Friday, September 19, 2008

"Noisy Junk" - The Nierenberg Report

Well, at least that's the judgement of Jerry Mahlman, then head of the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab. How about Alan Hecht, deputy assistant administrator in the EPA office of intemational activities,who has"real problems" with the study. Hecht passed detailed comments onto the EPA administrator. Al Gore was concerned. Richard Lindzen loved it. The President's chief of Staff was said to be "holding the report up like a cross to a vampire, fending off greenhouse warming." Nierenberg was know to personally brief OMB, Council of Economic Advisors and other high officials about the report and was looking for more to speak with.

More below the fold

OK got your attention, but this is NOT the 1983 National Academy of Sciences report of which Stoat is all over the case as is Atmoz, but a 1989 report by the three horsemen of the Marshall Institute, Jastrow, Nierenberg, and Seitz, "Scientific Perspectives on the Greenhouse Problem". You can find it at Amazon for $0.41 There is another "Global Warming, What does the Science Tell Us"? There is lots of information about the furor surrounding both on the net, but AFAEK not the originals.


David B. Benson said...

Off-topic, but Eli might care to ses if

wants to be an advertiser here.


EliRabett said...

Neat. Ms. Rabett bought Eli one to go with the vintage rabett ear antenna. Have to figure out how to capture the image tho.

Anonymous said...

"Unfortunately, the authors resort to unsubstantiated claims without evidence; omit readily available evidence which does not support their thesis; paraphrase in ways that completely change the underlying meaning and most importantly they completely mischaracterize “Changing Climate”.
Oreskes et al. achieves exactly what they accuse others of doing: discouraging open and free scientific debate in the field of climate change. In this paper they also deal mischief to the memory of a thoughtful and hardworking scientist."

Oops. Oreskes seems to have bumped into a Lawyer. Ouch. That must hurt.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

The above `commenter' obviously didn't read Eli's post.

EliRabett said...

Nico is a dot commer, you do remember the last bubble? But seriously, is he a lawyer? Eli has seen some stuff which implies that he is a Gates clone RBND.

Nicolas Nierenberg said...

Mr. Rabett,

I enjoyed your post, before I went below the fold I thought we were doing the 1983 thing again. You got a big smile out of me!

As Mr. Rabett points out I am not a lawyer (but sometimes I play one on tv). I am also too old to be a dot commer. And I think I am better looking than Bill Gates.

As to the Marshall report I feel like you are quoting Dr. Oreskes, quoting a popular article in Science magazine.

The best source would be to review the report itself which I have. It certainly focuses on the uncertainties, and advocates research before action. They make their own non peer reviewed estimate of climate sensitivity which was lower than the IPCC. But it is not true that it predicts cooling.

As the article points out it had supporters in the scientific community as well as critics. And these are not only the usual suspects.

I also want to distinguish this document which was produced by a private organization. From the 1983 report of the NAS.

In the case of the 1983 report my father would have been very careful in his role of chairman to bring together the views of the entire panel. He took that responsibility very seriously, as he did when he chaired the Acid Rain Peer Review Committee.

In the case of the Marshall report, which was produced years after the NAS report, he was expressing his own opinion at that time. He wasn't the type to hide behind others as Oreskes et al 2008 contends.

EliRabett said...

The quotes (admittedly mined) are from an article in the news section of science magazine (paywall:(. It might be in Lexis=Nexis, but I have not tried it there

Anonymous said...

Noisy junk?

Name one thing that the George Marshall Institute has produced that was not.

Nicolas Nierenberg said...

During this foray into blogging I've noticed a tendency for people to criticize things that they haven't read based on second hand accounts. I would be curious if anonymous has read any of the reports in question.

To be clear I'm not particularly trying to say that anything produced by the Marshall Institute was good policy. This is a broader observation about how people form opinions.

Anonymous said...

I've read my share of crap from the Marshall Institute and have little or no interest in reading more.

Just one example: John McCain had this to say about
GMI's criticism of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment: "General Marshall was a great American. I think he might be very embarrassed to know that his name was being used in this disgraceful fashion."

So, tell me again, why should I read thinktankspeak when I can read legitimate science in journals and even in some magazines like Scientific American?

Once you get a reputation, it's hard to shake it.

Sorry, but that's life.

Anonymous said...

and by the way, what someone (anyone) had to say 25 or even 20 years ago on the issue of global arming is of little more than historic importance.

It means nothing with regard to the current state of the science.

I can understand the desire to "defend one's father's honor", but with regard strictly to the science, it means absolutely nothing.

I simply don't get my information from 20 year old sources -- regardless of who they are.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about who said what way back when is of little relevance except to very few people.

Perhaps they could just hav the conversation in a quite room somewhere and leave the rest of us alone?

It does nothing to address the current problem, which only an idiot or a fool would now deny.

On a far more important topic:

Exclusive: The Methane Time Bomb
Arctic scientists discover new global warming threat as melting permafrost releases millions of tons of a gas 20 times more damaging than carbon dioxide

Nicolas Nierenberg said...

Well Mr. Rabett I guess we've both been dissed :-).

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Of course it won't change the overall picture of climate science and climate inactivism, but it's a way to find out how the inactivist movement became what it is now.

Anonymous said...

As far as I see it, the biggest problem is that those who oppose action on climate change are using old science to bolster their claims. Let's face it, there was one hell of a lot more uncertainty about global warming back in 1989.

Perhaps Congress should pass a law that says "gov't policy should based on the current state of the science" -- or at least that precludes the use of 20 year old reports.

That might largely take care of the problem. At the very least, Gov't officials would no longer be able to quote those documents to support their own policies.

Cyberchrome said...

apologies - Waaay offtopic and you may well decide that 'Life is too short to occupy oneself with the slaying of the slain more than once' however Lindzen just refuses to lie down and has just thrown his toys out of the pram one more time.

Tragically, he recycles the Revelle myth ... they lap this malnutrition up over at Anthony '40' Watts place so I thought I'd essay a critique. I reproduce it below (a) because Eli gets an ear-tip and (b) in case it doesn't make it past the WattFilter.

Maximum Respect.

Ethon aka Cyberchrome aka JP.

Thank you very much for the reference to the paper written by Richard S. Lindzen.
It is one of the most disturbing things I have ever read. It confirms some of my worst fears about what is going on in ’science’ today.

I agree. It is in many ways a remarkable document. In the spirit of scepticism that this forum so admires, I examined some of the evidence that Dr. Lindzen presents to support his thesis. Of course I ignored the hearsay and I skipped over the claims of published studies being distorted - If Dr Lindzen has hard evidence to support these he should comment in the journals that published the papers. There's a lot of opinion here, but how much hard evidence?

Climate Science is being infiltrated by unqualified environmentalists

For example, the primary spokesman for the American Meteorological Society in Washington is Anthony Socci who is neither an elected official of the AMS nor a contributor to climate science. Rather, he is a former staffer for Al Gore .

Pure ad hominem and therefore unconvincing. No evidence is presented that Socci has ever behaved improperly. Pure guilt by association

John Firor long served as administrative director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. This position was purely administrative, and Firor did not claim any scientific credentials in the atmospheric sciences at the time I was on the staff of NCAR. However, I noticed that beginning in the 1980's, Firor was frequently speaking on the dangers of global warming as an expert from NCAR. When Firor died last November, his obituary noted that he had also been Board Chairman at Environmental Defense

In Lindzen's universe it appears membership of an organisation concerned about the environment is incompatible with being a scientist ...

The UK Meteorological Office also has a board, and its chairman, Robert Napier, was previously the Chief Executive for World Wildlife Fund

See? Being the ex-leader of a wildlife group apparently disqualifies you from running the Met Office. Just wierd.

Bill Hare, a lawyer and Campaign Director for Greenpeace, frequently speaks as a ‘scientist’ representing the Potsdam Institute, Germany’s main global warming research center.

Dr Bill Hare is actually described by Potsdam as a 'visiting scientist'. He has published on Environmental Science in the journal Climatic Change

The case of Michael Oppenheimer is noteworthy in this regard. With few contributions to climate science , and none to the physics of climate, Oppenheimer became the Barbara Streisand Scientist at Environmental Defense6. He was subsequently appointed to a professorship at Princeton University, and is now, regularly, referred to as a prominent climate scientist by Oprah (a popular television hostess), NPR (National Public Radio), etc. To be sure, Oppenheimer did coauthor an early absurdly alarmist volume (Oppenheimer and Robert Boyle, 1990: Dead Heat, The Race Against the Greenhouse Effect), and he has served as a lead author with the IPCC

Jealousy can really burn you up. Last year Oppenheimer published On the sensitivity of radiative forcing from biomass burning aerosols and ozone to emission location in GRL, adding to his 100-odd other papers.

The making of academic appointments to global warming alarmists is hardly a unique occurrence. Nor is the making of political appointments to lobbyists from the oil industry. Philip Cooney, a lawyer and lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute was appointed by the Bush Administration as chief of staff of the Council on Environmental Quality despite a complete lack of scientific qualifications. I could cite many more (to copy Lindzen's style). This document is meant to be an objective analysis of the politicisation of climate science yes? Where is the outrage at the corruption of the discipline by bogus and oily science? Where is the balance?

The situation with America’s National Academy of Science is somewhat more complicated. ... The vetting procedure is generally rigorous, but for over 20 years, there was a Temporary Nominating Group for the Global Environment to provide a back door for the election of candidates who were environmental activists, bypassing the conventional vetting procedure

There are currently TNGs for Physical and Mathematical Sciences; Biological Sciences; Engineering and Applied Sciences; Biomedical Sciences; Behavioral and Social Sciences; and Applied Biological, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. That's a lot of back doors. Candidates so nominated must still pass the usual ballot. Judge for yourself if 'back door' is a fair description of the process

Oreskes' 2004 review of the literature is dismissed thus As far as Oreskes’ claim goes, it is clearly absurd. A more carefully done study revealed a different picture (Schulte, 2007).

Ho Ho. Oreskes is a historian of science and published in Science, Schulte is a consultant endocrinologist and published in Energy and Environment.

Perhaps the most extraordinary example of this phenomenon (the posthumous alteration of skeptical positions ) involves a paper by Singer, Starr, and Revelle (1991). In this paper, it was concluded that we knew too little about climate to implement any drastic measures. Revelle, it may be recalled, was the professor that Gore credits with introducing him to the horrors of CO2 induced warming. There followed an intense effort led by a research associate at Harvard, Justin Lancaster, in coordination with Gore staffers, to have Revelle’s name posthumously removed from the published paper.

At the very least Lindzen should acknowledge that this is controversial. Lancaster asserts that Revelle was not an author of the piece (not really a 'paper') and that Singer silenced him with a libel suit. Revelle's secretary and students contradict Singer's version of events and Revelle's family assert that he remained concerned about GW right up until his death. Elsewhere Singer is demonstrably willing and able to fabricate evidence.

Silencing the sceptics

Occasionally, prominent individual scientists do publicly express skepticism. The means for silencing them are fairly straightforward.

Will Happer, director of research at the Department of Energy (and a professor of physics at Princeton University) was simply fired from his government position after expressing doubts about environmental issues in general. His case is described in Happer (2003).

Happer 2003 turns out to be a chapter in a book published by the Hoover Institute ($295,000 from ExxonMobil since 1998). The same book carries Singer's version of the Revelle story. Happer was a political appointee and his departure coincided with a change of Government.

So it goes. In total, I counted the following examples of what Lindzen would have us believe:

Unqualified or inappropriate people in academic positions : 5
Studies ‘distorted’ to meet the consensus : 6
Sceptics 'silenced' : 3 (Happer plus two cowed by 'angry letters' apparently).

with question marks over many of even this meagre number. The 'paper' was presented at this closed doors forum with 13 participants. Apparently one aim was ‘Friendship Among Peoples’.

This article will receive a receptive, if unsceptical, audience on WUWT, to convince the wider public, not to mention the scientific community Dr Lindzen needs to try a lot harder. The proceedings of the symposium will be published next year, I predict this 'paper' will have sunk without trace long before then.

EliRabett said...

Will Happer ain't no climate scientist either. John Firor was a solar guy studying cosmic rays which shows you Lindzen's slight of hand.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

My take on Lindzen's offering.
Michael Tobis has also written about it.

Anonymous said...

Why do some scientists become mouthpieces for pure, unadulterated opinion in their later years?

I wonder if anyone has ever done a study...

maybe I'll write a grant proposal.

I figure if I ask for $7000 (and put it on Goldman Sachs' stationary) I might have a decent chance of getting funded.

After all, compared to $700 billion, that's quite a bargain.

Anonymous said...

Rabett, this is all very interesting, and your little friends come hopping around for their little inputs, but the ice Rabett, the ice- its returning. For tissue thin ice that was all going to melt away, its done remarkably well. And its going to a year older next summer- so much tougher to melt. Ah, the faith warmers, but I know you will come along with your next the-end-is-nigh moment.


bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...


Anonymous said...

"For tissue thin ice that was all going to melt away, its done remarkably well."

Remarkably well.

Not unlike the Iraq war. Or the current Republican-engineered US economic implosion? Or any of the other debacles that Detritus Man (GWB) has tocuhed over the past 8 years?

By those standards, we should be glad for any ice at all. Even a single 1 inch ice cube in winter should make us happy.

Let me remind you John S:

The min sea ice area this summer was second lowest on record and just a hair's breadth above last summer's record low.

The long term trend is downward and, if anything, this year's low indicates that last year's record low was not just an anomaly.

The last two years indicate that the long term melting trend may actually be accelerating.

Finally, the melt this year was the biggest summer melt (max to min) for the last 30 years of records

Your "tissue thin ice that was all going to melt away" is a straw man and you know it.

hey, by the way, JohnS how about that 14 million square km (at least) prediction that you made last year that failed to materialize?

Care to make another ignorant prediction now?

Anonymous said...

Hey anon, thanks for you input. Yes I was the 14Msq Km man. Yes it only made up to 13.9M sq km, and I was shattered, shattered, I tell you that it didn't get to 14.

But in getting to that 14, sorry, 13.9M sq km, it was a growth in area from the 2007 low, to rival any ice area return in the last 30 years.

And Anon, sundry smarty faith warmers think tanks were predicting ice less than last year. O dear, wrong again.

Prediction, Anon. Greater than 13.9999M sq km at end April. And world generally still a happy place. Only gloom and doom and sour faces at the Anon and Rabett bunny holes.

I'll leave it to bi now to repeat something he has trouble understanding

Sour faces to all

Anonymous said...

John S
You can't have it both ways John S.

If you were close enough for government work, then so were the people who said ice would drop below last year's record low.

In both cases, the difference was probably within the experimental error -- although you DID say "AT LEAST 14 Million sq km"

John S continues "But in getting to that 14, sorry, 13.9M sq km, it was a growth in area from the 2007 low, to rival any ice area return in the last 30 years."

..and the record "recovery" last winter (your word) was made possible by what?

The record melt last summer.

As many people here have tried to explain, "ice freezes over in winter", but the fact that it all (nearly) melted away again this summer means it did not freeze very thick.

Ring a bell, JohnS?

It should. That is precisely what many folks here were telling you last year.

But obviously your head is thicker than most sea ice.

EliRabett said...

Good God. People actually remember what John S says. Fry me for an oyster.

Oh yes, take a look at the global and southern hemisphere sea ice numbers. They are trending pretty strongly downward too.

Anonymous said...

I have been trying to find Dr Bill Hare's scientific qualifications but to no avail. Can anyone help?

His work at Potsdam is described here:

"Hare, Bill - Explaining environmental issues to policy makers, IPCC negotiator."

His work for Greenpeace is described here:

Bali, Bill Hare, Greenpeace political advisor on climate change and co-author of the initiative, said “Our proposal merges market opportunities with funding for public policies.

He seems to have a dual identity which really doesn't do much for transparency and objectivity, especially since he was a lead author in WG III, AR4 and the Synthesis Report.

But I'm sure everything is fine.

EliRabett said...

Us Rabetts and Hare's are easy enough to find.

But unlike you, Eli does not think he is William Hare of Burke and Hare

Anonymous said...

Sorry Mr Rabbit, you didn't answer the question. You don't like having your tail tweaked do you?

Yes, I have been through the PIK website and I know his name is on a lot of papers but I don't see any original research there, nor do I see his climate science qualifications. I haven't checked to see how many of those papers are independently peer reviewed or just by his fellow travellers, or even at all. His home page is blank, last updated in 2004 when he joined Potsdam on sabbatical from Greenpeace, who still employ him and when he speaks at conferences there is no bio for him as with other speakers, why so shy?

Of course it would have been difficult to get involved in too much research as he has been travelling the world to every conference imaginable for Greenpeace since 1992, as their International Campaign Director/ Political Campaign Manager and also as a major force in the Climate Action Network. He must have some carbon footprint.

You also didn't answer my implied question as to how such an ardent environmental activist can hide away in a Climate Research Institute "advising policy makers on environmental matters" and also become an IPCC lead author when we are told they are all objective scientists. That's obviously OK with you, even though it weakens IPCC credibility.

You are quite happy to attack genuine scientists who disagree with the orthodoxy but when the boot is on the other foot, oh dear.

Hank Roberts said...

$0.41? Gack, I should have invested in copies of this when Eli pointed it out. Now the cheapest copy for sale at Amazon is more than $8.