Myles Allen and a New Trick to Hide-the-Decline

Myles Allen has written here blaming Bishop Hill for “keeping the public focussed on irrelevancies” like the Hockey Stick:

My fear is that by keeping the public focussed on irrelevancies, you are excluding them from the discussion of what we should do about climate change

But it’s not Bishop Hill that Myles Allen should be criticizing; it’s John Houghton who more or less made the Hockey Stick the logo of the IPCC. Mann was told that IPCC higher-ups wanted a visual that didn’t “dilute the message” and they got one: they deleted the last part of the Briffa reconstruction – Hide the Decline. If, as Allen now says, it’s an “irrelevancy”, then Houghton and IPCC should not have used it so prominently. And they should not have encouraged or condoned sharp practice like Hide the Decline.

In the run-up to AR4, I suggested that, if the topic was “irrelevant”, as some climate scientists have said, then IPCC should exclude it from the then AR4. Far from trying to keep the topic alive in AR4, I suggested that it be deleted altogether. I guess that there was a “consensus” otherwise. If Allen wants to complain, then he should first criticize IPCC.

Bishop Hill links to a presentation by Myles Allen to a 2011 conference on Climategate, which like every other such handwringing introspection by climate “communicators”, notably failed to invite any of the major CRU critics – people who might actually have given them some insight into Climategate. In his presentation to climate communicators, Allen gave his own version of Hide the Decline. Allen showed the graphic below, sneering that the entire effect of Climategate was 0.02 deg C in the 1870s.

Needless to say, Allen’s graph has nothing to do with Hide the Decline and the Climategate dossier. Allen’s graph shows the CRUTEM temperature index from 1850, not the 1000 year reconstructions in which Hide the Decline occurred. CRUTEM was only mentioned a couple of times in the Climategate dossier. Climategate was about the Hockey Stick, though this point was misunderstood by Sarah Palin and now, it seems, Myles Allen.


Figure 1. Allen in front of temperature history.

In contrast, here’s a graphic from Richard Muller’s 2011 lecture. Unlike Allen, Muller understood Hide the Decline, which is shown here in one of its manifestations. (This is the WMO graphic; the more important Hide the Decline was in the IPCC Third and Fourth Assessment reports.) Hide the Decline is not 0.02 deg C in the 1870s; it was Briffa, Mann and Jones deleting the inconvenient portion of the Briffa reconstruction after 1960. And it wasn’t a microscopic difference. This difference is large enough that it might well have “diluted the message” that Houghton and others wanted to convey.

Figure 2. Muller in front of WMO hockey stick – a 1000 year reconstruction. Left – Hide the Decline; right – actual data.

While one would hope and expect that Myles Allen would have had a better factual grasp on Climategate issues than Sarah Palin, it seems that we’ve been disappointed.

Allen’s decision to show temperature data rather than Hockey Stick reconstructions cleverly draws attention away from the problems of those reconstructions. The Climategate emails have a apt phrase for Allen’s technique. Showing an unrelated dispute about a temperature graphic rather than the decreasing Briffa reconstruction is itself just another …. trick to hide the decline. :)

Update: Lucia responded to Myles ALlen in the comments as follows:

[Myles Allen said]

I appreciate that people like yourself who have devoted a lot of time to the analysis of paleoclimate data find it irritating when scientists who don’t work in that area dismiss it as uninformative.

First: communication tip: You need to learn to post complete thoughts. Uninformative about what? Everything? Climategate? Or the thermometer record? Or the strength of evidence for AGW? Depending on how I read your mind, you may be saying something true or utterly false. If you are going to lecture people on communicating science you might want to stop making readers guess which you mean.

Second: It seems to me you are misunderstanding what SteveMc writes. He’s not saying he is irritated that someone thinks paleo data is uninformative. He is saying that you suggest the “whole affair” (i.e. climategate) is an argument about the thermometer record. The fact is: climategate is not merely or even mostly about the thermometer record.

And I stand by the assertion that, thanks to the sloppy coverage the affair received in the media, it wasn’t just Sarah Palin who got the impression that the instrumental temperature record was seriously compromised

I would suggest that the main reason for this “sloppy coverage” was that reporters turned to people trying to rebut those discussing climategate at blogs and in forums. Some people people who (like you) might prefer to discuss the thermometer record rather than misbehavior of scientists or what “hide the decline” meant, diverted the discussion to the thermomeber record.

I strongly suspect the behavior of the scientists who wanted to suppress discussion of climategate succeeded in giving the media the incorrect impression that climategate was about the thermometer record is one of the reasons much of the media, some politicians, and Sarah Palin developed the impression climategate is about the thermometer record. That you can show they were confused about what people at blogs and forums were posting about merely shows you don’t know what it was about.

I would also suggest the only thing that can come of you continuing to try to convince people it was about the thermometer records is for people to explain that which you do not wish to be discussed: The Hockey Stick, misbehavior or scientists and the various whitewash investigations.

OTOH: If you simply wish to communicate that the topics that are central to climategate are not important to our understanding of climate change- that would be fine. But if you wish to make the case that the hockey stick doesn’t matter, then you need to make that clearly. Unfortunately for you, clear exposition requires discussion of the hockey stick!

A proper exposition might be to
a) Discuss what the hockey stick “is” with a little history.(Accuracy would be useful here. Mention it was used as background at IPCC meetings, and in Gore’s talk.)
b) Discuss why this shape is not important to our understanding of climate change. Show versions with and without the decline– and explain why even if the decline exists we do believe the world is warming. Do this by
c) Explaining the thermometer record.

Don’t try to take the tack of inaccurately claiming that climategate is actually about the thermometer record. If you take that tack, you’ll find yourself trying to defend your position– downgrading much of what you seemed to present rather strongly as your opinion, and burying your arguments in favor of your opinion deep in comments at a blog. (I’d note: I think much of your argument amounts to “changing the subject”– but that’s another matter.)

Moreover, I would like to point out that unless say what paleo is uninformative about your claim that paleo is not important (at all) seems a bit thin. Climate blog addicts can easily see see that on May 26, 2012 you are chiding Bishop Hill for discussing the Hockey Stick and providing lengthy explanations of its lack of importance while Real Climate’s front page is simultaneously running a post on discussing Hockey Sticks (See
Fresh hockey sticks from the Southern Hemisphere, May 22). It’s quite likely some will suspect that your opinion that the hockey still is uninformative (about something you don’t quite spit out) is maybe not entirely correct.

Third: Returning to “first”. When I watched your talk, I was struck by your tendency toward vagueness. Based on what you write in your defense in comments, I learn that the allusion to “the data” at minute 2:37 likely meant “the thermometer record” and “impact of the whole affair” (i.e. climategate) must have meant “impact of portions of the climategate discussions that relate to the thermometer record”. Your talk is riddled with these types of vague ambiguities. The consequence is that– on the whole– what your talk appears to communicate is false. If the audience comes away thinking you are suggesting that climategate was not about the paleo records, and that you think the only impact of climategate is a small tweak on the thermometer record, then the fault for their misunderstanding you falls on you for communicating rather badly.

Next time you want to make a presentation telling reporters that they shouldn’t focus on the paleo record but rather the thermometer record, you might be wise not to try to turn that into a talk about how the media got climategate wrong. Try to bite off less– stick to just discussing the thermoter record and why you think it tells us that the world has warmed and it’s because of man.

If you want to discuss climategate and how scientists failed to communicate their position, you have a hard row to hoe. Much of the reason scientists communicated the issues in climategate badly is they didn’t want to talk about them. Scientists mistake was to respond to journalists by trying to change the subject; others with plenty of ink keep talking all the whining in the world isn’t going to get people to stop discussing the topic. You can keep trying to do that: it isn’t going to work any better in 2012 than it did from 2009-2011.

Update 2: Myles Allen replies to Lucia:

I am not suggesting that the whole affair is about the surface temperature record. What I was complaining about, and I think that was clear from the talk, was that the public were given the impression that the affair compromised the data we actually use for detection and attribution, when in fact it didn’t. The “sloppy software” people found turned out to be nothing to do with the surface temperature record, the issues raised with tree-ring reconstructions turned out to be long-standing ones that Keith Briffa published on in the late 1990s, and in any case most detection and attribution studies make no use of tree-ring data at all. Scientifically, the UEA e-mails didn’t really change anything: no published dataset had to be withdrawn or revised, apart from that error in HadCRUT that I highlighted. And I stand by the assertion that I don’t think that is a message that has got across to the public.

420 Comments

  1. bernie1815
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 10:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    In addition, given Allen’s finale where he essentially argues for a “closed shop” for formulating and addressing any climate change solutions, I think it is worth emphasizing that the Climategate emails and the subsequent stonewalling of legitimate FOI requests highlights the unscientific and marginally unethical behavior of those involved in the construction of the hockey stick. Past performance of climate scientists suggests that openness and candor are even more essential for both policy makers and their scientific advisers.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 26, 2012 at 11:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

      If Allen feels that the debate has got sidetracked by the Hockey Stick controversy and was bothered by this, then he should get angry at East Anglia continuing to get embroiled in FOI disputes. If I were him, I’d tell East Anglia that they were embarrassing him and other serious climate scientists and suggest to them that, even if they felt that they could win an FOI battle, that nothing stopped them from responding to requests without fighting them.

      • sergeiMK
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Am I mistaken? Listening to the talk and looking at the intro screen it is talking about communicating. His talk just happens to be about climate. He is obviously talking to journalists (“its your fault”)
        Hide the decline is not mentioned The paleo record is not mentioned.
        It is YOUR interpretation of the stolen emails being about hide the decline vs his interpretation being about the error in temperature record that you are bellyaching about.

        from the CRU Grant page:
        NERC Dr KR BRIFFA Dr T OSBORN Dr TM MELVIN The dendroclimatic divergence phenomenon: reassessment of causes and implications for climate reconstruction. £231,441.00 17289 01/05/2010 30/10/2012.

        from Briffa 1998:
        Trees tell of past climates: but are they
        speaking less clearly today?

        it is apparent that in recent decades
        the MXD series shows a decline, whereas we know that
        summer temperatures over the same area increased.
        Closer examination reveals that while year-to-year
        (i.e. mutually ten-year high-pass ¢ltered) correlations are
        consistently high between tree-growth and temperature
        (ca. 0.7 for 1881^1981), the correlations based on decadally
        smoothed data fall from 0.89, when calculated over the
        period 1881^1960, to 0.64 when the comparison period is
        extended to 1881^1981.

        So the problem with the decline in tree ring reconstructed temperatures was known about by the scientific community since 1998 and is being researched since May 2010.

        The satellite temp record and 4 surface temperatures show a convincing temperature increase since 1998. and a sensibly accurate record since late 1600s. so the paleo record can be “replaced” over this period.
        Your gripe therefore is can only be about the so called medieval warm period being as warm as today. Perhaps briffa’s new research will arrive at a conclusion.

        In the mean time you would suggest polluting as normal until the global temperature reaches what level?Perhaps it will start falling in which case I’m sure EVERYONE will celebrate.

        • Tony Mach
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Permalink

          sergeiMK, thank you for your contribution about the importance of proper communication, your critical interpretation of the Climategate issues and your assertion which questions were and which questions were not raised by the released emails. It is always refreshing to see an contribution of a skeptical mind such as yours.

        • David Anderson
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

          We’ve had station temperature charts posted here from the Yamal and Urals area which show there hasn’t been an incline in the late 20th century. It would be interesting to see which data they use to support the existence of a “divergence problem”.

        • Gary Pearse
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:41 AM | Permalink

          So Sergei,what do we have to support the other 1000s years? If I had something I thought worked for 1000 years when we had no measured temps but stopped working when we did, I would suggest a rational person would distrust the entire method. Perhaps you need to link to some tree physiology to see all the other things that contribute to ring thickness: high or low moisture,nutrient availability and competition from other nutrient users…. Also,you appear to not be disturbed by the fact that they pickedd a few trees (ultimately one particular tree) that showed what they wanted. It is clear you are not familiar with the scientific method – I don’t want to offer the alternative explanation without more information on your experience.

      • Myles Allen
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 6:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Dear Steve,

        Let me try to sum up what I’ve got out of the past few days. I suggested in the Communicate2011 talk that the 0.02K revision to the HadCRUT temperature record was the only change to any published dataset used in the detection and attribution of human influence on climate to have resulted from the UEA e-mail affair, and that this was not generally appreciated by the public. I was using this as an example of how things have gone wrong in communicating climate science: this was not a talk about “climategate” per se.

        On whether the “only change” statement was strictly correct, you have pointed out that the e-mails raised new questions with the treatment of paleoclimate records, Judith Curry has observed that these records are needed to check our estimates of internal climate variability and Ross McKitrick has argued that some of the e-mails showed an improper dismissal of his paper on the correspondence between patterns of warming in the instrumental record and patterns of economic development. Many other points have been raised, but I would like to address these three.

        I accept your point that paleoclimate reconstructions continue to evolve and fresh sources of uncertainty continue to emerge, although my impression is that they were evolving anyway before release of the e-mails and would have continued to do so regardless. This continued uncertainty is a key factor making it difficult for scientists like myself, outside the dendroclimatology community, to make use of tree-ring based data. In trying to cope with multiple blog threads simultaneously, I probably went too far in disparaging tree-ring data, for which I apologize to any dendroclimatologists who might be reading these threads. I do believe efforts to reconstruct pre-instrumental climate represent an interesting and worthwhile challenge: my point was simply that many people seem to think it is the main point of climate research, which it is not.

        In response to Judith Curry’s point about the need for proxy reconstructions to test model-simulated internal variability, again, this is a question of “it would be nice if only we were able to do so.” In my personal view, the uncertainties and potential biases in the spectrum of variability that must arise from the process of stitching together multiple tree-ring records (many of which have to be individually detrended), and the fact that we know GCM-simulated variability is deficient on the small scales that the trees are responding to, make it difficult to use proxy records to falsify GCM-simulated large-scale variability. If a GCM disagrees with a paleo-record, do we reject the GCM’s internal variability, the forcing data used to drive the GCM, or the paleo-record itself? We do have observations of variability on sub-century timescales through the instrumental record and new products like the 20th century reanalyses: I think, in the short term at least, these potentially provide more information on internal variability than the millennial reconstructions.

        Since the key question for attribution is the origins of the surface warming over the past 30 years, that being the only period for which we have direct observations of forcing, it is the spectrum of internal variability on 20-100 year timescales that is essential. Variability on longer timescales is less important for attribution of causes for the current warming trend. I stress this statement applies to surface temperature. Sea level responds on different timescales, making attribution correspondingly harder.

        In response to Ross McKitrick’s point (apologies for being slow on this one), I suspect what Phil Jones was referring to in the “no need to calculate a p-value” remark (although you should really ask him) was the danger of over-interpreting chance covariation. The only p-values that mean anything are those that derive from physically-based hypotheses. It is all too easy to find a high p-value from a chance correlation (sunspots and number of Republicans in the US Senate is the classic example). I wasn’t involved at all in that IPCC chapter, but I would be inclined to agree with their assessment that what you were seeing in that paper was an example of such an acausal covariation, for which the p-value of a pattern-correlation is indeed meaningless.

        Then there is the much more general point, raised by Lucia, Rhoda and many others, that my talk was misleading, because “climategate” was not about the data at all, but rather about scientific process and the probity of climate scientists. As Mike Hulme observed, “climategate” meant different things to different people: for me, the implications for the instrumental record were all-important, which is why I was castigating the British press for paying far less attention to the fact that the instrumental record got an almost (in deference to Ross) completely clean bill of health than it paid to the initial allegations. There was an interesting side-thread on why the HadCRUT got dragged into this in the first place, to which I don’t have much to add apart from reassuring everyone that I don’t blame the bloggers for this confusion.

        Many people have asserted that the main impact of “climategate” is that we can no longer say “trust me, I’m a climate scientist” until we all come out and condemn CRU, Muir-Russell, Oxburgh, etc. “Trust me, I’m a climate scientist” is not a phrase I have ever used, and I hope I never will. I teach a 12-lecture course to our 3rd year physics students (open to the public if anyone is interested) that starts from the premise “Don’t trust climate scientists” – the point being that, as physicists, they should be able to understand the problem for themselves, and not be expected to take the IPCC’s word for it.

        The only basis of trust in science is the reproducibility of results. This is why availability of data and model source code is so important: I have always supported open data, although I have also consistently said that I don’t think Freedom of Information requests are the right way to enforce it. Journal editors can and should enforce a simple “disclose or retract” policy if a result is challenged, and almost all of them do: if any don’t, then the solution is to name and shame them, not set up a parallel enforcement system. I also think it is always better to reproduce results from equations (and, where possible, independent models and observations) rather than “auditing” computer code.

        Finally, on the “bad for democracy” remark that upset a lot of people. I don’t want to suppress discussion of the Medieval Warm Period, but everything has an opportunity cost. Time spent arguing over paleoclimate research is time not spent on, for example, the merits of the two degree “goal” agreed in Copenhagen and Cancun, with remarkably little scientific justification. Yet whether we aim to limit anthropogenic warming to two, three or four degrees has far bigger implications for climate policy than the existence or otherwise of the Medieval Warm Period. Why is this not a hot topic in the blogosphere?

        Ironically, this whole discussion started from a throw-away post by Paul Matthews in a discussion of a lecture I recently gave on whether it would be possible to frame an effective climate mitigation policy that did not extend the reach of the State in the way that cap-and-trade, carbon rationing or geo-engineering clearly will. Paul has apologized, which is much appreciated, but the damage may be done, Paul. If the European Commission decide to impose carbon rationing in 2020 after another record-breaking warm decade, because we spent this past week discussing Myles Allen’s interpretation of climategate (not to mention his, admittedly poor, choice of shirts) rather than coming up with a less intrusive policy alternative, your grandchildren shall know the reason why.

        Apologies for cross-posting on various threads, but I don’t know how else to wrap this up. If you could replace my “reply to Lucia” in the opening thread with this summary, that would be much appreciated.

        Regards,

        Myles

        • Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

          FYI, Myles, there was a decline, and it was hidden, for the reason that it was in a result set that was intended to be (and was) widely held up to the public as an effective proxy for temperature. And the intentional hiding of that decline was definitively exposed by Climategate I.

          Oh yeah, and 2 + 2 = 4.

          If you want to make most of the people forget these facts, I think you’ll need to do more. Because I don’t think they have, yet.

          Regards,

          RTF

        • morebrocato
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 7:54 AM | Permalink

          Myles says:

          “I accept your point that paleoclimate reconstructions continue to evolve and fresh sources of uncertainty continue to emerge, although my impression is that they were evolving anyway before release of the e-mails and would have continued to do so regardless. This continued uncertainty is a key factor making it difficult for scientists like myself, outside the dendroclimatology community, to make use of tree-ring based data. In trying to cope with multiple blog threads simultaneously, I probably went too far in disparaging tree-ring data, for which I apologize to any dendroclimatologists who might be reading these threads. I do believe efforts to reconstruct pre-instrumental climate represent an interesting and worthwhile challenge: my point was simply that many people seem to think it is the main point of climate research, which it is not.”

          [First of all, I have greatly enjoyed this back-and-forth...and wish there was more of it to go around. It's fairly telling that it only occurs in certain places, and those places I frequent more often]

          I continue to be amazed at how obvious it is that so many climate scientists have problems with the original MBH papers (and their use of dendro) but yet it continues to be a marginalized aspect of the “climate communication” redux. It would be a simple thing to come out of the gates and directly acknowledge the weakness and non-robustness of the original efforts– sentiments shared by many on both sides of the table, and further to acknowledge how failure to do so early on snowballed into undeserved early headlines, imagery, and critical political play. The end-result conclusions may well have been reached/confirmed in other, more robust ways, but the urgency has clouded the research. Apparently there is no time to waste for that new Nature cover shot– let the future ‘confirmations’ come later. If only the minor climate scientists and contrarian scientists were to be able to unite on the points of scientific robustness and statistical significance, we could avoid these continual ruts in progress because of the scientists up top getting way too ahead of ‘whats provable now’ vs. ‘what’s expected’. That necessarily means it takes longer for the headlines to be achieved, but at least when it happens it’s only for things that have much less room for complaint.

          I see the point about haggling over the WMP as being counterproductive for forward progress, but I also see that failure to connect current temperature as being anthroprologially unprecedented would be a target for criticism.

          My thing is that the early headline stuff that comes out always seems to be on shaky ground, only later to be borne out by proper studies (the dendro reconstructions being some of this)… What doesn’t ever happen is an acknowledgement of the poorness of the original work that stole the spotlight illigitemately– so the distrust and unhealthy skepticism that lingers does so with justification. It doesn’t have to be that way.

          We’ve gone down that road again and again, and it looks like the latest fashionable thing is the research that connects AGW to specific extreme weather events. It may well be that these connections can be appropriately made in forthcoming research– but the early forays into this leave more for skepticsm than romantic unquestioning acceptance.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:36 AM | Permalink

          Myles,
          thanks for your response. If you are sincerely worried that the dissatisfaction expressed at Climate Audit is in some way distracting from more pressing matters (a point that I do not concede), then I would urge you to stay the course here a while longer. Right now, you’ve made some assertions but not really settled even some matters that might be settled.

          I note with a little irony that you warn us that “your grandchildren shall know the reason why” given your message to the Communicate 2011 conference that framing discussion in terms of catastrophe for grandchildren was “mis-selling” and confess to be a little puzzled by the seemingly different message to different audiences.

          Re-listening to your Communicate 2011 speech as a whole, as opposed to what-I-regard-as your inaccurate characterization of Climategate, I agree with your over-arching statement that climate science did not stand or fall on the Hockey Stick and thus, even if there had been sharp practice by its practitioners, there were other and more important lines of evidence. This is common ground between us. It is a point that I’ve made frequently. It is also a point that is clearly understood by “core” Climate Audit contributors and readers.

          Second, you mischaracterize my position on paleoclimate. You say:

          you have pointed out that the e-mails raised new questions with the treatment of paleoclimate records

          and continue

          I accept your point that paleoclimate reconstructions continue to evolve and fresh sources of uncertainty continue to emerge, although my impression is that they were evolving anyway before release of the e-mails and would have continued to do so regardless.

          Neither of these phrases really captures my position. In respect to a signature issue – deleting data to hide the decline, I had spotted hide-the-decline in the IPCC graphic some years ago. As a reviewer, I asked that the practice be discontinued in AR4 but was blown off. What was new in the Climategate emails was that it showed that hide-the-decline in IPCC TAR was done in direct response to a message from IPCC higher-ups that they wanted a proxy diagram for the SPM but didn’t want to “dilute the message” and Mann’s concern not to “give fodder to skeptics”. This is something that stock brokers, lawyers and fund managers understand. The failure of the climate community to be offended by such conduct amazes me, and, in my opinion, was a mistake for “your” side.

          On the issue of “paleoclimate reconstructions continue to evolve” – again this is not my language and not how I express things. If anything, I think that the opposite. That the field stubbornly resists even sensible criticism. What’s the point of doing another bristlecone-dominated reconstruction if the validity of bristlecones are themselves an issue. There is an enormous amount of disinformation claiming that reconstructions are “independent” when they aren’t. I readily stipulate that a reconstruction with bristlecones, Yamal and low-order red noise will yield a Stick. So what? Nor do I get the impression that people in the field have the slightest understanding (or interest) in the underlying statistical issues of a proxy reconstruction. Most of the interest in the field seems to involve the development of abstracts that can be cited in IPCC, when there actually are academically interesting problems that rise about merely applying recipes.

          Intuitively whether past periods were warmer than the present seems relevant to the detection-attribution problem. At least in a qualitative sense. If it actually were warmer in the MWP, then that is surely interesting. I do not myself take a position on whether the medieval warm period is warmer than the modern warm period – there’s evidence both ways. The failure of practitioners to carefully canvass the evidence is frustrating. I mostly ask that the conflicting evidence be reconciled in a professional way, though such comments are misinterpreted as advocating one view. I have zero confidence in the multiproxy studies relied on by IPCC or in the IPCC assessments on this point. IPCC in effect thumbed their nose at society by placing another CRU author in charge of the assessment of the Hockey Stick issues for AR5. Although the criticism has come from blogs, this is really the sort of faux pas that people like you should be concerned about.

          The only basis of trust in science is the reproducibility of results. This is why availability of data and model source code is so important: I have always supported open data, although I have also consistently said that I don’t think Freedom of Information requests are the right way to enforce it. Journal editors can and should enforce a simple “disclose or retract” policy if a result is challenged, and almost all of them do: if any don’t, then the solution is to name and shame them, not set up a parallel enforcement system.

          Again, you misinterpret. FOI was a last resort after scientists had refused to provide data. You can hardly criticize Climate Audit for insufficiently attention to “naming and shaming” scientists who refuse data. It’s been a signature issue. The problem has been that the scientists in question have, all too often, reacted by blaming me, rather than dealing with the problem. “Name and shame” should have worked. The community should have told Lonnie Thompson, Gordon Jacoby, Keith Briffa, Michael Mann, Phil Jones — you’re giving us a black eye. Whatever you’re being asked for, archive it. But I’ve received negligible support from the “community” on this campaign and much derision and criticism. It would have been nice if you’d spoken up six years ago and publicly instead of standing idly by. Most of my FOI requests have succeeded. They require an answer as opposed to just deleting the email – which is what (say) Esper does.

          I’ve also tried with journals. I’ll separately report a recent incident with Neukom et al who refused a request for data. I’ve now written to four journals asking them to require the authors to produce their data and also wrote to the IPCC CLA. One journal, The Holocene, turned down my request because they have no requirement for authors to archive data or provide it. I therefore wrote to the IPCC CLA asking that The Holocene therefore not be eligible for citation in IPCC. We’ll see.

          Regards,
          Steve Mc

        • Skiphil
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:39 AM | Permalink

          This is helpful, thanks. I do think that the kind of “process” problem which has fouled many of these discussions, both public and private, is well reflected in one of the Climategate emails, Cook to Osborn, which reads,

          4369.txt Ed Cook->Tim Osborn “I am afraid that Mike is
          defending something that increasingly can not be defended. He is
          investing too much personal stuff in this and not letting the science
          move ahead.”

          Some candid recognitions and acknowledgements from leading climate scientists that the behaviors of Mann et al have not helped either the science or the public discussions would help to begin to clear the air so to speak. Steve, Ross, and many others have had to spend enormous time and energies examining matters that could and should have been easily addressed. Then the substantive discussions of both science and policy can move ahead more rapidly. The public discussions can move forward much better when personal and political agendas are set aside to the maximum extent possible (we all have such, of course, but too much of the “process” over the past 15+ years has involved distortions, misdirection, and foot-dragging by climate scientists).

        • mikep
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

          Myles
          You say
          “In response to Ross McKitrick’s point (apologies for being slow on this one), I suspect what Phil Jones was referring to in the “no need to calculate a p-value” remark (although you should really ask him) was the danger of over-interpreting chance covariation. The only p-values that mean anything are those that derive from physically-based hypotheses. It is all too easy to find a high p-value from a chance correlation (sunspots and number of Republicans in the US Senate is the classic example). I wasn’t involved at all in that IPCC chapter, but I would be inclined to agree with their assessment that what you were seeing in that paper was an example of such an acausal covariation, for which the p-value of a pattern-correlation is indeed meaningless.”
          You obviously have not read any of the papers. I hope Ross will come in and comment, but you should realise that he tested for lots of things that could render the regressions problematic, including the spatial serial correlation in residuals the time series version of which the Juckes et al paper ignored in their own work. There is a perfectly good physical hypothesis here – that UHI type effects affect measured temperature. The referees of the papers in the Journal of Economic and Social Measurement and Statistics, Politics and Policy are likely to know a lot more about the relevant statistics than the referees from the IJOC. Your response is the kind of irritating hand waving that would not be allowed to pass in other areas I am familiar with.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:21 AM | Permalink

          Acausal correlation doesn’t trouble the Team in proxy studies. The entire field consists of almost nothing but.

        • Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:48 AM | Permalink

          Myles, I take it that the brevity of your reply to my question indicates you haven’t really thought much about these issues, despite having used the surface data set for so many years and, in your own words, being at risk of having to retract or re-do a huge number of papers if there’s a problem with it. I have heard every variation on the kind of cheerful, whistling-past-the-graveyard attitude you convey many times before from others. The typical pattern from your community is to present an off-the-cuff, spur of the moment rationale for dismissing the problem, which is then instantly adopted as the last word on the subject without anyone actually testing it or looking up the results from others having done so.

          Everything that mainstream climatologists accuse skeptics of doing is on display in their own handling of this issue: dismissing peer-reviewed published work from multiple independent teams on the basis of blog postings and unsupported guesses from people who haven’t studied the matter; cherry-picking slender lines of defence and ignoring everything else; setting up an echo chamber of like-minded partisans to discuss the topic and treating the outcome as some kind of expert consensus; sticking with implausible hypotheses long after they have been rebutted in the literature, etc.

          You are so quick to defend Jones’ comment that you completely missed the point at issue. He and his coauthors did not report the p values then explain why they think they are meaningless. They simply said the results were statistically insignificant and on that basis set the whole problem aside. The issue is not whether you have a hunch some published results might not be robust. The issue is the basis on which you can make such a claim.

          The answer, in the whole rest of science, is you have to publish a valid statistical model of your own that replicates the first set of findings then, under your alternative specification, yields a p value consistent with your hypothesis. Personally, I suspect a lot of the “signal detection” results are likely not robust, but until I’ve set up the test and published results I can’t just go around saying so, much less write an IPCC chapter proclaiming it as a conclusion. But that’s what Jones and his coauthors did. By your response you seem to be OK with that. Glad we cleared that up. But when people have done it in other areas of science, it is considered fraud.

          So, returning to the question of why climatology has a communication problem, here is my theory. Once there is an inverse relationship between trust and understanding; in other words, once you are in a situation in which people trust your work only insofar as they haven’t looked at it closely, and their trust disappears the more deeply they examine it, then you have entered a reputational death spiral.Your constituency becomes a steadily shrinking group who pay you just that amount of attention that is greater than zero, but less than the threshold at which they learn something that strikes the reasonable observer as scandalous. The more you protect and excuse behavior that a reasonable observer is offended at, the lower that second threshold gets and the smaller your constituency becomes.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

          Ross, Myles was a reviewer of Santer et al.

          A large email list discussed a reaction to Douglass et al. Santer discussed a response with IJC editor Tim Osborn (small world, isn’t it.) Osborn said that they could include one of the correspondents on the existing email thread as a reviewer, but, to give a veneer of probity, that correspondent would have to elect between being an author and a reviewer; he could not be both. Osborn:

          Obviously one reviewer could be someone who is already familiar with this discussion, because that would enable a fast review – i.e., someone on the email list you’ve been using – though I don’t know which of these people you will be asking to be co-authors and hence which won’t be available as possible reviewers. For objectivity the other reviewer would need to be independent, but you could still suggest suitable names.

          Although Osborn had said that for “objectivity” one of the reviewers would have to be “independent”, ultimately both reviewers, Myles Allen and Francis Zwiers, were selected from the email list.

          The reviewers, as we later noticed, failed to observe that Santer tested his conclusions with only a fraction of available observations, ending his analysis in 1999, even though later data was available and, use of this later data, as we noted, reversed results.

          I’m pretty sure that ALlen was one of the reviewers who rejected our IJC submission observing that key Santer conclusions did not hold up. One of the reviewer concerns was that our article did not go far enough in addressing how to move forward. however, the reviewers (including presumably Allen) should not have stood in the way of the error in Santer’s claims being reported. Their failure to permit reporting Santer’s erroneous results led to Santer’s incorrect conclusions continuing to be cited in, for example, CCSP reports, even when key parts are known to be wrong.

        • Paul Matthews
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:21 PM | Permalink

          I had hoped that after a week, this matter could be laid quietly to rest and we could move on to something more interesting. But Myles continues to dig himself deeper into a hole, coming up with ever more ridiculous statements. In his latest, he has gone beyond Hansen’s emotional blackmail of referring to his own grandchildren, and tried to make me feel guilty by introducing my hypothetical grandchildren.
          I withdraw my apology – He deserves all the ridicule.
          I think he overestimates our importance with the suggestion that me pointing out that he misled some people in a talk will influence EU policy.

        • Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:46 PM | Permalink

          Hi Professor Allen,

          Well, I’m sure you’ll have fun with this–everybody on this blog will probably come to you with one specific point to address in your most recent post. Umm, here’s mine:

          Depending on how you talk about Climategate(and I think it’s very true that people talking about Climategate are often talking about different things), you can make the case that it started with the temperature record. (It obviously didn’t stay focused on it for very long.)

          Phil Jones, in Nature 1990,used temperatures from stations that didn’t have the stable histories he claimed for them. Warwick Hughes wanted the information as he didn’t think Australian records were as reported. When Jones realized what had happened, he did nothing. He did not issue a corrigendum, he did not publlicise the mistake. Nor was he forthcoming with the data. Instead, fifteen years later he published a paper with a much higher value for UHI than he had in 1990. So I guess you could say science moved on…

          But that’s what set the ball rolling–temperatures, not paleo.

        • eyesonu
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:27 PM | Permalink

          Partial quote from Myles Allen

          “If you could replace my “reply to Lucia” in the opening thread with this summary, that would be much appreciated.”

          ===================

          You have got to be kidding! You want to set a discussion in motion and then replace the context of that discussion with something different? The rest of the discussion would be no more relevant than has the shoddy similarities involving so-called ‘climate research.

          You certainly share the group think of the rest of the ‘climate science’ cable. Sir, I will end with that. Believe me there is much more I could say. sigh

          eyesonu

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

          Dear Steve, Paul and Ross,

          My last sentence was, of course, a joke: sorry that wasn’t clear. My concern, Paul, is that your grandchildren might be unnecessarily deprived of iPads because of the EU’s carbon rationing system introduced as “the only option on the table” because, instead of discussing negative liberty, you took us back to discussing climategate. Mentioning grandchildren is not necessarily invoking eco-doom: my kids aren’t particularly worried about eco-doom, and I doubt theirs will be either.

          You keep saying I’m digging a hole. I’d prefer the analogy of poking a stick. I am getting stung a fair bit, but a few thoughtful commentators, including Steve, have encouraged me to keep at it.

          Let me assure you, Steve, that I’m not criticising you personally for keeping the focus of climate audit on paleo-records: this is what you set the site up for, and it does what it says on the tin. But in the blogosphere as a whole, there does seem to be some lack of balance. I understand that you do not share the conviction of some of your contributors that the warming observed over the past few decades is nothing to do with the rise in greenhouse gas levels. And given that, whether we are aiming for two degrees or four will likely have far greater practical implications than whatever happened in the Medieval Warm Period, interesting though that might be. This is absolutely not the kind of matter scientists and technocrats should be discussing behind closed doors, yet I don’t see it aired anywhere. If people keep taking the line “no climate policy needed — see climategate files,” then they are ceding the entire policy space to others with a very different political perspective, which is unhealthy.

          I’d also like to reassure you that the comment about FoI was not aimed at you. I have seen that you pursued other channels before resorting to FoI: the point is that if journal editors do their jobs, no one should have to resort to FoI at all.

          Ross, you asked me to comment on what Phil Jones meant by that remark, and I did my best — as I said in the post, you are probably best off asking him what he meant. I didn’t mean to be off-hand — just that others are criticising me for posting at too great length.

          Regarding the review of Santer et al and Douglass et al. I normally sign my reviews, but I don’t know if the form allowed it in this instance. I don’t recall discussing the specifics of any response prior to reviewing it. I did my best to give that exchange a balanced review, and if I was told much about the context, I can’t have taken it in that well: when I read that chapter of Fred Pearce’s book, that whole story seemed quite unfamiliar. If I missed anything important in the review, then I apologise, but I did my best at the time. In a small field, we often have to review papers of people we know, and we do our best to get it right. Since all this seems to be in the public domain now anyway, you might also like to know that I was also the reviewer who did my best to insist that Mann et al respond properly to von Storch and Zorita.

          Regards,

          Myles

        • mikep
          Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 2:38 AM | Permalink

          Myles,
          your response to Ross is remarkably unconvincing. He, and other independents authors have raised serious doubts about the accuracy of the instrumental record which you yourself say is absolutely central to your concerns. Then all you can say is that it’s probably a spurious correlation with zero discussion of how that could happen and why Ross’s many tests do not pick up any problems or why his results continue to hold on new data. You have a problem here which hand waving does not solve.

        • Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Permalink

          Myles, I did not ask you to “comment on what Phil Jones meant by that remark.” I know perfectly well what he meant by it. He
          said “there is no need to calculate a p value for a statement based on the laws of physics” and the meaning of that sentence is unambiguous in its context,
          as I laid out. I asked you “Do you, as a physicist, agree, and would you be OK with your students adopting this as a working rule? Seeing as you “all” use the instrumental record “all the time” does it concern you that the colleague who looks after the instrumental data thinks this way?”

          Nor is the need for brevity an obstacle to answering the question. A simple Yes or No will do.

          You have invested years of work using processed data sets based on assurances from their creators that they have been filtered to remove certain contaminating signals known to make the raw observations unsuitable for the purposes to which you put them. Certain facts have been established that show these assurances are false and the contaminating signals carry over to the processed products. Various speculations against these findings have been proposed without statistical support, and all have been rebutted in the literature. The IPCC put people in charge of assessing this issue who were in a gross conflict of interest, the Climategate emails and the review record shows that they conspired to keep the discussion out of the IPCC report, and the final text revealed they had to resort to making up false evidence to justify continuing to issue the assurances. I’m trying to get you indicate if you approve of all this. The fact that you keep changing the subject tells me you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. That’s OK, one day you will.

        • Myles Allen
          Posted Jun 4, 2012 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

          Dear Ross,

          You ask me specifically how I advise students. In brief, I advise them to avoid over-interpreting the nominal significance of correlations or regressions over spatial patterns in meteorological data in the absence of a physically specified predictive model. I don’t advise them not to bother to calculate a p-value, because if a pattern correlation is insignificant, that may help determine whether it is worth proceeding further (but please don’t quote this as “Allen repudiates Jones” without asking Jones for clarification on what he meant). But I emphasise that p-values may appear significant due to global teleconnection patterns in the noise, and that standard methods of accounting for spatial autocorrelation are difficult to apply because they are generally based on an underlying statistical model of spatially correlated random fields, whereas meteorological noise typically displays much more coherent structure than a Markov random field.

          Regards,

          Myles

    • Pat Frank
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Not “marginally unethical,” Bernie, consciously, professionally dishonest.

    • BaitedBreath
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Myles, No one is complaining that you didn’t give a *comprehensive* coverage of Climategate. The problem is you carefully skirted the overwhelming theme – the hugely corrupt nature of climate science leading-lights – in favour of a side issue. In a talk on communication, you completely miscommunicated, seemingly to shore up corrupt colleagues.

      And I fail to see how revealing the politicised corruption at the heart of climate science – and the reluctance of possibly non-corrupt climate scientists to broach this, *blocks* public engagement with the issues. If the ideas the public is being fed have dubious prevenance, this is an integral part of the debate. More fundamental than the published results of science, is the process by which they were arrived at.

      • Lady in Red
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 6:33 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Dear Mr. B…. I suspect that your breath may be “bated,” not fish hooked.
        ….Lady in Red

    • Myles Allen
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Dear Bernie,

      As I’ve said repeatedly (since I do care about democracy), I was emphatically not advocating a “closed shop.” I was simply remarking that that was where we seem to be heading if the public debate continues to focus on the Medieval Warm Period rather than about much more important issues like how much, if at all, human influence is contributing to current weather trends, whether attempting to limit the temperature rise to two degrees is a sensible target, and whether a global cap-and-trade system is a sensible way of achieving it if it is.

      The response on these threads to my Communicate2011 talk, without anyone actually addressing the central allegation that no substantive change to any published dataset had emerged from the UEA e-mail affair, is an excellent illustration of the obstacles to constructive debate. I have tried to engage and remain courteous throughout, and the reaction has been caption competitions, a cartoon, vituperative personal abuse and I don’t know what else.

      Many of the posters are accusing me of not keeping an open mind. I do try to keep an open mind. I am fully prepared to accept that some unknown process, which we haven’t thought of and is not represented in current models, may turn out to be the dominant explanation of the recent warming. The evidence is not in favour of this hypothesis at present, but that may change. But crucially, what is most likely to change it, in my view, is better observations and modelling of climate change now and over recent decades, not more reliable reconstructions of the Medieval Warm Period.

      In response to baitedbreath: dendroclimatology is not at the heart of climate science. The instrumental temperature record is. There is no evidence the instrumental temperature record has been corrupted. That is the point.

      Regards,

      Myles

      • Sony
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

        No Myles, the point is that Climategate was about crooked climate scientists, not the instrumental record. The suggestion otherwise was disingenuous.

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 1:10 AM | Permalink

          Dear Sony,

          We all now acknowledge the issues were primarily about process and presentation. But the public still think that the affair revealed problems with the evidence itself. That was the (only) point I wanted to use the affair to illustrate in the talk.

          Myles

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:35 AM | Permalink

          We all now acknowledge the issues were primarily about process and presentation. But the public still think that the affair revealed problems with the evidence itself. That was the (only) point I wanted to use the affair to illustrate in the talk.

          I, for one, don’t agree. There were and are problems with the paleo reconstructions. “hide the decline” is a problem both with the presentation and the evidence. The paleo evidence may not be important to you, but obviously it has been important to the IPCC and continues to be used as evidence.

          It revealed that problems with one line of evidence were worse than we thought and that the authors were overselling.

          But you really aren’t entitled to make the assertions that you’re making. And as I’ve said before, this failure to squarely face the problems ends up costing “your” side since it looks evasive (and is evasive.)

          It did not mean that every line of evidence was impugned – a point that I made at the time as well.

        • kuhnkat
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:30 PM | Permalink

          Myles Alan states:

          “Dear Sony, We all now acknowledge the issues were primarily about process and presentation. But the public still think that the affair revealed problems with the evidence itself. That was the (only) point I wanted to use the affair to illustrate in the talk. Myles”

          No.

          An excellent example of how this IS about the data comes from the infamous Tiljander series that MM introduced to try and overcome reasonable complaints that his series was dependant on strip bark bristlecones, which had been panned by the authorites in the dendrochonology field.

          The Tiljander series was used upside down. Many people believe that this inverted use is the problem. They say that you can’t ignore the SIGN of the data. MM claims that the sign is meaningless as long as it is consistent and the magnitude is the important issue. Michael Mann is only partly right here.

          He is correct that an inverse relationship is as good as a straight relationship.

          Both sides are wrong though. The real problem with the Tiljander series is that the recent years are interpreted to be showing warmer when it is actually an ANTHROPOGENIC CONTAMINATION of the signal that is being seen. Tiljander carefully documented that in later periods of the series the magnitude was caused by man’s logging, farming, road building etc. The temperature signal was completely obliterated by crass earth movement.

          This is a DATA problem just as there are many DATA problems in your vaunted temperature series that are papered over by adjustments, averaging, and lotsa armwaving.

        • Sony
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

          Myles,
          Oh, so you agree Climategate was actually about crooked science (“process”), but lament that “hiding the decline” has been misinterpreted in some quarters of the public as referring to a decline in the temperature record that was being hidden from us?

          The problem is, that being the only point you wanted to use Climategate to illustrate, you gave your audience the distinct impression that that was indeed was Climategate was about. You reinforced the very thing you were supposedly decrying.
          Regards.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 12:32 AM | Permalink

          Sony,

          Like many others you really over charge the case when it comes to climategate. Nothing much has change from the first week: One side over charging the case and missing the key points; the other side arguing that its just boys behaving badly.

          The mails change no science. they cannot. they are mails.

          however, when we see how the sausage is made, we can note some practices that don’t comport with the ideals of science. Fix that. Fix the data sharing problem. Fix the code sharing problem. and address the issue of gatekeeping.

          That’s a course of action that people of good will on all sides can agree to.

      • BaitedBreath
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 1:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

        But I never said “dendroclimatology” was at the heart of climate science. I said “politicised corruption” was.

        Is the point you’re working from that the corruption in climate science is limited to its poor cousins in dendro? If so, why not just come out and plainly state it? Or do you fear that breaking the alarmist circle of wagons may well prove ruinous to your career prospects?

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:37 AM | Permalink

          I doubt it would much affect my career to have a pop at dendroclimatology — indeed, a friend advised me that it I was going to venture onto Climate Audit, it was probably best to start off by criticising Mike Mann’s early statistics so as to get off on the right foot. But that seems a bit cheap, and I’m sure there are papers I wrote in the 1990s whose statistics leave something to be desired.

          What would be ruinous to my career would be to suddenly spend several man-years going over all the evidence to decide if there is any evidence of scientific misconduct, when three enquiries have just done that and concluded there wasn’t. It would be extraordinarily presumptions for me to suddenly decide I disagree with Oxburgh, Muir-Russel et al without investigating the matter as pain-stakingly as they did.

          Before you characterise this as “circling wagons” or “supporting the team”, please let me be clear: I am not actively supporting anyone, I am just declining to comment on scientific process and conduct questions because I’m not best qualified to do so. I’m happy to discuss the instrumental temperature record and the evidence for human influence on climate, because I do know something about that.

          If I were ever to write a paper that relied on tree-ring data, I would feel obliged to investigate its provenance in more detail. But there isn’t much prospect of that right now.

          [Jean S: Myles wanted to issue a correction here.]

          Regards,

          Myles

        • Stirling English
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 5:09 AM | Permalink

          Re: BaitedBreath (May 30 01:09),

          Myles

          ‘It would be extraordinarily presumptions for me to suddenly decide I disagree with Oxburgh, Muir-Russel et al without investigating the matter as pain-stakingly as they did.

          Wouldn’t take you long to equal their ‘painstaking’ approach:

          ‘Oh Esteemed and Most Revered Climatologist whose institution is paying my fat fee. Did you do anything wrong?’

          ‘No’

          ‘Case closed…no fault found’

        • Erica
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:11 AM | Permalink

          I don’t think what the public expects from an honest climate scientist is to have a pop at dendro climatology particularly. What they likely do expect, is to have a pop at corruption, in whatever area it may be found – including in suspect “inquiries” commissioned by the very institutions under suspicion, that painstakingly avoid addressing substantive issues.

          You really don’t need a lot of time, or to be any kind of expert, in order to see both the original corruption of the science process, or the secondary corruption of Oxburgh, Muir-Russel et al in covering it up.

          Contrary to your claim that you are not “supporting anyone”, then, “just declining to comment” is nothing less than giving your blessing.

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Permalink

          The remark about my being involved in papers that relied on tree-ring data was misleading, apologies. I was, of course, involved in Juckes et al (2007), which was an attempt to understand the origins of differences between different paleo-reconstruction methods. That paper did, of course, use tree-ring data, but I saw it primarily as an exercise in understanding statistical methods. Its conclusions supported the claim that recent temperatures were exceptionally warm in the context of the past 500 years, but did not make any attribution or prediction claims, which is what I was referring to by “relied on tree-ring data”.

          Within that paper, we were using standard input datasets and trying to reproduce reconstructions using different peoples’ methods in order to understand where the differences came from: we did not do any primary research on the input datasets themselves in that paper, since the focus was on the statistical methods.

          I understand that Steve doesn’t feel that paper added very much to the discussion. I would argue that it never hurts to draw things together — plus Martin Juckes went to great lengths to make sure all data and code were made available. I think that was the first time several of these methods had been implemented in a common code-set, which was a very useful contribution for which I think he should be warmly applauded.

          Steve, is there any way of juxtaposing this with my previous post, so people can see the correction?

          [Jean S: A link to this comment added.]

      • Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Myles, if you keep missing the point the level of debate you get back will be caption competitions and cartoons. But thanks for commenting!

      • Peter Lang
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Myles Allen,

        Thank you for your contributions here.

        You said “… and whether a global cap-and-trade system is a sensible way of achieving it [climate change mitigation].”

        Can you suggest a suitable forum where the discussion is focused on mitigation and adaption options and policies?

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:50 AM | Permalink

          Roger Pielke Jr would be a good place to start. I certainly recommend his book, “The Climate Fix”. But it is interesting that discussion fora are few and far between — everyone is too busy on Climate Audit. It’s the kind of thing I would hope the Global Warming Policy Foundation should be promoting, or the Heartland Institute, but they both remain very focussed on science rather than policy.

          Sorry I can’t be more help.

          Myles

        • Peter Lang
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 5:35 AM | Permalink

          Myles Allen,

          Thank you for your reply. I’ve previously tried asking questions on Roger Pielke Jr’s web site but no response there. I posted the two comments at the end of the Bishop Hill thread about “Nordhaus and the sixteen” here http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/4/4/nordhaus-and-the-sixteen.html but no response.

          I find it surprising. I wonder what is the point of all the science if it is not directed to providing the information needed to design appropriate policy? And why are there no web sites that focus on policy and are as well moderated and highly respected as Climate Audit?

        • hagendl
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:54 PM | Permalink

          Peter Lang and Miles Allen
          Re: “Suitable forum where the discussion is focused on mitigation and adaption options and policies?” and
          “whether we aim to limit anthropogenic warming to two, three or four degrees has far bigger implications for climate policy . . .would be possible to frame an effective climate mitigation policy. . .”

          I agree adaptation/mitigation is the key issue to debate. The “catastrophic anthropogenic” wing appears to have sidetracked the discussion to mitigation only. I have not seen any economic justification for that! That debate strongly leans on the anthropogenic attribution, for which the Hockey Stick has been the strongly pushed poster graph. Consequently, I see that it is important to address the corruption of science as evidenced by Climategate, and to clearly repudiate the Hockey Stick as foundational to the debate.

          May I recommend summarizing the arguments with links/extracts from major players on BOTH sides of adaptation vs mitigation, and submit it to Judith Curry at Climate Etc.. as fitting under “Etc.” I would include the Copenhagen Consensus 2012 and its climate offshoot FixTheClimate.com

      • Paul Matthews
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Myles, a “substantive change to any published dataset” is shown very clearly in fig 2 at the top of this post!

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:43 AM | Permalink

          Yes, but that issue was known about in the 1990s — it was not revealed by the UEA e-mails.

      • Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Myles, thank you for your contributions and standing your ground against some rather ridiculous comments…such is the life of the blogosphere. A few of the broader issues are worth elaborating on.

        1) Having just watched the youtube video, I don’t get what the fuss is about. I sure hope there is something other than the video I am missing here. Dr. Allen just gave a quick two minute overview concerning the scientific *implications* of climategate…which is essentially zero. He then moved on to a completely different topic, as this was not the focus of his ~13 minute lecture. It was not presented as a summary or history of climategate. It was presented as a quick pointer concerning what the public should NOT take away from the issue. This first-order “broad brush” take-home point is that climategate simply did not matter for published scientific data or key conclusions. This detour in his talk may have been unnecessary, I didn’t really see the point, but as much as this is a professional hobby to a handful of bloggers (including here), no one outside that small community really cares about climategate anymore. Sorry.

        2) There are interesting questions that have arisen concerning the implications should a different shape emerge in reconstructions of last millennium NH to global temperature. As steve mosher pointed out, the last millennia is not typically viewed as a great target for sensitivity estimates. The temperature and forcing signals are relatively small relative to noise and proxy uncertainty (as opposed to a well-defined equilibrium climate such as the LGM that is unambiguously different than today).

        I would expect a more realistic implication for refined reconstructions to be in assessing the occurrence of megadroughts or regional hydrology changes in a multi-decadal context. The Medieval Climate Anomaly and LIA are now viewed as events with very interesting structure that varied in space and time, and with interesting socio-economic repercussions that may serve as a template for future change. However, the utility is probably limited because no estimate of natural variability- in control simulations or reconstructions- shows a global warming pattern that emerges with similar magnitude as one with a doubling or tripling of CO2. Moreover, the radiative response may likely have a different spatio-temporal structure than multidecadal oscillations of dynamic origin (in the oceans).

        3) I largely agree with Myles that improved understanding of these sort of climate dynamics, as well as in more technical questions the community has now shifted to addressing, are best interrogated through different methods than tree ring reconstructions.

        • Latimer Alder
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 5:44 AM | Permalink

          Re: Chris Colose (May 30 04:17),

          as much as this is a professional hobby to a handful of bloggers (including here), no one outside that small community really cares about climategate anymore

          You underestimate the problem you guys have got. Climategate is not primarily about tree rings or instrumental records or anything so tangible.

          It is about honesty and integrity and – most importantly – trust. Even a casual reading of the e-mails shows that the protagonists weren’t acting in good faith with the pursuit of objective truth as their goal. But had a lengthy behaviour pattern of advancing their careers and status and ideas to the forefront…and weren’t at all particular about the methods they used to achieve these ignoble aims.

          One might argue that in doing so they were simply acting as nay other bunch of human beings would…and that is likely true. But, the flip side of that is that they accordingly sacrificed their Unique Selling Point of

          ‘Trust Me, I’m a Climate Scientist’.

          And once that goes, there is very little left to suggest that the credibility is anything above any other dodgy profession anywhere. Used car dealers, estate agents, journos, Facebook IPO promoters……

          It is at least a step inteh right direction to see that both you and Myles Allen are – by your contributions here – distancing yourself from the unhelpful activities of the tree ring guys.

          ‘Not us’, you cry, ‘we do instrumental stuff, unaffected by shenanigans elsewhere’.

          But the public do not make the distinction that you are trying to draw. You, Mike Mann, Phil Jones, Gavin Schmidt, Jim Hansen, Myles Allen etc etc are all perceived as ‘climatologists’. You are all tarred with the same brush in the public’s mind. Within climatology it may be obvious that your work is different from Mann’s which is different from Myles Allen’s or Judy Curry’s. Maybe so, but the public perception is that you are all just as much dodgy dealers as the CRU folks. We see the hand as a whole, not the subtle difference between the ring finger and the index finger.

          Most other fields of professional work have institutions that are designed to ensure that the general standards of behaviour and practice are maintained. For example medics in the UK are regulated by the General Medical Council, who have the powers (and sometimes use them) to permanently ban dodgy doctors from treating patients. The system works reasonably well. Real bad doctors don’t get to work, and the general level of public trust in the remainder stays high.

          In climatology you do not have such a mechanism and rely instead on self-assertion that you are all good guys. So, faced with evidence that some, at least, are very much less than good guys, it is really no way to rebuild public trust for the leaders of the field (like yourself and Myles Allen) to turn away and wash your hands of it.

          For the public to take your work seriously we need to know that effective action has been taken aginst the bad guys. The only people who can do so are you guys. It’s a big task.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

          no one outside that small community really cares about climategate anymore

          Chris, this is and isn’t right. The climate community doesn’t care about Climategate – and never did. But it seems to me that the larger public doesn’t really care about climate as much as it used to, and this bothers the climate community.

          Reasonable people can disagree as to which factors were important in the shift of public mood, but Climategate contributed.

          At the time, I said that the climate community was taking a very risky strategy in acquiescing both in the conduct and in the dissembling inquiries, as the failure to squarely confront Climategate risked eroding public trust in the larger community, even authors who had nothing to do with Climategate. Climate scientists may not care about Climategate but they do and should care about the public trust issues, to which the failure of the community to address CLimategate issues contributed. In May 2010 in a presentation on the Trick, I warned of this risk as follows:

          Academics seem unoffended by the trick. But there’s a price for not being offended, because the public expects more. If climate scientists are unoffended by the failure to disclose adverse data, unoffended by the trick and not committed to the principles of full, true and plain disclosure, the public will react, as it has, by placing less reliance on pronouncements from the entire field – thus diminishing the coin of scientists who were never involved as well as those who were. This is obviously not a happy situation at a time when climate scientists are trying to influence the public and many have lashed out by blaming everyone but themselves, using the supposed exonerations by these ineffectual inquiries as an additional pretext.

          To the extent that things like the trick were sharp practice, the practices needed to be disavowed. The scientists do not need to be drummed out, but there has to be some commitment to avoiding these sorts of sharp practice in the future. George Monbiot suggested early on perceived that apologies were necessary on the part of the climate scientists involved both to the targets and to the wider community – something that, in my opinion, would go a long way to achieving some sort of truth and reconciliation in a difficult situation. Right now, this seems less likely to happen than ever.

          Despite the failures of the inquiries to do their job, I strongly disagree with Cuccinelli’s recent investigation of potential financial abuse. Regardless of what one may think of the quality of Mann’s work, he has published diligently. In my opinion, Cuccinelli’s actions are an abuse of administrative prerogative that on the one hand is unfair to Mann and on the other provides an easy out for people to avoid dealing with the real issues.

        • Chris Colose
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

          Steve,

          You’re right that not a whole lot of people care about climate anymore, for reasons I suspect have little to do with decisions on whether to chop of tree ring signals. I’m sure it’s the same reason people don’t really care about ancient roman equestrian medicine- people simply have no practical use for it on timescale of days to months. Unfortunately, atmospheric physics no more cares about this than gravity cares about someone who thinks they can float off a cliff. If business-as-usual scenarios continue, warming will emerge that is well beyond the last millennium proxy uncertainty range, and then it may emerge as a “hot topic” again (pun intended).

          The insistence that people have in beating a dead horse has no purpose anymore. The connection to scientific ethics and public trust have been vastly oversold, merely as a talking point to justify bringing it up. I repeat, no one cares about it anymore.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

          People study and are interested in lots of things that neither ‘atmospheric physics” nor “gravity” care about.

          If people are going to study proxy reconstructions, then they should be interested in achieving a theoretical understanding – e.g. what is a proxy reconstruction in statistical terms? Not just in “getting” an abstract that can be quoted in IPCC.

        • Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Permalink

          I don’t disagree with that. I myself am doing research at the proxy-modeling interface, although not with dendo specifically (focus is in oxygen isotopes). Many GCMs are now isotopically equipped, and the network of proxies (many at annual to subdecadal resolution for thousands to tens of thousands of years (e.g., speleothems)) is growing at a rapid pace and being studied in detail.

          If all the people who cared so much about climategate and the fine details of every latest conspiracy, e-mail, FOI request, personal life story, etc rather turned their attention to some of these sort of scientific challenges and horizons, it would be a step forward for everyone.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

          Thanks Chris,

          I think it would beneficial ( and make a great workshop ) for people who work in the field ( I’m just helping a couple guys ) to lay out the importance and limitations of MWP and LIA reconstructions to the estimation of
          sensitivity. Along the lines of “what would we have to see to rule out very low estimates ( 6 ) I’ve noted a number of times that the costs associated with our ignorance of
          sensitivity runs into the trillions of dollars, which argues for more research into paleo. It would be great
          to hear from some new voices here. tasmin ,caitlin and jim Boudin to mention a couple..

          Second, I think the whole “unprecidented” meme was a mistake, a rhetorical mistake and a backward way of
          getting at attribution. thats another topic.

      • mikep
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Myles,

        There is very little evidence that Oxburgh et al did anything like a thorough job of investigation – did not interview any of the critics for a start. You could at least read something like Andrew Montford’s sceptical take, it would only take a half hour of your valuable time, and then see if you think there is a case to answer. You can find it here:
        http://thegwpf.org/images/stories/gwpf-reports/Climategate-Inquiries.pdf
        with a foreword by a previous head of the civil service – hardly an uniformed rabble rouser.

      • Posted May 30, 2012 at 1:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Hi Mr. Allen,

        If further research vindicates Keith Briffa’s opinion expressed in a Climategate email that MWP temperatures were the same as current temps (as of 2005), how does that change what climate science wants to communicate to policy makers and the public?

        If further research affirms the assessments of Mr. McIntyre and many others that the statistical analysis of dendro records by ‘The Hockey Team’ (as they called themselves) was flawed to the extent that it renders them useless for long term temperature records, how do we then put the current warming period into perspective? How is current warming period different from other warming periods captured by the current temperature records?

        In my opinion, the importance of the Hockey Stick Chart is that it labeled current conditions unique in one easy to comprehend figure. If in fact current warming is notable but not unique, what changes?

      • kuhnkat
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Myles Allen states in part:

        1) the temperature record does not show anything to be worried about. The temps go up. The temps go down. We have no control.

        2) your assumption that the records are solid is laughable as the adjustments have never been validated to any worthwhile degree.

        3) the records you prat about are all based on the same dataset compiled and adjusted by part of the problem.

        4) when you, Nick Stokes, and many others decide to have a real discussion there would be many of us who would be interested in being involved. Until you let go of promoting your agenda in any way possible I do not believe this is going to happen.

        • kuhnkat
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

          Forgot to copy in Mr. Allen’s statement I was responding to:

          “The response on these threads to my Communicate2011 talk, without anyone actually addressing the central allegation that no substantive change to any published dataset had emerged from the UEA e-mail affair, is an excellent illustration of the obstacles to constructive debate.”

      • sam
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

        As an aside, Myles, why do you care so much about Democracy? In the west, I can’t think of another institution which has led more to the corruption of government and the political sanctioning of special interest groups. How much of this obfuscation could have been averted if it weren’t for the monopoly granting privileges of government?

        post deletion 3…2…1…0
        :-)

  2. Posted May 26, 2012 at 10:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Surely, Steve, what you you really meant at the end was:

    another … trick … to hide ………. THE DECLINE!!

    Good post, Steve. Thank you.

    RTF

  3. Posted May 26, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The odd thing about Jones ’98
    Is that when you show actual temp
    His red line seems to nicely relate
    (Though the teleconnection’s exempt)

    I suspect that “decline” isn’t right
    And the temps the rings show are quite close
    When moisture is brought in to the fight
    And offset for the CO2 dose

    But these things, while important it’s clear,
    Don’t seem huge in effect in Yamal
    Once you average out year after year
    All but temperature there seems quite small

    Ah, but small doesn’t work for the Team:
    It is huge! And it’s unprecedented!
    And if not quite as large as their dream
    Well, then cherry-picked weights are invented

    Here Myles Allen attempts misdirection:
    “Over there! Look! An obvious distraction!”
    As it’s clear that upon close inspection
    Hockey icons play many an infraction

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  4. Beth Cooper
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 11:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This is the sorry saga in a nutshell, the very, very, tricky methodology and political capers.

    • Luther Bl't
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 4:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

      While hiding the decline in Briffa’s reconstruction is a trick of a type referred to generally as graphmanship, in Allen’s case here it is not correct to say it is “just another …. trick”, because it is possible to see exactly how it has been conjured. It is characteristic of the Left, and of much debate in the humanities, that its grasp on valid inference is less than secure – sometimes because it in fact is, sometimes because it is convenient for it to be so. In place of valid inference, much use is made of metaphorical inference, in which analogy plays a large part. Here is an example:

      The Left relies heavily metaphorical logic.
      The humanities rely heavily on metaphorical logic.
      So, the humanities are of the Left.

      Technical analysis of these and similar forms of ratiocination shows to me that these types of invalid inference are not restricted to analogies and metaphors, hence I prefer my neologism ‘analogic’ to refer to them.

      The ‘trick’ in Allen’s case here is the invitational use of a synecdoche – he susbstitutes one part (the historically foreshortened part of a larger graph) for the graph itself. The small portion he shows is supposed to be sufficient reason for believing the hockey-stick graph.

      The fact that Allen does not articulate his argument like this, does not mean it is not what he is doing. Insofar as he intends his graph-waving to be compelling, he requires his audience to make some such conceptual move, some such analogical inference.

      • Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

        “Insofar as he intends his graph-waving to be compelling, he requires his audience to make some such conceptual move,”

        In other words, he requires them, not … to see ………….. THE DECLINE!!

        RTF

  5. Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What boggles my mind is the increasingly insulting attacks – by “the Team” and its second-tier defenders (such as Myles Allen) – on the intelligence of the average reader. One might be forgiven for thinking that perhaps climate “science” depends completely on the misdirection afforded by the presence of too many peas under a superfluity of thimbles.

    Seems to me that they want everything both ways: the hockey-stick is irrelevant, but it must be (you should pardon my use of the word) sustained at all costs; similarly the “science” of AR4 supposedly tells us all we need to know in order to “act now” – if not yesterday. But AR5 will … well, I’m not sure what could possibly tell us, that we haven’t heard before. If it turns out to be something other than “next chorus, next verse, a little bit louder and a little bit worse”, I, for one, shall be very surprised.

  6. Myles Allen
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Steve,

    The only attribution statement in the IPCC Third Assessment Summary that made reference to the MBH reconstruction was “Reconstructions of climate data for the past 1,000 years (Figure 1b) also indicate that this warming was unusual and is unlikely to be entirely natural in origin.” This is a very cautious statement (“likely” means a 1-in-3 chance that the warming is entirely natural in origin), reflecting our caution at the time about these new pre-instrumental reconstructions.

    The key evidence provided for the headline attribution statement “Most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations” was the comparison of model simulations forced with and without anthropogenic influence with the instrumental temperature record.

    Myles Allen

    • HAS
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I take it your last para is saying that “models that are forced by anthropological influence fit the instrumental temp record better”.

      I don’t think that exactly justifies the headline attribution statement by the criteria used in any other branch of science. The attribution would be to the model performance not to the real world.

      Even in politics it would be a long and risky bow.

    • Pat Frank
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Models which have the positive wvf built in, and with adjustable parametrizations that tune the outputs to the target 20th century temperature record.

      That makes the models artifactually reproduce the 20th century temperature record with the proposed CO2 feedback in place.

      Take out the 20th century trend in CO2 and, of course, the models no longer reproduce the 20th century temperature trend.

      This process is called “detection and attribution.”

      What’s really going on is that the assumptions going in to the process are made to produce the conclusions coming out.

      Obvious to everyone else, recognition of the foundational falsehood in circular thinking continues to escape the grasp of climate modellers. Climate modeling is an enterprise in self-recursive thinking. It’s a crock.

      And apart from that, Myles, where are the physical error bars in your temperature projections? Where are the papers in which parameter uncertainties are propagated through the models and into the projection time-steps?

      Average GCM cloudiness error alone represents about (+/-)2.5 W/m^2 uncertainty in forcing. That uncertainty is equal to (+/-)100% of all the forcing of all the GHGs produced over the 20th century. What does that do to “detection and attribution”? Bet you’ve never even thought about it.

      • ChE
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

        AKA begging the question. This isn’t a new problem for philosophers.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

        “tune the outputs to the target 20th century temperature record.”

        GCMs are not “tuned” to the temperature record.

        • Neil Fisher
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:44 PM | Permalink

          Have to disagree Steve – although you may suggest that it is input parameters that are tuned, the aerosol history is “tuned” from model runs to reproduce the 20th C temperature data, are they not? Different models (with different, although all plausible, sensitivities to aerosols) require different aerosol “inputs” to “match” the record. So although technically not tuning the models, it is tuning to match the temperature record none-the-less.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

          Nope. The only documentation I have seen indicates that parameters may be adjusted and then the radiative balance at the TOA is checked. NOT the surface temperature metric. If you actually looked at absolute temps from a GCM your opinion would change. have you?

        • Pat Frank
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

          Neil is right. Parameter sets are chosen so as to have the models reproduce the 20th century temperature record. This was the direct message Keihl’s 2007 paper.

          Steve McI discussed it extensively here, writing that Keihl’s paper, “analyzes the paradox of how GCMs with very different climate sensitivities nonetheless all more or less agree in their simulations of 20th century climate.” They agree because of data-peeking parameter adjustments; some may call that tuning.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 2:22 PM | Permalink

          No pat you are wrong. All you need to do is to look at the actual written descriptions of how the parameters are adjusted. The comparisons in those cases I have looked at do not use the surface temperature as their diagnostic for
          parameter setting.

          I will ask you. have you looked at ANY output from a GCM? not the means not the anomalies but the absolute temperatures?

          You havent. If you did, you wouldnt say they are tuned to match the temperature.

        • HAS
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

          Bias in absolute temps from GCMs remains an issue.

        • Neil Fisher
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

          Nope. The only documentation I have seen indicates that parameters may be adjusted and then the radiative balance at the TOA is checked. NOT the surface temperature metric. If you actually looked at absolute temps from a GCM your opinion would change. have you?

          Perhaps I wasn’t clear enough – they “tune” by adjusting aerosol history so that the *trends* in global temp match. Certainly you are correct that no-one tunes for a surface temperature match – in fact, the discrepancy between observed and modelled temp in absolute terms would have any engineer used to modelling rolling on the floor at any claims of “good” models IMO, but that is another story. If you are suggesting that ONLY TOA radiation balance is used to “tune” the model, then the obvious question is: where do they get the data to compare from? Certainly we have *some* satellite data, but Gavin@RC has already told us that this is not a “major constraint” on the models, right? If this is modelled or guestimated (nothing wrong with that), one might be tempted to ask how *those* models are validated – surely not from GCM output, but given the history, I wouldn’t bet on that!

          Oh, and one further point – there is coarse and fine tuning involved. The fine tuning is done by changing parameters. The coarse tuning is done by decimation – don’t like the result? Throw the whole thing out and try again! We already know these sorts of results are not mentioned, even in the SI…

        • Pat Frank
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:25 AM | Permalink

          GCM tuning (my bold throughout):

          Claudia Tebaldi and Reto Knutti (2007) The use of the multi-model ensemble in probabilistic climate projections Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 365, 2053-2075

          “[T]he observations to tune the parametrizations or to evaluate models are often the same for most models. Any deficiency in the structure of the parametrization or biases in the observations used to constrain the free parameters will be persistent across many models.”

          “Another aspect of the same problem is that the models are not designed to span the full range of behaviour or uncertainty that is known to exist. This is not surprising, since all models are tuned and improved to match the observations as closely as possible. Once scientists are satisfied with a model, they rarely go back and see whether there might be another set of model parameters that gives a similar fit to observations but shows a different projection for the future.”

          “[A]greement with observations can be spurious, and can arise from a cancelling of errors, not necessarily guaranteeing that processes are correctly simulated. The problem gets worse when the datasets which are used to tune the model are identical to those used later to evaluate the performance of the model and derive model weights in multi-model averages.”

          “[T]he possibility of circular reasoning arises: a model can agree well with observations simply because the very same observations have been used to derive or tune the model.”

          Thomas F. Stocker (2004) Climate change: Models change their tune Nature 430, 737-738

          “Climate models are usually tuned to match observations.”

          “Climate modellers are sometimes preoccupied with ‘tuning’ their models to achieve best agreement with observations,…”

          P. J. Rasch and J. E. Kristjánsson (1998) A Comparison of the CCM3 Model Climate Using Diagnosed and Predicted Condensate Parameterizations J. Climate 11, 1587–1614.

          “The free parameters of the [National Center for Atmospheric Research Community Climate Model version 3 (CCM3)] were adjusted to provide reasonable agreement with top of atmosphere and surface fluxes of energy.”

          “Small changes were introduced in the cloud fraction to improve consistency of the meteorological parameterizations and to attempt to alleviate problems in the model (in particular, in the marine stratocumulus regime).”

          “The new parameterizations were inserted into the standard CCM3 and the cloud water parameterization tuned through a series of short runs by adjusting the choice of the thresholds for the onset of precipitation for rain and snow (i.e., N, r3lc, and qic). Only these parameters were explicitly adjusted to tune the model climate. The parameters were tuned to make globally averaged top of atmosphere radiative fluxes balance (i.e., energy in = energy out), and have the cloud forcing be reasonably close to Earth Radiation Budget Experiment (ERBE) estimates.

          Clouds are a specific weakness of climate models. Tuning the cloud forcing to match observations hides a significant source of error intrinsic to the GCM. — PF

          Anand Gnanadesikan, et al., (2006) GFDL’s CM2 Global Coupled Climate Models. Part II: The Baseline Ocean Simulation (pdf) J. Climate 19. 675-696

          “In previous versions of the GFDL coupled model, the atmosphere was spun up for many years using prescribed sea surface temperatures, the ocean was spun up over many years using the output of the atmospheric model, and flux adjustments were computed by restoring the surface temperatures and salinities to observations within the ocean-only model

          “In the present series of models this is not done. Instead, the models are essentially initialized from initial conditions and allowed to drift without flux adjustments. One of the drawbacks of this approach is that it is not clear how to compare the model with observations.”

          “[W]we decided [therefore] to present simulations from our 1990 control runs…” I.e., to use the more stable prior models that did incorporate flux adjustments.

          J. C. Hargreaves and J. D. Annan (2006) Using ensemble prediction methods to examine regional climate variation under global warming scenarios Ocean Modelling 11, 174-192

          “Recent developments in parameter estimation have now opened up the possibility of performing ensemble integrations of models which have been objectively tuned to climate observations, and which therefore have the potential to generate more meaningful probabilistic estimates of future climate.

          Tuning the climate of a numerical model is a nonlinear multivariate parameter estimation problem, which has for some time been considered a rather intractable task. Early approaches to this problem have mostly been based around randomised or exhaustive multifactorial sampling of the multivariate parameter distribution ( [Forest et al., 2000] and [Knutti et al., 2002]), but the cost of these methods is exponential in the number of parameters which are covaried, so they have limited practicality. The Ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) Evensen (1994) has recently been developed applied to parameter estimation in climate models ( [Annan et al., 2004] and [Hargreaves et al., 2004]). The method generates an ensemble of models with different parameter sets which sample the posterior probability distribution function defined by prior beliefs and observations of climate data.”

          The last bolded comment is a complicated way of saying that the models automatically adjust themselves to match desired observational outcomes.

          “We use this intermediate complexity model because, being computationally fast it is suitable for work involving a large number of experiments. It is tuned to a realistic present day climatology based on ocean temperature and salinity, and surface air temperature and humidity.”

          I. Eisenman, et al., (2007) On the reliability of simulated Arctic sea ice in global climate models (pdf) GRL 34, L10501, doi:10.1029/2007GL029914, 2007

          “A frequently used approach in GCM sea ice components is to tune the parameters associated with the ice surface albedo.”

          Reto Knutti, et al., (2010) Challenges in Combining Projections from Multiple Climate Models J. Climate, 23, 2739–2758.

          “One of the difficulties [of evaluating model predictions] is that the observations often have been used in the modeling process before, to derive parameterizations, or to tune earlier versions of models. Therefore, there is a risk of double-counting information, overconfidence, or circular logic if model evaluation and weighting is done on the same datasets that were used to develop the models.”

          b. Model evaluation and tuning

          “In computationally cheap climate models, the calibration of parameters can be done by minimizing some cost function using search algorithms (e.g., Andronova and Schlesinger 2001; Forest et al. 2002; Knutti et al. 2002, 2003; Annan et al. 2005; Beltran et al. 2005; Frame et al. 2006; Hegerl et al. 2006; Meinshausen et al. 2008). Because of the complexity of AOGCMs and the associated computational cost, model tuning (defined as the adjustment of a model parameter within some known observational range) or calibration by automated procedures (e.g., finding optimal parameter values by minimizing some error metric) is usually unfeasible. Model calibration is mostly done in individual parts of the model and involves expert judgment.”

          “Tuning of model parameters in the sense of blindly minimizing errors without understanding the model’s behavior or going outside known observational uncertainty is, therefore, not common in GCMs, and available observations are clearly relied upon for guidance in physically plausible tuning.

          Need more be evidenced?

        • Craig Loehle
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

          Re: Pat Frank’s excellent post and to link it with the paleo/hockey stick problem, the realism of climate models is in fact tested against data like the warmth of the MWP or cold of the LIA, as well as the ability to replicate multidecadal variability of temperature over hundreds of years (and of course Ice Age climates). All of these depend on the reliability of millenial scale reconstructions. Since someone on this post has shown how poorly the different recons agree at different time scales, this is a problem.
          So, Pat Frank’s post shows why it drives me crazy when people say the GCMs are “just physics”. They may be based on physics, but the scale is too large to represent the patchy nature of clouds, which must be parameterized (ie, parameters tuned or “fit” to some sort of data). Likewise for surface albedo/albedo changes over time, arctic ice heterogeneity, and even global winds and storms which are too fine-scaled for the models to handle mechanistically. There are degrees of freedom in choosing which solar forcing history and strength to use and which sulfate aerosol and black carbon “history” to use. Those working on particular processes such as ocean currents or winter storm behaviors or the jet stream look at data on those processes to test/improve the models. Models that give absurd behavior like drifting into frozen oceans are killed off.

      • maxberan
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Writing “Bet you’ve never even thought about it” is well below the belt. You may dispute that the full universe of uncertainty sources is adequately sampled or treated, but google on Allen’s name with a few extra terms like “probability density” and you will be presented with several papers on the issue. One paper he co-authored even states explicitly that the fact that that “… since GCMs are designed and tuned to reproduce the observed climate …” special measures are necessary.
        This question – honest assessment of error bars – is one of many that is open to debate and to the extent that our best brains (among which I am not numbered) do dwell so much on the Hockey Stick is letting the warmists off the hook.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

          maxberan, no one propagates the errors through the model itself to determine the growth of physical uncertainty per time step. Statistics has provided standard ways to do this, but such studies are not carried out for climate models.

          Doing so would produce real intrinsic physical uncertainty bounds around a climate projection, regardless of the nominal fidelity to the target observables produced by an adjusted parameter set. I’m quite certain that such a study would show such a fast growth of physical uncertainty, as to reveal that climate projections have no reliability at all.

          Varying the parameters and producing parameter probability distributions relative to climate observables is not the same thing at all, and does not reveal anything about the level of intrinsic error in the model.

          Repeating the above, the GCM average cloud error is about (+/-)100% of the excess forcing of all the GHGs released during the 20th century. What does an error equal to 100% GHG forcing do to “detection and attribution”? That error has never, ever, been propagated through a climate futures projection; at least not reported in any publication of which I’m aware. If you know different, I’m sure we’d all appreciate the pointer.

          Honestly, given this widespread lack of attention among modelers to really basic issues of scientific practice, I still suggest that Myles hasn’t paid any attention to the effect of GCM errors in cloud forcing on the reliability of climate projections.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Jun 5, 2012 at 11:12 PM | Permalink

          Despite your undoubtedly self-satisfying “duh,” Steve Mosher, more on GCM tuning (my bold throughout.):

          A. N. Legrande, et al., (2009) “ Ice Sheet Health during Deglaciation: Two End-Member Analysis using paired GCM and ice sheet model results AGU Fall Meeting 2009, abstract #PP21A-1325

          A short observational record inhibits our understanding of modern ice sheet health. We adopt the approach of assessing past Laurentide ice sheet health in order to tune the parametrizations of a surface ice sheet energy-mass balance model. … We drive the ice sheet EMBM [energy-mass balance model] using results from the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, ModelE-R. This coupled atmosphere-ocean GCM…”

          That is, the tuned parametrizations are used with the EMBM as an externalized sub-process incorporated into the climate calculated by the GISS Model E-R GCM.

          S. Rahmstorf and A. Ganopolski (1999) Long-Term Warming Scenarios computed with an Efficient Coupled Climate ModelClimatic Change 43: 353–367

          Model parameters that were not fixed a priori were determined by tuning the atmospheric and oceanic components separately for present conditions before coupling (e.g., constants in the cloud parametrization).

          F. A-M Bender (2008) “A note on the effect of GCM tuning on climate sensitivity” Environ. Res. Lett. 3 014001 doi:10.1088/1748-9326/3/1/014001

          It is worth quoting this paper extensively because of the number of central points it impacts concerning the reliability of GCMs, as well as demonstrating GCM tuning:

          Abstract: “A tuning experiment is carried out with the Community Atmosphere Model version 3, where the top-of-the-atmosphere radiative balance is tuned to agree with global satellite estimates from ERBE and CERES, respectively, to investigate if the climate sensitivity of the model is dependent upon which of the datasets is used. The tuning is done through alterations of cloud parameters that affect, for instance, the model cloud water content, but the difference in cloud water content between the two model configurations is found to be negligible compared to the wide spread of the same quantity in a number of state-of-the-art GCMs. The equilibrium climate sensitivities of the two model configurations differ by ca. 0.24 K, and both lie well within the range of present estimates of climate sensitivity in different GCMs. This indicates that it is possible to tune the model to either of the two satellite datasets without drastically changing the climate sensitivity. However, the study illustrates that the climate sensitivity is a product of choices of parameter values that are not well restricted by observations, which allows for a certain degree of arbitrariness in the estimates of climate sensitivity.

          1. Introduction
          Satellite observations of the top-of-the-atmosphere (TOA) radiative budget are essential for restricting climate models. However, the observations are afflicted with errors and are not always in agreement with each other. This was made evident by, for example, Bender et al (2006) where ERBE (Earth Radiation Budget Experiment) (Barkstrom 1984, Barkstrom and Smith 1986) and CERES (Clouds and Earth’s Radiant Energy System) (Wielicki et al 1996, Smith et al 2004) observations of the global albedo were compared with each other and with output from general circulation models (GCMs), displaying a difference in albedo at the top of the atmosphere of 0.01 (corresponding to ca. 3.4 W m–2) between the two satellite estimates.

          At present, climate models are tuned to achieve agreement with observations. This means that parameter values that are weakly restricted by observations are adjusted to generate good agreement with observations for those parameters that are better restricted, with the TOA radiative balance belonging to the latter category. However, with the discrepancy between the two satellites’ estimates of the TOA radiative fluxes, the choice of reference dataset for the tuning process is not obvious. To date, ERBE is commonly used rather than CERES (Kiehl et al 1998, Hack et al 2006, Roeckner et al 2006), which was also indicated by Bender et al (2006), who found a more than twice as large deviation in TOA albedo between a multi-model mean and CERES as between a multi-model mean and ERBE.

          The tuning of TOA fluxes to agree with satellite observations is done mainly via cloud parameters, as they are often poorly restricted by observations. However, cloud parametrizations and parameter values therein are known to be of importance in determining the climate sensitivity in a GCM (Senior and Mitchell 1992, Murphy et al 2004). Climate sensitivity is a quantification of how the climate system—modeled or real—responds to an imposed radiative forcing and is a key parameter in model projections of future climate change. Equilibrium climate sensitivity, studied here, is defined as the increase in global mean temperature resulting from a doubling of the atmospheric concentration of CO2. The true sensitivity of the climate system is not accurately known and the climate sensitivity of a GCM is an inherent feature of the model physics. In this study we investigate if and how the climate sensitivity of a GCM, via differences in certain cloud parameters, may be dependent on which satellite dataset it is tuned to, ERBE or CERES.

          The 3.4 W/m^2 difference in the ERBE and CERES TOA fluxes amounts to an uncertainty in the known value. All by itself, the uncertainty in TOA flux is about 1.5x larger than all the forcings of all the extra GHGs that have been released by human agency since 1900.

          In turn, this means the modeled forcing due to GHGs is less than the TOA flux uncertainty, and is therefore undetectable. No one can know whether the true GHG climate forcing equals the calculated forcing. So the forcing calculated by radiation physics for excess GHGs is not necessarily applicable or relevant to the response of the climate.

          That’s not to say that excess GHGs are not forcing the climate in a dangerous way. It is to say that no one can know whether this is happening. Likewise GCM errors and uncertainties are so large that no one can know whether the predictions of GCMs are at all consonant with physical reality.

          In F. A.-M. Bender’s experiment, the CAM3.1 GCM was adjusted to the CERES or ERBE TOA flux by independently tuning a variety of cloud parameters. His experiment showed that climate sensitivity was not very sensitive to whether the GCM was tuned to ERBE or CERES. But the fact that cloud parametrizations were different in each case means that the GCM climate response to CO2 was different in each of the two facets of the experiment. The two results are incomparable because they are, in effect, apples and oranges climate simulations.

          When multiple variables are changed between two experiments, the similarities and differences of the outcomes cannot be referred to only one of those variables. For the two results to be comparable, the parametrization of the GCM should have been constant. Only the ERBE and the CERES TOA fluxes should have been varied. Only then would we know whether using ERBE or CERES TOA data makes a difference. All F. A.-M. Bender showed is that GCMs are so flexible, that they can be tuned to give the same result no matter how the inputs look.

          All the experiment really showed is that it’s possible to vary the TOA flux across 3.4 W/m^2, and choose parametrization sets that still allow one to get reasonable-seeming climate outputs. More generally, the experiment showed that GCMs are not unique models, that their climate responses are not unique, and therefore their predictions are not unique.

          That incomparability in turn means the low variation in GCM climate sensitivity to TOA proves nothing about whether climate sensitivity in GCMs is insensitive to TOA or whether there is any fidelity of the GCM-simulated climate to the climate of Earth. F. A.-M. Bender’s experiment demonstrates only that GCMs are unreliable (but we knew that).

          Roger Pielke Sr. made the same point after considering F. A.-M. Bender’s previous paper about GCM albedo errors, 22 views of the global albedo—comparison between 20 GCMs and two satellites,” concluding that, “This study shows that there is a fundamental issue with a critical aspect of radiative forcing (the albedo). The uncertainties are on a order of a few watts per meter squared [and are] on the same order as the magnitudes of the the other radiative forcings! The assessment of albedo changes over time, as they influence the net radiative forcing at the level of tenths of watts per meter squared, is not yet achievable based on the results of this study.

          This is yet another reason why we need to move away from using multi-decadal global climate models as the tool to communicate to policymakers. They are NOT skillful multi-decadal projection tools even in terms of global average radiative forcing.

          Relative to this discussion, Roger Pielke also has an entire post on parameter tuning in GCMS, and at the same time, discusses RealClimates misrepresentations of tuning.

          Amusingly, his class documented the tunings that disprove Realclimate’s misrepresentation: “In my class on modeling, the students have documented the number of tunable parameter for a range of parametrizations, and 10 and more are common for each individual parametrization (e.g. see the class powerpoint presentations at ATOC 7500 for my most recent class).” Scroll down to “ASSESSMENT OF A PARAMETRIZATION” at the bottom of a page.

          It’s clear from these presentations that each parametrization scheme can have more than one adjustable coefficient within it.

          See also RP’s “Amazing Disconnect From The Scientific Process,” in which he challenges the amazing naivete of climate modelers who assert that, “A global climate model that does not simulate current climate accurately does not necessarily imply that it cannot produce accurate projections

          I.e., they’re claiming that even if a GCM is unable to reproduce the climate of the last 100 years, it might well reliably predict the climate over the next 100 years.

          In any field other than climatology, a statement such as that would be widely recognized as a disreputable attempt by practitioners to exempt themselves from any critical regard. One might say that self-exemptionism is the last refuge of the incompetent.

        • maxberan
          Posted Jun 7, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Permalink

          As I’m sure you realise, my comment was directed at Steve Mosher’s ribbing about Myles Allen’s probable ignorance of any effect of tuning on confidence interval. But thanks for putting meat on the rider, “You may dispute that the full universe of uncertainty sources is adequately sampled or treated”.

          There are many sceptics’ blogs and lists where the main activity is making sport with alarmists on a personal level, few approach this one for personal moderation, none with the high standard of statistical discussion. Myles Allen’s participation seemed to have lowered inhibitions.

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Pat if you actually read the papers you will see that the “tuning” sometimes refers to higher order models and not GCMs. Why? well because its computationally too expensive to tune the GCM. duh.

        You will also see that the tuning uses a wide variety of metrics. Like precipitation, SST, salinity.
        Its simply not the case that models are simply tuned to the land surface record. If they were, you’d see a much better fit. But go ahead and read those papers and when you see that you’ve over simplified the process grossly come on back. As I pointed out the tuning ( a standard justifiable practice when parameters are unknown) uses many targets. It’s misleading to say that the models are tuned to the temperature record when the tuning process is far more complex than that.

    • per
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Dear Prof Allen

      yes, that is Figure ONE B of the Summary, a very important position. That is a graphic that was reproduced almost incessantly in coverage of the TAR, so yes, a very important graphic because everyone can see the relationship between recent temperature rise and history.

      and what you are not doing is reflecting the key charge that Steve made. When that graphic was used, IPCC knew full well about the decline, and knew that the decline means that you cannot draw any reliable conclusions from that tree-ring-dependent data about the temperature record. That is very different from what you see in the IPCC summary.

      “reflecting our caution at the time”. Did you know about the decline, and that this potentially invalidates the whole methodology ?

      per

      • Myles Allen
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Dear Per,

        Yes, we did know about the discrepancy. Keith Briffa published a number of papers on it in the late 1990s. My understanding was (and still is) that they, the dendroclimatologists, felt they understood enough of what was going on to still have some confidence in their reconstructions. But they were being cautious: hence our caution in invoking the paleo-record and the large error-bars on the IPCC graphic.

        Myles

        • mikep
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:20 AM | Permalink

          Myles,
          And it was precisely this discrepancy that was hidden in public presentations by the “trick to hide the decline”. Dendrochronologists’ “feeling” that they understand the divergence is no substitute for a proper analysis when the obvious alternative is that the trees concerned are affected by factors other than temperature. And this divergence was noted a long time ago and still has no remotely conclusive explanation.

        • bmcburney
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

          Professor Allen,

          What then is your understanding of the dendroclimatologists’ understanding. My understanding of their understanding is that they have absolutely no idea. Briffa’s absolutely unsupported assertion, still the standard after lo these many years, is that there is some unknown but modern anthropogenic non-climate factor at work. What is it? Who knows or cares as long as it is anthropogenic. At this point, no credible theory has offered for the modern anthropogenic attribution, to say nothing of any actual evidence.

          Do you see how this might be something more than a “communication problem” when connected to the “hide the decline” ethos of CRU?

        • fjpickett
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:50 AM | Permalink

          bmcburney nails it, IMO, and also explains why MA regards the MWP as unimportant. If you accept that the warm periods (mediaeval, Roman, Minoan) existed, it makes the anthropogenic component of the current one look very debatable. Something, perhaps, that a real communicator might want to, er, communicate.

    • HAS
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I came back to this and wondered why the leader of the Climate Dynamics Group in the Department of Physics at Oxford would see the world this way i.e. that evidence was derivable from relative model fit, rather than the quality of the model being what is derived.

      I think it might be that the models have that veneer of physics over them. A criminologist trying to establish the causes of crime knows that they are building on assumptions of human, group and cultural behaviour and these aren’t strongly deterministic. If they find a model that fits better the better criminologists say just that – the model with XYZ variable included fits the data better. They don’t make statements about the evidence shows most of the recent crime increase has been due to XYZ (they leave that to the newspapers and pour scorn on them in the common room when they do).

      Seduced by the physics many climate modelers seem to think they can do better than the social scientists – ignoring the bias, scalability problems, approximations etc etc in their models which are probably as significant as any criminologist’s.

      Perhaps Dr Allen spend more time hanging out with your colleagues who worry about other complex phenomena like crime, or even just those who worry about the predictability of weather and climate, and the limitations of modelling.

    • David Holland
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Myles Allen (May 27 02:01),

      Section 12.3.2 page 714 IPCC 2001

      If the real world internal variability on this time-scale is no greater than that of the models, then the temperature change over the last 140 years has been unusual and therefore likely to be externally forced. This is supported by palaeo-reconstructions of the last six centuries (Mann et al., 1998) and the last 1,000 years (Briffa et al., 1998; 2000; Jones et al., 1998; Crowley, 2000; Crowley and Lowery, 2000; Mann et al., 2000), which show that the 20th century warming is highly unusual.

      • Erica
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Missed by myles….

      • Myles Allen
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Dear David,

        Thank you for that — I said the only statement in the IPCC 3rd Assessment Summary: all statements in IPCC summaries have to be backed up in the chapters. You will notice that in both chapter and summary the paleoclimate evidence is being invoked in a supporting role: “supported by,” “also indicate,” etc. I can’t speak for all of the other authors on that chapter, but speaking for myself, the MBH reconstruction wasn’t a substantial factor in the evidence supporting the headline attribution statement.

        Myles

        • JamesG
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:02 AM | Permalink

          Ah yes we know how bad the models are but they are supported by the paleo recons and you know how bad the paleo recons are but they are supported by each other. And even if the paleo data is badly wrong the models are supported by each other anyway. A perfect circle indeed!

    • Don McIlvin
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:21 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The removal of post 1960 trend lines in Briffa’s series results in side stepping debate on modern dendro divergence in temperature proxies. This divergence has been shown to be wide spread in recent times. While Briffa has no answer for divergence, others suggest that trees may respond accurately only within certain temperature bands, but not so outside the band. Hence if it gets too hot the ring response shows less growth size and density. Hence these dendro scientists are engaged in a search for better “responders” post 1960, and as well a credible explanation against criticism of cherry picking.

      But by this theory on divergence, the trees in Briffa’s series can not accurately serve as a temperature proxy above the level of warmth from the 1960s on. The divergence after 1960 indicates the accuracy limits of the proxy. But this lack of accuracy in warmer periods after 1960 will also hold true for warmer periods 1000 years ago.

      As such, the Briffa series can not be used to support the claim that the MWP was not as warm as now, or that the modern warmth is unprecedented in the last 1000 years. Yet it has been prominently used to support these claims. Hiding the decline, hide the divergence problem in dendrochronology from all but the experts in the field. This is a serious matter.

      The argument that it is so much warmer now than before, therefore it is unlikely a natural occurrence (however couched) needs to be dispensed with. Scientists should stick with empirical evidence.

  7. Mailman
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Not quote so site why you are having a dig at Palin for? Surely, if anyone, you should be having a go at Barry “The Boy Wonder” Obama as, unlike Palin, he’s directly responsible for the EPA’s destructive practices thanks of the catastrophilia being adopted by that agency???

    Regards

    Mailman

  8. Rhoda Klapp
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:26 AM | Permalink | Reply

    So, that would be models all the way down then. Myles, is this is whole of your argument? Can you not see that it is empty? Can you read Steve’s points above and actually reply to them? The tactic of ignoring sceptical points will not work here.

  9. Myles Allen
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Steve,

    On a more personal note, I appreciate that people like yourself who have devoted a lot of time to the analysis of paleoclimate data find it irritating when scientists who don’t work in that area dismiss it as uninformative. That was a talk to journalists who I felt (and still do) got the UEA e-mail affair out of proportion. I did not mean to belittle the efforts of paleoclimate scientists to reconstruct the pre-instrumental period: if you were able to produce reliable reconstructions of global temperatures over the past millennium, and associated forcings, that would indeed be a very valuable resource. But the fact remains that very few papers outside the paleoclimate niche make use of tree-ring data, whereas we all use the instrumental temperature record all the time.

    And I stand by the assertion that, thanks to the sloppy coverage the affair received in the media, it wasn’t just Sarah Palin who got the impression that the instrumental temperature record was seriously compromised: The Times opened the relevant story with “A science blogger has uncovered a catalogue of errors in Met Office records…” which isn’t really consistent with a correction of a couple of hundredths of a degree in the late 1870s. The Newsnight piece on substandard software which they implied was used to compile the instrumental record (but turned out to be something else entirely) was also representative.

    Myles

    • Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I appreciate that people like yourself who have devoted a lot of time to the analysis of paleoclimate data find it irritating when scientists who don’t work in that area dismiss it as uninformative.

      First: communication tip: You need to learn to post complete thoughts. Uninformative about what? Everything? Climategate? Or the thermometer record? Or the strength of evidence for AGW? Depending on how I read your mind, you may be saying something true or utterly false. If you are going to lecture people on communicating science you might want to stop making readers guess which you mean.

      Second: It seems to me you are misunderstanding what SteveMc writes. He’s not saying he is irritated that someone thinks paleo data is uninformative. He is saying that you suggest the “whole affair” (i.e. climategate) is an argument about the thermometer record. The fact is: climategate is not merely or even mostly about the thermometer record.

      And I stand by the assertion that, thanks to the sloppy coverage the affair received in the media, it wasn’t just Sarah Palin who got the impression that the instrumental temperature record was seriously compromised

      I would suggest that the main reason for this “sloppy coverage” was that reporters turned to people trying to rebut those discussing climategate at blogs and in forums. Some people people who (like you) might prefer to discuss the thermometer record rather than misbehavior of scientists or what “hide the decline” meant, diverted the discussion to the thermomeber record.

      I strongly suspect the behavior of the scientists who wanted to suppress discussion of climategate succeeded in giving the media the incorrect impression that climategate was about the thermometer record is one of the reasons much of the media, some politicians, and Sarah Palin developed the impression climategate is about the thermometer record. That you can show they were confused about what people at blogs and forums were posting about merely shows you don’t know what it was about.

      I would also suggest the only thing that can come of you continuing to try to convince people it was about the thermometer records is for people to explain that which you do not wish to be discussed: The Hockey Stick, misbehavior or scientists and the various whitewash investigations.

      OTOH: If you simply wish to communicate that the topics that are central to climategate are not important to our understanding of climate change- that would be fine. But if you wish to make the case that the hockey stick doesn’t matter, then you need to make that clearly. Unfortunately for you, clear exposition requires discussion of the hockey stick!

      A proper exposition might be to
      a) Discuss what the hockey stick “is” with a little history.(Accuracy would be useful here. Mention it was used as background at IPCC meetings, and in Gore’s talk.)
      b) Discuss why this shape is not important to our understanding of climate change. Show versions with and without the decline– and explain why even if the decline exists we do believe the world is warming. Do this by
      c) Explaining the thermometer record.

      Don’t try to take the tack of inaccurately claiming that climategate is actually about the thermometer record. If you take that tack, you’ll find yourself trying to defend your position– downgrading much of what you seemed to present rather strongly as your opinion, and burying your arguments in favor of your opinion deep in comments at a blog. (I’d note: I think much of your argument amounts to “changing the subject”– but that’s another matter.)

      Moreover, I would like to point out that unless say what paleo is uninformative about your claim that paleo is not important (at all) seems a bit thin. Climate blog addicts can easily see see that on May 26, 2012 you are chiding Bishop Hill for discussing the Hockey Stick and providing lengthy explanations of its lack of importance while Real Climate’s front page is simultaneously running a post on discussing Hockey Sticks (See
      Fresh hockey sticks from the Southern Hemisphere, May 22). It’s quite likely some will suspect that your opinion that the hockey still is uninformative (about something you don’t quite spit out) is maybe not entirely correct.

      Third: Returning to “first”. When I watched your talk, I was struck by your tendency toward vagueness. Based on what you write in your defense in comments, I learn that the allusion to “the data” at minute 2:37 likely meant “the thermometer record” and “impact of the whole affair” (i.e. climategate) must have meant “impact of portions of the climategate discussions that relate to the thermometer record”. Your talk is riddled with these types of vague ambiguities. The consequence is that– on the whole– what your talk appears to communicate is false. If the audience comes away thinking you are suggesting that climategate was not about the paleo records, and that you think the only impact of climategate is a small tweak on the thermometer record, then the fault for their misunderstanding you falls on you for communicating rather badly.

      Next time you want to make a presentation telling reporters that they shouldn’t focus on the paleo record but rather the thermometer record, you might be wise not to try to turn that into a talk about how the media got climategate wrong. Try to bite off less– stick to just discussing the thermoter record and why you think it tells us that the world has warmed and it’s because of man.

      If you want to discuss climategate and how scientists failed to communicate their position, you have a hard row to hoe. Much of the reason scientists communicated the issues in climategate badly is they didn’t want to talk about them. Scientists mistake was to respond to journalists by trying to change the subject; others with plenty of ink keep talking all the whining in the world isn’t going to get people to stop discussing the topic. You can keep trying to do that: it isn’t going to work any better in 2012 than it did from 2009-2011.

      • theduke
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 12:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

        What she said.

        And to repeat, if the hockey stick “doesn’t matter,” why is Dr. Mann’s website trumpeting it as we speak?

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/05/fresh-hockey-sticks-from-the-southern-hemisphere/

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:56 PM | Permalink

          Scientifically the hockey stick does not matter to the case in chief.

          GHGs cause warming

          The Hockey stick COULD matter to the secondary case “what is the sensitivity” but even here 1000 year
          reconstructions do not constrain the estimates in any significant way.

          The Hockey stick was born to support a sideline argument: Its hotter than it ever has been. This argument
          is far removed from the mainline, although for PR purposes it has been pitched as a center piece.

        • Neil Fisher
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Permalink

          Steven Mosher
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:56 PM:

          GHGs cause warming

          Steve, you know better than to say such a thing – what you should have said was “GHG’s cause warming in simple, homogenous, static systems like bottles of gas, but in a complex, heterogeneous, dynamic system like the the real world’s climate, we have yet to determine their effect – although a reasonable base assumption is that they would cause warming there as well”.

          Given Lucia’s spray to Myles on precision of use of language, I don’t feel this is out of place (here and now – it may be inappropriate for other arguments at other times though)

        • ObtuseFaction
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:49 PM | Permalink

          The Hockey Stick is incidental to the physics of greenhouse gas and global warming theory. Basically, it doesn’t matter much that the current warming is unprecedented because the argument is whether or not greenhouse gases, specifically the human contribution, will cause significant and harmful rises in global temperatures and changes in global climate.

          The Hockey Stick is somewhat important to the attribution of warming in the modern period to greenhouse gases by GCMs, since the paleoclimate history would support the idea that very little change have been be on the aggregate attributable to natural variability and non-greenhouse forcing. Incidentally, it would also weaken the argument that any further warming would be wholly detrimental to the ecology of planet since the planet and humans have already been there.

          For scientific rigor, those two points are still debatable. Even if present warming is unprecedented in the last 1000 years, there would still need to be evidence of the negative effects of further warming globally. Likewise, GCMs still have to account for natural variability even if there is no evidence of it in recent history. The Hockey Stick is therefore more of a psychological bludgeon against laymen and possibly important if you are a “science communicator” rather than a scientist.

      • johanna
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:35 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Brava, Lucia – lesson in clarity that Dr Allen would do well to emulate.

        It’s spin, not clear communication. As Dr Phil would say: how’s that been working for you?

        Myles Allen’s problem is that in this forum, and at the Bishop’s place, his audience is too well informed to be bamboozled and diverted by it. In the general population, people don’t care about the ambiguities and fine distinctions, but they want a convincing explanation of why their energy bills are skyrocketing while the climate just plods along as usual. Spin doesn’t work with either audience.

      • Myles Allen
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Dear Lucia,

        I am not suggesting that the whole affair is about the surface temperature record. What I was complaining about, and I think that was clear from the talk, was that the public were given the impression that the affair compromised the data we actually use for detection and attribution, when in fact it didn’t. The “sloppy software” people found turned out to be nothing to do with the surface temperature record, the issues raised with tree-ring reconstructions turned out to be long-standing ones that Keith Briffa published on in the late 1990s, and in any case most detection and attribution studies make no use of tree-ring data at all. Scientifically, the UEA e-mails didn’t really change anything: no published dataset had to be withdrawn or revised, apart from that error in HadCRUT that I highlighted. And I stand by the assertion that I don’t think that is a message that has got across to the public.

        Myles

        • Greybeard
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:42 AM | Permalink

          Scientifically, the UEA e-mails didn’t really change anything

          Other than revealing the scientific process to be seriously compromised.

        • ChE
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Permalink

          Two points:

          1. When the general public, who aren’t paying close attention (and probably aren’t equipped to) hear that there a brouhaha about “hide the decline”, I submit that it’s a reasonable, albeit incorrect, inference that someone was hiding a decline in surface temperature records. No intent to deceive is necessary. I see no evidence that anyone who knew better intentionally spread misinformation about this being in reference to the surface record. What your’re looking at is what happens when a complicated technical controversy gets reduced to three words, and then erupts into a public controversy.

          2. Nonetheless, “hide the decline” was chicanery, and the public misperception of its meaning could have been avoided by avoiding the chicanery. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for the misperception when they shouldn’t have been doing this in the first place.

          The take-away lesson is that if you don’t want the public to think you’re up to no good, you should avoid activities, no matter how unimportant you may think they are in the big picture, that cut ethical corners. All of climate science needs higher standards. Then you won’t have these problems. It’s that simple.

        • Jeremy
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

          I am not suggesting that the whole affair is about the surface temperature record. What I was complaining about, and I think that was clear from the talk, was that the public were given the impression that the affair compromised the data we actually use for detection and attribution, when in fact it didn’t. The “sloppy software” people found turned out to be nothing to do with the surface temperature record, the issues raised with tree-ring reconstructions turned out to be long-standing ones that Keith Briffa published on in the late 1990s, and in any case most detection and attribution studies make no use of tree-ring data at all. Scientifically, the UEA e-mails didn’t really change anything: no published dataset had to be withdrawn or revised, apart from that error in HadCRUT that I highlighted. And I stand by the assertion that I don’t think that is a message that has got across to the public.

          Are you suggesting that no demonstration of the presumed “unprecedented” nature of the warming must be given before proper attribution can be in any way confirmed? To attribute the current warming to man, you must first demonstrate that no such warming to at least the first and maybe second derivative w.r.t. time has occurred in the past. To do that, it seems you need a valid reconstruction of past climate much further into the past than our thermometers can take us. Tree-ring studies were a major component of said research. The fact that one of the most prominent tree-ring studies has been shown to be, erm, bunk, would seem to undermine these “detection and attribution” studies that you wish to bring out to demonstrate the lack of affect climategate has had.

          If Climategate can be said to demonstrate that we don’t know what the climate was in the past (perhaps a stretch, but if you have truly independent and solid lines of research that also show no MWP and a hockey stick, we’re all ears), we can’t say for certain that what our instruments are telling us is abnormal. If we cannot say for certain that the earth would not warm this way naturally, how can anyone so certainly attribute it to man’s influence?

      • Myles Allen
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:37 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Just a remark to Steve: I don’t know what the convention is here, but having promoted Lucia’s post, could you please promote my reply.

        Thanks,

        Myles

        Steve: done

      • Myles Allen
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Dear Lucia,

        Further to this, Andrew Montford has opened a new thread at Bishop Hill on the question of how climategate came to be intertwined with the surface temperature record, while I think we all agree that the “revelations” in the e-mails were little or nothing to do with the instrumental data we use for attribution (which was the point I wanted to make in the talk).

        Andrew helpfully sent a set of links to early coverage, and I looked at one by James Delingpole http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100017393/climategatethe-final-nail-in-the-coffin-of-anthropogenic-global-warming/ “This matters because CRU, established in 1990 by the Met Office, is a government-funded body which is supposed to be a model of rectitude. Its HadCrut record is one of the four official sources of global temperature data used by the IPCC.”

        I don’t think you can blame James’s remarks on “people who (like you) might prefer to discuss the thermometer record” — James recognised, quite correctly, that the story was interesting precisely because it potentially impacted the surface temperature record. So did I at the time: I was seriously concerned. If there had been anything wrong with the instrumental record, I would have to retract or redo a huge number of papers. It turned out there wasn’t. But how many members of the public got that message?

        Regards,

        Myles

        • Greybeard
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:00 AM | Permalink

          Oh come come Myles. The twining of the temperature record with Climategate was just a sly attempt to divert attention away from the real message, which was widespread malpractice in ‘consensus’ climate science.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

          Myles Allen says:

          I think we all agree that the “revelations” in the e-mails were little or nothing to do with the instrumental data we use for attribution (which was the point I wanted to make in the talk).

          Myles,

          I’m glad that we agree on this point. It’s a point that I’ve made over and over and with some frustration at the misinformation disseminated by, for example, Nature. Given your clear understanding on this point, it’s disappointing
          that you didn’t notify Nature that they misunderstood this and drawn their attention to the proxy reconstructions actually at issue. Such omissions surely contributed to continuing and avoidable misunderstanding.

          Given this common understanding, it seems to me that your presentation to Climate communicators should have discussed what Climategate was actually about – not what it wasn’t about. Your presentation clearly implied that Climategate was about the instrumental data. No member of your audience would possibly understand that Climategate was about something else.

          You are entitled to observe that the Climategate emails scarcely mention the temperature record and therefore, as matters appear to you, do not affect your attribution studies using this record. (In passing, I think that there may be some hair on the instrumental record, but the instrumental record has not been a central issue here. I think that the Jones-Peterson type of article purporting to show UHI doesn’t “matter” are worthless, but that’s a different story.)

          Having made that tangential point, surely a balanced presentation on Climategate from a climate professor would provide a proper exposition of “hide the decline”, “delete any emails”, “going to town” etc. The public reacted badly to this sort of language not because of the overweening influence of the climate blogs, but because of the intrinsic offensiveness of the emails themselves. I don’t see how any fair presentation on Climategate can omit all such references while discussing an issue totally unrelated to the emails.

          You argue that proxy reconstructions do not “matter” in the overall debate, because they do not enter into your attribution papers. That is one perspective but no more than one perspective.

          At a minimum, the proxy reconstructions “matter” because IPCC and national governments used them as an argument to the wider public. They also “matter” in a way that you and many others under-estimate: like it or not, the Hockey Stick debate has become important through its central position in the blogosphere discussion, which is an access point to thousands of interested people. On the technical points, “your” side come across poorly as scientists. For example, the wilful obtuseness on something as simple and now canonical as upside-down Tiljander is evident to everyone except the climate science community. Your community comes across as over-committed to the Cause and having lost all objectivity.

          It’s a hard bell to unring.

          And it won’t unring simply by trying to wish it away. And it’s harder to unring now, than it would have been if a more conciliatory attitude had been struck by the community in December 2009. If, as you say, it is “sad for democracy”, that this particular debate lingers, then, before blaming Bishop Hill and others, you and your community should look into the mirror long and hard and try to figure out what you’ve done to foster and/or contribute to such a situation and what, at this stage, you can do about it.

        • theduke
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:13 PM | Permalink

          Myles: you’ve taken some abuse on three or more blogs in the last few days and I admire you for standing your ground and defending your position. Others in your field refuse to engage in meaningful debate on these issues. Thank you for continuing the dialogue.

          snip – distracting

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Permalink

          Dear Steve,

          I don’t think it is entirely fair to get quite so exercised about what a 10-minute talk (to a coffee-house-style meeting of journalists — we aren’t talking about congressional testimony here) was not about. I couldn’t pretend to give a comprehensive overview of climategate: people have written whole books on the matter.

          What I did focus on was the specific confusion, for which I think the blame can be laid squarely at the door of the press covering the issue at the time, that many people thought, and still think, that it was about the surface temperature record. I have made this point before, for example to a meeting of the UK Association of Science Journalists, and no-one disputed it — and they were working for papers and programmes responsible for the coverage.

          The specific statement that the 0.02K was the only revision to any published dataset used for detection and attribution to have emerged from the entire affair was, I believe, correct.

          You say that the Hockeystick is important through its central position in the blogosphere. I think you are quite right here, but the importance is almost entirely negative: it is preventing, like a hockeystick through the door-handles of the gym, many engaged members of the public from participating in the debate on how climate is changing now and what we should do about it. My real concern (hence the “bad for democracy” remark that everyone so completely misunderstood) is that this allows discussion of climate policy to continue behind closed doors, to be pulled out with a “too late to consider any alternative” the next time we get a run of warm years.

          Myles

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Permalink

          I just re-read a letter from Myles and Hans von Storch to Nature on Dec 18, 2009 here in which they stated (consistent with Myles’ present position):

          The mainstream media has confused discussions about relatively uncertain climate reconstructions built on tree-ring data, among them the ‘hockey-stick’ graph of rising temperatures, and the much more secure thermometer record. Whereas proxy-based reconstructions remain a controversial area of active research, the thermometer record shows unequivocally that Earth is warming, and provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity. This important record remains essentially unchallenged.

          This statement clearly recognized that proxy reconstructions were at issue with UEA. On the other hand, if it were as warm as the present in the MWP or Roman Warm Period of Holocene Optimum, it seems to me that this would raise questions about natural variability as a factor in modern warming. (I, for one, have never contested that it is materially warmer now than in the 19th century, though I am unimpressed with the handling of the UHI issue in any of the major indices.)

          Myles blames the “mainstream media” for the focus on the temperature record rather than proxies. Having dealt quite a bit with the mainstream media during this process, I think that Myles is over-estimating the limited resources that the mainstream media have for investigating a technical story and suggest that attempt to lay “blame” are very misguided. As to how the focus changes from the Hockey Stick to CRUTEM, it’s an interesting question – one that hasn’t been examined closely by anyone.

          I’ve quickly re-examined some of the contemporary news reports as the story unfolded to see how attention got shifted from the Hockey Stick to temperature. These comments are quick and do not represent a thorough canvassing, which would be interesting. Many of the very earliest comments refer to the Hockey Stick.

          The earliest comments from the University of East Anglia refer to the temperature record, rather than the hockey stick. Most early coverage by Nature – which was very involved in early coverage – also drew attention to the temperature record, rather than the hockey stick. It looks to me like both the UEA and Nature were important contributors to focussing on the temperature record, rather than proxy reconstructions. I don’t think that Myles can fairly blame “mainstream media” for getting this wrong, when Nature and the UEA were busy fostering this misunderstanding.

          At the time, I found this mis-focus frustrating because it seemed to interfere with/prevent investigation of the actual data manipulation issues (Yamal, hockey stick, hide the decline, the Briffa bodge, cherry picking, destroyed IPCC review comments), all of which had been Climate Audit topics.

          Myles, I can understand your frustration at the baby being thrown out with the bathwater, so to speak. But you and your community should have recognized this problem right at the beginning and insisted on proper investigations that ensured that critics were recognized and dealt with. You and your associates should have spoken out against Muir Russell and Oxburgh. It’s your community that ultimately is paying the price for Climategate and the dissembling inquiries. But having stood idly by, you really have only yourselves to blame.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

          Actually journalists are generally interested in facts. Speaking of which, Myles’ talk was 13 minutes 24 seconds. (Funny how those little slips tend to point in a certain direction).

        • stan
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:58 PM | Permalink

          “the importance is almost entirely negative: it is preventing, like a hockeystick through the door-handles of the gym, many engaged members of the public from participating in the debate on how climate is changing now and what we should do about it.” — Myles Allen

          Got the cart. Now where is that horse?

          Interesting simile. How is the hockey stick preventing participation in the debate? It’s not. Perhaps you meant to say that it is a distraction? Let’s start with the fact that distraction would be due to the alarmists who made the hockey stick the face of climate science.

          But it could only be a “distraction” for people like you who want to ignore the elephant in the room (or I suppose I should say ‘horse’ since it is what the cart has been placed before). Pretending that the science is settled and moving on to what should be done about it, isn’t going to be a very effective communications strategy — just as Rahmstorf’s ‘pretend’ data created by his smoothing filter didn’t really make the data “worse than we thought”.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

          Myles,

          Hadley CRU has form in this regard. In September – I wrote the story up here as “How the global warming industry is based on a massive lie” – CRU’s researchers were exposed as having “cherry-picked” data in order to support their untrue claim that global temperatures had risen higher at the end of the 20th century than at any time in the last millenium. CRU was also the organisation which – in contravention of all acceptable behaviour in the international scientific community – spent years withholding data from researchers it deemed unhelpful to its cause. This matters because CRU, established in 1990 by the Met Office, is a government-funded body which is supposed to be a model of rectitude. Its HadCrut record is one of the four official sources of global temperature data used by the IPCC.

          James reports two things they are accused of doing:
          1) the fiddling affects paleo– that is the claim about “the last millenium”.
          2) withholding data.

          After that, he transitions and explains why what CRU does matter– and only then, mentions HadCrut. But he doesn’t say climategate letters say HadCrut is wrong.

          Of course, at the time, and even now, if you thought this was misleading, you could have and still can respond by clarifying that the scientist cherrypicked tree samples not temperature records and that the data that had been with held was not HadCrut, but information that permitted people to replicate HadCrut and understand how it is constructed. You could still do that in your talk. That would help the journalists understand why what James said doesn’t affect the thermometer record.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

          Steve, help me out if you would. You write,

          “though I am unimpressed with the handling of the UHI issue in any of the major indices”.

          I was under the impression that all of the adjustments by the Team (besides this “climategate correction” that’s under discussion) have been up, rather than down, in the more recent years. Is this true, and if so, since that couldn’t possibly be UHI adjustments, how can you say you are merely “unimpressed”?

          Might not any journalists reading that sentence, and without sufficient background on the issue, be led to believe that you are admitting that they have adjusted recent years down for UHI, and that you are just taking issue with how much? Which, it seems to me, could then lead them to suppose that your opinion of the adjustments is merely based on some bias they assume you have, which you clearly don’t have, and which would be irrelevant anyway if all the so-called “UHI” adjustments are toward more warming rather than less?

          Doesn’t such a situation call for stronger language than just “unimpressed”? For example, imagine if a mining company were required by GAAP to do some adjustment that would make their estimates more conservative, and instead they adjusted in the opposite direction. Would it be reasonable to just call yourself “unimpressed”, or would something stronger like “outraged”, “floored” or “stunned”, be better?

          Thank you.

          RTF

          Steve: I don’t want to get into debates about temperature records. I’m not uninterested in it, but it’s way down on my list of interests. I realize that many readers are interested in the topic, but it’s something that’s of more interest to Anthony than me and I suggest that you discuss it over there.

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

          Steve,

          I think it’s a bit harsh to suggest I stood idly by. I’ve been making this point ever since the story broke, both in the CiF comment on the Newsnight piece, in the letter with Hans and whenever the opportunity arose since.

          Myles

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

          Myles, puh-leeze. I said:

          You and your associates should have spoken out against Muir Russell and Oxburgh. It’s your community that ultimately is paying the price for Climategate and the dissembling inquiries. But having stood idly by, you really have only yourselves to blame.

          I must have missed your speaking out against Muir Russell and Oxburgh. Nor did you ever publicly stand up for CRU critics. You stood up for the things that were easy for you to stand up for. Not for things that would have been unpopular in your community.

          If you’re frustrated about the present situation (and in your shoes, I would be), then you need to do a post-audit of what went wrong and how it should have been handled. (I presume that you don’t think that everything’s worked out just great or we wouldn’t be talking.)

          And in thinking about it should have been handled differently, you need to focus on things that are under the control of you, your associates or the lettered societies that you belong to or could influence. I know a number of measures that, in your shoes, I would have recommended and, which might have mitigated the present stalemate.

          But again, I go back to my first point. In my opinion, climate scientists, including yourself, spend far too much time blaming other people for various things – blaming the media, blaming Bishop Hill, blaming fossil fuel companies, blaming the Koch Brothers. And not nearly enough time looking into the mirror. Including you unfortunately.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM | Permalink

          Thanks for your clarification, Steve.

          Richard

        • kuhnkat
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:56 PM | Permalink

          Myles,

          ” If there had been anything wrong with the instrumental record, I would have to retract or redo a huge number of papers. It turned out there wasn’t. ”

          And you spent how many hours validating the temperature record you so often use?!?!?!?!

        • Myles Allen
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:49 AM | Permalink

          Dear Steve,

          Apropos standing idly by, I see you meant specifically regarding the enquiries rather than the issue as a whole. I’m not quite sure what I could have done — I wasn’t invited to testify to any of the enquiries, nor would it have made much sense for them to invite me. I’m an interested user of data (instrumental data) that CRU have a hand in producing, along with some tens of thousands of other climate scientists, so there wouldn’t have been much reason for them to have asked me specifically. I certainly wasn’t privy to any information that wasn’t in the public domain, so any contribution from me would have been purely personal opinion.

          For the record, and I don’t want to set any new hares running here, I did encourage Phil to release the data months before all this broke when he was receiving a lot of FoI requests (this in the context of a broader conversation about open-source models, data and code, which I have always supported). He explained to me at the time the restrictions on him imposed by the data sources, reasons which, again, are familiar to you all. I grumbled about these restrictions, as I have been grumbling for years about such restrictions in our field. Would it have made any difference if I had grumbled louder? I doubt it. Obviously it would have been better if everyone had had an open data policy in place 20 years ago so there would have been no way of people getting stuck with these restrictions. But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

          Myles

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Permalink

          I wasn’t invited to testify to any of the enquiries, nor would it have made much sense for them to invite me.

          I wasn’t invited to testify either and it would have made sense to invite me. Did you know that Muir Russell didn’t even bother attending the only session at which Jones and Briffa were asked about paleo issues. Only two panelists turned up – one of whom was Geoffrey Boulton, who unfortunately was perceived by many, including me, as not bringing the requisite impartiality to the investigation. Trevor Davies of the UEA didn’t even realize that Muir Russell hadn’t attended this one session – at the Guardian session, he embarrassingly asked me for details, to the snickers of the audience.

        • kuhnkat
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:57 PM | Permalink

          Myles Allen,

          “I’m an interested user of data (instrumental data) that CRU have a hand in producing,”

          Could you explain to us your understanding of the “hand” CRU has in “producing” instrumental data??

          On the face of it I would not agree with this statement as CRU would appear to be a “consumer” of instrumental data to produce their product.

        • Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:53 AM | Permalink

          If there had been anything wrong with the instrumental record, I would have to retract or redo a huge number of papers. It turned out there wasn’t. But how many members of the public got that message?

          Myles, your comment neatly summarizes the huge extent to which you and your colleagues are invested in the validity of the surface temperature record. Which means both that the data contamination question is intensely important and that long-time users of the data are unlikely to be impartial on the matter. Your argument is that, in light of climategate, no revisions were made either to the surface temperature record or to climatologists’ views on it, therefore nothing is wrong with it. That’s an obvious non-sequitur. Perhaps you meant to say that Muir Russell waved away the topic, therefore so say we all. That leads me back to the question I posed to you below:
          http://climateaudit.org/2012/05/26/myles-allen-and-hide-the-decline/#comment-335217

    • ChE
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 12:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Rhetorical question: What’s the psycho-sociological significance of picking out Sarah Palin by name in this comment?

      • Vorlath
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

        snip – please do not debate politicians. I don’t think Sarah Palin would be insulted by comparing her understanding of Climategate to Myles Allen’s. But no more please.

        • ChE
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

          That wasn’t the point. The point is that if you went out on the street and asked 100 people at random what “hide the decline” means, a good 95 would say that it was about hiding the decline in the temperature record. It’s a very widespread (mis)interpretation, and not by any means unique to [self snip]. So selecting [self snip] is illuminating.

        • Ivan
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

          “The point is that if you went out on the street and asked 100 people at random what “hide the decline” means, a good 95 would say that it was about hiding the decline in the temperature record.”

          Sure, whereas everybody was perfectly aware the the Hockey Stick was about the using of highly questionable tree ring temperature proxies processed by a highly questionable statistical methodology. I am sure that the Canadian government sent the pictures of Hockey Stick to the school children with exactly such an honest message in mind, rather than to say that “scientists measured that the 20th century was the warmest in the last 1000 years due to our CO2 emissions”.

        • nutso fasst
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

          I think if you went out on the street and asked 100 people at random what “hide the decline” means, a good 10-90 (depending on the street) would say “what?”

        • Follow the Money
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM | Permalink

          “The point is that if you went out on the street and asked 100 people at random what “hide the decline” means, a good 95 would say that it was about hiding the decline in the temperature record.”

          So would 95% of climate scientists on the gravy train. When these scientists communicate what you understand to be a “temperature record,” they signify as “instrumental temperature record.” They believe the proxies are “temperature” records, sometimes even better than the products of the heat sensors. However, these scientists have some uncertainty in their convictions on this matter, that’s why they never clarify that point in give and take with “skeptics.” The skeptics, and public in general, privilege instrumental heat records over proxy heat records, because they have not embraced the brave new world of post-normal (and better paying) climate science!

    • Jeff Alberts
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

      which isn’t really consistent with a correction of a couple of hundredths of a degree in the late 1870s

      Sorry, that’s a strawman. The critique of the MBH hockey sticks are that they are extremely sensitive to the removal of a single proxy. With BCPs removed, there is no anomalous modern warming shown. And, as Steve has pointed out, there is no reason to believe that tree ring recons can capture only, or even primarily, temperature.

      Consequently, if it cannot be shown that today’s temperatures are unprecedented, then there is no catastrophe. Period.

    • masgramondou
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Myles,

      As others have noted you appear to be guily of precisely the same error that you castigate others for, There were really two separate threads that arose out of climate gate and ignoring one for the sake of the other is at best misleading.

      The main thread was the umm ethically challenging behaviour of various “climate scientists” with regard to the pre-modern era proxy reconstructions (aka “Hide the decline”, Yamal etc.) and the IPCC. You can, if you like, try to make the claim that scientifically the long term proxy papers are irrelevant (though if you do so you’ll have a lot of very upset dendros attacking you) but you cannot claim that politically this is the case. The fact is that the Hockey stick and its near relatives have been used by countless pressure groups, bureaucrats and politicians to bolster their desire that we drastically modify our behaviour. The fact that said graphs turn out to be based on less that stellar statistics and to have been artificially juiced up – “hide the decline” – to make things look even worse has certainyl contributed in very large part to why increasing numbers of people fail to see any urgency in adopting the various climate change mitigation strategies on offer.

      And I stand by the assertion that, thanks to the sloppy coverage the affair received in the media, it wasn’t just Sarah Palin who got the impression that the instrumental temperature record was seriously compromised: The Times opened the relevant story with “A science blogger has uncovered a catalogue of errors in Met Office records…” which isn’t really consistent with a correction of a couple of hundredths of a degree in the late 1870s. The Newsnight piece on substandard software which they implied was used to compile the instrumental record (but turned out to be something else entirely) was also representative.

      What you mention above was the other thread. That is the appallingly shoddy code quality and data archiving methodology displayed in “Harry_read_me” and the related code. One of the good things about cliamtegate was that having had this level of incompetence displayed, the met office has been inspired to clean up its act and we now have them and other groups (e.g. the berkely lot) providing us with properly documented open-sourced code and clearly archived data. One can take issue with some of the adjustments (I take issue with a bunch of them) but at least the working is shown and indeed, contrary to vour statements, the corrections have been rather more than 1/200th of a degree in the 1870s.

      The main issue in this area was not the magnitude of the corrections but that the HADCRU black box was shown to be an almost unmaintainable piece of junk. The fact that once all the corrections were made in the new clean code it was possible to produce almost the same results is more due to luck in that a number of the errors cancelled each other out than anything else. For example see some of the links from this post: http://www.di2.nu/200912/01.htm

      Sarah Palin, the Times, Newsnight etc. were actually correct regarding the reliability of the HADCRU code. It was the sort of code that in an IT environment leads to developers being fired and I’m pretty sure that the it only worked to the extent that it did because they could compare the output to GISS and thus fix the more egregious errors.

  10. Myles Allen
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

    No, it’s not models all the way down. Detection and attribution is about testing competing hypotheses by comparing models with data. And the point is we overwhelmingly us instrumental data, not tree-ring proxy data.

    Myles

    • HAS
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:46 AM | Permalink | Reply

      In the end any hypothesis is a model being tested. It’s models all the way down.

    • pax
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

      In other words, you tweak the numerous model parameters until you get a good match to the instrumental record. Then extrapolate.

    • mpaul
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Its always frustrating to see how little interest some climate communicators have in understanding (or even listening to) the arguments from Skeptics. It would seem that the “communicators” are stuck on transmit-only.

      he instrument data is used to measure recent temperature trends, the proxy data is used to estimate long term temperature trends.

      Among the core questions the skeptics ask is this: “is the rise in the global mean surface temperature observed in the second half of the 20th century statistically significant?” or “how much of the rise in recent global average surface temperatures can be assigned to natural variation?” To know the answer to these questions, one must have some knowledge of long-term variability. The Hockey stick suggests that, if not for anthropogenic CO2, global average surface temperature would trade within a very narrow window with almost no volatility.

    • Hank McCard
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

      No, it’s not models all the way down.
      ====================================
      Sorry, I have no idea what that statement meeans.

    • Thor
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

      >> No, it’s not models all the way down. Detection and attribution is about testing competing hypotheses by comparing models with data. And the point is we overwhelmingly us instrumental data, not tree-ring proxy data.

      Except, of course, for millennium scale “reconstructions” – which are absolutely necessary in order to show that recent temperatures are higher than ever before. Some proxy data sets cooperate, some need torturing, and some just plainly won’t cooperate no matter what. Fortunately, it is still possible to hide really inconvenient data with a small “trick”.

      Neat.

  11. harmlesssky
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    To the best of my knowledge this is only the second time that Myles Allen has dipped his toe into the maelstrom of the blogosphere. On both occasions the task facing him has been to ‘un-say’ things that he has told journalists.

    What happened first time round, when even RealClimate had difficulty with his claims, is recounted here:

    Myles Allen explains it all at RealClimate

    Perhaps it’s not surprising that he’s waited so long before taking this route again.

    • orkneygal
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:51 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Did that string of comments at RC make it to the Borehole?

  12. Peter Whale
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Mr Allen thank you for commenting here and entering the debate. After reading this blog, Bishop Hill and Watts Up With That for several years the skeptical approach becomes somewhat cynical because of the way the climate science is portrayed. If you read “The Hockey Stick Illusion” which is thoroughly referenced and meticulously explained you would see how your interpretation is flawed. I wish you well.

  13. SeanH
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:13 AM | Permalink | Reply

    So we have an implicit admission that the 1000 year construction does not support the message any more, and is being sidelined… I guess that we should infer that we no longer know if current temperatures are exceptional.

  14. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    After listening carefully to both the Myles Allen lecture of late 2011 and the Richard Muller 2011 delivery and being a resonably long term scientist attuned to the subject material, all I can say is “Sorry, Myles. There are some authors whose papers I have ceased to read and the list has just grown by one.”
    A major reason for this judgement is the effrontery of those who know that bad science has been done, those who know the reality of the “trick” and the “hide the decline”, those who use silliness in saying that these days “very few papers outside the paleoclimate niche make use of tree-ring data” – yet still attempt to defend the indefensible.
    Consequently, we have papers like the recent “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium” by Gergis et al that is more than half tree ring data, often calibrated by scarcely relevant instrumental temperature records. As an Australian scientist, I blush at efforts like this and fear the repercussions, while you spend some minutes talking about a 0.02 degree correction to an irrelevant graph of your own selection.
    The need is for good, honest, properly-reviewed science in the climate arena. Spin is no longer in fashion.

  15. KnR
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    They still think that is the way their getting the message across which needs work , not the actual nature of the message .
    But that is what happens when you form self confirming and self congratulating groups which regards all ‘others ‘ as either mad or bad or dum.

    Mr Allen the IPCC and friends pimped the ‘stick’ long and hard , while the team defend this poor science to the death and are willing to throw the basics of the scientific approach under the bus to do so. If the stick has been given undue prominence its becasue of the IPCC and its friends use of it not becasue of the press. That claim is just a cop out in attempt to excuse poor behavior and bad scientific practice and is approach which actual totally fails to actual address either of these factors which is the root problem l. Or in other words ‘nothing to see hear time to move on’ an technique which climate science resorts with great frequency.

  16. Peter Lang
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

    What should we do about climate change?

    Myles Allen wrote:
    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2012/5/26/myles-allen-writes.html

    I do think it is sad for democracy that so much energy in the debate on climate change has been expended on pseudo-debates about the science, leaving no room for public debate about the policy response.

    I do too.

    In the next paragraph Miles Allen said:

    My fear is that by keeping the public focussed on irrelevancies, you are excluding them from the discussion of what we should do about climate change

    So, what should we do about climate change?

    Let’s keep this simple – ‘big picture’ – ‘book-end’ the issues – ‘on a page’ (or two).

    Let’s begin by trying to understand how bad is climate change? Then let’s consider the policy options and the costs and benefits of them. Then, what policies should we adopt?

    What is so bad about warming? How bad is it?

    Copenhagen Consensus 2012 does not rank mitigating climate change as one of the top priority items we should spend our resources, effort and wealth on to improve human well being.

    World Economic Forum “Global Risks 2012” says climate change not one of the biggest risks facing us.

    Scotese Palaeomap shows the planet is in a ‘Coldhouse’phase – i.e. there is plenty or room to warm before we get outside the planet’s ‘normal operating temperature. The chart shows that the planet’s temperature ranges between a minimum and maximum temperature (about 10 C to 25 C). The ‘normal temperature’ is near the higher end of the range. The current temperature is nearer to the low end of the range. Only three times since multi-cell animal life began to thrive has the planet sunk into a coldhouse phase like we are in now. This is unusual. So what is so bad about warming?

    IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 6, Figure 6.1 shows that for most of the past 400 years the planet has been without polar ice caps – i.e. the planet is normally much warmer than at present. So what is so bad about warming?

    IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 6 includes statements buried in the text that show life thrives when warmer and struggles when colder. So what is so bad about warming?

    James Hansen (Figure 1) shows the planet has been in a cooling trend for the past 50 million years. And we’ve recently (8000-5000 years ago) past the peak temperature in the current 100,000 year Glacial-Interglacial cycle. So we are in a cooling trend – heading down towards the next ice age. Cooling is scary. Arguable, anything we do to reduce the risk of cooling, and extend the period until cooling begins, is good for life on planet Earth.

    Nordhaus “Economic policy in the face of severe tail events” says no identified ‘thick tail’ risk of catastrophic consequences. The Abstract says: “However, we conclude that no loaded gun of strong tail dominance has been uncovered to date.”

    Conclusion, Global warming is not catastrophic or dangerous. There will be transition costs. So, we need policies to minimise the costs and disruptions. We first need to understand the benefit costs of different policy options.

    Policy Options and Benefit/Cost

    Nordhaus (2007) “A Question of Balance” Table 5.1 compares the options on the basis of benefit cost, equivalent carbon tax, social cost of carbon. On all measures the least cot option by far is a low cost alternative to fossil fuels.

    Two comments on May 4 explain the benefit/cost ratio of Australia’s CO2 tax and ETS, to 2050 is just 0.11. That is, the cost for Australia are nine times more than the benefits. However, the benefits can only be achieved if the whole world implements an optimum CO2 price, and does so in unison. There is no hope of that. Such a scheme would be virtually impossible. Even if the will was there, which it isn’t, it is impossible to measure CO2-eq emissions to the standard of precision and accuracy that will eventually be required for taxing emissions or trade in emissions. We can’t do it in the developed countries, so what chance in Eretria, Ethiopia and Mogadishu.

    What policies should we adopt?

    Nordhaus (2007) “A Question of Balance” shows clearly that the least cost option by far would be a low cost alternative to fossil fuels.

    The solution is clear:

    find the least cost way to provide energy cheaper than fossil fuels.

    • Peter Lang
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

      References for my previous comment:

      Copenhagen Consensus 2012
      http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/Projects/CC12.aspx

      World Economic Forum “Global Risks 2012”
      http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-risks-2012-seventh-edition

      Scotese Palaeomap
      http://www.scotese.com/climate.htm

      IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 6, Figure 6.1
      http://accessipcc.com/AR4-WG1-6.html#6-3-1

      IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 6
      http://accessipcc.com/AR4-WG1-6.html#6

      James Hansen and Makiko Sato (2010) “Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change” (Figure 1)
      http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/mailings/2011/20110118_MilankovicPaper.pdf

      Nordhaus “Economic policy in the face of severe tail events”
      http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-risks-2012-seventh-edition

      Nordhaus (2007) “A Question of Balance”
      http://nordhaus.econ.yale.edu/Balance_2nd_proofs.pdf

      Peter Lang, Two comments on Bishop and Hill “Nordhaus and the Sixteen”, May 4
      http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2012/4/4/nordhaus-and-the-sixteen.html

      • Peter Lang
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Moderator,

        Is this comment held in moderation? It contains the references and URLs for my comment (I posted this soon after the original comment because the hyperlinks didn’t display).

        • JohnH
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

          Peter, its best never to post more than 1 URL in a post or it goes to moderation and on a busy thread gets lost.

        • Peter Lang
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:45 PM | Permalink

          John H,

          Thank you for that tip. I’ll apply that principle in future on CA.

    • Tony Mach
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Peter Lang, you have there at least one typo: “IPCC AR4 WG1 Chapter 6, Figure 6.1 shows that for most of the past 400 million years the planet has been without polar ice caps – i.e. the planet is normally much warmer than at present. So what is so bad about warming?”

      And thank you for driving the point home by using information from the IPCC.

      • Peter Lang
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 2:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Tony,

        Thank you for pointing that typo out. I also messed up the formatting and the hyperlinks, so it’s little wonder it drew little interest. But thanks again for the correction.

      • Ian
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Excellent post, Peter.

        What Allen ignores is that faulty science – science which is used to grossly exaggerate the likelihood of catastrophic impacts from “predicted” (or is that projected?) warming and that identifies CO2 as the sole or principal driver of climate change – warps the policy debate. Attribution studies are in their infancy at best, and badly informed about major climate controllers/drivers ranging from cloud formation to ocean cycles. They are riven with assumptions, which are untested.

        If the Hockey Stick debate and paleo-climate studies really are unimportant to the his central thesis, then why not just admit that they did wrong, that those studies have handled the data and uncertainties badly and should not be included. Bad behaviour by the scientists involved – including failure to archive the data upon which they rely, the failure to explain data selection methods and the failure to make available their programs for processing that data (amongst their other faults) – should be condemned, since that behaviour tarnishes all in the field.

        He won’t do that, of course. There are two reasons: Judith Curry described well the “tribalism” that has occurred in the field. There are careers and lots of money at stake. Second, absent Mann’s “hockey stick”, there is nothing to suggest that modern warming is at all unusual. Indeed, looked at over the geological history of the earth, it’s hard to see 20th century warming as unusual or eventful: we’re a lot better off as a result of it, than they were in the 16thC during the LIA.

        • Peter Lang
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

          Ian,

          Thank you for the reply. You’ve made lots of good points. I’ll add to this one:

          Second, absent Mann’s “hockey stick”, there is nothing to suggest that modern warming is at all unusual. Indeed, looked at over the geological history of the earth, it’s hard to see 20th century warming as unusual or eventful: we’re a lot better off as a result of it, than they were in the 16thC during the LIA.

          I understand the data from the Greenland ice cores shows warming rates of up to 0.2 C/year. Can anyone please tell me if I am wrong and point me to authoritative data sources. My source is a frequent blogger on Judith Curry’s web site “Web HubTelescope” and his Figure 23 here:
          http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com.au/2011/11/multiscale-variance-analysis-and.html
          Figure 23, shows that, during the past 10,000 years, warming rates of 0.2 C/year had a probability of 1 in 1000 years and warming rates of 0.1 C/year have a probablity of 1 in 100 years. Warming rates were much greater in earlier times (Figure 22 shows warming rates between 80,000 and 30,000 years ago).

          I understand these warming rates are much faster than anything we’ve experienced over the past century or two. Am I correct?

  17. Sony
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

    With Allen as with the state profession in general, the problem isn’t so much what climate scientists do tell us, but what they don’t tell us – ie hide or avoid.

  18. Nick Stokes
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Prof Allen is absolutely right. I frequently defend the hockey stick, which I think is clever and interesting science. But it is not, and never has been an essential part of the case for AGW. That has always been based on the radiative properties of greenhouse gasses, and the relentless buildup of anthropogenic CO2.

    What this post yet again shows is the extraordinarily obsessive focus on minor events over a period of a few years, now quite a long time ago. AGW has been around for over a century. In most of that time, there were not even global temperature indices, let alone millenium reconstructions. There was no HS when a series of world conferences led to the 1992 UNFCCC, which Pres Bush transmitted to the US Senate, which ratified it.

    AGW is about the radiative physics and its interaction with climate. GCM’s quantify this, and the instrumental record is useful for checking how well they do it. The case for AGW is not, as many seem to think, based on observations of the instrumental record. And it certainly isn’t based on the paleo record.

    • Salamano
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:19 AM | Permalink | Reply

      This seems to be part and parcel of the way certain scientists behave to defend their own work above and beyond demonstrating a rigorous methodology.

      We’ve got the Yamal chronology– implicitly understood by everyone involved that it suffers such weakness of small core samples and unexplained selection methodology, but will (only years later) become somehow ‘confirmed’ by an upcoming regional chronology that will have a more explained and better applied methodology. There will be no admission that the first study was made-to-order for the IPCC report, except that they “simply didn’t have time” to do it right the first time.

      Then we’ve got the original MBH papers that rely on Bristlecones and all that… Subsequent papers ‘confirm’ the HS signature through other lines of evidence, but for some reason above-all-else there seems to be a line in the sand where it simply can’t possibly be admitted that the original papers were not robust and simply not ‘good’ enough to pass the scientific muster that the subsequent papers in other data lines provide. This is all papered over by declaring it’s “clever and interesting science”…

      You’ve also got the Steig and O’Donnell issue, Spencer vs. Dressler, etc. etc. where early work was demonstrated to be sub-standard in being able to significantly and reliably back up their conclusions. In some cases, subsequent publications (or boreholes) may ‘confirm’ the results of the earlier work, but in reality what they do is ‘do it correctly’ or ‘better’.

      Does science progress by getting ‘clever’ and ‘interesting’ pictures on the cover of Nature Magazine with the idea that only years later after the material is ‘audited’ that it be done better? If so, then hell, it doesn’t matter what is published initially. We can come up with any correlation/causation we want– just throw it up there, grab headlines/funding, and let someone else fix it.

      How about we just declare that AGW itself is the cause of heat-waves in Russia, more extreme incidences of billion dollar weather disasters, simultaneous droughts/floods, plummeting wheat yields— why not? We know that (a) someone else will eventually figure out the right way to prove it, and (b) we never have to admit the shoddy methods initially used once that happens.

      —oh, wait, we’re already there.

      [seriously, you really wonder why this HS thing never goes away despite the other lines of evidence? Really? I bet a ton of the hub-bub would just go away if the principals would simply admit their original methodology was too coarse/young/weak to correctly bear out their conclusions, rather than act like future publications 'confirmed' their issue-free work]

      Or do you believe that ANY methodology, if successfully arriving at conclusions that fit the prevailing scientific understanding, is therefore acceptable? Batting average trends in the New York Yankees anyone?

      • Nick Stokes
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

        We’ve had endless arguments about these talking points. This thread is about Myles Allen’s argument that the HS simply isn’t that relevant to the case for AGW.

        • Salamano
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:59 AM | Permalink

          Well, it seems like you are not understanding why there is still an ‘obsession’ over it. At least half (and in my opinion moreso) of the reason is what I’ve stated above (you know, those endless talking points).

          Declaring that everybody should just move on because of the ‘other’ evidence and the ‘better’ papers means that you still might not get the reasons for the ‘obsessive focus’.

          The reason why the HS “IS” relevant is because of how it originally grabbed the headlines undeservingly. Perhaps we could have arrived at the same overall conclusions about AGW in a matter of years later– but some folks didn’t want to wait that long; magazine covers and political panels were too juicy to avoid. But that’s not how science should progress. The “HS” is critical for the ‘early’ case. The early case is critical for so much that followed.

          The HS from dendro samples may not be as relevant anymore to an overall proof of AGW, but that’s a separate layer of relvancy where skipping the former layer means you do not wish to improve climate science communication or rigorousness. And then you’re back to wondering why all these people care so much about that insignficant Hockey Stick thing. Round and round you go.

          Since you involve yourself in all these forums, you should have a pretty good handle on where things stand. But you also appear to suffer from the same ‘at all costs’ defense of these original first-salvo papers that keeps you rutted. It’s a very simple thing to fix, but apparently a bridge too far.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

          “The reason why the HS “IS” relevant is because of how it originally grabbed the headlines undeservingly. Perhaps we could have arrived at the same overall conclusions about AGW in a matter of years later”

          No, you’ve missed my point about the chronology. AGW was affirmed long before the HS. The UNFCCC came before – even Kyoto.

          The thing is, relevance matters. It doesn’t matter how wrong you think those things are (I disagree), the events and personalities will fade and the AGW case (and the CO2) remains. And you start to sound like the guy who keeps saying that it all went wrong with Eisenhower.

        • stan
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:33 AM | Permalink

          The hockey stick is all about credibility. Without credibility, there is no case for CAGW or anything else. As Muller put it, there are people whose papers are not worth the bother of reading. If the climate science community put its credibility behind the hockey stick and used it to advise the world, the climate science community wrecked its credibility.

        • Andrew Russell
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:59 PM | Permalink

          “This thread is about Myles Allen’s argument that the HS simply isn’t that relevant to the case for AGW.”

          And his argument is wholly false. As I am sure both you and he know.

          It was the absolute centerpiece of IPCC AR3, cited seven times. “The final icing on the cake was when the IPCC chairman, Sir John Houghton, announcing the publication of the report, sat in front of an enormous blowup of the Hockey Stick itself” (The Hockey Stick Illusion, Andrew Montford, p37). The New York Times ran articles on it. It continues to be cited by those demanding draconian political policies to this day.

          And why? Because for the first time, there was “scientific evidence” for the claims of Imminent! Global! Catastrophe!. And it was all false. Cherry-picked strip bark tree cores, phoney statistical methods that created hockey sticks from red noise, etc. etc.

          For years the defense has been that it has been “independently” verified by other studies. “Studies” that were by cronies of Mann using the same tree ring data, same short-centered PCA, as documented here on Climate Audit. Then of course we got Upside-Down Tijlander and Yamal. All dutifully defended by the Team’s policy of keeping the data and methods secret, of course.

          And today, there is still no actual scientific evidence that the Earth’s temperatures are outside the bounds of natural, non-catastrophic variablity. Nor of course is there any scientific evidence that the Earth’s climate is dynamically unstable – that it exhibits “positive feedback” from any temperature perturbation.

          The claims today from the promoters of CAGW that the Hockey Stick “isn’t relevant” are a ludicrous falsehood. Just like so many of the other falsehoods we have had to endure from them.

        • bmcburney
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

          Nick,

          In fact, the thread is about Allen’s attempt to change the subject of “what happened during Climategate” from a discussion of the Hockey Stick to a discussion of temps. Allen’s recent attempt, on this very thread, to change the subject again to “Hockey Sticks don’t matter anyway” is too feeble to be anything but annoying. You guys need to come up with some new “tricks”, the old ones are getting really old.

        • Okes
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:56 AM | Permalink

          It should also be noted that the whole hockey stick saga has provided ample evidence on the standards and ethics applied in climate science in general – evidence that can be extrapolated to a wide range of climate-related issues.

    • maxberan
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Indeed so; in fact Myles Allen may come to regret his admonitions if it really were to come to pass that the Holmesian investigative talent and statistical nous shown here were to be redirected to those big issues involving the global radiation budget.
      Without the water vapour and other multipliers and the whitewashing of mismatched vertical profiles (hotspot) much of the delusion of settled science would be blown away leaving space for a sense of proportion to return and for green obsessions to be marginalised.
      The statistics involved may not be multivariate analysis but are still quite advanced matters of hypothesis testing, pattern matching and time series analysis so plenty to get teeth into.

      • Nick Stokes
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

        That sounds like a concession that you’ve been barking up the wrong tree, so to speak. And I think it is a point to think about.

        • maxberan
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:08 AM | Permalink

          Not exactly a concession, more a plea for barking up other trees that will be at least as productive as the HS and with a more primary focus on the current and future greenhouse effect. The issues also require the same standard of statistical know-how as displayed here if not the same techniques.

          Actually Myles Allen’s regret was that we were diverting attention from the study of impacts and responses, hardly a substitute for real science and at root an invitation to agree that global warming et al really is settled science. This is totaly unacceptable, especially in the light of his own seeming blindness to the dominating role of mathematical models.

        • tetris
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

          Nick,
          Maybe it was all that barking that caused that one single Yamal tree to produce a “Hockey Stick” or why not, caused the entire Tiljander series to flip upside down so as to make for a better fit…. As you say, you find the Hockey Stick is “clever and interesting science”. Like astrology and homeopathy.

    • Pat Frank
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 12:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Nick’s is the standard bushwah that radiation physics is an adequate theory of climate. And supposing that climate models quantify anything about climate is to live in dimension bizarro.

      Let’s see the true physical error bars around a GCM projection, Nick. The IPCC and everyone else has gone 25 years without once showing them. About GCM error limits, it’s ‘hide the ascent.‘ One hundred years out, they’re through the roof.

      Steve is always cutting off my posts when I call the spade for what it is. So, let me put it this way: the best that can be said for these people is that they’re incompetent.

      • Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:00 PM | Permalink | Reply

        With you on dimension bizarro Pat – and hopefully never in dimension bizarro :)

    • Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

      The Hockey Stick is important to both science and policy discussions on climate change. If the current warming period is not unusual over the historical record (as opposed to temperature) then we need to frame our analysis using the idea that current conditions may not be unusual. This does not preclude the strong probability that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases have contributed to the warming, but it undoubtedly changes the nature of the discussion.

      If the Hockey Stick is a statistical artifact of poor analytic choices then those who made those choices and those who have defended them need to have their opinions discounted somewhat by, first, understanding that they are capable of serious error on an important matter and second, by further discounting their opinions based on stubborn refusal to acknowledge their error.

      Does breaking the Hockey Stick invalidate climate science? No. Does it mean that humans are not warming the planet via industrialization? No. Does it mean we can ignore what is happening in the climate? No.

      What it means is that we need to accept that the conventional presentation of the climate scenarios and the policy options proposed spring from flawed premises and we should work on recasting the issue without the Hockey Stick, similarly flawed studies and perhaps without the contribution of the Hockey Team and their supporters, who have doggedly dragged this into the mire.

      • Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:17 PM | Permalink | Reply

        With you on the last paragraph Tom – apart from the perhaps.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

          With you on that, Richard. Regarding the incompetence issue, I’ve extended my previous work on air temperature measurement errors to explicitly include SST systematic measurement errors.

          They’re larger than the systematic errors of land surface air temperature sensors. I’m presently at the INFN Frascati lab in Italy for work. Apart from my work-related seminar tomorrow, next Thursday (31 May), I’ll be giving the following seminar about an avocational topic:

          ++++++++++++
          Title: Do We Know the Temperature of Earth?

          Summary: According to the IPCC the 20th century climate has warmed 0.8±0.1 C, at a rate and magnitude that is unprecedented over at least the last 500 years. The high confidence placed in this centennial temperature change depends upon the ±0.1 C uncertainty limit. But is that small uncertainty bound justified? There are very few field calibrations of surface temperature sensors. Those that do exist reveal large systematic measurement errors that should be propagated into the temperature record. However, these errors have been ignored. The neglected systematic measurement errors produced by land and sea surface temperature sensors will be described. The surface air temperature record will be corrected to include systematic sensor measurement error. This error constitutes a lower limit uncertainty bound. A conservative estimate of systematic sensor measurement error shows that, at the 95% confidence interval, the 20th century change in surface air temperature is not knowable to better than ±1.2 C. The 20th century global air temperature change is thus indistinguishable from zero.
          ++++++++++++

          Phil Jones and the CRU, Jim Hansen and the GISS folks, Tom Karl at NCDC, Richard Muller at BEST; they’ve all missed instrumental resolution — the most basic source of empirical uncertainty and the first concern of any experimental physical methods scientist. It’s as though these people have never encountered an instrument and never made a measurement.

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      So, Nick then are you going to go to RC and tell them that the stick is irrelevant.
      I bet not.
      ***And to repeat, if the hockey stick “doesn’t matter,” why is Dr. Mann’s website trumpeting it as we speak?***

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/05/fresh-hockey-sticks-from-the-southern-hemisphere/

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Gavin has said as much on a couple of ocassion. The Hockey stick IS NOT a part of the main case for global warming. Basic undisputed working physics tells us that increased GHGS cause warming. At best the HS can contribute a small bit of information to the questions surrounding sensitivity. Nothing more.

        However, it was served up as a “proof” when it was not. The question is how does one walk away from it with grace. Its a shroud of turin.

        • jfk
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Permalink

          Mosher – I agree that the climate science community should run, not walk away from the hockey stick – and it sounds like Myles Allen may be saying the same, but it’s hard to tell.

          CO2, methane, and water vapor are IR absorbtive, my understanding is the feedback effect of CO2 on the H2O will drive how much, if any warming takes place. I have not looked at the GCMs although many years ago I spent some time studying Navier-Stokes. Clearly you’ve put a lot of time into this, do you think we’ll be roasting in 50 years?

        • hagendl
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Permalink

          Steven Mosher
          Poor analogy over the Hockey stick / Myles. McIntyre & McKitrick exposed the Hockey stick as poor statistics on top of hiding evidence. The exhaustive quantitative scientific examination of the shroud show the opposite – no evidence of forgery in evidence published, except for one “poorly” run C14 dating study.

        • JamesG
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          It was and remains part of the case for “unprecedented” warming. The hockey stick in original MBH form but without error bars is still used even now by the GIEC (IPCC) in France in FAQ’s as an abject refutation of the idea that it was may have been just as warm in the past and in many other fora.

          It’s purpose was always PR, not science. Climategate emails show that most paleos knew it was crap from start to finish.

      • Jonathan
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

        This image they claim is a Hockey Stick is more of an MWP was a lot warmer than now stick.

        http://www.realclimate.org/images//GergisFigure4.jpg

    • clt510
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Nick:

      The case for AGW is not, as many seem to think, based on observations of the instrumental record

      That’s not quite true. “The case for AGW” often is made based on the instrumental temperature record. Sometimes it’s even made based on more arcane (and difficult to quantity things) like the likelihood of extreme weather, ocean acidification, sea level rise, etc.

      You may personally choose to make a case for AGW without the HS or any of these other “heart fluttering” appeals to emotion, but that doesn’t mean that other scientists don’t make the case based on them.

      The IPCC reports certainly do, so in that since your claim that “the case for AGW is not, as many seem to think, based on observations of the instrumental record” is not even mainstream within the climate community.

      I do agree with a modified version of what you said, and reiterate that this is important because this post is about effective communication every bit as much as it is about the HS controversy, namely “A strong case for AGW can be made without resorting to the instrumental record..”

    • Steven Mosher
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Nick is absolutely right.

      Nobody who understand the science of AGW believes in it because of the Hockey Stick. In fact, nobody who understands the science rests the case on the instrumental record.

      The case for AGW rests on fundamental physics of radiative transfer and energy balance.

      The instrumental record SUPPORTS this physics, it is not the reason behind this physics. That is the physics of radiative transfer and energy balance where not created to explain the instrument record. Further, the HS says nothing about radiative transfer or energy balance. If it plays a role in theory it plays this role

      A) it lightly constrains estimates of sensitivity
      B) it provides limited evidence on attribution.

      • sleeper
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 7:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Steven Mosher (May 28 15:43),

        The case for AGW rests on fundamental physics of radiative transfer and energy balance.

        Sounds simple to me.

      • hagendl
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Steven Mosher
        Re: “nobody who understands the science rests the case on the instrumental record.”
        Please clarify. That sounds like you are in danger of inverting the scientific method, putting GHG models above the data – which would be even more dangerous than Myles trying to dismiss the hockey stick and requiring mandatory sequestration based on IPCC GHG models and absolutely limiting global warming to +2C.
        In science, models must still be objectively validated against the best available quantitative evidence. Ferenc Miskolczi’s exhaustive Line by Line (LBL) evaluation of ALL GHG, based on the longest available 61 year evidence shows negligible change in the global optical depth. That means cloud albedo variations probably rule, not GHG absorption, OR there is severe systemic instrumentation error.

      • Greybeard
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

        In general, rational people believe theories when the evidence supports them. The Hockey Stick was evidence of AGW and the radiation budget. Would people like Nick Stokes and Steven Mosher really have thought no differently if the hockey stick’s blade had gone down instead of up ?

      • MikeP
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

        snip – against blog policy on one-paragraph debates on the big picture.

        • MikeP
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

          So it’s ok for Steve Mosher to post a one paragraph overview on the big picture and wrong for anybody to challenge it … :( :( :( I expected better of you.

          Steve; that I miss some incidents does not change the policy. Mosher should know better.

      • kuhnkat
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

        snip – I repeatedly ask people not to try to prove or disprove CAGW in a paragraph.

        • kuhnkat
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:21 PM | Permalink

          Mr. McIntrye, if you wish to have people stop trying to prove or disprove CAGW in one paragraph why are you allowing the statement that RT PROVES CCAGW?!?!?!?

          Or is that YOUR bias?

          Steve: I miss some. But please ignore such comments rather than feeding them.

    • ianl8888
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 3:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The important question is: how unusual is today’s warming?
      And the paleo record is crucial for that

      Why do you and Mosher always avoid that issue ?

      We are talking about a rise of 0.7C in 150 years (instrumentally speaking) which I simply cannot see as scarey-bear

    • barn E. rubble
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

      RE: “The case for AGW is not, as many seem to think, based on observations of the instrumental record. And it certainly isn’t based on the paleo record.”

      Is that because the case for AGW cannot be made, ‘based on observations of the instrumental record’? And (with certainty), if the case for AGW cannot be made or even ‘supported’ by the paleo record, then what was the point of doing all those studies?

  19. Peter Whale
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Nick Stokes you are absolutely wrong the Hockey stick is flawed science and just propaganda. A person of your intellect should have more integrity.

    • Nick Stokes
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:09 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Peter,
      Quite apart from the narrow argument about Mann’s original papers, you now have the normal scientific process of replication to contend with. Even Craig Loehle gets a hockey stick.

      • Brian Eglinton
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Nick
        It seems we need to revisit this old discussion. From “Muir Russell and the Briffa Bodge” Mar 2011.

        My Quote:
        On a few occassions I have added a comment when I felt an underlying general principle was worth highlighting.
        In this case it is Nick’s comment: “They are working in a field where (especially in 1992) they are trying to find patterns in a great cloud of unclear information.”

        I think this explains a great deal about the different approaches to paleo data.
        Steve acts impartially as an auditor of the data and modelling – and we have a lot to thank him for in his steady and thorough approach to this.
        When he points out problems with statistical modelling or the use or manipulation of data the response is often – “but we need to get an answer!”
        The “climate scientist team” and Nick seem to be unable to simply admit they did something wrong.

        They KNOW there is a signal amongst the noise, and they KNOW what it should look like.
        Therefore they are being perfectly “honest” when they bodge or trick or hide declines.
        After all – the data they are manipulating is very noisy and they are pursuing the signal they know is there. The only data they got rid of or adjusted was the noisy/irrelevent part.

        The irony is of course, that the analysis of anything paleo is done in the absence of witnesses.
        It is always speculative – no matter what field you tend to be in – paleontology, cosmology or paleoclimatology.
        The whole field is heavily dependent on that most marvellous of human gifts – the human imagination.
        And it means that an awful lot of meaning is being derived from data that is often extremely noisy and unclear and almost always without any real possibility of hard verification.

        I have to admit though – that there is hard qualitative verification of a warmer climate in the MWP and the Roman max – there were witnesses and they left monuments and villages now covered in ice.
        This is a real witness vs the derived signal being strained out of the noise of tree ring widths, mud layers, etc
        But it is also a qualitative measure, when the team is after numbers. In such an environment you can sense their frustration with any suggestion that proxies are not suitable for temperature.
        I despair seeing the often repeated charge aimed at Steve and other critics [see the Steig vs O'Donnell papers] to produce a better number, when in fact the conclusion that it cannot be derived is by far the most logical scientific result.

        You then asked: Do you think we should not try to find patterns in a great cloud of unclear information?

        To which I said:
        Nick

        I think that it is the determination that the data is capable of producing a valid pattern that has resulted in 2 camps which talk at each other rather than to each other. Any attempt at critique is ultimately seen as pure negativity by the team and its supporters and dismissed or belittled on those grounds. When in fact, as some non-team players point out – it is solid scientific evidence that you are looking for patterns where they cannot be found.
        Will a pattern be found – absolutely – that is what humans are good at. Will it be valid? Almost certainly not – because you have already acknowledged that you are straining at gnats to get your pattern.
        The best that can be said about the past are the big phenomenon – written histories, glacier extent, forest extent, etc. They will not give you numbers, but they are far more reliable than building climate history out of highly localised phenomenon with a high degree of assumptions brought to bear – such as tree rings, etc

        Now you back up this item by suggesting the same position as Gavin – that “The case for AGW is not, as many seem to think, based on observations of the instrumental record. And it certainly isn’t based on the paleo record.”
        Its all then about the physics. But it is clear for folk following the discussion that the crucial issue is understanding all the natural inputs and in determining the feedbacks – not the physics.

        While that should be where the discussion should be, if in fact the paleo is a flea sized issue, it does not explain why you would respond to this blog about the poor presentation which changed the graphs and that highlighted use of paleo in AR4. I take it you agree with Steve’s criticism then?

      • Craig Loehle
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:44 AM | Permalink | Reply

        I beg to differ. The key point in my paper was that the MWP showed up. That past climate was variable. MY “hockey stick” clearly shows warming to start at the terminus of the LIA, long before fossil fuel burning. Reverse-time causation?

        • Gil Grissom
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:03 AM | Permalink

          Looks like Nick is up to his usual nonsense.

        • TerryMN
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Permalink

          Oh dear. Nick seems to have had an “Ian Joliffe moment” except that, obviously, he’s never been and *cannot be* wrong – so you’ll need to redo that paper and graph, Dr. Loehle. ;)

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:16 PM | Permalink

          Craig,
          The MWP shows up in other reconstructions too. Yours has a bit more contrast between MWP and LIA, but as that plot shows, it is not greatly different from what others have been finding. There is still a contrast between the gradual and limited changes of the last millenium and the recent rapid rise measured by thermometers.

        • mondo
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

          Nick Stokes. You talk about “the recent rapid rise measured by thermometers”. Shouldn’t you add “in some parts of the world, perhaps due to misinterpreted delta UHI effects” and “after adjustments, which always seem to be in the direction of making the rapid rise seem worse”?

        • Craig Loehle
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:18 PM | Permalink

          Nick Stokes: I agree that other reconstructions show the MWP–but the Team worked hard to get rid of it. Why? Because if the MWP was real then the climate can fluctuate without CO2 and perhaps the recent rise is not alarming.

        • TerryMN
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

          My point stands that besides never being wrong, Nick will never, ever, admit a mistake of anything that undermines the CAGW “we’re all going to die unless we do something” meme.

          Kind of funny (or sad, depending on your POV) – I bet that if Gavin or anyone from the team ever posited that the case for CAGW is proven by the fact that Nick Stokes is the most stupid person on the planet, and yet “even he gets it” I think that he’d agree.

          Great company you’re keeping, Nick.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:42 PM | Permalink

          snip – nothing to do with Myles Allen

      • Don B
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

        I don’t see a hockey stick:

        http://www.econ.ohio-state.edu/jhm/AGW/Loehle/

        • Dan in Nevada
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:13 PM | Permalink

          Don,

          If you take the part starting at ~1850, which is what Myles Allen is doing and Nick Stokes is emphasizing, you DO get a hockey stick. It’s just not as impressive when you see the whole plot.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:25 AM | Permalink

          No, that’s not what I’m saying. The Hockey Stick consists of a proxy shaft and an instrumental blade. You’re showing just the shaft here. In fact, Craig’s proxies end in 1935, so they couldn’t show modern warming anyway. But in general, proxy data is not an appropriate measure of temperature in the instrumental period, since it has been selected and calibrated to follow the instrumental. Plus, of course, the thermometer record is much better.

      • DocMartyn
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

        O.K. Nick. I will take you at your word.

        “That has always been based on the radiative properties of greenhouse gasses, and the relentless buildup of anthropogenic CO2.

        AGW is about the radiative physics and its interaction with climate”

        Using empirical thermodynamics and kinetics I would like you to show why the Earths atmosphere has the temperature vs. altitude profile that it has. I would like to know the heat fluxes at each altitude. I would in particular like to see where you place the ‘CO2′ heating band of Trenberth and co-workers.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 3:45 PM | Permalink

          There isnt a C02 heating band. That’s not how the physics works.
          Its frightfully simple once you understand it.

    • Pat Frank
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The Hockey Stick is not flawed science, Peter. The Hockey Stick is not science at all.

      It and other paleo T reconstructions rest on statistical manipulations of materials that have no quantifiable physical meaning. The only exception is dO-18 proxies, and when those are used the physical meaning is methodologically discarded.

      The temperatures represented in proxy paleo reconstructions are scientifically meaningless. Michael Mann and related folks produce pseudo-science, and the scientific establishment has let them get away with it; if anything, has encouraged them to get away with it, and then rewarded them after getting away with it.

  20. Gaelan Clark
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Nick Stokes AGREES with Myles Allen…, so his opening sentence reads.
    Nick Stokes then goes on to write “The case for AGW is not, as many seem to think, based on observations of the instrumental record.”
    But Myles Allen wrote “…whereas we all use the instrumental temperature record all the time.”

    Please, do be a dove Nick Stokes, and show me your agreement between those two diametrically opposed statements.

    Myles Allen, ohhh pooh, you really DO “appreciate” all of those badmen whose only purpose is to expose your ………..self-edit.

    • Nick Stokes
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:01 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Gaelan,
      They are not opposed. I use my computer all the time, but the case for AGW is not based on it.

      In fact, what I said that was exactly in agreement with MA on that point was:
      “GCM’s quantify this, and the instrumental record is useful for checking how well they do it.”

      • Gaelan Clark
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:25 AM | Permalink | Reply

        And THAT is exactly the problem. Your cart is before the horse buddy.

        The temperature record quantifies “this” and the GCM’s are “useful” for checking how well our observations fit our guesses.

        NOT….let’s all guess, tune, then parameterize to FIT the temp record.

        The thimble can only be moved so many times before I realize the pea is just not there.

      • clt510
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Nick:

        They are not opposed. I use my computer all the time, but the case for AGW is not based on it.

        I see you’re back to trying to parse language to make it sound like your original statement is not false.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:05 PM | Permalink

          clt,
          No, it’s not false. That particular statement claimed a contradiction between my statement and Myles Allen’s which clearly wasn’t there. I think it’s part of his argument that AGW is not dependent on the historic record (certainly paleo), and it’s set out by various luminaries in Steve’s long 2005 comment. I may be wrong.

          But in any case it’s historically correct. AGW had reached a very high level of acceptance by the time of UNFCCC in 1992, with the IPCC formed in 1988. The case was made without paleo, and even with a sketchy instrumental record. No GHCN, and land/sea indices only became available late ’80s, and of course there was less warming to show anyway. It was the GH case that they relied on.

          Steve: Nick, nothing to do with Myles Allen’s version of Hide the Decline.

  21. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In 2005 before ar4, I wrote the following response at Roger Pielke’s to the question about whether the Hockey Stick “mattered”. I didn’t get interested in it because it seemed like a vulnerable topic but because it was presented to the public, at least in Canada, not as an incidental argument, but as one of the major arguments, particularly for action right that instant.

    Stefan Rahmsdorf and others (including Roger Pielke, the proprietor of this site) have taken the position that the Hockey Stick is irrelevant to the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2 on global climate. Even the originator of the Hockey Stick, Michael Mann, who received many awards and honors for its construction, ironically has taken the position that it doesn’t “matter”. (I do not believe that he has not returned any of the honors.) I’m inclined to agree that, for the most part, the Hockey Stick does not matter to the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2. However, I believe that it matters (or should matter) to IPCC, to governments that relied on IPCC and to climate scientists who contributed to and supported IPCC and to people who may wish to rely on IPCC in the future.

    The Hockey Stick was not, as sometimes portrayed, an incidental graphic, buried in IPCC TAR. Nor was it an icon resurrected by sceptics purely to torment poor Michael Mann. It could almost characterized as the logo for IPCC TAR. Figure 1 below shows Sir John Houghton, at the press conference releasing IPCC TAR, standing in front of the Hockey Stick. The graphic was used repeatedly in IPCC TAR and was one of the most prominent graphics in the Summary for Policymakers. Some governments (and, the Canadian government in particular) relied upon it in their promotion of Kyoto policy even more than IPCC. In the lead-up to adopting Kyoto policy, Canadians were told by their Minister of the Environment that “1998 was the warmest year of the millennium and 1990s the warmest decade”. So even if the Hockey Stick did not “matter” to the scientific case, it mattered to the promotion of the scientific case. Scientists may want to “move on”, but institutions cannot, if they want to maintain any credibility. If the Hockey Stick was wrong, it would be as embarrassing as the failure to find WMD in Iraq. In both cases, the policy might well be justified on alternative grounds, but the existence of the alternative grounds does not mean that responsible agencies should not try to isolate the causes of intelligence failure and try to avoid similar failures in the future.

    The issues surrounding the MBH Hockey Stick are complicated by IPCC TAR statements and decisions, which, in retrospect, seem misguided, although there is little to suggest that IPCC AR4 is taking to steps to avoid similar potential problems. The most questionable IPCC statement about the Hockey Stick is that the MBH98 reconstruction had “significant skill in independent cross-validation tests”. I added bold to highlight the plural—a second level to the misrepresentation contained in this claim. The statement appears to have been written by Michael Mann about his own work. It is now known that the MBH98 reconstruction in the controversial 15th century portion failed the majority of cross-validation tests, including the standard R2 test [McIntyre and McKitrick, 2005a]; the source code provided to the Barton Committee shows that the adverse cross-validation R2 statistics were calculated, but not reported. It is also now known that the MBH98 reconstruction does not live up to its warranty that it is robust to the presence/absence of all dendroclimatic indicators, as the reconstruction depends on the inclusion of bristlecones, a series known to be potentially contaminated as a temperature proxy. Again, this adverse information was known to the authors and not reported.

    If I were in Houghton’s shoes, I would be mad as a boil about all this. Since Houghton has a sincere belief that the impact of 2xCO2 is the great issue of our times, then, if I were Houghton, I would be particularly angry at being placed in a position where I used this logo and wasn’t fully informed about adverse information pertaining to it. I also wouldn’t be leaving it up to some probably adversarial committee like the Barton Committee to sort this out. I’d be all over the problem so that my community, the community of climate scientists, was not further embarrassed and so that government institutions would be able to rely confidently on the opinions of IPCC.

    If I were Houghton, one line of argument that I would not accept is that the other “independent” studies all say similar things. It was the Mann study that I stood in front of. If there are serious problems in it, which were known ahead of time and I didn’t know about them, I would carve everyone involved a new you-know-what. Now for public purposes, I’d feel a lot happier if I could at least retreat to the safe haven of other studies that showed something at least similar to the Mann study. But I’d be pretty worried about them on a couple of counts and I’d want them torn through from top to bottom. The first thing that would worry me is that the studies were not really “independent”. The coauthors all seem to swap places: you see Mann, Jones, Briffa, Bradley, Cook, Schweingruber – all well-known scientists, but all having coauthored together. I’d be worried about a monoculture and want a fresh set of eyes. The second thing that would worry me is that the same proxies are used over and over – the bristlecones, the Polar Urals etc. I’d be worried about systemic problems. I’d be worried that no one seemed to have gone through these other studies like M&M had gone through the MBH studies. Maybe there are more time-bombs. I wouldn’t just passively wait for them to go off.

    If I were Houghton, I would be enraged at the public refusal by IPCC authors to show their data and methods. When I read in the Wall Street Journal that Mann had said that he would not be “intimidated” into showing his algorithm, I’d have taken immediate action; I’d have told Mann to stop acting like a prima donna, to archive every line of code and data used in MBH98 and stop fighting a pointless battle that simply embarrassed IPCC and the entire field of climate science. I’d have done more than that. I’d have notified everyone contributing to IPCC that we did not expect the same kind of nonsense any more, that anyone contributing to IPCC would have to ensure that their archives of data and methodology were complete or else we couldn’t use their articles. I’d have done so before I heard from some redneck Republicans.

    I would also review how we were checking studies in IPCC AR4. If our very logo for IPCC TAR blew up on us, then something was wrong with our procedures for review. I wouldn’t go around patting ourselves on the back and telling everyone that this was the most “rigorous” review procedure in the history of science, since we’d goofed on such a prominent issue. I’d want to know why we goofed and how to avoid it in the future, or at least, how to minimize the chances of a recurrence. So when some redneck tried to use the Hockey Stick fiasco against IPCC, I’d at least have an answer.

    A final thing that I’d ask myself: if this damn chart is “irrelevant” to the great issue of 2xCO2, why did we use it at all? And why did we rely on it so much in our sales presentations? Why didn’t we just talk about the issues that were important and stay away from little irrelevant stuff? Maybe I’d find out, when I investigated, that someone had decided that this was merely for sales promotion – the climate equivalent of a sexy girl sitting on a car. If that were the case, I wouldn’t necessarily be happy about it, but at least I’d understand it. Then I’d want to make sure that we were also selling steak as well as sizzle. I’d sure want to make sure that we’d really done a good job on the issue which Ramsdorff and others now say was the “real” issue: climate sensitivity to 2xCO2.

    Here I’d be bothered by how little guidance we actually gave to policymakers interested in an intermediate-complexity analysis of whether 2xC02 will lead to a temperature increase of 0.6 deg C or 2.6 deg C or 5.6 deg C. When I re-examined the TAR, I’d notice that we’d virtually skipped over these matters. I’d think: it’s not enough just to list all the results of different models; let’s try to figure out why one model differs from another, what are the circumstances under which a model gives a low sensitivity and what are the circumstances that a model has high sensitivity – if that’s the “real issue”. When I saw that we’d barely touched this sort of analysis in IPCC TAR, I’d be pretty embarrassed. I would certainly vow that in AR4, we would not repeat the mistake of ignoring the “real issues” in favor of hood ornaments.

    The other thing that I wouldn’t do is simply ignore the problem and hope that it goes away of its own accord. I wouldn’t rely on the assurances of Mann and similar protagonists that the various alleged defects do not “matter”. No corporation would do so in similar circumstances and IPCC shouldn’t either. I would long ago have got some independent statistician to see if there really was a problem that I should be worried about. I wouldn’t have stood still for this water torture. I’d tell Mann to co-operate with the investigator and request McIntyre to cooperate. I’d try to get the parties to sign off on an exact statement of points and issues that everyone agreed on and ones that were in dispute. Once I saw what was in dispute, I’d ask for what would be involved to determine once and for all who was right on specific issues. I would long ago have gotten tired of barrages from both sides, where I couldn’t be sure that they were not at cross-purposes.

    So does the Hockey Stick matter? Yes, if you’re a climate scientist that believes that the IPCC is an important institution whose opinions should be valued. Mann now thinks that the Hockey Stick does not matter. As so often, life is full of ironies.

    At the time, I sharply criticized the use of conflicted scientists to carry out controversial assessments – Keith Briffa was about the worst possible choice. This caveat proved out, as one of the worst revelations of the Climategate dossier was Briffa’s surreptitiously allowing Eugene Wahl, a party to the dispute, to insert assessment language in the report that varied from that sent out to external reviewers, to an assessment that more or less endorsed Wahl and Mann’s side of the dispute from the more agnostic assessment that had been sent out to reviewers.

    The destruction of emails that Jones later instigated pertained to these review comments. And rather than coming clean, the University has fought disclosure of Wahl’s edits tooth and nail. All of this leaves a very unsavory of the people.

    The people who should care about policy action of some sort, such as Allen, are the ones who should have been most concerned about getting to the bottom of what Mann, Briffa etc had done and whether there stuff constituted real “science” or was little better than paleophrenology. And should have been the ones that were most resolute in ensuring transparent and thorough inquiries.

    The wider climate community took a great risk to their own credibility by idly standing by. The price has been that the credibility of the entire community has been tarnished at a time when their advice is important. That’s too bad.

    But instead of blaming others, they should look in the mirror.

    • Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I didn’t get interested in it because it seemed like a vulnerable topic but because it was presented to the public, at least in Canada, not as an incidental argument, but as one of the major arguments, particularly for action right that instant.

      Exactly. What nobody could have predicted is all you were going to have to do, having got interested, to show that this strand of the argument was effectively worthless.

      Myles Allen coming onto CA and Bishop Hill in the last few days is of course to be welcomed. For him to take up his concerns about the irrelevance of temperature reconstruction with Sir John Houghton, the IPCC and CRU would I think involve some of the same time and inconvenience that you went through. Our respect for Professor Allen will increase immeasurably if he tries.

    • eyesonu
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Steve, excellent points made here. I doubt that there could be any reasonable argument made to the contrary.

      It will take a big broom to sweep the hockey stick under the carpet. A fools errand.

    • kuhnkat
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 4:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

      OT

    • Sony
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 1:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Steve: The wider climate community took a great risk to their own credibility by idly standing by

      Was this standing by really so “idle”, though? Or was it a conscious and tactical move to try and preserve the preconceived alarmist ‘consensus’ ?
      ie, were they duped by the IPCC cadre, or were they (almost) all in on it, secretly cheering from the sidelines ?

    • Gerald Machnee
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 8:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

      When the Team has to defend the hockey stick , it does not matter. However, they still use it alomg with the fake copies anytime they can.

  22. Andy
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    So Allen’s argument boils down to ‘I say this so it is true’ even though a fool can see that he knows little about the specifics of Climategate and like dog returning to it’s vomit Stokes pops up obviously taking a rest from claiming scientists received death threats when they did not to support yet another preposterous argument.

    Just another day……..

  23. Craig Loehle
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles, you say the hockey stick doesn’t matter. Maybe to those tuning the models, who primarily use the instrumental record. But to assess how unusual the past 20 years are, you need the paleo record. If most of the Holocene was warmer than 2012, then it is not yet unusual. But the call to action is based on the claim that temperatures are ALREADY higher than the past 1000 yrs or more — some say just a little warmer and it will exceed the highest of the past 2million yrs. If most of the Holocene (past 10000 yrs) was warmer than today, then polar bears lived through that and will live through this, as will the rest of the biota and our agriculture. That is, there is no cause for alarm until 100 yrs from now even if the outlier estimates of the models are correct.

    It isn’t even true that modelers don’t use the paleo record. It has been used to argue that CO2 was a forcing during ice ages, to tune models against the Moberg recon, to argue that the sun does not vary enough to “matter”, and so on. So maybe Myles Allen doesn’t use the paleo record, but Myles Allen is not the universe.

    • MrPete
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:06 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Craig Loehle (May 27 07:40),
      I want to re-emphasize what Craig has said here for Myles:

      But to assess how unusual the past 20 years are, you need the paleo record. If most of the Holocene was warmer than 2012, then it is not yet unusual.

      The ultimate question is NOT “is it getting warmer.” We all recognize that the earth is emerging from the LIA 400 years ago, and thus it only makes sense that the earth is warming.
      The important question is: how unusual is today’s warming?
      And the paleo record is crucial for that.
      With all due respect, Myles, you’re barking up the wrong tree.

      • pouncer
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Permalink | Reply

        The OTHER part the current importance of the hockey stick goes to the integrity of the climate science community — as Wegman noted — either self-correcting or self-deluding.

        If the shaft of the hockey stick is concealing natural variation — due to cherry picking, poor statistical technique, or otherwise — then the current variations seem, but may not actually be, significant. If the hockey stick shaft is truly flat, then the current sharply rising blade must be significant. But if the climate scientists refuse to discuss cherry picking, statistical technique, and otherwise — if they not only refuse to discuss but do all they can to OBSTRUCT discussion of the hockey stick; then why should I trust the communication on the modern instrument record? Particularly when there seem to be cherry picking issues there, as well?

      • Steven Mosher
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 3:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

        No Pete.

        The paleo record is useful for two things. You should look at how it is used.

        1. it is used to constrain the estimates of sensitivity. here, the LGM reconstructions are more important than MWP recons. MWP doesnt constrain
        sensitivity very well.

        2. They can be used to test GCMs

        Thats it. Nobody believes in AGW because of the HS.

        However, the HS has been used as a PR tool and in the confusing attempts to partition or attribute some portion of warming to man.

        Put another way, all we need to know we know without reference to the HS.

        • DocMartyn
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

          “The paleo record is useful for two things. You should look at how it is used.

          1. it is used to constrain the estimates of sensitivity. here, the LGM reconstructions are more important than MWP recons. MWP doesnt constrain sensitivity very well.”

          So, under the assumption there were no changes in aerosol levels, in solar light flux or ‘green house gasses’ then we know that +/- 1 degree swings are common over the last 1,600 years.
          In addition, we know the maximum rates of temperature change in the past are far greater than current temperature changes.

          ’2. They can be used to test GCMs’

          Which means that GCM are a experimental failure. The inability to correctly model actual reality is what actual scientists call a fail. The experiment, in this case a computer model, needs to be discarded. That is how science works, failure meanes failure; one is not allowed to add yet more epicycles, deferents and equants.

          They fail in describing the past, the heat distribution at sea level globally and the temperature profile vertically.

        • Steven Mosher
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

          Doc

          “So, under the assumption there were no changes in aerosol levels, in solar light flux or ‘green house gasses’ then we know that +/- 1 degree swings are common over the last 1,600 years.
          In addition, we know the maximum rates of temperature change in the past are far greater than current temperature changes.

          #####################

          Go read Hansen on the LGM to give you a better understanding of the approach. You are not getting it yet.

          ’2. They can be used to test GCMs’

          Which means that GCM are a experimental failure. The inability to correctly model actual reality is what actual scientists call a fail. The experiment, in this case a computer model, needs to be discarded. That is how science works, failure meanes failure; one is not allowed to add yet more epicycles, deferents and equants.

          #############

          wrong again. You dont understand what it means for a model to fail. Models never ever model reality.
          They can never get reality correct because they are math. The same way a law of physics never gets reality
          exactly right. there is only approximation to truth. Models are useful for estimating sensitivity. thats
          a gross system metric. They will never predict the exact location of each raindrop. cant.

          They fail in describing the past, the heat distribution at sea level globally and the temperature profile vertically.

          The point is not what they cannot do, the point is what they are useful for. Useful for establishing boundaries on sensitivity. How useful? read some papers.

        • MrPete
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:28 AM | Permalink

          Re: Steven Mosher (May 28 15:52),

          However, the HS has been used…in the confusing attempts to partition or attribute some portion of warming to man.

          Put another way, all we need to know we know without reference to the HS.

          You don’t think attribution is something we all need to know?

          We don’t have useful models. We don’t have good paleo understanding. We do have people with an axe to grind finding a way to publish data that agrees with their hypotheses, while hiding or deselecting inconvenient data.

          Myles, and apparently you, suggest none of that matters. Seems to me it matters hugely, and in far more than just the PR sense. If it were only about PR, why so many fights over journal access?

          Sorry, I don’t buy it.

        • Jon Grove
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

          These are essential points. It’s in this context that we can make sense of the fact that some field-scientists well known for their investigations of the MWP and LIA and climate fluctuation in the late holocene — hockey stick dissenters, if you like — have /also/ been happy to accept the possibility of AGW. There is not necessarily a binary opposition here.

        • tomdesabla
          Posted Jun 19, 2012 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

          Steve, first you said that nobody who understands the science depends on the hockey stick. Then you said just plain nobody who believes in AGW depends on the HS.

          Well, Steve, most people who believe in AGW don’t get the science at all anyway. And they aren’t going to get it anytime soon.
          And most of them still believe in the HS. So…

    • Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The Hockey Stick matters enormously for the simple reason that it shows that there are a number of eminent Climate “Scientists” who are not to be trusted. That alone is of immense concern. Sweeping it under the carpet as Allen has done simply illustrates that he too is another aspect of scientific corruption.

  24. Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The truth, as someone wrote in a blog recently, for the Left, is whatever they want it to be…

  25. Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:03 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The importance of the hockey stick to the AGW argument is in the context of whether the recent warming is unusual in the context of the Holocene. If the recent warming is not unusual, this leads to two arguments:
    i) natural variability may play a larger role in the 20th century warming than is credited by the IPCC
    ii) natural variability can potentially swamp greenhouse warming in the future, making CO2 mitigation a relatively ineffective way of controlling climate.

    The hockey stick, with its flat handle and the hidden decline clearly gives the impression that the recent warming is dramatic and unusual: caused by humans and can be mitigated by humans.

    I regard temperature reconstructions of the past 8,000 years or so to be absolutely critical to our understanding of natural variability in the climate system. And I am worse than unimpressed by the shenanigans surrounding the reconstructions using tree rings.

    IPCC participants/proponents don’t seem to think the hockey stick is important because they have already convinced themselves that natural variability between ice age and ENSO timescales is unimportant, and that climate variability on multidecadal to century timescales is radiatively forced (I acknowledge a recent interest by the IPCC in decadal scale natural internal variability). This is a poorly supported assumption, in my opinion

    Judith Curry

    • bernie1815
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Prof Curry:
      Well and clearly stated.

    • stan
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The hockey stick is the public face of climate science. The incompetence and corruption surrounding the hockey stick and the hockey team, as exposed by Steve Mc, Climategate and others, has devastated the credibility of all of climate science. The Hockey Stick matters, as Steve points out in his 2005 piece to Pielke, because it exposed all the weaknesses in the IPCC review process. And it matters today because the climate science community’s failure to deal with it honestly and competently continues to expose the corruption, incompetence, and negligence which afflicts climate science.

      If the institution which is climate science cannot clean up its messes, cannot learn lessons from past failures, and cannot demonstrate that it understands the importance of doing so to the public it seeks to advise, then that institution is unworthy of public support or public trust.

      • Sony
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

        While the incompetence and corruption surrounding the hockey stick and the hockey team has surely harmed the credibility of all of climate science, the really big damage has been done by
        (a) the attempts to cover it up (or, like Myles Allen, sidestep it)
        (b) the deafening silence from the profession as a whole

        These tell us that the hockey team is not just one rotten apple in the the barrel, but that virtually the whole barrel is a write-off.

        • matthu
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Permalink

          I agree here with Sony who has put his finger on the issue that I regard is as big or bigger than any.

          We could easily draw up a very long list of scientists who must all be aware of what has been going on, including attempts at covering it up, and have remained silent.

    • ChE
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I want to underscore something:

      The hockey stick, with its flat handle and the hidden decline clearly gives the impression that the recent warming is dramatic and unusual: caused by humans and can be mitigated by humans.

      This is a key point that often gets lost in the discussion. Until we’re sure that the effect is largely anthropogenic, action not only runs the risk of wasting a lot of resources accomplishing nothing, but it runs the risk of consequences of natural processes that could have been mitigated. If the choice is between decarbonization or building seawalls, only the latter will be of any use is the sea level decides to rise anyway.
      IOW, rash policy is probably worse than cautious policy.

      • Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Well said – ‘can be mitigated by humans’ is the heart of the deception. Something that has not remotely been proven but the hockey stick gave the impression and the political and international bureaucrat classes worldwide jumped to. Steve it turned out put himself in the hottest spot of all yet fought his way through. For that he earns any number of free swipes at Ms Palin’s confusion of temperature and treerings :)

    • Nick Stokes
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “If the recent warming is not unusual, this leads to two arguments:
      i) natural variability may play a larger role in the 20th century warming than is credited by the IPCC
      ii) natural variability can potentially swamp greenhouse warming in the future, making CO2 mitigation a relatively ineffective way of controlling climate.”

      i) Well, it may, if that were true. But AGW is not deduced from the temperature record. All that tells us is something about natural variability
      ii) Continuing to put CO2 in the atmosphere will obstruct outgoing IR and cause warming. The proposition that natural variation could cause even more warming is alarming if true, but arguing that we’re all screwed anyway is a dismal prescription for inaction. However, “in the future” there’s no reason to expect natural variability to increase, whereas CO2 certainly will.

      But in any case, the now numerous past reconstructions do not show huge differences in natural variation.

      Steve: it is a long-standing blog editorial policy to discourage efforts to prove or disprove AGW or CAGW in few sentences as all threads then become the same.

      DO you think that Myles ALlen should be slagging IPCC and the Team before turning his artillery on Montford?

      • Nick Stokes
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

        As I noted above, you can just look at the plots of the Loehle reconstruction vs the rest. This one is interactive, so you can pick out the individual reconstructions. Arguably Craig has a bit more MWP and LIA, but well within the range of the others.

        • clt510
          Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:08 PM | Permalink

          Nick:

          Arguably Craig has a bit more MWP and LIA, but well within the range of the others

          I agree with Nick on that… at least with respect to the modern reconstructions.

          MBH 98 doesn’t fair so well though. I’m using Pearson’s correlation coefficient with a sliding 300-year windo to compare the reconstructions,

          I think the biggest difference for “more MWP and LIA” in Loehle’s recontruction may just related to a de-scaling/loss of variance issue associated with some of the methods. I don’t know if it’s exactly the same problem or not, but we get a similar reduction in effective sensitivity using the 2-sensor correlational method with noise, in frequency regions with low SNR.

        • Kenneth Fritsch
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 11:15 AM | Permalink

          I emphatically credit Nick Stokes for putting some clarity into the reconstruction spaghetti graphs with his animations link above in the post to which I am replying. One can visualize the individual reconstructions (not that the visualization changes the weak methodology and physics on which the reconstructions generally rest) and without the interfering instrumental record. A viewing in this manner shows just how unimpressive these reconstructions as a whole are over time. Only by incorrectly placing the reconstructions’ validity as thermometers on the same level of the thermometers from the instrumental period – by tacking the instrumental record to the end of the spaghetti series – do we really get the impression of unprecedented warming in the most recent times.

          If Nick Stokes animations were available to the IPCC for viewing their collection of reconstructions along with a clear and honest explanation of the non equivalency of instrumental temperature measurements and that of reconstructions, what would have been quickly grasp by the viewers is that something was missing here. The hype of the ionic HS series would fade in a minute and the undone work of those doing reconstructions would come to the fore immediately.

        • clt510
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

          Kenneth, I agree it’s pretty interesting. But I do think there is some evidence of a slow convergence in newer reconstructions compared to the older, obviously flawed ones.

          See e.g. this

        • michael hart
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:06 AM | Permalink

          The graphic does not show the maximum of the Loehle data. It is obscured by the legend.

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:39 PM | Permalink

          Variance loss.

      • Nick Stokes
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

        DO you think that Myles ALlen should be slagging IPCC and the Team before turning his artillery on Montford?

        Well, I don’t think his talk was primarily about Montford. I was disappointed at the time with the emphasis of the AR3 SPM on the temperature record. I think interest in the new paleo results was understandable, but it should have been less prominent. But that was then. I think the IPCC got it right in the SPM of AR4, with emphasis on forcing, so maintaining an artillery barrage over the old version is unproductive.

        • TerryMN
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

          Would it be too much trouble to answer a yes/no question with either a yes or a no?

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:04 AM | Permalink

          Yes

        • sleeper
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:11 AM | Permalink

          Re: Nick Stokes (May 28 22:57),
          Then somebody needs to inform the IPCC, which continues to devote sections in its ARs, and organizations that continue to funnel money into paleo that that branch of climatology is now superfluous.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:59 AM | Permalink

          Paleoclimatology is an significant branch of science and is far from superfluous. And it is an important part of attribution, which is a focus of the IPCC reports. But it is not an essential part of the case for AGW. Many important things aren’t.

      • Greybeard
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Admirable ambiguity.

  26. theduke
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In fairness to Steve, he’s taken several shots at Al Gore through the years.

  27. chris y
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Prof. Allen proposes that paleo climate records are not as important as modern temperature records when it comes to estimating climate sensitivity to CO2.

    However, the surface temperature records of GISS, NOAA, UEA or BEST are chock full of problems, particularly the ocean surface temperature record.

    The MSU satellite temperature record is arguably the least inaccurate global temperature data available, but it only goes back to 1979.

    On 8/5/2011, Gavin Schmidt made an interesting comment on the irrelevance of paleo reconstructions-

    ““Climate sensitivity is not constrained by the last two decades of imperfect satellite data, but rather the paleoclimate record.”

    • HaroldW
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

      While it’s not crystal clear to me what “paleoclimate record” Dr. Schmidt was referring to in that quotation, I think it more probable that he was alluding to a comparison between LGM (last glacial maximum) temperatures and current ones. This would be more likely to bear upon sensitivity than the history of the last millennium, which (as Dr. Curry points out above) tells us more about the range of natural variability than it does about sensitivity.

  28. Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:53 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The objective in introducing the hockey stick was not initially to hide the decline. It became necessary to deal with a problem that emerged as they tried to deal with another problem.

    They were claiming that current temperatures were the warmest ever but were challenged by the graph produced by Lamb that was published in the 1990 IPCC Report as Figure 7c that showed a warmer than present Medieval Warm Period (MWP). Steve has discussed this at length.

    http://climateaudit.org/2008/05/09/where-did-ipcc-1990-figure-7c-come-from-httpwwwclimateauditorgp3072previewtrue/

    The threat the MWP posed was exposed in an email sent to Professor David Deming that he reported in a letter to Science.

    “With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”

    Steve has discussed the identity of the “major person” here,

    http://climateaudit.org/2010/04/08/dealing-a-mortal-blow-to-the-mwp/

    In attempting to eliminate the MWP they used tree rings but could only achieve that goal by cherry-picking as Steve has ably demonstrated. Ironically the use of tree rings exposed a problem of declining temperatures in the latter part of the record and forced the “hide the decline” solution. Without an increasing temperature in the most recent part of the curve there was no benefit to their premeditated elimination of the MWP. A hockey stick doesn’t work without a blade.

    • chris y
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Tim Ball- “A hockey stick doesn’t work without a blade.”

      Most Canadians know that bladeless hockey sticks are used in ring hockey :-)

  29. eyesonu
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    @ Tim Ball
    Thank you for the links. I was late to the CAGW issue. The scare just seemed like a bunch of hype prior ClimateGate I, which is where I entered the serious debate.

    @ Miles Allen
    Thank you for your involvement with regards to the hockey stick. I first viewed your presentation on Bishop Hill. Now the hockey stick is being revisited across the web. Much occurred before I became involved. I hope that you will do the serious research required with regards to the issues involved in CAGW and reflect and air of honesty and ethics in your future presentations. Upon close examination you will find that the previously mainstream reporting in this affair has been much less than forthcoming. I wish you the best of luck. You have a lot of research to do.

  30. Ed Forbes
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Followed the old link to the RC discussion

    Loved the part of Agw being the cause of frog deaths.

    More “settled science”.

    Turns out later that researchers carrying the pathos between frog populations were the culprits.

  31. mpaul
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Its ironic — the hockey stick has been the subject of one of the most pitched battles in the history of science. 200 years from now, people will still be talking about the hockey stick battles. The Team and their surrogates have defended the hockey stick as if it were the capital of their homeland. They wiling to risk everything, including their careers, to defend it. Now that defeat looks imminent, all the surrogates are coming and out and saying “the hockey stick is just a distraction, it was never a central part of the science and discussing it is preventing us from getting on to implementing our public policy preferences.” Pa-leeeeease.

    Next time someone encounters Dr. Mann (on his world tour to promote the hockey stick) and has an opportunity to ask a question, I think the question should be: “Dr. Mann some of your colleagues have suggested that your life’s work is trivial and has not influenced the science in any way. Further they state that it should not be part of any serious discussion of climate science, how do you respond?”

    • Erica
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes mpaul captures it – it is purely because the HS has been so comprehensively refuted that those like Allen now seek to dismiss it. How the mighty flagship hath fallen.

  32. Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Here is what I said back in 2005 on the discussion of the relevance of the Hockey Stick among McIntyre, McKitrick, Mann, Rahmstorf and Connelley — Jump down to #5 for the nub of the issue:

    http://sciencepolicy.colorado.edu/prometheus/archives/climate_change/000641reflections_on_the_c.html

    A few weeks ago we posed a challenge to both parties involved in the so-called “hockey stick” debate to explain why the rest of us ought to care about the debate. We asked, “so what?” We received responses from Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick while everyone on the other side declined to participate, though a few showed up in the comments. Here I’d like to offer a few assorted reflections on the responses and the subsequent discussion.

    1. First, thanks to Steve McIntyre (SM) and Ross McKitrick (RM) for providing thoughtful responses. The responses motivated a healthy discussion and for me provided some greater insight into the dynamics of the ongoing debate within the climate community not just over the hockey stick, but broader issues as well.

    2. Interestingly enough, the response from SM is completely in agreement with RealClimate contributors Stefan Rahmsdorf (SR) and William Connelley (WC) that the “hockey stick” debate is pretty much irrelevant to the scientific question of whether or not greenhouse gases will affect the future climate. Consider:

    SR: “The discussions about the past millennium are not discussions about whether humans are changing climate; neither do they affect our projections for the future.”

    WC: “Why is this fight important to the rest of us? the answer is: you shouldn’t. It isn’t..”

    SM: “I’m inclined to agree that, for the most part, the Hockey Stick does not matter to the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2.”

    This agreement is interesting because it means we can move beyond the often invoked assertion that the hockey stick is the keystone supporting the entire scientific basis of climate science. Others may assert that the hockey stick is a scientific keystone, but apparently not the principals involved in this debate.

    3. But the agreement among the parties raises a very interesting set of questions that have much more to do with climate science policy than climate policy. First among these questions is a very good point raised by both SM and RM, if the hockey stick doesn’t matter to the case for greenhouse gas effects on climate, why was it included and featured in the Summary for Policy Makers in the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change? SM provides a compelling answer to this question, “So even if the Hockey Stick did not “matter” to the scientific case, it mattered to the promotion of the scientific case.” The role of the SPM and the “promotion” of science by IPCC officials is a fair subject for discussion, independent of the answers to the technical questions M&M are debating with Mann et al.. Ultimately, the hockey stick debate is relevant to policy questions, but these questions have more to do with how we think about and organize science for policy, than any particular questions of climate policy itself.

    4. RM suggests that the hockey stick is a symbol of the fidelity of journal peer review, the credibility and legitimacy of the IPCC, and how governments (in this case Canada) use scientific symbols to promote particular policies. It seems to me that MM sure could have made these points a lot more prominently early on. I am more convinced about the importance of the IPCC and journal peer review than the argument about the influence of the hockey stick on Canadian climate policies, but I am open to the case being made. I see that MM briefly raise the issue of journal peer review in their 2005 publication in Energy and Environment (PDF) and nothing comes up in their GRL publication (PDF). SM did raise some of these issues on his blog last February and in a related op-ed. RM raises some of these issues in this conference paper (PDF). But these are pretty hard-to-find nooks and crannies. My unsolicited advice to SM and RM is to spend more time (a lot more time) talking about the “so what?” questions as they pursue the obscure technical details. (By all means pursue the obscure and technical, but if indeed you care about the broader issues, then it is the broader issues that matter most.) They might find themselves with some allies if they talk more about peer review in science and international assessments, for which there are many people with interests and concerns. Pretty much all I do is “so what?” related to climate science, and I did not understand the positions of M&M until they wrote these essays. All of us are more likely a tool of those seeking to use our work for their purposes if we do not clearly and repeatedly (ad nausem) stake out your claim to the “so what?” ground. Perhaps, one reason that the folks on the other side chose not to participate may be their desire to leave the “so what?” ground open for occupation.

    5. The concerns raised by SM and RM about the IPCC are part of a much broader set of experiences that raise questions about the credibility, legitimacy and salience of the IPCC. SM is perfectly justified in asking questions about the IPCC. We are all stakeholders in the IPCC process, and there appears to be no independent venue for raising issues about the IPCC process. The reception of the paleo climate community to M&M, regardless of the merits of their claims, is a good reason why such an independent venue makes sense. Certainly M&M could have been more tactful and diplomatically astute in their efforts, but still, the IPCC is the international organization responsible for bringing climate science and economics to policy makers, it can’t afford to be petty or aloof. I’d contrast the reception that Wentz and Mears received upon bursting on the scene with evidence that the Spencer/Christy satellite data was flawed. The dynamics here are easy to understand, and they can be found in all sorts of places, but it is the job of the IPCC to treat science and scientists fairly, not to protect a consensus or political symbols.

    6. Finally a few comments about the discussion that followed. I continue to be amazed at the degree of tribal behavior that the climate community generates. Different camps give themselves and their opponents cute names — “hockey team,” “skeptics,” “contrarians, “mainstream”. They meet in club houses like RealClimate and ClimateAudit where they talk amongst themselves. A telling comment appeared early in the exchange when some one asked me if I was “embarrassed” to be providing a forum for RM. This tells me that some folks are less interested in resolving the climate debate than perpetuating it. I suppose the fight is good sport. But if progress is ever going to be made on the issue then people on different sides will have to meet, discuss and compromise. If I were a proprietor of RealClimate or ClimateAudit I would have some very real concerns about creating an “echo chamber”. Sometimes I wonder if these sites do less to educate their self-selected visitors than make their proprietors more strident and extreme in their own views, a la Cass Sunstein.

    7. Finally, I found it amusing to find myself being attacked simultaneously on both the RealClimate website and the ClimateAudit website for being in the camp of the other. As one post said, “if you are not with us you are against us”. This perspective, which is held not only among anonymous blog commentators, but some scientists, issue advocates and politicians helps to explain why the climate debate is locked in stalemate, and everyone chooses to fight about science instead.

    Thanks all for participating. If you have any suggestions for topics and contributors that we might invite in the future to engage one another, please send them along.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Roger Pielke Jr. (May 27 13:04),

      Roger wrote in Nov 2005:

      If progress is ever going to be made on the issue then people on different sides will have to meet, discuss and compromise.

      A few weeks later, I bought Ammann lunch at AGU and proposed that we write a joint paper setting out what we agreed on, what we disagreed on. I know that our codes matched and that an agreed statement of results would confirm every one of our empirical claims.

      As I’ve mentioned before, Ammann refused, saying that it “would be bad for his career”. I asked him to consult with his superiors at UCAR since I thought that some sort of even partial resolution would help his career. He never even replied or responded to follow up emails.

      This is the sort of conduct that Myles Allen should condemn – not Bishop Hill.

      • pouncer
        Posted May 27, 2012 at 9:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Anthony Watts solicited questions to ask Michael Mann during the latter’s appearance at Disneyland. I wish, rather than “gotchas”, one such question would be along the lines stated above.

        “Dr Mann, within what areas of dendropaleoclimatology do you find yourself in agreement with …” (Named critics )

        “Dr Mann, in future publications, which prominent statisticians would you invite onto your team to review your math and ensure criticisms of the past are preemptively deflected? ”

        Perhaps Dr Allen would be willing to address similar questions.

        If the issue is communication about the rise in average temperatures as derived from the historic instrument record, why should the list of station IDs used in various methods of averaging be concealed from FOI requesters? Wouldn’t open source review of the records promote better communication?

        If the issue is the instrument record rather than paleo-records, is Anthony Watts “Surface Station” project worth emulating in nations like the UK, New Zealand, China, etc? Should the UN fund such a review?

        If the issue is radiative physics would you care to discuss the “hot spot” controversy and the “instrument record” collected by weather balloons? What part of that issue has Jo Nova got right and where has she gone wrong? Would you nominate a person from your discipline to work on a joint paper about the topic with such an informed layperson?

        Or is communication always one-way from “experts” to laymen like Watts, McIntyre and Nova?

      • Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

        There’s no such thing as a free lunch but only rarely is who paid of historical significance. This team made the stranger pay, to a ridiculous degree, all the way down the line. They should have gone halves while they had the chance. It’s hard to see it ending well for them, with no friends left, as the big check is brought to the table.

    • theduke
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 4:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Roger at 1:04 pm wrote:

      This agreement is interesting because it means we can move beyond the often invoked assertion that the hockey stick is the keystone supporting the entire scientific basis of climate science. . . .

      I think that in the scientific sense you are correct. Unfortunately, the misuse of the hockey stick graph is symptomatic of the general misconduct of the leading lights in climate science, which makes it a social and political problem.

      For many of us, the hockey stick is emblematic of corrupt science and calls into question all previous work and any forthcoming work that those who promulgated it have presented or will present as rigorous science.

      I think the IPCC has been thoroughly discredited and some other body that can regulate and interpret the findings of climate science needs to be created.

      I nominate you to be on that body.:)

    • Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:47 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Roger

      They might find themselves with some allies if they talk more about peer review in science and international assessments, for which there are many people with interests and concerns.

      One thing at a time. But having since moved onto talking about peer review in international assessments I look forward to hearing the many others with interests and concerns speaking up as well.

    • Kenneth Fritsch
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

      “This agreement is interesting because it means we can move beyond the often invoked assertion that the hockey stick is the keystone supporting the entire scientific basis of climate science. Others may assert that the hockey stick is a scientific keystone, but apparently not the principals involved in this debate.”

      Roger, what is missing in your post are the specifics and details of why the reconstructions are not important to the science of future warming and then further what is important to the science of future warming. Certaintly the reconstructions have been used and continue to be used in policy advocacy on AGW and that is why my question to you is confined to the specifics and details based on the science. Otherwise you comment comes across a bit too hand wavey for my tastes. I also think by using the term keystone to the science in describing any one aspect of the science comes across as a strawman.

  33. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    With advocacy and PR spin something matters until it doesn’t. Paleoclimatology matters if for no other reason than to confirm climate model findings. Weaknesses found in temperature reconstructions means there is one less reliable tool for testing the models. Model validation using instrumental data provides only a short time span and the very real possibility of models being accepted/rejected and tuned based on that data which in turn makes that in-sample testing as opposed to the out-of-sample testing that is required to truly test the models.

    I think the AGW advocates call to “it doesn’t matter” has much to do with their inability to acknowledge the weaknesses found for temperature reconstructions and their credibility concerns that reconstruction performance might rub off on AGW related science in general. What better way to avoid a serious discussion of subject then to declare it does not matter.

    If we could put temperature reconstructions on near the level of confidence we have for tobacco causing lung cancer and we had a choice of using those reconstructions to show unprecedented temperatures on a millennial scale or climate models as operated currently, there is no doubt in my mind and those of most AGW advocates that the reconstructions would be preferred.

    The instrumental record alone says nothing about future feedback effects or degree of warming, and even, more importantly, about localized beneficial and detrimental effects of future warming. That leaves climate modeling and a means of verifying those models.

  34. William Larson
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As usual I agree with Mr. McIntyre here: The IPCC and their ilk MADE the hockey stick important, made it their icon, their symbol. And symbols, as we all know or should know, are potent, even to the extreme. Hide The Decline upheld this symbol. So when the (may we say) fraudulent science behind HTD was exposed, it was pretty much a stake in the heart of the Hockey Stick. And when your chosen symbol is killed off, what does that say about all that it symbolizes? And as Ms. Curry avers, paleo temp reconstructions are mighty important, IF they have merit, in order that we may learn about natural climate variability.

  35. Curt
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 1:30 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The key issue for me with regard to the hockey stick is whether the climate models on which the IPCC depends could explain the type of climate variance of alternate millennial reconstructions. For example, could they explain the variance of the reconstruction shown in the IPCC AR1, which shows a MWP about 1C higher than present, and an LIA about 1C below present? (This is a real, not rhetorical, question.)

    The ability for climate models to hindcast well is a necessary (but not sufficient) condition, as many in the mainstream climate camp have acknowledged, for their predictions to be taken seriously.

    While I do not believe that a definitive confirmation or disconfirmation of hockey-stick-type reconstructions would be controlling evidence either way in the CAGW debate, I do strongly suspect that it is a real and significant scientifice component (as opposed to simple PR) of that debate.

    • michael hart
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It still troubles me to think that the models would successfully hindcast the MWP if everybody agreed that it existed, and that they would not hindcast it if everybody agreed that the MWP did not exist.

  36. Bernal
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Since the Hockey Stick is irrelevant perhaps someone can tell me where to go to get it removed from my friend’s eye sockets. Because if you depend on NPR and the rest of polite media no one has told you that it is irrelevant.

    Revisiting the icon is yesterday’s news, no story here, and definitely getting too deep in the weeds. The hockey stick was above the nameplate in the San Francisco in all its red bladed glory. So when does “Oh never mind” make the newspaper. Still makes me hot to think of it.

  37. Jos
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I notice some conflicts on the relevance of the Hockeystick.

    On the one hand, Roger Pielke jr. refers to an earlier discussion suggesting that Steve, Stefan Rahmstorf and William Connelley, all argue that the “hockey stick” debate is pretty much irrelevant to the scientific question of whether or not greenhouse gases will affect the future climate.

    On the other hand, I see that Judith Curry and Craig Loehle suggest that the Hockeystick does matter, as it can provide information about the magnitude of natural climate variability, which in the end is relevant for the attribution of 20th century warming and/or the trust of the scientific community in numerical climate models.

    So, which one is it?

    It does not appear one can have both …

    J.

  38. Steven Mosher
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    dont forget that briffa was under orders
    to produce a chart more compelling than the HS

    Overpeck orders

  39. Steven Mosher
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 2:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From: Jonathan Overpeck
    To: Keith Briffa
    Subject: IPCC – your section
    Date: Mon, 23 May 2005 22:46:11 -0700
    Cc: Eystein Jansen

    Hi Keith – thanks again for the help in Beijing. We hope you found a
    fabulous clay pot or at least some good views of China.

    We know it’s going to be extra hard on you to get everything done on
    time, but we’re hoping you can more-or-less stick to the schedule we
    just sent around. Your section is going to be the big one, and we
    need to make sure we have as much review and polishing as possible.
    If we don’t we (especially you) will pay heavily at FOD review time.
    Lots of work now saves even more work later. Or so the real veterans
    tell us.

    Lastly, we wanted you to know that we can probably win another page
    or two (total, including figs and refs) if you end up needing it.
    Susan didn’t promise this, but she gave us the feeling that we could
    get it if we ask – but probably only for your section, and maybe an
    extra page for general refs (although we’re not going to mention this
    to the others, since we’re not sure we can get it). Note that some of
    the methodological parts of your sections should go into supplemental
    material – this has to be written just as carefully, but it gives you
    another space buffer. All this means you can do a good job on
    figures, rather than the bare minimum. We’re hoping you guys can
    generate something compelling enough for the TS and SPM – something
    that will replace the hockey-stick with something even more
    compelling.

    Anyhow, thanks in advance for what is most likely not going to be
    your number 1 summer to remember. That said, what we produce should
    provide real satisfaction.

    Best, Peck and Eystein

    • ChE
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:51 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Interesting choice of words. The HS is quite compelling in it’s message. What isn’t compelling is it’s veracity. Is it possible to come up with a curve that’s more compelling in its OMGPONIES interpretation? I don’t think so. The only way to interpret that is that he didn’t thing the science was strong enough.

  40. Myles Allen
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Roger and Judith,

    Thanks for your contributions. I don’t really have much to add to Roger’s, save to acknowledge that I am not, of course, the first to have pointed out that our understanding of the origins of climate change over the past few decades and predictions for next few wouldn’t be that different if no-one had ever thought of the idea of reconstructing temperatures from tree-rings.

    Regarding your point 3 about IPCC, I think you are right that the problem is with the “promotion” of IPCC reports rather than with the reports themselves. I get the impression Steve agrees with you here. IPCC was originally conceived as a body to provide scientific advice to governments on specific global questions. It should never have been elevated (and no climate scientist ever wanted to elevate it) into a one-stop-shop of near-biblical infallibility for all matters related to climate change. I hoped the IAC report might be an opportunity to refocus IPCC on a slightly more manageable mission (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/sep/02/intergovernmental-panel-climate-change) but sadly they seem to have decided just to plough on.

    Apropos Judith’s remarks: it might be the case that our models systematically underestimate the magnitude of inter-decadal climate variability, and this is clearly something we need to keep working on — but it is worth stressing that if we have underestimated internal variability, then the upper bound on forecasts would go up as much as the lower bound would go down.

    Concerns about model-simulated variability, far from being a new issue for IPCC, has always been one of the central reasons for caution in attribution assessments, certainly for as long as I have been involved. But my personal view, and I accept that others may take a different one, is that advances in modelling and ocean observations are more likely to shed light on this than reconstructions of pre-instrumental climate. The point I always get stuck on is that we don’t really know what the drivers of climate were 900 years ago, so even if it was warmer than today, how can we be sure that is evidence of missing internally-generated decadal-to-centennial variability?

    Apropos your last paragraph, Roger: I’ve now been slammed in the space of six months by both Joe Romm and Andrew Montford, but not by both sides simultaneously: that’s an achievement.

    All the best,

    Myles

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Myles,
      it’s too bad that you’re too involved with arguing your own message that you’re not paying any attention to why climate communicators, such as yourself, have had trouble connecting with so many well-educated professionals and scientists from other fields. Trying to show that you’re “right” all the time is a bit of an occupational hazard among academics, but it’s always a good idea to try to understand the market and the audience.

      One of the reasons for public interest in the Hockey Stick is that the data and methods are relatively accessible to educated professional and scientists from other fields. People can fairly quickly arrive at their own estimates of the solidity of the science and the competence of the practitioners. Because there’s been a lot of interesting events surrounding the dispute, a very large audience has developed for the topic. Unfortunately, what we’ve learned is that the so-called “professionals” are attempting to do statistical analyses for which they are unqualified either through prior training or self-education. It’s also impossible to avoid the sense that they are trying to “get” an answer. And they are not the sort of people that most of us would trust. I think that the wider community has been somewhat unwise in their decision to, in effect, double down by honoring scientists, more to show solidarity with heroes of the revolution than for their scientific contributions.

      As to IPCC: in the specific section that involved me, I have lots of problems with the “report” itself. Someone as conflicted as Briffa should never have been charged with assessing the Hockey Stick dispute. It was known in advance to be a contentious issue and Briffa was partisan. Hans von Storch also spoke out against this sort of conflict of interest.

      IPCC has learned nothing in this respect. Tim Osborn of CRU is Lead Author of this section. Using yet another CRU Climategater is IPCC thumbing its nose at the public.

      • MrPete
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: Steve McIntyre (May 27 19:32) and Myles Allen (May 27 17:31),
        Steve has got it exactly right. And when Myles says

        it is worth stressing that if we have underestimated internal variability, then the upper bound on forecasts would go up as much as the lower bound would go down.

        Myles do you really believe this? How about the case where scientists are found to be “hiding the decline?” When scientists are seeking an “answer” at the upper bound, and removing data sources that don’t happen to fit their admitted cherry-picked notion of what a signal ought to look like…

        … then the lower bound will go down more than the upper bound will increase.

        • Steve McIntyre
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

          Re: MrPete (May 28 09:10),

          it is worth stressing that if we have underestimated internal variability, then the upper bound on forecasts would go up as much as the lower bound would go down.

          my response on this has been different.

          I’ve been asked in the past about the claim that if the Hockey Stick is wrong, the situation is worse than we thought. (Greater sensitivity).

          My answer is that, if so, we should find out sooner rather than later and govern ourselves accordingly. And give no thanks to those ‘scientists” whose data obstruction and antics delayed our finding out.

        • Posted May 28, 2012 at 2:10 PM | Permalink

          With regards to the statement:

          “it is worth stressing that if we have underestimated internal variability, then the upper bound on forecasts would go up as much as the lower bound would go down.”

          I discuss the fallacy behind this reasoning on a recent thread at Climate Etc. http://judithcurry.com/2012/05/10/climate-sensitivity-discussion-thread/

          “When discussing the hockey stick handle, and responding to the criticism that there is too little variability in the handle, it has been stated that higher variability in the handle would imply a much higher sensitivity. This is NOT true if the variability is unforced and associated with natural internal variability.”

        • Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:35 PM | Permalink

          While it is important to recognize that if the Earth’s past were more variable, there is a possibility that sensitivity to natural forcings is underestimated, it is equally realistic to recognize that the forcing themselves are underestimated.

          There are only so many ways to spell dunno..

      • Kingb
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I cannot agree more on Mr. McIntyre’s comment Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:32 PM.

        As a Professional Chemist in the private sector, I cannot say a lot about the science of Climategate but what I can say is that the behaviour of the scientists with “hide the decline” and cherry-picking of results (like Yamal) would result in disciplinary hearings and the likely suspension of the right-to-practice were it uncovered in my industry. How can I trust these “Proffesionals” in their further endeavours, when I would have voted as part of a discipinary committee to revoke their right-to-practice?

    • clt510
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Myles:

      Apropos Judith’s remarks: it might be the case that our models systematically underestimate the magnitude of inter-decadal climate variability, and this is clearly something we need to keep working on — but it is worth stressing that if we have underestimated internal variability, then the upper bound on forecasts would go up as much as the lower bound would go down.

      Isn’t this an implicit admission that understanding paleoclimate could be important in understanding the future impact of anthropogenic CO2 emissions?

      (Seriously… it’s a good point, even if it does undermine a bit your original thesis…not that there’s any shame in that.)

    • bernie1815
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Myles:
      Steve has politely captured what I and I suspect many here think. The hallmark of many of those involved in countering skeptics of some elements of climate science such as the Hockey Stick, the size of UHI, CO2 sensitivy estimates, especially those made visible in the Climategate emails and those running RealClimate, has been their arrogance and disdain for those seeking to explore the science and the public policy issues. How else do you explain the thwarting of FOIs for data, methods and details concerning IPCC chapter reports? Now we have a statement from you suggesting that the public, by which I assume you mean folks like me, should be further frozen out of these debates. The posing of the issue in such terms is likely to end badly for those dependent on the public purse.

    • Brent Buckner
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Myles Allen wrote:
      “Apropos Judith’s remarks: it might be the case that our models systematically underestimate the magnitude of inter-decadal climate variability, and this is clearly something we need to keep working on — but it is worth stressing that if we have underestimated internal variability, then the upper bound on forecasts would go up as much as the lower bound would go down.”

      Not necessarily. Admission of systematic error in variability pretty much denies any appeal to a presumption of lack of systematic error in means. If your estimate of inter-decadal climate variability is in such systematic error, then it may indicate a significant omitted variable in your models, and it is then not appropriate to regard them as providing unbiased forecasts.

    • Duster
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 4:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The issue of the “Hockeystick” was never “scientific.” It was always one of “communication” to the public. The HS was brandished globally, through the actions of the MSM as a banner of the “serious situation” the world was facing, if the purported effects of the economic success of the great western democracies was not reined in. The message was never a scientific one.

      Apropos to Dr. Currie’s remarks and your rejoinder, it also true that if those error bars increase, the confidence that ANY measureable anthropic effect on climate can be detected is reduced proportionately.

    • Posted May 28, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I must be missing something here. What’s so magical about the moment when the instrumental temperature record began that makes the (reconstructed) temperature prior to that moment “irrelevant”, and the (instrumentally recorded) temperature after that moment sufficient to establish the correctness of GCMs?

      Suppose for example, that paleo reconstructions had shown a rock-solid pattern of identical temperature run-ups matching the recent one, say, every 400 years or so, followed by a corresponding drop a couple of centuries later. Would anybody then be able to get away with claiming that the paleo record was “irrelevant”? And isn’t it therefore important that we verify the absence of such a prior pattern before we dismiss the paleo record’s relevance?

      Indeed, wasn’t that precisely what the “hockey stick” was claimed to demonstrate?

  41. Craig Loehle
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 6:54 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Nick Stokes seems to be arguing that because the Loehle 2007 paper shows a MWP and other recons show a MWP that my result confirms or matches the others. But several studies have shown that the various recons don’t match each other on any time scale, indicating that they do not properly capture multidecadal signals and thus do not provide much info on the nature of natural climate fluctuations.
    If Nick is making some other point, it escapes me.

    Steve: Craig, this post is not about the MWP per se, but about Myles Allen’s understanding of Climategate.

  42. Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    This part is especially troubling:

    “The point I always get stuck on is that we don’t really know what the drivers of climate were 900 years ago, so even if it was warmer than today, how can we be sure that is evidence of missing internally-generated decadal-to-centennial variability?”

    The whole premise of the GCMs-are-the-alpha-and-omega way of understanding climate is that the factors affecting climate in all eras are the lawful results of unchanging radiative physics, with a) historically contingent forcings and b) natural variations in multi-decadal response to forcings being negligible. If volcanos mattered 900 years ago, why wouldn’t they matter tomorrow? If the climate had a different water-vapor feedback 900 years ago, why wouldn’t it change tomorrow or a decade from now?

    And while it is true as you (Martin) state that an upward temperature excursion due to natural variability might make CO2 mitigation useless in staving off putatively undesirable climate impacts, one can go farther. Even without natural variability, if the sensitivity is too high then the warming already in the pipeline will make mitigation a pointless and wasteful exercise. The case for drastic mitigation really requires a “Goldilocks” level of sensitivity.

  43. maxberan
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 7:34 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Not strictly a proxy as pCO2 itself is what is measured (by gas analyser). Uncertainties arise when assigning measurements to time points/epochs.

  44. PhilH
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Roger Pielke: I disagreed with you when you wrote that piece originally and I still disagree. As a non-scientist with nevertheless a modicum of intelligence, as well as being a long time reader of this blog,I have formed the opinion that the whole hockey stick controversy, while relevant or non-relevant, as a piece of research, to the question of catastrophic climate change, or even to the position of the IPCC, is finally and principally about a rock hard, indisputable revelation of a total lack of not only scientific integrity but, indeed, of simple human decency, on the part of certain individuals, groups of individuals and organizations involved in the business of creating and supporting “scientific” proof of catastrophic climate change. I firmly believe that this is what has so disappointed Steve over these years.

    Far from being a “So what,” I consider this to be a “So why.” Why is this still going on? And why are people like you so willing to shrug it off as… “Oh well,you know, boys will be boys.”?

    I know your orientation is towards finding solutions. That’s fine and extremely worthwhile. But there is a rotten apple in this barrel and decent people need to recognize it, talk about it, write about it, admit it and deal with it.

    However, seven years gone since your “hands off” piece, it may now be too late.

    • stan
      Posted May 27, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “have formed the opinion that the whole hockey stick controversy… is finally and principally about a rock hard, indisputable revelation of a total lack of … scientific integrity”

      Agreed. The climate science community, nearly in its entirety, embraced the hockey stick. In doing so, they put their own integrity and reputation on the line with it. Don’t try to tell me ‘what the science is’. Not if you are using work by any of the disgraced scientists from that community to support your assertion. Not if that work has never been vetted by reputable scientists.

  45. Rafa
    Posted May 27, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Mr. Albert Gore received in Spain in 2007 the Award ‘Principe de Asturias’ one of the most prestigious awards in my country and later the Nobel. At that time, IPCC AR4 time, Mr. Gore was evangelizing endlessly in his lectures on the HS issue. While we all know he is not a scientist, back in 2007 I did not notice clear comments from people like Mr. Allen and others saying Mr. Gore was doing a sloppy coverage. Quite the contrary they implicitly endorsed Mr. Gore and his HS blah blah blah. This implicit endorsement by omission also irritates many people.

  46. Erica
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 5:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Seriously, can Myles Allen actually have been so clueless about Climategate ? Or is there yet more deviousness afoot here?

    • theduke
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

      I believe Myles Allen genuinely wants to see the debate move ahead (even if we are constantly reminded that “the debate is over.”) The problem is that given the Hockey stick fiasco and the climategate emails, why should we believe anything that the principals at the IPCC say now or in the future?

      It’s a question of trust. Over at RealClimate, Eric Steig is gloating over yet another hockey stick finding.

      I mean, really . . .

  47. MIchael Larkin
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 5:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles:

    You don’t seem to get it.

    I’m just a layman—well-educated, to be sure, but not in physics or climatology. Before the hoo-ha over the hockey stick and Climategate, I largely accepted the AGW hypothesis. When the hoo-ha did start and I began to investigate, I slowly began to realise that there was some shenanigans going on, and I got angry.

    The climate establishment, so it seemed, was taking me for a patsy, but much more importantly, was providing fodder for politically interested parties to attempt to influence national and global policies in ways that could be detrimental to the well-being of many people on the planet. That’s one thing if it’s necessary, but quite another if it isn’t.

    Climategate, for the interested layman, revealed absolutely shocking disregard for the primacy of scientific integrity. And the spectre of the establishment closing ranks and defending, explicitly or implicitly (through failure to condemn) seemed to me to make it complicit.

    Your now claiming the HS doesn’t matter, far from reassuring me, just adds to the perception that the establishment is simply tone deaf when it comes to appreciation of how Joe Public views climate change and its practitioners. It’s not only scepticism, it’s cynicism, and one begins to wonder to what extent the problem is endemic to the whole of science, not just climatology.

    I didn’t intend to become a cynic; I had no axe to grind, no reason, or so it seemed originally, to doubt. The fact that I now have very grave doubts and feel I can’t trust is entirely the fault of how practitioners have behaved. It’s no use arguing it’s just a failure to communicate, or attempting to project the blame on me for my obduracy or ignorance.

    No: the problem is, once certain facts were communicated (albeit that they have had to be extracted when resistance has been persistent and determined), the message was crystal clear: you can’t trust these people; they act as if there’s something to hide, in fact have demonstrated that there is. And if they are hiding something in one area, who’s to say they’re not elsewhere?

    Trust is the sine qua non of gaining public acceptance and support. The only way to restore that trust is for the establishment to admit its failures, and start afresh in a completely open and transparent way, claiming nothing that can’t be supported, and welcoming contrary evidence. The continued resistance to doing this, and the attempts to minimise the relevance of something that at the time was greatly promoted, is only making things worse. There is absolutely no chance of regaining trust this way.

    I really, really would like to know the truth about AGW. I know I can’t trust the establishment to tell it, still less that anyone knows it. TRUST IS ESSENTIAL—I can’t understand why that seems so very hard for the establishment to grasp.

    • Stirling English
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: MIchael Larkin (May 28 05:31),

      Perhaps I can add my tenpennorth already posted at BH. Less elegantly phrased than Michael Larkin, but equally heartfelt.

      ‘Myles

      My conclusion from a lot of study of the Climategate e-mails is very simple.

      I don’t trust anybody who claims to be a climatologist. I view the phrase ‘Trust Me I’m A Climatologist’ as a contradiction in terms. If you told me the time, I’d need three totally independent verifications before believing a word you said.

      And I’d be very happy to get those verifications from a second-hand car dealer, an estate agent and a journalist since at least members of those occupations have some credibility

      I hope that you understand. Climategate was not primarily about science. It was about honesty, integrity and credibility. IMO you guys – and your ‘field of study’ – have none’

    • Sailorman
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Michael Larkin (May 28th 05:31am)

      Your comments perfectly capture my viewpoint as well

  48. Matt Ridley
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Far from being an irrelevancy, for me personally, the MBH hockey stick was absolutely vital in first extinguishing my scepticism then fiercely re-igniting it. When I first saw it, I was blown away by the clear evidence of unprecedented climate change, and I immediately told people I was no longer sceptical about climate change, a subject I had not been paying much attention to or writing about at that point, but had expressed some doubts about in print a few years before. That it had been published in Nature was good enough for me at the time. Aha, I thought, a smoking gun.

    Then when I came across Steve’s work and realised how full of holes both the method and the data were, and that the IPCC was not interested in listening the criticisms, it made me doubly sceptical about not only paleo-climate data, but climate change theory generally, Nature magazine’s standards and — following the farcical enquiries — the British scientific establishment’s willingness to be bought. The hockey stick was by no means the only thing that caused me to change my mind twice, but it was the most salient.

    So for Myles Allen to say it never mattered to the argument is wrong in my case.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: Matt Ridley (May 28 06:38),

      Matt, thanks for commenting.

      People interested in “climate communications”, as Myles Allen purports to be, should really try to understand why they can’t simply wish away the Hockey Stick (which at this point is the Hockey Stick plus Climategate emails plus the “inquiries”.)

      • Anthony Watts
        Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Matt/Steve There’s a new paper out Why Do People Pay for Useless Advice? Implications of Gambler’s and Hot-Hand Fallacies in False-Expert Setting by Nattavudh Powdthavee, Yohanes E. Riyanto (May 2012)

        I’ve cited Matt’s comment. More here:

        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/05/28/this-new-paper-may-explain-the-widespread-belief-in-the-value-of-michael-manns-methods-and-the-bet-on-the-hockey-stick/

        • Paul Dennis
          Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:49 AM | Permalink

          Just by co-incidence I’ve been reading Richard Feynmann’s John Danz’s 1963 lectures to the University of Washington titled ‘A scientist looks at society’. These are published in a monograph called The Meaning of it All by Allen lane and the Penguin Press. His third lecture is called ‘This unscientific age’. This third lecture is rather unstructured in which Feynmann looks at the role of science in public society and how it is reported etc. He touches on a large number of topics (astrology, faith healers, nuclear testing and so on) and at one point says……

          “What I am asking for in many directions is an abject honesty in political matters. And I think we will be freer that way.
          I would like to point out that people are not honest. Scientists are not honest at all, either. It’s useless. Nobody’s honest. Scientists are not honest. And people usually believe that they are. That makes it worse. By honest I don’t mean that you only tell what’s true. But you make clear the entire situation. You make clear all the information that is required for somebody else who is intelligent to make up their mind.”

          For me this statement comes very close to the crux of the hockey stick debate and it’s importance as a tool for proselytisers and politicians in communicating Earth’s temperature history over the last thousand years and setting a context for recent warming.

    • Steveta_uk
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

      The BBC’s favourite science presenter, the physicist Brian Cox, has presented a big blow-up of the hockey stick and explained that, as a scientist, this was to him absolute proof of global warming in one of his documentaries.

      I wonder if Myles Allen contacted him and explained that it really wasn’t that important.

    • Mark W
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Matt,

      This absolutely resonates with me. I am in the Australian power industry and went through a ho-hum OK let’s support a “no regrets” approach to “this is serious” when I first saw the hockey stick. I was working for a USA company at this time and volunteered to help develop our strategic response to this issue. But as I delved into topic I went the full cycle from being neutral to deeply concerned to being highly sceptical.

  49. John Norris
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 8:02 AM | Permalink | Reply

    If the hockey stick was a correct representation of historical temps, then it would matter a great deal. Because it isn’t, it shouldn’t, it should just fade away like other science errors.

    However a fair number of climate scientists signed off on it, over exposed it, defended it, participated in covering up problems with it, and even after a great deal of debunking via Climate Audit, and confirmation of that debunking via climate gate, are to this day still defending it. That speaks volumes to the quality of climate scientists; and therefore climate science. THAT MATTERS.

  50. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 8:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve deleted some comments that “coat-racked” other issues and IMO were off-topic. There was nothing offensive about them – merely an editorial decision.

  51. Don Keiller
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dear Professor Allen, you state
    “The point I always get stuck on is that we don’t really know what the drivers of climate were 900 years ago”

    So why do you think you know with any certainty what they are today?

    It seems that the default conclusion is that since we don’t know we will simply use CO2 as a “fudge Factor” for our “detection and attribution” processes.

    Lazy, but highly lucrative, thinking.

    • Robert
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 7:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Bingo! You hit the nail on the head! Why do climate scientists not see this? This is why the paleo record is significant and why the HS does matter.

  52. Mickey Reno
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:32 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dr. Allen, ClimateGate is mostly about seeing in their own words the corruption of established methods into honest scientific inquiry by a “Team” of advocates who embraced a conclusion, and who tendentiously work to support it.

    Please realize that any rhetoric or dissembling by your side of the debate which refuses to deal with the above, is doomed to failure. Furthermore, rationalizations, changing the subject, grasping at exculpatory straws, begging the question or further use of additional logical fallacies can only be interpreted as as further corruptions and propagandas. I have no animosity towards you, sir, but please open your eyes.

  53. Posted May 28, 2012 at 11:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles, When you say:

    whereas we all use the instrumental temperature record all the time.

    shouldn’t you add “on the assumption that it is uncontaminated over land with non-climatic biases”? While I agree with Steve that climategate is mostly about paleo data, there is also an important thread pertaining to how Jones, Trenberth and Parker kept evidence about problems in the land record out of the IPCC report.

    If you are satisfied that Muir Russell’s decision to dismiss the topic was sound, then let me put another question to you. In AR4 Ch3 p. 244 Jones and Trenberth and their LA team stated that results published by me and another group showing statistically significant evidence of data contamination were actually statistically insignificant. Knowing that this claim was fabricated, I asked Muir Russel to ask Jones to provide the p value for the test backing up his position. Boulton put the request to Jones, who gave the following answer, which the Muir Russell panel accepted as a valid basis for Jones and the other IPCC authors to say what they did in the IPCC report (p. 5):

    There is no need to calculate a p value for a statement that is based on the laws of physics.

    Do you, as a physicist, agree, and would you be OK with your students adopting this as a working rule? Seeing as you “all” use the instrumental record “all the time” does it concern you that the colleague who looks after the instrumental data thinks this way?

    Ross

    • DeNihilist
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 2:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Really Dr. McKitrick? That was his answer? Wow!

      • Posted May 28, 2012 at 2:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

        http://www.cce-review.org/evidence/15%20April%20Jones%20follow%20up.pdf
        p. 2, questions from Boulton to Jones

        No justification is given for the claim of statistical insignificance, which has a precise meaning. Do you have a p value that justifies this statement, and if not, what does it mean?

        p. 5, Jones answer:

        There is no need to calculate a p value for a statement that is based on the laws of physics.

        Muir Russell report finding, p. 77:

        We conclude that there is evidence that the text was a team responsibility. It is clear that Jones (though not alone) had a strongly negative view of the paper but we do not find that he was biased, that there was any improper exclusion of material or that the comments on the MM2004 paper in the final draft were “invented” given the (continuing) nature of the scientific debate on this issue.

        • Jeff Norman
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Permalink

          LOL – Sort of like the way a made-for-TV movie may be based on a true story.

  54. Stacey
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think Professor Manley you are quite missing the point in a very disingenuous way?

    The Central England Temperature Graph posted on the MET Offices Site is a Hockey Stick Graph. A joke in fact as the vertical scale is extremely large for an anomaly range of 1.75 C.
    http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/hadcet/

    Now if you refer to Professor Manley’s Paper and look at Figure 1 for all saesons what do you see? What you see is that the data has been altered to create another Hockey Stick Shape for the express purpose of supporting the cause?
    http://www.rmets.org/pdf/qj74manley.pdf

    The reason you are being disingenous is because The Hockey Stick graphs along with all the other predicions that come out of the IPPC when scrutinised are shown to be either

    A Wrong
    B Wrong
    C Wrong
    D All of the above.

  55. Ivan
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe I am missing something but this entire debate seems to me as much ado about nothing.

    Namely, the original Hockey Stick, as well as pretty much all subsequent iterations of it end the proxy reconstruction before 1980 (when the modern anthropogenic warming supposedly started). In his earlier post “Bring the Proxies Up to Date” Steve rightly criticizes the scientists for not bothering to collect the data beyond 1980. Hence, the entire Hockey Stick effect in the graphs stems from an anomalous tree right growth BEFORE the era of anthropogenic warming, mostly in the period 1910-1940. The IPCC in its own reports says that most of the warming before 1950 was not anthropogenic.

    So, even if we assume that everything was just fine with MBH 98 or MBH 99 data and methods, what that would have proved is only the fact that the NATURALLY caused warming in the early portion of the 20th century was anomalous in the context of the last millennium. Nothing to do with CO2, anthropogenic forcings and so on.

  56. Stacey
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 12:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Please accept my apologies I of course mean’t to say “Of course Professor Allen”

  57. Posted May 28, 2012 at 1:39 PM | Permalink | Reply

    snip – please do not coat-rack arguments.

  58. theduke
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    You are not getting it, Carbon. The beauty of the hockey stick can be found in the words of Nick Stokes: “I frequently defend the hockey stick, which I think is clever and interesting science.”

    You see, it doesn’t matter if it’s implausible or even true, if it’s “clever and interesting.”

    And of course, Nick omits mentioning it’s usefulness as a “trick” in misleading and scaring the bejesus out of the masses.

    Now that it’s been completely discredited, well of course it’s time to move on! That’s what Myles Allen is all about. Unfortunately, the stain on the fabric of the IPCC won’t come out.

    And then there is the problem with the temperature record, as Ross has so ably pointed out in the post above yours.

    • chris y
      Posted May 28, 2012 at 6:09 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I find myself in agreement with Nick Stokes when he writes “… hockey stick, which I think is clever and interesting science.”

      I think the hockey stick was extremely clever. Look how long it took to unravel what had been done. I think it was also interesting that peer reviewers and the wider paleoclimate community of experts considered (still consider?) it a seminal advance in climate science, since it had absolutely nothing to do with advancing science.

  59. Dung
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The Hockey Stick was hugely important because NOT ONE NATION RATIFIED THE KYOTO TREATY UNTIL AFTER IT WAS PUBLISHED. Had the Hockey Stick not been published we may never have had a Kyoto agreement and the world would not be wrecking itself trying to create a low carbon economy. It is disingenuous of Myles Allen to try and pretend it has no relevance.

    • Nick Stokes
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “Had the Hockey Stick not been published we may never have had a Kyoto agreement”
      No, the Kyoto Protocol was adopted on 11 December 1997. The first MBH paper was published on 23 April 1998. So the agreement came first. And it is unlikely that any nation’s process could have ratified in five months.

      But in any case, the Kyoto Protocol was part of the UNFCCC, adopted 1992. That was long before any paleo-based hockey-sticks.

      • nex
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Nick Stokes,

        Dung is correct when he states that “not one nation ratified the Kyoto treaty until after it (the Hockey Stick) was published”. The first state to ratify the treaty was Fiji in September 1998. Without ratification, a treaty is meaningless. You know that.

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

          But he wasn’t correct when he said
          “Had the Hockey Stick not been published we may never have had a Kyoto agreement”
          And that’s the point. The fact is that the agreement was hammered out by very senior government representatives prior to MBH. They didn’t need a hockey stick to convince them. And I don’t think a paper in Nature carries much weight with the ratification process.

        • nex
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:26 PM | Permalink

          No, Nick, you completely miss the point. Yes, the original agreement was crafted by government employees, but without ratification an agreement effectively does not exist. It is a fact that no country ratified the treaty until well after the hockey stick was published and most countries not until years later. It is ratification that is a political process that relies on persuading lawmakers and / or the public. It is quite feasible that the hockey stock played a role in this – it is well documented that politicians used the hockey stick in selling Kyoto (as Steve discussed above).

          Maybe Dung should have said “never had an effective Kyoto agreement” instead of “never had a Kyoto agreement”, but the substance of his point is understood. I cannot fathom why you feel the need to argue the semantics.

  60. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 4:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve deleted a number of comments on blog policy against trying to resolve the big picture in one paragraph. Also some piling on.

    I really wish people would not try to prove or disprove global warming, AGW or CAGW in a few sentences.

  61. Posted May 28, 2012 at 7:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Of course the climate models have been tuned to the surface temperature record. Not the radiative forcing from increasing CO2, which is pretty well understood. But certainly the aerosol forcing which keeps the models from going wild with warming in the late 20th Century.

    What do you think the 20th Century model simulations would look like if the modelers did not see the surface temperature record first?

    • Nick Stokes
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 6:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Are you aware of how the models are tuned? Some, like GISS Model E, publish their code. I’m not aware of any aerosol parameters to tweak.

      Aerosol forcing is an input, not part of the model. And again, GISS at least publish the numbers they use, and where they get them from. They provide update information, giving reasons for changes. Tropospheric aerosol forcing hasn’t been modified since 2007. Stratospheric aerosol forcing was modified last year, but changes have been infrequent.

      • Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

        “I’m not aware of any aerosol parameters to tweak. Aerosol forcing is an input, not part of the model.”

        Maybe it’s getting too late in the day, but I’m having trouble comprehending this statement. Are you saying that because we can input an aerosol number that it isn’t a parameter? And because it is an “input” it can’t be tweaked?

        It doesn’t matter if you call it a forcing, an input, a parameter, a variable, whatever. If it is a number that (i) gets input at some point and (ii) has some influence on the output, then it most certainly can be tweaked.

        Whether people are actually tweaking it is another matter . . .

        • Nick Stokes
          Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:16 AM | Permalink

          “If it is a number that (i) gets input at some point…”

          Well, you expect a code to respond to the input data you supply. I think the suggestion here is that there is effectively input data about aerosols hidden within the program. And I don’t think there is.

          But in any case it’s whether people are actually tweaking that matters. And forcing data, with GISS at least, is input that is clearly stated, with sources. I expect it is the same with other GCMs.

      • ObtuseFaction
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

        The main component of GCM aerosol forcing, the tropospheric aerosol distribution and forcing are are derived from other models – in many cases known as global atmospheric transport models. Technically they aren’t part of the GCM. I guess that is one way of claiming that aerosol forcing as an input rather than as an output.

      • HaroldW
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 9:52 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Nick -
        I think you’re “speaking carefully” here. Kiehl pointed out that models use widely varying aerosol forcing inputs. [Other forcings vary as well between models, but aerosol is the most salient.] The tuned parameters are in fact a function of the inputs & temperature history. Kiehl points out that various models, all of which hindcast acceptably, have a large range of climate sensitivities which correspond to the inputs.

  62. Adamastor
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 7:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It can all be summed up by:
    Trust is a commodity that you can only sell once.

    • Martin A
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 5:38 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes.

      Like virginity, it’s quite hard to get it back once you have lost it.

  63. Neil H
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 8:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    How many times has it been stated that it is not the crime but the cover-up that cracks a case. Here the cover-up moves beyond the direct players of Briffa, Jones etc to all those who defend them. They defend dishonesty and deceit. There is no honour in that. Yet they try and claim that it matters not. It matters a great deal.

  64. hunter
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    First the AGW true believers ignored skeptics.
    Then the true believers denigrated skeptics.
    Later, they got mad at skeptics.
    Later still the believers accused skeptics of evil motives.
    Lately the believers find themselves pretending they never said what they said.
    Soon, the true believers will find themselves painted into a corner.

    • Jonathan Grove
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Or:

      ‘First the skeptics ignored the scientists
      Then the skeptics denigrated the scientists.
      Later, they got mad at the scientists.
      Later still the skeptics accused scientists of evil motives.
      Many skeptics deliberately overlook the fact that their opinions are incoherent.
      Soon, the skeptics will find themselves painted into a (few) corner(s).’

      Neat rhetorical figures and choice characterizations are rarely reliable.

      Judith Curry’s generalization ‘IPCC participants/proponents don’t seem to think the hockey stick is important because they have already convinced themselves that natural variability between ice age and ENSO timescales is unimportant’ is likewise not wholly accurate, however pleasing to some ears.

      • Jeff Norman
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

        All generalizations are false.

        However I suspect that Judith Curry has had more exposure to IPCC participants that Jonathan Grove has and therefore is in a better position to formulate such a hypothesis.

        • Jonathan Grove
          Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 4:22 AM | Permalink

          The sum total of my limited ‘exposure’ has been to scientists whose ideas are imperfectly characterized by Curry’s broad statement. So even though my own sample is tiny, it is enough to confirm that this apparently authoritative statement is in fact insufficiently qualified, and therefore unreasonable.

  65. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 9:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Because proxy methods have to be calibrated, an alteration of the relevant instrumental curve will give different peaks and troughs depending on the slope of the instrumental period curve. If the instrumental curve appears as a revision or new version with a different slope, all proxies should be recalibrated.
    Many readers seem to be missing the point that the time-based resolution of temperature is now hundreds of observations per day per station, for many stations. Therefore, the detection of outliers and rejection of ‘dirty’ data periods has altered since the early instrumental period. Therefore, it is questionable to assert that the decade ending 2010 was hotter than that ending 1940 (or whatever). This principle extends to the pre-instrumental proxy period, where peak and trough calculations are muted through lower time resolution, as if a harsh smoothing filter had been put through the early data. Comparison of the MWP peak(s) to recent instrumental peaks is difficult to invalid because the errors are rather different, in part because of different time resolution.

  66. johanna
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    At the core of this issue is the inability of a coterie of scientists and their fans to ever admit a mistake. So, Myles Allen will say that the hockey stick is not really important, but can never bring himself to admit that it is simply wrong. Irrelevant, perhaps, but never wrong.

    Time and time again, we have to suffer this sophistry. When a dodgy study is shot down in flames, we are told that it is not important – oh, look over here! Shiny! We have a new study! They must think we have the attention span of a goldfish.

    And, going back to Steve’s original point, the hockey stick was reproduced countless times in newspapers, magazines and online as conclusive proof that all sorts of expensive and coercive public policy measures were required to ‘save the planet’. Flipping it off as irrelevant won’t wash. Even less so, as the (blush) Australian government’s input to AR5 is based on yet another hockey stick based substantially on tree-rings and dubious statistical leaps.

  67. Geoff
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 10:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Dr. Allen states above “But the fact remains that very few papers outside the paleoclimate niche make use of tree-ring data, whereas we all [presumably modelers] use the instrumental temperature record all the time” and “Detection and attribution is about testing competing hypotheses by comparing models with data. And the point is we overwhelmingly us instrumental data, not tree-ring proxy data”.

    This view is very different than that of other “climate scientists” – for example:

    “By studying the climate of the past millennium in great detail, it is possible to analyze the impact of human activities during the past few centuries compared with natural driving forces, such as volcanic eruptions and solar variations, and internal variations related only to the complex dynamics of the climate system itself. An optimal analysis is obtained when proxy data and model results are combined. Proxy data provide the “ground truth” [citations omitted], whereas models can be used to interpret the observed changes, in particular to analyze the mechanisms responsible for the observed response of the climate system to changes in external forcing [citations omitted]. (1)

    and

    “Whatever anthropogenic climate changes occur in the future, they will be superimposed on, and interact with, underlying natural variability. Therefore, to anticipate future changes, we must understand how and why climates varied in the past. This requires well-dated records of forcing factors, as well as paleoclimate; both are available from a variety of natural archives. Relying on instrumental data to understand the spectrum of climate variability is completely inadequate; the record of large-scale (hemispheric or global) temperature extends back only ca. 150 years and the same can be said for most of the major modes of climate variability (Table 10.1). Even the longest instrumental records barely cover 300 years, and for most of the world such records are rarely longer than 120 years. This means that our understanding of climate system variability is largely limited to the interannual to decadal scale. To examine longer term (centennial to millennial-scale) variability
    requires much longer datasets. The Holocene provides a particularly relevant
    period for such an endeavor, as large-scale boundary conditions (continental ice
    extent, topography, sea-level) have remained very close to modern conditions for
    much of the Holocene, and low frequency (orbital) forcing is well understood for
    this period. Thus, Holocene paleoclimate data are able to resolve the full spectrum of climate variability and to place the limited instrumental records in a long-term perspective. This is particularly germane to the issue of anthropogenic climate change, as it provides a context for recent changes”. (2)

    Dr. Allen seems to imply that paleoclimatology is irrelevant to his (and fellow modelers?) understanding of the climate which is based on physics, models and the instumental record. Is it correct to conclude that Dr. Allen feels paleoclimatology can be safely ignored until is it able to provide “reliable reconstructions of global temperatures over the past millennium”? Can we presume his current estimation is that current reconstructions are not reliable?

    (An interesting follow on topic would be how to determine such reliability).

    References

    1) Hugues Goosse, Michael E. Mann, and Hans Renssen, Climate of the past millennium; combining proxy data and model simulations, in Natural Climate Variability and Global Warming: A Holocene Perspective Edited by Richard W. Battarbee and Heather A. Binney (2008)

    2) Raymond S. Bradley, Holocene perspectives on future climate change, in Battarbee, op. cit. (2008)

    • JamesG
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

      It’s the same old story. Show them the paleo data is false they go back to the models, show them the models are false they go back to paleo. Nothing of anything though actually correlates with real life obs and the attribution studies somehow ignore that the stated fingerprints of AGW are obviously totally missing. In normal science that would tell them the hypothesis was false. Whatever anthropogenic warming exists it has clearly negligible effect on the non-cooling stratosphere since 1995 and the non ocean warming since accurate records began. Of course then they can just pull something straight out their backside like a putative aerosol cooling or an ocean heat transfer straight to the depths without touching the surface.

  68. michael hart
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 7:04 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Hockey-stick or no hockey-stick, in the video referred to, Allen discusses predictions and how “easy” it is to make climate predictions. I cannot let that pass without comment.

    He goes on to congratulate himself and the IPCC about a decadal “prediction… made in 2000″. [He takes a side-swipe at unnamed persons who, allegedly, made incorrect predictions. Please name them, and the dates, and their words, Dr. Allen]

    He compares the 2000′s to the 1990′s, the 1990′s being a decade noted for the early cooling due to the Mt. Pinatubo eruption. His choice of a decade to “predict” was chosen by him in 2011. He could have chosen other dates, other ranges, other “predictions”.

    He then cautions the audience that complicating, unpredictable events such as volcanoes may of course occur, totally neglecting to mention that the retro-prediction he just made had a significant volcanic eruption at the beginning of the reference period!

    He is, in fact, performing the same trick as occurred with the creation of the “hockey-stick”: If you first set the past as being cool according to your desires and needs, then it does indeed become easy to “predict” later events as being warmer.

    Rather too easy, Dr. Allen.

  69. Latimer Alder
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:58 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The more I read of Allen’s insouciant remarks…which boil down to

    ‘if there was nothing wrong with my own particular specialism then there was nothing wrong at all’

    the more my own blood pressure rises. But I am not sure whether to be angry with Allen as an individual, with climatologits as a ‘profession’ or with academe as a whole.

    Here’s why.

    Once upon a time in the world of industry and commerce I held a position not dissimilar to an academic professor. I was the Global Senior Technical Professional for a particular branch of expertise in the IT industry within a major multinational development services and sales company. As such I was expected to be the eventual Subject Matter Expert for all the nasty and difficult problems that cropped up and advise our Executive Management on how to fix them. The ‘Go-To Guy’. Very similar to being the Prof in climatology.

    But I also had as a major part of my responsibilities an objective ‘Maintain the Technical Health of the Field’. Which mean that I had to keep an eye (at least) on about 500 other professionals around the world and make sure that they knew what the best professional standards in my field were and were – as far as sensibly possible – adhering to them. If they fell down, I had to come up with the plans to make sure that it didn’t happen again, and make sure they were carried through. Between keeping up my own skills, firefighting and maintaining the professional health I was a busy bunny, but, hey, that’s what being a Senior Professional means. And most of the time it was fun.

    So I am almost literally amazed to read Allen’s remarks. Climategate showed – at the very least – ‘dodgy practice’ among some of the leaders of his field. Blogs – and books – have been full of discussion for over two years. Every day that goes by the credibility of climatology goes down yet further. And yet Allen professes nether to see nor to care…because it didn’t directly impact the narrow little field that he specialises his own work in.

    Which then begs the question. Who does care about the reputation and credibility of the climatology ‘profession’? In my previous job it was clear who was charged with maintaining the standards. Me.

    But does nobody actually give a tinker’s cuss about climatology as a whole? Does everyone work in such splendid isolation from each other (bar a bit of mutual pal-reviewing) that they are indifferent to their collective fate? Nobody ready to even raise a finger and suggest that all is not 100% tickety boo on the SS Climatology – that the officers are misbehaving and the navigator seems to be a little unhinged?

    The only person I have seen who has really nailed her colours to the mast is Judith Curry. Apart from her the silence has been deafening.

    Or am I being super hard on climatologits just because I have studied their antics in more detail than any other academic field. Is all of academe the same? Do they allow the (otherwise admirable) doctrine of academic freedom to completely override any ideas of ‘bringing the profession into disrepute’? Keep schtumm and never criticise a colleague?

    Please comment. This is pretty unfamiliar ground to me. But it sure as heck isn’t responsible professional leadership as I know it, Jim.

    • Sony
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:29 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes it’s precisely this refusal to criticize colleagues – a forced and phony consensus, no self-correcting – that convinces us the institution as a whole is rotten.

    • stan
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Latimer,

      It would appear that much of science is as polluted as you fear. The recent articles about the work done by Amgen and Bayer seem to confirm it. Important new studies in cancer or biotech research get published in the most prestigious journals, yet venture capitalists and industry scientists find they can rarely replicate the work. The vast majority of these studies turn out to be badly flawed. Amgen’s effort was headed by Glenn Begley who talks about one meeting with a leading academic researcher: “I explained that we re-did their experiment 50 times and never got their result. He said they’d done it six times and got this result once, but put it in the paper because it made the best story. It’s very disillusioning.”

      I suspect that the attitude embodied in that quote sums up the attitudes of a lot of scientists. It certainly matches up very well with what we read in the climategate e-mails, the whitewash investigations, and the hockey team’s behavior over the years. They publish what makes the best story. They publish what gets them funding for future work. Quality is ignored.

      The answer is not to expect people to be free from temptation because they are scientists. It is to hold them accountable. We need to make certain that quality processes are in place when work has significant policy implications. We need to meet the expectations that Steve Mc had back in the very beginning when he contacted Mann seeking to take a look at the hockey stick study. We need to make scientists live up to the same quality standard we demand of mining promoters.

      When that happens, studies won’t be published just because they make the best story. They’ll get published (or at least relied upon by policymakers) only when they are the best scientific work that scientists are capable of producing.

      I believe this is what Steve Mc has been about for a long time. And I think it is pretty obvious that Myles Allen has no idea what Steve is talking about.

      • Sony
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

        I think it is pretty obvious that Myles Allen has no idea what Steve is talking about.

        No, I think he has a very clear idea of what it is, and the tactical importance of steering the discussion elsewhere. Classic Teamwork.

      • johanna
        Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Stan, I think you have highlighted a broader point. There are mountains of ‘research’ that fit social prejudices. So, stress ’caused ulcers’ (not a bacterium) and promiscuity ’caused’ cervical cancer (not a virus), according to research, for many decades.

        It would be very worthwhile to backtrack over that ‘definitive research’ and find out where it went wrong. But, it is hard to identify a funding source for iconoclasm. Let’s just cover up our mistakes and pretend that nothing happened …

  70. phi
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:12 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Climategate = Hockey Stick OR instrumental temperature record ?

    Because Hockey Stick does a decent draw only with instrumental temperature record which form the blade, these two issues are nested. Because the divergence has not been adequately explained by a defect in dendro, because other proxies also have a parallel divergence, all this is probably above all a matter of instrumental temperature record.

  71. Eric
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Dr. Allen’s contributions here are greatly appreciated. He has a career of his own and I don’t think it is reasonable to hold him ex post-facto responsible for not policing the comments of a US politician.

    • Sony
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I don’t think it is reasonable to hold him ex post-facto responsible for not policing the comments of a US politician

      Climate scientists shouldn’t speak up when influential politicians spout (Nobel Prize-winning) nonsense about climate science ?

  72. Man Bearpig
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Permalink | Reply

    What I find difficult to understand is that if this is such an insignificant ‘thing’ why was there the necessity to change the peer review process, the lack of FOIA compliance and the emails to delete everything in a panic ?

  73. Posted May 29, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: Pat Frank May 29, 2012 at 8:25 AM

    GCM tuning (my bold throughout):

    [...]

    “[T]he observations to tune the parametrizations or to evaluate models are often the same for most models. [...]

    [...] since all models are tuned and improved to match the observations as closely as possible. [...]

    [...] the datasets which are used to tune the model are identical to those used later to evaluate the performance of the model [...]

    [many other examples]

    Oh, no! Now you’ve done it, Pat! We shall have to monitor RC and the CRU press release site to find out what the official redefinition of “tune/tuned/tuning” is;-)

    • Pat Frank
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Permalink | Reply

      hro, you’ll probably find it where they’ve listed Phil Jones’ re-definition of “peer-review literature.” :-)

  74. Posted May 29, 2012 at 3:02 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles,

    I am not suggesting that the whole affair is about the surface temperature record. What I was complaining about, and I think that was clear from the talk, was that the public were given the impression that the affair compromised the data we actually use for detection and attribution, when in fact it didn’t.

    It seemed to me one of your point was that it was the reporters fault the public developed this misconception. Tweaking your sentence to conceal who you blamed is rather misleading. And one of my points is that to the extent that the public developed the impression that climategate was about the thermometer record, the fault lies with climate scientists not reporters and not blogs or forums discussing climategate.

    But I’ll say more shortly.

    The “sloppy software” people found turned out to be nothing to do with the surface temperature record, the issues raised with tree-ring reconstructions turned out to be long-standing ones that Keith Briffa published on in the late 1990s, and in any case most detection and attribution studies make no use of tree-ring data at all.

    Sure. But I don’t know how the fact that the software was not about the thermometer record but rather about paleo supports your point rather than SteveMcs. Steve says climategate was about paleo and not the thermometer record. He’s always said it was about paleo. Montford wrote a book– about paleo. People that have focused on climategate still talking about paleo. Paleo. Paleo. Paleo. They also discuss machinations scientists did to try to defend the paleo, to handle peer review etc.

    But here you are standing up in a talk linking climategate to the thermometer record. I understand you think you are trying to clear something up– but there you are linking climategate to the idea the thermometer record is flawed.

    Scientifically, the UEA e-mails didn’t really change anything: no published dataset had to be withdrawn or revised, apart from that error in HadCRUT that I highlighted. And I stand by the assertion that I don’t think that is a message that has got across to the public.

    First: I’m in violent agreement with you that climategate didn’t change the thermometer record. That’s not what this disagreement is about. I even agree that message may well not have gotten across to the public.

    But of course climategate –which had almost nothing to do with the thermometer record –resulted in almost no change in the thermometer record. There are all sorts of published datasets that climategate had nothing to do with: NSIDC ice record? Climategate had nothing to say about it: resulted in no change. Record for sea level changes: Climategate had nothing to say about it: didn’t change it. Population of the US? Climategate had nothing to say about it: resulted in no change. Obama’s birth certificate? Climategate had nothing to say about it: didn’t change it.

    But, I suspect you will point out that some people (like Sarah Palin) got the impression that climategate had something to do with the thermometer record.

    That’s true to some extent. People who did not follow the story did develop that impression. But if one wants to correct this misimpression, we need to figure out what behavior caused them to developed this impression. Let’s consider possibilities.

    Did SteveMc create that impression? No. He’s always said climategate is about the paleo record. Did Montford create the impression climategate was about the thermometer record? Nope. His book title is not “the thermometer record delusion”, it discusses the hockey stick– i.e. paleo. Steve Mosher wrote a book– is he complaining about the inaccuracy in the thermometer record? Nope. I think I published first blog post to indicate the existence of the emails– and I haven’t said the emails said meant the thermometer record is wrong. (Nor have I ever suggested that paleo is the reason we believe in AGW– which I do. I believe it based on the thermometer record.) My post pointed to a link in Jeff’s comments and visits to his blog soared after the release of climategate I letters. I don’t think he’s ever said climategate shows a problem with the thermometer record.

    So how did the notion the problem lay in the thermometer record get lodged in Sarah Palin (and others) minds? It’s the fault of climate scientists. Yep. Climate scientists who did what you are doing now.

    When the people at blogs and forums were discussing problems with paleo reconstructions reporters asked scientists at CRU and elsewhere to respond. Scientists like you responded by changing the subject and explaining the thermometer record to reporters.

    This evasive answer created confusion because those complaining about paleo reconstructions and other things having nothing to do with the thermometer record continue to complain about those things. So, the public goes back and forth, and scientists like you keep trying to craft answer to “climategate” by changing the subject to the thermometer record.

    As I said before: This climate scientist defense strategy didn’t work in 2009-2011, it’s not going to work now. More likely: Your linking the notion of climategate to questions about the thermometer record or attribution will either introduce or reinforce the notion that something in the climategate emails cast doubt on the thermometer record. Once you do that, repeating your defense of the thermometer record isn’t going to help. People who don’t follow the story closely will think climategate mattered (because it did) and that it is somehow linked to the thermometer record (which is incorrect.)

    So, let me repeat my advise: If you want to explain why the revelations in climategate do not taint tge thermometer record and do not cast much doubt on our believe that in AGW, you should directly and proactively state that climategate was more about the paleorecord and then explain your notion that paleo is unimportant to attribution. You sould do the former because it’s true and you should say the latter because you believe it to be true and it’s an argument you wish to advance. (I tend to agree paloe is not important to attribution– but you may find some people disagree. )

    Because reporters have heard the names “Mann” and “Briffa”, if really want to break the link between climategate and your argument, you are going to have to say that the stuff Mann and Briffa do are unimportant to attribution and you are going to have to say this in your talk when the reporters are present. (Note just in blog comments.) And if you really want to be clear and show that the people who talk climategate agree– get quotes from SteveMc and Ross saying they think paleo is not important to attribution.

    After you say that, you can go on with your talk about how scientists really do attribution and you’ll can say that the revelations of climategate don’t taint this. And it will be true. But the way you structured your talk was highly misleading. If you continue to do stuff like that you will be criticized. Some points you wish to drive home will be buried in the process. (Oh… wasn’t that one of your points later in your talk?) :)

    • MrPete
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Re: lucia (May 29 15:02),
      Well said, Lucia.

      This whole misdirection continues to astound me.

      Myles, are you really saying that you can derive complete attribution of modern and future climate from models and modern temp history? And thus, it somehow doesn’t matter that we have solid evidence for similar if not greater warmth in the last 2000 years, such as middle-ages villages being uncovered in the alps, or arctic treelines that were significantly further north than today?

      It’s as if the planet’s history of natural variability simply doesn’t matter. Truly astounding to me.

    • ChE
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

      It also didn’t help that while “hide the decline” had nothing to do with the thermometer record, the thermometer record did have something to do with “hide the decline”. It was mixed in there somewhere, because the “decline” was hidden behind … the thermometer record.

      You had a perfect recipe for misunderstanding, and those in charge of communication did nothing to reduce the confusion. They were too busy trying to counter the narrative to counter the misinformation.

  75. Bill Hunter
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:44 PM | Permalink | Reply

    If the hockey stick was not about detection and attribution then why did the “detection and attribution” authors (the IPCC) make it their centerpiece?

    Probably has something to do with problems of explaining Ben Santer statistics as an alternative.

  76. Don McIlvin
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 8:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    It was very cool to see so many “big names” making comment..

  77. Ivan
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 9:59 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve and others who insist that the Hockey Stick played a prominent role in propagandizing the IPCC party line are quite right. And there is no doubt that M&M essentially brought down the HS both as a scientific “product” and as a political symbol.

    On the other hand, Myles might have been right about the irrelevance of the HS for the entire climate change business, but in a much different way than he is assuming.

    Namely, the original Hockey Stick, as well as pretty much all subsequent iterations of it end the proxy reconstruction before 1980 (when the modern anthropogenic warming supposedly started). In his earlier post “Bring the Proxies Up to Date” Steve rightly criticizes the scientists for not bothering to collect the data beyond 1980. Hence, the entire Hockey Stick effect in the graphs stems from an anomalous tree right growth BEFORE the era of anthropogenic warming, mostly in the period 1910-1940. The IPCC in its own reports says that most of the warming before 1950 was not anthropogenic in its source.

    Therefore, even if we assume that everything was just fine with MBH98 or MBH99 data and methods, what that would have proved is only the fact that the NATURALLY caused warming in the early portion of the 20th century was anomalous in the context of the last millennium. Nothing to do with CO2, anthropogenic forcings and so on. Ironically, we did not need the McIntyre-McKitrick masterful vivisection of the MBH98 and MBH99 to see the irrelevance of the HS for the global warming debate. That was a matter of elementary logic from the beginning.

    • Springchicken
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes I’ve often wondered why Ivan’s excellent point is not aired more – that the HS uptick/blade unambiguously predates the supposed era of man-made warming (1980 onwards). Anyone have any ideas ?

  78. hagendl
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 10:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles Allen
    Thanks for your courage to respond with posts at Bishop Hill and at Climate Audit.
    You express concern over the democratic process. However, that requires open debate based on sound objective scientific information. In ’91 I expected the greenhouse phenomena to be of sufficient concern that I wrote a 330 page report on solar thermal energy to help mitigate global warming.
    I found Climategate exposed major corruption of the scientific process in dendroclimatology. e.g. cherry picking, gatekeeping, pal review, withholding data, etc as McIntyre and others have exposed. . Following WUWT, CA, Blackboard and Climate Etc. I find that corruption of the scientific method appears to be systemic throughout the IPCC process, with lead authors pushing their positions and ignoring reviewer comments. I helped review the <a href=http://www.nipccreport.org/2009 NIPCC report and found substantial science missing or biased in the IPCC reports. Consequently I have low expectations on the quality and comprehensiveness of the IPCC’s reports, and summaries.
    If you are serious about science and the democratic process, may I recommend aggressively examining and redressing the issues exposed by Climategate. e.g. See McKitrick’s evaluation and recommendations.
    You advocate the democratic process. Yet that thrives on open public knowledge, and thus open debate. It appears Al Gore and most supporting the IPCC “very likely” warming are allergic to debate. The Heartland Institute invited more than 50 leading climate scientists to present the global warming case at the 7th International Conference on Climate Change. All refused. That raises red flags. If you seek robust democracy, than lead the charge to open public debate with climate realists/skeptics wherever possible and drag your colleagues along.
    You emphasize the instrumental temperature record and note: “Detection and attribution is about testing competing hypotheses by comparing models with data.” “Most of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations” was the comparison of model simulations forced with and without anthropogenic influence with the instrumental temperature record.”
    However, for robust results, models must be tested against the null hypothesis of natural variations, in the context of the full geological record. Lucia finds the IPCC 0.2C/decade trend is now +2 sigma higher than the UAH temperature record trend. Nicola Scafetta finds natural cycles with minor anthropogenic contributions give better forecasting/hindcasting than IPCC models. I find the IPCC’s case is “Not Proven.”
    You present “The case for mandatory sequestration”. However, it appears you presume IPCC warming rates, and that the posited +2C warming limit must be imposed without question. Where is the full scientific debate over model trend uncertainty? Where is the debate over cost effectiveness and adaptation versus mitigation? The Copenhagen Consensus has at least begun to seriously examine those issues in context of major global humanitarian needs. Your case would be much more credible were you to lead by fully engaging these scientific and policy evaluations and debates.

  79. Edbarbar
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Permalink | Reply

    There has been some discussion in this thread that the hockey stick is immaterial, in the sense that it can’t define a range of climate sensitivity to inform the model’s based on physics. The essential tenet is that high concentrations of C02 override natural considerations to the extent imminent temperature rises will occur (as in the next 100 years), and so the HS is unimportant.

    I disagree. If the HS had shown much higher temperatures in the MWP over the globe (let’s say 5 degrees C for emphasis), and the results were accepted, these AGW discussions would be different.

    Even if 2XC02 were an additive to the base temperature, the natural variability would be so high that nature’s variability would be the top concern, and how to manage it.

    Discussions of ideal temperature would be much more prevalent, as would man’s ability to alter climate.

    The key takeaway I’ve had from reading blogs, ideas, etc., is that it’s much harder to heat the earth than cool it.

  80. Jean S
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles Allen (May 30 03:43),
    With all the respect your comment just shows that you still do not understand what the “trick” and “hide the decline” mean. They are separate issues, and they are both used in Fig. 2. For an explanation, I recommend this post.

    I wrote an article about the trick less than 2 days after the emails became public — so if some people got wrongfooted that Climategate is about the thermometer record, CA had no part in that.

    • Tom C
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Jean S

      Myles Allen understands what the trick is. He is yet another dissembler, albeit a a bit more cagey about it.

    • UC
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:15 PM | Permalink | Reply

      “what the “trick” and “hide the decline” mean”

      I thought this is simple,

      t1

      but the official story is that

      “The separate curves for the proxy reconstruction and instrumental temperature data were clearly labeled, and the data for both curves were available in the public domain at the time of publication for anyone who wanted to download them.”

      - Mann’s book

      and

      “There is nothing secret about “Mike’s trick”. Both the instrumental and reconstructed temperature are clearly labelled.”

      - http://www.skepticalscience.com/Mikes-Nature-trick-hide-the-decline.htm , first Google hit on “hide the decline”

      and

      “This has nothing to do with Mann’s Nature article. The 50-year smooth in figure 5b is only of the reconstruction, not the instrumental data.”

      -gavin

      so I must be wrong.

      • Spence_UK
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

        We need an incline to hide the trick.

  81. Greybeard
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 6:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    While Myles Allen blames Bishop Hill for “keeping the public focussed on irrelevancies” like the Hockey Stick, the current topic at Realclimate is

    “Fresh hockey sticks from the Southern Hemisphere”.

  82. Steve McIntyre
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In one of his comments, Myles Allen decried the lack of attention paid to policy issues, linking to a letter that he sent to Nature in 2009. By coincidence, that article is noted by Donna Laframboise in an post criticizing the IPCC’s decision to add a chapter addressing gender inequality, indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge. Donna comments on the co-authors of the article to which we were directed.

    • Bob Koss
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 9:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Donna Laframboise is truly a gem of an investigator.

      It is interesting to find out Myles Allen isn’t above co-authoring with a couple Greenpeace stalwarts, one being Bill Hare the Climate Policy Director for Greenpeace International for 17 years.

      The letter is pay-walled and I’m really not interested in reading it, but they must have bent over backwards to present their argument in a Feynman like manner. After all, why would they do otherwise.

    • Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:11 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Yes, and as I had noted over at BH in the (evidently) “offensive” cartoon thread [May 30, 2012 at 11:16 AM] …

      ===
      Although the above paper doesn’t appear to be listed at http://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/contacts/people/allenm/publications), this one does:

      MN Juckes, MR Allen, KR Briffa, J Esper, GC Hegerl, A Moberg, TJ Osborn, SL Weber
      Millennial temperature reconstruction intercomparison and evaluation
      CLIM PAST 3 (2007) 591-609

      Small world, eh?!

      ===

      To which I would now add, finding the above paper struck me as somewhat ironic in light of Myles’ comment in the Climategate and Hadcrut thread [May 29, 2012 at 11:31 PM]:

      I was just saying I can understand the argument for not showing the data that Keith Briffa had concluded was contaminated, just as I can understand the argument for showing it. When Steve McIntyre or Richard Muller talk about this, they make it all seem completely black-and-white, but it isn’t. It all comes down to the dendroclimatologists’ confidence that whatever it was that was contaminating the most recent decades would not have contaminated the earlier data. They clearly were sufficiently confident about this to feel comfortable with displaying the data in the way that they did. I’m not a dendroclimatologist, so I don’t feel qualified to pronounce either way. But I don’t use tree-ring data: perhaps that speaks for itself. [emphasis added -hro]

      So we now have two rather crucial Climategate related matters about which Myles has, in effect, declared himself not qualified to address. But in a recent interview, Grundmann – speaking of the respective turfs of physical and social scientists, and “trespassing” – said:

      many climate scientists think they have the prerogative to make political suggestions which society at large should take up because scientists always know best.

      I find Myles’ reticence on these Climategate matters somewhat odd in light of his ventures into the policy domain. But, I do hope that by declaring himself not qualified to speak about these Climategate related matters, he’s not suggesting that we shouldn’t either!

      • Phil
        Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

        Re: hro001 (May 30 15:11), Link for Juckes et al 2007

        • Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

          Thanks, Phil … perhaps Myles will update the link on his publications page so that it goes to the actual paper – rather than to a “Web of Knowledge” page only accessible to subscribers.

  83. Posted May 30, 2012 at 7:55 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles Allen wrote:

    Apropos standing idly by, I see you meant specifically regarding the enquiries rather than the issue as a whole.

    Dear Dr. Allen,

    Your comment surprises;
    You’d earlier worn some more confident guises
    Regarding the inquiries, how they came out
    You hadn’t a reason, you said here, to doubt.

    But here and at other sites, questions were asked:
    Who did this? Their backgrounds? And how were they tasked?
    What money changed hands? (That produced am odd item!)
    What hearings? What transcripts? And ad infinitum

    The upshot, you’d quite quickly see: They’re a bust
    Constructed to fool you, abusing your trust
    They just were a handy political appliance
    To rubber-stamp Teammates and blow off the science

    It’s laid out here, detailed, meticulous, thorough
    Please take a few minutes to carefully burrow
    Into this morass; in a matter of course
    You’ll soon see big problems in what you endorse

    ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

  84. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 11:31 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think Myles Allen is attracting way too much attention from those of us who might question some of the work output of climate science – be it paleo or models. His message here and in his presentation that started this conversation is rather clear: We need to implement AGW mitigation or at least seriously talk about it and with a sense of urgency.

    The implication of what Allen is saying can be interpreted most easily and is that we are approaching a point of no return in what could be detrimental effects of future warming and that warming that is already in system. His position is not backed with any scientific evidence or details here and comes I think from the advocacy position that sees a need for immediate action and little in the way of detrimental effects or unintended consequences for those actions.

    Allen’s argument comes from advocacy but the replies here tend to be from views on climate science – and never shall the twain meet. Allen’s frustration with “distractions” is telling to his sense of urgency on the matter and I would think that any impediment real or perceived would become a distraction to one so disposed. His message is a variation on the consensus theme that we all agree and we must move forward immediately without further debate. That view can only be discussed with the details of the science and/or counter arguments on policy.

  85. EJD
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 11:42 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I think Dr. Myles misses an important point, namely that the HS is only unimportant today because of the work that M&M have done.

    It was born to be the poster child of AGW. Only after it’s thorough debunking is it in hindsight called ‘unimportant.’

  86. Boris
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 12:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    “Muller understood Hide the Decline”

    Not really. Muller’s presentation suggests that the data showing divergence was not released to skeptics when Briffa and others had published on the Divergence in prominent journals. In act, it’s this supposed “hiding of data” that seems to really disgust Muller.

    To my knowledge this error in Muller’s presentation has never been noted on skeptic blogs.

    It would also be nice if Muller apologized to James Hansen for suggesting in his talk that Hansen was fixing the GISTEMP data-set to make his climate model projections look better. Anyone know if such an apology has been issued?

    Steve: Muller understood that they hid the decline in the IPCC and other graphics. That was his main disgust. He understood that the decline had been reported in the literature – that’s how I spotted the trick in the first place (in 2005 – long before the trick email.) The emails showed that the tactic of hiding the decline was inspired, at least in part, by the desire of IPCC higher-ups in order not to “dilute the message”.

  87. Skiphil
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I found an interesting “FOIA” email by Myles Allen on known difficulty with assessing the “error analysis” of Michael Mann. I think that the climate science “community” ought to be grateful that Steve McIntyre and co. were doing some necessary quality control, considering that this kind of thing was known back to 2005 (and 2000 according to the “5 years ago” reference) yet climate scientists did not seem willing or able to audit Mann’s methods and data:

    [Myles Allen to Keith Briffa, Martin Jukes, and Gabriele Hegerl]: “I floated the idea of bringing Anders Moberg and Jan Esper in on the
    proposal (offering them both travel money), because one of the things I
    would want to do would be to get a better grasp of their error analysis,
    and it’s always a lot easier to do this by talking friendlily to people
    than by reverse-engineering their papers. I tried and failed to
    understand Mann’s error analysis using both approaches about 5 years
    ago, so I don’t think it is worth trying again, particularly given his
    current level of sensitivity….”

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:19 PM | Permalink | Reply

      I tried and failed to
      understand Mann’s error analysis using both approaches about 5 years
      ago, so I don’t think it is worth trying again, particularly given his
      current level of sensitivity….”

      Nice. Jean S, UC and I tried (unsuccssfully) to figure it out as well. There’s some code in the CLimategate documents that offers a guide.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 30, 2012 at 2:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Hmmm,

      Myles Allen was a co-author of the stupid Juckes et al (2007) paper. I hadn’t noticed that before. Eduardo Zorita withdrew from the paper in protest.

      If paleo doesn’t “matter”, I wonder why he participated in the paper.

  88. Green Sand
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 3:53 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The reaction of the climate scientists to the inquiries has always been troubling,

    Why did they not cry foul? As the inquiries so obviously did not cover many of the salient points the scientists were denied the opportunity to face down their detractors. This effectively removed any opportunity for them to clear their names and move forward reaffirming trust in their science.

    Why did they not cry foul? I would like think that in the same situation I would demand a vehicle(s) that allowed a due process to put my case and could not condone one that did not permit me to face down detractors and their claims.

    On a related point, the use of “spin” has virtually removed all public trust in politicians. It will do the same with the public trust in science.

  89. DocMartyn
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 4:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve, this is :
    Dendroclimatic research in Western Siberia – The
    reconstruction of temperature and precipitation since the 16th century
    M. Staudinger & H. Strunk (2006)

    http://treering.de/sites/default/files/TRACE_pdf/Volume_3/Staudinger_Strunk_TraceVol_4.pdf

    No hidden decline and r2 values.

    Compare with Yamal

    http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w318/DocMartyn/DendroclimaticresearchinWesternSiberiavsYamal.jpg

    Hope you don’t mind it here.

  90. EdeF
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Maybe if the team could get someone to explain their side as well as Bishop Hill, they
    would have a better time communicating with the non-climate scientists, and the public.
    By the way, his book, “The Hockey Stick Illusion”, is a good place to start. Older,
    CA references mentioned above are also worth reading, and re-reading. To all involved
    in the discussion above, thanks for the comments.

  91. CBDenver
    Posted May 30, 2012 at 10:56 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I read your blog occasionally but now that you have decided to take gratuitous swipes at Sarah Palin, never again.

  92. MrPete
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 1:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I’ve been sitting back and reflecting on this whole discussion, and have a few observations to make.

    1) Several contributors here (I’ve noted McIntyre, Curry, Loehle, Condon, McKitrick, Lucia, and more) are in agreement that the paleo data is significant with respect to characterizing the extent of natural variability, which has a huge impact on interpretation of temperature. This is a key point of disagreement with Prof Allen (who trusts comparisons of GCMs vs the modern temperature record apparently without consideration of paleo data.) Dr Allen has not addressed this point, preferring to stick to his “modern data only” guns.

    2) Prof Allen seems to feel that because the temperature record was not affected by Climategate, the public is wrong to thing that climate temperature science has been compromised. I suggest this is a crucial blind spot.

    I am not the first here to note that Climategate revealed an important set of ethical failures among climate scientists, particularly including climate scientists who deal with both paleo and modern data sets.

    The fact that published data didn’t change does nothing to allay the public’s concern: it’s the hidden, ignored, embarrassing data that’s of concern to those outside the inner circle.

    The fact that the people involved were exonerated by some inquiries does nothing to allay the public’s concern: if anything, such apparent whitewashes make the concern worse.

    We’re not dealing with a set of mathematical proofs here. We are dealing with public perception of ethical issues.

    Telling the public (or journalists) “it doesn’t matter, just ignore the man behind the curtain… you can trust him…” is not going to fly.

    Those of us with a bit of scientific and/or engineering background in other fields are watching to see how this area of science cleans up its act.
    * Where is the openness?
    * Where is the Reproducible Science?
    * Where are the proper uncertainty bounds?
    * Where is the determination to eliminate conflicts of interest between reviewers and authors, IPPC section leads and the rest of the teams?

    While IPPR’s Warm Words PR spin to act as if the science is settled may be attractive to some, it is hardly realistic. If anything has emerged from the tireless efforts of this blog and others of like mind, it is that there are serious issues to be resolved rather than pushed under the rug as immaterial.

  93. Jean S
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Myles Allen (May 30 18:03),
    I’m sure you, as a co-author, are aware that we here at CA went great lengths to review the paper — we even submitted a few review comments to the journal (which had an open review). Martin Juckes commented here (applause) at the time. In the end, our work did not have much effect to the paper. Instead, the paper was published through some “editorial backdoor” without ever really needing to address our criticism. The only positive outcome from the episode to me was that Eduardo Zorita, as Steve said, again showed backbone by withdrawing his name from the final manuscript. From the 2011 dossier, one can read more about that.

    As an OT comment (Steve is free to delete): IMO, if IPCC (and climate community in general) wants to restore the trust of informed scientists from other fields (or public in general), it’s more than time to give high rank positions to those very few climate scientists (like Zorita) who dared to speak out against “the Team” (and were at the time subject to an outright bullying) when its influence was at its height (~2003-2008) . By appointing people like Tim Osborn as the lead author guarantees that I personally do not have any trust on objectiveness of that particular chapter no matter what is the outcome.

    • Skiphil
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 4:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Speaking of Zorita, who seems to have been just about unique in showing some backbone from within the climate science world, he spoke out strongly against the kinds of bullying and groupthink which he had experienced and which were evidenced in CRU emails. I don’t know what his current view may be but in Nov. 2009 he thought it a sufficient problem to call for Michael Mann, Phil Jones, and Stephan Rahmstorf to be excluded from future IPCC processes. Myles Allen wants to simply “move on” without the field acknowledging and dealing with such evident abuses of process and integrity in the scientific inquiries. Given the enormous public significance of the outcomes of these research debates, is it really enough to shrug off all these problems of the past decade and more as simply old news?? Matters which have not even been noticed or acknowledged by leaders in the field such as Myles Allen?? Have climate scientists really cleaned up their own house(s) when the whitewash inquiries didn’t even LOOK at most of the issues and evidence? (let me emphasize that the patchwork quotes below, presented here for brevity, should be reviewed in context of Zorita’s complete statement at the link):

      WUWT thread on Zorita statement about CRU emails Nov. 23, 2009

      “…research in some areas of climate science has been and is full of machination, conspiracies, and collusion, as any reader can interpret from the CRU-files…. The scientific debate has been in many instances hijacked to advance other agendas.”

      “…in this thick atmosphere -and I am not speaking of greenhouse gases now- editors, reviewers and authors of alternative studies, analysis, interpretations,even based on the same data we have at our disposal, have been bullied and subtly blackmailed. In this atmosphere, Ph D students are often tempted to tweak their data so as to fit the ‘politically correct picture’. Some, or many issues, about climate change are still not well known. Policy makers should be aware of the attempts to hide these uncertainties under a unified picture. I had the ‘pleasure’ to experience all this in my area of research.”

      • Skiphil
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 4:43 AM | Permalink | Reply

        whoops that thread was Nov. 27 (not 23), 2009

      • Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:35 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Skiphil, I have always been impressed by Zorita. One of the very small number of climate scientists to actually understand how his community looks to the outside world.

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 8:50 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Jean S is exactly right about Climate of the Past thumbing its nose at our review comments, despite the supposedly open review process.

      Another story on this.

      In my opinion, Juckes et al was mainly concerned with scoring points against our 2005 paper and showed negligible understanding of the proxies or the issues. It provided a citable abstract against us but no insight. It mischaracterized issues and positions over and over. I met coauthor Nanne Weber (now deceased too young) in 2006 and made a similar suggestion as I’d made to Ammann in December 2005. Rather than proceed with a paper that had little point other than controversy, why not jointly write a paper that set out what was agreed on and what was disagreed on.

      As Ammann had done previously (because it would be “bad for his career”), Weber refused. As I recall, they had already drawn down most of their funding.

      • Jean S
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:54 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Steve, I just checked (after 5 years or so… time flies) Juckes et al proxy selection. It seems to me that although Briffa was the third author they are using the Hantemirov and Shiyatov -version of Yamal. Am I right?

        Steve: no. They used the Briffa et al 1995 version of Polar Urals – the one that CRU never “considered” updating to include the new data that had a pronounced MWP. They used a strip bark. And a proxy showing cold water in the Arabian Sea which they turned upside down as evidence of global warming. A precursor to Upside Down Mann. This was important in MOberg as well. Plus the Yang series from CHina that even Bradley disdained in Mann and Jones 2003. The rest are typical proxy noise.

        As always, they argued a point that wasn’t contested. Permutations of these series combined with low-order red noise will yield a HS.

        • Jean S
          Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

          Yes, that’s the “Union composite” from which Yamal was excluded on the basis that (“Northern Urals”= Briffa’s Polar Urals)

          The Yamal data, used by MSH2005, have also been omitted because of the proximity of the site to the Northern Urals site of JBB1998.

          But I mean Yamal in the full data set (paricularly the “MSH composite”, grey in Fig 2 in the paper)”, as seen here (third in the third column). That would give a completely new context for the “anomalously low growth anomaly in the late 20th century” of Yamal ;)

          Steve: This post is base on the CPD submission. jbb.pol is Polar Urals series used in the CP composite. He uses the Briffa bodge, I see. Remembe Juckes’ claim that his reconstruction was “99% significant”. In review comments, I asked how inconsistent series could both be 99% significant but, with the Team exemption from having to deal with adverse review comments, the point was not answered. It’s valid. I wonder what co-author Myles understands “99% significant” to be. Surely he doesn’t teach that in his courses.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:10 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Indeed, from the whole world they could only find another CRU person (Osborn) to do the work? REally? How tone deaf can one be?

      • Steve McIntyre
        Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

        When I was in England in July 2010 for the Guardian debate, I contacted Osborn and suggested that we meet (me coming to Norwich.) I thought that some matters could be reconciled.

        We were both free on the Friday. However, he refused. He said, in effect, that he was too busy cutting his toenails to possibly spend any time with me. (He had papers that he wanted to read.)

  94. eyesonu
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Allen has post a ‘summary’ today in the comments @ Bishop Hill (May 31, 2012 at 12:22) in the “Hide da d.cline – Josh 169″ thread.

    May be time to start a new thread with regard to his ‘summary’. He clearly has an advanced degree of Epoxology.

  95. eyesonu
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Mods, no need to post this comment, I just post here CA, with regard to a new comment at BH for info and it’s in the midst of CA in an unrelated location. Fell free to place it where ever appropriate. I had no intent as to it being where it ended up. That location was likely at a point that I was @ CA a couple of days ago, I donno

    Thanks

  96. Political Junkie
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Reviewing these posts shows a large number of folks trying to “educate” Myles Allen on Climategate topics that he supposedly doesn’t understand.

    Let’s agree on two things:One – If he doesn’t “get it” by now, the man is thick as a plank! Two – Myles Allen is NOT stupid.

    Therefore the misdirection and refusal to engage on key issues are calculated and deliberate.

  97. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I think most of this conversation with Myles has danced around the “real” motivation for his comments that initiated this discussion. His statement was aimed at what appears to be what he feels is an urgent need for mitigation and for the present discussions to proceed without interruptions of how that mitigation should proceed. He appears to me to be indicating that the amount of future warming and its detrimental repercussions have been well established. I would really like to hear what Myles has to say on these issues.

    I know that SteveM does not like to discuss policy issues on his blog, but I think Myles’ position here is a matter of good interest to what started this discussion. If he would state his position or gives us an available link to it, for the record only and not as material for further discussion, I think it might put this discussion in better context.

    • Craig Loehle
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Looking at the Myles quote at the very top of the post, it is clear that Kenneth is right. When Myles calls the hockey stick a “distraction” this refers to his conviction that the science is settled and it is time to discuss mitigation measures. But if it was warmer than today for most of the Holocene (I said “if”) then even if the models are right there may not be cause for alarm, so Myles’ position is equivalent to “the current climate is perfect” which for one living in Chicago is far from obvious.
      There is some having cake and eating it here. The HS was an icon for “climate change is already happening” and with its vertical trajectory suggested that doom was coming soon. As soon as there is trouble with that message, it is now irrelevant, even though Mann is currently on a speaking tour defending it.

  98. Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:18 PM | Permalink | Reply

    As Myles mentions FOIs in his latest message – questions regarding the famous ‘Never say you got this from me’ email from Phil Jones to Myles in September 2009.

    Why was Phil forwarding FOI request information to Myles? Is it standard procedure in academia to handle information requests by secretly addressing requester’s colleagues? Was there a prior discussion to this email? (Phil: ‘Good to see you again…’)

    See: http://climategate2011.blogspot.com/2011/11/4945txt.html

    At Oxford, if one receives information which you may not be supposed to receive (as Phil himself says ‘I probably shouldn’t be passing this on – maybe it’s protected under the Data Protection Act.’) is the standard procedure to bring this to the attention of the head of department, legal department, or ethics department? What action did Myles take on this occasion?

    • Steve McIntyre
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Permalink | Reply

      UEA’s hypocrisy on data protection is breathtaking. If I sent an FOI request, it was broadcast around the world without a shred of consideration to whatever confidentiality I might have been entitled to, Data Protection Act or not.

      • Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

        In this case information was illegally sent to Myles at Oxford University (according to Jonathan Jones). I am curious to know what action Myles took, and whether Oxford has a policy for employees receiving protected information by email (even if that information might be unsolicited).

        • Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 3:03 AM | Permalink

          Myles really is not a disinterested party here is he.. I just took a look at that email.

          I might ask Myles, if he is still reading, to his reaction to Phil Jones email at the time and what action he took.
          Plus of course there is the other emails, where CRU were goingto have wrords with the ‘Oxford Professor’ (and DonKeiller’s) department bosses..

          date: Thu Sep 17 08:28:03 2009
          from: Phil Jones
          subject: FW: Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request
          to: “Myles Allen”

          Myles,

          Never say you got this email from me! I probably shouldn’t be passing this on – maybe
          it’s protected under the Data Protection Act. Several other people have tried the same ploy
          he has used about what the agreements we had with Met Services mean. His response contains
          a very mild implicit threat, but it is very mild. Some others have been much more explicit.
          As an aside some of the papers published on the CRU dataset contain more information
          than you would get with the GISS or NCDC data.
          The web page we put up is here – this is what he’s referring to.
          [1]http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/availability/
          Good to see you again – and see you on Oct 15 at the UKCP09 meet.
          Cheers
          Phil

  99. Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    For the avoidance of doubt, the ICO has ruled that the email from Phil Jones did breach the Data Protection Act.

    • Nick Stokes
      Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Do you have a link to that ruling?

      • Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 2:11 AM | Permalink | Reply

        Just a letter from the ICO. The critical sentence is

        However, in this case UEA has acknowledged, in its letter to you of 30 November 2011 that it has breached the DPA in this case.

        Because UEA admitted the fault and claims to have modified their procedures for handling FOI requests in future no further action was taken at this stage.

        • Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 2:17 AM | Permalink

          And here are the critical paragraphs from the UEA admission of fault:

          Finally, I note that in three of the emails in the first category, assuming them to be
          genuine, it would appear that Prof. Phil Jones forwarded your personal data to
          persons outside this organisation. This should not have happened and unfortunately
          I was unaware until the release of these emails this past week that it had happened.
          I apologise, both personally and on behalf of the University for this breach of your
          data protection rights.

          I should note, however, that we have improved our processes relating to, and
          awareness of data protection considerably since 2009 and indeed no longer circulate
          the names of requesters to internal staff tasked with locating data. I would expect
          there to be no further repeats of these incidents.

        • Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 8:44 AM | Permalink

          Myles was not ‘internal staff’ (assuming that Oxford is not a department of the UEA now). Jonathan, does Oxford have guidelines that Myles should have applied in this situation? Were there consequences that you are aware of to this communication between Phil and Myles in 2009?

  100. Blog Lurker
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    snip – sorry. coatracking.

    • Blog Lurker
      Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 5:23 AM | Permalink | Reply

      Sorry, Steve.
      I realised after posting that it was probably going a bit Off Topic.

      I understand you’re focusing specifically on Myles Allen’s interpretation of Climategate in his presentation here, rather than the presentation itself.

  101. David Young
    Posted May 31, 2012 at 9:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I continue to be amazed that Myles Allen and a lot of others don’t see the problem with Climategate. It does seem to me that paleoclimate data is critical to constraining sensitivity. Classical reconstructions such as that used by Muller in his book show that several warm periods in the last 10000 years were considerably warmer than today and that temperature changes were at least as rapid in the past as in the last century. That’s a very important thing to get straightened out because it goes to the question of whether we have a serious problem with CO2 or not, a critical question for all of us. We should demand a high level of integrity of those who claim to be able to give us a “settled science” answer.

  102. DR_UK
    Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 3:39 AM | Permalink | Reply

    So according to Myles Allen on May 30 climate science is a massive field:

    “I’m an interested user of data (instrumental data) that CRU have a hand in producing, along with some tens of thousands of other climate scientists”

    but on May 31 it’s such a small field that people have to review their friends’ papers….

    “In a small field, we often have to review papers of people we know”

  103. Sony
    Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 5:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Steve Mosher Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    Yes – my specific charge indeed concerns how the sausage is made. Fair enough, no published science was changed by Climategate. But given the systemic deception uncovered, I cannot but wonder what ‘inconvenient’ science was NOT published.

  104. Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Permalink | Reply

    ZT,

    Jonathan, does Oxford have guidelines that Myles should have applied in this situation? Were there consequences that you are aware of to this communication between Phil and Myles in 2009?

    Oxford probably does have guidelines of this kind, but if they exist I have no idea what they are (and I would consider myself unusually well informed amongst Oxford academics on matters of this kind).

    I didn’t ask Myles about the email, as I have always assumed that he was embarrassed to receive it. I certainly was never contacted by anybody at Oxford about any aspect of my FOI request until the outcome hit the press.

    • Posted Jun 1, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Permalink | Reply

      Thank you for the update, Jonathan. Phil Jones also contacted his son about your FOI request, as I’m sure you know. Another example of Phil Jones circulating information whenever he deemed fit, confidentiality being a matter of convenience and nothing more.

      http://climategate2011.blogspot.com/2011/11/2047txt.html

  105. Barn E. Rubble
    Posted Oct 28, 2012 at 5:07 PM | Permalink | Reply

    I’m guessing it’s the spell’n and grammur that makes it easy to spot? -barn

12 Trackbacks

  1. [...] Full story here at Climate Audit: Myles Allen and a New Trick to Hide-the-Decline [...]

  2. [...] [...]

  3. [...] at Steve McIntyre’s, there’s a fascinating discussion going on about the relevance of the hockey stick in the context of the Myles Allen [...]

  4. [...] Myles Allen and a New Trick to Hide-the-Decline [...]

  5. [...] FAIL entry: Hopefully you’ve watched the video, read the posts and comments here and at Climate Audit and Bishop Hill. Basically Myles Allen has been castigating journalists for getting Climategate [...]

  6. [...] any more.  Well, probably the person most central to these issues is Steve McIntyre.  He’s got a post on this as well.  Anthony has a perspective, [...]

  7. [...] first response made me wonder if he’d actually kept his eyes shut so as to avoid seeing McIntyre’s [...]

  8. [...] Allen, a declared supporter of open data archives, has, in blog comments here, proposed “name and shame” as a first tactic against data obstructionists (as opposed [...]

  9. [...] Allen, a declared supporter of open data archives, has, in blog comments here, proposed “name and shame” as a first tactic against data obstructionists (as opposed to FOI). [...]

  10. [...] http://climateaudit.org/2012/05/26/myles-allen-and-hide-the-decline/ [...]

  11. [...] Myles Allen and a New Trick to Hide-the-Decline (climateaudit.org) [...]

  12. [...] Myles Allen and a New Trick to Hide-the-Decline (climateaudit.org) [...]

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