Katie Mack, Brian Cox and Eric Idle

I was going to post this yesterday, but then Willard beat me to it. I thought I would post it now, but it’s all a bit disjointed, so apologies. Anyway, a couple of my fellow physicists/astrophysicists have been quite prominent in the public climate science debate in the last day or so. Brian Cox was on the Australian Question Time and did an impressive job of countering the claims of the newly elected Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts.

As a result, Katie Mack, a theoretical astrophysicst at Melbourne University who is also quite a high profile science communicator, started tweeting about climate change. As one might expect, Katie then encountered a number of what I shall politely call “skeptics” and responded in a manner that appealed to J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame (as if that wasn’t obvious).

Even a Python got involved

I actually found all of the exchanges very amusing, which I do think is probably the optimal way to deal with those who are clueless, but are very unlikely to ever recognise their ignorance. It was also interesting how much impact these have had. Brian Cox’s exchange with Malcolm Roberts is all over the news, and – as you can see above – more than 70000 people have retweeted J.K. Rowling’s tweet about Katie Mack’s response. Maybe it really is becoming more and more obvious that climate denial is ridiculous and that the only suitable response is to mock those who promote it.

It was also good to see some other scientists commenting on this topic. We certainly shouldn’t expect climate scientists to shoulder all the burden. It might also make some more aware of the kind of crap that some have had to put up with when they do communicate about this publicly. I sometimes get the sense that many don’t realise just how difficult it is to discuss this topic publicly and what you have to put up with if you do. Certainly, in my view, the more who get involved, the merrier.

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212 Responses to Katie Mack, Brian Cox and Eric Idle

  1. Magma says:

    I’d like to have seen Roberts put on the spot more than he was, e.g., “Malcolm, can you explain the greenhouse effect in a few simple words? Why do you think scientists have got it all wrong?”

    As it was, he simply juggled denier memes. Over at WUWT, some of the commenters in the hermetically sealed bubble thought he’d gotten the better of Brian Cox — or at least that’s what they told each other.

  2. Magma,
    The problem – I think – is that they’ll dodge and weave anyway, and the WUWTers will still think he got the better of Brian Cox.

  3. Magma says:

    I suppose what matters in such debates is what a neutral group of somewhat uncommitted individuals think at the end. Judging from the laughter, the audience didn’t seem to share Roberts’ view of NASA as a bunch of data fakers.

  4. I think most neutral observers would regard accussing NASA of corrupting data as being rather silly.

  5. Smith says:

    That Rowling Tweet, though…wow. Hilarious.

    I agree with this in many circumstances, “climate denial is ridiculous and that the only suitable response is to mock those who promote it.” Sometimes, the other person is earnest and a good discussion can convince onlookers even if the person directly involved is not convinced. I’ve unfortunately found that situation to be rare.

  6. Smith,
    Indeed, but an indication that someone is not earnest is when they end their tweet with SCAM!

  7. There was also a funny “sceptic” reply that Katie Mack should have answered on the substance.

    THERE WAS NO SUBSTANCE!

    In that case a bit of snark is perfect and brings the topic to the attention of millions.

  8. T-rev says:

    >Maybe it really is becoming more and more obvious that climate denial is ridiculous and that the only suitable response is to mock those who promote it.

    That those who think the science is alarming eg Ms Mack, Mr. Cox etal are still bogged down in the debate over AGW existing, that shows to me the small minority of people claiming to be demiers have had huge success. The debate at least (even if we don’t do anything to minimise the impacts) should been progressed to outcomes and mitigation strategies. I would suggest we stop ourselves being dragged back to the same nonsense of whack-a-mole and move the debate along, ignoring those who want to keep debating ‘if the moon landing was faked’.

    While scince might not have as much to contribute to whether we actually do mitigate (no effective mitigation so far looking at the Mauna Loa numbers), they can point out what is liekly to happen if we don’t and point holes in mitigation strategies like BECCS eg Jason Box’s,observation on it.

  9. Jim Rose says:

    First of all, Brian Cox gave this senator elect tremendous global publicity. Secondly, Cox saying that Roberts must question the moon landing because he questions NASA data on climate is an example of someone who does not have very good arguments.

  10. Smith,

    This might be an example of one where snark is not indicated as a first response …

    … but might be difficult to choke down nonetheless.

  11. Hope this twoosh ain’t too snarky, BG:

  12. Hmm, a particle physicist, an astrophysicist, a writer, and a comedian.

    The particle physicist spoke the longest. He had no substantive reply to the issue of data harmonization. He argued that correlation is a meaningful concept in non-stationary series. He said cyclones are up. He seemed unaware that, in the Vostok record, temperature leads carbon dioxide.

    The astrophysicist expressed fear and responded to an appeal to authority with an appeal to authority.

    Not science’ finest hour.

  13. Methinks just the right amount of snark, Willard. So is this.

  14. Richard,
    I can see why you might find this quite as appealing as I do. Keep it up.

    Jim,
    I think he was just chekcing that Roberts’ conspiracy ideation didn’t extend as far as thinking that NASA hadn’t actually landed men on the Moon.

  15. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol ” He had no substantive reply to the issue of data harmonization.”

    Would it have made a diffierence if he had? Personally I think the audience reaction showed pretty well that they all thought the idea that this was a NASA conspiracy was stupid enough that no substantive reply was really required.

    It appears that you have no substantive reply to the new errors/issues I have found in your piecewise linear model ;o) (don’t worry, this is the last time I’ll point them out to you)

  16. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “He seemed unaware that, in the Vostok record, temperature leads carbon dioxide.” I suspect James Hanson’s knowledge of particle physics has gaps as well. I suspect both of them know that zero is not a positive number though! ;o)

  17. Richard also might want to read this

    While the orbital cycles triggered the initial warming, overall, more than 90% of the glacial-interglacial warming occured after that atmospheric CO2 increase

  18. dikranmarsupial says:

    I think it’s worth pointing out that Question Time is not a science program, but a politics/entertainment (there is increasingly little difference these days) program. Prof. Cox was using the tools of political debate on a politics show, and using them pretty well. This wouldn’t be my approach, but then again, nobody is going to invite me onto a politics/entertainment show, if only because I wouldn’t be sufficiently entertaining.

  19. He seemed unaware that, in the Vostok record, temperature leads carbon dioxide.

    Which population represents the dependent variable, RT?

  20. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “He argued that correlation is a meaningful concept in non-stationary series.”

    This is a rather shall we say “nuanced” interpretation of what Prof. Cox actually said. He did say that CO2 and temperature were corellated (about 6mins into the full program), but he immediately went on to talk about our understanding of the physical mechanisms. I don’t think this is acceptable behaviour by a Prof., and I don’t mean Prof. Cox.

  21. I scanned all the clips of Cox speaking and found nothing about lead/lag. Also not the kind of medium amenable to that level of detail.

  22. dikranmarsupial says:

    Actually, Prof. Cox did have a substantive response (about 9 mins into the full program), which was that a variety of other organisations had also analyzed the temperature data and reached the same conclusion and were they all in on the same conspiracy. So I am not sure Prof. Tol watched the same program.

    Prof. Cox said “you can never get any sense on programs like this that are adversarial” [or words to that effect]. Dead right, science left adversarial debate as a means of progressing science behind long ago, the idea that politicians can “debate” science in this way is sheer hubris.

    BTW it is hilarious that Roberts cites Steve Goddard of all people as his authority on temperature data.

  23. I didn’t know whether to be amused or horrified when he invoked Goddard. I found myself wondering how many people in the audience know who he is, and hoping the answer was less than a handful.

    Despite Roberts delivering mostly standard WUWT talking points, I thought he was more direct, concise and on point than the other panelists. He never seemed to get ruffled, and looked absolutely earnest. IMO, that kind of format is really not suitable for the scope of the material being discussed — about all Cox could do is what he did: show the temperature and CO2 plots, point out the relationship, and refer to the consensus in literature.

    Advantage on that kind of show goes to the Gish Galloper. It was gratifying to see that the studio audience didn’t buy it and all but laughed Roberts off the stage.

  24. dikranmarsupial says:

    At 17:37 Roberts says “levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are a result of changes in temperature”. I wonder where he got that idea, skeptic blogs perhaps, who keep promulgating this nonsense without finding the time to reach a conclusion about its validity? Unfortunately Prof. Cox didn’t have a direct answer to that one, but that is probably because he had prepared answers for questions based on reasonable misunderstandings.

  25. Cox did say Roberts was categorically wrong on that point, but that’s only true if we’re talking about the significant post-industrial rise. Or stuff like this …

    … which is one of dbstealey’s favourites.

  26. dikranmarsupial says:

    Summary Fisking of Prof. Tol’s post:

    “Hmm, a particle physicist, an astrophysicist, a writer, and a comedian.

    says an economist.

    The particle physicist spoke the longest. He had no substantive reply to the issue of data harmonization.

    Not true, he pointed out that several independent analyses of the raw data had been conducted and all draw similar conclusions, and were they all in on the conspiracy?

    He argued that correlation is a meaningful concept in non-stationary series.

    No he didn’t, he said we have to ask firstly whether there is a correlation and secondly whether we understood the physical mechanism. Of course correlation is a meaningful concept, in general before developing an understanding of the physical mechanism behind some phenomenon, we first have to recognize that there is something to understand, and correlation is very frequently what identifies something that needs explaining/understanding. The “non-stationary series” bit is an obvious red herring as firstly Prof Cox was obviously using the word in its everyday meaning, rather than in the strict statistical sense, and secondly regression analyses are performed on these datasets routinely, and regression is essentially a way of summarizing correlations graphically, are all of the worlds climatologists wrong in this respect?

    He said cyclones are up.

    I can find papers that provide some support for this (at least in the abstract), so it isn’t unequivocally wrong, however I will accept that this is probably the weakest point in Prof. Cox’s very long list.

    He seemed unaware that, in the Vostok record, temperature leads carbon dioxide.

    Which is exactly what you would expect from carbon cycle feedback. Prof Tol seemed unaware that “temperature leads carbon dioxide” is a climate myth (as ATTP points out) and hence has hinted at his ignorance, rather than demonstrated Prof. Cox’s.

    The astrophysicist expressed fear

    Hyperbole, I’d say “legitimate concern” would be more accurate.

    “and responded to an appeal to authority with an appeal to authority.

    No, he replied to an appeal to Steve Goddard by pointing out that there is a very strong consensus (not actually absolute) among the worlds climatologists on climate change. This is not an appeal to authority as he wasn’t saying that the science is right because there is a consensus. However it is a perfectly rational argument that those who are not able to understand the science for themselves (which is obviously the case for Roberts) should listen to those who can and do.

    “Not science’ finest hour.”

    No, but then again it was a politics/entertainment show, so what do you expect. Prof. Cox (and the other panel members) did a pretty good job of addressing most of the issues, so it wasn’t perfect, those in glass houses…

    So basically Richard may have a point about the cyclones, but the rest is either misrepresenting what Prof. Cox said, or red-herrings or hyperbole etc.

  27. dikranmarsupial says:

    Brandon, yes, but I rather doubt that is what Roberts meant.

    “dbstealey’s favourites” has dbstealey heard of Bacastow? ;o)

  28. dikranmarsupial says:

    Actually mu summary should probably have pointed out the irony of

    “and responded to an appeal to authority with an appeal to authority.”

    following

    “Hmm, a particle physicist, an astrophysicist, a writer, and a comedian.”

    :o)

  29. Dikran,
    I think the astrophysicst expressed fear referred to Katie Mack, Not Brian Cox. If so, I’m not sure how else she was meant to respond to someone who suggested she should learn some actual science, other than to humorously point out that she clearly has.

  30. dikranmarsupial says:

    sorry scrub that I realise Richard meant Mack for some of that, rather than Cox. Mea culpa, appologies Richard.

  31. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP indeed, it was a witty response to an ad-hominem, it didn’t occur to me that anyone would talk it as a serious appeal to authority.

  32. Dikran,

    I’m stumped. This Bacastow?

    If Roberts had been discussing CO2 as a feedback response to temperature on geological timescales, it would have been a valid question worth some explanation. If it was something Salby-esque, Cox’s categorical dismissal works for me. A clarifying question would have been better before answering, but then I don’t do this under hot lights in a television studio in front of national audiences, and Prof. Cox is probably (hopefully?) not such an avid WUWT consumer as I used to be. 🙂

  33. it didn’t occur to me that anyone would talk it as a serious appeal to authority.

    Nor did I, but I keep making that mistake.

  34. pete best says:

    all of this is not really relevant but amusing. Giving everyone the vote means that you have to overcome some very intransigent views (the USA is not very evolution friendly but you don’t need to vote on it) and therefore it takes decades to overcome the masses views on things and just like the much documented war on tobacco killing people (we cant tell you which cigarette you smoked killed you but the statistical evidence shows that its bad stuff) it all amounts to the same thing. It takes a long time to get something done about things that people do especially if a lot of people do it. Even today 1 in 5 smoke regardless of the known consequences and its worse for climate change as everyone could lose out apparently. Vested interests who invest in fossil fuels (everyone really with their pensions and bonds and shares) feel that it would mean a change of the status quo and a systemic change in power and influence (lobbyists etc) and everyone else uses the stuff or produces stuff that uses it and hence its a massive change that a libertarian free thinking types don’t want to see change. A good example is TESLA, they are new and as such have a potentially different philosophy and therefore might not be open to doing things the same way as its been for the past 150 -200 years etc. The same might apply to solar and wind companies etc.

    To this end certain things don’t want to change and by the time we have made significant changes to our energy infrastructure and fought the good fight (40 years in trying) we might just about stave off the worst of the warming but I doubt we will avoid 2C as its only 20 years away. But there again BECCS might save us if we can invent that as well.

    The only good thing from this is that a lot more people can see how hard it is to speak to these people and as the only way to make them go away is to mock the. Maybe we can do that to Richard Toll too 😉

  35. dikranmarsupial says:

    Brandon, no this one that ENSO modulates the growth rate of CO2 has been known since the 1970s, but those drawing attention to the correlation between temperature and CO2 growth rate tend not to know about it (even after it has been pointed out).

    “If it was something Salby-esque, Cox’s categorical dismissal works for me.”

    I’d have pointed out that the fact that CO2 is rising more slowly than anthropogenic emissions shows with high certainty that the natural environment is opposing the rise, not causing it, and only very basic fact checking is required to show that Roberts is utterly wrong (in addition to many other lines of evidence). But then again, I’ve had practice on this particular question and Prof. Cox probably hasn’t (he looked surprised at the question). ;o)

  36. T-rev says:

    Jennifer M is at it again on response to Cox, suggesting he doesn’t know what he’s talking about

    http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18459

  37. Re: Bacastow, dangit, why can I not

    ???

    I like your practised answer. I also know how impervious the hard-core anthro-CO2 den!ers are to logic and evidence …

    … so I’m prone to snarking at them.

  38. Cox has two options. Either he should refrain from speaking on things outside his expertise, or he should prepare his stuff.

    Data harmonization is often interpreted as data manipulation, so I would have pointed out the reasons for data harmonization, that different groups use alternative assumptions for harmonization but find roughly the same results, and that the harmonization codes and raw data are in the public domain for anyone to scrutinize, use and replace with their favorite assumptions (at least for some of the groups).

    I would not have said that NASA put a man on the moon so they cannot possibly lie.

  39. Richard,

    Either he should refrain from speaking on things outside his expertise, or he should prepare his stuff.

    Reasonably sensible advice. Not sure why you think you’re really in a position to be giving it though. Anyone who says this

    He seemed unaware that, in the Vostok record, temperature leads carbon dioxide.

    without clarifying the significance, should probably refrain from explaining how others should communicate science. Spreading denier memes is a rather odd manner in which to communicate science.

    I would not have said that NASA put a man on the moon so they cannot possibly lie.

    I don’t believe that he did.

    Keep implicitly defending Malcolm Roberts, though, if that’s what you wish to do.

  40. dikranmarsupial says:

    Prof. Tol wrote “or he should prepare his stuff. “ and “I would not have said that NASA put a man on the moon so they cannot possibly lie. “. I think your preparation was a little lacking there Richard.

  41. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Either he should refrain from speaking on things outside his expertise”

    Should Roberts also follow this recommendation Richard?

  42. pete best,

    Giving everyone the vote means that you have to overcome some very intransigent views (the USA is not very evolution friendly but you don’t need to vote on it) and therefore it takes decades to overcome the masses views on things and just like the much documented war on tobacco killing people (we cant tell you which cigarette you smoked killed you but the statistical evidence shows that its bad stuff) it all amounts to the same thing.

    I’m spamming this poll today …

    … even though it’s a few years old now because I sometimes forget that the fight for public opinion in the US has prevailed on the side of reality for the most part. I think it’s good to keep in mind what’s mainly causing the deadlock: vested interests lobbying legislatures.

  43. Should Roberts also follow this recommendation Richard?

    That’s the irony of Richard’s suggestion. Scientists must, publicly, stick to areas in which they have relevant expertise, or they should be thoroughly prepared, while everyone else can just fire away. The problem with this is, that some of the discussion is quite general: do we really think that the data has been manipulated in some dishonest fashion? No, that’s bizarre; I don’t really need to be all that prepared, to respond to this kind of suggestion.

  44. @wotts
    Cox held up the Vostok record without comment. Roberts responded, correctly, that causality is reversed there. Cox reacted with disbelief and anger.

    While currently employed as an economist, I understand the physics well enough to know that causality runs from CO2 to temperature in recent times but the other way in parts of the geological record.

    Perhaps Cox mistakenly raised a complex issue while not having the time to properly explain it, perhaps Cox tried to pull a quick one, or perhaps Cox did not sufficiently study the Vostok record. I don’t know. It made him look silly.

    Roberts did not win me over, though. Cox was strongest when he argued that Roberts was wrong to demand an experimental standard of proof for an intrinsically historical subject — although I would have added that very few of our public policies are grounded in experimental evidence.

  45. Richard,

    Roberts responded, correctly, that causality is reversed there.

    Not really. You do get this? Try reading that link I provided a few comments ago.

    I understand the physics well enough to know that causality runs from CO2 to temperature in recent times but the other way in parts of the geological record.

    Hmmm, this is very incomplete. The trigger for the Milankovitch cycles is orbital forcing, mostly – it is thought – in high Northern latitudes. This leads to a reduction in ice cover, a reduction in albedo. and some warming, which then releases CO2. The increased CO2 level, and the reduced albedo, then produces further warming, which releases more CO2 and further reduces albedo. Ultimately, the warming itself is driven by enhanced CO2 levels and the reduced albedo – the net change in solar insolation is small. So, yes, it is coupled, but it is not correct to claim that temperature leads CO2 because a large fraction of the temperature change is driven by enhanced atmospheric CO2 and reduced albedo. The reverse, of course, happens when we go from an inter-glacial back into a glacial.

  46. dikranmarsupial says:

    Indeed the climate expertise hierarchy is something like

    climatologist > Prof. Cox > general public > Malcolm Roberts > amoebae

    The idea that Prof. Cox should keep to areas of direct expertise but not direct that recommendation more strongly at Roberts is absurd.

    I don’t even think Richard’s response is that much better than what Prof. Cox actually said, unfortunately L’esprit de l’escalier is easy, thinking of a good response to every question on the spot is difficult (which is one of the reasons bullshit is effective in debates).

  47. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “While currently employed as an economist, I understand the physics well enough to know that causality runs from CO2 to temperature in recent times but the other way in parts of the geological record.”

    Unfortunately you don’t understand the physics well enough to understand that in the geological record causation acts in BOTH directions simultaneously (but we only observe the net result).

    “Cox [sic] has two options. Either he should refrain from speaking on things outside his expertise, or he should prepare his stuff.”

    Oh the irony.

  48. I think Richard’s argument is similar to what Reiner Grundmann is discussing here. As I understand it, it’s basically that science communication is not perfect, they don’t always get everything exactly right, therefore it’s ultimately damaging. Of course, in this context “perfect” and “right” are very much in the eye of the beholder.

  49. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “Roberts did not win me over, though.”

    Robert stated that CO2 levels were determined by temperature changes and you were only not won over?

  50. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP indeed, I’d much prefer “imperfect” to “utter nonsense” which is what would have happened if Roberts had been left unchallenged. I think the audience laughter showed who was the more damaged by the exchange.

  51. dikranmarsupial says:

    Updated climate expertise hierarchy:

    climatologist > Prof. Cox > Prof. Tol > general public > Malcolm Roberts > amoebae

    ;o)

  52. dikranmarsupial says:

    I think it is also worth pointing out that Richard’s quibble about the ice cores is another red herring as well as Prof. Cox specifically draw attention to the very rapid spike at the end, the variation from glacial to inter-glacial periods is irrelevant to the point he was actually making. However if you are trying to construct a Gish Gallop to criticise someone, then the expectation is usually that other will not take the time/effort to check. Richard should have learned by now that doesn’t work with every audience.

  53. Marco says:

    “Roberts responded, correctly, that causality is reversed there”

    Let’s be nice this time and give Richard Tol some reading material, shall we?
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/co2-in-ice-cores/
    Or perhaps much better:
    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/339/6123/1042.full
    which argues there actually isn’t a lag to speak of and also discusses this supposed “reversed causality”.

  54. Bernard J. says:

    Roberts responded, correctly, that causality is reversed there.

    Who knew? Apparently increased CO₂ causes Milankovitch cycles…

  55. Mack says:

    We always laugh at what we fear. So much more disconcerting to contemplate we may have no effect on the global climate, whatsoever.

  56. So much more disconcerting to contemplate we may have no effect on the global climate, whatsoever.

    Indeed, that would be very silly.

  57. “Prof. Cox specifically draw attention to the very rapid spike at the end”
    I noted that as well. I always get confused there. Is this Moore’s naturalistic fallacy or Hume’s is-ought problem?

  58. Richard,
    I would guess it’s neither.

  59. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I noted that as well. I always get confused there. Is this Moore’s naturalistic fallacy or Hume’s is-ought problem?”

    Or Richard Tol’s evasion of his red herring and misrepresentation of what Prof. Cox actually said.

    It is a shame that Richard can’t even bring himself to acknowledge that he hoisted himself by his own petard with the ice core thing; the worst you can say is that Prof. Cox didn’t explain a detail that was irrelevant to the point he was making, whereas Prof. Tol actively demonstrated that he didn’t really understand the physics adequately. The hubris is astonishing (especially from someone who thinks zero is a positive number – funny which of my posts Richard responds to and which he doesn’t! ;o)

  60. @wotts
    Cox pointed out at current CO2 concentrations are unprecedented in God knows how many millennia — no dispute there — but he did so in the context of a discussion about policy.

    I wonder how Cox would respond if someone would point out that women’s rights are at an all time high — with the implication that this is a reason for concern.

  61. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I noted that as well. I always get confused there. Is this Moore’s naturalistic fallacy or Hume’s is-ought problem?”

    On reflection, I have to say that I really am surprised and disappointed by this evasion from a serious academic (I know I shouldn’t be, but on this occasion it is just so unsubtle). Prof. Cox clearly wasn’t making any value judgment in pointing out the simultaneous rises in atmospheric CO2 and temperature, he was pointing out that we are causing CO2 to rise and that we have a very good physical understanding of why this will result in increasing temperatures. So this is clearly just a red herring that Richard perhaps hopes will attract attention from the fact that he had hoisted himself on his own petard. Sorry Richard, if so, it has had the opposite effect entirely.

  62. Richard,
    I’m not really sure what you’re getting at, but I think this is the point.

    1. CO2 is a greenhouse gas.

    2. Increasing atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations causes the climate to accrue energy.

    3. Increasing the energy means that the system will warm.

    4. If it warms up, the atmosphere will have more water vapour and evaporation will increase.

    5. We would expect there to be more heatwaves, and there to be an increase in the intensity of extreme precipitation events.

    6. More energy also means that we might expect an increase in the intensity (and maybe frequency) of other extreme climatic events – I will add that this is a much more complex issue, so it does not simply depending on the amount of available energy, but more energy would tend to imply that things have a tendency to become more energetic.

    7. All these factors present possible risks that maybe we should consider avoiding, or, at least, consider doing something that will minimise the chance of the more severe negative impacts from materialising.

    8. A key way that we might do so is to reduce our emission of CO2 into the atmosphere so that we either slow the rise of atmospheric CO2, stop it from continuing to rise, or – even – get it to start dropping.

    9. This is not the only thing we could do, and might be amongst one of many possible responses.

    10. Would, however, seem to me that atmospheric concentration of CO2 is policy relevant. YMMV, of course.

  63. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “Cox pointed out at current CO2 concentrations are unprecedented in God knows how many millennia — no dispute there — but he did so in the context of a discussion about policy.”

    So every scientific fact discussed on a politics program is necessarily a value judgment? Give it a rest Richard, stick to what Prof. Cox actually said, rather than your nuanced extrapolations.

  64. Dikran,
    It’s just another example of someone trying to define what is, and what is not, policy relevant.

  65. dikranmarsupial says:

    I’m not sure it is even that, I think it is more likely that Richard knows he has made a fool of himself on the science (after the ironic hubris of suggesting that Prof. Cox should either “refrain from speaking on things outside his expertise, or he should prepare his stuff.”) and is trying to bluster his way out of it by making it about policy instead of science. I looks like rather unsubtle evasion to me.

  66. The Very Reverend Jebediah Hypotenuse says:


    I wonder how Cox would respond if someone would point out that women’s rights are at an all time high — with the implication that this is a reason for concern.

    I wonder how Prof. Tol would respond to dog-whistled concerns about the lack of pirates causing global warming.

    But not very much.

  67. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I wonder how Cox would respond if someone would point out that women’s rights are at an all time high — with the implication that this is a reason for concern.”

    As the reason for increasing women’s rights was nothing to do with physics, why wonder how a physicist would respond (unless for evasion of earlier petard-mediated self-elevation, perhaps)?

    Did Prof. Cox actually respond to the implication of a reason for concern in that segment of the program? My recollection is that he was just talking about what the science actually tells us, but perhaps Richard can give a direct quote from the program (with timecode so it can be verified)?

  68. lorcanbonda says:

    Can you explain (in laymen terms) how these are not contradictory statements?

    4. “If it warms up, the atmosphere will have more water vapour and evaporation will increase.”

    5. “We would expect … there to be an increase in the intensity of extreme precipitation events.”

    It seems to me that the evaporation of water by the atmosphere are the same forces that would increase the retention of water vapor by the atmosphere. In other words, I expect the atmosphere would have an increase in water vapor retention with no net change of precipitation.

  69. lorcanbonda,

    In other words, I expect the atmosphere would have an increase in water vapor retention with no net change of precipitation.

    No, because if the evaporation rate and precipitation rate don’t match, then the atmosphere will either continue to increase – or decrease – the amount of water vapour. We would expect, on average, there two rates to be the same.

    So, there are two factors; warmer air can hold more water, and the evaporation rate goes up if it’s warmer. The increased evaporation rate means that we would expect increased precipitation. The interesting thing, though, is that we expect the evaporation rate to increase by 2-3% per K, while the water holding capacity of the atmosphere goes up by about 7%/K (assuming constant relative humidity, which is what is expected).

    Therefore, precipitation should increase by 2-3%/K. However, it appears that the amount of precipitation in intense events is set by how much water is available in the atmosphere. So, there is an expectation that intense precipitation events will increase by more than 2-3%/K. This means that we would expect a larger fraction of precipitation to occur in intense events as we warm.

  70. dikranmarsupial says:

    lorcanbonda, I am no hydrologist, but I would venture that the more water vapour that is in the atmosphere, the more water is available to precipitate if the local air temperature falls and so can no longer maintain the extra water vapour. I suspect this would be especially true of convective rainfall (e.g. thunderstorms) where there may be stronger convection in a world with a warmer surface, and as the air rises, the water vapour will condense out, but would also be true of frontal systems where a warm even moister air mass runs into a cooler one.

  71. Pingback: Il ritorno di Harry Potter - Ocasapiens - Blog - Repubblica.it

  72. Willard says:

    A ClimateBall commentary:

    Professor Brian Cox undoubtedly has the prettiest lips in the world of celebrity physics. That – together with his cute, knowing little half-smile; his Charlatans-style haircut; and his early incarnation as keyboard player with New Labour’s favourite one-hit-wonder band D:Ream – explains why he has become the BBC’s go-to popular science presenter.

    If you believe his Wikipedia entry, indeed, he is the natural successor to the BBC’s most treasured grand dame, the whispery-voiced gorilla-hugging Malthusian Sir David Attenborough.

    https://judithcurry.com/2016/08/17/the-democrats-foolish-war-on-climate/#comment-804720

    I blame the framing.

  73. lorcanbonda says:

    So maybe I was too simple in my question:

    “So, there are two factors; warmer air can hold more water, and the evaporation rate goes up if it’s warmer. The increased evaporation rate means that we would expect increased precipitation. The interesting thing, though, is that we expect the evaporation rate to increase by 2-3% per K, while the water holding capacity of the atmosphere goes up by about 7%/K (assuming constant relative humidity, which is what is expected).”

    Wouldn’t the evaporation rate also depend on the water content of the atmosphere? i.e. higher water vapor content in the atmosphere will reduce the evaporation rate.

    “So, there are two factors; warmer air can hold more water, and the evaporation rate goes up if it’s warmer. The increased evaporation rate means that we would expect increased precipitation.So, there is an expectation that intense precipitation events will increase by more than 2-3%/K. This means that we would expect a larger fraction of precipitation to occur in intense events as we warm.”

    This makes sense, but I have another related question — does it matter how much water is vapor and how much is liquid? In other words – higher water content does not mean more intense precipitation, whereas higher liquid water means more intense precipitation.

    I appreciate the answers because this is one of the questions I’ve always had trouble understanding in the climate change discussions.

  74. Willard says:

    > I always get confused there. Is this Moore’s naturalistic fallacy or Hume’s is-ought problem?

    Neither.

    Something was said about either refraining from speaking on things outside one’s expertise or preparing one’s stuff.

    Because when one’s within one’s expertise one doesn’t need any preparation, no doubt.

  75. lorcanbonda,

    Wouldn’t the evaporation rate also depend on the water content of the atmosphere? i.e. higher water vapor content in the atmosphere will reduce the evaporation rate.

    Only – I think – if the relative humidity also increases. Our current expectation is that relative humidity will remain – on average – the same and so the evaporation rate will increase as we warm. It might be possible that the relative humidity could increase so that the evaporation rate does not increase, but then the amount of water available would increase even more, and the fraction of precipitation that occured in intense events would also increase.

    does it matter how much water is vapor and how much is liquid? In other words – higher water content does not mean more intense precipitation, whereas higher liquid water means more intense precipitation.

    Well, in a sense, but if it’s the atmosphere, it has the potential to become water droplets. I think, relative to today, we expect more the intensity of extreme precipitation events to increase.

  76. 5. We would expect there to be more heatwaves, and there to be an increase in the intensity of extreme precipitation events.

    Not significantly. In the US, heatwaves have actually decreased for 121 years, and events of daily precipitation totals of 20cm are flat.

    That doesn’t preclude the reality of CO2 forcing, but natural variability is MUCH more significant than CO2.

    To understand why, consider that CO2 doubling is figured to impose about 4W/m^2 of forcing. Now consider Latent Heat out of the surface ( from evaporation ):

    Deserts have a low flux, but most areas, with their average precipitation, are greater than 100 W/m^2. When there is a lack of precipitation, the soil dries, and latent heat out of the surface tends toward 0 W/m^2. The fluctuation of around 100 W/m^2 is greater than the slow global rise of 4 W/m^2. That’s why extreme high summer temperatures are correlated with lack of summer precipitation but are not correlated with global average temperature.

    6. More energy also means that we might expect an increase in the intensity (and maybe frequency) of other extreme climatic events – I will add that this is a much more complex issue, so it does not simply depending on the amount of available energy, but more energy would tend to imply that things have a tendency to become more energetic.

    Thermal energy is not kinetic energy. Very little thermal energy gets converted to kinetic energy of air masses in the atmosphere.

    If earth had a mean temperature 10C higher, but no gradients ( horizontally or vertically ) there would be very little motion.

    If earth had a mean temperature 10C lower, but more extreme gradients ( horizontally or vertically ) there would be much more violent motion.

  77. Willard says:

    Jim D echoes Richie:

    I would say that going into the debate, Roberts should have armed himself with all of the latest conspiracy theories. He was woefully unprepared in how to question NASA temperatures. He also needs at a minimum to be able to question Argo data, HADCRUT, CRUTEM, TOBs adjustments, buoys, paleoclimate data, solar forcing, acidification, AGW theory, etc. This is Skepticism 101. It is hard work being a [contrarian], and you don’t just waltz into confrontations with real scientists on TV without such preparation.

  78. Evaporation depends on air humidity, wind and because of its influence on the turbulence on the roughness of the ocean and the temperature profile (stability). You can make it very complex if you would like to and would then have to do a lot of mathematics/modelling.

    I would say the easy way to see that evaporation will increase is simply that due to the stronger greenhouse effect there is more energy available at the surface. Part of this additional energy will go into warming the air (higher temperatures) and part of this additional energy will go to more evaporation. Over land, especially where dry, more energy will to go warming, over the oceans, more energy will go to more evaporation.

    That a warmer atmosphere results in stronger precipitation is again very complex if you want to go to the details. Again a lot of processes are important. You could also look at the precipitation which we see closer to the equator (more convective, intense) or closer to the poles (more stratiform, drizzly).

  79. izen says:

    @- “Professor Brian Cox … has become the BBC’s go-to popular science presenter.
    If you believe his Wikipedia entry, indeed, he is the natural successor to the BBC’s most treasured grand dame, the whispery-voiced gorilla-hugging Malthusian Sir David Attenborough.”

    Not even close.
    To this viewer his most recent science series on ‘Life, The Universe and Everything’ was abysmal. Even worse than his last, and that was bad. To be fair it might not all be his fault. It did look like some science communication expert (sociologist?) had advised that all this conceptual sciency stuff needed grounding in ‘human interest’ personal stories. So it was packed with egregiously disconnected empathetic narratives.

    The photography, post-production and graphic effects were outstanding however.

  80. TE,

    Not significantly. In the US, heatwaves have actually decreased for 121 years, and events of daily precipitation totals of 20cm are flat.

    Not sure why you’re focusing on the US (it’s not the whole globe) and I don’t actually think, this is true. Care to provide a reliable reference?

    6. Yes, if we warmed up so much that the were no pressure gradients, then we’d have no weather. I do not think anything quite that alarming is likely to happen. My understanding is that as we warm we may see a decrease in the frequency of some events – partly for the reason you say – but an increase in the frequency and intensity of the most extreme of those events. This may not be true for all events; the point I was making was that if you add energy to a system, you might expect extreme events to become more energetic.

  81. @VRJH
    My point exactly. Correlation is meaningless for non-stationary series. Cox made that basic error.

  82. Magma says:

    @ Willard: Jim D does backflips over Poe’s Law although he inserted a few clues there. His actual views are made clear enough in other unironic posts. ordvic, on the other hand, seems very very very angry about things.

  83. Magma says:

    Judith Curry has a guest post in which the analogy of a war against climate change is questioned.

    At OSM16 this February, 98-year-old(!) Walter Munk compared the scale of the effort and the necessity of reducing GHG emissions and slowing climate change to that involved in fighting and winning WW2. A relevant historical note: one of Munk’s first tasks as a USN oceanographer was to help plan the D-Day landings in Normandy.

    I wonder if they’ll try to brush him aside as just another ‘grant-chasing alarmist’…

  84. L Hamilton says:

    ATTP:
    “I think most neutral observers would regard accussing NASA of corrupting data as being rather silly.”
    But you’ll not be surprised to hear that, on a survey in progress right now, it seems that Tea Party supporters trust Fox News more than they do NASA for information about climate change. (Among Democrats, Independents and non-Tea Party Republicans, NASA is more trusted.)

  85. Magma says:

    ATTP: re. heat waves, you can look at this EPA page:
    https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators/climate-change-indicators-high-and-low-temperatures

    Heat waves are tricky because they can be defined in various ways, and several highly anomalous summers in the central contiguous U.S. (covering 0.6% of the planet’s surface area) in the 1930s can dominate plots like these.

    Note that other figures on that page (2, 3, 5 and 6) permit simpler interpretation of long-term warming trends.

  86. highly anomalous summers in the central contiguous U.S. in the 1930s can dominate plots like these.

    Yes, that’s the point – natural variability is much larger than CO2 signal.

  87. Not sure why you’re focusing on the US (it’s not the whole globe)
    Unfortunately, the global record for TMAX is too spotty to be of much use, at least in the GHCN.
    Most GHCN records outside the US do not include TMAX/TMIN.
    Further, the problem of transient stations leaves great holes in the global record.

    and I don’t actually think, this is true. Care to provide a reliable reference?

    Yes, it’s in the GHCN TMAX data.

  88. Richard,
    If you’re going to insist on statistical purity, maybe you should first address the issues Dikran highlighted in your paper.

  89. TE,

    Unfortunately, the global record for TMAX is too spotty to be of much use, at least in the GHCN.

    Which is kind of the point. If we continue to add CO2 to the atmosphere, the concentration will continue to rise, and we will continue to warm. We would, therefore, expect there to be more heatwaves. The lack of some suitable dataset does not somehow refute this point.

  90. Lawrence,

    But you’ll not be surprised to hear that, on a survey in progress right now, it seems that Tea Party supporters trust Fox News more than they do NASA for information about climate change.

    Yes, I probably wouldn’t be surprised.

  91. izen says:

    @- “Judith Curry has a guest post in which the analogy of a war against climate change is questioned.”

    While the motive may be dubious the target is justified.

    Declaring a ‘War’ against a fashionable social ill is a rhetorical device invoking the two key features of a real war.
    1)-Government control of much of the means of production to pursue the war aims. Wars require vast industrial efforts directed towards the common good rather than business profit.
    2)-The unity of purpose adopted and imposed on the general populace in pursuit of the war aims.

    Neither aspect is likely to be welcomed by the avowed ‘pacifists’ in the climate conflict who assert there’s no danger from WMD’s/AGW.

  92. izen says:

    The poll shows a big jump in at least the acceptance that AGW is happening, and some increase in the awareness it is an issue that requires a response in the US. Although the REP/Teaparty wing are still lagging, they are the group with the largest shift in opinion.

    Pretty graphs and tables at Joe Romm’s Climate Progress, and a rather positive interpretation. Here is the original –

    http://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-spring-2016/2/

    Note this survey is not quite new, it appears to date from April so excludes any impact the last 3 months of record temperatures and weather extremes may have had.

    Of course this is only 2% of the surface, the global climate of opinion may be rather different.

  93. izen,

    Of course this is only 2% of the surface, the global climate of opinion may be rather different.

    [chortle] What a lovely snark to wake up to, thanks for that and the Romm article.

  94. … the Yale report I should say. And we’re told there’s a dearth of social scientists in climate science.

  95. Physics: “Not sure why you’re focusing on the US (it’s not the whole globe)

    Eddy: “Unfortunately, the global record for TMAX is too spotty to be of much use, at least in the GHCN.

    Then do not use the GHCN databank only, but look at the studies ECA&D have organized for many different continents. They show an increase in heat waves over the globe. A good start for finding relevant papers and a good overview can be found in the Special Report on Extremes.

    http://ipcc-wg2.gov/SREX/

    Unfortunately most studies are based on raw data, homogenization of (extremes in) daily data is difficult. And we know that the extremes show stronger inhomogeneities than the means. The influence of inhomogeneities is regionally (say the average temperature increase over USA) larger than on the increase in the continental and world average temperature. Many inhomogeneities average away when you average over larger areas because every network has its own history of observational changes.

    Ironic that Eddy comes from a group that often claims not to trust the trends in the annual global mean temperature, but he does trust the trend in the heat waves in the USA. Or was there a better term for this than “ironic”?

  96. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Re the WW2 analogy, I’m currently reading Antony Beevor’s ‘Ardennes 1944’. Echoes of COP21. A last-minute no-hope-of-succeeding badly planned morale-raiser that achieved nothing except mayhem – and the COP21 pledges probably won’t even achieve mayhem. They’ll just be ignored.

    National revenue-neutral carbon taxes are the answer. Would need tariffs. ‘Nuts!’ to the WTO if need be.

  97. Two plots from this page jump out at me:

    Good design to have asked it both ways. Outspoken opposition to mitigation is 5% more harmful to a candidate than outspoken support helps a candidate. Looking at the political alignment breakdown, conservative Republicans are the *only* exceptions to the general rule.

    Now for the not great news:

    Not even lukewarm, more like tepid. It’s the economy and terrorists, stupid. Campaign finance reform could stand to be a lot higher on the list.

    At least “protecting the environment” ranks in the middle of the pack, and its position relative to AGW may actually be defensible.

  98. Steven Mosher says:

    “The particle physicist spoke the longest. He had no substantive reply to the issue of data harmonization. ”

    The issue was not data harmonization.

    The unsubstantiated charge made by Roberts was that NASA had corrupted the data.
    Zero facts to back this up ( NCDC actually does the adjustments!!!) just a bald faced
    assertion. a Lie in fact and you know it to be a lie.

    How exactly does one respond to this, Dr. Tol?
    Lets put some shoes on different feet and turn some tables
    and mix some metaphors….

    Imagine COX had accused YOU of corrupting data.
    How should Malcom respond?

    Roberts: Well Dr. Tol says X about climate damages
    Cox: Tol? Tol? he corrupts data! he is a data manipulator! corruption central!
    Roberts: no he doesnt manipulate data.
    Cox: yes he does
    Roberts: no he doesnt
    Cox: yes he does..!!
    Roberts: Prove it
    Cox: Prove he doesnt!!!!! I read a blogger who said he does.. So THERE! science!
    Roberts: Tol? Dr. Richard Tol? you actually think that an IPCC author and full professor
    would corrupt data.?..
    Cox: Yes, Goddard said so.!!! science!
    Roberts: So let me get this straight. Your evidence for Dr. Tol corrupting data is something a blogger using a fake name said?
    Cox; yes, prove Tol is not a fraud, This is how science works, ask Feynman!!
    Roberts: Feynman is dead
    Cox: How convenient… and suspicious…

    As an economist you know exactly how adjusting works
    changes in observation practices have to be accounted for.
    Much the same, as when an Economist does this type of adjustment

    http://www.bls.gov/cpi/cpihqaitem.htm

    Now, as a statistician you might have an intelligent opinion about the pitfalls, benefits, or limitations of homogenizing,

    BUT, you cannot merely stand by and allow people to characterize normal acceptable well documented scientific practice as Corruption. you cannot.

  99. Bob Loblaw says:

    Re: the evaporation/precipitation question…

    Without getting too mathy, Victor Venema has referred to the energy available at the surface as a key factor. You can define net radiation as (incoming solar + incoming IR) – (outgoing solar [reflected] + outgoing IR [emitted]), and this is generally a positive value at the surface. The energy has to go somewhere – the surface, having no thickness so no mass, can’t store it. So, it can go into the sub-surface (warm the soil or water), or into the atmosphere.

    The energy can get into the atmosphere two ways: as thermal energy, or by evaporating water at the surface and moving the water vapour away. Both are affected by wind (turbulence) and convection, but in the same proportion. The thermal transport is (to first-order closure – don’t worry if you don’t know what that means) proportional to the temperature gradient (surface T – air T), and the evaporation rate is proportional to the humidity gradient (surface – air). The ratio is called the Bowen Ratio, and it is so commonly discussed in micrometeorology that one of my co-grad students once said “you climatologists, with your bleedin’ Bowen Ratios…”.

    What happens when things warm is that the temperature gradient stays the same when the two temperatures rise together, but due to the exponential nature of the relationship between temperature and saturation humidity (the aforementioned Clausius-Clapeyron relationship), the two humidity values do not increase the same amount. The warmer temperature (the surface) increases its saturation humidity faster than the air, so the humidity gradient increases in relation to the temperature gradient. (This is generally true, even if the air/surface is not saturated.) The end result is more energy going into evaporation at higher temperatures, and less into thermal transport to the atmosphere.

    A simple example of this is the increase in evaporation (and precipitation) in convective storms during warm summer months rather than cold winter months. Or why you blow hot air over your clothes to dry them, in preference to cold.

    A warming climate will lead to increased evaporation, as long as water is available at the surface. This will most assuredly be the case in the oceans. Deserts and prime agricultural land, maybe not so much. And the annual turnover between evaporation and precipitation (the hydrological cycle) dwarfs the storage capacity of the atmosphere, so what goes up must come down. Precipitation will also increase (global average – your local mileage may vary, so your crop/food source may not be so lucky…)

  100. Bob Loblaw says:

    Ummmm, Steven, I’m not sure that “As an economist you know exactly how adjusting works” includes declaring 0 to be a positive number. That seems more like either a gremlin or an elementary error.

    Perhaps there is an economist nearby that can help explain how this happens?

  101. Willard says:

    > Echoes of COP21.

    Echoes is what happens when you scream in a void surrounded by gigantic mountains, Vinny.

    The Barrister has tried to peddle similar concerns as yours at Judy’s recently.

    Please thread lightly.

  102. Steven Mosher says:

    “That seems more like either a gremlin or an elementary error.”

    I think it’s more charitiable to call it what it is, a brain fart, an oversight,
    but its typical of the internet that we cannot simply admit or forgive
    simple errors. they always have to mean something more.

  103. JCH says:

    highly anomalous summers in the central contiguous U.S. in the 1930s can dominate plots like these. …

    When I was a kid my father owned a ranch that was just a couple of miles from the weather station that recorded what is still the hottest temperature in that state’s record – 120 F, 1936. My hottest day on a tractor as 112 F. It was a drought year in the 1970s. We had the only corn in the entire county (planted late; got a rain that was too late for everybody else as their corn was already dead; survived no rain in July because Dad had bought a brand new no-till system; looked like rain, so I killed the weeds in road gear… 112 F, finished the last rows in downpour; big harvest.

    In1936 the drought killed all the seedlings early. The farmers and ranchers believed rain followed the plow, so many of them plowed their fields and tried again. The soil there is jet black. Dried out, it’s a dark gray. The dust dunes covered parts of houses and out buildings. I never saw a dust dune of any size until my son started medical school in Lubbock, Texas. As Hayhoe correctly says, West Texas is dry. In the 1930s those conditions ran from Oklahoma to North Dakota. In the 1930s Dad’s ranch, some 30,000 acres, was often covered with black dunes.

    Ever fly a hot-air balloon over a green pasture and then hit a plowed field? Bang. You definitely hit something.

  104. Here is a handy list of costly weather disasters, along with a post about the record heat:
    https://www.wunderground.com/blog/JeffMasters/warmest-julyand-warmest-monthon-record-for-the-globe
    There’s a good bit more, including heat records, but this is a good eyeful:

    Here is the tally of billion-dollar weather disasters for January – July 2016:

    1) Flooding, Yangtze Basin, China, 5/1 – 8/1, $28.0 billion, 475 killed
    2) Flooding, Germany, France, Austria, Poland, 5/26 – 6/6, $5.5 billion, 17 killed
    3) Drought, India, 1/1 – 6/30, $5.0 billion, 0 killed
    4) Flooding, Northeast China 7/16 – 7/24, $5.0 billion, 289 killed
    5) Wildfire, Fort McMurray, Canada, 5/2- 6/1, $5.0 billion, 0 killed
    6) Severe Weather, Plains-Southeast U.S., 4/10 – 4/13, $3.75 billion, 1 killed
    7) Flooding, China, 6/18 – 6/23, $2.3 billion, 68 killed
    8) Severe Weather, Rockies-Plains-Southeast-Midwest U.S., 3/22 – 3/25, $2.2 billion, 0 killed
    9) Winter Weather, East Asia, 1/20 – 1/26, $2.0 billion, 116 killed
    10) Tropical Cyclone Roanu, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, 5/14 – 5/21, $1.7 billion, 135 killed
    11) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest U.S., 4/29 – 5/3, $1.6 billion, 6 killed
    12) Drought, Zimbabwe, 1/1 – 3/1, $1.6 billion, 0 killed
    3) Typhoon Nepartak, Philippines, Taiwan, China, 7/8 – 7/9, $1.5 billion, 111 killed
    13) Severe Weather, Plains-Southeast U.S., 3/17 – 3/18, $1.3 billion, 0 killed
    14) Flooding, Argentina and Uruguay, 4/4 – 4/10, $1.3 billion, 0 killed
    15) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest-Southeast-Northeast U.S., 3/4 – 3/12, $1.25 billion, 6 killed
    16) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest-Southeast-Northeast U.S., 2/22 – 2/25, $1.2 billion, 10 killed
    17) Severe Weather, Plains-Midwest U.S., 5/21 – 5/28, $1.1 billion, 1 killed
    18) Severe Weather, Netherlands, 6/23 – 6/24, $1.1 billion, 0 killed
    19) Flooding, Plains-Rockies U.S., 4/15 – 4/19, $1.0 billion, 9 killed
    20) Tropical Cyclone Winston, Fiji, 2/16 – 2/22, $1.0 billion, 44 killed
    21) Winter Weather, Eastern U.S., 1/21 – 1/24, $1.0 billion, 58 killed

    This might be regarded as off topic, but is worth a thought as a running record of this present.

  105. @Steve
    Point taken. I don’t think Cox should have taken this lying down. I sketch above how I would have responded. I happen to think that when a false accusation is made, it helps to explain why the wrong impression might have arisen. Cox did not do that. He started talking about putting men on the moon. In most contexts, that is irrelevant. In this context, it is incendiary.

  106. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “My point exactly. Correlation is meaningless for non-stationary series. Cox made that basic error.”

    dictionary.com wrote:

    correlation [kawr-uh-ley-shuh n, kor-]
    noun
    1. mutual relation of two or more things, parts, etc.:

    3. Statistics. the degree to which two or more attributes or measurements on the same group of elements show a tendency to vary together.

    Most words have more than one specific meaning. The thing sensible people do is to choose the meaning that gives the most correct interpretation of the context in which they are found. The thing people do when they are looking to criticise is choose the meaning that is least correct given the context. Prof. Cox obviously meant “corellation” in the sense of “mutual relation of two or more things”. Of course this has already been pointed out at least once up-thread.

  107. dikranmarsupial says:

    Steve Mosher wrote “I think it’s more charitiable to call it what it is, a brain fart, an oversight,

    I think it is more likely that it is a gap in Prof. Tol’s knowledge, than an oversight, we all have them.

    “but its typical of the internet that we cannot simply admit or forgive simple errors.”

    … it is reasonable to be less tolerant of errors made by those who eagerly point out the errors of others (especially if they do so mistakenly and publish the comment paper after having had the apparent discrepancy explained to them), while asserting their authority and expecting others to assume they don’t make elementary errors. There is less reason to be unable to admit errors, you can’t be a competent scientist without that ability IMHO.

    I’ve done the mistake making thing, admitted my error and did not try to excuse it, not an agreeable experience. The partisan response in some quarters was a useful illustration, but that was their error, not mine.

  108. dikranmarsupial says:

    TE wrote “Yes, that’s the point – natural variability is much larger than CO2 signal.”

    On small spatial scales, such as the US, or globally on short timescales, such as a decade, but not globally on long timescales, such as centennial, which is where the real risks of climate change lie, that is the point.

  109. Richard,
    1. People are allowed to have different views about how someone should have addressed an issue; there isn’t a single correct way in which Brian Cox should have responded to Roberts.

    2. If someone wants their views to be taken seriously, it helps to ensure that you correctly represent what the person you’re criticising did. For example

    He started talking about putting men on the moon. In most contexts, that is irrelevant. In this context, it is incendiary.

    You fail to include that this was after Roberts had accussed NASA of corrupting the data. Another common conspiracy theory is that NASA didn’t actually put men on the Moon. Given that Roberts appears to be promoting a conspiracy about NASA, checking that he wasn’t simply a conspiracy nutter (as he probably is) seemed perfectly in context.

  110. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard Tol wrote “Cox did not do that. He started talking about putting men on the moon.”

    Richard is ignoring the fact that Prof. Cox pointed out that the same result had been obtained independently by different groups, which is a direct response to the corruption accusation. I agree that it was a mistake to bring up the moon landing conspiracy thing, but you do yourself no favours by ignoring (again) the fact that Prof. Cox did give a substantive response. It may not have been the substantive response that you would have used, but that doesn’t change the fact that he did give a substantive response.

  111. @wotts
    That’s my reading indeed: Cox is aware of Lew’s Moon Hoax.

    At the same time, Cox is not aware of Vostok or cointegration or cyclones.

  112. That’s my reading indeed: Cox is aware of Lew’s Moon Hoax.

    Huh? I think the existence of the Moon Hoax predates Stephan Lewandowsky.

    Cox is not aware of Vostok

    You appear to be confused about this yourself.

    or cointegration

    Again, if you’re going to insist on statistical purity, maybe responding to Dikran’s comments about your paper would be in order.

    or cyclones

    Elsener et al. (2008)

  113. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “At the same time, Cox is not aware of Vostok or cointegration or cyclones.”

    Not mentioning something does not mean not aware of that thing. Your own comments on the ice cores suggest you do not properly understand the physics of the causal relationships, so perhaps you should be a little more reticent on that point.

    Of course (as has been pointed out already), it is unlikely that Prof. Cox meant “correlation” in a strict statistical sense. What proportion of the audience do you think would know the statistical definition of causality?

    I suspect Prof. Cox knows that zero is not a positive number.

  114. dikranmarsupial says:

    sorry that should have been “statistical definition of correlation”

  115. Of course (as has been pointed out already), it is unlikely that Prof. Cox meant “correlation” in a strict statistical sense.

    Yes, I think it’s quite reasonable to use a word in a manner consistent with at least one reasonable defintion, not simply in a manner consistent with Richard Tol’s preferred definition.

  116. dikranmarsupial says:

    “Cox is aware of Lew’s Moon Hoax.”

    I sort of agree with Richard here, the reason I wouldn’t have mentioned it would be that it would be a little “inside baseball” and the general public may not know that conspiracy ideation tends to find expressions in various ways for those susceptible to it. ATTP is however quite right in pointing out that it was not a non-sequitur as the conspiracy that NASA had faked the temperature data is just as nutty as the conspiracy that NASA faked the moonlandings (actually it is arguably more nutty as the moon landings haven’t been independently reproduced by other space agencies, including space agencies that were initially skeptical about the moon landings).

    “La parabola del professor Cox e professore Tol” by Dominico Fetti (1619)

  117. @wotts
    Yes, I am aware that Lew did not start the Moon Hoax meme. He did study it, though, and Cox did seem to lend credence to Lew’s conclusion (although unsupported by his data).

    The distinction between correlation and cointegration is not a matter of statistical purity. It is fundamental.

  118. dikranmarsupial says:

    “The distinction between correlation and cointegration is not a matter of statistical purity. It is fundamental.”

    I wonder how many times we need to point out that “correlation” has a meaning other than the strict statistical definition, which is unlikely to have been the sense intended by Prof. Cox given that he was speaking to a general audience? “Rather too many” is one answer.

  119. Richard,

    He did study it, though, and Cox did seem to lend credence to Lew’s conclusion (although unsupported by his data).

    I don’t believe Stephan Lewandowsky had anything to do with this.

    The distinction between correlation and cointegration is not a matter of statistical purity. It is fundamental.

    Is there a correlation between the observed rise in global average temperature and the observed rise in atmospheric CO2?

  120. Let’s also remind ourselves of something. We’re considering a scenario in which – in a live TV event – a scientist encounters a politician who is clearly a climate science denier and who promotes what is essentially a conspiracy theory. The scientist, however, produces what is – by and large – a pretty good overall description of our current best understanding. Richard Tol is choosing to find reasons to criticise the scientist.

  121. Magma says:

    It’ just the usual tolfoolery.

  122. dikranmarsupial says:

    I think Richard is referring to “NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science”, however it is not clear that this was actually what Dr Cox was referring to, rather than just being an obvious example of conspiracy ideation. I think it is another case of Richard looking very hard to find fault in others, while ignoring issues in his own arguments/work.

  123. verytallguy says:

    Richard Tol is choosing to find reasons to criticise the scientist.

    No. Richard Tol is choosing reasons to find reasons promote his own perceived intellectual superiority, and make the conversation about him.

    Ably assisted by commentators.

  124. Magma says:

    The most charitable interpretation of RT’s behavior is that he exhibits an extreme form of what a George W. Bush speechwriter called the “soft bigotry of low expectations” with respect to our skeptical contrarian friends.

    Personally I’m not inclined to the charitable view.

  125. At least climate change has made it to the entertainment section.

    Tol is trying to blame a scientist for the actions of a three-legged dog. #tribalism

    Vis a vis Q&A and the new Australian parliament, just who is the farting three-legged dog in this scenario, you ask? Never fear, it’s not you. But the point of the story is that in the vicinity of a whiffy corgi, it’s entirely possible you might be blamed for his sins. And like the Queen, it is important to emphasise your innocence.

    http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/qa-recap-one-nation-senator-malcolm-roberts-embarrassing-clash-with-physicist-brian-cox-20160815-gqt941.html

  126. Let’s take a step back.

    There was a debate on TV. If you read the comments here, you would think that Cox won. If you read Breitbart or WattsUpWithThat, you would think that Roberts won.

    I watch the debate, and I think that both Cox and Roberts came out bad.

    Roberts was the underdog, so this is a moral victory for his side.

    (Recall that I’ve argued for climate policy since forever — and helped push climate policy forward in four countries — so politically I’m on Cox’ side.)

  127. I don’t think Prof Cox meant anything by saying NASA put men on the moon other than stating the fact. He was reminding the viewers, some of whom would need reminding, that the single greatest achievement in humanity (arguable but emphasis on single) was done by NASA and not argon Howard.

  128. Richard,
    Let’s take a step back. You have worked in a discipline related to climate science for a long time. You would – I would have thought – be in a position to assess the scientific credibility of what is being said. In other words, you could aid public understanding by at least openly acknowledging what is clearly utter nonsense, and not automatically finding reasons to criticise those who present a pretty good representation of our current understanding.

    Instead, you are essentially arguing that in an encounter between a scientist who – by and large – did an extremely good job of presenting our current understading, and someone who was blatantly promoting outright climate denial, the outcome is essentially a tie. Your agument is that because you can find some sites (WUWT & Breitbart) that regard Roberts as having won, and others (here) that regard Cox as having won, there’s some kind of equivalence.

    The problem with your suggestion is that you should be able to objectively determine who was talking nonsense and who was not. Someone in your position shouldn’t – in my view – be basing it on what you read on blogs. So, once again, you choose to implicitly defend climate denial. Kudos.

    (Recall that I’ve argued for climate policy since forever — and helped push climate policy forward in four countries — so politically I’m on Cox’ side.)

    You keep saying this. I do not think it is true. As I think I may have mentioned before, if you have to say this kind of thing explicitly, you’re not doing a good job of making it obvious.

  129. @wotts
    That’s my point exactly. Both Cox and Roberts talked nonsense.

  130. Richard,
    No, they did not, and implying that that is what I said – when I clearly did not – is beneath you…oh, no it’s not, apologies. I’m happy for you to think that they both did, but you are currently suggesting that a very reasonable representation of our current understanding is nonsense, and is somehow equivalent to conspiracy ideation from a climate science denier.

    Given that you are now effectively promoting climate denial, maybe could go and do so on a site that encourages such things. You appear to like Breitbart and WUWT, and I’m sure they would welcome your views.

    For everyone else, I plan to moderate quite heavily for the rest of this thread.

  131. Marco says:

    RT: “He did study it, though, and Cox did seem to lend credence to Lew’s conclusion (although unsupported by his data).”

    ATTP: “I don’t believe Stephan Lewandowsky had anything to do with this.”

    I actually wonder what Tol thinks Lewandowsky’s conclusion was. If Tol thinks Lewandowsky concluded that those who rejected climate science also believe the moon landings were a hoax, he has not read the paper. Vice versa on the two conspiracies, ibid.

    Also, Brian Cox has previously had a few choice words to say about moon landing conspiracy nutters. For example:
    “Oh for gods sake why have channel 5 conspired to fill my timeline with nob ends. #yeswelandedonthemoonyoufuckwits” (Dec 12, 2012, on Twitter);
    “If I ever have the misfortune to meet the fish head who commissioned this shit on Ch5 about the moon landings, I WILL punch them” (June 6, 2013, on his Facebook);
    “If you’re idiotic enough to think that we didn’t land on the moon, then you’re idiotic enough to mess up crossing the road. So there’s a Darwinian element there. But it does become a problem if these conspiracy theories then start distrusting science in general—vaccination policy, nutrition, or climate change. These are serious issues that deserve serious treatment.” (October 21, 2014, interview with vice.com);
    “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you don’t think Apollo 11 landed on Moon you are a colossal nob end & should get a new brain” (July 20, 2015, on Twitter);
    and reportedly he said on BBC’s stargazing in January 2012 “If you don’t believe we went to the moon, switch over to celebrity big brother, we don’t want you here.”
    There’s even a Youtube movie uploaded in 2008, where Cox expresses his disbelieve that anyone doubts the landing on the moon

    In other words:
    Richard Tol: “Why did you not invoke Lewandowsky to explain Cox mentioning of the moon landing to counter the conspiracy ideation of Roberts”?

    Others: “Because we did not need that hypothesis. Cox’s own background and prior statements would make it the obvious choice for him to use to counter *any* conspiracy ideation about science, regardless of the topic. Of course, in this particular case the example was even more obvious, since Roberts accused NASA of fiddling the data.”

  132. dikranmarsupial says:

    Richard wrote “Let’s take a step back.”

    Translation “lets forget for the moment that I have made a lot of criticisms of Prof. Cox that have been shown to be incorrect or misrepresentations of what he actually said, and that I demonstrated that I don’t understand the physics of ice cores very well”

    Sorry Richard, not falling for that one.

  133. dikranmarsupial says:

    “That’s my point exactly. Both Cox and Roberts talked nonsense.”

    Of course that isn’t actually true. Roberts talked nonsense (NASA falsifying temperature data, there being no empirical evidence, CO2 results from temperature changes). Prof. Cox’s responses were not perfect (really!?) but they certainly wasn’t nonsense. If you think the both did badly, why was the audience only laughing at Roberts?

  134. dikranmarsupial says:

    Sanity check: Richard do you think that the statements made by Roberts were more or less nonsensical than the statements made by Prof. Cox?

  135. Magma says:

    I just watched Malcolm Roberts’ full performance instead of a few short excerpts. All snark aside, as far as public policy goes I think it’s important to deal with those disseminating repeatedly disproved falsehoods regarding matters of public interest, health and safety by systematically refuting their arguments and destroying their credibility (if any) with the general public. It is not enough to leave motivated politicians any wiggle room to claim “it’s still a matter of debate, so let’s just wait a few more years” (or decades).

    If that involves some level of explicit or implicit mockery, so be it. While aggressive tactics may “turn off” some uncommitted members of the public, I’ve noticed that most of the commenters decrying this are skeptics and contrarians with questionable motives for protesting. The term “concern trоllіng” often seems appropriate. For some inexplicable reason such concerns are always directed at those arguing for the consensus side, not at contrarians.

  136. Magma,
    I agree. I also think that it’s important to not pedantically nitpick what scientists choose to say publicly. The goal is to improve basic understanding, not teach people the fundamentals of statistical analysis.

    For some inexplicable reason such concerns are always directed at those arguing for the consensus side, not at contrarians.

    Yes, there is a definite tendency to expect perfection from some, while excusing any lapses from others.

  137. BBD says:

    “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if you don’t think Apollo 11 landed on Moon you are a colossal nob end & should get a new brain” (July 20, 2015, on Twitter)

    – Prof. Brian Cox.

    This is troubling evidence that Prof. Cox is not in command of his brief. To be correct, he should have written ‘knob-end’. Prof. Cox is guilty of this error on more than one occasion, and IMO this invalidates everything he has ever said, on any subject.

  138. Eli Rabett says:

    The dime store economist continues the War on Gore under issues 4 thru 6 + 8 from the CIA sabotage manual

    (a) Organizations and Conferences
    (1) Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
    (2) Make “speeches,” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length., Illustrate your “points by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.
    (3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration”. Attempt to make the committees as large as possible, never less than five.
    (4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
    (5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.
    (6) Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision,

    (7) Advocate “caution.”
    (8) Be “ureasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.
    (9) Be worried about the propriety any decision
    (10) Raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated is within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

    Oh yeah, to forestall the coming quibble we got the definition of sabotage

    Sabotage is a deliberate action aimed at weakening a polity or corporation through subversion, obstruction, disruption or destruction. In a workplace setting,

  139. Vinny Burgoo says:

    Cox was raised by the River Irk. #nominativedeterminism?

  140. BBD says:

    I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river
    Is a strong brown god-sullen, untamed and intractable,
    Patient to some degree, at first recognised as a frontier;
    Useful, untrustworthy, as a conveyor of commerce;
    Then only a problem confronting the builder of bridges.
    The problem once solved, the brown god is almost forgotten
    By the dwellers in cities – ever, however, implacable,
    Keeping his seasons and rages, destroyer, reminder
    Of what men choose to forget. Unhonoured, unpropitiated
    By worshippers of the machine, but waiting, watching and waiting.

    – T S Eliot

  141. What Eli said (and Magma; note, Roberts supports industries that support him). And, ATTP indicated his preference, so could we stop feeding at the trough.
    “Climate-denying Malcolm Roberts has a history of harassing academics”
    http://reneweconomy.com.au/2016/climate-denying-malcolm-roberts-has-a-history-of-harassing-academics-91438

    Stolen from DeSmog: affiliations
    Carbon Sense Coalition – member, advisory committee
    Principia Scientific International – member (another strike against this deceptive name)
    The Galileo Movement – project manager
    Mine Managers Association of Australia – member

    Thanks for the TS Eliot!

  142. I watched the programme in its entirety. It was Ok, but I think its difficult to argue in close detail in this sort of environment. I thought Cox was Ok but not impressive. This format isn’t his natural habitat. I did not like Roberts very much. The others on the panel seemed rather surplus in this segment of the programme.

    I think the data cited is often incomplete or claims are made for it that often seem to be stretched beyond their scientific merit . Ocean temperatures-part of the graph Cox held up- is one such matrix. We don’t know the global ocean temperature with any degree of certainty back to the 1880’s and the method of sampling left much to be desired. Challenger provided us with a useful snapshot, but robust global data is probably as recent as the 1960′ except in a very few well travelled shipping routes and even then the sampling method raises doubts.

    Did Cox destroy Roberts? No. Was Roberts that credible? No. I struggle when he cites Steve Goddard and accuses such institutions as NASA of deliberately falsifying data. I have had a number of meetings with Met Office scientists, use their library and archives in my own research and been to a number of climate conferences. I find it difficult to believe there is a giant conspiracy perpetrated by virtually the entire climate scientist community.

    IF this fraud has been going on it must be possible to demonstrate it mathematically in a peer reviewed paper. That no one has done so suggests this conspiracy and corruption does not exist.

    As I say, the available data is often not sufficiently robust to demonstrate that such elements as global SST’s, global Sea levels, Arctic ice, global land temperatures etc are unprecedented in the Holocene and can be attributed to man. Indeed the rise in Temperatures (with humps and bumps along the way) can be traced back to the 1750’s or so and, in Britain at least, temperatures are not as warm as the 9th to 12th century, nor likely the Roman period and are only marginally above the early 1700’s, especially the 1730 decade.

    So better more comprehensive data is essential-such as the new project for deep sea Argo’s capable of operating to 6000 metres rather than 2000 metres- but until then we need to be more circumspect with scientific claims made on incomplete or limited data and not dismiss the evidence that the current era has similarities to previous ones.

    tonyb

  143. tony,

    We don’t know the global ocean temperature with any degree of certainty back to the 1880’s and the method of sampling left much to be desired.

    That’s why people do the kind of analysis that later gets called “fiddling with data”. In some sense we can never know anything, but proper data analysis can give us a pretty good idea.

  144. verytallguy says:

    Tony,

    It is remarkable how circumspect you are on some aspects of the data:

    the data cited is often incomplete or claims are made for it that often seem to be stretched beyond their scientific merit

    yet make no such caveats on the parts which suit your case, such as the claim made with apparent certainty that:

    in Britain at least, temperatures… …are only marginally above the early 1700’s, especially the 1730 decade.

    Applying equal skepticism to all claims, and providing reputable references for yours might make your postings much more credible, albeit likely far less frequent.

  145. Here is the UK from BEST. Doesn’t quite go back to the 1730s, and the uncertainties in the 1700s is large, but tonyb’s claim doesn’t seem quite correct.

  146. Roger Jones says:

    Couldn’t resist. There are two steps in that UK record, 1920 and 1988 – dead flat in between. Same as for the long CET temperature record from the UKMO.

  147. Roger,
    I’ll have to try and find time to have a good read of your paper.

  148. verytallguy says:

    the uncertainties in the 1700s is large

    No shit, Sherlock!

  149. Marco says:

    “in Britain at least, temperatures are not as warm as the 9th to 12th century, nor likely the Roman period and are only marginally above the early 1700’s, especially the 1730 decade. ”

    It’s amazing how someone can complain about accuracy of data in the 1880s, and then just proclaims the 9th to 12th century to have been warmer. And that 1730 decade in the CET…Parker et al note that from 1723 to 1760 the measurements were generally taken in unheated (open) rooms, although Manley made some attempts to correct for that using the few outdoor measurements available and the wind direction.

  150. tonyb,
    It would be interesting to get your response to some of these comments. It does seems as though – in a single comment – you argued that the we should be careful of making claims that are stronger than is allowed by the data we have, followed by making a very strong claim based on essentially the data you were referring to.

  151. Bernard J. says:

    Correlation is meaningless for non-stationary series.

    …for positive values of zero…

  152. lerpo says:

    “Sanity check: Richard do you think that the statements made by Roberts were more or less nonsensical than the statements made by Prof. Cox?”

    Malcom: The Earth is flat.
    Cox: What? The Earth is spherical!
    Toll: Both Cox and Roberts talked nonsense. ( ̄^ ̄)

    The Relativity of Wrong.

  153. lerpo says:

    Asimov: If you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together.”

  154. lerpo says:

    RT: If you read Breitbart or WattsUpWithThat, you would think that Roberts won.

    You can’t really use flat-earthers as a barometer for the flat Earth debate. These third party quotes are telling though:

    “The existence of Twitter is forever validated by the following exchange.”
    “Where do people like Malcolm Roberts come from and how do they get elected?”

  155. dikranmarsupial says:

    climatereason “Did Cox destroy Roberts? No.

    “Destroy” would be hyperbole, but he did show unequivocally that Roberts’ position was irrational and indeed ridiculous.

    climatereason wrote “Was Roberts that credible? No. I struggle when he cites Steve Goddard and accuses such institutions as NASA of deliberately falsifying data”

    You “struggle”? I take it that was deliberate understatement for effect!

  156. dikranmarsupial says:

    ” If you read Breitbart or WattsUpWithThat, you would think that Roberts won.”

    If you read Climate Etc. or (to a lesser extent) WattsUpWithThat you might think that Salby was right, but that doesn’t mean he is. ;o)

  157. dikranmarsupial says:

    climatereason wrote “Britain at least, temperatures are not as warm as the 9th to 12th century, nor likely the Roman period and are only marginally above the early 1700’s, especially the 1730 decade.”

    And what fraction of the planet’s land area is covered by the U.K. (or CET for that matter). Lamb apparently used CET as a proxy for global temperatures some forty years ago, simply because there were no global data available. Things have moved on since then; looking at the U.K. rather than what global data we do have is a cherry pick.

  158. Eli Rabett says:

    “in Britain at least, temperatures are not as warm as the 9th to 12th century, nor likely the Roman period and are only marginally above the early 1700’s, especially the 1730 decade. ”

    YGBFWE. Between 1723 and 1760 the readings come from thermometers in unheated rooms inside houses. Before 1725 the measurements in the CET do not overlap and were joined by using a set of measurements from Utrecht. Some of the years only use Utrecht measurements.

    In other words the CET before 1770 or so is ornamental at best, some thing that The Auditor never picked up on or acknowledged.

  159. Willard says:

    To borrow a technical term from the auditing sciences, some might say “but CET” amounts to data torture.

    Interestingly, the expression “data torture” does not appear in this Wagenmakers 2011:

    Data should be transformed only if this has been decided beforehand. In confirmatory studies, one does not “torture the data until they confess.” It also means that, upon failure, confirmatory experiments are not demoted to exploratory pilot experiments, and that, upon success, exploratory pilot experiments are not promoted to confirmatory experiments.

    Unless “but CET” was only exploratory all along?

  160. Willard says:

    Auditing sciences amateurs may appreciate this Wagenmakers 2012:

    Even researchers who advise their students to “torture the data until they confess” [4] are hardly evil geniuses out to deceive the public or their peers. Instead, these researchers may genuinely believe that they are giving valuable advice that leads the student to analyze the data more thoroughly and increases the odds of publication along the way. How could such advice be wrong? In fact, the advice to torture the data until they confess is not wrong—just as long as this torture is clearly acknowledged in the research report. Academic deceit sets in when this does not happen and partly exploratory research is analyzed as if it had been completely confirmatory. At the heart of the problem lies the statistical law that, for the purpose of hypothesis testing, the data may be used only once. So when you turn your data set inside and out, looking for interesting patterns, you have used the data to help you formulate a specific hypothesis. Although the data may still serve many purposes after such fishing expeditions, there is one purpose for which the data are no longer appropriate—namely, for testing the hypothesis that they helped to suggest. Just as conspiracy theories are never falsified by the facts that they were designed to explain, a hypothesis that is developed on the basis of exploration of a data set is unlikely to be refuted by that same data.

    The Auditor did not provide the full citations nor the links, and in fact Wagenmakers’ name doesn’t even appear in his references. The expression “data torture” appears elsewhere in Wagenmaker 2012, on a page that would deserve a post. Note 4 puts “data torture” into perspective:

    The expression is attributed to Ronald Coase. Earlier, Mackay (1852/1932) made a similar statement, one that is perhaps even more apt: “When men wish to construct or support a theory, how they torture facts into their service!” (p. 552).

    I’m sure anyone who roots for NicL’s pursuit of the lower limits of justified disingenuousness would agree.

  161. Well, an exiting amount of comments in reply to mine.

    I think we have too little data to say with certainty that temperatures are substantially warmer today than in the past, let alone that we have knowledge to fractions of a degree. Our knowledge of the global oceans in particular is very limited prior to the last 50 years and reliable proxies do not exist in the oceans to the extent they do on land

    We have too little data from further back as regards thermometer readings to make exact comparisons and generally need to study the older periods in more detail, but we know from proxies that have some merit-tree lines-crop records, height of cultivation and type of cultivation etc that the MWP, in England at least, was likely warmer than today. We can then add in glacier movements-which in the alps etc were well recorded and observed by many people and interpreted by Ladurie, which gives us an indication of the likely temperature fluctuations over a wider area.

    As regards CET, I have had this discussion with Eli numerous times. He wishes to interpret the data in a certain manner. Having had the benefit of personal discussion with David Parker he does not believe that prior to the 1770’s they are ‘ornamental at best.’ Eli also fails to recognise the considerable real world correlation between CET and the Utrecht climate, making much data virtually interchangeable.

    I have previously listed those individuals and organisations that believe CET has some merit (but is not perfect) as a wider proxy for temperatures, which includes mot only our own Met office but the Dutch one also, as well as individuals such as Lamb. Hence I tend to concentrate on it with my own reconstructions, as it is likely showing more than merely the temperature fluctuations over a small fraction of the earth

    As regards the 1730’s I would refer you to Phil jones 2006 paper in which he confirmed this was an extraordinary decade and demonstrated (due to its sudden rise from a very cold interval of the LIA and the abrupt ending in 1740 of this warm period) that natural variability was greater than he had hitherto realised. According to jones, temperatures were not exceeded again until the 1990’s. . Judging by the tree lines,(not tree rings) crop records and height of human habitation in such upland places as Dartmoor, it was likely not as warm in the 1730’s as several centuries earlier.

    Our earnest detailed interpretation of thin data from unreliable and novel proxies-buckets thrown randomly over the sides of ships to varying depths and then sampled when time allowed and tree rings-accords them a scientific merit that can not be justified. Personally, I have always heeded Hubert Lambs’ maxim as regards temperature reconstructions that we can understand the (temperature) tendency but not the precision. Over the last few thousand years we have had warm periods, cold periods, cool periods and indeterminate periods. We need more detailed data to know to fractions of a degree what has been happening, but I would take the broad brush of such items as glacier movements, tree lines, crop records and human habitation as having more merit that say tree rings and todays climate in that context does not seem unique. Extreme weather events in particular do not appear to have got worse in recent years.

    However, my main point, which seems to have been overlooked, is that I disapprove of the casual accusations of malfeasance and manipulation against scientists levied so often and will not believe this until I see a peer reviewed paper. None has been forthcoming in the 4 or 5 years these accusations have gained traction in the sceptical world and to hear such as Roberts call it a fact or that it is well known helps no one..

    tonyb

  162. dikranmarsupial says:

    “I think we have too little data to say with certainty that temperatures are substantially warmer today than in the past”

    Asking for certainty is an unreasonable request, you need to say what level of uncertainty you would require in order to draw this conclusion because an infinte regression into uncertainty is always possible, even further than “cogito ergo sum” if you really want to. Without specifying the acceptable level of uncertainty, we have no way of knowing if your position is reasonable.

    Of course we don’t need the historical temperature records to be confident that greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet and roughly how fast because we have physics and other forms of measurement.

  163. Magma says:

    Over the last few thousand years we have had warm periods, cold periods, cool periods and indeterminate periods. — tonyb

    It’s so nice to see somebody stick up for the climate elves for a change. They’ve been given such a battering by the laws of physics lately that I’ve really become quite concerned for their well-being.

  164. guthrie says:

    I must have missed the excellent 9th century climate records which enable us to say that it was warmer in the UK then than now. Or indeed in Roman times.
    Really, all available evidence points the other way.

  165. BBD says:

    Hello Tonyb

    However, my main point, which seems to have been overlooked,

    That’s possibly because it got lost beneath your voluminous peddling of dubious claims about the accuracy of millennial climate reconstructions.

    Claims you have been making for many years, despite never really addressing the key problem. Which is that the more variability there is in palaeoclimate behaviour, the more sensitive the climate system must be to radiative perturbation. Including that from rapidly increasing levels of atmospheric CO2.

  166. Steven Mosher says:

    :
    “tonyb,
    It would be interesting to get your response to some of these comments. It does seems as though – in a single comment – you argued that the we should be careful of making claims that are stronger than is allowed by the data we have, followed by making a very strong claim based on essentially the data you were referring to.”

    Tony will only allow strong claims to be made about data he has studied.
    Now, he never actually DOCUMENTS any of his claims. or presents data
    so that you can replicate his claims.

    here is the most hilarious logic loop

    1. He justifies looking at CET because of its “correlation” with the ROW.
    2. hence, the soundness of CET relies on the soundness of the ROW.
    3. However, when you want to talk about the ROW, his position is that it is not very good.
    So its “good” when you need to bolster a case about CET…. and it’s bad in every other way.

    Or this.

    He thinks nothing of “deriving” temperatures from crop reports, diaries, frost reports,
    etc.. Uncalibrated of course, non replicable of course,…no error bars of course…

    BUT

    if you take an ACTUAL temperature readings while at Sea, with an Actual thermometer..
    Then, of course that data is too un unreliable…

    and if you question him he will refer you to a personal discussion he had with somebody
    about something..

    The infilling of CET is especially funny.

  167. Steven Mosher says:

    “However, my main point, which seems to have been overlooked, is that I disapprove of the casual accusations of malfeasance and manipulation against scientists levied so often and will not believe this until I see a peer reviewed paper. None has been forthcoming in the 4 or 5 years these accusations have gained traction in the sceptical world and to hear such as Roberts call it a fact or that it is well known helps no one..”

    Some simple questions.

    1. Do you believe yes or no that NASA, NOAA, CRU. etc are guilty of fraud?
    2. Do you merely “suspend” judgement ? and wait for evidence of fraud?
    3. Do you consider the fact that we independently verified NASAs results as proof of NO FRAUD.

    basically. You have accusations of fraud with zero evidence. You have evidence from independent researchers ( some of us with history of personal hostility toward NASA) that there is
    no fraud.

    As a supposed historian… do you

    A) suspend judgement Until you see evidence of fraud.
    B) REJECT the notion of fraud and accept without question the independent proof of no fraud.

  168. Willard says:

    I think TonyB has responded already, Moshpit:

    However, my main point, which seems to have been overlooked, is that I disapprove of the casual accusations of malfeasance and manipulation against scientists levied so often and will not believe this until I see a peer reviewed paper. None has been forthcoming in the 4 or 5 years these accusations have gained traction in the sceptical world and to hear such as Roberts call it a fact or that it is well known helps no one..

    Now, if we could return to Cox vs Roberts’ cage match, that’d be great.

    It’s not as if we never had this ClimateBall ™ exchange before, right?

  169. climatereason says: “Well, an exiting amount of comments in reply to mine.

    It is a joy to debate someone who actually studied the topic and to see someone make claims that are not that much debunked.

    climatereason says: “I think we have too little data to say with certainty that temperatures are substantially warmer today than in the past, let alone that we have knowledge to fractions of a degree. Our knowledge of the global oceans in particular is very limited prior to the last 50 years and reliable proxies do not exist in the oceans to the extent they do on land.

    The error bars are also larger prior to the last 50 years. Given that you are well informed, it is reasonable to ask you whether you think the error bars are too narrow and what reasons you have to think there are biases that are wrongly quantified in the early temperature observations.

    Personally I would not be surprised if the early SST observations should be cooler than we currently think and that we thus had more warming. My reasons are explained here:

    http://variable-variability.blogspot.com/2016/02/early-global-warming-transition-Stevenson-screens.html

  170. tonyb,

    However, my main point, which seems to have been overlooked, is that I disapprove of the casual accusations of malfeasance and manipulation against scientists levied so often and will not believe this until I see a peer reviewed paper.

    Good, glad to hear it. It might have been overlooked because it is what one would expect?

  171. Physics: “Good, glad to hear it. It might have been overlooked because it is what one would expect?”

    Outside of the climate “debate” that is a reasonable expectation. It is no longer my expectation for members of the mitigation sceptical movement. Mitigation sceptics that are interested in science could maybe put a red lily on their lapel/avatar or agree on some sign to distinguish themselves from the unreasonable mainstream.

  172. Phil says:

    I disapprove of the casual accusations of malfeasance and manipulation against scientists levied so often and will not believe this until I see a peer reviewed paper.

    It might be pertinent to remind people of the GWPF’s initiative to investigate the surface temperature record. It last reported any activity about 11 months ago – http://www.tempdatareview.org/news/ – which in itself seemed a major scaling down of its original remit.

    Since the GWPF is a denier organisation with a vested interest in discovering flaws in the consensual position on climate change, its lengthy silence on this issue is, to my mind, telling. My own benchmark is my own PhD, which produced 4 peer-reviewed papers in 3 years – However Chemistry has (or at least had) a reputation for being a verbose field of study. How much longer do other people feel before the inactivity indicates that there is no story here ?

  173. The topic has moved on, so I will mostly use my time here to wearily refute, once again, Moshers’ claims, typified here

    ‘Tony will only allow strong claims to be made about data he has studied. Now, he never actually DOCUMENTS any of his claims. or presents data so that you can replicate his claims

    All of my articles, especially the later ones, have reference by direct links, or naming of the document, to voluminous records in the various addenda, sometimes running to hundreds of references leading to thousands of points of data from individual comments, articles, science papers, books etc. I have pointed out to Mosh at least three times exactly how the data was turned into figures. We had quite an exchange about this in February and March of last year. One of my comments in February 2015 read;

    ‘I have told you at least three times that I follow the van engelen, buisman and Unsen formula of splitting years into various categories of cold and warmth which was detailed in Phil jones ‘ book ‘ history and climate’ page 105 . I also emailed this information to you several years ago.’

    Mosh then references scientific frau* and seems to believe I am being ambivalent. I can not be more explicit than either my comments here, or pointed out to Mosh personally many times in blogs and by personal email. I am unequivocal in my condemnations of the claims of frau* made against such as The Met Office and Nasa. I have taken the trouble to point out the absurdity of such claims to such as Booker and Lawson, all of which does not make me popular on sceptical blogs.

    I repeat, for Moshs’ benefit, that nothing I have seen in the climate scientific world makes me believe that great institutions or individuals are deliberately falsifying material.

    Phil references the GWPF who no more speak for me than Monckton does. Yes, they would surely be in a good position to discover it, should it exist

    Persons such as Mosh, ATTP and Eli could surely spike the guns of those making these claims by offering to work with the claimant in turning their information into a paper of a standard capable of being peer reviewed, but leave the actual submission to the claimant.

    This would be an interesting process if carried out transparently by being highlighted at each stage on blogs sympathetic to both parties.

    These claims will persist until the ‘evidence’ has been properly examined and discredited in a scientifically written paper.

    Now, if you will excuse me, I need to get on with my study of 13th Century English climate. No doubt I will make ‘strong claims’ about it in due course.

    tonyb.

  174. tonyb,

    Persons such as Mosh, ATTP and Eli could surely spike the guns of those making these claims by offering to work with the claimant in turning their information into a paper of a standard capable of being peer reviewed, but leave the actual submission to the claimant.

    Who are you suggesting we work with – who is the claimant?

  175. Eli Rabett says:

    How much you paying, tonyb? Eli will be free in January

  176. ATTP

    Last post today as dinner beckons after a shorter than needed period sorting out ancient records.

    Paul Homewood is one who has made these claims that were then taken up by Christopher Booker. He has his own blog and writes numerous articles. There are others, but he would be a good place to start as he seems perfectly capable of providing information and writing material.

    Here is his take on the Cox/Roberts debate

    tonyb

  177. Paul Homewood won’t let me comment on his site, so I doubt he would be remotely interested.

    he would be a good place to start as he seems perfectly capable of providing information and writing material.

    I’ve read some of what he writes. In the interests of being polite, I’ll refrain from saying what I think of it.

  178. Willard says:

    > All of my articles, especially the later ones, have reference by direct links, or naming of the document, to voluminous records in the various addenda, sometimes running to hundreds of references leading to thousands of points of data from individual comments, articles, science papers, books etc.

    That’s not what the Moshpit is asking for, TonyB.

    He’s asking you for your work. Not just your report – your data, spreadsheet, code, or anything else that could allow him to replicate your study, e.g. the metadata that would allow him to check how you translated which document with this or that amount of stuff your charts are supposed to represent.

    That’s (one big part of) what’s auditing is about. That’s also hard, because Sound Science ™ has yet to work like that all the time. Take this latest example I stumbled upon:

    http://cfd.spbstu.ru/agarbaruk/c/document_library/DLFE-6845.pdf

    (Yesterday, after years of requests I could finally lay my hands on one single paper a mechanical engineer from The Boeing Company kept citing, in a matter of minutes.)

    Do you see any data there? No.

    Do you see any code? No.

    There are obvious financial reasons why we’ll never see that.

    Is it science?

    According to Moshpit, that’s just scientific advertizement.

    You have every right to tell Moshpit to shove it, but please, very please, stop misconstruing both his request and your own work.

  179. BBD says:

    Notice how tonyb carefully ignores variability and sensitivity to radiative perturbation. His hobby horse is spavined.

  180. Steven Mosher says:

    “That’s not what the Moshpit is asking for, TonyB.

    He’s asking you for your work. Not just your report – your data, spreadsheet, code, or anything else that could allow him to replicate your study, e.g. the metadata that would allow him to check how you translated which document with this or that amount of stuff your charts are supposed to represent.”

    Yup

  181. Steven Mosher says:

    “Persons such as Mosh, ATTP and Eli could surely spike the guns of those making these claims by offering to work with the claimant in turning their information into a paper of a standard capable of being peer reviewed, but leave the actual submission to the claimant.”

    How does this work?

    Lets suppose that I just accuse you of fraud tony…. all this time youve been hiding the splicing
    in CET… your charts dont clearly call it out… and you refuse to share the code and data.

    So suppose I just accuse you of fraud.

    So.. I am the claimant. Your suggestion is that somebody who wants to defend your work
    should work with me.. to create a peer reviewed paper about how you are a fraud?

    Whats to prove? none of your charts show where CET was infilled from other locations.
    That’s fraud, its like splicing tree rings and temperatures.. hiding the spline. see how that works?
    I just claim it.

    Then a huge debate ensues about what is fraud, what is lying, what is concealing, what would Tufte do? who is tonyb? blah blah blah..and suddenly you never get to discuss your work
    instead you have to explain why you never used a different color for that section of the curve…

    And some point 16 different people jump in to discuss 31 other issues that are not exactly fraud, but look like debatable assumptions… and I just slither off…

  182. Tonyb: “Persons such as Mosh, ATTP and Eli could surely spike the guns of those making these claims by offering to work with the claimant in turning their information into a paper of a standard capable of being peer reviewed, but leave the actual submission to the claimant.

    So you take the fraud claims so seriously that you think that other people should waste their precious time on this planet to resolve this issue? That is not that far from claiming fraud yourself. A pity, I had expected better from you, Tony.

  183. BBD says:

    That’s fraud, its like splicing tree rings and temperatures.

    Please, Steven, don’t.

  184. Victor

    The fraud caims are taken seriously by influential people and they periodically gain traction. In this very thread is Roberts, an Australian Politician spouting the nonsense. British mp ‘s have spouted the nonsense, it has widely found its way into newspapers.

    If none of you think it is of importance and causes no damage to science or it’s likely funding, that is fine, I will leave it and not engage anywhere it is mentioned.
    As I make abundantly clear I am not claiming any fraud myself.

    Tonyb

  185. Tonyb,
    You suggested that we should work with those who make these claims. What’s being suggested by others (and I agree) is that if someone makes a claim of fraud, you don’t suggest working to understand if it’s true, or not. They either get to prove it (to everyone else’s satisfaction) or they withdraw it. I think Paul Homewood is both highly irresponsible and – based on my brief interaction with him – someone best ignored (and that is being polite).

  186. Paul

    No, that is not what I was suggesting at all. I suggested that those making the claims are unlikely to have prepared a paper that would meet The peer review standards necessary for an article in a not paid for publication. I am suggesting they should be helped to prepare the information to the standard necessary then left to submit it themselves to a journal of their choice.

    It will not be accepted or published in the journal pf their choice, which should tell them that their claims do not stack up.Subsequent publishing in appropriate blogs would lay open all the data and the inconsistencies contained within it, that meant the paper failed to meet the necessary benchmarks.

    I think that the traction that these claims have periodically gained in influential circles is underestimated. With budgets under close crutiny such claims could prove damaging to future Climate funding. I think it important we gather as much data as possible, For example the deep sea argo’s.

    As I say, I made a suggestion in good faith and will not broach the subject again or pass any comment when claims of malfeasance are made in the various blogs and other places I visit.

    Tonyb

  187. pbjamm says:

    “It will not be accepted or published in the journal pf their choice, which should tell them that their claims do not stack up.”

    If you believe that is what they will get out of a rejection then you must be new to Climateball. All a rejection will tell them is that the fraud goes even deeper than they previously though if the gate keepers will work that hard to prevent them from publishing this paradigm changing new paper.

  188. dikranmarsupial says:

    climatereason wrote “IF this fraud has been going on it must be possible to demonstrate it mathematically in a peer reviewed paper. “ and “I suggested that those making the claims are unlikely to have prepared a paper that would meet The peer review standards necessary for an article in a not paid for publication. “

    I think you misunderstand the purpose of peer-reviewed journals. If someone accused another researcher of fraud in a paper submitted to a paper reviewed journal then the chances of it being accepted are pretty much nil (or at least ought to be). This looks like another one of those “impossible standards” that seem to creep into discussions about climate, rather like requiring certainty (which is in its absolute form impossible regarding statements about the real world) without saying what you would require to be “certain”.

  189. Marco says:

    “It will not be accepted or published in the journal pf their choice, which should tell them that their claims do not stack up.”

    Should, ought. Not enough. Wave crime numbers in Limbaugh’s face, and he states he’d rather listen to what the public says than look at those liberal statistics, even if they might theoretically be correct.

  190. Magma says:

    If a given group of climate contrarians aren’t competent enough to write a publishable paper on their own or to find assistance among the like-minded, why in the world would a climate researcher voluntarily waste his or her time on the task?

    Most of us have witnessed the futility of debating with even the better informed of the contrarians (Pielke Sr., Spencer, Lindzen, Curry); the prospect of working with the third and fourth-raters seems as appealing as a slug sandwich.

  191. Eli Rabett says:

    John Nielsen Gammon tried that with Willard Tony, it did not work out well.

  192. I’m not sure why it didn’t work out well either. They appear to have had a poster together in 2011 and again in 2015.

  193. KR says:

    Richard Tol – “Correlation is meaningless for non-stationary series. Cox made that basic error.”

    Non-stationary? As in random walks of climate variables, which are absolute physical nonsense contradicted by the conservation of energy, among other considerations? Quite the red herring there, Richard, and an indication that _you_ have no understanding of the topics you discuss here.

    Climate variables are trend-stationary, following forcings with an overlay of variability but returning to those trends – mathematically demonstrable, see here and here for some examination thereof. Attempts to claim otherwise are simply nonsensical woo on your part.

    Not IMO surprising, given your history, but still quite sad…

  194. Roger Jones says:

    KR – climate variables are not trend stationary, nor are they a random walk. Trend stationarity can only be verified through a physical model showing that a corresponding mathematical model is the best explanation in the light of other plausible explanations.

  195. Roger,
    Yes, but haven’t we essentially done that? It also doesn’t suddenly make Richard Tol’s suggestion that they are non-stationary more valid.

  196. dikranmarsupial says:

    ATTP it was a red herring from the outset as Prof. Cox was unlikely to have meant correlation in a strict statistical sense, and there is no problem with correlation in the everyday sense of the word (“a mutual relationship or connection between two or more things.”) whether the time series are stationary or not. It is an example of fractal bullshit.

  197. KR says:

    Roger Jones – Stationary (ie. not a random walk) behavior has been mathematically demonstrated, see the links I gave above. Trend stationary behavior (as opposed to constant stationary behavior, returning to some fixed value under perturbation) comes from the physics, in fact the Law of Conservation of Energy alone is sufficient into itself for that.

    The physical model and mathematics analysis have indeed been done – and the recurrent claims (which mostly seem to come from economists, it appears to me) of random walk behavior are IMO nothing more than attempts to claim recent climate change isn’t our fault, and that we should do nothing about it. In short, avoidance. They certainly don’t hold up to examination.

  198. dikranmarsupial says:

    From Wikipedia: “In the statistical analysis of time series, a stochastic process is trend stationary if an underlying trend (function solely of time) can be removed, leaving a stationary process.” and In mathematics and statistics, a stationary process (or strict(ly) stationary process or strong(ly) stationary process) is a stochastic process whose joint probability distribution does not change when shifted in time. .

    Now I suspect that the Earth’s climate is not absolutely trend stationary for instance global warming may have some effect on ENSO, or monsoon patterns. The key question is whether the deviation from trend stationarity is sufficiently large to affect the conclusions of the analysis (or indeed whether the analysis assumes trend stationarity in the first place – fractal bullshit – you get the same picture as you drill down into the detail ;o). In this case, I rather doubt it. It is a bit like saying that no signal in nature is ever truly Gaussian [as a Gaussian is the result of an infinite asymptotic limit], so we can’t use least-squares regression. Of course demonstrating that it actually is an issue is much harder work that just raising it as an element in a Gish gallop and sitting back and enjoying having disrupted the discussion.

  199. Roger Jones says:

    KR, ATTP – I was saying neither is correct. The marsupial dikran has it. It’s not trend stationary and it’s not a random walk. There are two papers around that look at the non-Gaussian nature of the change (there are many more actually), Cohn and Lin “Naturally trendy” (who unfortunately commented on the possibility of a random walk, but their analysis is ok) and Koutsoyannis “A random walk on water”. Both are easy to find. I was sent another unpublished paper (from 2009) the other day by an econometrician who was wary of the IPCC findings based on least squares best fit. He concluded that warming was nonstationary with respect to trend and that the underlying signal was being underestimated. I think he is correct.

    Tamino has not proven anything – he has made an argument. It is still based on a few fundamental assumptions how how the system should work.

    And ATTP, I am claiming we don’t know what happens to the heat between the time when it is trapped by GHGs and when we measure it as temperature, so no, we haven’t essentially uncovered the mechanism. All we have done to date is to use statistical inference to suggest what the mechanism may be. (Actually, I speculate in some working papers and coincidentally, a paper with at least part of the mechanism has been published in the last week or so – will do a story on it on 2risk when I get the time)

    I am happy that Cox showed the graph – the amount of warming is sufficient – the shape of how it got there is immaterial to his argument and any argument to the contrary is a red herring.

  200. Roger,
    Okay, thanks, I think I get it now. I still haven’t had a chance to look at your working papers, but will try to do so.

  201. dikranmarsupial says:

    “econometrician who was wary of the IPCC findings based on least squares best fit.”

    My definition of a statistician is “someone who know what to assume is Gaussian” which is not at all dismissive, as understanding the assumptions of a statistical model and knowing when they are likely to be reasonable in a practical application (and when they are not) requires considerable understanding and skill. Personally I would be wary of being wary of physicists who have studied the basis for modelling assumptions on the grounds of results of a bog-standard “naive” statistical analysis method (such as least-squares). ;o)

  202. Willard says:

    The deadlier of all the death threads in the history of ClimateBall ™ is about weight gain:

    https://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/2010/03/01/global-average-temperature-increase-giss-hadcru-and-ncdc-compared/

    “Igor S” helps provide some kind of dénouement.

  203. Steven Mosher says:

    “The deadlier of all the death threads in the history of ClimateBall ™ is about weight gain:”

    what a cluster****

    I was a good boy there.. only 10 comments and none of any substance.

  204. Steven Mosher says:

    “I’m not sure why it didn’t work out well either. They appear to have had a poster together in 2011 and again in 2015.”

    Lets see. speculation time

    From various Hints by Evan Jones and Anthony

    1. They re checked a lot of things – NG students helped I think
    2. They appear to have done their own adjustments for instrument changes
    3. Evan says he is looking at PHA and found some problems.

    So.. I dunno..

    In 2012 the mistake they made was an easy fix ( haha same time as Gergis flap )
    Basically just swap files and re run..

    Let me explain.

    1. They forgot to use TOBS adjusted data and Zeke caught them out
    2. Re running the analysis was promised.. it would be super simple..
    just use the TOBS file. should take 30 minutes.

    3…. crickets for months

    4. Then I heard that they didnt like TOBS data and decided to pick only stations
    that never had changes in TOBS…. a LOT of research there.. I had a couple private
    debates about the trustworthiness of the metadata as that relates to TOBS

    5. hmm. does this suggest that the simple switch of data files did not yield the correct
    answer? McIntyre promised to re run with TOBS data.. what did he find? and why the
    change..to looking at stations that never had TOBS issues?

    6. Then I hear that Jonh NG got involved.. and some of his students re checked the site
    ratings..

    7. Then Evan started defending the practice of “adjusting” in various threads around the denialsphere…

    So.. At the same time 4 years ago Gergis pullled her paper down, Watts pulled his back

    On the surface both appear to have made a simple oversight boo boo, screw up.
    just fix the shit and go to press…

    One screwed up whether data was detrended or not
    One screwed up and used the wrong input data .

    On the surface a “re run” fixing the mistake would be trivial.

    4 years later gergis has finally published
    and
    Watts has not.

  205. Pingback: Science communication | …and Then There's Physics

  206. Christopher Winter says:

    Riffing off Gandhi’s comment about western civilization, I often reply to “skeptics” pointing out that science must be based on empirical data that I would be delighted to see them produce some that supports their side. No one I know of wants to see the projected effects of climate change come to pass, least of all the climate scientists who understand better than most what they will mean.

    Another way I often reply is that there are immense rewards waiting for anyone who could falsify the mainstream consensus on climate change.

    I really don’t understand why these arguments aren’t made more often.

  207. I really don’t understand why these arguments aren’t made more often.

    I think they are made quite often. They don’t really make much difference, as far as I can see.

  208. Pingback: Effective Science communication? | …and Then There's Physics

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