More trash from Watts

Well, so what’s new with that, I hear you say? And indeed, not much is the answer. But its a saturday night so some knock-about fun is in order.

So, Watts, along with most of the septic blogosphere, was all over An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula by Zunli Lua et al.. Not because they care about the science, but because the abstract says This ikaite record qualitatively supports that both the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age extended to the Antarctic Peninsula. In septic-world, it is very important that the MWP and LIA be global, so that instantly turned into a headline of “Yes, I know, I covered it first: The Medieval Warm Period was Global” in Watts-world. Actually, I have reservations as to whether their figures support even their text (it is yet another “we found some warm bits and we found some cold bits, and since the MWP and LIA time-spans are so vague, we called the warm bits MWP and the cold bits LIA”).

But all this misrepresentation, although obvious enough, has clearly annoyed the authors, who now say

“It is unfortunate that my research, “An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula,” recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.

Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study “throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming,” completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.”

Watts has been obliged to update his post, but is still in denial, errm, which is exactly where he is supposed to be so that is all right then, best beloved.

And in other news

* General Motors pulls funding from climate sceptic thinktank Heartland. As they say The funding cut – just $15,000 a year – is small beer for the institute, which has a multi-million dollar turnover, largely from a single anonymous donor, so this isn’t as exciting as it might seem.
* BA has a nice pic of an underwater volcano errupting, visible from its plume in the water.

Comments

  1. #1 Carl C
    2012/03/31

    I found it all quite funny that they latched onto this single new proxy (ikaite) while discounting or bashing pretty much every other proxy because it “disagrees” with them.

  2. #2 Alexander Ač
    2012/04/01

    Ah yes, I was attacked at my blog for this same reason that I did not know that “climate changed rapidly and globaly in the past”, and “Michael Mann was wrong”… and “we should study factors behind the warming further” etc. …

    Nevermind that shouting high (global) climate variability in the past (whatever the reason) implies also high climate variability into the future making the GHGs reduction even more urgent… but why care about it?

    Alex

  3. #3 TrueSceptic
    2012/04/01

    But you have to say that the choice of words in the abstract is just asking for trouble. Why say “extended to” unless you mean to imply an area stretching from the north all the way to Antarctica?

    [People can be fairly careless such things. People don't - and shouldn't - write papers defensively so they can't possibly be misinterpreted by wackos. The results are clear enough -W]

  4. #4 Carl C
    2012/04/01

    he’s a pretty young prof (just did a postdoc at Oxford recently) so I imagine he didn’t realize the zeal with which innocuous phrases such as “MWP extended from Europe to Antarctica” would be latched on and published in the right-wing blogosphere ad-nauseum and used to beat Michael Mann to death etc. Of course he should have been following climate blogs and have known about this sort of thing! ;-)

    [Probably, though I find it a touch surprising that anyone working in this area coul be so unaware. Perhaps more likely he spiced up his paper a little -W]

  5. #5 bill
    2012/04/01

    As one of the people who brought about Watts’ ‘correction’, FW[atts!]IW – and who was called an ‘anonymous coward’ by the man himself in the process – I still find this whole episode both annoying and exemplary.

    [Its rather obvious that Watts will happily accept anonymous people who support his trash; you're only a "coward" if you oppose him -W]

    How could anyone have claimed a study based solely on the Antarctic Peninsula could hope to prove the MWP (whatever this rather messy entity might be) extended as a single entity across the globe to the Antarctic? Least of all its authors.

    ‘Extend’ was clearly meant in the weak ‘was associated with’ rather than strong ‘universally embraced all intervening territory’ sense from the off.

    I don’t blame the authors, I blame people who scour genuine research looking for opportunities like these to cut and run with.

    Watts’ gloating triumphalism – ‘Yes, I know, the Medieval Warm Period was Global’ – and pasting of a link to the dreadful Daily Mail article directly below this banner (without a qualification in sight) sure looks like crowing ‘mission accomplished’ to me.

    And to many, many others.

    While he provides a link he still simply will not publish Zunli Lu’s own statement in either of his pieces, hiding behind the excuse that a Syracuse press officer didn’t tell him his interpretation was wrong at the start!

    I think the press officer may be a little bit more wary when dealing with Mr.Watts in the future, don’t you?

    [He's doing his level best to avoid admitting his error; but then, as you say, the error was obvious from the start; no surprises there.

    But, well done for venturing in with some truth -W]

  6. #6 J
    2012/04/04

    Apparently the folks at the “Best Sciencey Blog” don’t understand the meaning of the words “negative feedback”:

    In discussing a new paper about positive feedbacks in the Arctic, Watts gives it the headline “Negative feedback? Declining sea ice to lead to cloudier Arctic”

    The ensuing commentary is absurd, of course. A few people do try to point out that this seems like a positive feedback, not a negative one, but they’re shouted down by the yahoos who insist that positive feedbacks can’t exist in nature, e.g. this:

    When are people like “anon” going to have even the most basic understanding of nature?
    Nature ABHORS positive feedback loops (think of your ears’ reaction to feedback from a microphone/amplifier, your ears don’t like that at all, now do they?). Positive feedback loops in nature would cause natural systems to spiral out of control, thus eventually causing the natural system in question to self-destruct. We have had over 4 billion years of climate change on Earth, and the system has yet to self-destruct, in spite of extreme changes in the system from time to time.

    or this:

    Can climate have a positive feedback mechanism?
    This is one question that climate scientist have always avoided addressing. If there was a positive feedback mechanism no matter how tiny, then a higher level of CO2 in the past has to have resulted in temperatures rising to the high limit condition before falling again. Since we know this is not the case the dominant variables must have a negative feedback characteristic which either means CO2 is a trivial variable and irrelevant or that the models have been based on an abnormal period and are fundamentally unsound.

    Someone should point them to that article about positive feedbacks vs. runaway warming at SkepticalScience.

    [To be fair, it took a fair while to get this even vaguely right at Wikipedia, and the terminology is all confusing. Having a mini-system with positive feedback embedded in a larger system with overall negative feedback is hard for some people to understand, if it isn't explained carefully -W]

  7. #7 J
    2012/04/04

    [To be fair, it took a fair while to get this even vaguely right at Wikipedia, and the terminology is all confusing. Having a mini-system with positive feedback embedded in a larger system with overall negative feedback is hard for some people to understand, if it isn't explained carefully -W]

    Well, there’s still the bit about Watts not understanding the difference between a *positive* feedback and a *negative* feedback.

    As for the other … I just find it amusing when people are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN about something that is … actually … wrong.

    Like this: ‘When are people like “anon” going to have even the most basic understanding of nature? Nature ABHORS positive feedback loops [...] Positive feedback loops in nature would cause natural systems to spiral out of control, thus eventually causing the natural system in question to self-destruct.’

    All well and good. Except that there are, in fact, positive feedbacks in the global climate system, despite the fact that the Earth has so far failed to self-destruct as ordered.

  8. #8 Rattus Norvegicus
    2012/04/04

    And yet more trash… Read at your own risk, although the paper they are trashing seems pretty interesting.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/04/04/a-new-paper-in-nature-suggests-co2-leads-temperature-but-has-some-serious-problems/

    [Thanks for the link. Yes, the paper itself looks worth reading. I guess Watts feels the need to report on it, beacuse otherwise his folks are going to get their ideas from elsewhere, so needs to prepare people with the idea that the paper has "problems". really, though... it just not that important. It never has been. Eric Wolff gives the best summary that I know of: http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2007/03/yet_more_tco2_lags.php Working out exactly how the lags or leads work is hard, and an interesting problem in itself, but says essentially nothing about present-day change. Side note: I've seen septics so primed with the "T leads CO2 nonsense" that they will tell you, with a perfectly straight face, that you can *see* the lag/lead relationship on a graph covering the last 4 or more ice age cycles; said graph being 400 pixels wide. When I point out to them that at 400 pixels wide each pixel is 1000 years or more and so they cannot possibly see the lags they claim they usually resort to bluster, or to silence, but I've never seen them admit to error -W]

  9. #9 J Bowers
    2012/04/05

    “And in other news
    * General Motors pulls funding from climate sceptic thinktank Heartland.”

    And in other, other news
    * Coke Pulls the Plug on Anti-Climate Change ALEC Lobby

    Both headed up by Bast. Poor scamp.

  10. #10 Rattus Norvegicus
    2012/04/08

    The Shakun, et. al. paper seems to have spawned a cottage industry over there attempting to disprove it. That must mean it is the final nail in the coffin of global warming denial!

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