What is "Consensus Science" for Proxies?

Scott Saleska agreed in cordial terms that this site was attempting to carry out “evidence-based” analysis without deferring to perceived authority. He then asked us to characterize, in our words, exactly what our position was – he agreed that we didn’t contest “basic science”, but then asked (politely) if it was reasonable to say that we contested “consensus science”. The focus of this site has been on millennial paleoclimate reconstructions, since that’s what I specialize in. I acquiesce in some discussion of water vapor feedback and things like that, but I haven’t expressed views on these matters. We may get there some day but we haven’t so far.

In order to answer Scott Saleska’s question, in order to say whether I agree or disagree with “consensus science” in respect to millennial reconstructions (or what aspects I agree or disagree with), the first thing to do is obviously to define what is meant by “consensus science” in respect to millennial paleoclimate?

Not every opinion expressed by a dendroclimatologist is part of “consensus science” (which I take to be defined by IPCC). For example, Martin Wilmking has reported positive and negative responders at latitudinal treeline, a result that he stated would have major impact on the millennial reconstruction project. This finding is not cited nor discussed nor incorporated in IPCC 4AR and thus, even though articulated by an excellent dendroclimatologist, cannot be counted as being part of “consensus science”. In the same vein, certain views and recommendations by the NAS Panel (e.g. bristlecones should be avoided in temperature reconstructions), that are disregarded by IPCC (and even themselves) by using such reconstructions cannot be said to be part of “consensus science”, even though the point of view has been expressed by an important committee.

I think that the “science” is defined by its set of methods and procedures, rather than through genuflection to a particular squiggle (the HS), and accordingly, I have drafted the following list (in no particular order) of what I believe to be the salient elements of “consensus science” in the millennial reconstruction field (and to a lesser extent gridcell calculations) that are discussed at this blog. (I will probably edit and revise this list as I think some more about it):

“Consensus Science”

1. The urban heat island effect in the 20th century is less than 0.05 deg C.

2. In December 1941, although there is no contemporary documentation of the event, all ships around the world synchronously converted from measuring SST using canvas buckets to engine inlets, thereby requiring a 0.3 deg C step adjustment in SST measurements. [This view is held despite the fact that 90% of SST measurements in 1970, for which the measurement method is known were made, were still being made with buckets.]

3. The following position is acceptable: “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?

4. Data collected by a scientist with public funding is his personal property. Funding agencies pay the scientist for his expertise, imagination, and insight to be able to make some advance in our understanding of how nature works, not for raw data sets.

5. Computer codes developed in paleoclimate studies funded by NSF are the personal private property of the scientist.

6. It is prudent to rely on statistical studies carried out by non-statisticians without ever subjecting these studies to a statistical or other audit.

7. If a methodology used in a study in found to be faulty, it is acceptable to keep using the results. [Mann's PC1 is used in the following studies illustrated by IPCC: MBH99, Mann and Jones 2003, Rutherford et al 2005, and remarkably, Osborn and Briffa 2006, Hegerl et al 2006].

8. Calculating a verification r2 statistic for a reconstruction is an incorrect and foolish thing to do.

9. It is acceptable practice to report favorable verification statistics and not report failed statistics.

10. It is acceptable practice to calculate confidence intervals based on calibration period residuals in an inverse regression using 20 or more proxies, even if the verification r2 is much less than the calibration r2.

11. Bristlecone and foxtail ring widths are a valid temperature proxy.

12. The Yamal ring width chronology is a valid temperature proxy, but the Polar Urals ring width chronology isn’t.

13. It is acceptable practice to inspect a data set of (say) treeline white spruce chronologies and report on and archive only the chronologies that go up in the 20th century.

14. Even if two reconstructions have substantial proxy overlap, the reconstructions may be called “independent” if one or more proxies or one or more authors are different.

15. Studies since the TAR draw increased confidence from additional data showing coherent behaviour across multiple indicators in different parts of the world with upper treeline ring width chronologies showing a consistent increase in ring widths in response to warmth in the 1990s and 2000s.

16. If a reconstruction does not record recent warmth, it is acceptable to truncate the reconstruction in 1960 and use the instrumental record afterwards.

17. The following is an acceptable scientific explanation: “In the absence of a substantiated explanation for the decline, we make the assumption that it is likely to be a response to some kind of recent anthropogenic forcing. On the basis of this assumption, the pre-twentieth century part of the reconstructions can be considered to be free from similar events and thus accurately represent past temperature variability.”

18. It is a good idea for an assessment report on a controversial topic to be done by one of the parties to the controversy.

19. Examination of underlying data is not relevant to the duties of an IPCC reviewer.

I’m sure that readers will have additional suggestions which I may incorporate (but please try to maintain the above tone).

The question for Scott Saleska and others: (1) do you feel that it is unfair to include any of the above points in describing the millennial paleoclimate “consensus”? [this is a draft list and not locked in stone] (2) do you support all (or any) of the above elements of the “consensus” on millennial proxy reconstructions?

If the consensus on these points were to be reversed, as I believe that it ought to be, then one could begin the process of assessing the impact of the above positions on detection and attribution studies, the tuning of GCMs etc. I would be surprised if there was no knock-on effect whatever, but have not studied the matter so far.


  1. Paul
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 4:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A proxy series that shows a positive trend in the 20th century, but is sourced fom a locale that shows no coincident increase in instrumental temperature measures is a valid temperature proxy due to “teleconnection”.

  2. Hans Erren
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 5:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    French precipitation is a good proxy for temperature in North America
    (”The rain in Maine falls mainly in the Seine”)

  3. Mike Carney
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 6:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I can’t resist adding my favorite “consensus science”:

    Correct answers can be determined by whether other studies got the same answer. That’s consensus. Examining the methods and underlying data can be destructive of consensus. Remember, replication of methods is not necessary. Only replication of results is necessary.

    Any errors found in methodology or data sets are not important unless the finder can produce their own thesis to solve the problem undertaken by the original author. There are unfortunately, fields like accounting that labor under the impression that “auditing” is valid process. The only valid process is producing answers.

    Actually having available the data sets or the methodology used to produce a paper is unimportant. Anyone who asks for such information is clearly not a scientist in any meaningful sense.

    Since the consensus is well known, data sets and methods can be properly cleaned of outliers. This is sometimes referred to as cherry picking. Also see How its done.

    Answers that result in quarter million dollar gifts or a just a multi-million dollar grant are better than answers that don’t. Like politicians, self interest has no affect on the answers produced by scientists.

  4. John Baltutis
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 6:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    That, although no one has ever established a causal relationship between tree-ring widths and the many sources of decadal-scale variation, tree-ring widths can be used as proxies for any climate variable, including local temperature.

    That, once determining this local temperature trend, it can, also without justification, be extended to a global temperature trend. (Extension of Bender’s and Erren’s “teleconnection” idea.)

  5. Steve Beery
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 6:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I wish you would post your view on AARP on Consensus Science. More seniors need to know what is going on at the UN and IPCC.

  6. nanny_govt_sucks
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 8:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Tree ring widths can be used to reconstruct annual average temperature, not growing season average temperature.

  7. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 8:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #2, Hans, an oldie but goldie. Mann’s fascination with French precipitation and with using French precipitation series under different alter egos is one of the unsung stories of MBH98. It’s not just the Paris precipitation series allocated to New England; the Toulouse precipitation series is allocated to the South Carolina gridcell and the Marseilles precipitation series to Spain. I think that the the MBH98 precipitation series allocated to the Bombay precipitation comes from Philsdelphia or New Haven, but no one knows. Nature was too cowardly to make Mann identify where these series came from.

  8. Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 8:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Its not polite to question the methods used to arrive at politically correct results.

  9. Gary
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 9:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Don’t forget some of the assumptions about the hurricane data.

  10. Follow the Money
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 10:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A little help please.

    Is “Consensus Science” a sub-part of “Post Normal Science”,

    or vice versa?

  11. tc
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 11:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    WOW, Steve, you are on a fantastic roll! Your enumeration of these unscientific practices shows how wide and deep the rot is in “consensus science”. Here is another hallmark of “consensus science”.

    Publish the findings and Summary for Policy Makers of a major, multi-year climate study, but do not publish the scientific basis (reports, statistical analyses, etc.) until months later. Publishing the findings before the scientific basis can be scrutinized by other scientists and the public is a good technique for producing “consensus science”.

  12. Jeremy
    Posted Apr 7, 2007 at 11:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Consensus science is politicized science. It is not honest investigation of phenomena. If it were honest investigation of our world/universe it would lay itself bare for attack from the scientific community at large. Instead, consensus science seeks to silence detractors by immediately questioning funding sources and ethics of scientists who are skeptical of the consensus.

    Einstein was skeptical of the consensus that there existed an ether through which the earth moved. Michelson & Morley were of the consensus group. Einstein was a patent clerk. Michelson & Morley set up an experiment to prove the existence of ether. Their experiment is now almost universally described in basic physics textbooks as the classical disproof of the existence of ether and used to support Einsteins Relativity theories. If the physics circles of the early 20th century were like todays paleoclimatology circles, Einstein would be called an oil-industry lackey and have his funding cut while Michelson and Morley were allowed to run hog wild, continue to insist that their data will show ether, and get whole governments to change their public policies to match their conclusions.

    In short, consensus science is an evil distortion of human thought, no matter how correct its conclusions may end up being.

  13. John Baltutis
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 12:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #6
    nanny_govt_sucks says:

    Tree ring widths can be used to reconstruct annual average temperature, not growing season average temperature.

    Really? Exactly what is the functional relationship between tree-ring widths and annual temperature? I’m not a dendrochronologist, but, AFAIK, all one can tell is whether or not the tree experienced none, some, average, or above average growth, but not what caused the growth. Exactly what steps are taken to separate an annual temperature from all the other confounders, especially when tree-ring widths don’t increase outside the growing season? If there was a direct correlation between tree-ring widths and instrumentally collected local temperatures, we wouldn’t be having these discussions.

  14. Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 1:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The problem I have is when someone declares “consensus” in order to create the impression that anyone making a counter argument is outside of the norm in their field. They are then portrayed as having an extreme position, as one of a less significant number of members of their field and the act is a psychological one that is designed to both stifle argument by making one feel they might somehow look like some kind of extremist and causing the recipient of any message they might have to discount the validity of that message because it is coming from an “extremist”. It is fairly brilliant in a psyops sense. Combine that with the fact that a public relations campaign has been created mainly by people with a certain political bent who claim that this imperceptibly creeping problem will soon get to a “point of no return”. And it will likely destroy future generations and cause untold misery sometime in the next couple of election cycles. And only their candidates can save the people from certain destruction along with a press that tends to show this political faction in a favorable light and is loathe to criticize it and you have a recipe for a grand swindle indeed.

    It is designed to make people second guess themselves if they reach a conclusion counter to the “consensus” and be discounted by the public as an extremist to be looked at with a skeptical eye if they broadcast their conclusion. Yet it protects people with the “consensus” view from having to defend their work because anyone looking at them with a skeptical eye is also an extremist that is challenging the “accepted” consensus. When it is all said and done, it is designed to feed money to certain individuals in exchange for a steady stream of information supporting the election of a certain slate of candidates. And what is so ingenious is that if it works, by the time people figure out they have been had, the people involved are long retired and probably dead and the people in the meantime have paid trillions of dollars for basically pumping up the price of “carbon offsets”. And the people in power at the time can say they didn’t know any different, they were taught that stuff since they were in elementary school.

    What a great swindle it is! They could change my mind in an instant simply by exposing their data and methods for review. If others come to the same conclusion in an open and transparent manner, they I would be on board. As it stands now, their defensiveness, unwillingness to expose their data and methods to scrutiny, and the implication that anyone wanting to look at those things is somehow extreme and unreasonable gives me the impression that they simply don’t want people to see it for fear of exposing the “consensus” as a hoax.

    That is the nut that the scientists and the politicians are going to have to crack if they really want the public on board. They have to WELCOME debate and they have to be willing to defend their conclusions through exposure of the basis of them.

  15. Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 2:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The other thing that bothers me is when these “experts” speak to their peers, they are quick to qualify their findings by pointing out that some previous study isn’t “the final word” and “much has been learned since” but imply exactly the opposite when speaking to members outside their scientific community. They feed the controversy in their public statements and attempt to calm it in their professional statements knowing full well that the general public is never going to see, read, or hear what they say in professional and academic circles.

  16. Andre Bijkerk
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 2:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve: consensus #2 The SST’s in December 1941, what’s the story?

    This is remarkable because a few months earlier, sept 1940, W. Kreutz in Germany measured an atmospheric CO2 spike with a few thousand samples. CO2 and oceans and SST’s seem to be related.

    Ref and details here.

    See also a comprehensive overview of virtually all publications on chemical CO2 measurements in

    Beck, E-G, 2007; 180 Years of Atmospheric CO2 Gas Analysis by Chemical Methods; Energy & Environment, Vol 18 No. 2, 2007

    The online data here.

  17. Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 3:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Can I suggest that new readers might find it useful if each of the points in this post was linked to postings or comments where they are discussed in more detail.

    Great post.

  18. Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 4:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Sorry guys I couldn’t keep up with the blog that I love most for the past several days. Been spending too much time shoveling this April snow out of my driveway. Sister down in Louisiana tells me it’s gonna be a 38 degree Easter Sunday there.

    OK, so any important events on the warming disaster about to befall us while I was away?

  19. Kopernik
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 5:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The predictions of GCMs of future climate change are proof of AGW, not hypotheses that presently are unverifiable. (The IPCC authors need to read a good basic text on the philosophy of science.)

  20. James Erlandson
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 5:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Today’s OpinionJournal/Wall Street Journal has a piece titled Climate of Opinion — Why we believe in global warming.
    It speaks of ” … a society’s impulse to manufacture political certainty out of irresolvable scientific uncertainty … ”
    “The relevant observations are a mess … ”
    “The consensus that human activities are causing global warming is purely a social invention … The “consensus” is, in truth, a product of itself.”

  21. Peter Lloyd
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 6:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I thoroughly enjoyed your list of salient elements – laughed out loud, in fact. It would make an excellent stand-up comedy routine at a conference.

    To address your proposition seriously, though, I believe that few qualified, reputable scientists would even accept the term “consensus science”. It is almost a contradiction in terms. Even our basic tenets, like the Laws of Thermodynamics, occasionally come under critical review (usually by cosmologists, a special breed indeed!) but we completely accept the propriety – in fact, the need – for these occasional challenges to our fundamental beliefs. Science would not be science without this convention, so there can be no such animal as “consensus science” and those who believe in such a thing are not true scientists.

    In this context, take a look at the lead editorial in Saturday’s (April 7) London ‘The Times’. For the first time a leading serious newspaper asks for an open, even-handed debate of the AGG issue and criticises the hysterical responses to anyone who questions the IPCC position. What with the recent WSJ article, the indications are that the pendulum is poised. Less convincing, but encouraging, is the large number of sceptics among the lay public who respond on line to media reports and documentaries.

  22. Dave B
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 6:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    clarification of #8:

    calculating a R2, finding it near zero, then substituting RE, while never reporting the R2, is mainstream consensus science.

  23. george h.
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 7:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

    How about these:

    Ignore high-resolution proxies in temperature reconstuctions which agree with human history and the known recent geologic record. “We have to get rid of the Midieval Warm Period” — email from IPCC scientiest to David Demming, University of Oklahoma.

    “Unless we announce disasters, no one will listen” Sir John Houghton, first chairman of IPCC

  24. rhodeymark
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 7:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Andre, in a local CA search it could be found under buckets

  25. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 7:14 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Now that I’ve mulled over this a little more – I guess the answer to Scott Saleska’s question insofar as it applies to the proxy issues discussed here is not that we disagree with consensus “science”, but, that for all or any of the reasons set out above, the Hockey Team output, while qualifying as a “consensus”, isn’t “science”. I can only comment on areas that I’ve studied. If I spent a couple of years studying water vapor issues, would I return with a list of 19 elements similar to the above? I don’t know. It’s possible that the paleoclimate situation is one-off and the water vapor situation is in good order. This is why the due diligence procedures need to be improved: at this point, IPCC endorses both with equal zeal. So their endorsement ends up being meaningless. Some Team members argue that the paleoclimate argument is irrelevant to the big picture. Accordingly, as an IPCC reviewer, I suggested that the entire paleoclimate chapter be deleted if it was irrelevant to the key issues relevant to policy-makers. This recommendation was not followed so I take it that it is the view of “consensus science” that paleoclimate issues are relevant to the big picture.

  26. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 7:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    An early post at this blog was the Top 15 Reasons for Withholding Data or Code.http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=132

  27. beng
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 7:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    UN IPCC “consensus science” is that AWG is currently “very likely” & by 2100 could cause temps to rise 4-5C, sea-level rises by several feet, mega-droughts & storms, vast species extinctions, etc, etc, and that capping CO2 emissions immediately will save us from these possible calamities (implicitly, we can have predictable effects on the global climate simply thru reduced CO2 emissions).

  28. bender
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 8:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Aha, another AAGW double-standard for the database. That’s #18.
    The paleoclimatic proxy data don’t matter to the scientific consensus [aka: we've moved on], but, still, they shouldn’t be removed from IPCC reports.

  29. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 8:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    bender, I think that the correct nuance here is that the “consensus”, as ewxpressed by IPCC, is that the paleoclimate argument does matter and that the Rahmsdorff realclimate argument that it doesn’t “matter” is a minority view not accepted by the “consensus”. They rejected my reviewer comment that it should be excluded if it doesn’t matter. My goodness, if we were to try to itemize inconsistencies, the list would never end.

  30. moptop
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 9:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Careful Steve. They made Socrates drink hemlock for constantly pointing out inconsistencies.

  31. Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 10:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “capping CO2 emissions immediately will save us from these possible calamities”

    I thought it was more along the lines of “US and Western European capping of CO2 emissions immediately will save us from these possible calamities.” China, India, Brazil, etc. emission growth notwithstanding. The countries responsible for the most growth in emissions are apparently under the least pressure to do anything about them. Now if emissions were regulated in CO2 per unit of productive output, we might have something reasonable. That allows everyone to compete on the same basis. The current proposals all seem to be putting hobbles on the Western economies while allowing other economies, particularly China, to grow unimpeded by CO2 restrictions.

  32. Francois Ouellette
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 10:55 AM | Permalink | Reply


    Let me help you a bit with my thoughts on consensus, and what you are trying to achieve.

    In the 1940′s, the sociologist Robert K. Merton proposed that the scientists were following a certain set of norms, that these norms constituted what can be called the ethos of science, or at the very least “academic science”. Those norms are summarized under the acronym “CUDOS”. They are “Communalism”, “Universalism”, “Disinterestedness”, and “Organized skepticism” (later, others added “originality” for the “O”).

    This so-called “functionalist” view of the sociology of science has been much criticized over the past 20-30 years, but in the end, you realize that much of the criticism amounts to saying that the scientists do not really follow these norms in practice, which is really but another way of saying that they should!

    Now, you will notice that “consensus” is NOT one of the norms. To stay within the realm of sociology, one might say that the much talked about “consensus” is a “boundary object” between the scientists and the policy makers. It is useful to both, but can have a different meanings on both sides of the barrier. For the policy makers, the consensus is one way to avoid having to look at all the facts themselves, and to take for “true” what the scientists are telling them. For scientists, a consensus actually doesn’t mean much. it may be a state of affairs, just the fact that most scientists in a field mostly agree on something, but it never means that that something is “true”, or at least it shouldn’t. The enterprise of science is not about establishing a consensus, but about always being allowed to question such consensus, that is “organized skepticism”. THAT is the real norm of science. The consensus is something a scientist uses to take one of either paths: either go along with it and see what comes next (some would say that is the “normal science” of Thomas Kuhn), or, find out if there is anything wrong with it (which, in turn, could lead to a “revolution”, big or small). But both avenues are ALWAYS open to scientists. That is why the consensus in itself is of little value.

    Now let’s come back to the norms. Communalism means sharing the information, e.g. in scientific publications. Clearly, we have a problem here, since, as you have shown, all the data are not properly disclosed. Universalism means that anyone’s contribution is welcome, independent of race, sex, and, of course, education, as long as the contribution makes a valid point. So it is unfair to say that your contribution is not valid because you are not an expert in the field. Are you making a valid point or not, should be the question to ask. “Disinterestedness” is another contentious point. Is Mann really disinterested when his own findings are heralded as the “icon” of global warming? Much is at stakes here for him, if he is proven wrong. “Interest” also means, not only money or prestige, but also political interests. I think everyone would agree that the global warming issue is very much politicized. As such, it is highly vulnerable to a breaching of the norm of disinterestedness. As for skepticism, that is really what it’s all about, I mean, auditing the results.

    In short, what your blog is doing is trying to enforce the real scientific norms. In that sense, it is a much more valid endeavour than following or trying to establish an elusive “consensus”. The “real” scientist, here, is you, Steve.

  33. Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 11:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    My favorite variation of 17 is

    This situation is far from ideal, but the alternative, using data after 1960 and thus incorporating non-temperature- related bias when fitting regression equations as a function of density variability,would invariability produce earlier estimates of past temperature that, to some extent, too warm.

  34. esceptico
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 11:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Consensus axiom:

    Remarkably, none of the [928+ n]papers disagreed with the consensus position. Explicitly or implicitly.

  35. Basil Copeland
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 12:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In IPCC, “consensus” means that there is the possibility that something might be true.

  36. Jonathan Schafer
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 1:17 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Publish the findings and Summary for Policy Makers of a major, multi-year climate study, but do not publish the scientific basis (reports, statistical analyses, etc.) until months later. Publishing the findings before the scientific basis can be scrutinized by other scientists and the public is a good technique for producing “consensus science”.

    You left out the part about the summary using as yet unpublished work, which required the anonymous reviewer to contact the author directly, which led to being threatened with removal of reviewership for contacting the author as directed by the IPCC contact.

  37. mccall
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 2:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    1) Splicing of other proxy records to the instrument temperature (proxy) record is valid.

    2) The instrument temperature rise, as measured from the late 1970s to present (not even 1.5 Hale cycles), is a statistically valid indicator of earth temp trends. Note: I picked Hale (over Schwabe) given what I understand are better dendro corellations to the ~22 (vs. the ~11) year cycle. Regardless, the absurdity of the climatogical focus on the last ~30 years is obvious to those

  38. rhodeymark
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 2:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Consensus science is whatever the US House pays the NSF to say it is

  39. jcspe
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 4:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    After thinking it over I have to reject the premise. “Consensus” is not even a science word. It is a political word. Using the phrase “consensus science” would only be appropriate if one would not feel stupid saying phrases like “Archimedes’ joint resolution,” “Pythagorean omnibus bill” and “Bernouli’s motion to reconsider.” Each is a silly concept and so is “consensus science.”

    Rejecting “consensus science” is not a rejection of science. It is a rejection of politics taking over science. Nothing could be more appropriate.

  40. Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 5:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #36. Yes, and in a similar vein, it is acceptable to cite and rely on unpublished work “in review” if it is necessary for your argument (see the various Wahl and Amman threads), and ignore any peer-reviewed publication that does not support your view.

  41. T J Olson
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 5:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    jcspe (#39) comes to a bottom line judgment: “consensus” – expecially when rooted upon statistical correlation without dispatching rival explanations nor replicating its data based claims – ain’t science.

    The way in which a complex scientific “argument” covers up for what really is an argument from authority, and becomes cannonized by the media, based on an NGO (ie, the IPCC) that is comissioned to find ACW – that’s politics.

    fFrancois (#32) reflects the CA standard, stating “I think everyone would agree that the global warming issue is very much politicized.” Yet somehow the obvious to most of us soomehow escapes the arbiters of news? Herein lies one of the greates unwritten exposes of our time.

  42. Stan Palmer
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 5:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re consensus statements


    The above link goes to a page of consensus statements from the National Institute of Health. The description on eh page is:

    These statements reflect a panel’s assessment of the relevant medical knowledge available at the time each statement was written. Thus, each provides a “snapshot in time” of the state of knowledge on the conference topic. When reading the statements, keep in mind that new knowledge is inevitably accumulating through medical research, and that the information provided is not a substitute for professional medical care or advice.

    Note the phase snapshot in time. A consensus is not necesarily true or can reamin true in the face of accumulating discoveries

  43. Douglas Hoyt
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 5:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Not proxy consensus science, rather climate modeling consensus science:

    The IPCC assumes that an instantaneous doubling of carbon dioxide is a legitimate and valid thought experiment to determine radiative forcing. Instantaneous means that 660 gigatons of carbon dioxide enters the atmosphere at the speed of light, suddenly stops, and this has no effect on atmospheric temperatures. An instantaneous doubling would cause the oceans to boil among other catastrophes and cannot occur in the real world. The IPCC thought experiment is invalid and unrealistic, yet the whole science is based upon this faulty thinking.

    Secondly, if you change the infrared spectrum in the absorption lines (or bands), the entire infrared spectrum must change it spectral shape. Stellar physicists have known this since 1928.

    A thought experiment that does not obey all the laws of physics is worse than useless.

    Just because someone can imagine something happening does not mean that it can happen in reality.

  44. Craig Loehle
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 6:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #32 Wonderful contribution on the sociology of science. The “disinterestedness” norm is that one should review a paper or proposal of someone even if you do not like them and give it a fair analysis. What we observe in the climate change debate is that critics (many of those on this blog) are demeaned as not being worthy to have an opinion. Their views are dismissed out of hand without the merit of the view being evaluated at all. Conversely, the Team simply ignores the criticisms of those it deems outside the pale (which they get to define). If you have had a paper simply rejected without any actual criticism, then you are running into a violation of this norm.

  45. Follow the Money
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 7:08 PM | Permalink | Reply


    “The consensus that human activities are causing global warming is purely a social invention … The “consensus” is, in truth, a product of itself.”

    As for “consensus science” it is a political/economic construction, a product of public relations. The public relations folks massaged this message to have the rhetorical effect of advancing their paying clients’ agenda at political level — the United States’ federal and state legislatures being the major focus these days. Saying “consensus” is an effective call to authority – at the veracity of the underlying science is mostly immaterial to the purpose of the “consensus science” label – the term was concocted and floated not to convince scientists, but politicians and the public.

    The GW business need this rhetoric because the “market” they have created in Europe, and maybe later here in the states, cannot exist without government intervention. The monetization of carbon for trading purposes requires government actions.

    Very interesting that on the rebound some of the pro-AAGW scientists have adopted “consensus” in their defense, even enthroning it as some new kind of self-validating scientific principle.

  46. JohnM
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 8:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There is a solid scientific basis for the existence of AGW based on the IR spectroscopy of CO2 but that appears to be off-topic in terms of this blog. The problems only start when the question of whether AGW is the major factor causing the warming over the last century or so starts to be considered and the question of what climate changes AGW could cause over the next century or so if the atmospheric CO2 concentration doubles is explored. Mann’s hockey stick was a major departure from the earlier “consensus science” about the LIA and MWP, which suggested that natural solar cycles could be a very important factor and that AGW may not necessarily be the main factor contributing to 20th century climate change.


    I’m not sure why there is a need to get too hung up on the details of Mann’s analysis when a very large and varied body of published research still provides strong support for the older “consensus science” on what caused climate change over the last millennium. Mann’s hockey stick is not the key piece of evidence for the existence of AGW so debunking it does not provide conclusive evidence that the Kyoto protocols are a waste of time or anything like that. The onus is actually probably very much on the other side of the argument to demonstrate conclusively and unambiguously that altering the composition of the atmosphere in the decades ahead is not going to be a problem if the status quo situation with fossil fuels is going to continue.

  47. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 9:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    #46. As an IPCC reviewer, I commented however, that, if the paleoclimate arguments are irrelevant to policy, then the section should be deleted in its entirety, which would enable the authors to focus their attention on what they felt to be the valid arguments. That would be fine with me. But they decided otherwise. So I presume that IPCC wishes to continue defend the HS and its cousins.

  48. bernie
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 10:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am not sure I get what you are saying: probably a citation for

    There is a solid scientific basis for the existence of AGW based on the IR spectroscopy of CO2

    would help. The actual citation you provide is a neat summary that supports unequivocally a MWP and LIA. However, my understanding is that the existence of these two climatic events greatly complicates the attribution of any current apparent acceleration in GW. Or have I missed your point?

  49. bernie
    Posted Apr 8, 2007 at 10:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

    How about:

    Consensus science is about stating obvious catastrophic events without being clear as to what might cause such catastrophic events (viz., Aaron Wildavsky’s great book: But is it true?)

    If the polar caps melted most of our major cities would be inundated.

    If the Moon’s current orbit began to rapidly decay, mankind would face extinction.

    If a highly contagious fatal viral infection emerged, civilization as we know it would face extinction.

    Prolonged droughts in the Mid-West would lead to a collapse of the world’s food supply and starvation for the entire world.

  50. Andrey Levin
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 3:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Higher temperatures will produce droughts in arid regions and floods in wet regions, no other way.

    Warmer climate invariably means droughts. Indochina is too far to be counted.

    Higher local temperature produces droughts, not absence of rain drives local temperature higher.

    Increased growing season will reduce yield of crops.

    Tree rings grow wider with temperature increase, yet productivity of forests will suffer in warmer world.

    Melting glaciers will reduce water supply. There were no rivers in China two centuries ago, when glaciers did not melt.

    AGW will lead to ocean acidification.

    Bad and invasive species will spread, good species will stubbornly refuse and will die-off in their designated habitat.

    CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels is clearly marked as bad in atmosphere and produces AGW, natural CO2 is all good and does not produce GW.

    Ecosystems in hottest regions, like tropical rainforest and coral reefs, will not spread to cooler regions with GW, but die on the spot.

    Income taxes are not reducing wealth generation, yet carbon taxes will eliminate CO2 emissions completely.

    Fossil fuels are running out, yet CO2 emissions from their combustion will increase.

    CO2 emissions from coal power plants will ruin the planet in 30 years, yet nuclear power generation is not good because it produces waste dangerously radioactive for millions of years.

    Amount of already emitted CO2 will ruin food production and lead to famines no matter what we will do, so we have to promote massive food-to-fuel industry.

    Massive use of green fuels, like Russian NG, Brazilian ethanol, and Indonesian biodiesel improves EU energy security.

  51. MarkW
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 5:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Cold snaps are proof that the climate is variable.
    Warm spells are proof that global warming is real and it’s getting worse.

  52. bender
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 8:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: alarmism
    Alarmists see instability everywhere. Probably because that’s all they choose to look at. Seems engineers are far more capable of discerning the numerous stabilizing mechanisms in complex systems. Maybe because they’re more willing to look at whole systems. Dunno. Just a thought.

  53. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 9:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The Earth is an organism, has a fever and is “mad at” an “infection” on its surface known as Homo Sapiens Sapiens. If only the “infection” could be reduced (or even “cured!”) organism Earth will become more “healthy.”

  54. JohnN
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 7:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    AGW is proven by true consensus science. If you refute any parts of that consensus science, it only means that what you refute is false consensus science, and irrelevant. You cannot refute true consensus science because that is by definition true. Thus AGW is true. QED

  55. Kasabondayav Kreshikov
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 10:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    An obvious one: Sunspots reaching 1,000-year high have nothing to do with climate, of course…

  56. David Ashley
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 10:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The concensorsh…ooops…I mean consensus scientific method:
    1)develop conclusion that will scare the tweet out of the (gullible portion of the?) world and make you famous;
    1a)make sure conclusion flies in the face of previous research for definite shock value;
    2)compile data sets after binge drinking;
    3)misuse conventional statistical techniques and develop a “powerful new statistical technique” to produce conclusion from data sets;
    4)publish conclusion in journal reviewed by grad school buddies, taking care to mention the conventional statistical tests while omitting undesirable results;
    5)instead of providing data or code to inquiring parties, sling mud and declare them heretics;
    6)wait until President threatens martial law and dispatching of delta force to obtain data, then store data in FTP catacombs ingeniously labeled “Censored”;
    7)take on like-minded grad students who will “independently” validate conclusion;
    8)respond to further questioning by government officials and other scientists with opaque generalities and references to unpublished work of grad students and journal buddies.

    I was an ignorant but skeptical mechanical engineering graduate student who started looking into global warming the last few days. I have been appalled at what I have found. Just wanted to say a huge thank you to McIntyre and McKitrick for all the work they’ve done. In my humble opinion, you guys are modern day scientific heroes.

    I’m glad you guys on this blog seem to have a positive and jovial attitude about this. I’m still wrestling with the outrage and frustration. I can’t believe that these still have jobs. I didn’t have to read very far before it was obvious to even the most casual reader which side was right: the Hockey Team’s outright refusal to provide information should have cost them their careers immediately. I find the gymnastics that have ensued almost unbelievable. And the continued use of this work is simply unacceptable. To me it’s quite depressing that this thing can happen and worse that it can continue after guys like you have mathematically and scientifically blown the lid right off. I’m glad that there are scientists around who are still interested in the truth and in honest debate and critique.

    A thousand thank yous to M & M and all of you others who are not afraid to stand up and be counted a global warming heretic. You’re an encouragement to those of us who want the truth.

  57. Richard Sharpe
    Posted Apr 9, 2007 at 10:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From that sunspot article:

    They say that over the last century the number of sunspots rose at the same time that the Earth’s climate became steadily warmer.

    This trend is being amplified by gases from fossil fuel burning, they argue. (Emphasis added)

    Of course CO2 amplified the warming.

  58. jcspe
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 1:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #57 — Richard Sharpe shines a spotlight on the true nature of the “consensus.” No matter what any experimenter or investigator finds, they must still conclude it is the gas that did it. Given the stretch in the logic of this particular conclusion, I wonder if these folks actually managed to keep a straight face while doing so.

  59. T J Olson
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 3:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    David Ashley (#56)-

    NGOs like the IPCC tend to have lives of their own. Money follows prestige, which gains “authority” – which generates power. And once power is given, who enjoys having it checked?

    Which is why Michael Crichton (see his web site) wants US federal money for science research like ACW to also include funding for opponents. In other words, institutionalize a completely competitive process for government funded science to neutralize effects like the insulating one seen produced b the Hockey Team.

    But what needs to be done with international institutions like the UN? The diversity of interests blocks real reform.

  60. EW
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 4:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    conclusion that will scare the tweet out of the (gullible portion of the?) world

    A Czech tabloid Blesk (Lightning) just overdid itself in doom prophecies. In the weekend edition they wrote that global warming will cause more tsunamis. Probably some hidden fiendish influence of CO2 on plate tectonics, I surmise.

  61. BradH
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 4:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Here’s a “consensus” suggestion:-

    While CO2 constitues 0.04% of the atmosphere (with the human contribution to CO2 being about 0.002%), our certainty about global climate dynamics makes it is plausible to rule out variations in solar activity as the cause of recent warming, because our knowledge of Earth’s climate is so much more sophisticated that our knowledge of the Sun (which provides 100% of our warming).

  62. Hans Erren
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 6:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    At most, 5% of the carbon dioxide in the air comes from human sources
    such as power plants, cars, oilsands, etc.

    The author is confusing cash flow and profit. 5% of the annual flow may be antropogenic, but 95% of the net decadal flow is antropogenic. The fossil CO2 accumulates, the biological co2 circulates. It’s a classic straw man.

  63. Michael Smith
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 9:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    JohnM said:

    The onus is actually probably very much on the other side of the argument to demonstrate conclusively and unambiguously that altering the composition of the atmosphere in the decades ahead is not going to be a problem if the status quo situation with fossil fuels is going to continue.

    If I understand you correctly, you are demanding proof of a negative: proof that “altering the composition of the atmosphere” will not cause global warming with all of its alleged consequences. This effectively pronounces industrial civilization guilty unless it can prove its innocence.

    However, there is a very sound epistemological principle behind the presumption of innocence that underlies our criminal justice system — and it is a principle that applies to science as well. One cannot prove a negative; the burden of proof must always rest with the person who claims to have identified new knowledge, such as the existence of a chain of causal relationships and their consequences for mankind.

    The burden of proof is still very clearly with the AGW side.

  64. Mark T.
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 9:48 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The onus is actually probably very much on the other side of the argument to demonstrate conclusively and unambiguously that altering the composition of the atmosphere in the decades ahead is not going to be a problem if the status quo situation with fossil fuels is going to continue.

    I think you don’t understand how science works. Someone makes a claim, someone else finds a flaw, or an alternate explanation. The onus is _always_ on the claim originator to prove his position in light of alternatives or errors. The more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary the proof required.

    Oh, and btw, the IR spectroscopy of CO2 is only one aspect of what causes the planet is as warm as it is. Clearly everyone in here understands that adding to the CO2 content will increase latent heat in the atmosphere. We also know that it isn’t that simple (otherwise it would be a purely logarithmic response, and we’re already nearly saturated in the relevant bands) and there really isn’t much to discuss. It’s not “off-topic”, just not interesting. Even still, it has been discussed at length, so why don’t you try using that search feature on the page. You’d have found that out and not come across as so arrogant “holy cow, how did these morons miss this?!!”


  65. Ken Fritsch
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 10:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Scientific Consensus reminds me of a listening experience I had a few days ago when a group of sports commentators on radio were commenting on the inhospitable weather baseball teams were having for opening of the season. One of the three jocks said “what happened to global warming” and another reminded that the cold weather was a result of global warming in the form of extreme weather events. In the background I could hear them all agree that indeed that must be the case. Now these three commentators, who can seldom agree on anything sports related, had a consensus about global warming and its effects even when them seemed contrary to common sense. They are not members of the intelligentsia but probably citizens of average awareness of current events. I’ll call their agreement as it pertains to global warming a Consensus of Sports Commentators.

    And so I would refer to what some may want to call a Scientific Consensus as a Consensus of Scientists. The scientist that initiated this thread I believe commented that he deferred to the knowledge of specialist scientists in forming his views of global warming which,in my mind, is the same general process used by the three sports jocks with perhaps in the jocks case had a bit more filtering of the scientific information as it was handed down via the media.

    A Scientific Consensus would in a strict scientific sense have to at least spell out some scientifically established probabilities for the conclusions or tentative conclusions that form the basis of the consensus ‘€” and here I am not talking about a show of scientists’ hands because that leads us back to Consensus of Sports Commentators. Perhaps one should show some deserved deference to the superior knowledge of scientists in general and their abilities to integrate all the specialists’ knowledge in forming their consensus. But at this blog we hear that these specialists scientists (and sometimes as a direct testimonial) do not always know how their efforts are to be integrated into the complicated and overall evolving view of global warming. Their comments about the long hours required for their specialties could make one ponder when they would have time to do this integration. Perhaps the Renaissance type persons, whose involvement in these matters draws the complaints from the likes of a twq, is as readily more informed about these issues than are the scientific specialists.

    The Consensus of Scientists on AGW exists, I would venture to say, because many of these scientists see the mitigation attempts of government as an effort that could ward off the possibility (without specific probabilities for occurrence) of the bad effects of AGW and that in the worst case scenario these actions would be more or less benign. They see their motivations as pure as the driven snow and any unintended consequences of their calls to actions as minor. The Consensus of Scientists under these circumstances can better be understood as something more akin to political than scientific and that is where I part company with them. While the Consensus and those like myself with contrary political views await more definitive answers on AGW, the Consensus and its counterpart will remain at odds more by way of our differeing views of the political consequences than the science invloved.

  66. Jim Clarke
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 10:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re# 63… Furthering Michael Smith’s comment…

    JohnM (re #46) has once again hit us over the head with the Precautionary Principle. While all attempts to defend carbon mitigation policies will ultimately retreat to invoking the Precautionary Principle, it is important to realize that it is neither precautionary nor a principle. In fact, use of this concept in developing policy has lead to considerable harm, making the Precautionary Principle self-contradictory! There is little doubt that forcing carbon mitigation policy through invoking the Precautionary Principle will cause far more harm than good.

  67. Tom Vonk
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 10:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The author is confusing cash flow and profit. 5% of the annual flow may be antropogenic, but 95% of the net decadal flow is antropogenic. The fossil CO2 accumulates, the biological co2 circulates. It’s a classic straw man.

    And an even more classic strawman is that the profit cannot be allocated to a particular part of the cash flow .
    A profit $ is just any $ of the cash flow and the accumulating CO2 is just any molecule of the CO2 .
    What misses is the magical word “all things being equal” :)

  68. Al
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Someone makes a claim, someone else finds a flaw,

    This whole site is focused on step two there. No one’s really proposing a new theory that might need any sort of defending, just driving trucks through gaping holes in existing ‘consensus.’

    I was convinced there was a major problem when the Mann model was applied to Red Noise of various lengths, and the output was… hockeysticks. The model is fundamentally predisposed toward hooking.

    The entire reasoning behind dropping LIA data and MWP data is spurious. Picking the trees to include in your study based on how well they track local temperature is fine when you aren’t tracking temperature – but turning around and calling those ‘temperature proxies’ is circular logic.

    If I was a dendrochonologist, I’d request a grant to ask the forestry service to plant exclusively bristlecone pines on 8-or-so specifically distributed hills in the Rockies. Then actually _test_ water, CO2, and temperature sensitivity. In the ‘half-this hill got more water because I watered it’ direct methods, as opposed to the ‘we measured rainfall’ methods. You don’t get orthogonal data from nature all that often. CO2 would be trickier, but there are plenty of hills with pretty uniform one-directional airflows near any pass. Deliberately introduce a CO2 source upstream, then drop sensors throughout this patch of trees.

    This ‘only five cores seemed to have temperature sensitivity, so we dropped the rest of the data’ business is like Newton trying to determine G in a flipping parachute trainer. The ones that have fans large enough to fling a 125kg man 30 feet straight up.

  69. Jeff Norman
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 11:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    How about:

    Consensus Science is serious business. A Consensus Scientist will never smile or laugh in public especially in association with the Consensus Science topic. Smirking is allowed.

  70. JohnM
    Posted Apr 10, 2007 at 1:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bernie #48, you and others on here seem to me to want a rigidly polarized debate. It is worth remembering, however, that AGW can be real and not that big a deal at one and the same time and that many of the lower end projections of future temperature change would be consistent with that sort of analysis of the situation. It doesn’t have to be a case of two mutually antagonistic sides constantly saying “it isn’t happening at all” vs. “we are all doomed, doomed I tell you”. Given the limited duration of past interglacials and the length of the current one, there is actually a case that could be be made that having significantly more CO2 in the atmosphere could delay or even eliminate the next ice age and the associated climate change that would make most of North America and Europe uninhabitable and much of the rest of the planet arid desert.

    Mann’s hockey stick provided a simplistic visual snapshot that could be spread through the electronic media to convince people with a limited degree of scientific knowledge that drastic action is required. Removing the wavy line aspect in the graphics of past temperature in the earlier ICPP report due to the LIA and MWP no doubt helped silence some potentially awkward questions about natural cycles. Proving Mann’s HS is a propaganda exercise does not make the issue of AGW suddenly go away, however, because it isn’t the key piece of science on which future temperature projections are based. It is worth remembering that many scientists regarded AGW as a serious issue that would require drastic action long before Mann ever reported those data.

  71. bender
    Posted Apr 11, 2007 at 5:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #80
    #79 is merely listing one of the aspects of “the consensus”. The idea here is to list them, not debate them.

  72. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Apr 11, 2007 at 6:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #81. Absolutely – the purpose is to LST the consensus, not debate every issue under the sun (or under the GHG canopy.) I’m going to move some comments to Unthreaded and I’m going to delete new off-topic comments.

  73. kchua
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 12:49 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I am afraid I cannot locate the post I was referring to as the subject of my earlier post.

    Sorry about that.

  74. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 1:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Primitive societies have a lower per capita “negative impact” on “the ecology” than do modern, technical, urbanized ones.

    Increased reradiation of IR, due to GHGs, will definitely result in a monotonic, or even GODESS forbid, runaway, rise in the absolute heat content of the oceans and atmosphere.

    We know all there is to know about incident electromagnetic energy impinging on the Earth, and its interactions with Earth and atmospheric systems, and can state, with at least a 90% confidence level, there there is NO WAY that variations in its flux can have ANY significant impact on either the mean tropospheric temperature, on cloud formation or on any other aspect of climate.

    If the climate warms, all climate bands will generally shift poleward. For example, the Mojave Desert will expand into the currently non desert areas of Central California. As a corrollary, the general mix of climate types will remain the same – we don’t expect humid types of zones to grow relative to arid ones. Therefore, AGW means an increase in drought, and desertification of currently semi arid and humid zones in the mid latitudes.

    Non thermal energy dissipation plays, at best, an insignificant role in the energy equation of the climate.

    Even though we rely on tide gages referenced to the substrate, combined with more recent satellite methods, and thence “corrected” for any absolute long term motions in the substrate or other basin form factor changes, or other known and suspected error factors, to derive a reputed “mean global sea level” and thereby, purport to measure the absolute rise and fall of said MSL, we can state with great assurance that we are measuring a troubling rise in sea level, world wide, extrapolation of which implies widespread and growing coastal innundation in all places that don’t have rapid tectonic coastal emergence.

    Water vapor is a postive feedback in all cases.

    There is an Arctic “ice cap” which has at its core “old ice” which dates back to time immemorial. Global warming will eventually consume it, once that happens, there will be an ice free Actic, initially during the summer, eventually year round.

  75. Lee
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 2:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    OK, I’m convinced. It isn’t CO2 that is warming the planet. It’s the combustion of all the flaming straw men being thrown around in this thread.

  76. Hans Erren
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 2:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    No Lee, the current hype is still a knock-on effect of the previous one. We had the cooling aerosols in the 70′s threatening us with a nuclear winter. So far there has been no observational evidence of the cooling man-made aerosols. But still the hot models desperately need the cooling aerosols because otherwise we would be “too darn hot” now.

    It’s all due to the Rasool & Schneider heritage.

  77. Mark T.
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 2:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Everybody that posts at CA (minus the “pro” camp), including the meister himself, Steve M., is denying the “other evidence” of AGW.

    Add that to the consensus list.


  78. Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 4:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: 77

    Well, I am on the “Pro” side: Pro incandescent light bulb side, that is.

    All joking aside, my motivation is simple. I see a need to critically examine the evidence being used to support policies which are going to cost me, and people whom I care about, a great deal of resources. I also know a little something about statistical fallacies and traps, so the pioneering work done by Steve M. excites me.

    As Steve M. always points out, this blog is about critically examining temperature data, especially those that are derived from tree rings. Even though others discuss other evidence in some threads and subthreads. As such, posts on those issues will be rarer than those about temperature data.

    I understand science does not move forward on a monotonically upward sloping trajectory and sometimes it takes a long time for valid counter-arguments to establish prominence (an example of a model that seems to work but does not is Keynesian interventionism in Economics. It took almost 40 years for it to fade away and it is making a come back). Therefore, phrases like “consensus” cause little alarm bells to ring in my brain. The idealized scientific process exists to ensure “the consensus” in any field is constantly challenged.

    That is the philosophical difference between studying to become a good artisan versus a scientist.


  79. JP
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 6:00 PM | Permalink | Reply


    OK, I’m convinced. It isn’t CO2 that is warming the planet. It’s the combustion of all the flaming straw men being thrown around in this thread

    No Lee, evidently it is sheep.

  80. JP
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 6:32 PM | Permalink | Reply


    Whoops, forgot the link

  81. JP
    Posted Apr 12, 2007 at 7:26 PM | Permalink | Reply


  82. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 13, 2007 at 6:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    To expand upon:

    1. The urban heat island effect in the 20th century is less than 0.05 deg C.

    Even though the world population has doubled or more during the past century, the UHI of weather stations has increased so slowly as to only have the tiny effect above.

    In particular the rural stations obviously can’t have any UHI because they’re “rural”. Duh!

  83. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 13, 2007 at 9:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #83 – Building on that ….

    A strip mall near the entrance to a National Park dissipates less thermal energy than one on an urban street.

    Farmers and pastoralists live the same way they did 100 years ago – unlike city folk, they don’t have central heating, big screen TVs, hot tubs, or arc lighting. They only have dirt roads and pads – they have yet to discover concrete and asphalt, let alone crushed rock.

    Central Park dissipates more energy than a ski area.

    Turning desert land into a carbon copy of Iowa, completely with a gridiron road pattern, endless fields, and a well settled look, has only a minimal effect on the local climate and none beyond that.

  84. Byron
    Posted Apr 13, 2007 at 12:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This one from Parker 2004 seems rather terse for an abstract, lacking a few hundreds words or much information but at fourty five words, and more than one sentence, still a little long for a slogan:

    Urban heat islands occur mainly at night and are reduced in windy conditions. Here we show that, globally, temperatures over land have risen as much on windy nights as on calm nights, indicating that the observed overall warming is not a consequence of urban development.

    Pulling from Peterson: 2003 we get:

    Contrenerally accepted wisdom, no statistically significant impact of urbanization could be found in annual temperatures.

    meteorological observations are likely to be made in park “cool islands”

    At seventeen words and eleven words, they’re not bad, just needs some boiling down to the censensus view:

    UHI is accounted for.

  85. Dave B
    Posted Apr 13, 2007 at 12:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    75 lee…

    nice irony, your use of “all the flaming straw men” is a strawman argument! try actually arguing a few of steve’s points, rather than name-calling. and have a nice day.

  86. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 13, 2007 at 8:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The “Great Heat Wave” of the NH summer of 2006 was evidence certain of AGW.

    The occurrence of periods of balmy weather during mid winter in the Northeastern US is highly unusual. It was not always this way. Why I remember when Central Park would be covered in snow from November until April every Winter. Used to have to walk two miles to school through snow drifts. Thoooooose werrrrrre da dayyyys!

    In ALL areas of the upper latitudes where permafrost is the norm, the permafrost is melting.

    I went to the Artic coast once in early September and there was no ice. That is highly unusual and a sure sign of catastrophic AGW.

    I heard that open water was seen very near the North Pole during late summer, a few years ago. That is highly abnormal.

    When I see photos or film footage showing areas of liquid water near the north pole, those areas are leads – open areas between floes of ice. There are no other ways that there might be areas of liquid water (for example, ponds ON TOP OF the sea ice).

    When a large piece of ice breaks off of an ice shelf, it means the shelf is melting slowly away.

    Icebergs are a sure sign of net loss of “the ice caps”

    The Actic used to get lots of snow but now it no longer does. Why, an Inuit person told me that there was only a melted equivalent of 5 inches of rain last winter.

    It is totally abnormal for there to be very little sea ice in the areas north of Scandanavia. Ice should be solid with the shore, nearly down to where the Arctic circle intersects it. It used to be difficult, prior to the mid 20th century, to maintain shipping to the areas near Murmansk, during Winter. (As opposed to say, the embayment where Murmansk is freezing up).

    Southern Greenland did not used to have ice free areas, but since AGW has melted it away, now it does.

    Glaciers in the Western US are excellent temperature proxies.

    Tropical glaciers accumlate during the winter.

    People who live in areas like Southern Michigan, Indiana and Ohio used to have lots of White Christmases, but due to AGW, they are now rare.

  87. bernie
    Posted Apr 14, 2007 at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    You said at #70

    Bernie #48, you and others on here seem to me to want a rigidly polarized debate.

    I don’t think I have made statements to that effect that I am seeking to polarize anything – I asked for a citation for your earlier point, namely that

    There is a solid scientific basis for the existence of AGW based on the IR spectroscopy of CO2

    That man can degrade local climates is I believe well documented – especially through deforestation. I am not anti-AGW at some kind of principled level. Frankly, since AGW is theoretically possible, it would make no sense to take such a position: AGW remains an empirical question. At the same time, I strongly agree with Aaron Wildavsky ‘s observations in “But is it true?” on the predilection of many to highlight potential catastrophe’s for a multitude of self-serving purposes and the basic gullibilty of many through ignorance of basic facts and a lack of critical thinking. Wildavky’s comments tie in to what others refer to as the “Precautionary Principle”. I admit that I am a skeptic and a cynic, but one willing to be persuaded by solid data and a well-reasoned argument, hence what I thought was a civil request for a citation. Is anthropogenically generated CO2 a differnece that makes a difference? That is one of the questions we are trying to answer here.

    On the other hand, I fully concur with Michael Smith’s and Mark T’s positions in #63 & 64 that your last assertion

    The onus is actually probably very much on the other side of the argument to demonstrate conclusively and unambiguously that altering the composition of the atmosphere in the decades ahead is not going to be a problem if the status quo situation with fossil fuels is going to continue.

    is epistemologically, logically, scientifically and politically a highly suspect idea. What is possible and plausible is not a fact. Do you see this as a polarizing position?

  88. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 17, 2007 at 8:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Bumping this up, simply because this is a rather fun thread.

  89. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 18, 2007 at 9:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Satellite data are better than “old fashioned” data for measuring Arctic sea ice extent.

  90. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 18, 2007 at 12:58 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Killer AGW will warm the tropics along with the rest of the world. As a result, the dew point will rise in affected areas, resulting in less rain, and therefore, killer drought. Also, the doldrums will expand, further “deadening” the tropical climate zones.

  91. Mark T.
    Posted Apr 18, 2007 at 1:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The people in Bangladesh, or more appropriately, everyone on the coast, will wait around till they are up to their necks in water from rising sea levels (also part of the “consensus”) and thusly drown as a result.


  92. bernie
    Posted Apr 18, 2007 at 1:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Tree ring widths (PC25) will be a proxy for the solar eclipses.

  93. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 18, 2007 at 6:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

    A short term (in geological history terms) relatively higher than normal concentration of CO2 and whatever thermal changes it is capable of causing, is such a strong force that it will overturn whatever has been causing cyclical massive advances of continental ice. Therefore, we’ll never see another ice age while humanity is still in existance.

  94. jcspe
    Posted Apr 19, 2007 at 5:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think the consensus holds that any glacial melting can only be a result of rising temperatures, and if temperatures do not rise then all this worrisome glacial recession will cease. It is not possible that any ice fields could continue to melt just because of sustained average annual temperatures that remain above the melting point.

    An interesting corollary is that when man-made aerosols lower global temperatures for a few decades they do so in a manner that makes glaciers continue to recede.

  95. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 19, 2007 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Here’s one inspired by a paper recently linked at Climate Science which I’ll link later.

    Since neither tropical troposphere mean temperature / heat content nor that of the oceans above the thermocline have demonstrated what was forecast by “the models” then the heat must be hiding somewhere. A-ha! The Abyss! Which leads us to …. using towed arrays of sensors “thought to be accurate to 0.005 deg C” in a half dozen places, twice in 20 years, we have “crunched the numbers” and found “significantly nonzero values” of abyssal “warming.” I mean, being able to say we dredged up some data, “processed” it, and “measured” a hundredth or two degrees “average abyssal warming” is proof positive that we’ve found the missing heat, and the models are therefore saved from ill repute.

  96. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 19, 2007 at 11:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

    US readers’ tax dollars at work:


  97. tc
    Posted Apr 19, 2007 at 11:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Latest “consensus science” news.
    Excerpt from Reuters article by Jeff Mason, April 18, 2007:

    David Henderson, an economist at the Westminster Business School in London and former head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the OECD, said governments had given the IPCC a monopoly on climate advice.
    “The very idea of creating a single would-be authoritative fount of wisdom is itself dubious,” he said, urging countries to seek a more balanced approach than the IPCC and to stop pursuing programs to urgently reduce carbon emissions.
    “In this area of policy it’s high time for governments to think again,” he said.
    Mahi Sideridou, climate policy director at environmental group Greenpeace, rejected criticism of the IPCC.
    “Saying that the IPCC is not balanced is probably the most ridiculous claim that anybody can make,” she said, stressing the group’s reports were based on scientific consensus.


    Therefore, I suggest adding to Steve’s list the following element of “consensus science”:

    The most ridiculous claim that anybody can make is that the IPCC is not balanced.

  98. bernie
    Posted Apr 20, 2007 at 6:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The only run off into glacial lakes is from glaciers.
    Whatever has annual markers can be used for a temperature proxy.
    If you torture enough data you will get some really interesting climate results.
    Errors in data measurement only exist when the data contradicts AGW.

  99. Steve Sadlov
    Posted Apr 20, 2007 at 9:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    If the media rich zones of Europe and the Eastern US are experiencing “warmer than normal” weather then it means such an experience is a perfect microcosm of global conditions. My ski area in the Alps / Adirondaks has too little snow, therefore all ski areas in the NH likely have too little snow. Sure signs of killer AGW ….

  100. Mark T.
    Posted Apr 20, 2007 at 1:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Suzy Chaffee tells me that GW will significantly shorten my precious ski season, as well as decrease the amount of snow I’ll see.*


    * Suzy apparently isn’t skiing Colorado Slopes anymore… otherwise she’d know differently.

  101. John M
    Posted Apr 22, 2007 at 11:28 AM | Permalink | Reply

    More consensus science:

    From this morning’s paper, a local “environmental science instructor” had this to say:

    It’s time to put the fear of God into people.

    This is because glaciers are melting and hurricanes are intensifying.

    If I’d known He would get so upset, I’d have listened more carefully in Sunday School.

    I’m sure today’s Earth Day festivities will add more morsels for this thread.

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