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Don't fall for Judith Curry's poor attempt to spin the WMO (and Matt Ridley)

Sou | 3:38 AM

No surprise, Judith Curry is trying to spin the hot weather we've been having these last few months making out it isn't important (archived here). I'm not going to comment on her article except for a couple of things.

She talks up a dreadful article by Matt Ridley (see ATTP and Greg Laden), which got people all a twitter. Judith favours deniers and the GWPF, so that's no surprise.

The other thing is she goes on an on about a press release from the WMO being "spin" ahead of Lima. She emphasised that several times, including her headline, and writing at one point:
Attempts to spin 2014 as a possible ‘warmest year’ is exactly that: spin designed to influence the Lima deliberations.  While the WMO report was not unreasonable, their press release was a clear attempt to influence the Lima deliberations in the direction of being ‘alarmed.’

Why was it "a clear attempt"? Judith doesn't give a reason. Since she thinks the WMO report is "not unreasonable", and the press release was just highlighting the main points, then she's probably referring to the timing. However, if she'd taken a couple of minutes to check, this is when the WMO released it's take on the year's temperatures for the past five years:

In other words, don't fall for Judith Curry's spin. She's not good at it, so I don't expect you do, no more than you fall for Matt Ridley's spin. And you'll notice they spin each other.

1. Judith Curry at Georgia Tech is about as absurd as John Yoo teaching at U. California-Berkeley. These people should not be teaching anyone.

2. The use of "clear", like "obvious" ("... he is obviously a very angry person ...") absolves the user of any need to give their reasoning. Or, indeed, have any. And if you can't see the Emperor's fine new clothes yourself you must be stupid, biased, or most likely both.

3. How far into anti-science must Judtih Curry decend before Georgia Tech packs her into a box and mails her to Timbuktu? Surely the staff have clauses in their contracts about bringing the institution into disrepute?

Or do they not value their reputation?

1. She no doubt has tenure.

2. Is she not departing GT under her own steam (or has departed)?

4. The following are comments posted below that of a denier troll banned long ago for very good reason - disappeared as per the comment policy. I'll leave the replies intact, pretty well. They were made between 12:18 pm and 1:06 pm.

1. Except no one here is frantically arm waving about a pause or no warming in "insert cherry picked number of years here". The denialist community spins any possible event or story to fit their anti-science narrative. Not to mention, if we had a record coldest year, considering the last time that happened was 1909, I think it would be big news...speaking of that, anyone care to guess how many record warmest years we have had globally since the last record coldest?

2. And you are back with the same pathetic trolling.

Nowhere in the above article does Sou argue that the likelihood of 2014 being the hottest year by itself proves anything. Nor does the WMO if you bother to read their statement. But it is certainly consistent with the trend - which is why the deniers are going hysterical at any mention of the following qualified statement from the WMO.

"If November and December maintain the same tendency, then 2014 will likely be the hottest on record, ahead of 2010, 2005 and 1998. This confirms the underlying long-term warming trend. It is important to note that differences in the rankings of the warmest years are a matter of only a few hundredths of a degree, and that different data sets show slightly different rankings."

3. As above + what, are you denying 2014 will be a hot year? What's this 'maybe, possibly' stuff? A flimsy shield to prevent acknowledging the painfully (and, to you, painful) obvious, perhaps?

Denier's gotta deny!

4. What a dumb post [name deleted]. Her article is not making a fuss of 2014, it's pointing out that others (Curry) are making a fuss trying to spin this away. She then points to Curry's terrible logic about the timing of the release.

Frankly, if this was the coldest year, I would rejoice because it would mean that we are very wrong about the physics. Being wrong has two benefits, we learn new science and our descendants would see a more reasonable climate. I really mean that. Unfortunately, though, the temperatures keep going up and up confirming the basic physics that underlies the GHE. 2014 is just another example, and it's pretty pathetic to see Curry, WUWT and the like try to get ahead of the probable result with their denial machine. It's just physics after all.

5. To be clear, HW does not ban people for being climate science deniers. It bans them for reasons stated in the comment policy and similar. As long as people comply with the comment policy and behave honestly and reasonably, they are welcome. Otherwise not.

6. So our troll who was fixated on the 'pauses' short term noise could give him is suddenly allergic to short term temperature trends. And all it took was the mere prospect of them going the 'wrong' way. The guy gets more pathetic with every appearance he makes.

What will he do when Antarctic Sea Ice goes bad on him? Will there be a bit of permafrost somewhere - anywhere - he can still cling to?

5. Another thing I noticed is Curry is trying to redefine the "pause" as the divergence of the global average temperature from the climate model projections. One of the other deniers has started doing this as well (singing from the same hymn sheet one wonders?)

I am pretty sure the IPCC AR5 report defines the "pause" (actually a hiatus) as the slowing down of the rate of global average temperature increase compared to the late 20th century.

My guess is as the evidence for a global average temperature increase accumulates, the deniers are abandoning that definition of a "pause" and trying to insert a new one.

1. The section I am referring to:

"If it does turn out to be the hottest does that indicate the pause is over?

One year won’t really make a difference, unless it is extremely warm. And then 2015 would need to be even warmer than 2014. So declaring the pause to be ‘over’ will require continued warming. Again, the pause itself is not of such great significance; rather it is the growing divergence between climate model predictions and the observations – one warm year isn’t going to really change this."

2. I think she's taking the lead from John Christy and Roy Spencer. Given there's been no cooling and now that temperatures are making records still, she'll spin things whatever way she can for as long as she can. She might be able to spin it this way for a while longer yet - or not. She'll take whatever she can get while she can before she goes full time Lindzen, is my guess.

Remember Judith needs the "pause". About the only stuff she's put her name to in the published literature (though neither was her own research, she was just tagging along) was Nic Lewis' paper on climate sensitivity and Marcia Wyatt's research proposing a stadium wave. If/when they fall over she's got nothing. I'd say the stadium wave is pretty well dead and buried though they might be able to twist it around to fit observations for a little bit longer.

Judith doesn't seem to do much science herself any more. I don't know if she'll make one last ditch research effort before she retires, now she's no longer chair, or if she'll just grab her salary while she can, and take speakers fees from denialist lobby groups, plus run her weather forecasting business.

3. Sou has Professor Curry ever owned the title of Author in Chief of a major paper? I'm sure she has but there is no evidence of such on her site.

4. As far as I can tell, she was lead author of a number of papers back in the 1990s through to around 2005. I believe she used to be quite well regarded from a science perspective. Since then not so much - except for some waffling about politics and uncertainty. She was Chair for a few years and, while some Professors keep churning out research while they attend to management duties, others don't and probably focus more on administration and teaching.

5. Harry [quoting Curry] "One year won’t really make a difference, unless it is extremely warm. And then 2015 would need to be even warmer than 2014."

A sentiment I somewhat agree with, up to where she implies that each year must be successively warmer than the last. She should damn well know better.

When annual averages start being consistently on par with or exceeding 1998-99 [1], I fully expect the denial-o-sphere to suddenly "remember" that climate is not weather. The UHI meme will be amped (Watted?) up in earnest, thermometers in parking lots will return with a vengeance and Spencer and Christy at UAH may even need to get thrown under the bus. [2] About all they'll have left is conflating Antarctic sea ice with landed ice plus whatever new nonsense their cornucopia of creative avoidance is able to concoct for them.

It would be more amusing if their brand of rank idiocy didn't have as much policy influence as it does. Or is it that their policy wonks have such an influence on the rank idiocy? Do we have a model for that? :)

------------------------

[1] Which could be a bit. Another decade of "pause" would not surprise me, but there I'm betting on AMO to behave as in the past which may be quite a naive assumption on my part.

[2] I've noticed that RSS has gained popularity, being the laggard now that UAH have fixed their math errors and such.

6. ....up to where she implies that each year must be successively warmer than the last. She should.... know better.

I agree, Brandon. And here is much too much made of "the pause".

Perhaps the most sustainable skeptical argument is that the world is warming, but at a pace which will (overall) be minimally harmful to mankind in the long term, and perhaps beneficial in the short term.

There is no reason to believe that sequentially hotter years may be expected under any theory.

But back to the pause: Under a hypothetical scenario where 1998 was 'the hottest year ever', and every subsequent year was measured at exactly the same temperature, would not this be both a pause, or hiatus AND show that the last 17 years were the hottest on record?

i.e. Stating that x number of years are the warmest of the last z years does not in any way counter the argument that there may be a pause in temperature rise.

(An aside: what is it with this co-opting or words? What is the difference between a pause and a hiatus? Why do people insist on one or the other? Hiatus definition: a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.)

7. marke,

The "we'll adapt" argument is one place where I'll somewhat meet them in the middle because I don't think AGW is an extinction-level risk. Not being a binary thinker, I only explore that tangent so far, however. What will be the price of that adaptation? We, as in both sides of the debate, don't really know. That uncertainty is as good an argument as any for people who aren't as quick to risk others' lives and well-being for their own present well-being. It's right about there that their stone-deafness turns hostility and mockery of the precautionary principle.

The only response possible to a contrarian who points out the flattish surface record over the past 17 years is to agree. I've found it works marginally better to then point out how this is not unprecedented in the past, typically I point to 1940-1980 in the HADCRUT4 record. Of course marginally better than not working at all is still not working, but I think the surface temperature record is more robust (and know it's longer-running) than the ocean heat content/temperature records. At that point in the discussion, it's more important for me to feel confident in my arguments ... there are too many places in the ocean observations where I personally waffle and caveat to myself.

There is no difference between a pause and a hiatus in my dictionary. I use both interchangeably. On co-opting words, I refuse to call their side "skeptics"; I'm unwilling to cede it to them. I call them contrarians to their face (and we the consensus for contrast) because it's not as loaded a term. I shy away from calling them deniers on friendly territory save for when my blood is up, which it is right now. I've just been awarded "unrepentant troll" status at WUWT, which in denier-speek translates to: someone who is making too much sense. I should wear it as a badge of honor, but unrepentant stupidity and bad faith debate really pisses me off.

8. Marke,

From what I have read the "pause" and the "hiatus" are different. A "pause" implies a halt, a "hiatus" can mean a pause but it can also mean other things. So pause is not exactly equivalent to hiatus.

The IPCC AR5 report uses the term "hiatus" not "pause". And they defined what they mean by a hiatus, meaning a break in the series but not a halt. The deniers use pause to mean a halt.

I hate to bang on about semantics, but I really think the IPCC scored an "own goal" using the term hiatus which the deniers took full advantage of.

9. Both hiatus and pause are misnomers. Both imply a temporary cessation to a process. Even applied strictly to surface/tropospheric warming this is incorrect. When applied to the overall accumulation of energy in the climate system, even more so.

There has been a slowdown in the rate of surface / tropospheric warming. There has not been a pause or hiatus.

10. Hiatus can also mean a discontinuity. The example I have seen is a change in rock strata. Maybe the person who wrote that section in the AR5 report was also a geologist. They refer to it as the change in trend:

"The reduction in observed GMST trend is most marked in NH winter. Even with this ‘hiatus’ in GMST trend, the decade of the 2000s has been the warmest in the instrumental record of GMST"

11. This comment has been removed by the author.

12. Something went wrong with that. Let me try again:

The cold NH winters are interesting. News to me until I came across Cohen et al. (2012) Asymmetric seasonal temperature trends.

Coincidentally, just out there's Robeson et al. (2014) Trends in hemispheric warm and cold anomalies which uses HadCRUT4 and shows an increase in hot anomalies over the last 30 years and an increase in cold mid-latitude NH winters since 1998. Like Cohen et al., Robeson points to this as a significant factor in the slowdown in the rate of surface warming.

6. Dear Sou, Bernard J, David Appell
The COP dates occur at the same times as the WMO press releases, every year. If you had done a bit more research, you would have seen this.

The COPs occur under the UNFCCC. The WMO is an UN organization. You must be deluded to think the WMO functions independently and that ill-founded alarmist releases from a purported scientific organisation are excusable.

1. I've no idea what goes on in that head of yours, Shub, but it looks to me as if you've got my article all wrong.

Of course the WMO would work hard to make sure that relevant meetings of UN bodies are provided with relevant material in a timely manner. That's what the dates refer to.

It's clear you've no idea how government agencies or the UN operates. You even seem to be suggesting that the WMO providing UN/WMO member governments with up to date information is some sort of plot - maybe even a conspiracy.

(What an utter nutter.)

2. PS Shub's utter nuttery isn't simply that he thinks it's a conspiracy or something that the WMO releases its report in time for the COP every year (not just this year). It's also that he doesn't accept that the WMO reports are based in actual observations and solid science, that none but utter nutters would reject.

I'm guessing from the way he worded his comment that he's a Tim Ball fan (with "one world guvmint" conspiracy theories and sky dragon slaying). I wonder if he knows the earth is more than 6000 years old - and that it's not flat?

3. And it happens every year at the time when little children are writing to Santa: thus it is proven that Santa is behind it all. Thank you Shub: at last I see this Santa-centric conspiracy for what it is.

4. Of course the WMO would work hard to make sure that relevant meetings of UN bodies are provided with relevant material in a timely manner. That's what the dates refer to.

Oh, I had that so wrong Sou. Could you please update your article to reflect? You could include the COP dates and locations for the years corresponding to the WMO releases.

Much thanks.

5. You had what wrong, Shub? The bit about "ill-founded alarmist releases" or the bit where you seemed to think you are the only person who knows that the WMO is a UN agency. Or was it the conspiracy-ridden tone of your comment that you think you got "wrong"?

You were the one that acted aghast that the WMO would work to provide timely info to its 191 members, in time for the UNFCCC COP *each year*. (I'd have expected most readers would have known that already.)

I published the dates of the WMO press releases about the past year's prelim weather/climate reports - it's released at a similar time *every* year. Judith is wrong if she thinks there is some evil intent in the timing *this* year - possibly another "warmest on record".

Below is a link to the UNFCCC Calendar going back to 1997. You know you could have found this yourself if you got someone to teach you how to use Google.

http://unfccc.int/meetings/unfccc_calendar/items/2655.php

6. Apparently, shub thinks that a press release that says it may be the warmest year ever...is alarmist, because...facts!

Can't have no pesky facts! People might get scared of them pesky facts!

7. You article implied the timing of the WMO release had nothing to with the COPs - as opposed to Judith Curry thinking it was "spin" ahead of Lima and her disapproval referred 'probably referring to the timing' of the release rather than its content.

In support you listed the dates of previous releases. The dates fall roughly in the same time period every year - late Nov - to early Dec.

Now you accept the WMO press releases had everything to do with the COP timings. Your acceptance of this key fact is not evident in the article. Could you update to reflect this key change in your understanding of the situation?

For your information, the WMO release, every year for the years you listed, starts with being the highest, warmest something, even for the years when there was no warming. That would count as 'serial misinformation' wouldn't it? I take it you haven't read through them as well.

8. Shub, I can see you're doing your best to try to wriggle out of being labelled a conspiracy nutter but your history works against you. You'd have to do much better than this little insight you've provided into the weird workings of a denialist brain.

As for what my short article implied to *you* then that was not my intention. Nor could you find anything in it that supports whatever you and your confirmation bias read into it. I knew very well that reports are released ahead of COP meetings and I assumed that most people would also be aware of the fact. It was Judith who seemed to be suggesting that the timing was unusual this year. It's not. It's the same every year. As I said, she seemed to be happy enough with the report itself, which was the substance of the press release. So that left me to figure she thought the timing was a plot. Again - it's not. It's the same every year.

As for the rest of your silliness - the fact is the world is getting hotter. It's called global warming. Of course the World Meteorological Organisation is going to report that. What do you expect? That it's going to suddenly do a David "funny sunny" Archibald and claim that we're heading for an ice age?

That would really be utter nuttery.

9. Let me guess: Shub is another faux sceptic who - while he is keen on creating conspiracy theories that are convenient to the fossil fuel industry - somehow he has missed all the evidence in the public domain (tax returns etc.) that point to the fossil fuel industry funding his sceptic heroes to misrepresent the science. What are the odds of that?

10. Millicent

Shub is exactly as Sou describes: a nutter and a conspiracy theorist.

11. Or he's a shill, and a desperate one, because he's running out of faux pauses. In that case, what will his bosses tell him to say next?

12. I have never understood how these apparent conspiracy theorists could have absolutely no interest in the one climate related conspiracy for which there is solid evidence: the fossil fuel industry misinformation campaign.

13. I've had a fair bit of two-and-fro with Shub over the years and I really don't think (s)he's a paid shill. Just sincerely deranged.

Of course you are correct to point out that there's a very real and very foul-smelling misinformation campaign by vested interests which is ultimately an attempt to subvert democracy. And yes, it's little short of astonishing that the conspiracy theorists on the other side are absolutely in denial about it. Like so much in the climate "debate" it's almost, but not quite, funny.

14. Got it, Sou. According to you, Curry's "spin" was to tie this year's alarmist and unsubstantive WMO press release to the ongoing COP. You say, wait folks, she's not right, that's not what the WMO did this year. That's what they do *every year*.

Got it. ;)

15. World socialism is coming, Comrade Shubski, and there's nothing you can do to stop it. The conspiracy goes right to the very top.

16. And that's just the beginning. Next, the Red Planet, and beyond...

17. Kinda happy Shub showed up. It made this thread much more entertaining. Unfortunately, I forgot my tin foil hat so the UN prevented my brain waves from getting all the humor and sarcasm inherent in Shub's comments.

18. Since it's a practical certainty that 2014 will break the record for global surface temperatures, shub will be alarmed from mid-January 2015. If 2015 is warmer again (which is quite possible) shub will be positively terrified. Just what of remains uncertain, but I for one welcome our soon-to-be-new socialist overlords. (Always as well to get these things on the record, doncha know.)

19. It all *does* seem a bit suspicious. I mean, at the U.S. gubmint mind-control facility in which I labor, we always seem to release a lot of reports and stuff around mid-September. Every year. Why so regular and always September, eh?

20. Shub -

You make an excellent point. No doubt, the WMO report was spin. Look, here's another example of spin, from the NCDC, the world's largest archive of weather data:

==> "“November 2014 U.S. Divisional Average Temperature Ranks Map
During November, the average contiguous U.S. temperature was 39.3°F, 2.4°F below the 20th century average. This ranked as the 16th coldest November in the 1895-2014 record. This was the coldest November since 2000.”

See. More spin. That was released something like only 4 days ago.

No doubt, this report about the the 16th coldest recorded November was a “clear attempt” to “spin” and influe…..

Oh…..

Wait…

Nevermind!

21. You're not keeping up Johsua. The WMO report is 'spin'? Or is Curry spinning the report? Which one are we talking about?

If the NCDC were to release press releases like the WMO they would say November was the 109th hottest ever. :)

22. Curry, rather typically, is making an overly-confident rhetorical statement of a conclusion for which she has no real logical basis.

We'd need to define what "spin: means. We'd need to evaluate the relevant factors such as what Sou had described (is the "timing' spin? Is the evaluation of the data spin? Does having an opinion and presenting the data in a way that is consistent with your data = spin?).

Is Judith "spinning?" I can't answer the question unless we agree to a definition of terms.

I can say this, however; Judith is failing to account for uncertainties, and usually when that occurs it is because of "tribalism."

23. Shub, as you are so very fond of discussing conspiracy theories, why don't you tell us what you accept and what you reject about the fossil fuel industry misinformation campaign. Which deniers do you accept have had their credibility undermined by proven links to fossil fuel industry slush funds.

Don't you want to take the opportunity to distance yourself from the shills? Or have you signed some sort of dreadful NDA which prevents you from discussing this?

24. Let's have a proper conspiracy!

Brulle (2013):

Institutionalizing delay: foundation funding and the creation of U.S. climate change counter-movement organizations

This paper conducts an analysis of the financial resource mobilization of the organizations that make up the climate change counter-movement (CCCM) in the United States. Utilizing IRS data, total annual income is compiled for a sample of CCCM organizations (including advocacy organizations, think tanks, and trade associations). These data are coupled with IRS data on philanthropic foundation funding of these CCCM organizations contained in the Foundation Center’s data base. This results in a data sample that contains financial information for the time period 2003 to 2010 on the annual income of 91 CCCM organizations funded by 140 different foundations. An examination of these data shows that these 91 CCCM organizations have an annual income of just over $900 million, with an annual average of$64 million in identifiable foundation support. The overwhelming majority of the philanthropic support comes from conservative foundations. Additionally, there is evidence of a trend toward concealing the sources of CCCM funding through the use of donor directed philanthropies.

7. For your information, the WMO release, every year for the years you listed, starts with being the highest, warmest something, even for the years when there was no warming.

LOLWUT? I wonder which of the five years listed was a "year when there was no warming"? Has someone been twiddling the climate control knob?

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