Sunday, April 27, 2014

Beefed up or toned down? Judith Curry, David Rose, Anthony Watts spin on the IPCC

Sou | 2:49 PM Go to the first of 19 comments. Add a comment

Judith Curry has an article about economists Richard Tol and Robert Stavins and the IPCC.

Professor Robert Stavins has a blog post complaining about how much text was deleted from WGIII SPM. He's posted an article with a letter he wrote to the IPCC Chair and the Co-Chairs of Working Group III.  He also posted selections from the Summary for Policy Makers from which text was removed, as Item a (before) and Item b (after). He was concerned that governments chopped out almost all of the explanatory text under the key headings. Most of you will have read about this already, but it's interesting to compare the versions side by side. For further comparison, you can get the final Summary for Policy Makers and the full report here.

Judith is spinning this as the IPCC process is flawed. In fact, it's flawed in the wrong direction for Judith (but she doesn't admit that). Robert is complaining that the report was toned down, not beefed up.

The other interesting thing is that Richard Tol has been taken to task by Brandon Shollenberger for replacing text with his own in WG2. (I noticed how that section of the report had almost no recent studies.) Brandon is very Tol-like in his obsession with trying to find something wrong in minute detail, so it comes across as two-of-a-kind locking horns. (Richard isn't exactly a science denier, though he behaves like one a lot of the time. Brandon on the other hand does fit the definition of a climate science denier.)

Judith Curry is, as usual, advocating we take the highest risk pathway. She wrote on her blog:
I am even more dismayed by public statements from the IPCC leadership that has spun the AR5 message into the usual alarmist meme.

What alarmist meme would that be? That we are causing global warming? That's not alarmist. It's alarming but true. In the past, Judith has made it clear that she would prefer the IPCC not exist at all. Her position seems to be against mitigation or at best "wait" till it's all too late.  It's a "those who survive will adapt" stance and for those who don't, tough luck.

Hyperbole plus from David Rose, tabloid political commenter

David Rose has picked up Robert Stavin's blog post and written about it in his own hyperbolic style (archived here), using words: sensationally, meddling, crucial, electrified, debate, astonishing. Those words were all in the headline and the first two short sentences!

Robert Stavins asks if the IPCC process is broken. Once you get past David's emotive language, what he wrote wasn't all that different to what Robert Stavins wrote.  David does pop in a plug for Richard Tol's dummy spit and Judith Curry's anti-IPCC stance. But he also puts in a plug for the IPCC from Bob Ward.

Too alarmist or toned down too much?

To sum up, it seems the contrarians are now complaining because the reports aren't sufficiently alarmist.  If only they would make up their minds.

Anthony Watts has copied from Judith Curry (archived here). He's gone further in his headline and claimed that "Two scathing reviews by scholars working with the IPCC show why the organization is hopelessly corrupted by politics". However it was only Robert Stavins who directly pointed to specific examples where government input resulted in a change to the report - and that was arguably on diplomatic grounds not political grounds (IMO there is a distinction). 

In regard to complaints about government input, Richard's article didn't say that outright. He merely insinuated. A casual reader might infer that the WG2 Summary for Policy Makers was beefed up because of the views of delegates. Yet Richard didn't point to any example of same. (The IPCC provides drafts and lists changes that were made to the report.)  Richard seems to be complaining that he couldn't get things all his own way. He was complaining that the Summary for Policy Makers focused on areas of high risk and didn't give sufficient space to any pluses, for example, the decrease in death from cold as opposed to the increased mortality from heat. 

This time around Richard's article (archived here) comes across as a mix of excuse-making and whining, but still isn't quite as ratty as some of his previous outbursts have been. He is wrong, too. He wrote:
The SPM, drafted by the scholars of the IPCC, is rewritten by delegates of the governments of the world
It's not rewritten by delegates. Delegates can suggest changes to the report but the authors have to agree to those changes. In other words, the final Summary for Policy Makers cannot be at odds with the full report.

Empty-headed fake sceptics

Richard also seems to think that fake sceptics aren't capable of doing science or economics, implying group think, writing:
Academics who worry about climate change are more likely to publish about it, and more likely to get into the IPCC. Groups of like-minded people reinforce their beliefs. 

Well, if fake sceptics don't have sufficient "like-mind" to do research into climate change, that's more a sign that their "like-mind" is "wrong-headed" and "empty-headed" than anything else.

Climate change in an imperfect world

As for Anthony Watts, he doesn't know the difference between the UN and individual nations.  It looks as if he has a tendency to adopt the wacky UN conspiracy theories and he certainly promotes them on his blog. He wrote:
This statement by Tol pretty well sums up the IPCC:
Many of the more worrying impacts of climate change really are symptoms of mismanagement and underdevelopment.
That’s systemic culture in the U.N. so it is no surprise to me.

After writing that, Richard foolishly drew the wrong conclusion, writing: "This message does not support the political agenda for greenhouse gas emission reduction."

Richard's wrong. Underdevelopment (whatever that means) and mismanagement (presumably of natural resources) makes greenhouse gas emission reduction even more critical. When you combine the impact of, for example, hillside deforestation with higher precipitation you get much worse floods. Both need to be tackled to reduce the harm. Re-forestation will help but it won't be enough to stop the heavier rainfall. It won't be enough to stop the flash flooding.  In any case, reforestation is a mitigation measure in itself.

Richard Tol advocates a carbon tax

The odd thing is that shortly after that Richard wrote:
A polarized debate is not conducive to enlightened policy in an area as complex as climate change – although we only need a carbon tax, and a carbon tax only, that applies to all emissions and gradually and predictably rises over time. 
So is Richard advocating reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or isn't he? It looks as if he is indeed advocating emissions reduction doesn't it.

Richard Tol was writing about Working Group II. You can download the Summary for Policy Makers and full report of Working Group II here. It's well-written but an absolute pain to navigate, not having a full consolidated report.

From the WUWT comments

Just a few today, because this article is long.

Latitude points out that Richard Tol is inconsistent and says:
April 26, 2014 at 6:23 pm
This statement by Tol pretty well sums up Tol…
‘– although we only need a carbon tax, and a carbon tax only, that applies to all emissions and gradually and predictably rises over time’

John F. Hultquist picked up on Anthony Watts confusing individual countries with the UN itself and says:
April 26, 2014 at 6:40 pm
First, I think we can thank these two, and others not yet named, for the work they have done and their public statements such as reported here.
The final line of the post is “That’s systemic culture in the U.N. so it is no surprise to me.” seems to reference the UN and I agree it is a massive waste – for the most part. However, the 2 lines attributable to Richard Tol seem to be a comment on the manner in which many countries operate. Since Prince Henry the Navigator and the Age of Discoveries not much has changed for many “countries” from A to Z as they remain underdeveloped and mismanaged. 

Streetcred isn't buying Anthony's spin either and says:
April 26, 2014 at 6:45 pm
Can’t say much about Dr. Robert Stavins’ benign letter of protest … half of it at the least is butt covering and brown-nosing. The process competence of the managers amounts to nought if the meaning of the body of research is transformed into political claptrap. 

ossqss says - well nothing at all it turns out, just vaguely arm-waves:
April 26, 2014 at 8:15 pm
This is just another example of the corrosion in climate science.
There are many lessons to learn here. 

Here are the links to the IPCC AR5 reports:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Anthony Watts sez to wait till it's too late. Are we there yet?

Sou | 5:05 PM Go to the first of 7 comments. Add a comment

Anthony Watts has written about a new paper in Nature Climate Change by Katharine L. Ricke and Ken Caldeira. (In his haste, Anthony doesn't seem to have realised that the article he copied relates to the Nature CC article. )

The paper is about how, because natural variability influences short term weather, people's perceptions of weather can adversely influence policy on climate change. If policy makers depend on people's perceptions rather than hard science, then action to mitigate and adapt to climate change could be delayed, maybe by decades. This would seriously limit society's choices.  It would mean that in future we'd be dealing with very difficult climatic conditions and environmental hazards.  Here is how Katharine Ricke explains it:

The takeaway message is:

There are significant risks associated with allowing local extreme events to drive national and global climate policies.

You can read about the paper at ScienceDaily.com. It's a short article so I'll copy it in its entirety:
Despite overwhelming scientific evidence for the impending dangers of human-made climate change, policy decisions leading to substantial emissions reduction have been slow. New work from Carnegie's Katharine Ricke and Ken Caldeira focuses on the intersection between personal and global impacts. They find that even as extreme weather events influence those who experience them to support policy to address climate change, waiting for the majority of people to live through such conditions firsthand could delay meaningful action by decades. Their findings are published by Nature Climate Change.
Nearly every year, extreme weather events such as heat waves and hurricanes spur the discussion of climate change in the media and among politicians. This can create a window of opportunity for those seeking to enact policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. But this window of opportunity could be delayed by decades due to the vagaries of weather.
"When support for doing something about climate change is based on personal observations of local weather, policymaking may end up being dictated by the roulette wheel of natural climate variability," says Ricke.
Ricke and Calderia's modeling studies show that within 50 years nearly every country in the world will experience the kind of extreme weather that can be a policy trigger. However, local natural variability in weather means that majority of people in each nation, particularly large countries like China and the United States, could personally experience these extremes for themselves either tomorrow or many years from now. If citizens do not support emissions reductions and other efforts to fight climate change until they experience extreme events firsthand, naturally-driven variations in weather could delay action by decades, Ricke and Caldeira found. They find that sound science should guide policy rather than the vagaries of weather. "Local weather is anecdotal information, but climate change is sound science," Caldeira said. "Good politics can be based on a good anecdote, but good policy needs to be based on sound science."

Wait till the water has reached the ceiling before evacuating, sez Anthony Watts

So what does Anthony Watts think about planning and preparedness in the face of known risks? Well, he effectively advocates to wait until seas have risen two metres and heat waves have forced people to leave large areas of earth and fires have burnt down millions of hectares and cities have run out of water - before taking any action.  He writes (archived here):

Climate Craziness of the Week: don’t wait to ‘feel’ climate change, act now!
From the Carnegie Institution and the department of feelings, quite possibly the dumbest press release about climate I’ve ever seen. basically what they are arguing for is “don’t look at current and past data go with what we tell you” aka trust us, we are paid climate scientists with a model.

Anthony Watts doesn't want to act now. He reckons it's dumb to prepare for known consequences. He wants to wait until it's too late.  He'd never get a job in the insurance business.

From the WUWT comments

Michael Putnam goes even further and suggests we wait for some time after the worst has happened, just to make sure. You know, wait till your house is nothing but a charred mess, just to make sure that the fire won't go out all by itself. He says:
April 25, 2014 at 9:17 pm
Wouldn’t we have to experience “extreme” conditions over several years before those conditions could be reliably associated with a change in climate? Even highly variable temperatures are evidence of nothing changing from previous history. Denken Sie nicht für sich selbst, wird es nur geben Sie Kopfschmerzen

Mac the Knife is convinced that climate science is a hoax says:
April 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm
This is a climate change propaganda and behavior modification paper. It is a study in indoctrination and how to use it to skew public policy. It is already embedded in the ‘millennials generation’. 

Martin C decided to "show them" that the scientific illiterati won't abide nonsense like knowledge and science and says he wrote a shouty comment:
April 25, 2014 at 10:09 pm
I just left this comment. THIS is the type of thing I am trying to, even though it is just one person. Addressing these articles with an ORGANIZATION as Anthony did a poll one might help. But until then, this is what I can do.
YOUR STUPID article of “Climate Change: don’t wait until you can feel it.
Please stop with this “Alarmist Drivel”. A modeling study? Why not take REAL weather data. I have researched the ‘Catastrophic Global Warming issue for a number of years now, and I am tired of the ‘alarmist’ position that so many of yo take. The ‘Extreme weather ‘ you try to refer to IS NOT HAPPENING AT ANY GREATER RATE than it ALWAYS happened. Global average temperatures have been roughly flat for 15+ years, even WITH the increase CO2.
Read Roger Pielke JR. and Roger Pielke Sr. Visit Dr. Judith Curry’s Website. Visit Anthony Watts’ webiste.
You don’t know them? Yeah, I bet you don’t. BUT if you really don’t, then Google them and learn.
Martin C.
Gilbert, AZ 
SAMURAI says he could eat it (excerpt):
April 25, 2014 at 9:57 pm
The desperation of the left is palatable… 

Brad wrote to Ken Caldeira (but not Katharine Ricke for some reason), explaining that Dr Caldeira "doesn't know nuffin'" and, irrelevantly, that Brad is struggling to make ends meet. He says:
April 25, 2014 at 11:24 pm
Sent Caldeira an email about the futility of his position. Will be interesting to see his response.
Sorry Ken but your latest report won’t fly.
Try doing some actual research for yourself and stop spouting what your grant-money providers dictate.
Sound science would tell you that all the hype about “extreme weather” is purely BS.
At what point in your life will you take a stand that differs with your salary? I took that step in 2005 when I shut down my MEP design office, and have had an uphill battle since. I live paycheck-to-paycheck, trying to make people understand that simple resource conservation matters, on an economical basis.
We have no control over our climate…
Brad Weaver, PE
Northwest Energy Consulting
(206) 910-9783 

Katharine L. Ricke, Ken Caldeira. Natural climate variability and future climate policy. Nature Climate Change, 2014; 4 (5): 333 DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2186

Denier weirdness: "OMG it's insects" is back at WUWT - this time it's earth's central core nuclear reactor!

Sou | 6:13 AM Go to the first of 23 comments. Add a comment

I'm slipping. I nearly missed a WUWT article by our old friend Ronald D Voisin, of OMG it's insects fame and who has advocated killing off insects and mammals to mitigate global warming. I only noticed it because of a tweet by Chris Colose retweeted by Michael Mann.

Earth's central-core nuclear reactor

This time Ronald has a new theory about what causes global warming and cooling (archived here). It's changes in the core of the earth.

Ronald doesn't use one word where a dozen would suffice. I'll try to distil his theory down to its essence.

  1. There is a "central core nuclear reactor" (in the centre of earth) powered by thorium and uranium.
  2. The centre core of earth has "weather patterns". These patterns cause the material in the centre core to expand and contract, thereby causing ice ages AND continental drift.
  3. When it expands it cools and the "rate of reaction kinetics drops significantly (as would the rate of continental drift and the frequency of earthquake/volcanic activity)".
  4. Most of the time the reactor is in a cooler state, hence glaciations.
  5. For short periods (interglacials), "reaction kinetics" take off because of "gravitational precipitation" 
  6. The icing on the cake is that "the rate of sub-oceanic crust formation (and the rate of continental drift) should correlate well to major climate transitions"!!

Ronald is quite excited about the possibilities this opens up for new research. He writes:
To my knowledge, no attempt has been made to establish this type of correlation (continental drift rate, or crust creation rate, to major climate changes)  but it might likely be possible; and it would provide compelling evidence to the hypothesis of central-core reactor-variability as the primary cause of major climate transitions. Additionally, the size and shape of the temporal shift would provide great insight into all manner of thermal dynamics from the center to the crust.

He also says we're overdue for a major glaciation, which might start very soon, because:
This Earth has spent >11,000 years in this current major thermal upswing (more likely 18-20ky depending how you look at it). On average the Earth spends ~90,000 years glaciated, then 6,000-15,000 years interglacial, before dropping back to ~90,000 more years of glaciation. This cycle has repeated itself for about a million years for sure, and quite possibly very much longer. So it is a stark fact that we are overdue for the next fall to major glaciation.
We have no idea as to exactly when this will occur, as we don’t yet know what even causes these major swings. It could be 500 or 1,000 years in front of us – somewhat unlikely. It could be that the next fall to glaciation is about to start – we just do not yet know.  

Actually we do yet know. I've written about this a few times already. The next ice age isn't due for another 50,000 years or so.

Anthony Watts isn't sure about this - maybe so, maybe not...

Anthony Watts thinks he gave himself an "out" writing:
[Note: This essay discusses a theory that some people might consider as impossible, and it may very well be, even though there is some support for the idea that continental position plays a role in major ice ages. As seen below, Milankovitch cycles resulting in insolation variance is a leading theory that seems much more plausible as a driver than the one proposed by Voisin below. However, exposing such ideas to open discussion is the surest way to sort out the possible from the impossible, and Mr. Voisin expects such challenges. So, beat it up, and let's see what is left.  - Anthony]
So he's not sure whether this article is worthy of his blog.  The answer is, of course, yes it is. It epitomises the crank science churned out at WUWT. What's strange this time around is that so many readers are willing to entertain the notion, or to dismiss it but not on the grounds of the most obvious reasons. I'd have expected an outcry along the lines of "you're making us a laughing stock"! But no, except for one or two rare comments.

From the WUWT comments - in favour or at least willing to entertain the notion

aaron says:
April 25, 2014 at 8:06 am
Could be that this affects the amount of heat the deep ocean takes away from the surface with arrangment of continents also affecting ocean mixing.

dp says:
April 24, 2014 at 8:54 am
If you further assume the various layers of the core are non-spherical geometric shapes and play that against the fact that the rotational speed of the core and the rotational speed of the Earth’s surface are quite different you then have a stirring mechanism. The viscosity of the deep mantle cannot possibly be uniform, so you have widely varying velocities of radioactive hot mud down there. This could be the energy transport mechanism and a cyclic driver fed by a nuclear furnace. I think I’ve included enough weasel words to protect my reputation. 

Steve Keohane says anything goes, as long as it's not CO2:
April 24, 2014 at 8:59 am
Thank you sir, very interesting, need to go over it again. It has always seemed obvious something kicked the earth out of its glacial state, and it wasn’t CO2.
I too am a photo-lithography refugee, worked for a couple of start-ups in the 70s and settled at HP, retiring in 1992. Some exciting times on the frontiers of materials and lenses’ imaging capabilities leading to SEMATECH in the late 80s.

Gordon Ford says:
April 24, 2014 at 9:18 am
Might there also be a chemical signature, an isotope signature or a radioactive element signature? Analysis of Iceland basalts may provide the key parameter. 

Col Mosby says:
April 24, 2014 at 9:22 am
The theory does explain a lot that current CO2 driven climate theory has problems with (probably unresolvable ones at that). The mechanics of a core nuclear reaction seem plausible enough, so
I’d say the ball is now in the other court. Now let’s see if anyone can shred that seeming plausibility.
It would be ironic if we could irrefutably show that not only is CO2 the basis for life (easily done)
but that nuclear power is the basis for our pleasant climate. Cherish carbon and nuclear power : heads should be exploding all over the place.

timspence10 says:
April 24, 2014 at 10:57 am
I liked this a lot, lots of clear thinking and Ronald is ‘warm’ on this. I always believed that electromagnetic fields influence the high and low pressure zones that give us consistent or inconsistent long term weather patterns, that’s all climate is.

gloccamorra says:
April 24, 2014 at 11:03 am
I can’t think of a more interesting theory, or one harder to measure/prove. I don’t worry about volcanoes cooling the earth instead of warming it. Undersea volcanoes and vents can warm the oceans enough to end an ice age. The 100k-110k year timing is close to the sun’s 11 year cycle times 1000, with interglacials equivalent to sunspot peaks, so could there be a synchronicity, putting the sun back into the equation? 

From the WUWT comments - against

Ted Vaughn says:
April 25, 2014 at 8:06 am
One of the most ridiculous explanations for why and how the climate changes that I have ever come across. Not worthy for this web-site.

Curious George says:
April 24, 2014 at 9:07 am
Two numbers: The heat flow from the Earth’s interior is currently estimated at 90 mW / m2. The insolation (the energy flow from the Sun) is measured at 1320-1410 W / m2 – it varies along the Earth’s elliptical orbit. The ration is of order 1:10,000. 

Keith Willshaw says:
April 24, 2014 at 11:03 am
I don’t buy this. The other elements in the earths core simply absorb too many neutrons to make such a reaction feasible. Maintaining a self sustaining reaction with natural uranium requires some very clever engineering. In the past when a greater percentage was fissile there were some natural reactors on the earths surface in the Oklo region of Africa but that was 1.7 billion years ago. 

From the WUWT comments - probably against, but I can't tell for sure

Roy Spencer says (yeah, I don't really believe he entertains the idea, either):
April 24, 2014 at 9:12 am
This is the craziest idea I have seen advanced since continental drift. ;-) Well-written, too, BTW. 

Willis Eschenbach says:
April 24, 2014 at 9:19 am
There’s a discussion of this idea from 2002 here … the theory doesn’t seem to have gained much traction in the interim. The theory originated with a man named Herndon, who first published a piece about it in 1993.
Although it is certainly possible that Herndon is right, the theory has been out there for about twenty years at this point. Usually (but assuredly not always) if a scientific idea hasn’t gained supporters after a couple of decades, it’s because there’s something wrong with it.
Finally, I didn’t see any numbers regarding the amount of geothermal heat that reaches the surface, regardless of its source. Whether the core is nuclear or just plain old hot, the heat needs to make it to the surface to affect the weather. I’ve run the numbers on how much heat that is, and I always get answers in the tenths or hundredths of a watt per square metre. Which makes sense, if there was a lot of heat coming out from the ground, we wouldn’t need to heat our houses, and the snow would melt from the bottom up …
So while it’s an interesting exercise, I fear I don’t see any data to back it up.
Best regards,

From the WUWT comments - irrelevant

Arno Arrak is hopeless at history, among other things, and says:
April 24, 2014 at 10:17 am
You are beating a dead horse when it comes to the role of carbon dioxide. That is because carbon dioxide demonstrably has no role in present day global warming. That entire doctrine started when Hansen claimed in 1988 that greenhouse effect (actually enhanced greenhouse effect but they don’t like to spell that out) has been detected. He was wrong of course because he included the early century warming (1910 to 1940) as part of his proof of the existence of global warming. Carbon dioxide as a cause of this early warming is excluded by the fact that there was no simultaneous increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide in 1910 and because carbon dioxide was not removed from the atmosphere in 1940. Since clearly Hansen did not detect greenhouse warming in 1988, and neither did anyone else since then, the entire global warming establishment has been venerating the emperor’s new clothes since then. It will take a little child to point that out to them. Or someone not blinded by the one billion dollars a day this scam is producing world-wide for THE CAUSE. 

There is a heap of other comments at WUWT. I didn't necessarily pick out the biggest beauties because I couldn't be bothered reading them all.  WUWT is sinking into utter nuttery again.

There's a 63.57% consensus at WUWT!

Sou | 3:19 AM Go to the first of 6 comments. Add a comment

Nope, I'm not talking about the cause of global warming. That's popularly known as the 97% consensus. Almost 100% of climate scientists would agree that humans are responsible for virtually all of the global warming since the 1950s - and that's supported by real hard physical evidence.

What I'm talking about is the consensus that fake sceptics should form a fake sceptic society (archived here, latest update here). There is only 63% consensus that they should. Okay, let be precise about this.  Out of every 100 people who voted at WUWT on the issue:
  • 63.57 agree there should be a fake sceptic society
  • 24.18 disagreed
  • 12.25 couldn't make up their mind one way or another.

Data source: WUWT

In all, 1,717 people were willing to sign on.  Not earth-shattering, given the millions and millions of readers Anthony claims, but you really only need three people to form an organisation.

Bill McKibben is adopted by fake sceptics as a role model

Anthony's having a second shot (I wrote about his first effort here, but everyone got bored and got talking about thermometers instead:D).  He's appealing to his followers to imitate Bill McKibben and get organised.  He wrote in admiration:
Could just as easily be used to describe crazy Bill McKibben. Most of us think he’s nuts, and he most likely is. The difference is he got out of his “armchairs living in their own deluded and secluded cloud cuckoo land” and formed 350.org. Now look at we have, an organization that has successfully lobbied for blocking the Keystone pipeline by affecting the office of presidency. Do you think weepy Bill could do that himself without having organized first?

Perhaps that's a clue as to what Anthony will be naming his new organisation:

Get unionised brothers and sisters!

As well as adopting Bill McKibben as their role model, the supporters are keen to get organised like a labour union. Which all seems very strange given that most fake sceptics are driven by an ideology that is vociferously opposed to trade unions, socialism and anything that threatens their "freedom" to do and say whatever they want whenever they want. Here's an example of the rhetoric from an article Anthony has copied to get his followers on side (my bold italics):
There’s nicer ways of saying it but if want to be a force to be reckoned with, you have to get all ganged up. You seriously want to take on that exploitive employer, get unionised brothers and sisters. You want political change, form a lobby group. You don’t want that wind farm monstrosity blighting your life, start a local campaigning group. You want equal civil rights irrespective of the colour of your ass, start marching en masse. You want women to have the vote, get those bustles out of the drawing rooms and onto the streets as a mob waving placards and make the powers that be listen to you.

No, let's follow Marxist guerilla's, some fake sceptics say

Those opposed are also using odd language, saying that they prefer the tactics of guerilla warfare. Dirk H isn't the only one who's expressed this viewpoint:
I voted against this organisational idea as I think that only mass subversion stands a chance. We are most effective as a million guerrilas and saboteurs of the brainwashing system. Orthogonal warfare. Little bucks, much bang.

Who'll be crowned the Chief Fake Sceptic?

Going by the comments, it's premature to appoint anyone to key posts. On the other hand, it pays to plan ahead. Does Anthony want to be CEO or President? Going by the comments, not too many people would vote for him.  So if they do form a fake sceptic society, who will play a role?
  • President and/or Chair - since it will probably be a US-centric society a peer of the realm, even a potty peer, should lead the fake sceptics - (Christopher Monckton)
  • Vice chair (or chair of vice?) or vice president
  • CEO - if Anthony Watts gets pipped at the post for President, he'll make sure he gets this job
  • Vice President of Public Relations and Media Communication (Marc Morano, if he didn't think it beneath his dignity)
  • Treasurer (who can they trust?)
  • Chief Finance Officer
  • Head of Operations
  • Head of Security (Smokey the sockpuppet <- must read to the last balloon!)
  • Chief Scientist (Kenji, Anthony's dog who is a fully paid up member of UCS)
  • Chief Conspiracy Theorist (Tim Ball)
  • Chaplain (Rev Richard S Courtney of the Cornwall Alliance)
  • And someone to make the coffee - maybe Janice Moore, who seems to be happy to take a subservient role going by her adulatory comments. And no "real man" would take on that job.

Update: William Connolley has blogged about this too, at Stoat.

From the WUWT comments

Some people are very aware that it won't be possible to present a united front on most issues. The only thing that unites them is their opposition to science. Some are asking for details. Others are saying "just get on with it". Some are in favour of forming an organisation. Some are against. Here are some of the comments and suggestions from WUWT.

Oatley seems to be supportive of Anthony Watts taking a leading role and rising above the lowly status he currently has, and says:
April 25, 2014 at 3:18 am
Doing so, centers the position…think planting a flag, around which support can gather. Once organized, your voice, Anthony can rise above the field.

pokerguy is willing to change his mind provided it doesn't cost too much and if there's the occasional booze-up, and says:
April 25, 2014 at 3:22 am
I voted “no,” but I’m open to changing my mind. Certainly if there were such an organization I’d join it, even if I remained unsure as to the wisdom of the enterprise. But tell us more about it, What in your view would our tactics be? Would there be dues? Would there be an administrative committee running the thing? Meetings? (I vote Vegas for the first) 

Patrick has lost heart and thinks it's all too late, and says:
April 25, 2014 at 3:24 am
I voted unsure in the poll, but didn’t comment in the thread reason being is it is far too late to stop the alarmism, green enegry drive and carbon taxes. Too many vested interests. It’s in and it’s here to stay. I don’t see Abbott abolishing the carbon tax in Australia. 

Peter Martin (@JunkkMale) wonders if anyone will take any more notice of them than they do now, and says:
April 25, 2014 at 3:28 am
If such an entity does come to pass, it will be interesting with statements how some MSM outlets choose to refer to it by way of qualifying adjectives, as can happen, often selectively. Or they may just settle on omitting mention at all. That can happen too. 

350.org is international, but in this case, maybe Matti Virtanen could take a leaf out of SkepticalScience.com's book and says:
April 25, 2014 at 3:46 am
Would it be a US organization, or international? Which languages would it use? If English only, how would it differ from the GWPF? – Personally, I do see a need for a clearing house that would provide articles and news in German, French, Spanish and Russian at least, not to mention Chinese and Japanese. But who’d pay for the translations?

Rob Dawg isn't really a conspiracy theorist, but he's convinced there will be fake fake sceptics joining up to sabotage their heroic efforts. (Maybe someone will enrol their dog.) Rob says:
April 25, 2014 at 3:29 am
It still all seems like the group would end up being way too easy to discredit based on the potential individual acts/positions of members. And make no mistake, infiltration with this intent is a certainty. A lowest common denominator issue. Secondly groups organized around a position of being against something are too easy to marginalize. What kind of traction would an international working group to debunk phlogiston get? Phlogiston isn’t even real while CO2 is. better to continue to attack bad science than to legitimize the politicalization by becoming political as well. 

Jim Cripwell says the world has been waiting for a hundred years for global warming to stop, it can afford to wait a bit longer for the first nail in the coffin proving climate science is a hoax. And anyway political crises are unfolding just the way they should:
April 25, 2014 at 3:42 am
I quote “There’s simply no other way to get an issue onto the political agenda”
I disagree completely. This ought to be a scientific issue, not political, The issue will, in the end, be settled scientifically. The Supreme Court of Physics is the empirical data. In the end the empirical data will prove that CAGW is a hoax. We just have to wait.
There is no harm in waiting. The politics is such that we are going to go on using fossil fuels to the limit of the finances involved. We are going to go on putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere into the indefinite future. With the current political crisis in the Ukraine, politicians are getting a reality check on the geopolitical implications of energy.
So, I believe, undoubtedly, the universe is unfolding as it should. 

G. Karst is a staunch individualist who sees corruption whenever two or more individuals get together and says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:10 am
Edim says: April 25, 2014 at 4:15 am Organization = Corruption. You just end up with dogma.
I agree.
I grow weary of special interests becoming eternal activists. Never adjusting dogma to evolve to new facts on the ground. Organizations pool money and power. Money and power corrupts the hearts of those involved when the end justifies the means.
It seems to be the condition of Man. We have struggled since the dawn of mankind. GK 

Monckton of Brenchley is on the pro side and is probably already clearing a space on his wall for the Presidential Seal and says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:08 am
I’m with Anthony on this. There needs to be an effective skeptical organization that acts as an exchange between the various skeptical groups and also as an additional and powerful voice. Let’s do it. 

Magic Turtle does some magic with numbers (is this a dig at Anthony and his wrong arithmetic denying the 97% scientific consensus?) and says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:02 am
“I’ve closed the poll with a count of 2701 votes. While there was a clearly decisive result,…”
Not if you measure the poll’s decisiveness by its entropy (i.e. its implicit uncertainty) I’m afraid.
There was clearly a majority in favour of the proposal, but the poll’s decisiveness was just 11.50%, which is less than half-way towards unanimity. This means that the voting group was far more uncertain (88.50%) than certain (11.50%) that it was in favour of the proposal.
So contrary to its superficial appearance of a decisive vote in favour of the proposed organization, this result provides only weak scientific evidence of popular support for it in fact. 

Some people fear they are so far fake that they won't even qualify for membership of a fake sceptic society. markstoval says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:28 am
@David Ball says: “As a person skeptical of the so-called “greenhouse effect”, I will be left to the wayside by such a group anyway.
As you may be aware, to go against the prevailing “consensus” or “paradigm” will certainly get you into trouble with the Church of Scientism. Periodically I ask why there has never been a real-world experiment that would prove that “greenhouse” gases do what they are said to do, but I am usually just told that there is no need for any such experiment or that I should read “first year physics”.
To answer your question; no your kind would not be welcome and you know it. 

dlb sets some enticing but impossible targets and says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:36 am
Stay with the empirical evidence, don’t go near any controversial theories. Leave that for the warmists so they can be shot down.
Have a core set of beliefs which ideally should be lukewarm.
Avoid a political stance, particularly that of the right.
Be open with funding and avoid big oil, coal etc.
Sympathise with moderate environmentalists, but go after the nutjobs.
Hound the opposition at every opportunity, but above all use science. 

Cold in Wisconsin is more realistic and says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:25 am
Sorry, but science will not be sufficient. 

John Whitman lists a whole bunch of things that would prevent him from participating. I've only posted the first three, you can read the rest of them here. He says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:21 am
If, as many did on the poll post and now did on this post, this idea of climate skeptic ‘organization’ is phrased and expressed in military terminology, then I cannot participate.
If, as many did on the poll post and now did on this post, this idea of climate skeptic ‘organization’ is advocated for the purpose of any political objectives, then I cannot participate.
If, as many did on the poll post and now do on this post, this idea of climate skeptic ‘organization’ is described as an ‘anti-ideology’ campaign, then I cannot participate....

While Mr Lynn is probably the most sophisticated but maybe to high falutin' for WUWT and says:
April 25, 2014 at 7:28 am
Chris says: April 25, 2014 at 7:06 am
. . . Keep it civil, keep it focused on facts, keep the extremism out of the official discourse, go where the data leads. Find a board or steering committee made up primarily of credentialed physical scientists. Consider a primary mission of education and clearinghouse, as opposed to fact-checking or debunking “main stream” science and discourse. There is no way to win that debate. Such a group would be better served to simply ignore the noise of mainstream debate and focus instead on simply trying to gather, understand, and disseminate the best of the available science – on ALL SIDES.
I think what Chris is describing is something like a new professional Society or Association of scientists. Perhaps it could be called the Association of Earth Sciences, or something, aimed at restoring balance to the CAGW tilt evinced by the existing science associations, and encompassing scientists from a wide variety of disciplines. This is certainly a laudable goal, and I think we’d all love to see such an organization founded.
The ‘Terra Home’ organization a few of us discussed back in 2009 would be a different animal, a general-public membership organization set up like the Sierra Club, or maybe the National Space Society, with the broad goal of encouraging the Progress of Man, especially the rational exploitation of resources to bring the benefits of civilization to all the peoples of the Earth, while maintaining careful stewardship of the planet. See my comments above:
[links to various WUWT comments redacted]
There is no reason not to work toward the creation of both such organizations.
/Mr Lynn 

The WUWT comments are still coming thick and fast. Here's the latest update for anyone interested. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Heat sinking, temperatures rising in the US of A

Sou | 10:36 PM Go to the first of 76 comments. Add a comment

By request, I'm closing a previous discussion, which turned into a discussion of the siting of weather stations among other things, and opening up this new thread for a continuation. The other thread was getting way to hard to load and it was almost impossible to follow the discussion.

To help kick off, if you want to repeat your latest comments from the old thread here, feel free to do so. 

Addendum: (I've added the following as a comment.)

If anyone is new to the reason for Evan's work, this article from ClimateProgress, together with Andy Revkin's piece and an article by Jeff Masters of Wunderground are as good as any. The comments at Climate Progress are useful as well.

And then there is this article, too, in which Anthony Watts more clearly explains his mindset.

Wondering Willis Eschenbach's hilarious hilarity - auto-correlation of deniers

Sou | 7:19 PM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

Wondering Willis Eschenbach thinks he has made a startling discovery (archived here).  His penny dropped, his light switched on and he found it all too, too hilarious.  This is what he wrote today at WUWT:
I read a curious statement on the web yesterday, and I don’t remember where. If the author wishes to claim priority, here’s your chance. The author said (paraphrasing):
If you’re looking at any given time window on an autocorrelated time series, the extreme values are more likely to be at the beginning and the end of the time window.
“Autocorrelation” is a way of measuring how likely it is that tomorrow will be like today. For example, daily mean temperatures are highly auto-correlated. If it’s below freezing today, it’s much more likely to be below freezing tomorrow than it is to be sweltering hot tomorrow, and vice-versa. 

So far so good. I gather that what Willis is saying is that in red noise, the pattern of frequency of extremes is sinusoidal. Willis went ahead to test it with a "large number of pseudo-random datasets".  He wrote:
The easiest way to test such a statement is to do what’s called a “Monte Carlo” analysis. You make up a large number of pseudo-random datasets which have an autocorrelation structure similar to some natural autocorrelated dataset. This highly autocorrelated pseudo-random data is often called “red noise”. Because it was handy, I used the HadCRUT global surface air temperature dataset as my autocorrelation template. 

He put up some results in the following chart.

Figure 1. HadCRUT3 monthly global mean surface air temperature anomalies (black), after removal of seasonal (annual) swings. Cyan and red show two “red noise” (autocorrelated) random datasets. Source: WUWT

He found one "pseudo-random" data set that more or less followed HadCRUT and another that was completely different.  Willis didn't say how many sets he chose from or how many of these sets were similar to his blue and red "red noise" sets.  For example, how many of his chopped data sets followed HadCRUT as closely as the red one in his chart above? What are the chances? Willis didn't say.

He did some more analysis, chopping two large sets of data into sets that contained 2000 data points. What he found that there were more extremes in what he called his pseudo-random data at the beginning and end of the series. In other words, a sinusoidal pattern as he mooted above.

Figure 2. Histogram of the location (from 1 to 2000) of the extreme values in the 2,000 datapoint chunks of “red noise” pseudodata. Source: WUWT

These "extremes" at both ends included both high and low extremes, not high extremes at one end and low extremes at the other end (based on Willis' comment here).

Willis was full of mirth, writing:
If you take a random window on a highly autocorrelated “red noise” dataset, the extreme values (minimums and maximums) are indeed more likely, in fact twice as likely, to be at the start and the end of your window rather than anywhere in the middle.
I’m sure you can see where this is going … you know all of those claims about how eight out of the last ten years have been extremely warm? And about how we’re having extreme numbers of storms and extreme weather of all kinds?
That’s why I busted out laughing. If you say “we are living today in extreme, unprecedented times”, mathematically you are likely to be right, even if there is no trend at all, purely because the data is autocorrelated and “today” is at one end of our time window!
How hilarious is that? We are indeed living in extreme times, and we have the data to prove it!

Now it's true what he says. In a short time series like ten years, one doesn't expect to see the coldest year in the last century as well as the hottest year in the last century. Just the same, Willis comes across as being really disingenuous or dumb or doesn't understand what is causing global warming, this is what he wrote further down:
Typically, we consider the odds of being in extreme times to be equal across the time window. But as Fig. 2 shows, that’s not true. As a result, we incorrectly consider the occurrence of recent extremes as evidence that the bounds of natural variation have recently been overstepped (e.g. “eight of the ten hottest years”, etc.).
This finding shows that we need to raise the threshold for what we are considering to be “recent extreme weather” … because even if there are no trends at all we are living in extreme times, so we should expect extreme weather.

That first sentence isn't true in regard to expectations of climate extremes. Although I expect it depends on who the "we" are.  In regard to extreme weather, it depends on what weather you are talking about.  Extreme heat waves of the same parameters are not likely to be equal across a long time window.  It is expected that heat waves will continue to become more extreme as time goes by relative to a static baseline.  Extreme cold waves on the other hand, will continue to be less likely as time goes by relative to the same static baseline.

His last sentence to my mind doesn't follow. He wrote: "...because even if there are no trends at all we are living in extreme times, so we should expect extreme weather." If there were no trend (that is, a signal of zero trend), then the auto-correlation would also not have any trend. There would not be extreme weather at any particular time. The weather is tending to be more extreme as climate change kicks in. But it's not because of auto-correlation. (It could be that Willis is assuming that no matter where on the time series one is, there will be more extremes and maybe he thinks all those extremes will be hot. That auto-correlation isn't just noise - that it's the signal.)

One question is: how does he equate his "extremes" expectation with the "pause" that deniers go on about? Did the extremes stop being "extreme" 16, 18, 20 or 30 years ago or whenever it is that deniers reckon the "pause" started?

I have another question. What about if you go back to 1969 and look backwards from there? Up to the mid-1940s there was a period of increasing extremes, but then the temperatures stopped rising for a while. What happened to the extreme times and extreme weather?

Data Source: NASA GISTemp

Sure there is some auto-correlation in temperature data. However the increasing extremes has less to do with auto-correlation than to the the build up of energy on Earth because of all the greenhouse gases we continue to pour into the air.

What is auto-correlation?

I'll let Tamino tell you about auto-correlation and how to allow for it in climate data. He discusses auto-correlation as nearby (in time) noise values - not the signal:
Lots of time series, especially in geophysics, exhibit the phenomenon of autocorrelation. This means that not just the signal (if nontrivial signal is present), even the noise is more complicated than the simple kind in which each noise value is independent of the others. Specifically, nearby (in time) noise values tend to be correlated, hence the term “autocorrelation.”

There are other articles by Tamino on the subject, such as this one. Science of Doom has also written an article on auto-correlation. David Appell found references in a pdf file here (that talks about how to allow for it) and here when he was working through what autocorrelation means as far as surface temperature trends go.

Recent extremes and natural variation

As far as Willis' claim that "we incorrectly consider the occurrence of recent extremes as evidence that the bounds of natural variation have been overstepped" - he's wrong on that score, too. The way the evidence is interpreted is not incorrect (or not necessarily incorrect).  Proper attribution studies do allow for auto-correlation when trying to extract the signal from the noise. In any case, it is through studies of what is causing the earth to get hotter that we know whether extremes are caused by natural variation.

It is a fact that some studies to determine the likelihood of an extreme consider it in terms of probabilities but they are also based in science. Otherwise, the scientists would be saying - "Nothing has changed yet we had a year that on the balance of probabilities, should only occur once in every 13,000 years. We can't explain it (except for auto-correlation)."

Instead they say "Earth is warming. Australia last year had an average temperature that should only occur once in every 13,000 years if only natural factors were in play. We can explain it. It's because of the build up of greenhouse gases."

We need to raise the threshold

When Willis wrote: "we need to raise the threshold" he was spot on, but not for the reason he claims.  It's because the "new normal" is higher than it was before, because of global warming. It's got nothing to do with auto-correlation.

Willis has a point in that in some of the public's mind, extremes are compared to the weather of the twentieth century.  However climate is changing at such a rapid pace (in geological terms) and energy is building up so quickly that another way of looking at extremes is to consider the extent to which they can be considered extreme in the light of rapidly *increasing* energy and global surface temperature.  That is, the baseline isn't a flat line, it's an upward sloping line. The signal line is an upward trend.

Perhaps a reader who is well-versed in statistics can comment.  Willis seems to me to be confusing the noise and the signal with his article on auto-correlation.  Even to this lay person it's not conceivable that Earth could continue to get hotter just because it got hotter last decade. There has to be a physical reason. Noise is noise, the chance of red noise going forever in the same direction is remote.

All of which makes Willis' hilarity hilarious.

The dog is the weather

Which brings us to climate vs weather.


Incorrect Assumption

Willis ended up with this (my bold italics):
In any case, I propose that we call this the “Extreme Times Effect”, the tendency of extremes to cluster in recent times simply because the data is autocorrelated and “today” is at one end of our time window … and the corresponding tendency for people to look at those recent extremes and incorrectly assume that we are living in extreme times.
In my view it's Willis who is making incorrect assumptions. We are heading toward more and more extremes as climate change kicks in. That's not statistics, that's physics, chemistry, biology and climate science.

Footnote: I am not claiming any expertise in statistics here. I am simply pointing to other reasons for Willis' jumping to wrong conclusions. If anyone wants to weigh in from a stats perspective, feel free.

From the WUWT comments

The auto-correlation in the comments section is more apparent at WUWT than in the sample I've selected below.

bobbyv says (did Richard really say that?):
April 24, 2014 at 4:14 pm
I think this goes to what Lindzen says – one would expect our times to be warmest in a warming climate.

John Phillips talks about the most recent string of the past fifty years or so and says:
April 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm
Making much ado about many of the years within the most recent string of years being near the recent extremes was one of the first disingenuous tactics of the CAGW alarmists. Even when warming stops, they can continue that scam for many years to come. 

Theo Goodwin got his second sentence right when he says:
April 24, 2014 at 5:04 pmWonderful explanation of a wonderful insight, Willis. Just what we expect from you.

Willis Eschenbach repeats his erroneous erroneous claim and says:
April 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm
Steve from Rockwood says: April 24, 2014 at 5:12 pm My gut feeling is you have only proved your time series is band-limited both in low and high frequencies.
Thanks, Steve, and you may be right about the cause. However, I wasn’t speculating on or trying to prove the underlying causes of the phenomenon.
Instead, I was commenting on the practical effects of the phenomenon, one of which is that we erroneously think we are living in extreme times.

RobL asks not a bad question and says:
April 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm
Is the effect stronger for shorter series? Eg what about a 160 point long series (to reflect the hottest year on record claims), or 16 point long series (to reflect hottest decade)

Frederick Michael talks about proximity of data points and says:
April 24, 2014 at 5:59 pm
The “red noise” or “Brownian motion” assumption is essential to finding a closed form solution. In my example of adding the N+1th point, knowing the value of the Nth point needs to be complete knowledge. (This is sometimes called “memoryless.”) If there are longer autocorrelations (trends, periodicity, etc.) the problem gets harder, and all bets are off on the endpoint effect — it could grow or disappear.

And adds more, Frederick Michael says:
April 24, 2014 at 6:57 pm
I think the term “red noise” is throwing folks off here. Willis is talking about pure Brownian motion. That is known as red noise but thinking about this in terms of spectrum is a rabbit trail. Willis is speaking of a series with no periodicity. 

gymnosperm seems to have concluded that global warming is real and we're not going to be heading for an ice age any time soon, except she or he is wrong about the last 17 years (1995, 19 years ago, was warmer than 1999 and 2000):
April 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm
There is another reason for ” it was the n hottest of the instrumental record”. The instrumental record is an S form with the hottest years at the top. Any year in the last 17 is guaranteed to be one of the top 17.
Humans have a natural tendency to “autocorrelate”. It is a perennial search for portents. 

Mike Jonas says:
April 24, 2014 at 9:08 pm
Willis – Good thinking, nice work! Following on from your post, I thought I would investigate the notion that nine of the last 10 years being the warmest “ever” was unprecedented. Answer : NO. It also happened back in 1945 and 1946. 

No need for fury: Ethics and internet research

Sou | 12:41 AM Go to the first of 26 comments. Add a comment

After all the fuss about Recursive Fury, I did some reading on ethics as it relates to internet research. There is quite a bit of material available. Below is some of what I found. These are from international literature and I'm not claiming they would apply in all jurisdictions.

The short answer is, however, that if what I've read is any guide, there was no breach of ethics by the authors of Recursive Fury in preparing or writing the paper, and none by its publication. (I can't say the same for its withdrawal by Frontiers. I didn't research that aspect however the behaviour of the "Chief Editor" did not come across as very professional to say the least.)

No diagnosis

Complaints about Recursive Fury were largely centred on two themes.  Firstly, that the study "pathologised" people who made comments.  This took the form complaints such as:

Yet the paper itself contained no diagnoses of individuals, let alone one that attributed a "mental disorder" or "psychological affliction". (Not that I've noticed Anthony Watts being in absentia, nor would I think too many people would consent to having a psychological affliction.)

No human subjects

Another objection raised related to whether informed consent was necessary.  Whether or not informed consent is required from an ethical standpoint, the first condition is that the research relates to "human subjects".  The National Science Foundation has a policy: 45 CFR Part 690: Federal Policy for the Protection of Human Subjects, in which it defines "Human Subject" as follows:
 (f) Human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains 
(1) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or
(2) identifiable private information.
Intervention includes both physical procedures by which data are gathered (for example, venipuncture) and manipulations of the subject or the subject's environment that are performed for research purposes.
Interaction includes communication or interpersonal contact between investigator and subject. 
"Private information" includes information about behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual can reasonably expect that no observation or recording is taking place, and information which has been provided for specific purposes by an individual and which the individual can reasonably expect will not be made public (for example, a medical record). Private information must be individually identifiable (i.e., the identity of the subject is or may readily be ascertained by the investigator or associated with the information) in order for obtaining the information to constitute research involving human subjects.

In the case of Recursive Fury, although some of the textual material came from the blogs of the researchers the comments arguably were not as a result of any such communication or interpersonal contact but rather were because of the publication of the "moon landing" paper, LOG12.  The research certainly did not meet the definition of "intervention". There was no venipuncture or any manipulation of the subject or the subjects' environment. Nor did it meet the definition of "private information".  The blogs from which the information was gathered were not merely public blogs, rather than private, they were much publicised public blogs and, according to Alexa rankings, were the more popular blogs in their sector of interest and, indeed, on the internet as a whole.  Blog owners did not require readers to log in.  There was no expectation of privacy. In addition, it is obvious from reading the blogs that many of the blog owners (and commenters) crave publicity, promoting new blog articles on Twitter for example.  One blog owner boasts of wide readership.

Therefore the complaint that prior consent was required fails before passing the first hurdle, that of "human subjects".

Waiving requirements

Given that the textual analysis did not involve human subjects as per the definition above, the following waiver does not apply.  Still it's worth reading.  This is from the same National Science Foundation policy:
(d) An IRB may approve a consent procedure which does not include, or which alters, some or all of the elements of informed consent set forth in this section, or waive the requirements to obtain informed consent provided the IRB finds and documents that: 
(1) The research involves no more than minimal risk to the subjects;
(2) The waiver or alteration will not adversely affect the rights and welfare of the subjects;  
(3) The research could not practicably be carried out without the waiver or alteration; and  
(4) Whenever appropriate, the subjects will be provided with additional pertinent information after participation.  
(e) The informed consent requirements in this policy are not intended to preempt any applicable federal, state, or local laws which require additional information to be disclosed in order for informed consent to be legally effective. 
(f) Nothing in this policy is intended to limit the authority of a physician to provide emergency medical care, to the extent the physician is permitted to do so under applicable federal, state, or local law. (Approved by the Office of Management and Budget under Control Number 9999-0020.)
A strong argument could be mounted that requirements (1) and (2) would have been met in this study and (3) would arguably apply as well. That's if the policy had applied to this research, which it didn't because the entire policy only relates to "human subjects".

Public vs Private

Here's a snippet from a paper by a PhD student in Sweden, which discusses the distinction between public and private in the context of internet research ethics (my paras and bold italics).
Without reducing the complexity of problems and previous arguments, it should be noted that the private/public distinction is a recurring theme in IRE [Internet Research Ethics] debates. More precisely, in online contexts, the boundaries between private and public appear blurred (Bromseth, 2002; Löfberg, 2003; Mann, 2003; Thorseth, 2003; Sveningsson Elm, 2009). This makes it difficult for researchers to assess the sensitivity of information and situations, It also makes it difficult to determine when research requires informed consent.
Attempts to solidify the private/public status of online phenomena have been made from various ontological and epistemological viewpoints, but arguments tend to follow one of two lines of reasoning: online phenomena can be considered public either
(1) if publicly accessible or
(2) if perceived as public by participants (Bromseth, 2002; Chen, Hall, & Johns, 2004; McKee & Porter, 2009; Sveningsson Elm, 2009).
According to the first argument, online phenomena are essentially public if they can be accessed by anyone with an open Internet connection. Moreover, public discourse must always be open for scholarly analysis and critique, and, in lack of restricted entrance, there is no need for consent or even anonymizing. The second and often counter-posed view holds that, though something may be accessible, the general public (including researchers) may not be the intended audience.
Researchers must therefore base their ethical decisions on a community’s purpose and participants’ expectations of privacy. Without taking consideration to personal privacy, researchers might instigate feelings of intrusion and exposure, or attract unwanted attention to online communities. My description of the above positions is, of course, a simplification.

In the context of the above, the material for Recursive Fury was public in that there was no restricted entrance nor was there any expectation of privacy on the part of people commenting.  Quite the contrary. An examination of comments shows that some of the same people posted their ideas on multiple public high profile blogs, indicating the the authors wanted as many people as possible to read them.  Indeed since Recursive Fury was published, some commenters have been posting their objections / conspiracy ideations on every site they can find which mentions the words "Lewandowsky" or "Recursive Fury".  (In some cases, so quick is their response that one might surmise they have a Google alert notification set up for these words.)

Rosenberg, A. "Virtual world research ethics and the private/public distinction." International journal of Internet research ethics 3, no. 12 (2010): 23-36.

Lewandowsky, Stephan, Klaus Oberauer, and Gilles E. Gignac. "NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore,(Climate) Science Is a Hoax An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science." Psychological science 24, no. 5 (2013): 622-633.

Lewandowsky, Stephan, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, and Michael Marriott. "Recursive fury: conspiracist ideation in the blogosphere in response to research on conspiracist ideation." Frontiers in psychology 4 (2012): 73-73.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

El Niño by July?

Sou | 11:49 PM Go to the first of 2 comments. Add a comment

As an interlude from deniersville, you may know by now there is most probably an El Niño forming and the latest ENSO report from BoM (22 April 2014) suggests it might be in evidence as early as July.

I took one of the charts that looks interesting. It's a chart of sea temperatures at depth in the equatorial Pacific over the four months from January to April inclusive. The latitude range is from 120E to 80W (Sulawesi to Equador) and it slices down to 400m.  I turned it into an animation. This is the result. Click the image to enlarge it.

Adapted from BoM ENSO report
\You can read more about ENSO and its phases here.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Is Maurice Newman telling Tony Abbott he should fire him?

Sou | 6:11 PM Go to the first of 8 comments. Add a comment

Maurice Newman is a "big nob" in Australia.  Or so I'm told.  He used to be Chair of the national broadcaster, the ABC.  The Prime Minister thinks so highly of our Maurice that he made him Chair of his Business Advisory Council.  I don't recommend anyone taking any advice from Maurice.

Maurice behaves like a fool, a clown, an ignorant nutter when it comes to climate science.  He's done it before.  Let me quote Maurice's own words back at him:

"...if I had financial advisers who were 98 per cent wrong I'd fire them." 

Emma Alberici interviewed him on ABC's Lateline this week for a comedy special and here are a few snippets.  See what you think.

Maurice Newman doesn't pay any attention to empirical evidence

EMMA ALBERICI: It's no secret that you don't agree that man-made CO2 is causing global warming. Given there is now consensus among 97 per cent or so of climate scientists across the world that the view - around the view that human activity is responsible for climate change, what would it take to convince you?
MAURICE NEWMAN: We know first of all that the survey which came out with the 97 per cent number was flawed in the first place. So we don't pay any attention to that. What we do look at...
EMMA ALBERICI: There have been roughly three that have come up with that.
MAURICE NEWMAN: They all come up with flawed methodologies. So we don't pay any attention to that....

Maurice Newman is a greenhouse effect denier

MAURICE NEWMAN: ...So the 97 per cent doesn't mean anything in any event because science is not a consensus issue. Science is whatever the science is and the fact remains there is no empirical evidence to show that man-made CO2, man-made emissions are adding to the temperature on earth. 

That's not what he facts show.  Maurice, keep up why don't you.  There has been empirical evidence for the greenhouse effect since Tyndall's experiment way back in the middle of the 1800s.  It even hit Australian newspapers at least as far back as 1884.

Maurice Newman says "it's the sun"

MAURICE NEWMAN: ...If you want a correlation between global climate, don't look to CO2, look to the sun's activity, there will you find a very close correlation.

Okay, let's look at the correlation between the sun and global surface temperatures:

Source: SkepticalScience.com

Oops-a-daisy.  Maurice's sun is going in the opposite direction to temperature. Will he change his tune? Unlikely. He's one of those "utter nutter" deniers who'll just say he won't "pay any attention to that... "

Maurice Newman tells a whopper of a lie

MAURICE NEWMAN: I just look at the evidence. There is no evidence. If people can show there is a correlation between increasing CO2 and global temperature, well then of course that's something which we would pay attention to.

Not true, Maurice.  There is a lot of evidence and you don't pay it any attention and don't appear to have ever done so.  In fact, it was only a minute or so back that you dismissed three separate pieces of evidence you didn't like and said "we don't pay any attention to that"!

Maurice Newman rejects scientific projections and opts for unsubstantiated "predictions"

MAURICE NEWMAN: ...And as I said, we look at the climate models, 98 per cent of them were wrong. In my old business, if I had financial advisers who were 98 per cent wrong I'd fire them

He's flat out wrong about the models, but he's correct that he himself should be fired.  Maurice says the sun is "highly correlated" but the scientific models are wrong?  We'll take a break and see just how "wrong" those models are and compare them to his sun:

If you were to pick between models and the sun, which would you pick?  Here they are as an animation - you decide:

If you're like Maurice and picked solar, do you realise there's been a sharp divergence since around 1980?  That's right - around 35 years ago!  If you complain the models don't fit observations you'll have notice they are pretty darn close - with only a small divergence since 2005.  (That's in part because the models weren't aware that this solar cycle would be so weak.)

So let's go back to Maurice who doesn't like "models". (Does he take a brolly when BoM forecasts 70% likelihood of rain?)

EMMA ALBERICI: That it's a pause. I guess that's what scientists say. It's a pause. They look back 800,000 years as I understand it, so 17 years in the scheme of things isn't an enormous amount of time.
MAURICE NEWMAN: I agree, but then you've got scientists, climate scientists now in Norway, in Germany, in Russia, in America, saying we're now going in for a period of 30 or 40 years of increasingly cool climate conditions.

Ha ha ha.  Maurice "clown" Newman doesn't agree with carefully constructed, physics-based scientific models that have been remarkably close to observations so far.  He dismisses the work of generations and thousands of climate scientists, but he's happy to take the solemn predictions from a handful of denier shysters from places like the Heartland Institute and EIKE!  What a nutter.

All the world is mad, but Maurice Newman

Emma takes another shot to see if Maurice will explain why he's decided that all the world is wrong but him:
EMMA ALBERICI: I'll only ask you one more questions on this because I do want to talk about other things, but both Marius Kloppers and his successor at BHP Billiton Andrew McKenzie agree that climate change is human induced. So what if those 97 per cent of climate scientists and all business people across the world, like the likes of Bill Gates and Richard Branson and the miners here in Australia, what if they're right and you and the scientists you quote are not right. Doesn't it make sense to have a policy that at least transitions Australia to cleaner fuel sources?
MAURICE NEWMAN: Emma, let's not confuse the issues. Cleaning the atmosphere, which is what carbon pollution is about, not CO2, CO2 is not a pollutant. But cleaning the atmosphere, being more efficient, all of that makes sense. That's got nothing to do with climate. That's to do with economics and being efficient. 

Oh? So carbon pollution is about cleaning the atmosphere, not about CO2!  That's definitely weird. [Late edit: Someone on another forum surmised Maurice Newman was talking about soot!  That could be it.  Maurice wants a chimney sweep! Is there no-one in his inner circle who's game enough to tell him he's nuts? Sou.]

MAURICE NEWMAN: But I would say to all of those people who are arguing that CO2 creates global warming and man is adding to the global warming to show the empirical evidence of where this is so. Because I'm saying to you that where this originates is from models. Computer models which are wrong. Now, if you can show me where there is some sort of correlation that proves beyond doubt that what we have is global warming as a consequence of CO2 and man's contribution to CO2 in the atmosphere, well then we can have a different conversation.
Hmmm, he wants empirical evidence.  He's not happy with all the empirical evidence he's been spoonfed with over the years.  Let's see if we can distil it down for him.
  • CO2 is a greenhouse gas, it's what keeps Earth warm and allows species like ours to exist.  We wouldn't be here if not for CO2.
  • Adding more CO2 makes the earth warmer.  It's like if you add more sugar to your cup of tea it makes it sweeter. Or adding more petrol to your car lets you drive further.  It's all about supply.

So that's the theory in a nutshell. Let's see what the evidence shows:


You can click the chart to enlarge it. What it shows is the Northern Hemisphere temperature went up when CO2 went up.  It also shows that when a volcano of any size erupted, temperature dropped. It also shows that when the sun wasn't as active then temperature dropped a teensy bit, but nothing like the reaction to adding more CO2.

Maurice Newman isn't just 98% wrong, it's virtually certain that he's 100% wrong! So will Tony Abbott follow Maurice's suggestion?

"...if I had financial advisers who were 98 per cent wrong I'd fire them." 

Maybe it's a bit unfair of Emma to take advantage of poor old Maurice Newman's failed intellect, letting him make a complete and utter idiot of himself on national television.  Lateline is meant to be for current affairs, not comedy.

If you want comedy, try Clarke and Dawe from seven years ago in 2007 (or it might have been from 2006). Back in the days when John Howard, Tony Abbott's patron, was Australia's Prime Minister. Just before he lost not just the election but his own seat.