Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Eight ways in which Annan and Hargreaves are wrong.....

Ok, that should be possibly. Annan and Hargreaves have used Baysean methods to set limits on climate variability using modeling results. Their estimates are only as good as the models and the observations that are available. Comes A. Barrie Pittock, from CSIRO in EOS to list a number of reasons why scientists might be underestimating climate change

  1. "Global dimming is decreasing", a large rapid decrease in a negative forcing.
  2. "Permafrost melting is widespread", increasing greenhouse gas warming in the Lord knows what ways
  3. "Biomass feedbacks are kicking in" in ways that constitute a positive feedback
  4. "Artic sea ice is retreating rapidy", a positive feedback via albedo changes
  5. "The northern and southern annular modes have become more positive"
  6. "Rapid disintegration of ice shelves around the Antarctic Peninsul, surface melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet and acceleration of outlet glaciers"
  7. "Tropical cyclones may be more intense"
  8. "A significant slowing of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation" and other changes in the North Atlantic
To the extent that we are entering an area of the climate parameter space that we have not previously visited (not in the observations) or where phenomina not in or relatively minor in the models become important (not treated or properly treated) Bayesean statistics can be little help. Moreover, the approach has a weakness that it considers all inputs on a nuetral basis, whereas an expert panel might be able to figure out that for certain conditions only one of the inputs is important.

This is not to say that Annan and Hargreaves are wrong, just that it can only be as complete as its inputs, and to the extent that we know that the inputs are lacking, we can question the answer they offer.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

RTFR ....

The first of the US Climate Change Science Synthesis and Assessment Products was released in April 2006, and what commentary there was on the report concentrated on the reconciliation of temperature trends from surface measurements, satellites, balloons and more. Fair enough, that was what the title of the report was "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere - Understanding and Reconciling Differences"

However, if you go further, specifically to Chapter 5: How well can the observed vertical temperature changes be reconciled with our understanding of the causes of these temperature changes? You find a detailed discussion of agreement between models and observations. It being late, I will simply quote the relevant conclusions of this OFFICIAL US Government document:

1. Both human and natural factors have affected Earth’s climate. Computer models are the only tools we have for estimating the likely climate response patterns (“fingerprints”) associated with different forcing mechanisms.
To date, most formal fingerprint studies have focused on a relatively small number of climate forcings. Our best scientific understanding is that:
• Increases in well-mixed greenhouse gases (which are primarily due to fossil fuel burning) result in largescale warming of the Earth’s surface and troposphere, and cooling of the stratosphere.
• Human-induced changes in the atmospheric burdens of sulfate aerosol particles cause regional cooling of the surface and troposphere.
• Depletion of stratospheric ozone cools the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere.
• Large volcanic eruptions cool the surface and troposphere (for 3 to 5 years) and warm the stratosphere (for 1 to 2 years).
• Increases in solar irradiance warm globally throughout the atmospheric column (from the surface to the stratosphere).
2. Results from many different fingerprint studies provide consistent evidence of a human influence on the three-dimensional structure of atmospheric temperature over the second half of the 20th century.

Robust results are:
• Detection of greenhouse-gas and sulfate aerosol signals in observed surface temperature records.
• Detection of an ozone depletion signal in stratospheric temperatures.
• Detection of the combined effects of greenhouse gases, sulfate aerosols, and ozone in the vertical structure of atmospheric temperature changes (from the surface to the stratosphere).
3. Natural factors have influenced surface and atmospheric temperatures, but cannot fully explain their changes over the past 50 years.
There is more which we will get into later. The principal difference remaining between models and observation is
• For globally averaged temperatures, model-predicted trends in tropospheric lapse rates are consistent with observed results.
• In the tropics, most observational data sets show more warming at the surface than in the troposphere, while most model runs have larger warming aloft than at the surface.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Good Government ...

Every town has an outpost of traffic hell. In the Washington DC metro area it is the Wilson Bridge, where the Beltway and co-habiting Interstate 95 cross the Potomac. It gets especially interesting when they raise the bridge in the middle of rush hour.

Well, the Wilson bridge is being rebuilt, and the new higher one is open, so the question, of course, is what to do with the old one, and the answer was blow it up. However, who should blow it up. The Feds and the locals got together and held a contest. The person with the worst commute got the prize of terminating the old bridge with extreme prejudice

A Maryland commuter who crushed his hip in a crash on the old Woodrow Wilson Bridge has won the right to detonate the 45-year-old span.Dan Ruefly, of Accokeek, Md., was selected today as the winner of a contest to find the person who suffered the most frustration at the hands of the drawbridge, which carries Interstate 95 across the Potomac River near Washington, D.C.

An essay about Ruefly was chosen from 312 entries by five television and radio traffic reporters. Ruefly's prize is the ultimate payback: triggering the detonation charges that will knock down nearly a half-mile stretch of elevated steel girders that supported the old bridge.
Update: Let's go to the video

Which was not nearly as good as the demo of the Cooper River Bridge (better music too)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

I have some little lists.......

There is some interesting back and forth in the google group global change, Andrew Dessler's blog and other place about whether there really is a conspiracy of denialists. Fortunately we have exxon secrets, and their connectivity diagram for the dirty dozen (S. Fred Singer, Fred Seitz, Pat Michaels, John Christy, Sherwood Idso, Craig Idso, Richard Lindzen, David Legates, Willy Soon and Sallie Baliunas) less two.

For the full blown image go to Exxon Secrets, click on LAUNCH
then click on SKIP INTRO at the bottom right, and the Climate Science Skeptic Roundup

Prof. Wegman is envious and wants to know the secret handshake.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

So who pays Pat Michaels.....

A recent series of developments here, here, there and everywhere, everywhere, really everywhere, has lead the Commonwealth (almost said state) of Virginia to conclude, as reported in the Richmond Times Dispatch, that the Virginia State Climatologist is not a state position

Hanley's letter also addressed the question of whether Michaels' position as state climatologist is an appointment of the governor or of U.Va. Hanley does acknowledge that Michaels was originally appointed state climatologist by Gov. John Dalton in 1980.

However, she said the code of Virginia "does not provide for the governor to appoint a state climatologist."

She also asserted that the university assumed authority for the state climatologist's office and title in the 2000 certification application to the American Association of State Climatologists.

"Therefore, it is the prerogative of the university to make that appointment," Hanley wrote.

The university did not directly address that issue. But U.Va. spokeswoman Carol Wood provided this statement: "We are grateful to the secretary of the commonwealth for her letter about the state's relationship to the Office of the State Climatologist. As it has since 1978, the University will continue to operate the office as an institutional program in accord with the American Association of State Climatologists, the body that oversees state climatology offices nationwide."

There are several issues to be considered. The first is that the American Association of State Climatologists does NOT oversee state climatology offices nationwide. This is an organization of State Climatologists who work together on issues of common interest, not a designating or rule making group. The AASC web site specifically states:
Founded in 1976, the American Association of State Climatologists is a professional scientific organization composed of state climatologists (one per state), directors of the six Regional Climate Centers and associate members who are persons interested in the goals and activities of the Association. State Climatologists are individuals who have been identified by a state entity as the state's climatologist and who are also recognized by the Director of the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as the state climatologist of a particular state
State Climatologists currently exist in 47 states and Puerto Rico. They are typically either employees of state agencies or are staff members of state-supported universities. Associate members may be assistant state climatologists or other climatologists under the employ of the state climatologist; representatives of federal climate agencies; retired state climatologists; or others interested in climate services.
So it is the NCDC and a state agency which BOTH must officially recognize the State Climatologist. Michaels is a member of the AASC, but at least in the early going he was not able to produce a letter from the NCDC. The letter from the Govenor's representative says that UVa certified Michaels in his application to the AASC.

Michaels has been "State Climatologist" since 1980. The AASC has existed since 1976. Why did he not previously apply for membership? What has his relationship been to the NCDC over the years?

Now it gets amusing. First, is UVa a state agency? Commonly state agencies are directly under the control of the executive. UVa is a state university, but recently it has become essentially independent under the Virginia Restructured Higher Education Financial and Administrative Operations Act

Second, and most important, is the clear implication that the position of State Climatologist ain't no more gonna be a line in the STATE budget, and that if UVa wants Michaels to continue in the position, they are going to have to come up with the $.

So, yes, UVirginia can designate Michaels as State Climatologist, but I see nothing that would prevent Virginia Tech designating its own State Climatologist. Hell, ODU has some good oceanographers that might want to be State Climatologist.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Going off the deep end......

Ethon* again comes whispering that Roger Pielke Jr. has gone off the deep end in his jerimands against the IPCC. Roger, of course, believes that only he can have an opinion being totally unbiased and all. Roger starts with the strawman setup

The IPCC claims that it is "policy relevant, but policy neutral." What this phrase actually means is clear as mud.
You know, kind of like when Roger did not understand that the AR4 labling the influence of greenhouse gases on the global warming dominant, meant, at least according to the dictionary, commanding and controlling, prevailing over all others. He thought that was pretty weak/

Frankly me and Eth are shocked, just shocked at this latest set up for jumping on the AR4 when it appears. The last little goody requires one to assume that the science is outcome neutral. That outcomes are consequence neutral and that the pallette of policies available are infinite. The answer to all three questions is NO.

The AR4 WGI report probably (a Sally Randism, look it up fans) says that even if emissions stop today, significant warming is built in, and that if greenhouse gas concentrations rise, global temperatures will rise even further, as will sea level and other nasties. Further, WGII probably points out that on balance these changes will have VERY negative consequences, and WGIII probably says that without significant changes the world will blow right by 2x CO2, what SHOULD the head of the IPCC (and don't you think Bob Watson is smiling) say, "Oh well, never mind? We report, you decide?"

The facts set forth in the AR4 strongly limit the choice of responses and in doing so are policy relevant. The IPCC is neutral on which of the range of sensible choices set forth in the WGIII report should be made. It is not, nor it should be neutral on the issue of whether action is needed.

And oh yes, since we are already committed to 2xCO2, and since as bad as 2xCO2 will be 3x CO2 is a lot worse, that means that any response will have to include both mitigation and adaptation. Anyone arguing that there is a simple choice between the two is simply simple or a simple charlatain. Of course, people who insist that adaptation is the only way, never put a cost on it. What is the value of Florida after all?

At about the same time as the big bird blew into his study, Eli was reading Glenn Greenwald's commentary on the Washington Post's faux moderation and scholarly thoughts. It was so on the mark, that we have decided to adopt it for our comment on Roger's POV.
There is nothing commendable or impressive about always being restrained and muddled and ambivalent in one's tone and views. It is not a sign of intellectual prowess to be open-minded to frivolous claims or corrupt and dangerous behavior. And when the claims are particularly frivolous, and when the corruption and dangers reach a certain level of severity, self-important ambivalence -- hospitality to extremist ideas ..... is actually irresponsible, reckless, and morally and intellectually bankrupt.
There is more there that could be adapted (the correct policy) word for word (with maybe a word missing as above) about our friendly first and second order denialists. At this point the only open question, as is the case with the Post, and it is not very open, is who are they trying to fool, themselves, or the rest of us?

*Ethon was a gigantic eagle born of the monsters Typhon and Echidna. As punishment for stealing fire from Mount Olympus, Zeus had Prometheus chained to Mount Caucasus, where Ethon was set to gnaw on his liver. from the Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tin foil hat territory....

Over in Google Groups/globalchange (have to add that to the blogroll), James Annan has accused Eli of being a conspiracy theory fan. With an invitation like that how can we resist entering tin foil hat territory in speculating about how Pat Michaels got to be called State Climatologist. Beyond the introductory material for the non-academic, no one should accuse me of having anything beyond questions (yet).

Introductory material for non-US academics:

US academics come in two flavors: tenure/tenure track and all others. Tenure/tenure track faculty have ranks of assistant, associate and full professor. The receive nine months salary from the university at which they work. They can obtain salary for the other three months from grants/contracts, teaching summer school or their father-in-law. Or they can go sit on the beach.

All others work on temporary contracts. If someone is called a Research Professor or an Adjunct Professor, you can bet that the University is not paying his or her salary. In many cases the person works at a research institution/national lab, etc. and has the title so that he or she can supervise student research. In many other cases the person brings grants and contracts into the University from which his or her salary is paid. Since Research Professors of the later type occupy lab/office space there is not much of a margin when their grants run out. The rule is that when the support goes so does the Research Professor (I know you can find the occasional counterexample, but these are the general rules).

Putting on our tin foil hats....

Pat Michaels is Research Professor and State Climatologist according to the Environmental Sciences Department at UVa. According to Kevin Lynch, the position of State Climatologist does not exist, and Lynch, a lawyer has looked at the records. You can find another version of what went on in the Daily Progress. From the latter, according to the governor's representative, Michaels is an employee of the University and

“He doesn’t speak for the state. He doesn’t speak for the governor,” she said. “This is the University of Virginia having this particular faculty member head up their office of climatology.”
According to the University
The position of state climatologist is a gubernatorial appointment,” said Jeffrey G. Hanna, senior director of university relations. He produced copies of Michaels’ letter of appointment on July 8, 1980, by then-Gov. John N. Dalton and of professor Bruce P. Hayden as acting state climatologist by then-Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. on July 13, 1977.....

Hanna said the state climatologist position “is not ceremonial. … The state climatologist produces data and reports for the commonwealth and its citizens. This includes drought predictions for crops as well as work with state emergency agencies in the cases of, say, hurricanes or winter storms."
and there lies the current rub. The University and Michaels represent that he is speaking for the state and he does play Virginia State Climatologist for the Federal Government. That may not be a simple ball of string to untangle in so far as he has been responsible for any actions with consequences (like a bad drought forecast).

However, the more interesting question is why UVa hired a freshout (Michaels got his Ph.D. in 1979 from Wisconsin) as State Climatologist. So here is what the Tin Foil Rabett is looking for:

-Why was Hayden named State Climatologist in 1977?
-What was the interest at UVa in capturing the salary line?
-Was Hayden then on the faculty, or did they need a parking place for him at that time?
-If UVa was using the State Climatologist salary line to hold Hayden, did he get a tenure track appointment in 1980, which opened up the position?
-If not, and Hayden already had a tenure track salary, what did they do with the State Climatologist salary?
-What was Michaels hired to do?
-Why did UVa hire Michaels for a position which appears to call for someone more senior than he was (there has to be an offer letter setting forth his duties and the benefits and correspondence)?

Other things to contemplate include Virginia Tech trying to grab the position back.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Who says Pat Michaels is the Virginia State Climatologist?
Those who the gods would destroy they first fund through the Cato Institute

(Edited and enhanced as blogger functionality returns)

Kevin Lynch, a city council member in Charlottsville, VA has been digging into the issue of who (the Governor) or what (the University of Virginia) appointed Pat Michaels as State Climatologist, and whether his appointment continues. Lynch's interest was stirred up by the recent revelations about an electric coop shaking the can for Pat. Lynch, as Eli also saw, perceived the inherent conflict of interest between Michaels speaking for Virginia as State Climatologist and as a partisan in the climate wars.

Lynch was able to dig out a mass of steaming glop:

"And for whatever reason, it is apparent that the position of State Climatologist was never created by an act of the General Assembly or otherwise.

In 1980, the University recruited the current Climatologist, Dr. Patrick Michaels, to become the permanent State Climatologist. On July 8th, 1980, Governor Dalton sent a letter of appointment to Dr. Michaels in which he states: “It is my pleasure to appoint you as State Climatologist.” Note there is no “acting” designation. This is the letter for which the University bases its claim that the Climatologist is a Gubernatorial appointment. However, no action establishing the State Climatologist Office had been taken (nor has such action been taken since). Thus I do not believe Governor Dalton had the statutory authority to issue the letter. Furthermore, only the University seems to have had a copy of this letter. There was no copy at the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office, nor was there any copy in Governor Dalton’s personal records of appointments and memos. Unlike the previous appointment, no copy of the letter was filed with NCDC. The result of this is that even if there were some possible legitimate basis for the letter of appointment, no Governor since Dalton has had any inkling that there ever was an appointment, and thus there has been no reappointment of the State Climatologist in 26 years.

When I asked Dr. Michaels how he became the State Climatologist in an email, he did not mention the letter of appointment from Dalton - instead he responded:

State Climatologists are appointed via a Memorandum of Understanding between the National Climatic Data Center, the relevant University, and the Executive Branch. It’s got to be around somewhere.

However, thus far no one, including Dr. Michaels has been able to produce such a MOU, which would have been dated 1980. The Governor’s office and NCDC don’t have it. There is no copy in Governor Dalton’s papers at the State Library. The only entity that could possibly have it is the University. If they do have such a document, it seems a little strange that they would insist that the Climatologist is a Gubernatorial appointment on the basis of Governor Dalton’s 1980 letter."
So, to recap, this appears to be one of those, well, this guy showed up one day and said he was in charge so we let him be in charge. E is looking at some interesting variants on this

{Blogger, of course, is acting up this morning, so there ain't much formatting here yet. I'll come back later and clean this up.} Somewhat better now....more later.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Where have all the 23,000 year ice ages gone.....

Those who care and have a clue are well satisfied with Milutin Milankovitch's explanation of the causes of ice ages, however, they have a secret. Milankovitch attributed ice ages to variations in the Earth's orbit,

  • precession of the Earth's axis of rotation (~23,000 year period)
  • obliquity, a change angle between the Earth's axis and the orbital plane (41,000 year period)
  • changes in the shape of the Earth's orbit (100,000 year period)
which produce changes in insolation. Naively, precession should dominate, but what is inferred from the paleoclimate record is a dominant 41,000 cycle in the early (3 million years ago) to late Pleistoene (1 million years ago). In the July 28th issue of Science, there is not one, but two explanations for this, and a perspective.

Raymo, Lisieck and Nisancioglu observe that precession will increase insolation in one hemisphere while decreasing it in the other. At least potentially this means that the amount of ice in one hemisphere will decrease while that in the other increases by a roughly equal amout. Changes in atmospheric oxygen isotope ratios from ice cores average ice coverage over both hemispheres. RLN believe that between 3 and 1 million years ago the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS) was much more active than had been thought before, losing ice by melting and calving of icebergs while it would also accumulate ice through snowfall. Changes in the loss to accumulation ratio with changing precession pretty much cancelled northern hemisphere precession driven changes in ice cover. About 1 million years ago, the EAIS cooled to a point where there would be no summer melt and precession could be. Their conclussions include
By allowing modest variations in Antarctic ice sheet size from 3 to 1 Ma, controlled by local insolation, we show that the dominant 41-ky period in marine d18O records may result from out-of-phase ice sheet growth at each pole. Individual ice volume histories in the Arctic and Antarctic realm were likely dominated by both precession (out of phase between poles) and obliquity (in phase between poles) with ice ablation strongly controlled by summer temperatures. Our hypothesis solves the conundrum of why no strong precession signal is observed in global d18O records from this time despite the well-known importance of summer temperatures on ice sheet and glacier mass balance (49). .......

We further propose that long-term cooling resulted in a transition from a primarily landbased to primarily marine-based EAIS margin about 1.0 Ma, resulting in the mid-Pleistocene transition and the strengthening of 23-ky cycles in the d18O record. Ice sheet volume may have increased at both poles at this time because of the establishment of positive globally synchronous feedbacks (such as albedo and CO2) at the precession frequency (50). Lastly, the strengthening of CO2 and albedo feedbacks by enhanced sea level fall or aridity, in conjunction with long-term global cooling, may have led to the establishment of NH ice sheets large enough to survive summer insolation maxima of low intensity, a necessary prerequisite for the development of the ‘‘100-ky’’ cycle (51).
In the same issue Huybers proposes an alternate, and very simple, explanation for the same problem. It turns out that when periods when the average summer insolation increases are also periods during whight the summer is shortest. Thus, the amount of heat available to melt polar ice is roughly independent of precession
Duration and intensity are, however, anticorrelated. This is the Achilles_heel of precession control of glaciation: just when Earth is closest to the sun during summer, summertime is shortest. When the intensity is integrated over the summertime, precession related changes in duration and intensity nearly balance one another (25), and the obliquity component is dominant.
You don't have to pick one over the other. Paillard, in his perspective hits one right down the middle
Both hypotheses could be part of the solution. Huybers’s idea is based on a sound and simple physical premise and is certainly valid to some extent. The hypothesis of Raymo et al. provides a scenario for an increasing contribution of the 23,000-year cycles under a colder climate, through a transition from a land-based to a marine-based East Antarctic ice sheet around 1 million years ago. Indeed, though not dominant, the precessional cycles are present in the climate record of the past 1 million years (the late Pleistocene). Still, neither hypothesis can account for the beginning of Northern Hemisphere glaciations around 3 million years ago. Furthermore, during the past 1 million years, glacial-interglacial oscillations have largely been dominated by a 100,000-year periodicity, yet there is no notable associated 100,000-year insolation forcing. There is currently no consensus on what drives these late Pleistocene 100,000-year cycles.
Anyone with access should read these papers at Science. Some related papers by Huybers can be found on his web site. Material on the Raymo paper can be found here and here
and here.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Lubos Motl is the 822 smartest person playing blogshares.....
Lubos Motl invests in Not Even Wrong.....
What do Harvard Asst. Profs. spend their time on....

Usually Eli settles on a title fairly quickly, but this one is so snarkable that it is tough. Turns out that Lubos plays in Blogshares and his holdings include Peter Woit's Not Even Wrong and Wm. Connolley's old Stoat.

Now, what, you ask is Blogshares?

BlogShares is a fantasy stock market where weblogs are the companies. Players invest fictional dollars on shares in blogs. Blogs are valued by their incoming links and add value to other blogs by linking to them. Prices can go up or down based on trading and the underlying value of the blog. No actual ownership of blogs is transfered. BlogShares is purely a fictional marketplace.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It was the best of things, and it was the worst.....

A rather large hand grenade was thrown into the tent of academic bloggers this spring. While the pin has been pulled, few have noticed. I refer to the Committee Report on charges of research misconduct against Ward Churchill, and Colorado's Interim Chancellor's decision to fire him.

Churchill, is not an academic blogger, following ancient paths of pamphleteer and protester, and the more recent ones of displaying his wares on radio, TV and public stage. He is a provocateur, who enraged the public and politicians with his judgements about those who died in the World Trade Center. When charges of research dishonesty were brought against Churchill an investigative committee was formed and forced to confront issues which will directly impact academic bloggers (full disclosure, I am one). Their report and the conclusions they reached were both trenchent and biting.

Although the charges were brought under a policy which relates to research dishonesty, academic bloggers will ignore them at their considerable peril. These findings appear to me to be most binding on postings in one's area of expertise and research. Moreover, the closer the blog is tied to the academic institution, the greater the care that will be demanded, as will also be the case for blogs and bloggers that rely on their links to academic institutions for validation. That is the best of things. Unfortunately, the committee was unable to reach a consensus recommendation on what Churchill's penalty should be. This provided cover for the Interim Chancellor to follow the wishes of his political bosses, and simply fire Churchill.

Update: In the comments Robert points out that there were two committees. I am only talking about the report of the specialist committee which investigated the charges in detail. There standing academic misconduct committee recommended discharge (see Robert's comments for details)

That is the precedent folks. If I were a blogger anywhere in the UColorado system, I would become extremely aware of the report and the penalty, and the limits that it, and the report set on me. I say this not because I have had a difficult relationship with one (or two) of them, but because it is out there, a huge stick with which you can be beaten. Academic bloggers in Colorado are living in a "honor system", with only one penalty, dismissal. The Churchill case is about to give rise to a very public lawsuit, and any backing off of the dismissal standard will be a bloody red flag that the plaintiff will waive in court to show predjudice against Churchill. Those of us elsewhere have to understand this report and its relationship to what we do and say.

This rather long post concerns itself with the implications of the Churchill Report for academic bloggers both directly, and in terms of the irregular origins of the investigation itself. Those interested in the charges against Churchill can look at the report itself, or a series of articles in the Rocky Mountain News. The primary source is going to be the report itself, so references such as p.2, etc. refer to the page of the report as downloaded on the web.

The committee itself was explicitly aware of the political origins of the charges it was to investigate and the irregular nature of bringing them.

p.4....the Investigative Committee (“Committee”) notes its concern regarding the timing and, perhaps, the motives for the University’s decision to initiate these charges at this time. While the history of this matter is not before the Committee, it is well known that these charges were commenced only after Professor Churchill had published some highly controversial essays dealing with, among other things, the 9/11 tragedy. While not endorsing either the tone or the contents of those essays, the Committee reaffirms, as the University has already acknowledged, that Professor Churchill had a protected right to publish his views. In the Committee’s opinion, his right to do so was protected by both the First and Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of free speech. The aggressive pursuit of knowledge cannot proceed unless scientists, social scientists, and other researchers are permitted—and indeed encouraged—to present alternative and sometimes heretical positions and to seek to defend them in the court of academic opinion.
This leads directly to a discussion of the purpose of academic freedom, which contains good and bad news for academic bloggers.
p.4 ..“‘Academic freedom’ is defined as the freedom to inquire, discover, publish and teach truth as the faculty member sees it, subject to no control or authority save the control and authority of the rational methods by which truth is established.” Thus, in conformity with the Regents’ Laws, the Committee understands its role as limited to determining academic misconduct under scholarly norms of research and does not conceive itself as an ultimate arbiter of the truth or falsity of the claims made by Professor Churchill that sparked some of these charges.
Note carefully the distinction between something being true or false and it being academically dishonest. Paraphrasing, the former is to be decided in the public and scholarly marketplace of ideas, the later is conduct which seeks to dishonestly influence the former and can result in censure and exile. This becomes very important, both in the report and its future impact on academic blogging and will clearly be an issue that extends to academics' blogs as well as their scholarly work (which appears increasingly on the net and which is increasingly discussed by academics on the net
p.5 ... the Committee is troubled by the origins of, and skeptical concerning the motives for, the current investigation. The Committee’s disquiet regarding the timing of these allegations is exacerbated by the fact that the formal complainant in the charges before us is the Interim Chancellor of the University, despite the express provision in the Laws of the Board of Regents of the University of Colorado that faculty members’ “efforts should not be subjected to direct or indirect pressures or interference from within the university, and the university will resist to the utmost such pressures or interference when exerted from without.”3

Nevertheless, serious claims of academic misconduct have been lodged and they require full investigation and responsible and fair treatment.
and in a very important point for academic bloggers, they deal with the issue of Churchill having been targeted
p. 6 Professor Churchill’s national visibility as a controversial speaker and writer may have contributed to the attention given to his prior scholarship, we observe that such attention stems in part from his voluntarily becoming a national public figure.
and in a discussion of the nature of ethnic studies they put forth an important point that must be dealt with by contrarians among the academic blogging community
p. 7 Scholars in ethnic studies can and often do offer revisionary reappraisals of conventionally accepted social events and interpretations, but not by violating accepted norms of veracity.
Later, in a discussion of Churchills activities and qualifications, they define a public intellectual in a way that fits the blogging community
p. 8 In addition to his work within an academic setting, Professor Churchill functions as what has been termed “a public intellectual.” Public intellectuals address issues of concern to the broader community, providing background or suggesting solutions to difficult contemporary problems and often taking a stand about policy debates.
and use a statement of Churchill's to define the limits defined for a public intellectual who is a member of the academic community
p. 9 “Tailoring the facts to fit one’s theory constitutes neither good science nor good journalism. Rather, it is intellectually dishonest and, when published for consumption by a mass audience, adds up to propaganda.”
Here, clearly the committee agrees that such activity constitutes serious academic misconduct and deals with such misconduct in popular accouts:
p12...our Committee’s immediate charge was to establish whether the works he cites support his account and whether his statements were appropriately and accurately referenced. (Problems of that kind can lead to a finding of falsification.) In cases where the sources he cites do not support his claims, he is open to the charge of fabrication.
Further on, they raise another issue with respect to footnotes (or linking).
p 24..Not only is his statement unsupported by his source, but also more significantly, he did not follow the referencing convention that a lawyer or historian citing a lengthy statute for a particular detail normally would follow, which is to pinpoint the precise section number of the multi-section statute that supported his claim. As one will see throughout this report, this general reference to an apparent independent source in its entirety constitutes an unconventional referencing style frequently employed by Professor Churchill to create the appearance of independent support for his claims, while simultaneously discouraging or, at least, making far more difficult, any effort by other researchers to check his claims by failing to pinpoint the precise location of his claimed support in an otherwise lengthy work. Standing alone, this referencing failure might constitute some level of sloppiness, but certainly would not constitute research misconduct. When it is combined with a pattern of other misconduct reflected in this and other allegations, however, the Committee is left with a firm impression, by a preponderance of the evidence, that it constituted part of a deliberate research stratagem to create the appearance of independent verifiable support for claims that could not be supported through existing primary and secondary sources. To put it most simply, it was part of a pattern and consistent research stratagem to cloak extreme, unsupportable, propaganda-like claims of fact that support Professor Churchill’s legal and political claims with the aura of authentic scholarly research by referencing apparently (but not actually) supportive independent third-party sources. The next problem discussed with these two footnotes makes this stratagem far clearer.
Among non-academic public intellectuals, this appears to be a very common practice, viz. Ann Coulter, but there are many others.
p 35 The cited source offers no support for any of the three claims outlined above. This is not a matter of incomplete footnoting or lack of footnoting, but of misleading footnoting. It is simply false to assert that the pages cited from Salisbury’s work support the claims made in the relevant passages by Professor Churchill.
p96 We have also observed several instances in Professor Churchill’s work of a willingness to make claims about legislation or historical events not supported by the evidence he cites or by any other evidence the Committee could locate
In this context the committee comes to the issue of sock puppets
p. 24 The other two apparently independent third-party sources cited in footnotes 63 and 64 are essays published in the same volume, The State of Native America, one under the name of a person named Rebecca Robbins and the other under the name of M. Annette Jaimes, the editor of the volume.33 Since both essays do contain statements of the type that Professor Churchill claims, that might have put an end to the matter of research misconduct regarding this allegation, except for the fact that in response to the separate allegation that he had plagiarized the Robbins essay in another later published piece, Professor Churchill said in Submission E that he had in fact ghostwritten both the Robbins and the Jaimes essays, in full.
p. 25 Through legal counsel, both Rebecca Robbins and M. Annette Jaimes declined to speak with this Committee and, therefore, the Committee has no reason to doubt Professor Churchill’s claims, suspected by Professor LaVelle, that he personally authored both the Robbins and the Jaimes papers in their entirety and it so finds by a preponderance of the evidence. That finding, however, constitutes a serious problem of research misconduct.

p. 25 Were Professor Churchill a scientist, rather than a researcher engaged in social science research in ethnic studies, the equivalent would be (1) the misstatement of some underlying data (i.e., his mischaracterization of the General Allotment Act) and (2) the total fabrication of other data to support his hypothesis (i.e., the ghostwriting and self-citation of the Robbins and Jaimes essays).
By this reading academic bloggers who use sock puppets to buttress their arguments are engaging in misconduct. The committee then goes on to draw an important distinction
p. 25 The Committee is not claiming that Professor Churchill fabricated his general conclusions; rather, he fabricated the underlying data employed to support the insupportable details bolstering those conclusions.
In a discussion of further misrepresentation, the committee states
p. 32 We conclude that this misrepresentation was not scholarly error but serious research misconduct and part of a general pattern of such misconduct in support of his political views.
and goes on to conclude that it is damning that Churchill did not modify his views on a particular point even after it was conclusively shown that he was wrong
p. 33 Professor Churchill has thus not taken advantage of scholarly debate to arrive at an accurate presentation of this matter.
This should be a matter of particular interest to academics who post on the internet.

Another point which runs through the report is
p. 46 Professor Churchill is entirely free to present his own reading of the evidence.Like scholars in all fields, however, he is expected to present an account that is built upon and supported by that evidence.98
This is often referred to on the net as you are free to have your own opinion, but you are not free to have your own facts. The important point here is that insertion of your own facts into an argument is academic misconduct.

A summary of the issues in the Churchill case is
p. 96 We have also observed several instances in Professor Churchill’s work of a willingness to make claims about legislation or historical events not supported by the evidence he cites or by any other evidence the Committee could locate.234 A related pattern is the employment of vague or obfuscating citation and reference practices. More serious still is the pattern of citing one’s own work, disguised by its attribution to another living scholar in the same field, as authority for assertions and claims that lack independent support.235
and then deals with the important (to bloggers) issue of how responsible is one for checking ones sources (note this is a different issue than the one about policing comments which is not dealt with directly or indirectly in the committee report)
p. 96 Professor Churchill has, on more than one occasion, claimed that certain acts that appear to have been his were instead the responsibility of some other actor: his editor or publisher, his assistant, or his former wife and collaborator. In some cases we have not found these claims credible; in others we were unable to arrive at a judgment about their veracity. But apart from their plausibility, we have come to see these claims as emblems of a recurrent refusal to take responsibility for errors (whether or not abetted by some other person’s act or omission), and a willingness to blame others for his troubles. In our view, this repeated behavior bears on a proper judgment about the seriousness of his misconduct.
This appears to me to require that if you link to another blog or source to support your argument you have some reason to believe that the information is correct. And finally we come to the end with these words
p. 96 If there is one crucial pattern that most affects our assessment, however, it is a pattern of failure to understand the difference between scholarship and polemic, or at least of behaving as though that difference does not matter.

p. 97 This conception of the obligations of the scholar is, to say the least, impoverished. It cannot be denied that each of us brings to the enterprise of scholarship certain pre-existing commitments and beliefs, as well as certain favored methodologies and organizing principles. It is impossible not to hope to find confirmation for what one has come to believe. But as a scholar, one must “look” not only to confirm one’s hopes, but also to face the possibility that the evidence may disconfirm them. And even if one finds more evidence for the truth of one’s beliefs than evidence against them, all of the evidence must be acknowledged and treated fairly. Some of the patterns of conduct discussed in this report represent significant departures from these bedrock principles of scholarship.

Of course, every scholar makes mistakes. No one is perfect, and few scholars have records free from an occasional error. The standards of our profession encourage the acknowledgement and correction of such errors (although, as Professor Churchill has pointed out to us, some scholars whose work has been exposed as erroneous have continued to write, teach, and work without much hindrance from their mistakes). But honest error is not the same as misconduct, and one of the factors that distinguish them is the intentions of the actor. As historian Ralph Luker has argued, “When every qualitative error in a book is an error in the direction of the book’s thesis, you have prima facie evidence of fraud.”239

Ethon* comes whispering, Roger Pielke Jr. - Deceit beyond bounds

Buried in the comments at (8/3/06 9:16 AM) Promethius RP Jr. had this little cutie

Bob Herbert's column today in the NYT is "climate porn":
"As I’m writing this, the lights have been dimmed in much of The New York Times Building . . ."
His solution? Elect Al Gore.
Actually, what Herbert concluded was
I think the single most effective thing most ordinary Americans could do to become more informed about global warming -- and the steps we need to take to fight it -- is to go see Al Gore's movie, ''An Inconvenient Truth,'' and read his book of the same title.

It would be a shame if it turns out that Americans have been so deprived of leadership for so long that they fail to recognize it when it's offered to them.
Our Roger pulled a full Coulter there. A Coulter is wonderful tactic, providing a footnote or link that points to something which directly contradicts what you are claiming in the (most often realized) hope that no one will follow up. And you know what, without Eli and the Ethon, no one did.

You might also want to read Herbert's column to see what else he actually said. You can find it in Lexis Nexis among other places

Roger Jr. continues with
Al Gore was on a Boulder radio station yesterday, asked what people can do about global warming, he replied, "See my movie, buy my book . . ."
OK, then what?
Why do I suspect that after those .... Gore said something like

  • Motivate a critical mass of the public and influential constituencies to demand strong and just action to cut U.S. emissions and to make solving global warming a national political imperative.
  • Implement solutions to global warming that cap and cut U.S. global warming pollution emissions in the near term, setting a framework and trajectory to reduce emissions by more than half by mid-century.
  • Develop a political consensus for further international agreements that includes full participation by developing economies in achieving emission reduction targets.
What were the words after "buy my book"? Someone with posting privleges on Prometheus might want to ask the good Prof. Pielke. It seems that without Eli and Ethon Roger feels free to.......
Appropriately, Herbert's Aug 10 column was entitled Deceit Beyond Bounds.

*Ethon was a gigantic eagle born of the monsters Typhon and Echidna. As punishment for stealing fire from Mount Olympus, Zeus had Prometheus chained to Mount Caucasus, where Ethon was set to gnaw on his liver. from the Wikipedia

Something for Tim Lambert's mill.....

A rather long article has appeared online at Chicago.mag on the Lott-Levitt Shootout. Many amusing details

“Even before Steve was on the [academic] job market, John came to the first seminar Steve was giving at Chicago and brought his own slides to the talk and attempted to get up and rebut what Steve was saying during Steve’s own workshop,” Goolsbee says. “I cannot even tell you how unusual that is—I have never heard of anything like that happening.”

Levitt seemed bemused by the confrontation, Goolsbee says, and in fact it might have helped attract him to Chicago. “He thought, Hey, this is a place where people take it so seriously, guys bring their own slides trying to push you out of the way,” Goolsbee says. In any case, “it was certainly not a situation where they [Lott and Levitt] were good friends that fell out.”

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Gone emeritus.....

Andrew Dessler has some serious comments about the outbreak of skeptic emeriti. He concludes that they simply are clueless on matters which they are pontificating (ok, Andrew is much nicer than I am) and have neither the time or the motivation to come up to speed.

I would offer another take, one that I first put into the comments at John Fleck's Inkstain (this is one of Eli's Golden Oldies)

Increasingly Gray, et al. remind me of Ernst Mach at the turn of the 20th century when atomic theories were evolving. I think Achenbach’s take down was right.

These sort of things always repeat themselves. It is difficult for us to conceive, but the existence of atoms was not settled at the turn of the 20th century, and what evidence existed was indirect. Many scientists whose intuition was trained in the time when theories based on continua dominated physics found it impossible to accept atomicity. They prefered their intuition to their lying eyes.

My grandfather was a young man at the time, just married, and that for me is a marker of how rapidly our understanding and control of nature has advanced in a short time. I start my intro chem classes by telling my students about all the new technologies that have come into existence in his lifetime, that of my parents and mine. It provides context.

For example, when I took general chemistry we were still using the old Mendeleev form of the periodic table which is based on the stoichiometry of the oxides and hydrides. Today. of course, we use the table based on the quantum solution of the Schroedinger Eq.

In other words, by training and experience, many of the emeriti are simply not capable of the conceptualization they need to deal with the new pardigms.

Another one gone emeritus......

RP Sr. continues his golden oldie parade pointing to a piece in USA Today in which Craig Bohren shows that he has been dozing off in retirement.

However, dear reader, much as the dark and stormy night on the west coast of Scotland, concerns us not, as our story is set in sunny England*, that is not what concerns us here. Our Craig, is a worthy contestent in Tim Lambert's Global Climate Skeptic Bingo.

Bring out the cards.........

In the 70s
scientists were predicting an ice age #
There is no
such thing as global average temperature. #
only say that global warming exists so they can get grants
summary for policy makers does not reflect the body of the report #
Belief in
global warming is a religion
Fred Singer
cited #
Ice cores show that warming precedes increases in C02 #Science
doesn’t work by consensus #
scientists signed a petition saying global warming isn’t
happening #
show no warming #
Crichton cited #
modeling isn’t scientific #
Urban Heat
Islands contaminate the surface record #
We can’t
predict the weather a week in advance. How can we do it
100 years in advance? #
Water vapour
is 98% of the greenhouse effect. #
The “Hockey
Stick” is broken. #

Put a check in that top box Jimbo, as all good denialists are wont, Craig pulls out the Stephen Scheider predicted an ice age card.
Maybe, but I can't help noting that some of the prominent global warmers of today were global coolers of not so long ago. In particular, Steven Schneider, now at Stanford, previously at NCAR, about 30 years ago was sounding the alarm about an imminent ice age.

And he nails the second box in the top row, just like RP Sr. would tell him
I consider the concept of a global mean temperature [upon which global warming statistics are based] to be somewhat dubious....
Our Craig is on a role, and sure enough, there he goes, three for three.....
In the atmospheric sciences it is difficult to get grants unless you can somehow tie your work to global warming, that is to say, to scare science. Because of my reputation, I immodestly believe that I could have jumped onto the global warming bandwagon. But I refused to do so because I would have found this repugnant.
But sadly, not even a mention of the IPCC.....

Put a fork in itboys, that's the end of the story...

So, why, you ask, do you think that Craig Bohren is missing on a few cylinders. Well his starting point, and the one that RP Sr gloms onto is that
The pronouncements of climate modelers, who don't do experiments, don't make observations, don't even confect theories, but rather [in my opinion] play computer games using huge programs containing dozens of separate components the details of which they may be largely ignorant, don't move me. I am much more impressed by direct evidence: retreating glaciers, longer growing seasons, the migration of species, rising sea level, etc.
Except a) we do have direct evidence of retreating glaciers, longer growing seasons, the migration of species, rising sea level, etc. b) the models provide physically realistic pre and postdictions of all of these tied to measured changes in solar/volcanic/anthropic forcings c) the models are continually evaluated by the modelers against the observed data, and modelers work closely with observational scientists on this process.

Not to beat a dead horse, but, Jim Hansen not only models climate, but he and his colleagues at GISS maintain one of the two authoritative surface temperature data sets. Hans von Storch is another modeler who works with data sets. In other words, dear Prof. Bohren is throwing a hissy fit.

UPDATE: Andrew Dessler has some comments on the golden oldie skeptics, and I had some general thoughts;

* apologies to Stephen Leacock. If you don't know who he was, go find a book of his short stories. Leacock was possibly the only economist and the certainly the only Canadian with a sense of humor.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

MP3s for the NOAA revised hurricane forcast....

can be found here. Listen to the questions for comments on the role of global warming.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ar4 Working Group III....

Mitigation of Climate Change is open for comment (at the bottom). Now, you would think that with all the fuss about the Working Group I, the Physical Basis report that this would have been noted somewhere, as the WGIII report is the one that puts some costs onto climate change. But the big blogs are silent.

Viewing the drafts does require that you have an institutional commitment, and that you acknowledge that

the purpose of receiving the draft is for review and comment; and do you agree that you will not quote, cite, or publish, through any medium, any of the contents of the draft report?
The comment periods for WGI and WGII (Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability ) have already passed, and these are no longer available for comment. You can get a good idea about what will be in the WGII report from the outline. However, for those with too much time on their hands, you can quibble with the guidance for Lead Authors on addressing uncertainties.

Still, without revealing any of the contents of these drafts, one can read them, and doing so can inform one's thinking.

Allow me to address another red herring that has been dragged across the discussion of anthropic climate change, the tension between adaptation and mitigation. It must be recognized that any response will be a balance between these two approaches. In business as usual of course, the entire response has to be adaptation, in which case, one can wonder at the cost of, for example, moving hundreds of millions of people out of low lying areas such as Bangladesh, or the loss of capital associated with the flooding of low lying areas on the East Coast of the US. Anyone who claims that the problem can be met with adaptation alone has about 60 cards in his deck.

The cost balance will be determined by the political decision of where greenhouse gas concentrations will be stabilized. Before you get into a discussion of what the cost of dealing with climate change is, you have to pick a stabilization point. Arresting the situation where it is, is simply not in the cards. Anyone claiming that this can be done is not playing with a full deck.

Even 450-500 ppm CO2 equivalent will be extremely difficult and expensive. 600-650 ppm (essentially doubling CO2 from pre-industrial) is doable. The questions that WGIII attempts to answer are what are the costs at different levels.

Clearly the balance of importance in AR4 is shifting to WGII and WGIII and away from WGI.

Friday, August 04, 2006

March of the climate change denialists....

It has come Eli's attention via Tim Lambert and Brad DeLong that there is a lame video from the Tech Central Station folk about Al Gore and the March of the Penguins. Here is a better version. A prize to the first to identify Jim Glassman among the Emperors.

Weeds grow well in high CO2. Crops?

The top card in the denialist deck is that global warming is good for plants. There are three reasons for this.

  • Lengthened growing seasons.
  • Increased CO2 decreases evaporation from leaves, increasing drought resistance
  • Increased atmospheric CO2 makes more CO2 available in C3 plants (rice, wheat, etc. ) but not in C4 plants (maize, aka corn).
More on the details below. Recently Eli pointed to a study which showed that poison ivy was REALLY fertilized at high CO2 levels. Not good. Now comes Long, Ainsworth, Leakey, Noesberger and Ort in Science 312 (2006) 1918, to offer us " Food for thought: Lower than expected crop yield stimulation with rising CO2 concentrations"

This is a meta (study of studies) study of experiments which monitored plant growth in high CO2 concentrations.
Model projections suggest that although increased temperature and decreased soil moisture will act to reduce global crop yields by 2050, the direct fertilization effect of rising carbon dioxide concentration will offset these losses. The CO2 fertilization factors used in models to project future yields were derived from enclosure studies conducted approximately 20 years ago. Free-air concentration enrichment (FACE) technology has now facilitated large-scale trials of the major grain crops at elevated [CO2] under fully open-air field conditions. In those trials, elevated [CO2] enhanced yield by ~50% less than in enclosure studies. This casts serious doubt on projections that rising [CO2] will fully offset losses due to climate change
This is a very well written summary accessible to non-experits and Prof. Rabett would encourage all with access to read it and Schimel's perspective on page 1889 of the same issue. The results, if they hold up will be important to climate change policy (remember tho according to the usual and unusual suspects, everything published in Science is crap - something that yr humble hare considers crap, but what do you expect from the internet).

The bottom line is
  • There is no CO2 fertilization effect for C4 crops although increased drought resistance may be significant.
  • FACE studies show that current ag models significantly overestimate CO2 fertilization for crops
  • C3 crop CO2 fertilization saturates somewhere between 600 and 800 ppm CO2
  • Crop breeders should work on developing strains that can benefit from higher CO2
The paper has a concise paragraph which describes the biological origin of CO2 fertiliztion which is worth reproducing
Crops sense and respond directly to rising [CO2] through photosynthesis and stomatal conductance, and this is the basis for the fertilization effect on yield . In C3 plants, mesophyll cells containing ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase - oxygenase (RuBisCO) are in direct contact with the intercellular air space that is connected to the atmosphere via stomatal pores in the epidermis. Hence, in C3 crops, rising CO3 increases net photosynthetic CO2 uptake because RuBisCO is not CO2 -saturated in today's atmosphere and because CO2 inhibits the competing oxygenation reaction leading to photorespiration. RuBisCO is highly conserved across terrestrial plants, so instantaneous responses to increased [CO2] may be generalized across C3 plants, including rice, soybeans, and wheat. In theory, at 25°C, an increase in [CO2] from the present-day value of 380 ppm to that of 550 ppm, projected for the year 2050, would increase C3 photosynthesis by 38%. In contrast, in C4 crops such as maize and sorghum, RuBisCO is localized to bundle sheath cells in which CO2 is concentrated to three to six times atmospheric [CO2]. This concentration is sufficient to saturate RuBisCO and in theory would prevent any increase in CO2 uptake with rising [CO2]. Although C4 crops may not show a direct response in photosynthetic activity, an indirect increase in the efficiency of water use via reduction in stomatal conductance may still increase yield.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth....

After eight weeks remains in second place on the NY Times Best Seller list for paperback nonfiction.

Ranks #14 among all books at Amazon

Is #16 on the Box Office Mojo weekend chart and on the basis of gross/theater it would be at #12, higher than Superman Returns. The film has grossed over $20 million total, ranking #4 on the all time documentary list and should soon move up to #3.

The DVD is coming soon.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Pat Michaels Cashes In.....

There has been much recent comment on a letter from Stanley R. Lewandowski Jr, the General Manager of the Intermountain Rural Electric Association. Lewandowski discloses that the utility has provided $100,000 to Pat Michaels and asks for more donations to the worthy cause. It is not clear if the money is going directly to Michaels or is being passed through a think tank he is associated with (I am being careful here, I would bet a beer or two that Michaels might own part of the organization, which opens yet another can of ethical worms)

New Hope Environmental Services is an advocacy science consulting firm that produces cutting-edge research and informed commentary on the nature of climate, including patterns of climate change, U.S. and international environmental policy, seasonal and long-range forecasting targeted to user needs, and the relation between the earth's atmosphere and biology. The company also consults on legal matters related to weather and climate.
There have been a number of comments about the ethics of the thing, but all appear to miss a very important point. Michaels is the Virginia State Climatologist. If he is accepting money to advocate on issues which are intimately related to his state/university position he is without question in the deep state employee ethics doo doo. This certainly should be looked at by the appropriate office at UVa

You might also ask Tim Kane why he continues to employ Michaels as State Climatologist.