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Climate Hustle

The question that skeptics don't want to ask about 'Climategate'

Posted on 18 November 2010 by John Cook

A year ago, the climate debate was rocked by 'Climategate'. Email servers at the University of East Anglia were hacked, emails were stolen and distributed on the Internet. Out-of-context quotes were cited as evidence that the entire scientific case for global warming was all just a conspiracy. Even now, 12 months later, 'Climategate' is the most popular skeptic argument. But there is one question that skeptics seem to avoid:

Has 'Climategate' changed our scientific understanding of global warming?

Has the science changed? Is there any change to the many independent lines of evidence for human-caused global warming? This question is never asked because of the answer:

The evidence for human caused global warming is as solid as ever.

There are many lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming. Independent measurements of different aspects of the climate using a range of techniques by scientists all over the world all point to the same answer.  When we consider the full body of evidence, we see a distinct, discernable human fingerprint on climate change.

The 'Climategate' controversy is an attempt to divert attention away from the science. This is a common tactic in movements that seek to deny a scientific consensus - assume a conspiracy theory. But there is no evidence of any conspiracy. A number of independent enquiries have investigated the conduct of the scientists involved in the emails. All have cleared the scientists of any wrong doing:

  1. In February 2010, the Pennsylvania State University released an Inquiry Report that investigated any 'Climategate' emails involving Dr Michael Mann, a Professor of Penn State's Department of Meteorology. They found that "there exists no credible evidence that Dr. Mann had or has ever engaged in, or participated in, directly or indirectly, any actions with an intent to suppress or to falsify data". On "Mike's Nature trick", they concluded "The so-called “trick”1 was nothing more than a statistical method used to bring two or more different kinds of data sets together in a legitimate fashion by a technique that has been reviewed by a broad array of peers in the field."
  2. In March 2010, the UK government's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report finding that the criticisms of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) were misplaced and that CRU’s "Professor Jones’s actions were in line with common practice in the climate science community".
  3. In April 2010, the University of East Anglia set up an international Scientific Assessment Panel, in consultation with the Royal Society and chaired by Professor Ron Oxburgh. The Report of the International Panel assessed the integrity of the research published by the CRU and found "no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice in any of the work of the Climatic Research Unit".
  4. In June 2010, the Pennsylvania State University published their Final Investigation Report, determining "there is no substance to the allegation against Dr. Michael E. Mann".
  5. In July 2010, the University of East Anglia published the Independent Climate Change Email Review report. They examined the emails to assess whether manipulation or suppression of data occurred and concluded that "The scientists’ rigor and honesty are not in doubt".
  6. In July 2010, the US Environmental Protection Agency investigated the emails and "found this was simply a candid discussion of scientists working through issues that arise in compiling and presenting large complex data sets."
  7. In September 2010, the UK Government responded to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report, chaired by Sir Muir Russell. On the issue of releasing data, they found "In the instance of the CRU, the scientists were not legally allowed to give out the data". On the issue of attempting to corrupt the peer-review process, they found "The evidence that we have seen does not suggest that Professor Jones was trying to subvert the peer review process. Academics should not be criticised for making informal comments on academic papers".

Just as there are many independent lines of evidence that humans are causing global warming, similarly a number of independent investigations have found no evidence of falsification or conspiracy by climate scientists. However, there is an important lesson to be learnt from 'Climategate'

The real scandal of 'Climategate'

A year since 'Climategate', we can look back retrospectively and understand what happened. Anonymous hackers illegally stole emails from climate scientists in a deliberate campaign to sow doubt about climate science and discredit climate scientists. Quotes were taken out of context in an effort to mislead the public about what's happening to our climate. In the last 12 months, the scientific evidence of the negative impacts of global warming has only got stronger. The real scandal of 'Climategate' is the illegal smear campaign designed to distract people from the scientific reality of global warming.

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Comments 101 to 150 out of 161:

  1. Adelady:

    We all make mistakes. In my life, I've been better served by being up front with my numerous mistakes, and letting the chips fall where they may. I don't have to pretend to be perfect.

    Chris Shaker
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  2. Nonsense. A skeptic once posted on this site a compilation of 700 papers that were skeptical of AGW, how do they do it? As I said, McLean et al was published, Lindzen was published, and Spencer etc, etc. It's quite possible Shaviv's paper was bad, it happens. Sometimes a paper is rejected for no good reason (or so it seems to the author), it happens in biology, chemistry, archaeology, any and all area. You try again, or you try another journal or you put it on the shelf until you can make it better and you move on. If you don't move on and just go on belly aching about how it's all unfair you end up never publishing anything. That's life.
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  3. "I don't have to pretend to be perfect." Yes but you don't have a rabid herd of lunatics to accuse you of fraud when you happen not to be perfect. Wanna try having them watching you 24/7? Wanna try having them call you a fraud every time that you make an honest mistake? Or just when there is something they don't understand? That wouldn't make you a little defensive?

    M&M failed to convince Science that their paper was important. The same thing happened to probably 10s of thousands of researchers. Do they go on accusing their entire area of exercice to be fraudulent? Please...
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  4. Tom:

    Thank you for the pointers to the documents on temperature deltas. Was wondering why that was done.

    I think that's enough reading for tonight for me. Drinking from the fire hose again.

    Chris Shaker
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  5. Chris, peer review normally is brutal. M&M's rejection was not the least unusual for any scientific field. See:
    Stephan Lewandowsky's The Peer Reviewed Literature Has Spoken.
    Stephan's Peer Review vs Commercials and Spam.
    My comment #25 here,
    My comment #33 but with its correction #35, and my comment #34.
    My comment #40.
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  6. cjshaker:
    "Clean up my own act? I just posted comments from sources, and included the actual sources. So far, I have not yet found your post where I assume you do the same.

    Your main intellectual activity seems to be name calling. It is not very flattering."

    1. My comment was about you and your comment.
    2. My previous comment stands. If you choose outdated media sources as a reference, then you do indeed meed to clean up your act.
    3. Suggesting someone cleans up their act isn't name calling.
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  7. cjshaker:
    "So far, I have not yet found your post where I assume you do the same."

    My reference is myself, because unlike you, I went to a public meeting of climate scientists including Mike Hulme. eg. first hand direct info, instead of second or third hand info from a news paper.
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  8. cjshaker:
    "Regarding the post from whomever 'The Ville' is, I provided the link to an article which talked about the reported failure to follow FOI laws, and the deleting of emails."


    UK FOI law doesn't require emails to be kept in advance of an FOI request. eg. if the email is deleted and then later a copy is requested at a later date, the law is not broken.
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  9. cjshaker:
    "Some of the hacked emails reveal scientists encouraging their colleagues to delete emails, apparently to prevent them from being revealed to people making FOI requests."

    1. It didn't happen, as Phil Jones has pointed out in Nature.
    2. It wouldn't be illegal in any case, because an FOI request for the emails hadn't been placed before the suggestion to delete emails was made. There isn't a requirement to archive emails!
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  10. cjshaker:
    "If it can't stand up to a hostile researcher, it is not science."

    Your description of 'hostile research' doesn't sound like science to me, it sounds like business, PR and business competition.
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  11. Philippe Chantreau:

    "The FOI requests thing is so abusive that anyone who really cares about conserving the FOI process should be concerned."


    Indeed. The CRU was 'spammed' and failed to manage the issue adequately.
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  12. cjshaker and others have not raised anything new in respect to this subject. There are two outcomes to all this:

    1. The science is correct.
    2. The CRU made management mistakes and is correcting them.

    eg. all outcomes are positive.
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  13. cjshaker @ 99

    Firstly, Nature is pretty much *the* top journal in the natural sciences, publishing there is *extremely* competitive and the paper needs to be excellent and essentially flawless to get published. E&E, on the other hand is pretty much the bottom of the pile - if M&M had wanted the paper published in a peer reviewed journal there are plenty that they could have chosen that lie somewhere in the spectrum between Nature and E&E. Not getting published in Natura is not the same as not being able to get published.

    What generally happens is that an author will send a paper to the best journal that he/she thinks will accept it. If it gets rejected, it gets submitted to a journal on the next rung down on the ladder (hopefully after having been revised to take into account the reviewers comments). Eventually if the paper has any merit it will get published; generally the stature of the journal where it gets published is an indication of the quality of the publication.

    As for Shaviv, the authors responses to papers do not routineley get sent to the reviewers is the paper is rejected without the option of resubmitting (which is what happens if the paper has a fundamental flaw). I very much doubt an editor should give a comment like "any paper which doesn’t support the anthropogenic GHG theory is politically motivated, and therefore has to be rejected" in writing - it would be a cereer limiting move - you have to ask yourself why has the rejection letter/email not been published as evidence of editorial bias?

    As a scientist myself that has published, reviewed and edited journal papers, neither story is very convincing.
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  14. John's Original Post and Marco:

    "The evidence for human caused global warming is as solid as ever."

    Why don't we ask Dr Trenberth a lead author and recognized expert on the forcings and energy balances:

    This excerpt from the NP and Climategate emails:

    Quote:

    The 2001 Synthesis Report looked authoritative in its carbon and temperature outlooks. But one of the “lead authors” was Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado.

    Eight years later, Mr. Trenberth shows up in the emails. On Oct. 14, 2009, he wrote to Tom Wigley: “The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”

    In other words, one of the lead authors of the 100-year climate forecasting exercise says there’s something wrong with the models —or the data.

    End Quote

    Ref: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2009/12/18/terence-corcoran-a-2-000-page-epic-of-science-and-skepticism-part-1.aspx#ixzz15pLvdnlg

    Before you all scream 'out of context' - please consider in what context such an opinion of a leading expert in this field and lead IPCC author would support the proposition that "The evidence for human caused global warming is as solid as ever."
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  15. #99: "Given what has been reported in the press about suppression of articles critical to the AGW premise,"

    If by press, you mean the usual crowd of denial blogs, conservative 'think-tanks' or the claims of the ID crowd that they aren't allowed to 'teach the debate'.

    But on balance, you've got it backwards:
    Hansen on censored science

    Research findings suppressed by government
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  16. #115: KL,
    Hasn't the old 'lack of warming - its a travesty' dodge run its course?

    --Realclimate

    Even the highly “cherry-picked” 11-year period starting with the warm 1998 and ending with the cold 2008 still shows a warming trend of 0.11 ºC per decade (which may surprise some lay people who tend to connect the end points, rather than include all ten data points into a proper trend calculation).

    And then we have 2010, which continues to be well above average:

    - The October worldwide land surface temperature was 0.91°C above the 20th century average
    - The October worldwide ocean surface temperature was 0.40°C above the 20th century average
    - The global average ocean surface temperature for the period January–October tied with 2003 as the second warmest on record, behind 1998.


    Taking all the evidence, seems pretty solid.
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  17. Ken Lambert,
    what's the context, in your opinion?
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  18. muoncounter@117:
    The degree of warming in your graph is not even close to the amount of warming that Mr. Trenbeth calculates should be here.
    That is the travesty that he is talking about.
    2010 is not above average as far as temp.
    Statistically, there has been no warming during the past 10 years, and in fact 15 years. You can show trends without the error bars and try to fool some people. When one is talking on a site that seems to be somewhat technical, it is better to show everything.
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  19. Re: Ken Lambert (115)

    To echo Riccardo (118), by 'out of context' do you mean providing older quotes from Dr. Trenberth instead of his latest? If so, great example!

    Trenberth 2010:
    "This discrepancy suggests that further problems may be hidden within the ocean observations and their processing. It also highlights the need to do better, and the prospects for that. Experience in the atmosphere has long highlighted the desirability of working with ‘anomalies’ as departures from a well-established climatology. Moreover, methods of analysis and interpolation of gaps in space and time should take account of the warming climate, and care is needed not to bias results towards background values."
    Emphasis added.

    The Yooper
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  20. #118: "there has been no warming "

    See how that notion (yawn) went bust here. Switch to that thread for further comments if you like; but really, why start the same discussion again?
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  21. muoncounter:
    You brought it up...and statistically speaking, I am correct.
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  22. Ken @114

    Since you obviously value the knowledge and opinion of Dr Trenberth I find it somewhat curious that you don't seem to have taken the time to learn what he is talking about.

    As discussed on this very site (and in his linked paper) Dr Trenberth's concern is that while satellite measurements show the earth is continuously accumulating heat, our ability to measure that heat and track where is it going is limited. The temperature record doesn't rise monotonously every year, even though the earth as a whole now contains more heat, it is this inability to "account for the lack of warming" that Trenberth refers to.

    So nothing to do with climate models either.

    And as to Trenberths current opinion, well in the same paper he says "global warming is unequivocally happening" so I think it likely he would agree with what John wrote.

    Given the esteem in which you obviously hold Dr Trenberth I am hopeful you will read his paper and the one linked by Daniel (@119) and desist from putting forth arguments that misrepresent his views.
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  23. fydijkstra: "A hacker would have an enormous job to find all these relevant texts, and he must have hacked many times without being noticed. For an internal whistleblower, this is all much easier. And indeed (RSVP, 45) a whistleblower could have known where he had to look."

    nah, not really. most computer systems are arranged in fairly standard ways. there are only a handful of places that are likely to contain emails, and standard tools such as grep make sorting through even large amounts of data a trivial task. so there really isn't any need to have inside knowledge.

    from my experience, most research groups' systems administration is likely performed by a member of the group, on top of their other duties. they've almost certainly not received any formal training.

    the end result is almost always a system that's more than secure enough for most purposes, but which is no match for a determined, targeted attack.
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  24. Camburn
    "Statistically, there has been no warming during the past 10 years"
    you're not correct, not even statistically. The correct claim would eventually be "There's has been a non statistically significant warming". It's not the same.
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  25. Chris Shaker, if Nir Shaviv is surprised that an editor rejects a paper without forwarding Shaviv's response to the reviewers, Nir Shaviv does not understand the publication process. The Editor has the final word on what gets published, and what not. Plain and simple. In fact, I know several journals that due to page restrictions have to reject up to 75% of all submissions.

    This poor understanding by Shaviv puts significant doubt on his other claims. Sounds to me to be the Galileo-syndrome.
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  26. Re: Marco (125)

    Another insightful comment, thanks!

    BTW, check your email.

    The Yooper
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  27. I would rather be pointed to a science based argument that refutes Professor Shaviv's claims. Would the rejection letters be considered private communications?

    Thank you for the education about the peer reviewed publication process.

    I'll note that there are well known Astrophysicists who also doubt the AGW premise, including Freeman Dyson. I don't believe the claims that he is senile. Read some of his recent interviews, and he seems quite lucid to me.

    Chris Shaker
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  28. cjshaker@127

    For the particular paper in question, the errors would have been given in the referees reports and summarised in the editors rejection letter. There would be nothing to prevent Shaviv discussing them openly (although scientists are often rather less than completely objective about that sort of thing, which is generally why they keep it to themselves). These errors need not be a refutation of the theory in order for the paper to be rejected - just failing to make a convicing argument is enough. Most scientists gain a thick skin over time and learn not to get overly dissapointed/angry with negative reviews - it happens to us all, and out publication record generally benefits from it in the long run.

    If you want to find a specific refutation, then first you would need to specify which particular claim you had in mind; if you are willing to do so, then I would be happy to discuss it with you on a more appropriate thread.

    If an editor made a specific comment, such as the one described in your earlier post, there would be justification in publishing the letter whether it was considered private or not - it would be "whistle-blowing" on editorial malpractice.

    Expertise in one field is not guarantee of a useful opinion in another. Would you take James Hansen's opinion on quantum physics over Dysons? No, because Hansen has not established his expertise in that field, just as Dyson has not established his expertise in climatology.
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  29. cjshaker@127

    BTW, if you want to find out about the shortcomings of a scientists work, just look up the papers that cite their work on Google scholar (and also follow the references therin). In Shaviv's case, the criticisms are not difficult to find, and we can discuss them on another thread if you like.
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  30. Thank you for the reference to Google Scholar. I will check it out.

    Many Astrophysicists also study climate, especially involving other planets. Dyson claims to have worked in the field.

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2151


    James Hansen certainly makes the headlines a lot, with rather extreme newsbites.

    Veteran climate scientist, James Hansen says 'lock up the oil men'

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/23/hansen_dc/

    NASA's James Hansen:

    "Protest and direct action could be the only way to tackle soaring carbon emissions, a leading climate scientist has said."... "The democratic process doesn't quite seem to be working,"

    I'm not quite sure what he means by 'direct action'?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2009/mar/18/nasa-climate-change-james-hansen

    "Current approaches to deal with climate change are ineffectual, one of the world's top climate scientists said today in a personal new year appeal to Barack Obama and his wife Michelle on the urgent need to tackle global warming."

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6941974.ece

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/23/hansen-of-nasa-arrested-in-coal-country/

    Chris Shaker
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    Moderator Response: cjshaker, if you type "Shaviv" into the Search field at the top left of this page, you will find several relevant pages, including especially Less than half of published scientists endorse global warming, where you should use your browser's Find function to find "Shaviv," then click the links in the resulting found paragraph.
  31. So James Hansen is vocal, expresses himself and tries to end the current lack of action. This is of course based on his rather extensive knowledge of the problem. How exactly is that a bad thing? You think he should not be allowed to do such things?

    Any comments on governement attempting to suppress research findings or to make Hansen shut up?

    How is it that we keep changing the subject? Seems we have veered far off the original topic.
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  32. cjshaker@130

    "working" in climate science does not imply expertise; having publications does. If Hansen said he had worked in quantum physics, but had no publications - would you take his opinion on quantum physics over that of Dyson then? I suspect not. Dyson is entitled to his opinion, but he has only rather limited authority on this issue.

    Hansen's comments to the press are entirely irrelevant to the point under discussion, and I am not going to engage in personal attack on scientists, when it is the science we ought to be discussing.
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  33. "I'll note that there are well known Astrophysicists who also doubt the AGW premise, including Freeman Dyson"

    He's a good scientist, but doesn't work on climatology, here, or on other planets. His comments show that even smart scientists can be quite ignorant of other areas of science which they clearly haven't studied. His certainty might be due to the kind of arrogance certain kinds of physicists are famous for, due to political ideology, or some combination of both. However, when people make statements that are clearly at odds with the basics of some other field of science, chances are extremely high that they are simply wrong. No matter how bright they are.

    If you're going to appeal to authority, please make sure that the person whose authority you appeal to actual *is authoritative* in the field he or she is pontificating on.

    I don't expect Dyson to understand climatology, nor biology/genetic engineering (he's made similarly uninformed comments about the ease of genetically engineering trees to suck up excess CO2).

    Likewise, I don't expect Lindzen to understand human physiology no matter how often he claims that cigarette smoking is largely harmless ...
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  34. cjshaker, Dyson's um... opinions... have been dissected by Michael Tobis. You might also read a post at RealClimate. And this one at globalwarmingisreal, which highlights Dyson's career-long tendency to proudly disagree with the majority opinion regardless of the topic. Note especially the quote of Dyson saying his comments on global warming solutions are not as a scientist but as a "story teller."

    You have reached too far (really, really--your arm must have broken off) in relying on Dyson having claimed to work in the field of astrophysics, and some astrophysicists also study climate, therefore probably (maybe?) Dyson has studied climate. In the interview you linked, Dyson is quoted "I don’t claim to be an expert. I never did. I simply find that a lot of these claims that experts are making are absurd. Not that I know better, but I know a few things. My objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much...."
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  35. cjshaker wrote : "Many Astrophysicists also study climate, especially involving other planets. Dyson claims to have worked in the field.

    http://e360.yale.edu/content/feature.msp?id=2151"



    From the interview you have linked to, from the man himself :


    Obviously he wanted to write a piece about global warming and I was just the instrument for that, and I am not so much interested in global warming. He portrayed me as sort of obsessed with the subject, which I am definitely not. To me it is a very small part of my life. I don’t claim to be an expert. I never did. I simply find that a lot of these claims that experts are making are absurd. Not that I know better, but I know a few things. My objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it’s rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have. I think that’s what upsets me.

    I was involved in climate studies seriously about 30 years ago.

    I visited Oak Ridge many times, and worked with those people, and I thought they were excellent.

    I got out of the field then. I didn’t like the way it was going. It left me with a bad taste.

    What’s wrong with the models. I mean, I haven’t examined them in detail, (but) I know roughly what’s in them.

    And, secondly, I am not an expert, and that’s not going to change. I am not going to make myself an expert. What I do think I have is a better judgment, maybe because I have lived a bit longer, and maybe because I’ve done other things.

    Yes, it is definitely a tactical mistake to use somebody like me for th[e] job [of skepticism], because I am so easily shot down.

    I have a lot of friends who think the same way I do. But I am sorry to say that most of them are old, and most of them are not experts. My views are very widely shared.


    So, an old man who had a great career and is obviously highly intelligent, has no connections or scientific knowledge with regard to Climatology but believes that he can give a valid opinion based on his knowledge in his previous scientific career.

    Wouldn't it be best to pay more attention to those who actually work in this field ?
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  36. David Keith from the University of Calgary recently described his attempt to get Dyson to define a specific criticism against climate science on Dot Earth recently.


    "I had an interesting experience talking to Dyson and Will Happer at a meeting last year......
    Dyson’s comments on climate were disappointingly shallow. I said, “Are you concerned about the exaggeration of climate impacts or do you have serious concerns about the science?”

    “Both”, he replied. But when I pressed him on the science the only thing he said was that CO2 radiative forcing was logarithmic and complained that nobody knows this or talks about it. It was disappointing to hear such a shallow commentary from such a great man. Everyone who needs to knows that CO2 forcing is (roughly) logarithmic. This science is more than half a century old; it is in any textbook; the I.P.C.C. even as an “official” log forcing function that is widely used in simple policy analysis models. This science of building good high-resolution radiative transfer codes was nailed by Gilbert Plass and others at the air force geophysics lab in the 1950’s.

    If one is going to attack the climate science this is a very odd place to start."


    Sorry about the long quote but I think it is quite instructive. Dyson, great physicist that he may be, simply doesn't know much about the climate change science.
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  37. fydijkstra wrote : "Concrete examples that the Climategate e-mailers were highly in doubt can only be given from interpretations of the e-mails.
    Concrete examples that they wanted to hide uncertainty and prevent that other views are published. Again, we are talking about the interpretations of the e-mails..."



    If I may be allowed to interpret your post, I don't believe you understand the difference between a 'concrete example' and an 'interpretation of an email'. What you can interpret (or, at least, read what other people have interpreted) from a limited number of emails taken out of context, means nothing unless you can point to real-world actions that followed on from those emails. Can you ?
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  38. Chris Shaker - Let's try a different approach. Climategate is ancient history, and has been pointed out, didn't change the science one fig.

    So, as I ask many skeptics - what will it take to convince you? How warm? How much CO2? How acidic the oceans? How much sea level rise? How many droughts and floods? How many melted glaciers? How much ice loss in Greenland and the Arctic?

    Just think about where you will believe/understand. Because whatever your level, under BAU, we will get there.
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  39. The Skeptical Chymist #122

    You are a brave man to call me a dunce on the meaning of Dr Trenberth's papers.

    You answer is here: (Riccardo's quote from the paper)
    ""
    "The TOA energy imbalance can probably be most accurately determined from climate models and is estimated to be 0.85 ± 0.15 W m−2 by Hansen et al. (2005) and is supported by estimated recent changes in ocean heat content (Willis et al. 2004; Hansen et al. 2005). A comprehensive error analysis of the CERES mean budget (Wielicki et al. 2006) is used in Fasullo and Trenberth (2008a) to guide adjustments of the CERES TOA fluxes so as to match the estimated global imbalance."

    So they choose to take the value from Hansen et al. 2005 and adjust the CERES TOA fluxes to match this value.""

    The actual CERES imbalance is 6.4W/sq.m and this is 'corrected' back to 0.9W/sq.m - a 5.5W/sq.m correction.

    And Hansen's 2005 model is not supported by recent OHC measurements - see here:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Climate-cherry-pickers-cooling-oceans.html

    and 'Robust warming of the global upper oceans"
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  40. Marcus@11:
    You say the sun has just come out of the deepest solar min in 100 years. It would appear that you are basing that on sunspots?
    On what basis are you suggesting that sunspots are the measure of solar activity?
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    Moderator Response: See both the Intermediate and the Advanced versions of the Argument "It's the Sun."
  41. Ken @ 139

    So you have read Kevin Trenberth's papers? Great. Then you will be aware than using his email to suggest he wouldn't agree with the statement "The evidence for human caused global warming is as solid as ever" was not consistent with his views.

    Aside from his published work, another easy way to "ask" him is to check his website, where he says of the email you quoted:


    "In my case, one cherry-picked email quote has gone viral and at last check it was featured in over 107,000 items (in Google). Here is the quote: "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't." It is amazing to see this particular quote lambasted so often. It stems from a paper I published this year bemoaning our inability to effectively monitor the energy flows associated with short-term climate variability. It is quite clear from the paper that I was not questioning the link between anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions and warming, or even suggesting that recent temperatures are unusual in the context of short-term natural variability."

    (bolding is my emphasis)

    So no Ken, I don't think you are a dunce, but when it comes to the meaning of Kevin Trenberths' papers, I'll stick with what Trenberth says he means, not what others claim he means.
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  42. The Skeptical Chymist #141

    I find it is always useful to let the experts argue their own case and if it is consistent and plausible then I tend to believe it until better or stronger cases are presented, or it collapses from internal inconsistency.

    In the case of Dr Trenberth, his Aug09 paper was a comphehensive roundup of the state of the science and measurement of global warming. He accounted for only about 55% of the purported TOA imbalance (145E20 Joules/year) by sequestration in the oceans - with wide error bars. The residual unaccounted amount of heat was 30-100E20Joules/year.

    The TOA imbalance of 0.9W/sq.m (145E20 Joules/year) was not directly measured - it was modelled. Fig 4 of his paper reconciles the individual forcings - IPCC AR4 Fig 2.4 with the climate responses. Some of those forcings (particularly cloud albedo) have wide error bars, and the solar forcing is wrong compared with other IPCC data.

    BP and I have argued that the OHC charts which have been used splicing XBT to Argo data are also wrong due to impossible jumps which are likely offsets - so the linearization of 1993 to 2010 OHC increase is bogus and in the last 6 years OHC has been flat. Better Argo measurement is showing less (or small) ocean heat takeup.

    Therefore the OHC bit of Dr Trenberth's story I find less plausible.

    There is a bit missing in his website statement. What he added to the original 'travesty' phrase was:

    "The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”

    Now, if the observing system is only inadequate to 'effectively monitor the energy flows associated with short-term climate variability' then why would it be adequate to monitor longer term climate change?

    Surely short term error would be compounded when extended over longer periods.

    And the other bit which is somewhat obscured in Dr Trenberth's paper is that the TOA imbalance is not 'Observed' or measured drirectly at all.

    Read the statement carefully:

    "The TOA energy imbalance can probably be most accurately determined from **climate models** and is estimated to be 0.85 ± 0.15 W m−2 by Hansen et al. (2005) and is supported by estimated **recent changes in ocean heat content** (Willis et al. 2004; Hansen et al. 2005). A comprehensive error analysis of the CERES mean budget (Wielicki et al. 2006) is used in Fasullo and Trenberth (2008a) to **guide adjustments** of the CERES TOA fluxes so as to **match the estimated global imbalance**." (**Emphases mine**)

    This is 2004-2005 OHC change he is referring to, which is subject to the offset XBT-Argo errors.

    The latest Willis analysis finds the equivalant of only 0.1W/sq.m of OHC increase.

    So this TOA imbalance of 0.9W/sq.m is found from Hansen's 2005 model, not really supported by Willis 2004-05 OHC analysis, then used to correct the massive 6.4W/sq.m CERES TOA flux measurement, to match the **estimated global imbalance** which was taken from Hansen's model in the first place. A circular science argument!!
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  43. Wow, this thread has turned into a textbook example of the gish gallop! It includes the full gamut of long-debunked skeptic arguments, including the 'it's not warming', 'it's not CO2', 'it's the Sun', quotes from non-experts pretending to be experts, nearly all the utterly debunked 'climategate' memes, and a collection of others.

    Each time one argument is patiently debunked (by Rob, Tom, Daniel, Philippe and the many other excellent contributers here), either by reference to material avaialble on this site, or at other reputable sources, then another allegation is thrown in and no acknowledgement is made to the failure of the previous skeptic argument.

    And of course each long-debunked argument, often relating to research/events/data >5 years old is presented as if it might be new or controversial, when the simplest research shows it not to be the case.

    So, skeptics... is that really all you have? Nothing new to add to the mix? No new research or data that changes the consensus on AGW? Just perpetual gish galloping? Looks to me awfully like the OP's point is demonstrated valid!
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  44. skywatcher #143

    Engage on some meat and potatoes - not broad non-specifics.
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  45. Re: skywatcher (143)

    On behalf of all the regular commenters, thank you!

    I know I'm wasting my time trying to convince the regular contrarians (and the new ones that crop up), so I remind myself to try to maintain a detached tone when rebutting.

    Because I read this blog for nearly 2 years before joining the discussions, I know that many others lurk here; I try to remain aware that my comments are for them, and for posterity.

    It's difficult to self-censor (I sometimes go back & delete comments I've just made [commenters regret] so I can re-word them to be less inflammatory and more instructive). I know at time I've crossed the line. For those times, I apologize. To you and to those I've wronged.

    Thanks again for speaking up!

    The Yooper
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  46. Ken, you used the "Trenberth Travesty" email to suggest Trenberth would question that "human caused global warming is as solid as ever". He wasn't then and doesn't now and his own words confirm it, you were wrong.

    Moving the subject to the "missing heat" does not change the fact you were wrong. The "missing heat" and the TOA imbalances are interesting topics, but I have no intention of becoming entangled in an different argument to that I jumped in on, I've seen this goal post shifting before. If what you really want to talk about is OHC, TOA measurements etc well there are
    plenty of treads on this site for those, but do be more careful with Trenberth's words in future.
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  47. KL #144, if I did that, you'd just move the goalposts, as The Skeptical Chymist shows in #146. We arrived at OHC via the debunking of your Trenberth comment, which followed the gish gallop and associated debunking through the previous >100 posts. Will you accept you were wrong about Trenberth's position on whether "human caused global warming is as solid as ever"?

    The 'meat and potatoes' of this particular thread is explained by the OP in two emboldened statements - the first is above, and the second is "Has 'Climategate' changed our scientific understanding of global warming?" The ongoing challenge of improving OHC measurements, including Purkey and Johnson's discovery of some of the 'missing heat', and more relevant on the other threads TSC linked to, does not affect either statement substantially. Many independent reviews confirm these points, which is to say that there are legitimate areas of research and debate, but that we are the cause of recent warming and that it is ongoing is as certain as it was 13 months ago (in fact, more certain, as further papers and data have confirmed trends and earlier findings).
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  48. The Skeptical Chymist #146

    "Ken, you used the "Trenberth Travesty" email to suggest Trenberth would question that "human caused global warming is as solid as ever". He wasn't then and doesn't now and his own words confirm it, you were wrong.'

    Well I did not claim that Dr Trenberth's opinions were gospel - just that he is probably the best of the bunch.

    Address the main points of my comment:

    1)Dr Trenberth: "Our observing system is inadequate.”

    Now, if the observing system is only inadequate to 'effectively monitor the energy flows associated with short-term climate variability' then why would it be adequate to monitor longer term climate change?

    Surely short term error would be compounded when extended over longer periods.

    and 2)

    So this TOA imbalance of 0.9W/sq.m is found from Hansen's 2005 model, not really supported by Willis 2004-05 OHC analysis, then used to correct the massive 6.4W/sq.m CERES TOA flux measurement, to match the **estimated global imbalance** which was taken from Hansen's model in the first place. A circular science argument!!

    This line of "multiple independent lines of evidence" is also getting tiresome.

    Drill down into these lines and you will find much cross referencing and the same prominent sources - Hansen, Trenberth, Willis, Mann, Jones, Briffa et al. They are travellers in this story too - not beyond criticism or close examination.
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  49. KL #148

    "Surely short term error would be compounded when extended over longer periods."

    No, this is incorrect. As the sample size increases, given a reasonable signal to noise ratio the signal component will become more apparent as the signal component is non-random, while the noise component will be at best random, or at worst, systematic in some correctable way. This is of course provable in a mathematical sense, although at present I can't chase up a suitable reference for you, for two reasons. Firstly it's a basic fundamental that's not covered in detail in introductory text books on statistics, rather will be able to be chased up in the primary literature dating from the late 19th century or early 20th century. Secondly I'm not doing much applied statistical work at the moment (beyond some simple support for my colleagues), so my resources for chasing this stuff up is limited at the moment.

    "Drill down into these lines and you will find much cross referencing and the same prominent sources - Hansen, Trenberth, Willis, Mann, Jones, Briffa et al. They are travellers in this story too - not beyond criticism or close examination. "

    Here you're too fixated on names, and insufficiently fixated on measurement domains. The 'multiple lines of independent evidence' refer to measurement stystems that are independent of each other, not multiple independent researchers (although differing areas of expertise and interest mean that often this is also the case).

    I'm glad to clear up these fundamental misunderstandings about the scientific and statistical process for you.
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  50. kdkd #149

    Last time I checked there were two independent sets of temperature data.

    Surface (GCHN) and Satellite (UAH and RSS read same raw data). All the Surface temp reconstruction corrections (HADCRUT, GISTEMP etc) draw from the same data sources.

    My point is that we are relying on a very few people (and their teams or post-grad students) to get right this basic data interpretation.

    For example Willis was wrong (found cooling), then right (found warming) and now is maybe right again (found very little warming).

    I(and BP) are pretty sure von Schuckmann got it wrong.

    This does not suggest any lack of good faith the part of these scientists - just that the story can be conflicting and the data just not good enough to draw a strong conclusion due to poor measurement, flawed instruments, or poor design of experiment.
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