Gerry North Lecture in Boulder, Nov 2, 2007

Gerry North will be back in Boulder on Nov 2, 2007 delivering a lecture at CIRES at 4 pm on climate over the past 1000 years. The announcement says

A variety of evidence points to a gradual cooling of the planet from about 1000 AD to a few hundred years ago when it bottomed out. Over the last one hundred and fifty years the planet has been warming at an unusual if not unprecedented rate. The published evidence caused a groundswell of activity among climate change skeptics culminating in congressional hearings featuring battling assessments. A cadre of skeptics continues to joust at the consensus of scientific assessment that the climate is warming and that its cause is anthropogenic. Climate will continue its course of warming over this century modulated by our choices and the political will to curb greenhouse gases.

“Joust” seems to be the word de jour on the Island.

In addition to the NAS panel report itself, anyone interested in going to the lecture might be interested in a couple of presentations following up on the NAS panel report, discussed last year. Richard Monastersky of the Chronicle wrote an article on the report; he then had an interesting online “colloquy”, at which I asked a couple of questions (Gavin Schmidt also asked a question) – CA discussion

I asked the following question which seems quite prescient in light of our recent study of bristlecones at Almagre:

Question from Stephen McIntyre:
The NRC Panel stated that strip-bark tree forms, such as found in bristlecones and foxtails, should be avoided in temprature reconstructions and that these proxies were used by Mann et al. Did the Panel carry out any due diligence to determine whether these proxies were used in any of the other studies illustrated in the NRC spaghetti graph?

The answer, of course, is that the Panel carried out no such due diligence. In fact, all 4 studies used in their spaghetti graph used bristlecones – indeed 2 of the 4 even used Mann’s PC1. Here’s North’s answer:

Gerald North:
There was much discussion of this matter during our deliberations. We did not dissect each and every study in the report to see which trees were used. The tree ring people are well aware of the problem you bring up. I feel certain that the most recent studies by Cook, d’arrigo and others do take this into account. The strip-bark forms in the bristlecones do seem to be influenced by the recent rise in CO2 and are therefore not suitable for use in the reconstructions over the last 150 years. One reason we place much more reliance on our conclusions about the last 400 years is that we have several other proxies besides tree rings in this period.

If an engineer held this position and then used strip bark forms in a bridge design, he’d lose his licence. But hey, this is climate science.

There is also an online seminar in which North discusses the NAS panel report and the events leading up to it. His comments about me are somewhat schizophrenic – in some places, he talks well of me, and, we’ve got along decently whenever we’ve met and in email; and in other places, he makes quite condescending remarks. He gets a lot of facts wrong – he refers to this blog saying that it was started because we couldn’t get published. Actually the blog started after our GRL and EE2005 articles were published and largely in response to the severe non-peer reviewed criticism being launched against us as a preemptive strike by Michael Mann. This seminar was discussed last year here. Listening to it again, there’s some interesting material that I didn’t note up last year. I described the remarks that really caught my attention as follows:

At minute 55 or so, he describes panel operating procedure by saying that they “didn’t do any research”, that they just “took a look at papers”, that they got 12 “people around the table” and “just kind of winged it.” He said that’s what you do in these sort of expert panels. Obviously I suspected as much, but it’s odd to hear him say it.

When you put that together with their failure to do any due diligence whatever on use of strip bark trees in multiproxy reconstructions, it’s pretty disconcerting. It would be worth asking my colloquy question about strip bark one more time, specifically inquiring about the use by the NAS panel in their spaghetti graph of 4 studies all using strip bark trees and 2 of which used Mann’s PC1, without assessing the impact of the strip bark trees on these reconstructions.


72 Comments

  1. Lancelot
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    Court Jousters?

  2. John A
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    A variety of evidence points to a gradual cooling of the planet from about 1000 AD to a few hundred years ago when it bottomed out. Over the last one hundred and fifty years the planet has been warming at an unusual if not unprecedented rate.

    This reminds me of something – something I thought we’d got rid of.

  3. Follow the Money
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    At minute 55 or so, he describes panel operating procedure by saying that they “didn’t do any research”, that they just “took a look at papers”, that they got 12 “people around the table” and “just kind of winged it.” He said that’s what you do in these sort of expert panels. Obviously I suspected as much, but it’s odd to hear him say it.

    But the folks who actually wrote the text of the NAS report were pros, maybe pr firm loan-outs. The report was an awesome piece of dissembling damage control, at first invalidating one hockeystick, then validating seven others that weren’t part of the original question.

  4. Ron Braud
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

    “. . . Over the last one hundred and fifty years the planet has been warming at an unusual if not unprecedented rate.”

    Surface Temperature Reconstructions . . . Page 3, Third Bullet
    Very little confidence can be assigned to statements concerning the hemispheric mean or global mean surface temperature prior to about A.D. 900 because of sparse data coverage and because the uncertainties associated with proxy data and the methods used to analyze and combine them are larger than during more recent time periods.

    Can anyone point me to the study that now gives us the ability to say with confidence what constitutes unusual warming and what constitutes an unprecedented rate of warming during the warm periods between a minor or major cold period?

  5. Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:04 PM | Permalink

    A cadre of skeptics continues to joust at the consensus of scientific assessment that the climate is warming and that its cause is anthropogenic

    That’s half a straw man, few people on this forum contest that the world is warming. The anthropogenic cause in not yet proven, it is only tuned in models using strong cooling aerosols.

  6. bender
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:06 PM | Permalink

    Can anyone point me to the study that now gives us the ability to say with confidence what constitutes unusual warming

    No. I broached this subject last year at RC on “the ‘weirdest’ millenium” post. The crickets are still chirping on that one. In fact, my comment questioning “how many millenia were examined to determine this one was the ‘weirdest’?” was deleted, leaving my remaining comments orphaned and pathetic-looking.

  7. jae
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 5:41 PM | Permalink

    I’ll give the Team one thing. They don’t give up easily. But they don’t have the good sense to just quit before they heap more disgrace on themselves. It’s sorta like getting stuck in four-wheel-drive. No matter how much effort you expend, you just keep getting in deeper.

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

    It would sure be wonderful if the full-bark data came back in time for 50 attendees to hold up posters with two photos and two graphs: Full/Strip bark trees, and Full/strip bark graphs.

    It just came to me that “treemometer” was a prescient term.

    We use fever thermometers to help diagnose human sickness. Maybe, just maybe, a treemometer can help diagnose trees affected by various physical attacks (lightning, storms, bugs, etc.)

    Just as we’ve learned that you don’t get a fever simply by being out in cold/hot weather, perhaps we’re learning the same about trees.

  9. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 6:45 PM | Permalink

    Steve,

    I do not wish to put the kiss of death on your efforts by endorsing them, but endorse them I will.

    You have made and you continue to make significant contributions to the basic concepts of honesty in modern science. Your personal modesty, your calm approach under provocation, your clever use of telling examples, serve as models for others to try to match.

    Please do not be deterred or sidetracked by invalid criticism. Do not overspend time dissecting imperfect social systems when you can spend time showing wrong or questionable science. You are doing a service to good science. We would have a better world if more people had your skill and dedication to do likewise.

    Geoff.

  10. trevor
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 7:26 PM | Permalink

    Re: #9: Well said Geoff!

  11. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

    re 8.

    yup!

  12. Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 7:52 PM | Permalink

    I think it is unfortunate that CO2 fertilization was ever mentioned as a cause of TR error. The strip bark situation is just trees responding to conditions that have nothing to do with temperature. Trees are not a good temperature proxy ring width wise. The o16/18 ratio and ring widths are a fair proxy for rainfall, but you can massage the statistics anyway you like, they are not thermometers with 0.1 degree accuracy. +/- 2 degrees after validation, okay, but 0.1?

    The whole thing missing is realistic error bars. Otherwise it is just a sexist joke, “Statistics are like women, once you get them down you can do anything you want.”

  13. Pat Frank
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

    That announcement has the look of an abstract/summary provided by Jerry North. There are interesting omissions and transitions. In the very first line, there is no mention that the 1000 year cooling started from the top of the ghoul-like (they keep killing it but it keeps coming back) Medieval Warm Period. One also notes that if the cooling bottomed out “a few hundred years ago” then the planet has been warming for a few hundred years. That, however, is not exactly true. The LIA minmum was around 1800 or so, a mere 200 years ago.

    Another curious oversight is that if Earth climate has been warming unusually quickly for the last 150 years, 2/3 of that time was before any significant CO2 build-up. Sentence two of North’s abstract pretty much refutes the entire AGW thesis. He apparently doesn’t realize that, and one doubts that much of his audience will perceive differently.

    Further, even if unprecedented warming could be demonstrated (which it cannot), that wouldn’t prove non-natural warming. The structure of sentence two is pure polemic. So is calling “consensus” dissenters “climate change skeptics.” No one denies climate change. It’s the AGW claim that is disputed. That this qualification must be endlessly repeated, only for the false accusation to be endlessly+1 made again, demonstrates the knowing and persistent use of the political lie to mobilize the believers. Good job, Jerry.

    There is more that could be observed, but one final note is the change in tone manifest in the final sentence. Prior to that last, the content is all about evidentiary inferences implying, if not admitting, modest scientific contingence. The last sentence uses the future active tense, however. Syntactically, it’s a declaration of future fact. Climate will warm. No doubt is allowed. It’s an exercise in pure rhetoric, transmitting certainty by grammatical usage, rather than by demonstration of knowledge. That kind of dissemblance is not seemly for anyone, but especially not for a scientist talking of an admitted incomplete science. And, within science itself, dissemblance by a professional of the most objective of all the sciences, namely physics, is grotesque. No matter that the many instances we’ve seen reduces the personal shock, the grotesquerie remains.

  14. David Clark
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    “If an engineer held this position and then used strip bark forms in a bridge design, he’d lose his licence.”

    An interesting line, as read through the eyes of a bridge engineer. I do not know of any bark bridges but remain certain that I would not incorporate any bark within a bridge that was not accompanied with an appropriate certificate of compliance documenting tested structural properties.

    As to the errent bridge enginer, losing his license would have to be preceded by his loss of ethics. The motivation most probably money, but possibly pride.

    #9 Geoff, If I possesed your eloquence I would have said the same of Steve. I believe Anthony Watts is of the same ilk.

  15. Jacob
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 5:27 AM | Permalink

    I think that the question of whether tree rings are a good proxy for temperature can be easily answered.
    Take a few meteorolgical stations that have good records, going back 100 years or so. Go find in their vicinity some trees a hundred years old or more. Core those trees, compare to measured temp and there you are. Question unequivocally answered.
    Has anyone done such validation ? (I not well informed on this).
    If not – how can you claim tree rings are proxies for temp ? On what evidence does this claim stand?

  16. Tim Ball
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    #15
    An early example.
    Reconstruction of seasonal temperatures in Central Canada since A.D. 1700 and detection of the 18.6- and 22-year signals
    Journal Climatic Change
    Publisher Springer Netherlands
    ISSN 0165-0009 (Print) 1573-1480 (Online)
    Issue Volume 10, Number 3 / July, 1987
    DOI 10.1007/BF00143905
    Pages 249-268

  17. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 9:06 AM | Permalink

    Gerry North seems to be a very unfunny Aggie joke.

    A cadre of skeptics continues to joust at the consensus of scientific assessment that the climate is warming and that its cause is anthropogenic

    The “consensus,” as represented by the latest IPCC report, concluded that “most” of the warming since the middle of the 20th century is “very likely (>90%)” anthropogenic.

    Applying this to:

    Over the last one hundred and fifty years the planet has been warming at an unusual if not unprecedented rate.

    ,one finds the causes of “unusual if not unprecedented” warming from 1850-1950 unexplained (along with possibly a portion of the post-1950 warming) by the consensus. We could go a step futher and show glacial recession of the 19th century that predates anthropogenic contributions of any “consensus” significance.

  18. Reid
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 9:43 AM | Permalink

    Michael Jankowski says: The “consensus,” as represented by the latest IPCC report, concluded that “most” of the warming since the middle of the 20th century is “very likely (>90%)” anthropogenic.

    To paraphrase Yogi Berra:

    Climate science is 90% mental. The other half is physical.

  19. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:18 AM | Permalink

    RE 15. It doesnt work that way. Treemometers are very special trees living on the liminal edge
    as it were, in an area or location that is deemed sensitivity to a particular climate knob.

    So, that tree in the middle of the forest that has plent of rain and nice modulated temps, that
    tree is too happy. It is not stressed. It is not sensitivity to the climate in the same way
    that the poor tree at the edge of the treeline is. So there are these special trees. The treemometers.

    How do you spot them? Well there are some guidelines, some hueristics that the botnoids will explain
    ( to correct me if nothing else)However, the true test comes AFTER the core. you core, you measure,
    if you see uniform rings you know its not a treemometer. Treemometers have rings that vary, causethe
    climate varies and treemometers register this signal. Happy normal trees do not. get it.

    Hence the questions of random sampling and cherry picking.

  20. Craig Loehle
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

    Re: 15. It is also more complicated. If you test your trees (even your favorite cherry trees) over the past 100 years and you get a good correlation that does not mean your treemometer will work in past periods when precipitation differed or that were much hotter or colder than your calibration period. If I test a basal thermometer (only goes to about 100 deg F) and say it is good, and then go out in the Sahara desert to take measurements with it, I find the Sahara never gets hotter than 100F since my thermomter maxes out there.

  21. Jacob
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

    RE 19: I appreciate your humor, but I’m trying to stick to a matter of fact style.

  22. Jacob
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

    RE 20:
    On the other hand, if you don’t get a good correlation in the sample then that’s it – the conclusion is unequivocal. So, this experiment, which isn’t expensive or complicate, should be made to show the proxy hypothesis can survive it.

  23. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 11:56 AM | Permalink

    re 22. No jacob. My joke was actually serious. The theory is that not all trees will register the climate
    signal. Many factors influence the growth of a tree or plant, so they search for trees that are likely
    to register the signal. Uniform rings is an indication that the growth was not throttled or thresholded
    or driven by any particular climate variable. When they see rings of varying sizes then that is a candidate
    sensitive tree. Let me give you link and you can see why your experiment will change no minds:

    These are the principles of dendro science.. see the principle of limiting factors

    http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/principles.htm#2

  24. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 11:58 AM | Permalink

    re 22. one more jacob: see the principles of site selection

    http://web.utk.edu/~grissino/principles.htm#5

    This principle states that sites useful to dendrochronology can be identified and selected based on criteria that will produce tree-ring series sensitive to the environmental variable being examined. For example, trees that are especially responsive to drought conditions can usually be found where rainfall is limiting, such as rocky outcrops, or on ridgecrests of mountains. Therefore, a dendrochronologist interested in past drought conditions would purposely sample trees growing in locations known to be water-limited. Sampling trees growing in low-elevation, mesic (wet) sites would not produce tree-ring series especially sensitive to rainfall deficits. The dendrochronologist must select sites that will maximize the environmental signal being investigated. In the figure below, the tree on the left is growing in an environment that produced a complacent series of tree rings.

  25. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

    Jacob simply needs to take the time to read the dendro posts at this blog. If he reads all the posts dealing with bristlecone pines and all related comments by Steve McIntyre and Rob Wilson, he will start to appreciate the nature and depth of the problem. That could take anywhere between a day and a week. I would suggest reading first, commenting later.

  26. bender
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:10 PM | Permalink

    Use the Google CA search tool.

  27. jonathan
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:14 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    I would be delighted to pay your way here in Boulder so that you may attend his lecture and ask these questions. Contact me if you are interested

  28. Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

    What a pity the likes of Gerry North are not interested in an objective view of climate reconstructions, just maintaining a contrived consensus against a background of flawed methodology and data. That ‘hockey stick’ must be really important to climate alarmists.

  29. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

    RE 25 bender,

    I have a question, is it true that for the most part trees register the temperature
    signal of only a few months? How many? Do they then reconstruct an annual anomaly from this
    seasonal signal..?

  30. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 1:38 PM | Permalink

    #27. Thanks for the offer – I’d rather just post up 3-4 questions that you could ask (and, if you do, try to have someone there with you to record or transcribe the answer.) But if you wish to donate, feel free to do so. We’ve got about $4000 in contributions from over 100 people since I passed the hat for the bristlecone project; this will cover most of the direct costs, but I’m going to present these results at AGU (Rob Wilson didn’t give me a speaking slot at Divergence, but a poster session on Friday afternoon – ugh). Going to AGU will be about $1500 and a publication will cost about another $800-1000.

  31. jae
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    For example, trees that are especially responsive to drought conditions can usually be found where rainfall is limiting, such as rocky outcrops, or on ridgecrests of mountains.

    Uh huh. EXACTLY where bristlecone pines grow.

  32. Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for the links, I humbly confess that I don’t know much about dendrochronology, will try to learn.
    I just thought it might be useful to compare rings to measured temperature at the same site, and not to regional or world averages. I also thought it might be possible to find suitable trees near meteorological stations, at least in some cases.

  33. steven mosher
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

    re32 Jacob, I had the exact same thought experiment when I stumbled on the treemometer root. So,
    I poked around and got enough knowledge to be funny. Dangerous comes next. Hang out a while
    and read willis. After you do that you’ll know that Willy nelson got it wrong.
    “mama should let her babies grow up to be cowboys.”

  34. Aaron Wells
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

    Going to AGU will be about $1500 and a publication will cost about another $800-1000.

    Steve, just let everyone here know that you are doing these things and need expenses covered, and we’ll come up with the compensation.

  35. UK John
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

    Gerry North and his gang don’t seem to do history, do they!

    In UK we have a written history going back 2000 years to Roman times, and significant Climate variations over a few hundred years or less seem to be the norm. Even sea levels rising quite a bit seems par for the course.

  36. Kevin
    Posted Oct 28, 2007 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

    When will the public be permitted to know the most inconvenient truth of all: that we have very little reliable data on the climate?

  37. crosspatch
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 12:43 AM | Permalink

    “few people on this forum contest that the world is warming”

    I would contest that the world as a whole is warming. We see no evidence of recent warming at all in the Southern Hemisphere and none in North America since 1998. So that is roughly 2/3 of the planet that is not showing any recent warming trend at all. I would be willing to say that I have little confidence in anyone who said there is current warming as I have little confidence in the data that is making that case.

    Steve has given me what I consider reasonable doubt about data coming from China and the former Soviet Union. Take those two places out of the equation, or even take out suspect data sources and leave in clean, audited sources of data (I don’t think there are any, are there?), and I am willing to bet at even money that climate is stable to slightly cooling and has been for about the past 10 years.

    Simply adding in numbers to make a global average rise doesn’t mean the temperature is rising globally.

  38. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 29, 2007 at 7:57 AM | Permalink

    Are there any volunteers to attend the Gerry North lecture? There are many questions worth asking, but I’ll work at suggesting a few.

  39. crosspatch
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:30 AM | Permalink

    Re: 17

    “We could go a step futher and show glacial recession of the 19th century that predates anthropogenic contributions of any “consensus” significance”

    You can go even further than that and show the 5000 year-old wood that the current glacial recession in the Alps is uncovering. At some point in the Holocene those valleys were not only ice-fee but they were forested which means they were ice-free for a significant period of time.

  40. crosspatch
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:45 AM | Permalink

    I wanted to provide at least one of many references for my above comment:

    Timing of Holocene Glacier Recessions in the Swiss Alps
    Discovery of early Holocene wood and peat on the forefield of the Pasterze Glacier, Eastern Alps, Austria
    Multicentury glacier fluctuations in the Swiss Alps during the Holocene”

    Today’s temperatures are neither unusually high nor are they particularly rare according to the glacial record of Europe. There are a boatload more papers like this all reaching the same conclusion. Basically, that is, “climate fluctuates”.

  41. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

    As far as claiming in the statement the current temperature is “unusual” – unusual compared to what? Unprecedented? Compared to when and in what ways? How?

    Silly.

    Well this isn’t exactly correct. “No one denies climate change. It’s the AGW claim that is disputed.” Of course climate changes. However, I think it’s also difficult to deny that a lot of it is indeed A (land use, burning fossil fuels)

    What I would say is that the questions hinge around such things as:

    Is there a clear accelerating rise in global temperature due primarily to the human contribution to climate change?
    Is the idea of a global anomaly valid?
    Are the temperature measurements accurate?
    Do we really understand all the complex factors well enough to make a determination that is anything other than a SWAG?
    Is CO2 the primary driver or just one of the many factors that add or subtract from any observed effects?
    Would locking in CO2 levels stabilize the temperature rise?
    Does the cost/benefit of locking in CO2 levels justify doing so?
    Are there any probable unintended consequences that would be more harmful than the current situation?
    Can we motivate policy makers to take actions based upon the data we have; can we make a compelling case for action?

  42. Julian Williams
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

    RE: 38

    If you put them up on this website first, maybe Gerry will have the chance to see them before the meeting, so he’ll be able to give a proper answer, rather than some off-the-cuff dismissal.

  43. bender
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 11:51 AM | Permalink

    Julian,
    Gerry North has already seen some of our questions, and chose not to respond when he had an opportunity:

    http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=809#comment-44626

    We ask the same questions over and over and the answer is always the same: evasion and obfuscation.

  44. Pat Frank
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

    #41 — “However, I think it’s also difficult to deny that a lot of it is indeed A (land use, burning fossil fuels)

    I’d like to see the climate theory that can make that statement more than personal opinionizing.

  45. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    Which is why a lot of people here aren’t very trusting of having future questions answered directly and fully until we see it, and others have to do things like go ask them in person to hope and get something answered…

  46. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

    #45. OK, any volunteers? Maybe someone from COS could go.

  47. MrPete
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:25 PM | Permalink

    (Sorry, would be fun but I can’t skip my board meetings…)

  48. T J Olson
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

    Steve-

    My understanding is that CIRES events are open by invitation only. (I have tried to attend before.) But this event looks to open to the public, and I’ve been to that campus location before (although it has been a while).

    Let me look into arranging my schedule to carry out your mission and record it. I’ll get back and post here if I can.

  49. Shaprshooter
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 4:11 PM | Permalink

    Hmmm…methinks he learned his trade at Arthur Andersen.

  50. crosspatch
    Posted Oct 30, 2007 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

    What I would say is that the questions hinge around such things as:

    Is there a clear accelerating rise in global temperature due primarily to the human contribution to climate change?

    I would say that it is even more fundamental than that. Something along the lines of:

    “Is there a clear accelerating rise in global temperature?” Once that is established, we can worry about what might be causing it. To my mind it is not established that we are currently in a period of rising global temperatures. We are apparently in a period of rising global averages which may be due to bad data and bad adjustments to them being fed into the calculation. I would be willing to say that we are warmer now than we were in 1976 but I would also be inclined to say that we are probably slightly cooler than we were in 1998 with the current trend cooling slightly.

  51. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    My comment about people not answering questions was an add on to what bender said.

    Pat, the IPCC, whatever you think of them, attributes the rise in the mean global anomaly primarily to land use changes and the burning of fossil fuels. The evidence is clear that the weather patterns (and therefore climate) change in some way from particles in the air, particles on the ground, farmland and cities versus what it would be like if there weren’t any of that. It appears that the additional CO2 is doing things vis a vis how it reacts physically to infrared in both behavior and strength. It’s hardly an opinion. That part comes into it when discussing exactly what that effect is and what to do about it. For example, if you pave 1000 acres of grassland, it changes things. Then what if you take the paved land and turned it into forest? Then into empty dirt? Then watered the dirt (or covered it in foil or painted it etc etc). It’s all going to do something to the weather patterns over the area.
    If you cut fossil fuel use 50%, that would affect soot in the air and on the ground, and the amount of CO2 released, but what effect would that have? Or what if you doubled fossil fuel use? (And then start looking at coal vs oil etc)

    crosspatch, I think there’s enough evidence here that there is a slight warming trend that’s real. If it’s meaningful, and the specific amount of the change from which causes exactly is less clear. I don’t think a large number of people would agree with you it’s not warming since 1998, at least how we’re measuring and combining the temperature anomalies You may disagree with the evidence we have on it, but that’s another subject, one I don’t get into. I think my views on what meaning an average global anomaly has are fairly clear in my posts and the types of graphs I’ve put up before.

  52. crosspatch
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

    “I think there’s enough evidence here that there is a slight warming trend that’s real.”

    Maybe, but it does not show in North America or in the Southern Hemisphere. In other words, 2/3 if the world is experiencing flat to cooling temps yet “global warming” is real because surface temperature data is “warming” enough on 1/3 of the planet to raise the global average? When “global warming” becomes global, please drop me a note to let me know. So far I have seen absolutely no evidence that it is.

  53. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

    Maybe we’re looking at different things, or one of us is misinterpreting what we’re looking at.

    Some work from here on CA on USA

    Maybe you’re looking at something else. I don’t know, this is just what NOAA has. I don’t have any preference on what that data is, it’s just that it’s the data there.

    For the below, any 8 year period is too short anyway, but you get the idea I hope. GHCN-ERSST sez (http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/gcag/gcag.html)

    USA (-170 to -20 and 87 to 18) 98-2006 rose in both trend and absolute values.
    Global 98 to 2006 is pretty much flat on the anomaly but the trend is still up, so more warm years.
    (No, it’s not much, but it is what it is. Pick 90 to 98 or 90 to 2006 if you want.) But if you are looking at the GHCN-ERSST the trend is unmistakably up 1880-2006. You’re not arguing with me, you’re arguing with the data! :)

    I have made it clear in the past that I don’t think there’s really such a thing as a “global temperature” so what does it mean? I don’t know, probably nothing. I’m just looking at the data, not commenting on what it tells us (or even commenting on if it’s accurate or not). Besides, that’s only one factor/value/item and speaks nothing of the rest of the system, nor as to cause/effect.

  54. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

    But no, I’m not looking at years when the warming was less or more, just start/end values and trend of the entire period.

    Now of course, it might be better to say “It’s been warming and cooling, but the trend is up.”

    However, if you look at 98 and see a downward absolute temp, is it cooling if it’s still above the zero line? Isn’t that more like “less warming”? Of course, there are years of general cooling in the past (either trend or “more cool” vs “less cool”). So your point is valid that there are years that cool. I never said they weren’t, it’s obvious.

    So if I assume the temperatures are correct and meaningful, then the question becomes one of “If CO2 has been going up the entire time, why periods of warming and periods of cooling?”

    Ah, then we get into “Is it natural variability?” and statements that “Looking at the entire period the trend is warming.” and things like this.

    My answer of why we’ve had periods of general warming (trend) (Or put another way, a number of years above the zero anomaly line) and general cooling (trend) (Or put another way, a number of years below the zero anomaly line) is simple. CO2 is not the primary driver (or as some here claim, not a driver at all) and rather either land use or particulates are. It looks like particulates, perhaps modified by CO2 or perhaps not. You can’t separate them in the actual system to test. So it is an unknown.

    And as I’ve asked/mentioned here before, particulates on the ground reflecting more cools, absorbing more warms. How much net, which direction, when? Another unknown. The ones in the air? They modify things in the atmosphere in some way. How much net, which direction, when? Another unknown. How do they all react with GHG and other things related, like clouds? Another unknown.

    You see where I’m going with this?

  55. Pat Frank
    Posted Oct 31, 2007 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    #51 — The issue is attribution, Sam. There isn’t one single GCM capable of resolving effects on climate to sufficient accuracy to predict — and so allow detection of — any change in global climate due to CO2, or even due to land use changes.

    We can all suppose such things have an effect on climate. Demonstrating that effect is quite something else. In the absence of knowledge, one can’t claim to know anyway. In the absence of knowledge of a constitutionally chaotic system, to claim that suppositional linearity should produce valid predictions of the future physical state is wildly foolhardy.

    The IPCC is claiming ~90% objective certainty in attribution of current global warming to anthropogenic CO2. The true level of objective certaintly is ~0%.

    This whole business is a prime example of people — physicists, in this case — putting their inner subjective certainty ahead of objective knowledge. Doing so is always a big mistake, even if it is good and proper politics.

  56. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 10:13 AM | Permalink

    I am simply supporting my statement that it’s difficult to deny that a lot of climate change is attributable to anthropogenic causes such as land-use change and burning fossil fuels by showing tit’ not just some opinion of mine. You don’t even need to get into CO2; soot on ice makes it melt. Dry grassland influences the weather differently than concrete or asphalt or wet farmland. I’m not talking about the GCMs or trying to decouple parts of the system and saying x does y. I would agree you can’t say x does y with any certainty, but what the system does seems pretty obvious.

    I did say ‘not exactly correct’ after all. Because the disagreement is about more than just the AGW claim. I guess I was more so saying that people have an effect on the climate, and the climate is changing.

    ACC?

  57. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    Now that I think of it, Anthropogenic Climate Change is a much better phrase. The reason is, not everything attributable to humans has a warming effect, there’s some with cooling effects. Or a part of the system being influenced impacts other parts of the system in unpredictable (or more likely, unmeasureable) ways.

    So then we have other questions also; besides the GHG/particulate issue in the air, while particulates on ice or snow often make it absorb more heat, can we say that the terminus of a glacier, or a sheet of sea ice wouldn’t have melted anyway due to wind/rain/temp? Is the end of a glacier melting “climate” change? And as I’ve asked before, what would cutting fossil fuel burning in half do to both GHG, particulates, and how everything reacts together?

  58. T J Olson
    Posted Nov 2, 2007 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    Well, I managed to put forth Steve’s question to Dr. North after his talk was over, during the Q&A. However, the answer was not what CA followers would have hoped for. If anything, he reiterated previous stances – eg, a schizoid evaluation of Mr. McIntyre; bristlecone and foxtails? It depends on what you’re looking for… etc – and perhaps even displayed a hardening of establishment IPCC (“and many others” as his concluding slide read) positions.

    By this I mean, for example, he deferred to someone in the audience whom he regarded as “his better(s)” – Malcolm Hughes, perhaps? (At least some non-American accented, portly and bearded, chap in the back.) He said that even without the questionable time-series, the Hockey Stick shape remains. (Nothing learned, nothing gained? I don’t think they know how the even re-think their evidence anymore. Its all regurgitated abstracts, conclusions, and no rethinking and re-analysis anymore.) Although, instead of a “Hockey Stick,” North suggested a different word (and memory fails me here: scalloped? sloped? I’ll check later), to describe the aggregate temperature history shape. A slight change is admitted, nothing important.

    From my preview of the CIRES auditorium area earlier this week (ie, CIRES office hallway postings), I expected nothing less than a pro-Team full press. This crowd is heartily emboldened by the Nobel Peace Prize award, self-congratulatory, and appears totally unchastened by last year’s Wegman report. (Oh, to be at the panel earlier this week!)

    C. P. Snow’s “two-worlds”? To judge by the responses of those attending, I’d say climatology is now entirely co-opted by the “humanistic” direction that set sail with james Hansen nearly two decades ago; there’s no obvious way back now to the doing the best that science can deliver. Even if the story is wrong, the conclusion is right! North even alluded to Bush and Iraq to press his conclusory moment. (“And “conclusory” is a legal term, not a scientific one.) There is now sound science and political-climatology. Better get used to it.

    But enough peanut gallery analyzing. I’ll see if my recording gave me good documentation or not, and write up a more detailed report tomorrow. The overflow of 100 in attendance was held in rapt attention for about an hour as North held forth. When I asked Steve’s question, he looked down at the floor and smiled knowingly. Yet familiarity need not mean comprehension.

  59. James Lane
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 12:37 AM | Permalink

    T.J. Olsen:

    Well, I managed to put forth Steve’s question to Dr. North after his talk was over, during the Q&A. However, the answer was not what CA followers would have hoped for. If anything, he reiterated previous stances – eg, a schizoid evaluation of Mr. McIntyre; bristlecone and foxtails? It depends on what you’re looking for… etc – and perhaps even displayed a hardening of establishment IPCC (”and many others” as his concluding slide read) positions.

    Well done for asking the question, of course the response is disappointing, especially from Dr North who headed the NAS panel.

  60. Pat Frank
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 9:56 AM | Permalink

    #56,57 — Absent a validly predictive theory, Sam, “Anthropogenic climate change” with respect to global climate has no scientific meaning. Land use changes, if anything, have only regional effects as measured against an assumed-constant larger climate.

    #58 — T.J., after reading your description, it occurred to me that climate science in the hands of these folks has become a kind of politically motivated performance art. What really shocks me is that this corruption of science has been at the hands of physicists.

  61. bender
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 10:00 AM | Permalink

    as expected … still in denial …

    In others news, anything to report on that ASA workshop in statistical climatology?

  62. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    wildly foolhardy. Almost poetic. said slowly with emphasis. very nice. I steal this phrase.

  63. Posted Nov 3, 2007 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

    Sam Urbinto (#53) writes, in support of a warming trend in the US,

    Some work from here on CA on USA

    Maybe you’re looking at something else. I don’t know, this is just what NOAA has. I don’t have any preference on what that data is, it’s just that it’s the data there.

    While for all I know there may be an uptrend going on, I don’t think this data shows it. First, the first graph, taken by itself, shows that at least prior to the last 7 years or so, temperatures (averaged over say 10 years) were about where they were in the 1930s. I wouldn’t call this an uptrend, at least not since the 30s. (I’ll grant you an uptrend before that from the 1880s, however, but that’s not what IPCC is about.) Second, it is based only the non-systematic 33% or so of USHCN sites that have been surveyed so far by Surfacestations volunteers, and of these only 14% fell in CRN12, leaving only a very small and unrepresentative sample for it to be based on. You say that this is “just what NOAA has”, but in fact NOAA doesn’t even pay attention to the limited CRN ratings that do exist. Where’s NOAA’s chart for all CRN12 USHCN stations? Where are NOAA’s CRN ratings, for that matter?? Do they agree with Anthony, disagree with him, or are they just clueless? (These questions are of course just rhetorical, so you needn’t feel obligated to answer them.) And third, even if a site is CRN12, how clean is its MMTS? Check out
    http://gallery.surfacestations.org/main.php?g2_itemId=27580&g2_imageViewsIndex=4.
    This sensor (which happens to be the one nearest where I live) was brand new in 1984, but now has considerable black gunk on top of it, not to mention black spots on its vanes. How many degrees will this raise its temperature readings? Where is the NOAA study of this? Do we have any reason to think that other sensors are any cleaner? How much of the uptrend since the 1980s is just due to MMTS blakening? And how much of the uptrend before that since the 1960s is due to new latex paint — or no new paint at all — on Stephen screens, as Anthony reminds us?

    I for one am suspending judgement on whether there even is a warming trend since c. 1950 as IPCC claims.

  64. D. Patterson
    Posted Nov 4, 2007 at 2:12 AM | Permalink

    Perhaps it is time to invite North to head South and vacate the position on the NAS panel for someone better qualified and adequately responsive to the unreconciled scientific criticisms.

  65. Chris Duffy
    Posted Nov 6, 2007 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

    Someone pointed me to this website since I am concerned
    about the warming or whatever the scientists claim to
    be one of the the causes
    of the mess our earth is exhibiting.
    I am not a scientist….just someone who has seen better
    times of my home state of Iowa and where I live now,
    Minnesota. We are quickly destroying everything in
    nature that we used to hold sacred. I do not care
    if part of the cause is
    global warming, or whatever,
    if we want to save our planet, quit the arguing,
    get folks in government that care about the
    environment foot the bill now to
    clean up our states and we can all do our part to make
    it a better place to live in, for us and others.

  66. steven mosher
    Posted Nov 6, 2007 at 8:33 PM | Permalink

    RE 65. I agree 100% with your unimpeachable logic. You should visit http://www.Realclimate.org
    Speak to Lynn V. I think she is single.

  67. Larry
    Posted Nov 6, 2007 at 8:44 PM | Permalink

    I believe that’s what Phillip Stott was referring to when he used the term “climate hypochondria”.

  68. bender
    Posted Nov 6, 2007 at 9:12 PM | Permalink

    newsflash: #65 is not a scientist. or whatever.

    #65: You can love the earth and still rationally question the proposition of “unprecedented” warmth and the premise of CO2 causation. All CA asks is for accountable science in terms of the surface record, the paleoclimate proxies, and the logic of the GCMs. Is that too much to ask? You produce the datasets and scripts and I’ll hug a tree.

  69. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Nov 6, 2007 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

    RE#65
    Can you be a little more specific about this “mess our earth is exhibiting,” what is different about Iowa and Minnesota today from times past, and what is encompassed by “everything in nature that we used to hold sacred?” You might want to post it on the current “unthreaded” thread rather than somewhere that it is completely off-topic.

    Re#66
    Funny. By I think she has at least two or three kids (used to compose either all of her names or just her composite “last name”), and that’s an immense carbon footprint to bear.

  70. D. Patterson
    Posted Nov 7, 2007 at 2:53 AM | Permalink

    Re: #65

    Yeah, it sure used to be a lot warmer than it is these days. Be patient, some people seem to think it’s warming up and getting back to normal like it was in the good old days. I wouldn’t count on it, though, because the long sunspot cycle we’re experiencing now seems to portend a vicious 50 year little ice age beginning sometime around 2013, give or take a few years. Last time this happened, folks were driving freight wagons across the ice of New York Bay from Manhattan Island to Staten Island. Got any of those 5 acre woodlots on your farm? If not, I’d suggest you trade farms for one with at least 16 acres of mature trees on them, and get yourself one of those newer and effecient wood burning furnaces. You also might want to get better acquainted with the time honored practice of housing the livestock on the ground floor while the family resides on the second floor. It used to be a good way of getting a little extra heat in the home in addition to keeping the livestock from freezing to death. The time honored practice was to hand the preserved foods in the rafters.

    Oh, and don’t forget to pickup some of those old crosscut saws at the antique auctions along with the tooth adjusters and and sharpening tools. It may get pretty difficult to get gasoline and repair parts for those chain saws, you know. You also might want to consider putting away a large store of salt too.

    Be careful about your livestock fouling up the local streams, however. Naturally, we all want to be good stewards of our imperiled environment and want to help keep our groundwater and waterways free from unwanted coliform bacteria. So, keep your family small, and you’ll have fewer mouths to feed while maintaining a minimal carbon footprint on the environment, provided you can maintain a truck garden instead of all those methane generating livestock for meat. That way, you too can avoid contributing to a Global Warming that would upset the little ice age.

    Oh, and one last thing. If you happen to stop by NASA and speak to the eminent scientist, James Hansen, could you please ask him whatever happened to that climate forecast he made back some years ago in which he predicted the imminent onset of the next ice age? He seems to talk an awful lot these days about a Global Warming. I really have to wonder, is the ice age off the agenda now, or is he going to put it back on the agenda again sometime real soon now? If so, i’d like to make some preparations, you know. I think I know where I may be able to get a lot of unwanted Time magazines to use as heating fuel.

  71. MarkW
    Posted Nov 7, 2007 at 6:11 AM | Permalink

    You can also love the earth, and not believe that

    We are quickly destroying everything in
    nature that we used to hold sacred.

  72. MarkW
    Posted Nov 7, 2007 at 6:13 AM | Permalink

    I also like the part where Chris says that we need to get the folks in govt to foot the bill for cleaning everything up.
    Apparently Chris believes that there is a painless way to get someone else to pay.

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