
    February 12, 2010

    The “science” of the man-made global warming movement fails on every point above, all required by the way every other science works. COMPARE THIS WITH REAL SCIENCE. LIKE, SAY, EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE. IT MEETS ALL THE ABOVE SCIENTIFIC CRITERIA IN SPADES.

    WHICH IS APPARENTLY DONE IN ALL CAPS I GUESS.

  30. #30 llewelly
    February 12, 2010

    Warmer air can hold more water vapor. More warmth results in more evaporation. All other things being equal, more water vapor results in more snow – if it is still cold enough to to snow. Note that some of the evaporation which brings the water vapor into the air in the first place, often occurs some distance from the location where it snows. It is not unusual for a storm to draw warm moist air from the south, where it may be above freezing, and deposit it in the north, as snow, where it is below freezing. Global warming is likely to result in fewer snow days (as there are fewer days of the year when it is cold enough to snow), but more snow in individual snow storms. Additionally – note that ice coverage on a body of water prevents the “lake effect” which can enhance snowfall.
    Explanation here.

  31. #31 llewelly
    February 12, 2010

    Mike M | February 11, 2010 6:04 PM:

    2. (b) What’s happening? The ice caps are melting; the glaciers are receding too fast; sea level rise is accelerating; …

    All true. Links added by me.

  32. #32 llewelly
    February 12, 2010

    Mike M | February 11, 2010 6:04 PM:

    1. (a) Human CO2 causes measurable global warming. Fact or still unproven theory? I say the latter because no proof has yet been submitted by anyone.

    I’ve added a link to an easy to understand video which explains how CO2 does cause measurable global warming.
    I’ve added a link to an article which summarizes the evidence that global warming real, caused by humans, and dangerous.

  33. #33 llewelly
    February 12, 2010

    Mike M | February 11, 2010 6:04 PM:

    3. Global warming/CO2 is bad. Don’t tell that to the people who lived during the Medieval Warming Period that Michael Mann made disappear.

    Michael Mann did not make the Medieval Warming Period “disappear”. He showed that it was real, but confined primarily to a large part of the North Atlantic, Southern Greenland, the Eurasian Arctic, and parts of North America. He showed that in those regions, it was warmer during the Medieval warm period than during 1961-1990 (a commonly used baseline period). However – he also showed the 1998-2008 period was warmer than the Medieval Warming Period in those regions, and even more so throughout the rest of the globe. See here.

  34. #34 Lab Rat
    February 12, 2010

    ” Plants LOVE having more CO2 – a LOT more – like 1000 to 1200 PPM, (they told me so!) More plants/faster plant growth/fatter plants mean more food and more oxygen for us animals. (And if it’s a little warmer too – that sounds closer to paradise to me.)”

    Mike M does not live in Bangladesh. Clearly. Because being warm while your house and all your belongings are somewhere under the water is not much of a consolation. I don’t know enough about the science to argue any other points but your whole “Omg warmer with more plants would suit my little sheltered idealistic somewhere-safely-above-sea-level western lifestyle really well!” attitude comes across as really selfish. And arrogant.

    Although you are right about the plants. They do prefer higher carbon dioxide levels, that just doesn’t make them fat (it’s the tetraploidy that does that!)

  35. #35 Rob
    February 12, 2010

    EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE

    The battle between the deniers (creationists/religionists) and the scientists has been decidedly won by the scientists, as more and more evidence has been amassed by science. The creationists have been pushed to the fringe, and can make no further assault on evolutionary theory. Evolution is a fact and is the basis (foundation) of modern biology.

    The battle between the deniers and the scientists is not over, yet. This battle is much younger, and the theories involved in climate science are must less developed. As more and more evidence is discovered, the field of climate science will mature, and slowly will win out over those who currently deny the validity of AGW. These deniers will fight to the death, and will increasingly become a fringe movement like YECs. The problem here, however, is that by the time the battle is won, global warming will be a fact, and the effect of global warming will be irreversible. The stakes are so much higher here, that some eventual triumph by science will potentially be irrelevant.

    Thus the analogy of Trevor is both a good one and a bad one.

  36. #36 Raging Bee
    February 12, 2010

    The AGW promotion community, extremely well funded, dominating the editorial boards and ranks of journalists…

    And the AGW denial community — oil-exporting states and all — are regularly begging for donations on PBS?

  37. #37 the sage
    February 12, 2010

    Rob I am happy to have come across the smartest person in the planet: As more and more evidence is discovered, the field of climate science will mature, and slowly WILL(Really?) win out over those who currently deny the validity of AGW. These deniers will fight to the death, and WILL (??Really) increasingly become a fringe movement like YECs. The problem here, however, IS that by the time the battle is won, global warming WILL (WOW – REally?) be a fact, and the effect of global warming WILL be irreversible [because......you said??]. The stakes ARE so much higher here, that some eventual triumph by science WILL potentially be irrelevant [because.........you said??].

    You sound pretty certain of yourself there skippy. Thanks for backing up your calamitous forecast with…..nothing.

  38. #38 gnomic
    February 12, 2010

    I’ve read the IPCC reports (not just the summaries). I’ve also read as much of the denialist literature as I could stomach. When I started, it was to gain an understanding of both sides of the issues and find out what the truth was.

    What I found was some good, solid science and a bunch of people who either don’t understand science (ignorant) or “people” (some who are obviously corporate shills) who are cherry-picking information and misrepresenting the facts and misusing statistics to lie.

    Talk about a petroleum-fueled pesudo-religion!

    Fact: Climate change is real and is man-made. The consequences are somewhat indeterminate, and the outcomes range from Bad to Catastrophic.

    Questions: What to do? How much needs to be done? How can it be done? What are the tradeoffs?

    One of the options is to do nothing, pretty much ensuring the Catastrophic outcome unless Science rushes in to save us with some unknown and unforeseen technology. Place your bets accordingly.

    It doesn’t matter if the message is championed by Al Gore or Jeffery Dahlmer, the facts are what the are. It doesn’t matter if a couple of scientists disagree or a legion of Fox News reporters disagree. The facts are what the are.

    The debate here is moot. Smart people are moving on to problem-solving. The rest of you can decide that Pi (that’s a number) is equal to 3.0. Evolution will resolve your problem in the long run – whether you believe in it or not.

  39. #39 Lance
    February 12, 2010

    llewelly,

    Michael Mann did not make the Medieval Warming Period “disappear”. He showed that it was real, but confined primarily to a large part of the North Atlantic, Southern Greenland, the Eurasian Arctic, and parts of North America.

    Huh, really? Because Phil Jones, yes that Phil Jones, thinks that the controversy over the MWP is not yet settled. Or so he is quoted in a BBC article by Roger Harrabin, hardly a “denialist”.

    He also mentions that at least one other period was also as warm or warmer. Perhaps he means the so called Roman Warm Period.

    When even Phil Jones contradicts your overconfident view of the weak AGW science it may be time for a bit of recalibration.

    Unless you like having these little limbs of misinformation being sawed off beneath you.

  40. #40 dhogaza
    February 13, 2010

    When even Phil Jones contradicts your overconfident view of the weak AGW science it may be time for a bit of recalibration.

    “Not Settled” does not mean “McI et al are right that there was a synchronous, global MWP”.

    So rather than lecture those of us who have understood that for a long time, please go educate those denialists who insist that the notion of a synchronous, global MWP is proven.

    Phil Jones is right – there’s much more to learn about the so-called MWP. It’s not settled. Yet all the evidence available suggests it’s not a synchronous, global historical event.

    It would be good to settle it – he’s right. But thus far, bets are on its being hemispherically, at least, asynchronous.

    When even Phil Jones contradicts your overconfident view of the weak AGW science it may be time for a bit of recalibration.

    But your side has “proven” the Phil Jones is a fraud. Why do you cite him as an authority?

    If you accept him as an authority on this – even though his statement doesn’t, in anyway, contradict mainstream thought – surely you accept him as an authority on other aspects of the science?

    No, of course not. You will cherry pick.

  41. #41 Lance
    February 13, 2010

    Of course I don’t accept Phil Jones as a legitimate authority. You of all people with your hair trigger use of the word “liar” should be shrieking at the top of your lungs at Phil Jones’ “pants on fire” behavior.

    The point is that llewelly was defending Mann’s work as proof of the non-global extent of the MWP when even Mann’s own collaborator, Phil Jones, was admitting that there was no such proof.

    It would be as if Watson had turned on Crick and said that whole DNA thing was just a stab in the dark.

    Even someone as biased on this topic and prone to blindly follow the AGW company line as you has to admit, that Jones’ admission is one hell of an embarrassing shiner on the eye of Mann’s claim that his work invalidates the MWP.

  42. #42 llewelly
    February 13, 2010

    Lance | February 12, 2010 10:46 PM:

    Huh, really? Because Phil Jones, yes that Phil Jones, thinks that the controversy over the MWP is not yet settled.

    The person I responded to specifically claimed Mann made the Medieval Warm Period “disappear”. Mann’s work does not show that; it does show a Medieval Warm period. That remains true regardless of whether Phil Jones thinks there is a valid scientific controversy over the Medieval Warm Period.

    Phil Jones has actually offered scientific reasons for thinking the climate of medieval period is not completely understood. In particular, there are relatively few proxies from tropical and southern hemisphere sites. It is possible that discovery of more proxies for tropical and southern could show a Medieval Warm Period in the southern hemisphere, but at this time, there is no evidence of that. In any case – Phil is making a general claim about the state of scientific understanding. That is quite different from specifically claiming that Mann made the Medieval Warm Period “disappear”.

  43. #43 dhogaza
    February 13, 2010

    That is quite different from specifically claiming that Mann made the Medieval Warm Period “disappear”.

    Which, to point out the obvious, implies that the observational data to support a global, synchronous MWP exists, which Jones is saying is not true. There’s insufficient data to support denialist claims that there was any global, synchronous MWP in the first place, so how can one claim “Mann made it disappear”?

    Honestly, that is. Leaves out Lance, among others.

  44. #44 dhogaza
    February 13, 2010

    Jones exact words on the MWP:

    There is much debate over whether the Medieval Warm Period was global in extent or not. The MWP is most clearly expressed in parts of North America, the North Atlantic and Europe and parts of Asia. For it to be global in extent the MWP would need to be seen clearly in more records from the tropical regions and the Southern Hemisphere. There are very few palaeoclimatic records for these latter two regions.

    Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.

    We know from the instrumental temperature record that the two hemispheres do not always follow one another. We cannot, therefore, make the assumption that temperatures in the global average will be similar to those in the northern hemisphere.

    Which, of course, is exactly the assumption made by those who claim the case for a global, synchronous MWP is proven.

  45. #45 dhogaza
    February 13, 2010

    The point is that llewelly was defending Mann’s work as proof of the non-global extent of the MWP when even Mann’s own collaborator, Phil Jones, was admitting that there was no such proof.

    Paleoclimatology isn’t Jones’ specialty. We don’t know if Jones is familiar with Mann ’09, for instance. Jones has been occupied with a bunch of things unrelated to science since November, after all.

    Even someone as biased on this topic and prone to blindly follow the AGW company line as you has to admit, that Jones’ admission is one hell of an embarrassing shiner on the eye of Mann’s claim that his work invalidates the MWP.

    Why? Jones could be wrong. The majority of those working in paleoclimatology might strongly disagree with Jones statement, you don’t know. You assume. Jones says something you agree with, therefore his position is unassailable. Has he published any formal rebuttal to Mann’s paper? And, as I said above, what evidence do we have that he’s familiar with Mann ’09.

    Still, even if you hold up Jones as being unassailable, he’s simply giving his *opinion* that there’s insufficient evidence, not that there’s *no* evidence.

    He also mentions that at least one other period was also as warm or warmer. Perhaps he means the so called Roman Warm Period.

    Since the interview is online, surely Lance can provide Jones exact words in which he mentions that there’s at least one other period that was also as warm or warmer.

    And, yes, I’ve read the interview. Twice.

  46. #46 Lance
    February 13, 2010

    llewelly,

    My response was to your comment,

    Michael Mann did not make the Medieval Warming Period “disappear”. He showed that it was real, but confined primarily to a large part of the North Atlantic, Southern Greenland, the Eurasian Arctic, and parts of North America.

    Mann’s discredited work is not proof of any such thing. Even if one accepts his shoddy methodology his selective use of proxies is reason enough to discard his work. There also exist studies that show southern hemisphere warming in excess of current levels during the MWP. As Jones says the debate is hardly settled on the MWP contrary to your claims that Mann’s work shows it to be confined to the northern hemisphere.

    dhogaza,

    In fact my speculation that the two periods of warming Jones was referring to were the afore mentioned MWP and the Roman Warm Period, based on Harribin summary of Jones’ comments, was incorrect. I do note that I said “perhaps” in my remarks.

    Here is the exact quote from the full article.

    Harribin – Do you agree that according to the global temperature record used by the IPCC, the rates of global warming from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 were identical?

    Jones – An initial point to make is that in the responses to these questions I’ve assumed that when you talk about the global temperature record, you mean the record that combines the estimates from land regions with those from the marine regions of the world. CRU produces the land component, with the Met Office Hadley Centre producing the marine component.

    Temperature data for the period 1860-1880 are more uncertain, because of sparser coverage, than for later periods in the 20th Century. The 1860-1880 period is also only 21 years in length. As for the two periods 1910-40 and 1975-1998 the warming rates are not statistically significantly different.

    I have also included the trend over the period 1975 to 2009, which has a very similar trend to the period 1975-1998.

    So, in answer to the question, the warming rates for all 4 periods are similar and not statistically significantly different from each other.

    So warming rates from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 (which is very similar to the trend of the period 1975- 2009) have no statistically significant differences.

    So tell me again why we need to explain the most recent of these trends with man made CO2?

  47. #47 dhogaza
    February 13, 2010

    So tell me again why we need to explain the most recent of these trends with man made CO2?

    Why don’t you tell us why the conventional, mainstream, explanation as to what’s different about recent decades and 1910-1940 is incorrect. Since you appear to know it’s incorrect, this implies that 1. you know what that explanation is and 2. you know why that explanation is incorrect.

    So let’s see the big brain on Lance in action, here.

    Mann’s discredited work is not proof of any such thing. Even if one accepts his shoddy methodology his selective use of proxies is reason enough to discard his work.

    This is simply bullshit.

    There also exist studies that show southern hemisphere warming in excess of current levels during the MWP. As Jones says the debate is hardly settled on the MWP contrary to your claims that Mann’s work shows it to be confined to the northern hemisphere.

    Yet we see, and will continue to see, denialists insist that it’s *known* that the existence of a global, synchronous MWP is a fact. And they’ll quote Jones saying “we just don’t know” as being “proof” of that “fact”. My guess is that you’ll be one of them.

  48. #48 dhogaza
    February 13, 2010

    drats! reduced to just sticking my thumbs in my ears and yelling Liar Liar, once again. Darn that Lance. He actually has common sense.

  49. #49 llewelly
    February 13, 2010

    So warming rates from 1860-1880, 1910-1940 and 1975-1998 (which is very similar to the trend of the period 1975- 2009) have no statistically significant differences.

    1860-1880 and 1910-1940 are not as well understood as the 1975-1998 period. Any conclusion based on them is necessarily weaker. Atmospheric levels of CO2 were rising during all three periods, though the rise is fastest during 1975-1998. Please note there are many factors other than CO2 which affect global temperature anomalies; aerosols (some which cause warming (like black carbon) and some which cause cooling (like sulphates)), solar irradiance variations, methane, other GHGs, and so forth. CO2 is the largest single factor in modern global warming, and as Richard Alley has explained, it’s very important in paleoclimatology, but it’s not the whole story.

    It’s important to keep in mind that during the pre-1880 period HADCRUT has a lot fewer sites (and GISTEMP doesn’t even try pre-1880), so it is more important than normal to use longer periods to look for trends.

  50. #50 Lance
    February 13, 2010

    llewelly,

    When you are having to parse the words of Phil Jones to justify some role for CO2 in modern warming you are in trouble.

  51. #51 Lance
    February 14, 2010

    dhogaza,

    The usual ad hoc explanation to explain away the cooling from 1940-1975 is to invoke aerosols. There is little evidence however that their was any greater amount of aerosols in the atmosphere than during previous and later periods.

    Since no objective quantifiable method for measuring these alleged aerosols exist they are nothing but a guess to explain the failings of the all powerful CO2 to warm the atmosphere during this period.

  52. #52 Andrew30
    February 14, 2010

    David Eyton, head of research and technology at British Petroleum is on the independent panel investigating the Climate Research Unit.

    This is a clear conflict of interest.

    At the bottom of this page:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/about/history/

    From the Climate Research Units own web site you will find a partial list of companies that fund the CRU. It includes British Petroleum.

    British Petroleum has been funding the Climate Research Unit since 1974.

    I think that any organization that provided funding to the Climate Research Unit must NOT be looking at the process or the outcome, since they already bought the process and paid for the outcome.

  53. #53 llewelly
    February 14, 2010

    Lance | February 13, 2010 11:18 PM:

    When you are having to parse the words of Phil Jones to justify some role for CO2 in modern warming you are in trouble.

    Can you find a specific statement by Phil Jones in which he argues that CO2 is not a significant cause of modern global warming?

  54. #54 llewelly
    February 14, 2010

    Lance | February 14, 2010 12:59 AM:

    … the all powerful CO2 to warm the atmosphere during this period.

    As Richard Alley explains in the video I linked, CO2 is important, but it is hardly all powerful. The biggest knob is not the only knob.

  55. #55 James Hanley
    February 14, 2010

    Re: Roger Pielke. To simply say of him that “he has been attacking scientists for many years” is rather incomplete. Pielke is an expert in public policy, particular the way science and technology policy gets made. What Pielke understands is that the more complex the policy issue gets, the harder it is for scientific knowledge, in and of itself, to lead to a political resolution of the issue. And global warming is a perfect case in point–regardless of how sound the scientific knowledge is, the increasing certainty of that knowledge has (quite self-evidently, I believe) not led to anything approaching a successful political resolution of the issue.

    The reason is that scientific knowledge cannot resolve what are fundamentally values debates. To be clear, whether AGW is occurring is in itself not a values debate. But “what we ought to do” is a values debate.

    Pielke’s “criticism” of scientists is on two levels. At one level he criticizes those who don’t recognize that scientific knowledge cannot resolve values debates (that is, it cannot move to action those whose values are opposed to that action). At the other level, he criticizes those scientists who says are “stealth issue advocates,” those who–knowingly or unknowingly–present themselves as simply presenters of scientific knowledge, while in fact being advocates of particular policies.

    Bluntly, anyone who says, “the evidence for AGW is undeniable, therefore we must/ought to act to reduce/prevent it” is conflating scientific knowledge with values, because there are alternative policy directions (which is not to say they are better, because then I would be committing the same error). To put it slightly differently, the scientific evidence for AGW doesn’t, in and of itself, tell us whether we should try to reduce/prevent it or whether we should try to adapt to it. To come to that conclusion requires the addition of a particular values structure on top of the scientific evidence. Pielke’s criticism is of those who don’t recognize that, and that criticism is exactly right.

    But Pielke gives equal criticism–in fact precisely the same criticism–to those on the other side, the non-scientists who pick-and-choose or distort bits of scientific evidence and pretend it determines a policy action, without admitting the values structure they have thrown on top of it.

    As to the central point of this post, about AGW liars, I wholeheartedly agree. The incautious statements of climate scientists are truly disturbing, but the blatant lying of the denialists is orders of magnitude worse.

  56. #56 mandas
    February 14, 2010

    James

    I tend to agree with almost everything you say – but not all. The development of public policy IS values based, and scientific evidence in and of itself does not and should not automatically drive the development of policy in one direction. What to do (if anything) about climate change is a perfect case in point, because different people will be affected differently be climate change, and their particular interests must be considered before deciding a policy approach. We may bemoan the position adopted by ‘big oil’, but they have legitimate interests which will be significantly affected by solutions such as a tax on carbon, so it is perfectly acceptable for them to oppose such measures. However, to do so by lying about the science is, in my humble opinion, unethical.

    However, I would argue with you on one significant point. There is absolutely nothing wrong with scientists becoming advocates for a particular policy aproach; indeed, I would suggest it is essential that they do so. Scientists may be ‘blind’ to some of the issues that policy makers have to grapple with (eg the effect of policy on other interest groups), but equally, scientists more than anyone are better able to appreciate the ramifications of the some of the decisions that politicians make. Therefore, they MUST bring those things into the public debate. If in doing so, they either accidently or deliberately adopt an advocacy role, then so be it. Scientists are also members of the community, and have as much right as anyone to advocate a policy approach. Indeed, given their level of understanding of the issues involved, I believe they have MORE right than many.

  57. #57 James Hanley
    February 15, 2010

    Mandas,

    I would not argue there is anything wrong with scientists taking an advocacy role, and I’m not sure Pielke would, either. The primary criticism is of those who are actually engaged in advocacy, but deny that they are doing so–who claim their positions are wholly science-based, rather than being values-based as well.

    It’s the disingenuity that is the point of criticism, and a major part of Pielke’s point is that it causes people to misunderstand science. And that when scientists misuse science that way, it weakens their case for criticizing others who misuse it in the same way, but to a greater extent.

    But as long as scientists are clear about the distinction between the evidence and their values, I don’t think Pielke objects to them being advocates, and I know for certain that I don’t.

    So I’m not sure we’re actually in that much disagreement, as much as I didn’t write a clear enough explanation the first time around.

  58. #58 Ktesibios
    February 15, 2010

    If we might return to the point of the original post- the use of fabricated “quotes” and their spread by unthinking cut-n-paste by people who can’t be arsed to do anything vaguely resembling source-checking (a process which I like to call cyber-metastasis):

    One of my personal interests is paranoid conspiracism, and I’ve found that a very similar phenomenon is very common in the conspiracist milieu- the use of phony “quotes” as talking points.

    It doesn’t matter how thoroughly they are debunked- they, like Chris Lee in Hammer’s series of Dracula movies, will always come up again. The conspiracist mode of thought is simply so badly broken that it cannot distinguish between fact and an attractive fiction.

    I’ve also noticed that there seems to be a strong correlation between susceptibility to conspiracist belief and classic (in the sense of Altemeyer’s work) right wing authoritarian-follower personalities. The prevalence of PCTs among the teabagger crowd thus comes as no surprise to the aficionado.

    Perhaps this illustrates something about the AGW denialist milieu- that its adherents suffer from the very same cognitive deficiencies as the followers of Alex Jones.

  59. #59 Bird Harrasser
    February 15, 2010

    ” from the very same cognitive deficiencies as the followers of Alex Jones”

    Just correcting your typo – its “Phil” Jones.

    you’re welcom.

  60. #60 Lance
    February 15, 2010

    James Hanley,

    First let me say that I have read your posts at Ed Brayton’s Dispatches From the Culture Wars for some time. I have a great deal of respect for your ability to express your opinions through the use of logic and rational argument.

    Even on those rare occasions when I disagree with your conclusions I admire the objectivity and candor with which they are crafted.

    That is why I am somewhat surprised that you seem to be in the warmist camp.

    Roger Pielke Sr.’s criticisms of the IPCC extend beyond just the “stealth” policy advocacy of some it’s climate scientists. He has issues with much of the conclusions of the various chapters thereof.

    Your statement,

    The incautious statements of climate scientists are truly disturbing, but the blatant lying of the denialists is orders of magnitude worse.

    seems incongruous with your usual standards of impartiality and rationality. I am surprised that you would use the term “denialists” to refer to the skeptical scientists and laymen that have expose the unscientific behavior and distortions of people like Phil Jones.

    While it is certainly true that there are politically motivated opportunists on the side of the skeptics they do not represent the majority of people that question the assumption that we face a catastrophic warming form CO2 that requires massive and draconian governmental intrusion into the world’s energy economy.

    Perhaps these few post have not illuminated your full opinion on the subject. I have every confidence that further posts will restore my confidence in your rationality and impartiality.

    Best Regards,

    Lance Harting

  61. #61 Eli Rabett
    February 15, 2010

    Come on. One of the things that science does in this case is narrow the choice of policies. Pielke’s who “honest broker” thing is a transparent effort to push everyone out of the policy arena except him. There’s no need for scientists to get involved in policy, Roger will handle it all.

    If you actually read the book the arguments are huge stretches at best. No better example than his first invocation of how the “honest broker” would help someone looking for food
    ——————————
    . . you might instead provide your visitor with information on all restaurants in the city, basic information on each (cost, menu, etc.) and let the visitor face the challenge of reducing the scope of choice (i.e., making a decision). Such “honest brokering” could also be strong (e.g., a comprehensive guide to all restaurants in the city) or weak (e.g., a guide to all those within a 5 minutes walk). The defining characteristic of the honest broker is an effort to expand (or at least clarify) the scope of choice for decision making.
    ——————————–
    Notice that the “honest broker” is not allowed to say that the food sucks, or that the place was closed for health violations, lest she become the dreaded “Issue Advocate” Pielke’s “honest broker”slams the Yellow Pages down on the counter and leaves.

    Roger himself would be quite happy to tell you to eat at Dads.

  62. #62 J Bowers
    February 15, 2010

    It’s interesting to see a lot of the usual crank comments here after reading Skeptico’s old piece on global warming denial:
    < http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2009/02/global-warming-denial.html>

  63. #63 Luboš Motl
    February 16, 2010

    Houghton said the very same thing, in just somewhat slightly different words, in an interview about God and environment in the Sunday Telegraph in 1995, see the proof:

    http://motls.blogspot.com/2010/02/sir-john-houghton-is-liar.html

    Houghton, the author of this blog, and most alarmists in the world just just liars who are always eager to lie to people’s lies.

  64. #64 nsib
    February 16, 2010

    Luboš Motl, you are a fucking liar. In what twisted world does this:
    “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen.”

    and this:
    “If we want a good environmental policy in the future, we’ll have to have a disaster.”

    have the same meaning? Announcing a disaster is very different from a disaster actually fucking occurring. I agree with Sir John Houghton’s statement completely, as there are a huge number of historical examples of adaptive policy change occurring only after a major disaster, regardless of whether that disaster was foretold or not.

  65. #65 Lance
    February 17, 2010

    nisb,

    Certainly anyone quoting someone in print should be sure that they have done so correctly. If they misquote them they should retract the misquote and apologize.

    Thats said, since all honest climate scientist agree that no weather event, no matter how severe, can be specifically attributed to climate change with any degree of certainty how exactly does Sir John’s actual remark differ in meaning from the one that was falsely attributed to him?

    He is clearly saying that a future disaster is to be used as an excuse to push for “good climate policy”.

    The meaning is essentially the same as the misquote.

  66. #66 Mike M
    February 17, 2010

    llewelly | February 12, 2010 6:42 AM #31

    2. (b) What’s happening? The ice caps are melting; the glaciers are receding too fast; sea level rise is accelerating; … All true. Links added by me.

    The Arctic Sea Ice minimum just INCREASED two years in a row – http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

    Plus, open water near the north pole in 1958 – http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/04/26/ice-at-the-north-pole-in-1958-not-so-thick/

    Sea level is NOT accelerating per Topex/Jason buoys- http://sealevel.colorado.edu/

    Bangladesh continues to GAIN land at the coastline from river sediment as it has been for thousands of years. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article4440982.ece (ignore the word ‘freak’ in their headline, they’re just poor losers)

  67. #67 Mike M
    February 17, 2010

    Concerning the MWP being confined to the northern hemisphere – two words: Machu Picchu

    From about 1150AD, the Inca Empire flourished. They were able to grow MORE FOOD because they could grow it higher up in the mountains thanks to a WARMER CLIMATE synchronous with the MWP. There are now very FEW scientists who reject the idea that the MWP could be GLOBAL…including PHIL JONES who just stated:

    Of course, if the MWP was shown to be global in extent and as warm or warmer than today (based on an equivalent coverage over the NH and SH) then obviously the late-20th century warmth would not be unprecedented. On the other hand, if the MWP was global, but was less warm that today, then current warmth would be unprecedented.

    http://www.americanthinker.com/2010/02/climategates_phil_jones_confes.html

    More science is ongoing like this – http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2002/2001GL014580.shtml

    Over the years, Jones did everything he could to ERASE the MWP because it was inconsistent with AGW theory but now here he is admitting that he isn’t even certain whether or not it was global! That doesn’t sound like ‘settled science’ to me but the EPA / Congress are issuing orders / legislating laws based on this BS. Carbon trading is a bigger scam than the RCC selling indulgences to guarantee getting into Heaven in 14th & 15th centuries.

  68. #68 Mike M
    February 17, 2010

    …outright lies such as “There hasn’t been any global warming for 15 years”

    OOOPS! Outright lies are apparently coming the staunchest of AGW worshippers like (again) Phil Jones answering the question: “Do you agree that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming?”

    From the BBC interview:

    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.

    I seem to recall that AGW hysteria initially started raising its ugly head on less than than 15 years of warming data but now for some reason we need a lot more years of no warming data to bury it?

    Okay, it’s close to significant. But I thought ‘close’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?

  69. #69 nsib
    February 17, 2010

    Lance,

    Thats said, since all honest climate scientist agree that no weather event, no matter how severe, can be specifically attributed to climate change with any degree of certainty how exactly does Sir John’s actual remark differ in meaning from the one that was falsely attributed to him?

    I never did understand the denialists’ fixation on weather changes when it comes to global climate change. Of course, I never understood their fixation with Al Gore either. Maybe it has to do with the fact that neither of these things have much to do with the science behind AGW?

    Anyways, there are plenty of things that can be laid at the (metaphorical) feet of global warming e.g. sea level rises and changes in biome distribution. Sadly these issues are not “sexy” enough for the press, but information on the real threats of global warming is readily available from reputable science organizations.

  70. #70 nsib
    February 17, 2010

    Mike M,

    Okay, it’s close to significant. But I thought ‘close’ only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades?

    You don’t know what a p-value is, do you? In short, there is a convention among scientists that a correlation must have a 5% or less chance of being a coincidence. In Jones’ trend for 1995 to 2009, there was a 10% chance that the trend could be explained by coincidence, so he was not able to say that it was significant. However, that’s still 9:1 odds that the trend exists (yes, I know I’m simplifying this), and considering all the other evidence we have, I’d say those’re very good odds indeed.

  71. #71 Neil B
    February 17, 2010

    This is basically what I said elsewhere on this blog, but IMHO bears repeating:
    Saying this is considered impolitic or “unfair” in view of the false equivalence in eg High Broderism, but: I and many others have noted a propensity for right-wing/libertarian types – even the non-religious “rationalistic” wing – to indulge logical fallacies and brut, simple intuitive real man/woman type thinking and sentiments etc. about issues like climate change. That’s not a pre-judice on my part, it is an observation (as from bitter (sic) experience.)

    Note also, the climate deniers harp on the empirical data and evade the theoretical issue, known since the 19th Century, about CO2 absorbing IR and warming the air. Do they not know of the classic work by Svante Arrhenius in freakin’ 1896:
    “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air Upon the Temperature of the Ground”, Philosophical Magazine 1896(41): 237-76
    BTW speaking of carbonic acid in solution, that is messing up our oceans as well.

    Yet even so, let’s more widely admit that climate science is not about certainties and talk “risk factors.” That’s enough reason to change course. Also, most of what we’d do to reduce carbon output is worth doing anyway (as Tom Friedman explained.)

  72. #72 Mike M
    February 18, 2010

    nsib | February 17, 2010 6:22 PM ….In Jones’ trend for 1995 to 2009, there was a 10% chance that the trend could be explained by coincidence, so he was not able to say that it was significant. However, that’s still 9:1 odds

    What’s all this talk about chance? I thought this was science and you’re talking about ‘coincidence’ like two flipped coins coming up heads?

    Does this ‘random’ aspect of climate perhaps extend to whether or not CO2 affects temperature in any measurable way? The IPCC surely didn’t couch their projection in such language, in their summary they used the term ‘very likely’ that human CO2 causes warming. But contrary to their model prediction the warming stopped and it wasn’t by ‘chance’ either – it was by features of our climate that simply were NOT accounted for in their models. If the models had been correct, had included things like the strong negative feedback response from water vapor’s latent heat convection over the tropics for example, they might have has a model that didn’t predict any warming at all. But then they would have had to face saying that there wasn’t any problem with CO2 at all – thus signing their own pink slips.

    That’s where the problem lies; it’s the MONEY! The very scientists being rewarded from the over $30 billion spent on climate research thus far are HUMANS and cannot be trusted to speak the truth when such will end their ride on the government funded ‘climate research’ gravy train.

    And give me ONE reason why I should trust a world POLITICAL organization that initially began studying climate under the direction of a man who said he was obliged to ‘save the planet’ by finding a way to COLLAPSE industrialized civilization? (that would be Al Gore’s buddy Maurice Strong who continues to live a very very posh life provided by that same industrialized civilization…).

    The vast majority of NON governmental scientists of this world, the ones who are NOT going to be paid no matter the outcome, agree that there remains no compelling evidence that human CO2 causes any measurable difference in global temperature. I believe them because they have no skin in the game as opposed to people like Jones, Mann, Hansen, Schmitt, et al.

  73. #73 nsib
    February 18, 2010

    What’s all this talk about chance? I thought this was science and you’re talking about ‘coincidence’ like two flipped coins coming up heads?

    So in short, Mike M is both ignorant of the use of statistics in the sciences and unwilling to educate himself.

  74. #74 dhogaza
    February 18, 2010

    Does this ‘random’ aspect of climate perhaps extend to whether or not CO2 affects temperature in any measurable way?

    No. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do …

    The vast majority of NON governmental scientists of this world, the ones who are NOT going to be paid no matter the outcome, agree that there remains no compelling evidence that human CO2 causes any measurable difference in global temperature.

    And this is a false statement, which you’ve pulled out of your ass.

  75. #75 Mike M
    February 18, 2010
  76. #76 dhogaza
    February 18, 2010

    It would seem that Mike has no idea as to how many scientists there are in the world.

    That’s actually a fairly comprehensive list of scientists who would agree with your statement (of course, there are a fair number of non-scientists on the list).

    They represent an extremely small fraction of one percent of “non-government scientists”.

  77. #77 Mike M
    February 19, 2010

    I said ‘for starters’…

    You say it’s a small list but that alone is larger than the actual number of scientists at the IPCC who assert that human CO2 will cause significant warming / any problem. If you disagree then let’s see YOUR LIST of IPCC scientists who declare that AGW theory is true and believe drastic measures to reduce human CO2 are needed to avert catastrophic global warming?

    Speaking of science, name one or more postulates of AGW that can be proven or dis-proven to support or reject the theory? The only one that I am aware of is the model prediction that IF AGW theory is true then there will be a ‘hot spot’ at about 10km altitude in the tropics. To date no hot spot has been detected and it’s becoming apparent, through fading claims of bad calibration, wind anomalies, etc., that it is just not there. In real science, when falsifiability is possible and such is actually proven false – the theory is DEAD! In real world science, no ‘hot spot’ = failed AGW theory. But what we see instead is gravy train politics and AGW = BS^2

    Equations prove nothing if they cannot explain empirical reality. Just for my own edification, outside of the no ‘hot spot’ issue, can any disciple of AGW name something else that would render it false?

  78. #78 Lee
    February 19, 2010

    @Mike M:

    I have a hard time understanding how anyone pretending to any knowledge of this field, can say with a straight face what Mike M says here. Well – strike that, I do understand it. He (they) are being lied to , and the lies fit their prejudices, so they buy the lies without thought.

    First, Mike M, the tropical troposphere hot spot IS NOT a prediction of AGW. It is a prediction from basic physics, via the moist adiabat, and applies to any kind of warming. The data in which it is not observed is possibly the most problematic important dataset in the climate field – there really isnt a lot that can be said from that data set. The analyses that have been done show that the predicted warming is within the uncertainty of the analyses – those analyses have certainly NOT shown that the enhanced trop trop warming is absent. And if the warming is not happening, that would not invalidate AGW – it would cast doubt on the laws of thermodynamics, though.

    Now – falsifiable predictions of AGW?

    Surface Warming. Stratospheric cooling. Increased downwelling IR. Enhanced Arctic and high altitude warming. Enhanced night warming vs daytime. Enhanced winter warming vs summer. Just for starters – these are the basics that anyone who claims sufficient knowledge to dispute the AGW theory should know – and which you apparently do not know, Mike, M.

  79. #79 Lotharsson
    February 19, 2010

    Mike M, you might want to go through that list of “scientists” you provided and check each one to see if they are qualified climate scientists or not.

    And it damages the credibility of the signatories that practically the very first assertion – that in 2008 there had been “no net global warming for over a decade now” is blatantly misleading (or if you’re less charitable, it’s a lie). Worse still, those assertions are not supported by the references that Cato cites in support!

    Various lists of “scientists” who assert that AGW is false have been trotted out several times in the past when rubes need to be bamboozled. Senator Inhofe plays this trick from time to time. Unfortunately it can be said that he has more errors in his lists of 400, 650, or 700 scientists than are found in the hundreds of pages of the IPCC’s AR4 report on the science.

    Most of the “scientists” on those types of lists usually turn out to be:

    (a) engineers
    (b) non-climate scientists
    (c) meteorologists (who study short-term weather, not long-term climate)

    And a few have been placed on those lists against their will, against their beliefs – and in some cases remain even after they have expressly pointed this out.

    Once you winnow all of those categories out, the lists are much less impressive. (Never mind that the case for AGW is not based on numbers of scientists, it’s based on a large accumulation of evidence that we can’t explain any other way, despite trying rather hard.)

    In contrast when you survey 3000+ earth scientists (i.e. filtering out the engineers and those in totally unrelated scientific fields), you find that the strong majority agree that:

    (a) the planet is warming since the pre-1800′s (90% in that survey)
    (b) human activity is a significant factor (82% in that survey)

    But what gets really interesting is when you look at the most qualified group [my emphasis]:

    The strongest consensus on the causes of global warming came from climatologists who are active in climate research, with 97 percent agreeing humans play a role.

    There will always be more work to do, and questions around the edges that are not settled. But these days few qualified people seriously expect that the core AGW science will be refuted. Which is roughly what the vernacular “settled science” means.

  80. #80 Franco
    March 6, 2010

    James Hrynyshyn say: “For one thing, left and right have absolutely nothing to do with this issue.”

    There is the fallacy in your argument. It fact, it has everything to do with it and that is exactly what you missed in your option piece and here is cleary why.

    The thing is that the IPCC isn’t primarily being criticized for its bungling of the science. The accusations are about bias and process. Making a couple of mistakes in a bookstop of a report is to be expected. Including publications by environmental advocacy groups in an summary of basic science isn’t. Fumbling a couple of footnotes is only natural. Taking consultancy fees and advocating policy while heading a panel chartered with being authoritative and neutral is questionable at best (That the money goes into ones charitable organization rather than directly into ones pocket is hardly a robust barrier to conflicts of interest).

    You and Romm is so used to knocking down spurious charges that you both failed to realize that this time the accusations aren’t groundless. Would you be so sanguine if the IPCC began to cite research funded by Exxon? What if the head of the IPCC was a consultant that took money from BP and used it to advocate for clean coal technology? Romm is alarmed because he’s hearing familiar voices. Is he equally dismissive of Greenpeace when they criticize an oil company? If an organization comes under criticism, it’s only natural that you’ll hear from its critics.

    The IPCC was charged to provide an overview of the basic science, upon which policy could be constructed. Its reports are documents on which politicians are expected to base difficult tradeoffs between slowing economic growth and risking environmental catastrophe. Governments use them to plan for the future. Academics rely on them to explore the knock-on effects of the mercury’s climb. And, yes, journalists use them in crafting their articles. All this falls apart when advocacy creeps into the process.

    The IPCC’s critics do well to examine the panel’s claims carefully. Science and policy are both served when mistakes are uncovered. And though there’s no doubt that many critiques are motivated more by ideology than truth-seeking, that doesn’t excuse researchers who allow their passions to spill into their findings. “The IPCC should never be intended to drive policy,and yet is dose” says Chris Field, director of the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford University and a co-chair of the panel’s impact assessment group.

    The world has no shortage of advocates. What it needs is a dispassionate source. As recently as 2008, scientists were seen as the most trustworthy source of information about climate change, rated as reliable by 82 percent of Americans, ahead of family and friends (77 percent), environmental organizations (66 percent), religious leaders (48 percent), and the news media (47 percent). Researchers alarmed about the implications of their findings are right to smooth intricate technical details into a format that can be digested by the public and acted upon by policymakers. But they need to stick to the facts — or they risk losing our trust.

    And that lesson is this: some sources lie; others are more trustworthy.