Archive for Sunday, February 28, 2010

Global warming panel seeks outside review

February 28, 2010


— The Nobel Prize-winning international scientific panel studying global warming is seeking independent outside review for how it makes major reports.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says it’s seeking some kind of independent review because of recent criticism about its four 2007 reports.

Critics have found a few unsettling errors, including projections of retreats in Himalayan glaciers, in the thousands of pages of the reports.

Scientists say the problems are minor and have nothing to do with the major conclusions about man-made global warming and how it will harm people and ecosystems. But researchers acknowledge that they have been too slow to respond to a drip-drip-drip of criticisms in the past three months. And those criticisms seem to have resonated in poll results and media coverage that has put climate scientists on the defensive.

“The IPCC clearly has suffered a loss in public confidence,” Stanford University climate scientist Chris Field, a chairman of one of the IPCC’s four main research groups told The Associated Press on Saturday. “And one of the things that I think the world deserves is a clear understanding of what aspects the IPCC does well and what aspects of the IPCC can be improved.”

An independent review “is much needed,” said University of Colorado environmental studies scientist Roger Pielke Jr., a longtime critic of the IPCC.

“The IPCC has a long road ahead to regain trust,” Pielke said by e-mail.

In a statement issued Saturday by overall IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri the group of volunteer scientists said it tries to be accurate and follow procedures.

“But we recognize the criticism that has been leveled at us and the need to respond,” Pachauri said in the statement.

One example of the criticism was a Senate speech earlier this month when Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., called problems with the IPCC “the makings of a major scientific scandal.”


jmadison 7 years, 9 months ago

An interview with the BBC paints a less dogmatic view of global warming than that given by Seth Borenstein.

By the way, Mr. Borenstein was one of the people involved in the Climategate e-mails. Is it good journalistic policy for the AP to have one of its reporters reporting on himself?

Centerville 7 years, 9 months ago

If they were scientists with integrity, they would have encouraged outside evaluation all along.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

Climate-Change Denial as an O.J. Moment by Bill McKibben

"The campaign against climate science has been enormously clever, and enormously effective. It’s worth trying to understand how they’ve done it. The best analogy, I think, is to the O.J. Simpson trial, an event that’s begun to recede into our collective memory. For those who were conscious in 1995, however, I imagine that just a few names will make it come back to life. Kato Kaelin, anyone? Lance Ito?

The Dream Team of lawyers assembled for Simpson’s defense had a problem: it was pretty clear their guy was guilty. Nicole Brown’s blood was all over his socks, and that was just the beginning. So Johnnie Cochran, Robert Shapiro, Alan Dershowitz, F. Lee Bailey, Robert Kardashian et al. decided to attack the process, arguing that it put Simpson’s guilt in doubt, and doubt, of course, was all they needed. Hence, those days of cross-examination about exactly how Dennis Fung had transported blood samples, or the fact that Los Angeles detective Mark Fuhrman had used racial slurs when talking to a screenwriter in 1986.

If anything, they were actually helped by the mountain of evidence. If a haystack gets big enough, the odds only increase that there will be a few needles hidden inside. Whatever they managed to find, they made the most of: in closing arguments, for instance, Cochran compared Fuhrman to Adolf Hitler and called him “a genocidal racist, a perjurer, America’s worst nightmare, and the personification of evil.” His only real audience was the jury, many of whom had good reason to dislike the Los Angeles Police Department, but the team managed to instill considerable doubt in lots of Americans tuning in on TV as well. That’s what happens when you spend week after week dwelling on the cracks in a case, no matter how small they may be."


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago


"Similarly, the immense pile of evidence now proving the science of global warming beyond any reasonable doubt is in some ways a great boon for those who would like, for a variety of reasons, to deny that the biggest problem we’ve ever faced is actually a problem at all. If you have a three-page report, it won’t be overwhelming and it’s unlikely to have many mistakes. Three thousand pages (the length of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)? That pretty much guarantees you’ll get something wrong.

Indeed, the IPCC managed to include, among other glitches, a spurious date for the day when Himalayan glaciers would disappear. It won’t happen by 2035, as the report indicated -- a fact that has now been spread so widely across the Internet that it’s more or less obliterated another, undeniable piece of evidence: virtually every glacier on the planet is, in fact, busily melting.

Similarly, if you managed to hack 3,000 emails from some scientist’s account, you might well find a few that showed them behaving badly, or at least talking about doing so. This is the so-called “Climate-gate” scandal from an English research center last fall. The English scientist Phil Jones has been placed on leave while his university decides if he should be punished for, among other things, not complying with Freedom of Information Act requests.

Call him the Mark Fuhrman of climate science; attack him often enough and maybe people will ignore the inconvenient mountain of evidence about climate change that the world’s scientific researchers have, in fact, compiled. Indeed, you can make almost exactly the same kind of fuss Johnnie Cochran made -- that’s what Congressman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.) did, insisting the emails proved “scientific fascism,” and the climate skeptic Christopher Monckton called his opponents “Hitler youth.” Such language filters down. I’m now used to a daily diet of angry email, often with subject lines like the one that arrived yesterday: “Nazi Moron Scumbag.” "

devobrun 7 years, 9 months ago

Wow, bozo, I missed this article a coupla days ago. So, I just now have an opportunity to respond. Hope I didn't miss the opportunity to enlighten you.

Analogies are dangerous. They always are because the people who agree, buy it. Those who disagree start an argument about the analogy and not the subject at hand.

Since this article was written, the British physics and chemistry societies have been allowed to submit to parliament their opinions of the science of Hadley Climate Research Unit (HadCRu).

These are statements to the government of Britain from austere scientific groups. These are (in effect), eyewitnesses to the murder of Nicole Simpson.

The HadCRu people are being excoriated in British government by scientific groups. While this may be TMI for the skeptical, I think otherwise.

The skeptics are trying to argue a political policy while thinking it is science. The supporters are trying to argue a political policy while thinking it is supported by good solid science.

The answer? We don't know.

It is on the edge of knowledge that bad science happens. It is on the edge of knowledge that bad policy happens.

Analogies only further confuse the argument.

Don't forget, bozo, we don't know...........Own it...........believe it..................we don't know.

The experts aren't.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

"the British physics and chemistry societies have been allowed to submit to parliament their opinions of the science of Hadley Climate Research Unit (HadCRu)."

Well, there you have it. We now have "opinions," so therefore it's all settled. Those glaciers aren't really melting, sea level and temperatures aren't rising, CO2 levels are irrelevant, and the human race hasn't pumped billions of tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that used to be sequestered deep in the earth. And since there is no way a "real scientist" can possibly study or understand any of these things, put the pedal to the metal and full speed ahead right off that cliff-- because we really can't be certain that it's really a cliff, because .......... we don't know.

devobrun 7 years, 9 months ago

Quite a stretch, bozo. I claim that the scientific method is corrupted and therefore the opinions of climatologists are suspect. I support my view by referring to British societies of physics and chemistry. And you respond with a diatribe of death and destruction and racing headlong off a cliff.

So, who is the wingnut?

How can an area of science, or even the method used to advance knowledge, be discussed rationally if one side asserts such crazy, unsupportable junk?

Look, bozo, climatology is being challenged as having too cozy a relationship with politicians. When the numbers and methods are challenged, HadCRu did a variety of shady things.

From the NYT this morning: "The unauthorized release last fall of hundreds of e-mail messages from a major climate research center in England, and more recent revelations of a handful of errors in a supposedly authoritative United Nations report on climate change, have created what a number of top scientists say is a major breach of faith in their research. They say the uproar threatens to undermine decades of work and has badly damaged public trust in the scientific enterprise."

Now that scrutiny is beginning to open up on the climate data we find that there are several places to improve the science, not only at HADCRu, but at NASA as well:

The conflation of science with policy has changed the roll of science from advisory to activist. The philosophy is called post-normal science:

It is a natural consequence of allowing the science label to be applied to that which cannot be tested. When science relaxed its requirement for testing, it allowed in what Feynman called "cargo cult science" . Now that lack of rigor has advanced to the level of politics, which is the art of lying to advance your agenda. Lying to others and to yourself are allowed so long as you win in the rough and tumble game of political power.

That's my assertion, bozo. Science is corrupted. We don't know if the recent warming is a trend resulting primarily from CO2 emission. Wild claims of racing off cliffs like lemmings or putting the pedal to the metal are the stuff of politics. Parse the politics from the science, bozo. Separate your hopes and fears from the scientific method.

Question the data and the "homogenizations" and the "corrections" and the missing data. Before we dismantle fossil fuel energy, maybe we should have a viable replacement. Maybe we should be more careful about believing a handful of scientists who steer the climate change boat.

It amazes me that I'm considered radical by asserting that we don't know. Seems like the least radical opinion in a sea of crazy end-of-worlders.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

"That's my assertion, bozo. Science is corrupted."

I agree-- we just disagree from where that corruption primarily emanates.

Are there some valid criticisms in the reports by the Society of Physics, et al? Probably.

But the fact remains that the industry of Climate Change Denial is not a science at all. Phil Jones and the others at East Anglia probably could and should have done a better job of being open about their data and methods. But the current "debate" about AGW is really not a scientific debate-- it's ideological, and it involves $trillions in entrenched corporate and political interests.

So, how do folks like Jones go about doing the work of science without getting bogged down by well-financed attacks that are based on propaganda and PR, and not on science?

Sadly, they may not be able to.

"Maybe we should be more careful about believing a handful of scientists who steer the climate change boat."

Exxon has done a great job of making sure that doesn't happen.

devobrun 7 years, 9 months ago

And so we agree that science has been politicized.

And who started the politicization of climate change? Exxon? Nope. It was James Hansen of Goddard Institute for Space Studies of NASA. He was (and still is) the director of a group whose reason for being was to keep data for space related missions.

Initially it was used to house ephemeris data regarding atmosphere and space. How does the earth and all other solar system objects effect the travel of spacecraft? Weather, gravity fields, EM field distributions, etc.

Kinda boring, but important. But Hansen wasn't content with being the shopkeeper of data for space research. He decided to expand his influence (and his career) by joining with Sally Ride in her "Mission to Planet Earth" initiative.

This was in the early 1980s when it was becoming clear that space exploration was more dangerous and less fruitful than earlier thought. A new initiative was begun and it was remote sensing. This is where I came in. I got my PhD in the early 80s and started a company at about the same time. I provided ground-based equipment to NASA, ESA, and many other government agencies worldwide in the support of space-based sensors.

The idea is that with space-based sensors, we can monitor land use, land and sea and air changes, etc. The data that we produced (or helped produce) went to Jim Hansen at GISS.

And he became an activist.

He used the data to sound the alarm in a senate committee in the hot summer of 1988 that we are heating the earth. His culprit of choice, CO2. There are many reasons (like irrigating Arizona) that could have been chosen. But he chose CO2 because it leads right to Exxon and Peabody. Big fish, bozo. Very big fish.

And that is what Jim Hansen decided to become. A big fish player set up in antagonism toward big oil. Gradually, over the years, he gathered adherents to his activism. The "climategate" e-mails are to and from many of those folks.


devobrun 7 years, 9 months ago

The key component of Hansen's and Jones's power comes in the form of data manipulation. Data from sensors goes through their office. They determine what is good and what is bad and what can be salvaged through manipulation.

When asked by outside interests to produce the raw data and algorithm for converting that raw into refined data.....they didn't come through. Raw data was missing. Algorithms were not forthcoming and ultimately FOI requests were necessary to pry them loose.

Now we know that the raw data is not very good. Now we know that data homogenization, inclusion/exclusion, and manipulation were not well documented. They are sloppy. The data is a wreck and everybody knows it now. Hence the meeting last week in Turkey to discuss how to restart the whole process.

The reason that the data is in such bad shape is because the data showed what politicians on the left wanted to see. They are engaged in the same bologna that the tobacco companies were engaged in in the 1970s. What is Hansen's payoff here?

Davis Prize ($1 million bucks and a paid graduate fellowship in perpetuity) Nobel prize for Peace. Bali, baby, Bali. Fame and power are not really different for an ambitious researcher in NY than it is for Johnny Depp. Hansen has been living the high life for years. Quite a trip for a guy I new 25 years ago as a data shopkeeper, a fancy accountant.

All this is allowed by science because science allowed really bad philosophy to wreck its foundation, testing. Post-normal science or

This is scientific philosophy which embraces activism. It sets itself up as anti-corporation.

My guess, bozo, is that you buy it at a visceral level because it is anti-corporation. I really don't care about corporations. I do care about science and the search for solutions to problems. I no longer work for NASA or the others in part because of the politicization of it all. I'm not pro-corporate. I am anti-BS and that is what's passing as science today.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

"Now we know that the raw data is not very good. Now we know that data homogenization, inclusion/exclusion, and manipulation were not well documented."

No, what we know is that they weren't very good about sharing their data or methods, perhaps for some good reasons, perhaps for some not so good reasons. To "know" what you purport to be known would require actual research-- something the denier industry doesn't really do.

"I am anti-BS and that is what's passing as science today."

No, you are just as motivated by ideology as you say I am, and it's easier to attack their credentials than to attack their results.

devobrun 7 years, 9 months ago

Yet another British august society has questioned HadCRu data. So, bozo, we know that the data is not very good. Read the assessment of RSS here:

I don't know what you believe, bozo. On one hand you support government regulation and supervision of things. Then when government sponsored institution's opinions conflicts with an anti-corporation agenda, you dismiss it.

HADCRu isn't being poor at sharing data, bozo. It is hiding data. It is hiding techniques. It is science having an agenda, bozo. When science has a political agenda, it ceases to be science. But post-normal science not only doesn't believe that. It embraces it.

To know that the data is not very good is to know that the metadata has been massaged and not documented. That is science.

As for your attack on my opinions and feelings:

What is my ideology, bozo?

What do I believe?

Am I arguing that corporations are good?

Am I arguing that Jesus is our savior?

Am I arguing that I know the truth?

No, No, No.

I am the man who says that the Emperor has no clothes.

Science has been modified until it suits politics. It is wrong. That is my agenda, bozo......even if it conflicts with your agenda.

Now relax, stop telling me what my agenda is. I will continue to assert it. You will continue to object. But, notice that when I guessed what your feelings were, I guessed. A guess is an assertion with a clear path to correction. This is polite and reasonable conversation.

Finally, bozo, could a corporation ever get anything right? Is there anything that a corporate-positive scientific finding make you happy?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years, 9 months ago

"Yet another British august society has questioned HadCRu data. So, bozo, we know that the data is not very good. Read the assessment of RSS here:"

They made absolutely no assessment of nor statements about the quality of the data. Much like the Society of Physics report , all they really said was the the East Anglia climate scientists were deficient in sharing their data and methods with other scientists, and that the more open any branch of science is, not just climate science, the better it is.

"9. More widely, the basic case for publication of data includes that science progresses as an ongoing debate and not by a series of authoritative and oracular pronouncements and that the quality of that debate is best served by ensuring that all parties have access to the facts. It is well understood, for example, that peer review cannot guarantee that what is published is 'correct'. The best guarantor of scientific quality is that others are able to examine in detail the arguments that have been used and not just their published conclusions. It is important that experiments and calculations can be repeated to verify their conclusions. If data, or the methods used, are withheld, it is impossible to do this.

  1. The RSS believes that a crucial step in improving the quality of the debate on global warming will be to place the data, the analysis methods and the models in the public domain."

I think these are excellent recommendations. But science is a human endeavor, which means that the scientists who do the work are subject to all the pressures of human society. It's unrealistic, and unfair, to expect them to be perfect little scientists while they are subjected to the pressures exerted by well-financed skeptics who are wholly unbound to follow the sacred code of science.

"Now relax, stop telling me what my agenda is."

Interesting request, given that you spent at least half your post telling me what mine is.

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