And I thought the Journal of Irreproducible Results was satire
Posted by aogThursday, 09 August 2007 at 21:16 TrackBack Ping URL

There’s been lots of excitement over the re-stating of NASA temperature data. I think it’s cool (haha!) that this puts a big hole in one of the primary planks of the AGW crew, but I have to agree with morbo who writes

The real story is that GISS data was obviously wrong but had gone unchecked before Steve’s work, firstly because the IPCC choirboys never bother to check their own data (see also the MBH98 hockey stick), and secondly because it was hard to check because the GISS software and algorithms are kept secret (despite being paid for by public money). This makes it virtually impossible to replicate and check. Replication is a cornerstone of the scientific method; its not just bad science, its not really even science at all.

Exactly so. It’s not science. Even among the endless signs that the concern about AGW is highly suspect, this one stands out.

that highlights one of the great travesties of climate science. Government scientists using taxpayer money to develop the GISS temperature data base at taxpayer expense refuse to publicly release their temperature adjustment algorithms or software (In much the same way Michael Mann refused to release the details for scrutiny of his methodology behind the hockey stick). Using the data, though, McIntyre made a compelling case that the GISS data base had systematic discontinuities that bore all the hallmarks of a software bug.

The idea that the details of government sponsored research on an important topic like this is kept secret is mind boggling to me. For what possible reason should any detail be withheld from the public, except to conceal problems?

And this isn’t the first time a critical element of the AGW analysis has turned out to have not only have serious errors but also errors undected for extended periods because the authors refused to release their data and algorithm so that the results could be replicated (no replication → not science). I refer of course to the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’ model which turned out to be caused by data and algorithm errors1, concealed for years by refusal to share data.

The bottom line for me is I’ll be willing to consider the AGW is real case when central proponents stop trying to bury their errors behind a wall of secrecy and obsfucation.

P.S. The person responsible for this data and its secrecy, James E. Hansen, also says

in determing responsibility for climate change, the effect of greenhouse gas emissions on climate is not determined by current emissions, but by accumulated emissions over the lifetime of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By this measure the U.S. will be the largest single cause of climate change even after its current emissions are surpassed by China and other developing countries.

I.e., the point of dealing with climate change is to punish the transgressors, not to improve the situation. If actually dealing with the problem were the top priority, then going after the largest emitter would be important. But instead we should remain focused on the worst historical offender, even though nothing we do now will change what happened in the past. And for some reason this leads me to not trust his other statements on the subject very much.


1 There’s an attempted re-bunking here but I find it unpersuasive because it

  • Doesn’t address why the data was ever secret
  • Doesn’t address the primary point of the debunking, that the algorithms were flawed.
  • Mocks the debunkers because they’re not climatoligists, when in fact the issue turns on software and statistics, not climatology.
Comments — Formatting by Textile
Bret Friday, 10 August 2007 at 10:29

…the point of dealing with climate change is to punish the transgressors, not to improve the situation….

Funny thing is that I’m perfectly happy with the climate right now. I might well be fine with future changes as well, but if CO2 leveled off today, there would be no transgression of any kind, in my opinion.

This particular data issue may haunt the AGW folk for some time to come. As it should.

Tom C., stamford,Ct Friday, 10 August 2007 at 11:48

What kind of ‘science’ would reach conclusions regrading AGW and CO2 emmissions when the cause/effect relationship cannot even be established by said ‘science’? It has to be the scam of the century, topping even global cooling, marxism/leninism, national socialism, progressivism and social security. Like all of the above, of course, there will be little if any accountability. Al Gore is either a fraud or a fool.

Bret Friday, 10 August 2007 at 15:32

My vote is for fraud.

Michael Herdegen Friday, 10 August 2007 at 19:14

I think that he’s both.

He’s obviously a fraud for promoting a Doom’n’Gloom global-warming-catastrophe scenario, but no doubt he’d argue that he’s just making the most powerful case for action. IMO, he really believes this stuff - witness his Earth in the Balance nonsense, which was the basis for his largely unreal film.

That makes him a fool as well.

Bret Friday, 10 August 2007 at 20:03

Sure. Fool as in fooling himself, as in creating a bogus “grand quest” on which to focus his life. But not fool as in stupid. The followers may be fools in that sense, but he is not.

Hey Skipper Friday, 10 August 2007 at 23:08

The problem is worse than merely finding claims of recent, unprecedented, warming to be exagerated.

All the AGW claims are based upon climate models, which can be useful tools, presuming one is fully cognizant of their limitations.

The most pressing limitation in this regard is that the validity of their predictions is based upon their ability to mimic “known” temperature phenomena (ignoring for the moment that, AFAIK, these models become increasingly less accurate in replicating historical weather as the time span becomes longer). Therefore, the models were adjusted to reproduced both the hockey stick and the presumed correct GISS data.

In other words, fixing the models to mimic the unRathered data will — must — reduce the consequences they have predicted.

Bret Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 00:58

hey skipper,

How do you inow that the climate models could even be useful tools given that “the GISS software and algorithms are kept secret (despite being paid for by public money)”? They need to let the hive mind at the models and data. I think we should withhold all future funding from these “researchers” until those are released.

If they continue to keep the models and data secret, I’m sure they’ll just tweak a couple of things and miraculously the models will track the new data and still show a hockey stick. I’m sure that’s what we’ll see. And shortly.

Hey Skipper Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 14:02

Bret:

My wording obscured meaning a little; I was referring in that phrase to computer models in general.

It is appalling that we pay for research yet are unable to inspect the sources and methods at will.

I’m not so sure that adjusting models to replicate a different trendline can still yield the same results, as that comes perilously close to admitting the predictions are fake but accurate.

Yesterday’s USA Today had a front page article that is nearly beyond parody: scientists predicting big temperature increases in the next 50 years based upon precisely the data that was debunked minutes after the presses rolled.

Michael Herdegen Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 15:03

Plus, humans like heat. If Kansas were like Africa, so what ?

Bret Saturday, 11 August 2007 at 18:15

Hey Skipper:

Would you be surprised at this point if the whole climate change thang turned out to be “fake but accurate”?

So far, the course of events rather parallels Rathergate. Evidence is presented by the Left to bolster some claim (Bush bad; global warming will be catastrophic). The hive mind, against all odds and with absolutely no cooperation from the Left, discovers and proves the evidence to be false. If they are forced to release the software, I think the hive mind will end up showing that the models are indeed fake (at least the predictions not statistically correct). And the “researchers” will claim that their global warming predictions are still accurate even though their models and data are fake. Fake but accurate. Here we go again.

I’m a software hacker and intimately familiar with the use of statistical distributions and modeling. I’d love to see that modeling software and data and though I’m a little busy somehow I’d make time to check it out if it was available.

Hey Skipper Sunday, 12 August 2007 at 02:17

Bret:

I’m certain climate change is real. In my recent journeys, I have seen the effects first hand: glaciers everywhere are receding.

Just as they have done for roughly 300 years.

As for whether humans are responsible, that is far, far less certain.

As to whether a couple degrees of warming will represent some global disaster? Phooey.

Bret Sunday, 12 August 2007 at 11:28

hey skipper, I see that I was unclear. I meant that the models upon which all the doomsday scenarios are based turn out “fake but accurate”.

bbb Monday, 13 August 2007 at 17:34

HS: “glaciers everywhere are receding” - wrong! There are probably as many glaciers expanding as there are receding. I read about someone who finally bought into the GW stuff after seeing before and after pictures of a glacier receding in South America published by Greenpeace. When he actually visited the area, sure enough, that glacier was receding.But a number of other glaciers in the area (geologically speaking) were expanding. From which he concluded a localized rather than global phenomenon and went back to being skeptical. Greenpeace didn’t lie but they certainly selectively reported the facts that would support their claim and ignored all the others.

As far as the climate models go, they all tend to have two (at least) fundamental flaws. First is that most models build in the relationship between CO2 and temp as exponential or, at best, linear when in fact the relationship is logarithmic. I.e. if adding x amount of CO2 you get y amount of warming, then adding an additional amount x of CO2, most models assume >y or y increase in warming when in fact, one gets <y (significantly < y) warming. There are three studies that show this relationship. They don’t agree on the co-effectient but they all demonstrate that the relationship is severely logarithmic.

Second, all of the models assume a static rather than dynamic atmosphere (i.e. no thermals, no storms, no correlis effect, etc.) The reason is that nobody really understands these phenomenon well enough to model them. The problem is that in a truly static atmosphere, all of the cooling would be done through radiation and the effect of greenhouse gases would drive the temperature up to about 77 degrees C instead of the about 15 degrees C that it actually is. The estimated temp of the earth with atmosphere but without any greenhouse gases would be about -18 C. The current greenhouse gases warm the earth ~33 degrees C. But the amount that they ought to increase the temp to is closer to 95 degrees C. That missing 60 degrees is due to the dynamic nature of the atmosphere which takes heat lower in the atmosphere and moves it higher in the atmosphere where it can escape much easier. Now, any model that ignores the dynamic nature of the atmosphere and gets results anywhere close to actual temps on earth has to be so fundamentally flawed because 2/3 of the phenomenon that they are trying to model is being ignored.

For better discussion of greenhouse gases and GW see: http://www.junkscience.com/Greenhouse/ or www.co2science.org or http://mysite.verizon.net/mhieb/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html

Hey Skipper Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 00:10

bbb:

Thank you for that discussion on GW models — all that is news to me.

Adding to the list of things GW models do not include is clouds (the cell sizes are no where near small enough to model cloud effects; given the rather important effect clouds have on weather, that would seem to be a shortcoming worth at least footnoting) and, IMHO — since I haven’t read it anywhere — hurricanes. After all, they are giant heat engines pumping warm air from the lower to upper atmosphere, where it will radiate much more effectively.

There are probably as many glaciers expanding as there are receding.

What I really should have said, presuming I care to be clearly understood, is that all (or near as darnnit; there is one exception I know of) glaciers in North America are receding, and have been doing so quite steadily for roughly 300 years.

Which makes the Park Service’s presentation in Glacier National Park on what happy campers can do to help stop global warming in order to save the park’s glaciers perilously close to fraudulent.

bbb Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 16:32

HS:

From http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA235.html

“Size appears to be one of the most significant determinants in the response time of glaciers to climate change. Basically, the larger a glacier, the longer it takes to be affected by climate change. For example, it would take a polar ice sheet 10,000-100,000 years to respond to any global warming that might be occurring now. A large mountain glacier would take 1,000 to 10,000 years to respond to warming today, while a small mountain glacier would take 100 to 1,000 years to respond.5 Thus, one explanation for some glaciers retreating today is that they are responding to natural warming that occurred either during the Medieval Warm Period in the 11th century or to an even warmer period that occurred 6,000 years ago.”

and

“Like the Antarctic, the Greenland ice sheets show no evidence of receding due to alleged global warming. The record shows that the Arctic region where Greenland is located is cooling despite the fact that, under global warming models, it should be the first area of the planet to show significant temperature increases. According to these models, the polar regions should have warmed 2-5°F since 1940. But between 1955 and 1990, the Arctic cooled by 1°F and Greenland’s glaciers actually expanded. According to the scientific journal Geophysical Research Letters, the West Greenland Ice Sheet, the largest mass of polar ice in the Northern Hemisphere, has thickened by up to seven feet since 1980.”

It is also my understanding (can’t find the ref at the moment) that a number of glaciers in North America are expanding. The glacier on Mt Ranier has grown dramatically since 1933 when the local power company built a damn fed by glacier runoff and starting monitoring the glacier to predict how much power they could expect each year.

bbb Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 17:27

Also see: Link

Here’s an article (link) that contradicts itself: Glaciers skating away, fast! by Matt Taylor

This week glaciologists in the USA have discovered that the Kangerdlugssuaq Glacier, situated to the southeast of Greenland is melting at a faster rate than ever before. This has sparked fears of much faster rising sea levels than previously thought.

But later in the same article: “During the 20th century the Kangerdlugssuaq glacier remained in a stable position, however the glaciologists have stated that the glacier could now be moving at an astonishing speed of 38 metres a day towards the sea.” The glacier is actually growing extremely rapidly. The commentary on it (and other glaciers) is: “They want it both ways, don’t they? If the glaciers recede, it must be caused by “global warming.” And if they advance? It must be “global warming.” The trouble is that the public believes it. What a masterful piece of deception.”

Quotes from Reid A. Bryson who “holds the 30th PhD in Meteorology granted in the history of American education. Emeritus Professor and founding chairman of the University of Wisconsin Department of Meteorology” (link)

Bryson mentions the retreat of Alpine glaciers, common grist for current headlines. “What do they find when the ice sheets retreat, in the Alps?”

“A silver mine! The guys had stacked up their tools because they were going to be back the next spring to mine more silver, only the snow never went,” he says. “There used to be less ice than now. It’s just getting back to normal.”

What is normal? Maybe continuous change is the only thing that qualifies. There’s been warming over the past 150 years and even though it’s less than one degree, Celsius, something had to cause it. The usual suspect is the “greenhouse effect,” various atmospheric gases trapping solar energy, preventing it being reflected back into space.

Eighty percent of the heat radiated back from the surface is absorbed in the first 30 feet by water vapor……

And how much is absorbed by carbon dioxide? Eight hundredths of one percent. One one-thousandth as important as water vapor. You can go outside and spit and have the same effect as doubling carbon dioxide.

Hey Skipper Wednesday, 15 August 2007 at 20:05

bbb:

Thanks again for the links.

This summer I traveled through Glacier National Park, the Banff / Jasper area, and southern Alaska.

In each of those areas, all the glaciers have significantly receded, starting roughly 300 years ago.

I heard of just one glacier that is advancing; it is near Juneau.

Having seen glaciers up close and personal, they are beautiful, in a very threatening way. Given a choice, I’ll take retreat over advance anytime.

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