Sunday, September 8, 2013

David Rose and his tabloid "reporting" of Arctic sea ice and other nonsense

Sou | 9:02 PM Go to the first of 26 comments. Add a comment

UPDATE 3 15 Sept 13: David Rose has written another error-ridden article before taking the time to correct the errors in this one - read about it here.

UPDATE 2: See below for a Press Release from the IPCC confirming that David Rose was wrong.  The IPCC is holding its scheduled meeting at the end of the month.  There are no other meetings scheduled.

UPDATE: David Rose apparently also writes as "Hayley Dixon" for the UK Telegraph?? (Not really.)  A more subdued look and feel (compare with the Mail Online here) but the same lies and disinformation. (h/t Ed Hawkins via twitter.)

David Rose is a so-called journalist in the UK.  One of his specialities is disinformation about climate and climate science.  He writes for a tabloid in the UK, maybe one rung up from what is affectionately known as the gutter press.  You know the type - boobs, scout master "scandals", UFO's and other sensationalist crap to titillate the hoi polloi.  The Mail is maybe a smidgen above that, maybe.  Tabloids are not considered serious newspapers and have very little to do with news. To illustrate the content and target audience, here is a list of the most-read items as listed on the Mail Online today, in order:
  1. The daughter of a radio "breakfast host" gets married
  2. A pregnant woman on Big Brother, a very lowbrow reality tv show
  3. The UK Prime Minister attends a family wedding
  4. An internet harasser who said he got death threats
  5. A television "celebrity" faints
  6. Sensationalist scare stories about Pakistan, water and the Euro (Yeah, I know!)
  7. A member of the British royal family is "spotted" on a yacht

The list might change before readers get to it, but I expect every list is similar.  That sets the scene nicely for this semi-fictional sensationalist nonsense from a David Rose, who has a history of making up stuff about climate as documented here and here and here and here and here  and here  and here (shall I continue?).

David Rose's headline this time is utterly ridiculous (see here - archive sites are still not working).  He writes: "Record return of Arctic ice cap".  Never mind that the sea ice in the Arctic is the fifth or sixth lowest extent on record.  He says that according to "eminent" scientists the world is about to plunge into a cooling period that will last till the middle of this century.  He's another denier who is nutty as a fruit cake and is pandering to an audience who are as ignorant about climate as anyone could be - maybe with the exception of the deniers who read WUWT and similar silly anti-science blogs for a hobby.

David doesn't say who all these "eminent" scientists are (he quotes one below but no others).  He does quote a years old report of Professor Maslowski (from 2007), but neglects to let his readers know that projection has since been revised.  Nor that few scientists would agree with the revised projection made in 2011  (2016 plus or minus three years).  From the same BBC 2011 article: 
...one peer - Dr Walt Meier from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado - said the behaviour of sea ice becomes less predictable as it gets thinner.  "[Maslowski's] is quite a good model, one thing it has is really high resolution, it can capture details that are lost in global climate models," he said. "But 2019 is only eight years away; there's been modelling showing that [likely dates are around] 2040/50, and I'd still lean towards that.  "I'd be very surprised if it's 2013 - I wouldn't be totally surprised if it's 2019."
And in this 2012 paper, Maslowski et al write about Arctic sea ice, including various projections and state, in reference to one of them:
Given the estimated trend and the volume estimate for October–November of 2007 at less than 9,000 km3 (Kwok et al. 2009), one can project that at this rate it would take only 9 more years or until 2016 ± 3 years to reach a nearly ice-free Arctic Ocean in summer. Regardless of high uncertainty associated with such an estimate, it does provide a lower bound of the time range for projections of seasonal sea ice cover. (We do note that other published estimates also have large or indeterminate uncertainties.) At the same time, observational proxies of ice thickness (Maslanik et al. 2011) and independent model estimates (Polar Science Center 2011) of sea ice volume suggest a further decline of ice volume since 2007.
So Maslowski is talking about a lower bound, not making an absolute prediction.  Deniers like Anthony Watts and David Rose won't tell you that.  Would they even have bothered to check?

David Rose reckons he nabbed a quote from Judith Curry but you can't take him at his word.  This quote isn't about Arctic ice, though.  It's about Judith's favourite subject - doubt.  Judith is getting nuttier day by day, so I wouldn't be surprised if she said to David that: "In fact, the uncertainty is getting bigger. It’s now clear the models are way too sensitive to carbon dioxide. I cannot see any basis for the IPCC increasing its confidence level."  She has nothing on which to base that claim.  But Judith does like to shout "uncertain" as often as she can.  She's an avowed delayer wanting to wait till the earth boils before doing anything to mitigate global warming.

David adds a quote from Professor Anastasios Tsonis, of the University of Wisconsin, with David claiming (falsely of course) that he was one of the first to investigate the ocean cycles. ( Ocean cycles have been investigated since at least early last century, long before Tsonis was born.)  According to David Rose, Professor Tsonis said: ‘We are already in a cooling trend, which I think will continue for the next 15 years at least. There is no doubt the warming of the 1980s and 1990s has stopped.'  Whether he did say that or not I don't know.  But even if he did make that contrarian claim, one scientist is not enough to claim "eminent scientists" think the earth is about to turn cold. Nor is 2013 plus 15 years equal to 2050.
Then David tells a big fat lie and writes: "The continuing furore caused by The Mail on Sunday’s revelations – which will now be amplified by the return of the Arctic ice sheet – has forced the UN’s climate change body to hold a crisis meeting."  Actually that's three lies:
  1. The Mail on Sunday didn't make any revelations, it is in the disinformation business, not the information business.  (Refer links above to David Rose's history of peddling lies about climate.)
  2. The Arctic ice sheet has not 'returned' in the manner that David would have you believe.  The Arctic "ice sheet" that David refers to is not an "ice sheet", it's sea ice and is on a rapidly declining trend.  It is shrinking not growing.  See my previous article for more info.
  3. The UN climate change body that David refers to would be the IPCC.  It is not to my knowledge holding any crisis meeting.  I expect David is referring to the long-scheduled meeting to consider the final draft of WG1.  The 36th session of the IPCC is scheduled to take place in Stockholm from the 23 to 26 September.  It would most likely have been in the IPCC calendar for years.
I see that Ed Hawkins says he told David Rose that the IPCC was NOT having a crisis meeting in Stockholm.  But what does David Rose care about the facts.

Why does David Rose tell lies to his readers?  Who can guess.  Maybe it's to try to hang onto his job, though why that's of any value to him I cannot imagine.  

I'm trying to imagine how much status his job gives him.  It would be quite a conversation stopper.  "What do you do, David?"  "Oh, I make up fantastic lies about climate change for a sensationalist tabloid in the UK".  Ummm... yeah, right.

Update: It's been suggested I post a picture.  Here is one I put together for an article a couple of days ago (which has some more besides). It's an animated gif comparing Arctic sea ice on 5 September 1980 with that on 5 September 2013 - big difference:

Source: Cryosphere Today
Also, since writing this there are very good criticisms of the Mail and Telegraph pieces by Dana Nuccutelli in his UK Guardian blog and by Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy at Slate as well as some thoughts from Catmando of Ingenious Pursuits and some tongue-in-cheek commentary on the Greenpeace UK climate blog.

Update 2 Press Release from the IPCC

GENEVA, 11 September - In response to recent articles about forthcoming meetings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC would like to note that:

Contrary to the articles the IPCC is not holding any crisis meeting. The IPCC will convene a plenary session to finalize the Working Group I contribution to the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, in line with its normal procedures, in Stockholm on 23-26 September 2013. The session has been scheduled for several years and this timetable has been repeatedly publicized by the IPCC.

As part of the IPCC's regular procedures, member governments were invited to comment on the final draft of the Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I report ahead of the Stockholm meeting. Over 1,800 comments were received - a typical number for this exercise - and they will be considered as planned at the meeting in Stockholm. The Summary for Policymakers is due to be released on 27 September 2013. The accepted Final Draft of the full Working Group I report, comprising the Technical Summary, 14 Chapters and three Annexes, will also be released online in unedited form, on Monday 30 September. Following copy-editing, layout, final checks for errors the full Working Group I report “Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis”, and its Summary for Policymakers will be published online in January 2014 (tbc) and in book form by Cambridge University Press a few months later.

Click here for the press release.

Thanks to Anonymous for the link to this latest atrocious piece of disinformation from David Rose and the Mail Online.  Whats the bet it will soon appear on Anthony Watts science denying blog, WUWT?


John Russell said...

Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist who Rose has also mentioned in his despicable article, made quite a few comments on the article this Sunday morning: https://twitter.com/ed_hawkins

David Rose targets his lying 'factoids' at people who think that making predictions is like doing the lottery: if you don't get your prediction 100% correct, you've failed.

I think there's been enough evidence to say now with some certainty that Rose is not so stupid as to believe he is telling the truth, but rather he knows exactly what he'd doing: feeding the ignorant and thus compounding confusion amongst a large part of the population. He's also providing another 'source' to supply the stream of memes which will bounce around the climate-denial blogosphere for the next few years.

Sou said...

His motivation for making up stuff is fairly easy to guess. Just look at how many denialist blogs have already picked up on his item. David Rose is not in "journalism" to report or discuss facts. He's like Anthony Watts - he's after an audience.

talies said...

Daily Mail song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5eBT6OSr1TI

Catmando said...

The Daily Mail has a poor reputation for science. It is rather gullible with regards to press releases on science, especially medical matters. It appears to be trying to sort all known materials into two lists, those that cause cancer and those that prevent cancer. See http://kill-or-cure.herokuapp.com/

John Russell said...

Another interesting fact that counters a Rose denial meme: I can't find two contiguous years where both have record low Arctic ice extents. Within the record to date there's always been a rebound (also called a 'regression to mean').

Of course this is not a rule: as ice loss accelerates we would expect the likelihood of two successive record low years to increase.

[And thanks for the follow, Sou!]

BBD said...

John Russell knows very well that the DM/MOS are fed much of its misinformation by Lord Lawson's "educational charity" the GWPF. Lawson and the DM/MOS editor Paul Dacre are chums, you see.

Anyone interested in learning more about the way a front organisation for anonymous vested interests is misleading the British public can get the whole story at the excellent Carbon Brief.

John Russell is either too modest or too polite to link to this source himself.


Victor Venema said...

"But Judith does like to shout "uncertain" as often as she can. She's an avowed delayer wanting to wait till the earth boils before doing anything to mitigate global warming."

And the funny thing is that neither JC nor her audience seem to realise that a large uncertainty makes the case for mitigation (reducing greenhouse gases) over adaptation stronger. More uncertainty means that we have to prepare for a larger range of possible new situations, which naturally makes adaptation more expensive.

john byatt said...

average thickness Arctic sea ice end august
2005: 2.33 (-0.05)
2006: 2.19 (-0.22)
2007: 2.11 (-0.04)
2008: 2.43 (+0.00)
2009: 2.04 (-0.02)
2010: 1.43 (-0.14)
2011: 1.40 (-0.16)
2012: 1.39 (-0.13)
2013: 1.34 (-0.14)

Sou said...

Thanks for that, John. Have you got a link?

BBD said...

I can't say where JB got the data from, but you will find it here at Neven's.

Sou said...

Thanks, BBD. I don't know how I missed that.

Jack said...

David Rose writes a “technically true” article in The Mail which millions of voters will read, and become less alarmed and more dubious about the spectre of “global warming” as a consequence….Nuccitelli writes a bitter and twisted faux-rebuttal in the obscure sections of the loss-making Guardian….

I will settle for that!

BBD said...

Is this a Poe?

How is Rose's stuff "technically true" btw?

I am reminded of the Yiddish proverb that a half-truth is a whole lie.

BBD said...

It's interesting that "Jack" thinks that lying to the electorate in order to subvert democracy for financial gain is the way to go.

Perhaps "Jack" didn't bother to read this short thread before commenting favourably on Rose's lies and misrepresentations.

Possibly "Jack" doesn't understand the rather special relationship between the Mail and the GWPF - Lord Lawson's fake "educational charity" aka front group for determinedly anonymous vested interests.

Could it be that "Jack" doesn't understand that lying to the electorate inhibits the efficient functioning of democracy?

Or perhaps "Jack" is anti-democracy and shilling for vested interests. If he isn't doing this wittingly, then he is simply a useful idiot.

He is certainly a liar himself:

Nuccitelli writes a bitter and twisted faux-rebuttal

I have now read DN's Guardian piece twice and there is exactly nothing "bitter and twisted" and nothing "faux" about it.

Why do deniers lie and misrepresent constantly? More to the point, why doesn't this obligate reliance on mendacity trouble them?

Now that really is a puzzler.

Neven said...

Twice Judith Curry was allegedly misled by David Rose, with her comments allegedly taken out of context. Now, a normal person would not talk to David Rose again. But she's very happy to do so. Which makes it crystal clear (even more than it already was) that she's in the same tribe/team as GWPF and Rose.

Albatross said...

Surely it is not ethical for a journalist to write under a false name? That Rose does this just further indicates that he is ethically bankrupt and cannot be trusted.

JCH said...

Tsonis possibly did say it. He often sites mid-century cooling as the roadmap for what is happening now. It lasted ~40 years.

It is evident from the smoothed version that on
decadal time scales there are times when the global temperature
trend is shifting from negative to positive and viceversa.
These shifts are superimposed on a low frequency signal
known as global warming. Here we are not interested on
the origins of the low frequency signal. Rather we are interested
in the departures from this signal over decadal time
scales. ...
- Tsonis

I do not think Tsonis and Swanson are in denial of AGW. They think the mid-centrury cooling was caused mostly by ocean cycles, and not so much by aerosols. They predicted the GMT would go flat. They predicted a phase of deep ocean warming. Their work appears significant. It won't work to call them "denialists" as they are not.

Lars Karlsson said...

They are definitely not "denialists". From "Has the climate recently shifted?":

"[16] Finally, it is vital to note that there is no comfort to be gained by having a climate with a significant degree of internal variability, even if it results in a near-term cessation of global warming. It is straightforward to argue that a climate with significant internal variability is a climate that is very sensitive to applied anthropogenic radiative anomalies [cf. Roe, 2009]. If the role of internal variability in the climate system is as large as this analysis would seem to suggest, warming over the 21st century may well be larger than that predicted by the current generation of models, given the propensity of those models to underestimate climate internal variability [Kravtsov and Spannagle, 2008]."

BBD said...

They predicted a phase of deep ocean warming.

Well, they hypothesised that either changes in cloud formation and/or ocean heat uptake could provide the physical mechanism for the cessation in the warming trend.

Given what I suspect is a misrepresentation by Rose, it's worth looking at what S&T actually did say in a formal publication. From Swanson & Tsonis (2009):

Using a new measure of coupling strength, this update shows that these climate modes have recently synchronized, with synchronization peaking in the year 2001/02. This synchronization has been followed by an increase in coupling. This suggests that the climate system may well have shifted again, with a consequent break in the global mean temperature trend from the post 1976/77 warming to a new period (indeterminate length) of roughly constant global mean temperature.


If as suggested here, a dynamically driven climate shift has occurred, the duration of similar shifts during the 20th century suggests the new global mean temperature trend may persist for several decades. Of course, it is purely speculative to presume that the global mean temperature will remain near current levels for such an extended period of time. Moreover, we caution that the shifts described here are presumably superimposed upon a long term warming trend due to anthropogenic forcing. However, the nature of these past shifts in climate state suggests the possibility of near constant temperature lasting a decade or more into the future must at least be entertained.

So S&T are not predicting a cooling trend, but "near constant temperature". Possibly Tsonis has changed his mind, but given the second quote from S&T09, this would be somewhat surprising.

I'm certainly not calling S&T names. Rest assured of that. However, I remember thinking that their climate shift hypothesis was rather speculative, and depended somewhat on using HadCRUT3. GISTEMP and HadCRUT4 didn't "fit" their argument so well. All fascinating stuff though, and perhaps they have something solid here. Time will tell.

BBD said...

"GISTEMP and [latterly] HadCRUT4 do not "fit" their argument so well."

Also sorry Lars Karlsson - we crossed.

Anonymous said...

Remember Yes, Minister?

The Daily Mirror is read by people who think they run the country.
The Guardian is read by people who think they ought to run the country.
The Times is read by the people who actually run the country
The Daily Mail is read by the wives of people who actually run the country ...
The Financial Times is read by people who own the country.
The Morning Star is read by people who think the country should be run by another country.
The Telegraph is run by people who think it is run by another country.
What about The Sun?
Sun readers don't care who runs the country as long as she has big tits.

Sou said...

Oh, Judith Curry goes further than merely being happy to talk to him, she positively praises David Rose - this time and on other occasions. Judith sinks further into denial with each article. She must be edging closer to retirement after which she will be able to be an even more gung ho denier!

Sou said...

I don't seriously think that Hayley Dixon is David Rose. I'd guess it's more a case of plagiarism.

Nick said...

What, Jack, is "technically true" about Rose's invention of a 'UN' meeting convened specifically because of this years Arctic summer sea ice extent?

Technically,it's an audacious fabrication. This will be ruled on by the UK Press Council,no doubt,and a [worthless and untimely] retraction may follow.

Lars Karlsson said...

David Rose is at it again.

"They recognise the global warming ‘pause’ first reported by The Mail on Sunday last year is real – and concede that their computer models did not predict it. But they cannot explain why world average temperatures have not shown any statistically significant increase since 1997.

They admit large parts of the world were as warm as they are now for decades at a time between 950 and 1250 AD – centuries before the Industrial Revolution, and when the population and CO2 levels were both much lower."

And this is probably the worst part:

"As things stand, the atmosphere is expected to have twice as much CO2 as in pre-industrial times by about 2050. In 2007, the IPCC said the ‘likeliest’ figure was 3C, with up to 4.5C still ‘likely’.

Now it does not give a ‘likeliest’ value and admits it is ‘likely’ it may be as little as 1.5C – so giving the world many more decades to work out how to reduce carbon emissions before temperatures rise to dangerous levels."

Lars Karlsson said...

And the title: "Global warming is just HALF what we said: World's top climate scientists admit computers got the effects of greenhouse gases wrong"