American Statistical Association Climate Change Workshop, Oct 26-27, 2007

I just learned (too late) about an interesting workshop sponsored by the American Statistical Association this weekend in Boulder.

The announcement last summer stated:

The American Statistical Association (ASA), the nation’s preeminent professional statistical society, today announced it will sponsor a two-day climate change workshop featuring 20–25 leading statisticians and atmospheric scientists. The event, sponsored by the ASA’s Science and Public Affairs Advisory Committee (SPA) and the ASA Section on Statistics and the Environment (ENVR), will take place October 26-27 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. David Marker, SPA chair, and Mary Christman, ENVR chair, will facilitate the workshop.

Understanding climate change requires the combined skills of atmospheric scientists and statisticians, Marker said. The former understand the physical relationships being investigated, while the latter know how to determine which hypotheses are strongly supported and which are still subject to uncertainty. By bringing together researchers from these two communities, we can identify where there is consensus and where future research needs to focus.

Caspar Ammann was invited, but not me. On the list were Ed Wegman, Gerry North, Doug Nychka.

I wasn’t previously familiar with the ASA section on Statistics and the Environment, but I plan to make some efforts in this direction. Their newsletter from earlier this year had a very interesting account by Richard Smith of North Carolina of a packed session at the 2006 ASA meeting discussing statistics and climate change, to which Wegman, Mike Wallace of the NAS panel and Smith himself spoke. Given the ignoring of Wegman by the climate change community, it’s interesting to read an account of the matter from an eminent statistician, who obviously could not ignore someoone of Wegman’s eminence. It’s also (and unusually) a balanced account which catches many, but not all of the nuances. Smith introduced the session as follows:

“What is the Role of Statistics in Public Policy Debates about Climate Change?” that was organized jointly by Edward Wegman (George Mason University) and myself at the 2006 Joint Statistical Meetings. The session took place in front of a standing-room-only audience and was chaired by Doug Nychka (National Center for Atmospheric Research).

Smith observed:

At the core of the controversy is an incorrect use by Mann et al. of principal components (PCs).

Note that there is no nuance here – Smith agrees with Wegman that the Mann et al method was incorrect. He then considered the argument that the error doesn’t not “matter” together with Wegman’s rebuttal:

A number of other commentators have acknowledged the flaws in the Mann reconstruction but have argued that this does not matter because the answers have been verified by other analyses. Ed’s own response to that was given in the equation:

Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science.

In other words, the fact that the answer may have been correct does not justify the use of an incorrect method in the first place.

Both Wegman’s talk and Smith’s account of it correctly noted that the issues with Mann et al were not just principal components, observing almost but not quite accurately:

Ed also touched on some of the other controversies in Mann’s work. Some of the proxies had been criticized as inappropriate. For example, bristlecone pines are known to be CO2 fertilized, creating a possible confounding problem if they are used in temperature reconstructionA figure from Mann’s own website suggested that the medieval warm period reappeared if bristlecone pines were excluded from the reconstruction. Other studies had shown a “discomforting array of different results” in the reconstructions obtained with minor methodological variations.

I presume that what was meant here is that Mann’s CENSORED directory (which we deduced contained calculations without bristlecones) did not have a HS shape. Based on our recent sampling in Colorado, it appears that the bristlecone problem may relate more directly to the strip bark phenomenon, as opposed to CO2 fertilization. In our discussion of bristlecones, while we noted that CO2 fertilization had been raised as an issue, we noted that the real issue was the non-robustness to a proxy known to be problematic – and that any use of this proxy as a worldwide thermometer should be preceded by a concerted effort to know everything possible about bristlecone pine growth. Smith then quickly reported on Wallace’s talk. On other occasions, I’ve quoted North’s answer to a question from Barton in which he stated that he agreed with the Wegman report. Wallace said the same thing:

In Mike’s view, the two reports were complementary, and to the extent that they overlapped, the conclusions were quite consistent.

The language in Wegman was much more straightforward, but Wallace’s statement, together with North’s statement, demonstrate that the NAS panel did not disagree with any of Wegman’s clearly stated findings. Wallace also said:

The NRC report reviewed a number of other reconstructions of the temperature record based on proxy observations and believed that the Mann et al. claim that the last two decades were the warmest of the last 1000 years was entirely plausible.

As I’ve observed elsewhere, the “review” carried out by the NRC panel does not seem to have constituted anything more substantive than simply reviewing the literature one more time. The “other” series that they used in their own spaghetti graph all used strip bark bristlecones/foxtails (Mann and Jones 2003; Hegerl et al 2006; Moberg et al 2005; and Esper et al 2002) – see below.

worksh10.jpg
NRC Panel Figure O-5 (C).

It seemed bizarre to me at the time that the panel could recommend that strip bark trees be “avoided” in reconstructions and then use as evidence “supporting” the Mann result reconstructions that used strip bark trees. Worse, two of the 4 studies illustrated here (Mann and Jones 2003; Hegerl et al 2006) actually use the Mann PC1 that had been specifically rejected as incorrect methodology. You have to probe beneath the surface of Hegerl et al to determine that their “W USA” series was really Mann’s PC1, but it was. It still seems bizarre to me that the NRC panel could be so indifferent to performing any due diligence, given their charge. North said in a seminar that they just “winged it”, explaining that’s what you did in these panels. Given the fact that NRC reports are accorded great weight in legal proceedings, it would certainly be more re-assuring if NAS panel chairs at least gave lip service to due diligence requirements, and, even more reassuring, if they actually performed the due diligence that the public presumes that they did.

Smith observed:

while there is undoubtedly scope for statisticians to play a larger role in paleoclimate research, the large investment of time needed to become familiar with the scientific background is likely to deter most statisticians from entering this field.

In the end, it’s important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees, where the “forest” refers to the totality of scientific evidence for global warming.

As someone who’s actually made the “large investment of time” to become intimately familiar with all the proxy issues, you’d think that they might have invited me to this workshop. On the other hand, I’m not a member of the ASA, but it’s probably something that I should belong to. I’ll make an effort to introduce myself to the chairs of the workshop by email and see what happens.

As to the last sentence, I agree that it’s important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees. As a reviewer for AR4, it was my position that, if the paleoclimate issues were not relevant to the policy issues, then the Paleoclimate (and the hockey stick discussion) should be deleted from AR4 so that people could focus on what were the “real” arguments. The IPCC “consensus” was presumably that the paleoclimate arguments remained important and that’s why the chapter remained, despite my suggestions that it be deleted.

He concluded with the announcement of the workshop just held as follows:

Second, there will be an ASA workshop of invited participants whose purpose is to establish “A Statistical Consensus on Global Warming,” organized by Dr. David Marker, Chair of the ASA Science and Public Affairs Advisory Committee, and Dr. Mary Christman, Chair of the ASA Section on Statistics and the Environment, with the sponsorship of the ASA Board and the co-sponsorship of the Section on Statistics and the Environment. This workshop is planned for the fall of 2007 and should deliver its report by early 2008.

Given that the Richard Smith article specifically cites McIntyre and McKitrick in connection with this topic, it does seem peculiar that neither Ross McKitrick nor myself were invited.

190 Comments

  1. John A
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    I think you should be a member of the ASA, Steve. But I doubt that your omission from such a meeting in which you have demonstrated considerable expert insight was accidental.

  2. jae
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 9:59 AM | Permalink

    In the end, it’s important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees, where the “forest” refers to the totality of scientific evidence for global warming.

    Can someone please direct me to this totality? Does it reside somewhere inside computer models?

  3. TAC
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 10:12 AM | Permalink

    SteveM, FWIW: As far as I have been able to determine, I was not notified of this workshop, either, and I am a long-time member of both ASA and ASA’s Section on Statistics and the Environment (I just paid my dues on October 14, and $6.00 went to pay for being a member of the Stats & Envir Section). Go figure!

  4. Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    It’s pretty clear that you were intentionally excluded, Steve. But no one needs to tell you how to make yourself so conspicuous as to become impossible to ignore–to your credit.

    As for the comment about “not losing sight of the forest for the trees”, I think the choice of words is telling (not only for the bristlecones). Because in science, losing sight of the trees for the forest is an egregious error that leads to the sloppiness that is endemic in so much current climatology.

  5. Steve Moore
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

    In the end, it’s important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees, where the “forest” refers to the totality of scientific evidence for global warming.

    Translation:
    When our minds are made up, don’t try to confuse us with facts.

  6. scp
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 12:20 PM | Permalink

    http://home.comcast.net/~timhesterberg/ScientificIntegrity.html
    says

    The OTA has been replaced with kangaroo courts like recent congressional hearings on global warming, in which two climate research contrarians with industry ties were invited to challenge one researcher (University of Virginia’s Michael Mann), whose work has contributed to the overwhelming global scientific consensus on the issue. Naturally, the hearing did not convey the overwhelming consensus, but rather the impression of uncertainty and disagreement, and a score of 2-1 against climate change; see The Republican War on Science.

    Linked from: From the Chair of the Computing Section (of the ASA).

  7. rk
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

    I notice also that this fall they’re going to have a meeting at NCAR to “develop a statement on the level of concensus” on statistical issues related to global warming. Hmmmm, why do I keep thinking “fait accompli”

  8. trevor
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 1:48 PM | Permalink

    Re: #7: It would be a quaint outcome, wouldn’t it, if a meeting held by NCAR to “develop a statement on the level of consensus” excluded participation by those questioning the science.

  9. MarkR
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 2:01 PM | Permalink

    #8 Trevor. I’m afraid there is nothing quaint about it. Hesterberg is a Union of Concerned Scientists man, and if he controls the meetings, the attendees will never hear of SteveM.

  10. Don Keiller
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    re#6. Wow, poor Michael, all alone against “Big Oil” stooges.

  11. Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

    Steve –
    Compliment: thanks for the clear presentations here. Technical but easy to follow. From the RealClimate comments I though you were some sort of axe murderer (of Bristlecone Pines at least). I’m finding some of the writing there difficult to follow – not because I can’t understand the science but because often things that are best described as uncertain or unlikely causative factors are discussed with statements that imply a “likely” causation. Best example of this is the defense of the 9 obivous flaws in the film AIT.

    Criticism: I’m really confused about the lack of interaction and hostility between this site and RealClimate (though clearly those guys are more abusive than the folks here). The commenters here and there seem like almost entirely different sets of people. Is this all due to tribalism in climate science?

    Also, several comments here and even some of the main posts seem to imply AGW is more myth than science rather than saying AGW is clear, but presented wrapped in alarmism. Alarmism is clearly rampant in the AGW community, but to suggest that AGW is “unlikely”, rather than “likely” simply does not fit with the overwhelming number of studies suggesting there is AGW …

    right?

  12. bender
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    Re #11
    No need to be confused about the lack of interaction. My visits over there led to nothing but ad hominem attacks and childish retribution. Why would I go back? They think they are the keepers of the truth, and they aren’t interested in factual arguments to the contrary. But don’t take my word for it. Go search their site. Their behavior is anything but scientific.

  13. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:17 PM | Permalink

    It’s relevant to the ASA’s efforts to establish a “statistical consensus on global warming” that Professor Bill Nordhaus of Yale, doyen of US modellers of the economics of climate change, was critical of the IPCC’s emissions scenarios in an invited presentation to the US National Research Council Committee on National Statistics on 10 May 2007 (“Key Potential Improvements in Statistics and Data for Policies Concerning Global Warming”), The full text of the presentation is on Professor Nordhaus’s website. Extracts follow:

    “Another area of great concern to modelers is construction of emissions scenarios for CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The IPCC has not served the international community well in this area. It sponsored a Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (SRES), which generated a number of economic and social projections that were put together over the 1996-2000 period. These ‘story lines’ have little analytic or econometric foundation, yet they continue to be used in the analysis underlying the Fourth Assessment Report, particularly in the science report, that are being released this year” (para. 19).

    “It is important that we improve both the database and the modeling of basic economic, energy and emissions trends in order to provide better inputs to the climate and other geophysical models. (This is one area where economics is ‘upstream’ from the geophysical models)” (para. 20).

    “A particularly important issue concerns improved output measurement in many low-income countries. The current generation of economic models is moving away from data relying on market exchange rates to those relying on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) exchange rates. This change turns out to be critical for measuring the impacts of climate change… [which] are very sensitive to PPP measures of output” (para. 31).

  14. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    #11. The supposed “lack of interaction” is one way. I link to realclimate (and Tamino, William Connolley and even Eli Rabett) but none of them link back. As far as I can tell, Gavin Schmidt does not permit links by commenters to CA and for a long time censored even the mention of CA, although the odd mention has slipped through this year.

    Could you identify any posts in which I have taken a position that AGW is “more myth than science”? I’m pretty sure that I’ve never said anything that could be construed as taking any position on the matter. (I don’t necessarily endorse the views of posters here, and the majority of posts that I delete are venting by posters against AGW alarmism; I don’t have the time or energy to catch everything but I try to thin posts that are primarily venting.) My particular expertise is in the proxy studies and I’ve consistently stated that, merely because Mann’s study was flawed,or even if all the HS studies were flawed, that this did not mean that there wasn’t some other valid argument proving that AGW was a substantial rather than minor threat. I’ve been trying for a very long time to get someone to provide a coherent exposition of how doubled CO2 leads to 2.5 deg C global warming and have not obtained any satisfactory reply. I’ve emailed some major protagonists – Gavin Schmidt, Gerry North – asking for recommendations and not obtained any suggestions. Gerry North sent an article that was interesting, but not really on point. I’ve had enough experience with mining promotions to know that , just because someone is an untrustworthy promoter, doesn’t mean that he can’t have a legitimate discovery.

    I don’t think that the Michael Mann stuff is valid, but it doesn’t mean that someone else hasn’t got a decent proof. But it’s surprisingly hard to find a fully articulated exposition. Prior to AR4, I suggested to the authors that they include such an exposition, but they elected not to.

  15. Steve Moore
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

    RE #11:

    Speaking personally,
    GW is generally accepted, but the methods used to determine the extent are subject to audit.
    AGW is not well-accepted, and the methods and data used are often shown to be suspect.

  16. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:41 PM | Permalink

    RE 11.

    I’ve been over to RC a few dozen times. Before I came here actually. At first I was nice,
    asking questions, then they decided that I was a crazed anti abortionist. ( they have google
    on the brain and never considered the possiblities that A) I might share the name of a famous person
    and B) I might hide behind his name for anonymity, a much deeper cover than the silly tamino
    or eli rabbett have used) Gullibility seems to run rampant over there. As long as its peer
    reviewed, they’ll swallow anything. “Give to to mikey, he’ll eat anything.”
    So, after they pissed me off I went Moshpit on them and put burning bags of poop in my posts.
    Even then they can’t resist stomping them out.

  17. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

    RE 15

    Expanding a bit.

    GW is “broadly” accepted here, with notable exceptions. And those folks get a say without
    anyone questioning their sanity or their motivation. So mostly the focus is on.

    1. the data
    2. the methods
    3. the accuracy
    4. the confidence.

    This interest which comes naturally to most folks here is seen as tedious or evil by the RC crowd.
    Rather, offputting.

    AGW seems more excuse than explanation. We ruled out everything else, therefore it must be Man.
    One could grant them this as a working hypothesis, subject to falsification, but they take it
    as fact as opposed to hypothesis and efforts to falsify as some form of scientific heresy.

    as

  18. Philip_B
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 4:05 PM | Permalink

    Is AGW clear? I think all we can say with certainty is that most locations at which temperatures are measured have shown some warming. Global warming implies there has been warming in pretty much all areas on Earth, which is certainly not the case. As to the cause, I find the absence of good evidence pointing at CO2 as the primary cause (of the observed warming) interesting to say the least. A case can be made for significant contributions from various sources, including, CO2, other GHGs, particles/sulphates, albedo, decadal climate oscillations, solar variation and probably others.

    Then there is the use of the term AGW itself. Are we talking about CO2, all GHGs, albedo, particulates, sulphates, UHI? Some combination of these and other factors? To be honest, I find the term AGW to be pretty much synonomous with ‘warming of unknown cause’.

  19. Steve Moore
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    RE #18:

    AGW:
    Anomalous
    Global
    Warming

  20. Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for these diplomatic responses. The degree of hostility over there is alarming, and it sometimes even comes from the scientists.

    I’m still “unsettled” by the fact that the science and advocacy and hostility seem to mix in ways that are likely to make many of the studies about GW misleading, peer reviewed or not.

    Could you identify any posts in which I have taken a position that AGW is “more myth than science”?

    No Steve, you have not done that to my knowledge. Also agree that a well articulated exposition of AGW is seriously lacking. However I’m going to keep assuming that IPCC is reasonable to assert 90% likely AGW since I don’t have time to go out and core trees, but you can bet I’ll read your analysis when it’s finished.

    I see nothing at RC to suggest even the scientists there have any interest whatsoever in the the 10% chance GW is not AGW (am I correct that IPCC suggests there is an approximate 10% chance GW is not AGW ?)

  21. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:10 PM | Permalink

    #20.

    Joe ordinarily when someone in science says 10% chance they back it up with some real math.

    In short form here is what they did.

    They ran computer models. The computer models output temperatures from say the late 1800s to today.
    They matched these simulated temps against the “instrument record” a few tweaks here a few tweak there
    and they get them to kinda match sort of. NOW, they turn off the C02 portion of the model and run it
    again. Now the model matches the temperature record up to point, say 50 years ago or so, and then
    instead of getting warmer the temps stay kinda flat.

    C02 On: the model tracks reality
    C02 Off: the model says the world will be colder.

    Therefore, C02 is the cause of warming.
    Man spews C02, therefore the warming is because of c02 and man is the cause ofthe rise in c02.

    AGW in a nutshell.

  22. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

    RE 13.

    My first posts on RC were all about the SRES. No one seemed to grasp that the key driving paramater
    Emmissions, was modelled with a boatload of error. There was all this attention to getting the physics
    right, but the inputs to the physical models were varied by an order of magnitude. Population will be
    between 5 billion and 15 billion. Further, the most important feedback loop is disconected. The loop
    between climate change and economic change. That point is utterly lost on people. The other funny thing
    is several sceanrios show that a hotter world is a wealthier world ( because they don’t feedback climate change
    into the economic assumptions) and a cooler world is a poorer world. To be more precise, a wealther world
    ( per capital wealth) is a wamer world and a poorer world is cooler. It’s right there in the inputs
    to their models. Assume a poor world, you get emmissions X, plug X in, you get a polarbear friendly future.
    Assume a rich world, you get emmissions 2X, viva las vegas.

  23. Philip_B
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    The IPCC’s 90% confidence has no empirical or scientific derivation. In other words, its an opinion.

    And I’ll note that I find the IPCC’s 90% confidence odd, because I was always taught that if your data didn’t reach the 95% confidence level you had to reject the hypothesis. Something anyone trained as a scientist would know.

  24. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    #23. For making policy decisions, I don’t agree that 95% confidence is any magic figure. People make decisions all the time on judgment and, as I’ve said many times, I don’t fault policymakers for proceeding according to advice from learned institutions; I would do so myself in their shoes, even if in a personal capacity I had misgivings about how the sausage was made.

    But as I;ve also said many times, the “big picture” is no excuse for carelessness about details by scientists. As any hockey coach will say, details matter. I think that policy-makers are entitled to engineering-quality reports from IPCC or responsible institutions and that the lack of a comprehensive and articulate engineering quality report outlining how you get 2.5 deg C from doubled CO2 in loving detail right from the infrared calculations – the way an engineer would do it – all calculations laid out in the engineering report – is something that should have been done long ago.

  25. jae
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    I think that policy-makers are entitled to engineering-quality reports from IPCC or responsible institutions and that the lack of a comprehensive and articulate engineering quality report outlining how you get 2.5 deg C from doubled CO2 in loving detail right from the infrared calculations – the way an engineer would do it – all calculations laid out in the engineering report – is something that should have been done long ago.

    They would if they could. They can’t. They have admitted that it’s a “best estimate,” based on black-box modeling.

  26. jae
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    Darn block quote tags; The first statement should be highlighted.

  27. bender
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:48 PM | Permalink

    Joe Duck:
    Ask at RC how GCMs are parameterized (relevant to #24) and you will (eventually) be demonized.

  28. Dan White
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

    Joe post 11:

    Also, several comments here and even some of the main posts seem to imply AGW is more myth than science rather than saying AGW is clear, but presented wrapped in alarmism. Alarmism is clearly rampant in the AGW community, but to suggest that AGW is “unlikely”, rather than “likely” simply does not fit with the overwhelming number of studies suggesting there is AGW …

    I have a background in chemical engineering, but no experience with climate issues. I mostly surf around reading as much of whatever I can that either supports or questions AGW. After a number of years, off and on, of doing this, it has become more and more clear that AGW theory is a mess. I think you’ll find that this website puts it all together in ways that are often devastating to studies purporting to “suggest” AGW. I think when Steve M. says, essentially, that even a stopped clock may be right, he is being generous. Of course you can’t rule out that AGW is occurring, but neither can you rule out that Pluto is made of liverwurst. (Never thought I’d get “Pluto” and “liverwurst” in the same sentence!)

    I found a quote from Baltasar Gracian that seems to apply somewhat ironically to AGW theory:
    One deceit needs many others, and so the whole house is built in the air and must soon come to the ground.

    I think you are on the right track. Just keep looking for the “side” that is presenting real science.

  29. Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

    Ask at RC how GCMs are parameterized (relevant to #24) and you will (eventually) be demonized

    Bender I’ll keep that in mind when I’m up for a blogFight. It would certainly be helpful to have more well-reasoned critics over there. I was personally demonized after simply suggesting that Lake Chad’s demise and Katrina’s severity had little or nothing to do with AGW (or even GW for that matter).

    The 90% confidence issue at IPCC is relevant not so much because we’d reject the AGW hypothesis but because the stakes are so enormous we want a lot more than 90% likelihood to revise the global economy so drastically. We are likely to have serious negative economic consequences if full mitigation is implemented everywhere.

  30. MJW
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

    I’m rather taken aback that Tim Hesterberg links to the Union of Concerned Scientists website from an official ASA site. In his official capacity, he should at least maintain a facade of objectivity. The UCS is not a scientific organization, it’s an advocacy group; and one of the primary positions it advocates is deep cuts in greenhouse gases to combat what it considers to be the undeniable fact of AGW. For example, the UCS is responsible for circulating the 1997 “Call to Action” petition calling for the ratification of the Kyoto Protocol.

  31. John M.
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 2:29 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre says:
    October 27th, 2007 at 5:38 pm

    But as I;ve also said many times, the “big picture” is no excuse for carelessness about details by scientists. As any hockey coach will say, details matter. I think that policy-makers are entitled to engineering-quality reports from IPCC or responsible institutions and that the lack of a comprehensive and articulate engineering quality report outlining how you get 2.5 deg C from doubled CO2 in loving detail right from the infrared calculations – the way an engineer would do it – all calculations laid out in the engineering report – is something that should have been done long ago.

    I really have to seriously question how exactly you think an “engineering-quality” report is possible under the current circumstances when key factors like the feedback caused by changes in the amount of cloud formation with rising temperature can not be parameterized with precision in climate models since the fundametal level of understanding of the physical processes involved simply isn’t there yet? The notion that scientists are somehow incapable of performing calculations to the same level as engineers is a bogus one, in my opinion, and it appears to me to be leaving some of the people who read this blog with a false impression of what the issues currently are. If AGW is a serious problem it’s impact is not going to somehow be magically delayed until mankind finally figures out all of the physics involved. It’s quite possible that we can’t afford to delay taking action right by waiting until your “engineering-quality” report can actually be accomplished.

  32. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

    #31. John, you’ve completely twisted my comment. I didn’t say that perfect certainty is required for decision-making; in the prior sentence, I said exactly the opposite. People make decisions without perfect information all the time.

    You observe that key factors like the feedback associated with cloud formation cannot be parametrized at present in the GCMs. That’s the sort of thing that would be clearly laid out in a proper engineering-level report. It doesn’t mean that you don’t do anything. But you’d at least have a very large chapter on cloud parameterizations and their impact on GCMs. Did you see anything like that in AR4? Just a few lines on the issue – the mentality is different. BTW, in 1979, nearly 30 years ago, the same issue -clouds – was then identified as a stumbling block. As Joni Mitchell said, We really don’t know clouds at all.

  33. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 7:20 AM | Permalink

    Re #32
    Of course he’s twisted your comment. It is consistent with a pattern of denialism on the alarmist side:
    1. deny that uncertainty exists
    2. deny that uncertainties multiply
    3. deny that uncertainty can be modeled
    4. deny the role statistics plays in helping to protect you from uncertainty

    The end justifies the means. Because of the “precautionary principle”, denial is acceptable.

    However the equation remains:
    denial of uncertainty + precautionary principle = bad science

  34. John F. Pittman
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 7:39 AM | Permalink

    #31 The IPCC report wrt economics would disagree with you.http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM6avr07.pdf

    Costs and benefits of climate change for industry, settlement, and society will vary widely by location and scale. In the aggregate, however, net effects will tend to be more negative the larger the change in climate. **N [7.4, 7.6]Poor communities can be especially vulnerable, in particular those concentrated in high-risk areas. They tend to have more limited adaptive capacities, and are more dependent on climate-sensitive resources such as local water and food supplies. ** N [7.2, 7.4, 5.4]

    Translation: Until the problem gets large, then it pays to become rich. Therefore, we (humanity) do have time to do it. Also, if you assume we (humanity) are going to increase “wealth” as the IPCC suggest, the time and money are “more likely” (stolen from IPCC) to be available.

    But I like Steve’s approach, that science should be done correctly. Also, I find it hard to fault someone who wants to have the details.

    John M, as the IPCC has stated,

    The balance of positive and negative health impacts will vary from one location to another, and will alter over time as temperatures continue to rise. Critically important will be factors that directly shape the health of populations such as education, health care, public health prevention and infrastructure and economic development. *** N [8.3]

    Economic development is critical. It also takes time. So I think the better point would be that while we are developing economically, we also continue developing the science. Both can and should be done simultaneously. If you assume that, what Steve is asking is what the IPCC and the scientific community should be asking.

    One of the assumptions (a pretty good one based on past performance) is that China, India, and other nations will continue to develop. One of the “dirty little secrets” is that the loss of manufacturing in the US, EU, etc. has been replaced with more polluting manufacturing in developing countries. Not just aerosols, but actual CO2. On this blog and by googling “China emissions” one can get a feel of the failure that Kyoto has inspired.

  35. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 7:48 AM | Permalink

    The workshop mentioned in the opening post has been given a curious name:

    A Statistical Consensus on Global Warming
    26-27 October 2007
    National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO

    The workshop “A Statistical Consensus on Global Warming”, October 26-27 2007 to be held at NCAR in Boulder, Colorado. This activity is sponsored by the American Statistical Association and hosted by the Institute for Mathematics Applied to Geosciences (IMAGe.)

  36. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 8:37 AM | Permalink

    32 &33.

    The latest post on sensistivity at RC claims that know more about clouds will not
    reduce the uncertainity in sensitivity.:

    ” For example, it is often assumed that the tail on the distribution of climate sensitivity is due to the large uncertainty in some feedbacks, particularly clouds. Roe and Baker make it very clear that this is not the case. (The tail in S results from the probability distribution of the feedback strengths, and unless those uncertainties are distributed very, very differently than the Gaussian distribution assumed by Roe and Baker, the tail will remain). Furthermore, they point out that “uncertainty” in the feedbacks need not mean “lack of knowledge” but may also reflect the complexity of the feedback processes themselves. That is to say, because the strength of the feedbacks are themselves variable, the true climate sensitivity (not just our ability to know what it is) is inherently uncertain.”

    Some wicked weather version of heisenberg, kinda sorta.

    In any case the argument goes thusly: This long tail will not go away, therefore, we need to be more
    cautious. The science is in. The statistics are in. No more knowledge is necessary. No more uncertainty
    can be removed, and since this long tail is looming and sensistivity might be as high as 11C per
    doubling, well the C02 targets should be lower.

  37. jae
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

    35: Curious, indeed. Also, stupid, for lack of a better word, because the title doesn’t even make sense and it contains a conclusion which is clearly false and biased. I could see “Is There a Consensus on Statistical Methodologies Used in Climate Science?” But “A Statistical Consensus? These guys don’t even understand the English language, LOL. It’s no wonder our host wasn’t invited; I wonder if he would even go to such a sham if invited.

  38. jae
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 8:42 AM | Permalink

    I can see the final summary report on the meeting. “The majority of eminent Climate Statisticians concluded that there is a statistical consensus at the 95% confidence level.” LOL.

  39. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

    More likely what you will see is a consensus statement summary that does not accurately reflect the diversity of results presented in the actual workshop. (Much as Willis has remarked on in the G. bulloides thread.) I wonder who’s idea it was to give the workshop this name.

  40. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:09 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre: But as I;ve also said many times, the “big picture” is no excuse for carelessness about details by scientists. As any hockey coach will say, details matter. I think that policy-makers are entitled to engineering-quality reports from IPCC or responsible institutions and that the lack of a comprehensive and articulate engineering quality report outlining how you get 2.5 deg C from doubled CO2 in loving detail right from the infrared calculations – the way an engineer would do it – all calculations laid out in the engineering report – is something that should have been done long ago.

    This week’s issue of Newsweek contains an interview with Rajendra Pachauri of IPCC. Fareed Zakaria asks him the question, “There are still people who say that the science on global warming is unclear. How do you react to that kind of talk?”

    Pachauri responds, “Well, the calculations are so simple that even a high school kid can do them. The twentieth century sea-level rise was about 17 centimeters. Our predictions for the end of this century are 18 to 59 centimeters. So even if we end up somewhere in the middle, we have a pretty serious crisis on our hands.”

    “Well, the calculations are so simple that even a high school kid can do them.”

    Clearly, Pachauri is indicating with this statement that he views the science of AGW and its associated physics and mathematics as relatively simple (as such things go) and relatively straightforward. Just as clearly from the interview, otherwise saavy journalists such has Fareed Zakaria have bought that line as well.

    So if this is indeed the case; i.e., the science of AGW and its associated physics and mathematics is relatively simple and is relatively straightforward, what point is there for spending lots of the government’s money on maintaining and enhancing the general circulation models(GCMs)?

    Moreover, if Pachauri’s statement is both honest and accurate, then why should the “Point A to B” expository explanation for 2xC02 yields 2.5C be such a difficult thing to produce?

  41. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

    re 38.

    Long ago and far away in a philosophy seminar the paper given was a proof that consensus
    could always be reached. Essentially you had a panel of raters who would rate either the
    the numerical value of something. Then you had a process where
    the raters rated the other raters as raters. Then you had another cycle of rating and so forth
    and so on. The proof consisted of proving that for all initial states of rating where there was
    a disgreement, that agreement could be reached through this process of rating, rating raters, and rerating.
    SUBJECT TO ONE CONSTRAINT: the raters had to have a positive rating of all other raters.

    In short, if I think you are an idiot we can never come to agreement.

    Dang, that was over 25 years ago, some junk never leaves your noggin

  42. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    Re #41
    My consensus includes uncertainty (including the kind that stems from idiocy). The alarmists’ does not. Or, more accurately, their consensus includes only that uncertainty which is alarming. It’s a slanted view of uncertainty that ensures that it cuts only one way: in favour of the “precautionary” principle.

  43. Jeff Norman
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    bender,

    IMO it would be better to say:

    denial of uncertainty + precautionary principle = bad policy

  44. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    Re #43
    Yes. Except that (1) I’m not interested in commenting on policy, and (2) I wanted to make a backhand reference to the Wegman equation:
    wrong methods + right answer = bad science

    Our grade school math teachers always made us “show our work”. (In part for our own good, so that we could get half-marks!) Why don’t climate scientists follow this practice? (It’s good for you!) When it comes to the statistics of GCM modeling and tuning it looks like they are being evasive. This is a problem as attribution (the A in AGW) is fundamentally a modeling exercise.

  45. Steve Moore
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:42 PM | Permalink

    “Well, the calculations are so simple that even a high school kid can do them.”

    While some high school students could design a working fission device, I have yet to meet one who could design a working climate model.

  46. Curt
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

    From this week’s Economist, an article on finance that seems appropriate to bring up here:

    The peril for markets when computers miscalculate

    WHEN markets wobbled in August, almost all the media attention was focused on the credit crunch and the links to American mortgage loans. But at exactly the same time, another crisis was occurring at the core of the stockmarket.

    This crisis stemmed from the obscure world of quantitative, or quant-based, finance, which uses computer models to find attractive stocks and to identify overpriced shares. Suddenly, in August, the models went wrong.

    http://www.economist.com/finance/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10026288

  47. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

    Exactly. Hysterical behavior tends to destabilize markets. And nothing would be more destabilizing than taking black-box empirical models of market behavior* and replicating them around the globe. Hysteria through automata. Human fallibility amplified up to the global scale.

    *The problem is that these investment models DO NOT actually describe market behavior at the level required to make out-of-sample forecasts (market behavior is the emergent property of human behavior summed across the global market). So they work only for within-sample description. They seem to work for a while, until – bang – their faulty logic (or parameterization) is exposed – usually through unanticipated human behavior. Aha, your sample was not as representative as you thought it was. Markets are not ergodic.

  48. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

    RE 47.

    Exactly! the problem is they define a model that has an very long time constant. simply
    apply input and wait 30 years to see the result from that Forcing. In the meantime, which is
    roughlt 40% of your life, you may see effects that are contrary to the expected output of the
    control but just wait, in 30 years you’ll see that the control was right. The system has three
    things going against it: a long time constant, a really sensisitivity control parameter (C02 doubling)
    and a NOISY AS HELL feedback signal.

    Say hello to the ground, pilot hansen. Oh he won’t be alive when the plane Clobbers the earth
    or departs.

  49. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    One of my suggestions (ignored) in making up the NAS panel was that it include someone with a market perspective. That perspective is pretty fundamental to my viewpoint on time series and their perils. Jerry North may think that this is “amateur” (not in a nasty way, in his case), but I’d submit that that anyone who doesn’t understand such perils and pitfalls is going to handle time series regressions using methods worse than “amateur” methods; if they don’t understand the pitfalls, they too can handle time series just like a real climate scientist.

  50. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

    Re #49
    This is why I would love to know what transpired at the ASA workshop on statistical climatology – whether indeed “consensus” was reached. From a science perspective, market analysts who really know their stuff have a lot to offer the stochastic world of global ecosystem ecology.

    *From a policy perspective, playing Russian (Indochinese?) roulette with the global economy today seems almost as frightening as a hypothetical Jurassic-warm earth a hundred years from now. In fact, the two are, to some degree, linked. For example, what will the Sierra Club do for funding when the western economy implodes? Appeal to the indochinese?! Of course, the “precautionary principle” advises that they should only cross that bridge when they get there. Some foresight! Some caution!

    [*My attempt at Sadlovian irony.]

  51. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    RE 50. Once at taminos I suggested that the precautionary principle was somewhat akin to pascals
    wager and heads caved in. ( Believe on global warming or the payoff if your wrong is really bad)

  52. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

    All those in favor of the CLT raise your hand!
    Opposed?

    ok next topic

    All those who believe in calculating verification r2 statistics raise your hand!
    Those who believe it’s a ‘foolish and incorrect thing’

  53. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

    #52. Nice. That’s the sort of issue that statisticians should be opining on.

    All those who think that confidence intervals should be calculated on verification period residuals? All those Mannians who think that confidence intervals should be calculated on calibration period residuals? All those Juckesters who think that you shouldn’t bother with verification periods?

    All those who agree with this statement: “We have 25 years invested in this. Why should I give you my data when your only objective is to find something wrong with it?”

  54. MJW
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 3:02 AM | Permalink

    Regarding the Newsweek article mentioned in comment 40:

    Fareed Zakaria: “There are still people who say that the science on global warming is unclear. How do you react to that kind of talk?”

    Rajendra Pachauri: “Well, the calculations are so simple that even a high school kid can do them. The twentieth century sea-level rise was about 17 centimeters. Our predictions for the end of this century are 18 to 59 centimeters. So even if we end up somewhere in the middle, we have a pretty serious crisis on our hands”

    Here’s what the IPCC says about the change in sea level over the last century:

    * The IPCC expresses high confidence that the rate of observed sea level rise increased from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century. During the 20th century, sea level rose at an average rate of 4.8 to 8.8 inches per century (1.2-2.2 mm/year).
    * Tide gauges show little or no acceleration during the 20th century.
    * Satellite measurements estimate that sea level has been rising at a rate of 9 to 15 inches per century (2.4-3.8 mm/yr) since 1993, more than 50% faster than the rate that tide gauges estimate over the last century.

    So the only method that can be used over the entire period, tidal gauges, shows the current rate is the same as the rate at the begining of the 20th century. A glance at the graphs shows just how steady the rate of change has been. Surely Pachauri knows this, and surely he realizes the rise at the beginning of the period can’t be ascribed to AGW, yet he presents the change in sea level as if it were a high-school level proof of AGW.

  55. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 5:40 AM | Permalink

    MGW #55 …. yet he presents the change in sea level as if it were a high-school level proof of AGW.

    My reading of Pachauri’s response is that there are two separate topics within it, one concerning the basic physics of AGW, and another concerning purported physical evidence of the effects of AGW. I will speculate that Newsweek edited Pachauri’s actual response to save space, thus unintentionally leaving us with the impression that there is just one topic in his response.

    If indeed the physics of AGW is as simple as Pachauri seems to indicate, then Steve McIntyre is perfect justified in asking for a cogent Point A to Point B description of the process of how 2xC02 yields 2.5C.

    IMHO, the reality is that no such easy description is possible without the use of models — an exceptionally robust model done by computer algorithms combined with a real world emprical model done by examining what is actually happening up above our heads in the sky.

  56. John M.
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 7:12 AM | Permalink

    Scott-in-WA says:
    October 28th, 2007 at 10:09 am

    Moreover, if Pachauri’s statement is both honest and accurate, then why should the “Point A to B” expository explanation for 2xC02 yields 2.5C be such a difficult thing to produce?

    It certainly isn’t accurate so the second part is a moot point. How easy do you think it would be to calculate something like changes in the planet’s albedo over time with changing temperature? If people are looking for a clear exposition I personally think the limit to what is realistically doable at the moment is what happens simply on the basis of IR spectroscopy etc if CO2 is doubled and all feedbacks are ignored.

  57. bender
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

    what happens simply on the basis of IR spectroscopy etc if CO2 is doubled and all feedbacks are ignored

    1. This is sufficient to establish the plausibility of the hypothesis, no more.
    2. If you choose to ignore the feedbacks, you ignore the moist convection – the one process that could easily, seriously limit warming.

    Half a model is not a model.

  58. jae
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 8:45 AM | Permalink

    2. If you choose to ignore the feedbacks, you ignore the moist convection – the one process that could easily, seriously limit warming.

    Heat of vaporization, moist convection, clouds—the net effect of these processes is to “rob” some of the energy obtained from increased radiation. With an increase in radiaiton (solar or otherwise), you would get incrementally more heat gain in the deserts than in humid areas, due to the greater water-caused losses in humid areas. It is very clear to me that water feedbacks do NOT amplify increases in radiation, contrary to what is assumed in the AGW models.

  59. Fred Perkins
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

    #14, Steve M. The best matematical reference I have found on how CO2 raises temperature is Pierrehumber’s textbook draft “Principles of Planetary Climate. Chapter 4, Radiative transfer in temperature stratified atmospheres, starting on page 73. The equations to calculate temperature are derived from fundamental concepts and the simplifying assumptions that are made to allow use in GCMs is described in detail. The relationship between the simplified equations and the HITRAN database is also covered. I think this is the type of explanation you wanted.

    Steve: I know how the HITRAN database works. I don’t see any discussion in this book which connects doubled CO2 to 2.5 deg C. That requires careful analysis of cloud parameterizations and water vapor feedback, which in a quick browse isn’t covered in the book.

  60. MJW
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 3:06 PM | Permalink

    Scott-in-WA (comment 55):

    My reading of Pachauri’s response is that there are two separate topics within it, one concerning the basic physics of AGW, and another concerning purported physical evidence of the effects of AGW. I will speculate that Newsweek edited Pachauri’s actual response to save space, thus unintentionally leaving us with the impression that there is just one topic in his response.

    Whichever topic Pachauri was addressing, the basic physics of AGW or the physical evidence of its effects, his reply is a non sequiter. The change in sea level has nothing to do with the physics of AGW, and isn’t evidence for AGW, as I pointed out in my previous comment. What it is, is another “it’s obvious to any rationally thinking person” dig at skeptics (the “the calculations are so simple that even a high school kid can do them” part) combined with a little “We’re all going to die!” alarmism (the “we have a pretty serious crisis on our hands” part).

    (I hope I’m non getting to far off topic by replying, but it seems to me that Pachauri’s comments and the ASA meeting to which one of the major players wasn’t invited reflect a common problem: the use of a political approach to a scientific question. In politics, it’s generally expected that the opponents will try to outmaneuver each other by exaggerating favorable evidence and ignoring unfavorable evidence. It’s all part of the game. Science has generally expected a higher standard of debate. But many climate scientists seem to have decided that the the goal of Saving the Planet justifies using whatever means are necessary to persuade the public to join the cause.)

  61. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

    Given what’s being done, seems not a lot of traction on this policy-wise in the US. At least that’s how it seems to me. OTOH it provides an “interesting debate” (and/or “a lot of arm waving”) in the process.

  62. John M.
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 9:24 PM | Permalink

    bender says:
    October 29th, 2007 at 8:27 am

    1. This is sufficient to establish the plausibility of the hypothesis, no more.
    2. If you choose to ignore the feedbacks, you ignore the moist convection – the one process that could easily, seriously limit warming.

    Half a model is not a model.

    Sadly predictable that someone on here would post something like that. I think people should try to move beyond a rigidly tribalist alarmist vs. skeptic sort of mentality on this issue and try to do a bit of free thinking for themselves instead of just accepting either the RealClimate or ClimateAudit viewpoint in an unquestioning manner. Both sides appear to me to be way too emotionally invested to be capable of looking at things in the sort of rational, calm and emotionally detached manner normally expected in science.

    All I was pointing out is that if you want a clear exposition, that is as far as you can sensibly expect to go right now because after that it gets extremely complicated. Beyond that I am completely open minded as to what effect the various feedbacks could have as that clearly is an area that is still not well understood.

    My gut instinct on this, for what it’s worth, is that there must have been some kind of strong negative feedback on the geological timescale that stopped runaway temperature increases when CO2 levels were much higher than they are today and that increased albedo due to greater cloud formation is the obvious candidate. I therefore don’t tend to lose too much sleep over AGW as I find the more extreme alarmism over it somewhat far-fetched but if I were a prime minister or a president I probably wouldn’t stake my place in the history books on a gut instinct like that when irreversible changes are underway on a global scale. Better to be safe than sorry are words to live by.

  63. bender
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    Better to be safe than sorry are words to live by.

    Of course. And maybe you’ll be safer under your preferred policy. Though I’m not so sure. But I am certain that across this great globe not everyone is in the same boat. Maybe your “safe” is my “sorry”.

    Sadly predictable that the “open-minded” often have quite a narrow view of the world. I hate to burst your bubble, but the fact is: we aren’t all in this together.

  64. bender
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 10:21 PM | Permalink

    John M,
    If CA is so “sadly predictable” and you are so insightful, then why don’t you make a few sad predictions for the readership? The only thing sad that I see is (1) your tendency to miss the point, and (2) your persistent whining about how divided the world is. I confidently predict we will see more of the same from you in the future.

  65. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 10:41 PM | Permalink

    #62. John M, you’re being very unfair.

    One of the main purposes of this blog is to encourage people to think for themselves and to make tools and data accessible. If I could clone myself, I’d do even more of this. The only policy that I’ve consistently advocated is that scientists who use public money and who publish in academic journals should be required to promptly archive data and code. Is that something that you object to?

    If you’re talking about a “Climateaudit” viewpoint, then I presume that you are talking about me. I don’t know what the “viewpoint” is that you perceive me asking readers to adopt. Perhaps you could explain (and show where I’ve espoused the viewpoint that you are attributing to me.) I realize that many readers vent, but I personally try to refrain from this, I do not endorse every comment by every poster as I’ve made clear on many occasions and try to discourage venting.

  66. John M.
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:14 AM | Permalink

    I was referring more to the regulars on here. Is it going too far to say there is a prevailing group think in these discussion threads? Maybe, but it’s not too far off that, in my opinion. My two main criticisms would be that you don’t put what you are doing in the wider context clearly enough and this allows some people on here to arrive at the conclusion that the whole basis for believing in AGW revolves around Mann and his hockey stick when in fact Mann’s data are not in the least bit pivotal in that regard and that the whole recurring theme that engineers have something to offer on this that scientists don’t is to be polite about it a tad misleading. I think it is a bit of a stretch to extrapolate from the fact that a few climate scientists are doing their statistics very badly to the broader conclusion that engineers know better and the whole peer review process is irretrievably flawed. I don’t think many scientists would make sweeping conclusions about engineering based on stuff like the original Tacoma Narrows Road or Tay Rail Bridges or more recently the new terminal at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris because they know that like most scientists most engineers do a good job. I suspect Mann’s hockey stick is maybe going to be remembered in much the same sort of light as Piltdown Man and that you will belatedly be seen in much the same sort of light as Franz Weidenreich is now but in big picture terms just like the theory of evolution, AGW may well have plenty of staying power despite that.

  67. James Lane
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:33 AM | Permalink

    My two main criticisms would be that you don’t put what you are doing in the wider context clearly enough and this allows some people on here to arrive at the conclusion that the whole basis for believing in AGW revolves around Mann and his hockey stick when in fact Mann’s data are not in the least bit pivotal in that regard and that the whole recurring theme that engineers have something to offer on this that scientists don’t is to be polite about it a tad misleading.

    Gosh, you like long sentences. If the paleoclimate stuff isn’t relevant to the AGW hypothesis, then why didn’t the IPCC delete it from AR4 as Steve (as a reviewer) suggested?

  68. brian
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    I realize that many readers vent, but I personally try to refrain from this, I do not endorse every comment by every poster as I’ve made clear on many occasions and try to discourage venting.

    SteveMc…you are being incredibly smart to stay out of most of the back-and-forth jabbing (although most of it is not so much back-and-forth as it is just back, or forth), especially when it gets a little heated. You deserve credit for staying above the fray. But, I think what JohnM might be getting at is the overarching tone of a lot of the commenters. It’s essentially anti-climate science. That’s fine…people can say whatever they want on the internet. You know that the amount of climate science that is being audited here is a very small slice…that’s what audits do, right? They go after those they believe to be fraudulent. Steven Mosher, in a thread some weeks ago, said you had “a nose for fraud”. So, you’re finding bad science and exposing it. That’s fine. Go for it…I don’t object to that at all. The result is, however, that the loyalist commenters jump on each detail as representative of all of climate science. Comments along the lines of “This is yet another example of why climate scientists are _____” and fill in the blank with all sorts of words. You don’t need to engage at that point…you can stay out of it and move on to the next detail. And, actual climate scientists may be less and less likely to engage with your honest inquiries because of what goes on in the threads. At that point some of the commenters can have fun complaining that the scientists aren’t being open. It’s a very interesting dynamic. I’m not complaining at all…I like reading this blog very much.

  69. MarkW
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 5:46 AM | Permalink

    Nobody here has ever stated that we should not do science.
    Nobody here has ever stated that we should not try to learn more about the climate.
    Nobody here has ever stated that we should never use models.

  70. welikerocks
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 6:01 AM | Permalink

    JohnM, and brian, I respectfully disagree with these comments, and I hope SteveM will allow my vent:

    “when in fact Mann’s data are not in the least bit pivotal in that regard and that the whole recurring theme”

    (Ah the myth of the “other evidences” again!)

    And:

    “You know that the amount of climate science that is being audited here is a very small slice”

    Not true. Especially when these papers are all teleconnected! ;)

    and this last bit…
    “actual climate scientists may be less and less likely to engage with your honest inquiries because of what goes on in the threads.”

    My husband is an earth scientist, he loves reading this blog. And REAL Scientists LOVE to talk about their work, and LOVE to discuss it, even the problems, and the errors are you kidding? HONEST scientists want this and ask for this, and certainly nobody is twisting any body’s arm to participate here either, and from my experience, its the “visiting scientists” who are not very engaging and or even nice, and make really broad statements, and even talk in riddles, when asked a good valid question. I would contend that there is no other place on the planet anybody is looking at data as well and as fair as CA tries to do. AND after YEARS and even Congressional hearings, and NAS reports, there are still unanswered questions, and boggled interpretations presented to the public, further distorting the state of the climate, and the science. I will also contend that these “real climate scientists” who get the limelight and get the awards for their politicians, and the references in IPCC reports will make up ANY excuse not to discuss and/or debate their work in any detail with anybody not convinced their “data” is compelling proof of anything alarming or unusual going on. And when these scientist meet an equal (such as my husband) who does not have the same view of the climate or the data, they revert to name calling and political cat fights, and they edit, censor and ban them on the blogs they run. RealClimate et al censored SteveM for example.

    I will also contend that individuals who make comments such as yours are not reading the blog as long as some of the rest of have. So, don’t take my statements as too harsh here.

  71. bender
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

    John M,
    To be fair, let me explain a few of points:

    1. The paleoclimatic hockey stick was the sole scientific basis for the claim that current temperature levels are “unprecendented” in a thousand years. This was then revised to temperature rise, or trend over time (as opposed to levels). This was then revised in AR4 to 400 years (not 1000). This is now being marketed as “unusual, if not unprecedented” by Gerry North. See the consistent pattern of back-pedalling? That’s what happens when the science is oversold. You can not say that the paleoclimatic reconstructions are irrelevant to the debate. They remain extremely relevant. How else are you going to estimate past climates and past circulation patterns – which are central to the debate of CO2 sensitivity – the A in AGW?

    2. Whether you’re for or against a particular policy, you still need to know the value of ‘A’. CA readers want to see that calculation.

    3. The GCMs are the sole basis now for AGW attribution. Yet the details of these monsters are never discussed. And when you try to pry the lid of that can of worms, you get resistance and obfuscation of all manner. If you don’t believe me, head on over to RC and give it a try. Try to figure out how they parameterize these models, and how they validate them.

    4. The divide that you complain about (RC vs CA) is, unfortunately, unresolvable to the extent that it is a matter of alarmist belief and consensus-keeping vs. scientific method & open inquiry. CA (SM) advocates accountable, transparent science-based policy-making. RC advocates the marginalization of open science (and the amplification of a particular scientific viewpoint) in the pursuit of “precautionary” policies.

    5. Rhetoric and venting are unavoidable when an issue is this hot. My advice is to get over it. If there’s a high noise-to-signal ratio at CA that you find disagreeable, then adjust your filter. Although it is true that not every skeptical argument is a valid one, there is enough validity in the science of Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts, and Ryan Maue and others at CA that their contributions can not be summarily dismissed.

    6. While *you* seem to accept that the hockey stick is broken, you do not seem to understand that the AGW community does *not* feel the same way. Read the blog and learn how the various paleoclimatic reconstructions are statistically and functionally non-independent. They really are addicted to specific proxies like bristlecone pines and G. Bulloides – the active ingredient common to all these recons. Did you read the Wegman report? You should.

    7. The problems in statistical paleoclimatology are not restricted to that field alone; they are systemic in climate science. I won’t belabor the point. I will only point out that there is a darn good reason why a 2-day workshop is being held on the statistics of climate science: these guys need help! Read the Wegman report. And if you don’t know what I’m referring to, then you really shouldn’t be commenting with such an air of authority. It’s pretty easy to tell who has read it (and understood it) and who hasn’t.

    Happy reading.

  72. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Re: impact of this blog: I get ideas from the discussions that are reaching publication next month (yes, I’ll let you know) and others that have been submitted.

    Re: precautionary principle and long tails. Have you ever met a germ phobic obsessive compulsive person? Their life is severely constrained. I knew a guy with OC germ phobia and he spent hours in the shower and damaged his skin with too much soap, would not get closer than 10 feet to people, etc. Severely ill, but quite precautionary.

  73. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 9:40 AM | Permalink

    the whole recurring theme that engineers have something to offer on this that scientists don’t is to be polite about it a tad misleading.

    I’ve had experience in my life with engineers and believe that they bring a very useful perspective to matters. Engineering feasibility studies look different than little academic articles or academic literature reviews (like IPCC reports). If you have the opportunity to look at an engineering feasibility study for a mine or a refinery or something like that, you’ll immediately understand. Most academics don’t even know what such documents look like. If there’s a process involved, the engineering study will have included testing of the process at a pilot plant. This would not be “original” in the sense of an academic journal but is important in design.

    The issue right now is not whether there is a conceptual possibility of AGW – there is – the issue is really the estimation of parameters; making realistic models; determining the sensitivities to the critical parameterizations; etc. Making GCMs is actually a kind of engineering effort – I’m sure that the type of person who does modeling of aircraft could adapt to doing climate modeling. If I wanted an audit report on climate models by someone who was not a fellow traveler, I’d probably look to aerospace engineers and modelers to be part of the effort (requiring climate modelers to be on call to assist) – and expect that it would take a long time and cost money. Engineers are good at this type of work and the training of engineers (like that accountants) generally leads them to be careful with documentation and verification trails – both areas where there appears to be very poor traditions in climate science. Engineers also understand that people are going to make decisions on their studies and engineering reports have that in mind. The entire mentality is different than little academic articles and building CVs and, in my opinion, would be healthy in the present debate.

    The result might well be an endorsement of present modeling efforts, but it would be done in a professional way, by people who don’t have a horse in the race.

  74. MrPete
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 9:54 AM | Permalink

    As one who has deep appreciation for both, I encourage considering the mirror statements:
    * Engineers have something to offer that scientists don’t
    * Scientists have something to offer that engineers don’t
    I would have a hard time falsifying either one. I’ve learned great appreciation for a multidisciplinary perspective.
    Put into horribly overgeneralized terms: scientists are better at careful, analytical observation; engineers are better at careful, analytical implementation.
    One could take that to mean that “analyzing” AGW has nothing to do with engineering. Yet “implementing” the observation and analysis mechanisms is an engineering function.
    Isn’t it all intertwined?

  75. bender
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

    I am an academic ecological scientist. My brother is an engineer. I learn things from him all the time. e.g.:
    -small details matter
    -all models are imperfect, and with complex models it’s hard to know in advance of design testing where the imperfections lie
    -errors don’t cancel, they accumulate
    -documentation matters
    -science does not exist in a vacuum; institutional and socioeconomic context is critical
    -caution comes at a cost

    Engineers have a lot to teach us.

  76. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    I therefore don’t tend to lose too much sleep over AGW as I find the more extreme alarmism over it somewhat far-fetched but if I were a prime minister or a president I probably wouldn’t stake my place in the history books on a gut instinct like that when irreversible changes are underway on a global scale.

    So far, in most cases, the people in charge are more like the first part of your sentence. As far as I can tell, there simply hasn’t been a compelling enough case made. A lot of the things we discuss here (evasiveness, not archiving data, refusing to release source code) are probably pretty obvious to the policy makers, also. I think here we’re just saying it out loud and discussing it (sometimes with wry humor and sarcasm that you’re perhaps misunderstanding).

    Some climate scientists that show up here make an attempt to explain themselves (and we are not for the most part questioning anything other than their demonstrated behavior) are asked pointed questions they are not willing to answer (which is why not a lot of them show up). What I often see is that they evade and obfuscate their answers (or simply ask more questions) and are uncooperative. Eventually they see that a number of us here are not going to accept business as usual. Then they leave, with things as they were in the first place.

    I hope that clears up some of it.

  77. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

    RE 66. Hi JohnM

    You wrote: “and that the whole recurring theme that engineers have something to offer on this that
    scientists don’t is to be polite about it a tad misleading”

    Let’s take a case in point: GISSTEMP. On the surface it look’s like climate science. But is it?

    It involves a whole host of disciples. Instrumentation. Data collection. Data archiving. Data
    homogenization, statistics and computer programming. I found it instructive that no one has been
    able to get the Hansen code to compile. There is a reason for that. Bad software engineering.
    Incomplete documentation. There is a reason why a engineer could write his own program from scratch
    in a weekend and match the results. It’s an engineering problem fundamentally.

    As an engineer I would never dream of trying to do climate research. That’s not what I’m for.
    When I read through ModelE and see the code written by scientists I won’t name, I want to shout
    “step away from the keyboard, put that compiler down and go do some science.”

  78. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:11 AM | Permalink

    BTW, while it might be better to raise this issue in the unthreaded “thread” it also seems to fit here given the way the discussion is coming.

    Is it possible to have a discussion thread on “Cool It” by Bjorn Lomborg? I’m just finishing reading it (well the main portion of it; I haven’t looked at the footnotes, etc. except to not that Steve M isn’t listed though Roger Pielke is). For anyone who hasn’t looked at it yet, it’s pretty much in line with both his previous book and, say, what Steve might preach on the subject. Bjorn accepts AGW and the IPCC (he’s not what would be called a conservative in the US). But he rather demolishes the “we must do something now” line of argument of the warmers, showing that in every area where action is demanded to reduce CO2, there are more effective remedys which don’t cost anywhere near as much as Kyoto; either the current regime or proposed add-ons. Further these are mostly more effective by an order of magnitude or more. IOW, while we as a society may want to do something about say Malaria or hurricane protection, it’s much cheaper to do so directly than via CO2 abatement.

    I think such findings / arguments are the best anodyne for the precautionary principle.

  79. brian
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    This is an interesting discussion…two things SteveMc said just a few comments above:

    If I wanted an audit report on climate models by someone who was not a fellow traveler, I’d probably look to aerospace engineers and modelers to be part of the effort (requiring climate modelers to be on call to assist) – and expect that it would take a long time and cost money.

    and

    The entire mentality is different than little academic articles and building CVs and, in my opinion, would be healthy in the present debate.

    The practice of climate science has been, like a lot of science, a ‘bottom-up’ endeavor in some respects. Individual, or groups of scientists try and carve out a specific problem/phenomenon they want to tackle, and then go about trying to make it happen. The specific results are implications are reported to the community in “little academic articles” and the community responds in various ways. Then the IPCC attempted to synthesize and summarize the salient information (with perhaps limited success).

    SteveMc (and others here)… do you think figuring this all out will take more of a ‘top-down’ approach? A bigger, more integrated and more comprehensive effort? This may indeed be what is needed at this point. How do you envision such an effort being organized? Is there one entity “in charge”? Who would that be? How do we decide? If we are to get a crack team of scientists, engineers, modelers, statisticians, etc. together to do it the way CA advocates…how do we decide who is on the team? If climate scientists cannot alone tackle these big problems, which if I read the comments correctly is what many on CA advocate, then what are the steps towards success? It seems some commenters on CA want climate scientists out altogether (or just want to see them crash and burn for fun), although SteveMc, correctly so, wants to keep them involved. A more thorough, and multidisciplinary approach integrates the information.

    I am just wondering how the more serious commenters on CA think the implementation of such a large-scale project would work. Thanks.

  80. Stu Miller
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:28 AM | Permalink

    RE 73

    My background is aerospace. I can guarantee that aerospace engineers called upon to model anything will be big on software verification and validation. That is, does the software work as it was designed, and does it produce an answer of sufficient accuracy when presented with a suitable test case. I believe that the work of CA illustrates that both of these steps are rare in the climate science field.

  81. brian
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

    I believe that the work of CA illustrates that both of these steps [software verification and validation] are rare in the climate science field.

    I think CA has made this point…what’s next? How should the implementation of better practices proceed? See my comment above yours. Thanks.

  82. bender
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    I am just wondering how … the implementation of such a large-scale project would work

    -Bottom-up (academic CV padding, individualistic publish or perish) does not appear to serve society well.
    -Top-down consensus-based command-and-control (govt, RC) is intolerant of scientific uncertainty and open debate.

    The only alternative that I can see is lateral connectivity among dedicated, qualified volunteers, presumably spread across sectors and connected via internet. The work would be 100% open (open data, open source code, open debate; i.e. democratic) and there would be no attempting to monopolize credit for an idea. Sounds to me like the CA model that Steve M and John A already advocate. The only question would be how to fuel/fund the thing. And that would not be that hard to figure out.

  83. Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    Some words from a german engineer and architect regarding the AGW-output in our country:

    1st People are forced by law to insulate their houses by materials, which can not insulate at all.
    2nd People shall change their heating methods and are governmental forced to buy new heatings and use “alternative” ecologically beloved energies like bio fuels, bio digester gas, wood pellet etc. All of them extreme senseless and expensive, but the government will grant it by subsidies made from our tax.

    80 years old Hartmut Bachmann wrote just a book as insider in and contrarian of the business of AGW. He was as CEO of an US eco-producer in the 1980s member in the US round table groups, which installed IPCC and gave the AGW science (and scientists) the correct aim and direction. His book is going to be a bestseller in Germany.

    Working with house refurbishing the critical methods and new knowledge regarding Mann et al. & GISS at al. given by Steve McIntyre is useful to defend the clients against wrong measures enforced by ecological founded Anti-AGW building laws and to spread his point of view in Germany by website.

    And to see him linking the never relinkers (see his comment above) and snipping the too much anti alarmistic comments improves his reliability even more and more.

    Even if I had to suffer it yesterday ;-)

    Konrad Fischer
    Germany

  84. brian
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    bender says:

    The work would be 100% open (open data, open source code, open debate; i.e. democratic) and there would be no attempting to monopolize credit for an idea.

    That’s fine…I think that model could work well for doing the analysis…when it comes to summarizing for what to do, or what not to do, regarding policy…who summarizes that? It can be very difficult (but not impossible) to distill the “essence” of large, multidisciplinary studies through these open, democratic means. At some point, it comes down to a committee of some sort to decide. The too many cooks in the kitchen problem. Thanks.

  85. trevor
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

    Re: #79.

    SteveMc (and others here)… do you think figuring this all out will take more of a ‘top-down’ approach? A bigger, more integrated and more comprehensive effort? This may indeed be what is needed at this point. How do you envision such an effort being organized? Is there one entity “in charge”? Who would that be? How do we decide? If we are to get a crack team of scientists, engineers, modelers, statisticians, etc. together to do it the way CA advocates…how do we decide who is on the team? If climate scientists cannot alone tackle these big problems, which if I read the comments correctly is what many on CA advocate, then what are the steps towards success? It seems some commenters on CA want climate scientists out altogether (or just want to see them crash and burn for fun), although SteveMc, correctly so, wants to keep them involved. A more thorough, and multidisciplinary approach integrates the information.

    Can I suggest Brian, that while your framing may have merit, it seems to me that you are missing the main point that has been amply demonstrated over the period that CA has been operating, which is a lack of candour, open-ness and transparency on the part of some climate scientists.

    The problem, it seems to me, is that some climate scientists have oversold their claims. Try the claims of consensus for AGW which are demonstrably not true for example. However, when asked to substantiate their claims, show their workings, release their data and methods, the usual response is for them to retreat and refuse to do so. There are many many examples. And focussing on the output of the high profile exponents such as Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, and Phil Jones demonstrates this clearly.

    What is needed is not so much a ‘top down’ approach as a commitment to rigour, discipline, open-ness, transparency and honesty – in fact, the simple basics of sound science.

    Climate scientists are learning that if they publish a paper of relevance to the debate, it is now likely to be subjected to close scrutiny, here and elsewhere. But is there anything wrong with that? Solid work will withstand scrutiny and become part of accepted science. Work shown to be inadequate will find the place in history that it deserves.

    One last comment, it seems to me that the climate scientists who demonstrably fail to conform to the basics of real science are slowly losing credibility, big time. By their fruits ye shall know them.

  86. bender
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    Re #84
    There would not be one authoritative summary. There would be a variety of summaries (wikis) from which elected officials would be free to choose.

  87. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

    I don’t know that anyone here has come out against implementing some type of thorough multidisciplinary approach to integrate all the disciplines. I would welcome such an admission that this is very multidisciplinary in nature and requires various skill sets.

  88. brian
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    bender#86:

    There would not be one authoritative summary. There would be a variety of summaries (wikis) from which elected officials would be free to choose.

    In principle, and idealistically, this would be the goal…I am totally on board with that. I am a big fan of the ideal of collective knowledge. At the same time, I think most of us are aware of some of the limitations of a wiki model when it comes to subjects requiring expertise. It seems for something so important and far-reaching, there would have to be some level, even minimal, of QC and anti-vandalism or anti-obfuscation. Thanks for your comments…apologize if this thread went off-topic.

  89. Ian Castles
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

    Re #71. In his Report to the UNFCCC parties at COP 6 on November 20, 2000 (still available online on the IPCC website) the Chair of the IPCC, Dr. Robert Watson, said that “It is undisputed that the two last decades has been the warmest this century, indeed the warmest for the last 1000 years.”

    So there’s a further step in the chain:

    (1) The claim is no longer “undisputed”: there IS a dispute.
    (2) The claim no longer relates to the LEVEL of global mean temperature: it relates to the RISE in temperature over time.
    (3) The claim no longer relates to the past 1000 years (later extended to 2000 years): it relates to 400 years (which had never been in dispute).
    (4) The claim is now that the recent warming is “unusual, if not unprecedented” in the past 400 years.

  90. bender
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:48 PM | Permalink

    Re #88

    there would have to be some level, even minimal, of QC

    Agreed. That’s neither impossible nor incompatible with the model I outlined. In fact, nothing says “quality” quite so much as a narrow confidence interval, robustly estimated.

  91. John F. Pittman
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    #79 I also would use the engineering approach (Though I feel obligated to state that I am an engineer). There are several ways of implementing this “approach”. I prefer the general so that flexibility can be an asset not a detriment.
    1. The persons who present the paper model, data, etc., are not the ones who “grade” the paper, etc.
    2. The persons who grade the paper seperate its components to a group that examines sensitivity, correctness, and other factors. Part of this team will soley be for auditing the work to meet standards.
    3. Standards are set, documented, and audited. If a professional opinion is in the paper, it must be in an engineer’s accepted area, or the expectations, rigour, and number of equations, etc., increases significantly for EACH opinion. An example of this is the design of a stripper: if you use a recognized source for your mass transfer coefficient, it is immediately accepted (it may be, should be, audited to see if the correct one was used). If you have a chemical that is similar, but not the same, you provide the estimation with source, etc., and at least a bench scale experiment to show that the results are similar. Most often this is already done and in the literature, you just quote. I have had to do my own for very special designs.
    4. All work is documented such that even the audit can be audited.

    Options:
    1. A tiger team is good to have.
    2. A totally seperate audit team who does nothing but look for errors, such as no documentation, or wrong vales.
    3. A totally seperate group that establishes what the standards are and what is necessary for an acceptable meeting of the standard.

    There are other options and approaches that you get from any orginization like ASMe, etc.

    OH, and I would assume that since we are trying or anticipating trying to “save life as we know it”, that we don’t go cheap. LOL on that one. It seems it is too expensive even to update a few trees.

  92. MrPete
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    I believe one other element is important in addition to an open process toward discovering valid scientific evidences.

    In light of the extensive mishandling of scientific process, what do you think about documenting lessons learned about invalid data, methods and analysis?

    Seems to me that would provide a body of material for responding to those who keep wanting to misuse the process for their own ends.

  93. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    Before we conclude that engineers and auditors as a class of educated people always maintain a strong commitment to honesty and moral courage in the face of pressures and temptations to compromise their professional ethics, take a look at the Columbia space shuttle disaster.

    NASA’s space shuttle engineers were actively complicit over a period of six years in discounting the obvious dangers from foam debris being shed from the shuttle’s external fuel tank. They were in an environment in which they either told NASA management whatever it was they wanted to hear, or they risked losing their jobs. They succumbed to this pressure and chose the path of least resistance. NASA’s auditors were likewise complicit, knowing that if they rocked the boat too much, the shuttle program might be in danger from its long-time budgetary and technical critics.

    There is great opportunity in the global warming issue for massive amounts of money to be spent on new technology, hence there is great temptation for engineers and technologists to chase those dollars in the same shameless way that climate scientists are now chasing climate research dollars. An open process is the only guarantee that a psychology of opportunism won’t prevail over the innate sense of professional ethics that engineers — and auditors — are expected to possess.

  94. Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

    @Scott: I agree! It’s real big business also for engineers to make the house owners poor by all the wrong building measures named ‘energy saving’ and battle against CO2 emission roundabout the AWG-hype. Besides the owners and their families get sick by mold, mildew and damp in the insulated and hermetically aur tightened rooms. A new business field for the building branche. Well done by selfish ethics of some (the most?) of us.

    My own experience since years: it’s a hard way to be not with the ecological uploaded mainstream of foamy and fibre isolation, which let pass thru the heat in very short time as we measured in the “Lichtenfels experiment”:

    You can see the temperature increase on the other site of 4 cm insulation boards after 10 min radiation with a red light bulb. From above mineral wool, polystyrene, cellular glass, solid brick, wood fibre, gypsum card board, solid pine wood.

    So the sceptical point of view must remain also in the case of the engineers. Your NASA-example was great and I suppose easy enough to understand for everyone here!

    Konrad Fischer

  95. brian
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:44 PM | Permalink

    If this comment comes up twice, I apologize…something wacky is going on w/ my internet.

    bender#90 says:

    That’s neither impossible nor incompatible with the model I outlined. In fact, nothing says “quality” quite so much as a narrow confidence interval, robustly estimated.

    No doubt. I guess my comment about QC’ing within an open wiki model (what bender was responding to) was directed more towards interpretation. Even if all the data, methods, and models are squeaky clean; they are tested, re-tested, verified, robust, stamped, etc. etc. there is still commonly an aspect of interpretation when it comes to characterizing natural systems. Right?

    So, my comment re QC was more about how an open wiki model might address interpretation. Thanks…this is an interesting discussion.

  96. John M.
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 9:10 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 9:40 am

    I’ve had experience in my life with engineers and believe that they bring a very useful perspective to matters. Engineering feasibility studies look different than little academic articles or academic literature reviews (like IPCC reports). If you have the opportunity to look at an engineering feasibility study for a mine or a refinery or something like that, you’ll immediately understand. Most academics don’t even know what such documents look like. If there’s a process involved, the engineering study will have included testing of the process at a pilot plant. This would not be “original” in the sense of an academic journal but is important in design.

    You appear to have a very narrow view of what most scientists get up to, which overlooks the fact that science graduates are actually much more likely to wind up doing industrial R&D than they are to have a career in academia and that even in the academic setting funding is often provided by industrial companies with respect to specific practical applications for the research carried out rather than by government agencies for fundamental research. You also appear to be unaware of the fact that many academics in the field of science are more motivated by seeking and obtaining industrial patents than they are by the academic literature as the former is where the really big money is. On this blog you tend to fixate on the small area of dendrochronology/dendroclimatology where that is clearly not the case given that tree ring research is not exactly cutting edge in high technology terms and then extrapolate the problems that you discern to be happening in that one small and until recently highly obscure branch of science to the field of computer modeling where there is clearly usually a much stronger overlap with and contact with industry by using the label “climate scientists” to make it appear that the two areas automatically share a lot in common in their methodologies. That to be polite about it is a tad misleading.

  97. bender
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 9:16 PM | Permalink

    Re #96
    Actually that’s fairly impolite of you. What is true of chemistry, say, is hardly true of climatology. And what is true today was not true 20 years ago. Please make allowances for a more diverse array of experiences. And above all, please try to stick to the theme of the opening post. Which, in this case is statistical climatology.

    Happy reading.

  98. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 9:42 PM | Permalink

    #96. I’m pretty careful about extrapolating and, in my posts, I try to distinguish what I’ve investigated from topics that I lack personal knowledge.

    I can’t look at everything that’s done by thousands of scientists. From my experience with the proxy field, I can say from first hand experience that the disclosure by authors and due diligence by journal reviewers and IPCC reviewers falls incomparably short of what would be done in an engineering study. I have not studied climate models in corresponding detail – largely because my own time and energy is finite. While I have not examined due diligence processes for publication of climate models, my impression is that the sociology is similar: publication of short papers in academic journals – and that external due diligence is accordingly very limited.

    That many scientists go on to industrial careers is completely irrelevant to that issue, as is your observation that other scientists have their eye on making money. I’m not saying that people who take science courses are no good or bad people – merely that engineers do something different than scientists, and, in my opinion, something that would be useful in the present circumstances.

    We’ve recently had an opportunity to sample James Hansen’s code and algorithms in connection with the relatively simple calculation of average temperatures. In addition to being the proprietor of an important temperature estimate, HAnsen is in charge of one of the leading climate models. I doubt that any readers who’ve examined Hansen’s temperature coding will emerge re-assured that the coding of his climate model is in good hands. I don’t have the time or energy to wade through Hansen’s climate model, but someone independent should be properly funded to do so, with Hansen’s funders requiring him to cooperate. I certainly can’t extrapolate from our sample of his code to the conclusion that he has been doing exemplary work in his climate models. Nor, to my knowledge, can you.

  99. John M.
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 10:38 PM | Permalink

    Worth noting that the issues you are referring to with James Hansen relate to “corrections” made to historical temperature records that a skeptic would probably characterize as an attempt on his part to manipulate the available historical climate record to fit a hockey stick sort of trend and not to the modeling of future climate based on the IR spectroscopy of CO2 etc and all the various feedback mechanisms, which is what I was actually referring to above. The basis for belief in AGW as a serious problem is very much based on modeling what would happen in future if CO2 levels were to be doubled and not on what happened in the past with tree rings and thermometers where all that is really at stake is the question of whether or not the AGW that may have occurred over the last century or so is unprecedented relative to natural cycles based on factors like variations in solar irradiance. The people handling that sort of modeling of future climate come from scientific disciplines where interaction with industry is nothing out of the ordinary unlike the the people active in the field of dendrochronology so I really do have a hard time taking your notion that engineers have something to offer that they don’t difficult to take seriously. Looks like we will have to agree to disagree in other words.

  100. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

    The basis for belief in AGW as a serious problem is very much based on modeling what would happen in future if CO2 levels were to be doubled and not on what happened in the past with tree rings and thermometers

    As an IPCC reviewer, I took the position that, if the paleoclimate story was not relevant to the main issues, then it should be deleted from the AR4 altogether, other than a short continuity note saying that there were considerable uncertainties in this area but that resolving these uncertainties was not pertinent to the major issues.

    My own interest in paleoclimate arguments was prompted because of their heavy use by the Canadian government – the warmest year in a thousand years etc and the then prominent use of the HS, see picture of John Houghton at the AR3 press conference. There are interesting statistical and scientific issues in connection with proxy issues, which interest me and about which I am now knowledgeable. I didn’t pick this area because it looked like a weak link, but because it was what was brought to our attention.

    I think that it would be very salutory for IPCC to focus its exposition on what’s important. Prior to the scoping of AR4, I wrote to one of the organizers suggesting a detailed exposition of the IR physics and the various feedbacks – so that an interested person like myself could be brought up to date with current thinking on the salient matters. THey chose otherwise. Now when I ask for expositions, I’ve been referred back to things like Plass 1956 as the most useful exposition (honestly!). Don’t blame me for IPCC’s failure to provide a proper exposition of the main issues.

  101. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 4:07 AM | Permalink

    Re # 6 and certainty

    One of the best minds I have met, Dr Allen Christophers, spent a career in occupational health and was a World authority on lead toxicity in children. It is still widely believed that small amounts of lead ingested by children can lower their IQ. Allen argued reverse causation, that a mental deficit was more commonly pre-existing in children with pica for lead (ingestion of abnormal amounts, such as from old house paint).

    Allen’s associate Pam de Silva reviewed how much soil children ingested and therefore how much lead they might ingest in soil. Estimates of soil ingestion varied from about 15 mg per day to 5,000 mg per day or more (pica for soil). Sadly, she died before completing her work.

    See

    http://books.google.com/books?id=povFlfv82O8C&pg=PA104&lpg=PA104&dq=weight+soil+ingestion+children&source

    =web&ots=m6wfSha86X&sig=nLqB-SntsqBTKhLpy7okmHotTgU#PPA107,M1
    which notes that “soil ingested by a child can vary from almost none for a child playing on a grassy area or indoors in a very clean house, to somewhat less than 100 mg/day for most children, to relatively large amounts, (5,000 mg or more) in children who are intentionally eating soil.”

    Many researchers had already believed lead caused mental deficit before the large variation in ingestion of both lead and soil was understood. There had been numerous medical studies, statistical studies, metastats of huge dimension and pathway modelling, then the prevalent teaching that “any amount of lead is dangerous”, finally the setting of legislated limits to lead ingestion that might have nought to do with reality. And the banning of leaded petrol, at a huge cost to fuel use in engines.

    Here is Pam and Allen’s paper on reverse causation:

    http://dnacih.com/SILVA.htm

    In the context of climate change models, there can be many good reasons to adopt CO2 as the culprit; but it takes only one knockout piece of logic to discredit it. The paper above is one of the best knockouts I have found.

    The Chair of the Computing Section of the ASA decries “staff-recommended scientists rejected for a lead-poisoning panel and replaced by appointees with financial ties to the lead industry” while calling for “statisticians in particular, to speak out for the use of objective scientific information and statistical weighting of evidence in public policy, to fight distortion, and to speak against those who attempt to give the impression “considerable controversy” on issues such as global warming despite statistical significance and scientific consensus.”

    Even prominent statisticians sometimes fail their homework.

    The moral is that commonly, few people believe the theory that curtails the research grants and lifelong sinecures. Reverse causation in lead is now shouted down to oblivion, mainly by academics at the computer. In my view reverse causation is 100% correct.

  102. welikerocks
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 5:48 AM | Permalink

    #99: “not on what happened in the past”

    This makes no sense to me. You could not even know what the climate of this planet is like and if it is capable of changing without the geological record and the paleo-anything scientific research (botany, biology, geology, oceanography, palaeontology you name it branch…) -let alone claim a global change in temperature on Earth in fractions of C over present day teeny tiny timescales is a serious problem caused by human C02 output.

    Paleo-science(s) gave birth to climate science. Some present day “climate scientists” would do well to remember this and get the facts (data) straightened out before they make their dire predictions for the future that rain over our lives on a daily basis. I heard a newscaster say to their audience not too long ago reporting on Al Gore and the award he got: “It is warmer then it has ever been in the history of the world!”

    Reconstructing the past environments of the Earth correctly and understanding them correctly, -teaching- them correctly, -knowing- them correctly is the only way one can predict the future environment correctly and to make the right choices.

  103. John M.
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 6:26 AM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre says:
    October 30th, 2007 at 10:49 pm

    My own interest in paleoclimate arguments was prompted because of their heavy use by the Canadian government – the warmest year in a thousand years etc and the then prominent use of the HS, see picture of John Houghton at the AR3 press conference. There are interesting statistical and scientific issues in connection with proxy issues, which interest me and about which I am now knowledgeable. I didn’t pick this area because it looked like a weak link, but because it was what was brought to our attention.

    Mann’s hockey stick had a similar effect on me given that I could see tangible evidence of the LIA, MWP and earlier climate optima in the countryside around the village where I grew up in the shape of skating ponds built in the 18th and 19th centuries that hardly ever froze even back in the 1970s and obvious field patterns associated with growing crops at altitudes only used for sheep pasture in the modern era. The fact it used to be significantly colder in recent centuries but was significantly warmer prior to that was something everybody just accepted as historical fact at that point and I found it hard to fathom how a single study based on tree ring evidence was supposed to automatically overturn the evidence for those temperature changes that are very much a matter of historical record.

    It seems to me that the IPCC stuff has more to do with what information the global political elite in the shape of the UN decides to feed the plebs for reasons of political expediency than with actual science. I once saw a really interesting op/ed piece in a British newspaper from a very senior UK climate scientist who was trying to highlight the fact that all the apocalyptic predictions about AGW were not actually coming from scientists like him but from the politicians. He explained in blow by blow detail how there was always pressure from enviromentalists and politicians to up the ante in that regard so they could grab the main headline. Will try to dig it out at some point.

    As a final comment before I return to lurk mode for a bit even though you didn’t select the paleoclimate angle because it was a “weak link” you should maybe bear in mind that the effect of what you are doing is inevitably going to be pretty identical to what it would have been if you did given the way you have decided, as is your right obviously, not to take a clear stance on the stronger portion of AGW research.

  104. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 6:45 AM | Permalink

    As a final comment before I return to lurk mode for a bit even though you didn’t select the paleoclimate angle because it was a “weak link” you should maybe bear in mind that the effect of what you are doing is inevitably going to be pretty identical to what it would have been if you did given the way you have decided, as is your right obviously, not to take a clear stance on the stronger portion of AGW research.

    John M, I’ve said that the models need to be looked at it in detail in baby steps, but that this is beyond my time and resources. It would be a big job. It’s possible that such a review by non-fellow travelers e.g. aerospace modelers (with climate scientists required to cooperate) would endorse the models and methods. In which case you’d have some proper third party due diligence that some one concerned about groupthink could rely on, just as investors rely on auditors’ reports.

    If there is any exposition of what you regard as the “stronger portion of AGW research” that you can identify as being what you believe to be a strong and definitive exposition, I’d be happy to take a look at it. Finding such an exposition, which is not merely a report on GCM results, is not as easy as one thinks – at least one could locate MBH. If it’s merely a report on GCM results, then I’m not prepared to wade into it at this time. As I’ve mentioned before, I think that the most salient arguments could be presented without GCMs and that it would be healthy to do so. I’ll try to spend a little time on Stephen Schwartz article which tries to explain things without GCMs, but it may be a couple of months before I post about it.

  105. John M.
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 7:35 AM | Permalink

    Think you missed my point. I wasn’t suggesting you should look at the global climate models. Questions like change in average albedo over time with rising temperature are totally beyond the scope of a blog like this, in my opinion. I was only suggesting that you should maybe be more careful to make sure that people who post in the discussion threads on here are actually aware that there is a lot more to AGW than the paleoclimate angle you primarily focus on if you want to avoid the perception that you are cherry picking by only going after the “weak link”. I think the HITRAN sort of level of study, which you already are familiar with and clearly do not need to be provided with links for, is as far as you could sensibly go and that that does clearly show that there is a solid basis for believing AGW exists to some extent so there wouldn’t be much point in you trying to debunk it. I find your aerospace modeler notion to be a bit of a stretch given the sheer complexity of the problem. If people in the field were to be honest I think the real answer is that they really don’t know what is going on with some of the key feedbacks right now because the models are still very much in their infancy.

  106. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    RE 105.
    JohnM have looked at ModelE code? I mean actually looked at the code? Not merely read papers about
    it but trudged throught it?

    What struck me as a former software engineer was the total lack of understanding the scientists
    had in writing, maintaining, and documenting code. There is no requirements document, no spec,
    no test plan, no test suite, no test results, no documentation to speak of, no standard coding
    practice, no style guide. No IV&V. Even though Nasa requires it. Contrast this with the appraoch
    taken by MIT. They teamed experts together form the various disciplines, science and engineering.
    I can walk into their GCM and see the discipline of software engineering at work.

    When you don’t have that discipline, as evidence in GISSTEMP a multi language piece of dreck, you
    get simple errors like the “Y2K” error. You may think the answers of ModelE are correct. IV&V
    would be a good check. But there is no IV&V. so you are left with taking their word.

  107. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 8:52 AM | Permalink

    John M: ….If people in the field were to be honest I think the real answer is that they really don’t know what is going on with some of the key feedbacks right now because the models are still very much in their infancy.

    The models are the models, and the feedbacks are the feedbacks such that they actually operate up there in the sky (and wherever else they may happen to operate, etc. etc.)

    OK, ClimateAudit readers, does a niche actually exist within the AGW marketplace for the kind of expository paper Steve is asking for?

    If there is indeed such a niche, it seems to me that the approach used to integrate the modeling processes with the real-world testing and measurement processes is of critical importance in getting some measure of value from the effort.

    The reason I ask this question is that I’m still working on my draft project plan for performing an engineering feasibility analysis for producing a Green House Gas Global Warming Machine (GHG-GWM). The part of the draft project plan dealing with system integration issues and system testing issues is proving a tough nut to crack.

  108. brian
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

    SteveMc says:

    I’ve said that the models need to be looked at it in detail in baby steps, but that this is beyond my time and resources. It would be a big job. It’s possible that such a review by non-fellow travelers e.g. aerospace modelers (with climate scientists required to cooperate) would endorse the models and methods. In which case you’d have some proper third party due diligence that some one concerned about groupthink could rely on, just as investors rely on auditors’ reports.

    I keep hearing this…i’m just one guy, I can’t do it all, etc. Understandable. I am very much in agreement. But, in my comments and some responses above (#79-95ish), I’m very interested in hearing what the CA community thinks is the next step in figuring this all out. Not the next step, idealistically, but what do we actually do next? If the work SteveMc is doing is the ideal model (as many commenters have said many times), and he can’t do it alone (understandable), how does this model get implemented for doing more audits? If I am to believe that the majority of the CA community is truly in this to figure it all out, what do we now do? I hear a lot of talk about advocating this and that. How do we make it happen?

    Steve Mc above says we’d need “some proper third party due diligence” … who is the third party? Bender, above, talks about an open wiki model…could a completely open community be relied upon for such important reviews? Perhaps. I think the CA community could offer a lot in this regard. You all could affect some real progess, no? I’m just wondering what you all think about this. Thanks.

    Steve: My thought was that it would be a very big job and take a lot of time. However that’s not going to happen. Whether it’s worth nibbling at in a wiki is worth thinking about. My inclination for a wiki model would be to pick one famous model, divide it into parts and set up threads and sub-threads for analysis of the parts.

  109. brian
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 9:37 AM | Permalink

    welikerocks#102 says:

    Reconstructing the past environments of the Earth correctly and understanding them correctly…is the only way one can predict the future environment correctly and to make the right choices.

    I couldn’t agree more. Well said. I think the geological perspective is very important for these matters (but, being a geologist, I guess I’m biased :)).

    welikerocks…this is a post of mine discussing this geological perspective, and within the context of petroleum systems, specifically. Please note: it’s more commentary based on my own training/experience than hard science, but if you’re a geologist you might find it interesting. Thanks.

  110. John F. Pittman
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 9:48 AM | Permalink

    I would politely disagree with #105

    I was only suggesting that you should maybe be more careful to make sure that people who post in the discussion threads on here are actually aware that there is a lot more to AGW than the paleoclimate angle you primarily focus on if you want to avoid the perception that you are cherry picking by only going after the “weak link”.

    I see little or no evidence to AGW than the paleoclimate angle. A quick survey of “other” evidence such as ice fields, start date of flowering, altitude/lattitude upwards mobility, etc. all have as a basis of saying that it is Antropogenic in nature and not just another cycle in natural variation depend on the paleoclimate angel. The only ones I know that don’t are the models. The others, if you read carefully, will have other periods in the geologic record where the temperatures or measured phenomena were greater than present. It always comes back to either it is the warmest in better than a millenia, or the change is the greatest in a millenia. Either way their arguments for A or for us needing to “do” something come back to the paleoclimate angle.

  111. jae
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 10:14 AM | Permalink

    105:

    If people in the field were to be honest I think the real answer is that they really don’t know what is going on with some of the key feedbacks right now because the models are still very much in their infancy.

    Yes. So should we be formulating economy-shattering policy on the results of these models? That’s what’s happening.

  112. brian
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

    SteveMc says:

    My inclination for a wiki model would be to pick one famous model, divide it into parts and set up threads and sub-threads for analysis of the parts.

    Thanks for your response. I’m not expert in web development, but I wonder how that could be set up. It would be neat to see it…I enjoy the posts and the substantive comments here. A site that had solely the “meat” and minimized the mocking and ridiculing of everybody’s favorite villain climate scientists would be really cool (I realize many of you have fun with that, but a lot of us have to try and sift through it to find good info). A different setup might keep it from devolving into warring camps and we’d be able to focus on the data (which, you, yourself, do pretty well). Thanks.

  113. John F. Pittman
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

    #108 Brian, to me you have the cart before the horse. An example, as an environmental engineer I was on a team that was asked to do a feasibility study for a clean up of a site. Another firm had the investigation phase and by state law the proprietor had to get independent feasibility studies for the clean-up. When we examined the data and conclusions of the investigation, there were glaring omissions and obviuos errors. We proposed that a new investigation be done since there were noteworthy flaws. It turned out that the company had not forwarded all the data nor the all investigations. Our team had spent its time uselessly. We did this not because we wanted to, but rather you can’t do a proper feasibility study, if the investigation is incomplete or has flaws. We reported the company to the regulatory agency.

    For my part, this is where we are at. It does not do anybody any good to fuss at SteveM, he has it right. You have to do the investigation correctly, if you are going to go to the next step.

    I’m very interested in hearing what the CA community thinks is the next step in figuring this all out. Not the next step, idealistically, but what do we actually do next?

    There is nothing ideal about doing the investigation right, it serves the best use of human resources.

    If the work SteveMc is doing is the ideal model (as many commenters have said many times), and he can’t do it alone (understandable), how does this model get implemented for doing more audits? If I am to believe that the majority of the CA community is truly in this to figure it all out, what do we now do? I hear a lot of talk about advocating this and that. How do we make it happen?

    I believe the point that Steve and others have been making is that it should have BEEN required when the AGW people and IPCC went into the climate change- we gotta do something- political mode. Real feasibility studies require a real investigation and ALL the data, code, etc. It is apparent that the handoff from research to development has been hi-jacked for political purposes. I state this as someone who is in environmental implemetation. I can see where the regulatory agencies are pushing this. However, the data and reasoning is being hidden. As I told one group of regulators that wanted me to do a design (without the basis) that the basis must be agreed up front. Engineers don’t just grab any eqution or piece of equipment. They chose equations, design approach, equipement for the succesful meeting of a stated goal. Without a basis and a numerical number, design will likely be faulty. SUccess will occur due to luck, overdesign, or some other factor, not purposed endevour.

  114. brian
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 10:56 AM | Permalink

    JohnPittman says:

    It does not do anybody any good to fuss at SteveM

    I’m not fussing…read my comments, i’m complimenting his efforts.

    There is nothing ideal about doing the investigation right, it serves the best use of human resources.

    I understand. I agree.
    I’m curious about people’s thoughts on courses of action, that’s all.

    I believe the point that Steve and others have been making is that it should have BEEN required…

    Again…I understand. This has been made blindingly clear to me numerous times on this blog. I’m simply curious what people think about courses of action given the situation we are in now. That’s all. I’m not attacking anybody or any method here…my tone should not be perceived as combative. If what CA is doing now is the course of action, then that’s what I’m wondering about. Thanks.

  115. welikerocks
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 11:03 AM | Permalink

    #109 hey thanks and thanks for the link. I will pass that on to my husband too and friends who are the geologists, earth scientists, environmental scientists and engineers -me, I learn much from asking them things for years now and reading a whole lot from all kinds of perspectives. (I was a graphic artist for a research company for many years though) Osmosis!

    I think every topic comment/commentary/links warts and all here should be published in a book- like a diary maybe-just cross referencing the subjects, opinions covered here over time, and reading this site is one big giant wiki already. CA- The Book. (Al Gore’s book “I.T.” had NO scientific references in it at all I believe (?))

  116. John F. Pittman
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    #114 One of the real problems is that the usual/preferred sequence for human endevor has been hijacked. In particular, where there should be a clear well written validated and verified body of works, climate change has enetered the political domain. There is an asumption made sometimes by a person that one can accompliosh something meaningful wrt the considered object. In the political field that option is more limited. One of the courses of action that Steve has and I have done, is to work with or request actions by government agencies. Search this site and I think you will conclude that such an approach has had little effect, except that it seems there are some in Washington, DC, in particular, who are taking the objections and findings of persons such as Steve seriously. I would suggest the political aspect, but as someone trained in political aspects I would caution such use. The rule is that politicians scurry to what is hot, and want to be on the side where the most votes lie. Understandable, coaches scurry for new offenses or defenses for the same reasons, they want to win/saty employed. The real disservice has been pointed out by SteveM before, such as this constant use of BCP, PC of BCP, failure to release data/code by publicly funded institutions/agencies. The short version: this is the direction of activity I would take. Get those in Congress who depend on the information being correct and verified/validated to become active. The input of CA and its readers would be how inappropriate that the climate change information is not in an open format, subject to validation/verification.

  117. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

    re: #114 brian

    Well, let’s consider what’s presently being done. Steve with MrPete actually did some BCP updating and that’s still in process. John V, despite not particularly agreeing with Steve Mc has developed an open source system for examining the surface temperatures, and that process is also in process. Anthony Watts, inspired by what was going on here has developed SurfaceStations.org which is well on the way to examining all the USHCN stations. Note that all three of these activities have just been going for a year or less. Steve may well have some other tricks up his sleeves, but if so we won’t know that for a while.

    So what’s next? I suggest more of the same. If someone has a bright idea of what should be examined in a practical sense, then let that person start to implement it. Steve has shown it doesn’t require heavy equipment to update tree rings. John V has shown useful software doesn’t require grants and supercomputers. Anthony Watts has shown many volunteers can make light work. To use the words of someone who started something big and didn’t even stick around to see the results, “Go and do likewise.”

  118. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

    re: #115 Rocks,

    Have you looked at how big this site is? There are 2280+ main pages, each of which would probably average 2-4 printed pages that’s 6,000+ pages i.e. 10+ books. Then there are 154,000+ replies each averaging say 1/3 page or 50,000 pages; i.e. 100 books. Even if you set up a climate skeptics book of the month club you’d never catch up to the present. Maybe book of the week would work, but I expect the present growth exceeds even that. Indeed, the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten behind in reading all the current messages and I may never be able again to say I’ve read everything on this site.

    I would like to see someone write a book about Steve and CA, but he’s got first rights, IMO but I don’t know that he has time.

  119. brian
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 1:09 PM | Permalink

    re #116 and #117:
    Thanks for your comments…I also think open science using the internet as a hub for sharing and exchanging ideas/data will become increasingly more important re the way we (as a collective globe) understand nature. It will be interesting to see how it develops. Thanks.

  120. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

    make sure that people who post in the discussion threads on here are actually aware that there is a lot more to AGW than the paleoclimate angle

    Regardless if it all leads back to paleoclimate or not, I don’t think I’ve ever gotten the impression here that anyone thinks that’s all there is, or that Steve isn’t making that clear.

    the real answer is that they really don’t know what is going on with some of the key feedbacks right now

    And yet we so often see that things are stated with some to a great deal of certainty when the “real” answer is “we don’t know”. I have no problem with guessing as long as it’s presented well enough to know it is. I don’t see why we need multi-year 34,000 page reports involving thousands of people to not say it!

  121. welikerocks
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    #118 yes I have seen. Maybe I am thinking something like “The Climate of the Past” was supposed to be or online magazine perhaps.

    We “published” data, well my boss instructed me and payed me to create the printed piece; others to test, take down data; graph it (I ran data too, he built the computer programs)and we put in a “book” that was used to make decisions. The data was collected by professionals with various degrees and other paid employees trained to do each process. We charged the client or producer of the product for doing all this, and we had a standard- scientific and professional to adhere to and it was in our mission statement. (climate science needs a mission statement!) (We did the testing and the reports for friction materials used in automotive brake pads. Our reports had a distinct way of presenting the information to the industry we were in, and they became familiar within the industry- and trusted, and copied! by our competitors )

    Why couldn’t Climate Audit be a publication itself? SteveM reads over all these thread comments and scientific papers anyway, and he’s got a good group here. And it is like reading a magazine sometimes. California Geology was a thin little magazine my husband was published in once. It is closed now, but everyone he meets in his industry here in California, has copies of them in their offices.

    wishing out loud I guess…

    Publish means public-so it can read and make up its own mind!

  122. Anna Lang
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre:

    I suggest a thread where forthcoming professional meetings/workshops on topics or sessions devoted to climate related issues could be posted in a timely manner. Attendees could then follow-up with summaries of sessions. Perhaps the availability of such a thread would encourage notifications about meetings and workshops, such as the one you missed, and information about them could be disseminated more widely.

  123. John M.
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 6:08 PM | Permalink

    What struck me as a former software engineer was the total lack of understanding the scientists
    had in writing, maintaining, and documenting code. There is no requirements document, no spec,
    no test plan, no test suite, no test results, no documentation to speak of, no standard coding
    practice, no style guide. No IV&V. Even though Nasa requires it. Contrast this with the appraoch
    taken by MIT. They teamed experts together form the various disciplines, science and engineering.
    I can walk into their GCM and see the discipline of software engineering at work

    I take it you are referring to James Hansen’s work in “correcting” the historical temperature record rather than work on modeling future global climate? If so it’s not even really relevant to what I was talking about as I have already explained above. James Hansen’s generation who first dabbled with using FORTRAN in the 70s were very much self taught and tended to write spaghetti code as a consequence. Later generations of science students, who got into software development as a career, tended to actually take formal computer science courses as part of their undergrad degrees where practices like those you described were taught and had to be followed if you wanted to get a passing grade.

  124. John M.
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 6:54 PM | Permalink

    jae says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 10:14 am

    Yes. So should we be formulating economy-shattering policy on the results of these models? That’s what’s happening.

    You do actually realize that the changes underway won’t wait until mankind has all the physics that are involved fully figured out don’t you? If irreversible change to the atmosphere is underway ,the onus, surely, is actually on the people responsible to prove it won’t cause any irreparable harm if current practices are to continue? Think you are being a tad alarmist, anyway. Measures like a switch away from fossil fuels to nuclear power for electricity generation especially in emerging economies like China and India and a gradual move by Americans to more fuel efficient cars and a greater use of public transportation would not have to be “economy-shattering” and given the finite nature of fossil fuel reserves would probably be beneficial, anyway.

  125. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 7:29 PM | Permalink

    RE 123 johnM.

    “I take it you are referring to James Hansen’s work in “correcting” the historical temperature record
    rather than work on modeling future global climate? ”

    No. I was very specific in earlier comments about GISSTEMP. It is not climate science. Further, it is
    without a doubt one of the worst pieces of nasa code I have trudged through, And I have trudged
    through code written by ames, langley, Edwards and a host of others. It is abysmal. A combination of
    of poorly written fortran and Python no less. As I pointed out in my post a mechancial engineer ( JohnV)
    spent a weekend and produced an elegant well documented substitute. Further, reading the GISSTEMP
    code you could not tell who wrote it, since the programmers did not take the care to even note
    who was resposible for the 5 sections. It is clear to me as someone who has read through millions
    of lines of code that these men did not know what they were doing. They did not follow a single
    principle of software engineering. The best evidence of that is the utter failure of seasoned professionals
    to port their code. A simple example. The code is available. You tell me what OS and what platform it was
    complied on? Go ahead. Look at the download page. Look at the code. You tell me. When you get this wrong
    you’ll prove my point.

    “If so it’s not even really relevant to what I was talking about as I have already explained above.
    James Hansen’s generation who first dabbled with using FORTRAN in the 70s were very much self taught
    and tended to write spaghetti code as a consequence.”

    I’m sorry. You don’t know what you are talking about. I happen to be in Hansens generation. When I took
    over a pile of amatuer “scientist” code, we did a total rewrite from top to bottom. I teamed scientists
    with engineers. It was funny. The scientists did not see the value in documenting code. They thought the code
    was “theirs” The engineers knew that some one else would come along to maintain and extend the code they
    wrote. The scientists had odd coding quirks. No discipline, no logical structure. Without exception
    they were fans of the global variable and had no sense of of how a chip actually does math.
    Further,
    the self taught don’t write spagatti code. Those who refuse to listen and learn do. My best programmers
    were self taught, so don’t fob off hansens lack of skill on this. A man needs to know what he is for.
    hansen is not a software engineer. He could have benefitted from having a few on staff. THAT is my point
    and I beleieve that is Steve McIntyres point.

    “Later generations of science students, who got into software development as a career,
    tended to actually take formal computer science courses as part of their undergrad degrees
    where practices like those you described were taught and had to be followed if you wanted to get a passing grade.”

    Unfortunately NONE of these students worked on ModelE. You avoided my comments about it’s shortcommings for one
    two reasons:

    1. You havent read the code and are just arguing to hear you own voice.
    2. You have read the code and see nothing wrong.

    In either case you don’t know what you are talking about.

    If someone asked me about albedo or black carbon or water vapor, I’d be smart enough
    to keep my mouth shut and listen. SteveMc’s point is simple. Scientists can learn from
    engineers. case in point. The scientists who wrote ModelE could learn from guys like
    Dan Hughes. IN FACT, if you read dan hughes blog, you’d see gavin schmidts comments
    admitting as much. So basically, you have gavin schmidt admitting what you so inartfully
    dodged.

    Finally, they may have taken the classes but they forgot what they were taught. Perhaps because
    hey thought it was “just” engineering.

  126. Will J. Richardson
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 7:45 PM | Permalink

    Re: John M., post 124.

    No, no, no. You posit “irreversible change to the atmosphere is underway”. No one is under an obligation to prove the negative that an assumed “irreversible change to the atmosphere is underway”, “won’t cause any irreparable harm”, another assumption. First if must be proved that an “irreversible change to the atmosphere is underway”, AND that it will cause “irreparable harm”. Then and only then are remedial steps indicated.

    This is the precautionary principle taken to extremes.

  127. John M.
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 8:49 PM | Permalink

    steven mosher says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 7:29 pm

    I’m sorry. You don’t know what you are talking about. I happen to be in Hansens generation. When I took over a pile of amatuer “scientist” code, we did a total rewrite from top to bottom. I teamed scientists with engineers.

    Think I do know what I am talking about actually having had to deal with 1970s FORTRAN code written by scientists of your generation. The way you make out that only “engineers” can write code properly is a bit bizarre. Computer programming is usually taught by Computer Science departments which form part of the Faculty of Science on most university campuses.

  128. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

    John M: You do actually realize that the changes underway won’t wait until mankind has all the physics that are involved fully figured out don’t you? If irreversible change to the atmosphere is underway, the onus, surely, is actually on the people responsible to prove it won’t cause any irreparable harm if current practices are to continue?

    It is a well-understood principle of argument that the burden of proof rests with the positive. We ignore this principle at great peril to the integrity of both science and society.

    In its 4.5 billion year history, the earth has passed through a number of climatic cycles involving significant changes in both temperatures and in levels of C02 concentration. By any standard of rational thought, the burden of proof is on the AGW alarmists to demonstrate that the rise in temperature over the last fifty to one-hundred years is outside the boundaries of natural variability.

    As someone who works in nuclear and who has been involved in government nuclear projects such as the civilian nuclear waste repository program, I can tell you that if the kind of data quality standards, disciplined data collection methods, data management procedures, and information analysis requirements that apply to the repository program were to be applied just as stringently to climate science programs, most of the work done so far on government-funded climate science projects would have to be tossed out.

    The reason that today’s existing body of government-sponsored climate science data and climate science analysis isn’t tossed out is that no market for high quality climate science data and for high quality climate analysis products yet exists—in the same sense that a market now exists for reliable safety analysis data within the nuclear repository program, a market which is driven (of course) by the public’s general desire not to have a nuclear waste dump placed in their own back yards.

    AGW alarmism has not yet reached a stage where it is generating substantial and well-recognized burdens on the average Joe and Jane who ultimately pay the bills. A market for high quality climate science products will not emerge until the public feels substantial pain from anti carbon measures, at which point greater scrutiny just might be applied to those who are demanding the associated personal and economic sacrifices.

    In the meantime, if prominent members of the climate science community have any sense of integrity at all, they will recognize that serious problems exist with how the science is being pursued and will move proactively to deal with those problems well before the heat of adverse public opinion begins to focus upon them.

  129. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 9:20 PM | Permalink

    RE 127.

    Anpther inartful dodge sir. There are these questions on the table.

    1. Have you read modelE? yes or no.
    2. Could modelE benefit from software engineering.

    The dodge that I somehow implied that ONLY engineers can write code is fatuous at best. So, answer the two
    questions or evade again.

    In the first case if you answer NO, you will admit to one error. I specifically refered to ModelE when
    I argued that climate science modlers could BENEFIT from software engineers working with them. I sited
    MIT as a good example of this collaboration.

    If you answer yes to the first question, we will see what error you make on the second.

    On question two, if you say IT COULD NOT benefit, then I will have a good chuckle, as will dan hughes
    and every other professional in the room.
    If you say it could benefit, then you disprove your case.

    In one case you talk about code you never read. In another case you don’t know bad software engineering,
    and in the third case you are wrong.

  130. brian
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    ScottinWA says:

    In its 4.5 billion year history, the earth has passed through a number of climatic cycles involving significant changes in both temperatures and in levels of C02 concentration. …the burden of proof is on the AGW alarmists to demonstrate that the rise in temperature over the last fifty to one-hundred years is outside the boundaries of natural variability.

    While I agree generally about where the burden of proof lay, I totally disagree that it must be compared to boundaries over the 4.5 Gyr history of the Earth! Firstly, do you really want to start talking about Archean climate? Secondly, and much more importantly, it’s not about what the planet can handle, it’s about impacts on the biosphere and habitability. In other words, even if the variability is “inside the bounds” of natural variability, species have been adversely affected in Earth history as a result of that natural variability. So, if you’re going to start bringing up changes in Earth history, you must include the effects those changes had on the biosphere. Just my two cents.

  131. John M.
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

    If your English language comprehension skills were up to snuff you wouldn’t even need to ask your question, steven. It does not surprise me in the slightest that code going back to the punch card era in the 1970s like ModelE would be as you describe having had plenty of hands on experience of upgrading code written by scientists at that time. I would love to have those two years of my life back. I explained to you why things are very different now thanks to courses run on computer programming by computer science departments. I have seen how the difference works in practice nowadays. The world has moved on so bringing that up to make some petty point about engineers vs. scientists suggests to me that you are still very much stuck in another decade.

  132. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 10:53 PM | Permalink

    #131. My point didn’t have software engineers in mind. I was actually thinking more of the sorts of feasibility studies done by big engineering firms.

    John M, why don’t you try to get hold of an engineering study done by one of the big engineering firms – a big study costing millions of dollars – and then read a paper in Nature and then see if you still want to say that there isn’t a different in approach.

  133. John M.
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 12:56 AM | Permalink

    Worth noting that the use of the word “engineer” in the IT context has been very controversial in Canada with the provincial professional engineer associations sometimes going as far as taking legal action to try to prevent it.

    http://www.galtglobalreview.com/infotech/being_engineer.html

    Beyond that issue with semantics I think we are getting back to the fact that you maybe are not fully familiar with everything that scientists get up to. The equivalent of a feasibility study in academic terms would be grant proposals rather than research papers and that’s something that doesn’t get published. The larger the requested budget the more rigorous and in depth those proposals have to be obviously and in most instances in depth progress reports are also required to maintain funding for the duration of the project, which again are not typically published. There are no guarantees of funding just because somebody has an academic position. Many tenured professors actually lose all of their research funding long before they retire because their peers simply don’t rate the research that they do as being of a high enough quality or of enough practical value to be worthy of funding so they wind up focusing primarily on teaching and administration. The academic world can be a very competitive environment contrary to what many people who are not familiar with the system seem to think.

    I’m not disputing that the sort of procedures you probably see as being necessary could be the way to go and I strongly suspect many/most are already in place, anyway, all I am disputing is the notion that scientists are somehow completely incapable of doing that sort of stuff by themselves and only engineers are capable of providing that sort of expertise.

  134. Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 3:01 AM | Permalink

    I don’t think anyone here has said that scientists in general are incapable of writing quality rigorous code or using procedures which ensure accountability. I think what is being said is that a particular group of scientists could benefit from the outside help of some engineers. For you to generalize it as all scientists vs. all engineers argument is specious, or how is it always stated on both sides of the AGW debate…a strawman.

  135. Jonde
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 3:39 AM | Permalink

    I have to take John’s side in this matter. CA and SteveMc are doing really valuable stuff in here. Unfortunately, there is a certain background smell of “looking down on scientist” in CA. I understand that most of you only mean those “certain” scientist teams, but many others easily get the wrong picture and see it as generalization.

    Still, this sort of matter should not mask the true meaning of CA, to do high quality auditing.

  136. MarkW
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 5:17 AM | Permalink

    I don’t see how any could say that CA looks down on scientists in general.

    There is a widespread and well earned disdain towards certain scientists, but not all.

  137. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

    #132. John M, you say:

    The equivalent of a feasibility study in academic terms would be grant proposals rather than research papers and that’s something that doesn’t get published.

    With respect, I don’t think that you have any idea what a multi-million dollar engineering study (e.g. Feasibility study) looks like. It has virtually nothing in common with an academic proposal. An engineering feasibility study is the end product of the engineering work, whereas an academic proposal, regardless of detail, is the starting point. Again, I invite you to look at a big engineering study and then discuss the matter as we are presently at cross-purposes because you aren’t familiar with what such studies look like.

  138. Tom C
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 7:18 AM | Permalink

    #137

    Steve, I know exactly what you are trying to describe. It is something I never would have guessed when I was in grad school. Students pick up the conceit of academia: that the really rigorous work occurs there and that everything in industry is done “only for the money” and, therefore, somehow less credible. The truth is the opposite. It is the financial stakes that demand the rigor in industry.

    The issue is not one of scientists vs. engineers. It is technical people with no accountability vs. technical people with accountability.

    Steve: That’s not really the contrast that I’m trying to make. I’m trying to distinguish between a study that has cost millions of dollars, that has 5 volumes, and where each calculation is supported within the body of the study – which is what an engineering study looks like – to a 3 page extended abstract that is a typical Nature article. IPCC AR4 also has production costs in the millions but is only a literature review.

  139. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

    RE 131. Another inartful dodge:

    “If your English language comprehension skills were up to snuff you wouldn’t even need to ask your question, steven.
    It does not surprise me in the slightest that code going back to the punch card era in the
    1970s like ModelE would be as you describe having had plenty of hands on experience of upgrading
    code written by scientists at that time. I would love to have those two years of my life back.
    I explained to you why things are very different now thanks to courses run on computer programming
    by computer science departments. I have seen how the difference works in practice nowadays.”

    Well, then it’s clear you haven’t been through modelE. If you had you would see that a good portion of
    it was not written decades again. A good portion of the code was in fact written recently. Regardless
    of your experience with other code, my experience with ModelE is the question on the table. You haven’t
    read it, yet you opine. I also contrasted it with the MIT GCM. I noted that in that example they actually
    used a multidisciplinary team and It shows. So stick to the point. This is a subset of :
    wrong method + right result = bad science. Yes, things are getting better. Still to this day, however,
    I interview kid’s fresh out of CS who have no experience with IV&V for example.

    “The world has moved on so bringing that up to make some petty point about
    engineers vs. scientists suggests to me that you are still very much stuck in another decade.”

    The point SteveMc raised was this: scientists can benefit from engineers. You argued that this
    may be true in dendro, and pointed to Computer modelling instead. I’m merely pointing out that
    even in computer modelling there are examples of cases, ModelE, where scientists could benefit
    from Software engineers. Fundamentally, unless you are talking about pure science, almost
    every scientific endeavor is multidiscplinary. The point isnt one of engineers versus scientists.
    As I said, I wouldn’t dream of opining on black carbon on snow. It’s not what I am for.
    Now, to say that scientists could benefit from software engineers, doesn’t pit scientists
    against engineers. You may infer that, but it seems a bit defensive.

  140. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 8:09 AM | Permalink

    RE 131.

    One final point. You claim things have changed in recent decades. Witness GISSTEMP. Someone
    came into code written over the the past 20 years and grafted in routines written in Python.
    So, 80% of the code is F90 and 20% Python. Clearly this is someone with a recent eduction.
    ( in fact, you can tell where he worked before coming to Nasa, since there are only a couple places
    that use Python for climate study ) so, rather than learn Fortran, or convert the whole thing
    to Python, he made a quick an dirty job of it. Expedient, but not so good on the maintainability.

    “things” may have changed elsewhere, and you grant that a good thing, so you would grant it would be
    a good thing in the case of ModelE and Gisstemp. Thanks for proving the point.

  141. brian
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 9:39 AM | Permalink

    SteveMc says:

    …an engineering study done by one of the big engineering firms – a big study costing millions of dollars…

    and

    I don’t think that you have any idea what a multi-million dollar engineering study (e.g. Feasibility study) looks like.

    and

    I’m trying to distinguish between a study that has cost millions of dollars, that has 5 volumes, and where each calculation is supported within the body of the study

    I guess this comes back to some of my questions up above. What are the steps for implementing this? Who pays for it? This whole scientist vs. engineer thing is unconstructive (and pretty darn silly if you ask me)…I want to see progress. If this is the way to go, how do we make it happen?

    [snip]

    Steve: It’s not a scientist vs engineer thing although some commenters interpret my remarks that way. Engineering of processes or phenomena identified by scientists occurs all the time. When I read remarks about the present debate being post-normal science , I’m inclined to say that, in most walks of life, e.g. developing a smelting process, chemical process, metal forging process, etc., engineering is post normal science. It happens all the time; it’s part of our civilization. If people spent a little more time thinking about what engineers actually do and less about defending or offending scientists, then the point should be clear.

    This is the sort of thing that should be properly funded by government agencies – with a proper budget which would be millions of dollars. Perhaps you should write to your congressman – you never know.

  142. brian
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    It’s not a scientist vs engineer thing although some commenters interpret my remarks that way.

    I realize that…my remark was more towards the jib-jabbing between commenters, not really what you have said specifically.

    Regarding funding of a big engineering-study-like initiative for our current problems, Steve Mc says:

    This is the sort of thing that should be properly funded by government agencies – with a proper budget which would be millions of dollars. Perhaps you should write to your congressman – you never know.

    I’m not sure what I would write…it seems those with expertise in such a study (and there are numerous commenters on this blog who talk about having that experience) should work more agressively to push these recommendations. And perhaps many of them are, I don’t know. Do you think a single government could (or should) handle a project with such a broad scope? Bender, above, discussed an open-wiki model for getting the work done, but if you are saying it’ll take millions of dollars, would that work? I’m just trying to get a sense of what people think about where to go from here. Thanks for your comments.

    Steve: It wouldn’t cost anything very much to set up a wiki on models and it’s probably not a bad idea in the absence of anything else. It’s just that I’m doubtful that it’s the right vehicle for something like this. The math and data are an order-of-magnitude or two orders more involved than the proxy material – and that’s complicated enough. But I’ll mull it over. I’m already overextended in terms of my time though.

  143. MarkW
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 10:50 AM | Permalink

    If you aren’t willing to do it right from the git-go, why should anyone believe that you did it right at all?

    There’s are processes for ensuring that your code is bug free and does what you designed it to do.
    It’s obvious for that these models, none of these processes were followed.

    We are being asked to overturn the economies of the world based on the output of these models. Where’s the documentation, where’s the assurance, that these models are accurate?

  144. brian
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

    I’m already overextended in terms of my time though.

    Understandable…I guess it comes down to priorities, and if the current blog-and-comments model is considered the most efficient way to truly affect change. Thanks.

  145. Jeremy Friesen
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 2:15 PM | Permalink

    John M. says:
    October 31st, 2007 at 8:49 pm

    Computer programming is usually taught by Computer Science departments which form part of the Faculty of Science on most university campuses.

    As a graduate of a Computer Science program, I, along with most, am called a Software Engineer. Do I generally engage in “Science”? No. Do I generally construct programs? Yes. Perhaps this is a discipline that is somewhere in between science and engineering, I cannot say… Worth noting:

    (my emphasis)

    Debate over the term ‘engineering’

    Some people believe that software development is a more appropriate term than software engineering for the process of creating software. Pete McBreen argues that the term Software Engineering implies levels of rigor and proven processes that are not appropriate for all types of software development. He argues strongly for ‘craftsmanship’ as a more appropriate metaphor because that term brings into sharper focus the skills of the developer as the key to success instead of the “manufacturing” process. Using a more traditional comparison, just as not everyone who works in construction is a civil engineer, not everyone who can write code is a software engineer.

    Some people dispute the notion that the field is mature enough to warrant the title “engineering”[citation needed]. In each of the last few decades, at least one radical new approach has entered the mainstream of software development (e.g. Structured Programming, Object Orientation, … ), implying that the field is still changing too rapidly to be considered an engineering discipline. Other people would argue that the supposedly radical new approaches are actually evolutionary rather than revolutionary, the mere introduction of new tools rather than fundamental changes[citation needed].

    The levels of rigor mentioned above are what, I think, many would agree is the necessary level to hold any weight on code used as the basis for globally relevant policy-affecting software.

    My original point, however, was just that your use of the term computer “Science” and its use in classifying the stream/industry based on such a title is barely credible…there are other criteria to use in defining something rather than the faculty in which that discipline resides.

  146. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

    One more time, I was thinking more about what mining engineering firms do, as opposed to
    software engineers and has little or nothing to do with Steve Mosher’s points (which I don’t necessarily disagree with – just that the point is being misconstrued totally.)

  147. Jeremy Friesen
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 3:13 PM | Permalink

    My apologies, of course. I suspect the reason the thread moved in the direction of software is that more of the readers can identify with that discipline, whereas mining engineering (near and dear to your heart), is very foreign to many.

    Nevertheless, not another word about software engineering/computer science from me on this thread :)

  148. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    RE 147. It’s played out, agreed.

  149. Larry
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

    Actually, a properly executed software project (which excludes anything done by Microsoft), will have an engineering report prior to the project kickoff. And a marketing report prior to that, to determine if there’s a market for it (obviously they skipped that when they did Microsoft Bob). So the concept of a pre-design report should be familiar to software types, if they’re doing it right.

  150. srp
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    I was involved in some organization strategy research at a small biotech firm where the problem-solving culture differences between scientists (in this case biochemists) and engineers (in this case mechanical engineers and manufacturing process folks) became manifest. The lab scientists were very good at improvisation of apparatus and getting things to work quickly with just enough reliability to get useful data. They were not so good at regularizing, documenting, and verifying what they did so that it would work every time in a machine that customers could use. Elementary things like verifying the quality of chemical inputs from vendors were neglected. In addition, scientists tended to have a model of authority based on expertise–if I got the experiment to run, and I tell you that you need the temperature of reagent X to be thus-and-so, you’re supposed to believe me–because nobody else has the hands-on tacit knowledge that I do. Requests for data sharing and justification of such claims were read as assaults on one’s expertise.

    The engineers generally wanted to share data and attack problems in groups, even when they didn’t understand the biochemical aspects of the problem very well. They had protocols for verifying and controlling processes that were essential for creating marketable scientific instruments, but that also made it impossible for them to develop unreliable but persuasive demonstration prototypes within reasonable cost/time limits. The engineers, who were responsible for making artifacts that would work within a specified reliability/performance envelope, tended not to believe the assertions about process variables by science experts when those assertions were not accompanied by data.

    While these differences in problem-solving cultures between the scientists and engineers were not the focus of our analysis, they were very interesting. Studies across fields lead to similar conclusions: Scientists are trained to make discoveries before other people, so getting something to work as quickly as possilbe, even if performance is erratic, is the way to go. Excessive elegance and documentation are deadweight. Their audience is other researchers who will decide whether or not to incorporate their work into their own research. Engineers, on the other hand, are responsible for making things work over and over in well-specified ways, including maintenance and decommissioning. For them, knowing how and why everything behaves, with lots of data from empirical tests, is a necessity.

    I see climate models as lying in between these domains. As a strictly academic enterprise, where the risk of errors is borne primarily by scientific peers who build on one’s work, the science culture is most appropriate. As a policy tool, where “clients” will be basing multi-billion dollar policy choices on the results, the engineering mindset may be more necessary.

  151. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 6:28 PM | Permalink

    srp.

    That’s been my experience. There are three modes of behavior: Problem creation. Problem solving.
    and solution implementing. Some individuals can cross 2 of the boundaries. It is the rare individual
    who can span all three. The first asks what if, the second says here’s how, third says I’ll use X to
    build it. The First exposes ignorance. The second creates knowledge. The third reduces that knowledge
    to practice. Patience increases as you move from the former to the latter. The first have ADD typically,
    the latter tend to be OCD. Which is why in every project one must at some stage shoot the engineers.

  152. Neil Fisher
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 8:18 PM | Permalink

    Steven Mosher said:

    Which is why in every project one must at some stage shoot the engineers.

    As someone who has provided engineering support to scientists, I can assure you it cuts both ways! ;-)

    Still, I learn quickly, so it only took me one experience to learn that I shouldn’t offer up a range of solutions, or ask technical questions – it was much more efficient and far less frustrating to get them to explain what they wanted, then go away and research it myself to come up with a specification that exceeded what they said they wanted by a large margin. Yes, a *large* margin, because they *always* wanted a bit more. ;-)

  153. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

    RE 152. Yes. Engineers have optionitis. Bad malady. curing it as they move up in
    management requires many lobotomies. When enough brain matter has been destroyed
    they become marketing professionals.

  154. Scott-in-WA
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

    Having done both mining engineering and software engineering at various points in my career, about fifteen years of each in the mineral industry or in nuclear materials production, I can tell you that the product engineering lifecycle is the product engineering lifecycle regardless of its context. With some variations depending upon the particular product, you have:

    Requirements
    Concept
    Design
    Development & Testing
    Construction
    Initial Production Rollout & Deployment
    Production and/or Operation
    Retirement

    Within this lifecycle you have subsidary supporting processes such as project and financial controls, configuration management, information technology, supply chain, quality assurance, and so on. Whether the product is engineered software or an engineered manufacturing plant, the process is conceptually very similar. Otherwise it wouldn’t be “engineered.”

  155. John M.
    Posted Nov 1, 2007 at 9:41 PM | Permalink

    Steve McIntyre says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 7:02 am

    With respect, I don’t think that you have any idea what a multi-million dollar engineering study (e.g. Feasibility study) looks like. It has virtually nothing in common with an academic proposal. An engineering feasibility study is the end product of the engineering work, whereas an academic proposal, regardless of detail, is the starting point. Again, I invite you to look at a big engineering study and then discuss the matter as we are presently at cross-purposes because you aren’t familiar with what such studies look like.

    You are clearly not fully familiar with what scientists get up to in an academic or industrial setting so I could just as easily write something similar about a lot of your blog entries where you try to critique scientific research. Worth noting that I mentioned progress reports above in addition to the initial grant proposals, which do happen after work has been carried out. Obtaining and maintaining funding is an ongoing process and a lot of scientists provide regular updates on their research to outside companies, who are providing funding in order to get their R&D carried out. Academic papers, which you initially wanted to compare directly to feasibility studies, are often only the tip of the iceberg of what is actually going on. As Larry points out above trained software developers, who will have taken university level computer science courses as part of their training nowadays, will normally have a lot more experience of the kind of approach you think should be happening than a dendrochronologist like Michael Mann and given we are actually talking about computer modeling of the atmosphere I would respectfully point out that what recently trained software specialists like that tend to get up to is probably a lot more relevant in this context than your personal experience with mining engineering, the faulty use of statistics that you have identified in tree ring growth other proxy studies or the approach used by James Hansen back in the 70s in developing what is now essentially prehistoric FORTRAN code.

  156. John M.
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 3:12 AM | Permalink

    Jeremy Friesen says:
    November 1st, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    My original point, however, was just that your use of the term computer “Science” and its use in classifying the stream/industry based on such a title is barely credible…there are other criteria to use in defining something rather than the faculty in which that discipline resides.

    In Canada, where Steve McIntyre is based, professional engineer associations have actually sued companies like Microsoft and even a university computer science department to try to stop the IT industry from using the title “engineer”. I provided a url about that controversy above. It goes a bit deeper than what faculty the department that teaches this stuff is usually part of in other words.

    I personally think that scientists with a background primarily in subjects like physics and applied mathematics, who have a significant level of formal university level training in computer science, would have the skills set to get the job done on modeling future climate without any problem at all and that the notions that people seem to have on here about scientists and engineers are actually a bit of a red herring.

    Here’s an example of an IPCC technical report that is supposed to provide introduction to computer modeling that quotes a range of 1.5 to 4.5 K for the temperature increase with CO2 doubling:-

    http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/techpap2.pdf

    Worth noting that the lower end predictions fall close to the “What’s the big deal then?” sort of level, but the media of course always latch onto the higher end of the range and make sure to work all the dire predictions Greenpeace dream up on that basis into their stories. It’s reasonably candid about what the problems are (such as the effects of cloud formation), and the informed reader, in my opinion, should be left in no doubt that a clear exposition providing a single value for the temperature increase isn’t actually feasible at this point.

  157. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

    Way back in #101

    There was a parable about scientific findings following a course rather like climate science is following today. We have to learn from past examples to discern the best future paths.

    It is inescapable that significant findings, no matter how good, mean little unless they are conveyed to both decision makers and as part of that, to the people who vote in the decision makers. Not just politicians, but CEOs of major corporations, semi-government organisations and groups like the UN.

    There can be endless debate about scientists getting dirty by going political. I rather dislike it myself, but it has to be done.

    IMO, the next step is to start to set up a communication structure that takes the best of CA and converts it into reader-friendly text capable of endorsement by names and of acceptance by schools. As if we all dobbed in and took over Scientific American and returned it to its former status. Like getting a Chair at Oxford in Truth and Ethics in Science.

    Unfortunately, one can go only so far with ideas. At some stage the big bucks are often needed to ram home the exercise. Get Bill Gates on side, that type of thing.

    Apart from the bucks, the next bad exercise is reformation of school curricula. Out here Down Under, it’s unbelievable what is taught as biblical in climate science. That is a longer term ecercise, but not one to ignore.

  158. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 10:51 AM | Permalink

    “I personally think that scientists with a background primarily in subjects like physics and applied mathematics,
    who have a significant level of formal university level training in computer science,
    would have the skills set to get the job done on modeling future climate without any problem at all”

    If frogs had wings, they wouldnt bump their ass when they jump:

    Using the CVS as an alternaive form of email:

    “This is an attempt to merge the changes accumulated on modelE-patches
    into the development branch. The branch modelE-patches was tagged
    with modelE1_merge0609 and all changes beween modelE1_merge0322 and
    modelE1_merge0609 were added to development branch.
    Two files were not updated: DIAG.f and ICEDYN.f . They had too many
    conflicts which I didn’t know how to resolve. Can somebody more
    familiar with the code please update them? Gavin?

    In general there were a lot of conflicts which I had to resolve so
    I’m asking everybody to look at his/her code to make sure that
    their changes made ok to the developers branch.”

    In particular, could somebody check that calls to updBCd were
    placed correctly in RAD_DRV.f? Reto?

    After conversion to dynamically allocated arrays in some parts of the model
    the arrays which were not initialized are now really not initialized, i.e.
    in “static” model all non-initialized arrays were filled with zeros by
    compiler, while now they can be just random numbers.
    This is a quick and dirty fix to get rid of floating point exceptions.
    All arrays which caused the problem (were completely or partially non-
    initializd) are initialized to zero at the moment of allocation.
    Somebody more familiar with those arrays should check if this is ok
    or if they should be initialized to something else.

    And they said it couldn’t be done…..

    Yes, ladies and gentlemen, roll up to see, the one, the only, set of
    conservation diagnostics for AM and KE that actually add up!

    Gasp at the comparison of the internal dynamics diagnostics with the
    integrated change!

    Thrill when they are exactly the same (for AM) or close (KE)!

    Swoon at the individual accounting of SDRAG, the UV Filter and the
    Gravity wave drag!

    Yes, all this can be yours! Update today!

    As per discussions with TRACERS people, removing SUBROUTINE GET_PREC_FACTOR
    from TRACERS_DRV.f. In practice this treats the interaction of tracer with
    precipitation BELOW_CLOUD the same as elsewhere. I think we all agreed this
    made physical sense, and representatives from gas, aerosol, and dust tracer
    groups agreed we should change it. Quick tests with gas tracers showed I think
    about a 5% annual difference in resulting wet dep. Very little percentage-wise
    difference in sulfur aerosols, I think. But this commit does change results.

    I am removing the calls in CLOUDS.f, CLOUDS2.f, and CLOUDS2_E1.f.
    Replacing with FPRT = FPR everywhere. I.e. we decided to change it in the
    slushy (E1) version as well, as this is kinda a bug. Let me know if you have
    questions/concerns about it.

    Files CLOUDS2_E1.f, CLOUDS2.f. Fixed mistake due to which mass of gas
    tracers became negative when washout in clouds wasn’t switched off,
    i.e. when #define NO_WASHOUT_IN_CLOUDS wasn’t set in rundeck. The bug
    was introduced by me on 2007/04/09 (rev. 1.13 of CLOUDS2_E1.f and
    rev. 2.93 of CLOUDS2.f). Sorry about that. The mass of gas tracers
    became negative, since the wrong tracer mass was used to calculate
    thwash in subroutine get_wash_factor. thwash is always 0 for other
    tracers than gas tracers. Thus, other tracers were fine.

    Put back some recent changes that were unintentionally removed.

    The previous update moved some sections of the code in CLOUDS2.f that also
    included some tracer sections – those sections were not tested; tracer
    specialists should please make sure that all is fine.

    **********************************************************

  159. Larry
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    I personally think that scientists with a background primarily in subjects like physics and applied mathematics, who have a significant level of formal university level training in computer science, would have the skills set to get the job done on modeling future climate without any problem at all and that the notions that people seem to have on here about scientists and engineers are actually a bit of a red herring.

    That’s a very narrow point, and not at all the gist of the larger point. Among the many things that should be done in a proper report are good programming practices. That’s a start. That allows the code to be audited and understood more easily. But that’s about 2% of the overall issue. In addition to that, competent statisticians need to be the primary designers of the code, and someone with accountability (i.e. a major international engineering firm) needs to be charged with the responsibility of producing a report that establishes all relevant facts within the body of the report. The report, and the summary for policy makers, needs to be produced by disinterested parties.

    It’s ludicrous that the SPM is written by activists and diplomats months before the technical report body comes out. These large picture organizational issues aren’t going to be addressed by software engineering practices.

  160. Larry
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    Oh, and as far as good programming making models work? Yeah. And I got a whole inventory of bridges for sale. To make models work, you have to understand the science in quantitative detail. We ain’t there. And we can’t see there from here, either.

  161. brian
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

    Larry#159:

    …someone with accountability (i.e. a major international engineering firm) needs to be charged with the responsibility of producing a report that establishes all relevant facts within the body of the report

    Who decides which firm to use? SteveMc commented above repeatedly that a proper report would be millions of dollars. Who pays for it? There’s a lot of talk on this blog about what should be done or what should have been done but was done wrong, etc. etc. ad infinitum, (and I agree!)…but how do we implement it? What is the path for progress now? Thanks.

  162. Larry
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

    Who pays for it? Ever heard of the IPCC? What’s their budget?

    This kind of “we don’t have enough money to get it right, but we can sink trillions into remedies” talk is like listening to Mann and company whining about how difficult it is to grab a few tree cores. They have plenty of funds to do their original work, but suddenly become poor when quality issues surface. If you can’t do it right, don’t do it at all.

    I’m not buying that there’s no money available, when there’s been over 20 billion spend on climate research over that past two decades. There’s just not money to come to the “wrong” conclusion.

  163. brian
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 12:05 PM | Permalink

    Ever heard of the IPCC?

    I apologize if my tone came off as combative and you had to reply sarcastically. I’m just trying to get a sense of what people think are steps to progress instead of solely criticism (which, is undoubtedly part of the process, but not all of it). Thanks.

  164. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    To make models work, you have to understand the science in quantitative detail. We ain’t there. And we can’t see there from here, either.

    I agree totally, and this is the heart of the discussion. Decoupling substance x and saying it does y because some model says so and then saying you’re 90% sure it does that, yeah, right. While decoupling things and sets of things may give you some ideas, and some insight into the system as a whole, it doesn’t prove anything.

    Which is why when I’m looking at the IPCC, I tend to agree with some of the points overall, but often, even if I agree (or tentativly agree) I’ll have issues with the details, the conclusions or the implementation. While it’s obvious that changing the land and burning fuel impacts weather patterns in many and various ways, and thus impacts climate, the conclusions of what causes it and how everything interacts is not well understood. But this uncertainty is always downplayed or obfuscated or both, and only the hype is reported. They’re pretty good at their goal (as I understand it, just my opinion), it seems on the surface, but I don’t think the policy makers are buying it for the most part.

    It’s ludicrous that the SPM is written by activists and diplomats months before the technical report body comes out.

    What do you expect from a political organization motivated by an agenda?

    Unfortunately, one can go only so far with ideas. At some stage the big bucks are often needed to ram home the exercise.

    And people expect Steve to do more? He’s already providing significant work time to making useful information available, if they want something more, they’re perfectly welcome to spend their time and money too. I guess some people just like making fun of things and whining than actually doing something productive.

    We’ll see how it goes as time goes by, what gets done with the info being created and the questions being asked.

  165. trevor
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

    Re #161 and #163 from Brian.

    SteveMc commented above repeatedly that a proper report would be millions of dollars. Who pays for it? There’s a lot of talk on this blog about what should be done or what should have been done but was done wrong, etc. etc. ad infinitum, (and I agree!)…but how do we implement it? What is the path for progress now? Thanks.

    I’m just trying to get a sense of what people think are steps to progress instead of solely criticism (which, is undoubtedly part of the process, but not all of it). Thanks.

    An example of what can be done is this blog.

    Over the past three or four years, Steve McIntyre and many contributors at this site have made a major contribution in revealing certain problems with key elements of the AGW thesis, for which ‘consensus’ had been claimed. It is a valuable contribution to show that there is demonstrably no consensus, as it is to demonstrate that some ‘climate scientists’ play fast and loose with good practice.

    I think that you will find that the efforts of this site (and Roger Pielke Snr, Warwick Hughes, CO2Science and a few others) are educating the public and the policymakers. And in applying scrutiny to the work of ‘climate scientists’ has shown them that they had better start getting their act together if they don’t want to be ‘outed’ to a rather large audience.

    I venture to suggest that the entire budget for this site since inception (not counting the unpaid contributions of time by particularly Steve but many others) can be counted in the few thousands of dollars.

    Imagine what could be achieved if Steve had a real budget!

  166. brian
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

    And people expect Steve to do more?

    I’m not sure who that is addressed to, but just so it’s clear – I don’t expect SteveMc to do more…it’s clear that he is doing a lot of work. My comments on this thread, as I’ve said numerous times, are simply to see what people’s ideas are regarding moving forward. Ideas. Thoughts. Suggestion. Speculations. I apologize if my asking this is perceived as a criticism of the work.

    I, myself, am not an expert in many of the details, so I’m trying to build an overall picture of what could be done next. I would like to see progress and think some of the approaches talked about here are part of that. I am, by no means, saying its solely up to CA or SteveMc to do all the work. I guess I haven’t made this clear enough so I apologize.

    Way above, bender started talking about an open-wiki model and SteveMc nicely addressed some of my questions. There are some interesting things to discuss, I think. If this is out of line, then just tell me to get lost and I will.

  167. MrPete
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    NBD (No Big Deal ;), Brian… no need for defense, we’ve got more than enough offense :-D

    One thing that may help is to recognize that a lot of what is needed is not very amenable to doing “now.” I.e., it’s gonna take time (as well as $$$). Money doesn’t speed up everything. And part of what is going on here is the early stages of shifting the direction of a very ponderous ship.

    I have some experience with influencing global shifts. First rule: there are no rules/patterns. Second rule: it often starts slow, but at some unexpected time, the pace is likely to change, radically.

    If you have not yet read Tipping Point, read it. It’s fun no matter what. We are missing a few pieces. Most especially, The Salesman. There are lots of those for the “we already know the answer” crowd. There are not many at all for the “we have more to learn” minority.

  168. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

    Brian, re, “I’m not sure who that is addressed to…”

    Most of my comments are not directed at anyone, and the above was one of them. It was just a generic statement/observation. One of the questioning techniques is to ask open ended questions and then shut up. This lets others think about things and perhaps better explain their position. (A great many discussions are people talking about different things, or not understanding somebody else’s basis for a conclusion or basis for an opinion.) Another thing it does is propel the conversation along, or to clarify a viewpoint or the jist of what is being said. Or perhaps to have somebody out themselves as being locked in to an extreme (and/or unbending) position. So I often just throw things to the wall and see what sticks. When I have a specific comment for a specific person, I usually either blockquote it or address them by name.

    You’ve been seeking clarification, which is great. You ask questions that show what train of thought you have, and then that can be expounded upon or corrected. In this case, I think the question really has no answer, other than, what can be done is being done, for the most part. More action will require larger organizations and more funding, and part of it all is educating people. I think this is the push needed to help get to where this subject needs to be.

  169. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 5:24 PM | Permalink

    Brian, also, I find in general for the most part, a lack of most people commenting upon questions and/or offering answers usually means they understand what’s being asked or said, but have no answer for the questions or they agree with them or the opinion. Or just have nothing to (or want to) say.

    How do you feel about this statement for example: “The figure of 2.5 C for a doubling of CO2 comes from models and is not a scientific formula that can be demonstrated as fact.” Or this: “When the ice in clouds melts, rain comes out and it cools the air.” Or this: “Anyone who thinks chocolate ice cream is better than strawberry has a low IQ.” Or even: “At the Earth’s standard pressure, carbon dioxide has no liquid state and sublimates directly to/from a gas to/from a solid.” And don’t forget; Nevermind, I forgot.

  170. brian
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    MrPete…thanks for the response…yes, Tipping Point is a good read, I agree.

    Firstly, I’d really like to see the end-member portrayal (alarmist vs. denialist) subside. I think a lot of complex issues tend to gravitate towards that state (w/ the help of a media/blogosphere looking to sensationalize) even when there is much more overlap and commonality among people than it appears. But, I guess this is a general problem in human nature.

    Secondly, I do think blogs/wiki are a step in the right direction towards solving big problems…i.e., participation instead of just listening/trusting…but, maybe it’s still a little young. There’s still a lot of idiotic banter and unconstructive mocking out there. We’ll see.

    on another note…Trevor says:

    Steve McIntyre and many contributors at this site have made a major contribution in revealing certain problems with key elements of the AGW thesis…

    I think what would tremendously help regarding getting even more people to notice what CA has done, is for someone (I realize SteveMc is busy…but someone) to write a short document that outlines the problems that have been revealed. Something succinct and to the point. Like an executive summary. SteveMc keeps bringing up the analogy of big engineering studies…do they not have some sort of summary up front? I’ve inquired about this before and was told to read the all the posts on the website (some told me a little nicer than others). To help get past the ‘tipping point’ of greater public awareness of CA’s contributions will require a document like this. The website and archives are all there as the “meat” for reference.

  171. brian
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    Sam Urbinto says:

    I find in general for the most part, a lack of most people commenting upon questions and/or offering answers usually means they understand what’s being asked or said, but have no answer for the questions or they agree with them or the opinion

    that’s a good point…I hadn’t thought of it like that…thanks for your comments

  172. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    You could write a summary, yes? :)

    There’s maybe 10 points, just be a numbered list probably.

    Something like (just to throw this together):

    0. Editorial bias at various publications, often coupled with a failure to enforce the rules.
    1. Data not being archived to replicate.
    2. Lack of cooperation by major players (who are mostly administrators or political types).
    3. Proxies of questionable value excessivly used.
    4. The lie of the “high quality network,” rather than the supposed adjustments making it supposedly high quality truth.
    5. The lack of standardized software and/or clearly defined adjustments.
    6. Data sources inconsistent with each other and/or other indicators.
    7. A lack of agreement (or a lack of understanding) of the basis of conclusions.
    8. Opinions provided as fact.
    9. Faulty logic and/or reasoning used in reaching the conclusions.
    10. Egotistical attitudes, where experts needed to bring together the multidisciplinary subject are disdained because they are not climate scientists. (Emotion substituting for logic?)

    I don’t know, just kinda stuff like that.

    And yes, that is a general problem with human nature; when discussing a subject that is almost all opinion, people tend to take sides and go to extremes. Often, they are unwilling (or unable) to consider somebody else’s viewpoint, they are unwilling (or unable) to compromise, or they are more interested in defending their turf or keeping their place in the clique than a rational dialog (or some would say, the truth).

  173. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 5:51 PM | Permalink

    You’re welcome.

  174. John F. Pittman
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 6:09 PM | Permalink

    Brian

    I’m not sure who that is addressed to, but just so it’s clear – I don’t expect SteveMc to do more…it’s clear that he is doing a lot of work. My comments on this thread, as I’ve said numerous times, are simply to see what people’s ideas are regarding moving forward. Ideas. Thoughts. Suggestion. Speculations. I apologize if my asking this is perceived as a criticism of the work.

    I believe (my opinion), that most on the blog have concluded we are moving forward.

    do they not have some sort of summary up front?

    All of the formal reports I wrote, or contributed to, had executive summaries. Often, I send emails with an executive summary. Yes, I am an engineer.

    To help get past the ‘tipping point’ of greater public awareness of CA’s contributions will require a document like this.

    In a chaotic system such as public opinion, I don’t think I would claim that such a document is necessary. It may be needed, but I would be hesitant to claim such. An example of this chaotic nature is the Jena 6 of Louisana. All that may be needed is that Steve ans others continue to work as they have.

  175. Peter D. Tillman
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 10:00 PM | Permalink

    Brian wrote (at 170)

    Trevor says:

    “Steve McIntyre and many contributors at this site have made a major contribution in revealing certain problems with key elements of the AGW thesis…”

    I think what would tremendously help regarding getting even more people to notice what CA has done, is for someone (I realize SteveMc is busy…but someone) to write a short document that outlines the problems that have been revealed. Something succinct and to the point. Like an executive summary… To help get past the ‘tipping point’ of greater public awareness of CA’s contributions will require a document like this. The website and archives are all there as the “meat” for reference.

    Brian, thanks for being persistent re “what is to be done?” I agree that a well-done pop-science summary would be helpful in spreading the word about CA & SM. You write well, judging from your nice “Global warming and petroleum geology piece” http://clasticdetritus.com/2007/10/27/global-warming-and-petroleum-geology/

    Maybe you should give it a shot yourself? The next trick being, of course, selling the article to a publication that has a substantial audience.

    Hmm-2. There’s actually more than enough meat at CA to support a nice, short pop-sci book, and it’s often easier to get a controversial book into print… Hmm again. I could help with either project, and I write well, too.

    Worth some thought, and this sort of project might be best done as a wiki-collaboration with other regulars here. Possibly even with our host’s participation? A Stern Editor would be essential to develop an effective (and saleable) product, I think.

    Hmm-3. Other’s thoughts? Restart this as a new thread?

    Cheers — Pete Tillman, another geologist

  176. brian
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 11:30 PM | Permalink

    PeterTillman says:

    Maybe you should give it a shot yourself?

    I got a PhD to finish writing…blogging and reading blogs is my “free time” (i.e., procrastination). A person, like me, who is not well-versed in the details within this blog (of which there is a lot), would have to study the archives as well as trying to keep up with nearly daily posts to ever have a chance of correctly summarizing the conclusions within. Tackling that project would be substantial. I have neither the technical expertise nor the writing experience for such a thing. I try and keep up…but, in the end I’m just a regular person trying to wrap my head around these problems.

  177. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 6:08 AM | Permalink

    This should not be a discussion about whether scientists or engineers are better at this or that. The common purpose is a search for the truth as best we can discern it. Some people do it honestly, some do it with less honesty.

    Where there is a major social difference worth discussing is accountability. I grew up in a poor home just after WWII when my Dad had been serving overseas. The jobs we took as we got older – my first one was washing bottles at age 14 in the school vacations – were designed to produce goods and services of benefit to the community through providing more than they cost. Recycled bottles were cheaper than new.

    When you live a semi-barter system whereby you go hungry if your work does not produce enough to buy food, your attention becomes focussed. You tend to work in jobs with multiplier factors, e.g. spend $X on an employee and he/she returns you a larger sum $Y. This factor is more often seen in private enterprise than academia, because it is fertilised better in the latter. BUT, this is in no way an attack on good fundamental research or on good applied research.

    It is skirted around politely, but not openly discussed above, that the society of today has more free-riders that ever before. That is the small part of the problem if overall prosperity can help them limp along. The big problem comes when the non-achievers start to become believed even to the extent of major policy formulation. There grows a certain arrogance that causes quotes like “The science is settled” when it never is. “The end of the world is nigh”, a fallacious quote as old as history. We are all familiar with the anti-science type of expressions like these.

    The translation of these terms can be roughly summed “I know I’m pretty useless at supporting myself and creating financial leverage, so I’ll sell my soul for sensation or dishonesty”.

    It’s not engineers versus scientists versus programmers. It a split between those who live by accountability and those who prosper from a lack of it. It’s a split between those who sleep at night knowing they’ve paid for their meal ticket, versus the rest.

  178. John M.
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

    Larry says:
    November 2nd, 2007 at 11:57 am

    Oh, and as far as good programming making models work? Yeah. And I got a whole inventory of bridges for sale. To make models work, you have to understand the science in quantitative detail We ain’t there. And we can’t see there from here, either

    That’s why I said that the skills set necessary requires people trained in subjects like physics and applied mathematics with a solid background in programming and trust me on this people with that sort of training behind them have a much better grasp of statistics than that displayed in the dendrochronology work that is often highlighted on here. I also pointed out above that it isn’t actually possible to come up with a definitive answer to the global mean temperature change after CO2 doubling only a wide range of values that it is likely to fall within and would agree that getting to the point where a precise value can be calculated with any kind of accuracy is a very long way off. Are you trying to have an argument just for the sake of it? :)

    Beyond that I can see where Geoff Sherrington is coming from with what he writes above. Maybe something to consider would be how easy would it be for dendrochronologists to obtain funding if they were not able to use global warming to make their previously somewhat obscure branch of science appear to be highly relevant in that regard and were unable to grab the limelight that probably really should be pointing at the climate modelers? If I could condense what I have been saying to one sentence it would be that they maybe don’t deserve to be taken quite so seriously when AGW is under discussion. Think an executive summary detailing exactly what the issues are in that regard would be a useful addition on here along the lines of a FAQ file.

  179. Craig Loehle
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Re Sam Urbanito’s list:
    I would add to the issues documented on this site:
    1. Failure to respond to devastating technical criticism (ignoring it)
    2. Not using data that is inconvenient (cherry picking proxies)
    3. monkey business with data manipulation such as end point issues on smoothed series, grafting different data sets together, ending proxy reconstructions when they become divergent (e.g., 1980), double counting the same proxy, etc
    In other contexts, such issues would cause an investigation. Imagine if this was research used to get a drug approved!

  180. brian
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 11:22 AM | Permalink

    PeterTillman says:

    There’s actually more than enough meat at CA to support a nice, short pop-sci book

    I guess when I said a short summary, I was thinking more about a document summarizing the main conclusions of the work. Sam and Craig’s lists above are a great start for people like me who are trying to get a sense of the significance of the work and discussion here (thanks).
    I know many CA’ers often talk about the limitations of short, academic papers, but, if written well, they can convey the “essence” of very complex problems in less than 10 pages. The criticism I see here is not so much about the papers themselves, but that they aren’t backed up by a comprehensive data repository (or that access to such a repository is lacking). There’s a lot of discussion on this blog about how things should be done…CA, or CA-affiliated experts, have an opportunity to make this happen, no?

    After such a document, then a pop-sci book might be an interesting read :)

  181. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    A fun paper by briffa and Olsen. Dont know if SteveMc has linked this before:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/projects/soap/pubs/reports/final/soap_finalreport6.pdf

  182. John F. Pittman
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 3:20 PM | Permalink

    The SO&P project was designed with the rationale that a combination of modelling and
    observation based research represents the most productive route towards understanding
    climate variability and, more specifically for placing the twentieth and twenty-first century
    climates in the context of previous centuries. To achieve this aim, significantly improved,
    regionally-resolved palaeoclimate reconstructions needed to be developed and externallyforced
    climate simulations for the last five centuries had to be undertaken. These new sources
    of information could then be combined to quantitatively analyse the capability of the latest
    General Circulation Models (GCMs) to simulate climate changes over past centuries, to
    explore the nature of simulated and observed responses to historical natural forcing, and to
    quantify the uncertainty associated with the detection and attribution of climate change
    signals on hemispheric and regional spatial scales due to anthropogenic forcing.

    We must be getting somewhere. They have admitted that they can only predict past the LIA with any skill. They have tried to hijack SteveMc, RogerPielke, and still avoid the IPCC/Wegman dissonance, repudiated stevesadlow, Watts, etc and company, while claiming to provide NEW SOURCES!!!

    von Storch H and Zorita E (2005) Comment on “Hockey sticks, principal
    components, and spurious significance”

    by guess who?? Follow the links and watch the Team dodge shot after shot!! But they did this YEARS ago. Nothing new here!

    Well, I could not find new source data except for “models”. The “new” part is the same old same old with a tip of the hat to regional differences (as long as they agree with prior conclusions). Please remember this report is FINAL (unless the TEAM choses to dodge yet again). LOL. I agree with Steven Mosher, this belongs in the Mosh Pit. Except for the models…There may be something there, Someone with model expertise needs to look at the citations.

  183. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

    RE 182.

    I found the paper very interesting I’m still searching for the data, and just wondered if SteveMc
    had read it.

    I was intrested in the approach of Not detrending and wondered how the hell that works.
    I can see lopping off the early growth years of trees rather than subjecting them to a
    Neg exponential detrending.. Anyway, intresting paper

  184. John F. Pittman
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 3:58 PM | Permalink

    I would caution you to consider that they limited it to LIA and after. From what I have read here, one must be very careful about assumptions when the Team limits itself to post LIA. However, please note that they quote von Storch to deflect criticism, a very telling point I have found.

  185. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

    RE 184.

    Agreed. tactically speaking whether one pins them down in LIA or MWP one pins them down.

    When they shift arguments to “TRENDS” one must think ahead.

    My main point was to bring it to St. Macs attention. as he can sort the cross currents of the debate
    better than I.

    Essentially, they will slip up. Some place. some day. some series.

  186. PJ
    Posted Nov 4, 2007 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

    Think I do know what I am talking about actually having had to deal with 1970s FORTRAN code written by scientists of your generation. The way you make out that only “engineers” can write code properly is a bit bizarre. Computer programming is usually taught by Computer Science departments which form part of the Faculty of Science on most university campuses.

    My degrees are in Computer Science. I have a BSEE and MS in Comp Sci., technically, but at my undergrad University, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering was one department, the EECS Dept. For my PhD, a top CS University, the departments were separate but the CS Dept was (and is) in the College of Engineering. Most Computer Science grads will go into field-related jobs that have the title “Software Engineer”.

    I agree that there are many people who can write software well who don’t have the degree or title and might be ‘non-engineers’. However, if they do end up doing software programming ‘right’, in a robust and verifiable way, it will be properly called Software Engineering, no matter who does it.

  187. bender
    Posted Nov 19, 2007 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    Minutes of the meeting? A list of attendeees? Anything? Taxpayers pay for this stuff.

  188. trevor
    Posted Nov 19, 2007 at 3:07 PM | Permalink

    Bender,

    The American Statistical Association (ASA), the nation’s preeminent professional statistical society, today announced it will sponsor a two-day climate change workshop featuring 20–25 leading statisticians and atmospheric scientists. The event, sponsored by the ASA’s Science and Public Affairs Advisory Committee (SPA) and the ASA Section on Statistics and the Environment (ENVR), will take place October 26-27 at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. David Marker, SPA chair, and Mary Christman, ENVR chair, will facilitate the workshop.

    I did a search and found the ASA website here: http://www.amstat.org

    Their general contact e:mail is: asainfo@amstat.org

    Also, they disclose the contact details of officers here: http://www.amstat.org/sections/info/index.cfm?fuseaction=Sections

    There are 24 sections. The most pertinent seems to be “Section on Statistics and the Environment”. In that section I found:

    Chair: Christman, Mary C; University of Florida, Department of Statistics; Phone: (352) 392-1946; e:mail mcxman@ufl.edu

    Staff Liaison: Clark, Monica D; American Statistical Association; Phone: (703) 684-1221; e:mail monica@amstat.org

    In the Section on Survey Research Methods I found:

    Program Chair-Elect: Marker, David A; Westat; Phone: (301) 251-4398; e:mail davidmarker@westat.com

    In going through the lists I also found the contact details for Edward Wegman.

    If these people can’t help, I am sure that they can put you on to somebody who can.

  189. trevor
    Posted Nov 20, 2007 at 3:10 AM | Permalink

    I have sent an e:mail to Mr Marker and Ms Christman re this workshop.

  190. bender
    Posted Nov 20, 2007 at 4:48 AM | Permalink

    Good show, trevor.

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  1. [...] with the scientific background is likely to deter most statisticians from entering this field. http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2280 I’ve been working on this from time to time over the past few years and this too seems “highly [...]

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