Friday, November 23, 2007

Hitting ourselves with a rake

Eli was reading Andrew Dessler's blog over at Gristmill. Andrew, conscientious and fair minded lad that he is, has been looking for a denialist that would come to his class and debate climate change. He thought that Steve Milloy might have a stable of such available for guest appearances, but alas, when he wrote Steve at Milloy wrote back that there was no one available.

Andrew points out that what we are seeing is a few of the usual quacking heads recycled endlessly. Now this bears on issues that Eli has been thinking about but has not been able to quite verbalize, hence the recent ennui over here.

First, scientists are as bad as journalists about understanding the public and providing needed and useful information for others. The seeds of this are different, but the results the same. As we know journalists would much rather write about the controversy than the issue. Thus someone like Andrew Revkin will take a complex issue like climate change, project the multidimensional problem onto a line, seek the extremes, say Greenpeace and our beloved S. Fred's SEPP, and then find ignorant posers like Newt Gingrich and Bjorn Lomborg in the middle. Michael Tobis nails this, follow the links.

UPDATE: Michael prefers you start at the bottom, Reply to Revkin, not at the top, but Eli did provide instructions to follow the links, he can't help it if no one listens.

Scientists, on the other hand, are pretty much fixed not on what they know, which since they know it for more than ten minutes, is already boring, but what they don't and are excellent in telling people that they don't know everything. The average person hears that everything is up in the air, something that pro denialists are quite happy to chant in chorus. Stoat often provides excellent illustrations of this.

Consider what Andrew has discovered. The Overton window has moved. Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen and the rest of the emeriti might as well move into the old scientists home with Frederick, S. Fred and Co.

Now is NOT the time to bring them back for a nostalgia tour. What Andrew needs to do is find people like, for example, James Annan, Gerald North and others (Eli is prepared to be corrected on the choice of protagonists) who form the more conservative wing of the IPCC consensus, to debate the radical wing, the Hansenites as it were.

Andrew's job is to offer his class real choices based on real science, rather than the delusional drivel offered by the loony .


Michael Tobis said...

Thanks for the links, Eli, but methinks your link is mislinked.

I think you wanted "Reply to Revkin" not "Runaway Train".


Anonymous said...

Bjorn Lomborg described as ignorant. This does not do benefit to the credibility of your blog

guthrie said...

Anonymous 12:37- *yawn*

David B. Benson said...

Nony Mous 12:37 --- Prehaps, but it is certainly accurate.

Dano said...

Bjorn Lomborg described as ignorant. This does not do benefit to the credibility of your blog

Yeah, Eli: anyone making 2900 footnotes must be not ignernt. Not having a basic understanding of ecosystems doesn't count, y'see, it just doesn't count.



Anonymous said...

To partly defend our friend 12:37, I think a good case can be made that there's no location where Lonborg's dishonesty wears thin enough to actually evaluate whether there's any underlying ignorance.

bigcitylib said...

And I think you're going to have to read up on economics. The debate has moved from whether its happening to what the economic effects are if it happens. These guys (like Tol and Pileke Jr.) have an even even more elaborate vocabulary than the climate science guys, and models they use are even shittier as predictive instruments. Yet the business community respects them...

Anonymous said...

Hey Rabett, all your faith warmers friends are out again telling as to why the science is settled, so no debate is possible, no matter who.
I guess Rabett, when you tell us why the hurricane season was a dud after suggesting the world as we know it was going to end, well maybe then you will be listened to a scientist. Now, you and the other faith warmers are all noise and no substance.

Anonymous said...

JohnS clearly didn't read Dessler or Eli. What if you invited a debate and nobody came?

Not Mickey

Anonymous said...

I guess JohnS got tired of having his ass handed to him over at Pharyngula and moved on to "greener" pastures.

I'm not sure why he thinks the hurricane season was a "dud" as it was almost as predicted.

I wonder too, why they use "faith" so often as such a disparaging adjective. It does speak volumes coming from these xian wingnuts.


Marion Delgado said...


On the one hand, from Wikipedia:

2007 became one of four recorded Atlantic seasons that have had more than one category 5 storm; the others being 1960, 1961 and 2005, and the only time two Atlantic hurricanes have ever made landfall at Category 5 strength in the same season. Hurricane Humberto also became the fastest developing storm on record to be so close to land. It strengthened from a 35 mph (55 km/h) tropical depression to an 90 mph (150 km/h) hurricane in 14 hours while 15 miles (24 km) off the coast of Texas. September had a record tying 8 storms but the strengths and durations of the storms were low. Hurricane Humberto became the first hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.

On the other hand, the ACE for 2007, although a little above average, is below 2006's as well as 2007's. And about half as high as predicted - not by climate change modelers, but by meteorologists, including Gray, and mostly for El Nino reasons.
So it's probably a combination of "by one respectable scientific measure, the season was well below the average of the many predictions" and "It didn't impact the US very much."

Anonymous said...

Decribing Lomborg as dishonest. The credibility of this blog is reduced even more.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I forgot it isn't a hurricane unless it makes landfall in the U.S. and kills thousands.
The prediction was for an above normal season, normal being 10, with 14-17 named storms. We had 16, which is above normal.

Marion Delgado said...

3:15, yes and no. Yes, for many predictions, no for others. I believe if you simply added up the predictions in each category, and the further back you go, you'd find that the Hurricane Center (what you're citing sounds close to their estimate) was the low end in most cases. The ACE is basically a measure of loose climate ("accumulated cyclone") energy, really. it pays no attention to either the number of named storms nor the number or strength of Cat 5s+, etc., inherently, although both add to it. If you have a bunch of named storms that barely made it, you'll have a low ACE. If you have a bunch that were all-but-hurricanes, you'll have a high ACE. If you have a bunch of just-barely-hurricanes, you'll have a lower ACE, if you have a bunch of strong but not devastating hurricanes, it gets higher.

It's a more meaningful baseline than named storms, Cat 5s, storms that hit the US, and so on. It's interesting to compare year-to-year northern hemisphere cyclones, but you can't compare them to Atlantic-only, for obvious reasons.

We should welcome the focus by the Milloys on the ACE. It really is an important index.

I invite correction on this, but I think the ACE is a prime climate change measure, if you use, say, a 5-10 year moving average.

Anonymous said...

Lomborg claims world's forests grow when data from a previously unincluded country is added to UN's records.

Is this dishonesty, stupidity, or what?

Marion Delgado said...

Eli one last thing. I concur 100% with both this post and the previous Overton window post, and it's one of the most important points you CAN make. Good show all around, seriously.

Anonymous said...

Here is an example of the stuff that makes me sceptical about not only the science, but the scientists.

Over on CA, you can find a map of the MBH proxy network, structured to show the geographical weighting. It shows, as we would expect, very heavy North American weighting, from the way the stats were done.

Over on RC, you can regularly find the assertion that the fact that the US temperature record shows flat temps is not an indicator, because the US is such a small proportion of the world's surface.

OK then, this clearly refutes the validity of MBH does it not? It is using a non representative proxy series to pretend to reconstruct global temps.

Could we now have an explanation of why people will not repudiate MBH? Because they wont. Why is IPCC still quoting it? Why is the network still being used in Mann 2007?

I doubt that there really is anything unprecedented about modern warming, and doubt that it is as extreme as the IPCC material suggests. And I doubt the people who have done a lot of the early work on this, particularly the hockey stick stuff, are decent scientists.

This is not being in denial. If you look at all the evidence, and cannot see that there is grounds for concern, its you that is in denial.

Yours truly, Frederic.

Anonymous said...

The thing I find most puzzling about tall of this is the fact that Americans allow people in the media like Revkin to define the issues for them.

These people have influence that far exceeds anything that is warranted.

Most of them are experts at nothing but present themselves as experts at everything.

A science journalist's job is not to "move" the public where he thinks it should go. It is to accurately report the state of the science.

It is simply ridiculous that we even listen to people like Revkin. He hsould be ignored, along with most of the other members of the press.

Over the past few years, they have acted as Oracles -- on global warming, Iraq and the rest -- and just look where it has got us.


Anonymous said...

Incidentally, anyone who claims that Newt Gingrich and Bjorn Lomborg represent the "center" when it comes to science should have his head examined to see if there is anything in it.

Gingrich is the guy who tried to do away with one of America's preeminent scientific organizations -- the US Geological Survey (as part of his Contract on America). Some respect for science he has.

And Lomborg is like the kid who can't get enough attention.

He was taken to the cleaners by some of the world's preeminent scientists (like EO Wilson) for the uninformed nonsense he wrote in Skeptical Environmentalist, but is nonetheless still repeating the same tired BS.

Lomborg is one of those people who seem to believe that if you keep manure in the public eye long enough, it turns to gold. On that, he could be right.


Anonymous said...

But don't take my word for it.

Listen to what Harvard's E.O. Wilson says about Lomborg and his ilk:

"They are the parasite load on scholars who earn success through the slow process of peer review and approval."

If Lomborg is the "parasite load", then what does that make a journalist like Revkin who holds Lomborg up as an exemplar?

The host?


Anonymous said...


NA proxies + other NH proxies (spacial variables appropriately weighted and adjusted, as done in MBH98, not as done on CA) produces global mean.

NA temps + nada doesn't.

Yes, it is denial through the agency of stupid.

Anonymous said...

Frederic @12.26, you are wrong on at least one point. There is no known example in paleontology of an occurence in which massive amounts of fossil carbon were extracted from the crust and injected into the atmosphere.


Anonymous said...


You seem to be claiming that the GISS Global temperature charts and the MBH98 Hockey Stick charts result from the same weightings.

That is, the US as a geographical entity has the same weight in the generally accepted Global temperature calculations as it did in MBH.

Lets keep on. The proxies were weighted in MBH98 in such a way that the US and China had weights which correspond to their geographical extent. And this weighting is the same as that which is done the temp ratings?

If this is what you are saying, you are in denial. The weightings are completely different. Both cannot be right. And MBH does absolutely not do what was described above. It not only overweights NA, it overweights some particular trees in NA. Its not even a properly weighted account of NA

This is the kind of thing that gives AGW a bad name.

Now, which is right, MBH proxy reconstruction weighting, or GISS temp weighting?

By the way - I understand about the carbon emissions, of course we should stop polluting the earth and stop killing millions on the roads, and deadening the oceans, all our environmental horrors should stop.

Along with bad science.

Yours truly, Frederic

Anonymous said...


1. How many statisticians are regular posters here?

2. Have those who are NOT statisticians accepted the claims of MBH 9x without questioning the math?

Eli can help us out here. You're a professor. Take the data from MBH98 to the head of your statistics dept, and see if THEY can replicate the results.

Then let us know what they find.

- Mickey

EliRabett said...

Freddy you need to go read the papers describing how the information was weighted for both the GISS surface temperature records and the Mann, Bradley and Hughes papers.

You might also try and understand how surface temperature records were used to calibrate the various proxy ones.

Naw, never mind

Anonymous said...

"Frederic" is a troll, if ever there was one.

Still harping on MBH98/99 at this late date is just absurd.

"Frederic" is either too stupid to understand that science has moved on or he is just plain dishonest.

I won't venture to guess which, but whichever is true, he represents the outer fringe when it comes to "skepticism."

He should simply be ignored in the future.


Horatio Algeranon said...

Climate Change "Skeptic" Sighting

Anonymous said...

First Revkin puts Roger Pielke Jr. in the "middle," and now it's Lomborg.

My questions is, "When does Senator Inhofe rate 'middle cred' from Revkin?"

Mus musculus anonymouse

Anonymous said...

Oh my, this is going to make RPJr see red.

Accuracy of past hurricane counts good

Anonymous said...

So for the skeptics to create an Overton window, they first need to change its panes from old ones (Pat Michaels, Richard Lindzen and the rest of the emeriti) to new ones (James Annan, Gearld North and others), which are actually older than the old ones. Then they oughta give it a fresh coat of paint--meaning dress them up in new suits!

Anonymous said...

And Prof. Rabett, at least you're not getting hit by Mr. McGregor's rake as he yells "Stop, thief!"

Marion Delgado said...


I agree there should be a cutoff not to trolls per se (they have no inherent reply merit anyway), but rather to level of troll progress. About all the current troll's tired propaganda merits is "asked and answered" and a link.

Anonymous said...

"Still harping on MBH98/99 at this late date is just absurd.

"Frederic" is either too stupid to understand that science has moved on or he is just plain dishonest."

Absolutely. Let's focus on newer studies, like Mann 07 (in which he tries to prove the practices he used in MBH98/99 were valid).

Shouldn't he just move on?

- Mickey

BTW, has anyone other than Mann ever reproduced his results (using his data and programs)?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should move on, Mickey.

It's not healthy to be so obsessed about Michael Mann and the hockey stick.


Dano said...

Obsession is the fuel for envirohate.



Anonymous said...

Please know that I'm not trying to troll... It's just that sometimes my warped sense of humor gets so warped to the point that it looks like I'm trolling, but I'm really not, I swear!

Unknown said...

"Frederic @12.26, you are wrong on at least one point. There is no known example in paleontology of an occurence in which massive amounts of fossil carbon were extracted from the crust and injected into the atmosphere.


Are you sure about that? I would have thought that the Deccan & Siberian Traps would qualify.

Liberty Tree Blog said...

Reading your post on "Framing" and your reply to CapitalistImperialistPig about propagandizing, I find it unfortunate that you are more concerned with framing the debate in a biased manner than simply debating the points as they exist.

"Framing" as you euphemize it, has been dogging rational discourse for millenia since the earliest rhetoricians and has been recently championed by pragmatic environmentalists for decades.

The part I don't enjoy about it is the lack of concern with truth and the emphasis on winning the debate by changing its terms to your favor. Seems unethical to me.

Anonymous said...

"The part I don't enjoy about it [framing] is the lack of concern with truth and the emphasis on winning the debate by changing its terms to your favor. Seems unethical to me."

Tell that to the folks at Exxon Mobil and the individuals and organizations they have been funding over the past couple decades.

They have "framing" -- in the "plant evidence to implicate someone in a crime" sense -- down to a science.


Anonymous said...

That's an interesting point. To my knowledge, volcanic CO2 is not fossil in nature, i.e. it is not carbon coming from fossilized biomass stored in the crust. However, a sizeable portion of the carbon released by those events (especially the enormous Siberian traps) is likely to have been taken up by biomass. I'm trying to look this up as time permits.

Phil the Saturnian.

Anonymous said...

Hi folks,

I realize after the abuse that there is no point staying around here. You are a bunch of religious fanatics to whom evidence is irrelevant, and you have a canon of sacred scriptures, one of which is evidently the writings of the saintly Michael Mann, of which no criticism is tolerated.

It would be perfectly possible to accept the case for global warming while admitting that Mann's work is defective and discredited. But it is part of the canon, and you can't do that.

It has been an interesting few weeks. I am certainly not a troll, just a person, rather committed to environmentalism in general, but with a point of view on AGW that is somewhat different from your own. I started out unsure, but its become clearer and clearer that MBH98 is a touchstone. I still do not know whether there is AGW, and whether it is as serious as represented, but I am now sure that the AGW movement is classic politico-religious authoritarianism. Folks, this is not science. If it were, you'd have admitted the truth about MBH98 and later publications from the same authors years ago.

And moved on.

Goodbye. Please if you are replying do not do so to me, because I will not read it. Keep it for each other


Anonymous said...

Frederic said: "I still do not know whether there is AGW, and whether it is as serious as represented, but I am now sure that the AGW movement is classic politico-religious authoritarianism."

In other words, "I know nothing about the science, but I can nonetheless say with 100% confidence that the scientists are not basing their conclusions on science."

Makes perfect sense to me.


Sparrow (in the coal mine) said...

With all of this middle muddle maybe Eli needs to give Revkin 200 deutsch marks.

Unknown said...

Anonymous "T"

You started off with the tu quoque fallacy, attempting to excuse the ills of framing with something about Exxon doing something naughty also. Not a great start by my lights.

Then you continued by trashing Frederic for concluding that re: MBH, many AGW supporters are not rationally invested in the subject by claiming he said something else entirely, a straw man argument.

You need to think a bit more before posting.

Anonymous said...

Dearest Kevin:

How you interpreted my statement about Exxon Mobil as "excusing the ills of framing" is beyond me (but to each his own, I guess).

And I'd suggest you look up "strawman argument" because you clearly do not know what it means.

Fredric admitted that "I still do not know whether there is AGW", something that one can only admit in total ignorance of the science at this point.

But despite his ignorance -- or more likely because of it -- he says that "I am now sure that the AGW movement is classic politico-religious authoritarianism".

Well, sorry to burst Freddy's -- and your -- bubble, but AGW is a scientific FACT (documented by the work of thousands of scientists throughout the world) and to make a claim that it is NOT, indeed that it is instead "politico-religious authoritarianism" is utter rubbish, to put it quite succinctly.

Not only that, the "politico-religious authoritarianism" nonsense is essentially equivalent to the statement that the "scientists are not basing their conclusions on science" -- ie, they are basing it on politics and religion.

In a nutshell, Freddy's conclusion is completely unwarranted (ie, utter BS) given his complete ignorance of the science.

So, alas, Dearest kevin, it is you who should think before posting in the future. Otherwise, you just look like a fool.

And do make an effort to read and actually understand as well.


Hank Roberts said...

> massive amounts of fossil carbon
> were extracted from the crust and
> injected into the atmosphere.

Methane hydrates?

Wyoming coal beds?
International Journal of Coal Geology
Volume 59, Issues 1-2, 12 July 2004, Pages 25-47
Coal Fires Burning around the World: a Global Catastrophe


"... Coal-bed fires ignited by natural processes have baked and fused overlying sediments to form clinker, a hard red or varicolored rock, through much of the northern Great Plains of the United States (USA). The gently dipping coal beds in the region burn when regional downwasting brings them above the local water table. The resulting clinker forms a rim along the exposed edge of the coal bed in an ongoing process through geologic time. The resistant clinker is left capping buttes and ridges after the softer unbaked strata erode away. Clinker outcrops cover more than 4100 km2 in the Powder River basin (PRB), which lies in Wyoming (WY) and Montana (MT). The clinker in place records tens of billions of tons of coal that have burned, releasing gases into the atmosphere. The amount of clinker that has eroded away was at least an order of magnitude greater than the clinker that remains in place. Fission-track and uranium–thorium/helium ages of detrital zircon crystals in clinker, and paleomagnetic ages of clinker, show that coal beds have burned naturally during at least the past 4 million years (Ma)."