It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

They Got Nothin'

So they show up and say stuff like "Ignoring your continuing efforts to promote the "nothing to see here, move along" thing, and "your petulant turning on the media for having found a vague hint of balanced reporting, finally..." and
To be honest, given all that has poured out on WattsUpWithThat, the Bishop Hill Blog, Climate Audit,and others detailing what must now number in hundreds of problems that riddle AR4, it's not a good use of my time to get into extended arguments over this on any blog, much less one where I'm invariably responding to many people at once, and having to ignore endless snide remarks. I'll leave it to others with more time on their hands to compile all the glitches of AR4, and all the details of misbehavior revealed by the CRU leak."
Well, what's somebody to do who actually knows climate scientists, and while not thinking them saintly or infallible, is pretty confident that the IPCC position, especially the part justifiably called "climate science", is pretty far from an extreme interpretation of the evidence.

Given prior knowledge of this as direct personal experience, it is impossible to take what the press and the critics are doing seriously either as an intellectual or ethical
challenge. All that is left for those of us who have been part of the process is to see it as political shenanigans, and of a quite unsavory sort.

Of course, those who do not have that experience may need to consider the competing theory, that there is a vast conspiracy of evil windmill mongers who have somehow taken over all the world's science academies. This is not a scientific theory and can't really be argued on the basis of scientific evidence. Nor does it need to be. The science itself stands as reported in the WGI reports. Anyone interested is welcome to have a look. And of course, there are multiple FAQs all over the web to deal with the various misdirections and half-truths that they are so pleased to bring to the table.

But what all has "poured out" of the likes of Watts Up? Our visitor does not deign to tell us. Should we be suffering the agony of trying to sort out the many fictions and half-truths on these questions which are not really about science or evidence but just about behavior?

After all, the story seems to be these are bad people and they are central to the IPCC, therefore Not the IPCC, therefore the temperature sensitivity is zero, party on!

Well, how we get from not the IPCC to a sensitivity of zero is not all that clear, but surely if dishonesty is endemic to the whole enterprise, there needs to be some reconsideration of the prospect that the sensitivity might actually be, reliably, near enough zero.

So before we get back to the big big picture, let's consider the actual evidence at hand.

Fortunately, somebody has been willing to collate the main issues, to wit, one Mark Landsbaum at the Orange County Register, in his originally titled essay "What to say to a global warming alarmist". Unlike our innuendo-slinging visitor, Mr. Landsbaum is willing to catalog the sins of the climate science community.

Now, given his list, we can start to examine how many, if any of them, actually are scandalous in the slightest. So let's go over it and see what, if anything, conceivably reflects specifically on climate science.

(Update: Please note, by "climate science" above I mean specifically the physical science, that is, the aspects of the earth system covered by the IPCC WG I reports. Thanks to Kooiti Masuda for requesting the clarification.)


Martin Parry, WGII chair, quoted on Klimazwiebel

ClimateGate – This scandal began the latest round of revelations when thousands of leaked documents

stolen documents

from Britain's East Anglia Climate Research Unit showed systematic suppression and discrediting of climate skeptics' views

frustration about bad work passing peer review, notably a paper which led to the resignation of several editors including noted non-alarmist Hans von Storch

Note also that much context is missing
. As Eli says, "the question has always been what was edited out of the Emails that have been made public"


and discarding of temperature data,

EAU was not the repository for the data

suggesting a bias for making the case for warming.

if you squint really tiny it looks sort of like a buffalo, too... Argument from paranoia.

Why do such a thing if, as global warming defenders contend, the "science is settled?"

Straw man. Nobody says "the science is settled". People occasionally say this question or that is settled. Anyway, such a thing as what? Act in such a way that a paranoid person could interpret it in a paranoid way? Sorry, all behavior of any sort fits into that class.

Probably the most important thing to say about all of this is what RealClimate said early in the whole kerfuffle:

Furthermore, it is a fairly simple exercise to extract the grid-box temperatures from a CRU dataset—CRUTEM3v for example—and compare it to raw data from World Monthly Surface Station Climatology. CRU data are available from http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature. ... In particular, it would presumably be of interest to know whether the trends in the CRU data are very different than the trends in the raw data, since this could be taken as indication that the methods used by CRU result in an overstatement of the evidence for global warming. ...

Results are shown in [the linked article]. The key points: both Set A and Set B indicate warming with trends that are statistically identical between the CRU data and the raw data (>99% confidence); the histograms show that CRU quality control has, as expected, narrowed the variance (both extreme positive and negative values removed).

Conclusion: There is no indication whatsoever of any problem with the CRU data. An independent study (by a molecular biologist it Italy, as it happens) came to the same conclusion using a somewhat different analysis. None of this should come as any surprise of course, since any serious errors would have been found and published already.




Martin Parry, WGII chair, quoted on Klimazwiebel

FOIGate – The British government has since determined someone at East Anglia committed a crime by refusing to release global warming documents sought in 95 Freedom of Information Act requests. The CRU is one of three international agencies compiling global temperature data. If their stuff's so solid, why the secrecy?

CRU did not feel entitled to release the data nor favorably disposed toward entertaining the requests of amateurs whose main intent was to impugn their honesty.

Marco says:
"FOI-gate" is wrong, too. The British government has NOT declared that the UEA should have upheld the FOI requests. The information commissioner (well, actually, his deputy) stated that there was prima facie evidence that someone asked for deleting information that was a (possible) subject of FOI requests. This, notably, is solely related to the IPCC e-mail deletion request by Jones. The ICO has not taken any decision on the FOI requests themselves, and has not investigated whether a *real* offence has been committed.


Martin Parry, WGII chair, quoted on Klimazwiebel


ChinaGate – An investigation by the U.K.'s left-leaning Guardian newspaper found evidence that Chinese weather station measurements not only were seriously flawed, but couldn't be located. "Where exactly are 42 weather monitoring stations in remote parts of rural China?" the paper asked. The paper's investigation also couldn't find corroboration of what Chinese scientists turned over to American scientists, leaving unanswered, "how much of the warming seen in recent decades is due to the local effects of spreading cities, rather than global warming?" The Guardian contends that researchers covered up the missing data for years.

Maybe scientists should track the data for their thirty-year-old publications, but they don't.



HimalayaGate – An Indian climate official admitted in January that, as lead author of the IPCC's Asian report, he intentionally exaggerated when claiming Himalayan glaciers would melt away by 2035 in order to prod governments into action. This fraudulent claim was not based on scientific research or peer-reviewed. Instead it was originally advanced by a researcher, since hired by a global warming research organization, who later admitted it was "speculation" lifted from a popular magazine. This political, not scientific, motivation at least got some researcher funded.

An admitted error in WG II, not a criticism of climate science.

Via Realclimate:
In a regional chapter on Asia in Volume 2, written by authors from the region, it was erroneously stated that 80% of Himalayan glacier area would very likely be gone by 2035. This is of course not the proper IPCC projection of future glacier decline, which is found in Volume 1 of the report. There we find a 45-page, perfectly valid chapter on glaciers, snow and ice (Chapter 4), with the authors including leading glacier experts (such as our colleague Georg Kaser from Austria, who first discovered the Himalaya error in the WG2 report). There are also several pages on future glacier decline in Chapter 10 (“Global Climate Projections”), where the proper projections are used e.g. to estimate future sea level rise. So the problem here is not that the IPCC’s glacier experts made an incorrect prediction. The problem is that a WG2 chapter, instead of relying on the proper IPCC projections from their WG1 colleagues, cited an unreliable outside source in one place. Fixing this error involves deleting two sentences on page 493 of the WG2 report.


Martin Parry, WGII chair, quoted on Klimazwiebel
The IPCC has posted a notice on its website http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/himalaya-statement-20january2010.pdf to the effect that assessment procedures should have been followed more carefully in the statement about the likely disappearance of Himalayan glaciers by 2035. The statement derived from evidence from an apparently reliable source who, I believe, was the chair of the Himalayan sub-group of the World Glacier Commission, but this evidence was not strong enough to support the level of confidence implied by the text.


PachauriGate
– Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC chairman who accepted with Al Gore the Nobel Prize for scaring people witless, at first defended the Himalaya melting scenario. Critics, he said, practiced "voodoo science." After the melting-scam perpetrator 'fessed up, Pachauri admitted to making a mistake. But, he insisted, we still should trust him.

An admitted error in WG II, and a dubious connection (did the "voodoo" have anything to do with the Himalayan glacier error?) , but not a criticism of climate science.

Update: The journalist Fred Pearce does report the words "voodoo science" escaped Pachauri's lips, but does not make the context clear. It is clear that IPCC WGII erred. I don't know that Pachauri has expressed any error for which he is personally responsible except in the "buck stops here" sense, nor that he has made one in this case.



PachauriGate II – Pachauri also claimed he didn't know before the 192-nation climate summit meeting in Copenhagen in December that the bogus Himalayan glacier claim was sheer speculation. But the London Times reported that a prominent science journalist said he had pointed out those errors in several e-mails and discussions to Pachauri, who "decided to overlook it." Stonewalling? Cover up? Pachauri says he was "preoccupied." Well, no sense spoiling the Copenhagen party, where countries like Pachauri's India hoped to wrench billions from countries like the United States to combat global warming's melting glaciers. Now there are calls for Pachauri's resignation.

Do you think the head of IPCC reads every email about every nit in the document. That is silly and clearly not his job. Anyway, you are still beating the same horse, which has to do with WG II, and hence is not a criticism of climate science.



SternGate – One excuse for imposing worldwide climate crackdown has been the U.K.'s 2006 Stern Report, an economic doomsday prediction commissioned by the government. Now the U.K. Telegraph reports that quietly after publication "some of these predictions had been watered down because the scientific evidence on which they were based could not be verified." Among original claims now deleted were that northwest Australia has had stronger typhoons in recent decades, and that southern Australia lost rainfall because of rising ocean temperatures. Exaggerated claims get headlines. Later, news reporters disclose the truth. Why is that?

Indeed, exaggerated claims get headlines. I look forward to the truth being reported. Anyway, Stern is an economist and the report was an economic report, so this is not a criticism of climate science.



SternGate II – A researcher now claims the Stern Report misquoted his work to suggest a firm link between global warming and more-frequent and severe floods and hurricanes. Robert Muir-Wood said his original research showed no such link. He accused Stern of "going far beyond what was an acceptable extrapolation of the evidence." We're shocked.

As I understand it, this isn't true, but again, climate science is not responsible for the contents of the Stern report.

CORRECTION: I find plenty of evidence online that Muir-Wood objected to how Stern used his research. Much is made of this by Roger Pielke Jr. and Richard Tol. I reiterate that Stern's report was not produced by climate scientists and does not reflect on climate science. Wikipedia has more details, from which one may gather that the questi0n is not so cut and dry as one might presume.

According to the Sunday Times in the article "Climate change study was ‘misused’"[31] the Stern report 'misused' disaster analysts research by Robert Muir-Wood, head of research at Risk Management Solutions, a US-based consultancy. The Stern report, citing Muir-Wood, said: “New analysis based on insurance industry data has shown that weather-related catastrophe losses have increased by 2% each year since the 1970s over and above changes in wealth, inflation and population growth/movement. […] If this trend continued or intensified with rising global temperatures, losses from extreme weather could reach 0.5%-1% of world GDP by the middle of the century.”. According to Muir-Wood "said his research showed no such thing and accused Stern of “going far beyond what was an acceptable extrapolation of the evidence”." [31]



AmazonGate – The London Times exposed another shocker: the IPCC claim that global warming will wipe out rain forests was fraudulent, yet advanced as "peer-reveiwed" science. The Times said the assertion actually "was based on an unsubstantiated claim by green campaigners who had little scientific expertise," "authored by two green activists" and lifted from a report from the World Wildlife Fund, an environmental pressure group. The "research" was based on a popular science magazine report that didn't bother to assess rainfall. Instead, it looked at the impact of logging and burning. The original report suggested "up to 40 percent" of Brazilian rain forest was extremely sensitive to small reductions in the amount of rainfall, but the IPCC expanded that to cover the entire Amazon, the Times reported.

Again, a gross exagerration of the controversy, and again, a WG II controversy and not, therefore, a criticism of climate science.

RealClimate:
Leake (yet again), with “research” by skeptic Richard North, has also promoted “Amazongate” with a story regarding a WG2 statement on the future of Amazonian forests under a drying climate. The contested IPCC statement reads: “Up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state, not necessarily producing gradual changes between the current and the future situation (Rowell and Moore, 2000).” Leake’s problem is with the Rowell and Moore reference, a WWF report. The roots of the story are in two blog pieces by North, in which he first claims that the IPCC assertions attributed to the WWF report are not actually in that report. Since this claim was immediately shown to be false, North then argued that the WWF report’s basis for their statement (a 1999 Nature article by Nepstad et al.) dealt only with the effects of logging and fire –not drought– on Amazonian forests. To these various claims Nepstad has now responded, noting that the IPCC statement is in fact correct. The only issue is that the IPCC cited the WWF report rather than the underlying peer-reviewed papers by Nepstad et al. These studies actually provide the basis for the IPCC’s estimate on Amazonian sensitivity to drought. Investigations of the correspondence between Leake, scientists, and a BBC reporter (see here and here and here) show that Leake ignored or misrepresented explanatory information given to him by Nepstad and another expert, Simon Lewis, and published his incorrect story anyway. This “issue” is thus completely without merit.


For more on Mr. Leake's reportage, see especially Deltoid.


From Dr Parry on KlimaZwiebel: Authors of the chapter on Latin America have demonstrated that their conclusion that ‘up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation’ is based on peer-reviewed sources in their chapter, including information from the journal Nature. Their statement may be obtained from the IPCC Secretariat and WG2 office.




PeerReviewGate
– The U.K. Sunday Telegraph has documented at least 16 nonpeer-reviewed reports (so far) from the advocacy group World Wildlife Fund that were used in the IPCC's climate change bible, which calls for capping manmade greenhouse gases.

As far as I know, the WG I report relies on peer reviewed science, so again, this is a criticism of WG II and not a criticism of climate science. However, WG II explicitly allows other sources of information, so this (repeated several times below) is a complete non-scandal.

RealClimate:
The IPCC cites 18,000 references in the AR4; the vast majority of these are peer-reviewed scientific journal papers. The IPCC maintains a clear guideline on the responsible use of so-called “gray” literature, which are typically reports by other organizations or governments. Especially for Working Groups 2 and 3 (but in some cases also for 1) it is indispensable to use gray sources, since many valuable data are published in them: reports by government statistics offices, the International Energy Agency, World Bank, UNEP and so on. This is particularly true when it comes to regional impacts in the least developed countries, where knowledgeable local experts exist who have little chance, or impetus, to publish in international science journals.

Reports by non-governmental organizations like the WWF can be used (as in the Himalaya glacier and Amazon forest cases) but any information from them needs to be carefully checked (this guideline was not followed in the former case). After all, the role of the IPCC is to assess information, not just compile anything it finds. Assessment involves a level of critical judgment, double-checking, weighing supporting and conflicting pieces of evidence, and a critical appreciation of the methodology used to obtain the results. That is why leading researchers need to write the assessment reports – rather than say, hiring graduate students to compile a comprehensive literature review.

From Dr. Parry on Klimazwiebel: Some of the media have criticised us for using non-journal sources because these are not reviewed, but this a) wrongly assumes that IPCC assessment should not use non-journal literature (Annex 2 of the IPCC assessment procedures clearly spell out how they can and should be used), and b) mistakenly assumes that UN, government, agency and NGO reports are generally unreviewed. Many such reports are intensively reviewed, both internally and externally. Even if not peer-reviewed, there are reports that contain valuable information about experiences with adaptation, for example. You know that IPCC procedures ask that especially careful attention be given to the veracity of such sources because they can be variable in quality. It would therefore be helpful if, when asked about non-reviewed sources, you make clear what the IPCC assessment procedures are and how you followed them. The IPCC homepage now has a useful summary of these procedures.




RussiaGate
– Even when global warming alarmists base claims on scientific measurements, they've often had their finger on the scale. Russian think tank investigators evaluated thousands of documents and e-mails leaked from the East Anglia research center and concluded readings from the coldest regions of their nation had been omitted, driving average temperatures up about half a degree.

This seems to be a misrepresentation. As it has been pointed out many times, leaving out cold stations without suitable corrections would tend to understate warming, as colder places are warming faster than are warmer places.



Russia-Gate II – Speaking of Russia, a presentation last October to the Geological Society of America showed how tree-ring data from Russia indicated cooling after 1961, but was deceptively truncated and only artfully discussed in IPCC publications. Well, at least the tree-ring data made it into the IPCC report, albeit disguised and misrepresented.

This also seems confused, but to be honest I can never make much sense out of the tree ring discussions. I guess the question is who is doing the obfuscating.



U.S.Gate – If Brits can't be trusted, are Yanks more reliable? The U.S. National Climate Data Center has been manipulating weather data too, say computer expert E. Michael Smith and meteorologist Joesph D'Aleo. Forty years ago there were 6,000 surface-temperature measuring stations, but only 1,500 by 1990, which coincides with what global warming alarmists say was a record temperature increase. Most of the deleted stations were in colder regions, just as in the Russian case, resulting in misleading higher average temperatures.

confused again;
all else equal, leaving out cold stations without suitable corrections would tend to understate warming; of course professional scientists don;t make such gross errors in either direction. The implication is simply unfounded, and analysis by several others confirms this.

Tamino addresses Watts, saying: Your claims, in your document with Joe D’Aleo for the SPPI, are just plain wrong. You’ve avoided answering this criticism, claiming that you can’t replicate my results without my code. Yet several others managed to do just that. It’s not that difficult, and you were irresponsible not to investigate this issue before publishing your claims. ... Furthermore, your use of false claims to accuse NOAA scientists of deliberate deception was not just mistaken, it was unethical.

If you have any honor at all, you’ll set the record straight. You owe it to everyone, and especially to NOAA, to admit that you were wrong. And you certainly owe it to NOAA to apologize. You need to make a highly visible, highly public admission of error, and apology, for using falsehoods to accuse others of fraud.



IceGate – Hardly a continent has escaped global warming skewing. The IPCC based its findings of reductions in mountain ice in the Andes, Alps and in Africa on a feature story of climbers' anecdotes in a popular mountaineering magazine, and a dissertation by a Switzerland university student, quoting mountain guides. Peer-reviewed? Hype? Worse?

WG II. Not a criticism of climate science. And perfectly valid evidence of impacts.

From Dr. Parry on Klimazwiebel: IPCC authors in Chapter 1 have defended their use of climbing records as part of the range of evidence of possible effects of changes in snow and ice cover on recreation. This source was not used as evidence for ice changes per se, which was a misunderstanding in the press comment. Their statement is available on request from the IPCC Secretariat and WG2 office.



ResearchGate – The global warming camp is reeling so much lately it must have seemed like a major victory when a Penn State University inquiry into climate scientist Michael Mann found no misconduct regarding three accusations of climate research impropriety. But the university did find "further investigation is warranted" to determine whether Mann engaged in actions that "seriously deviated from accepted practices for proposing, conducting or reporting research or other scholarly activities." Being investigated for only one fraud is a global warming victory these days.

What ever happened to a presumption of innocence? Especially given the context!



ReefGate – Let's not forget the alleged link between climate change and coral reef degradation. The IPCC cited not peer-reviewed literature, but advocacy articles by Greenpeace, the publicity-hungry advocacy group, as its sole source for this claim.

WGII. Not relevant to climate science. And redundant with a previous point.



AfricaGate – The IPCC claim that rising temperatures could cut in half agricultural yields in African countries turns out to have come from a 2003 paper published by a Canadian environmental think tank – not a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

WGII. Not relevant to climate science. And redundant with that same previous point.

RealClimate says:
The IPCC Synthesis Report states: “By 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%.” This is properly referenced back to chapter 9.4 of WG2, which says: “In other countries, additional risks that could be exacerbated by climate change include greater erosion, deficiencies in yields from rain-fed agriculture of up to 50% during the 2000-2020 period, and reductions in crop growth period (Agoumi, 2003).” The Agoumi reference is correct and reported correctly. The Sunday Times, in an article by Jonathan Leake, labels this issue “Africagate” – the main criticism being that Agoumi (2003) is not a peer-reviewed study (see below for our comments on “gray” literature), but a report from the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the Climate Change Knowledge Network, funded by the US Agency for International Development. The report, written by Morroccan climate expert Professor Ali Agoumi, is a summary of technical studies and research conducted to inform Initial National Communications from three countries (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and is a perfectly legitimate IPCC reference. It is noteworthy that chapter 9.4 continues with “However, there is the possibility that adaptation could reduce these negative effects (Benhin, 2006).

From Dr. Parry on Klimazwiebel:
The statement that in Africa ‘by 2020, in some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50%’ relates to the combined effects of climate variability and climate change, as correctly reported in the chapter on Africa and in the WG2 TS and SPM. A similar qualifier should have been included in the SYR. The statement may be obtained from the IPCC Secretariat and WG2 office.




DutchGate
– The IPCC also claimed rising sea levels endanger the 55 percent of the Netherlands it says is below sea level. The portion of the Netherlands below sea level actually is 20 percent. The Dutch environment minister said she will no longer tolerate climate researchers' errors.

WGII. Not relevant to climate science. And redundant with that same previous point. And completely silly, to boot. The amount threatened by rising seas is not identical to the amount below sea level. It's not as if this were a research question.

Skanky offers:
"Sea level in the Netherlands: The WG2 report states that "The Netherlands is an example of a country highly susceptible to both sea-level rise and river flooding because 55% of its territory is below sea level". This sentence was provided by a Dutch government agency - the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which has now published a correction stating that the sentence should have read "55 per cent of the Netherlands is at risk of flooding; 26 per cent of the country is below sea level, and 29 per cent is susceptible to river flooding". It surely will go down as one of the more ironic episodes in its history when the Dutch parliament last Monday derided the IPCC, in a heated debate, for printing information provided by ... the Dutch government. In addition, the IPCC notes that there are several definitions of the area below sea level. The Dutch Ministry of Transport uses the figure 60% (below high water level during storms), while others use 30% (below mean sea level). Needless to say, the actual number mentioned in the report has no bearing on any IPCC conclusions and has nothing to do with climate science, and it is questionable whether it should even be counted as an IPCC error."


Dr. Parry on Klimazwiebel: The chapter on Europe quotes 55% of the Netherlands as being below sea level, but there appear to be several definitions of this. The Dutch Ministry of Transport uses the figure 60% (which is below high water level during storms), while others use 30% which is below mean sea level. The statement may be obtained from the IPCC Secretariat and WG2 office.



AlaskaGate
– Geologists for Space Studies in Geophysics and Oceanography and their U.S. and Canadian colleagues say previous studies largely overestimated by 40 percent Alaskan glacier loss for 40 years. This flawed data are fed into those computers to predict future warming.
Well, I don't know about the first part, but as for "This flawed data are fed into those
computers to predict future warming" you are just resorting to making stuff up

Dr Mauri Pelto adds:
The last one Alaskagate is strange. This reports on a finding based on an examination of a larger pool of glaciers in Alaska that the average contribution to rising sea level is 0.12 mm/year, compared to 0.17 mm per year. "Here we combine a comprehensive glacier inventory with elevation changes derived from sequential digital elevation models. We find that between 1962 and 2006, Alaskan glaciers lost 41.9±8.6 km3 yr−1 of water, and contributed 0.12±0.02 mm yr−1 to sea-level rise, 34% less than estimated earlier". For various reasons it is not clear which number will prove more accurate, but they are supportive of each other, not contradictory. We have worked hard to derive systems that can more accurately assess the situation of glacier volume change and have reported the data. Working from reporting mass balance of single glaciers, to entire regions. Make no mistake the mass balance of these glaciers remains very negative with some glaciers continuing a long retreat, Gilkey Glacier , and other just starting what will be a long retreat, Brady Glacier.


Note: Quotes from RealClimate, unless otherwise noted, are from
http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/ipcc-errors-facts-and-spin/

Quotes from Klimazwiebel are from http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.com/2010/03/martin-parry-chair-of-ipcc-ar4-working.html

So, mostly not about climate science, mostly nit-picking, mostly trumped-up nonsense, largely repetitive, and entirely scurrilous.

Has somebody else come up with something more convincing? I doubt it.

Which is what we would have expected. Why? Because the climate science conspiracy being proposed would require very smart and very sinister people, if for no other reason than the necessity of getting all the national science academies on board. But smart and sinister people have better ways of making money than getting Ph.D.s and postdocs and ultimately striving for tenure at the meteorology department at Penn State or East Anglia.

The whole damn thing makes no sense at all. There is not enough payoff for sinister people getting into meteorology or dendrochrology. The evil windmill cabal cannot make this all work. Reality is not coherent with the accusations being flung about.

(Update: Further glosses on any of these points are welcome. Many thanks to Dr. Pelto for getting the ball rolling.)

(Update: Another relevant piece on RealClimate here: Whatevergate )

Image via Little Big Games, makers of the Little Big Game of Bupkis

23 comments:

Joel said...

My (extremely non-expert) understanding of tree rings: the reason tree rings exist is because trees grow faster in the spring than in the summer, and this difference creates recognisable bands in the wood. By extension, in warmer years, tree rings are larger than in cold years, so tree rings can be a proxy record for climate.

In the last few decades, the tree ring record diverges away from the instrumental record. There are a few hypotheses for why running around, all of which are anthropogenic.

Kooiti MASUDA said...

I probably understand what you mean by "climate science", and then agree with your remarks. But I am afraid some readers may disagree just because of the terminology.

We need a word to cover the knowledge that are supposed to be assessed by three working groups of the IPCC together.
I think it natural to call it "climate science" in the context of "science vs. politics". This broader climate science includes such parts of ecology (more than evapotranspiration and photosynthesis), social science, engineering etc. that are relevant to the issue of climate change. Actual political negotiations are excluded, but objective studies of political feasibility should logically be included.

As for this article, I suggest that you add a declaration statement [*] about your definition of "climate science" at the top.

[*] I am more familiar with technical terms of Fortran than with words in everyday conversation of native English speakers.

Pelto said...

The last one Alaskagate is strange. This reports on a finding based on an examination of a larger pool of glaciers in Alaska that the average contribution to rising sea level is 0.12 mm/year, compared to 0.17 mm per year. "Here we combine a comprehensive glacier inventory with elevation changes derived from sequential digital elevation models. We find that between 1962 and 2006, Alaskan glaciers lost 41.9±8.6 km3 yr−1 of water, and contributed 0.12±0.02 mm yr−1 to sea-level rise, 34% less than estimated earlier". For various reasons it is not clear which number will prove more accurate, but they are supportive of each other, not contradictory. We have worked hard to derive systems that can more accurately assess the situation of glacier volume change and have reported the data. Working from reporting mass balance of single glaciers, to entire regions. Make no mistake the mass balance of these glaciers remains very negative with some glaciers continuing a long retreat, Gilkey Glacier , and other just starting what will be a long retreat, Brady Glacier.

Nick Palmer said...

I think you went very easy, on this deliberately misleading garbage, with your one sentence analyses. Just about all of the non peer-reviewed concepts from WG2 are defensible anyway.

I used "deliberately" because I am trying to respect the perpetrators. If they truly believe what they write is valid, then they may have cognitive difficulties or at least an excessive ability to see complicated pictures in ink blots that unsurprisingly match what they want to find.

jstults said...

No need for evil windmill cabals, the causes of error cascades and institutional bias are much more mundane and their results more subtle, if no less sinister (but then, if you addressed those you wouldn't have a straw man of your own to beat up).

Michael Tobis said...

jstults, ordinary scientific bias is indeed a relevant issue, and one we should discuss. But by definition, it is ordinary. There is no basis in the matter you raise for an extraordinary scandal.

As to whether this is a straw man, well, no, this is what great swaths of the press are reporting. The article in question comes up regularly on my RSS feeds and is currently being promoted by Morano.

The fact that it is ludicrous is not my doing. Indeed, I continue to ask, plaintively, if anyone has anything more substantive that actually amounts to a scandal.

It's hardly fair to call this a straw man argument when I actually am making a request for stronger arguments. I am looking for any articles supporting the widespread implication that something is actually scandalous and actually casts doubt on climate science.

skanky said...

To expand on your answer to the Dutch error:

"Sea level in the Netherlands: The WG2 report states that "The Netherlands is an example of a country highly susceptible to both sea-level rise and river flooding because 55% of its territory is below sea level". This sentence was provided by a Dutch government agency - the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, which has now published a correction stating that the sentence should have read "55 per cent of the Netherlands is at risk of flooding; 26 per cent of the country is below sea level, and 29 per cent is susceptible to river flooding". It surely will go down as one of the more ironic episodes in its history when the Dutch parliament last Monday derided the IPCC, in a heated debate, for printing information provided by ... the Dutch government. In addition, the IPCC notes that there are several definitions of the area below sea level. The Dutch Ministry of Transport uses the figure 60% (below high water level during storms), while others use 30% (below mean sea level). Needless to say, the actual number mentioned in the report has no bearing on any IPCC conclusions and has nothing to do with climate science, and it is questionable whether it should even be counted as an IPCC error."

From: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/ipcc-errors-facts-and-spin/

Mark said...

You've got to wonder about someone who will try to spin a revision of the rate of mass loss in Alaskan glaciers into a scandalous failure of climate science.

Michael Tobis said...

Mark, it's simple.

If a measurement of climate change is refined to a smaller quantity, it shows the original work was dishonest. If it is refined to a larger quantity, it shows that the later work was dishonest. If it unchanged, it shows that all the work was dishonest.

Don't you see? It's all a trick by the evil communist windmill cabal!

Kooiti MASUDA said...

I think "Pachaurigate" more often refers to the potential conflict of interest of Pachauri as the president of IPCC and himself as a representative of TERI (The Energy Reserch Institute, http://www.teriin.org/ ). It is a very difficult issue because Pachauri receives salary from TERI, not from IPCC, and fundraising for TERI is his legitimate job at TERI.

The particular issue about Himalayan glaciers is about a grey literature issued by the government of India, which is referred to as "Raina 2009" in the letter by Cogley et al. to Science http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/eletters/326/5955/924 . The document itself is http://moef.nic.in/downloads/public-information/MoEF%20Discussion%20Paper%20_him.pdf

I guess that Pachauri meant that the Indian report is inferior to the Chapter 4 of IPCC AR4 WG1 (part of climate science in mt's sense).

I remember some glaciologists say (I am sorry I do not have references right now) that while the report contains valuable pieces of information, it needs to be revised to gain quality of a peer-reviewed article.

So the word "voodoo science" was too much derogatory, but the decision that it is not so important as to warrant change in IPCC's position is appropriate.

Kooiti MASUDA said...

Excuse me. TERI is The Energy and Resources Institute.

Michael Tobis said...

It is clear that Fred Pearce has reported that Pachauri has referred to Raina's work as "voodoo science". But no direct quote is provided.

It is true that Raina has demanded an apology. As far as I can tell none has been issued.

The relevant text is just this, from Pearce:

"The IPCC's chairman, Rajendra Pachauri, has hit back, denouncing the Indian government report as "voodoo science" lacking peer review. He adds that "we have a very clear idea of what is happening" in the Himalayas.

One would like some more context surrounding the two words.

David B. Benson said...

Absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the Arrhenius formula alone, decade by decade, explains 94% of the variance of the decadally averaged anomalies from GISTEMP.

One simple formula suffices.

guthrie said...

The tricky bitis bringing the estimates of the costs of AGW up to the sort of standard as the physical science. in discussions with a denialist environmental hater (Of the humans can overcome anything and why do you want to doom the 3rd world to underdevelopment school), I was reminded of the importance of getting across the pros and cons of AGW. Now i remain convinced that the costs in terms of money and of non-monetary things are much greater than any potential benefits, but that case needs to be made more strongly with as good a lot of evidence as possible. Science deniers have already lost us a decade, but we can expect more like Lomborg as the future expectations begin to firm up.

Marco said...

"FOI-gate" is wrong, too. The British government has NOT declared that the UEA should have upheld the FOI requests. The information commissioner (well, actually, his deputy) stated that there was prima facie evidence that someone asked for deleting information that was a (possible) subject of FOI requests. This, notably, is solely related to the IPCC e-mail deletion request by Jones. The ICO has not taken any decision on the FOI requests themselves, and has not investigated whether a *real* offence has been committed.

As always the devil is in the details.

David B. Benson said...

Actually 96% of the temperature variance.

Michael Tobis said...

David, is this available somewhere?

David B. Benson said...

MT --- I scanned it into a fairly recent comment in the Whatevergate thread on RealClimate (and also a thread on ClimateProgress and one on DotEarth).

I can scan it in here if you like.

David B. Benson said...

My simple conceptual climate model RealClimate comment

jg said...

Thanks for this topic. A tribute to the climate science blogging community is that I immediately knew these scandals were inconsequential to the science, and so I largely ignored the details. It's nice to have this reference, as I no doubt will be called upon to explain the various "gates".
Thanks again for the work you do here.
jg

Kooiti MASUDA said...

As far as I find, the first reference of what Landsbaum calls "Pachaurigate" by the Guardian is the following article, not by Pearce but by an Indian writer who happens to have the same last name as the minister. Its quotation from Pachauri did not contain such word as "voodoo", but "school boy science" to characterize Raina's report, and "arrogant" as for the attitude of the Indian minister.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/nov/09/india-pachauri-climate-glaciers

To my surprise, it already included the number "2035" (of the WG2 report). But what was in Pachauri's mind must be the WG1 report, otherwise he could not so summarily dismiss the grey literature. It must be the journalist who remembered the number "2035" associated with IPCC.

Martin said...

Michael, you're being an enabler for Gish Gallop. Why not insist on hearing one argument why 'warmists' have it wrong: his best one. And then shoot that down. It makes for better use of your time.

What I hate most about this 'gate-gate' is how it created scope for so much more galloping.

Michael Tobis said...

Well, I'm trying to be a disabler.

The point is there is this constant innuendo about a torrent of revelations, when all it is amounts to a dozen or so minor edge cases. Well, when thousands of people work on hundreds of reports, there are going to be edge cases.

There is no scandal other than the fact that there is a fake scandal.