Saturday, May 08, 2010

Unto us a paper is given, unto us a refutation is born

Eli has often talked about how a major strength of astronomy, ornithology and just plain botanizing as a friend puts it (didn't know lagomorphs had friends, did you), is their amateur communities. While there have always been those obsessed with the weather who operated weather stations, the emergence of digital communications and the web has integrated large numbers of stations into at least the networks of TV weathercasters, if only because the later saw it as a low cost opportunity to broaden their appeal to the local community. With significant computing power and expertise available ground truth is moving away from the professionals and toward amateurs, and even some computational work is moving in that direction.

Climate science today is showing stress from this effort. Because of politicization it will not be a smooth road. In the discussion about weather station records needing to be reduced to bits, it is obvious that there is a large crowd of folks who would take pleasure in doing this, but it is also obvious that quality control would be a horror, as some, far be it from Eli to say whom, would also like to shift the numbers up and down a bit.

The two best examples to date of participatory climate science are the Clear Climate Code Project which is attacking the cost and time issues associated with heritage code (grandfather wrote it back in the days of streaming tape and core memory) by involving volunteers (nice powerpoint presentation at the link for bunnies who would learn more), and the Oxford Climate, offering folk the opportunity to participate in using a simple GPS (e.g. today something that was state of the art maybe 15 years ago) to build a large ensemble of global simulations.

About a year ago, Eli gathered some readers up to produce a publishable refutation to a rather amateurish and ill tempered effort by Gehard Gerlich and Ralf Tscheuschner. The RR paper was finally accepted about three months ago, and has now appeared,

Comment on Falsification of the Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within the Frame of Physics, JB Halpern, CM Colose, C Ho-Stuart, JD Shore, AP Smith and J Zimmermann,, International Journal of Modern Physics B, 24 (2010) 1309-1332 doi 10.1142/S021797921005555X
and damn it, Stoat saw it first although all the parents were waiting for it. As far as Eli knows, this is the first time a scientific paper was written out in the open on a blog, with multiple participants who volunteered their time. You can follow the saga by searching Rabett Run using the keyword "Gerlich" although you will also have the pleasure of reading comments upon the original comments, including a comment by the EPA. While our comment is behind a paywall, feel free to look at an earlier version (it went through 15 drafts) and two rounds of reviews (Hi Gerhard) at Rabett Run Labs.

Of course, there is a reply by Ralf Tscheuschner and perhaps Eli will get to that. He anticipates a visit from the good Dr. Kramm trying to break his lance on the bunny, etc.

Finally, a good word for a new effort by one of the authors, Chris Ho-Stuart to establish a discussion form on the physics of climate,
Our aim is to support substantive discussion of the science of climate, especially the underlying physics. We focus on ideas that have been published in the mainstream scientific literature. This still allows for all kinds of competing ideas to be considered, while hopefully avoiding distraction from ideas that have no credible basis.
which starts with a discussion, of what else, our discussion of the Gerlich and Tscheusner paper. Chris' ambition is to replace the late (it became too controversial for them) physicsforum climate discussions. Eli has added a link on the blogroll.


sylas said...

Actually, one of the parents did see it first! The Stoat was a distant second.

Chris Ho-Stuart (that's me) claims priority and stakes a claim with his blog post: Published rebuttal to Gerlich and Tscheuschner 2009 at the little known "Duae Quartunciae" blog. I will be collecting links to other blogs on this as well.

"Sylas" is the name I use on bulletin boards, and I am also the admin at the recently established Climate Physics Forums that you mention. Thanks for the plug!

Anonymous said...

Eli et al.,

Any thoughts on this final statement of theirs:

"They do not even define a greenhouse effect that they wish to defend. We take the opportunity to clarify some misunderstandings, which are communicated in the current discussion on the non-measurable, i.e., physically non-existing influence of the trace gas CO2 on the climates of the Earth."

Huh, CO2 has zero (non-existent) influence on the earth's climate? Did I read/interpret that correctly?

Thanks for humoring an ignoramus like I. Radiative transfer theory is not even close to being my forte.


guthrie said...

Surely that statement would make them unpublishable ever again? We've plenty of measurements of the greenhouse effect on earth, in any way you care to slice it.

Deech56 said...

But in true Blog Science tradition you were supposed to keep the paper as a blog post or maybe a PDF issued by Heritage or CEI and tell everyone that the paper was still being written.

I think Chris Colose may have spilled the beans first in a comment on some obscure blog. But congrats anyway.

Deech56 said...

Posted the above a bit too soon. Seriously, though, it is good to see someone challenge papers that get published despite their serious errors. The literature is where scientific controversies do get played out under rules that have been established. This really does speak well of the networks and exchange of ideas that these public fora promote.

Good job, all.

William M. Connolley said...

> damn it, Stoat saw it first

Ha ha I saw Chris's facebook page, I think. You're not web2.0 enough.

carrot eater said...

Are those fireworks or sea urchins?

JohnMashey said...

{Sylas, Elui, someone}:
Please, please tell us more of G&T's strange reply...
Inquiring bunnies can';t sleep at night without knowing more...

Friends of the Friends of Science said...

Please excuse my off-topic message

2 questionable denier talks at GeoCanada 2010 this week.

If you attend the meeting, please visit the session an ask critical questions.

Info here:

EliRabett said...

The interesting thing is where is Gerlich. BTW they have some ripe fruit hanging over at arXiv. These guys are real DK poster kids.

Boris said...

Congrats to everyone involved.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the clearclimatecode mention.

The "powerpoint" is actually produced using the rather more obscure OmniGraffle software. But I suppose you were using powerpoint in its generic sense. Bad bunny.

Tom W said...

Having read GT09, the Halpern et al refutation, and GT's reply, I have decided to formulate a new scientific law.

GT's Law of Scientific Rigor:

"In the examination or discussion of any physical effect or property whatsoever, all known physical processes must be taken into account no matter how small the quantitative effect on the result. The derivation of this law is left as an exercise for the reader."

Douglas Watts said...

Eli -- i watched this response paper develop over time by loitering here and reading a number of its earlier drafts. You are right, this response is quite unique in the way it was composited. Congratulations.