Erice 2010

I’m off to Sicily tonight for the 2010 conference of the World Federation of Scientists, hosted by the redoubtable Antonio Zichichi. I’ll be a bit spotty checking in.

I never did finish reporting on the 2009 conference as we got overtaken by Yamal and then by Climategate and the inquiries. I’ve got a better computer this year (enough battery life to get through the day and I’ll try to post some conference reports.)

I’m making a presentation in a session on Improving IPCC.


  1. Ross
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 6:27 PM | Permalink

    Improving IPCC??? Steve, you are an optimist, par excellence!

    • Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 12:34 PM | Permalink

      And not actually mentioned in the official programme, which includes Chris Essex on Friday morning. Steve’s down for “CLIMATE FOCUS: Data, Mathematical Structures and Predictions” on Sunday afternoon, alongside Richard Lindzen of MIT, William Happer of Princeton and Richard Wilson of Harvard. No pressure there then.

    • Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 3:39 PM | Permalink

      I think the only way to improve the IPCC is with a ball and chain. I mean, what use is it?

  2. Paul-in-CT
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 6:35 PM | Permalink

    Steve, you are having the most interesting and consequential “retirement” one can imagine. I hope you are enjoying it!

  3. Anthony Watts
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 6:58 PM | Permalink

    Steve has asked me to keep an eye on CA while he’s away, since I have admin status at CA. Got ideas for posts ?

    Feel free to submit them here in comments.

    • Dave Dardinger
      Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 7:21 PM | Permalink

      Re: Anthony Watts (Aug 17 18:58),

      First we had PCA and now this Lasso thingee. I’m wondering if one of the resident stats people could make a post on what I think they call “data reduction” and just what it’s meant to do. I have a little bit of an idea, having been on CA from the beginning, but a lot of people probably find the subject MEGO.

    • mpaul
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 9:33 AM | Permalink

      I’ve always been interested in how Dendros actually measure the width of a tree ring to an accuracy of 1/10 the diameter of a individual tree cell. Is this false accuracy? How much measurement error is introduced by the method?

    • Laurent Cavin
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 10:10 AM | Permalink

      I have a proposition for discussion (i.e. a thread):

      How do satellite data compare to ground measurements of temperature. I always have the impression they they are quite close. Perhaps one measure 0.4C/30 year and another 0.3C, but they show the same story within some uncertainty (which is anyway dwarfed by the variability and the effect on trends of selecting start and end dates).

      So as a follow-up question: why are there so many discussion about the validity of weather-stations (bad placement, UHI effect, gridding, corrections) when they apparently say the same story as the fully independant (and uncorrected (?)) sat data.

      For the grand finale: can we not mostly trust the global temperature trends as they are measured at similar values by four teams using two fully independant techniques?

    • Laurent Cavin
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 10:19 AM | Permalink

      I’m a bit using this as an invitation for asking the questions bugging me :-). So another one:

      Assume the IPCC is right and we go for 3C warming in 2100. This represent 1% (formulated in K). This represent about 10% of the normal yearly temperature variability in mid latitudes (such as the Swiss midland).

      I reformulate the latest: plants and animals which now survive in a temperature range of -10C – +30C (these are not extremes, but averaged highs and lows) will get -7C – 33C. (This assumes that warming is similar both in cold winter nights and hot summer days.)
      Why would that have sooo much consequences?

      Now I can imagine that there are places on Earth where +3C just make it unviable. But still – why ahould it have so many consequences?

      Finally, we should remember that +3C in the XXIst century will not continue exponentially. In the XXIInd century, most fossil fules will be used up so CO2 will normalize.

      Feel free to snip if this is too much outside topic here.

    • John Whitman
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 1:43 PM | Permalink


      Can you discuss with Steve to get an econometrician (applied statistician) to talk on developments in their field? And they could go into also what they see as being applicable to future climate science studies?

      I think they need to tailor their discussion to the general mix of people at CA versus a strictly professional statistician audience.

      • John Whitman
        Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 1:58 PM | Permalink

        I do not imply that M or M couldn’t do the suggested post. Just saying the-more-the-merrier regarding participation of the statistician(eonometrician) community posting in this venue.


    • Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

      I’ve been blogging on Fourier analysis of climate (and other) datasets. See the fun so far at

      • Gary
        Posted Aug 19, 2010 at 9:05 AM | Permalink

        Nice to see this area of analysis being addressed. The comments option at your blog don’t seem to be enabled, though.

      • Mike Rankin
        Posted Aug 19, 2010 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

        I also tried to make a comment but failed. I have a parallel interest in FT analysis.

        • Posted Aug 21, 2010 at 11:29 AM | Permalink

          To be honest, its just a place for me to post. I’m not hosting comments because I just don’t have the time or the inclination to moderate them.

  4. Bernie
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 7:00 PM | Permalink

    Have fun. Let’s hope that it will be productive. In any event, a few first hand wine recommendations will be greatly appreciated.

    • RayG
      Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 11:14 PM | Permalink

      Check out the Nero di Avolos and Passopisciaro.

  5. srp
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 7:08 PM | Permalink

    Just a thought for the IPCC–some (by no means all) of the stats disputes seem to focus on appropriate error bars, confidence bands, etc. Perhaps if we followed the advice of the more decision-theory oriented statisticians and explicitly laid out our loss functions, we could integrate those into our error analysis in a principled way. What do we want power against?

    The public interest in this topic is not purely academic but based on its implications for that which must be snipped at CA, i.e. policy. A loss function is a way of making explicit one’s policy concerns without giving up one’s objectivity with respect to the data analysis. So it should be possible to say “if you are worried about missing tipping points, here are your uncertainty bounds” or “if you are worried about overestimating climate sensitivity, here are your uncertainty bounds.” Conventional 95% intervals may imply an implicit loss function held by no one in the debate.

  6. Tom Fuller
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 7:26 PM | Permalink

    For your presentation, in boca lupo–e crepe il lupo…

    Have a good lemon sorbet and a dozen cannoli or so…

  7. Don B
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 7:50 PM | Permalink

    The IPCC’s mission was “The IPCC reviews and assesses the most recent scientific, technical and socio-economic information produced worldwide relevent to the understanding of human induced climate change.”

    It was not created to be an honest broker, it was created based on the assumption that anthropogenic activities were the dominant climate forcings.

    To improve the IPCC, it would be good to change the mission statement.

  8. Salamano
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 8:49 PM | Permalink

    Perhaps a rebuttal of the forthcoming ClimateProgress takedown of the McShane and Wyner paper (that Joe Romm says is imminent) is in order…

  9. Sal
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 8:56 PM | Permalink

    If you want to have some good Sicilian food, let me know, my family owns several restaurants in the Aspra and Mongerbino, Palermo. Both are provinces of Bagheria, Palermo. My family is from Mongerbino which is straight across the Gulf of Palermo. Here is a YouTube Video of one of the Restaurants which is where this YouTube Video was filmed when my parents got married in 1959. Even though it is for big parties, my family has a feast every day there. Let me know and I will give you my cousins cell phone to set it up.

  10. scientist
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 9:01 PM | Permalink

    Completed paint experiment

    Completed Basil solar silliness

    Completed surface stations project

    Opened Steve-mistaken-variance thread


    Or you could just link to semi-violent hockey analogies. Yuck, yuck! Go hoi polloi! Let’s all grunt and hoot like the audience on the Mort Downey Jr. show.,_Jr.

    • Mike B
      Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 9:09 PM | Permalink

      You forgot one TCOisbanned:

      Cross-posted at DeepClimate in case of censorship by big oil or big corn.

    • Mark F
      Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 10:59 PM | Permalink

      Thank you, Don Cherry.

    • Hoi Polloi
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

      “Go hoi polloi!” Are you talking to me??

      In-completed operation cover-up.

      In-completed operation smoke screen.

    • Skip Smith
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 7:41 AM | Permalink

      Please don’t pretend you are somehow above the partisanship you’re criticizing here. You’re just as much of a yahoo as everyone else.

      For example, you mocked Steve for blaming the reviewers for what you perceived as a flaw in his paper, yet you gave Gavin a free pass when he said the reviewers made them use outdated data in Santer et al.

  11. john a
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 10:03 PM | Permalink

    I don’t believe that IPCC can be fixed so long as the people are assembled under the assumption and label of climate change. It should be called the Global Climate Assessment Group.

    This may seem like a petty point, but it’s difficult to imagine that body firmly agreeing that climate is normal when the body’s title itself presumes that it’s not. (“I’m going to submit a paper to the Climate Change body declaring that our reason for being is false.”) People don’t want to look stupid. IPCC encourages them to find climate change just to protect their egos.

    It also seems glaringly obvious that this field has been characterized and poisoned by Waterloo battles over second derivative climate trends which are fiercely ego-driven. This whole topic is purely mano a mano. Relabel it so people can move on.

  12. Pat Frank
    Posted Aug 17, 2010 at 10:26 PM | Permalink

    Mostly, the IPCC shows the danger of centralizing power or authority.

    A power center can be taken over by extremists, who can then force their ideology onto everyone. Forcing everyone to follow their righteous way is, for extremists, their passion, their very reason for existence, and their central goal. And their continuing passion means their unrelenting impulse.

    Reformed or not, the IPCC will remain a centralized authority. It will be a tempting prize and extremists will target it for take-over all over again.

    The history of the IPCC is an object example of opportunistic extremist politics in action.

    For this reason, the IPCC should be disbanded.

    Any future global climate assessments should come from international meetings of national meteorological associations, in which debate is free and all the competing points of view get argued out.

    • Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 2:36 AM | Permalink


      • stephen richards
        Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 3:16 AM | Permalink


    • dahuang
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 7:32 AM | Permalink

      Political feasibility is very important in here. IPCC will not be disbanded under current political and scientific situation, so your anticipated radical stance by Steve could only have the effect of alienating the healthy force from the center stage of the debate, which would be a definite setback for Steve himself as well as his supporters. In a word, Steve’s approach is politically mature and sustainable, which would only lead to more and more attention to his opinion and persistent involvement of the healthy voice in the process.

      This is also the mechanism how CA has succeeded during these years and there is no reason to turn away from that. Time is at CA’s side and pressure is on the other side. You know, every clumsy move of the other side would be documented here, and it is exactly the accumulation of these stuff that would bring down AGW ultimately.

      • Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 12:45 PM | Permalink

        I was thinking over this very thing, before reading your contribution. But one might as well stay radical, even within the current setup. Steve’s 300/60 suggestion last month in London for IPCC working group 1 – 300 pages on feedbacks (why Lindzen is wrong), 60 on the rest – fits the bill very nicely.

        • dahuang
          Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 3:00 PM | Permalink

          Disagree. A political Movement usually needs a radical part to maintain its momentum; so does its Counter-Movement. But that part does not necessarily be played by such noble and elegant man such as Steve, and this function could be well fulfilled by someone else who excels on this. A mixed image of Steve would only be welcomed by the Team and their supervisors, from which a variety of attacks could be designed to discredit Steve and colleagues.

          In fact, Steve even does not like to be viewed or associated with any political movement; if so, this is a position his supporters should respect.

        • Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 6:47 PM | Permalink

          So you think the couple of pages on feedbacks in a massive WG1 report of over a thousand pages is sufficient?

          My point was that in London last month Steve has already been this radical. If you call that ‘political’, that word means nothing to me (or I believe to him). Certainly it’s not party political, at least in the UK. All the parties pay lip-service to the IPCC here (though the coalition government is rapidly distancing itself from the emission reduction radicals in terms of policy). Nobody is arguing for the next IPCC report to say much more on the central scientific question. But they should be. And Steve already is.

          I doubt Professors Lindzen and Happer will have a problem with this point of view, sitting alongside him. It should be good deal of fun for those there.

  13. stephen richards
    Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 3:15 AM | Permalink


    Tell them we would be better off without the IPCC. We don’t need them.

  14. RalpieGM
    Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 4:27 AM | Permalink

    Idea. More on the temperature LAGGING CO2 in ice cores. My recent posts at Tamino on this elicited a nasty response – I’m naïve and a dupe, Tamino says its both a cause AND an effect. I was stunned into blog silence.

    • Scott B.
      Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 7:06 AM | Permalink

      “CO2 is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Revelation 22:13, King James Hansen Version.

      • Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 12:47 PM | Permalink

        That deserves hearty our-Mann (works best with the English pronounciation)

      • Dave Dardinger
        Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 12:58 PM | Permalink

        Re: Scott B. (Aug 18 07:06),

        Actually CO2 is the anti-carbon. And the CAGWers are the False Prophets.

  15. Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 6:32 AM | Permalink

    john a ( Aug 17, 2010 at 10:03 PM )
    “I don’t believe that IPCC can be fixed so long as the people are assembled under the assumption and label of climate change. It should be called the Global Climate Assessment Group.”

    The problem with IPCC will remain to exist, and getting worst, as long as they use a layman’s term: CLIMATE, not able or even willing, to give the term a meaning more reasonable for scientific work.

    According WMO, scientific community & sceptics:
    ___Climate is average weather, not saying what ‘weather’ is. AMS-Glossary says:
    ___” The “present weather” table consists of 100 possible conditions, with 10 possibilities for “past weather”, while popularly, weather is thought of in terms of temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, visibility, and wind.”, but remaining silent on “future weather”. More at:

    While this is already ‘confusing’ enough, WMO explains, that: “CLIMATE in
    ___ a more rigorously way, is the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time (from months to million of years);
    ___in a broader sense, Climate is the status of the climate system……”.
    WMO actually says: statistical weather is the status of the climate system.

    This all explains nothing, it is scientifically nonsense, and it is a complete insufficient way to communicate with the general public and politics in a fair manner. Since the stone-age or longer, each layman forms during his life time a very personal view what he/she regards in one or the other situation as “weather” and “climate” (= average weather). Atmospheric science has the task and objective to study the atmospheric physical and chemical processes within the atmosphere and the effect from and on other systems, and should be able to define their work and research subjects accordingly.

    Recently IPCC (Report-2007) came up with this:
    “A common confusion between weather and climate arises when scientists are asked how they can predict climate 50 years from now when they cannot predict the weather a few weeks from now. The chaotic nature of weather makes it unpredictable beyond a few days.
    · Projecting changes in climate (i.e., long-term average weather) due to changes in atmospheric composition or other factors is a very different and much more manageable issue.
    · As an analogy, while it is impossible to predict the age at which any particular man will die, we can say with high confidence that the average age of death for men in industrialised countries is about 75.”

    Confusion to whom? ‘Long term average weather’ remains long term average weather, pending of the meaning of: “long term average”, and “weather”. WMO, IPCC, and colleagues seem to be unable and unwilling to define WEATHER and CLIMATE in a reasonable scientific manner. The UNFCCC is an example;

    Improving IPCC should start with abolishing the word CLIMATE in scientific research and communication, as long as it is not very differently defined as used in the layman’s sphere. Call IPCC, for example: the
    “Global Air Temperature Assessment Group.”

  16. Jim Pacheco
    Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 9:53 AM | Permalink

    Let’s look at the basic tool of the temperature over time graphs.

    Remember the anthropogenic global cooling movement in the 70’s. As I look at the modern temperature over time graphs, the cool ’70s are becoming flat. Who is making these after-the-fact adjustments, when were they made, how often were they made, and are they archived anythere.

  17. john a
    Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 11:13 AM | Permalink

    Follow the money.

    The IPCC must include the costs of all of the alarmist research as part of its reports.

    There is a perverse financial incentive for researchers to yell, “fire” so they can keep the grant monies flowing to themselves.

    How many of these guys would be driving cabs if it weren’t for this hysteria?

  18. Scott Basinger
    Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 11:24 AM | Permalink

    Perhaps the IPCC needs an auditing department to deal with all of the grey literature references, and a some type of structure that is responsible for expressing uncertainty.

  19. David L. Hagen
    Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    Recommend the IPCC formally include BOTH Type A and Type B uncertainties.
    Including Type B (Bias) uncertainty commonly increases the total uncertainty by a factor of two!

    That put the issues better in perspective, when considering $ trillion “investments”.

    See NIST’s Guidelines for the Measurement of Uncertainty, Technical Note 1297.

    See the equivalent ISO Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty in Measurement (GUM) 1995, and The International Vocabulary of Basic and General Terms in Metrology, (VIM) 1993

  20. John Whitman
    Posted Aug 18, 2010 at 4:45 PM | Permalink


    Watch out for the Sicilian version of Grappa. It’s rocket fuel for the libedo.


  21. Martin Brumby
    Posted Aug 19, 2010 at 1:16 AM | Permalink

    The most appropriate reform to the IPCC would be an absolutely blanket ban of any “scientist” or bureaucrat who has ever been involved with the organisation, ever receiving a penny of public funding again.

    For those select few honest contributors and reviewers, this would have little effect because most are not on the gravy train anyway. Other competent scientists would doubtless find their services greatly in demand from industry trying to repair the damage that has already been done by the cAGW religion.

    It might be objected that this approach would be harsh. Not as harsh as the damage already inflicted on the world’s poor.

    A more modest reform proposal is to be found in Dr.Roy Spencer’s excellent “The Great Global Warming Blunder” page 142, where he points out that:-
    “little or no published evidence exists for natural sources of global warming. But this is primarily because the research community has not been funded to look out for natural sources of climate change. Maybe we should find out what fraction of the total amount of taxpayer money spent on climate research in recent years has gone into investigating possible natural sources of climate change. I would guess that this fraction is very close to zero. In reality, the IPCC’s position is not based on the evidence, but on a lack of evidence. For too long the panel has succeeded in deflecting criticism while hiding behind veil of professes scientific objectivity.”

    Have a good time in Sicily!

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