A Climate Mob

In the mid-2000s, I was researching an archaeology story that took me to several national parks in the Southwest. At one of them, the National Park Service (NPS) archaeologist discussed competing theories about the disappearance of a mysterious ancient culture. For decades, there had been heated debate among scholars over what became of this culture.

In an aside, the NPS archaeologist told me how professional squabbles in her field prompted her at one point to flee the Southwest to do archaeology in another region. Why? “One reason I left is I find southwestern archaeologists… [long pause] very unforgiving.” How so? “Part of it is the backstabbing.” The archaeologist didn’t care to elaborate, so we turned back to a discussion on the different factors that led to a depopulating of the American Southwest a millennium ago.

By this time, I had already learned that some topics in southwestern archaeology were highly contentious, that the field was fraught with cultural biases and that one scientist in particular–Christy Turner–had felt the wrath of his colleagues for research that challenged prevailing views.

Of course, turf battles and petty behavior are not unique to anthropology (though the field has its share of high profile controversies). And the fierceness of scholarly combat is usually confined to academic conferences and journals. (Sometimes it spills into public view–oh look, another example from anthropology.) But when research has public policy implications, it attracts wider interest and scrutiny. And if the research leaps onto the political stage, it becomes cannon fodder for competing agendas.

Several years after my sojourn in the Southwest, a tranche of emails from climate scientists were stolen from a university server and made public on the internet. The 2009 episode, which became known as “Climategate,” did not undermine the multiple lines of evidence for human-caused climate change. But the event reverberated globally because 1) climate change had already become an intensely political and partisan issue, and 2) the emails were leaked just prior to an international meeting that many had hoped would lead to an agreement between nations to curtail their carbon emissions. That expectation proved unrealistic.

By this time, I had recently switched from my day job as an editor covering the environment for Audubon magazine to a freelancer writing and blogging more frequently about climate change. I also started my own blog–Collide-a-Scape, where I interrogated the claims, arguments and tactics used by the various combatants in the climate debate. Sometimes I touched a nerve. It soon became apparent to me that anything I wrote on the subject of climate change–including responses to a reader at my own blog–had the potential to be cherry-picked for the blogospheric funhouse.

This is just one dimension of the warped environment that much coverage, commentary, and discussion of climate change takes place in. My own fleeting experiences pale in comparison to those of climate scientists, whose work is the subject of intense and relentless public scrutiny. A number of them have been unfairly treated, hounded, and personally slandered for years.

To those aware of this history it came as no surprise that the correspondence between climate scientists made public in 2009 revealed a siege mentality. It also revealed a side of scientists that people didn’t normally see, which I thought was then put into terrific context by one biologist:

Science doesn’t work despite scientists being asses. Science works, to at least some extent, because scientists are asses. Bickering and backstabbing are essential elements of the process. Haven’t any of these guys ever heard of “peer review”?

There’s this myth in wide circulation: rational, emotionless Vulcans in white coats, plumbing the secrets of the universe, their Scientific Methods unsullied by bias or emotionalism. Most people know it’s a myth, of course; they subscribe to a more nuanced view in which scientists are as petty and vain and human as anyone (and as egotistical as any therapist or financier), people who use scientific methodology to tamp down their human imperfections and manage some approximation of objectivity.

But that’s a myth too. The fact is, we are all humans; and humans come with dogma as standard equipment. We can no more shake off our biases than Liz Cheney could pay a compliment to Barack Obama. The best we can do— the best science can do— is make sure that at least, we get to choose among competing biases.

What’s unusual about the climate debate is that partisans don’t want you to be able to choose among those competing biases. That’s why Marc Morano wages a Tea Party-like campaign against Republican moderates who dare to talk about climate change. That’s why his counterparts in the climate-concerned community have waged a similar effort over the years to discredit University of Colorado political scientist Roger Pielke Jr., an effort that reached a shameful crescendo these past few weeks.

This is not to say that Roger is above criticism (He’s not). Or that Roger is blameless. (He’s not.) And there’s some useful context here from Dale Jamieson (ignore the headline), if you want to understand the anger that has been building against Roger since the mid to late 2000s. But I’m sorry, the torch-bearing mob that went after him after he published his first piece at Nate Silver’s new site was despicable. And now it’s turned into the sort of agenda-driven campaign and ideological cleansing that even Morano would grudgingly admire.

*As Michael Levi, the respected energy analyst observed:

The onslaught is disturbing. I’ve disagreed with Roger often, but he is genuinely well intentioned. People who care about getting good policy should want more thoughtful voices, not fewer, proposing options – and organized campaigns to run heterodox thinkers out of town are awfully ugly.

There’s a side to scientists and scholars–their arrogance, sharp elbows, and stubborn biases–that can be ugly when exposed to sunlight. What’s even uglier is when one of them is tied to the whipping post in broad daylight by a mob egged on by leading climate scientists and their henchmen.

* The initial link I provided for Michael Levi’s quote was to a National Journal article. That was a mix-up on my part. The sentence now contains the correct reference and link.

138 Responses to “A Climate Mob”

  1. JH says:

    Loud applause!

    You won’t find any “accidentally” flipped over and pasted time-series charts in Roger’s work.

  2. Duane_of_Dibbley says:

    The comments section should get interesting soon. I suspect a mob is getting good and lathered up even now.

  3. JH says:

    Incidentally, the “siege mentality” among “mainstream” climate scientists arose because they dramatically and pathologically overplayed their scientific hand in the policy arena.

  4. JabbaTheCat says:

    Good blog post…

  5. Kuze81 says:

    It’s worth noting that the same week that Roger’s 538 piece was getting him sentenced to the stocks many of the same pitchfork wielders were approvingly tweeting the “NASA study” of impending apocalypse.

    This should tell you all you need to know about the intellectual calibre of the mob.

  6. Billy___Bob says:

    ““Climategate,” did not undermine the multiple lines of evidence for human-caused climate change.”

    Yes it did.

    It didn’t undermine it as much as the cessation of warming after 1998 … but your cult is still making excuses and not acknowledging that the 1998+ pause is identical to the 1945-1979 “pause” that coincided with the AMO.


  7. Paul Davison says:

    On what basis is Levi able to ascribe motive to Roger’s latest attempt to confuse. Now Keith I realize math probably isn’t your strong point but I’d have thought that you would understand the argument that Emmanuel put forward. If not google Bayesian vs frequentist.

  8. Tom Scharf says:

    Good article.

    RPJ had a post on his blog announcing his 538 association a few weeks before he posted. I thought “this is probably not going to go well”. Nate Silver had taken a critical view of climate models previously in his book, so he was obviously somewhat sympathetic to skeptical views of some areas of climate science.

    I have followed RPJ on his blog for years now, mostly because of my interest in the connection (or lack thereof) between climate change and hurricanes.

    RPJ posted and exactly what I expected happened, but anyone could have predicted this. The climate thought police had a bird, and it was a vicious ad-hominen attack with very few addressing what he actually posted. GDP normalized disaster losses showing no upward trend.

    To some degree, this is yet another own goal by the climate gate keepers. The Streisand effect will take place to anyone paying attention, and they will only find out that RPJ has a strong case. If you don’t think so, please, please, investigate it yourself independently.

    The level of the emotion in the response shows a real insecurity in the advocates. They should be insecure on this subject of extreme events are getting worse already, the data simply doesn’t support this. I really try to avoid the r-word (religion) in this debate, but this sure seemed like Old Testament fire and brimstone territory. Challenge the dogma at your own soul’s peril.

    Emanuel was allowed to respond, which was proper on 538’s part.

    But I have a feeling 538 will likely choose to not wade into this cesspool again. Who is that a victory for? I really don’t know.

  9. Tom Scharf says:

    Please amaze us with your math. I’m listening.

    I’m prepared with all the trends. Even Emanuel admits there is little observational evidence to support that extreme events are already demonstrably worse.

    “Thus it is hardly surprising that the upward trend in U.S. hurricane damage is of only marginal statistical significance”

    The argument that we may not be able to see the trend yet because the data is too noisy and it takes a long time to emerge is a defensible position, but it sure can’t be used as evidence that it is happening, sorry.

    If you are going to make the extraordinary claim that power plant emissions are making material changes to the weather, the burden is on you to prove it. For most extreme events (hurricanes, droughts, floods, tornadoes) there isn’t even a correlation, much less the hard part of proving causation.

  10. Tom C says:

    “A number of them have been unfairly treated, hounded, and personally slandered for years.”
    Who do you have in mind here?

  11. setb says:

    I really don’t get this POV…This is just what happens on the internet: Controversial piece, backlash, backlash to the backlash (this piece) etc…

    You seem to want to pin this on critics (the mob) — but critics (the mob) on the internet are the constant. And in this case the critics had a point. Unless you think this actual piece that he wrote was problem free?

    Or was Emanuel’s (whose well-reasoned arguments/critiques are oddly not mentioned here) thoughtful response part of the mob?

    Anyway, I think the main problem is that Roger just doesn’t match the brand/purpose that Nate lays out for 538. Nate seems to want to move beyond the typical controversy-focused opinion columnist dynamic to cut through the noise. But Roger is an really an opinion columnist who thrives on creating controversy with a long track record of writing and arguing exactly what he thinks.

  12. Billy___Bob says:

    Standard Operating Procedure for the AGW mob is to:

    1) Never debate
    2) Demand that no “denier” is ever allowed in a newspaper or on TV
    3) Insist that “deniers” be arrested or jailed for having the temerity to disagree with the new AGW religion

    Deniers love a debate. We don’t go around trying to get people fired or demanding they never be heard. We want a debate because we know we will win.

    The AGW mob doesn’t demand debates.
    They HATE debate.
    They want all debate shutdown.
    They want deniers ostracized.
    They want us jailed.

    And anyone who gives a denier a space to debate is a special kind of enemy … a traitor to the cause. A quisling.

    And Nate Silver is finding out that he is now an enemy of the new Inquisition.

  13. stevenmosher says:

    Huh? The seige mentality arose because one influential Mann framed the experience in a particular way. Read the mails.

  14. stevenmosher says:

    mails cannot undermine science. Only new science and new data can undermine science. Climategate is not and never was about temperature records. Period. The only issues of note were as follows: Ar4 Chapter 6 and the discussions around a particular chart in paleo literature; the discussions surrounding a related chart on the cover of a WMO report; the violation of FOIA. You can read the mails or buy the book.

  15. kkloor says:

    I guess you read past this sentence in my post: “This is not to say that Roger is above criticism (He’s not).” And you didn’t click on the link.

  16. ClimateLearner says:

    I have yet to come across a prominent promoter of climate alarm who is either morally or intellectually worthy of admiration. The promotion of alarm based on so little evidence has made climate science a minefield sown by agitated people where once there was a largely peaceful meadow of scholarship.

  17. Billy___Bob says:

    ClimateGate undermined the illusion there was valid science involved.

    The “pause” drove a stake through CO2 AGW Alarmism.

    You just haven’t admitted it yet.

  18. kingkevin3 says:

    Clearly the author hasn’t bothered to read the climategate emails. This is not just a question of a group of pals bickering with each other. This is full scale disinformation and fraudulent behaviour. They know they don’t know what the impacts of C02 will be and now they know that a sizeable fraction of the public know this. Dissembling as the author does here is typical of the modern day academic. The search for truth in science has long disappeared. Richard Feynman is spinning in his grave.

  19. DavidAppell says:

    There has been no cessation of warming, unless you look at graphs sideways:

    and the latest “slowdown” isn’t even as slow as the one that happened in the mid-1990s:

  20. DavidAppell says:

    The Cowtan & Way dataset shows 0.20 C of warming since 1998.

  21. Tom Scharf says:

    There was also the exposing of how peer review was less than the stellar gate keeper that most imagined, and the attempts to subvert data/FOI requests based on the intent of the requester. And Phil’s delete the e-mails request.

    My understanding was most of the book (HockeyStick?) was written before ClimateGate, and only a chapter was added near publishing time. Not sure. Certainly hide the decline was a headliner, granted.

  22. Billy___Bob says:

    It must be those HADLEY “deniers”.


    David, get a grip. Quit humiliating yourself.

  23. DavidAppell says:

    The upward trend in North Atlantic tropical storms and major hurricanes:

  24. setb says:

    No I saw that. But, that’s not really my point.

    Let’s be clear–there are no actual mobs bearing torches threatening to physically attack Roger. So your using symbolic language to characterize his critics as unthinking–that’s what a mob is!

    I think we’ll just disagree on this–to me this is a case of Pielke writing a sloppy piece & being criticized for it. Some of that criticism was over the top, but that’s par for the course.

    Aggressive criticism on the internet is nothing unique or strange to climate–and this case certainly isn’t more mob-like than any other controversial non-climate piece. Further, American political discourse has almost always been extremely rough, mean, aggressive–so let’s not pretend it hasn’t been.

    I guess my point is that I’m doubtful that you characterizing critics and critiques of his piece as a “torch bearing mob”, elevates the discourse much.

  25. DavidAppell says:

    So what is your preferred method for infilling regions without temperature readings, and why?

  26. DavidAppell says:

    Please specify what you claim to be “fraudulent behavior.”

  27. realheadline says:

    Appell, you are an alarmist parrot with zero credibility. After we get through laughing at you, we’ll have a chuckle at Cowtan & Ways timely and convenient duplicity. Alarmism is sophistry, not science. You know it, I know it, and most of the scientifically literate public knows it.

  28. Tom Scharf says:

    the unmonitored arctic was actually still warming…or
    the ocean ate my warming…or
    the volcanoes at my warming…or
    ENSO ate my warming…or
    Black carbon / aerosols ate my warming…or
    Natural forces are suppressing warming…or
    Climate sensitivity to carbon is lower than anticipated

    Strike the last one, that should not even have been mentioned as a possibility. It may be one or a combination of all of these. I don’t think anyone has the answers yet. Pretty hard to unwind things when we have lots of unknowns.

    If you still expect high climate sensitivity numbers, then temperatures should bounce back with a vengeance in the next decade, we will see.

    I never have understood why we don’t have more temperature monitoring in the Arctic if it is so important. Be nice to clear that up so we don’t have battling estimates.

  29. DavidAppell says:

    You have to pick some method to infill the Arctic. What method do you prefer?

    You seem to prefer to ignore all the complexities of climate, and simply want to hear that ECS is lower. (And a lower ECS won’t stop much warming anyway, at the rate we’re going.)

  30. realheadline says:

    How does it feel to be a turncoat that sold out for cash and acceptance. Does each post stick in your throat just a little more?

  31. Billy___Bob says:

    UAH shows .048/decade from 1998.


    UAH shows 0.0092/dec from 2002


    And currently it is .4C colder than 1998. And it has never been warmer.

  32. DavidAppell says:

    I didn’t realize this blog allowed ad homs in lieu of science.

  33. realheadline says:

    Your specialty.

  34. Tom Scharf says:

    The method I prefer is to place temperature monitoring stations in the Arctic. Agree? Cowtan may be right, and so may the others who proposed different answers.

    I think I just stated what many of the complexities of the climate were. Looks like we agree.

  35. JonFrum says:

    Keith can’t seem to criticize his own tribe without a kick in the general direction of the hated enemy, be it Anthony Watts or Marc Moreno. Even when the whole point of his article is to express his dismay at the repulsive behavior of his own cohort, the ‘yes, but’ has to rear its ugly head.
    And a comment on Moreno. He’s not a guy I pay attention to, but his ‘attacks’ on Republicans who favor global warming legislation is hardly ‘shutting down discussion.’ He is a political activist – it’s his job, and his right as a American to work against those he disagrees with. Pro-life Democrats are hardly left to their own devices among the Progressive crowd.

  36. DavidAppell says:

    WFT uses v5.4 of the UAH LT data. But UAH is now on v5.6.

    With that data I calculate 0.22 C of LT warming since 1998.

    (I wasn’t the one here who picked 1998 as the starting point. I’m just calculating. This interval is too small to be representative of climate; instead, it’s largely representative of oceanic weather.)

  37. Tom Scharf says:

    One valid method is to not assume you can know temperatures where you haven’t measured them.

    Another valid method is to try to estimate them from surrounding areas.

    Both methods are used. Pick your poison.

  38. DavidAppell says:

    If wishes were horses…but there *aren’t* temperature stations in the Arctic. Until then you have to pick a method of infilling.

  39. DavidAppell says:

    You have to assume something, if you want to calculate a global temperature average. And the global number is important because GHGs are well-mixed, and energy is conserved globally, not locally.

  40. Tom Scharf says:

    I thought it was”global” warming, not North Atlantic warming. See below.

    Splitting sparse erratic noisy data sets into smaller pieces does not improve your SNR.

  41. DavidAppell says:

    You were the one who quoted Emanuel about US hurricane damage, not me.

  42. Tom Scharf says:

    If you measure it, you don’t have to assume. Large unmonitored sections of the Arctic have varying estimates. Some data sets do not try to extrapolate this information, some do. Choose the temperature trend you like, others can choose theirs. Nobody really knows what was happening there. It’s uncertain. If you like yours, fine.

  43. Tom Scharf says:

    Ask Emanuel about global hurricane trends.

  44. DavidAppell says:

    When I use global ACE data (which is probably not the best measure of hurricane activity, since it does not account for storm size), I find that global ACE is increasing by 2% per decade, statistically significant at a level of 57%.

    data: http://models.weatherbell.com/global_ace_monthly.dat

    North Atlantic ACE is increasing by 25% per decade, ss=99.99%

  45. DavidAppell says:

    But again, we DON’T measure it. Until then, you have to choose a method of infilling.

    There are good reasons to think kriging is a superior method of infilling, which Cowtan & Way discuss in their paper.

  46. Keith Kloor says:


    I have a lot of respect for you and I don’t agree with that commenter. And while he’s out of line, I also very lightly moderate this blog.

    If someone uses profanity or becomes abusive, then I step in.

    I appreciate you stopping by, but I’m pretty sure you know you’re not going to get anywhere with some of the dead-enders on that end of the climate spectrum.

  47. DavidAppell says:

    Or you could quote him. Or his data.

  48. DavidAppell says:

    I know Keith. My comment was more snark, not directed at you. Sorry.

  49. Billy___Bob says:

    I’ll point out the obvious.

    Method A is used to convince the world is coming to an end because of global warming.

    Lets call it HADCRUT3.

    Billions are squandered.

    Ooops. Method A no longer “proves” anything other than it is cooling from 1998.


    So, rather than rethink the theory, the alarmists come up with Method B.

    Lets call it HADCRUT4.

    Oh oh. HADCRUT4 shows cooling from 2002.

    So, rather than rethink the theory, the alarmists come up with Method C.

    Lets call it Cowton and Way.

    Shall we take Cowton and Way seriously?


    And all through this period there is true denial going on by the AGW Alarmists.

    They deny it stopped warming. They change the label of the problem from Global Warming to Climate Change.

    But they deny, deny, deny that it stopped warming.

  50. Keith Kloor says:

    I’ve long given up hope that the climate discourse can be elevated. People are pretty well dug into their positions.

  51. DavidAppell says:

    Clearly you think the data is somehow sacrosanct.

    It isn’t. The data comes from models, which, like any model, they are imperfect, and which can often be improved.

    The progression from HadCRUT3 to HadCRUT4 to Cowtan & Way is about the data models getting better each time. Sorry if you find that inconvenient, but in science you have to closely examine data and theory all the time.

  52. Keith Kloor says:

    A turncoat, heh? That sounds at little tribal to me, wouldn’t you say?

  53. Keith Kloor says:

    Wait, I thought it drove the final nail in the coffin?? Oh, I guess the stake had to come first, then the nail…

  54. Keith Kloor says:

    Well, I wouldn’t call the viral nature of that piece mob-like. But I take your point, though its really not about intellectual caliber. It’s about ideological priors.

  55. Tom Scharf says:

    Well if you think that global ACE trend proves hurricanes are getting worse, have at it. Doesn’t seem to correlate too well to CO2, but whatever, that never stopped anyone.

    You are 99.99% sure that in 4 decades NA hurricanes will increase by 2X? Want to place a bet on that since you are so confident? I’ll even cut you a break and let you bet me at only 10:1 odds in my favor (you should win!). How much do you want to bet?

    We can also look at hurricane counts and other measures if you like.

  56. Billy___Bob says:

    As I said in an earlier post … if v5.4 was good enough to use to scare world governments into squandering trillions. But now that it failed (or so you say) they need a new one.

    But .033/Decade from 2002 is 1/12th that predicted by the AGW Cult.

  57. Tom Scharf says:

    Or not. Which is what some highly regarded global temperature data sets have chosen to do, but you already know that. I could show you plots of the major temperature trends, but clearly those guys are not as smart as you would like, so we shall agree to disagree. I have asserted that Cowtan could be right, but it’s pretty clear you haven’t come to the conclusion they could be wrong. It’s speculation.

  58. Tom Scharf says:

    Do you think if we keep repeating the same things, it will help?

  59. Billy___Bob says:

    I think Cowtan & Way has been demolished elsewhere.

  60. Tom C says:

    Keith – If you drop this into your post:

    “A number of them have been unfairly treated, hounded, and personally slandered for years.”
    You should at least be able to back it up with an example.

  61. DavidAppell says:


  62. DavidAppell says:

    I don’t accept the WFT result. Here’s the latest data — calculate the trend for yourself:


    Let me know what you get.

  63. DavidAppell says:

    The SkS calculator gives a UAH LT trend of 0.15 C/decade since 1999.0


  64. Tom Scharf says:

    I don’t think Cowtan & Way has become an accepted new temperature set by the community on the order of the others (BEST, HADCRUT, etc.), has it? I think it still sits as an academic paper of interest.

  65. DavidAppell says:

    It’s math, not speculation. And a lot of people are taking it seriously.

  66. DavidAppell says:

    Look, this is what the data say. Download ithem and calculate the trends for yourself. If you get different results, let me know.

  67. DavidAppell says:

    Right. But I know others are looking at it. It always takes time for new methods to propagate, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be discussed on its merits.

  68. Tom Scharf says:

    Really? You are asserting they have found truth here? I was under the impression the other methods also used “math”.

    Math and models are no better than the assumptions that go into them.

    Speculation: the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence

  69. Tom Scharf says:

    Agreed. Gotta go, enjoyed the discussion (seriously).

  70. Tom Scharf says:

    Hurricane and extreme data is by definition sparse and erratic with very poor SNR. You can find different data subsets (such as the NA) that have trends, but other basins show the opposite. On the whole what you get is a mess of conflicting data and very poor correlation to anything.

    If there is climate signal in there, it is likely to be small and is so far undetectable by conventional means. Temperatures have been rising for 100 years (unless hurricanes only respond to AGW warming), and there is not much to see. Things may change in the future.

  71. Billy___Bob says:

    2000 it dropped to .115
    2001 .054
    2002 .033

  72. setb says:

    alright, well that’s too bad.

  73. realheadline says:


  74. DavidAppell says:

    I don’t understand what these numbers are supposed to be. And you failed to give the units.

  75. DavidAppell says:

    Yes, everyone knows that there is a current large difference between UAH and RSS. It’s not clear which is right (if either) — the numbers are very model-dependent.

  76. DavidAppell says:

    Did I use the world “truth?” No.

    If you haven’t read C&W’s paper and why they think kriging is a superior method of infilling compared to what’s being one now, you should.

  77. stevenmosher says:

    I entered the debate in 2007, knowing then that C02 warms the planet. I also happen to believe in open science and FOI. climategate is about open science and FOI. There isnt a single thing we found out in climategate about the science or the players behavior that we didnt suspect before. WRT to cash. I receive money from skeptics who buy the book.
    Acceptance? I don’t seek it nor does it validate me or my work. what anyone thinks of me is none of my business

  78. stevenmosher says:

    The two latest papers from GISS team use cowtan and Way. they refer to it in the text as ‘hadcrut with bias correction” in the notes the reference is to C&W

  79. stevenmosher says:

    Not really.
    its the only method of estimating temperatures at undersampled areas that has passed an out of sample validation test.
    you are out of your league. quit while you are behind

  80. stevenmosher says:

    The first method, actually has a bias in this case.
    That’s provable and its been proven.
    In short, HADCRUT does not estimate the arctic. That decision is operationally equivalent to assuming that the unsampled area warms as fast as the average of all sampled areas. IN the case of the arctic this biases the estimate low. We know that because we do have some measurements from the arctic that HADCRUT did not use. when you use all the data and correlate with data from other sources ( arctic bouys and satillite data) you can see that picking Hadcrut poisen is fatal.

  81. stevenmosher says:

    This is wrong. HADCRUT is forced to ignore data because the data can be used by their method. Their method assumes that unsampled areas warm as fast as the global average. When we check that assumption by looking at data that HADCRUT cannot use ( because of their method) we see that they have missed warming in the most recent years. It’s not much, but precision matters

  82. stevenmosher says:

    david is more than THINKING Kriging is superior. Kriging is BLUE. The most important thing that Kevin and Robert did was the validation study. I’ve passed along some additional data to them that proves they are more right than hadcrut. This really isnt a theoretical argument anymore. It’s skeptics not even bothering to look at all the data.

  83. stevenmosher says:

    1. we already knew peer review is not perfect. the mails filled in details.
    2. we knew that FOI were being denied for bogus reasons.
    3. Im talking about a different book

  84. Billy___Bob says:

    Fabricating data is kind of like writing fiction.

  85. Kuze81 says:

    Fair enough, Keith. I agree that it is about ideological priors rather than intellectual capacity. That said, until your piece demolishing the “NASA” study many of the same people criticizing Roger let it slip by or couldn’t be bothered to debunk it. Why?

    Reason and logic are real things but what arouses people’s “bullsh*t detector” i.e where to apply those things is purely driven by ideology. I thought the fact that the “NASA” study and Roger’s piece coincided with one another illustrated this perfectly.

  86. Billy___Bob says:

    UAH C/decade as we were discussing.

  87. Richard_Arrett says:

    The funniest thing I noticed in the EMANUEL rebuttal was EMANUEL criticizing Roger for using normalized GDP:

    “To begin with, it’s not necessarily appropriate to normalize damages by gross domestic product (GDP) if the intent is to detect an underlying climate trend.?”

    And then trying to rebut him by citing to:

    “A 2012 study2 by London School of Economics researchers Fabian Barthel and Eric Neumayer looked at damage trends normalized by GDP, a measure they used because others are not universally available.”

    Get it. He rebutted citing to normalized GDP by citing to normalized GDP.

    I thought that was weak.

    He then excuses it because “others are not universally available”. Well that is probably why Roger used it also.

    Emanuel’s rebuttal was not very convincing (in my opinion).

  88. Tom Scharf says:


    You may have known about these items, but it certainly removes plausible deniability when it comes from the horse’s mouth.

    Here what the IPCC said about peer review after these e-mails, who should I believe?

    “The peer review process at the heart of the UN climate science panel is one of the most rigorous in the “history of science,” climate scientists said as they attempted to shore up trust in an institution that has been battered in the media.

    “It is hard to conceive of a more comprehensive and transparent process than that used by the IPCC,” Neville Nicholls, a climate scientist and lead writer on parts of the most recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told reporters Thursday.”

    Did you know this? Phil Jones:

    “If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone.”

    This is all water under the bridge, but it changed things from suspicions from loony skeptics to facts that were hard to turn away from. It wasn’t all about the overblown Hockey Stick.

  89. Kuze81 says:

    Actually, the more I think about it the more I stand by my initial statement. “Intellectual calibre” should reflect not just the ability for logic, reason, etc but also the ability to acknowledge one’s own ideological predispositions and the nature with which we reason. Whosoever will seek truth must acknowledge this tendency, that we always have a rooting interest and that we must subject ourselves in good faith to heterodox views.

  90. Tom Scharf says:

    There’s a big difference between suspicion and smoking guns, especially with what was previously a very compliant media. That changed. I don’t want to overstate the effect of this ancient history, what I found most curious was that Mann wasn’t thrown under the bus as he probably should have been, this was illuminating from the tribal loyalty versus science integrity perspective. Somehow this exercise turned Mann into a hero to many. Go figure.

  91. David Skurnick says:

    I was a casualty actuary for 40+ years, doing versions of projective modeling. I don’t think it’s a good idea to assume things in order to calculate a global average. BTW they don’t calculate a global average temperature. Rather it’s a global average anomaly, which is a hodgepodge.
    My point is, we’re not interested in the global average temperature; we’re looking for its rate of change. A better way to estimate the rate of change IMHO is to look at the rate of change for those weather stations that provide reliable and consistent readings. Then, average these rates of change. This approach means you have little or no input from the polar regions, but it’s better to leave them out than to include made-up numbers for them.

  92. DavidAppell says:

    You have to have input from polar regions, because, of course, that’s where climate changes first and the fastest. Otherwise your data aren’t capturing the true problem, because you have blinders on.

    Thermometers measure temperature. That’s what gets reported to the data modelers. They could report a temperature just as easily as an anomaly, but it would be model dependent. The latter is sufficient to meaure change and rate of change.

  93. DavidAppell says:

    Is there reason you can’t are be clear?

    I still have no idea what you’re calculating. “C/decade” tells me nothing — it’s the UNITS, that’s all. Nor do I know what the years are supposed to mean — starting years, ending years, what?

    When I was a teaching assistant I would have given you an F for a presentation like this.

  94. DavidAppell says:

    For ACE, no other basins show the opposite of the North Atlantic.

    Here are the ACE trends since 1970:

    Northeastern Pacific: -5%/decade, statistical significance = 65%
    North Atlantic: +25%/decade, ss=99.99%
    Northwestern Pacific: +1%/decade, ss=23%
    North Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal: +1%/decade, ss=16%
    Southern Hemisphere: -3%/decade, ss=67%
    Globe: +2%/decade, ss=57%


  95. realheadline says:

    I may have confused you with another Steven. Apologies.

  96. Matthew Slyfield says:

    How much of that trend is the result of improved ability to detect fish storms (tropical storms and hurricanes that never make landfall anywhere)?

  97. Thomas Fuller says:

    data… comes from… models? I’m sorry. I shall have to revisit my mental construct of the concept of data. Please excuse until I reboot.

  98. Thomas Fuller says:

    Gee, Steven, what book was that? 😉

  99. Thomas Fuller says:

    It was Nell, in the coughing… Anthropologists looking at rates of tuberculosis in the pacific southwest 1,000 years ago… what a testy bunch.

  100. Thomas Fuller says:

    Same Steven. Said the same thing in the book. As Steven has often said since (I paraphrase)

    Mann was a bad boy.
    Global warming is real.

  101. Thomas Fuller says:

    You are making sense, Keith, but you should also acknowledge that the piss parade against Pielke is organized politically with the intent of maintaining control of the debate forums.

    They are not after Pielke–they’ve trashed him successfully for a decade. Pielke is a horse’s head in Silver’s bed.

    Pretty obvious.

  102. Billy___Bob says:

    UAH shows .033 C/decade trend from 2002 to most recent month.

    I would have quit your class long ago.

  103. David Skurnick says:

    “Of course”? Presumably, the faster rate of change at the poles is a conclusion from the climate models. However, the climate models haven’t been validated yet. It may be the case that climate changes faster at the poles, but accuracy of the data comes first for me. Where you have valid temperature records near the poles, I agree that they should be used. But, I wouldn’t use extrapolated data or what we used to call “imputed” data as input to a model.
    BTW I think it would be difficult to measure accurately the average temperature of the earth, because we have limited temperature records in the two polar regions and over the oceans. However, I agree that the rate of change of the anomaly is sufficient.

  104. stevenmosher says:

    Huh? You think it removed deniability?
    It did no such thing. People still deny the bad behavior. “the mails were taken out of context” “no law was broken” “they were harassed” etc etc etc.

    Spend 5 years on this topic and get back to me when you’ve
    A) read the mails
    B) read all the arguments
    C) looked at public opinion polls.
    D) have a opinion, observation, or insult that I haven’t heard.

  105. stevenmosher says:

    You dont know what you are talking about.

    1. HADCRUT uses fewer observations than are actually available.
    2. C&W estimate the field.
    3. C&W use observations that HADCRUT ignores to test their estimate. It’s valid.


    I supplied additional data ( AIRS V6, level 3) This data ALSO confirms their estimate. HADCRUT is biased low.

    Cosimo has just published a long AVHHR series (1980ish to Present) of polar surface temps.
    Guess what? They also show that HADCRUT is biased low.

    Bottom line

    HADCRUT is biased low. There is no evidence. no data, no theory, no stats, no nothing that suggests otherwise.

    C&W use GHCN and UAH to estimate the north pole.

    then they check that estimate with other data from the arctic that people have ignored. Go look at the paper.
    Next I’ve checked artcic temperatures using yet another source that people have ignored: AIRS
    it too shows that C&W are better than HADCRUT. need I go on. hadcrut is biased low. The only interesting question is are C&W ALSO biased low?

  106. stevenmosher says:

    No he is playing bongos and hitting on coeds in his grave.
    Scientists are humans.

  107. JH says:

    I don’t get your point. Slow, I guess.

  108. JH says:

    Great post Keith. It certainly stirred the pot!

  109. Tom Scharf says:

    Well if the NA is +25% and the globe is +2%, the rest must be a net -23% bias, right? That’s what I meant. Of course some basins are larger than others, etc.

    So we got 2% per decade and maybe the NA is special for some reason and the others are different in other ways.

    You got 100 year US trends on landfalls that trend down slightly (it’s been warming for a 100 years), and a split decision on lower power and higher power hurricanes from more recent data. You have ACE and others that show a pretty non-conforming picture overall.

    Is there reason to believe the 2% trend (or 25% NA) has predictive skill? I would say the chances of the NA continuing that trend for decades is near zero in light of the total data set, hence the offered bet. It’s probably a local maximum in an ongoing erratic trend (it may be the early years were unusually quiet).

    The 2% global trend is opposed by the 100 year slight downward trend that is US only, but pretty much all we have for long data sets. I would claim this is a wash, especially in light of natural variability.

    Let’s say the 2% was real. There are many parameters that affect hurricane formation and one cannot assume this must be AGW related or just random variation. Warmer oceans may play a role and there are some physics related theories of why this might be true. The correlations aren’t very good globally basin to basin or to the temperature record.

    You got a pretty small trend on highly erratic data with poor correlation, and other trends that go in the opposite direction. I think you got a big bunch of nothing overall. It’s a very weak case, but not non-existent. We need another 50 or 100 years of data collection.

  110. Tom Scharf says:

    What? The GISS team is actually adopting a new model modification that incredibly makes more recent temperatures higher then they were previously?

    Never would have called that one.

    Relax, that’s a joke. I don’t lose much sleep over temperature trend modifications. It would be nice to have trends with and without this estimate for comparison though if it is adopted.

  111. Kuze81 says:

    “If you want to know where the power lies, find out whom you cannot criticize” -Voltaire

  112. Tom Scharf says:

    Huh? Huh? Huh? Do you really know if I have not read the e-mails? Do you?

    Do you know if I have not read the arguments? Do you?

    Do you know if I have not looked at public opinion polls? Do you?

    Do you know how long I have been doing this? Do you?

    You are totally completely wrong.

    I’ve read the e-mails, most of the entire CG1 set, I passed on CG2.

    Arguments? Tree ring divergence? What’s a trick? What is a travesty? Which journals should we threaten to resign from? Maybe we should redefine what peer review is? Was non-centered PCA appropriate? Where are the R2 values? What happens when we put red noise through that process? What’s up with that censored folder? What does Wegman have to say? Was Mann vindicated? What happened to my comments on RC? How about those academic investigations that cleared everyone? Etc. Etc. It’s boring and old news now.

    Just for your information, I started looking in to this in late October 2009. Ring any bells? Read a story about a statistical controversy in climate science on-line, typed “Hide The Decline” into Google. Guess what? Climate Audit. I’ve read most of the posts on that and RC and a zillion others.

    Did I write a book about it? No. It’s a hobby. But if I did I probably wouldn’t spend my time sneering down at and judging everyone who didn’t.

  113. Tom Scharf says:

    Not sure what you are responding to here. I’m talking about getting better hardware monitoring in the Arctic so estimates aren’t necessary. Is there adequate hardware coverage? I thought there were very few stations and poor coverage, thus battling algorithms ensue that are hard to sort out.

  114. J M says:

    Kerry Emmanuel: “While some disagreement remains about projections of the weakest storms, which seldom do much damage, both theory and models are now in good agreement that the frequency of high category hurricanes should increase, as should hurricane rainfall and the flooding it produces.”

    So when reality does not show what theory and models predict, too bad for reality….and those who promote it.

  115. Kaedwon says:

    The real story here is the depths to which the Joe Romms have sunk in their vilification of honest scientists like Pielke.
    Oh. Not that it matters, but Pielke was right. There is no demonstrable link between so-called extreme weather events and global warming (of which there is none for 15 years).

  116. ParmaJohn says:

    Oh, that citation had me rolling on the floor!

    I have a couple of questions for Kerry Emmanuel. Before the time that theory and models were in agreement, what exactly was being fed into those expensive PlayStations? At which point in the history of CAGW predictions (sorry–projections) did this alignment come about, and why weren’t we informed that, finally, you were at least able to back up your squiggly lines with some theoretical science? Was it because that point was reached long after you had already told us ad nauseam that we were doomed unless we donned hair shirts?

    Most of all, I’d like to ask him at what point he predicts reality will catch up to his advanced theory and models? Will it be sooner or later than Roger Pielke Jr’s 200 year prediction?

  117. JH says:

    Hmmm….what is the relationship between “ideological priors” and intelligence?

    My roommate in grad school believed humans should and could return to hunter-gatherer societies. No doubt, a very intelligent person. But really? Hunter gatherers?

    Incidentally, he went on to a professorial career.

    Academics and other research institutions select very carefully for ideological priors. If your department is hiring, do you want a faculty member who’s research challenges your own? With, say, 50 highly qualified applicants to choose from for every position, it’s easy to select for ideology.

    I’m inclined to agree with Kuze81 on some level: overall intelligence has to have some component of ability to see through one’s own biases.

  118. ParmaJohn says:

    Now, Tom, have you already forgotten that Trenberth already inverted the null hypothesis? No tag-backs allowed on the CAGW playground!

  119. Kevin Hill says:

    Good article and a much needed perspective. Once you are driven into the bunker, it is hard to be reasonable.

  120. DavidAppell says:

    I would say the chances of the NA continuing that trend for decades is near zero in light of the total data set

    That’s a completely unscientific statement. There’s simply no basis for such a simple conclusion. The basins all have their individual characteristics.

    Warmer oceans may play a role…

    And why are the oceans warmer? AGW!

  121. DavidAppell says:

    Nope, it’s 0.057 C/decade. The WFT site is using old data. Download the new data and calculate the trend for yourself, if you know how:

    The interval since 2002 isn’t climatologically relevant, anyway.

  122. DavidAppell says:

    Well if the NA is +25% and the globe is +2%, the rest must be a net -23% bias, right?

    No. For one thing, the basins aren’t all of the same area. North Atlantic ACE only constitutes 13% of global ACE, on average (since 1970).

    The rest of the world (viz. outside the North Atlantic) has an ACE trend of -1%/decade, ss=35%.

    Here’s the data; calculate it for yourself:

  123. DavidAppell says:

    However, the climate models haven’t been validated yet.

    Only in fantasy land. Climate models have been validated since the very beginning of climate modelling.

  124. DavidAppell says:

    I think it would be difficult to measure accurately the average temperature of the earth.

    Nobody is claiming to measure the average temperature of the Earth. They’re claiming to measure the average temperature of their model of the Earth.

  125. DavidAppell says:

    Of course the data comes from models. Where did you think it comes from?

    You ought to check out the enormous amount of modeling that goes into, for example, UAH and RSS’s calculation of atmospheric temperatures. Here’s a description of some of RSS’s modeling:

    “WIthout models there are no data.” — Paul N. Edwards. Introduction to “A Vast Machine”

  126. DavidAppell says:

    I don’t know offhand. The data start in 1970, so I would guess very little of it.

  127. David Skurnick says:

    In my work, I wouldn’t consider a model validated until it satisfied two tests:
    1. It made a series of correct predictions, and
    2. The model output correctly predicted a combination of events that would have unexpected without the model.
    The existing climate models don’t even satisfy the first condition. They failed to predict the pause in warming. To me, that says not only that they’re not validated. It says that they’re closer to being falsified than validated.
    Many climatologists are now propounding various possible explanations for the “missing heat”. E.g., some postulate that it’s in deep ocean. Since the current models don’t reflect heat going into the deep ocean, this sort of suggestion implicitly acknowledges that the current models are inadequate.
    Evidently you prefer a different standard for model validation. May I ask what your basis is?

  128. DavidAppell says:

    Actuarial models are enormously simplier than climate models. There really is no comparison.

    The existing climate models don’t even satisfy the first condition.

    Of course they do. Hansen’s 1988 prediction was pretty darn good:

    Climate models hindcast the 20th century:

    They failed to predict the pause in warming.

    What evidence says this is true?

    And what evidence says there is a pause? There are problems with the data, which do not show much of a pause at all:

    Testing models to reality is how model get better. It always has been, and it always will be. And they will get better even better by testing against the last decade and a half.

  129. DavidAppell says:

    Climate models are never going to be perfect — climate is too complex. But they have been good enough for at least two decades to show we have a lot of climate change coming — something scientists have known for at least 40 years.

    You don’t even need a climate model to know that our large emissions of CO2 are bound to cause a lot of climate change — you just need to look at past changes of climate and CO2’s role there.

    There was an even bigger slowdown in global temperatures 20 years ago:

    and warming resumed. It will again, because physics says it has to, and in a few decades this slowdown won’t matter any more than the previous one. In the large picture of things it hardly matters at all.

  130. Thomas Fuller says:

    I think I have definitional issues here. I am pleased when I see data going into models. The only data I expect to see coming from models is about the models themselves. When they perform adequately, they may show something about reactions to stimuli in the real world. But what I don’t think we can characterize outputs as is ‘data’ in the sense of a measurement of some aspect of the real world.

  131. DavidAppell says:

    Of course data is the output of models. Do you think there are little men with themometers all througout the troposphere, reporting all their temperature measurements to UAH? No, there aren’t. Their instrument records microwaves. How do you convert those data to temperatures?

    “Without models there are no data,” Paul N Edwards, A Vast Machine, 2nd paragraph

  132. harrywr2 says:

    It’s simply the year of the fascist mob. It doesn’t have anything to do with Roger. Anyone who disagrees with the mob on any subject will be blacklisted or worse.

    We haven’t had such a year since the ‘Red Scare’. The political party that engineered the ‘Red Scare’ lost the US House and the US Senate for a very long time.

    Of course, the vast majority of today’s political consultant’s are too young to remember that result and think heeding the lessons of history involves blaming Bush Jr for everything wrong in the world.

  133. GlennTamblyn says:


    “It made a series of correct predictions”. Something critical here; how does one define ‘correct’?

    I would suggest that one needs to ensure that your definition of ‘correct’ is appropriate to the judgement you are wishing to make.

    A very basic thing to understand about the models and their output. They contain noise. And the most important consideration in this is that the models do not/cannot have a perfectly accurate description of the Earth’s systems at the point that a modelling run starts. The system state for the model at time zero does not match the actual system state for the Earth. So as a model run progresses this imperfect initial state will propagate through the run results.

    As a consequence the models are severely constrained in their ability to predict shorter timescale (a decade or so) behavior when looking at only the very small part of the energy involved in global warming that goes into the atmosphere.

    In contrast the oceans, which are absorbing over 90% of the extra heat, are not showing any pause at all and the models are predicting their trajectory far more accurately. Errors in the initial start conditions don’t impact on the calculations for such a large heat reservoir as the oceans nearly as much.

    To overcome this start conditions problem the modellers run the models many times with similar but slightly differing initial states and then take a mean of all the runs. It is these ‘ensemble means’ that are the headline projections of warming that most people see. But these means are not what the weather will actually do, but the average of many possible trajectories.

    And within individual model runs there is a lot of year to year and longer variability. They simulate ENSO type behavior and models do predict the existence of hiatus periods similar to the current one. They even predict the changes in heat storage patterns we are seeing in the oceans at present.

    But, because of the random element introduced through the variability of their start conditions, WHEN these phenomena occur can’t be well predicted.

    There is nothing unusual about the recent weather compared to how individual model runs can behave.

    So to say that the results are correct you need to define correct to what accuracy based on the accuracy that is possible.

  134. David Skurnick says:

    Glenn — 2 points
    1. It’s merely one of many hypotheses that the oceans are absorbing the alleged extra heat.
    2. If this hypothesis is correct, then every single model used in IPCC 5 is wrong, because none of them reflect oceans absorbing extra heat. So, every report based on IPCC 5 is invalid.

  135. GlennTamblyn says:


    “1. It’s merely one of many hypotheses that the oceans are absorbing the alleged extra heat.”

    No its not a hypothesis, its an observation. Here is the entire chapter from AR5 on observations of the oceans, including lots of details of OHC: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_Chapter03_FINAL.pdf

    “2. If this hypothesis is correct, then every single model used in IPCC 5
    is wrong, because none of them reflect oceans absorbing extra heat.
    So, every report based on IPCC 5 is invalid.”.

    Sorry David but wrong. Here is the section in AR5 about models: http://www.climatechange2013.org/images/report/WG1AR5_Chapter09_FINAL.pdf.

    Note particularly section 9.4.2 that deals with models of the oceans. And more specifically which deals with model prediction of OHC and sea level – the two being linked. All showing warming of the oceans and increase in OHC.

    If we look back to the first IPCC report (FAR) in 1990 we are looking back to a much simpler time but the oceans were still recognized as a factor even then.

    The Models: https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_far_wg_I_chapter_03.pdf – note sections 3.2.2, 3.5.3, 3.5.6

    And the section on observations here https://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/far/wg_I/ipcc_far_wg_I_chapter_07.pdf.

    Note section 7.7 and diagram 7.18. The work predates by a decade the first studies analyzing ocean temperature records to analyze for OHC but they are already discussing heat in the oceans within limited data sets.

  136. David Skurnick says:

    — Thanks for your thoughtful response. I must apologize for being unclear. When I referred to “the missing heat”, I meant the missing
    heat that supposedly accounts for the pause in warming. There is a theory that starting around 1998, larger amounts of heat began going into the deep ocean. That change would account for the relative lack of warming on the land’s surface and in the troposphere during the last 15 to 17 years.

    There’s no question that the waters have warmed, just as the land and the air have. Naturally some heat went into the oceans. However, it’s just a hypothesis that around 1998 heat began going into the deep oceans faster than it previously had been doing.

  137. GlennTamblyn says:


    Sorry about the delay replying – life and all that stuff.

    Claims of no/little warming since 1998 are a bit of a stretch statistically. 1997/98 was a huge El Nino and shouldn’t be used as a starting point in such a comparison. Better is to take something like a 3 year running average of the temperature record since this will filter out short term fluctuations like an El Nino while adequately preserving any longer term variations such as a ‘hiatus’

    And what this shows is certainly a slowing of the warming since the early 2000’s.

    As to the heat going deeper into the ocean as the cause (or at least a major part of the cause), this isn’t an hypothesis, its an observation. See here http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/.

    Select panes 1 & 2 to look at the data for 0-700 meters and 0-2000 meters. A clear slowing in the early 2000’s in the 0-700 meter data but none in the 0-2000 meter data. Which says there has been an increase in the proportion of heat going into the 700-2000 depths.

    And a recent paper by Matthew England and his colleagues (here http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v4/n3/full/nclimate2106.html) sheds light on the apparent driver. Equatorial Trade Winds have strengthened to extraordinary levels over the last decade or so. See here http://skepticalscience.com//pics/EnglandFig1.png (they report wind shear stress which is the common oceanographic way of representing the effect winds have on the oceans)

    The open question is still what is causing this unprecedented (at least as far as the length our observational history is concerned) increase?

    Could it be just a large natural variation? A consequence of a warmer world? A consequence of a warming world (not the same thing)?

    That is unclear at the moment but there is a detective hunt going on to find the answers. When the scientists unravel the underlying mechanisms at play here we may have a much improved understanding of the drivers of natural variability.

    But it certainly doesn’t mean that global warming has stopped. That graph for 0-2000 meter Ocean Heat Content represents over 90% of the heat being added to the Earth. It hasn’t even slowed down. The so-called ‘pause’ isn’t about a cessation of warming; it is about a fluctuation in the distribution of the warming.

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