Climateball, GWPF style

I came across a Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF) post called climate scientists shoot the messenger. That it’s from the Forum, rather than the Foundation, may be relevant. It discusses the recent Millar et al. paper (that I discussed here and here) and says

Journalists reported accurately what scientists have claimed: climate models had been running hot — because that’s what climate scientists had actually told the press, and there was nothing wrong with the headlines.

I would argue that this isn’t really the case, but that’s not what I was planning to discuss.

The GWPF starts with a screenshot from my blog, then discusses various other articles and then, towards the end, says

But perhaps the worst comment cam from the “And Then Theres Physics” blog:

There then follows another screenshot and a claim that

[w]hen scientists suggest it would be better to suppress research findings that do not support the cause of extremist climate communication we are in real trouble. No one who holds or promotes such a view can be called a scientist.

Okay, here’s the point. The comment was actually a comment on my blog, not something I had said, or even endorsed. The commenter (with all due respect to them) is not – as far as I’m aware – a climate scientist, a scientist, or even formally associated with, or representative of, the scientific community. Furthermore, I don’t think that they were suggesting suppressing research findings, but it’s not really my position to defend, or clarify, what they said.

It’s interesting, therefore, that the only example the GWPF could provide of a scientist supposedly suggesting that research be suppressed was not even a scientist. Maybe that’s because no scientists have suggested any such thing. Maybe what’s more ironic is that in an article claiming that nothing was misrepresented, they appear to have misrepresented one of their supposed examples. I would be more surprised, if this wasn’t pretty much what I expect from the GWPF.

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40 Responses to Climateball, GWPF style

  1. I did find this quite interesting, in that I had thought that the GWPF, and David Whitehouse in particular, were simply ignoring me. Maybe they thought they could somehow catch me out here, but it’s not quite sure how, though.

  2. As the ‘culprit’, I’d just like to confirm (as aTTP suggests) that I have no background in any sort of science, let alone climate science, and that my entire comment was phrased as a question—and a qualified question at that. So it would be a very twisted mind that interpreted it as a call to suppress research findings. I’d like others to judge if that’s the case so here it is: https://andthentheresphysics.wordpress.com/2017/09/22/own-goal/#comment-103621

  3. Eli Rabett says:

    Thank you JR for stepping up

  4. john,
    I wasn’t sure whether or not to explicitly include you in this or not, so thanks for stepping up. Given that your comment was really about whether or not a paper would further, or harm, our scientific understanding, it would seem rather unfortunate to interpret that as a suggestion that research findings should be suppressed. That the GWPF did so, however, is not really a surprise.

  5. Magma says:

    Naturally Whitehouse cherry-picked JR’s comment. But he’s welcome to use mine.

    There is no excuse for researchers in climate to publish a sloppily-framed or worded paper in 2017. Any lack of clarity, ambiguous wording, poor phrasing, or exaggerations of the flaws and uncertainties of current knowledge WILL be used to generate disinformation. At this point, climate science deniers in the right-wing press are reduced to preying on whatever sick and weak papers they can mine for quotes, or nosing through the leavings of the stronger ones. Write better, and starve them.

    Apart from bits of comic hypocrisy, such as criticizing a plot of observed vs modeled warming tweeted by Zeke Hausfather when the GPWF still has its grossly misleading 2001-2016 temperature plot on its masthead, Whitehead’s bait and switch is quite clear.

    The scientific consensus on anthropogenic climate change is (simplified) that human emissions of greenhouse gases are leading to geologically-rapid warming and related changes to Earth’s climate that if unchecked will have severe or even catastrophic changes to the Earth’s ecosystems and human society.

    The contrarians’ strawman caricature of this is that climate scientists claim ‘we understand everything about Earth’s climate and the science is settled’.

  6. If the only way to make your point is to lie, then you’ve pretty much underlined the inherent weakness of your position.

    This has long been a tactic of the conservatives/right wing/GOP party in the USA. There is also a corollary – if the the right accuses you of some malfeasance the one thing you can bet on is that they’re actually guilty of the infraction.

  7. John Hartz says:

    Welcome to the Wonderful (not) World of Alternative Facts.

  8. Joshua says:

    This was interesting:

    Given that the big 2015/16 El Nino weather event makes climate models look much better than they are,….

    Wtf is that supposed to even mean? Perhaps we should suppress charting the 2015/16 El Nino lest it be misleading for someone, who might think that the notion of a “pause in global warming” is simplistic?

  9. Joshua says:

    Just also wanted to comment on the beautiful, beautiful irony of “skeptics” complaining about (putative) attacks on journalists for reporting what CLIMATE SCIENTISTS say about climate change.

  10. JCH says:

    I’m almost certain that I read on GWPF that the dominance of La Niña events prior to 2015 made the models look worse than they truly are. They’re that honest.

  11. Joshua says:

    I’m almost certain that I read on GWPF that the dominance of La Niña events prior to 2015 made the models look worse than they truly are.

    Heh. That’s a knee-slapper.

  12. Mal Adapted says:

    David Whitehouse, quoted in OP:

    [w]hen scientists suggest it would be better to suppress research findings that do not support the cause of extremist climate communication we are in real trouble.

    Meh. “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” (usually C. Sagan, although Hume apparently said it first).

    The role of intersubjective verification in Science is to assure the quality of the global body of justified knowledge by ‘suppressing’ unjustified claims, that is, criticizing them substantively in pre- and post-publication peer review. It’s what makes Science perhaps the only truly progressive institution human culture has evolved, and the enemy of the GWPF’s principal clients.

  13. I thought the greatest irony was the GWPF decrying, as they saw it, the suppression of research findings that didn’t “support the cause of extremist climate communication” (sic), when—for their entire existence—they’ve suppressed research findings that didn’t support their cause of communicating denialist propaganda. Rich.

  14. anoilman says:

    The GWPF must be low on their quota of smear jobs for this month.

  15. Not much discussion on the latest GWPF climate science report authored by Tsonis:

    “OCEAN CYCLES, NOT HUMANS, MAY BE BEHIND MOST OBSERVED CLIMATE CHANGE”
    https://www.thegwpf.org/content/uploads/2017/09/Tsonis.pdf

  16. Andrew Dodds says:

    JCH –

    And should this Mt Agung in Bali turn out to have a pinatabu-scale eruption, I’m sure the GWPF will be at pains to explain that any drop in surface temperatures is just temporary.

  17. Andrew Dodds says:

    geoenergymath –

    Not sure there is much to discuss.. it seems to be another variant on the ‘global temperature is a random walk, let’s disregard the thermodynamics of the system’ argument. I do wonder how they came up with the green lines on figure 3, it’s hard to sustain the ‘Flat since 1998’ meme..

  18. Andrew,
    One reason I didn’t bother with that was because the report itself didn’t make much sense and didn’t even really seem to be saying what the GWPF claimed it was saying (of course, that clearly does not stop them from claiming that it does).

  19. JCH says:

    It’s great to start the day with a WUWT laugher:

    Bali Volcano the Latest Excuse for the Lack of Warming

  20. Regarding the green lines in the Tsonis ppaer, this study on the long-term T variations by a former NASA JPL researcher : “Does an Intrinsic Source Generate a Shared Low-Frequency Signature in Earth’s Climate and Rotation Rate?”
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/pdf/10.1175/EI-D-15-0014.1

    The LOD is a microcosm of geophysical effects. There’s a 6-year oscillation buried in there that has both obvious and elaborate explanations.

  21. Willard says:

    ­> Regarding the green lines in the Tsonis ppaer

    How’s that related to Millar et al or the GWPF climateballing, Web?

  22. What strikes me is the utter contempt that GWPF must have for their loyal troop of followers; imagining they are too lazy or too stupid to do even the most trivial of fact-checks to discover that the story has been distorted and has no merit. Is this really Climate Ball, or Balls-up?

  23. izen says:

    Hard to argue with the last line of the GWPF article;-

    “There is something antiscientific about suppressing debate.”

    How fortunate that that there are no examples of such heinous behaviour on the part of the ‘skeptical’ side.
    sarc/off

    While there are sometimes complaints that off-message science and scientists are targeted, most recently based on one article By Mark Hertsgaard in the Nation;-

    “It is past time to call out Trump and all climate deniers for this crime against humanity. No more treating climate denial like an honest difference of opinion. … The first step toward justice is to call things by their true names. Murder is murder, whether the murderers admit it or not. Punish it as such, or we encourage more of the same.”

    I know of no instance where government officials used their official powers to inhibit contrarian research, harass ‘red team’ scientists, subject them to repeated investigations and legal processes, or try and remove the phrase ‘Natural cycles’ from all official documents.
    How easy it can be to confuse who are victims and perpetrators.

  24. Richard,

    What strikes me is the utter contempt that GWPF must have for their loyal troop of followers; imagining they are too lazy or too stupid to do even the most trivial of fact-checks to discover that the story has been distorted and has no merit.

    I actually emailed David Whitehouse earlier today to ask why he had apparently taken a blog comment by someone who wasn’t a scientist to infer that a scientists had suggested that it would be better to suppress research findings.

  25. I’m guessing the people David Whitehouse is writing for will be happy to take what he writes at face value and will not resort to fact checking. Let’s face it, the internet is full of fake ‘skeptics’ passing supposed ‘facts’ around which some quick research would show don’t hold water. In truth, there’s only one side of ‘the debate’ that’s really sceptical.

  26. angech says:

    Willard says:
    ­” Regarding the green lines in the Tsonis paper”
    I am slow.
    Oh well.
    Good to see everyone back on board.

  27. JCH says:

    Green lines?

    The first three are in close proximity to sharp changes in the PDO. On the 4th he switched horses and blew it.

  28. Tsonis tries to apply his chaos hammer to anything that looks like a nail. That’s why GWPF and Curry align with Tsonis to support their Uncertainty Monster crusade.

    But even someone like Pielke Sr is pushing against this view:

    “Existing public perception and even with some in our professional community accept the claim that the flap of a butterfly can result in a tornado thousands of kilometers away as a result of the nonlinear chaotic behavior of the atmosphere.. Referred to as the “butterfly effect” the talk will discuss the origin of this term and show why it has been fundamentally misinterpreted.” http://has.arizona.edu/paradigm-shifts-atmospheric-sciences

  29. Magma says:

    geoenergymath

    That actually looks like an interesting talk, though probably wrong in many areas (as talks on emerging paradigms tend to be — it’s hard to predict the future). For example, “concepts of artificial intelligence (AI) may permit us to not only replace the parameterizations with representations trained from real observed data, but even the physics core [of numerical weather prediction] can possibly be eliminated with this AI methodology.” But it’s not my field.

    I expect Pielke will note that discussions of the “butterfly effect” ignore the dissipative processes present in atmospheric dynamics that would quickly damp out small-scale eddies.

  30. I think what Pielke is realizing is that sophisticated pattern matching techniques available in AI may soon find the physics equations that humans are unable to. I am curious about his interpretation of the Butterfly effect as well, and whether he is looking at the Hawkmoth effect as an alternative.

  31. Mal Adapted says:

    JR:

    I’m guessing the people David Whitehouse is writing for will be happy to take what he writes at face value and will not resort to fact checking. Let’s face it, the internet is full of fake ‘skeptics’ passing supposed ‘facts’ around which some quick research would show don’t hold water. In truth, there’s only one side of ‘the debate’ that’s really sceptical.)

    For decades, the global Koch club has invested in the development of a robust public disinformation industry. The ROI is the proliferation of pseudo-skeptics, who draw firm conclusions from false facts and logical fallacies, and are no less sure of their judgment despite being ludicrously wrong.

    David Whitehouse and his colleagues are employed in the disinformation industry. It’s redundantly verified that the GWPF is a professional services firm offering specious custom AGW-denial on short turnaround to clients in the highly-profitable fossil fuel industry, thinly disguised as a ‘non-profit’ NGO devoted to public education. ‘Stink tank’ is a puerile but evocative label for the business model.

  32. Steven Mosher says:

    ya butterfly flaps can change the weather but a huge warming effect cannot change a hurricane

  33. FWIW, my email to David Whitehouse to ask why he had apparently used a blog comment to infer that scientists were suggesting suppressing research findings has gone unanswered. He may be busy. I notice, though, that his article was highlighted in Delingpole’s latest screed, so maybe he’s achieved his purpose and is happy to move on.

  34. I think this illustrates there are limits to the entertainment value of Climateball. Sure, I will engage with deniers, rightly or wrongly, despite what John Cook says, and probably not doing his course justice with the time I put into it. But I do it “out there” rather than in the safety of these halls, pretty much, because “out there” it is a show on a stage frequented by many non-players, and I think it is important to show that deniers really, for the most part, don’t have much to stand on. When pressed, they tend to change the subject.

    Now Tsonis, I don’t get him. And I’ve written a bit about what he’s penned.

    Dunno. Up to you, ATTP, but I wouldn’t fret it much. When these numbskulls have seized the highest office in the land and having an orgy of self-congratulation in doing so — Perry’s proposal to subsidize non-competitive baseload being the most ridiculous but pointed example — what else do you expect?

  35. hyperG wrote:

    “Now Tsonis, I don’t get him. And I’ve written a bit about what he’s penned.”

    That’s a neat post. I am also trying to understand how to falsify what Tsonis is suggesting. His null hypothesis seems to be that the “lack of an oscillatory model signal” indicates that all one needs to do is find any oscillating pattern that works to reject his null.

  36. Brian Dodge says:

    “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t agree that the world is warming and CO2 is a greenhouse gas,” said Whitehouse. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/oct/03/climate-consensus-scientists-and-sceptics-suspend-hostilities
    I see that he is as ill informed about politics as he is about science.
    Or a liar. (Although one would have to admit he could be both)
    Perhaps you might contact Delingpole to inquire how he feels about being made to look like a fool by Whitehouse’s deception, which he blindly repeated?

  37. Brian,

    Perhaps you might contact Delingpole to inquire how he feels about being made to look like a fool by Whitehouse’s deception, which he blindly repeated?

    It’s my impression that blindly repeating other people’s deceptions is one of Delingpole’s trademarks (that, and making up his own).

  38. Joshua says:

    “I don’t know anybody who doesn’t agree that the world is warming and CO2 is a greenhouse gas,” said Whitehouse.

    Must not travel to the states much:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/display/ShowImage?imageUrl=/storage/partisangw.png?

    Source:

    http://www.culturalcognition.net/blog/2014/4/23/what-you-believe-about-climate-change-doesnt-reflect-what-yo.html

  39. russellseitz says:

    Much as one might wish Delingpole were sui generis –
    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/09/fake-news-of-daydelingpole-meets-his.html

    Climateball , like all propaganda & counterpropaganda sports, amateur and professional,
    remains highly competitive-

    https://vvattsupwiththat.blogspot.com/2017/09/they-dont-make-reality-like-they-used-to.html

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