Nature Again

We took another try at Nature corrspondence. In their news report on the Mann graph discussed here , they stated:

In its report, released on 22 June, the NAS committee more-or-less endorses the work behind the graph.

They published a whining letter about the NAS panel and news conference by Mann et al, where they claimed that it was "hard to imagine" how they could have disclosed uncertainties more fulsomely. Of course, it was very "easy to imagine" and we sent in a letter to Nature, which they refused to print.

Now obviously whatever else the NAS Panel did, they did not "more or less endorse the work behind the graph". So we sent the following letter tracking the form of language of the Mann et al letter to some extent:

Your News story “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph”‘? (Nature 441, 1032; 2006) states that the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel “more-or-less endorses the work behind the [Mann et al hockey stick] graph”‘?. This conclusion was not stated in the NAS report itself nor by any of the panellists at the NAS panel press conference releasing the report.

Many specific findings of the NAS panel show that they did not endorse the work behind the hockey stick. The NAS report stated that the Mann et al decentered principal components methodology should not be used; that temperature reconstructions should avoid the use of strip-bark bristlecones and foxtail proxies; that the Mann et al reconstruction was strongly dependent on these problematic proxies; that their reconstruction failed important verification tests; and that they had incorrectly estimated uncertainties in their reconstruction.

At the press conference, panel chairman North said that he agreed with the “substance”‘? of the Mann et al reconstruction. However, this language is nowhere used in the report itself, where the panel expressly referred to the reconstruction merely as “plausible”‘? and specifically withheld any attribution of confidence intervals for the period before 1600.

Nature, who seem to have abandoned any attempt at an even-handed treatment of the issues, even where they have themselves inaccurately reported on a matter, replied:

Thank you for your Correspondence submission, which we regret we are unable to publish. Our news story was indeed citing North’s comments at the press conference, which as they say "substantially" support Mann et al., and which is clear from the text of the news story.Thank you again for writing to us.

For comparison, once again, here is the letter from Mann et al which was published:

Your News story “Academy affirms hockey-stick graph”‘? (Nature 441, 1032; 2006) states that the US National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel “concluded that systematic uncertainties in climate records from before 1600 were not communicated as clearly as they could have been”‘?. This conclusion is not stated in the NAS report itself, but formed part of the remarks made by Gerald North, the NAS committee chair, at the press conference announcing the report.

The name of our paper is “Northern Hemisphere temperatures during the past millennium: inferences, uncertainties, and limitations”‘? (Geophys. Res. Lett. 26, 759″€œ762; 1999). In the abstract, we state: “We focus not just on the reconstructions, but on the uncertainties therein, and important caveats”‘? and note that “expanded uncertainties prevent decisive conclusions for the period prior to AD 1400″‘?. We conclude by stating: “more widespread high-resolution data are needed before more confident conclusions can be reached.”‘? It is hard to imagine how much more explicit we could have been about the uncertainties in the reconstruction; indeed, that was the point of the article!

The subsequent confusion about uncertainties was the result of poor communication by others, who used our temperature reconstruction without the reservations that we had stated clearly.

64 Comments

  1. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 7:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    SteveM, I don’t know how you can stand it from where you sit. Unbelievable.

    This may be simplistic way to look at it, but I wonder things like: What if the sun is the biggest culprit for the current warming? (because I do not believe we understand hardly anything for certain about how our planet works) So, then I go look and find the NASA pages state:

    “”Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE)”
    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/SORCE/sorce.html, and I click on “uncertainties” and it says:

    Despite all that scientists have learned about solar irradiance over the past few decades, they are still a long way from forecasting changes in the solar cycles or incorporating these changes into climate models. One of their biggest obstacles has been technology. Because even the smallest shifts in solar energy can affect climate drastically, measurements of solar radiation have to be extremely precise. Instruments in use today still are subject to a great deal of uncertainty.

    …At this time, scientists only have roughly twenty years of satellite data on the Sun “¢’‚¬?an equivalent of just two 11-year cycles. Most of the data researchers do have on the Sun are for TSI. Relatively very little data have been gathered on the spectral changes in the Sun. Scientists haven’t determined with precision how the fluctuations in the Sun’s output of visible wavelengths differ from near infrared or from ultraviolet. The dearth of spectral data presents another serious obstacle for climate modelers since distinct wavelengths are absorbed by different components of the Earth’s climate system, which react differently with one another as their energy levels change.

    With data from NASA’s SORCE mission, researchers should be able to follow how the Sun affects our climate now and in the future…””

    This whole AGW information surge/science is beginning to look more and more sinister to me, especially in regards to NATURE’s behavior. And that darn HS!-the glory and esteem given to a Mann with such a flawed graph is just too crazy to put into words anymore.

  2. John A
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 7:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

    …and they’ll call us the Denialists….

  3. Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 7:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    They say in reply that

    Our news story was indeed citing North’s comments at the press conference,

    But the article explicity cites the report.

    In its report, released on 22 June, the NAS committee more-or-less endorses the work behind the graph.

    Couldn’t be much more contradictory than that.

  4. Michael J
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 8:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Nature has now gone beyond advocating a point of view to to distorting (lying if you prefer) facts to buttress their viewpoint. Sad day for science when the information is cherry picked in order to endorse an agenda. I have called and cancelled my subscription to Nature effective immediately

  5. Paul Gosling
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 8:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    ‘Nature’ and ‘Science’ for that matter have become a joke. Their quest to be cutting edge has left them in a position of publishing what ever is most current, and fashionable, rather than what is best. Forget climate science, there are plenty of other high profile examples. In my own low profile field I have seen utter garbage published, presumably because it was fashionable at the time. The really irritating part is that they are still seen within much of academia as the gold standard, get published in Nature and you have really arrived. Unfortunately not to place you thought.

  6. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 8:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The true nature of “Nature” is “(Mother) Nature (Worshipping Anti-Scientific-Method Sad Excuses For Scientists)

  7. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 9:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Their quest to be cutting edge has left them in a position of publishing what ever is most current, and fashionable, rather than what is best.

    The science-policy gap is large, folks. If you try too hard to have it both ways, into the abyss you go. Let this be a lesson.

  8. Mark T.
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 9:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Bottom line: Nature, et. al., have a profit motive even bigger than the oil money Steve and Ross supposedly earn (said with sarcasm). That’s another double standard, bender. What’s the count now, 8?

    Mark

  9. Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 10:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #7. I think you hit the nail on the head when you talk about publishing ‘fasionable’ science. I have been reading ‘Art: A new History’ by Paul Johnson and he bemoans the rise of ‘fashion art’. He describes how it works:

    A professional collector spots a likely young artist and buys up their works. He then elists the support of a gallery owner and museum director to ‘create’ the artist by giving them grants and prizes. At some point the collector unloads the purchases and does it again.

    You just have to replace museums with Nature, gallery owner with funding agencies, and professional collector with IPCC. Interesting. Skeptics however are really just flies in the ointment of a well-oiled machine and there is no money in it.

  10. Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve

    Reading the Nature report, it doesn’t seem too bad. You get mentioned fairly prominently and the criticism against MBH gets airtime. Clearly Nature will soft soap Mann and so while Nature should have published your letter, I am not sure that you could have got much more out of them, in that you do not discuss anything that they haven’t (at least) hinted at in their main report.

    I think though that what you should maybe do (or should have done) is to write a letter recommending the Wegman report. Nature should be made to report on this, if at all possible. Wegman is substantive and pretty much supports your views. There is no mention of the support, so there should certainly be a news story on this in the journals.

  11. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 10:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #8
    Yes, the enumeration of AGW double-standards stands now at 8.

  12. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 10:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    My beef – and I think that Nature is getting to the point of comedy – is that they published a letter by Mann objecting to the comment in the article reporting about whether “systematic uncertainties in climate records from before 1600 were not communicated as clearly as they could have been”, but would not publish a correction on whether the NAS panel had “more or less endorsed” Mann’s methods. It’s the hypocrisy.

  13. Indur Goklany
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I wonder whether it’s in Nature‘s nature to not publish letters that could lead to corrections in papers that it has published, at least when it comes to climate change related matters. Here is a link to postings on Prometheus regarding Nature’s rejection of a letter which questioned the robustness of the science behind one of it’s review papers which came up with the estimate that worldwide over 150,000 deaths were CURRENTLY attributable annually to climate change. The letter also questioned the wisdom of some of the policy pronouncements in the review article. It seems to me, rightly or wrongly, that Nature’s refusal to publish such letters only serves to enforce the current orthodoxy without a full hearing of contrary viewpoints — but is that what science is about?

  14. Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 11:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve

    There is little doubt that both Nature and Science are hypocritical on this. If you think that you are badly done by here, follow the exchange that Benny Peiser had with Science. Peiser found an out and out flaw in an article by Naomi Oreskes. Her article described a search that she did that found all climatologists support AGW. (How it was published in the first place is amazing). Peiser did the same search with the same key words and found that this was blatantly false. You would have thought that such a clear correction would have seen the light of day but Science refused to publish it. According to Peiser, science’s reason for not publishing his letter was that his “result” had been disseminated on the internet. They did not provide a link.

    While these journals are hypocritical, though, the thing is to keep chipping away at them and submitting well thought out articles and letters.

  15. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 1:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: #12

    My beef – and I think that Nature is getting to the point of comedy – is that they published a letter by Mann objecting to the comment in the article reporting about whether “systematic uncertainties in climate records from before 1600 were not communicated as clearly as they could have been”, but would not publish a correction on whether the NAS panel had “more or less endorsed” Mann’s methods. It’s the hypocrisy.

    Is not the imprecise language used intentionally? Is it not that use that allows one to demonstrate the “correctness” of any position depending on the current circumstances and needs? Call it word-smithing with the intent to cherry pick. Is not the purpose of all this vagueness rather obvious by now?

  16. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 1:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #14

    Is not the purpose of all this vagueness rather obvious by now?

    Ken, it’s probably obvious to anyone who’s following the proceedings that obfuscation of the past is part of the process of “moving on”. I doubt that’s very many, however.

  17. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 1:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “However, this language is nowhere used in the report itself, where the panel expressly referred to the reconstruction merely as “plausible” and specifically withheld any attribution of confidence intervals for the period before 1600.”

    What they did, Steve, was list several kinds of supporting qualitatitive and quantitative evidence, which they examined throughout the body of the paper, and IN THAT CONTEXT, said the various paleoreconstructions were plausible.

    You have a point: the original Mann reconstruction (and perhaps the others in total, which is what matters, but there doesnt seem to be a comprehensive analysis of the entire body of work, just piecemeal parts of it) – anyway, the original reconstruction was severely limited by the panel, for many of the reasons you list above. On its own, as NAS pointed out, it is very limited.

    But they have a point, too. It is NOT on its own – there is a lot of supporting evidence of various kinds for at least some of the major conclusions. You know this – you’ve been setting off attacking those kinds of lines of evidence ever since the report came out. It is as wrong for you to attack that work divorced from its context, as it is wrong for them to, in your analysis, divorce their criticism of some of the data from their later use of it.

  18. fFreddy
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 1:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #17, Lee

    It is as wrong for you to attack that work divorced from its context, as it is wrong for them to, in your analysis, divorce their criticism of some of the data from their later use of it.

    Really ? Why ?

  19. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 1:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    What they did [was they] said the various paleoreconstructions were plausible.

    Lee, you will agree, then, given the huge uncertainty surrounding the data prior to AD1600 that a great many such reconstructions might be “plausible”. In which case saying a reconstruction is “plausible” isn’t saying much. [Note: They never said the rconstruction was "probable", or "likely", or "fairly certain". They specifically chose the word "plausible", probably after quite a deliberation.]

  20. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 1:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re 14: you may have seen this:

    Hmm, Meyerik over on Tim Lambert’s blog has pretty much nailed the differences between Peiser and Oreskes:

    “So to summarize, Dr Peiser has made 4 errors in his research:

    1. Dr Peiser failed to replicate Dr Oreskes search properly. Dr Oreskes used (as far as I can tell) the following criteria:

    TS=”global climate change” ;DocType=Article; Language=All languages;Database(s)=SCI-EXPANDED; Timespan=1993-2003

    Dr Pieser used the following criteria:

    TS=”global climate change”; DocType=All document types; Language=All languages; Database(s)=SCI-EXPANDED, SSCI, A&HCI; Timespan=1993-2003″

    ER>>This accounts for the difference between the 1247 items that Peiser finds and the 928 that Oreskes found. The additional databases that Peiser included are the Social Science and the Arts and Humanities data bases.

    “2. Dr Peiser compounded the previous error by assuming that Dr “Oreskes got her figures wrong”, rather than contacting Dr Oreskes to obtain her search criteria.

    3. Of the 34 abstracts identified by Dr Peiser that “reject or question the view that human activities are the main driving force of the observed warming over the last 50 years”, 12 are not in Dr Oreskes sample.

    Of the remain 22 articles, 21 do not fit that description (one argues that natural factors have been underestimated still does not reject or doubt that human activities are the main factor). In other words Dr Peiser has misinterpreted the abstracts of 21 articles.

    4. Only one fits Dr Peiser’s category, but it does not fit Oreskes’ criteria of being a piece of published peer-reviewed research, but is instead a statement by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Dr Oreskes removed this from her sample partly because the statements by the AMS, AOG, & AAAS are not in her sample either.”

    ER>>You can examine the 34 abstracts that Peiser claims “reject or doubt the view that human activities are the main drivers of “”the observed warming over the last 50 years””

    Peiser sent the list to Lambert who posted them at http://cgi.cse.unsw.edu.au/~lamb…nce/ peiser.html

    The ones that were in Oreskes search are 3, 11-21, 23, 24, 26-29, 31-34 (see Meyrick’s comment toward the end of the comments
    There are several comments about what each abstract shows. Peiser does not come off well.
    Eli Rabett | 05.08.05 – 10:41 pm | #

  21. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    bender, no, reconstructions which are not compatible with that other suporting evidence are NOT plausible. Whic is pretty much the point.

  22. Follow the money
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “…they did not “more or less endorse the work behind the graph”.”

    Yes they did. That was immediately apparent. To me. But not to ou. Why?

    Because,I think, you are wrapped up in the nitty-gritty of statistics and the “science.” I’m not a statistician.

    The import of the paper was to concede, due to your work, that the bristlecone hockeysticks were flawed. They did so in a polite way.

    However,…

    They took an extra step to validate the idea behind the bristlecone graphs by bring in selcected other proxy studies that “confirm” – like one glacier study, etc.

    You, and truth, got bushwacked. For the general public consumption, if they care to look. As for news reporting, your finding will always be acknowledged with a “yes, but…”. The National Academy of Science has validated you on one hand, and marginalized you on the other.

    The paper was a professional job of disinformation and misimpression. Devious, but very clever. A sidestep Jerome Bettis would be proud of. I would not be surprised the NAS staff had writing input or help from persons connected to Kyoto lobbies or Kyoto lobby front groups. Perhaps those who undersigned the article should call for an investigation into all inputs into the paper, i.e., those outside the names that appear on it. Were any of the writers promised grant money, or have current conflicts?

    To end, the big picture of the NAS report was not to prove you right, but to prove you irrelevant. To those who had held the NAS in high regard this deceit may be disturbing, but I say “get real”, there’s tons of money riding with the Kyoto profiteering, and few dare to challenge momentum. Easier to flow with it.

  23. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #21
    Like I said: A great many such reconstructions might be “plausible”. “Such” referring to the whole family of reconstructions that might plausibly fit within the confidence envelope(s) surrounding any (or all) of the multiproxy curves Lee cares to consider. Thanks, as always, for the “clarification”, Lee.

    What matters is not what’s “plausible” but what’s “likely”. And if you can’t dinstinguish what’s “plausible” from what’s “likely” then you haven’t made much real progress (in terms of narrowing the confidence envelope to the point where you can conclude anything about what is or is not “unprecedented”).

    NAS is confident when it comes to post-LIA trends. So am I. But prior to that, the jury is still out.

  24. Mark T.
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It is NOT on its own – there is a lot of supporting evidence of various kinds for at least some of the major conclusions.

    There is a two-fold problem with this line of reasoning. First, much of the “other” supporting evidence has multiple explanations, some pro AGW, some con. Second, the flawed HS is used to support the “other” conclusions (pro AGW) and the “other” conclusions are used to support the HS. Circular logic. Without the HS, the “other” conclusions need to be revisited minus the knowledge the HS brought to the table.

    Mark

  25. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    bender, again, no. There are a large number of curves that might fit within the confidence limits. Those that are inconsistent with other outside data are not going to be plausible. Those that are plausible are that that are compatible with the restrictinos placed by the additinal data. Additional evidence can place real-world limits much tighter than the statistical limits.

    If I take 10 measurements of the temperature of a cube of ice sitting on a bench, and I get values ranging from -0.5 to -5.0 C, my statistical confidence limit is likely to be pretty large and range up into positive values. But I can still guarantee you that the real-world “plausible” temperature of the block of ice is not warmer than 0 C.

    For the paleo question, this leads us to consider the reliability of the outside evidence (which the NAS also looked at to some extent). But that other evidence IS pat of the analysis,a dn does place constrains on ragne of real-world ‘plausible’ values within those confidence intervals.

  26. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “The paper was a professional job of disinformation and misimpression.”
    “I would not be surprised the NAS staff had writing input or help from persons connected to Kyoto lobbies or Kyoto lobby front groups.”
    “Were any of the writers promised grant money, or have current conflicts?”

    Ya know, if I said something here 1/10th as egregiously slimy as this about Steve or other ‘anti-warmers’, or made insinuations like that last quote, I’d get trashed for it. I have been for a whole lot less. Nice.

  27. Mark T.
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Lee, now you’re arguing that the “outside evidence” is being used to strengthen a confidence interval that is, otherwise, floor to ceiling. I.e., the HS is soooo badly flawed pre-LIA that no matter how much “outside evidence” there exists, it cannot be strengthened. It’s the same thing as saying my 3 year old child drew a hockey stick, and your “outside evidence” supports the conclusion that this hockey stick represents past temperatures. The HS as provided, is no better than my son’s drawing.

    Mark

  28. Mark T.
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    bender, no, reconstructions which are not compatible with that other suporting evidence are NOT plausible. Whic is pretty much the point.

    Actually, the point is that the HS, and any reconstruction that uses similar methods, was FORCED to agree with the other supporting evidence. Therefore it is useless as any sort of predictive (past or future) tool.

    Mark

  29. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 2:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Lee, I do appreciate your efforts here. But there is a serious problem with your ice-cube analogy. There is no insight-based or theory-based physical bound as to what the temperatures must have been during the MWP. Of course the observational data form a constraint as to what is “plausible”. The point is: the data don’t impose all that much of a constraint because the link between proxy and temperature is much weaker than what is required to support the various claims about “unprecedented” warming trends. i.e. There is no hard MWP “ceiling”, whereas with the ice cube example there is a solid “floor”.

  30. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

    No, I’m saying essentaily what the NAS said – the Mann report (which is NOT the subsequent reports, btw) had errors that mean one should not consider it back apst 400 years – but based on other evidence, they certainly seem to have been close to right.

    As I’ve said here before, many times, I am NOT placing any weight on the dendro reconstructinos, at least provisionally. I do see enough other evidence to believe “there’s something a mite unusual going on.” I’ve detailed why in the past here, and am not going back into it now- I’ll let that imprecise statement stand in. But it is that ‘other evidence,’ et al, that I find at least provisionally convincing, for policy purposes.

    But i also feel it is often misleading to attack statements divoreced form their context, and I’ll respond when I beleive I see someone being misleading by doing so.

  31. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    bender, yes, I used a simplistic analogy with a known physical imitation – I as ‘overfitting’ the point I was making. :)

    In the paleotemp case, what there are, are additional qualitative and quantitative data which place limits on the relative temps then and now – a large part of the NAS study was spend looking at thsoe other kinds of evidence.

  32. Jeff Norman
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Lee, re#21

    I do not understand your point.

    It seems to me that there are two camps:

    1. Those who believe paleoclimatic reconstructions from proxy records may be used to demonstrate the global and/or hemispheric climate is at least warmer now than it was during the MWP.
    2. Those who believe proxy records cannot be used at this time to demonstrate much of anything.

    The NAS report seems to support the second position for reconstructions prior to 1600 which leaves us nowhere.

    What are the other “reconstructions which are not compatible with that other supporting evidence”? Which other supporting evidence do you mean?

  33. Mark T.
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    but based on other evidence, they certainly seem to have been close to right.

    The point you keep missing is that the other evidence can be read in many ways, and was read to mean cooler MWP precisely _because of_ the HS. Take the HS away and you’re left with other evidence that means many things. The other evidence, in a sense, _needed_ the HS for its own validation. Without it, you cannot claim they were “close to right,” because it was obvious that what you are considering “right,” was in fact a contrived result.

    Mark

  34. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Jeff, Ive gone into that before here,and I’m about to go pick my wife up for an afternoon and evening out – for now, I’ll point you at the NAS report.

  35. Lee
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mark, no, that is not the away I read it, nor the NAS. They cited a variety of evidence, including among other things ice core temp evidence from high latitudes (where isotope ratios do seem to be good temp proxies).

    IF someone can find it, I have outlined my position several times here in the past. Right now, I’m gonna go take my wife dancing. Later.

  36. Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #20

    Thank you for your comments on Peiser which are worth investigating. (Unfortunately the link you provided gives a 404 error.) I take my primary point from an e mail exchange that Peiser posted. Assuming the e mails are correct (and complete) they show Science in a bad light. Science agrees to consider printing Peiser’s letter if he shortens it. When he does so, Science then states that his claims are on the internet (without providing corroborating links). This is the reason that they give for not publishing. They make no suggestion that his argument is bad (which, of course, it could be). The point is that it looks, from the e mail exchange, as if Science just did not want to publish his letter.

  37. Bill
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hey, Nature has bigger fish to fry. (a little off topic)

    http://tinyurl.com/zzeds

    Methane is, to put it technically, “coming out a lot.” I mean, let’s ignore the fact that the dates of the study were “… between 1974 and 2000 …” I wonder what those lake lines looked like in 1940?

    Steve, I 100% agree with your frustration. Most of this climate change stuff is data snooping and time frame selection.

  38. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Isn’t data snooping a great word? It’s a highly relevant concept in econometrics and I doubt that any of the NAS panelists are aware of how it matters.

  39. Martin Ringo
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Question:
    Out of curiosity I looked at a spreadsheet I had with the MBH99 data and examine the standard error estimates. It doesn’t appear that there is any substantial change in the uncertainty between 1000 and 1599. With 1600 there is roughly a 50% decrease in the estimate, which corresponds with the NAS committee’s break point on confidence — not that there is much reason for confidence in the estimates of the standard errors themselves. My question then is why did Mann use the 1400 breakpoint for his qualitative change in uncertainty: “In the abstract, we state: “We focus not just on the reconstructions, but on the uncertainties therein, and important caveats’ and note that “expanded uncertainties prevent decisive conclusions for the period prior to AD 1400′.”

    Below are a few of the standard error estimates I pulled from the data set. Are these correct? And if so, then why the 1400 breakpoint?

    Year 1-SIGMA
    1000 0.240346
    1400 0.243751
    1599 0.243752
    1600 0.132772
    1800 0.115563
    1900 0.113229

  40. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #30

    based on other [non-dendro] evidence, they certainly seem to have been close to right

    1. When it comes to pre-AD1600 you can never judge what is “close to right”, because you don’t know what “right” is. You will never know the far past with the degree of certainty with which we know the present and recent past.
    2. That “other evidence” (and the statistical methods used to produce it) is currently under audit, and my (imperfect, incomplete) understanding is that the case is not looking good.

    I’m saying essentaily what the NAS said

    3. Lee, it’s not you per se that’s being rejected here. It’s your points of agreement with the NAS.

  41. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

    No one knows how Mann calulated his confidence intervals. Why don’t you email him and ask? Jean S and have experimented; it’s probably something to do with the “spectrum of residuals”:, but it’s hard to say exactly what.

  42. Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #37.

    Hey, Nature has bigger fish to fry. (a little off topic)

    Or eggs, in this case, embryonic stem cells.

    ‘Ethical’ stem-cell paper under attack

    The similarity to MBH98 are uncanny.

    “So many things about the paper and how it was presented are unclear,” complains stem-cell scientist Hans Schàƒ⵬er,

    Only in this case:

    “Nature takes responsibility for the problems with the press release, for which I apologize,” says Philip Campbell, editor-in-chief of Nature.

    I wonder what makes the difference in treatment? Anyway shows a pattern of lack of due diligence that Steve has always criticized them for.

  43. KevinUK
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 3:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #20, Lee,

    As chance would have it I’ve just been researching this debate myself today. It amazes me at times what’s on the internet even entries for Benny Peiser (with links to this debate) on Wikipedia.

    Now what’s interesting about this whole debate about Naomi Oreskes and Benny Peiser is the amount of attention it has received. Since when should literature searches on a database warrant such attention? Does it really matter that much to the debate on AGW what search criteria was used, whether the search included social sciences and art/humanties or not? The fact is they were both only just literature searches FULL STOP and not fundamental research that adds to our knowledge of the science of global warming and certainly not to the debate about the “A” in AGW.

    To illustrate this point let me relate a personal experience from the UK nuclear industry. For many years the ‘consensus’ on nuclear reactor design within the UK had opted for gas-cooled (ironically CO2) reactors. There was much debate over the economics and safety of different nuclear reactor designs and one of the proponents of the Pressuised Water Reactor (PWR) design was a certain Walter (later to become Sir Walter) Marshall. As a former Head of Theoretical Physics department at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment (AERE), Harwell, he was well versed in the science of fracture mechanics on which ultimately the safety case for PWRs is based, namely demonstration of the incredibility of failure (IOF) of the PWR’s pressure vessel (PV) and steam generating units (SGU) vessel penetrations. Now at the time at which arguments were being put forward to adopt this technology within the UK for the UK’s next generation of nuclear power plant (NPP) the safety case for IOF was largely based on ‘expert opinion’ on the probablity of detecting cracks, their length, direction and rate of growth in the PV. In effect the IOF was at the time based on the opinions of fracture mechanics experts i.e. the consensus of the experts in the field. Thankfully these opinions were put to the test in the PISC I study in which in which large blocks replicating PWR vessel welds which contained large defects were inspected at various NDT centres throughout the world using the techniques laid down in ASME Code for PWR PV inspection. The results obtained from the PISC I study painted a very different picture from that gained from the ‘expert concensus’. Several very large defects, several almost all the way through the wall of the test pieces, were not detected by a high proportion of the teams who participated. The findings from the PISC I study prompted further investigations into the causes of the problems with the detection techniques used and ways of improving performance. As a consequence further large scale trials, PISC II and III were carried out through the next two decades. It turned out that the major cause of the problems was that the inspection was not designed to detect the defects which were deliberately manufactured into the test pieces. These were large smooth defects perpendicular to the surface of the components which are difficult to detect using angled beams from the surface because they reflect specularly and as a consequence little of the reflection returns to the probes. Their detection requires special techniques such as tandem or the use of a high sensitivity technique and when these are included, the defects are detected much more easily. This was an early illustration of the benefits of designing an inspection on the basis of a defect specification rather than through blind application of code requirements. A consequence of the lack of confidence in non-destructive testing (NDT) techniques that resulted from the PISC I exercise was that the UK’s electricity generating utility at the time, namely the CEGB, introduced a number of measures to improve the reliability of the key ultrasonic inspections to be applied on the (later to be) Sizewell B reactor. The well established principles (in nuclear safety terms) of diversity, redundancy and independent validation were applied to all inspections which were vital to the safety case. For those not familiar with these terms, diversity involves the use of different defect detection mechanisms such as specular response, diffracted edge waves, mode conversions etc. to safeguard against intrinsic weaknesses in one particular mechanism. The use of multiple beam angles (as is now use din the UK rail industry after the Hatfield derailment due to rail failure from rolling contact fatique)is included for the same reason. Redundancy involves repeat, independent application of inspections, often by manual and automated techniques (again a lesson now learned in the UK rail industry as well), to avoid problems of human error. Finally, independent validation led to the construction of the Inspection Validation Centre (IVC) at the Risley Nuclear Laboratories (RNL), near Warrington and the development of a system to carry out the work. Sadly the UK IVC no longer exists. Well actually the building still does as it is where my office is located, but the inspection pit which housed the underwater full scale PV sections has been filled in and the ‘Space lab’ (as it is colloquially known) built over it. The finally irony is that the AGW alarmism that in part is now being used to back the case for the construction of 8 new NPPs in the UK has come a couple of years too late at least. Now we’ll have to build a new IVC to validate the PWR PVs for Wylva B, Sizewell C, Hinkley Point C, Dungeness C etc assuming of course that our future PM (Chancer or Stuntman Dave?) continues with Tony B’s AGW inspired (partly at least) nuclear option.

    Now Lee do you see any parallels between what I’ve related here and the ‘consensus’ debate on AGW? The world’s experts in the field claim on the basis of theoretical predictions and computer models that inspections can be carried out to justify an IOF level of 10 to the minus seven per reactor year. This ‘consensus’ is put to the scientific method through testing and is shown to be unjustified as a claim. Consequently further work and (falsifiable) tests to prove the effectiveness of this work were carried out, with the result that techniques and knowledge were improved to a sufficient level to eventually support the claim. It still, of course, given that this is the UK, then took the longest Public Enquiry in history before the arguments were finally settled and Sizewell B constructed. In case you haven’t noticed the final message to the climatologists in this potted bit of UK nuclear power history of is that since the science was ‘finally settled’ (it hasn’t been by the way) the IVC (along with virtually all of the nuclear research facilities at Risley) no longer exists. Perhaps the climatologists know this? As I said before perhaps the ‘turkeys (in the UK) don’t want to vote for Christmas (or for Thanksgiving in North America).

    KevinUK

  44. mark
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 4:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mark, no, that is not the away I read it, nor the NAS. They cited a variety of evidence, including among other things ice core temp evidence from high latitudes (where isotope ratios do seem to be good temp proxies).

    I realize that you and the NAS do not read it that way, and that is what I’m arguing is your failure in this particular case. High latitude ice core isotope ratios may indeed be good proxies, but they are not _global_ and as such, the “other evidence” still winds up in the undecided category. Taken as a whole, evidence prior to accurate recording is a mixed bag at best, and without the HS, it is even more uncertain.

    Mark

  45. Pat Frank
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 4:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #30 “dendro reconstructinos” — obviously the de Sitter-space super-symmetry Higgs particles governing the quantum scalar “climate field” of proxy reconstructions.

    Lee, you’re always carrying on about “other evidence” and claim to have posted on it. Every time you’ve posted your “other evidence,” it’s been handily shown to provide trivial support for your thesis that, “something a mite unusual [is] going on.”

    The fact that climate prior to 1600 is an enigma wrapped in a mystery is enough all by itself to disarm any hard claim that 20th/21st century climate is unusual. The fact that there is no competent physical theory of climate — one aspect of which point welikerocks elaborated in item #1 in this thread — means that all the empirical facts about episodically retreating glaciers and C14-ancient plants newly exposed have no scientific context to make them mean, “something a mite unusual [is] going on.”

    The fact that during the MWP the arctic tree line was uniformly 70 km further north than now across the entire northern hemisphere, for example, tells us that, something a mite unusual [is] going on with people who nevertheless claim that recent climate is a mite unusual.

    It’s passionate committment, like yours, to a particular point of view that drives the bias of Nature and Science, and produces the peculiar blindness of scientists like North or Hansen to the intellectual standards of their own professional discipline.

  46. mark
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 5:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Surrounded by a conundrum. That was my favorite News Radio episode.

    Mark

  47. bender
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 5:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    reconstructinos!
    LOL :)

  48. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 5:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    No, I’m saying essentaily what the NAS said – the Mann report (which is NOT the subsequent reports, btw) had errors that mean one should not consider it back apst 400 years – but based on other evidence, they certainly seem to have been close to right.

    As I’ve said here before, many times, I am NOT placing any weight on the dendro reconstructinos, at least provisionally. I do see enough other evidence to believe “there’s something a mite unusual going on.” I’ve detailed why in the past here, and am not going back into it now- I’ll let that imprecise statement stand in. But it is that “other evidence,’ et al, that I find at least provisionally convincing, for policy purposes.

    Lee, I think I now have seen the light. You speak NASese and most of us at this blog do not. Now if we could get you to translate it into English we might understand.

  49. Martin Ringo
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 10:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re # 43
    KevinUK, fascinating and germane. Is there a relatively short public document or book detailing a bit more of the history you recited?

  50. Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 10:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    You really should pay more attention to CApitalization and splling. You wrote:

    “6 September 2006
    Nature Again

    We took another try at NAture corrspondence. In their news report on the Mann graph discussed here , they stated:”

    What’s wrong with this picture?
    …. Nature correspondence … ????

  51. Willis Eschenbach
    Posted Sep 6, 2006 at 11:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 50, A.N. Other, you really should pay more attention to the issues and ideas, and less attention to CApitalization and splling …

    w.

  52. Stuart Marvin
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 3:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe a little off-topic but I was recently looking at pre-historic warm periods and ice proxies in a Nature newsletter.

    The BBC recently reported on the work being performed by Dr. Eric Wolff and British Antarctic Survey on extending the ice core from Dome C in Antarctica to cover 800k yrs. The BBC reporting was a little strange in that it proclaimed that this work showed that current carbon dioxide levels are unprecedented.

    However, if you look at the 2004 analysis of the core by same Eric Wolff in Nature then at a superficial level nothing that is happening now appears to be unusual. In fact, there appear to be a complete series of temperature peaks stretching back nearly a million years. Each one appears to be accompanied by simultaneous carbon dioxide and methane peaks. One carbon dioxide peak was quoted as over 600 ppb. Whilst the data in the paper is at low temporal resolution there is, on the face of it, a striking correlation between these gases and temperature.

    Since we are not aware of anthropogenic effects prior to the last ice age it is interesting to speculate what caused the increases in these gases. Indeed, it very reasonable to infer that temperature was involved rather than people.

    I believe more work needs to be done on Solar effects since the Sun is responsible for most of the energy in the system and many of the pertubations it experiences (barring cosmic rays, volcanoes and asteroids). So there is some merit in studying long Solar cycles in combination with Earth axis variation to see if there is a fit to ice core data (even volcano and asteroid events may be decoded from the dust preserved in the cores). It is possible there would be better traction here to do some science with a reasonable data source – much more valuable than Herculean GCM efforts when the science still has yet to be done and there is no model. I know this could be an unpopular suggestion for many as it does not incorporate the currently accepted homocentric assumption but it could be a start in the right direction.

  53. Stuart Marvin
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 3:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #52. Apologies for doing something strnage to the link to the Nature article !!

  54. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Sep 7, 2006 at 6:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #52 and #53 – The current “Climate Science” orthordoxy paint at time frightening pictures regarding futures featuring “an unprecidented rise in mean global temperature” replete with innundated coastal areas, third world massive dislocations, Asian rivers drying up, and the like. Interestingly, such a narrow focus on what would actually be, in light of the quasi periodic behavior you have highlighted, a tremendous abnormality and an almost unbelievable (given all the damping factors, feedbacks and inertia) disequilibrium. Given the low likelihood of that, my own preference is to use the past to examine the worst cases that are the most likely. We see, for example, in the past periodicity, essentially, a sawtooth waveform, with a gradual rise and drastic fall. We appear to be nearing a high point. How soon will be the fall, the mother of all Falls (at least in our human experience). I really worry about the harsh realities of a return to ice world.

  55. KevinUK
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #49, Martin

    Here are some ‘Dano linkies’ which may help

    The current status of performance demonstration and evaluation developments

    Validation of Inspections for the Sizewell ‘B’ Reactor Pressure Vessel

    and

    Tecnatom Leadership in Vessel Penetration Inspection.

    For any one interested in the history of AEA Technology (formerly part of the UKAEA) there is a very good book written by some if its former directors called ‘Innovation Business – The History of AEA Technology’ by Nelson, Curry, Dawson and Aris.

    To link back at least to Canada (as this is a Canadian blog), amongst the companies acquired by AEA Technology following its privatisation from UKAEA in September 1996 were two canadian companies, Advanced Scientific Computing and Calgary based Hyprotech. Sadly following poor financial performance many parts of the company (including these Canadian companies) have now been sold off. very recently the part of the company I work for AEA Technology Rail has also been sold off and so I am now instead employed by the newly named DeltaRail Group Ltd.

    KevinUK

  56. David Archibald
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 7:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 54, I know what you mean. Last December here in Perth, Western Australia, we had the coldest December for 100 years. It badly affected the grape crop and there was a major reduction in yield and quality. Imagine if that went on for 10 or 20 years! Food we will always be able to get, but what about decent reds! I am laying down a lot of good shiraz and some grand cru. It is not worth taking the risk.

  57. KevinUK
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #43, Lee

    So far no wreply so can i ask do you accept the point I am making in #43 namely that it is not a good idea to just rely on the ‘expert concensus’ when making decisions that are important to mankind?

    Do you agree that it is very important to carry out the kind of activities which Steve M has documented on this blog namely to apply the scientific method i.e. to repeat and attempt to either falsify or confirm the analyses of temperature re-constructions that under the IPCC TAR? If you agree with this questions, then do you also agree that those who choose to apply the scientific method should be allowed free and unfettered access to all data and methodologies (uncluding source code) that are used in any such analyses particularly when such analyses underpins public policy/safety?

    KevinUK

  58. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #54
    I know it’s easy to joke about the coming ice age … but, seriously, can anyone think of a publication that makes a specific prediction as to when that temperature drop will occur? Is it 10y, 100y, 1000y, 10000y out? Interested especially in uncertainty on that forecast, errrr, projection.

  59. TCO
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:41 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I donno. According to the Mannians, Milankovitch theory (having to do with orbits, NOT with system inherent variation) is the driver for ice ages. It’s not clear to me how solid that theory is and there is a pretty obvious reason for the “stickers” to want to tout that theory (and not examine it too harshly). But in any case, would think that you could apply that theory and find out what the next ice age (absent of AGW) would be.

  60. TCO
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe ask on RC.

  61. bender
    Posted Sep 8, 2006 at 8:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #60
    Not me. I tried RC once and found it a time sink.

  62. welikerocks
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 7:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #59 and 60,
    they’ve been “touting” the Milankovitch’s orbital theory for almost 100 yrs now TCO.

    here’s some links (just google Milankovitch Cycles):
    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/milankovitch.html
    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/cycles.htm

    this is a new article the addresses some of the things that the theory doesn’t fully explain yet:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060725074044.htm

  63. bender
    Posted Sep 11, 2006 at 10:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #62:
    The Ruddiman (2006) paper in that 3rd link appears to be a good entry point into that literature.
    Thanks, rocks.

  64. Steve Bloom
    Posted Sep 12, 2006 at 3:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

    There was a paper maybe two years ago that had a look at the current Milankovitch configuration and trend relative to where it was during prior glaciations. As I recall the answer was that we’re entering into a pretty unwobbly phase and that the last time this happened there was a very long interglacial on the order of 40ky. I didn’t keep a link, but it should be easy to find via GS.

    TCO, you may not recall that Huybers is a Milankovitch specialist. There’s a lot on his site on the subject. His ideas are different from Ruddiman’s, although the conflict between them isn’t entirely direct.

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