Mud wrestling with a pig

Dr Stephan Harrison, from the University of Exeter, was interviewed as part of an Australian documentary about Patagonia. Anthony Watts and Bishop-Hill (aka Andrew Montford) are mightily upset that he responds to a question about “sceptics” by saying

People often say why don’t I debate with sceptics …. it’s a bit like mud wrestling with a pig. Firstly you get covered in mud and secondly, the pig loves it.

Andrew Montford seems to interpret this as some kind of activism, and actually goes on to say

Is it possible to formulate some guidelines that would at least make this kind of thing more difficult? Or is the answer just to cut funding to the universities?

This seems a little ironic as I’d always assumed that Andrew Montford was someone who – typically – opposed regulation.

However, from what I’ve experienced, Stephan Harrison is entirely correct. Apart from some notable exceptions, it is largely pointless trying to debate with outright “sceptics” (pseudo-sceptics might be a more appropriate term). I’m not talking about those who are genuinely skeptical, but those who largely oppose mainstream climate science. Typically, they don’t seem to understand the basics and they often have such entrenched views, that the only benefit to such a debate might be if a third party gets something from reading the exchange. I wish I didn’t have this view, but I do. To be honest, I find it somewhat disappointing. However, if those who self-identify as “sceptics” don’t like it that I and others hold this view, then change how you engage in such discussions. And, to be clear, I don’t mean change your views; I mean have some willingness to think about what’s being said. For example, if someone suggests that your idea violates energy conservation, maybe check if this is the case, or not.

It might also be worth adding what Stephan Harrison said after the mud wrestling analogy. He continued with

If sceptics want to debate about the science, the only way to do it is in the scientific literature. Write the papers. They haven’t done it.

So, this isn’t some attempt to delegitimise “sceptics”; it’s an individual expressing an opinion (that I happen to share) about the value in debating science with pseudo-sceptics, and suggesting that if “sceptics” really want scientific credibility, go and do some research and publish some papers. Academics are not obliged to engage with everyone who has a view about their research, and just because you’re a member of the public doesn’t mean you’re entitled to debate science with an academic. If you want to learn about climate science, there are plenty of suitable resources – possibly more than for any other field today. If you disagree with the basic science and think you know better, do the work and publish a paper.

Anyway, I thought I’d partly write this to express some support for Stephan Harrison (although he may not care or know that he’s been highlighted on WUWT and Bishop-Hill) and partly to promote the documentary, part 2 of which I include below. It’s very interesting, and the pig wrestling segment starts at around 5:45.

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158 Responses to Mud wrestling with a pig

  1. Given that Stephan Harrison’s work is about glaciers, I thought I might add this Twitter exchange I had with Ruth Mottram today.

    So, as I understand it (and the documentary seems to say the same) there has been a significant increase in mass loss from glaciers in the last few decades and this (in some cases at least) can be formally attributed to anthropogenic influences.

  2. jsam says:

    Thin skinned and thick skulled have never been attractive qualities – and make for an unappetising package.

  3. AnOilMan says:

    It makes no sense to debate in public. A the public don’t understand, and B) it give credence to people who refuse to actually do science and write papers.

    Publish or shut up.

  4. I was just thinking that there’s a wonderful asymmetry about this whole issue. If all the pseudo-skeptics suddenly said “we don’t see any point in debating science with mainstream scientists”, I suspect most mainstream scientists would be ecstatic. 🙂

  5. jsam says:

    Victor has thought about debates, hhttp://variable-variability.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/debatable-scientific-questions-climate-debate.html

  6. AnOilMan says:

    I’m actually trying to think of situations where scientists actually do debate.

    Nothing is coming to mind. Read papers in journals… contest or expand on that perspective, repeat.

  7. BBD says:

    Agreed – the very concept of the “climate debate” over science as opposed to policy is ludicrous.

  8. Vinny Burgoo says:

    OT: Does anyone know if the 60 minutes prog includes anything about the Jorge Montt glacier? It features in an interesting story I have been following for a few years. My bandwidth is capped and I don’t want to watch the video on spec.

  9. Louise says:

    I think Stephen Harrison will soon learn that he has been written about at WUWT and Bishops Hill – there will be angry emails heading his way.

  10. Vinny,
    Not that I noticed. It seemed to be about Explorer Dora glacier, but I may have misheard 🙂

  11. John Mashey says:

    I think there is a way to do a fair public debate, but I doubt any pseudoskeptic would agree to it.
    The most useful I’ve seen was an online debate, here..

  12. John Mashey says:

    For a good example of a discussion among pseudoskpetics see this one at Bishop Hill. I’ve been highlighting and annotating as part of the analysis of last year’s blgstorm over Murry Salby.
    Synopsis: Bishop Hill regular “Martin A” posts strong support for Murry Salby’s wrong ideas on CO2 and ice cores, with others in support.

    Newcomer “Missy” appears, asks well-informed, but polite questions, but the others finally get suspicious, accuse her of not being genuine, and denigrate her as a troll. Amidst this, bad news about Salby (like NSF debarment) is finally noticed, but they generally reject that, attack the sources, recommend “The Hockey Stick Illusion” as a good source, reject paleoclimate and much physics.
    Powerful Morton’s Demons in action.

    To give a UK analogy (which could have been cricketer, but that is too polite, with little dirt):
    1) Guys in a village play rugby, not very well, but in the pub afterwards convince each other they are the greatest, far better than the wimps at Manchester United or similar groups, of whom they speak disparagingly.

    2) A newcomer wanders by, and turns out to know the game … and gets driven off.

    3) But sadly, they do not go challenge MU to a match on their field, under their real names, to be videoed for posterity and to show the village how good they are.s It’s easier to talk in the pub.

  13. I’m actually trying to think of situations where scientists actually do debate. Nothing is coming to mind. Read papers in journals… contest or expand on that perspective, repeat.

    I also had a hard time coming up with examples, but it does happen. When we were validating homogenization methods, we had a discussion about whether to include platform-like break inhomogeneity pairs. This was a big study with almost every participating. That is a unique opportunity and you can thus not simply say, well write another paper, which does include such platforms.

    Most other cases, I would interpret as incursions of the political climate “debate” into science. For example, the debate over the hiatus, also took place in the scientific literature and the debate about long memory was quite antagonistic for science, which likely had to to with the political debate.

    jsam says: “Victor has thought about debates

    Thanks for the plug! Let me hot-link that.

  14. Rachel M says:

    “I’m actually trying to think of situations where scientists actually do debate.”

    Go to youtube and type “George Monbiot debate”. There are lots and they’re all excellent. I just linked to one in the other thread with David Bellamy (a scientist). He also debates Ian Plimer (scientist and contrarian) and Helen Caldicott (a doctor and anti-nuclear power activist).

  15. Scientists do debate and argue. Many of them do it often, and those debates form an important part of the creative work of many research groups. In natural sciences debates are most often not public, and involve seldom large groups, economics and social sciences are another world. Open and extensive debate is common in all sciences where several schools of thought persist in parallel.

  16. Jonh,
    Apart from Manchester United not playing rugby, a good analogy 🙂

    Rachel,
    That is true, but often the argument against scientists formally debating “sceptics” is that scientists aren’t necessarily apt at that particular format. George Monbiot is quite good at it. There may be some scientists who would do well, but it wouldn’t be the norm.

    Pekka,
    Yes, I agree. I was taking “debate” in this context to be the somewhat more formal style, rather than the strenuous discussions that can take place amongst scientists.

  17. Rachel M says:

    Oh, my brain was elsewhere when I wrote that. For some reason I read the bit I quoted as situations where journalists debate. Sorry. But actually, David Bellamy and Ian Plimer are both scientists and in those examples they’re really crap at debating but since they’re both on the wrong side it was enjoyable to watch :-). So yes, I would say that scientists probably don’t do so well in that format.

  18. Steve Bloom says:

    Anders, John’s analogy is very good, although perhaps inadvertently so. 🙂

  19. Steve,
    I hadn’t considered that, but good point 🙂

  20. Steve Bloom says:

    TBC, I meant the football/rugby conflation makes it even more apt, noting that a good village side might well be able to kick MU’s collective butt at rugby.

  21. AnOilMan says:

    I believe that it depends on who you debate and why. I believe that the pseudosceptics in the climate debate are intending to cast aspersions on real and valid work. I believe that they intend something like this; (If you watch it, watch it all the way to the end.)
    http://thechive.com/2011/05/04/next-time-you-listen-to-a-debate-keep-these-words-in-mind-video/

    I also think that in the big picture, no one person could do it. We only have a 3 pound brain, and this stuff weighs tons.

  22. chris says:

    Somebody might tell Montford that funding to universities has been cut with a major part of Universities income shifted from government to “customer” (aka student). In 2000-1 40% of Uni income came from core (government) funding whereas in 2011-12 the level was 30%. Tuition fee income has trebled since 2001. This trend will only continue. In 2011-12 the HEFCE (government) teaching grant was 64% of teaching income for UK universities and is expected to decrease to around 25% in 2014-15. Overall of course total income to UK universities continues to rise (due to increased number of students, the tuition fees , increased funding from industry and charities and from overseas students etc.) in recognition of the general excellence of UK universities.

    e.g. http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/highereducation/Documents/2013/FundingEnvironmentForUniversities.pdf

    So Montford’s rather Stalinist idea that ideas emenating from Universities that he happens not to like might be suppressed by withdrawl of (government) funding is unlikely to have much traction!

    as for:

    Manchester United and rugby, I wonder whether John Mashey was thinking of Sale 🙂

  23. AnOilMan says:

    Rachel: Interesting debate with George Monbiot.

    I guess I’d worry about who’d be debating on each side, and just how much BS is involved.

    I did look up the UN committees George mentioned, and Helen Caldicott claimed didn’t exist. George was right.

  24. John Mashey says:

    Oops, too quick , sorry. I first wrote that with cricket in mind, but decided that was too polite, and needed something rougher, and having once watched a rugby match at school up close, with guys on ground while other guys were kicking away, that image remained,. Of course, the different American definition of football does not help. Sorry for the confusion, but pick some sport and let the amateurs criticize the pros from safe distance, and you get the idea.

  25. Magma says:

    Agree with Pekka (and ATTP’s clarification): much vigorous debate and discussion among scientists but almost none using the stilted, formalized style typical of some liberal arts disciplines and the media.

    Moderator: OK, here’s the strict format you’ll be following…
    Opposing scientists (in perfect unison): That’s ridiculous.

  26. John Mashey says:

    I’d never recommend scientists debate in the usual format, my normal (American) football analogy being that a college football stadium gets invaded by Mongolian Horde U, led by G. Khan, and they ignore red flags. Causing doubt is so much easier, and Eugenie Scott’s coinage of “Gish Gallop” fits as well.

    I’ve seen one useful debate, but via blog, this one. People can ask questions and there is time to check statements.

    Regular debates, without visuals, for this sort of topic, are absurd.
    Here’s the sort I can imagine (except I doubt pseudoskeptics would agree):

    (a) Moderator.

    (b) Each person {A, B} creates an N-slide presentation, sent to moderator.

    (c) Moderator sends each presentation to the other speaker, gets to add up to N rebuttal slides (interleaved as desired) and send back to moderator.

    (d) Flip coin, say A goes first. They talk to their slides, B talks to the rebuttal slides interleaved. Then B presents and A does rebuttals.
    That might give half an hour for each person, total.

    (e) Chess clocks and moderator controls slide advance.

    Interleaving is necessary to avoid delays between slide and any rebuttal.

  27. Steve Bloom says:

    chris, re “Stalinist” to describe Montford, as I’m sure he would hasten to say he’s no sort of socialist, not even the authoritarian variety. “Fascist” would be a rather better fit IMO, although he would care little for that as well.

    John, actually I think you should keep the bit with MU being challenged to a rugby match by a village side. The latter could happily pay attention to any red flags (or whatever the rugby equivalent is), noting that in a rugby context those swift, agile MU stars look so very breakable.

  28. Tom Curtis says:

    Re Mashey’s analogy, I think the most appropriate analogy is that the villagers do invite Man U to play soccer, but insist that for themselves, the rules of Rugby must be used.

  29. Tom Curtis says:

    Steve Bloom, you obviously haven’t paid much attention to MU’s defenders.

  30. Rob Painting says:

    John Mashey – “and having once watched a rugby match at school up close, with guys on ground while other guys were kicking away, that image remained

    Mash, that was called rucking and is now outlawed. It prevented players from the opposition lying on top of the ball and thus slowing down the team in possession. Having been on the receiving end a few times in my playing days, I can assure you that the pain provided some discouragement. Some, I’d still do it when our team was in trouble.

    ATTP – Thanks for the video. Patagonian ice mass loss is quite phenomenal with areas springing back up (post glacial rebound) of up to 39mm per year.

  31. John Mashey says:

    Rob: well, this was at Penn State in early 1970s, and the particular image was of the guy on ground, not holding ball, but nearby, as beefy guys with cleats were kicking near his head. I decided I would stick with other sports.

  32. Ian Forrester says:

    I was listening to a programme on CBC radio this afternoon and one of the participants was David Dunning of Dunning Kruger fame. He discussed why it is hard for an intelligent person to debate a cocksure stupid person. In the words of Bertrand Russell:

    the trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure, while the intelligent are full of doubt

    This is what happens when pseudo-skeptics such as Monckton debate scientists. The uninformed audience is enthralled by Monckton’s rapid fire of “fact” after “fact” not realizing that the numbers are usually made up on the spur of the moment. The scientist has to dig into his memory for his facts and then apologizes since he may not have remembered them 100% accurately.

    The programme can be found here:

    http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2013/12/12/the-fools-dilemma/

    .

  33. AnOilMan says:

    Ian… Yup. I heard that as well. That show is interesting in that it goes beyond the existing Kruger Dunning trope.

  34. John Mashey says:

    D-K plus Gish Gallup: hard to beat in a debate.

  35. Stephan says:

    I actually don’t see why Andrew Montford and Anthony Watts are so upset about. I wasn’t talking about lukewarmers, just the usual dyed-in the wool sceptics who won’t accept the basics of the science. The phrase about mud wrestling pigs is a very old one (goes back to Oscar Wilde I think) and just means that engaging with certain groups gives them benefits. So for sceptics to debate scientists means that the public thinks there is a lively and valid debate going on. When there isn’t.

  36. Stephan,
    Thanks for the comment. Yes, I agree. You didn’t specify anyone, so why would they be upset. I think I’ve made a similar point in the past (and possibly hinted at it in the post). There are certainly people who are genuinely skeptical and with whom discussions can be fruitful, interesting, and very useful. There are others with whom such discussions would be entirely pointless and essentially like mud wrestling with a pig. It’s not difficult to be in the first camp and self-identifying with the second just seems rather telling.

  37. BBD says:

    Alongside evidence denial and projection, playing the victim is diagnostic of pseudo-scepticsim.

  38. verytallguy says:

    The sceptical position is that we should not regulate emissions.
    The mainstream (AR5 WG3 RCP8.5) position, supported by a consensus of scientists, is that business as usual will produce a 2100 temperature rise of 2.5-7.8 degrees.

    Given the mainstream science, the only way the sceptical position can be tenable is to attack the consensus and create an appearance of debate.

    So as soon as you debate a “sceptic” they’ve already won; merely by having a debate, they’ve won on the point that there is no consensus. Which is not true!

    When you add to that the ease with which data can be cherrypicked in such a large and complex area, it’s a lose/lose: Don’t debate, and leave the field open to serial misinformers, or lose by choosing to join the debate.

    All of which is a short way of saying that ATTP is right, it’s exactly like wrestling with a pig.

  39. VTG,

    All of which is a short way of saying that ATTP is right, it’s exactly like wrestling with a pig.

    To be fair, I got that from Stephan. 🙂

  40. Chandra says:

    I propose that Montford should be known henceforth as Chief Inspector of Analogies (alongside HWQDAJ)

  41. Yes, I agree. You didn’t specify anyone, so why would they be upset.

    For the same reasons they were upset when someone suggested that financing the spread of deliberate misinformation is not a nice thing to do.

    1. A large part probably knows at least subconsciously that they are spreading misinformation.
    2. It is much nicer to talk about such stuff as about science. Post and comments are quickly written.
    3. It nicely distracts from having to discus science, a discussion you would lose if you go into too much detail and use the enlightenment ideals.
    4. It attracts a large audience and allows you to call you misinformation blog, the largest blog on climate science.
    5. Never Ending Audit said that lists project authority.
    6. Still feel free to add further points.

  42. andrew adams says:

    Stephan,

    I actually don’t see why Andrew Montford and Anthony Watts are so upset about. I wasn’t talking about lukewarmers, just the usual dyed-in the wool sceptics who won’t accept the basics of the science.

    They seek out reasons to take offence because it feeds their victim mentality and sense of entitlement.

    As Monty Python put it – “Help, I’m being repressed!”

  43. AnOilMan says:

    BBD: Interesting observation… I see that a lot from the nutters with conspirators.

  44. Pingback: The Climate Change Debate Thread - Page 4037

  45. Jim Hunt says:

    I’m obviously behind the curve here somewhat, but I’ve been doing a fair bit of “mud wrestling” at WUWT myself recently. My latest dispatch from the trenches:

    http://GreatWhiteCon.info/2014/04/debating-skeptics-is-like-mud-wrestling-with-pigs/

    @Stephan – They’re upset because in WattsLand you are perceived to be a “grant seeking warmist” which is possibly even worse than being a “cowardly cross dresser” like me!

  46. Stephan says:

    Hi Jim
    Sadly,it’s quite difficult to get grant money! Anyway, my main researh project is trying to reconstrct the 3D of the great Patagonian Ice Sheet during the last glaciation. Nothing to do with modern climate change…

  47. Stephan,

    Nothing to do with modern climate change…

    But relevant, I presume. I assume understanding the Patagonian Ice Sheet during the last glaciation gives us some idea of how it will respond to modern warming?

  48. Stephan says:

    Yes, and insight into the behaviour of the Southern Westerlies during the transition from the Last Glacial Maximum to the Holocene. This may give us insight into future behaviour.

    I’m at EGU now and discussing GLOFs and climate change….difficult to create an Attribution argument!

  49. I’m at EGU now and discussing GLOFs and climate change….difficult to create an Attribution argument!

    I don’t want to interpret what sounds like an interesting meeting, but do you mean in general, or only with respect to Patagonian Ice Sheets? In brief discussions with Bethan Davies and Ruth Mottram (who are also at the same meeting, I think) I got the impression that certainly some glacial mass loss could be formally attributed to anthropogenic influences (apologies if my terminology is not quite right).

  50. John Mashey says:

    Maybe Stephan will favor us with a report on EGU: what was interesting, what peoplke were arguing about, etc. I attend AGU meetings, but have never been to EGU.

  51. Stephan says:

    Sorry, my cryptic comment was really addressed to Glacial Lake Outburst Floods. It’s difficult to develop an attribution argument for these because: 1 we don’t have a global inventory of these things and no real insights into changes of magnitude and frequency over time. 2 we can’t model at the scales required, even with RCMs and we need to do this to see how much of GLOF activity can be attributed to a forced climate. I’m talking about this tomorrow morning. I’d be happy to give you a report on EGU (although it’s so big one person can only scratch the surface).

  52. Stephan,
    Thanks

    I’d be happy to give you a report on EGU (although it’s so big one person can only scratch the surface).

    You’d be most welcome. If you’d prefer a guest post, rather than a lengthy comment that would be fine with me. I think there is a great deal of interest in this topic.

  53. BBD says:

    Anything you can manage would be greatly appreciated, Stephan.

  54. Stephan says:

    OK. Will do. It’s not likely to be possible before next week though. Is that OK?

  55. Stephan,
    Sure, whatever suits you. I don’t have any particular deadlines 🙂

  56. Steve Bloom says:

    Stephan, my impression is that the PIS is toast given present trends, along with nearly all of the non-polar ice. Is that not correct? (I do understand that how fast it goes is important to near-term SLR.)

    Re Montford and Watts, I agree with the comments above to the effect that to the extent they purport to adopt lukewarmerism it’s just a tactic.

    A post about any slice of EGU would be great!

    Also, if I may be so bold, do you have any idea why WG1 discounted Pliocene sea level above 20 meters? The SOD language proposing a range of 10 +/-10 meters seems very strange; that got deleted in the final but the maximum figure remained. See the discussion at the end of the “On being alarmed” thread for details. My suspicion is that the authors wanted to have a range that wasn’t incompatible with DeConto+Pollard (2009), but more broadly didn’t see enough potential vulnerability in the EAIS to get above about 20 meters and so tossed any contrary results under the bus (as it were), even though it’s clear that (at the time anyway, and AFAICT still) many in the field believe it could be higher.

  57. AnOilMan says:

    I’d like to have a naming contest for Glacier National Park in the US. My vote would be for “Stony Gulch”.

  58. RokShox says:

    “If sceptics want to debate about the science, the only way to do it is in the scientific literature. Write the papers. They haven’t done it.”

    In at least two cases where a “peer-reviewed” paper that challenged the AGW dogma was accepted for publication, the editor of the publication was attacked. (Chris de Freitas for publishing Soon and Baliunas, 2003, and Wolfgang Wagner for publishing Spencer and Braswell, 2011). [Mod: possibly defamatory]

    I didn’t see any editors attacked [Mod: possibly defamatory] for publishing Gergis et al. 2012 or Steig et al. 2008.

  59. John Mashey says:

    As Stephan notes, EGU is big, as I noted when studying last year’s where Murry Salby had 2 posters, but even a tiny sample from an attendee is quite valuable, both for:
    a) Helping people understand what real science and scientists are like
    b) Maybe even encouraging a few to attend sometime.

    I of course wish that pseudoskeptic dismissives might attend, so they could walk the posters and talk to the grad students and postdocs often found there, to learn how to get on the vast gravy train of government grants that allows such cushy living at the world’s vacation spots doing field work, or something like that 🙂 Sadly, this doesn’t seem to happen very often.

    (And if you are nearer to San Francisco, serious consider AGU 2014.)

  60. RokShox,
    Have you considered the possibility that the papers were rubbish?

  61. Marco says:

    ATTP, of course he has not considered that. First he misrepresents Soon & Baliunas as challenging AGW. It didn’t. De Freitas was not really attacked either (some nasty e-mails were written between some people. However, the paleoclimatology community was so pissed with the misrepresentations in that paper it wrote a comment together, even though several of the authors of that comment were (and are still) not exactly best buddies. Letting bad papers through just because they contradicted some part of already established climatology was de Freitas’ mode of action, and since he could not be touched in any way, 6 Editors resigned.

    Second he misrepresents the situation around Wagner. Wagner was not attacked. Wagner resigned himself for two reasons: a) he considered himself responsible for allowing a paper through that was pretty poor and then abused by the authors themselves to make claims it did not support, and b) he was very unhappy to have to consider himself responsible, but actually not being able to do anything because of the way the process of accepting papers was constructed at Remote Sensing. It wasn’t too different from what happened at Climate Research. At the latter each Editor had his own little kingdom, with no one else able to take action when that kingdom turned rogue – but you still were considered responsible for it all as co-Editor for the journal. At Remote Sensing the Editor-in-Chief did not have the final say.

  62. JasonB says:

    RokShox:

    In at least two cases where a “peer-reviewed” paper that challenged the AGW dogma was accepted for publication, the editor of the publication was attacked.

    Because the two papers in question should not have made it past peer-review, not because they challenge the mainstream view.

    Note that Chris de Freitas’ “attackers” included the other editors at the same journal, who were trying “to protect the reputation of the journal” and who were “aware of three earlier Climate Research papers about which people had raised concerns over the review process” that de Freitas also had editorial responsiblity for. When the position of editor-in-chief was created to oversee the activities of the other editors in an attempt to solve this problem and Hans von Storch was appointed to that position, he was refused permission to publish an editorial about what had happened without approval from all the other editors (i.e. including de Freitas) and that’s why he resigned, followed soon after by half of the other editors — after which the publisher went ahead and published an editorial anyway accepting that the journal had erred in publishing the paper with the identified flaws intact.

    As for Wagner being forced to resign, his resignation editorial explains clearly what the problem was:

    The problem is that comparable studies published by other authors have already been refuted in open discussions and to some extend also in the literature (cf. [7]), a fact which was ignored by Spencer and Braswell in their paper and, unfortunately, not picked up by the reviewers. In other words, the problem I see with the paper by Spencer and Braswell is not that it declared a minority view (which was later unfortunately much exaggerated by the public media) but that it essentially ignored the scientific arguments of its opponents. This latter point was missed in the review process, explaining why I perceive this paper to be fundamentally flawed and therefore wrongly accepted by the journal.

    In other words, by publishing in a journal that did not have expertise in the field in question, they were able to get away with republishing material that had already been refuted in the peer-reviewed literature without having to address those refutations. The peer-reviewed literature is not served by authors republishing claims that have already been refuted without addressing those refutations. This to-and-fro is how scientific “debate” is conducted, and Spencer and Braswell tried to avoid having to debate their views.

    Your argument would carry a lot more weight if it were not transparently obvious that the papers were fundamentally flawed. Note that I am not saying “wrong” — many published papers will shown to be wrong in some way as the field progresses, quite often by the original author. The problem in this case is that the conclusions in the first case were not supported by the data used to draw those conclusions, and in the second case they failed to advance the field by failing to address the problems that had already been pointed out in their work.

    It is also obvious that there are “skeptical” papers published in the peer-reviewed literature that do not result in editors being attacked. The papers are simply refuted in the normal way, or simply ignored if they’re not worth refuting.

  63. jsam says:

    My Dear RokShox,

    As BBD has already pointed out, “Alongside evidence denial and projection, playing the victim is diagnostic of pseudo-scepticsim.”

    Thank you for your attention.

  64. John Mashey says:

    1) Skeptics Prefer Pal Review Over Peer Review: Chris de Freitas, Pat Michaels And Their Pals, 1997-2003
    In that case, there was a long pattern by de Freitas, one of the ways bad papers get into journals.
    Incoming E-i-C von Storch wanted to retract it, publisher wouldn’t let him, he and other editors quit.

    2) Remote Sensing was different, an example of another way bad papers slip into decent, but out-of-file journals, who should have said “not for this journal.” Authors suggest reviewers, and if editors don’t know the suggested reviewers, those selected just might not be the right ones.

    Wagner explained here, saying:
    ‘This regrettably brought me to the decision to resign as Editor-in-Chief―to
    make clear that the journal Remote Sensing takes the review process very seriously.’
    Now, if RokShox actually has some proof, rather than believing the usual dismissive blogs where he hangs out, perhaps he would provide some, like a letter from Wagner that said so.

    IMHO, Wagner’s editorial seppuku may not have been necessary, but I honor him for the clear message this was taken seriously by a young journal. I have seen zero evidence that Kevin (or anyone else) forced Wagner to resign, and I suspect I see more relevant email than does RokShox.

    Many pseudoskeptic dismissives *know* that Kevin has great and magic powers, but have yet to observe such when I see him. In analysis of last year’s SalbyStorm. Commenters spun many ideas verging on paranoid conspiracy theory claiming Kevin had something to do with Salby’s dismissal from Macquarie U in Sydney, either as part of “The Team” or via his own power. Among the most amusing was on page 3 of: this at Bishop Hill.:

    ‘If even a quarter of what Salby says is true, he’s been treated badly – possibly disgracefully. Macquarie is Tim Flannery’s university, and I doubt there’d be much argument on here about his status!” And his previous location at University of Boulder, Colorado is ground-zero for, errrm, Kevin Trenberth. Odd, that.
    Jul 10, 2013 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered Commenter michael hart
    .or even University of Colorado, Boulder.
    Jul 10, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Unregistered Commenter michael hart

    “And his previous location at University of Boulder, Colorado is ground-zero for, errrm, Kevin Trenberth. Odd, that.”
    Trenberth works in the same city, but for NCAR.
    Jul 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered Commenter nick stokes

    “And his previous location at University of Boulder, Colorado is ground-zero for, errrm, Kevin Trenberth. Odd, that.”
    Trenberth works in the same city, but for NCAR.
    Jul 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM | nick stokes
    ———————————–
    …And The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) is a nonprofit consortium of more than 75 universities manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)
    Trenberth is head of NCAR.
    Seventy five universities.
    No wonder Wolfgang Wagner editor of Remote Sensing resigned after Trenberth phoned him up to complain about him publishing a scientific paper to which Trenberth took exception.
    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered Commenter michael hart

    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:21 PM | michael hart
    “Trenberth is head of NCAR.”
    Here is the organizational chart of NCAR. If you look under NESL, you can see an entity CGD. Trenberth is in the Climate Analysis section (one of five) of CGD. I think he has been section head, but isn’t currently.
    And what has this to do with Salby?
    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:55 PM | Unregistered Commenter Nick Stokes

    And what has this to do with Salby?
    Jul 10, 2013 at 12:55 PM | Nick Stokes
    ————————————————–
    It is evidence that he works, or worked, in a field where people can lose their job for publishing scientific papers that ruffle the feathers of other scientists in positions of power and influence.
    Jul 10, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered Commenter michael hart

    =====
    So, Michael Hart first got Salby’s school wrong, then claimed Trenberth forced Wagner to resign by calling him up (where’s proof of that?), then that Trenberth ran NCAR (he doesn’t and never has.)
    I think we had a paper in the news lately that described the “must be wrong” and “self-sealing” properties of conspiracy ideation. For instance, if Wagner denied being pressured by Trenberth, I’d guess this would be seen as evidence that Kevin was even more powerful than thought. 🙂

  65. BBD says:

    I didn’t see any editors attacked or fired for publishing Gergis et al. 2012 or Steig et al. 2008.

    Nor should they have been. Neukom et al. (2014) confirms Gergis12 and Abram et al. (2013) confirms Steig08.

    And no amount of blustering and insinuation by McI can change the facts in either case. And what a surprise: adding substantial amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere causes energy to accumulate in the climate system at a rate unprecedented perhaps since the last of the Cenozoic hyperthermals. Physics works. Shock horror.

  66. Physics works.

    Indeed, that is – to a large extent – the theme of this blog 🙂

  67. RokShox says:

    “Have you considered the possibility that the papers were rubbish?”

    Yes. which is why I pointed out Gergis and Stein. Apparently peer-reviewed rubbish is acceptable on one side only.

  68. RokShox says:

    BBD: “And what a surprise: adding substantial amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere causes energy to accumulate in the climate system at a rate unprecedented perhaps since the last of the Cenozoic hyperthermals. Physics works. Shock horror.”

    Who disputes that? Apart from the Cenozoic reference since clearly whatever invoked the Holocene involved vastly more energy accumulation than what we see today.

  69. Yes. which is why I pointed out Gergis and Stein. Apparently peer-reviewed rubbish is acceptable on one side only.

    In what sense are Gergis and Stein rubbish? I haven’t looked at them in any detail, so I have no view either way.

    Apart from the Cenozoic reference since clearly whatever invoked the Holocene involved vastly more energy accumulation than what we see today.

    What do you mean by this? BBD mentioned the rate being unprecedented, not the total amount.

  70. BBD says:

    RokShox

    Who disputes that? Apart from the Cenozoic reference since clearly whatever invoked the Holocene involved vastly more energy accumulation than what we see today.

    If you don’t understand the difference between orbitally triggered deglaciations and GHG-forced hyperthermals then don’t get into an argument involving either topic.

  71. Marco says:

    ATTP, Gergis et al is “rubbish” because it shows something the pseudoskeptics know is wrong. They know it is wrong because accepting it may be right means they suddenly have to reject one of their own(!) arguments: the MWP shows current warming is not AGW. In reality Gergis et al made a mistake that only is found when you try and repeat the analysis. Neukom et al is in many ways the updated Gergis et al.

    Steig et al is “rubbish” because McIntyre criticized it (O’Donnell). That a more recent paper (Abram et al, 2013) confirms Steig and not O’Donnell is inconvenient, but I would not be surprised if that can handily be fit into any conspiracy theory RokShox has already constructed. See his comments about the Editors.

  72. RokShox says:

    Mashey: I see my nom de plume in there but mass of verbiage is inversely related to strength of argument.

  73. RokShox says:

    ATTP: “What do you mean by this? BBD mentioned the rate being unprecedented, not the total amount.”

    Are you suggesting that the current rate of warming exceeds that which launched the current interglacial?

  74. but using a word like “verbiage” isn’t? 🙂

  75. RokShox says:

    BBD: “If you don’t understand the difference between orbitally triggered deglaciations and GHG-forced hyperthermals then don’t get into an argument involving either topic.”

    Please. The idea we have to go back 60 million years to find a rate of warming comparable to today is farcical.

  76. BBD says:

    Are you suggesting that the current rate of warming exceeds that which launched the current interglacial?

    Yes.

  77. Are you suggesting that the current rate of warming exceeds that which launched the current interglacial?

    Indeed I am. The Vostok ice core, for example, shows a 10 degree change in temperature that occurred over a period of 5000 – 10000 years. We’ve warmed by almost a degree in just over a century. As far as I can tell, the current rate is 5 – 10 times faster than the rate at the end of the last glacial period.

  78. BBD says:

    Please. The idea we have to go back 60 million years to find a rate of warming comparable to today is farcical.

    Then provide an example.

  79. BBD says:

    Mashey: I see my nom de plume in there but mass of verbiage is inversely related to strength of argument.

    So you are running a sock? What is your usual pseudonym?

  80. RokShox says:

    ATTP/BBD: I’m looking at GISP2 Greenland ice core temps. (Alley, R. B. 2004). I count a dozen or more temperature excursions comparable to today in last 11 kya.

  81. verytallguy says:

    RokShox – “oink, oink”

    Getting muddy yet folks?

  82. BBD says:

    You are mistaking D-O events, which are localised, and centred on the N Atlantic, for global warming events.

    Try again.

  83. BBD says:

    VTG

    More bored, really. It would be nice if contrarians could be bothered to understand paleoclimate a teeny bit better before using it as a sandbox for their denial.

  84. RokShox says:

    BBD: Oh they just happened to be centered on the observational area? And it just happened to remain warm in that particular area long enough for time resolution of ice core to capture it? You people are hopeless.

  85. BBD says:

    Show me D-O events *in phase* in the Vostock core, RokShox.

  86. verytallguy says:

    Richard Alley in his own words

    (1) On using GISP2 as a global temperature record

    One of the lessons drawn from comparing Greenland to Antarctica and many other places is that some of the temperature changes (the ice-age cycling) are very widespread and shared among most records, but other of the temperature changes (sometimes called millennial, or abrupt, or Younger-Dryas-type) are antiphased between Greenland and the south, and still other temperature changes may be unrelated between different places (one anomalously cold year in Greenland does not tell you the temperature anomaly in Australia or Peru)

    (2) On RokShox

    using GISP2 data to argue against global warming is, well, stupid, or misguided, or misled, or something, but surely not scientifically sensible

    Oink, oink, oink.

  87. BBD says:

    Oh they just happened to be centered on the observational area? And it just happened to remain warm in that particular area long enough for time resolution of ice core to capture it?

    D-O events occurred in the N Atlantic. So it’s hugely unsurprising that they were regional and centred on the N Atlantic and show up in the high resolution GISP/NGRIP cores.

  88. On an interesting note, it is possible that the D-O events are examples of unforced variability. Ice sheet instabilities, I think.

  89. BBD says:

    Did somebody say “hopeless”?

  90. Also, unless I’m reading the axes wrong, the D-O events occurred over a period of a thousand years or longer and involved temperatures changes of maybe 2-3 degrees. Still considerably slower than what we’ve experienced in the last century.

  91. BBD says:

    ATTP

    Yes. See the “binge-purge” hypothesis proposed in MacAyeal (1993).

    There are others, involving wind field modulation by the major ice sheets.

  92. BBD says:

    The N Atlantic SST warmings appear to have been very rapid – perhaps decades.

  93. BBD says:

    The key thing for contrarians to bear in mind – apart from the fact that D-O events were not global and synchronous warming events is that they are artefacts of glacial climates only. The mechanics behind the D-O warmings appear to require major NH ice sheets.

  94. Actually, I may have been looking at the wrong thing.

  95. BBD says:

    Paleoclimate: all those sodding wiggly lines… does my head in too.

    😉

    But seriously… bundles of Dansgaard-Oeschger (D-O) abrupt warming events during the last glacial are termed Bond cycles (*not* to be confused with the rather more nebulous Holocene ‘Bond cycle’).

    This after Gerard Bond, who described a cycle where an especially large D-O warming event would be followed by three, four or five successively smaller warming events at roughly 1500y intervals (ie a stepped, progressive, punctuated cooling). The final, coldest period was characterised by extensive ice rafting in the NA and is termed a Heinrich event. HEs terminate in a very large abrupt warming and the Bond cycle repeats.

  96. OPatrick says:

    Can I suggest that we don’t allow clear alarmism like RokShox’s on here? The idea that the climate system is susceptible to rapid and dramatic swings like this is surely designed to scare people into action. This can only reflect badly on people who are working to communicate the consensus position, which is quite alarming enough without this sort of additional fearmongering.

    It may be, of course, that I have misunderstood RokShox’s intention.

  97. Joshua says:

    RokShox –

    ” In the later case Wagner was forced to resign and a groveling apology was issued by the publisher to that touchstone of climate warmist hysteria Kevin Trenberth, though he had absolutely no connection to the paper. It was ring kissing.”

    Could you provide evidence that he was “forced” to resign? And could you explain the criteria you use to determine that his apology was “groveling” as opposed to, say, principled?

    ‘Cause skeptics don’t make claims w/o evidence. “Skeptic” or skeptic? Let the evidence decide.

  98. jsam says:

    Today’s Climate Change Proves Much Faster Than Changes in Past 65 Million Years

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/todays-climate-change-proves-much-faster-than-changes-in-past-65-million-years/

    Oink, oink.

  99. John Mashey says:

    1) See section at end of Guardian article, which has a simple taxonomy of ways bad papers get into journals. Dana and I discussed the PALS issue earlier in this.

    2) I think people have covered D-O and similar events. Some people apparently look at temperature graphs in isolation and say SEE: temperature has changed rapidly, therefore no human cause of warming, without consideration of visible causes. Temperatures could plunge rapidly, stay there, for a few years, then jump back and it could happen starting tomorrow. All it would take would be a series of Tambora-class eruptions for a few years. We might notice. 🙂

    3) I”m not sure if RokShox meant to say he was Michael Hart, but if so he was a frequent commenter (17) in the Salby affair, covering NOVA, WUWT, BISHOP HILL, and right with Salby on CO2, Ice-cores and a score of 4 items in the conspiracy category, although I’m still scrubbing so that might change.

  100. AnOilMan says:

    rockshox really is good at trolling. We really could use a tone-meter…

    Maybe it could be like tequila pigs.

  101. AnOilMan says:

    How does all his oinking work?
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1011.6268

    They just want to have fun?
    https://www.academia.edu/6016545/Trolls_just_want_to_have_fun

    Take a look at how they score for the following; Machiavellian-ism Narcissism Psychopathy Direct Sadism Vicarious Sadism…

  102. BBD says:

    But topic knowledge… ? No.

  103. Steve Bloom says:

    AOM, sadly our host is highly skilled at the pointless toleration of such trolling.

  104. I’m just a generally tolerant person 🙂

  105. Rachel M says:

    This is really just awful to read. I don’t agree with RokShox but can we stop with the accusations of trolling? If you think RokShox’s views are embedded and not likely to change then just step over his comment and move on.

  106. AnOilMan says:

    They put up with me for instance… 🙂

  107. John Mashey says:

    Rachel M: I don’t care about trolling, but RokShox repeated two memes widely spread in dismissive echo-chambers, that might well rise to defamation (either of the scientists who wrote to Climate Research or of Trenberth (who you may recall is from Christchurch)), while offering zero evidence and showing little knowledge of the history already discussed in detail many times.

    Such comments:
    (a) Might be moderated away (or hidden/deprecated, if such existed)
    (b) Be challenged.
    (c) Be left unchallenged.

    In dismissive echo-chamber blogs, defamatory comments against scientists, comparisons with Nazi’s, etc seem to be allowed or even encouraged … and I’ll send you a 2-page PDF from the SalbyStorm, with counts, as an example.

    The linkage remains to be proved, but if people are stirred to send hate mail to scientists, what sources are they getting information from?

  108. Rachel M says:

    John Mashey,

    I can’t see what might lead to defamation in RokShox’s comments and I thought I was quite strict on this one.

    I agree with your three choices:
    (a) Might be moderated away (or hidden/deprecated, if such existed)
    (b) Be challenged.
    (c) Be left unchallenged.

    In this case RokShox was challenged and very well I thought, by Marco, Jason B, and yourself soon after. Others also made good comments. What I didn’t like was the subsequent piling on, accusations of trolling and the sniggering about pigs. It just makes us look bad.

    Perhaps I should have deleted RokShox’s first comment right away but I’m tired of the accusations of censorship and of people saying we’ve created an echo chamber. We also usually let first time commenters have their say, no matter how wrong they are.

    I agree that the stuff on “Skeptic” blogs is often quite defamatory and that commenters are encouraged to send hate mail. I’ve seen it and I think it’s wrong. I don’t want to have that here.

    People are getting the wrong information from “Skeptic” blogs but isn’t this a reason to allow a comment like RokShox’s to stand provided it is adequately challenged?

  109. I really cannot understand why statements are made that current warming is faster than anything that has happened in past millions of years. That’s not a relevant point, it’s impossible to tell, whether it’s true, and it’s actually very likely that something as exceptional has happened also in the past. It’s true that recent warming is faster than anything we know about the past, but that’s not the same thing.

    We have good reasons to believe that recent warming has been mostly anthropogenic, and that more CO2 brings more warming, but why to make such statements about very long periods that are not known at nearly suffient level of detail.

  110. Steve Bloom says:

    Rachel, allowing such people to move on to a second unsupported assertion without having successfully defended the first isn’t an adequate challenge. If they won’t face up to the facts, remove them from the sandbox.

    Notice the immediate shift of ground in the first comment:

    “If sceptics want to debate about the science, the only way to do it is in the scientific literature. Write the papers. They haven’t done it.”

    In at least two cases where a “peer-reviewed” paper that challenged the AGW dogma was accepted for publication, the editor of the publication was attacked. (Chris de Freitas for publishing Soon and Baliunas, 2003, and Wolfgang Wagner for publishing Spencer and Braswell, 2011). [Mod: possibly defamatory]

    I didn’t see any editors attacked [Mod: possibly defamatory] for publishing Gergis et al. 2012 or Steig et al. 2008.

    If you’re going to allow this stuff at all, IMO the thing to do is to stop the discussion right there and require the commenter to address what those papers claimed, the significance of the claims, and whether they’ve stood the test of time. Instead, a sidestep into personality and politics (“mud” relative to the science, fair to say) was allowed.

  111. Rachel M says:

    Steve,
    I’ve edited your comment slightly because I decided to edit RokShox’s very first comment.

    RokShox,
    If you want to claim that the Gergis and/or Steig papers are rubbish, then you need to provide a reason or withdraw your claim. It’s no good saying “Fred’s paper is rubbish” without saying why.

    Is everybody happy now?

  112. Steve Bloom says:

    Pekka, IIRC some pretty well-respected paleos have made such statements. My impression is that they don’t think the physics of the system are capable of producing anything so abrupt. I suspect abrupt warming followed by rapid cooling in the aftermath of a really big bolide impact as in the KT event might be an exception, but really that just proves the rule. See Figure S1 here (full paper), and note where the 1980-2005 rate stands relative to the maximum rates of past Cenozoic events, including the most recent deglacial.

  113. Steve Bloom says:

    Sorry, Rachel, not really. As I tried to point out, the attack on those two papers was just a smokescreen. The initial assertion that needs defending is about the substance of the two “skeptic” ones.

  114. Steve Bloom says:

    Apologies, I see I wasn’t completely clear that I was referring to the two “skeptic” papers. But that is where it needs to start IMO.

  115. Steve Bloom says:

    TBC, Stephan’s original comment was hyperbolic in that it wasn’t literally true (of course “skeptics” have published many papers) but was making the point that the scientific contributions from “skeptics” have not meaningfully affected mainstream climate science. If one wanted to makes a case to the contrary, pointing to papers that were thought to be so bad that they resulted in editor resignations is a poor place to start. So maybe even better would be to ask the commenter to address the substance of Stephan’s remark. After all these years, what have the “skeptics” really accomplished scientifically?

    If one then wanted to continue to an assertion that “skeptics” have been treated so malignantly that their brilliant, paradigm-overturning results haven’t seen the light of day to some significant degree, one might continue to seeing if there’s any such substance to those two “skeptic” papers, and if so to a similar review of Gergis and Stein, and finally to a discussion of whether their differing treatment was merited. But skipping over all that to get to the last point, leaving others to spend vastly more time pointing out the flaws in the reasoning, seems less than useful to allow here (IMO, of course).

  116. Steve Bloom says:

    Steig, sorry.

  117. Rachel M says:

    Steve, I agree with the train of thought in your last comment and I agree wholeheartedly with Stephen’s comment that the place to have the debate about the science is in the scientific literature.

    RokShox is on moderation now so any comments he makes will need to be pre-approved and I specifically don’t want to see any unsubstantiated and defamatory claims about scientists.

  118. BBD says:

    Pekka

    I really cannot understand why statements are made that current warming is faster than anything that has happened in past millions of years.

    I see that Steve has answered your objection. AFAIK he is correct. With the possible and debated exception* of the early Cenozoic hyperthermals, there’s no other known mechanism that would increase forcing rapidly enough to produce a rate of warming equivalent to the modern.

    * Wright & Schaller (2013) Evidence for a rapid release of carbon at the Paleocene-Eocene thermal maximum.

  119. RokShox says:

    “If you want to claim that the Gergis and/or Steig papers are rubbish”
    Did Gergis et al. ever appear in print?

  120. RokShox,
    I can certainly find a PDF of the paper through Google Scholar, but I can’t tell if it was formally published or not. I’m not really sure how relevant that is either way. You can’t really choose a single paper to try and claim some broader point, whatever that broader point might be.

  121. BBD says:

    RokShox

    Whatever “point” you might be trying to make is invalidated by the fact that Neukom et al. (2014) has now been published.

    With essentially the same results as Gergis12.

    Please acknowledge that you have read and understood this comment, then concede the point and change the subject.

    Thanks.

  122. BBD says:

    In case I am being insufficiently clear: McI’s methodological nit-picks have not change the bigger picture from the Mannean Hockey Stick of MBH98/99 to Neukom14.

    There was no global and synchronous MCA as warm as or warmer than the present.

    Modern warming is exceptional. This is exactly what we would expect given the exceptional rate of increase in GHG forcing during the second half of the C20th. Contrarian attempts to deny this matter of fact rely on nit-picks and rhetorical distortions but are scientifically weightless.

  123. BBD,

    In case I am being insufficiently clear: McI’s methodological nit-picks have not change the bigger picture from the Mannean Hockey Stick of MBH98/99 to Neukom14.

    On that note, did you see Judith Curry’s post from yesterday?

  124. BBD says:

    The usual contrarian insinuations from Christy, to which the response is: PAGES-2K.

    No amount of blog posts is going to get around that.

  125. Steve Bloom says:

    BBD, if correct that PETM paper would seem to point to Antarctic tundra fires as the mechanism, but it got some really big pushback. There was a response from the authors, but I didn’t see a public copy of that. If the paper does turn out to be right, I’m perfectly happy to amend my claim to cover just the last ~45 my rather than the whole Cenozoic.

  126. Steve Bloom says:

    Here’s a public copy of Neukom et al. (2014). It’s largely from the same group of authors and seems to cover the same ground as the earlier paper.

  127. Steve Bloom says:

    Christy’s gall is gobsmacking:

    My own topic was upper air temperature changes that eventually drew little attention, even though the data clearly indicated potentially serious inconsistencies for those who would advocate considerable confidence in climate model projections.

    If there’s a further travesty involved, it’s Judy herself.

  128. BBD says:

    Steve

    Thanks for the links to the comments on Wright&Schaller. My own private and scientifically weightless opinion is that W & S are likely mistaken. But Pekka would not appreciate me hiding anything, hence the reference to that study.

  129. verytallguy says:

    Pekka,

    Diffenbaugh and Field conclude that we are facing

    warming that is comparable in magnitude to that of the largest global changes in the past 65 million years but is orders of magnitude more rapid

    (my emphasis)

    http://www.sciencemag.org/content/341/6145/486.full

    You say

    I really cannot understand why statements are made that current warming is faster than anything that has happened in past millions of years. That’s not a relevant point, it’s impossible to tell, whether it’s true, and it’s actually very likely that something as exceptional has happened also in the past.

    Interested to hear why you reach such a different conclusion?

  130. To be fair to Pekka, maybe one should be slightly careful about this. The evidence suggests that we are currently warming at a rate that is unprecedented. I guess we can’t know for sure if there weren’t other recent periods where the warming was as fast, but there is very little evidence to suggest that – within the last 65 million years – there were.

  131. verytallguy says:

    Rachel,

    on the characterisation of RokShox…

    (1) Note that the post is about mudwrestling pigs
    (2) Note that RokShox is very familiar with the debate – a naive newcomer would *not* pick “I’m looking at GISP2 Greenland ice core temps. (Alley, R. B. 2004). I count a dozen or more temperature excursions comparable to today in last 11 kya.” out of nowhere
    (3) Note that being familiar with this, RokShox would be unable to have missed the author’s own views on RokShox’s interpretation thereof. As I quoted, “stupid, or misguided, or misled”
    (4) Note the definition of a troll, per wiki is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community
    (5) Note how authoritative my numbered list is

    I’d say it is pretty much impossible to note these facts and not conclude that RokShox is indeed trolling. Hence, in line with the title, anyone engaging with Rok is destined to

    [Mod : Although you’ve provided some exhaustive evidence, in the interests of maintaining some civility, I’m just going to moderate this last line.]

  132. verytallguy says:

    ATTP,

    I’m not trying to be unfair to Pekka – this is not something I have any real knowledge of. I was just following jsams links and wondering why Pekka concluded differently. I’m not saying he’s wrong, far from it.

    Would you agree with Diffenbaugh and Field or not? Any idea what the balance of literature in this is?

  133. VTG,
    I phrased that poorly. I wasn’t meaning to imply that you were being unfair. I was suggesting that maybe Pekka was being careful about qualifying such statements, rather than suggesting that there is no evidence to support that it’s faster today than it’s been in the past. I’m, of course, not trying to put words into Pekka’s mouth, so he can clarify what he was meaning.

    In my somewhat limited knowledge of this, the only changes that have been faster have been the D-O events in the last glacial period but those appear largest (I think) in the Greenland ice cores, and although they are present (I think) in the Vostok cores, it’s not clear that globally the changes were as fast then as they are today. So, yes, I think the evidence suggests that the rate of change today is unprecedented in the last 65 million years.

  134. verytallguy says:

    Steve

    If there’s a further travesty involved, it’s Judy herself.

    She’s climateballing. She’s brilliant at it. (Seriously)

    ATTP, now you’ve attracted our attention to Judy’s, the previous post “An alternative metric to assess global warming” appears to be right up your street in terms of applying basic physics to the issues and also features your favourite commenter.

    They appear to conclude that OHC rise is not (or only barely) compatible with stated radiative imbalance from forcings and feedbacks.

  135. VTG,
    I’d missed that one. I’ll have a look at that. I once had a reasonably lengthy exchange with Roger Sr about his definition of the term feedbacks, so would be interesting to see what he says here.

  136. OPatrick says:

    I understand Pekka’s point as being that he doesn’t think there’s a need to make a categorical statement that’s potentially open to question when it makes no significant difference for our understanding of the current situation. It’s no doubt scientifically interesting, but it leaves the otters unmarked.

  137. BBD says:

    ATTP

    they [D-O events] are present (I think) in the Vostok cores

    Much more weakly, and asynchronous and antiphased to the NH. D-O events are, as stated, strongly regionally expressed and centred on the N Atlantic. They are not global and synchronous warming events. That’s just a pseudosceptic misrepresentation.

    See eg. Cronin 2010 “Bipolar Seesaw”. As so often, the Meridional Overturning Circulation (MOC) seems key to the hemispheric antiphasing.

  138. andrew adams says:

    I think the Gergis paper was withdrawn by the authors prior to publication due to methodological flaws, so it’s not unfair for RokShox to raise it as an example of a flawed paper regardless of whether the findings have subsequently been vindicated by others. I don’t think it particularly proves anything though – these things do happen and there isn’t the kind of backstory as in the Climate Research saga.

  139. AnOilMan says:

    I believe the number of rejected papers which go with ‘the party line’ are much greater. Does anybody have those stats on hand? I mean, if you want to say something was unfair you have to start by generating a comparison. Its pretty common for those cute cuddly people to present strictly only one side which is narrow and thoroughly cherry picked.

  140. What I really had in mind were possible short term fluctuations for whatever reason. By short term I mean something that lasts at least a couple of decades, and that might thereafter return to previous trend. i.e. something that has a long enough duration to mimic what we have seen over last 40 years..

    1) Empirical data cannot tell anything about the occurrence of such events in distant past.

    2) Millions of years is a very long time, even very unlikely events may occur a couple of times during such a long period (let alone during tens of millions of years):

    3) The argument that no mechanism for such events is known is a really poor argument, when we discuss events that would be so rare.

    For the above reasons I don’t believe that anyone has valid arguments for such a claim. My own guess is that it’s significantly more likely that rapid warming has occurred for some reason that that nos such event has occurred.

    I don’t argue to the least to tell that my argument would be a counterargument against the value of present science in understanding global warming. In my view such claims are just additional examples of statements scientists should avoid, when they don’t have real science to support such generalized statements and when the truthfulness of such statements is irrelevant as long as they cannot be studied empirically (which may mean that they remain irrelevant forever).

    I have got the impression that such statements are often made to tell that some observed warming trend is slower than the present warming, but formulated to say something more, and that this “something more” is not supported by any real evidence. Thus it would be a case of sloppy formulation of the actual message the scientist has.

  141. BBD says:

    3) The argument that no mechanism for such events is known is a really poor argument, when we discuss events that would be so rare.

    Without a physical mechanism, they would not be rare. They would be non-existent. However, I grant you that the data do not exist to make a stronger argument either way.

  142. Steve Bloom says:

    Possibly we shouldn’t accept as a fair assumption that the paleo warming rates in the Diffenbaugh and Field paper are not reasonably derived from data.

    As a general matter, if the science supports strong statements we should not hesitate to make them. Given the unique nature of the present warming (which is by no means just a matter of rate) and the massive forcing being applied to the system, the strongest such statements are going to lag reality.

  143. idunno says:

    Only just off-topic…

    http://www.theonion.com/articles/top-theoretical-physicists-rb-singers-meet-to-deba,35882/

    Good to see you back, Andy. Call that a holiday?

  144. Steve Bloom says:

    Come to think of it, this might be a useful post topic. We could examine the source material and see if we think it holds up.

  145. BBD,

    There are certainly physical mechanisms that cause variability. How strong they can be with a probability that’s enough to produce several events in million years is most certainly highly unknown. The best specialists on such issues are climate modelers. Paloeclimatology cannot tell much about that based on their work, thus paleo specialists are not the right scientist to present scientific views on that point.

    No scientist should make such categorical statements without strong evidence. I don’t think that anyone has even weak evidence, or perhaps I should say that most probably no scientist has any evidence.

  146. BBD says:

    0.8C in a century through unforced variability?

    Actually, I find this conversation mildly frustrating for apparently the same reasons Steve does. This modern warming is just the transient response to ~400ppm CO2 and there’s another ~0.6C to come even if CO2 stabilised at ~400ppm. As you know, perfectly well.

    Talking about some 20yr period as if it meant anything in the context of paleoclimate behaviour is unhelpful. Discussing the rate and size of the forcing change since pre-industrial times, and its ongoing, open-ended nature in the context of paleoclimate behaviour would be a more productive conversation, but that’s not the conversation you apparently seem intent on having.

  147. Steve Bloom says:

    “another ~0.6C to come even if CO2 stabilised at ~400ppm”

    I know you know this, but that’s still not the full warming for that CO2 level. There’s another degree or so to come after that.

  148. Steve Bloom says:

    Pekka, those are pretty strong words. To support them, I think you need to get into the specifics of the paper. So far, all I’m seeing is an argument from personal incredulity.

  149. jsam says:

    Attempting an inanely amateur summary…within the limits of measurement there would appear to be no more rapid warming over the last 60+ million years than today’s. Yes, a rapid warming, with unknown provenance, could have snuck in.

    There is no evidence for such. Indeed, within the limits of measurement, such evidence may be impossible to collect.

    To this untutored amateur, though, would this very rapid warming not have to be accompanied by a sudden, and equally invisible, sudden cooling within the same measuring step – or we’d see it. Is this not unlikely?

    Saying “well, it might have been, we just can’t tell” doesn’t strike me as a particularly strong argument.

  150. Pingback: Assessing global warming | And Then There's Physics

  151. Steve Bloom says:

    Even the huge Toba eruption 74 kya, which had been presumed to have caused a major, albeit brief, global cooling excursion, turns out on close examination to have not done so. The lesson would seem to be that abrupt, short-term forcings, even very large ones, have a hard time moving climate globally.

    D+F cite this paper to illustrate that regional climate changes during the last deglacial are amenable to accurate description (at annual resolution, no less, which I hadn’t recalled). If there were a global signal for even a very short event during the last glacial cycle, it would have been identified by now. At annual resolution, or even close to it, absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

  152. Diffenbaugh and Field paper is of a different nature from what I have discussed. They compare certain model results about future warming with average rate of change in past changes that have taken place of thousands of years. I don’t think they say anything about possible past rapid changes that have not reached the magnitude of the longer term changes that they discuss.

    Discussing the speed of the future changes and comparing that with what’s is known about adaptation of ecosystems to rapid changes makes sense, but that makes sense independently of the possible relatively short periods of rapid change in the past. Their paper does not speculate on such periods or claim that no such periods have occurred. Some sentences may perhaps be interpreted as making such claims, if taken out of context, but in the context of the full paper I don’t see such claims in the paper.

  153. BBD says:

    Steve

    I know you know this, but that’s still not the full warming for that CO2 level.

    Yes. I was speaking of S_ff only, not Earth System Sensitivity. Which presumably would bring us back towards something like the MPWP.

  154. Steve Bloom says:

    Pekka: “I don’t think they say anything about possible past rapid changes that have not reached the magnitude of the longer term changes that they discuss.”

    They say:

    Records from high-resolution ice cores indicate that regional climates can reorganize quickly, especially during glacial/interglacial transitions (114), but global rates of change during events such as the last glacial termination and the late-glacial/early-Holocene warming were all well below the minimum rate for the RCPs (fig. S1)

    (And also below the 1980-2005 rate as I noted above.)

    114 is the citation I mentioned above, so this is very much a statement about a lack of global rapid change for the period of very high-resolution records. And if such a thing isn’t seen during a deglacial, when would we expect it?

    I agree with your point that undetected short-term global climate perturbations, if they even exist at a magnitude worth caring about, aren’t strictly relevant to D+F’s thesis, although I suppose if one wants to speculate about them at all one can speculate that current ecosystems have been shaped by such and so could be somewhat adapted to them, in which case it would be relevant. But there’s really no end to speculation.

    Er, you’re not trying to make room for the stadium wave business, are you?

  155. No. I’m not making room for anything. I would just hope that scientists would avoid making statements that cannot be supported by their research. It’s far too common to see sloppily formulated statements by scientists, and often without any obvious reason.

    I may sometimes be a little pedantic, and end up arguing on technical issues. Most of the lengthy arguments are with skeptics (most recently about the use of “objective Bayesian” method by Nic Lewis), but every now and then I feel that faulty or weakly presented argumentation is used by the other side as well.

  156. Steve Bloom says:

    Re the reference above to Curry’s posting a couple days ago of some notably scurrilous crap from John Christy, who despite a scandalously poor scientific record remains a go-to source for Andy Revkin, in a case of almost eerie synchronicity Paul Krugman just blogged on the subject of “The Other Christie Scandal” and asks “What is it that makes self-proclaimed centrists such easy marks for right-wing con men?”

    What indeed.

  157. > (5) Note how authoritative my numbered list is

    Well played, Sir!

  158. Pingback: Another Week of Climate Disruption News, May 4, 2014 – A Few Things Ill Considered

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