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Climate Hustle

Kung-fu Climate

Posted on 6 May 2010 by Rob Honeycutt

Guest post by Rob Honeycutt

The other day I happened upon the Popular Technology blog that has a list of "700 peer reviewed papers supporting skepticism of man-made global warming." This was news to me so I started to look into the first paper on the list. Loehle 2007 titled A 2000-Year Global Temperature Reconstruction Based on Non-Treering Proxies published in Energy & Environment. I'm sure many Skeptical Science readers are familiar with this paper and Loehle's 2008 correction. I was not.

I decided to email Dr. Loehle with some questions and got a very prompt response from him. This was followed by a number of back and forth emails. What I got from him was that he believes himself to be one of the scientists whose work is blocked from publication for political reasons. And I got that his motivation for this 2007/2008 paper was to point out the "politically motivated" science trying to obscure the MWP by Michael Mann and others. I do not doubt Loehle is genuine in this statement and that he is genuine in his desire to do good science. Nor do I doubt that Mann, Briffa, Moberg and other who have done similar temperature reconstruction to be any less genuine in their desire to do good science. I have no reason to doubt either. But as I put it to Loehle, "I think contentious issues in science have always been a bare knuckle brawl." This is not new to climate science. Often it comes down to whether my kung-fu is better than your kung-fu.

So, in this kung-fu match, not being a scientist myself, I have to place myself in the position of the audience watching the fight. I'm not a kung-fu master. I'm a spectator trying to decide whose kung-fu is better. I've read all the arguments against Loehle's 2008 paper with regards to it having far fewer (only 18) data sets opposed to Mann's 1200 data sets. But that's fine. I accept that Loehle is trying to tease out potential errors imposed from treering data.

As I was researching this I came onto one post on Yahoo Answers from a person called Keith P who tries to answer the question, "Does Loehle actually refute Mann in any way?" Keith does something quite simple that I have reconstructed for myself. He just scales Loehle's to the "hockey team" chart that contains Mann, Briffa, Moberg and other temperature reconstructions and overlays the two. The result, to me, was very illuminating but I'm going to take a slightly different approach than Keith P.

Figure 1: Loehle 2008 temperature reconstruction.

In Fig 1, I have taken Loehle's temperature anomalies and kept his scale in both the X and Y axis. I've also kept his zero axis. I believe this is a reasonably faithful reconstruction of Loehle's data. My apologies to the data purists out there who might find some inherent abomination in my method. Graphically it works (I don't know why more scientists don't either enlist the help of a graphic artist or at very least audit a couple of courses at their local university).

The other critique of Loehle's paper has been that the data ends in 1935. This, from my position in the bleachers of the kung-fu match, is much more problematic for Loehle. I know the paper is not about current warming. I know it's about treering proxy errors but that is sort of missing the forest for the trees (pun is definitely intended). I understand why the data ends at 1935. But I just can't buy NOT making the attempt to concatenate this data with the past 150 year of recorded temperature readings. Even if the modern temperature records are not central to the topic of the paper to not add the blade to his hockey stick is a mistake. Maybe not from a scientific perspective, but from the bleacher's perspective it is.

Figure 2: Loehle 2008 temperature reconstruction with Hadley instrumental record.

While I was writing this Loehle was kind enough to provide me with a Hadley chart with the same 29 year smoothed average as his data allowing me to compare apples to apples. In Fig. 2 I have added the Hadley data to his. It takes quite a bit of scrunching (my technical term) to fit 150 years of data into a 2000 year chart. This is definitely a rough cut and paste so I would not be prepared to make any claims about precisely how many degrees warmer today is over the MWP based on this chart. One should note that since this is a 29 year smoothed average not all the most recent (less statistically significant) data is included. The only conclusions I can come to is that the current warming has happened as fast or faster, and is more sustained, than any time in the past 2000 years, and that we are at least as warm as the MWP and maybe warmer. I would not assume Loehle's work to be definitive here any more than I would consider Mann's to be so. No, it's not a scientific conclusion. It's a conclusion that the rest of the 99.9999% of the non-scientific world has to try to grapple with.

In the final battle in this kung-fu match I have to throw everyone into the ring together. Mann with his Crouching Tiger style. Crowley and Lowery with their Striking Serpent. Jones and his Monkey Fist style. Moberg is a student of Jackie Chan's Drunken Boxing. Briffa's Shaolin and his et al grasshoppers. And all the others pasted in behind Loehle's Wing Chung style chart. This is Fig 3.

Figure 3: Loehle 2008 temperature reconstruction (blue) with other temperature reconstructions (source: Wikipedia).

What a bizarre, almost absurd, cacophony. What I see in this is a battle of home made hockey sticks. Some straight, some crooked, some short, some long. But I see all our kung-fu masters each beating the other with their own hockey sticks. What's most strange to me is that it seems like the MWP battles are all about the shape of their hockey sticks and miss the rather more important question of NOW. I have two kids that are 5 and 6. When they are in their 20's or 30's I'm going to have to answer to them and tell them what I did back in 2010. What did I know and what did I do about it? Now really is everything.

There is a wide gap between you kung-fu masters in the ring as you bloody each other up over these kinds of issues and those of us in the bleachers trying to understand what this fight means. It's certainly easy to sell tickets to this bloody brawl but don't forget that the rest of the world needs to potentially make some very quick decisions with regards to the future of our planet. This is not a political statement, this is just a potential statement of fact. I urge everyone in science to stop playing games. Fight the good fight. Pay respect to a good fighter. And may the best kung-fu win.

I want to extend my personal thanks to Dr. Loehle for his patience in answering my rather long string of questions.


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Comments 151 to 200 out of 224:

  1. #87 e,

    "Perhaps a new skeptic argument is in order: "Scientists won't release the raw data". If nothing else, it would be great as a compendium of raw data and software sources to expand on what Ned listed."

    Enthusiastically seconded.
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  2. Poptech:

    That's simply bizarre. No, CO2 is not the forcing that initiates a glaciation or deglaciation, at least in the last few ice age cycles. How does that, in itself, support skeptic arguments? Do skeptics think that all climate variations are initially due to orbital forcings, just because that's what kicked off those events? I hope not.

    And then, you simply dismiss everything else is 'speculation and unsubstantiated'? Why, just because you don't like it? This really isn't helpful. Do you think the ice-albedo feedback is also 'speculation and unsubstantiated', just because it's a feedback that is thought to be active during the ice age cycles, along with CO2?
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  3. HumanityRules at 01:48 AM on 8 May, 2010

    Not really HR. Mann is absolutely explicit in stating that his reconstructions are N. hemispheric reconstructions when they're N. hemispheric, and the value of the very limited S. hemisphere data for a global or S. hemisphere reconstruction. The paper from his group we're discussing [*] is six pages long; 5.5 pages of these are a description of NH data (plus intro, methods and references). The description of SH reconstruction is a single caveat-loaded paragraph, and a caveat-loaded half paragraph in the discussion. There are no Figures of SH reconstructions in the paper. There is a massive information loaded supplement that has some SH reconstructions. Everything is completely clear and straightforward. I don't really see the issue you have with it.

    Incidentally, I think you’re allowing yourself to get drawn into a tedious, and rather contrived game where science is relegated to a back seat while some rather unpleasant attempts are made to trash the science (accordingly this thread is a rather un-SkepticalScience-like bargy!) . We’re interested in the Earth temperature and its variability in previous times, how temperature variations were distributed at the hemispherical and longitudinal level, and the factors involved. To a considerable extent due to the efforts of Mann, but now encompassing many groups, we know quite a lot. One of the things that stands out in analyzing Mann’s work is the fact that the NH MWP temperature reconstruction from 1999 has not really changed that much through 12 years of subsequent paleoanalyses by numerous groups. That's the essential point if we're inerested in the science. We don't have to join in the frenzy of attacks on scientists.

    [*] Mann et al. (2008) Proxy-based reconstructions of hemispheric and global surface temperature variations over the past two millennia Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105, 13252–13257
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  4. Poptech,
    as in the case of wingding's comment and you're answer, it's clear that that list is just your personal judgment on what that papers say, probably just a superficial impession without really going them.
    Just going rapidly through part of your list and considering just the paper i've actually read i more strongly confirm that it's meaningless and unsupported. It's usefull only for you to not discuss the science and try a brute force attack.
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  5. HumanityRules at 10:19 AM on 8 May, 2010

    HR, if you're going to keep quoting CoalGeologists sentence please quote the whole sentence!

    CoalGeologist wrote:

    "That said, the presumption that there has to be some other explanation than AGW, because AGW couldn't be true, is what distinguishes denialism from skepticism."

    Just like the discussion of Loehle's paper and Mann's work and science in general valid argument requires knowledge of the whole story. Otherwise one might question the motive of the individual who misrepresents the facts by seletive omission.....
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  6. Poptech writes: Riccardo, I have much longer lists of skeptical scientists than the NAS letter, one I self compiled and others by third parties.

    Having looked at your list of "skeptical scientists" I can confirm that it is in fact useless.

    There are people on there who are indeed good scientists, but who are not remotely in doubt about the existence of anthropogenic global warming. (For example, Dennis Lettenmaier: "It's happening ... Where it's going to lead is uncertain. But I think it's untenable to pretend we can keep pumping this stuff into the atmosphere at current rates and it's not going to make any difference.")

    There are also people on there who are indeed opposed to the idea of GW, but who aren't actually scientists (e.g., Richard S. Courtney, E.-G. Beck).

    The list is padded with sections of "meteorologists" (some of whom, like Anthony Watts, are just TV personalities), economists, and so on.

    It's also got quite a few names of people who are deceased. Given that the NAS letter in Science was just published this week, I'm not sure how confident we're supposed to be that somebody who's been dead for five or ten years opposes the letter in Science. Can I assume that Einstein, Maxwell, Newton, Galileo, and Eratosthenes would all support the NAS letter? (Joking aside, over the past decade several of the largest skeptical arguments have collapsed -- see, for example, the repeated corrections of errors in the UAH record that changed it from cooling to warming -- so I don't think one should assume that someone who was dubious in the past would still doubt the existence of AGW today.)

    Finally, I'd just add that the list contains a very, very large number of names of people that (how can I put this politely?) are not even remotely credible on this subject. I mentioned Watts and E.-G. Beck and Courtney above, but that's just the beginning. Who on the scientific side is going to be convinced by your inclusion of Piers Corbyn, Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen, Steve Milloy, Tim Ball, Zbigniew Jaworowski, Ralf D. Tscheuschner, Bob Carter, Luboš Motl, Joseph D’Aleo, Gerhard Gerlich, Louis Hissink ... You've got the entire Robinson family on there (Arthur, Noah, and Zachary -- aka the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine). I could go on and on ... the point is, every name in this paragraph adds negative credibility to your list.

    In summary, I don't think comparing your list to the letter published in Science this week strengthens your case. Quite the opposite, in fact.
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  7. HumanityRules at 10:19 AM on 8 May, 2010

    your comment:
    You could argue a little of the reverse appears in the AGW arguement. Using CG words from any earlier post. Because CO2 is the biggest (or only) knob controlling contemporary climate change then we have to have theories that exclude all others. There is a little of this in Trenberths ideas on the 'missing energy'. The argo bouys have to be wrong or the energy has to be in the deep ocean because AGW says it has to be somewhere.

    That's not really true HR - I wonder whether you wrote it in an unguarded moment! There is no serious science on global warming that doesn't consider all known "knob"s "controlling contemporary climate change". Attribution of the relevant factors ("knob"s) include as much as we know about solar, volcanic, aerosol, black carbon, natural variability, and other feedbacks and contributions. So we are clearly not pursuing "theories that exclude all others" (i.e. you "knob"s). That's a strawman argument.

    Your last sentence is a strawman argument too. If there is a question about the location of "missing heat" it is not "because AGW says it has to be somewhere.". If there is a question about the "missing heat" it's because there is a radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere that has driven earth land, sea and atmospheric temperatures upwards and stratospheric temperatures downwards especially during the last 40 years, and the evidence indicates that this hasn't "stopped".

    Once again it's a poor argument that relies on selective omission of information that bears on the subject. Trenberth (and me for that matter) isn't overly concerned about the very short period of anomalous heat accounting in the earth system with respect to our understanding of contemporary global warming. He wants to have an improvement in the monitoring system that allows us to account for short term variability. Our understanding of AGW doesn't depend on a single bit of data from a tiny period of time, and we all recognise that short term variability is almost by definition anomalous in the light of long term trends.

    Your comment does raise an interesting point that's relevant to this thread 'though. Loehle published in a magazine a bit of "show and tell" concerning 4.5 years of ARGO ocean heat data. He took the tiny bit of ARGO data, smoothed it and fitted a regression line to it. And that's it - no science in sight![*].

    Unfortunately, Loehle's note was already superfluous and irrelevant as it hit the pages. Scientists know that there have been and perhaps still are some problems with the ARGO and XBT data [***] and the idea that one can draw any meaningful conclusion about what's really happening to upper ocean heat content (not "The Global Ocean" as Loehle put it) and its significance from this short period is dumb.

    But of course that's not the point of these publications. Loehle's unnecesary and poorly scientific analyses are spread all over the web and used to fuel the sorts of anti-science attacks that Loehle was apparently so concerned about 20-odd years ago that he wrote a letter to Nature on the subject.

    [*] Wouldn't it be great if we all did that with various bits of data downloaded off the web or sent to us by scientists. We could publish a dozen "papers" each a year - every one of us. Of course we don't do that (lots of people do so on the web!) partly because there are scientific standards that should be met for publishing in scientific journals. Since science journals have significant elements of quality control, but there seems to be an imperative in some quarters to have a drip feed of the stuff that Dr. Loehle has taken to producing in recent years, there are some limited magazine outlets for this stuff. Energy&Environment is sadly one of these.]

    [***] see for example:

    DiNezio P. N. and Goni G. J. (2010) Identifying and Estimating Biases between XBT and Argo Observations Using Satellite Altimetry J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol. 27, 226-240

    Reverdin G,. et al. (2009) XBT Temperature Errors during French Research Cruises (1999-2007) J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol. 26, 2462-2473

    Willis J. K. (2009) In Situ Data Biases and Recent Ocean Heat Content Variability J. Atmos. Ocean. Technol. 26, 846-852

    Ishii M and Kimoto M (2009) Reevaluation of historical ocean heat content variations with time-varying XBT and MBT depth bias corrections. J. Oceanograph. 65, 287-299.

    Levitus, S. et al. (2009) Global ocean heat content 1955–2008 in light of recently revealed instrumentation problems. Geophys. Res. Lett.36, L07608.

    Leuliette, E.W., and L. Miller. 2009. Closing the sea level rise budget with altimetry, Argo, and GRACE. Geophys. Res. Lett. 36, L04608.

    Domingues, C.M. et al. (2008) 2008. Improved ocean-warming estimates: Implications for climate models and sea-level rise.Nature 453, 1,090–1,093.

    etc. etc.

    Some of this has been discussed on this site here, here, and here
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  8. I don't understand why the denialists are still fixated with refuting the Mann et. al. 1999 paper when there is a significantly updated follow-up paper that uses a greatly expanded dataset, addresses the critiques of statistical methodology, and which demonstrates that the result is not significantly different if the tree ring proxies are removed from the dataset.

    From the RealClimate post on it we see that:

    "The number of well-dated proxies used in the latest paper is significantly greater than what was available a decade ago: 1209 back to 1800; 460 back to 1600; 59 back to 1000 AD; 36 back to 500 AD and 19 back to 1 BC (all data and code is available here). This is compared with 400 or so in MBH99, of which only 14 went back to 1000 AD."

    And yet Loehle thinks he can refute that with just 18 proxies in his dataset (chosen how?).

    It also seems odd that denialists constantly go on about the Mann reconstruction showing unvarying climate for a thousand years until the up-kick at the end, when the actual plots of the data show no such thing:

    Figure from Mann et. al. 2008 - plot of the new reconstructions over a) 1800 and b) 1000 years along with selected older ones for comparison.
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  9. Poptech writes: I have no idea about what the debate here is anymore because a bulk of my comments were removed again.

    Don't take it personally, it happens to all of us. In general, when one of my comments gets deleted it's because I posted in haste and failed to adhere to the standards of this site (no ad-hominem arguments, don't imply that others are dishonest, don't bring up politics, etc.). People's comments also get deleted if they include just a link or an image with no commentary, if they're just a copy-and-paste of another comment elsewhere, or if they're just a reply to someone else's deleted comment.

    I see plenty of your comments still on here. I think one of your comments was deleted because it was just a copy & paste of all the names on your "list" -- note that your subsequent comment linking to that list but not pasting the whole thing in was perfectly acceptable. Likewise, I saw that two posts were deleted earlier -- one in which you pasted in the entire (copyrighted) text of M&M's letter to PNAS, and one in which another commenter responded by pasting in the entire (copyrighted) text of Mann's reply. Both of those should have been offered as links or excerpts, with discussion and one's own thoughts.

    This website differs from most of the rest of the blogosphere in that the host tries hard to (a) keep it civil, and (b) keep it focused on serious discussion of science, not debating tactics. Comments that stray from this may be deleted (as many of my own have ... and I can admit that when that's happened it's been a good reminder to behave nicely).
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  10. Poptech at 21:47 PM on 8 May, 2010

    re your:

    "I have no idea about what the debate here is anymore because a bulk of my comments were removed again."

    Poptech, remember that a "debate" encompasses (hopefully!) a discussion in which the input of other's comments are considered and responded to with a degree of thoughtfullness.

    I think you need to decide what your posts are meant to convey. One of the things I've learned is that if participating in a blog discussion, it's a good idea to allow some time between formulating a response and actualy posting it, especially if there are strong feelings involved.

    Try writing your response, and then do something else (your normal life!) for a while. Then reread your post and decide whether it (a) really addresses the post you're responding to, and (b) whether it really is what you mean. Often, upon consideration, your impresion about your post will be a little different, and you're likely to post a much better message.
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  11. The list of 700 papers really shows the paucity of support for the skeptic position if you actually investigate the items on the list, rather than take them at face value.

    (i) Quite a few are papers that have been refuted in the peer reviewed literature, and some are replies to those refutations (so there is a bit of double-counting going on). That means that the list contains papers that are at best "questionable". Hardly the best of foundations.

    (ii) Quite a few are papers that make observations that while true do not contradict AGW, such as the idea that CO2 has not been the dominant driver of climate over geological timescales, or that increased CO2 will lead to increased growth of land plants (which forgets the point that there will also be changes in temperature and hydrology)

    (iii) Some papers have only been submitted for peer review, and some on the list were rejected.

    The most amusing thing though is that the list contains a few papers by scientists that clearly are not in the skeptic camp, including one of the signatories of the recent letter to science mentioned in the other thread (Carl Wunsch)! ;o)

    Other notable mentions include Stefan Rahmstorf (RealClimate contributor), Charles Keeling (I would hope we all know who he was), Mike Lockwood (has written many papers demonstrating the lack of evidence for solar forcing as the cause of recent warming, including the galactic cosmic ray theory). I expect there are more, but I have only skimmed through the list.

    I hope poptech will return to posting here, I am sure all he needs to do is to keep to the posting guidelines and his posts won't be deleted. A post saying whether he was happy with my explanation of why the CRU raw data is unavailable would be nice. It is difficult to find the enthusiasm for answering questions if the questions are ignored.
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  12. Poptech #188

    On the contrary, I am telling you that a list of 700 references without context is an unsubstantiated claim. Without providing the reader with context, basically what you have there is wasted effort.

    Until you substantiate your claim in some way (e.g. by annotating your bibliography) then given your claim is the reverse of the scientific consensus, I think it is most likely that you're using a combination of poor quality "evidence" and misrepresenting good quality evidence, although you could demonstrate that I am wrong with a sufficiently good quality set of annotations, if the evidence does indeed support your case.

    Dikran #193 seems rather more familiar with the literature than I am, and his post further detracts from your arguments credibility. Of course there's a slim chance that you can redeem yourself by annotating your bibliography, but I doubt that you will bother to do this.
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  13. Poptech,

    [I made a similar post on the succeeding thread, but since I didn't see Poptech commenting there, I'm reposting here for his benefit - Mal]

    It's evident you're not well acquainted with how science is actually done. Please read about the Dunning-Kruger effect. Then start educating yourself. Anyone can become an expert, if they're willing to make the effort. First, though, you need to realize that it's not enough just to be smart, you have to actually know something about the subject. If you're going to challenge the AGW consensus, you'll get respect only if you've put the time in, and not skipped any part of the process. You can be sure all the signatories to the May 7th letter have done so. Their authority rests on it.

    That means starting with introductory material and working your way up. It's how you acquire the theoretical framework needed to interpret the massive amount of empirical data, from multiple independent sources, that the AGW consensus draws on. To even know of the existence of the data requires reading all the historic and current peer-reviewed literature. Interpreting the data requires a thorough knowledge of statistics (as anyone who reads Tamino's blog can see), and you'll want to conduct your own experiments, and develop and test your own models.

    Very few people can do all that on their own. For most of us, the only practical route is an extended apprenticeship: obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees, and doing original research under an established advisor. Throughout, you'll have to interact regularly with the community of professional peers that have been working on this for decades: discussing it informally, in person, by phone and by email (perhaps more cautiously than Phil Jones did); and formally, by presenting your ideas at the same conferences and publishing articles in the same journals they do, which unavoidably entails exposing yourself to their occasionally vituperative criticism -- hoo boy!

    Are you up to it, Poptech? If not, you've been treated more decently here than you deserve, and you should not expect that to continue.
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  14. With regards to that list of 'skeptical' papers, I remember Pielke Jnr having some concerns about some of his (and his father's) work being included, but the person who put the list together stated that the papers would stay because he reckoned they WERE sceptical, no matter what Pielke asserted ! See the discussion here, which is noteworthy also because it shows great confusion and upset among Pielke's readers.
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  15. 184.chris
    Apologies I read the supplementary data on the 2008 paper then I had Mann’s 2009 paper in mind when he described the MWP as regional based on pretty much the same data set. I guess I struggle with how he makes a call on the SH in that paper or how anybody makes a call on the SH to be fair.
    I don’t think I’m trying to trash anything just put the science on a level playing field. You drag out the figure of 1200 data sets in Mann’s paper but fail to mention that only a small subset of these stretch back to the MWP. Paleoclimate research has many limitations, often highlighted by the scientists, which seem to be dragged out for Loelhe and ignored for Mann in your complete story.

    My position on this particular subject would be there is no whole story. There is a science in development and competing ideas. It’s only the political drive of the IPCC that demands the certainty of a whole story.

    Are all the knobs constrained or even understood?
    “the evidence indicates that this hasn't "stopped"” - except the evidence of energy measurements in the ocean. Which obviously must be wrong.

    You call for the total story, link to papers which highlight issues with the ocean heat content data but fail to list papers that highlight issues with the radiative imbalance at the top of the atmosphere data sets. The recent email exchange on Pielke snr website was enlightening. Josh Willis the co-ordinator of the Argo bouy data acknowledges past issues with the data, does not rule out further small corrections but seems confident the data is now robust. Where is this in your complete story?

    On your last point I’m not sure how Loelhe can be held responsible for how others use and interpret his work. Which seems to be the drive of the link. It seems bloggers who are obsessed with their tax dollars are those most in favour of political interference, I’ve no real interest in what they say. I’ve read several ‘denier’ blogs that are raging against Cuccinelli going after Mann. On the environmental extreme there are those that want to see ‘climate denial’ as a crime against humanity. Appeals to political interference and calls for politics to be removed from climate science can be heard on both sides of the debate. That’s the more complete story!

    You claim moral authority by demanding the ‘whole story’ but you are as selective as you accuse me of being.
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  16. @Poptech... None of what you're saying, though, suggests that any of these people buy into YOUR perception of the issue. Your list is your subjective selection of what you think fits your criteria. In that it is not very compelling.

    On the other hand, when you have 255 NAS scientists stepping up to the plate to sign a very strong and clearly worded statement, this is something that should be taken extremely seriously.

    If you wrote up a clear statement and then were able to get a large number of reputable scientists to put their names to it, then you might have something serious to crow about.
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  17. Your posts are repetitive, Poptech, and as has been pointed out, your lists have no weight when examined closely.

    The Oregon Petition, for example, has no credibility. It's discussed on this site here:
    and here:

    There are a number of thorough debunkings elsewhere too, but if you wish to roll that out as significant document, you will need to persuade people here that all the analysis is wrong. That will take a lot more evidence than you have been producing so far in your posts.
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  18. @poptech... I'm actually trying to make a positive contribution to your efforts. If you go out and collect signatures from all those scientists attached to a statement (as Glieck has done) then you're going to have something substantial that even the folks here would have to seriously consider.
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  19. Poptech, how about you actually go and read the posts and threads on this site about the Oregon Petition, and respond to specifics if you disagree with what is said, in those threads. That's the protocol here, and if your data is convincing, we'll take notice. "The petition has never been debunked, ever." is simply not true, and you haven't engaged with posts on this blog that do so.

    In essence, your postings are assertions and subjective opinions, without any evidence. You've been politely invited to provide some substance by a number of posters, but haven't done so. Your present approach is having the opposite effect to what you intend.
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  20. Potech,

    I urge you to please continue this discussion about the petition over on the appropriate NAS thread. I have also responded to your claim that Oregon petition "has never been debunked", and added some more revelations to the petition's rather dubious origins, criteria used to garner signatures, lack of authentication, and criteria for what is considered a scientist. The list of concerns is long.

    IMHO, I believe that the host has been way, way too accommodating with the plethora of off topic comments on a thread which is about placing the current warming in context using a variety of independent temperature reconstructions. There is no denying the fact that all the reconstructions have one heck of a blade, and that the rate of warming of global temperatures in the last 150 years or so is exceptional in the last 1000-2000 years, perhaps longer (please correct me someone on the time line).

    Moreover, even after allowing for changes in solar output, aerosols etc., the observed warming of global air and ocean temperatures cannot be reproduced without invoking enhanced GHG levels.
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  21. Poptech@202 says

    "Rob, the scientists I listed do not endorse the NAS statement. They are all outspoken against the type of language used in that statement and the conclusions.

    The only people who would take the NAS statement seriously are those who do not understand the debate."

    As I pointed out yesterday, one of the papers on your list is written by a signatory of the NAS statement, so I think it fair to conclude that he endorses it and takes it seriously.

    Gulf Stream safe if wind blows and Earth turns
    (Nature, Volume 428, Number 6983, April 2004)
    - Carl Wunsch

    BTW poptech, can you acknowledge whether you accept my explanation of why not all of the CRU data are publically available or not?
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  22. PopTech wrote : "I suspect Dr. Pielke Jr. received a hysterical email from an alarmist which clearly backfired. Regardless I clarified this in the comments of his blog post."

    Yes - clear as mud.

    Pielke said : Using your logic, you'll find that my papers are also skeptical of the tooth fairy and Santa Claus.;-)

    And when you then reckoned that, according to one of your own criteria, his papers supported Skepticism of '1."man-made" global warming', he replied :

    "I'd be interested in your definition of #1, which is neither a scientific term nor meaningful in any way."

    Your reply ? You gave none, and yet here you are again trying to defend the indefensible. Shameful and shameless.
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  23. Poptech @ 198

    "These sorts of comments never cease to amaze me. ..."

    I am happy to concede that there are 700+ papers in the list not including responses to comments etc. Perhaps I should have said that the list is padded out with papers that are responses to comments, submitted papers and papers that have been rejected.

    However the key issue is that your complaint over this minor issue completely fails to address the substantive point that very many of the papers in your list contain science that is at best questionable (as indicated by the correspondence), that it contains papers that are not in the least skeptical of anthropogenic climate change, papers that obviously incorrect and couldn't have been published in a climate journal (e.g. Essenhigh), papers that are correct, but not relevant. Padding out with many papers that document the results of essentially the same piece of basic research.

    If you think the majority of the papers on your list support skepticism of mainstream scientific opinion, then you ought to read the IPCC WG1 report and find out what the mainstream view actually is.

    BTW, can you acknowledge whether you are satisfied with my explanation of why not all of the CRU data is publically available?
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  24. Dikran #198

    Not to mention those of us unfamilliar with the literature in the 700 papers cited are expected to read them all! This is obviously silly, and if a proper job was being done of showing problems with the scientific consensus, each of the references would have at the very least a simple annotation indicating why the compiler thought they were evidence against the scientific consensus.
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  25. Poptech #212

    Any silly "reproduction" with computer models proves nothing.

    Can you please explain what you think computer models can be useful for, as well as the kinds of situations that you think they are not useful.
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  26. Poptech @ 215

    "And no I do not except your excuses for the data not being publicly available. I understand you find lack of data availability and reproduction in science acceptable but I don't."

    It is not correct to say the data are unavailable and the work is not reproducible. The data are available, just not from CRU as they don't own it. There is nothing to stop you or anyone else from negotiating with the national met offices for access to the data in the same way that CRU did.

    Furthermore, only a small fraction of the data is unavailable, the vast majority is available from the GCHN, and if you rebuild the HADCrut datasets using only the publically available data (at the met office did) you get a result that is almost identical.

    "Whether you consider a paper's science "questionable" is irrelevant."

    It isn't me that considered that a paper's science is "questionable", it is an objective fact that the paper is "questionable" as it has been "questioned" in a peer reviewed comment. It is a shame that you are unable to concede that you are wrong as I did (or accept the concession with good grace).

    "And it is your opinion that certain papers could not get published in any climate journals."

    No, that is also a simple fact, if a paper contains a conclusion that is obviously false (such as that man is not responsible for the growth in atmospheric CO2 - that is one of the few bits of science that actually is settled), it may get past the reviewers of a non-climate journal, but it would be unlikely to be published in a climate journal.

    "The following papers support skepticism of "man-made" global warming or the environmental or economic effects of."

    So how is it then that is contains papers written by Charles Keeling, Stefan Rahmstof (RealClimate contributor) and Carl Wunsch (signatory of the NAS statement)?

    As I said, if you really think that the papers in your list all support "man-made" global warming or the environmental or economic effects of." then the Dunning-Kruger effect is evident. If you made an attempt to take some of the criticism on board, you might get a better list that gives better support to the skeptic position. I would be in favour of that as I am all for rational scientific debate (for which skeptics are needed), but I am not in favour of misinformation.
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  27. Poptech wrote : "I replied to Dr. Pielke's illogical statement about how his papers could be used."

    Is that a version of the Dunning-Kruger Effect ? Poptech claims to know more about Pielke's papers, and the rationale behind them, than Pielke himself ! Pielke is therefore 'illogical' because he doesn't see things the way Poptech does, especially about his own papers !

    You couldn't make this sort of stuff up, normally, but it is par for the course for the so-called skeptics...
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  28. kdkd @ 213

    "Not to mention those of us unfamilliar with the literature in the 700 papers cited are expected to read them all! This is obviously silly, and if a proper job was being done of showing problems with the scientific consensus, each of the references would have at the very least a simple annotation indicating why the compiler thought they were evidence against the scientific consensus. "

    That would indeed be a more useful resource. To be fair a few of the papers do have brief quotes or comments.

    However there are papers on the list that I rather doubt poptech has read properly. For instance the paper by Richard Kerr "A Variable Sun Paces Millennial Climate" isn't actually a peer reviewed journal article, and poptech would know that if he had read it as it is clearly labelled as being a column in "news of the week" (Richard Kerr is a science journalist). There is nothing in the piece that suggests that the 1500 year cycle discussed explains any of the recent warming.

    If Poptech had actually read the article he would have cited the article by Gerald Bond that Kerr's piece was promoting, rather than a news article promoting a new paper.
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  29. Poptech "This was explicitly stated to him [PIELKE}."

    And he still wouldn't play ball, or confirm you in your belief of what you think HE believes ? How could he, eh ? Never mind, you know what he REALLY thinks, don't you ?

    The D-K Effect is being more and more confirmed by yourself but you can't see it. I wonder why ?
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  30. poptech @ 220 says:

    "The CRU statement, "Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e. quality controlled and homogenized) data."

    Yes, however they can go back to the national met offices whenever they like and get a new copy of the original data. Why should they retain copies of the original data that they no longer need and are not able to distribute? As I said, the data are available, they are available from the MET offices that own them. If you are not satisfied by that, I would venture that it is you that is being unreasonable.

    I notice that you haven't commented on the fact that the results are essentially replicable using only the publicly available data.

    "It is an objective fact that a paper may have been questioned. This does not objectively imply it is "questionable". These two words and their context as used have very different meanings."

    Ah, quibbling about the meanings of words, I know better than to engage in that kind of thing.

    "It is a simple fact that it is your opinion on what papers would or would not get past all climate journals."

    O.K., the fact that some of the papers published in E&E were rejected from climate journals is an indication though that some journal editors agree with me.

    "Keeling and Rahmstorf's papers support the skeptical argument for the 1,500 year climate cycle theory, which is an alternate proposal to AGW."

    According to Rahmstorf, or according to you? Rahmstorf is an expert on the subject, if you disagree with him on the implications of his work (as you did with Pielke) that seems clear evidence that you don't know enough about the subject to know why the paper is not relevant. Why not email him and ask?

    "Wunch's paper supports the skeptical argument against alarmist claims regarding the Gulf Stream and global warming such as those proposed in Al Gore's movie 'An Inconvenient Truth'."

    Do you not see the irony of saying that anyone who understood the science wouldn't take the NAS statement seriously and then having one of the signatories listed as supporting your position?

    "FYI your reference to the Dunning-Kruger effect is an ad hominem attack. "

    No, you need to go and look up the definition of an ad-hominem. If I said that your views should be discounted because you are suffering from Dunning-Kruger, that would indeed be an ad-hominem. If on the other hand I raised specific objections to the content of your argument it is not an ad-hominem as an ad-hominem is an attack on the source of an argument rather than on the content.

    The reason I mentioned the Dunning-Kruger effect is because I would like you to produce a better list of skeptic papers as it would be a useful resource. Your response to criticism is preventing you from learning where the deficiencies in your position lie, and probably from rectifying them.
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  31. Poptech@224

    "Thank you for the correction. I removed the Kerr article."

    no problem, however there are many other problems in the list, it would be better if the list at least mentioned the deficiencies and uncertainties in the support the papers provide. For example, the list would be better if all the papers that had been criticized in the peer reviewed literature were put in a separate section, with an appropriate caveat, and include links to the criticisms as well as the replies. To be a skeptic, you need to be skeptic of both sides of the argument.
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  32. poptech@228:

    "Any scientific data set should be supported with a copy of the raw data with complete methods for reproduction. Anything less than 100% of it being available for reproduction is unacceptable."

    In that case, I think you will find the majority of published science in pretty much every field is "unacceptable". For instance in medical statistics the statisticians responsible for the analysis do not have license to pass on the data and will refer you instead to the collector of the dataset (normally a hospital).

    The CRU were not funded at a level that would allow them to have the storage for all the raw data for every paper they wrote. Does that mean that they should not do the basic science that they thought was necessary?

    You have still not commented on the fact that the result is essentially reproducible from the code and data that is available.

    "When the 100% complete raw data is available we can then objectively determine if it is reproducible."

    The data is 100% available, the stuff that is not in the GCHN is available from the national MET offices (you may need to pay for it). It is the national governments fault that it is not FREELY available, but to say it is not available is simply untrue, as I have pointed out several times.

    "Some editors of some journals would agree with you yes but that is not all as you implied."

    O.K. so back to pedantry. The fact that editors of climate journals have rejected papers that have ended up in non-climate journals is sufficient evidence to back up my assertion.

    "Rahmstorf clearly supports the existence of a 1,500 year climate cycle, it is some skeptics who believe this an alternative explanation to AGW not Rahmstorf. Which is why I just explicitly said, "support the skeptical argument (not Rahmstorf's) for the 1,500 year climate cycle theory".

    If the 1500 year cycle supports climate skepticism, why is Rahmstorf a contributor to RealClimate. This is indicative of the D-K effect on your part as you don't consider the counter argument.

    "Do you not see the irony of saying that anyone who understood the science wouldn't take the NAS statement seriously and then having one of the signatories listed as supporting your position?"

    Strawman, I said debate not "science".

    LOL, sorry that is even more amusing pedantry.

    "Who are you implying the Dunning-Kruger effect is related to?

    You have not demonstrated any deficiencies in my position. All you have presented are strawman arguments. "

    of course if you suffered from the Dunning-Kruger syndrome, and didin't have the expertise to recognise the flaws in your position, that is pretty much what you would say,

    The example of CRU data availability is a perfect example. I have already said repeatedly that the data are available, they are available from CRU to the extent that is legally possible. The results are reproducible with the vast subset of data that is freely available, yet you STILL can't let it go. You appear closed to arguments that do not support your view.

    I on the other hand have been making an effort to help you improve your resource, even though I don't agree with the conclusions.
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  33. poptech @ 229

    "Will never happen."

    O.K., so you have made it clear that you are not open to constructive criticism of your list, fine. However your attitude does rather detract from the credibility of your list of paper. If you can't handle criticism of your work, what kind of skepticism is it?

    I should note that John Cook appears very open to criticism of his list of arguments, you would do well to learn from his example.

    "If you are interested in a criticism you are welcome to look it up, I am just making sure the rebuttals are available as I have found they never are elsewhere. The existence of a criticism does not discredit a paper. "

    No, actually it does, that is the point of submitting a comment. For example, one of the papers on your list is Friss-Christensen and Lassen (1991), However Damon and Laut showed (in a completely reproducible manner) that the correlation was spurious and an artifact of the filtering used. It utterly refutes Friss-Christensen and Lassen (1991). It doesn't refute the cosmic ray theory, but it does completely discredit the paper (and hence it shouldn't be in your list).
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  34. Poptech@232

    Sorry, you have already demonstrated that you are not open to criticism of your own position, and you are willing to go on ignoring points you can't answer (for instance that HADCRUT is essentially reproducible from freely available data and code). There is no point in further discussion.

    It is to the disadvantage of the skeptics if they continue to cling onto papers, such as Friss-Christensen and Lassen (1991), that have been conclusively refuted. If you want to encourage that, you are doing them no favours.
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  35. Poptech @ 234

    You do know, don't you that Lassen later published a paper updating the results in Friss-Christensen and Lassen, and found that the correlation had indeed broken down, see here for details. So one of the authors of the paper disagrees with you (plus ca change).

    Also, I suspect that the refutation wasn't published in the peer-reviewed literature.

    As I said, clinging onto to papers that have been refuted (including by one of the authors) is damaging to the skeptic cause, but go for it if it pleases you. You just can't help some people.
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  36. "However, my analysis of a long-term data set of hurricane losses in the United States shows no upward trend once the data are normalized to remove the effects of societal changes."

    Poptech asserts, using the above Pielke quote : "This supports skeptical arguments against alarmist claims of Hurricane damage is getting worse due to global warming or "economic effects of"."

    How do the effects of hurricanes on America support any argument against global warming ? Do you think America represents the world ?

    Please provide the 'alarmist claims' you think this Pielke paper skeptically argues against.
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  37. Poptech said... "The substantial statements have already been provided above. This work has already been done."

    Actually, no, it hasn't. For one, the Oregon Petition is not audited by any independent group. There are many who have requested to have their names removed and those requests have been ignored. There are a large number of fictitious names on the list.

    Come on, dude! One up these people! Step up to the plate and do something substantive, verifiable and crushing to your detractors. Lest you think it's not possible or are unwilling to put in the effort...
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  38. Back to that list, we have :

    An Alternative View of Climate Change for Steelmakers (PDF)
    (Iron & Steel Technology, Volume 5, Number 7, pp. 87-98, July 2008) - John Stubbles

    On his site, Poptech uses this quote from the journal : "readers will find timely peer-reviewed articles", just to show that it is actually peer-reviewed. Unfortunately, he left off this bit :

    "...addressing theory, technology and practical applications..."

    The paper Poptech is referring to is in no way a peer-reviewed article as determined by the journal's own criteria (as you can see for yourself from a list of the
    contents of that edition), and its only source (apart from the journal itself) is from a blog called SPYDERCAT, although you can't actually access it from the home page of
    SPYDERCAT, for some reason.

    It was written by the late Dr. John Stubbles, a Steel Industry Consultant, and the second line starts thus :

    The “alarmists,” spearheaded by Al Gore...

    It uses proxies from a study on the Sargasso Sea from 1996 to claim a globally warmer MWP than now; uses a blog posting by John Daly to claim that Mann's hockey-stick is broken, and includes references from Watts (yes, the weatherman), Pat Michaels, Soon, Christy, the Idsos, Singer and Morner. In fact, it is all the so-called skeptical arguments in one package.

    Read it for a laugh and then think on Poptech's rationale for including such an article.
    0 0
  39. The 1500 climate cycle theory? What exactly does it consist of? Are we supposed to be experiencing such a cycle right now that would explain the late 20th century's temps?

    A bit of clarification: a reference to D-K effect is not an ad-hominem attack. An ad-hominem attack would consist of saying that so and so is a bad person because of some reason (i.e. they don't like puppies), then proceeding on to argue that it makes such and such argument from that person wrong, regardless of the validity of the argument itself.

    The D-K effect refers to the attitude consisting of believing that a little knowledge makes one qualified enough to discuss what pertains to advanced expertise. It is not a personal attack to state that one does not possess advanced expertise of a subject. It does relate to the validity of their argument if that argument pertains to the subject in which they overestimate their expertise.
    0 0
  40. I think the 1500 year climate cycle theory that some people have brought up are the Dansgaard-Oeschger events, which are discussed in the post It’s just a natural cycle.
    0 0
  41. Poptech, Singer's contention that you linked to is indeed the specific topic of the SkepticalScience post It's Just a Natural Cycle. That's where further discussion of it belongs.
    0 0
  42. Poptech @ 243

    "Accusing someone of having the D-K effect is accusing someone of being incompetent and thus an ad hominem attack. If you are accusing me of the D-K effect then you are trying to creatively call me incompetent."

    Yes, you are incompetent, as am I, as are most of the contributors to climate blogs. Very few of us are active climatologists, oceanographers, ecologists etc. Even amongst the top climate scientists very few have sufficient expertise to claim competence in all of the topics covered in your list of papers, so it would be extremely impressive (read extremly unlikely) if you were genuinely competent in all those areas. The difference is we have a much better idea of the limits of our competence.

    You shouldn't take that as an insult or an ad-hominem. It isn't, it is just some well-meant advice that was not heeded when given less directly. If you want to do the skeptic camp a favour, or convince people you are right, then a change of approach is in order.
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  43. I'm rereading my post but can't find where I said you were experiencing D-K effect. I explained it and outlined the difference with an ad-hominem argument. I also defined what an ad-hom is.

    Furthermore, stating that someone is incompetent in an area would still not constitute an ad-hominem attack, especially if that incompetence is indeed a fact. Although I have over 3000 hrs of flight including 1500 as a flight instructor, I am not competent in aeronautical engineering. You can state that fact if you want. It does not constitute an adhom but certainly poses constraints on any argument I would formulate on aeronautical engineering, although I am more apt than the general population to discuss it. If I were to talk about it, I would remain safe from D-K effect by acknowledgeing my limitations and formulating my argument with the appropriate precautions.

    Do you have credentials to demonstrate you are competent in climate science (degrees, publications)?

    This will be my last comment about the Bond events, which indeed belong to another thread. It is unclear whether the Singer/Avery piece is peer-reviewed. It certainly is not a research paper and does not seem to add anything to the existing knowledge on the subject of Bond Events. Although Gerald Bond argues that these are the "continuation" of D.O events, their effect on climate is far from clear, unlike DO events. Only 1 Bond event left a temperature signature in the Greenland Ice. Some events correlate with glacier advances in the Eastern North-Atlantic region, or aridification of other regions. No Bond event correlate with a clear global climate signal. The scientific litterature is mentioned on the other thread. The true periodicity of the events is not established. Their duration is unclear. They could not explain both the MWP and LIA. I am quite skeptical that they can explain anything about the 20th century climate trend.
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  44. Poptech @ 246

    "speak for yourself"

    So you would claim that you have the competence to understand all of the papers on your list?

    A phrase applied to an argument or appeal founded on the preferences or principles of a particular person rather than on abstract truth or logical cogency.

    An ad-hominem is an attack on the source of an argument in place of ("rather than") an attack on the content of the argument. The criticism has been of the papers in your list, and hence is not an ad-hominem.

    The comments regarding the D-K effect have been prompted by the manner in which you have chosen to conduct the discussion. Suffering from D-K syndrome doesn't mean that your arguments are incorrect, and nobody has dismissed your list or your arguments on the basis of your manner. Hence no ad-hominem, just some criticism of your modus operandi that you would do well to take on board.
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  45. OK, Poptech has previous history in regurgitating the same old arguments, thereby hijacking and spamming Comment sections. Please don't let him do the same here, if only for his own sake.

    In fact Poptart [POPTECH] is so consistent at ignoring the substantive criticisms and mindlessly reiterating that the list is valid just because he says so that I really think he should rename it “Superfreakopeer-reviewed…”

    You will see all the same responses that he is posting here, but also a new one where he tells Harold Brooks that his paper is skeptical too and will remain in his list, even though Harold shows him how it can't possibly be what Poptech thinks it is. Poptech knows best, though, as usual.

    I think I can label you with the Dunning-Kruger effect without fear of any accusations from anyone...but yourself, of course - but that will only be the effect in action for all to see.
    0 0
  46. Well, looks like I'm going to recant on my promise about Bond events but, to my defense, I'll say that it is because the connection between Bond events and Loehle's reconstruction deserves some attention, would it be only because Poptech advocates for both.

    This poses a problem, since, from cursory inspection, their respective realities do not match very well.

    The most recent Bond event has been dated approximately 1400 years BP, possibly from 450 to 900 AD (Bond 1997) but with a peak at about 600 AD, where Loehle shows a postitive anomaly of 0.3C, among the highest in the entire graph.
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  47. Poptech #216

    Computer models can be useful in engineering and design.

    You appear to be implying that this is the only situation that computer models are useful in, although you haven't answered all of my question.

    That perception is rather far from the scientific consensus on modeling of stochastic and complex systems. I'm afraid that as you have implied that modeling is not useful in any situations, then you are suggesting that a large proportion of the modern sciences in biology, psychology, meteorology, medicine, and elsewhere is not valid. As much of the infrastructure of civilisation is based on this "soft" modeling, your position appears to be little related to the reality of the situation.
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  48. I have to agree with JMurphy saying that it's probably not worth engaging Poptech on this site. What I see going on is, he plays my his own rules except when they are used to counter his position, then there are another set of rules.

    I think it's really bringing down the quality of the discussions here on John's site.
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  49. An excellent article and I fully agree about how straightforward graphics can explain a lot to the layman.

    For my own sanity, a couple of months ago I decided to stack all of the graphs I could find above each other and align them over time, just to be able to eyeball different aspects of climate for an overall context. It's a simple montage taken from various sources, but the end plan is to take the source data and plot my own graphs at higher resolution, with an eye to also creating an animation.

    The conceptual montage is HERE if anyone is interested. Red dots are the volcanic eruptions I could find for now.

    If anyone can point me to reconstructions of insolation / sunspots, and a decent list of volcanic eruptions since 700 AD it would be greatly appreciated.

    The absence of red dots, so far, during the MWP was a bit of a bit of an "Oh, I really get it now" moment. Personally, I thnk the MWP should be renamed the MACP: Medieval Absence of Cooling Period.
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  50. One final thing about that list, which is rather telling and demonstrative of the D-K effect. Within the 'debunking 9/11 myths' section on his website, Poptech is very clear about dismissing opinions from those with no skill or real knowledge of things like architecture, structural design or engineering (in fact, he holds such types in contempt and highlights the troofers' lack of such qualifications), and refers to his own training in architecture to bolster his own opinions on the topic. And yet, with regard to his 'skeptical of some part of the global warming alarmism' papers, he includes non-experts and claims to know for himself that skepticism is involved in those papers, even if the authors themselves disagree. And he is not an expert on this subject himself !
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