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My response to Dr. Judith Curry’s unconstructive essay

By Joe Romm  

"My response to Dr. Judith Curry’s unconstructive essay"

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UPDATE: Dr. Ben Santer says, “Mr. McIntyre’s unchecked, extraordinary power is the real story of Climategate.”

UPDATE:  Dr. Ben Santer, one of the country’s leading climatologists, has a devastating essay on “Climate Auditing – Close Encounters with Mr. Steven McIntyre,” at RealClimate, which I reprint at the end.

UPDATE 2:  Turns out McIntyre shills for Big Oil after all (see below).

Dr. Judith Curry, Chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has a long, but ultimately unconstructive essay on her website, “On the Credibility of Climate Research, Part II:  Towards Rebuilding Trust.”

Aside from some factual misstatements and the false equivalence that suffuses piece, the essay makes no useful contribution to the climate debate because it fails the two great tests of any serious essay on the subject:

  • She never defines her key terms like alarmism — different readers can read completely different things into her main points.  And if you challenge a statement, she can just say she meant something else.
  • She never spells out her answer to the key question of our time, “If you were running national and global climate policy, what level of global CO2 concentrations would be your goal and how would you achieve it?”

What precisely is the point of engaging someone in discussion if they won’t spell out their view of what climate science says will likely happen on our current path of unrestricted emissions and precisely what they would recommend we do?  Doing nothing — or indeed doing a lot but not enough — risks “potentially devastating effects for billions of people” (something even the WashPost editorial writers understand), so this isn’t a philosophical or academic debate.

The scientific literature now makes clear that the consequences of inaction are likely to be quite extreme, one might even say alarming — see my book or An introduction to global warming impacts: Hell and High Water.   Or see the definitive NOAA-led 13-agency report on US impacts — Our hellish future: Definitive NOAA-led report on U.S. climate impacts warns of scorching 9 to 11°F warming over most of inland U.S. by 2090 with Kansas above 90°F some 120 days a year “” and that isn’t the worst case, it’s business as usual!

And the much-less-likely-but-still-plausible worst-case scenario is now well beyond alarming:  UK Met Office: Catastrophic climate change, 13-18°F over most of U.S. and 27°F in the Arctic, could happen in 50 years, but “we do have time to stop it if we cut greenhouse gas emissions soon.”

If this unproductive piece were by almost anyone else, I wouldn’t waste a lot of time on it, but let’s dive in.

One thing to say upfront.  Curry conflates a great many issues, in particular, whether a very small number of climate scientists (whom she never names) have acted as professionally as they could have (something I might be sympathetic with her on) with a completely different issue — whether a large number of climate scientists should be clearly articulating to the public the multiple catastrophes we risk and what we should do about it — and sort of condemns them both.  My response should not be taken as saying I disagree with everything she writes, only 1) it is impossible to know what she really means and 2) the places where she is dead wrong undercut whatever value she might bring to the debate.

Another thing to say.  I have known Dr. Curry for many years.  I have interviewed her a number of times and quoted her work on the hurricane-warming connection at length for my 2006 book, “Hell and High Water:  Global Warming “” the Solution and the Politics.”  Later, I spent a day giving talks with her in various Florida cities.  She reviewed large parts of my book and heard my give a couple of talks and I’ve never once heard her dispute my characterization of the science.   Her past public statements and articles on climate change can be found here (though some links are dead).  Back in 2007, she wrote a response to Bjorn Lomborg in the Washington Post, which would appear to me to be at odds with the thrust of her current essay, so I confess I no longer have any idea what she believes.

Much of where Curry goes wrong is in creating a false narrative of the climate debate:

Here is my take on how global warming skepticism has evolved over the past several decades.

In the 1980′s, James Hansen and Steven Schneider led the charge in informing the public of the risks of potential anthropogenic climate change.  Sir John Houghton and Bert Bolin played similar roles in Europe.  This charge was embraced by the environmental advocacy groups, and global warming alarmism was born.  During this period I would say that many if not most researchers, including myself, were skeptical that global warming was detectable in the temperature record and that it would have dire consequences.

Well, Hansen et al have been quite vindicated by observations, and the scientific literature is quite clear that unrestricted emissions would have “dire consequences” — though again, the term is meaningless if not defined.

Curry claims she isn’t calling Hansen and Houghton “alarmists” — you can be the judge of that, but it seems to me like she is blaming the messenger.  What precisely are scientists (and environmentalists) supposed to do when they are science predicts inaction leads to dire consequences?

The traditional foes of the environmental movement worked to counter the alarmism of the environmental movement, but this was mostly a war between advocacy groups and not an issue that had taken hold in the mainstream media and the public consciousness.  In the first few years of the 21st century, the stakes became higher and we saw the birth of what some have called a “monolithic climate denial machine”.  Skeptical research published by academics provided fodder for the think tanks and advocacy groups, which were fed by money provided by the oil industry. This was all amplified by talk radio and cable news.

Again, since “alarmism” is undefined and all enviros are lumped together, the paragraph reads as all things to all people.

Curry commits a major error, I think, in making this all about a few personalities and not the science.  This was never about Hansen or Houghton.  As one review article noted:

In July 1979 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Jule Charney, one of the pioneers of climate modeling, brought together a panel of experts under the U.S. National Research Council to sort out the state of the science. The panel’s work has become iconic as a foundation for the enterprise of climate change study that followed (Somerville et al. 2007). Such reports are a traditional approach within the United States for eliciting expert views on scientific questions of political and public policy importance (Weart 2003).

In this case, the panel concluded that the potential damage from greenhouse gases was real and should not be ignored. The potential for cooling, the threat of aerosols, or the possibility of an ice age shows up nowhere in the report. Warming from doubled CO2 of 1.5°-4.5°C was possible, the panel reported. While there were huge uncertainties, Verner Suomi, chairman of the National Research Council’s Climate Research Board, wrote in the report’s foreword that he believed there was enough evidence to support action: “A wait-and-see policy may mean waiting until it is too late” (Charney et al. 1979)

Huh.  So in 1979 the uber-credible, uber-cautious NRC was already warning of the risks of inaction.  Alarmists!!!  Back to Curry’s version of events:

In 2006 and 2007, things changed as a result of Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” plus the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, and global warming became a seemingly unstoppable juggernaut.  The reason that the IPCC 4th Assessment Report was so influential is that people trusted the process the IPCC described:  participation of a thousand scientists from 100 different countries, who worked for several years to produce 3000 pages with thousands of peer reviewed scientific references, with extensive peer review.  Further, the process was undertaken with the participation of policy makers under the watchful eyes of advocacy groups with a broad range of conflicting interests.   As a result of the IPCC influence, scientific skepticism by academic researchers became vastly diminished and it became easier to embellish the IPCC findings rather than to buck the juggernaut.  Big oil funding for contrary views mostly dried up and the mainstream media supported the IPCC consensus. But there was a new movement in the blogosphere, which I refer to as the “climate auditors”, started by Steve McIntyre.  The climate change establishment failed to understand this changing dynamic, and continued to blame skepticism on the denial machine funded by big oil.

The first half of the highlighted statement is false.  I told Curry that in a reply to her first draft of this essay (which she shared with many bloggers).  Yes, the biggest oil giant said it would cut off funding to “contrary views,” but that was just another lie (see “Another ExxonMobil deceit: They are still funding climate science disinformers despite public pledge“). Media Matters has all the documented evidence in its December post, which begins:

Over the past decade, oil giant Exxon Mobil has paid millions to organizations and “think tanks” in an attempt to deceive the public about the science behind global climate change.  It’s no surprise that those very same organizations are now doing everything in their power to please their benefactor by drawing attention to the so-called “Climategate” scandal involving hacked emails from the University of East Anglia in England.

As an aside, the claim the MSM “supported” the IPCC consensus is a very dubious one (and of course completely undefined).  I have documented at length that large swaths of the MSM have written pieces directly at odds with the IPCC in the last 3 years, when they haven’t just ignored it entirely.

But Curry has this narrative she wants to push:

Climate Auditors and the Blogosphere

Steve McIntyre started the blog climateaudit.org so that he could defend himself against claims being made at the blog realclimate.org with regards to his critique of the “hockey stick” since he was unable to post his comments there.  Climateaudit has focused on auditing topics related to the paleoclimate reconstructions over the past millennia (in particular the so called “hockey stick”) and also the software being used by climate researchers to fix data problems due to poor quality surface weather stations in the historical climate data record. McIntyre’s “auditing” became very popular not only with the skeptics, but also with the progressive “open source” community, and there are now a number of such blogs.  The blog with the largest public audience is wattsupwiththat.com, led by weatherman Anthony Watts, with over 2 million unique visitors each month.

What can one say about that paragraph?

First off, and it’s a small point, the kind an auditor might make, but if Climateaudit predates RealClimate, you certainly can’t tell that from their archives.  Climateaudit actually has a January 2000 post!  It’s next post is October 2004, which sort of appears to be his “first” post.  That post never mentions RC, which went live in December [2004].  McIntyre also had an earlier website, www.climate2003.com.

TimeLineGate UPDATE:  RC folks tell me McIntyre didn’t go live until 2005.  Strangely, the date on the first post criticizing Mann in CA’s archives is January 2000 (!!), but that seems implausible.  Still, I am loathe to say the auditor has a major numerical glitch on his own blog, for fear of bringing the wrath of his defenders down on me. The key point, as noted below, is that McIntyre was active on the net before RC.

TimeLineGate UPDATE 2: Wikipedia’s entry on McIntyre statesMcIntyre has stated that he started Climate Audit so that he could defend himself against attacks being made at the climatology blog RealClimate.”  The citation appears to go to this 2006 comment by him on CA:  “I certainly perceived realclimate as actively attacking us right from the beginning. John A. told me that I’d be buried if I didn’t stick up for myself online. In that sense, realclimate is the “blog-father” of climateaudit.”  In the comments, Deep Climate explains, “The first few posts [starting October 2004] you see at CA were ported from the old website, but the new blog only started on Feb. 3, 2005.”  Hmm.  Looks like McIntyre’s blog entry dating for CA is screwed up from the start — which is ironic all by itself.  Bottom line is that McIntyre started blogging on this subject first.

But that specific timing issue of the blogs, while important to Curry’s effort to paint McIntyre as some sort of (mostly innocent) victim of attacks by blogging scientists, is irrelevant to the bigger issue, which Curry has backwards.  Curry seems to think that the blogosphere is the only place that matters.  McIntyre started his attacks in 2003, long before RC was set up.  And if you believe that ExxonMobil money wasn’t connected to the McIntyre-McItrick attack on the hockey stick, read this long Deep Climate piece or a very good summary by DeSmogBlog.  (And no, being connected to oil money doesn’t inherently invalidate the attacks, but it does kind of scramble Curry’s narrative.)

UPDATE:  McIntyre has undermined Curry’s narrative by posting an anti-science rant by Rob Bradley, discredited former Enron policy chief who now runs the polluter-funded “Institute for Energy Research.”  SourceWatch explains:  “IER received $95,000 from ExxonMobil in 2007 and $65,000 the year before….  IER has also received donations from the Brown Foundation, which was started by the founders of the construction and energy company Brown & Root … and the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation, which is run by executives of Koch Industries, a major company in the petroleum refining industry.” Policy Lass has a good reply here.

And while Curry spends a lot of time criticizing actual scientists, she seems to take at face value every single thing McIntyre says and never once mentions the vast debunking of him (see, for instance, the entire category on him at Deltoid).  You’d never know from this piece that the hockey stick was essentially vindicated by the National Academy of Sciences and much subsequent research, since McIntyre never stops repeating the same long-debunked critiques.

But where Curry really starts to go very far awry is by drawing an equivalence between Climate Audit and WattsUp.  I don’t think that McIntyre believes human-caused global warming is a hoax, but Watts does [see "Diagnosing a victim of anti-science syndrome (ASS)"].  A large fraction of Watts’ posts are unmitigated disinformation (see FoxNews, WattsUpWithThat push falsehood-filled Daily Mail article on global cooling that utterly misquotes, misrepresents work of Mojib Latif and NSIDC and Dust Bowl-ification hits Eastern Australia “” next stop the U.S. Southwest. Anti-scientific WattsUpWithThat says it has “nothing to do with the dreaded Climate Change” and “has an unappreciated benefit”!)

Later she writes:

And finally, the blogosphere can be a very powerful tool for increasing the credibility of climate research.  “Dueling blogs”  (e.g. climateprogress.org versus wattsupwiththat.com and realclimate.org versus climateaudit.org) can actually enhance public trust in the science as they see both sides of the arguments being discussed.

Huh?  You may not agree with everything I write, but at least it is grounded in the actual scientific literature.  Watts posts whatever anti-scientific nonsense he can get his hands on, as I’ve shown.  I rarely “duel” with Watts, since he’s not making a serious effort to understand and report on the science.  He is making a serious effort to spread disinformation and confusion.

If Curry seriously believes that WattsUpWithThat in any way, shape or form is contributing to increasing the credibility of climate research, that what he does could actually enhance public trust in science, then we could not possibly disagree more.  Watts ain’t interested in doing science and balked at the biggest chance he had to do so (see Watts not to love: New study finds the poor weather stations tend to have a slight COOL bias, not a warm one).

So why do the mainstream climate researchers have such a problem with the climate auditors? The scientists involved in the CRU emails seem to regard Steve McIntyre as their arch-nemesis (Roger Pielke Jr’s term). Steve McIntyre’s early critiques of the hockey stick were dismissed and he was characterized as a shill for the oil industry.   Academic/blogospheric guerilla warfare ensued, as the academic researchers tried to prevent access of the climate auditors to publishing in scientific journals and presenting their work at professional conferences, and tried to deny them access to published research data and computer programs. The bloggers countered with highly critical posts in the blogosphere and FOIA requests.  And climategate was the result.

Yes, blame the victim.   Scientists who were mostly trying to do their jobs studying the science and explaining it to the public — and yes some of them are imperfect human beings who react imperfectly — brought on themselves the illegal hacking of emails that were then utterly misrepresented by the very anti-scientific blogs she seems to champion.

Now, Curry tends to see anyone who defends science as defending every single thing that individual scientists have done, but in fact she is the one who makes the reverse mistake.  She fails to see that the active disinformation campaign never stopped, the fossil fuel companies never stopped funding much of it, and nothing the scientific community could possibly do would ever stop it.  If she faults the disinformation campaign at all, you’d never know it from this essay:

People have heard the alarm, but they remain unconvinced because of a perceived political agenda and lack of trust of the message and the messengers.

Why is it that people in countries where there is no active disinformation campaign are “convinced”?  Just a coincidence, I guess.  By the way, the majority of Americans still want to take action on climate even in the face of the disinformation campaign according to every recent poll.  Go figure.

Curry runs a false equivalence through this entire piece:

So what motivated their FOIA requests of the CRU at the University of East Anglia?  Last weekend, I was part of a discussion on this issue at the Blackboard.  Among the participants in this discussion was Steven Mosher, who broke the climategate story and has already written a book on it here. They are concerned about inadvertent introduction of bias into the CRU temperature data by having the same people who create the dataset use the dataset in research and in verifying climate models; this concern applies to both NASA GISS and the connection between CRU and the Hadley Centre. This concern is exacerbated by the choice of James Hansen at NASA GISS to become a policy advocate, and his forecasts of forthcoming “warmest years.”  Medical research has long been concerned with the introduction of such bias, which is why they conduct double blind studies when testing the efficacy of a medical treatment. Any such bias could be checked by independent analyses of the data; however, people outside the inner circle were unable to obtain access to the information required to link the raw data to the final analyzed product.  Any such bias could be checked by independent analyses of the data; however, people outside the inner circle were unable to obtain access to the information required to link the raw data to the final analyzed product.  Further, creation of the surface data sets was treated like a research project, with no emphasis on data quality analysis, and there was no independent oversight.  Given the importance of these data sets both to scientific research and public policy, they feel that greater public accountability is required

Huh?

A scientist who advocates policies to reduce emissions — really the only ethical action for someone who understands the science — and/or a scientist who is part of a team that actually makes climate projections — is inherently biased?  I guess that’s true of Curry (see below).  In any case, NASA’s data is there for anybody to see and reanalyze — with reams and reams of other raw data — as if that actually mattered to the anti-science crowd.

For someone so into data and auditing, you’d think she would be more specific in her charges;

Recent disclosures about the IPCC have brought up a host of concerns about the IPCC that had been festering in the background: involvement of IPCC scientists in explicit climate policy advocacy; tribalism that excluded skeptics; hubris of scientists with regards to a noble (Nobel) cause; alarmism; and inadequate attention to the statistics of uncertainty and the complexity of alternative interpretations….

My own experience in making public presentations about climate change has found that discussing the uncertainties increases the public trust in what scientists are trying to convey and doesn’t detract from the receptivity to understanding climate change risks (they distrust alarmism).

Pretty much all of those accusations are true and pretty much all of them are false — depending on what the heck she means by the key undefined terms, particularly “alarmism.”

Notice also how she conflates the IPCC, which isn’t supposed to do policy advocacy, with IPCC scientists (whatever that means, since you can be involved with the IPCC at many levels).  Is she suggesting every scientist who participates in the IPCC process is somehow undermining their credibility if they are also advocates for climate policy?

So who knows what Curry 2.0 means?  Let me end with Curry 1.0′s response to Bjorn Lomborg in the Washington Post, which at least is far more specific, though, as you’ll see, just raises a lot of questions about what she now believes:

In his Outlook essay “Chill Out,” Bjorn Lomborg rightly notes that skepticism about climate change is no longer focused on whether it the earth is getting warmer (it is) or whether humans are contributing to it (we are). The current debate is about whether warming matters, and whether we can afford to do anything about it.

In this debate, Lomborg has positioned himself squarely in the skeptics’ camp. But he has some of his facts wrong — and he fails to appreciate the risks that global warming bring to us all.

On the facts, Lomborg writes that the Kangerlussuaq glacier in Greenland is “inconveniently growing,” somehow undercutting the argument that the world is getting warmer. But NASA research shows that Greenland’s Kangerlussuaq glacier is not growing; it is simply spilling into the sea.

Lomborg also misrepresents some conclusions of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. He is skeptical about the claim that polar bears “will be decimated by global warming as their icy habitat melts.” But the report shows that, even under the best-case scenario, about two-thirds of the current polar bear population will be lost by 2050.

Lomborg’s attitude toward risk is also troubling. He focuses only on the middle range of the panel’s projections, dismissing the risk from the higher end of the range. But if the risk is great, then it may be worth acting against even if its probability is small. Think of risk as the product of consequences and likelihood: what can happen and the odds of it happening. A 10-degree rise in global temperatures by 2100 is not likely; the panel gives it a 3 percent probability. Such low-probability, high-impact risks are routinely factored into any analysis and management strategy, whether on Wall Street or at the Pentagon.

The rationale for reducing emissions of carbon dioxide is to reduce the risk of the possibility of catastrophic outcomes. Making the transition to cleaner fuels has the added benefit of reducing the impact on public health and ecosystems and improving energy security — providing benefits even if the risk is eventually reduced.

In his cost-benefit analysis, Lomborg considers only one policy option for reducing carbon emissions — the Kyoto Protocol — and says its worldwide cost would be about $180 billion per year. But the debate over the economics of global warming is more wide-ranging than Lomborg would have it. More than a dozen different studies have examined the economic impact of Kyoto-level controls. Some have concluded that it could have relatively small negative effects, such as those cited by Lomborg. Others have predicted small positive effects. Moreover, by focusing only on the Kyoto Protocol, Lomborg ignores potentially better policies that could cost far less than Kyoto and deliver higher economic growth worldwide.

Lomborg gets it right when he calls for an ambitious public investment program in clean-energy technologies. But he mistakenly assumes that existing technologies and strategies can’t make a big dent in carbon emissions at an affordable price. We’re developing hybrid and electric cars, building wind farms and ocean wave energy stations. New batteries, fuel cells and solar panels are smaller, better and cheaper than they were just a few years ago. I am in awe of the new technologies that I see being developed at Georgia Tech, and such research is happening at the nation’s major research universities and in the private sector.

As scientists continue to challenge and improve the quality and understanding of climate records and models, skepticism by scientists conducting such research is alive and well. But oversimplifying the situation, using misleading information and presenting false choices is not useful in the public debate over global warming.

Lomborg seems to have missed it, but a sensible debate has begun on how to best respond to global warming – in national and local governments, universities and the private sector — in the U.S. and around the world. There is no easy solution to this problem; the challenge is how best to develop options that are feasible, efficient, viable and scalable. Lomborg is correct to be concerned about the possibility of bad policy choices. But I have yet to see any option that is worse than ignoring the risk of global warming and doing nothing.

Hear!  Hear!

UPDATE:  Dr. Ben Santer of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a devastating essay on on the dreadful UK Guardian pieces on climate by Fred Pearce. Santer is a winner of the Department of Energy Distinguished Scientist Fellowship, the E.O. Lawrence Award, and the “Genius Award” by the MacArthur Foundation.  Here’s what he has to say about “Climate Auditing – Close Encounters with Mr. Steven McIntyre”:

Ten days after the online publication of our International Journal of Climatology paper, Mr. Steven McIntyre, who runs the “ClimateAudit” blog, requested all of the climate model data we had used in our research. I replied that Mr. McIntyre was welcome to “audit” our calculations, and that all of the primary model data we had employed were archived at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and freely available to any researcher. Over 3,400 scientists around the world currently analyze climate model output from this open database.

My response was insufficient for Mr. McIntyre. He submitted two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for climate model data – not for the freely available raw data, but for the results from intermediate calculations I had performed with the raw data. One FOIA request also asked for two years of my email correspondence related to these climate model data sets.

I had performed these intermediate calculations in order derive weighted-average temperature changes for different layers of the atmosphere. This is standard practice. It is necessary since model temperature data are available at specific heights in the atmosphere, whereas satellite temperature measurements represent an average over a deep layer of the atmosphere. The weighted averages calculated from the climate model data can be directly compared with actual satellite data. The method used for making such intermediate calculations is not a secret. It is published in several different scientific journals.

Unlike Mr. McIntyre, David Douglass and his colleagues (in their International Journal of Climatology paper) had used the freely available raw model data. With these raw datasets, Douglass et al. made intermediate calculations similar to the calculations we had performed. The results of their intermediate calculations were similar to our own intermediate results. The differences between what Douglass and colleagues had done and what my colleagues and I had done was not in the intermediate calculations – it was in the statistical tests each group had used to compare climate models with observations.

The punch-line of this story is that Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests were completely unnecessary. In my opinion, they were frivolous. Mr. McIntyre already had access to all of the information necessary to check our calculations and our findings.

When I invited Mr. McIntyre to “audit” our entire study, including the intermediate calculations, and told him that all the data necessary to perform such an “audit” were freely available, he expressed moral outrage on his blog. I began to receive threatening emails. Complaints about my “stonewalling” behavior were sent to my superiors at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and at the U.S. Department of Energy.

A little over a month after receiving Mr. McIntyre’s Freedom of Information Act requests, I decided to release all of the intermediate calculations I had performed for our International Journal of Climatology paper. I made these datasets available to the entire scientific community. I did this because I wanted to continue with my scientific research. I did not want to spend all of my available time and energy responding to harassment incited by Mr. McIntyre’s blog.

Mr. Pearce does not mention that Mr. McIntyre had no need to file Freedom of Information Act requests, since Mr. McIntyre already had access to all of the raw climate model data we had used in our study (and to the methods we had used for performing intermediate calculations). Nor does Mr. Pearce mention the curious asymmetry in Mr. McIntyre’s “auditing”. To my knowledge, Mr. McIntyre – who purports to have considerable statistical expertise – has failed to “audit” the Douglass et al. paper, which contained serious statistical errors.

As the “Climategate” emails clearly show, there is a pattern of behavior here. My encounter with Mr. McIntyre’s use of FOIA requests for “audit” purposes is not an isolated event. In my opinion, Mr. McIntyre’s FOIA requests serve the purpose of initiating fishing expeditions, and are not being used for true scientific discovery.

Mr. McIntyre’s own words do not present a picture of a man engaged in purely dispassionate and objective scientific inquiry:

“But if Santer wants to try this kind of stunt, as I’ve said above, I’ve submitted FOI requests and we’ll see what they turn up. We’ll see what the journal policies require. I’ll also see what DOE and PCDMI administrators have to say. We’ll see if any of Santer’s buddies are obligated to produce the data. We’ll see if Santer ever sent any of the data to his buddies”

(Steven McIntyre; posting on his ClimateAudit blog; Nov. 21, 2008).

My research is subject to rigorous scrutiny. Mr. McIntyre’s blogging is not. He can issue FOIA requests at will. He is the master of his domain – the supreme, unchallenged ruler of the “ClimateAudit” universe. He is not a climate scientist, but he has the power to single-handedly destroy the reputations of exceptional men and women who have devoted their entire careers to the pursuit of climate science. Mr. McIntyre’s unchecked, extraordinary power is the real story of “Climategate”. I hope that someone has the courage to tell this story.

Benjamin D. Santer

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow

San Ramon, California

February 22, 2010*

*These remarks reflect the personal opinions of Benjamin D. Santer. They do not reflect the official views of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory or the U.S. Department of Energy.

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74 Responses to My response to Dr. Judith Curry’s unconstructive essay

  1. George Ennis says:

    @grzejnik

    I realize there are differences in the English language as it is spoken in Canada and the US, but I did not think they were as large as your comment suggests, or perhaps you are taxed by reading a detailed rebuttal? The central point of the article and its critique of Dr. Curry was summarized early on:

    (1) She never defines her key terms like alarmism

    (2)“If you were running national and global climate policy, what level of global CO2 concentrations would be your goal and how would you achieve it?”

    But your only critique is that the article is too long and unconstructive? I suspect the latter adjective you were reaching for is unapologetic…about the science. And on that point I would agree Joe is guilty as charged.

  2. Ian Forrester says:

    Hey, wattsuphisbutt is doing double blind experiments. It’s a case of the blind leading the blind.

  3. Well, Watts slammed Curry for her (arms-length) use of the word “denier.” None of her other points rated mention. So i would say that if she hoped that this letter would earn her points with skeptics, it didn’t work.

    I’m put in mind of nothing quite so much as Mark Halperin going to Hugh Hewitt to apologize for the media’s liberal bias, and getting savaged anyway.

  4. Mike Kenny says:

    Worse than ignoring the risk is doing the wrong thing and Capn Trade and taxes are social engineering not climate engineering. When science can provide a proof (or even a number) of the man made CO2 climate forcing factor and the natural CO2 climate forcing factor and its ratio to other factors you will win over the public. Not until science provides these numbers with clarity will you get the public on your side for this potentially very expensive undertaking.

  5. MarkB says:

    Very nice response. I was stunned about the factual inaccuracies and logical fallacies in Curry’s piece and a complete lack of skepticism regarding the “climate auditors” she praises.

    Examining a bit more of Curry’s essay:

    “The blog with the largest public audience is wattsupwiththat.com, led by weatherman Anthony Watts, with over 2 million unique visitors each month.

    So who are the climate auditors? They are technically educated people, mostly outside of academia.”

    Someone should inform Dr. Curry that Watts does not have a science degree.

    “On the other hand, the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda”

    What??? Curry is right in her article to say that not all global warming “skepticism” is based on oil money, but that’s a bit of a strawman. A large motivation has always been ideology, which is described nicely by this libertarian and former skeptic.

    http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/fullcomment/archive/2009/12/14/jonathan-abrams-on-climate-change.aspx

    McIntyre/Watts have both spoken at the Heartland Institute event, which is funded by industry. Why Curry seems completely blind to the motivations and behavior (see Deltoid blog, deepclimate.org and shewonk.wordpress.com for some detailed documented examples) of the McIntyre/Watts crowd is beyond me. She characterizes their blogs as being good faith probing into science, which is far removed from reality.

    It’s also odd that Curry says scientists should communicate more with the public, but then bashes Hansen for consistently doing so (and is certainly way off on her history on multiple claims). Based on her public response to Lomborg and advocating emissions cuts, she’s the very biased “alarmist” and “advocate” she claims Hansen is, using her criteria in the recent essay.

  6. melatonin says:

    Has she freed her data and code yet? Enquiring minds want to know.

  7. john atcheson says:

    God save us from the scientists like Dr. Curry — and I say that as a scientist.

    What a lame attempt at communication! What extraordinary ignorance of context. What a disservice to humanity.

  8. Heraclitus says:

    Curry’s essay is another big step backwards – what a depressing read. It feels like it could have come straight from the opinion pages of any of the UK newspapers!

    The false dichotomy between ‘discussing the uncertainties’ and ‘alarmism’ towards the end of the essay is particularly frustrating. Saying that the science is still uncertain, and I’ve never seen any scientist saying otherwise, doesn’t stop the situation we face being alarming. Even a small risk of the catastrophic consequences of the worst-case scenarios coming true would be alarming.

  9. Jeff Huggins says:

    Oh My

    I read Dr. Curry’s essay and this critique from Joe. Oh my.

    This is a complex and multidimensional issue, of course, and I can’t say that I agree with everything that Joe has said, nor can I say that I disagree with everything that Dr. Curry has tried to say in her piece. So, the present commentary should not be taken as being in complete agreement or disagreement with either one of them.

    But I’ll offer a point that, as far as I can tell, seems to be very consistent with a big part of Joe’s critique.

    Dr. Curry is an expert, I gather, on important aspects of climate change. And, she has been apparently following the difficulties of the matter as time has progressed. And, clearly, she is expressing her views on matters such as “credibility”, communication, public understanding, trust, uncertainty, and so forth.

    Yet, in an important piece, that she distributes to blogs and hopes will generate helpful discussion, she repeatedly uses (and relies upon) terms such as “alarmism”, “credibility”, “Climategate”, “unstoppable juggernaut”, “skeptical”, and so forth.

    If she were merely posting a lengthy comment on a blog, as a regular citizen, so to speak, without specific expertise on these matters, or without having given the issues of credibility and communication much thought, then her use of such words to try to convey something would be understandable. But, when a key part of the issue does involve clarity, her use of such words creates a highly faulty piece that, while generating conversation, may well do more harm than good, depending on who learns what from the conversation generated.

    Her piece is a bit like someone trying to clean off after a dusty day at work by taking a mudbath. How does one “clean up” dustiness while using dustiness itself as her primary tool?

    The very first word in her piece is ‘Climategate’. That term means five different things to five different people, or rather it carries five different “feelings” and implicit judgments, right from the get-go.

    She talks about alarmism. But alarmism is a multifaceted thing that also means very different things. There is the magnitude of a problem, in the long-term, if not addressed; and then there is the magnitude of a problem if addressed somewhat; and there are uncertainties surrounding those things, in terms of degree; and then there is the question of the urgency of dealing with a problem or not; and so forth. Those are not all the same matters. Yet, the term ‘alarmism’ mixes together these things and more, and it carries baggage. It is, in short, a messy and unhelpful term. Again, she seems to be trying to clean up confusion and help rebuild credibility — and I applaud her intent and energy — but she’s trying to do that, in part, by using terms that themselves create confusion, cause division, and hurt credibility.

    ‘Skepticism’ also is a term that, unless she writes sentences specifically clarifying what she means, each time, in what sense, is not very helpful. The way that scientists apply skepticism — as she should surely know — or at least the way that most do, or should do — is not the same as having a generally skeptical attitude towards science or scientists themselves, nor is it the same as thinking that “nothing can be trusted”, nor (of course) is skepticism the same as “cynicism”, and so forth. So, to use the word ‘skeptical’ or ‘skepticism’ in a way that is not clear, or that seems to equate all senses of the word, or that leaves ambiguous the meaning — so that each person can understand what is being said differently — is not helpful. Again, if she’s trying to clean off the dirty windshield of a car, so drivers can see, she seems to be trying to do it with mud, not with clear cleansing water.

    So, although I applaud what she is intending to do, next time, she ought (in my opinion) to thoroughly look over her essay before she makes it public, and she ought to scrub it (carefully) of any terms that are themselves unclear and (thus) unnecessarily divisive. Indeed, if she wants the present essay to be helpful, she probably ought to rewrite it. Many of her key words — that she relies upon — are either entirely ambiguous, have multiple (and different) senses, are divisive, or all three. Thus, if she’s trying to improve clarity and trust, her intentions are good, but she’s going about it in a sloppy way, in some important respects at least.

    She ought to get help from an excellent editor, perhaps, who presses her to clarify exactly what she means and who helps her eliminate terms that don’t do the job cleanly.

    Finally, I’d suggest that Dr. Curry also talk to Steven Schneider.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  10. Robert Brulle says:

    It would have been very useful had Dr. Curry taken 15 seconds to delve into the literature on the climate denier movement. There is extensive research on the aims, funding, and extent of the climate denial movement. Her characterization is naive and uninformed. I would expect that scientists with her level of experience would be much more careful in basing their efforts on the peer reviewed literature. For those who care to actually see what the peer reviewed literature shows on this topic, you can start with:

    Jacques, P, Dunlap, R., and Freeman, M. 2008. The organization of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism. Environmental Politics 17(3): 349-385

    The nature of environmental discourse is also a topic of scholarship which Dr. Curry has failed to examine. For example, a review of the paper by James Risbey on climate discourse would have been very useful.

    Risbey, J.S. 2008. The new climate discourse: Alarmist or alarming? Global Environmental Change 18: 26-37

    The field of research on global climate change is vast, and no one scholar can possibly master it. But I think it will make science much more credible if we limit our postings to our areas of concentration, and not speculate outside of the boundaries of our knowledge.

    Dr. Robert Brulle
    Professor of Sociology and Environmental Science
    Drexel University

  11. ChicagoMike says:

    Mike Kenny: “When science can provide a proof (or even a number) of the man made CO2 climate forcing factor and the natural CO2 climate forcing factor and its ratio to other factors you will win over the public.”

    It’s about 3 degrees Celsius for a doubling of CO2, and we know humans are responsible for 80-120% of warming over the last 40 years:
    http://climateprogress.org/2009/12/02/realclimate-gavin-schmidit-what-fraction-of-global-warming-is-due-to-human-causes-vs-natural-causes/

    Of course, we can’t be 100% confident in these numbers (Hansen finds that doubling of CO2 could produce 6 degrees of warming in the long term: http://climateprogress.org/2007/10/01/another-must-read-from-hansen-%E2%80%98long-term%E2%80%99-climate-sensitivity-of-6%C2%B0c-for-doubled-co2/), but multiple studies have zoned in on 3 degrees, going back to Charney 30 years ago. Even if there was more uncertainty, the possible risks should compel us to curb GHG pollution, especially considering we’re on track to well exceed a doubling of CO2.

    The lack of willpower among the public to preserve a livable climate isn’t due to uncertainty among scientists. It’s the disinformation from conservatives and inadequate messaging from environmentalists and scientists that is the problem.

  12. mike roddy says:

    Dr. Curry above all strikes me as naive, especially since she appeared at an event with McIntyre a while back, searching for some kind of common ground. Maybe she is worn out by all the conflict, and thought that respectful discussion would improve the science and the public’s understanding of it.

    The key to Curry’s error is in her going for the ClimateAuditor’s narrative: I’m just a mathematician who was upset by sloppy data, and wanted to fight the establishment and get the facts straight etc.

    I think Curry needs to go to ClimateAudit and Wattsupwiththat and actually read their material. Even after NAS’ quite detailed and forceful vindication of the hockey stick, McIntyre still claims it’s broken, and wants to ramble on about tree rings, Climategate, and all the rest of the tired and false denier ouevre.

    She probably picked McIntyre because he’s the least embarrassing in that crowd, and is articulate. It’s not easy to find someone who can attack the laws of physics daily and not have the personality of, say, Rick Morano. McIntyre is the most credible denier by default- but that doesn’t mean that his clearly false assertions about the science should not lead to his writings being forcefully rejected. Dr. Curry has harmed both the truth, and, by extension, her fellow climate scientists.

  13. t_p_hamilton says:

    mike roddy said:”Dr. Curry above all strikes me as naive, especially since she appeared at an event with McIntyre a while back, searching for some kind of common ground.”

    When scientists build bridges to rabid anti-scientific groups, they use that bridge for invasion.

  14. tom3345 says:

    ChicagoMike,
    Would you please give a little bit more flavor to your comment…”we know that humans are responsible for 80-120% of warming over the last 40 years”…

  15. SecularAnimist says:

    As far as I am concerned, anyone who refers to the ExxonMobil-funded denialist frauds and liars and cranks, or their Ditto-Head dupes, as “skeptics” has thereby immediately discredited herself.

    They are in no way “skeptical”. They are delusional, or dishonest, or brainwashed. None of which have anything to do with skepticism.

  16. Mutmansky says:

    tom3345,
    Did you read the link that ChicagoMike provided or the RealClimate post that it referenced? Not trying to be snide here, but as a layman myself, there’s a lot of “flavor” in those posts.

  17. Steven Mosher says:

    Can you please tell me what you mean by this sentence

    ” McIntyre started his attacks long before RC was set up, back in 1998. ”

    Do you mean that Mcintyre started his attacks in 1998– CITATION PLEASE
    or do you mean that RC was set up in 1998– Wrong.

    Since you get so many of the facts wrong about Mcintyre, I think it is best to start with this one
    and stick to this one. If you can show yourself to be reasonable in this one small matter
    And fix your text, then we can proceed to the other mistakes you made.

    [JR: The 1998 was a typo, which is fixed. It is very hard to figure out when Mcintyre started attacking Mann on the net. A true auditor would say "Jan 1, 2000" since that is the official date of the first post in his archive that appears to be criticizing Mann. That date seems highly implausible, but I am loathe to accuse the auditor of any quantitative error in his blog. http://www.climate2003.com/ has not been kept up, so one can't date that except to say that it presumably was started in 2003, long before RC.]

  18. MarkB says:

    Steven Mosher,

    Just to be sure, are you conceding that Curry’s statement:

    “Steve McIntyre started the blog climateaudit.org so that he could defend himself against claims being made at the blog realclimate.org ”

    is false? Where would Curry get this idea?

  19. Steven Mosher says:

    Since Dr. Curry was kind enough to agree with one of the “watchdog concerns” let me quote her and explain:

    “They are concerned about inadvertent introduction of bias into the CRU temperature data by having the same people who create the dataset use the dataset in research and in verifying climate models; this concern applies to both NASA GISS and the connection between CRU and the Hadley Centre. This concern is exacerbated by the choice of James Hansen at NASA GISS to become a policy advocate, and his forecasts of forthcoming “warmest years.” Medical research has long been concerned with the introduction of such bias, ”

    The concern stems from experience many of us have had in the modelling community. Simply, to ASSURE the best quality from modelers and from data collectors it is a good practice to have them functionally organizationally separated.

    This is not because we have any evidence of Bias, but rather to prevent the appearance of impropriety and to prevent possible bias. The same people who are responsible for building and testing models should not have a hand in “adjusting” or “re analysis” of observation data. Curry points out Hansen as an example. GISS is responsible for ModelE, a climate model and GISSTEMP an observation dataset. It doesnt matter that GISS get their data from GHCN, the point is they process that data to create one product GISSTEMP.

    Then GISSTEMP can be used to test the skill of another product ModelE. The opportunity to make these two products look consistent is something to be avoided. For those who are interested in the independence of GHCN and GISS, there is a story there as well, that’s yet to be told. But today is not a day for that.

    And there are some more FOIA coming back….

    With that I would like to thank Dr. Curry for looking for agreement. I will also note that the the very thing her and I agreed on was basically agreed to by the MET. Looks like there may be a “climate recount”

    [JR: I certainly hope the Met Office stops lowballing recent warming once and for all!]

  20. Steven Mosher says:

    All the bloggers who received Dr. Curries article got this as well.
    I think it will be an interesting experiement

    “Thanks Dr. Curry,

    I think if I ran a blog I would challenge my readers to find agreement rather than nit pick the differences.
    That’s hard for most people to do, myself included. It’s relatively easy to say “Dr. Curry is right about such and such, BUT…” Hobby horses are easy afternoon rides. It’s my experience that when people try to extend the areas of agreement, rather than dwell on the obvious and well worn differences, some measure of progress can be achieved. There is also the ever present temptation to engage in catchy phrase criticism. ( insert evil moshpit grin) This is especially true in the drive by world of the blogosphere. It will be interesting to see which blogs can put that aside, if only on an experimental basis.
    So, thanks for the interesting experiment. Let’s hope that the number of thoughtful responses outweighs the knee jerk reactions.

    Best Regards,

    Steve”

  21. toby says:

    What I find most objectionable about Curry’s article is teh equation of the blogosphere with real science. She seems to believe a blog post that maybe took a day at most, is the equivalent of a peer-reviewed paper that was the product of two years of research.

    I look at Climate Sceptic and I found a 90-minute video by a breathless guy who was not even a climate scientist. McIntyre is not a climate scientist. At RealClimate, at least the bloggers are climate scientists who have also written and reviewed papers.

    The danger here is ambitious people who think that, by playing footsie with deniers, they can add to their own long term job prospects. It is sad, but I have seen that tendency a few times.

  22. hunter says:

    thanks for the laughs.

  23. Steven Mosher says:


    RE 18MarkB says:
    February 24, 2010 at 5:36 pm
    Steven Mosher,

    Just to be sure, are you conceding that Curry’s statement:

    “Steve McIntyre started the blog climateaudit.org so that he could defend himself against claims being made at the blog realclimate.org ”

    is false? Where would Curry get this idea?”

    Where did you get the idea that i was conceeding anything. Mark, let me explain how I proceed in all of these matters. I pick the most obvious thing that a person gets wrong and see if they are willing to correct that error. I will pound on that error until I get a straight answer. If they try to change the topic ( as you are) or point to another proxy series, or attack my motives, or blah blah blah, then I simply pound on that error harder.

    Like in 2007 when I said “free the code” I got a lot of bad arguments in return, so I figured that was a good
    argument to stick with. So for now, we will stick with a simple request to support the text or correct the text. OH, and I want attribution for finding the error.
    Basically, if you are going to slam Dr. Curry for getting stuff wrong… there is that old glass house and stones things.

    So. back to my question. lets see how that is handled.

    Support it or fix it and attribute, please and thank you

    [JR: Don't order me around -- especially given that I already dealt with this and explained it by the time you posted this comment. And there is a very clear trail in the comments. Now I have picked the most obvious thing that McIntyre and Curry (and apparently you) got wrong. So I'm willing to see if you're going to correct your error, which, I might note, is substantive, whereas mine was not. If you can't concede your big mistake than you have no business pointing out others small mistakes.]

  24. toby says:

    Naomi Oreskes’ book on the denialist movement should be a cracker of a read when it comes out later this year. Perhaps its publication should be brought forward. Her talk is still worth listening to:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio&eurl=http://www.uctv.tv/search-details.asp?showID=13459

  25. Ted Clayton says:

    Dr. Romm,

    I’m seeing fairly strong criticism of Dr. Curry’s olive branch, from both sides of the issue. Whether that’s commendable or indictable …

    Fence-sitting is known to be uncomfortable, and to irritate those on both sides. No big surprise, that “On the Credibility of Climate Research” is mostly booed, in both ears.

    There may be more people with “Dr.” prefixed to their name, reviewing their drafts for a go at the same podium Ms. Curry just stepped back from. Later, we may see formal science organizations chewing at their lip and clearing their throat, trying to work up nerve to say their version of the same thing.

    We’re at an uncertain juncture. There could be ‘seismic’ and ‘sea-change’ events, from a wide variety of sources, at any time, immediately & for many months to come. IPCC. Congress. Britain. Public opinion. More winter weather.

    But one thing Dr. Curry and yourself are both right about – the Internet now makes all the difference.

    Ted Clayton

  26. MarkB says:

    Dr. Curry might want to read (at least the 2nd part) of Ben Santer’s guest post regarding “climate auditing”:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/02/close-encounters-of-the-absurd-kind/

    While Dr. Curry’s refusal to (at least publicly) take a skeptical look at the types of the blogs she’s referring to might be passed off as a Carnegien method of building bridges, the types of factual errors and logical inconsistencies Dr. Curry makes in her essay seems to indicate she’s genuinely being mislead to at least some degree by this crowd.

  27. MarkB says:

    “RC folks tell me McIntyre didn’t go live until 2005. ”

    It appears to be October, 2004 (several posts later, in early December, 2004, he announces that RC has been set up).

    http://climateaudit.org/2004/

    while RC didn’t log their first post until November, 2004.

    …but given what is almost certainly a date error in a blog post filed under Jan 1, 2000, one wonders how many other errors there are. Sloppy.

    But as you note, his former site (available through web archives) started in 2003.

    While McIntyre hardly goes a week without insinuating some fraud or misconduct regarding scientists, Dr. Curry wants to create the opposite narrative – that poor McIntyre is just acting in good faith to defend himself against scientists.

    [JR: Sometimes people start blogging before they go live, for practice and to build up an archive. But given that it is impossible to tell and and the spin is he set this up because he was shut out of RC, he needs to set the record straight. As for the weird dating error on his site -- hmm, I wonder how he'll explain that. Tossing out data that doesn't fit your theory is a no-no, I'm told!]

  28. Ralph Bloom says:

    Who is McIntyre? I thought this thread was crom Judith Curry.
    Looks she has no friends here.

    [JR: I'm a friend. I just strongly disagree with her. McIntyre is the center of all this.]

  29. MarkB says:

    Steven Mosher,

    As expected, you didn’t answer my question. I’ll try a second time:

    Are you conceding that Curry’s statement

    “Steve McIntyre started the blog climateaudit.org so that he could defend himself against claims being made at the blog realclimate.org ”

    is false?

    Your answer was a question (although lacked the appropriate punctuation): “Where did you get the idea that i was conceeding anything.”

    Climate contrarians argue like lawyers defending a weak case, never answering questions directly and ignoring the guilt of their client by nitpicking at the witness. But I’ll give you another chance to answer the question.

    While you’re dishing out orders to Dr. Romm, tell your buddy McIntyre to fix the dating issues on at least one of his posts.

  30. dhogaza says:

    It appears that Judith Curry is hell-bent on becoming the Neville Chamberlain of our time …

    Meanwhile, I see that Stephen “Piltdown Mann” Mosher has arrived to the party.

    I will pound on that error until I get a straight answer.

    In the past, you’ve complained about my pounding on your scurrilous libeling of Michael Mann as being equivalent to those who created the Piltdown Man hoax, by labeling him “Piltdown Mann”.

    I will pound on that libel until every reasonable person in the world knows how slimy Stephen Mosher is.

  31. MarkB says:

    Joe says:

    “Sometimes people start blogging before they go live”

    The go live date is irrelevant to Curry’s claim that McIntyre started blogging to defend himself against RC. Assuming the other post dates on CA are correct, McIntyre then started blogging in October, 2004 (even if he didn’t go live), before any RC posts. Thus, he decided to blog before RC did their first post.

    DeepClimate has a good summary of the beginnings.

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/02/04/steve-mcintyre-and-ross-mckitrick-part-1-in-the-beginning/

    [JR: Good point! Yes, the claim is utter BS. I await Mosher's concession on this point or else he will have revealed his true nature, that he can dish it out, but he can't take it!]

  32. Jeff Huggins says:

    Who Will Tell The Story??

    Dr. Santer, at the end of his discussion, expresses hope that someone will have the “courage to tell this story”.

    I agree with him, and that someone should be the mainstream media.

    The reason that some folks are getting away with shoddy and uninformed badgering of — indeed, harassment of — the scientific community is that the media JUMP on stories (before understanding them) if there is any accusation or hint that a scientist forgot to dot an “i”, or had the nerve to use a cuss word, while the media ignore the issues of the false accusations, misleading complaints, badgering, and so forth themselves.

    Some of these folks have an “all win” and “no lose” situation, in throwing accusations at the scientific community, MAINLY BECAUSE OF the fact that the media sloppily cover accusations but not the shoddy work and misleading accusations of the accusers themselves.

    The media need to wake up and find some courage — and find their role in actually serving the public good, which they seem to have almost entirely forgotten.

    These stories — the story about McIntyre, the much more important story about ExxonMobil, and others — need to be told, and they need to be told well, and soon. Otherwise, forget the mainstream media, throw away your New York Times, cancel your subscriptions, and let’s talk about Plan B.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  33. Wit's End says:

    Curry + Revkin = match made in heaven

  34. Deep Climate says:

    Joe,

    I appreciate the link, but I think the piece you want is this one, describing the early progress of McKitrick and McIntyre and their links to PR outfits, astroturf gropups and think tanks (your link just points to my front page).

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/02/04/steve-mcintyre-and-ross-mckitrick-part-1-in-the-beginning/

    It’s also worth pointing out that, while ExxonMobil is surely the leading supporter of anti-science PR, it is not the only one. In Canada, Talisman Oil played a key role in the start up of Friends of Science (among the original “scientific contacts” was one Ross McKitrick).

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/02/in-the-beginning-friends-of-science-talisman-energy-and-the-de-freitas-brothers/

    Canada’s largest oil and gas company, Encana, and its ex-CEO Gwyn Morgan, have between them contributed close to $2 million to the Fraser Institute, dwarfing Exxon’s contribution.

    As for Judith Curry, here’s what she said in comments at this ClimateAudit thread:

    http://climateaudit.org/2009/11/22/curry-on-the-credibility-of-climate-research

    “I regard McIntyre, McKitrick, Wegman, Pielke, Gray, Spencer, Landsea as honest researchers that have provided a skeptical perspective to IPCC and related assessments and climate research. An example of what i was referring to in the context of the disinformation machine was Peter Webster debating Myron Ebell (a lawyer from the Competitive Enterprise Institute) on the Lou Dobbs voice, as if they were both equally legitimate voices on the subject of hurricanes and climate change.”

    and:

    “… AGW alarmist activist groups have employed the same inappropriate tactics as ExxonMobil et al., but far less effectively (at least in recent years).”

    So McKitrick is an “honest researcher” and the “activists” (unnamed of course) are as dishonest as ExxonMobil. Okaaaay.

  35. Deep Climate says:

    By the way, McIntyre had a previous website called climate2003.com. ClimateAudit.org was set up as the PR campaign about M&M’s GRL 2005 paper got started.

    The first few posts you see at CA were ported from the old website, but the new blog only started on Feb. 3, 2005.

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/02/03/climateaudit/

    The very second post pointed to the National Post articles on M&M.

    The earliest post ported over from climate2003.com was Oct. 26, 2004.

    http://climateaudit.org/2004/10/26/spaghetti-diagrams/

    So technically, McIntyre was blogging first. I think RC galvanized him to up the ante, though.

    The 2000 post appears to be a test of some sort.

  36. Deep Climate says:

    It’s ridiculous to assert that CA was a response to RC. There are real scientists, a small number of whom have been corrupted (like Fred Singer). And then there’s a new breed of pretend blog scientists, who are recycled economists, TV weathermen and mining executives.

    CA has precious little to do with science, and everything to do with attacking science. It’s a shame that Curry can’t understand that. How can she go along with the hounding of Ben Santer, for instance?

    Or the gaming of the peer review system by scientists co-operating with think tanks and PR outfits funded by interests unalterably opposed to any action on climate change?

    A particularly egregious example of the latter here:
    http://deepclimate.org/2009/07/30/is-enso-responsible-for-recent-global-warming-no/

    (as well as the Climate Research debacle of course, linked to above – but here it is again).

    http://deepclimate.org/2009/12/02/in-the-beginning-friends-of-science-talisman-energy-and-the-de-freitas-brothers/

  37. Deep Climate says:

    .. and yes McIntyre’s 2004 posts were live. Curry has it all wrong.

  38. mike roddy says:

    Thanks for Dr. Santer’s summary; it’s a familiar story for those of us who have followed the career of the Climate Auditor. “Show me the code” and “show me the data calculations” is not a really a quest for information. It is a polemic with no more content than “show me the birth certificate”, and preys on the paranoia and insecurity that is so common in advanced technical societies.

    Scientists use language carefully, and are courteous and meticulously honest as a group. This allows an opening for aggressive purveyors of misinformation, since the critical audience is lay persons. Santer’s statement was thoughtful and restrained, but will be ignored by the press and readers of the denier blogosphere, who will interpret this as weakness. Sooner or later scientists are just going to have to step up and say something like this:

    “A number of amateurs are claiming superior knowledge about a scientific discipline that requires substantial training to understand. Included in these claims are wild accusations, unsubstantiated personal attacks, and opinions about the published data that are unsupported by any evidence of their own. Members of the media should identify these faux spokesmen and cease quoting their opinions about matters they have no expertise in. Examples are bloggers such as Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts, and pundits Bjorn Lomborg and George Will.

    “If the media do not police themselves on this important issue, a media monitoring agency should be set up to list and publicize scientifically false statements that are repeated in the press. The spokesmen who have a habit of repeating falsehoods should be identified in these reports, and avoided as sources of information on the subject of climate science”.

    Time to take the gloves off, and this could be a very modest initial volley.

  39. mike roddy says:

    Welcome, Deep Climate, and thanks for your excellent recent work on McIntyre/McKittrick. It should be required reading for the American press.

  40. Mossy says:

    #11 Chicago Mike, “The lack of willpower among the public to preserve a livable climate isn’t due to uncertainty among scientists. It’s the disinformation from conservatives and inadequate messaging from environmentalists and scientists that is the problem.”

    I would also add that it’s because our leaders aren’t leading. Our legislators are waiting for their electorate to demand action on this, rather than respond in a moral and responsible way to this crisis. The government should have “climate ads”, as in the UK, they should mail everyone a copy of the climate reports available at http://www.globalchange.gov, and they should call out the anyone who deliberately distorts the reality of climate change. Obama should give a “State of the Climate” address.

    Our government has the responsibility to protect us against threats, and in this, the greatest threat ever, they are failing miserably.

  41. dhogaza says:

    It appears that Judith Curry is hell-bent on becoming the Neville Chamberlain of our time …

    Just in case anyone misunderstands what I’m saying, since “appeaserment!” has become another one of those right-wing catchwords and people might think I was making the comparison in that sense (RWingnuts tend to use it in a way that implies treason, etc)

    Neville Chamberlain was an honorable man of integrity who truly believed in the cause of peace and mistakenly believed in the honesty and integrity of his opponent, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    I think Judith Curry is honest in her attempts to establish trust and communication and mistakenly believes in the honesty and integrity of McIntyre, in particular, despite a lot of evidence to the contrary.

    That’s all I meant by the comparison.

    She’s fooling herself, but she’s honest about it. As someone said above, it’s hard to see how she can square her belief with the attacks on Santer’s career and reputation (and Lonnie Thompson, Jones, Briffa, Mann, Hansen). Neville Chamberlain wised up in the end, will she?

  42. Dennis says:

    Based on all this, we can expect to see CA and WUWT report on climatemodelgate and bloggate in the next few days.

    [JR: First CA and Mosher need to deal with TimeLineGate!]

  43. MarkB says:

    Susann (aka The Policy Lass) has had a series of posts examining the psychological tactics employed by McIntyre. Here’s a revealing recent one:

    http://shewonk.wordpress.com/2010/02/24/enron-and-the-zombie-fungus/

    To claim that McIntyre is merely a good faith researcher reveals a tremendous naivety.

  44. Tim L says:

    McIntyre is not a climate scientist. At RealClimate, at least the bloggers are climate scientists who have also written and reviewed papers.

    How we seem to for get the M+M paper and McIntyre review of papers.

    [JR: I'm a friend. I just strongly disagree with her. McIntyre is the center of all this.]

    With friends like you………….

    And JR not one note on how to repair the damage these ” scientist ” have caused all disciplines.

  45. paulm says:

    This is all so surreal. Its all very medieval.

    The civilized world is on a path of destruction

    Flat-Earth Climate Action Deriders are just sucking everyone into the abyss with themselves.

  46. Doug Bostrom says:

    dhogaza says: February 24, 2010 at 9:28 pm

    She’s fooling herself, but she’s honest about it. As someone said above, it’s hard to see how she can square her belief with the attacks on Santer’s career and reputation (and Lonnie Thompson, Jones, Briffa, Mann, Hansen). Neville Chamberlain wised up in the end, will she?

    I think it’s easy to overestimate how much folks like Dr. Curry know about this topic, or at least the seamier and more arcane bits that is. Another way of saying the same thing is that it’s easy to underestimate how obsessed some of us are with this topic and thus how loaded we are with obscure information most “normal” people would never encounter.

    On RC I spent a little time trying to badger Roger Pielke Jr. about his unfounded accusations regarding financial conflict of interest by Pachauri. I actually got Pielke’s notice, briefly, but apparently he was not particularly concerned by my remarks as he simply repeated what he’d said on his own blog without bothering to correct some factual problems with his hypothesis.

    I later found myself in a rather vehement argument over Pielke and this minutia about Pachauri with a good friend who has absolutely no problems with the science of climate change and is quite certain we’ve got a horrendous problem on our hands. This friend is acquainted directly with Pielke, considers him quite honorable and above reproach, and was appalled that I would dare question his remarks about Pachauri. Trying to describe the details of why Pielke’s reputation as an impartial actor in climate change communication is unjustified was essentially futile. The details of his activities are at root weirdly specialized and trying to describe them left me wondering if I was indeed perhaps becoming too obsessed with this topic.

  47. Ron Cram says:

    Judith Curry got a lot of things right, not everything, but a great deal. Here is my note to Dr. Curry.

    Dr. Curry,
    First, thank you for this essay. It is helpful to see acclaimed scientist like you write:

    “No one really believes that the “science is settled” or that “the debate is over.” Scientists and others that say this seem to want to advance a particular agenda. There is nothing more detrimental to public trust than such statements.”

    If rebuilding trust is really the goal, then real steps have to be taken – not just well-written essays by important scientists. Here are two ideas:

    1. The journals, especially Nature and Science, will have to take a pro-active approach to publishing work by climate skeptics. Pielke Sr., Christy, Spencer, McIntyre and others have complained that certain of their papers have not been published purely because the conclusions were not politically acceptable. This is a wrong which must be righted. Will you join with others calling for the journals to publish science which draws skeptical conclusions?

    2. Scientific conferences need to invite more skeptical scientists to speak. You have already taken a lead in this by inviting McIntyre to speak at Georgia Tech and you caught lots of flak because of it. More of this needs to happen. When skeptics are shut out of the conversation, it damages people’s confidence in the science. Why not invite Spencer to speak at Georgia Tech about the negative feedback he observed over the tropics? Or about his theory regarding how the PDO affects cloud cover? Why not invited Christy to speak about his research in California that has been shut out by the journals? Why not invite Anthony Watts to speak on surfacestations.org and the recent Henne paper? Why not put James Hansen and EM Smith on a panel to debate the surface temp record?

    I do want to thank you again for this essay. I believe I have seen real growth in your perspective regarding climate skepticism. Although I am disappointed you are still using the term “deniers.” This term is incredibly offensive and damages any call to rebuild trust.

    Also, I would like to point out that your section on the changing nature of skepticism is not quite accurate. While it is true the war between advocacy groups has gotten the headlines, the real skeptics – working scientists and very intelligent newcomers like McIntyre – have never been funded by Big Oil. Nothing has changed about the way they have gone about their approach. These people were wrongly proclaimed to be funded by Big Oil and nefarious organizations. Some are still saying this. All of these ad hom attacks need to stop.

  48. Doug Bostrom says:

    Steven Mosher says: February 24, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    And there are some more FOIA coming back….

    Why does that sound so thuggish to me? The dramatic delivery? The ellipses?

    So this time are you asking for each digit of each number in a separate request, in the name of efficiency? Turning the rabble loose, “the more the merrier?” What’s the method?

  49. Hank Roberts says:

    Watching a climate scientist try to do sociology is, well, one wonders.

    http://www.ssrc.org/workspace/images/crm/new_publication_3/%7Beee91c8f-ac35-de11-afac-001cc477ec70%7D.pdf

    THE SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH COUNCIL
    JULY 2008
    The Rise of the Dedicated Natural Science Think Tank

    By Philip Mirowski
    —excerpts follow—–

    “While most of work on think tanks takes it for granted that their mandate would encompass the social sciences as part of their political orientation, it has been much less common to focus on the growth of think tanks dedicated to the natural sciences. This has been unfortunate, because it is one thing to generate policy-relevant knowledge to bolster your side in the political arena, it is quite another to have the ambition to change the very nature of knowledge production about both the natural and social worlds.

    Analysts need to take neoliberal theorists like Hayek at their word when they state that the Market is the superior information processor par excellence. The theoretical impetus behind the rise of the natural science think tanks is the belief that science progresses when everyone can buy the type of science they like, dispensing with whatever the academic disciplines say is mainstream or discredited science.

    Here we follow the historical literature in distinguishing three waves of think tank formation: the first, pre-WWII policy institutes; the second, post-WWII to the 1970s, contract research institutes with heavy military dependency; and the modern period of advocacy think tanks….

    … The expanding role of natural science think tanks have due to two high profile events over the last few years: Kitzmiller v. Dover (2005) which challenged a public school decision to teach ‘intelligent design’ alongside the theory of evolution in biology classes, and the media scuffle over global warming….

    … Mimicking a standard refrain among academics that “more research is needed,” the consultants had picked up some tips from the neoliberals that one could build an entire ‘counter-science’, even if it was little more than a Potemkin village, and that it might even be more effective in frustrating litigation and regulation than merely throwing lawyers at the problem….

    … an entire institutional campaign which is now widely recognized as setting the pattern for many subsequent incarnations of commercial science. As David Michaels puts it, they learned that debating the science turned out to be easier, cheaper and more politically effective than directly debating the policies themselves. We might rephrase it that they came round to accept that scientific debate was engagement in politics by other means. The key tenets were to promote otherwise isolated scientific spokespersons (from gold plated universities, if possible) who would take the industry side in the debate, manufacture uncertainty about the existing scientific literature, launder information through seemingly neutral third party fronts, and wherever possible recast the debate by moving it away from aspects of the science which it would seem otherwise impossible to challenge….

    … The inspiration was to take one aspect of what many philosophers (from Peirce to Popper to Putnam) had argued was central to scientific epistemology, and expand it into a principle of research funding and management, guided, of course, by explicit self-interest in negotiating the threatening controversies of the day. At first the practice started small, but again under the example of the neoliberal thought collective, whole rafts of think tanks, ‘Institutes’ and labs were founded to carry out various components of the program. Among the most significant were the George Marshall Institute, The Annapolis Center, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Center for Science and Public Policy, junkscience.com, the Manhattan Institute… These structures, in conjunction with a few smaller centers founded within universities, by the 1970s began to form a parallel scientific universe, a whole mirror world of white papers and dubious fact sheets and fake journal publications explicitly constructed to mimic academic scientific output while keeping the original funding and motivations obscure.

    One should not think that this vast fabrication of science-to-order was only or primarily limited to one or two cases ….

    … ancillary documents from the tobacco settlement reveal Hill and Knowlton providing histories of its early organized intervention in a number of scientific issues, including the link between vinyl chloride and cancer, dioxin and human health, many issues in groundwater contamination, asbestos and its effects upon humans, and even an early program of ‘denial’ in the case of ozone depletion by fluorocarbons. One memo included in this release explicitly admits, “Hill and Knowlton was asked by DuPont to calm fears, get better reporting of the issues, and gain two or three years before the government took action to ban fluorocarbons.” One can observe a delicate neoliberal cost-benefit analysis of a few more years of profit on one side, and scientific truth on the other. The collateral damage began to show up in the orthodox scientific literature: “the contours and content of the scientific literature are directly and intentionally shaped by parties seeking to succeed in litigation… if not for the litigation, or fear of future litigation, the body of scientific literature about a particular topic would be quite different” (Michaels, 2007, pp.1142-3).

    The 1990s were a period of lush growth of dedicated natural science think tanks, especially thanks to the large sums of money being spent to call into question global warming (Union of Concerned Scientists, 2007). A current roster of the most significant think tanks addressing environmental issues is presented in (Jacques et al, 2008). …

    … Perhaps one might think this particular effort has failed, because the media now treats global warming as a ‘fact’, but given the current political position of the US as holdout against international initiates to mitigate carbon emissions, one may have to rethink the definition of ‘failure’ from the think tank perspective. Indeed, I should like to explore the possibility that the movement that seeks to “rescue science from politics” (Wagner & Steinzor, 2006) is seriously misconceived, because the commercialization of science has fostered a situation where think tank science becomes the norm, and ‘disinterested science’ can no longer be easily demarcated from science for sale just because it seemingly originates from within an academic context.

    Far from simply intervening in individual controversies as they arise, neoliberal think tanks have innovated longer term infrastructure to change the way people think about science. One of the most interesting developments in think tank science is the ‘ghost management’ of the scientific literature. Think tanks and contract research organizations now have a much better grasp on what gets published where and for what reasons than do the naïve individual scientist….

    … While this has been thoroughly documented in biomedicine, the practice has spread to an unknown degree in other natural sciences as well. Indeed, whole journals may be created by these think tanks, finely crafted to mimic the scholarly trappings of older conventional journals (or collateral web sites). In one case I am familiar with, the Ethics and Public Policy Center has funded and distributed an entire journal called The New Atlantis 4dedicated to the philosophy and sociology of science, primarily to counter the general popularity of ‘science studies’ within the academy. Nowhere are the responsible parties indicated; and the journal has been circulated for free among many in the history and philosophy of science community. For a journal dedicated to the discussion of “the effects of technology on human life”, it is unerringly filled with neoliberal proscriptions for the kinds of natural science promoted within the think tank community…..”

    —- end excerpts —-

    See the original for the footnotes and the full text:
    http://www.ssrc.org/workspace/images/crm/new_publication_3/%7Beee91c8f-ac35-de11-afac-001cc477ec70%7D.pdf July 2008
    ———————-

    Dr. Curry, please talk to some people who are studying this environment.

    To you, I think, the politicization of science is just the water in which you are swimming, but to the people outside, you’re one of the fish they’re after getting hooked.

  50. dhogaza says:

    TimL is unclear.

    Which scare-quote “scientists” are you talking about?

    Yes, the current RWingnut atmosphere in the US over the last 30 years has caused tremendous damage to science.

    I doubt if most people here know how many PhD-educated scientists doing work for federal agencies during, say, the W administration were forced to not publish papers or survey articles that suggested that grazing might cause ecological problems, timber harvests, etc etc.

    This very public attack is largely due to a science believer being in the White House. In W’d day, suppression was the rule. Now, there’s not suppression from the top, so the RWingnuts are trying to put an end to scientific careers, to destroy reputations, even to the point of trying scientists as criminals (which would make Stalin smile, if he were alive, as far-RWingnuts in his nemesis the United States adopts the same approach to science as he did)

  51. Marion Delgado says:

    I didn’t like the almost postmodern, concern trolling terms in which Dr. Curry’s presented every issue, and I believe if the tables were turned, she would not be happy at all if people like Phil Jones and Michael Mann piled on her and sided with anti-science demagoguery.

    That being said, I think the most incoherent part is the weight she gives people like McIntyre (BS in Math?) and McKitrick (economist) in talking about hard science analysis in climate. Most of us mere supporters of climate science are better trained in the relevant science than McIntyre – or Tol – or Pielke JR. – or Watts – or Lomborg …

    So if extremism is the only criterion for saying that people from CRU to Penn State to NASA to God knows where have to all take someone like McIntyre seriously and give him equal time or they’re failing science – why isn’t she writing op-eds for real alarmists? People who think the ice sheets will break up perhaps in their lifetime? And the released methane in clathrates perhaps in their children’s or grandchildren’s time may start what for a while would resemble a runaway process?

    I’m certainly willing to say, for example, that the IPCC is too political and consensus driven to give anything but a ludicrously conservative estimate of the dangers of AGW, to push the precautionary principle in the face of uncertainty instead of seeking certainty, to point out that Gore’s Earth in the Balance was a whitewash of the capitalist countries because most of the 3rd world pollution was for the benefit of Western corporations with the externalities all visited upon almost-not-rewarded poor and helpless people, and I could go on and on.

    I would certainly do that if I thought Curry would, as a competent, accurate and respected climate scientist, express concern that my viewpoint that the consensus is far too conservative and complacent was being completely blocked out of all media – which anything like that is.

    But I think she would not – so what is this all about? If it’s about a level playing field for the non-professional, non-scientist, why only science denialists? If it’s about minority views, why only science denialism? I think it might be about being completely wrong about the entire situation w/r/t ClimateAudit, the stolen emails, the various peer review kerfluffles, etc., then just being stubborn. But even then, it’s insane. It’s WTF? territory.

    Siding with people who hate everything about science except its prestige, simply want a weapon to demonize environmentalists and scare scientists into pushing a right-wing agenda-driven quasi-science paradigm, and seek to cut funding for real science to boot, and all for what?

  52. rocco says:

    “And finally, the blogosphere can be a very powerful tool for increasing the credibility of climate research.”

    This. How can a climate scientist write something like this? The “skeptical” blogosphere has spread more disinformation then the oil shills could ever dream about. It’s like she lives so high up in some ivory tower that she can’t even see the mud on the ground.

  53. JimR says:

    Whois.net shows:

    Domain Name:REALCLIMATE.ORG
    Created On:19-Nov-2004 16:39:03 UTC

    Domain Name:CLIMATEAUDIT.ORG
    Created On:31-Jan-2005 13:07:55 UTC

  54. Sou says:

    @JimR #47, you forgot to mention McIntyre’s blog before he moved to climateaudit.org:

    Domain Name: CLIMATE2003.COM
    Creation Date: 08-sep-2003

    On an the first page of climateaudit.org that was archived by wayback machine, McIntyre give the following reason for setting up the climateaudit to replace climate2003:

    I’ve set up this blog at the suggestion of John Andrews of England, a computer consultant interested in climate change. I had posted some thoughts at http://www.climate2003.com, but it was difficult to post up comments on that layout. So John located a more appropriate host, converted past musings to blog layout and set up the framework extremely efficiently. Thank you to John. This is my first post to this layout, so I’m learning how the format works. I’m not sure how regularly how I will post; I’ll see. Ross McKitrick and I have been having a lot of hits on our respective websites and there has been a considerable amount of comment at realclimate.org, sci.environment, davidappell.com and UKWeatherworld, to name a few chatlines. So there is obviously some topical interest and some need for further explanations.

    web archive of climateaudit

  55. Mark Shapiro says:

    1) The Curry essay brings Stockholm syndrome to mind.

    2) I read Steve M’s climateaudit site for some time, looking for useful information amid all the innuendo and negativity, and the signal to noise ratio seemed very low. I had to quit when McIntyre attacked Lonnie Thompson repeatedly and baselessly, and then just made fun of him. It was not auditor behavior.

    3) Stephen Walt just offered: “Top ten ways to handle a smear campaign”, for colleagues being attacked in the media.

    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/02/22/on_grabbing_the_third_rail

    It’s a quick, useful read. My favorites:
    3. Never Get Mad.
    5. Explain to your Audience What is Going On.
    10. Don’t Forget to Feel Good About Yourself and the Enterprise in Which you are Engaged.

    Read the whole thing. Especially number 10. Good night, all.

  56. TinyCo2 says:

    Do you want to win against the sceptics? Do you want to win against the public?

    You can’t. Unless you can convince some government to silence them, they will always be there. Unless you can shut down the internet, they will always have a voice.

    What you can do is convince them and thus persuade nearly everyone that reducing CO2 is important. To do that, climate science has to regain trust. Their idea of trust, not yours, not even Dr Curry’s.

    There is a great temptation to treat climate science like you would any other tricky issue. Selling a bad political party, shifting a dodgy product, collecting money for a good cause, all those can be achieved by using known selling techniques. Reducing CO2 is different. It’s a new beastie. It requires a lifetime’s commitment to changing what are very comfortable lives, often in uncomfortable ways. Nobody does that unless they trust the reasons for it.

    One of the reasons I use the moniker TinyCO2 is because I have a very small carbon foot print. I walk the walk. I know how very hard it is to put your carbon where your mouth is. I know that it takes a strong conviction to live this life. I see climate science totally failing in the task of persuading even my CAGW faithful friends in joining me in significantly reducing their CO2.

    The UK already has crippling taxes on fuel. Do you see our national footprint shrinking (ignore the fake reductions caused by the dash for gas and the change from an export to an import economy) we still consume just as much as we used to. Actually we consume more. Our kiddies have been brainwashed by propaganda but they’re some of the worst CO2 offenders.

    So you see Dr Curry’s attempt to bridge the gap between both sides of the climate debate and you pick holes in it. Well why not, there are holes to be picked? But you don’t improve trust one little bit. All you do is fuel the conflict.

    So it’s time for you guys to think hard. Which is more important to you, beating the sceptics or winning the war?

  57. Tim Lambert says:

    Given Climateaudit’s fondness for revealing the real names of folks using pseudonyms, it is interesting to note that the archived post Sou found reveals that the full name of Climateaudit’s “John A” is “John Andrews”.

  58. Nick says:

    Tiny, false dichotomy…exposing faux sceptics is part of winning the war for the public’s trust. Dr Curry is legitimising their ‘story’ in the eyes of the public by accepting them as they claim to be rather than as who they really are. You see ‘fuel’,I see useful factual analysis.

  59. John Manovski says:

    Joe Romm: “What precisely is the point of engaging someone in discussion if they won’t spell out their view of what climate science says will likely happen on our current path of unrestricted emissions and precisely what they would recommend we do? ”

    Perhaps its called asymmetrical warfare? Maybe they are not spelling out any particular view because they don’t believe they can do so with any particular scientific justification. This seems perfectly reasonable to me.

    [JR: How can you charge anyone with being an alarmist if you don't explain how your understanding of the science is different from theirs? If you look at her credentials, she is more than qualified enough to spell out her view of the science.]

  60. Dennis says:

    mike roddy wrote:

    “Sooner or later scientists are just going to have to step up and say something like this:

    ‘A number of amateurs are claiming superior knowledge about a scientific discipline that requires substantial training to understand. Included in these claims are wild accusations, unsubstantiated personal attacks, and opinions about the published data that are unsupported by any evidence of their own. Members of the media should identify these faux spokesmen and cease quoting their opinions about matters they have no expertise in. Examples are bloggers such as Steve McIntyre and Anthony Watts, and pundits Bjorn Lomborg and George Will.”

    My advice is to challenge these faux experts to sit down and take couple closed book GRE Subject Tests (Physics, Chemistry, etc.) or something similar and then publicly report their grades.

  61. Andy says:

    Curry says and the Mosher supports:

    “They are concerned about inadvertent introduction of bias into the CRU temperature data by having the same people who create the dataset use the dataset in research and in verifying climate models; this concern applies to both NASA GISS and the connection between CRU and the Hadley Centre.”

    The reality is that the scientists involved had to build these temperature data sets from the ground up. They needed them to conduct their work. No one else was going to do this at the time. There were no data sets to be pulled off a shelf somewhere.

    Therefore your assertions are absurd. Beyond absurd actually. They are nothing less than reinventing history.

    Now that the science of global temperatures has matured it would be very nice if other groups assembled the raw data and built more independent data sets. Why couldn’t you have simply stated this as one solution towards reconciliation instead of attacking Hansen and Jones?

  62. Deep Climate says:

    #38 Mike Roddy

    I would like to see the leading scientific organizations (such as the NAS) stand up and call a spade a spade. And in my opinion, the problem is as much or more in complaisant media like FoxNews, WSJ, National Post etc. that legitimize, and are in fact a willing part of, the anti-science PR.

    Nothing will change until scientists as a group make this point forcefully and name names. And the responsible media will have to (finally) call out their irresponsible bretheren.

  63. MarkB says:

    Good post, Doug (#46). Pielke Jr. is seen as reliable as a textbook by most of the media. Revkin quotes him regularly, without the slightest of a critical eye. Although Pielke clearly plays loose with the facts, he’s been able to woo many into buying his “honest broker” label. Pielke has much of the characteristics of a concern troll, portraying something like “I support the scientific consensus on manmade global warming and it presents great risks to our civilization…but the consensus is alarmist alarmist alarmist…scientists are frauds and can’t be trusted…contrarians are mostly trustworthy…there’s little evidence that global warming is bad…emissions reduction proposals are bad…” Pielke’s act seems more transparent to me.

  64. Mike Kenny says:

    Perhaps a large part of the problem is with the IPCC and its chairman. There is much politics in science as demonstrated in these comments and the carefully edited bias displayed here.
    http://hubpages.com/hub/IPCC-Chairman-A-Compromised-Global-Warming-Enthusiast

  65. climate undergrad says:

    @55 Mark Shapiro – thanks for the link (I actually saw prokaryote post this on real climate as well) but I preferred her/his favorite excerpt as:

    6. The More Compelling Your Arguments Are, The Nastier the Attacks Will Be If critics can refute your evidence or your logic, then that’s what they will do and it will be very effective. However, if you have made a powerful case and there aren’t any obvious weaknesses in it, your adversaries are likely to misrepresent what you have said and throw lots of mud at you. What else are they going to do when the evidence is against them?

  66. Mike Kenny says:

    There is much mention here about how one must be a climatologist to have any valid input into the science of climate ! There must be a dozen disciplines involved in this from statisticians and geologists to cosmology yet the embracers of AGW pay homage to Politicians/Gore and Geneticists/Suzuki. You gain no credibility by this double standard including the political science put forward by the IPCC, a political body!

  67. Ian Forrester says:

    Andy said:

    Now that the science of global temperatures has matured it would be very nice if other groups assembled the raw data and built more independent data sets.

    It appears that this is about to happen:

    The whole of the world’s instrumental temperature record – millions of observations dating back more than 150 years – is to be re-analysed in an attempt to remove doubts about the reality of global warming.

    The new analysis, an enormous task which will be carried out by several groups of scientists working independently in different countries, has been proposed by the UK Met Office in the wake of recent controversies over climate science, such as the “climategate” email affair at the University of East Anglia and revelations that the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) contained inaccuracies and exaggerations.

    The proposal was put to the World Meteorological Organisation by the Met Office at a meeting in Antalya, Turkey, earlier this week, and accepted by 150 delegates from around the world. Its detailed terms will be agreed at a conference to be held in Britain later this year.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/worlds-temperature-record-to-be-reanalysed-1909909.html

    While this may be good from a science perspective it actually plays into the hands of the deniers/delayers since it will allow all decisions to be put on hold until the report is out and accepted.

  68. Doug Bostrom says:

    Cram:

    Pielke Sr., Christy, Spencer, McIntyre and others have complained that certain of their papers have not been published purely because the conclusions were not politically acceptable. This is a wrong which must be righted. Will you join with others calling for the journals to publish science which draws skeptical conclusions?

    Before any journal is forced to publish anything for political reasons, why not establish that complaints are valid? Or is Nature supposed to publish rubbish with invalid conclusions purely as a matter of equal time?

    Scientific conferences need to invite more skeptical scientists to speak. You have already taken a lead in this by inviting McIntyre to speak at Georgia Tech and you caught lots of flak because of it.

    Was it perhaps because McIntyre had nothing useful to say that he had not already published? What has McIntyre done for us lately? Or is this again just an “equal time” demand?

    Apparently your objective is to overtly politicize science?

  69. Tom Wiita says:

    Santer’s excerpt strikes me as a clear example of exactly how not to handle situations like McIntyre’s request to Santer for the intermediate calculations. The request arrives. Santer stonewalls, saying that the intermediate calculations can be done independently as was in fact done by others. Santer is right about this, but it comes off with a whiff of scientific arrogance. McIntyre publicizes the stonewalling and goes the FOIA route. After a month, Santer releases the intermediate calculations, but only after the damage has been done in the blogosphere. Santer is seen as a stonewaller hiding something that “should” have been made freely, and “should” have been released is “proven” to be true by the fact that it was released and made freely available by Santer.

    Santer says the FOIA was unnecessary, but no sane unbiased observer would look at these facts and not conclude that Santer would never have released the intermediate calculations, except for the FOIA. Santer is a MacArthur certified genius, but releasing the requested information without reluctance would have been a smarter way to handle this.

    [JR: Wouldn't have mattered a whit!]

  70. Dean says:

    I agree with many of Joe’s and other comments, so I will jsut add this What it will take to (re)build trust and credibility of science, and specifically climate science, in the current environment with the public is not the same as what it takes to inform people based on the actual science. One is a political process and the other is not.

    I read Curry’s efforts as more a part of that political process. Her faux balance is an attempt to try and play a moderating role by not being discounted by either side. In the end she will probably be discounted by both sides because that is how heated political processes work. And in the process she gives aid to those who use the faux balance strategy in the media.

  71. A Siegel says:

    Well, out of all this, want to say thanks for highlighting Curry’s response to Lomborg. Missed it, for whatever, reason and it was a good piece. And, an excellent (yet another) example of The Post’s ‘faux and balanced’ nature of publishing lots of bad stuff but seeming to think that’s okay because they allow in decent material, from time to time, in response.

    PS: Strong, but appropriate, takedown of the misguided nature of the language and false nature of ‘balancing’ between WUWT/et al anti-science syndrome sufferers and those grounded in reality.

  72. A Siegel says:

    Question re Curry 1.0 as to whether you know: Did that only appear online or was it in the actual paper? The Post’s new way of marking material makes it hard to tell whether stuff is simply online or was actually in ink.

    [JR: I don't know.]

  73. Hank Roberts says:

    Wow. Having read through all (!) the comments at WUWT I wonder if Dr. Curry can still support saying “the climate auditors have no apparent political agenda” — because over and over, people there dumped on her for thinking there could be anything to climate change at all, asserting their certainty that it’s all a fake.

    So if that’s not a political agenda, what is? what would be?

    Serious question.

  74. Pete H says:

    Ian Forrester says:
    February 25, 2010 at 12:57 pm
    “While this may be good from a science perspective it actually plays into the hands of the deniers/delayers since it will allow all decisions to be put on hold until the report is out and accepted.”

    And the problem with that is what? Surely if the Met Office is prepared to go to that extreme to prove the accuracy of the data and the models it can only be good. They say it will take 3 years. That is a very short time in the history of earth and even Climate Science.

    I actually feel a little sorry for Judith. It is hard to try to get two tribes together but some of the comments (and the post) are defeating the fact that she wants us all to get to the real truth.

    What is everyone scared of? Being wrong? There is nothing wrong with that! Ask my wife!