Von Storch WSJ Editorial

Online here.

One of the remarkable aspects of Climategate is that the only climate scientists presently speaking out against the Team are people who had previously been at least somewhat visible.

Curry, Von Storch, Zorita, the Pielkes. All had taken their own line vis-a-vis the Team prior to Climategate and have spoken out since Climategate.

My impression (and it’s an impression rather than a survey) is that it’s hard to think of previously silent climate scientists or sympathizers in the “community” who have publicly expressed any disapproval of Climategate conduct (George Monbiot a visible exception) and that the predominant public reaction of the “community” is nothing-to-see-here-move-along (e.g. Gerry North).


  1. Jimchip
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:10 AM | Permalink

    I would add Judith Curry as at least having spoken out since climategate.
    http://curry.eas.gatech.edu/ and

    Perhaps to much of an aside but Pielke, Sr. and Christy disagree with each other as to the implications of warming data. Yet, they can manage to co-author papers in the ‘peer-reviewed’ literature.

    Steve: Did you read the post?? “Curry, Von Storch, Zorita, the Pielkes. ”

    • Jimchip
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:33 PM | Permalink

      Yes I did. I wrote it wrong. I meant it to say “I would add references to Judith Curry”,

      I’ll leave it there except to say she wasn’t as ‘notorious’ as some of the others.

      Thanks, Steve.

  2. ZT
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:16 AM | Permalink

    Thank you – I think this expresses the outrage of scientists very well and points to the way forward – this restores some faith in the field of climatology.

  3. jae
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    He SAID he was an odd individual! 🙂 He makes very good observations.

  4. Joseph
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

    Many individuals are not in a position of authority that is independent or technically strong enough to comment publicly. That does not mean climategate has not opened a much great space for the discussion internally within organizations both scientific and bureaucratic. I know for myself I have found this last month a period of much greater freedom to ask the questions that are being raised by climategate. I have found though that Kuhn’s paradigm and paradigm shift take a long time due to the intellectual and personal investment so many have in the current paradigm.

    My sense is that only 5% – 10% of most organizational staff have actually read any of the climategate material and only 30%-40% are even aware of the commercial media’s interpretative articles.

    It would be interesting for a sociologist to use Kuhn’s paradigm to see how quickly this issue will disseminate through government and scientific establishments in terms of policy. My sense is given the speed of change we have observed already it is conceivable a similar discussion to this a year from now might already see some significant changes in funding priorities. Especially given the budget deficits faced across the Western World.

  5. Kate
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:31 AM | Permalink

    A lucid editorial here by a “progressive” publication.


    • DCC
      Posted Jan 3, 2010 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

      “Lucid” editorials by Alexander Cockburn are commonplace. Unfortunately, they are also lunatic. The man is a complete political idiot. I’ve read his nonsense for about 30 years. He was the WSJ’s pet Communist for a while. I soon realized that they published his ravings because they were so outrageous that he was a parody of what was wrong with the Left.

      His editorial parrots the claim that global warming violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. What a surprise, at this late date, to find such a “clinching” argument! The paper he cites, “Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics,” is total nonsense. The Second Law, you will recall, says that a cold body cannot warm a warmer body. Heat flows the other way.

      The CO2 in the atmosphere does not “warm” the earth like a heat pump. Rather, it slows the re-radiation of the Sun’s heat back into space. Heat continues to flow the proper direction, just a bit slower.

      So, the limited effect of CO2 warming may well exist – it violates no physical laws. The problem is that the effect is miniscule compared to all the other variables that affect climate.

  6. stan
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    When did societies decide on that 2 degree number? And what pre-industrial temperature did we decide to use as the base? And how exactly does he know that in the future temperatures are going to rise and precipitation change?

    I find him guilty of false equivalence. Where are the skeptical scientists who have engaged in the things he faults the alarmist scientists for doing? Comparing skeptical non-scientists with alarmist scientists ain’t kosher.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:01 PM | Permalink

      Myself, I don’t recaall a plebiscite on the 2°C number. Anyone?

      • Max
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:46 AM | Permalink


      • cgh
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 9:26 AM | Permalink


      • KlausB
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

        agreed. Additionally, does it include not only +2°C, but -2°C too.
        And more, where is the lower temperature limit mentioned, when we need
        to add OCO, in case it’s getting too cold.
        OK, somehow that was sarcasm-mode on.

        Merry Christmas to all of you.

    • Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:06 PM | Permalink

      And how was the 2 degree number costed against the effect on other priorities. When Lomborg points this out he is codemved by ehy climategate team.

      This may not be strictly complaint to blog polcie but what we have here is a failure of politics and politicians not of science and scientists.

    • Patrick M.
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

      And was this 2 degrees C number arrived at under the influence of the Team’s political actions?

    • Chris D.
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:35 PM | Permalink

      Jo Nova blogged on this:

  7. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:35 AM | Permalink

    I also have seen no visible sign of any re-alignment. What we are seeing is more vocal skepticism amongst the non-climate scientists.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:27 PM | Permalink

      Bender, that is so spot on. It causes me concern that more have not spoken out. Should we be gently bringing material to those many learned societies who made groupthink AGW support statements?

      • Mike Lorrey
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:27 AM | Permalink

        piling on

    • Juan
      Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 9:43 PM | Permalink

      I agree.

  8. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:38 AM | Permalink

    OTOH Von Storch writing in WSJ is a significant development. He uses the word “cartel”. He waffles on whether it was a hack or leak. So he’s clearly not swallowed the RC rhetoric.

    • Josh Keeler
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:47 AM | Permalink

      Do you think his views were at all tempered by the desire to get through to the generally conservative readership of the WSJ? It seemed in a few places that he was trying to remain credible to people on both sides of the debate by acknowledging the views of each, but subtly endorsing the consensus view that the bulk of the science is sound, not in question, and this doesn’t provide reasons to question the current direction of policies or the climate science paradigm.

      Or that could just be his method of trying to remain neutral and above the ideology of others.

      His editorial is enormously more professional and reasonable than Mann’s use of Sarah Palin to prove his dubious points.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM | Permalink

        His views are tempered by many things. Desire for neutrality, objectivity, credibility, healing. But they also seem to be colored by an underlying assumption that the models can’t be that far off. I won’t speculate any further than that for risk of putting words in his mouth. Just to say: I would welcome his contribution to a debate involving Lindzen, Schaffer, Schmidt, Curry, Weaver, Trenberth. I would welcome him to discuss at CA what role, if any, blind faith plays in his acceptance of the GCMs as the basis for estimates of GHG-related climate sensitivity.

      • Chris
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

        I didn’t find his endorsement of the “consensus view” at all subtle. He criticized the team a bit, even refuting on of their major talking point dismissals, although very briefly.

        Whether he was forced out as an editor or not seems irrelevant to me, but he finds enough significance there with respect to the skeptics who speculated on that to lump them in as “kin” to the alarmists. I assume he had other reasons as well, but I find this an incredibly shallow and unsupported argument, much like I find the “core of the knowledge” on AGW. If the MWP was as warm as today, and/or the the 1930s to early 1940s were as warm as today the skeptics have been right on the money all along.

        If the MWP and/or earlier periods in the earth’s history were actually warmer than today then the vast majority of skeptical criticism of the alarmists is appropriate and Von Storch’s scientific position is no more tenable than that of the team.

        I will concur however, that his tone and delivery are much more professional than Mann.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 12:36 PM | Permalink

          “If the MWP and/or earlier periods in the earth’s history were actually warmer than today …”
          What do you mean: “if”?

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 5:55 AM | Permalink

          Am I missing something? Although I was under the impression that at least many thousand years ago it was as warm as today (since in general it was said that the planet was cooling except in the recent past), it seems that in this graph, all average temperatures (thick black line) are lower than the 2004 level.

        • Dave Dardinger
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 9:27 AM | Permalink

          The problem with the sort of graph Bender linked to is that even if it’s correct, it’s so filtered that there’s no sense in comparing the “average” line with a particular modern temperature (again, even if it’s correct). You can see by the components making up the average line that there are periods where the average from a particular reconstruction is higher than present temperatures. But these reconstructions are in turn averages from actual readings or modeling results. Thus a reconstruction with the granularity of our instrumental records would have huge excursions from the mean. That makes the remark that they have about the 2004 point a lie but true at the same time. It’s an attempt to get the unwary observer to draw a wrong conclusion. You seem to be both wary of the graph and drawing the desired conclusion in some sense.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 11:09 AM | Permalink

          If Norbert wants to compare one year to one millenium, let him. It helps to expose his folly and bias. (Notice there’s so confidence intervals on the wikipedia graph?)

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 4:07 PM | Permalink

          Oh, I’m allowed to expose my “folly and bias”? If with “confidence intervals” you mean the divergence in the various records, I did notice that. Nevertheless, a) all averages shown are lower, and b) contrary to what your statement implied, there does seems to be an “if” here:

          Further, while 2004 appears warmer than any other time in the long-term average, and hence might be a sign of global warming, it should also be noted that the 2004 measurement is from a single year (actually the fourth highest on record, see Image:Short Instrumental Temperature Record.png for comparison). It is impossible to know whether similarly large short-term temperature fluctuations may have occurred at other times, but are unresolved by the available resolution. The next 150 years will determine whether the long-term average centered on the present appears anomalous with respect to this plot.

        • DCC
          Posted Jan 3, 2010 at 3:25 PM | Permalink

          Oops, William Connolley missed one! Paging William Connolley!

        • bender
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 12:41 PM | Permalink

          Chris, if you could tell me where you got your assumption from, that today might possibly be warmer than the Holocene Thermal Maximum, I think we could learn from that. We hear a lot from the warmist side about misinformation from the “denialosphere”. Is it possible the warmists are in an equal state of denial – about how warm the climate used to be? Curious.

  9. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    Take, for instance, the counsel that then-Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen gave to scientists at a climate change conference in March, as transcribed by Environmental Research Letters: “I would give you the piece of advice, not to provide us with too many moving targets, because it is already a very, very complicated process. And I need your assistance to push this process in the right direction, and in that respect, I need fixed targets and certain figures, and not too many considerations on uncertainty and risk and things like that.”

    Whereupon policymaker asks scientists to drop their scientific ways and ignore uncertainty, just to simplify policymaker’s job. Maybe policymaker whould get his big boy pants on and cope with the uncertainty, which is not imaginary, but real. That’s what the “precautionary principle” is supposed to allow. Maybe policymaker should get some guts and start advocating precaution in the face of uncertainty, instead of asking scientists to lie.

  10. bender
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    Societies have decided they want to limit the stress so that temperatures rise no further than the politically produced number of two degrees Centigrade, relative to pre-industrial conditions. Fine. For this goal, it does not matter whether the sea level will rise 50 cm or 150 cm by the end of this century, or if hurricanes do or do not become significantly more severe. These are relevant scientific issues, with great importance for the design of adaptive strategies—but not particularly relevant to the political task of coming to an effective agreement on reducing emissions.

    This is arguable. And I predict R Pielke Jr will argue it.

  11. Myranda
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:23 PM | Permalink

    I wonder if it’s still too early for many people to make public statements. They may still be waiting to see if this is going to gain traction. They may be feeling that if they speak out too soon and the world then decides to retreat into the pre-climategate lair, then they’ve blown it as far as career prospects go.

    I’m not involved in anything climate-related myself, but I’m still nervous about going public with my views. I could see that having a negative effect on my work, particularly as a key player in my field has made donations of their time – not just money – to a high-profile environmental group.

    As I see it, the people Steve M is describing have nothing to lose, because they are already “out”.

    • Joseph
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:31 PM | Permalink

      Sadly, I think Myranda you have nailed the problem for many of us. Professional cowardice.

      • Susann
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:49 PM | Permalink

        Expecting people to come out and condemn their colleagues in such a politicized environment is just unrealistic and naive. Look at the response Dr. Curry got as described in her post. snip

        • Alvin
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

          There is grant money to be protected and no one wants to upset the gravy train.

    • Rich
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:47 PM | Permalink

      It takes a lot of guts to speak out against your professional colleagues, especially publicly, when you still have to work with them every day. Imagine what it must be like to have your conscience nagging at you while knowing you could be called names, vilified in the press, blacklisted or worse for challenging the orthodoxy.

      For me it’s not so bad, because I can always find engineering work elsewhere, but a scientist always has his or her career and professional reputation on the line. Some companies I’ve worked for, and many universities, have a policy that allows one to submit ethics complaints anonymously for this very reason.

      I became aware of an ethics violation once, but going public was out of the question as it would have destroyed the company I was working for and caused a lot of collateral damage. I finally took it to my supervisor, and together we convinced management to deal with the problem, but the whole business was very uncomfortable for everyone involved and left a bad taste in my mouth to this day.

      Notifying management is not an option when management is a part of the problem, especially if they are professionally invested in endorsing a particular belief system. If I found myself in the situation, I know I would face an extremely difficult choice. In fact, I’d probably end up leaking the e-mails rather than going public.

    • eddieo
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:03 PM | Permalink

      I must admit to a certain amount of cowardice when asked to speak up for the sceptic point of view. I am not a climatologist but a physicist and so I was wary of engaging in open debate until I was sure of my AGW facts. Steve and Ross McK and various other blog contributors have guided me to position where I do now feel confident enough to challenge the myriad of academics in my institute who pay lip service to AGW. I usually find that their own beliefs are not that deeply held as they are not climatologists and have not studied the “evidence” in detail. If we get the evidence in front of scientists they will listen if they are in any way inquisitive.

    • Chris
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:01 PM | Permalink


      Back on “Earth Day” in 2007 (April 22) the “Environmental Engineer” at my previous company sent out an e-mail to educate everyone in the company about reducing our “carbon footprint”. I did a Reply All with a link to the Great Global Warming Swindle video http://motls.blogspot.com/2007/03/great-global-warming-swindle.html. I added just a few brief sentences to hit the highlights.

      I got many private congratulations via e-mail, but I also received an e-mail from the VP who headed up the HR department that my e-mail probably wasn’t having the effect that I intended. I took this as doublespeak for “you ruffled some feathers”. I understand your caution but at some point you have to speak your mind.

  12. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    Here is a bit of backfill on the Von Storch article.

    The 2003 Climate Research paper in question is Soon / Baliunus 2003. Steve M. had written this post, which touched on the merits of the paper. In a response to a post at RealClimate, I recently analyzed the arguments against the paper and found them wanting. Not being an official Climatologist, I reserve the right be absolutely wrong in my analysis, but I though the criticism from the Team was unjustified, as the paper was a meta-study, a survey of multiple papers, and not an intensive study requiring the type of methodological detail Mann and the gang demanded.

    PS. Both Steve and I independently caught Mann et. al. scolding S / B for breaking rules they themselves go on to break.

    • Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

      Oops. Steve’s post is here.

    • Allan M R MacRae
      Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 10:57 PM | Permalink

      Agree Sonic.


      One thing I’ve found in business is that when you uncover corruption, it does not get better when you dig deeper – it gets much worse.

      On a brighter note, best regards to all for the Holidays!

      – Allan

  13. jae
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

    How are we going to “dial in” a 2 degree change. Limit CO2 to 1/3 of a “doubling” = 1/6? Might we reach a “tipping point” before we get to 2 C?

    What a bunch of bozos.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

      1/3*2 = 2/3

  14. MIchael Smith
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

    What I object to is this assertion by von Storch:

    “Elevated greenhouse gas concentrations have led, and will continue to lead, to changing weather conditions (climate), in particular to warmer temperatures and changing precipitation. Such a change causes stress for societies and ecosystems. More emissions mean more stress, fewer emissions less.”

    On what basis does he automatically equate ANY heating with “stress”?

    I agree with something Prof. Lindzen said on this issue in a WSJ article on Nov. 30:

    “What does all this (Climategate) have to do with climate catastrophe? The answer brings us to a scandal that is, in my opinion, considerably greater than that implied in the hacked emails from the Climate Research Unit (though perhaps not as bad as their destruction of raw data): namely the suggestion that the very existence of warming or of the greenhouse effect is tantamount to catastrophe. This is the grossest of ‘bait and switch’ scams. It is only such a scam that lends importance to the machinations in the emails designed to nudge temperatures a few tenths of a degree.”

    Steve: please do not coat-rack this editorial into an attempt to debate AGW from first principles in 6 sentences.

  15. DocMartyn
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    If one were an enterprising journalist one would pop down the pub and interview the Ph.D. students and the post-Doc’s; they know EVERYTHING and are anyone’s for a Larger-top.

  16. Clif C
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:50 PM | Permalink

    In some cases they seem to be conflicted.
    From the National Geographic Blog:
    “Climate researchers not implicated by the emails say some messages seem to show researchers engaging in unseemly behavior; attempting to exclude findings that appeared to contradict a simple message about a warming world. That’s ‘very dangerous,’ says Jørgen Peder Steffensen, an ice core researcher at the University of Copenhagen, who says skepticism and doubt are the foundation of scientific research. He says behavior like that uncovered in the emails is, ‘compromising the nature of science.'”
    Yet he’s later quoted in the same article as saying: “It looks like a planned attack to bring the IPCC process into doubt.”

    • Clif C
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 12:51 PM | Permalink

      oops, at:

      • Syl
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

        He`s admiting dirty tricks coming from both sides.

      • Eric Rasmusen
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 12:43 AM | Permalink

        That National Geographic article is whitewash. I don’t see it as giving any importance to the emails at all.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:29 PM | Permalink

      It looks like a planned attack to bring the IPCC process into doubt

      FTR Steve M is on record as supporting the structure and principles of the IPCC process. So much for the conspiracy theory that he is part of a “planned attack” on IPCC process. Others, maybe. Who knows.

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

        “Others, maybe?”

        did everyone miss that the only documented planned attack on the IPCC process is from Jones, et al? Or maybe I misread the emails?

  17. P Gosselin
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    I’m surprised von Storch is going as far as he is with his dissent. When it comes to climate-change, Germany is very dissent-hostile. Maybe von Storch has found some political cover.
    It really is a big risk for researchers in Germany to open their mouths against climate change dogma.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:04 PM | Permalink

      He accepts 2°C and the need for action, and he does not share his reasoning. This is science?

      • Morgan
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:26 PM | Permalink

        I read him here as asserting that policy and science are separate (a point he makes elsewhere, too). I don’t think he’s saying that 2 degrees is the right target or that action must be taken, but that such value judgments are not his professional purview.

  18. Dave L.
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    I am a subscriber to the WSJ, and I wrote the following “comment” in response to von Storch’s editorial:
    Dr. von Storch,

    (No snipping in the WSJ comments.)

    Steve: snipping here though as this breaches various blog policies.

  19. P Gosselin
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:10 PM | Permalink

    Michael Smith,
    I always viewed von Storch as one sitting on the fence. I don’t know if he says what he says because he’s sincere, or if he just does it to cover his behind. Funding climate can change very quickly – that’s sure.

  20. John Diffenthal
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:27 PM | Permalink

    Steve, You say that the silence from other client scientists has been deafening. How about Eduardo Zorita? He was mentioned on Anthony Watts’ site as blogging that the CRU crew should be banned from the IPCC process.

    • Patrick M.
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:34 PM | Permalink

      Zorita is mentioned above.

  21. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:36 PM | Permalink

    There are points which Hans von Storch makes (warming = stress for the environment) which are debatable.
    However, from this editorial I get the impression that one could debate these points with him, without ending in slanging matches.
    These are the debates we need – and it would be a good idea not to limit participants to climatologists exclusively.

    My objection to AGW, from the start, has been that the Team simply never got out of their offices and computer rooms, nor do they seem to have any interest in evidence from other fields such as History, Archaeology, Palaeontology.

    Thus, while not agreeing with Mr von Storch, I find his opinion piece actually rather refreshing.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:41 PM | Permalink

      the Team simply never got out of their offices and computer rooms

      My complaint is they never got formal statistical training. They never fell out of love with their artesanal methods. Look at the deficiency this creates, evidenced in the shallowness of Jones’s reviews. That’s what the Wegman report was all about. THESE GUYS DO NOT HAVE THE TRAINING REQUIRED TO REVIEW AUFFHAMMER – yet they reject it.

      • Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:35 PM | Permalink

        Which is especially damning in view of von Storch’s view that climatology is the study of the statistics of climate …

        The Team and their activities are indeed showing more and more parallels to Lysenkoism under Stalin.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:40 PM | Permalink

          climatology is statistical meteorology

        • Keith W.
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

          Or, as I said on another blog, climatology is actuarial tables for weather.

      • harold
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:49 PM | Permalink

        I don’t think formal statistical training is necessarily the answer here. Empirical model building using happenstance data with low signal to noise ratios really needs a very experienced statistician. If they don’t have an experienced statistician available, they can hire one to do the analysis.

        Based on what is disclosed in the literature, I have built more models (both physics based and empirical) than any of the researchers. I wouldn’t consider doing this type of analysis and model building without a very good statistician – there’s too much risk of getting a result that doesn’t happen to be the right result.

  22. LMB
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    Von Storch wrote:

    “We need to repair the damage, and heal the public’s new mistrust of the workings of climate science. True, we are in a difficult situation: Climate science is in an abnormal situation, hounded by manifest political and economic interests of different sorts, and the uncertainties in our work are large and unavoidable. Then this abnormal brew forms, with scientists acting as politicians and politicians posturing as scientists.”

    Good line. So true.

    Nathan Myhrvold made a similar comment on Sunday with Fareed Zakaria GPS. He said scientists should now go “the extra mile” toward transparency.

    ZAKARIA: Were you surprised by the whole “climategate” controversy? Is it a tempest in a teapot? What was your reaction to it?

    MYHRVOLD: I don’t know that it was a conspiracy. I don’t know that there was anything wrong done. But it sure as hell is a blow to how people view the reliability of the field. And what it’s going to mean is that climate scientists everywhere, I think, are going to have to approach this reproducible results thing. They’re going to have to go the extra mile to be transparent, because the world’s a little bit dubious now.”


    Respect to Von Storch for speaking out. Thank you, sir.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:43 PM | Permalink

      I don’t know that there was anything wrong done.

      Dear Dr. Myhrvold,
      Hiding the decline was wrong.

      • Mike Lorrey
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:36 AM | Permalink

        Myrvold was CYA. I Microsoft executive isn’t the best person to judge right and wrong.

    • mikep
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:51 PM | Permalink

      Nor teh training to review S09, let alone write it properly.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:56 PM | Permalink

        Well, exactly. And the list goes on. How many papers has the team reviewed since 1998?

  23. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:47 PM | Permalink

    A Story of Conversion is yesterday’s WUWT. Not top personnel though. But there is a lot of simmering and bubbling lower down, people realizing since ClimateGate that they’ve been force-fed pork pies by the strong arm of the Team; people feeling degrees freer to speak up; people motivated to do the corrective research; etc. The corruption / blindness seems to be like a crust right at the top, right through all the journals, science organizations, and political organizations. It will take time for that crust to crack up, for the deep, systemic reform needed, and for the usurpers of Science to be superceded. The CRUtape Letters are working like a slow-release – with our help.

    • Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:42 PM | Permalink

      Like the thawing of a frozen river …
      I am hoping to see more scientists coming forward – not in the sense of ‘mea culpa’, but in the sense of revisiting their work and showing where these manipulated data have led them down the wrong path.
      There must be quite a lot of them, in the second and third echelon.
      That is another reason I find this whole thing unforgivable: the malevolent effect the Team has had on other, probably younger, scientists, and their careers, not to mention students and postgrads.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:43 PM | Permalink

        Don’t hold your breath. There will be much clinging to models.

        • Frank
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 1:11 AM | Permalink


      • harold
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

        What would be the motivation for changing their ways? From what I can gather at realclimate and other sources, the climate science group as a whole don’t have much heart burn over the recent revelations from a science point of view. The position seems to be that there was minimal or no harm done, and the science is still right, so it has no real effect. They’re terribly embarrassed, that’s all.

        Basically, they see it as a public impression issue of little substance.

        Anyone think that the US government is going to step in and establish de facto standards for funded research by writing in “best practices” requirements into the contracts?

    • deadwood
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

      Lucy, I hope you are right, but I am still somewhat disappointed to see so few climate scientists outside of the team speak out.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

        As I suggested four years ago: audit the GCMs. It’s the life raft.

        • RB
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:09 PM | Permalink

          Depending on the objective, that may or may not be hard. Gavin Schmidt himself says that no one model is better than the other, but in aggregate, they come close to measurements.

        • Tolz
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

          I think GCMs should be the focus of this blog now.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:31 PM | Permalink

          It’s Steve’s blog and he’s not interested in GCMs. Whereas Dan Hughes is. And so is lucia, to some degree.

        • Rich
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

          Are there any efforts underway, here or elsewhere, to do this? I am a software engineer, and I’d like to help.

        • Steve Milesworthy
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 4:35 AM | Permalink

          Steve Easterbrook does GCM audits from a software engineering angle.


        • bender
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 9:28 AM | Permalink

          Is the entire blog this shallow?
          stupid hockey stick remark:
          What a lightweight.

          Steve: Climategate is lifting traffic for all blogs. Surely we must take our hats off to Easterbrook’s achievement in getting 1500 hits in a week. 🙂

        • bender
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 4:36 PM | Permalink

          Does Easterbrook REALLY think that what climatology needs is better software? Is that what CRU was lacking: fancy software? Maybe they just should have hired a permanent programmer to provide the continuity that plagued poor Harry? I think the cliamtegate emails teach us a lot about what ISN’T needed in climatology. For what IS needed, I would frankly just ask Harry.

        • Dominic
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:26 PM | Permalink

          Yes. I looked at his blog. He is concerned about things like code design and process. He is not auditing the current GCMs in any way. Getting the GCMs right is 99% about the physics and the rest is about the implementation and use of fast, stable and accurate numerical routines.

          Out of curiosity I could be interested to look at the GCMs. I have even downloaded and skimmed Gavin’s Model E code (must say that despite Gavin’s snarkiness, I do commend the fact that he has put out his source code though I have no idea if many people have really gone through it). Problem is that even if all the code is free of bugs and heroic adjustments, I am not sure that the actual physics of the models is correct in all the important places.

          Looking at the code makes me think that if the global warming scare had taken off 80 years ago, we would have come up with more parsimonious and possibly more macroscopic models of the solar/ocean/land/atmosphere interactions which would give us more intuition and possibly a better understanding of the system as a whole. With computers, there is a tendency to model everything that the CPU can handle and complexity reigns at the expense of simplification. Also, with so many inputs and features these GCMs appear like black boxes to me.

          I also have the impression from looking at the code that certain things are modelled to high precision when at the same time so little is known and understood about the interaction with biomass etc… This seems crazy to me given that the error in the output will always be greater than the error of the weakest step.

          So while I am curious to dig into the code, I am not sure I have the interest to stick at it. Would be curious to know what others think as these are really impressions rather than conclusions.

        • anna v
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

          E.M.Smith has tackled the programming involved in getting the global temperature:


          You might get in touch with him.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 9:15 AM | Permalink

          Sorry, but if the effort does not center on the nonlinear thermodynamics of moist convection, then it’s just window dressing.

        • Rich
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

          Thanks for the links, they are just what I was looking for.

        • philh
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

          Bender: Who could do it and how would one go about auditing the GCMs? Is there enough information available to do this? Are you saying that the existing GCMs do not consider the nonlinear thermodynamics of moist convection at all? Or that they are doing it incorrectly? Seems to me that in the first instance it is not an audit that is needed, but a new GCM. Do we know enough, in the second instance, about what they put in the box to audit it at all?

  24. Henry
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 1:49 PM | Permalink

    There was the Marcel Crok article in the February 2005 Natuurwetenschap & Technie

    A good starting point for our story seemed to be a critical article in Science by the German scientist Hans von Storch on Mann’s hockey stick. When I asked him how difficult it was to get it accepted, he said: “This time it was easy, because for once we didn’t have Mann as a referee.”

  25. Jimchip
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:13 PM | Permalink

    Given your refs, sonicfrog, eastangliaemails has more than one comment about Soon and Baliunas: here’s one but [caution] it is political although I’m trying to stay on topic:


    I like review articles. Good review articles include references so that one can decide. I believe that terms like ‘demolished’ go too far in describing, accurately, any criticisms.

  26. Chris S
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    Some of those that spoke out could see that this wasn’t just going to conveniently go away. Others have been sat on the fence for a long time now. With more revelations, more will come forward.

    WRT Monbiot, I read his articles every day. Not because I respect what he says, but because he represents an extreme. He shows just how misguided and wrong you can be, both politically and scientifically.
    His criticisms were pure damage limitation. Although his words sounded harsh out of context, his article also contained a lengthy and sarcastic attack on those who believe there is any co-ordinated green agenda.
    He’s a smart guy. He’ll condemn CRU e-mails in an interview, then deftly move on to say they’re irrelevant.
    To understand the shallow nature of his condemnations, you’ll need to read a number of his articles.
    His latest offering re COP15 demonstrates his dramatism, and moved me to tears (literally):

    Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest. It was nice knowing you

    I’m sure if he knew how widely his comments re Climategate would have been repeated, he’d have chosen his words more carefully.

  27. Stuart Harmon
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:38 PM | Permalink

    @ Steve McIntyre
    “to think of previously silent climate scientists or sympathizers in the “community” who have publicly expressed any disapproval of Climategate conduct”

    The problem for any climate scientist who now stands out is the response they would get which would be “why did you not raise this before”

    I think there is also a danger here from many of us of tarring all climate scientists with the same brush. Graduates in say 2000 would have been subjected to an orthodoxy which has been overwhelming, they would now be in their early thirties and if still in the field using papers in their work which had been peer reviewed and accepted.

    So time to go. So thank you Sir for your work and patience.

    One Christmas was so much like another, in those years around the sea-town corner now and out of all sound except the distant speaking of the voices I sometimes hear a moment before sleep, that I can never remember whether it snowed for six days and six nights when I was twelve or whether it snowed for twelve days and twelve nights when I was six.

    By Dylan Thomas

    Nadolig Llawen

    • Raven
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

      I think it is safe to assume that young climate scientists are true believers. Young scientists inclined to be sceptical would likely choose another field.

  28. andy
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 2:53 PM | Permalink

    Silence of scientists may indicate as well that the same will continue, Climategate or not. Critical comment, and one may find his/her articles having tough reviews.

  29. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

    Von Storch, while doing a good job on pointing to the problem of mixing advocacy and science, falls down, in my view, by grouping the (erroneous and extreme) reactions on AGW to “skeptics” and “warmists” camps and further generalizing the effects of AGW as “all bad”.

    When grouping the “neutrals”, the Pielkes are certainly in a different camp than a Von Storch and a Curry – as evidenced by exchanges between Pielke Jr. and Curry. I also have problems with the advocacy from some of the neutrals.

    Actually I agree with Jim Hansen that cap and trade will be a disaster.

  30. willis Eschenbach
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:32 PM | Permalink

    The problem I have is that all of these scientists, Von Storch included, say that Climategate is just scientists behaving badly, but the underlying science is solid. For example, Von Storch says:

    But the core of the knowledge about man-made climate change is simple and hard to contest. Elevated greenhouse gas concentrations have led, and will continue to lead, to changing weather conditions (climate), in particular to warmer temperatures and changing precipitation.

    BZZZZT!! Assumes facts not in evidence, m’lud.

    I’m sorry, but that is exactly what is in question, whether CO2 is or is not leading to changing climate. We don’t know that, and we don’t even have any evidence that it is so, despite Von Storch’s soothing platitudes. It may be true … but it certainly is not established or “hard to contest” as Von Storch blithely claims. It is hard to prove, not hard to contest.

    So I don’t see this as Von Storch admitting a damn thing. He is merely using Climategate as an excuse to keep pushing his agenda. Sorry, but that doesn’t impress me in the slightest. He is cleverly using his position to get back at those who he feels have wronged him, while at the same time pushing the same tired party line that “CO2 done it!”. Color me unimpressed.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:38 PM | Permalink

      Have to agree, Willis. That being said, I am totally prepared to be impressed IF he can dazzle me with his mastery of the GCM literature. How anout it Dr. Von Storch? Care to debate Lindzen & Schaffer & Schmidt & Trenberth & Curry & Weaver?

    • joshua corning
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:14 PM | Permalink

      He is merely using Climategate as an excuse to keep pushing his agenda.

      Well his agenda seems to be to prove AGW through stringent use of the scientific method. The scientific method of course requiring open access to data and methodology for replication.

      This in my opinion would be a vast improvement to the current state.

    • Eric
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:21 PM | Permalink

      Good articulation of a very important epistemological point that seems to be lost on many (though not lost on many here):

      “… but it certainly is not established or “hard to contest” as Von Storch blithely claims. It is hard to prove, not hard to contest.”

      AGW: Hard to prove, not hard to contest.

      perfect for t-shirts and coffee mugs.

    • jae
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:29 PM | Permalink

      blog policy

    • Frank
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:24 AM | Permalink

      snip – there is no purpose trying to prove or disprove AGW in a few sentences and editorially I’ve taken a position to snip such posts.

    • mondo
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

      An anonymous poster over at DK challenged a HVS statement in the “Myles Allen and Hans von Storch in Nature on Climategate thread” as follows:

      “You say: ‘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.’

      I might be a bit thick, but would you be so kind as to explain HOW the thermometer record “provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity”.

      I assume that you can establish a correlation between temperature and human ‘activity’. However, correlation is NOT causation.

      Am I missing something????”

      A second anonymous poster responded as follows:

      “The answer is clearly evident. That is, delta UHI effects have been the main contributor to warming, and in that sense the thermometer record provides the main evidence that this is thanks to human activity.

      This point is made not just in a cheeky fashion. Numerous studies are now emerging that demonstrate the point quite well – the Russian record for example.”

      HVS asked for time to respond to this question as follows:

      “– I will come back to this; the idea is to post the “long version” of the nature-online piece here – it explains the detection and attribution concept; to do so Myles and I have to iterate the text a bit back and forth (we did not find the “original”long version), so that we both agree (on what we agree and what we do not agree). A little patience, please. Myles had small kids, and X-mas is coming closer. :-)”

      It will be interesting indeed to see how they respond to this question.

  31. Bruce Cunningham
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:33 PM | Permalink

    Dr. von Storch

    I salute you for admitting several points in your article, that other climate scientists don’t have the integrity to admit. You also make several good points, but I want to ask you some questions.

    1)You stated the following…

    “But the core of the knowledge about man-made climate change is simple and hard to contest. Elevated greenhouse gas concentrations have led, and will continue to lead, to changing weather conditions (climate), in particular to warmer temperatures and changing precipitation”

    How do you know this?

    2) You also stated the following…

    “Elevated greenhouse gas concentrations have led, and will continue to lead, to changing weather conditions (climate), in particular to warmer temperatures and changing precipitation. Such a change causes stress for societies and ecosystems. More emissions mean more stress, fewer emissions less.”

    Being as the MWP caused an increase in agricultural output, and made life in Europe and Greenland more liveable, why do you state as if it is fact that higher temps cause stress for societies?

    • RB
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

      “Being as the MWP caused an increase in agricultural output, and made life in Europe and Greenland more liveable, why do you state as if it is fact that higher temps cause stress for societies?”
      Let’s be charitable to Dr. von Storch. The Kyoto protocol has always acknowledged the unevenness of the impact.

      Although regional and local effects may differ widely, a general reduction is expected in potential crop yields in most tropical and sub-tropical regions. Mid-contintental areas — such as the United States’ “grain belt” and vast areas of Asia — are likely to dry. Where dryland agriculture relies solely on rain, as in sub-Saharan Africa, yields would decrease dramatically even with minimal increases in temperature. Such changes could cause disruptions in food supply in a world is already afflicted with food shortages and famines.

      • Bruce Cunningham
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:27 PM | Permalink


      • Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:34 PM | Permalink

        “Be kind to Dr von Storch”…

        Not with Kyoto. von Storch is rightly upholding the use of scientific method. But this is also a challenge to reflect back to him, that all belief-type acceptance of Kyoto’s pronouncements, quoted here, should be subjected to scrutiny for verifiability. I don’t find much of that verifiability, just using my eyes. Sahel has increased its greenness with the increasing temperature / CO2. The temperature rise predictions are seriously in doubt. Ice records show that CO2 always follows temperature and there is no evidence of the reverse, past or present.

        Nowhere is trust and belief in any of the pillars of AGW or Kyoto the practice of Scientific Method. The whole lot needs audit.

        • RB
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 10:27 AM | Permalink

          “Ice records show that CO2 always follows temperature and there is no evidence of the reverse, past or present. ”
          What exactly is the point of this statement when scientists do not dispute this ?

        • Greg F
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 11:10 AM | Permalink


        • RB
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:00 PM | Permalink

          snip – first principles in one paragraph

    • RB
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:54 PM | Permalink

      More here.

      * Crop yield is projected to increase in temperate regions for a local mean temperature rise of 1-3 °C, and then decrease beyond that in some regions.
      * In tropical areas, crop yield is projected to decrease, even with relatively modest rises of 1-2 °C in local temperature, increasing the risk of hunger.
      * Increases in the frequency of droughts and floods are projected to affect local crop production negatively, especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes.

      • RB
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

        My original statement was in objection to Mr. Cunningham’s claim that climate scientisticians and Dr. von Storch are not aware of the unevenness of the impact, like him.

        • RB
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:23 PM | Permalink


        • WHR
          Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:32 PM | Permalink


      • Greg F
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 12:38 PM | Permalink

        Crop yield is projected to …

        A computer said so, so it must be true.

  32. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    von Storch: “we are in a difficult situation: Climate science is in an abnormal situation, hounded by manifest political and economic interests of different sorts,…

    von Storch is being professionally self-serving here. Climate scientists, most notably Jim Hansen, but also many others, have actively sought out political forums to state policy relevant certainties about AGW and its disastrous regional fallout. They hijacked the IPCC and biased its policy statements to reflect their certainties, and impose them internationally.

    These certainties, carrying the weight of prominent scientific authority, were seized by environmental NGOs and propagandized into scare stores for the public and used as lobbying pry-bars to influence legislation in halls of government. I don’t recall the policy-advocating climate scientists protesting the political exploitation of their statements.

    And apart from notably ethical scientists like Richard Lindzen, Tim Ball, Tad Murtha, Roy Spencer, Chris Essex, and others (we all know them), I saw no organized (or spontaneous and unorganized) effort of climate scientists to protest the abuse of their field and the slandering of their colleagues.

    Climate science is in a fix of its own making. von Storch can bemoan the fix, but the problem has arisen in part because of his history of eloquent silence.

    I’d like to reiterate here a point made on Anthony’s site, that Marcel Crok spoke out with his ‘Popes of Science,’ article, available on Ross’ site here, four years ago. If anyone had cared to follow up, or if any climate scientists had used Crok’s article as the means to demand some investigation and restoration of integrity, climate science would not be tarred with the shame it carries today. Crok’s article was accurate and prophetic. IMO, he deserves a Pulitzer.

    One hopes that the example of those who did speak out will eventually lift the shame from science, by showing that integrity remained in the field. But the counter example of the hoards that did not speak out, and by their silence let integrity be almost driven away, will be a heavy burden.

    • MrPete
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:43 AM | Permalink

      Very well said.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 8:59 AM | Permalink

        No one is going to defend the integrity of scientific process until there is some concrete sign the GCMs are wrong. No one wants to be a branded a “planet-hating denialist”.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 4:37 PM | Permalink

          GCMs have been known to be unreliable for years. They fail perfect model tests. Everyone in the field must know that. The response has been to push the models anyway, and to interpret results in terms of CO2-induced warming. Right, Judith?

          Likewise, we’ve all seen the response to Demetris Koutsoyiannis’ two papers showing that GCMs signally failed to predict temperature and precipitation history world wide. RC speciously criticized his work, and climate science has carried on as before, without comment or adjustment. Scare stories continue.

          It’s not for good reason that the break has come with the political fallout from the CRU hack. Climate science has become political science.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:12 PM | Permalink

          It’s only fair to mention the pro-GCM rhetoric of ZealClimate regular Pope Pardon Paul something-or-other:

  33. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:43 PM | Permalink

    hordes 🙂

  34. dave
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:44 PM | Permalink

    “Elevated greenhouse gas concentrations have led, and will continue to lead, to changing weather conditions (climate),”

    I’d love to see the proof for that statement. Of course, there is none. And the man pretending to be scientific offers none.”

  35. Norbert
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

    I agree with much of what Von Storch writes about the openness of science, however, when it comes to providing a report for politicians to act upon, someone must all put it together and evaluate in summary. It doesn’t help to include (apparently minority) non-climate-scientist views as if they were siblings, when “they” claim all is rubbish in detail and sum. And then point at one of those discussions where everything is disputed back and forth?

    That won’t allow politicians to do anything (which some claim is the goal of “the skeptics”).

    I think it has to be (for good or bad, so to speak) the leading scientists in the field who provide a summary evaluation. Any problem with that would have to be addressed *before* it comes to this point (and afterwards).

    That’s, I think, the part which Von Storch seems to be missing (unless I missed something).

    • Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

      however, when it comes to providing a report for politicians to act upon, someone must all put it together and evaluate in summary.

      The trouble IMNSHO is the very fact that a “report for politicians to act upon” was demanded and provided at all, as climatology is first and foremost a descriptive science, as it deals with (particularly complex BTW) natural phenomena that can be measured and described but not altered at will. The recent Copenhagen agreement stating that “we will keep temperature change within 2 degrees” sounds just as grotesque as an agreement stating that “we will reduce gravity by 1.5 m/s^2”, or “we declare the speed of sound in air must not exceed 250 m/s”.

      Nature will not comply to politicians’ whims, so politicians have no business making decisions about natural laws. It would have been the scientists’ task to teach the politicians this, not to suggest “measures” (like reducing emissions) that are completely unproven to be workable – the question to ask is not just “How much will doubling the emissions raise temperature?” but “Will temperature sink when emissions are lowered?”. There is even less evidence for the second assumption than for the first – or do we have reliable historical/paleo records of CO2 level sinking and temperatures follow suit?! Warming + rising CO2 is happening anyway (note I am not saying they are causally related) without any costly policies, so demonstrating this relationship should be less interesting from a political standpoint. What those who are afraid of rising temperatures, as many seem to be, is a proven “handle” to lower these temperatures. This might be something completely different from CO2, even if rising CO2 levels are eventually proven to have driven temps up in the first place.

    • harold
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:44 PM | Permalink

      Norbert – I’ll agree to your “leading scientists” stipulation iff I can decide who the leading scientists are. Or perhaps Jones should choose?

  36. Frank
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 3:59 PM | Permalink

    RC is now providing links to “independent” scientists who are speaking out about Climategate. One of these is Myles Allen, whos says at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/dec/11/science-climate-change-phil-jones

    “None of us can imagine what Phil Jones is going through, and all of us know that it might be our turn next. For all I know someone is already sorting through my emails on a Russian web server. But for the record, if they do decide to pick on me, I don’t want people out there defending my integrity. I want people out there defending my results. Because we are scientists, and this is what we do.”

    What I find mysterious is why any scientist would think that their results have any value at all if their scientific integrity is not intact. In the process of obtaining and publishing his results, Allen made choices about obtaining, processing and presenting data and about presenting results in context of other publications. If he hasn’t carried out these steps with scientific integrity, his publication is worthless. And yet he expected his colleagues to defend his results, whether or not his integrity remains intact.

    • Norbert
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

      It seems to me that some scientists are not yet aware of the degree to which their integrity is questioned in some discussions.

      • dp
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 1:41 AM | Permalink

        Apparently there is much they are not aware of. They’ve gone out of their way to silence a significant part of the larger discovery effort – primarily in areas they had no interest in or intent in exploring.

        The more I follow this the more obvious it becomes that many of them believed strongly in AGW long before there was evidence to support it, and that they put the bulk of their efforts into finding that evidence. Meaning, of course, that alternate possibilities were either not considered or not studied with the enthusiasm and energy given to proving AGW. And I say proving and not discovering purposefully. If AGW were the root cause it would have floated to the top even in a broader study of the alternatives. AGW became self-fulling because it was always a preferred outcome.

        The shame is that broader study appears not to have happened, and it seems unlikely funding will be forthcoming to do so now given the squandering of past funding on the narrower goal.

        And I haven’t even mentioned the counter-productive results of the Team stifling other activities and covert denial of opportunity and audience to those legitimate contributors.

        • snowmaneasy
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 10:34 AM | Permalink

          Exactly, they were hammers and everything became a nail

    • Chris
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:29 PM | Permalink


      I agree with you a bit but I also agree somewhat with Myles Allen. Ultimately it’s the results or scientific conclusions that matter, so those should be addressed first with an assumption of good intentions on the part of the scientist. If results are found to be way off or intentionally misleading then perhaps delving into issues of integrity is appropriate.

      Of course if you find blatant evidence that the integrity is questionable in the first place it may be difficult to ignore that when investigating the results. In this case it appears that Von Storch has the integrity to disagree with the practices of the team, but his conclusions about how sound AGW science is are very questionable.

      • harold
        Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:54 PM | Permalink

        The results never ever exist in a vacuum. If there are any integrity issues (whether it’s data, analysis, researchers, review process) then the whole mess has to be redone from top to bottom. The integrity of the results is built on the integrity of the processes that made them. If you can’t trust any part of the process, you can’t trust the results.

        Yet climate scientists seem to view integrity as a PR issue – I don’t think they were adequately trained to do what they do.

      • Frank
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:32 AM | Permalink

        piling on

  37. Pat Frank
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    Norbert, nice in theory, but in the IPCC reports, the content of the SPMs did not reflect the content of the ARs. We know that highly valid challenges were suppressed. We know that the SPM was actively biased to reflect a false assurance.

    In science, the minority is often right, and when a new discovery overturns a theory, it is always a minority that is right.

    It was, and is, very clear that the theory in climate science was not adequate to the claims made in its name. When theory is inadequate, the only rational policy is to do nothing radical, because anything one does is as likely to cause harm as to cause good. That principle has been violently abused in climate policy, and AGW-agenda’d scientists have been actively instrumental in that abuse. They are guilty of claiming to know, in the absence of knowledge. This is exactly priestly behavior.

  38. Dana White
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:22 PM | Permalink

    Consider the predicament of the climate scientist. If they were to conclude that the earth was warmer during the medieval warm period than now and that there is no evidence of warming cause by CO2, they would all be out of jobs. Why would governments put any more money into the research after that?

  39. BarryW
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:25 PM | Permalink

    I’m not surprised at the silence. Consider the inertia in some other scandals including the original “gate” and how long, if ever, it took before some of their partisans finally criticized the participants. One possible explanation is that there is “dirty laundry” in their email that might get released in retaliation for speaking out. Another is that the social/professional connections that Wegman identified are strong enough to inhibit them from speaking out against friends and colleagues either from solidarity or fear of professional retaliation. Remember these are some very influential people in the climate/political communities and a lot of scholastic and political careers are tied to CAGW.

  40. Craig Loehle
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:32 PM | Permalink

    A few years ago when the Duke U. lacrosse team got in some trouble and was accused of rape, 88 faculty members put a letter in the campus paper smearing the team and essentially proclaiming them guilty. When it came out that the prostitute lied and the district attorney lost his job, none of them apologized. None. Don’t hold your breath for mea culpas. The big change will come in the educated public and in the young faculty and students. Which takes time.

    • Luke Lea
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:17 PM | Permalink

      Similarly, econometricians never admitted their econometric models were scientism instead of science. Corporations stopped paying for them is all when they proved to be useless.

      • C. Ferrall
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:15 PM | Permalink

        This is inaccurate. Corporations and governments continue to pay handsomely for competent econometric analysis, not because it is “science” but because it is at least as good as any other answer to questions they have.

        And, at least econometrics tells you how confidence intervals are constructed. Climate “scientismists” seem not to care that neither the paleo analysis nor the “climate scenario” graphs have properly constructed CIs.

      • Mike B.
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 9:14 PM | Permalink

        Heh, heh. Luke, somebody forgot to tell the company I work for, because they continue to pay me for econometric analysis, as do our clients.

  41. Richard Saumarez
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 4:54 PM | Permalink

    I think that things will change, but slowly. I was involved in a scientific fraud scandal (innocently – about 1Km from ground zero, I might add) in which a “world opinion former” had been somewhat economical with the truth. The way that this person behaved involved massive networking and rather subtle and malignant character assasination of people who held contrary views and tried to insist on good science. Fortunately the subject was not one driving political policy but it did impact on medicine. I am seeing in climategate, what I saw then. Disbelief, partisan points of view and, I.m sorry to say, a partial whitewash that saved this indiviudal’s hide but damned him. Over the next few years, it became quite clear that his views were mistaken and his star has waned. I don’t expect that there will be a revelation over climategate but the way in which people think about the dogma of AGW will be altered and the truth will start to emerge over the next few years.
    The difficulty is the vast amount of political capital sewn up in AGW and the biggest challenge is to stop them from doing something completely stupid. I take the line that we need specific enquiries into AGW that are independent of the climate science establishment. The Wegmam report is an outstanding example of this approach.

    • Eric Rasmusen
      Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 12:38 AM | Permalink

      Good comment. Would you say that in the case you are talking about, the scientific community responded properly? Does ‘a partial whitewash that saved this indiviudal’s hide but damned him” mean that his scientific reputation was wrecked?

  42. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:42 PM | Permalink

    A reasonably sounding editorial of Mr. von Storch.

    But I was not happy with his tone of setled fundamentals, so just let us work out the details without interference.

  43. Judith Curry
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:46 PM | Permalink

    Very interesting thread. A few comments:

    Anyone who makes a public statement on this issue is putting themselves out there as a public target and potential lightning rod. Most scientists prefer not to do that. Those that are speaking out are those that have some previous experience in the blogosphere and/or with the media (and have developed skills for dealing with this including a thick hide). As an example, i received this email a few hours ago: “Dear Dr. Curry, You think by playing half-half you can keep on pretending that you are not deeply implicated in this open and shut RICO case? I would greatly appreciate access to you job, your office, your lab, your money. They are going to need honest scientists, the ones like me that have been living under the staircase since thanks to this type of UN scam, when you are rotting in prison for being a phony-baloney three-card-monte dealer. Gonadal Politics won’t save you either. Love, Stan

    Many climate researchers haven’t been paying that much attention to climategate: they have certainly heard about it, most likely haven’t delved into any of the actual emails, and are mainly glad it wasn’t their emails that were hacked since they use the word “trick” also. This impression of mine is gleaned through interactions over the past month at a NASA science team meeting and at AGU. I note that my interactions with other scientists on this topic may be unusual owing to my possible “pariah” status owing to my public statements on this topic (i.e. “Curry’s career is over”)

    Being a “pundit” on this issue requires a fair amount of homework, in terms of reading the emails, keeping up with the blogs, etc. Most climate researchers probably don’t want to bother with this level of effort, and prefer to keep doing their research. You would be amazed at how many climate researchers never look at any of the climate blogs and are mostly unaware of them.

    I certainly hope this whole issue and its broader implications for the integrity of science are discussed in the universities and government research labs after the holidays. The MIT panel was an interesting model. At Georgia Tech, this issue will be discussed next semester in a 1 cr seminar class on “Preparing Future Faculty” in the context of research and professional ethics.

    Re how this will change the science, and climate researchers’ perception of the science, I think there will be a heavier dose of healthy skepticism in the science. Plus more transparency. Too many of us (me included) have been relying too heavily on the IPCC process for an unbiased assessment of the science, which is difficult for a single scientist to assess across the broad range of relevant topics.

    p.s. Bender, i have started working on Lindzen and Choi. I can post something within the next few days, or are people too riveted by Climategate and the temperature record to focus on other topics

    • ianl8888
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 6:59 PM | Permalink

      On the contrary, we have been patiently waiting for your comments on Lindzen & Choi, 2009.

      Do not underestimate the audience on this website, please. The fallout from FOI2009.ZIP and associated political shenanigins have been well known to us for years. Bluntly, it serves you right for going public in the first place with silly scare campaigns to overcome scepticism with the force of manipulated public opinion. I enjoy the poetic justice.

    • curious
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:03 PM | Permalink


      “I certainly hope this whole issue and its broader implications for the integrity of science are discussed in the universities and government research labs after the holidays. The MIT panel was an interesting model. At Georgia Tech, this issue will be discussed next semester in a 1 cr seminar class on “Preparing Future Faculty” in the context of research and professional ethics.”

      There is a comprehensive looking piece of work leading at WUWT at the moment:


      It can be printed as two A0 landscapes and I’d suggest you put it up in the common room as something to inform/interest the seminar group and other students.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:06 PM | Permalink

      Hi Dr. Curry,
      I think there is an appetite for your piece, but I also think there is huge appetite for more climategate. Personally, I would like to see oyur piece before the holiday break so that qualified people who finally have the time can cogitate on it..
      P.S I also want to thank you for your other contributions over time. I started our relationship rather harshly by accusing you of possibly being in the cabal of “uncertainty deniers”. (Because your BAMS article on hurricane frequency lacked confidence intervals.) I see now that you are NOT in that camp. I really respect that. At the same time I do feel vindicated by the climategate emails that there WAS in fact a tight cabal of uncertainty deniers, at both the policy and scientific levels. (Ed Cook was not one of them.)

    • Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

      Prof Curry:

      I’m looking forward to your analysis of L & C. Note that Roy Spencer and other skeptically leaning scientists have noted there are errors in the paper, but ultimately they come to the conclusion that the errors are not fatal and the premise of the paper is still valid. RC of course blasted the thing, but I don’t trust their objectivity. As you have been willing to at communicate with us here at CA, and have shown us respect, even if we sometimes sit on opposing sides of a debate, I trust yours.

    • Patrick M.
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:00 PM | Permalink

      Bring on the L & C! I’m kinda overdosed on Climategate for now.

    • Geoff Sherrington
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:08 PM | Permalink


      In Australia there is a mythical creature, the BUNYIP, that is used by some to scare children when they are naughty or will not sleep.

      In a long career in science, admittedly in a different country, I have never seen the Buyip approach used to maintain fright hence conformity.

      Sure, I have had death threats for my views, but not, so far as I can tell, from scientists. Actors get them too.

      I have some skepticism about the importance of your opening couple of lines. Did you write them in your PJs under a sheet by the light of a torch?

      When recruiting scientists, we would go out of our way to find those who WERE prepared to challenge orthodoxy and I might say that for decades, as a small group, we were at cutting edge worldwide. In a blind, independent study, a major factor for our succeess was identified as an environment in which views could be expressed to/from any level.

      BTW, another factor was the leadership of those above me. You are displaying leadership by penning your articles, so kudos – it is deserved for that.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:42 AM | Permalink

      Professor Curry,

      There should nothing wrong with a climate audit. It does appear that some students’ lab books were either misplaced or lost.

      There is a difference between criticism and being a “public target and potential lightning rod”. Most scientists would prefer not. However,

      “But the important point is this: The world is being lobbied to place a huge economic bet
      — as much as $150 billion a year — on the notion that man-made global warming is real.
      Businesses are gearing up, at considerable cost, to deal with a new regulatory
      environment; complex carbon-trading schemes are in the making. Shouldn’t everyone look
      very carefully, and honestly, at the science before we jump off this particular cliff?”

      [WSJ article?]


      The response is interesting:

      “Mike, Ray and Malcolm,
      The skeptics seem to be building up a head of steam here ! Maybe we can use
      this to our advantage to get the series updated !
      Odd idea to update the proxies with satellite estimates of the lower troposphere
      rather than surface data !. Odder still that they don’t realise that Moberg et al used the
      Jones and Moberg updated series !
      Francis Zwiers is till onside. He said that PC1s produce hockey sticks. He stressed
      that the late 20th century is the warmest of the millennium, but Regaldo didn’t bother
      with that. Also ignored Francis’ comment about all the other series looking similar
      to MBH.
      The IPCC comes in for a lot of stick.
      Leave it to you to delete as appropriate !
      PS I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data.
      Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act !”

      In my opinion it’s not that only “Being a “pundit” on this issue requires a fair amount of homework”. Just because “climate researchers, in terms of reading the emails, keeping up with the blogs, etc. Most climate researchers probably don’t want to bother with this level of effort, and prefer to keep doing their research. You would be amazed at how many climate researchers never look at any of the climate blogs and are mostly unaware of them.”

      My snide remark is we don’t always get ‘our preferences’.

      Are you comfortable with people ‘betting’ on models? My question is what do scientists do now?
      Researchers are ”busy’, but doing what?

      If you read this, Thank you. I completely agree with:

      “I think there will be a heavier dose of healthy skepticism in the science. Plus more transparency. Too many of us (me included) have been relying too heavily on the IPCC process for an unbiased assessment of the science, which is difficult for a single scientist to assess across the broad range of relevant topics.”

      I’m willing to move ahead. Anyone want to help?

    • Tolz
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:09 PM | Permalink

      Dr. Curry, I just want to add my thanks to you for posting here. Makes the blog so much better when qualified people with differing and even opposing viewpoints are willing to engage.

    • Eric Rasmusen
      Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:00 AM | Permalink

      It’s good to hear from someone as informed as you. I’m surprised, tho, by:

      Many climate researchers haven’t been paying that much attention to climategate: they have certainly heard about it, most likely haven’t delved into any of the actual emails,…

      You would be amazed at how many climate researchers never look at any of the climate blogs and are mostly unaware of them.

      I can understand not reading the blogs, but not looking at the emails? Those emails are professional gossip material of the first order. Are climatologists not curious about the doings of big names in the field? Or is it that they don’t know where to find the emails on the Web?

    • JPeden
      Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 4:09 PM | Permalink

      so as to pick up on what was otherwise obvious to almost anyone who knows anything much about wild trees

      oops, I should have excluded the dendroclimatologists who are dedicatedly looking for a long term relationship between wild tree-rings and temperatures. Which they haven’t found.

      I’m thinking more of people like me who either live among or work with wild trees and have simply observed things about them and where they each grow – “metadata”.

    • Norbert
      Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 4:59 PM | Permalink

      It appears I have a lot of work to do until I understand why someone previously “relying too heavily on the IPCC process for an unbiased assessment of the science”, would then turn to Bender in the next sentence. 🙂

      • bender
        Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 6:33 PM | Permalink

        You do. You have a lot of blog to read.

      • ianl8888
        Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 9:05 PM | Permalink

        First, jettison special pleading and straw men – I’ve found they only get in the way

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 12:26 AM | Permalink

          First you’d have to give me an idea of what you are talking about, instead of just throwing arbitrary terms around.

    • Brooks Hurd
      Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 1:12 PM | Permalink


      I always value your comments on issues.

      I believe that the “leaked” emails (let’s assume innocence until someone is proven guilty of hacking) raise very important issues, not only for climate scientists, but also for scientists in general. I therefore hope that the import of these emails are being discussed in the halls of academia.

      Thank you for your comments.

  44. Dana White
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 5:53 PM | Permalink

    piling on

    • Dana White
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:52 PM | Permalink

      Why was my post edited?

      [RomanM: I did not read your comment nor did I edit it – it was probably done by Steve Mc. However, “piling on” refers to repetitive bashing of or complaining about a person or an issue. Typically, the point has been made earlier and repeating such adds nothing to the thread and is discouraged. I wouldn’t take it personally.]

      • Richard
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 4:41 PM | Permalink

        It is deeply aggravating when a person takes the trouble to voice ones considered opinion. Taking the time and effort to do so, only to have it snipped because perhaps someone has voiced a similar opinion earlier. It belittles and insults the person. Perhaps Steve M could be a little more considerate, something that he demands from others
        Steve: my apologies, but it’s a real conundrum trying to deal with the blog these days as there are many readers who are unfamiliar with the editorial tone that I’m trying to achieve and because the posts are perforce less technical than usual.

        • Eric Rasmusen
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 9:53 PM | Permalink

          I’d like to speak up for the other side– I like really aggressive snipping. I think of the purpose of blog comments as to please the other readers, not to satisfy the commenter’s desire to say something. A comment that adds nothing is worse than no comment, because it wastes the readers’ time.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 12:03 AM | Permalink

          The volume of commentary since climategate has been impossible for one man to keep up with. I’ve been snipped unfairly too, so just get your big boy pants on that you got for xmas and cope.
          merry flippin xmas to all

  45. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 6:14 PM | Permalink

    What we need to do is open the process. Data must be accessible to adversaries; joint efforts are needed to agree on test procedures to validate, once again, already broadly accepted insights.

    I have followed Climate Audit (as a lurker) off an on since 2006. Steve McIntyre, I salute you and Ross McKitrick for your commitment to truth and your tenacity. If even some of what Dr Storch is calling for comes to pass, it will be a victory for all of us, and you deserve a large piece of the credit.

    I have straddled the fence most of the time but I am beginning to lean towards the Pielke and Storch view. That is, man made climate change is happening (for many reasons), and any impact will cause stress. Study and planning for adaptation and possible counter engineering is needed. Mitigation should not be thrown out, but the AGW stampede currently underway will not serve anyone well, in my opinion.

    Keep up the good work!

    • JPeden
      Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 9:25 PM | Permalink

      Study and planning for adaptation and possible counter engineering is needed. Mitigation should not be thrown out, but the AGW stampede currently underway will not serve anyone well, in my opinion.

      Keep up the good work!

      Agreed. But/and mitigation will indeed be thrown out along with other valid environmental concerns, if the Climate Scientists more indirectly involved and associated with the field don’t either speak up about the behavior shown by the emails and their surroundings as well as what led up to the leak – the fact that the ipcc and its elite Climate Scientists are simply not doing Science; or, regardless, if they don’t start doing real Science – now.

      The silence is deafening, and Dr. Curry’s brand of “dialogue” between alleged “tribes” will not suffice as a resolution between camps. When it comes to doing real Science, there’s only one “tribe” to begin with. In that regard, there’s nothing else to discuss.

  46. mccall
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 6:51 PM | Permalink

    Got to agree that Dr. North’s response in print and on the Brett Baier & Eric Shawn special was very disappointing. IMO, either it’s indicative of a blatant POV-defense or simple ignorance of what’s in the e-mails and Harry’s code comments. As a consequence, I now find it much easier to understand the differences between the summary statements of the Wegman and North reports — the former calls as he sees it in plain speak; the latter…

    A “trick” is a mathematical trick if it comes to the same answer both with and without. This has clearly been co-opted to mean “tricks” are okay if it leads to the same analytical conclusion (or perhaps more cynically, the same agenda result). This line of thinking was also addressed in Wegman’s broader observation (paraphrasing) that even if it’s the “right answer, using the wrong method is still scientifically/mathematically wrong!”

    • bender
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

      “A “trick” is a mathematical trick if it comes to the same answer both with and without.”
      The nuance is much appreciated. I use tricks all the time. But I hope I’m not tricking anybody into believing something for which there is little evidence!

    • Mark T
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

      I do not know of many that implement algorithms in software actually taking issue with the word “trick.” What was an issue, however, is exactly what bender pointed out: there was an obvious attempt to deceive discussed in that email (and apparent in their actual algorithm).

      Likewise, I’m saddened that Judith Curry (or the others she referred to) mentioned the “trick” above as if that word really had any meaning by itself. She has apparently not been listening.


    • Norbert
      Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 4:04 AM | Permalink

      Trying to *define* what a “trick” is doesn’t make much sense since a characteristic property of a “trick” is often that it is an action which is difficult to *define* as a standard procedure. It often refers to a small but crucial step in succeeding with a procedure, where this step is difficult to get right, or requires something unexpected.

      For example, one could perhaps say that for Einstein’s theory of relativity, the trick was to start with the assumption that the speed of light is the same for all points of reference. (Except that in this case this was a somewhat larger step).

      The paraphrase from Wegman sounds more like a value statement in favor of following standard procedure at all times.

      Steve: The actual “trick” is nothing more than the deletion of inconvenient data. There is nothing elegant about this. Please stop pretending that there is.

      • ianl8888
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 4:52 AM | Permalink


        Do you know what the term “special pleading” actually means ?

        Here you are indulging yourself yet again – claiming that the “trick” was an unexpected procedure that succeeded. In what ? Hiding the decline !!

      • bender
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 9:20 AM | Permalink

        Deleting data that you find inconvenient is dishonest. And this was not a clever thing to do. It was stupid.
        Norbert, cut the propaganda. snip

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

        I honestly disagree. The graph in question was supposed to display temperature, and Briffa’s tree ring data at that point didn’t even come close to showing temperature, so it was the right thing not to show it in that graph. The only question would have been wether to exclude the whole series from Briffa, but there are published article which have been stated that only the part of Briffa’s series after 1060 was considered to not correspond to temperature.To the best of my knowledge, those articles have not been refuted (except perhaps by mere claim).

        Steve: it was not the right thing to do. It was a trick.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:07 PM | Permalink

          Typo: after 1960, of course.
          snip – food fight

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:18 PM | Permalink


        I didn’t say anything about elegance, and wouldn’t use this label in this case.

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 2:29 PM | Permalink

        I have discussed my view here in a previous thread, extensively, and don’t feel like repeating this kind of discussion at this point. It is not “propaganda”.

        • Brooks Hurd
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 1:22 PM | Permalink

          The point is that Mike’s “trick” altered what the data would have shown.

          Would you knowingly drive a car or fly in an airliner where the design engineers had performed such a trick with test data during their design calculations?

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 4:12 PM | Permalink

          I disagree with what you suggest, but won’t open a new discussion at this point.

  47. David Smith
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

    Hi, Judith. My best wishes to you and your family for the holidays and 2010.

    I’m intrigued by a sentence in your November 22 essay:

    “As a result of the politicization of climate science, climate tribes (consisting of a small number of climate researchers) were established in response to the politically motivated climate disinformation machine that was associated with e.g. ExxonMobil, CEI, Inhofe/Morano etc.”

    I suspect that the cause and effect are more complicated and nuanced than that. I realize that sentence is not the core thought of your article and therefore had no elaboration or nuance, but it made me wonder whether climate science has a blind spot which may make progress difficult.

    My view is that other factors played large roles in the formation and arguable domination of climate science by the ideo-tribes. They include the ideological/political leanings of most climate scientists; the relative immaturity (newness) of the science; its rapid growth in staffing, money and breadth; its “celebrity” status and the opportunity to “promote good things” for society.

    My sense is that climate science was susceptible to the formation of activist ideo-tribes even in the absence of CEI, Inhofe, etc. CEI, etc were, at most, catalysts which sped the process.

    I said “was susceptible” in the paragraph above, but I’m concerned that “is susceptible” more truly reflects the state of things. The field may clean up the current mess only to find itself in more stink five years from now. Truly, good luck with your efforts.

    • HotRod
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:54 PM | Permalink

      Spot on

  48. Bryan H.
    Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 7:53 PM | Permalink

    It’s called the Kübler-Ross model or the five stages of grief:

    1) Denial
    2) Anger
    3) Bargaining
    4) Depression
    5) Acceptance

    Everybody involved will go through the various stages.

    • jae
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:53 PM | Permalink

      6) Humility
      7) And maybe enough integrity to ask for forgiveness.

  49. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:15 PM | Permalink

    Here’s a decent op-ed from the WSJ Europe, by Mike Hulme, a climate scientist who worked in the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in the 1990s. I know nothing else about him. The piece is worth reading, a nice sample bit:

    “If climategate leads to greater openness and transparency in climate science, and makes it less partisan, it will have done a good thing.”


    • jae
      Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 8:49 PM | Permalink

      Yes. Climategate is, actually, a part of science–part of the “self-correction mechanism.” One of the reasons why science is such a good thing!

    • Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:30 AM | Permalink

      And here’s another, similar comment from John Nielsen-Gammon, a climatology professor http://atmo.tamu.edu/profile/JNielsen-Gammon at Texas A&M, previously uninvolved with the CRU controversy:

      To fix the Climategate mess (and crisis of public confidence in science), he proposes

      “the best way is through transparent, open evaluations of the science by respected scientists who don’t have personal axes to grind and who can fairly evaluate all points of view.”

      — and goes on to make a fairly detailed proposal.

      He publishes an interesting climate column in the Houston Chronicle, and seems like a fair-minded fellow.

      Happy reading–
      Pete Tillman

    • Ted Swart
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:12 PM | Permalink

      Thank you Peter Tillman for sharing the Mike Hulme article with us. It was a delight to see how he stressed the unwarranted confidence in our ability to predict what the climate is going to do over the coming decades –with or without reduced CO2 production rates. If climategate results in less hubris in this regard it will have done a very good thing.

    • Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 7:46 PM | Permalink

      Yes, but Hulme also put forward the following:

      The central battlegrounds on which we need to fight out the policy implications of climate change concern matters of risk management, of valuation, and political ideology. We must move the locus of public argumentation here not because the science has somehow been “done” or “is settled”; science will never be either of these things, although it can offer powerful forms of knowledge not available in other ways. It is a false hope to expect science to dispel the fog of uncertainty so that it finally becomes clear exactly what the future holds and what role humans have in causing it. [emphasis added -hro

      Sound to me more like a passel of post-modernist poppycock than “science”. Hulme (along with Joseph Alcamo) was also instrumental in drumming up support for a pre-Kyoto EU “Statement” (that was an attempt to “influence Kyoto”).

      There is also some evidence in the emails which would suggest that Hulme’s own “ideology” was (and quite possibly still is) very much in line with the WWF.


      From where I’m sitting, Hulme seems to want to set science aside in favour of propaganda.

      • JPeden
        Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 1:32 AM | Permalink

        From where I’m sitting, Hulme seems to want to set science aside in favour of propaganda.

        Yes, it doesn’t take much reading of Hulme to see that he is a Post Normalist “scientist”. Basically he wants to “empower” as many scientifically uninformed people as possible, so that they can vote on what science is, obviously including what are the correct-by-vote valid conclusions.

        Destruction of the meaning of language is also effected by the same mechanism, voting on the meaning of words – which can easily be seen to necessitate an infinite regress, even to decide what “vote” and, say, “majority” mean, which would be imposible. So that “meaning” ultimately is decided by brute force.

        As Science would be, too – decided by brute force.

        I think he views the ipcc downfall merely as a necessary and helpful step toward his lager-by-quantum-level goals.

        • JPeden
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 1:35 AM | Permalink

          “larger”. He’s not seeking super breweries, but we can always hope.

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 4:47 AM | Permalink

        Sound to me more like a passel of post-modernist poppycock than “science”.

        Depends on what part of science you look at, and which level. Even in the supposedly most exact of sciences, physics, look at quantum physics or theories of the universe. Lots of uncertainty, all over the place. The so-called “quantum theory interpretations” each have a camp of proponents defending their interpretation with huge energy, claiming all others are false. A similar situation when it comes to the question of how to combine quantum theory with theories of gravity. Lots of books with speculation written by authors who seem perfectly convinced of their hypothesis, presenting it as if proof is coming next Tuesday.

        At the other end of the spectrum, almost all, if not all, physicists agree on the conservation of energy (AFAIK).

        And then, their is a continuous gradient between these extremes.

  50. Posted Dec 23, 2009 at 11:53 PM | Permalink

    piling on

    • Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:07 PM | Permalink

      Isn’t every comment here “piling on”? I don’t understand.

  51. JohnM
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:52 AM | Permalink

    Sorry, Steve but Judith Curry should not be able to redeem herself by making a few concillatory comments about Climategate. She was a real thug-ette in her attacks a few years ago on Dr. William Gray. She senses the shift in the wind, that is all. Dr. Curry, as I recall, was among the group of people suggesting that global warming would produce an increase the number and intensity of hurricanes.

    If Judith Curry wants to now take the high ground in the discussion, she needs to spend many hours looking in the mirror and reviewing her own conduct. If she is willing to take responsibility for her own actions and admit error, she may be able to participate meaningfully in sorting things out going forward.

    • Steve Milesworthy
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:00 AM | Permalink

      That’s very pompous. Most of the “shift in the wind” is towards more “blog science” for which a change in presentation style is required. Demanding admissions of past errors as a qualification for being allowed to be admitted to the debate is not much different from what is being alleged about the rigging of peer review.

      • GrantB
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:19 AM | Permalink

        “alleged about the rigging of peer review.”

        You really did say alleged, …. didn’t you?

      • GrantB
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:29 AM | Permalink

        Did you also say this in the Daily Telegraph on 21st Nov 2009? –

        “In 10 years’ worth of emails it seems that just 4 or 5 of them sound “damning”, but only if taken out of context. There is nothing to suggest a conspiracy, nothing to suggest that the scientists think the sceptics have a genuine case. There is plenty to suggest that the scientists are overwhelmed by the disruptive activity of what they believe are deluded, incompetent and/or well-funded denialists, and are reacting in a human way to the assault.”

        That last sentence made me reach for the tissues.

        • Steve Milesworthy
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 8:16 AM | Permalink

          Yes. Judith Curry has proved my point by quoting Stan.

        • bender
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 8:55 AM | Permalink

          1. Anyone arguing against the “denialists” is simply setting up a strawman in order to make their argument easy. They’re not to be trusted.
          2. The “allegation” that there was a conpiracy to suppress uncertainty on paleoclimatic data is not an “allegation”. It is a demonstrable fact. Anyone care to argue?
          3. There are, apparently, threats coming from all sides. But the only threat I’ve seen published is the statement from Ben Santer expressing violent thoughts toward Patrick Michaels. Classy.

        • HotRod
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:58 PM | Permalink

          “2. The “allegation” that there was a conspiracy to suppress uncertainty on paleoclimatic data is not an “allegation”. It is a demonstrable fact. Anyone care to argue?”

          defo nope. And in my (genuinely) humble newbie opinion, critically important.

    • John M
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 9:26 AM | Permalink

      JohnM is not John M

      (Sorry if this is a duplicate comment.)

  52. Chris Schoneveld
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:28 AM | Permalink

    Von Storch wrote:

    As a scientist, I strive for independence from vested interests. I am in the pocket of neither Exxon nor Greenpeace, and for this I come under fire from both sides—the skeptics and the alarmists—who have fiercely opposing views but are otherwise siblings in their methods and contempt.

    I don’t see why he would come under fire from the skeptics for not being in the pocket of Exxon. I still have to meet one skeptic who would condone a scientist being in the pocket of anyone.

    • Steve Milesworthy
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:43 AM | Permalink

      If you are critical of any aspect of the science, you are added to lists of “Distinguished Scientists who Disagree with (some aspects of ) Global Warming”.

      That is unless you also make it clear that while you have criticisms, you agree with the broad consensus that anthropogenic CO2 is likely to be a threat to livelihoods, in which case you are required by the sceptics to withdraw the statement until you have proved your view from first principles (see examples of this above).

      • Chris Schoneveld
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 10:07 AM | Permalink

        I am not sure what you mean. I am already listed as a scientist (“distinguished” sound a bit bragging) who disagrees with the idea of AGW.
        snip – coatracking

        But what has this to do with Von Storch’s unnecessary revelation that he is independent from vested interests.

        • Chris Schoneveld
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:57 AM | Permalink

          My comment was snipped although it was a direct response to Steve’s question whether I agreed “with the broad consensus that anthropogenic CO2 is likely to be a threat to livelihoods”. My response was that a higher CO2 concentration (even a doubling) was beneficial rather than a threat to livelihoods. Moderator, if you had a problem with the response, you should have snipped the question.

        • Steve Milesworthy
          Posted Dec 29, 2009 at 12:43 PM | Permalink

          In this thread von Storch has been criticised for saying that he thinks CO2 will cause damaging warming, so von Storch’s point is proven. He *wants* to be criticised by both sides because it asserts his independence, and he needs statements against both sides in anything he writes to prevent him being drawn into one or other of the two “camps”.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 10:34 AM | Permalink


    • JPeden
      Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 2:02 AM | Permalink

      Von Storch wrote:

      As a scientist, I strive for independence from vested interests.

      The simplest answer is that the source of funding is irrelevant to the worth of the scientific output. It’s relation is only that, if the output is not scientifically handled, it is not scientific output – in which case one of the only places to look to for “evaluation” of the “worth” of the output is the source of the funding. But that’s a situation which simply can’t be allowed to progress, and it won’t be.

  53. Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 3:30 AM | Permalink

    Rich: Speaking Out

    Can I echo the sentiment that Rich above expressed so eloquently. Many people feel it is very difficult to speak out publicly because they fear the negative employment consequences. I suspect many readers do not appreciate the pressures that are put on people who work in the wider public sector to conform to the consensus view of global warming. Teachers, civil servants, even people who work in charities, are under such pressure.

    I am sure there local Government organisations and committees whose role it is to combat “Climate Change”, but the majority of the members doubt the idea they are being paid to promote.

    They are just to scared to express that doubt.

    • JPeden
      Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 2:16 AM | Permalink

      I suspect many readers do not appreciate the pressures that are put on people who work in the wider public sector to conform to the consensus view of global warming.

      Well I certainly do. It’s easy to see or imagine, even if you’ve never exactly been there employed by such a place. It’s definitely not easy, but it’s time for a lot of real people to either fish or cut bait. Be a meaningful person having a meaningful life, or hang it up and just succumb to whatever the powers that be want so that you can [only] survive “successfully”. Yes, it’s a big deal.

      • JPeden
        Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 2:41 PM | Permalink

        OT venting

  54. Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:17 AM | Permalink

    Dear Steve, while I have a similar feeling about the continuing silence of the silent majority, I think that you have omitted some important people.

    Don’t you consider e.g. David Douglass and John Christy to be climate scientists?


    This is just a reality. With a reasonably chosen cutoff, there are roughly 50 vocal climate scientists in the world – 30 of them are bought into the AGW hysteria and they will never say anything else, despite any evidence (maybe with an exception, before seeing their future prison). 10 of them are neutral, and they have always been neutral, although visible. And 10 of them are skeptics who have been skeptics.

    The climate scientists won’t actually admit that the ClimateGate has substantially changed their understanding how the climate community works. People don’t want to admit ignorance about their field. Moreover, I think that they’re mostly right – all of the groups have actually known that this is how it works.

    The only difference between the group is that those 30 people just find the profoundly unethical behavior displayed by ClimateGate OK – they have probably done similar things themselves, anyway.

    Besides those 50 people, no one is active. Everyone else understands himself or herself as a small worker controlled by someone else and they won’t dare to express any opinions, regardless of the amount of disgraceful insights about the system.

    You shouldn’t expect any big changes from the climate community. This mess has been created by non-scientific external, political pressures on the science community, and it can only be fixed in the same way.

    Steve: Hmmm. Good points. As you say, Douglas and Christy (and Lindzen and a few others) have been contesting Santer for many years. It’s not that I overlooked them. It’s more that people expect them to oppose the Team. In some venues, Curry, VS and Zorita were viewed as speaking out – but in each case, each of them in different ways had spoken out in some respect long prior to Climategate. Previously, none of them had spoken out as strongly as I would have liked.

    • David Smith
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

      Lubos, I don’t see constructive external pressure coming to bear on climate science to help them restructure their practices.

      And, I think that factors internal to the climate science community make self-directed change unlikely. Their silence speaks volumes. My sense is that the climate science community is more disturbed about Copenhagen than climategate.

      They are not “bad people” – just the opposite. Rather, they’re a community engulfed by internal and external circumstances which will keep them stuck in their behavioral and ethical rut.

      My expectation is that climategate fades away, the ideological tribes allow some time to pass while memories weaken, then they’re at it again. The faces may change but the behavior won’t.

      Lasting improvement may, and I think will, come when today’s senior climate scientists retire and fade out and grad students move into professorships. I suspect that the discipline’s young blood is more disturbed by all of this than their elders and that these Young Turks will have the fire-in-the-belly to improve their profession.

      • ianl8888
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 4:54 PM | Permalink


        “My expectation is that climategate fades away, the ideological tribes allow some time to pass while memories weaken, then they’re at it again. The faces may change but the behavior won’t.”

        Yes … and that is the point behind most of the “meeja”‘s resolute indifference to Climategate – deny it publicity and aid weakening of memory

        • JPeden
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 2:29 AM | Permalink

          Yes … and that is the point behind most of the “meeja”’s resolute indifference to Climategate – deny it publicity and aid weakening of memory

          I agree. Mostly, the “meeja” certainly haven’t taken up their traditional, Constitutional task of broadcasting the climategate “scandal”, much less what it might imply about the ipcc’s, etc., science.

          They want to “not remember” some things themselves, possibly because it is just too traumatic to see the betrayal of trust and authority involved with what has been going on in Climate “science”, not to mention the potential loss of ratings and “funding”.

    • S. Geiger
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 9:46 AM | Permalink

      Can we add Petr Chylek to the list as well?


    • Neil Fisher
      Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 4:04 PM | Permalink

      SM: “Previously, none of them had spoken out as strongly as I would have liked.”
      I suspect that many would have liked to, but realised that to do so what have put them a bridge to far in the view of the activists. For instance, Judith Curry – it seems to me that she is working hard to find some common ground; to do as SM has previously suggested and find out what we can all agree on, rather than emphasising what is in disagreement. Of course, that means that no-one is particularly pleased with what she does – but then, no-one is massively upset either. Which means she can “float about” and get both sides. It’s difficult work, and I suspect it’s a very valuable, if thankless, task. To my mind at least, this is the epitomy of that rare bird – the synthetic scientist (and by that I mean one who synthesises across disciplines and views, not an artificial one 😉 ). I would very much like to hear her real views, as opposed to what she is prepared to say publicly, but that ain’t gonna happen – sigh.

  55. HotRod
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:31 AM | Permalink

    Steve, can I second your commendation of Monbiot. I went to a debate between him and Delingpole in London, and he is a gent. (Quite quite mad of course, but a gent!) 🙂 I read somewhere here you had a nice cup of coffee with him in Toronto.

    He was amazingly honest and quick to read the emails accurately and pronounce an honest judgement on them. I don’t think he will take the next step of wondering how much of what they have told him has been invalidated to a greater or lesser extent for a while though, and therefore how he should amend his own belief set, certainly judging from:


    “Goodbye Africa, goodbye south Asia; goodbye glaciers and sea ice, coral reefs and rainforest. It was nice knowing you. Not that we really cared. The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.”

    The people who should be most upset by Climategate are people who are seriously concerned about the impact of AGW. The conduct of Jones and associates makes their life that much more difficult. And that’s too bad. However, long before the Climategate Letters, there were opportunities for people in the “community” to disassociate themselves with such conduct and they didn’t.

    • HotRod
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

      Of course, and that was pretty much Monbiot’s reaction. But I’m feeling generous, seeing as it’s Christmas Eve, and taking a ‘better late than never’ view, on Monbiot. While you are, in effect, wholly unsurprised by the contents of Climategate, having lived much of it as it went on, and bemused that others couldn’t see what was under their noses, a genuine admission of surprise and indignation from a community zealot is at least a start, and you were right to except him in your blog.

      In general, if CG is going to trigger a seismic shift in honesty, which we all want, then some posters here might want to follow Mandela and forgive some past sins in order to re-engage?

      I don’t know Judith Curry’s story in any detail, but that she posts here, saying things like ‘I think there will be a heavier dose of healthy skepticism in the science. Plus more transparency. Too many of us (me included) have been relying too heavily on the IPCC process for an unbiased assessment of the science.’ is clearly a Good Thing (an apology too, surely), and if your readers/posters want others to do the same they could think of erring on the side of generosity? (Clearly some are beyond the pale.)

      • ErnieK
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

        It would seem to me that right now would be an excellent time for those who have had papers rejected by peer-reviewed journals for dubious reasons, to resubmit them. I would think the journals might have a different attitude (and a different set of reviewers).

  56. Steve Milesworthy
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:33 AM | Permalink

    What comes through when you read the emails is that none of the scientists think they are hiding any inconvenient science. Even if you think their conduct is underhand, they have genuine motives to suppress what is largely accepted in the science community to be bad science.

    Given the political environment some of the activity should not be a surprise to any right-minded scientist. You have to remember that Fred Singer would appear to have been attempting to get a newspaper splash through Andy Revkin of the Douglass paper, and Revkin quite rightly passed it onto the “Team” scientists. What comes around goes around. Do you suppose that Singer will lay his PR gloves down if all scientists agree to disbar themselves from science once they enter the policy advice track?

    So, taking a long time to get to my point, the scientists do understand that there is a difficult line to be walked between science and policy. But they are, foremost, scientists. They won’t comment because there is no science to comment on. But they have got their elbows into gear and released data, or accepted that it needs to be released more quickly, and will take action to do so.

    Obviously, if JohnM’s comment above is representative, till they say multiple “Hail McIntyre’s” and push a hockey ball around Mt Kailash with their nose, they will never be forgiven. So they might decide not to bother engaging.

    • Doug Badgero
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:34 AM | Permalink

      There is no “difficult line to be walked between science and policy”. When it comes to the probative arguments around the science they must make data, algorithms, and resulting uncertainties available for all to see and critique. When it comes to the normative arguments about policy they are welcome to whatever opinion they like, but it should count for no more than mine – a lowly engineer by training.

      • bender
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:35 PM | Permalink

        This is so important a point I must underline it. The issue is uncertainty denial. The scientists were asked to deny uncertainty. Some complied. Now they will pay the price. There is no dilemma as a scientist if you stick to the quantitative facts and let the policymakers work with that. This forces the policymakers to cope with reality. The uncertainty is real.

        • PaddikJ
          Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

          “Now they will pay the price.”

          I wish I could believe that, I really do. In four years of mostly lurking I’ve noticed that with each new revelation of unbelievably sloppy work or bad behaviour, there is a spate of blog comments to the effect that retribution – or at least vindication – is at hand.

          I think skeptics & luke-warmers need to get over that. The social inertia of AGW hysteria is just enormous – is there any sector that isn’t heavily invested? This latest mass-hysteria will probably have to play itself out in classic fashion, with long tails on either end & semi-rapid growth & decline near the center.

          Sorry to be a wet blanket – it’s just that I’ve mentioned WarmerGate to several soi-disant well-informed friends & family, and not only did they not have an opinion, most of them hadn’t even heard of it!

          But this is the blogosphere age – with blogs like CA & others keeping the heat on, maybe the long fadeout will at least be not-so-long this time.

    • BarryW
      Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

      I’ve been trying to think of an analogous situation. Can anyone come up with something similar where there has been inconvenient scientific data was suppressed to support a policy? Yes, I know about the tobacco industry but I’m talking about academia.

      • Eric Rasmusen
        Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 9:48 PM | Permalink

        Can anyone come up with something similar where there has been inconvenient scientific data was suppressed to support a policy?

        Try finding any data on SAT scores or GPA by ethnic group at any university, data one might think crucial to deciding affirmative action policy.

  57. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:27 AM | Permalink

    Can you imagine, in the hard world of scientific exploration for mineral resources, that a bunch of explorationists would get together and seek funds to develop an orebody that does not exist, one that is just a figment of calculations and models that say “It should be there”?

    I must say that sometimes, schemes similar to this have been tried, but so have the perpetrators. Given ample time to repent in isolation, many of them arrive at a conclusion that they made the wrong use of data and they recant. They do not often become recidivists.

    I do not like the recidivism tone of the “bury it and move on” suggestions that are here and there above.

  58. Max
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:57 AM | Permalink

    Since I can’t get through the realclimate filter, I’d like to post this question here.

    I have been reading about the original green-house experiment of Arrhenius a lot lately and even the attempted disproval by Woods, but I am not sure any one of the two hit it quite right. I’d be happy if someone could point me to good papers on these experiments and perhaps answer some of my questions.

    If you take the greenhouse and you measure warming, how do one differentiate between convection and heating due to re-radiation?

    Where does the additional warming come from, if it goes like that: Sunlight hits first UV-filter (stratosphere), then IR-filter (Troposphere) then passes through atmosphere and hits the ground. Ground heats air, air is circulated upwards thus slowly allowing more and more air to be heated. Then the ground does reflect or reemit heat, but for me this is difficult. If it is reflected, then the IR wavelengths are already filtered out so it will pass through. If it is re-emitted, then how long are the wavelength and don’t they change depending on the surface?

    Thanks for your help in advance

    • bender
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 8:34 AM | Permalink

      Above vomment is OT

      • Brian B
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:40 AM | Permalink

        Is a “vomment” an editorial statement about someone else’s post or something that occurs because of the proximity of the c and v keys? 🙂

        • bender
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:30 PM | Permalink

          it’s a comment that makes your stomache turn 🙂

  59. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 10:36 AM | Permalink


    I wish people would read the point as stated, rather than impose their own meanings.

    I was discussing scientists perceived in some sense as being “independent” and who had spoken out against Climategate – observing that, in each case, they had previously tried to differentiate themselves from the core Team. None of them had the same sense of betrayal as George Monbiot.

    Chylek’s situation is nothing like Monbiot’s. Nor is Christy’s.

    Please do not continue to list people who had previously expressed scepticism as though that were relevant to this thread. Different issue.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 10:40 AM | Permalink

      I think the young ones with capacity to rebel have actually gotten quieter, perhaps not knowing which way this is going to play out? Like turtles in their shells.

  60. Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 10:44 AM | Permalink

    I am a cynical engineering type, much oriented towards results and not much concerned about the question of the goodness, integrity, honesty, dishonesty, redemption, or any other metaphysical aspects of climate scientists.

    What matters to low level schmuks like me most,is an answer to the question: is the CO2 global warming hypothesis correct or not?

    Steve: I’ve asked proponents for a few years now to provide an engineering quality derivation showing how doubled CO2 leads to a big problem. Thus far, I haven’t been able to get anyone to give me such a reference. Gerry North, a prominent climate scientist, has made fun of me for asking such a question, but maybe you’d have better luck with him than me. Unlike many readers, I do not presume that such a derivation is impossible or even that it doesn’t exist. If you can locate one, please bring it to my attention.

    • Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:26 PM | Permalink

      I’m uncomfortable about Gerry North. I hear a loud silence.

    • Norbert
      Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 4:15 AM | Permalink


      Gavin Schmidt posted a blog about “The CO2 problem in 6 easy steps” here:


      Is this the kind of reasoning you are looking for, except that this is more a summary than an “engineering quality derivation”? So that, if this was done in more detail and with references, etc., might it develop into such a derivation? Would you personally accept any of these steps already, based on your existing knowledge and understanding?

      Steve: I’m sorry to be snarky, but it’s an embarrassing comment on present-day climate science that you would think that Gavin’s study bears any relationship to an engineering quality study. Take a look at an engineering study for a chemical plant or semiconductor plant or space station. They work hard to estimate parameters. Gavin: “Step 5: Climate sensitivity is around 3ºC for a doubling of CO2”. This is where the man in the cartoon says: shouldn’t you be a little more specific in this step. Somewhere between 300 and 1000 or maybe 5000 pages in an engineering-quality study.

      • MrPete
        Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 9:12 AM | Permalink

        One easy question: what’s an example of something crucial Gavin ignored, that makes it obvious his initial assumptions are wrong?

        No discussion needed; if you need discussion please do so in Unthreaded.

        As with much of this issues, it’s what is not said that is often most revealing.

        Steve: Pete, the issue here is “engineering-quality” calculation of the parameters as opposed to arguing specific assumptions. Gavin’s blog post doesn’t look like an engineering report.

      • Norbert
        Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

        Steve, you apparently missed this part in my comment: except that this is more a summary than an “engineering quality derivation”

        I’m very aware that this is not an “engineering quality derivation”. My question was: if given enough detail (and/or references to studies with such detail, I would hope would be another possibility), would it then fit the bill, or would it, in your view, still miss the target?

        Your answer seems to indicate, if anything, that it would fit the bill.

        Steve: Why misrepresent what I said? /i saiud the exact opposite. It doesn’t remotely resemble an engineering study and it’s embarrassing that you confuse the two. And it’s nothing to do with adding more references.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 4:24 PM | Permalink

          Plus, I’d think you’ll never get something similar to an “engineering study for a chemical plant”, due to a) the complexities of the climate processes, and b) the fact that things happen up there in the air where we can’t make similar measurements. So it would be unreasonable to expect the exact equivalent.

        • AMac
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

          Norbert, I find this remark insightful: “[as far as clmate sensitivity to CO2 doubling,] you’ll never get something similar to an “engineering study for a chemical plant”, due to a)… and b)…”

          All parties to this discussion seem to agree that the uncertainties are very large. Perhaps they are very, very large. It seems as though the actual uncertainty estimates should be revised to encompass much more than those factors that are currently included in the rather small uncertainty bands that accompany summaries for policymakers.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 9:40 PM | Permalink

          So things like sub-chapter 2.9.1 and Table 2.1 in Chapter 2 of IPCC AR4 are insufficient in your view, in the first place? Or is it that they are subject to the general doubts you have about the IPCC report?

        • AMac
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 9:56 PM | Permalink


          I don’t know enough to comment with assurance on your citations. But given the discussion supra, especially that CO2 appears to exert its major effect via H20 and the associated uncertainties, I would be need to do a lot of reading of arguments pro and con before accepting the tightness of the relative forcing estimates for C02, as presented in Fig. 2.4 of Chapter 2.2, “Drivers of climate change.” 1.66 [1.43 to 1.85] W/m2. PDF Link.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 10:42 PM | Permalink

          There is indeed a lot to read. Chapter 2 of IPCC AR4 has 17 pages of references.

        • AMac
          Posted Dec 28, 2009 at 5:38 AM | Permalink

          17 pages of references.

          As you know, it turns out that much of the original weather-station data upon which temperature history is built is currently (permanently?) lost. As you also know, much essential metadata is missing. As you also know, the peer-reviewed literature includes the uncorrected and unretracted Mann et al (PNAS, 2008) climate reconstructions, with its upside-down Tiljander thermometers.

          Presumably these three facts are also known to most of the relevant experts. Yet reasoned and dispassionate consideration has been absent, in expert circles and in the peer-reviewed literature. It is only thanks to blogs such as this that these secrets have become known.

          17 pages of references.

          This is not the argument that you appear to think it is.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 8:34 PM | Permalink

          Steve, why do you think I’m confusing the two? It doesn’t resemble a summary either, since it has explicit arguments and references (including in step 5), and attempts to make, in terms of a short 1-2 pages blog post, a somewhat conclusive argument. Those are three different things.

          Georg Steiner originally didn’t ask for an “engineering quality derivation”, so my question was if those 6 steps are the kind of argument you are looking for, except as an “engineering quality derivation”. I don’t know why that question upsets you, if it does.

          I still think you would answer the question positively, but I’m not so sure anymore.

          Steve: Norbert, have you ever seen an engineering feasibility study? If you had, you wouldn’t be making such foolish comments. I’m sorry to be rude.

        • ianl8888
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 10:39 PM | Permalink

          snip – food fight sorry. I allow more leeway to critics in these matters than to supporters. Id prefer that they have the last word than to have a foodfight.

        • ianl8888
          Posted Dec 28, 2009 at 3:18 AM | Permalink

          “Norrie”‘s following posts below show exactly what I meant – and I know you know it

          I’m irritated at the kidnapping of the threads; it constantly distracts (by design) from real analyses. I don’t understand your indulgence here

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

          Steve, I understood your point long ago. Its implications are obvious, and I guess the closest to that are the IPCC reports if you include the references given in the these reports. That’s how that appears to work, but you surely know more about that than I do.

          So that’s that, and obviously you don’t want to answer the question I still have, presumably because you feel answering it would diminish your point.

          The IPCC reports are not the same thing at all. Thats one of my longstanding criticisms of IPCC reports. I’ve answered your question. Gavin’s blog post is not an engineering quality study nor a summary of one.

        • Norbert
          Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 11:32 PM | Permalink

          Ok, I can see that the IPCC report doesn’t exemplify detailed parameter calculations accompanied by elaborate error range and uncertainty information. I can also see that one would ask for that.

          But I’m not sure who to ask for it. It seems that a lot of the work rests mostly on a few british and american institutions. Why focus the blame on those, who already appear to do most of the work (sorry if that’s not your position at all, it seems to be), instead of the canadian government, for example, for not funding that kind of research at canadian universities?

          Allow me to rephrase my question: If the 6 steps outlined by Gavin, were each done in the sense of a high-quality engineering study with 1000 pages each, resulting in 6000 pages total, might that then be what you are looking for? Or is the breakdown into these specific 6 steps already wrong, in your view?

        • Steve Milesworthy
          Posted Dec 29, 2009 at 7:25 AM | Permalink

          Could someone point me to the engineering-quality risk analysis for doubling CO2. Without such a study we should stop emissions forthwith. This might sound sarcastic, but the demand for an “engineering quality” study is rather over-egged.

      • Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 8:21 PM | Permalink

        There was an extensive discussion here on this subject a year ago. The comments by lucia in that thread are required reading for anyone interested in this subject. You can see in that discussion that engineers and scientists speak fundamentally different languages, and that the application of ‘engineering quality’ to scientific method is a separate issue from the science behind the GHE CO2 effect. I have experience with engineering quality, but a debate on the subject easily fill three or four threads and may be off-topic for this thread.

  61. Anand Rajan KD
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:42 AM | Permalink

    “I’ve asked proponents for a few years now to provide an engineering quality derivation showing how doubled CO2 leads to a big problem.”

    In a way, the impossibility of experiment-driven hypothesis generation as opposed to observation-based and model-based hypothesis generation in climate science strictly limits its boundaries.

    For all you know, the AGW alarmists believe their computer models to be rigorous and robust within the limits of available knowledge and therefore equivalent to a engineering quality derivation. The righteous indignation taht once can sense in the emails is because of this.

    My engineering and computer science friends seek higher levels of certainty from their work and to me sometimes, it appears this conditioning colors their way of looking at all things. My own colleages in experimental biology and clinical practice are perfectly happy with much lowers levels of certainty. All of clinical practice and medical research consists largely of couching scientific uncertainties in palatable and understandable words.

    The climate guys on the other hand hide their uncertainties and pontificate on certain terms. Speaking out your uncertainties requires courage – these guys shouldnt have let Mann run with the flag, who seems to be the non-scientist of the lot.

    • Rich
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 10:02 PM | Permalink

      “My engineering and computer science friends seek higher levels of certainty from their work and to me sometimes, it appears this conditioning colors their way of looking at all things.”

      True. We do this because our clients often require that we quantify the risk involved in using our product, especially when human life is at stake. Airline pilots, for example, really only fly an aircraft during take-off and landing. Most of the rest of the time the aircraft is under the control of complex autopilot software, which helps reduce pilot fatigue. If that software has a bug in it, then a lot of people could be hurt.
      For this reason, the FAA demands a high degree of formal quality assurance for every piece of software that goes on an aircraft. If climate science were an engineering project, the potential negative consequences of ill-conceived public policy derived from poor-quality results would demand an equally stringent standard of quality assurance. According to Steve,

      “By ‘engineering quality’, I mean the sort of study that one would use to construct a mining plant, oil refinery or auto factory – smaller enterprises than Kyoto.”

      (Sorry for coat-racking, but Steve brought it up, and I didn’t know what he meant by ‘engineering quality’.)

  62. Brian B
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 11:45 AM | Permalink

    To ensure I avoid doing it, could someone define ‘coatracking’ which is used upthread as a reason for snipping?

    BTW I did ‘bing’ it beforehand and didn’t find a definition, so I did a little due diligence before asking.

    • bender
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:24 PM | Permalink

      It means using someone else’s specific argument as a platform to make pronpincements on some tangentially related pet peeve of your own. For example, Steve discusses Jones review of Mann and someone uses that to argue that the peer review system doesn’t work. Or Steve writes about a claim in a paper by Gavin Schmidt and I take that as an opportunity to complain about other things Schmidt has said. It makes for boring reading and detracts from a threaded strucutre, which is a very useful way to organize a lab notebook.
      Stop tossing your coat on my table as if it were a coat rack. If you do it, everyone else will follow.

      • Brian B
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

        Thanks bender.
        However, avoiding coat racking will greatly limit my ‘pronpincements’ in the future.
        You must’ve broken out the egg nogg because your spelling makes me vomment. 🙂
        Merry Christmas all.

  63. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

    When Hotrod says:

    “I don’t know Judith Curry’s story in any detail, but that she posts here, saying things like ‘I think there will be a heavier dose of healthy skepticism in the science. Plus more transparency. Too many of us (me included) have been relying too heavily on the IPCC process for an unbiased assessment of the science.’ is clearly a Good Thing (an apology too, surely), and if your readers/posters want others to do the same they could think of erring on the side of generosity? (Clearly some are beyond the pale.)”

    I would have to ask that he provide some more direct references to where Judith Curry made the assertions/observations he indicates in the comment. As for reactions from some posting here to Judith’s comments, I would have to impose that some posters might suppose that actions speak louder than words.

    As for Steve Milesworthy’s comment, I think we have seen that defense (Judith Curry comes to mind) before that the emailers and others in the consensus were forced to their mixed and problematic advocacy/science positions by the “opposition”.

    The intent to snuff out “bad science”, at least as the consensus sees it, may appear well intended from an advocacy standpoint, but surely not from a science POV. These weak defenses of what was done as revealed by the emails and before will surely not be a basis for engagement.

    Engagement would come if climate scientists, whose works are analyzed at these blogs, would come to discuss those analyses as scientists, and not advocates. I find it curious that often when they do come they end up commenting on the attitude, as they see it, of the posters and not the analysis at hand.

    The defenders come then to imply that it is the contentiousness of the posters that causes this lack of engagement. Believe me, knowing what I know of scientists I find this argument bogus. In my judgment scientists who are convinced that they can make a good case will make it anywhere and at any time. I have also seen thoughtful people able to make their unpopular arguments in the sometimes contentious blog atmosphere by concentrating their remarks on the case at hand and ignoring any comments that might side track the discussion.

    On the other hand, if the important feature of the scientist’s intention, and with regards to blogging, is advocacy, I can see why they do what they do. RC is a case in point with many of the consensus scientists gathering there to reveal some science but in the end with the intention to advocate by presenting evidence for their position and pretty much filtering out any counter evidence or only presenting it as being totally and irrefutably wrong with little or no space allowed for the defenders of the critiqued works.

    • HotRod
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:20 PM | Permalink

      Kenneth, she said: “I think there will be a heavier dose of healthy skepticism in the science. Plus more transparency. Too many of us (me included) have been relying too heavily on the IPCC process for an unbiased assessment of the science.’ in the above thread somewhere.

      the rest was me. I was really asking for a reaction, as a newbie, on topic I hope, as to how to coax all those members of the ‘community’ out of their shells back into reality. Whether ‘hang on, you said this, and this, and this, and you expect us to believe you repent?’ is better or worse than ‘welcome back to sanity’. Roughly.

      I accept a lot of you have had a very hard time at their hands. Which would make it harder. hence the Mandela comment!

      • Kenneth Fritsch
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 3:14 PM | Permalink

        Hot Rod, I had not seen Judith Curry’s post above, but what you quote from her is what has been obvious to many of us for some time, i.e. that a specialist climate scientist reaches a consensus POV based, not on what they comprehend from other areas of science, but, in effect, what the “consensus” deems is the truth through a raising of hands process like the IPCC does in its efforts to push immediate mitigation for AGW and by way of a consensus. If this sounds like circular reasoning, I think it is.

        I do not know what Judith’s quoting from a communication from an obvious crackpot does for a rational discussion of the current state of climate science. I would like to hear her expand on what you quoted from her. On the face of it, that would be a major concession on her part.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:18 PM | Permalink

          Kenneth, you’re calling it the way I see it, too. Judith’s quote can be found above here, where she also wrote in her defense that, “[The IPCC assessment] is difficult for a single scientist to assess across the broad range of relevant topics.”

          But this is a kind of red herring exculpation. The claim of human-caused warming rests entirely on the physical reliability of the GCMs. It doesn’t take poring over an IPCC AR or a huge amount of study of the literature to find that they are not reliable. Judith is completely able to make that study, and her research should have started with that study. But apparently the unreliability of GCMs escaped her notice.

          For example, in her 26 April 2007 testimony before Congress, Judith directly linked an increase in hurricane intensity to the GCM-driven IPCC claims of CO2-driven warming, even including that, “The unanimous conclusion of climate model simulations is that the global surface temperature trend since 1970 (including the trend in tropical SSTs) cannot be reproduced in climate models without inclusion of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and that most of this warming can be attributed to anthropogenic greenhouse gases.” This interpretative reliance on GCMs is only 2 years old.

          Somehow, Judith never discovered that GCMs are unreliable, and continued to interpret her results, including in policy-driven forums, as though they were correct. And then going on to fault ExxonMobil, et al., for protesting the political attacks made upon them through exploitation of unreliable GCM projections.

          Her posts here seem to reflect an internal contradiction.

        • HotRod
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:36 PM | Permalink

          Pat, a question. The topic of this thread was why is it that no members of the ‘community’ have yet ‘come out’, post CG? As in ‘have publicly expressed any disapproval of Climategate conduct’ as Steve put it.

          Judith was specifically excluded anyway in the header.

          So my point was how do you get the ‘sinner’ to come to repentance, in practice.

          So if you and Kenneth hammer someone like JC (who has shown independence anyway) who has posted today here explicitly saying she took too much for granted, how will that encourage others?

          I mean that purely practically. If I was a ‘sinner’ who realised I had been taken (ok, willingly) for a ride, how would you best get me to recant?

          Does that make sense?

          Happy Christmas, enjoy, as you Yanks say.

        • Greg F
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:51 PM | Permalink

          I mean that purely practically. If I was a ’sinner’ who realised I had been taken (ok, willingly) for a ride, how would you best get me to recant?

          I would take your toys away.

        • Pat Frank
          Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 8:02 PM | Permalink

          HotRod, you ended your question with, “… how would you best get me to recant?

          Recanting is personal business, and comes from a personal decision following reconsideration of a question. No one can get anyone else to recant, and trying to be causal is a losing enterprise.

          So, I’m not interested in getting scientists to recant. I’m only interested in getting a straight record. The record speaks for itself, and conclusions within science follow from the record of science. What individual scientists do in response is their own business. Science will provide the full context of their choices.

          It’s true that Judith, in particular, has been far more bridge-building than many others, and under trying conditions; even hostile fire. For that effort, she deserves a grateful commendation.

          But, she went for the AGW claim, accepted GCM output as validating, interpreted her results in their light, offered policy-relevant testimony on their authority, and subscribed to the ‘evil-empire’ theory of ExxonMobil = R.J. Reynolds.

          Best holidays wishes to you too, there across the frigid pond. Here in central California, we’re having a bit of a warm spell, with clear blue skies. Oh, the pain of it … 🙂

      • bender
        Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 4:39 PM | Permalink

        “Too many of us (me included) have been relying too heavily on the IPCC process for an unbiased assessment of the science.”
        Amen, Hallelujah, and merry xmas. Climatologists, why don’t you come up with a top ten list of New Year’s Resolutions? Maybe the “denialists” (who are these people, anyways?) can do the same.

    • Jimchip
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:23 PM | Permalink

      Unfortunately, the team’s actions, finally documented in their own emails, have lead to questions with respect to the peer-reviewed literature. Scientists might have to go ‘the extra step’ in communicating to others. Hopefully, there will be a sub-blogosphere where there is non-political discussion. Also, venues like youtube allow scientists to present their lectures/presentations in their own preferred setting.

      Certainly, no one should be ‘attacked’ because of a disagreement.

  64. Lance
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:25 PM | Permalink

    What happened to the posting/bulletin board? I can’t seem to find it.

  65. Sean Peake
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 2:57 PM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas Mr. McIntyre, and to all those who post on CA. Thank you for all your hard work.

  66. Judith Curry
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 3:50 PM | Permalink

    I just emailed Steve with my writeup on the Lindzen and Choi paper. I sincerely hope everyone (especially Steve) will ignore this temporarily while they are celebrating XMAS. my very best wishes to everyone for a merry xmas!

    • Posted Jan 2, 2010 at 3:29 PM | Permalink

      The Team is way ahead of you.

      From: Tom Wigley
      To: Phil Jones
      Subject: Re: Revised CC text
      Date: Fri, 06 Nov 2009 13:40:57 -0700

      Thanks, Phil.

      A bunch of us are putting something together on the latest Lindzen and Choi crap (GRL). Not a comment, but a separate paper to avoid giving Lindzen the last word.



  67. David Longinotti
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 4:17 PM | Permalink

    Michael Mann, Gerry North and others are doing their best to “hide the decline” in scientific standards that the Climategate emails reveal.

  68. Harold
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 4:44 PM | Permalink

    Von Storch is very definite on a few points:

    1)There are large uncertainties associated with climate science
    2)”More emissions mean more stress, fewer emissions less”
    3)”For me, good science means generating knowledge through a superior method, the scientific method.”
    4)”But the core of the knowledge about man-made climate change is simple and hard to contest.”

    My interpretation of #1&3 is he’s loyal to his scientific training. My interpretation of #2$4 is he’s bought into AGW.

    In one view, cult members respond to attacks on the cult as attacks on their friends in the cult. Their response is to defend their friends (and thereby the cult). Perhaps Von Storch doesn’t consider the AGW scientists as friends.

    • Tolz
      Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:50 PM | Permalink

      Yeah, as to #2&4 even us “denialists” really hunger, especially from those who are qualified to do so, for some good, concrete support for this consensus of science. Anybody can proclaim “consensus”, or “independent lines of evidence”, but from the scientists who should know, I’d sure rather they point me in Waldo’s direction than to merely assure me that he exists. Because some of the “trails” to find Waldo haven’t been very good ones at all.

  69. miguel_the_coward
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 5:29 PM | Permalink

    Lindzen, Spencer, Christy, et al. have not spoken out against the hockey team because they were not involved in the debate on paleoclimate data anyway. Since the subject is outside their interest/expertise it’s entirely reasonable that they don’t have anything specific to say about it. I respect that they do not over-stretch themselves.

    It would be wrong to think that just because one is a climate skeptic in some form he or she must agree on, or even be interested in, everything that other skeptics said.

    The majority of climate scientists hold a very broad and continuous spectrum of opinions on all aspects of climate change. They do not “speak out” exactly because climate debate in blogsphere has become so partisan, so “you are either for us or against us”, that they do not want their honest opinion be falsely labelled by over-zealous people on either sides of the debate.

    Incidentally, this is also the reason why, in the U.S., good people don’t want to get into politics any more; Nowadays, one has to accept the wholesale liberal package in order to get nominated by the Democratic Party, and likewise to accept the wholesale conservative package to be on a Republican ticket. The result is the presence of a large number of morons among our elected officials and in the congress.

    If you want to keep the skeptic side of climate debate healthy, stop pressuring Lindzen to comment on hockey stick, or carbon cap-and-trade, but listen to him when he talks about climate modeling. Let scientists be scientists. I think that’s what Hans von Storch tried to say in his column and I agree with him.

  70. EdeF
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 6:16 PM | Permalink

    snip – OT

  71. HotRod
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:15 PM | Permalink

    OT for sure. it’s midnight in Middle England, home of the longest continuous temperature record, and my hotel room, next to my ex-mother-in-law’s room, is far too hot.

    happy christmas to all of you, seriously heavy praise to Steve above all, may he live forever, despite his Ganges trip of 1968, roughly when my elder brother caught hepatitis B swimming across it.

    I have had a lot of joy from this website, thank you all. I completely wrongly posted something a couple of days ago mildly criticising someone’s lack of forbearance when I should have been praising them to the heavens for their extraordinary patience.

    Judith, season’s greetings, and thank you for yours.

  72. stan
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

    Merry Christmas, Steve.

  73. Bill Illis
    Posted Dec 24, 2009 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    I think Steve’s original point was why are not more climate scientists speaking out on this – more than the people you would expect to speak out.

    Although it is possible to take the side of defending those involved, not many objective scientists could come to that conclusion.

    So why is there not more climate scientists coming out and saying we need to start over, we need to remove these individuals from the processes, we need to provide all the data and methods now, we need to actually prove the case instead of just proclaiming that the case has been made.

    The answer is there is still “fear”; fear that one’s career will be damaged; trepidation that papers will be rejected; apprehension that funding will be not forthcoming; fear that their climate research lives will be over.

    They might still be waiting to see which way the wind finally blows – but what the emails really showed is that group think, intimidation and peer pressure severely dominated this scientific field for more than a decade.

    Like Geology and Medical Science, it will mature over time and true scientific methods and processes will eventually dominate. But until that becomes the norm, very few will speak up. Maybe it will be done quietly. Maybe not.

  74. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:21 AM | Permalink

    The post was on why climatologists in general have not condemned the Climategate unethical behavior. The moderators are very lenient– I would have liked to see a bigger percentage of comments being on the post’s topic.

    I see this topic as crucial. We know that the Team climatologists can’t be trusted and have no authority when they speak as scientists. But what about climatologists generally?

    Looking in from outside as an economist, my starting point is that climatology is a legitimate scholarly field and you can trust what someone says (for example, that they don’t make up data, and when they say a regression comes out a certain way it actually does). Now, I see that some top climatologists can’t be trusted. That’s big news, but of course there are evil people everywhere. The way you can evaluate a group of people– a political party or a scientific community– is by seeing what they do with evil people who are caught. If they disavow them, good. If they don’t, we can conclude that the whole apple barrel is rotten. That seems to be what we should conclude about climatology, given the silence of people in the field.

    This same argument can be made about scientists generally, or even more generally, scholars. “Peer review” has gotten a bad name. I wish the various scholarly societies would disavow the unethical behavior displayed here. If we don’t, the public will rightly distrust scholars in general.

  75. Eric Rasmusen
    Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 1:31 AM | Permalink

    Another point: on the risks of criticizing unethical behavior. Think about what they are. Government and academic employees are usually protected by tenure, civil service, or union rules. (Untenured faculty, post-docs and grad students are not, so it is easy to see why they keep quiet.) You will not get published as easily, and you won’t get grants if you offend powerful people in the field. But aren’t there scholars who never publish or whose publishing days are over, who could speak out? At Chicago they used to joke that George Stigler, not Gary Becker, had to write the JPE rejection letters to Scandinavian authors, because Stigler already had his Nobel but Becker was still waiting. It’s easy to find people who are safe, to make the public statements if they are to be made.

    But I think we scholars are mostly timid people. We simply don’t like the idea of somehow, in some vague and unknown way, getting into trouble by sticking our necks out. I bet that’s why German academia didn’t protect the Jews in the 1930’s, and I bet we wouldn’t be much better if a similar move were made today.
    Steve: I think that I mentioned my own contact with Stigler back in 1962 or so. We played at the same summer golf club. I was 14 or 15 at the time. I remember driving my 2nd shot onto the green at the par-5 11th hole while the old geezers were putting – which they’d been doing for what seemed then like the past half hour. Stigler threw my ball into the woods. I later played him in the club tournament that year – smoked him.

    • Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 3:47 AM | Permalink

      We simply don’t like the idea of somehow, in some vague and unknown way, getting into trouble by sticking our necks out.

      I think that there might be some rational reason for this type of “detached” social behavior of scientists. The working organ of the scientist is his brain. This organ must be free to be able to work — analyzing the reality and uncovering previously unknown links among things, producing new knowledge nobody has ever thought of before. A baker making pies during his working day can in the evening engage into some social protests. If a scientist does the same, and gets really involved, he will be unable to concentrate on his work. For a baker, who works more with hands, this should be much easier.

      Russian scientists are about to be having hard times, e.g., http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/28/world/europe/28petersburg.html?_r=1 My observation has been that scientists who are now actively engaged in social protests are unhappy about their scientific productivity. This is somehow comparable to professional self-annihilation.

    • Nica in Houston
      Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 9:16 PM | Permalink

      This apparent timidity is accounted for by a number of factors common to all University science:

      1. Grant Review committees are dominated by cliques of scientists who collaborate in studies and who also serve as editors and reviewers in their major discipline journals, and who therefore, review each other’s work. This is a nearly inevitable result of the manner in which grant committee members and grant reviewers are nominated and confirmed in their posts. Sound familiar? To step out of line is to jeopardize future funding AND future publications.

      2. Universities that receive Federal grants (e.g. NAS, NIH, DOE, etc.) receive an Indirect Cost reimbursement of around 49% of the grant total. This amount is paid by the Feds over and above the amount contracted to the investigators. Thus, when Penn State is described as having over half a billion in fed grants, that means that the University is also receiving a quarter billion ON TOP of the grant principal! I believe this creates a powerful incentive for the Universities to abhor and avoid findings of no effect. No effect = No more funding! Not evil, just unstoppable human nature.

      3. Publication standards in all disciplines have suffered markedly under the stewardship of the current generation of scientists. For example, the American Journal of Epidemiology would not in the past consider for publication an article without a doubling or halving of relative risk! Why? Because such findings were unlikely to replicate. Again, the root cause of this phenomenon is, in this humble observer’s opinion, incestuous editing and reviewing and granting.

      President Eisenhower was correct: The governmental academic complex is even more pernicious than the much mentioned military-industrial complex. Thus, I am not surprised that even tenured academics are reluctant to stick their neck out (to quote Eric Rasmussen).

      No solution to this problem is obvious to me.

  76. Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

    Mike Hulme, of the CRU at the University of East Anglia, has written an interesting book called “Why we disagree about climate change.”. Despite his position he has frequently condemned the apocalyptic, over-the-top, message from many climate “activists”.

    It is difficult to compress a complex book in a few sentences but he recognises that for many people their views on climate change are formed not by the science but by the views they hold on other issues: government intervention versus private initiative for example. From this he draws the conclusion that people and states hold conflicting and irreconcilable opinions. The failure of Copenhagen fits in perfectly with this thesis. For a longer review see:

    Or, better still, buy the book.

  77. HotRod
    Posted Dec 25, 2009 at 7:41 PM | Permalink

    HvS has been busy on Christmas Eve:


    as has EZ:


  78. Tilo Reber
    Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 11:53 AM | Permalink

    It’s worth noting that Monbiot quickly got back on track after condemning Jones. His next article was all about how the AGW skeptics are just a bunch of oil company shills.

  79. liberalbiorealist
    Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 12:08 PM | Permalink

    Just to return to the point that Steve was making, it really is something of a puzzle that more scientists haven’t been speaking out against the rather unseemly manner in which orthodoxy has been imposed by The Team, as exposed by ClimateGate.

    If one thinks of the group of scientists involved as a system itself, one would expect that there would exist a sizable set of scientists who were previously in the middle between the “out” skeptics and those in the climate science orthodoxy, or who were themselves skeptics, but lacked the courage or the motivation to speak out. One would think that a major event like ClimateGate would tip a goodly number of them over to a position of open dissent with how the orthodoxy has been imposed.

    It’s something of an anomaly that that hasn’t been so.

    I can only speculate that years of caving to one’s own cowardice in the face of risk can’t be easy to get over, and that the lines that get drawn over so extended a period of time run deeper than one would otherwise expect.

    Perhaps they are waiting for others in their midst to be the first to break from the pack.

  80. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 1:16 PM | Permalink

    Hot Rod when you say

    “So if you and Kenneth hammer someone like JC (who has shown independence anyway) who has posted today here explicitly saying she took too much for granted, how will that encourage others?”

    I think as someone who has noted that he is new to this blog you must understand that I would much rather join an analysis of a climate science paper than point to what motivates the authors of these papers.

    I join the interlude of the climategate discussions here and at other blogs merely to voice my own personal point of view and what I see, not in reacting to someone’s one sentence response, but what I see in their overall comments and musings – recantations notwithstanding and of little or no meaning or consequence to me.

    Your comment seems to imply that if one makes especially nice to some of these climate scientists and perhaps by overlooking some of their previous comments that they will flock to join a science based discussion here at this blog and others similarly orientated. We have posters here who genuflect and swoon on cue and that does not seem to bring about the desired type of discussion.

    On the other hand, we have RC with its advocacy position worn on its sleeve and making no qualms about not making nice with those with opposing points of view. The result is many potential, and climate science oriented, posters with opposition POVs lining up to post. Oh, but wait a minute they do not all get to post their views. In fact some are permanently barred from posting. Well there is a winning combination to get people with climate science knowledge to want to post at your blog: You can be nasty, but also filter like crazy and they will come – even if they do not necessarily get their posts posted. Or could it just be that some climate scientists have other reasons for not wanting to join science based discussions.

    • HotRod
      Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 4:28 PM | Permalink

      “Or could it just be that some climate scientists have other reasons for not wanting to join science based discussions.”

      I don’t know, I guess that’s what I was asking.

      If they are all either lousy scientists, or just taking the shilling, either of which fits with why none (?) have spoken out since Mc and Mc demolished the HS many years ago now, then I can’t imagine how things will pan out.

      I just re-read http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/McKitrick-hockeystick.pdf, which even a moron like me can understand, plus Wegman, and nothing changed after those events? In fact it got worse. So why/how will CG change anything?

      How do you think things will develop over the next year, say? Steve’s point, re-worded, was that so far as one can see from any public statements the consensus, the community, seems intact. And Mann gets to write leaders.

      I’m far far crosser than I sound, btw.

  81. Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 9:13 PM | Permalink

    Links to to Alexander Cockburn are often a hoot,

    Writing in The Nation, he prefigured the geophysical views of Al ” several million degrees inside the Earth” Gore by insisting that global warming is caused by ” the giant reactor beneath our feet: the earth’s increasingly hot molten core” :


    My compliments to the redoubtably guileless von Storch for calling a bad paper a bad paper.

  82. Kenneth Fritsch
    Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 9:50 PM | Permalink

    “How do you think things will develop over the next year, say? Steve’s point, re-worded, was that so far as one can see from any public statements the consensus, the community, seems intact. And Mann gets to write leaders.”

    I am not one to prognosticate, but I do not see any underlying currents in the climate science and related fields that are ready to burst into the open with any new approaches or points of view. The so called consensus and its worth for those making policy will remain in tact and with the benefit, in my judgment, of the so called neutrals not making any major efforts to quantify the uncertainty of that evidence that the consensus raises hands on in order to provide a subjective level of uncertainty.

    I can only hope that the climategate discussion quickly blows over and we can get back to auditing/analyzing climate science papers. It gets me, I think, a little closer to truth and little better able to comprehend the uncertainties involved. Finally, those aspects are fun and keep me from getting angry.

    If the email revelations surprised me in any way, it is how seriously the consensus makers apparently take the arguments and published works that are counter to that of the consensus and the amount of doubt that showed through the private conversations within the consensus.

  83. Jim
    Posted Dec 26, 2009 at 10:21 PM | Permalink

    One reason for not speaking out is of
    course the potential for victimization.
    Most scientists just want to do science.
    Most scientists do not want to do politics with its inevitable downside.

    I signed the letter to the APS (American Physical Society). Then I noticed my name being referenced in left-wing blogs by people trying to invtesigate me. I found this rather creepy to say the least.

  84. Peter Lloyd
    Posted Dec 27, 2009 at 2:54 PM | Permalink

    Simple fear of losing one’s job, however humble, is a most powerful gag.

    I am long retired, so no one can pressure me. But a young man of my acquaintance is a local Environmental Officer here in the UK. It’s a job low down on the scientific pecking order, watching, measuring and tracing emissions, checking up on local industries and trying to persuade businesses to clean up their act rather than prosecute them. Several years ago we talked about AGW and he was surprised at my scepticism. I have fed him with papers, articles, books, etc. over the years and he is now a confirmed sceptic.

    But he dare not discuss his views among his colleagues and supervisors in the Scientific Civil Service. Jobs are hard to find. Throughout his Department, it is understood to be a non-negotiable area. All must support the consensus.

    It is not the same world in which I grew up.

  85. HotRod
    Posted Dec 28, 2009 at 3:48 AM | Permalink

    Ok, here’s a similar world, in many respects, where none of the participants will ever speak up however many times they are ‘rumbled’. Aid.

    That world is fraught with similar sounding battles, and has two characteristics:
    1 We CAN’T do nothing.
    2 the cost-benefit analysis is incredibly hard, impossible, and gets overtaken by ‘politics’. In essence the counter-factual is utterly unknowable.

    An old friend from the seventies came to stay recently, after 25 years in East Africa, doing peaceful aid and war-torn aid. She was utterly disillusioned by the effects of aid, and by the participants. I can try (and fail) to boil her arguments down, it ain’t easy, and she was seeing it from an aid-recipient pov, but essentially her point was donors win, recipients governments win, recipient participants lose. The effects of setting up local power structures to administer aid is always bad, the effect even of feeding war refugees and undoubtedly saving many from death is bad (it becomes in the interest of the warrers to keep refugees where they are). I could go on endlessly, some of you will know the arguments, but the point is that she, having spent her entire adult life there, doing it, could see minimal merit in it, despite desperately wanting to. (She excepted inoculation, as a ‘come, do good, and then go’ form of aid, with limited scope for abuse of money and power).

    There are private structures (Oxfam = Greenpeace?), which in her view also cause harm, as well as government structures, NGO’s, and of course, here we go, the UN.

    Almost anyone who argues against aid is immoral, probably called Inhofe, probably American. When they say, look at the stats, the more aid, the more poverty (relative to non-recipients), they are shouted down. There was a Kenyan woman from Goldman Sachs (black, born in Kenya), Dambisa Moyo, who wrote a book this year on why aid is not just futile but causes harm, and I bet (I don’t know) she is treated within the aid industry as if she was Christopher Booker or Monckton, ie a swivel-eyed lunatic. Also, of course, demonised by the power structures in recipient countries (ring a bell at all, Copenhagen? We’re drowning!) http://allafrica.com/stories/200910051238.html

    So if the UK government commission some body to do a survey on the effect of a particular aid programme, where will that body come from? Why, within the industry, so what do you expect they will say? If they commissioned me to do the survey i would probably struggle to be as rude as I should, as i am dependent on the industry for my next job too.

    So I like the parallel, and I think it’s On Topic, because NO-ONE in the aid industry ever speaks out against it. The funding is massive, the UK gvt has committed to double aid to 0.7% of gdp, a UN target, so no-one ever will. And, like AGW, no-one outside the industry (hardly) ever speaks out either, because aid is good, it’s our duty – I bet a lot of you are thinking that right now. I am feeling bad saying it. (But read Moyo if you want to think about an area away from climate for a while). So the argument, if there is one, is on the fringes – what’s the right sort of aid, etc, not should we be giving at all.

    The abuse of stats is appalling, even on measurement, they only count winners, not losers, who also get lost in the unknowable counterfactual.

    So, I don’t see any likelihood of all this (AGW) going away until someone turns the taps off, and that very rarely happens once structures get embedded.

    That’s a first shot, but people here have been asking for a parallel to IPCC/AGW/CG etc. i think it holds up, and its message is NOT encouraging – even after decades of demonstrably failed aid (in aggregate), budgets climb ever higher, and if the sceptics are right, greater harm is done.

  86. Drew
    Posted Dec 28, 2009 at 11:46 AM | Permalink

    Just curious. Can we get a full member list of “The Team”?

    All I know is:


  87. Jaye
    Posted Dec 28, 2009 at 4:51 PM | Permalink

    Curry’s remarks were cynical at best. I would call her the Artful Dodger.

  88. Jimchip
    Posted Jan 1, 2010 at 3:03 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps this is OT: “Opposite topic”:

    The team as ‘victim’. According to WaPo, more need to speak out for the team.


    “A few scientists answered the Climategate charges almost instantly. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University, whose e-mails were among those made public, made a number of television and radio appearances.”
    “But they were largely alone. “I haven’t had all that many other scientists helping in that effort,” Mann told me recently. “

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