Merry Christmas

Some seasonal remarks – a few substantive and a few personal.

While people tend to lump me with contrarians, no one has proved to me that 2xCO2 doesn’t matter and I’ve never suggested this. I don’t have defined views right now on whether it will have a big impact or a little impact and I think that the issue is very important. Criticizing some overblown studies like MBH doesn’t put an end to the policy issue and I’ve never suggested that. Having said that, I see no harm and much benefit in criticizing overblown and oversold studies. I got into this because no one had ever checked the multiproxy studies and it seemed like someone should.

I am against hypocrisy and over-promotion. I sincerely hope that I do not fall into either category. When you get public attention, it’s a risk that your ego gets inflated. Again, I hope that it isn’t/doesn’t happen to me and I try to avoid it. Over the years, I’ve concluded that you’re never as smart as you think you are when you’re doing well and never as dumb as you think you are when you’re doing poorly. So I try to stay even. I am sometimes sarcastic. I don’t think that I have ever been sarcastic with civilians, only with people that have used weapons. And sometimes, sarcasm is the only response- what else can one say about Jones’ excuse for not releasing data? When you’re dealing with pompous people, sometimes sarcasm is the most effective way of dealing with them. Having said that, it’s a risky road and I try to be careful and am prepared to back off. I sometimes put in obscure "cultural" references, probably to not get stereotyped as a right-wing Republican. Obviously, many of my views have received a lot of traction within that community (and I appreciate this), but it’s possible to be critical of the Hockey Team without being a Bushie.

I find the topic of climate change very interesting in its own right, aside from the policy. There are historical issues e.g. the presence/absence of the MWP; statistical issues e.g. handling and confidence intervals of autocorrelated series; the causes of paleoclimate change – not just the Ice Ages, but the long downtrend from the Eocene through the Pliocene. Each is intrinsically interesting even if they do not "matter" to Kyoto. I’m disappointed that so many climate scientists seem to think that their topic is interesting only if it "matters" to Kyoto.

I try hard to make topics accessible. Sometimes I accomplish this, sometimes not. Other than some math points, I strongly believe that most points can be explained to a general audience inclusive of all relevant details without relying on ex cathedra announcements. As TCO observes of realclimate, even when they are speaking to a general audience, they tend to preach at you. One doesn’t get the sense that they trust a general audience to engage in the details.

The blog has been both work and fun. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t like doing it and I wouldn’t do it if there wasn’t an audience. When you’re producing as much material as I have, you do find that you sometimes play to the audience, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The blog was John A’s idea and design and I’m glad that people other than me have thanked him for his efforts. I repeat my thanks.

I’ve met some nice people through the process, sometimes in person, sometimes by email. I’ll cite Ross McKitrick in particular, who, in addition to being a clear and insightful writer, is a kind and generous person.

I got interviewed recently by several students at Seneca College, who were doing an assignment on M&M (in a communications course). One of them asked me to comment on a description of me as being "fearless". While I was proud of the adjective, it’s the kind of question that can go to your head. I didn’t think that there was anything "fearless" about what I was doing – I didn’t have a young family to support; none of my children were at risk; I was doing this for fun. Needless to say, reality set in soon afterwards and no one would have described me as "fearless" during December. Our Christmas present is that our grandson has so far recovered far ahead of schedule and looks like he will make a full recovery.

On my side, there will be an armistice for a few days. Merry Christmas.


29 Comments

  1. Bob K
    Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

    I for one, greatly appreciate the extensive effort Steve, Ross and John have made in bring to light the various problems with the climate studies and the climate community as a whole.

    Merry Christmas to you all.

  2. Ray Soper
    Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

    It seemed to me that Kipling had something to say that is relevant to you:

    IF
    by Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting;
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating;
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream”¢’‚¬?and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think”¢’‚¬?and not make thoughts your aim;
    If you can meet with triumph and disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on”;

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with kings–nor lose the common touch;
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty-seconds’ worth of distance run”¢’‚¬?
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And”¢’‚¬?which is more”¢’‚¬?you’ll be a Man, my son!

    Best wishes to you and your family for Christmas and a wonderful 2006

  3. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 1:42 PM | Permalink

    I’m very grateful to you (and Ross) Steve for what you’ve done, even if that had stopped at your publications. The blog here is all gravy, so far as I’m concerned, and my further real thanks to you and John A (whom I also thank for the “tinyurl” pointer) for starting it and keeping it very worthwhile, and very open and friendly. Congratulations on the fast recovery of your grandson. I come from a large family, and when children hurt themselves it can be very scary and awful. But their healing capacity is astonishing, and they forget the trauma and are quickly happy again. May he grow to follow his grandfather’s footsteps, or at least survive his teen years sans body-metal. :-) Finally, Merry Christmas to you and all, and a Happy New Year full of successful, fairly reviewed, and widely published results.

  4. John A
    Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    It’s been an interesting year, full of ups and downs, but curiously I’m not surprised by the success of Climate Audit. I had confidence that if Steve was to embrace this as a serious outlet for his work, then the blog would generate the headlines and the interest from the scientific community in the way it has.

    I didn’t know very much about Steve when I first got in touch (I had had e-mail conversations with Ross McKitrick but that was it), other than Steve seemed to be a bright guy and he knew his statistics pretty well.

    But I felt that Steve and Ross’s work was so important (I had an advance copy before it was formally published) that frankly it would have surprised me had it not been as popular. It had to make an impact, and RealClimate (an appellation I still find amusing) did their part to make Steve look even better by the way they have continued to conduct themselves.

    During the year, we’ve enjoyed the full range of political stunts: attempts to get the editor of GRL to withdraw the paper, attempts to smear Steve with accusations about connections with fossil fuel companies, attempts to prevent Steve being heard at scientific meetings, censoring scientific replies on RC for no reason, embarassing hagiographical articles in Scientific American, one-sided interviews on the BBC, unflattering and untrue statements made on Wikipedia that keep getting edited and reverted, even a press release purporting to be an independent replication of MBH that hid the same key verification statistics as the original that showed that they too had no statistical significance.

    Hopefully, the new year will see more interesting scientific papers that even a year ago would not have been published, such was the embargo that a few people had managed to create in the climate science community.

    In closing, I’ve been reflecting on the very recent scientific story of South Korea’s top scientist in embryology and cloning for stem cell research being unmasked as a scientific fraudster. Sometimes scientists overreach themselves and believe their own publicity. It’s clear that his assistants were his biggest cheerleaders.

    As the New York Times has reported:

    When Dr. Hwang Woo Suk’s recent reports of advances in cloning research were declared to have been fabricated on Friday, his disgrace left scientists wondering how he had risen so fast, deceived so many and fallen so hard.

    Dr. Hwang, a South Korean veterinary researcher who had climbed to a pinnacle of international visibility, took more than his own reputation down with him.

    The South Korean government, which promoted Dr. Hwang as a national hero and an international celebrity, has seen its investment wasted. The leading scientific journals that vied to publish Dr. Hwang’s work are re-examining their acceptance procedures. And although Dr. Hwang’s laboratory was just one of many working on stem cell research, the widespread impression he created that success in therapeutic cloning was imminent can now be seen to have rested on false pretenses.

    That’s what happens sometimes when scientists under enormous pressure cut corners in order to be ahead and publish first.

    I think Steve’s strategy points the way forward in difficult subjects – there needs to be openness and transparency in science. There needs to be an acceptance that if you’re going to influence public policy and take public money to do so, then you’d better expect to have your work checked. I personally think that if Hwang Woo Suk had admitted failures from time to time, he’d still be in a job and still contributing to science.

    It’s been an interesting year, and I look forward to more interesting new articles in the New Year.

  5. Tom Brand
    Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 2:27 PM | Permalink

    I am eighty years old and have no academic background but I enjoy this website because it seems to approach the problem of global warming much more honestly and humbly than is being done by those who seem so sure on the hand of their models of approaching calamities. Although I do not understand the underlying mathpoints of your arguments I take them on faith since the arguments in your blog as well as your book make sense to me.
    I thank you all for your efforts and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
    Tom

  6. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

    Re #2: There’s a lot of wisdom in that. It’s the sort of thing that tends to be said to teenagers, say at graduation ceremonies, but it has no meaning for them. Even most older people aren’t risk-takers and probably don’t understand all the lines. I understand verse 3 all too well. I guess Kipling went from huge fame to being totally out of fashion – which would have been his status in the 60s. I re-read some Kipling a few years ago (Kim, Plain Tales of the Raj).

  7. Martin Ringo
    Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas to Steve and John (and all those commentators who add zest and insight) and thank you for a stimulating site.

    Tom, you like the science; I like the statistics, and we both better stay away from those partial differential equations. There’s a lot here, and now, “Dearly Beloved,” we have a little Kipling. Steve, watch out or you’ll become another Herman Kahn, “a monomaniac with diverse interests.”

    May it be a Happy New Year.

  8. Posted Dec 24, 2005 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

    Steve:

    I appreciate your comments on the blog and your investment in our understanding of these complex issues. Thanks, to you, Ross and John for all your hard work.

    Also, thanks for the update on your grandson. Knowing that he is recovering rapidly is a great Christmas present for us all.

    Merry Christmas!

    Russ

  9. Posted Dec 25, 2005 at 5:22 AM | Permalink

    Congratulations for the quick recovery of your grandson and Merry Christmas to you and John.

  10. Larry Hulden
    Posted Dec 25, 2005 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    I want to express my big thanks to Steve, Ross & John A, for this weblog.
    I have several experiences with Nature, Science and the Holocene, but I never imagined that there was that larg REAL censorship attitude within CLIMATE research. I have been able to present my own results on several occasions, but it is completely impossible to get them published, One of the big falsifications in Nature magazine ( in 1996 and 1999 by a coauthor in WG II in IPCC) is the concept of “poleward shift of insects because of global warming”.The latter article is in part based on material from Finland. (I withdraw my name from that article because of the methodological errors and conclusions) The conclusion was that all the selected study species had shifted northwards also in Finland. I had sent all known records of the species to author (about 80000 records) which clearly showed that half of the species had shifted northwards and the other half southwards (some species even several hundred kilometer). Still it was claimed that all the species had shifted northwards up to 240 km. The statistical methods to prove the northward trend is complete garbage. I tried to correct the conclusions at several occasions to Nature and Science. I have discussed the case with one of the editors personally in Italy. The only response I got from the editors was that I didnt contribute with anything new to sciense. The referees also claimed that they had “heard” that all the species had shifted northwards in Finland. I have practically all known records of the insects in question in a data base of more than one million records.
    I have other results on water and air temperature trends in Finland which have not been accepted by main stream science because the conclusions are not jn accordance with the views of IPCC.
    I feel that I have gone through the same process as Ian Castle (on econometrics) and Paul Reiter (on insect borne diseases) although on a lower level. I know about other similar examples.
    It is quite clear that there exists a strong trend of censorship within climate science. Unconvenient data are simply ignored by the main stream scientist because of funding obstacles..
    I think that Steve has made an important effort to wake up the scientific community.
    For the time being it is not at all clear that you can get published although you have convincing results if the results do not agree with IPCC.
    It is also clear that Steve’s impact is not limited to the question about hockey stick. There are a lot of other rotten issues in REAL CLIMATE science.
    One disturbing aspect in the ongoing “struggle” is accusation of the opponent for representing certain political views (or some economic interests). Those who emphasize the political views actually express lack of scientific arguments in the particular topic in question, Steve has consistently kept to a fair basis in scientific arguments independently of his personal political views. These views mjght be quite different from mine, but our struggle for a frank and reliable scientific practise is certainly thesame.
    I am convinced that Steve has initiated an important movement in rectification of serious side steps from scientific practise. Scientific thinking will not be stopped by “beliewers” nor “contrarians”.
    I wish Steve all the best in the future

  11. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Dec 25, 2005 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas to all, and thanks to Steve, John A., and all the contributors for creating a really interesting (and educational!) climate science “agora” here. It’s especially nice to be able to read and discuss real evidence and calculations, instead of trying to infer scientific details from a few paragraphs in a press release or the daily newspaper. Who would have known that “auditing” could be so much fun?
    There’s a fair bit of turmoil in traditional scientific publishing these days; I think that this site is a great example of one way to catalyze robust scientific inquiry in the internet age.

    Thanks, too, for reporting the encouraging prognosis of your grandson, Steve; best wishes to your family and others as we are all reminded of the important things in our lives.

  12. Posted Dec 25, 2005 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas to all collaborators of this blog, which is “fearless” in not shying away from putting the finger on dubious or false statements, and for it’s strong battle for honest not ego-driven climate science. Best wishes to all family members, and pardon me for being an European, member of a political association that seems to adopt the old Nazy-German philosophy “Am europàƒ⣩schen Wesen soll die Welt genesen” (original: “am deutschen Wesen…”).

  13. GeorgeT
    Posted Dec 26, 2005 at 6:46 PM | Permalink

    I join with the chorus singing praises to all of you. Thank you for all that you do!

    Regarding #12,”I am convinced that Steve has initiated an important movement in rectification of serious side steps from scientific practise.” I think Larry is absolutely correct here. I’d go so far as to say that climateaudit will have far-reaching implications and that years from now we will look back at the commencement of this blog as a landmark in climate science. You folks may never grasp the full significance of what you have birthed here, but I suspect it will be bigger than you can imagine.

    Happy New Year, one and all!

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 26, 2005 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the kind comments. They are more than I deserve. So let’s leave it at that and get back to business. I can’t imagine that the editors at Science (or Nature) are feeling quite so olympian as they did a few months ago when then they lorded it over the Barton Committee.

  15. TCO
    Posted Dec 26, 2005 at 10:48 PM | Permalink

    You’ve got balls, old salt. Hang tough.

  16. jae
    Posted Dec 27, 2005 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    The communicative power of the weblog is truely astounding!

  17. John A
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    I post this here just in case it falls through the cracks at RealClimate:

    ===========================

    [SM- it's going to fall through the cracks here too.]

    best wishes for 2006

    John A

  18. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    Yeah, don’t hold your breathe waiting for it to be posted (and/or) to stay posted. Though, of course, nothing you say is untrue or not sincerely stated.

  19. John A
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 2:37 PM | Permalink

    They bravely let three comments through so far. They read:

    Keep up the good work!

    ========================

    I find this website provides exceptional and informative insights into the global warming debate, as well as being – at times – very entertaining. I fully welcome OPEN scientific debate.
    ==============
    RC in 2005 was a success. Global warming is taken more seriously now.

    For 2006, something along the lines of – A Risk of Total Collapse – by Dylan Evans (Guardian, 21 Dec 2005), with a main focus on global warming, seems in order to me.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/print/0,3858,5360393-103677,00.html

    O brave souls!

  20. Peter Hearnden
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

    Re #17, well I wouldn’t publish such unpleasant, sarcastic, contemptious and mean spirited stuff. It just embitters things – why can’t you just once, hell once, show some respect for these people??? I rekon you do it because you know they wont post it and then you can say what nasty censorious people they are. All in all pretty sad.

  21. TCO
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 5:05 PM | Permalink

    I agree that John’s post is a bit snarky…although I don’t think it is such a sin to be a bit snarky RC certainly do the same in reverse and allow their proponents to be snarky in comments while not allowing the reverse.

    BTW, I put the following post into the queue. Let’s see if it gets on:

    It is a beautifully put together blog in terms of layout, but the content is sometimes thin (depth of discussion and frequency of posts). More importantly the biased censorship (against skeptics), the several hour (at laeast for skeptics) previewing wait and the cessation of commenting in old threadss inhibits vigorous technical discussion. Also, I think you should allow negative pertinent comments (as this one is). In addition, I find it strange that you don’t mention the climateaudit site among your sword clashers or even link to it. (They have the grace to unilaterally link to you.) To your (limited) credit, the wall of exclusion from skeptic arguments and the deletion of any post that linked to climate audit seems to have lessened. Still not fair though. (My assessment…based on participation here.)

    P.s. Please allow this post even if you disagree with it. You can make a blue in the post voice of God reply. Just because you disagree with an assertion or argument is no reason to stop the post.

  22. TCO
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    Post above WAS ALLOWED to go up on RC. Pretty fast too.

  23. John A
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

    Re: #20

    [SM- snip. c'mon.]

  24. Doug L
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 6:34 PM | Permalink

    Re #17

    Eloquent humor, and far more thoughtful than me calling them something like “ClimateFairyTale dot Org”.

    Before “getting back to business”, I raise a cyber-glass of CO2 saturated bubbly wishing ClimateFairyTale.org the most exciting year yet! :-)

  25. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Dec 28, 2005 at 8:20 PM | Permalink

    Re:#20,23
    The wording and pettiness in both these posts go against the spirit of Steve’s remarks and the thread title. One of the best features of Climate Audit is the rarity of free-fire zones; let’s keep this thread fire-free.

  26. James Lane
    Posted Dec 29, 2005 at 2:13 AM | Permalink

    Armand, as usual, is exactly right. One of the most attractive features of Climate Audit is its general civility.

    I’d like to wish everybody a belated Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

  27. TCO
    Posted Dec 29, 2005 at 10:52 PM | Permalink

    latest RC post (in case they censor it)

    Tony, great post. Some reactions:

    1. My basic point remains. If you are really worried about incepient peak oil (that we will have a hard crash in the next few years), then that will impact CO2 production after the crash. Remember the time scales too. Peak oil disaster scenarios are in near future. GW is much further off and assumes large-scale CO2 production for several generations. At a minimum, you have to consider the issue that your disasters have at least a TENDANCY to contradict. That’s all I’m asking for. The sooner the oil runs out, the sooner we stop burning it.

    2. I will read your working paper on depletion technology. Assuming that you are right, to me the major implication to me is not a jump to assumption that this means depletion will accelerate (depletion will remain a function of the futures market in that case), but rather the point that exploration will not be advancing.

    3. Regarding the energy cost of extraction–agreed (unless alternative sources advance to the point that oil is useful just as a feedstock…which I find unlikely…no alternative energies on the horizon breaking through). However if this is indeed incipient, the futures markets aren’t showing it.

    4. That’s great about Twilight in the Desert…but there are also plenty of articles on how the cartel is more effective nowadays and how they try to reduce investment in infrastructure to make it so.

    5. WRT “fields in depletion and the crash may be steep plausibly”…well the futures markets don’t agree with you…they could be wrong…but they have an economic incentive to try to be right! And the information that you cite is PUBLIC! What they show instead is a plateu.

    6. Agreed that hyperinflation might cause 200 dollar oil. but that could happen with no shortage. you’re just firing from the sidelines and mixing in side issues with comments like that (and do you really think this will happen? why didn’t it happen in the 80s or the 40s then?)

    7. the hurricanes? what the hell does that have to do with peak oil? you’re just throwing different things at the wall with comments like that. And even in GW, hurricane numeracy is not at all demonstrated as a proxy. That smacks of jumping on individual events.

    8. General criticism. While you have a very content filled post, there is a tendancy in it to appeal to authority and to name drop sources vice thinking through issues.

  28. Armand MacMurray
    Posted Dec 30, 2005 at 9:09 AM | Permalink

    TCO, you clean up good! Nice post!

  29. Posted Apr 4, 2006 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

    I’m Cathy, cool and interesting blog, Thanks

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