MIT Climategate Debate

Interesting online debate at MIT featuring Lindzen, Emanuel and others.

Emanuel foams about the supposed “premeditated and orchestrated distraction from important issues.” He and Andrew Lloyd Weaver need to compare notes about the shadowy KGB-fossil fuel interest-Macavity the Cat network, ground zero at the University of Victoria where the most recent outrage was the theft of a laptop from the anthropology lab.


  1. Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

    I was at this event (at least, the first hour and a half — had to leave for my departmental Christmas party). It was more of a forum than a debate: I’ll explain below.

    Judy Layzer, a professor of political science in the department of environmental policy and one of the panelists, made a very, very good point. She said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that people have an ideal image of politics as a process by which policymakers identify a problem, consider possible solutions, and then choose the one that’s best for society. This of course is not true. In reality, it’s a number of interest groups trying their hardest to [i]define the question so that their answer is the only one that makes sense[/i]. But scientists in particular, whether they admit it or not, tend to carry the idealized version of politics in our heads, and behave accordingly.

    And in the end, that’s what the ‘debate’ ended up being a microcosm of. There were no defined questions, and so rather than debating a single question, the five panelists, and the audience members who asked questions in the second hour, spent their time trying to define the [i]question[/i].

    If you believe that the emails mean nothing to climate science, the question you want to ask is “what specific science is disproved by the contents of these emails?” to which the answer is “nothing”. If you believe that bias pervades climate science and the predictions of the IPCC are exaggerated, then the question you want to ask is “what do these emails say about the motivations, political biases, and tactics of key climate scientists?”

    So the debate was very frustrating to me, because it didn’t have a defined question. And so it became a few hours of everyone trying to define the question in the way that their answer was the only one that made sense.

    • Calvin Ball
      Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

      I’ve been saying for years that the most difficult part of this (and many other issues) isn’t determining the answer, but getting the right question. I think that what Layzer said is right on the money. How many journalists and political types ask such bad, pointless questions, such as “de you believe in global warming?”.

      Absolutely, more attention needs to be directed to getting good questions.

    • Harry
      Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 5:35 PM | Permalink

      Ms Layzer left out a critical component of the political process.

      A politician also has to sell the eventual solution to what may in fact be a rather reluctant constituency.

      Politicians will use whatever argument works to achieve a policy goal, even arguments that have nothing to do with the policy goal.

    • Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 2:06 AM | Permalink

      Many Scientists idealized version of politics is a Utopian fantasy of altruistic policies, derived from an ignorance of economics in general.

      The debate was meaningful in the sense to show how only one panel member (Lindzen) had any interest in actually discussing the topic while the rest attempted to spin away from it. These actions show how damaging Climategate really is to the integrity of and the actual climate science.

  2. Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    And, I see that BBcode is no longer working. The post preview also isn’t functioning so I didn’t know my [i] code wouldn’t make the text italic.

  3. Alan S. Blue
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 2:30 PM | Permalink

    Geoff, the switch to WordPress means XHTML now. (It would be handy if that were spelled out right next to the “Post Comment” button, along with the $latex addition.) Test, Test, @Gamma;.

  4. UK John
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 2:47 PM | Permalink


    When I hit “possibly related posts” I go all over the place to other web sites etc, even to realclimate!

    • Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 2:08 AM | Permalink

      Likely a generic WordPress feature.

      • UK John
        Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 4:20 AM | Permalink

        Yes that is what they are, but they often contradict what Steve is saying, which is very interesting in itself, but how Newbie’s would cope I am not sure.

        Also when tracking the logic of Steve’s blogs which can appear across several threads, this isn’t helpful.

  5. Neil
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    Just a small thing, from someone who has not commented here before, but who enjoys seeing real science done. Maybe this is the wrong place, but “UK John” has recently made a comment on this thread about something similar.

    With the new website, the latest response is no longer guaranteed to be at the bottom of the window. So is there much point in retaining the “Recent Comments” section at the right?

    I understand the tip jar isn’t yet working. When it works again, you should publicize the fact!

  6. Gerald Machnee
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 3:24 PM | Permalink

    The only one who really stands out on the issue is Lindzen. I think Prinn was playing politics more than science.

  7. Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

    It would appear that Andrew Weaver and cohort James Hoggan are now “experts” in the alleged conspiracy to discredit AGW by way of “black hat” computer operatives according to this post on the “Space Daily” website.

    US deniers behind ‘Climategate,’ experts allege

    “There is a war on science,” he added, alleging it was being led by right-wing ideologues and business interests and their tactics “exploit a lack of scientific literacy in the general public.”

    “An all-out attack on the validity of climate science has been undertaken by industry groups,” agreed Hoggan, whose book is based on four years of research into the funding of climate deniers.

    No mention of foreign operatives with Russian accents though.


    Please put this sort of thing in an appropriate thread. It’s very thoughtless to clutter other threads.

  8. James Vibert
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    snip – Sorry. Please find an Unthreaded for this sort of inquiry.

  9. TJA
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 3:46 PM | Permalink

    My question is this: “How would the emails be different if there *was* a conspiracy to distort the “science” of AGW and to manufacture a consensus?

  10. Geo
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

    The inline replies thing is going to work okay-ish on these 11 comment threads. . . and will be a total nightmare on the 200 reply threads. Please reconsider if you have a choice.

  11. bender
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

    Dear Drs. Andrew Weaver and Gavin Schmidt,
    You see what it means to show leadership in engaging skeptics? You spend thousands in public money to travel the world to preach to the choir. Engage the skeptics. For very very little cost you could reach a much larger audience by posting here at CA.
    It is your Natural Duty to Mother Earth to debate Drs. Richard Lindzen and William Schaffer and Anastasios Tsonis. You are hereby Called upon to fulfill this Duty. Heed the Calling. Watch Judith Curry. She is your Leader. Now get busy.

  12. Kasmir
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    Towards the end, when Lindzen was asked what mistakes he has made in his career (after the questioner took Emmanuel off that hook), said that he was withdrawing a recent paper for rework because of methodological questions were raised that need addressing. This and another recent Lindzen public appearance strongly suggests that Lindzen/Choi is the paper in question.

  13. Antonio San
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 4:52 PM | Permalink

    There is nothing impacting the science in the CRU emails and codes. It is a reputable source that says it, Seth Borenstein from AP…

    And in it we discover that Gerry North loved the Hockey Stick…

    Why are you disinforming when the truth comes from AP? [sarcasm]

  14. Calvin Ball
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 4:56 PM | Permalink

    After listening to most of it, I don’t think it’s going to change anybody’s mind. To varying degrees, it was a dogpile on Lindzen, and the establishmentarians were all saying that there’s nothing to see. And of course, we had a good helping of Exxon/coal industry red meat.

    Layzer was almost even handed and insightful, but she tipped her hand a couple of times. She kind of reminded me of Judy Curry in that regard. She understood fully what the real glastnost issue here was, but couldn’t resist taking a gratuitous swipe at industry.

    • Jeff
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 1:16 AM | Permalink

      {it was a dogpile on Lindzen, and the establishmentarians were all saying that there’s nothing to see. And of course, we had a good helping of Exxon/coal industry red meat.}

      As a possiblility of tinking from a different point of view, because the carbon industry has weighed in so heavily, it has become difficult to have conversations engaging skeptics. Richard Lindzen is the true skeptic versus PR stoked up hype. LIstening to Richard Lindzen, I have a differnt respect for him. I don’t agree with him but I find him easy to listen to.

      Because of the strong discrediting machine going on, its hard for society to have an honest discussion.

  15. Jack from Vancouver
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 5:03 PM | Permalink

    I don’t know whether the UVic professor was targeted because he is a climate scientist and somewhat prominent in that community in BC or because thieves had easy access to his office. What isn’t mentioned in the stories about this incident is that UVic has had problems with theft on their campus for several years. Offices, classrooms and other areas of the campus have been repeatedly vandalized and had items stolen.

  16. DJ Meredith
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 5:09 PM | Permalink

    Is the release of data or code to some scientists and not others an important issue?

    Am I correct in my recollection that Mann was refusing to release the code for MBH98 to Steve, which has lead, ultimately, to Climategate?? Odd, since Mann readily made it available to a PhD student in Berlin….

    Dear Irina,
    The code we used in Mann/Bradley/Hughes 1998 was not changed or “improved”, but there may
    be different versions of the code floating around,…….
    …….I’m copying this message to Zhang, so that he can provide you
    with his matlab version of the code if you are interested…

    If I were going to sue under FOI, I’d sure put this one in my folder.

  17. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 5:19 PM | Permalink

    God awful as was Emanuel’s opening statement, I will, with all the power within me, attempt to not let that affect my reading and analyses of his works.

    His attempt to associate the issues surrounding smoking with AGW would have been applauded in a partisan political debate, but from a scientist – you have got to be kidding. The generalizations that he used were right out of the play book that Judith Curry uses so often here at CA.

    • Calvin Ball
      Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

      Bringing smoking into it (not to mention the fossil fuel industries) was pure rhetoric. Lindzen left no doubt about the relevance of both of those.

      It was sort of a microcosm of the entire issue, though. The one side (which basically consisted of Lindzen) wanted to talk about the files, while the other side wanted to at best talk about them in passing, but then bring all this other stuff into it.

      Nice bluff call on Lindzen’s part. If you’re going to go on about a industry-funded disinformation machine, please furnish some tangible evidence for its existence. I think that this crying “wolf” is starting to wear out.

  18. Chris S
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 5:21 PM | Permalink

    Slow but interesting debate with more subtle “sleight of hand” than seen recently in the media.
    The same calls of consensus, and the authority of comparable temp data sets are all sounding a bit tired now.

    BTW. Dan’s comment above seems appropriate to the text of this tread.
    Unless, of course, if it’s been moved it here from another thread;)

  19. Daryl M
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    What I like the most about Lindzen is that he is completely unafraid to speak his mind, irrespective of whether anyone will disagree or how it will be received.

    • Mike
      Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 10:46 PM | Permalink

      Yes. And in this way, he really resembles figures like Havel, Sacharov and Solshenizyn (or however you anglophones transliterate these names).

  20. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    Lindzen did very well IMO, Emanuel was acting like a populist politician, which I think was noted well by the audience as alarmists have a tendency underestimating the intelligence of people. Layzer said some interesting things and the other was just babbling along.

  21. Ted Swart
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

    I am sure I am not alone in trying to make sense of the mounds of information available on the earth’s climate. Have read what I could on th MIT debate and the one thing I do come away with is the realization that unravelling what is likely to happen with the Earth’s climate over the coming decades is a monstrously difficult task which is way Beyond the capabilities of any existing or future?0 computer models.
    What I did not realize before reading about the MIT debate is quite how useless the models are. I have long known that the computer models do not agree with each other. But I did not realize the full extent of the uncertainty until reading about the MIT debate.
    It would appear that the attempt by the AGW supporters themselves to predict what the affect on temperature would be if the CO2 content of the atmosphere was doubled is largely useless. There own figures range from 1.5C to 6.4C.
    How anyone can imagine that, with this level of uncertainty,it is possible for us to make even half decent guesstimates as to the amount by which we ought to reduce CO2 output is nothing short of bizarre. I read somewhere that AGW skeptics have done their own studies on this issue and come up with figure of about 0.5C temperature increase from CO2 doubling.
    Surely we should all be shouting confessing from the rooftops that
    our predicative capability is simply not up to the task.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 10:23 PM | Permalink

      “we should all be shouting confessing from the rooftops that our predicative capability is simply not up to the task”
      People say I talk too much. Now you know why.

    • KevinM
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 8:44 PM | Permalink

      The computers themselves are perfectly capable, you could probably develop and run something cose enough on a machine from Best Buy. The model will be one or two lines including the top N climate drivers in a proportional integral differential equation.

      The core problem is not hardware, software, or programming expertise. The core problem is identifying the top N drivers of climate, what math to build around them, and how to extract the relevant data from raw data.

      Step one in this process should be getting all of the raw data into a publically readable SQL database (and insisting on raw data, no value added) with standard table formats.

      • Boyd Jahnke
        Posted Feb 16, 2010 at 7:11 PM | Permalink

        You are correct, Kevin. But we must also add the meta-data. Unless you know a site’s history in terms of location, exposure, instrumentation and observing routine, your data’s utility is severely compromised.

  22. Hoi Polloi
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 7:17 PM | Permalink

    Something stroke me during the questions from the audience. The question about Exxon funding the “denier industry” appeared to me that it was almost orchestrated that it landed with Emanuel who had the answer ready (reading from his papers). He went on talking about the coal industry which had nothing to with Exxon.

    I thought this was shooting a dead horse, as only the very hard core alarmist use this anymore. There should something be created like the Godwin Law, when someone mentioned fossile industry in conjucture with the AGW discussion he lost the discussion.

  23. Thomas L
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    I understand that the AGW code is in IDL, Fortran, and Python, consists of 7,000 lines of code, and can run in 10 minutes on an i486. How does that compare with weather forecasting models? I’m sure that climate calculations have to be more complex than the weather.

    Also, is there any good number on how much the atmosphere of today warms the planet? Radioactivity keeps the near subsurface at about 12.5 C, so given that the surface temperature is 15 C, does that mean sun and atmosphere combine for only 2.5 C? And does anyone know whether radioactivity helps make Venus warm, and if so, to what degree? Obviously, the Moon has little/no volcanic activity, while Mars, not completely dead, has radioactivity/volcanic activity orders of magnitude less than Earth.

  24. WHR
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

    On the “right wingers are trying to thwart science by hacking computers” comments and article.

    I wonder what would have happened had the right wingers not found deceitful e-mails that implicated the IPCC contributors, but rather found e-mails containing discussions about good science and transparency of the data?

  25. gerard bono
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 7:44 PM | Permalink

    Hoi Polloi …. I agree completely with your comment. It seemed to me the guy asking the question/comment about Exxon dumping $15 million to debunk AGW was a plant because Emanuel read his reply from a prepared script. There are orders of magnitude money thrown at the AGW side than Exxon throws at debunking AGW issues. Totally one sided again.

  26. Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

    The emails did not invalidate the science. They showed the consipiracy which has invalidated the reputations of the scientists.

    Science requires that research results must be available in all detail to allow others to check the work. This acts to make all participants careful not to fool themselves or others.

    The emails show that the CRU scientists have given up all pretense to self-doubt, and worked actively to obscure their results and prevent scientific review. I don’t mean peer review for publication, which is hidden and minimal. The CRU scientists have lost their basic claim of careful and unbiased work.

    Their science was invalidated years ago when they refused to release their source data, procedures, adjustments, and computer codes. Science IS a matter of consensus, when it is a consensus of other experts who have the opportunity to examine the details.

    I wonder what they would think if their cardiac surgeon recommended accupuncture only, based on thousands of years of Chinese practice and theory.

  27. Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 8:03 PM | Permalink

    My favorite line was Lindzen is his own machine: bendable compliment.

  28. MikeN
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

    Lindzen towards the end says that he hasn’t seen any papers that he finds convincing with regards to high climate sensitivity. Panel member Prinn and moderator Jacoby are coauthors of such a paper, with Anthony Watts mocking their press release that had a spinwheel for the global warming gamble.

    Surtprising considering their positions, but Prinn strikes me as more political than Jacoby. Both are generally very fair in emphasizing uncertainty, with Prinn saying a moderate warming can be good for Russia, or Jacoby saying that waiting on policy doesn’t affect temperature very much, or that changing the values of clouds and aerosols in their model can lower warming to less than th 20th century amount.

  29. Gordon Ford
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 8:14 PM | Permalink

    Intresting debate but not really on climategate. Many good points raised about educating the public about science and the difference between science and advocacy.
    It is unfortunate that this debate took place before the realization that what many believed was raw climate data had been “processed” and thus many conclusions on either side of the climate change discussion are now suspect.
    The assertion that throwing out the CRU research does not alter the general Dangerous Anthropogenic Global Warming conclusion is incorrect. Any research that references CRU research is now suspect.

  30. Ron Cram
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 8:41 PM | Permalink

    Lindzen made a number of good points, but perhaps my favorite part of the video was seeing that Lindzen’s notes were on the back of an envelope.

    • MikeE
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 9:51 PM | Permalink

      I noted that too, with approval. Some have doubted his PR abilities, but IM(not entirely serious)HO, he displayed that deliberately to show that he was a back-of-the-envelope kind of guy.

      I have a great respect for him. My worry about him is that every time I see him he seems to have aged, and there aren’t too many of his calibre around.

  31. Alan Sutherland
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 9:03 PM | Permalink

    I thought that Richard Lindzen was, as always, intelligent, knowledgeable, humble and very honest. All that a layman could expect, or hope for, from a scientist. Absolutely spot on was his observation that the “hockey stick” used data manufactured to achieve the predetermined result. Therefore, the last century cannot be described as being outside normal climate variability. Others on the panel were trying to say there were other studies that proved this, whereas to my knowledge about 700 papers have affirmed the existence of the MWP. Major win for Lindzen.

    Next point Richard made was the focus on tenths of a degree when the data has an accuracy range of plus or minus 2.5C. Within that range the data can be manipulated (as is currently being done at GISS, NOAA and NCDC – my comment). The way rural stations are being dropped out, the way that early temperatures are being massaged downwards to give the impression of greater warming. Lindzen was the only one to comment on the unreliability of the base data. Second point for Lindzen. I add my comment that global warming is a product at least in part of “temperature adjustements”.

    One panelist spent some time on Tobacco and Lindzen asked what that had to do with the debate. Third point for Lindzen – well handled.

    Then a question is asked from Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, the questioner seemed to admit there were many untrue parts of this work but proceeded to ask about Exxon spending $12m on climate science. For goodness sake, compare this to the $70 billion spent by governments. Again, I thought Lindzen handled it very well by just saying he knew nothing of this instead of doing what he could have done by losing his cool interpreting it as an accusation. I agree with Hoi Polloi that it looked like this had been stage managed – shame on MIT. And then Emanuel’s condescending attitude to Lindzen that he had not been implicated in the Exxon hacked info. Another point for Lindzen and a further one on keeping his cool at Emanuel’s double standards – hacked info about Exxon proves all Skeptics are funded by big oil, but data from CRU can be ignored.

    Emanuel, Prinn and even Layzer didn’t acknowledge anything Lindzen said, in this respect similar to Judith Curry. The problem as they all define it is how to get Skeptics to be believers. Lots of arm waving, overwhelming science etc even when Lindzen says he has not seen a single paper which adequately addresses and proves climate sensitivity. Another point to Lindzen (he gains a point merely because all the others have lost a point each). I am still waiting to be overwhelmed by this hidden science and it never comes.

    As for Prinn, going on about the IPCC process when he has a vested interest in it because he was part of it. Steve McIntyre was a reviewer and his requests for underlying data were refused. His comments overruled. He was even threatened by Susan Solomon. If Prinn is ignorant of this, then he should become informed. If he did know this was going on, then he was complicit in the methods used and exposed by the CRU data. Overall, 12 (Lindzen) to perhaps 1 (all the rest). Some credit to Layzer for insight for always failing to define the problem to be considered. I base my rankings on the science I was informed about, not arguments from authority or reputation.

    Alan Sutherland

    • Rod Montgomery
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

      The most horrifying moment for me was when Lindzen called Prinn out on the divergence problem, and Prinn seemed completely clueless that there might even be a problem.

      What kind of scientist is it, who cannot understand that when you have a calibration period for a model, and then a validation period, and the model does not fit in the validation period, the model is … questionable, I guess, is the most polite way of putting it?

      • Tom C
        Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 8:43 PM | Permalink

        I agree.

        What on earth accounts for this? Is it groupthink, incompetence, dishonesty, conspiracy? All of the above? I can’t figure it out, and it is very weird.

    • LMB
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 7:07 PM | Permalink

      Did you ever see this interview?

      Bill Nye vs. Richard Lindzen (Larry King, CNN, 2007)

      They still have Bill Nye on CNN; I wish they’d get Lindzen back. I love his intelligence and temperament, expertly and calmly dismantling junk science.

  32. Doug Badgero
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 9:18 PM | Permalink

    I know this is a bit OT but it seemed needed based on some earlier comments. Snip if you want.

    – snip. Sound bite debates on the big picture are editorially not very instructive.

  33. Lillian
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 10:11 PM | Permalink

    Climate science needs more spokespersons like Lindzen, who made a lot of sense. I could not believe that Prinn defended adding fake and real data to the same graph and just brushed it off! One thing I learned FOR CERTAIN NOW from this panel is that the proper response for all global leaders is to not go to Copenhagen to sign anything, but to go back home and fund real pollution problems in their own backyards.

    Prinn did touch on the real fear of global leaders though, that temperate climates (developed) nations will be gradually invaded by people with young populations who live in countries with insufficient food and water. That is what we humans did the last times when the earth warmed/cooled or when countries became over-populated – we moved to areas where it was nicer and/or there was more land to call home safely. So, we probably do need relief funds.

  34. Bob Meyer
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 10:50 PM | Permalink

    I was somewhat surprised that no one attempted to rebut the comparison with the Iraq war and Cheney’s 1% rule for dealing with high risk scenarios.

    Did no one remember the “overwhelming consensus” of intelligence agencies that Iraq either possessed or was close to developing a nuclear weapon? Did no one remember the small fringe group of “deniers” who argued that Iraq lacked the infrastructure to build a bomb? They were all supposedly in the pay of Saddam or the oil companies.

    There are certain similarities in AGW and the Iraq invasion but they certainly don’t help the case of those arguing for large scale immediate action based on the high risk of climate change.

    Instead of arguing about whether UEA scientists were corrupt I would have liked to have heard more about the consequences of the hidden decline in “treemometer” temperature proxies. If the “treemometers” were insensitive to recent temperature increases why assume that they would have been sensitive to medieval temperature changes?

    If the medieval warm period reappears then the imminent demise of the earth due to a climatic “tipping point” becomes far less likely. That is a major consequence of “climategate” but it drew much less attention than the possible character deficiencies of certain climate researchers.

    • KevinM
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 9:27 PM | Permalink

      Never get dragged into argument by analogy. At any point the losing side can void all point won and lost by pointing out its a poor analogy.

      If you lose you lose, if you win you start over.

  35. Anonymous
    Posted Dec 12, 2009 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

    The most disgusting moment for me was Ron Prinn’s reaction to Dr. Lindzen’s point that the proxy data is unreliable because it doesn’t follow measured temperatures and so we can’t assert that today’s temperatures are unusual. Prinn acted as if he didn’t understand why. Any scientist should understand why. The alarmists’ number one goal right now, in the wake of the CRU scandal, is to prevent the public from understanding this important point. Prinn obviously tried to confuse and distract from this point. Ofuscation and indignation are his tactics.

    These points, which alarmists are desperately trying to hide, need to be made highly public:

    1. Showing that today’s temperatures are unusual is highly important to the AGW hypothesis.
    2. Proxy data, such as tree ring data, are used to estimate temperatures of the past.
    3. The proxy data don’t track measured temperature data.
    4. The proxy data (and/or measured temperature data) are worthless.
    5. The AGW hypothesis is unsupported.

    Point 5 doesn’t follow from problems with the proxies. Nor do I wish to debate the point.

    • Tolz
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

      Agreed, of course. What point 5 should be is that there is no reason to believe, from proxy evidence, that current temperatures are unusual compared to anything prior to the instrumental period. Anecdotal evidence, by its sheer volume, is much stronger for a MWP warmer than it is now. Scientific evidence certainly supports natural variations in climate well above the magnitude of the “anomaly” we are experiencing now, but on a scale so “precise” as to include the last 1000 years, we really don’t know for sure.

      For probably most of us fans of this blog, that we can’t conclude via temperature reconstructions whether current temperatures are higher than that of the MWP has been “settled” for quite some time. Climategate is a big deal for shaking up a corruption in the climate science community, but I’m really looking forward to “moving on” to an audit of other aspects of climate science, like models, or that elusive “proof” of the impact of CO2 doubling. Because it seems to me that not only does there need to be an “audit” of the science, a lot of it DOES involve statistics. Steve has not only shown he has the credentials to address such matters, but has attracted some very impressive “peer reviewers” on this site.

      Many thanks to you all.

  36. Gerald Browning
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 12:21 AM | Permalink

    A reviewer of one of our manuscripts cited a manuscript by Emmanuel as showing that our manuscript was not correct. I then proceeded to go over Emmanuel’s manuscript with a fine tooth comb and found a major error in his equations: he had not correctly determined the dominant two terms in the potential temperature (entropy) equation that are the source of dynamical balance for midlatitude mesoscale (and smaller) scale motions or near equatorial flows of all scales. Note that subsequently our manuscript was published.

    I also would mention that I would not expect such an error from Lindzen.


  37. Squidly
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 1:20 AM | Permalink

    Ron Cram,

    I thought Lindzen, although not nearly as involved in conversation and questions as I would have liked, simply blew away the field. The fact that he almost completely spoke on the fly, and seemingly completely unprepared, as you mentioned reading from the back of an envelope which he was writing on during the opening remarks by those prior to him. To me, this was super impressive. He was as well spoken as ever, very carefully succinct and accurate with everything word that he spoke. It was marvelous.

    The “forum” or “debate” for me, simply further illustrated the underlying problems of this entire AGW topic and the debates therein. Outside of Lindzen, the rest where simply spouting off the very same incoherent jibberish garbage that we have been bombarded with from the media for decades. The junk straw-man tactics, like the tobacco analogies, the “disinformation machine” garbage, just more rhetoric from people that desperately want to shelve the “real” topic that was on the table, and continue to harp their dogma in an obviously desperate manner.

    I was rather disappointed in the whole escapade. Is it not high time for direct dialog on these issues. Is it not time that we demand direct dialog? That we not stand for or accept these BS rhetorical sidesteps and slight of hand tactics?

    If I were Lindzen, or one of the audience questioners, I would not have budged away from my questions or my attention until my questions or concern was addressed directly and completely. I believe moving forward, this is the only acceptable tact that we must take. Time for showboating is over. Climategate illustrates precisely why this game must come to an end.

  38. Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 1:23 AM | Permalink

    Jacobdy came off as an objective moderator.

    Emanuel came off as an environmental shill obsessed with the fossil fuel industry. The tired nonsense about the tobacco industry is pure propaganda. And the fossil fuel industry funding allegations ignores the environmental lobby and green tech funding from the likes of Greenpeace and GE. But he should have been challenged more on the source of his talking points about the coal industry. I guarantee the source to be something like Sourcewatch which is funded by Greenpeace and edited by anyone like Wikipedia. He read one memo and from that extrapolated it into a gigantic imaginary conspiracy in the same way he was claiming the skeptics are wrong about for trying to make out of Climategate. Hypocrite! Lindzen is still right as there is no evidence of any “denial machine”. At best you have industry lobbyists working in their own self interests. I was appalled at Emanuel’s lies about it not undermining the science, when you have IPCC lead authors involved and questionable datasets that are relevant to not only the IPCC reports but dozens if not hundreds of published papers that are part of the case for the IPCC’s conclusions. How many of the climate models included one of the questionable datasets? Even worse was the notion of all the “independent” datasets not affected. There are only a handful of these datasets and there is extensive disagreement over their methods, the availability of raw data (non-adjusted) and the adjustments made to them. The actual denial of some of these scientists about the significance of Climategate is appalling.

    Layzer came off as attempting to be objective almost out of fear of her bias being revealed, which it was when her phone rang and she shilled for Emanuel’s book.

    Stephen came off as attempting to be objective (though clearly not) but in my opinion had little relevant to say.

    Prinn was simply disingenuous about the divergence problem and either lied or was ignorant about the NAS conclusions that proxy records prior to 1600 in regards to the ones in the hockey stick debate to have any validity. NAS concluded that the records prior to 1600 had no validity in that debate. He claimed it was merely questionable. He showed an absolute lack of understanding on the issue and was spinning away from the blatantly obvious issue for the proxy reconstructions. This showed an ideology and not scientific honesty. He was more concerned with keeping the mantra about taking action intact as he constantly repeated with the same tired, “we only have one planet” nonsense.

    The questions ranged from excellent (1% is what Cheney used to invade Iraq) to the typical propaganda about skeptics all being creationists, inferring them to all be right-wing religious fundamentalists. This is constantly insulting as I am personally an agnostic libertarian who believes in evolution theory.

    I could not believe that An Inconvenient Truth was even mentioned as a source of anything relevant. This goes to show where these people are still getting their information from.

    Lindzen did excellent considering he was outnumbered 4-1. It goes to show the strength of the skeptics arguments despite all the noise to the contrary.

    • Adamson
      Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 10:45 PM | Permalink

      Hi Poptech

      I beg to differ on Stephen Ansolabehere’s contribution. At the 43:35 mark he says:

      “I think that one of the great crimes that was committed here was the violation of the standard of replicability. It’s going to be very difficult to go back and replicate the East Anglia data, given at least what we know of the record keeping that went on there.”

      That is as strong and direct as you can get.

      The guy has manners and humour, is diplomatic and inclusive of his colleagues, and he gets extra marks from me for that. He also said that this will become a case study on how not to do science. He generally supported Richard Lindzen but was easier to understand, possibly because his social science background.

  39. MJW
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 1:29 AM | Permalink

    There’s a certain irony in the AGW crowd trotting out the threadbare tobacco scientist comparisons in regard to climategate. I recall a fairly recent PSA on TV attacking tobacco company scientists and executives for publicly denying a relationship between smoking and cancer, while admitting it in their private discussions. Isn’t that similar to the behavior of the climategate scientists putting up a united front in defense of Mann’s hockey stick, while privately suggesting, for example, that it had infinite error bounds?

  40. Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 1:38 AM | Permalink

    Re: Gerald Browning 12:21

    Emanuel (1991) in “The theory of hurricanes”, when integrating Bernoulli’s equation for the horizontal streamline of the hurricane, had thrown away the squared velocity term that accounts for the accumulation of kinetic energy of the spiralling-in air masses of the hurricane, cf. Eqs. (1) and (15). This was done based on the consideration that there is an area of “stagnation” (zero velocity) within the vortex. So, as far as squared velocity is zero outside the hurricane and within the eye, its integral along the surface streamline can be discarded, in Emanuel’s view.

    However, Bernoulli’s equation is written for the streamline, which, in simple words, is the line parallel to air velocity at any point. As the air approaches the eyewall, it ascends and does not penetrate within the eye (for this reason it is still weather there). In other words, the horizontal streamline does not pierce through the windwall, so the fact that there is “stagnation” within the eye has nothing to do with Bernoulli’s equation for the horizontal streamline and is of no help for integrating it.

    This major error has fatal implications for the integrity of Emanuel’s potential intensity theory of hurricanes. From different viewpoints it has been recently exposed by Smith et al. 2008 and Makarieva et al. 2008. In my view, it is a very appropriate issue where the mainstream meteorological science can show how, avoiding the distraction from important issues, it promptly reacts to, and self-improves by, the critique of peers.

    • Gerald Browning
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 5:28 PM | Permalink

      I am not in agreement with your perspective of the peer review process. That the Emanuel manuscript was accepted for publication indicates the shallowness of the review process in certain journals, especially when the hurricane eyewall is driven by diabatic processes with large horizontal divergence, i.e., the flow cannot be described by streamlines alone. And then to have that manuscript cited in an attempt to stop a mathematically rigorous manuscript is a complete joke. The manuscripts you cited came more than a
      two decades after the mathematical theory had been published in mathematical journals (look up systems with multiple time scales by H.-O. Kreiss in 1979) and expanded by other mathematicians, e.g. Andrew Majda. So the meteorologists, as always, are a decade behind rigorous theory and fail to cite the origin of that theory.



    • Gerald Browning
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 6:06 PM | Permalink

      The analysis in the Smith et al. manuscript depends on a boundary layer parameterization. If that parameterization is inaccurate, then the analysis is nonsense. A mathematical proof is quite different than a guess.


      • Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 12:32 PM | Permalink

        In my opinion, atmospheric circulation is a physical problem in the first place, and there are such things as violations of physical laws in someone’s derivations. The analysis of Smith et al., in its essence, does not depend on empirical parameterizations, although they did wrap it into them, but contains a description of such a physical error.

        I appreciate your perspective without expecting it to necessarily coincide with mine. Since you pointed to the works of A. Majda in an earlier thread, I’ve read several of them with much interest.

        • Gerald Browning
          Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 3:11 PM | Permalink

          Physical problems typical involve simplyfying physical assumptions that lead to mathematical equations. If the physical assumptions are not reasonable, then the mathematical equations may not be appropriate or even nonsense.

          As a simple example of a physical assumption that is quite accurate but leads to a mathematical system that is bad, the hydrostatic approximation used to derive the primitive equations of meteorology leads to an ill posed partial differential system of equations for both the initial and boundary value problems.

          A similar assumption for the mult-constituent plasma system
          leads to ill posedness of the initial value problem (Browning and Holzer).

          Thus physical assumptions must be checked both for their physical accuracy and for their impact on the subsequent mathematical equations.


  41. Adamson
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 3:15 AM | Permalink

    Dear All

    In his initial address Lindzen makes a strong point regarding the integrity of science and public trust. That the actions of the CRU scientists have been both illegal and unethical, that scientific institutions must not endorse their behaviour, and that “we [the scientists] are not crooks”.

    The released emails and documents are a poisoned chalice for all those scientific institutions who slavishly have lined up with the so-called consensus.

    Those institutions can’t have it both ways; they can condone The Team’s behaviour and risk debasing the perception and authority of science, or they can condemn it and work toward encouraging and enforcing better scientific standards. If they remain mute then they are worse than useless.

  42. gimply
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 3:38 AM | Permalink

    Were H.L. Mencken alive today, he’d be having a field day. Two of his more
    famous quotes come to mind:

    Whenever A annoys or injures B on the pretense of saving or improving X, A is a scoundrel…


    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.

    I wondered, for a while, what would follow the flaccid Y2K balloon. No more.

    • Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 4:48 AM | Permalink

      Just a note on Y2K, while clearly not the end of the world, it was a legitimate computer related issue that would have caused some disruption (likely in the financial and utility sector) if no one attempted to do anything about it. I don’t believe it is legitimate to compare it to the current global warming scare.

      • MikeE
        Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 10:18 PM | Permalink

        It’s a good comparison in the sense that everyone who knew anything about computing recognised that there was an issue. The big question was whether it would have catastrophic consequences or not. It’s a bad comparison in the sense that the problem was finite, and the solution probably finite, with some uncertainly about stored “bad” dates in undiscovered and/or unchecked data files.

  43. tvucu
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 5:47 AM | Permalink

    Dr.’s Prinn and Emanuel repeated a number of times that the EA data set and papers based on it can be safely removed from the literature and the same conclusions regarding AWG would remain. My immediate question is, have they (or anyone) done a paper reference analysis on this? Exactly how “independent” were the data sets used for calibrating the “independent” climate models? I expect the the illusion of independence would be exposed if these questions were answered.

    For me, Dr. Lindzen was exquisitely precise.
    “I have never found a compeling paper for high sensitivity.” One of the most critical points of the whole AGW debate. Bravo!!

    Finally, I couldn’t help but notice and be saddened by the obvious “ECO conditioning” that all of the young students showed by their questions. They seem totally unaware of their bias and it is disturbing to think of what the effect of 30+ years of ECO conditioning will have on science and research in the future….

  44. Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

    Moderator Jacoby contributed to an enjoyable exchange with a fine performance as moderator. Most of the audience questions were of solid calibre and civilly expressed.

    For me Lindzen’s best point was that strong AGW exponents have been threatening the public with highly imminent danger for 20 years, thereby crying wolf – an unwise gambit whatever the final verdict on AGW.

    Prinn was a weak link for his side in trying to sweep the divergence problem under the carpet. He was more plausible in invoking the precautionary principle – we only have one planet. But even here we cannot apply the precautionary principle indiscriminately; that could glibly rescue any AGW theory however obviously flawed. And debate on how far and how fast to go down the precautionary road will be shaped by our understanding of things like the hockey stick or the divergence problem.

    Emmanuel said little about the science except to dubiously imply it was settled, and generalised brashly about the motives of ‘sceptics’. He gratuitously dragged tobacco and creationism into the debate – odd bedfellows. I have never had any sympathy for the tobacco industry and theologically I am not a creationist.

    The two political scientists more understandably did not say much about the science either. They did want to win public trust for science. But I believe this will only happen if the obvious problems of ClimateGate, a serious global-level scandal, are candidly admitted. I am not suggesting that this scandal flatly rules out the possibility of significant AGW at some point. But the public knows enough about ClimateGate to feel suspicious of science unless it cleans up its act and is seen to do so.

  45. Bernie
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for posting.
    Someone has already asked this but perhaps you can provide a more definitive response. To what extent are other representations of historical temperature data dependent upon the work of Jones et al at UEA CRU? My understanding is that UEA CRU provides crucial input into these data series and are even more important for the reconstruction efforts outside of the US. Prim and Emanuel were therefore mistating the situation.

    Steve: GISS, like CRU, uses GHCN/

  46. Judith Curry
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 2:06 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this link. I thought both social scientists provided some interesting insights. I was surprised by the statements of all 3 climate researchers. I was also surprised by the questions (I guess I expected more from MIT 🙂

    • Mike Lorrey
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 4:31 PM | Permalink

      IMHO it was a good reflection, Judith, that in institutions such as MIT, the academic culture is a mirror of the political culture at large, yet they fail to see the parallels because they are embedded in the process. Each student or faculty member who asked questions IMHO came to their question with a predetermined agenda position and almost NONE of them asked questions about the actual subject of the forum, other than the engineering fellow who got upset about the raw data being tossed, and the old duffer who asserted that sort of behavior never happened in his department.

  47. Tom Roe
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 2:11 PM | Permalink

    A question from the peanut gallery of interested non-scientists; how do the other 2 foundation data sets at NASA and NOAA reconstruct historical temperature? If NASA and NOAA are working in their respective specialties of utilizing expensive high-tech tools (satelites, bouy-robots, etc…) to measure current temps how do they contribute to a historical compilation? Watching the MIT forum makes me want to write my Representative Bart Gordon, Chairman of the House Committe on Science and Technology to ask that Prof. Lindzen be asked to testify at the hearings on climategate. I and others have ask that BG hold such hearings asap.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 2:26 PM | Permalink

      Also read William Schaffer’s comments on the state of climate modeling. And perhaps Judith Curry would care to comment?

  48. Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 2:24 PM | Permalink

    So, they lost the raw data files that underlie their research.

    Only the raw data files?

    • Mike Lorrey
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 4:27 PM | Permalink

      Good question Andrew, if CRU was so short on space, why did they JUST throw out the raw data?

  49. Dan JG
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    Re: Bernie (Dec 13 1:58pm)
    The presence of independent temperature reconstructions from GISS and NCDC rendering CRU redundant, as a panellist suggested, seems to be the star witness for the defence. Roger Pielke Sr. appears to think that because all of the studies use the same GHCN data (there is ~90% data overlap) the case for ‘independence’ is overstated regardless of how differently the data might be treated.

    However, (and I’m not sure this is in context) according to Jones, “Pielke wouldn’t understand independence if it hit him in the face.” (1233245601.txt)

  50. Mike Lorrey
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 4:26 PM | Permalink

    Well Kerry Emanuel pretty much discredited himself to me with his constant paranoia about vast well paid industry conspiracies, and I doubt very much that he is a small government conservative, that is IMHO a pose, especially given how his raison d’etre vis a vis hurricane frequency is pretty nigh well debunked.
    One thing that nobody got into was that the same issues that led to the CRUtape Letters is happening here in the US with the other temperature datasets, i.e. the suit against NASA, Gavin, and Jim, as well as the whole attack on the reliability of the surface station record and the absurdities of homogenization. I would have liked to see Lindzen mention that to rebut claims by Prinn that US temp records were robust.

  51. Alan Sutherland
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

    The blackboard at the back of the room was filled with equations. I had originally thought this was the leftover from some previous class. But the moderator in conclusion said that the panel had not even needed to go there. It appears that someone thought s/he would be able to swamp dissent with equations. I bet this was Emanuel. And this is where I love to have Lindzen there because he can understand them. And refute them if necessary.

  52. Dan JG
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 5:54 PM | Permalink

    Lindzen suggested that it would be a fruitful project for a group of students to evaluate the leaked emails. In response, a questioner asked if Lindzen would like it if a group of people poured over his emails for the last few decades, and Emanuel wished he could study scientists emails in like manner to establish if anything about the CRU emails was out of the ordinary. Lindzen replied that none of his emails would reveal problems like the climategate emails.
    snip – policy

    Layzer bemoaned the loss of print media, replaced by partisan television news and blogs, and hoped for a more balanced dissemination of scientific information from something like public broadcasting. I had to smile as I thought of the CBC here in Canada and how they have been charged with a monolithic bias.
    A final generalization: the audience response and questions seemed to display a rough divide between pro-AGW students and older respondents who were concerned about the shoddy scientific standards they thought they saw revealed in the emails.

  53. bender
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 6:49 PM | Permalink

    Judith Curry is going to refute Lindzen here at CA over the Christmas break. So stay tuned.

    • Tom C
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

      Good luck Judy!

      • theduke
        Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 10:29 PM | Permalink

        Good luck, Richard!

        • theduke
          Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 10:30 PM | Permalink

          I’m presumptively presuming he will respond, and I hope he does.

    • Judith Curry
      Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

      well ok, but i thought people would be distracted from lindzen by all the hadcrut stuff? if you want to do lindzen’s papers, will try to get roy spencer to chime in (as far as i can tell, he doesn’t like lindzen’s papers either)

      • Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 8:06 PM | Permalink

        It has nothing to do with Spencer “liking” Lindzen’s paper (not papers) but rather having a scientific disagreement over the statistical methods used.

  54. Ron
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 8:17 PM | Permalink

    Tiny CO2

    I wish I’d said your piece. Actually, I will be saying a lot of it in future conversations with friends and family.
    Thanks, Ron

  55. Tom C
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 8:52 PM | Permalink

    Lindzen’s perpetual equanimity in the face of nonsense is inspiring. However, even he lost it when Prinn refused to admit to the decline/splice issue.

    • theduke
      Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

      I don’t think it’s fair to say he lost it. He was disdainful. But I think they’ve probably had the same conversation on campus at some point in time.

      MIT is a place where a lot of real science gets done. I would think that the intellectual atmosphere there would be much more accommodating of differing viewpoints than in most other advanced institutions. Probably because there are more scholars engaged in pure science as opposed to those who concentrate exclusively policy-making sciences i.e. the political and/or politicized sciences.

  56. Fat Man
    Posted Dec 13, 2009 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

    Is Kerry Emmanuel related to Rham?

  57. Klaus
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 2:14 AM | Permalink

    What Prinn was saying was that the only relevant part of the hockey stick was the “blade”, i.e. the temperature measurements. He didn’t care whether the rest of the stick, i.e. the reconstruction of historical temperatures through proxies, was “broken” or not.
    I wonder how Mann, Briffa and all the paleoclimatologists react to this position, effectively stating that all their scientific efforts over so many years are simply irrelevant?
    I am quite surprised that the discussion so far has been quite lenient towards Judy Layzer. She created a smoke screen of impartiality with very general remarks about politics and science, but her conclusions were extremely one-sided, hardly better than what Kerry Emanuel had to say.

    • Bob Meyer
      Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

      Layzer played both sides of the fence initially declaring that the connection between science and policy is tenuous with science tending to be overwhelmed by political passions. Then she ends her talk by concluding that better science was necessary in order that policy be informed by facts.

      You can’t have it both ways. To make this even more ridiculous she says that the science isn’t important when discussing climategate’s potential effect on policy. When the context shifts to supporting science with public money suddenly “better” science becomes important in determining policy.

      She should run for office. She’s fairly attractive, uses the language well and is untroubled when contradicting herself. Heck, she’s the almost perfect candidate.

      • Daryl M
        Posted Dec 17, 2009 at 12:06 PM | Permalink

        For me, one of the most disingenuous comments in the debate, which I’m pretty sure was by Layzer, was that this is not a David v. Goliath situation. I wish Lindzen would have pounced upon that incredibly inaccurate and misleading remark. I have heard him take this on directly in other situations by pointing out that AGW research is only supposed to support – never deny – AGW, and that scientists who don’t tow the line do so to the potential detriment of their funding.

  58. David Smith
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    Climate scientists should reflect on the Wisdom of Pogo:

    However, Pogo isn’t peer-reviewed, so his thought will likely stay ignored while climate science sinks deeper into its ethical tar-pit.

    The hope is that the next generation of climate scientists will behave differently than their elders and clean up the old folks’ mess. I think they will.

  59. MikeN
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

    Judy Curry, I wonder how well advertised this debate was. Many of the global warming students are not regular MIT students but come there through various special programs, and strike me as more activist than scientist.

  60. nate
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 2:45 PM | Permalink

    The attitudes of most of the panelists and audience is unbelievable – the educated elite. As if one without a PhD can’t understand the science behind climate change?

    I think most people can understand that if most of the adjustments made to data sets is always up, if two data sets from different proxies are merged and spliced to hide something and reinforce an existing policy decision, if the vast majority of the measurement instruments in the US are extremely poorly sited (check out Anthony Watt’s project) with a bias towards warming, if leaders in the field try to destroy data, hide it from FOIA, conspire to evade the scientific process, etc, then something is wrong. If ordinary people that download the data can find holes in the most renowned scientists’ work, then it begs the question, is the science junk?

  61. dirac_delta
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 4:51 PM | Permalink


    I’m growing painfully frustrated with this leftist, cookie-cutter lamentation over the powerful, evil forces who fund anti-AGW activity (Exxon-Mobile, the “coal industry”, etc). Those like Kerry Emanuel make featherbrained fools of themselves every time they employ this tactic. How is it possible to be so obtuse as to miss the colossal hypocrisy inherent in one’s own statemnts? I’m not rejecting the implication that such industries are routing for a resolution of climate issues that favors their own interests…but Kerry Emanuel is exactly the same boat! Hells bells! He himself (along with anybody employed by the government to pursue climate research) has just as much an interest in the outcome of the debate as Exxon-Mobile! He isn’t some impartial, detached observer as he seems to portray himself. He directly profits from AGW hysteria, as does any climate scientist–their entire livlihoods are dependent upon it. To use his favorite example: his statements regarding AGW issues carry no more weight than a Phillips-Morris lawyer’s words regarding the risks of smoking. Both should be taken equally skeptically. This common meme that scientists are impartial referees in the debate, acting only in the best interests of society is never discussed in these debates. They have skin in the game for Christ sake!

    Now, I’m not advocating his bias be used against him–his arguments should be considered and debated on their substantive merits, not attacked with ad hominem lamentations of bias–only that he stop using his opponents’ bias against them. Stop using this rhetorical tactic. It’s sole purpose is to appeal to emotion, not rationale–the very thing he whines about the coal industry doing! Amazing!

  62. dirac_delta
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 4:57 PM | Permalink

    And he persistently whines about the amount of money being spent against his belief. Are you kidding me? Compare the amount of anti-AGW money spent by the private sector against the amount of taxpayer money spent by world governments on pro-AGW activities! It’s not even on the same order of magnitude. Please!

  63. Theo Goodwin
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 6:15 PM | Permalink

    In his excellent post, TinyCO2 writes:

    “It is not enough to assure us (as Prinn did) that the CRU are backed up by countless scientists and institutions around the World
    – snip
    I agree wholeheartedly but I want to emphasize just the fact that Prinn would say that there is this majority of scientists (at least he gave up the word “consensus”) that support global warming. That claim is contradicted all over the place. snip

    Steve: The majority do. This is a silly issue to argue.

  64. Ted Swart
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 7:02 PM | Permalink

    Would it not be more correct to say that we do not know what percentage of scientists do and don’t support human (CO2) caused global warming. A lot of scientists do seem to have jumped ship — not necessarily in the sense of becoming thoroughgoing skeptics but in the sense of recognizing the extent of our ignorance. So much so, at any rate, that it makes any claims of a consensus unjustified.
    Our level of ignorance is quite striking. Just yesterday, I read of the work of the Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark who collapsed (all recorded on TV in Copenhagen) whilst giving a talk on his cosmic ray work. He has found that, depending on the Sun’s behaviour there is a huge alteration in the cosmic ray flux which,in turn, reduces the amount of cloud cover and thus causes significant warming.

    Steve: Please do not get all excited about cosmic stuff. Please do not accept something simply because you like the answer. Apply the same rigor as you’d expect from bristlecones.

  65. KevinM
    Posted Dec 14, 2009 at 8:10 PM | Permalink

    Ted and Theo,

    I think you are experiencing confusion over the difference between global warming, man made components of global warming, and global warming dominated by man made factors.

    There is overwhelming consensus for global warming.

  66. Erkki Myllys
    Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 2:48 AM | Permalink

    snip – policy

  67. RJOJ
    Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

    During the “forum”, and elsewhere,I have noted various efforts to minimize the significance of the released CRU emails and programs by stating that the CRU results were corroborated by many other sources and therefore Climategate was of little significance to the validity of AGW. I was therefore disappointed that no-one asked the question: “Given the apparent attitude of advocacy and other troubling aspects of CRU scientists’ behaviour, what assurance is there that the same issues are not present within other sources of AGW information – GISS, for example?”

    – speculation snipped

  68. Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

    In reply to Judith Curry here commenting on the low quality of the public questions:

    I’m a student at MIT and this debate was actually tame compared to some of them that I’ve been to. You have to remember that MIT is embedded in the People’s Republic of Cambridge, and these events are open to the general public. So you get all kinds of burnt-out hippies and other weirdos coming and taking advantage of the opportunity to ask the professors questions.

    Like, you’ll go to an event about large-scale grid energy storage to enable renewable energy, and get guys standing up and asking questions about the suppression by the U.S. government of over-unity generators. One guy (who I won’t name because he probably Googles himself, and I see him all the time at various events) once prefaced a question with “I know that asking this at MIT is is like standing up in a church and saying that Jesus doesn’t exist, but…”
    It’s likely that most of the people who could ask really good questions are too busy with their own research to attend general-interest events.

  69. Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 4:45 PM | Permalink

    I realize my previous post might have sounded very arrogant and I apologize. I didn’t mean at all that the general public shouldn’t be welcome at MIT events, debates, etc. (Although I do wish the conspiracy theorists would stay away…) I wanted to relay some humorous anecdotes about other talks I’ve been at.

    • Brian B
      Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 8:13 PM | Permalink

      No need to explain.
      We’ve all seen the types who tend to gravitate to the mike at this type of event.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 11:17 PM | Permalink

      Doesn’t sound arrogant at all. Sounds entirely plausible.

  70. Keith Herbert
    Posted Dec 15, 2009 at 10:09 PM | Permalink

    Emanual, Layzer and Prinn all excused Mann and Jones because they are “human” and thus susceptible to engaging in “minor” indiscretions.
    This drives my up the wall! Emanual, Prinn, Mann and Jones all participated in the IPCC. The key word in IPCC is “interGOVERNMENTal”. They were not conducting pure science and were fully aware of it. They were offering physical solutions to problems determined by the IPCC participants. This places them firmly in the world of engineering (physical applications to science).

    The difference between an engineer and a scientist is a scientist must occasionally be wrong for puposes of discovery, but an engineer can never be wrong. Emanual, Prinn and all want it both ways. They want to be scientists acting as engineers with no responsibility.

    As for the relevence of the emails; if I provided adequate plans for a structure but deliberately turned in calculations for another project and tried to hide it, I would lose my license and never work as an engineer again. Nobody would excuse me as merely being “human”.
    But for these guys, they think it is merely a wake up call…no big deal, just be a little smarter with your emails.

    They complain of an ignorant public involved in discussions where they have no business. Yet the public shut down the U.S. nuclear industry despite engineers and scientists who claimed they could provide safe nuclear power facilities. That’s the way it works, the public gets a voice in public matters.

    • atb
      Posted Dec 17, 2009 at 3:45 PM | Permalink


  71. Harry Eagar
    Posted Dec 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM | Permalink

    Kenneth Fritsch, hoi polloi and one or two others who commented on Emanuel’s opening statement or suspicions that a plant asked the Exxon question:

    His first 10 minutes were the talking points from Hoggan’s ‘Climate Coverup,’ tobacco industry connections and all. So we can guess who provided the plant.

    DeSmogBlog tactics as usual.

    I was struck by the awkwardness of presentation by so many of the MIT people. They acted as if they had never addressed a classroom before.

  72. Geoff
    Posted May 16, 2010 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

    Interesting front page story today in the Boston Globe, contrasting the positions of Dr. Emanuel and Dr. Lindzen. Both videos are worth watching (see

3 Trackbacks

  1. […] MIT World | H/T: Climate Audit | Discuss: […]

  2. […] what the emails state. This post I want to address and expand a point by Dr. Lindzen. Dr. Lindzen makes a good point in the video linked by Steve. It is about the Prosecutor’s Fallacy(s) seen in the CRU Climategate emails. Dr. […]

  3. […] Also see Emanuel in MIT debate linked from here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Curry Reviews Lindzen and ChoiIce AgesMIT […]

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