Der Spiegel

Long article in Der Spiegel here. (h/t P Gosselin). The proprietor of Climate Audit is discussed. Some interesting new comments from Peter Webster.

52 Comments

  1. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    One the best articles I have read from the MSM in summarizing and putting into perspective the current state of climate science and its affect on policies. False and exaggerated certainty in climate science gets the licking it so richly deserves.

  2. Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 12:54 PM | Permalink

    Muir Russell has just ‘started to publish’ submissions. I’m onto page 3 of yours Steve. Totally brilliant.

    • Tom P
      Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:14 PM | Permalink

      This submission’s appendix has the same errors as there were in the parliamentary version.

      Firstly, Steve has not reproduced an accurate copy of the Briffa 2000 reconstruction – and it is truncated to exclude the highest medieval values before 1000 AD. Secondly, there is still confusion about how many versions have been changed in producing the sensitivity analysis.

      Steve has accepted there are problems here and said he would get back “in a week or so” with clarification. It’s now been four weeks since I pointed these issues out.

      • Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

        The appendix also has all the same strengths as the parliamentary version, because as Steve says at the start of his submission, it’s a copy.

        • Tom P
          Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

          An auditor does not normally rely on the claim that some of the sums were right. The point of the exercise is to identify and correct any errors. I’ve done the identification and still await the correction.

          Steve: As you noted, there was an inconsistency between the caption of Figure 5 and the running text. I sent a corrigendum to the Committee noting that the description in the caption was the correct one and added a note to this effect in the post on the original submission. As you’ve probably noticed, I’ve not been active on the blog in the last few weeks for personal reasons (nothing serious).

        • Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 1:24 AM | Permalink

          There’s a slight confusion in my mind here Tom P. If the point of exercise is to identify any errors and you’ve been doing that then you’re the auditor. Unpaid I assume. One difference is that you are auditing the work of Steve McIntyre who is also unpaid. Surely then you’re being a little tetchy, chatting as you are to another of just the same kind as yourself? And many of us would feel that he has done far more, of far greater value, than you ever will, examining the work of those who have been generously remunerated for their labours but have been far slower to divulge their workings to him than he has been to you. But write as you wish your name to be remembered. Oh I see, that’s the other difference. Anonymous yet persistently and petulantly demanding of someone who has a reputation to be concerned with, with no reputation cost to yourself at all, however low you choose to go. And no way of any of us knowing how much you may indeed be getting paid and by whom. Now I think I begin to get the picture.

        • Tom P
          Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

          How low? You tell me!

          Nobody has paid me for a few hours with R – I have a day job that sets my reputation as well as pays the bills.

          Steve is of course allowed to spend his retirement as he pleases. It’s a shame he uses it to try to shred the reputation of good but human scientists with his own flawed analysis that involves more than just one mislabelled figure.

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 8:46 AM | Permalink

          Re: Tom P (Apr 2 08:27),

          Specifics, Tom. Otherwise you’re just another troll.

    • Steven
      Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

      There’s also an interesting submission by McKitrick, which is highly critical of the CRU team (citing relevant e-mails and CA references for background).

      My first impression of the CRU submission was that it was a robust defence of everything they have ever done! That said, it’s 78 pages of fairly dense text, so I may have missed admissions Re Briffa etc; will re-read.

      There was an e-mail from Mann which said that it would be ‘nice to try to “contain” the putative “MWP”.’ CRU claim (at length) that this means a reconstruction long enough to contain the years that big oil-sponsored evil skeptics alleged to show MWP warmth. I certainly find it suspicious that “contain” is within quotation marks in the above Mann quote; seems a bit of a giveaway to me. McKitrick says that it’s an “obvious” “attempt to diminish the perceived magnitude of the MWP”. Agreed – but what can we do to stop CRU weaselling out of this?

      • bobdenton
        Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

        I’ve both mounted and attacked robust defences in my time and this is not a robust defence. They’ve chosen, unwisely in my view, to confess and mitigate “We’ve been bad but we’re well intentioned boys with good hearts ”.

        I agree that the literary style has been chosen to obfuscate rather than communicate, again an error in my view given the medium through which they intend to communicate and the target audience. This submission will be sliced and diced on the blogosphere and in the newspapers long before we ever hear what Muir thinks of it.

  3. Hector M.
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:03 PM | Permalink

    The Spiegel article is an 8-part exercise in dispassionate analysis of global warming issues. Its portrait of Steve and ClimateAudit is on the whole quite positive. Its conclusions are balanced and sensible.

    Perhaps due to these qualities, it admits global warming, and the anthropogenic part of it, but delivers quite a number of strong blows to official climate science, which comes out as the sorry outcome of alarmist ‘sleights of hand’ (their words).

    Thanks, Steve, for sharing this interesting piece of scientific journalism.

    • PhilJourdan
      Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 12:03 PM | Permalink

      Very good synopsis. Instead of repeating it, I will just affirm and agree with yours. Thank you.

  4. Scott Basinger
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

    Excellent article. The section of the article that spoke of Steve McIntyre’s contribution to science – sitting at his desk and doing the hard work to verify when the climate science community tried to sell him a ‘hockey stick’ – made me incredibly proud to be Canadian.

    Steve: your integrity, hard work, and dedication to things that are true are inspiring. Thanks!

    • benpal
      Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

      I second that last sentence. Steve’s integrity and dispassionate analyses are admirable.

  5. Dave Dardinger
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:12 PM | Permalink

    Not too bad for an article in a popular publication. There is an annoying tendency toward stating that certain things are well known and proven when in fact there are tons of points of controversy. I’m talking particularly the discussions of sea-level rise and climate sensitivity. But there could be a very large number of responses here if people cared to catalog the good and bad points of the article.

    Oh, one other annoying point is the assumption that the climategate e-mails were released by a hacker, rather than a insider. Since they admit they don’t know who did the releasing, it’s pure speculation on their part that it was a CA reader, at least in the sense of someone who’s a regular here; it’s clear the person was aware of CA since the “a miracle happened” post proves that much, but it could easily have been an insider who felt Steve was being mistreated.

    • Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:21 PM | Permalink

      All the focus is on warming – still. Nobody talks about the possibility of cooling in the future, and so we’re setting ourselves up get caught by nature with our pants down.
      But as a whole, Der Spiegel was amazingly balanced.

      • Invariant
        Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 2:34 PM | Permalink

        I enjoyed reading the article, but it is certainly peculiar that they did not mention the posibility for a colder future. For example it has long been known that severe volcanic activity can lead to colder climate.

        “A variable which may be more generally effective is the volcanic dust in the atmosphere. In the years following great volcanic eruptions of the explosive type, such as those of Krakatoa (1883), Santa Maria and Pelee (1902), Colima (1903), and Katmai, Alaska (1912), the solar radiation
        reaching the earth’s surface may be 15 or 20 per cent below the normal value”

        Climate Through the Ages (1950) C E P Brooks.
        http://www.archive.org/download/climatethrouchth033039mbp/climatethrouchth033039mbp.pdf (This classic text is recommended reading!)

        It is not unlikely that Katla may erupt later this year…

        • Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 3:19 PM | Permalink

          They’re not trying to do science here – don’t expect them to follow your particular agenda.

      • Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 8:16 PM | Permalink

        Nobody talks about the possibility of cooling in the future

        That’s because no one knows. And anyone who says they do is either lying, deluded, or both. There is an equal possibility or warming or cooling or neither.

        • Bruce
          Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 1:47 AM | Permalink

          Some of the solar based predictions disgree with “equal possiblity,” that we have a cooling snap ahead.

        • Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

          Since you say “some”, I’m guessing that some disagree with the other “some”.

    • Bernie
      Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

      Dave
      I noticed that as well. As you say the worst part was suggestion without a modicum of support that folks here were directly involved. Do they know something?

      Overall though I thought it was a reasonable summary. It does paint a very sad picture of Jones – presumably based on some first-hand interactions.

    • Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 1:42 AM | Permalink

      Re: Dave Dardinger (Apr 1 13:12),

      Since they admit they don’t know who did the releasing, it’s pure speculation on their part that it was a CA reader, at least in the sense of someone who’s a regular here; it’s clear the person was aware of CA since the “a miracle happened” post proves that much, but it could easily have been an insider who felt Steve was being mistreated.

      Well, you’ve shown yourself that he or she was a CA reader. And I doubt they are a CRU insider any more. But then Gavin Schmidt is a CA reader. The Eye of Sauron and all that.

      People make such elementary mistakes in considering blog communities. We all do. The community of CA writers is surely much more significant than the readers. The community of writers whose identity is known to Steve is perhaps the most important subset. The community of readers who are known to Steve must also be an interesting one. After that there’s little in common between people who stumble here by accident and never return, those who read much and often but only in order to devise attacks, trolls, spammers and sock puppets. The wonderfully warped CA non-community, just like any successful blog, only more so.

  6. Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:17 PM | Permalink

    Notice the stark differences between Hans von Storch and Joachim Schellnhuber.
    I dare say there finally appears to be a growing public rift among German scientists. That’s good for science. I hope it’s a trend in the German media, and not just a blip.

    • KevinM
      Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

      I’m blatantly and unsupportably prejudiced to say, but I love Germans for their inability to withstand details out of place. Never met one who could walk by a misaligned anything more than twice without correcting it.

  7. Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:37 PM | Permalink

    This is one of the best summaries of the whole debate I have read in a long time in the MSM. Good work of the journalists and nice page on all the work done by Steve!

  8. TAG
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

    The last sentence of the report is a quote from Hans Von Storch in which he decries the “fearmongering” that accompanies climate science. I think that this is something that we can all agree upon. AGW is a serious issue that needs to be dealt with dispassionately. The careless exagerrations that are part of AGW rhetoric have done us all a great disservice.

  9. Brooks Hurd
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM | Permalink

    Steve,
    It is not possible to summarize your efforts and their impacts in a few pages, however in my opinion, Der Spiegel did a good job of presenting the basic facts.

  10. gingoro
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

    Congratulations! I looked at some of the raw climate data and found it very sparse when I tried to plot long term trends. Many stations in the Canadian north have very short records. Thus I became rather disillusioned with the pro climate warming advocates.

    However on a different topic I disagree with Ross McKitrick who I understand is associated with you and your web site.
    “A Canadian economist known for his controversial critique of climate-change science has turned his sights on the health effects of smog, concluding in a new study that pollution has no impact on the number of hospital admissions for respiratory illness.

    Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2695102#ixzz0jsPwZUBj

    As someone with asthma I can feel the irritation and start wheezing when the smog is bad, even 100+ miles down wind of Toronto at our cottage. Maybe the statistics are being manipulated and the number is not as great as reported but not “no impact”. At times I get pneumonia and of course if I were to die from that it would not be pollution on my death certificate but pneumonia. Some summer days I notice the effect of pollution in my breathing and then go and check online to see if there is a pollution alert, and I usually find that it is true. Please don’t join McKitrick on his latest mistaken campaign.
    Dave W

    • Bernie
      Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM | Permalink

      Dave:
      This is OT so maybe cut. You have my sympathy for your asthma. However, you should read the study. Ross McKitrick and his co-authors were very careful to note the limitations of the data. I do not believe that the study indicates that pollution does not have any effects – but that these effects may be aggravated/mitigated by smoking or not smoking, having access to air conditioning or by an increase in risk behaviors when there is perceived to be low pollution.

      Moreover, in order to test your hypothesis as to the link between air pollution and your breathing discomfort, you need to also monitor the number of days when there is bad pollution and you do not have a breathing problem. Ideally, you should keep track of the level of your breathing discomfort and then go back and check the air pollution indices.

      Steve: No more discussion of this topic please.

  11. stephen richards
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

    Not balanced, incorrect in parts, out of date news items but otherwise a good effort by Der Speigel. 6 out of 10. They still put much too much emphasise on the ability of the models. A chaotic system is a chaotic system. It will do what cannot be predicted at the moment you are trying to predict it.

  12. Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

    Describing the “hackers” as supporters of McIntyre and knowledgeable in stealing data is speculative to say the least. It likely only took a couple keystrokes and a minute of computer time to tar together the emails on the server — from the inside. This process could easily be repeated at almost any non-military research institution and bear considerable fruit.

    “…Jones was just as dogged in denying his requests, constantly coming up with new, specious reasons for his rejections. Unfortunately for Jones, however, McIntyre’s supporters eventually included people who know how to secretly hack into computers and steal data.”

  13. vg
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

    Der Spiegel, unfortunately totally wrong on ice story, otherwise yes 6/10
    http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php and heaps of other ice sites.

    • Another Layman Lurker
      Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

      From that link –
      “In 2010 sea ice climatology and anomaly data will be available here.”

      Presumably, that’s because CryoSat-2 data will become avaiable. It is scheduled for launch next week by the Eurpoean Space Agency at the Baikonur Launch Facility.
      It’s mission, should it have a succesful launch this time round, is explained at

      http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Cryosat/SEMFJ4908BE_0.html

  14. KevinM
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    “Meanwhile, satellite observations indicate that the rate at which the ice is melting has increased. Glaciologists speculate that parts of the Western Antarctic and, to a greater extent, Greenland, are melting more quickly than initially assumed. ”

    Not really true this year is it?

  15. Frank
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    Yes quite a good article. However, at the end there’s no separation of Human induced and natural warming and their relative contribution. Just a description that things won’t be that bad. The article seems to lose its its way in the end for me.

  16. KimW
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    Reading the article shows that there is a willingness not to accept the “We’re all doomed” mantra and look at the issues – thats good. What still worries me, is the continued obsession with CO2 as the cause – hence AGW. Did not Phil Jones say that he blamed CO2 because he could not think of anything else to cause warming ?. This certainty dilutes consideration of other possible causes, let alone questioning of mankinds involvement.

  17. Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 5:02 PM | Permalink

    Steve:
    I probably have the same Acer laptop as yours. Richard North too.

    I recently put 1 GB of memory and revived it. At one point the hinges of the screen broke leaving it hanging by its wires – but I managed to find replacements on eBay, from Hong Kong.

  18. Greensand
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 6:00 PM | Permalink

    vorsprung durch technik?

  19. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    The Der Speigel article, we have to admit, has more balance than might have been expected a year ago. May the trend continue and the detail increase.

    The British press is good at reporting detail. See

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/pets/7538391/Great-grandmother-given-an-electronic-tag-and-curfew-for-selling-a-goldfish-to-a-14-year-old.html

  20. Gixxerboy
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    Generally, a well balanced piece that would bring a typical reader (not climate blogohoholics like us) up to speed with the major isues. One unfortunate mistake was the ‘Arctic is melting away’ assertion. As we all know from recent data, it appears to be growing well, global sea ice is bang on long term observations, Antarctic ice extent has long been growing, and some have observed a cyclic relationship between NH and SH sea ice.

    Otherwise, isn’t it great to see a mainstream publication do something dispassionate, even-handed and go into some depth? Good on ya, Spiegel fellas.

  21. deadwood
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 8:29 PM | Permalink

    Der Spiegel has managed to get it mostly right. I am pleasantly surprised.

  22. David Smith
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 9:23 PM | Permalink

    I admire Peter Webster’s willingness to publically comment on oddities in the temperature data, as those comments probably come at a personal cost. He is a good model for his students.

    Being candid and fixing the problems are, by far, the best approaches climate scientists could take. And that’s true in every endeavor, not just climate science.

    My expectation, though, is that Webster’s openness will be the exception and not the rule. That’s a shame for all of us, as the world needs firmly-grounded climate science.

    • Follow The Money
      Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

      I thought Webster’s comment about land record jumps, beyond the already known “water bucket” water temps. matter, a delicious hint.

      I want to hear more! Land Buckets?

      /endobscuresaturdaynightliveallusion

  23. Antonio San
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 9:29 PM | Permalink

    Semi OT: France’s Lysenkism?

    In France, IPCC vice-president Jean Jouzel, now directly working under the Prime Minister, and many state climate studies scientists, often involved with IPCC had enough of being increasingly questioned on TV screens during debates and in bookstores.
    So a message had to be sent said Jouzel.

    The French media have had a reputation of being pro-warmist, a grip that Climategate and Copenhagen started to loosen. Among their contradictors, former Minister and polemist Claude Allegre, a geochemist Crawfoord recipient and, geophysicist Vincent Courtillot, the director of the IPGP, specialist of Earth geomagnetism. Although Courtillot published at least 6 papers in peer reviewed journals in the last 5 years, both have published recently vulgarization books, Allegre being the most aggressive “the climatic imposture”… Courtillot’s, as usual, is much more moderate -he has been called the Temperate Climate Sceptique- and keeps the high road. Courtillot never referred to anything linked to climategate. Although both books have drawn criticisms -a documented one by Delaygues for Courtillot’s chapter on climate for instance, criticism well relayed in the pro-warmist media, Allegre’s has been a lightening rod and for some reasons since casual mistakes, approximations were made and curves redrawn -to the ire of researcher H. Grudd-, clearly a weakness when one pretends to denounce imposture.

    Yet the state scientists released a petition against both men, both Academicians, asking no other than the French Minister of Research, i.e. the financier of all French research, to support the official climate science in France and to bring the two men to accountability for their fast selling books that according to Valerie Masson-Delmotte LSCE did not pass the peer reviewed system… Authors beware!

    http://sciences.blogs.liberation.fr/home/2010/04/climat-400-scientifiques-signent-contre-claude-all%C3%A8gre.html

    Courtillot responded briefly in a RTL radio interview that he refuted all accusations leveled against him and could not believe that now, in France, one could be censured for its scientific opinions. More to come as a debate at the Academie of Science on climate science will take place in the near future at the demand of the Minister.
    The timing of this petition coincide -of course-with the exoneration of Phil Jones, Jouzel UK IPCC colleague and email “comrade”.
    On a funny note and no April fool’s joke, Gavin’s signature is on the petition!

    • Invariant
      Posted Apr 6, 2010 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

      I found this blog illuminating:

      http://network.nationalpost.com/NP/blogs/fpcomment/archive/2010/04/03/lawrence-solomon-france-to-hold-official-debate-on-climate-change.aspx
      :-)

      The hard science of CO2 driven climate warming needs to be proven before the social and political soft sciences have any role. The theory of AGW was, unfortunately, presented first in terms of social and political considerations long before, and in spite of, any scientific proof. With AGW theory presented as a fait accompli, the hard science has been struggling to find the evidence to support it.

      In the normal progression of scientific research, first there is observable phenomena, then it gets investigated for an explanation and only then are the social and political ramifications explored. AGW is an answer looking for a question.

      Kudos to France for having the courage to put this to an open discussion. The anger from the skeptics is about the dearth of hard scientific evidence supporting AGW theory and the subsequent suffocation and vilification of anyone questioning this obvious lack. AGW has been a sorry chapter in the history of science. 100 years from now it will be studied by the social scientists, much the same way the theory of eugenics is studied now. The question will be asked how the world was duped on such a massive scale.

  24. Frizzy
    Posted Apr 1, 2010 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

    While this is a very balanced article for the MSM, I’m disappointed that they continue to refer to the revealed correspondence between Jones and “members of his research team” as ‘private emails’. As researchers at a public institution working on a public project funded on the the public’s nickel/pence/euro, how can these emails be called private? I don’t know about elsewhere, but all during my nearly 30 years of service as a U.S. Government employee I was constantly reminded that my work was public and that anything private done on government computers was not really private either.

  25. R.S.Brown
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 2:07 AM | Permalink

    The Spiegal treatise summarizes only part of the climate science research picture up
    to this point in time.

    There’s a spate of klimate science liturature review studies being published that don’t openly
    rely on the Mann, Jones, Briffa, et al., research data or citations with now questioned sample
    selection, data dumping, and poorly explained ad hoc “adjustments” with fine print caveats.

    However, these reviews cover the later studies which themselves have precepts based on Mann,
    et al., studies somewhere deep within their premise or conclusions.

    Given the studies allowed to be published by the pal/peer review system the deck seems stacked
    in favor pro-AGW verbiage being stacked higher and higher in the near future.

  26. Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 3:25 AM | Permalink

    I found it interesting that Webster seems to confirm the ugliness of the code/data that HARRY_READ_ME exposed. It’s a pity that Spiegel didn’t mention that along with the emails as it seems to me that in terms of Jones’ scientific reputation (as opposed to his probably fleeting infamy in the popular media) the quality of his research is going to be what ruins him.

    Beyond Jones and the CRU the article seems pretty good and I was particularly impressed with how it seems to implicitly support the Lomborgian view of climate change (mitigation of the worst effects rather than trying to stop it) although of course Lomborg doesn’t get a name check.

  27. Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 4:40 AM | Permalink

    I read that Article in DER SPIEGEL, it is both very impressive and comforting to know that there are people out their who use their talent and capacity for the sake of all of us. Thank you, Sir, I think you are a role model for everybody who is looking for one!
    Best Regards
    Pederico

  28. phys_hack
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 2:18 PM | Permalink

    They do exhibit a touching faith in computer models. If a computer said so, it must be true. Which makes precisely as much sense as saying that if a car went that way, it must be right.

    It’s not the car that makes it right, it’s the driver. The same for models.

  29. Charles DrPH
    Posted Apr 2, 2010 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    Blast, I was just about to post the Spiegel article and I found I was beaten to the punch!

    Well done, Steve, your portrait in the article is rather charming! Huddled over an ancient laptop in a room lit by a single high-efficiency lightbulb….

    Happy Holidays to all, please enjoy your families this Easter and Passover! Cheers!

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