Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Open Letter to the Climate Science Community:

As spoken at the AGU 2009 Fall Meeting, reprinted with permission

These remarks reflect the personal opinions of B.D. Santer. They do not represent the official views of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory or the U.S. Department of Energy.

We live in extraordinary scientific and political times.

Over the course of less than a dozen generations, humanity has transitioned from a passive bystander to an active agent of change in the climate system. We are now aware of this fundamental change in our role in the world. We can no longer plead ignorance.

As climate scientists, this is what we know with great confidence:

* We know that human activities have changed the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

* We know that these changes in the composition of the atmosphere have had profound effects on Earth’s climate.

* We know that the human “fingerprint” on climate will become ever more visible over the next few decades, and will impact many aspects of our lives.

* We know that we are at a crossroads in human history. The decisions our political leaders reach in Copenhagen – or fail to reach – will shape the world inherited by future generations.

Our political leadership must have access to the best-available scientific information. Without this information, they will be unable to reach wise decisions on how to respond to the problem of human-caused climate change.

The clearest, most complete assessment of the science is contained in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the Synthesis and Assessment Products of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, and in the scientific assessments of the U.S. National Academy and the Science Academies of other nations. These assessments all underscore the reality of a “discernible human influence” on global climate.

As scientists, we must be free to contribute to such assessments. We must be free to follow the science wherever it leads us, without fear of interference when we “speak truth to power”.

Sadly, climate scientists now see and feel interference from political and economic interests. This interference is pervasive. Powerful forces are using a criminal act – the theft of over a thousand emails from the U.K.’s Climatic Research Unit – to advance their own agendas.

These “forces of unreason” seek to constrain our ability to speak truth to power. They seek to skew and distort what we know about the nature and causes of climate change. Having failed to undermine climate science itself, they seek to destroy the reputations of individual climate scientists. They seek to destroy men like Phil Jones and Mike Mann, who have devoted their entire careers to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and understanding.

We must not let this stand.

We no longer have the luxury of remaining silent on these issues. We all have voices. We need to use them.

Benjamin D. Santer
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow

San Ramon, California
December 14, 2009*

Rabett Run has some commentary on this as well as there being discussions at many other places on the web.


Steve Bloom said...

Good for Ben! What was the forum for this, BTW?

Hank Roberts said...

Ben Santer knows from when.

"... industry sought to undermine this consensus by
going after Santer. One scientist tells ES&T that it was “one of the most vicious attacks I have ever seen on the integrity of a

In an interview with ES&T, Santer recounts what happened to him during that stressful period, explains
why people should stop knocking climate models, and muses on the media’s long journey to finally “get” the science. ... Despite the controversy and politics, he says, “in the end, the science gets done.”

Environmental Science & Technology / october 1, 2006 © 2006 American Chemical Society

Deech56 said...

Hot damn!

word verification: hanked

paulina said...

I'm think I'm going to print this out and frame it.

Mark Richard Francis said...

A call to action? Great, but what to do?

You are up against seasoned PR hacks interested only in sowing doubt, and who are obviously now not at all afraid to drive deep into libelous territory.

As we saw from the Reagan administration onwards, creating false plausible realities are the business these types are in. The average person cannot tell the difference between good science and bad science.

Against that, truth and openness have a hard time.

What todo... what to do...

SCM said...

Hear Hear Ben Santer!

The harassment and smearing of climate scientists has really got me rattled. I'm a scientist myself and can't imagine what it would be like to try and carry on doing your science in such circumstances.

This is an attack on science in general as well as climate scientists in particular. In this age of entitlement it seems any fool with an IP address imagines they can blow holes in years of hard won data and analysis by sheer force of bluster and ignorance. Every time I see Ian Plimer or his fellow travellers given air time on the telly to spout more nonsense I feel as though the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

Those of us who are scientists in other fields should be standing shoulder to shoulder with our climate colleagues on this. We've got to stand up for science against ignorance and unreason.

Hank Roberts said...

more history:

Deep Climate said...

What to do? How about making sure this gets out there?

Wegman ghostwriter revealed

How could a trio of statistical experts, all on their own, hope to write a report on a field, climate science, of which they had no previous knowledge or experience?

The shocking answer is: They didn’t. They had some help from a physicist turned climate skeptic and textbook author (not to mention Wikipedia and a classic sociology text).

It’s high time those “forces of unreason” received the scrutiny reserved thus far for the victims of their attacks. I will not rest until that happens.

EliRabett said...

Deep, please contact Eli for fun and games:)

CamMacKay said...

Good idea ben, climate science certainly needs to be more intertwined with politics that will win them over! If anything climate scientists should not appear to be simply performing unbiased research but as active political campaigners. Going to greenpeace rallies at night and by day making unbiased decisions concerning temperature data adjustments.

Yep the problem was not enough politics and corruption in science. Good idea. How about we just get congress to perform the cliamte science fro you guys and get more bang for our buck? Dr. Inhofe climatologist, has a nice ring to it don't you think?

Anonymous said...

This is interesting. Don't scientists and other activists promoting Global Warming ( or Climate Change if you will ) practice denigrating those scientists who question or disagree with the consensus?

Video: Dr. Roy Spencer

RealClimate on Dr Roy Spencer

Washington Post on Dr Gray

RealClimate on Dr Gray

SNRatio said...

A fundamental part of science is to be critical about one's own competence, and always take measures when something indicates that there may be problems with it: Improving it, making use of the competence of others etc.

Well, when Gray calls global warming a hoax - who's denigrating who, really? He hasn't the competence to criticize the massive evidence, or even, it seems, to understand why just about everyone who has worked on the problems thinks he commits several errors.

Spencer is making such an awful lot of errors and misrepresentations that it is difficult to find a reasonable way to relate to him. Some of them seem rather deliberate - it is hard to believe that he can be that uninformed, and he has been doing such things for years. But still, he can produce publishable work, and personally, I think some of his ideas or intuitions may be fruitful.

So, when scientists have problems with him, it is not primarily because of his scientific argumentation, but because of his conduct.

Anonymous said...

SNRatio said:


So, when scientists have problems with him, it is not primarily because of his scientific argumentation, but because of his conduct.


His conduct? That is a very surprising rational. He had to quit his job to take on a different point of view. He has been consistently denigrated by those who promote GW.

I am dubious of the perspective that "his conduct" is what the problem is...

chris said...

Spencer's scientific "conduct" has been pretty questionable. Consider the 15 year farrago of his (and Christy's) satellite temperature data.

Spencer's attempt to sell the notion that the troposphere was undergoing a cooling trend, was only revised after it was pointed out (this over a 15 year period) that (a) their analysis was not sufficiently constrained to distinguish cooling from a warming consistent with physical expectations [ONE], (b) the method of averaging different satellite records introduce a spurious cooling trend [TWO], and (c) their disregard of orbital decay introduced another spurious cooling trend [THREE]. A little later it was shown (d) that MSU-2 showed a spurious cooling trend due to spillover of stratospheric cooling into the tropospheric temperature signal [FOUR], and later still it was pointed out that (e) the diurnal correction applied by Christy and Spencer (a sad litany of incompetence) was of the wrong sign and gave yet another spurious cooling trend [FIVE].

[ONE] B.J. Gary and S. J. Keihm (1991) Microwave Sounding Units and Global Warming Science 251, 316 (1991)

[TWO] J. W. Hurrell & .K E. Trenberth (1997) Spurious trends in satellite MSU temperatures from merging different satellite record. Nature 386, 164 – 167.

[THREE] F. J. Wentz and M. Schabel (1998) Effects of orbital decay on satellite-derived lower-tropospheric temperature trends. Nature 394, 661-664

[FOUR] Q. Fu et al. (2004) Contribution of stratospheric cooling to satellite-inferred tropospheric temperature trends Nature 429, 55-58.

[FIVE] C. A. Mears and F. J. Wentz (2005) The Effect of Diurnal Correction on Satellite-Derived Lower Tropospheric Temperature, Science 1548-1551.

guthrie said...

This has been linked to on Realclimate so you can expect an influx of trolls and know-nothings about now.

Anonymous said...

guthrie said... "This has been linked to on Realclimate so you can expect an influx of trolls and know-nothings about now."

As opposed to...

Anonymous said...

[ For some reason, this did not post the first time... ]
chris said... "Spencer's scientific "conduct" has been pretty questionable. Consider the 15 year farrago of his (and Christy's) satellite temperature data."

If I am not mistaken, after the public rebuke in 2003, Mears and Wentz had to back track their publications "to adjust their exaggerated RSS warming history downward" in 2008.

One then has to wonder who's "conduct" has been quesitonable.

NASA's site has fairly extensive writing on the findings by Spencer and Christy all of which are quite positive and post-date the 1998 study you reference.

In looking at this information, ( which I appreciate your references ) I ran across many more sites in which the scientfic community disparages these other scientists - I see not need to post the sites as it is an easy search and probably well known.

The call should be for more open science as the disparging comes from all corners...

Deech56 said...

Keough, UAH also had to adjust their data. There more information and a longer explanation at Open Mind.

EliRabett said...

Guthrie, for some reason RR is a bit troll resistant, for one thing everyone is reasonably terse, for another we have the reputation of taking no chuff.

Marky pushes it now and again, but on the whole everyone is pretty well behaved.

Luboš Motl said...

"Yesterday Phil Jones was fired. It's a very sad day for climatology. I will beat the crap out of Patrick Michaels."

Oh, really? What's so sad about a corrupt nasty gangster's being fired? Ben Santer may deserve electric chair.

Jesús R. said...

Eli, why do you allow comments such as Lummo's? Baseless accusations of being corrupt and a gangster (defamation) and violence-inducing comments suggesting that a specific person may deserve death. In my country, comments like this may be subject to legal prosecution.

Anonymous said...

Deech56, I don't see how your post changes anything I said. I did not refute that UAH did not have to make changes - I was noting how Mears publically disparaged Spencer and Christy and then had to make their own changes.

Tamino, ( who does not reveal her/his identity ) has been very disparging of Spencer - yet notes in the final paragraph of this posting that she/he does not know "[w]hich of the data sets it to be believed?"

I don't see what is altered by your reply...

guthrie said...

Keough - you're in the know nothing category for now.

So lets get back to the science - Spencer was shown to be wrong, and you're just arguing about presentational matters. So keep playing PR games if you like, we'll go and discuss other things.

Mark said...

keough, this comment doesn't seem to make sense: "If I am not mistaken, after the public rebuke in 2003, Mears and Wentz had to back track their publications "to adjust their exaggerated RSS warming history downward" in 2008."

The Mears and Wentz publication cited above is from 2005, so how did the public rebuke happen in 2003? And if so, why did a rebuke in 2003 take until 2008 to have results "adjusted"?

Jesus, I understand your frustrations at comments like Lummo's, but I do appreciate Eli for allowing them. They show the depth to which the denialists will sink.

EliRabett said...

Jesus, because Lumo's comment's are as content free as his physics. Eli thinks of Lumo as a puppet on an early TV show, Mr. Bluster.

Besides which, with Lumo around you don't have to explain about the forces of unreason.

Anonymous said...

guthrie - interesting commentary without substantiation.

It would seem that proves my point - any dissent is disparaged with a quick swipe of integrity having no basis other than to impune and close down any discussion.

Anonymous said...

Mark - this was in reference to "chis's" commentary on the historical events of Spencer and Christy with respect to Mears and Wentz.

It started in 2003, ( not 2005 ) with a publication [ A Reanalysis of the MSU Channel 2 Tropospheric Temperature Record ] that needed to be corrected in 2008.

It is the course of science to correct or recognize error, but the need to disparage is not a function of science - yet it seems to be the course of science in this field.

EliRabett said...

well, what eventually happened is that both sides and others interchanged codes, and errors were found in each. On balance UAH moved more than RSS (Wentz and Mears) but it was a textbook case of how things work. First each side tries to duplicate the other's work, then when all else has been checked and both sides are confident that the other is competent they exchange their codes.

Inferno said...

You shouldn't be so quick to dismiss the empirical insults Lumos provides.

Lumos is a very important Blog Scientist, lots of comments and other peer reviewed insults on his peer reviewed Blog. Good color scheme too which highlights chaotic confusion in science. We could all learn something from Lumos.

Deech56 said...

Inferno, after checking for myself I have to say that you are so correct, plus it's snowing where I am so AGW really is a hoax. How could we have been so wrong to doubt blog science. I hope you continue to expose the stodgy old-school scientists, who are rapidly being surpassed by the nimble and quick blog scientists. ;-)

chris said...

That doesn’t make much sense Keough

First, Mears and Wentz haven’t significantly changed their analysis. Their most recent paper [*] indicates an RSS tropospheric temperature trend of 0.170 oC/decade. This is reduced from the value of 0.190 oC/decade in 2005. But’s that’s largely because the 2005 data set covered the period ‘til 2004 while the latest data extends through another 4 years, a period when the lower troposphere hasn’t warmed (probably because it coincides with the drop in the solar output from near solar max to solar min).

In the meantime the UAH trend has been dragged up from 0.087 oC/decade (in 2005) to 0.142 oC/decade.

In fact the RSS data coincides quite well with the radiosonde data (0.219 oC/decade) if the RSS is sampled to give similar coverage to the radiosonde data (the RSS sampled data gives 0.215 oC/decade).

2. The point is that for a period of 15 years, Spencer and Christy presented an analysis that was so repeatedly flawed that they attempted for a long period to sell a negative temperature trend, and even up to 2005 their analysis gave a temperature trend that was around half of the real trend. This caused considerable uncertainty in the climate science field, an uncertainty that Spencer, especially, was happy to promote. The flaws in their analysis consistently erred in the cooling direction and were progressively pointed out by others see my post at 1:48 above). It was only following the highlighting of their diurnal error correction in 2005, that the UAH data eventually was brought into line with reality.

[*] Mears CA, Wentz FJ (2009) Construction of the RSS V3.2 Lower-Tropospheric Temperature Dataset from the MSU and AMSU Microwave Sounders
J Atmospheric Oceanic Technology 26, 1493-1509

guthrie said...

Baseless dissent, Keough. Thats the difference.
Real climate provide arguments and evidence that Spencer at al are wrong, and therefore it is hard to see what the problem is with that post.
I fully expect you to continue to moan about how the evil scientists slag off those who disagree with them, whilst carefully ignoring the fact that so far the AGW supporters have been shown to be correct many times, and the dissenters hardly at all, and when they are correct, it makes no material difference to the conclusions of the IPCC.

Ron R said...

What todo... what to do...

Simple. Stop talking so much and start showing people WTF is happening.

Starting here:

oneuniverse said...

Our understanding of our climate has deepened, and the likelihood is that CO2 is not a driver of global climate, except on rare occasions (rare on a geological timescale) - our present situation does not even begin to qualify.

The IPCC's hypothesized strong water-vapor 'enhanced' feedback effect has not been observed by instrumental measurements.

The evidence is mounting that solar variability and the effected modulation of cosmic ray flux are the primary drivers of climate on Earth, over greatly differing time-scales. This shouldn't be surprising, given the powerful correlations apparent between solar activity, GCRs and temperature present in the geological record.

EliRabett said...

For an observational proof of strong water vapor feedback try

Dessler, A.E., and Sherwood, S.C. A matter of humidity, Science, 323, 1020-1021, DOI: 10.1126/science.1171264, 2009.


Dessler, A.E., Zhang, Z, and Yang, P. The water-vapor climate feedback inferred from climate fluctuations, 2003-2008, Geophys. Res. Lett., 35, L20704, DOI: 10.1029/2008GL035333, 2008.

Between 2003 and 2008, the global-average surface temperature of the Earth varied by 0.6°C. We analyze here the response of tropospheric water vapor to these variations. Height-resolved measurements of specific humidity (q) and relative humidity (RH) are obtained from NASA's satellite-borne Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS). Over most of the troposphere, q increased with increasing global-average surface temperature, although some regions showed the opposite response. RH increased in some regions and decreased in others, with the global average remaining nearly constant at most altitudes. The water-vapor feedback implied by these observations is strongly positive, with an average magnitude of λ q = 2.04 W/m2/K, similar to that simulated by climate models. The magnitude is similar to that obtained if the atmosphere maintained constant RH everywhere.


Deech56 said...

oneuniverse, please do yourself a favor and watch Richard Alley's talk. He knows a bit about geological time frames.

Jim said...

I was surprised and saddened to see James Randi backing the denialist position, linked from Lumo's anti-science site:

That is whack.

Anonymous said...

"We must be free to follow the science wherever it leads us, without fear of interference when we 'speak truth to power'." - Ben Santer

Check this out!!

Anonymous said...

Here is how Ben Santer allows other scientists to 'be free to follow the science wherever it leads us, without fear of interference when we 'speak truth to power':

Magnus said...

Randi never been that fond of science?

oneuniverse said...

Hi Eli, thank you, I've read that paper, however, there are other that have different findings to Dessler et al. 2008 :

“Three-dimensional tropospheric water vapor in coupled climate models compared with observations from the AIRS satellite system” (Pierce et al 2006):
“The results show the models we investigated tend to have too much moisture in the upper tropospheric regions of the tropics and extra-tropics relative to the AIRS observations, by 25–100% depending on the location, and 25–50% in the zonal average. This discrepancy is well above the uncertainty in the AIRS data, and so seems to be a model problem.”

“A comparison of tropical temperature trends with model predictions” (Douglass, Christy, Pearson, and Singer, 2007):
“Model results and observed temperature trends are in disagreement in most of the tropical troposphere, being separated by more than twice the uncertainty of the model mean. … On the whole, the evidence indicates that model trends in the troposphere are very likely inconsistent with observations that indicate that, since 1979, there is no significant long-term amplification factor relative to the surface. If these results continue to be supported, then future projections of temperature change, as depicted in the present suite of climate models, are likely too high.”

“Trends in middle- and upper-level tropospheric humidity from NCEP reanalysis data” (Paltridge, Arking & Pook 2009):
“The upper-level negative trends in q are inconsistent with climate-model calculations [...] Negative trends in q as found in the NCEP data would imply that long-term water vapor feedback is negative—that it would reduce rather than amplify the response of the climate system to external forcing such as that from increasing atmospheric CO2.”

Not specific to humidity,
but relevant:

"Evidence for large decadal variability in the tropical mean radiative energy budget" (Wielicki et al. 2002)
"Evidence for strengthening of the tropical general circulation in the 1990s." (Chen et al. 2002)

Deech56, thanks, I hope to have a listen this w/e.
As a counter-suggestion, I recommend this 1 hour lecture by Jasper Kirkby, particle physicist at CERN, going through the evidence linking solar variability, GCR flux and climate changes on Earth over different time-scales. He also describes the CLOUD experiment at CERN, which he’s heading, and which was inspired by the findings of Svensmark, Shaviv and others:

cyberchrome said...

Nice set of clauses from Santer there. This time of year we all need to believe in Santer Clauses.

Anonymous said...

Ben Santer, the guy who wants to beat skeptics up ... is complaining about how he and others are being treated. My heart bleeds for him. I drive his Lab almost everyday - Ben, anytime you want to beat another person up who believes that global warming alarmistm is a total fraud -- meet me in front of LLNL on any given day with your dukes up you immature little uneducated lying brat.

I find it really interesting how you publish far more political papers with no data than publishing papers with real data.

Anonymous said...

Granted the records show recent warming. Is it alarming? Not really. Just emerging from the LIA.

As for the computer models, I don't understand why you think they're useful at all. It's a travesty they don't show the lack of warming.

These letters of support are quite funny. Anyone outside the clique willing to support the CRU?

See here for more on the whole groupthink/collusion/etc...

EliRabett said...

HADCRUT UNDERESTIMATES global warming for fairly simple reasons, its sampling in the arctic region is sparse.

Now run along and remember to wear your tin foil hat.

Anonymous said...

Stuffy Bunny, how's your Fortran?

This little snippet flattens the '40s "blip" and skews the latter part of the century higher.

Synthetic data, now with value added!

009 yrloc=[1400,findgen(19)*5.+1904]
010 valadj=[0.,0.,0.,0.,0.,-0.1,-0.25,-0.3,0.,-0.1,0.3,0.8,1.2,1.7,2.5,2.6,2.6,$
011 2.6,2.6,2.6]*0.75 ; fudge factor

Anonymous said...

Das nix FORTRAN, Mausi


Term paper said...

Our understanding of our climate has deepened, and the likelihood is that CO2 is not a driver of global climate, except on rare occasions (rare on a geological timescale) - our present situation does not even begin to qualify.

EliRabett said...

In the words of John McCarthy (of lisp fame) He who doesn't do the arithmetic is doomed to look silly. Term, you look silly

Max said...

Climate...what is that..hahahaha

error fix said...

In an interview with ES&T, Santer recounts what happened to him during that stressful period, explains
why people should stop knocking climate models, and muses on the media’s long journey to finally “get” the science. ... Despite the controversy and politics, he says, “in the end, the science gets done.”

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Shobi said...

Sounds a lot like the complaints from scientists that had to fight to get their names removed from the IPCC fantacy papers.Amazing what having your funding threatened will do to your stand on a good scam.
Follow the money.

Life For Rent | Life For Rent

J Bowers said...

Someone ain't got their facts straight.

Taking the Money for Grant(ed) – Part I

Taking the Money for Grant(ed) – Part II

"Dr. Bas van Geel, UvA :

Professor Begemann’s claim that on universities it is not possible to present a different opinion about climate change in any case isn’t true for the University of Amsterdam. In my professional environment so far there nobody has ever tried to correct me (a skeptic with an opinion based on strong arguments) In the past 10 years, neither did I ever have a problem with finding funding for research on the role of the sun on climate changes in the past. It is (also) because of this research I started having an alternative opinion on what’s going on with the present-day climate: I still believe that natural variability is much more important than changes caused by mankind."

Reflections on funding panels

Disinformation? You want it, IREA’s got it

Pat Michaels doesn't do so bad either, on top of the oil industry cash he gets which makes up 40% of his funding.

"We decided to support Dr. Patrick Michaels. … In February of this year, IREA alone contributed $100,000 to Dr. Michaels. In addition, we have contacted all the G&T’s in the United States … and obtained additional contributions and pledges for Dr. Michaels’ group. We will be following up the remaining G&T’s over the next several weeks. "

EliRabett said...

Ah yes, where is Heartland getting the money from. Ah yes, Exxon, and who else does Exxon and Koch funnel money to.

Shobi dear, no scientists has fought to have his or her name removed from the IPCC reports. Now several have asked that Fred Singer remove their names and papers from the distortions in the Heartland NIPCC reports.

auto insurance quotes said...

The problem with individual scientiest putting forward his opinion is that he becomes an easy target. We have to remember that many powerfull lobies have their paid scientiests who produce their own opinions. If the science community can not reach to consencus then the field is left to politics and businesses who would lose out.

Anonymous said...

Shobi sounds like a spambot. You can find his exact quote quite a few years earlier at: (look for "Troll", or just search on "fantacy").


J Bowers said...

And 'auto insurance quotes' sounds just like Shobi, poor spelling included.

Integrity for rent. Integrity for rent.

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