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One Of These Things Is Not Like The Other

| 26 Comments

In today's Washington Post, Professor of Climate Science Michael Mann:
The basic physics and chemistry of how carbon dioxide and other human-produced greenhouse gases trap heat in the lower atmosphere have been understood for nearly two centuries. Overloading the atmosphere with carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is heating the planet, shrinking the Arctic ice cap, melting glaciers and raising sea levels. It is leading to more widespread drought, more frequent heat waves and more powerful hurricanes. Even without my work, or that of the entire sub-field of studying past climates, scientists are in broad agreement on the reality of these changes and their near-certain link to human activity.
Burying our heads in the sand would leave future generations at the mercy of potentially dangerous changes in our climate. The only sure way to mitigate these threats is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next few decades. But even if we don't reduce emissions, the reality of adapting to climate change will require responses from government at all levels.

Challenges to policy proposals for how to deal with this problem should be welcome -- indeed, a good-faith debate is essential for wise public policymaking.

But the attacks against the science must stop. They are not good-faith questioning of scientific research. They are anti-science.
At the climate skeptical Watt's Up With That blog, Professor of Physics Hal Lewis:
... a few of us tried to bring science into the act (that is, after all, the alleged and historic purpose of APS), and collected the necessary 200+ signatures to bring to the Council a proposal for a Topical Group on Climate Science, thinking that open discussion of the scientific issues, in the best tradition of physics, would be beneficial to all, and also a contribution to the nation. I might note that it was not easy to collect the signatures, since you denied us the use of the APS membership list. We conformed in every way with the requirements of the APS Constitution, and described in great detail what we had in mind...simply to bring the subject into the open.

5. To our amazement, Constitution be damned, you declined to accept our petition, but instead used your own control of the mailing list to run a poll on the members' interest in a TG on Climate and the Environment. You did ask the members if they would sign a petition to form a TG on your yet-to-be-defined subject, but provided no petition, and got lots of affirmative responses. (If you had asked about sex you would have gotten more expressions of interest.) There was of course no such petition or proposal, and you have now dropped the Environment part, so the whole matter is moot. (Any lawyer will tell you that you cannot collect signatures on a vague petition, and then fill in whatever you like.) The entire purpose of this exercise was to avoid your constitutional responsibility to take our petition to the Council.
Here's where I struggle with the whole AGW issue. I think it's certainly possible - maybe even likely that AGW is real. I'd support, unforced, a bunch of low-cost, high-impact policy changes that would have an impact on atmospheric carbon and (incidentally) the domestic economy and national security.

But every time I turn around, the folks promoting radical action in the face of climate change based on "incontrovertible" science can't show processes that actually support - you know, through open inquiry - an absolute consensus that would support remaking the world economy (coincidentally, remaking it in ways that those making the arguments are predisposed to support for ideological reasons...).

And, sadly, Professor Lewis will never get a platform to tell his story remotely comparable to Professor Mann.

But we can tilt the balance a little bit here in the blogs.
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26 Comments

My general take on CAGW is that the defenders of the hypothesis act like the Young Earth Creationists: when you attempt to debate them, eventually you end up with them disputing the the definition and nature of science. When you point out, for example, that there is a great deal of doubt about the "warming" part, on the grounds that the measurement error is larger than the claimed final effect, suddenly accurate measurement is no longer necessary; averages are fine. Well, no thanks: science works because it gives us a framework (not the only framework, but certainly the most successful) for preventing error. Once you start throwing the framework out, you start introducing error.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. That the earth may be warming is hardly an extraordinary claim, and easily believable, though there are a lot of questions about the evidence presented. But to claim the outsized effects predicted from small temperature changes on essentially no experimental basis is startling at least. And I'm simply not willing to take such large claims on such a small foundation.

I'd feel far more comfortable if those who defend the hypothesis were willing to defend it, and present their evidence and arguments openly. But every time I try to dig into it, I find obfuscation, evasion and attacks on the character of anyone who might express any doubt whatsoever about even the more outlandish claims.

The only sure way to mitigate these threats is to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions dramatically over the next few decades.

That's doubly wrong. First, the idea that it is feasible to dramatically lower carbon emissions over the next few decades has been demonstrated to be false. The technology is unclear and the politics nigh impossible.

Second, there are several geo-engineering proposals that are more likely to work than trying to reduce emissions dramatically (although, as noted above, that's a rather low bar).

Also, isn't it quite interesting that the warmenists are not only not interested in science or debate, but also uninterested in that "bunch of low-cost, high-impact policy changes"? Only massive changes in the entire global economy are worth enacting.

P.S. How could you not mention "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who tell me it's a crisis act like it's a crisis".

You noticed that Mann misrepresented the science in first paragraph of your excerpt, no?
The predicted sensitivity of the atmosphere to a doubling of CO2 is about 1.5C, nothing to worry about. That is what has been known for two century. Catastrophe requires positive feedback, a mechanism one would have expected to show up when CO2 concentrations or temperatures were much higher than today. As for the list of catastrophes, it just plain old bull shit.

The reason I can't take AGW seriously is that it is pushed by lying scum balls like Mann. Hal is a restrained and polite man, I feel no such constraint when confronted with this sort of crap.

Hrm... you know, I guess is it roughly the one year anniversary of the last time we did this dance.

One year seems to be just enough time for AL and Jeff Medcalf to forget what happened, and complain that they're willing to give AGW theory a fair hearing, if only someone would provide them with the evidence, rather than hiding away from "real" scientific debate.

Because nobody ever provides you guys with evidence or the descriptions of uncertainty that you ask for, right?

And it's not like there's sites out there whose entire purpose is to answer the kinds of questions you're sure aren't being addressed.

Incidentally, I know AL promised to do a variety of AGW-related projects... which unsurprisingly devolved into silliness about "influence maps" (so much easier than understanding actual science, right?), and even those never got finished. But Jeff, you were actually bothering to look at the data... did that ever come to anything? Or are you simply going to pretend like the presence of sarcasm and hyperbole somehow negates everything else, and call it a day?

Chris, any comment on McShane and Wyner's paper blowing up Mann's famous reconstruction?

"We find that the proxies do not predict temperature significantly better than random series generated independently of temperature. Furthermore, various model specifications that perform similarly at predicting temperature produce extremely different historical backcasts. Finally, the proxies seem unable to forecast the high levels of and sharp run-up in temperature in the 1990s either in-sample or from contiguous holdout blocks, thus casting doubt on their ability to predict such phenomena if in fact they occurred several hundred years ago."

Background and links here

I know, every time one of the heretofore definitive and incontrovertible pillars of evidence come into question, they suddenly become secondary and unimportant in the grand scheme of other dubious evidence. Is the plural of flawed data called consensus?

Chris, any comment on McShane and Wyner's paper blowing up Mann's famous reconstruction?

Dunno, Mark... any comment on the various critiques offered at Real Climate and other places to said paper?

I know, every time one of the heretofore definitive and incontrovertible pillars of evidence come into question, they suddenly become secondary and unimportant in the grand scheme of other dubious evidence.

No, Mark... it's just that there's been a pocket industry of people trying to knock down said pillars for decades now, and they're never very successful at it. So it's hard to take these trumpeting declarations terribly seriously.

You're also trying to employ some rather lame jujitsu around the fact that there are, in fact, several independent pieces of evidence that support AGW. Yes, it is the fact that, were Mann's stuff somehow disproved (which it has not been, based on what I'm seeing), there'd still be other evidence supporting the theory. That's actually a hallmark of a strong theory, and not the intellectual shell game that you imply.

And as for your claim that the other evidence for AGW is "dubious"... well, heck, that's just an outright lie unless you've got something to back it up. Which, oddly enough, Watt's Up With That has never actually been able to do, because their arguments never stand up past the initial "look, we proved it's all a lie!" post. (See also the Surface Stations project and the subsequent debunking of Watt's claims.) Let me know when WUWT ever bothers to answer the rebuttals put up on Real Climate and other (actual) science blogs, and we can talk.

But hey, while I'm at it, I should probably point out that the linked rebuttals to McShane and Wyner's paper above further disprove AL et al's argument that nobody's ever willing to actually debate AGW science. So thanks for bringing this up, Mark! Cheers!

"Dunno, Mark... any comment on the various critiques offered at Real Climate and other places to said paper?"

Heh... a particularly limp and disingenuous defense I would argue. Amounts to- 'well Mann's work may have been overblown and essentially worthless but they agree the last decade was probably still the hottest in the last 1000 years'. Of course we all know that has very little to do with a hockey stick, or in other words, that the last decade was warm is important... but nowhere near as impactful as Mann's reconstruction of an incredibly flat temperature record ending with a huge leap up.

Were that record valid it would indeed indicate that we've entered an unprecedented period of warming certainly due to recent activities... but if instead the historical record is far more variable and has in fact been essentially just as warm long in the past it lends credibility to the probability that we are simply on the high end of a natural warming trend... or at least that such warming is not necessarily catastrophic, which in the end is the crown jewel article of faith Mann and his ilk profess.

You see without the straightness of the hockey stick, the catastrophe argument is a harder sell, and without that the entire ideological movement goes limp.

From your second rebuttal link:

"Already the NRC assessment on millennial reconstructions and other later papers indicate that the uncertainties are much larger than those included in the hockey stick and that the underestimation of past variability is ubiquitous."

You see- Mann was never very important to begin with... See my note above about moving goalposts. I never seem to have gotten the notice that the ubiquitous hockey stick was in fact considered overcertain and past temperature variabilities underestimated. Was that on the cover of Time? Did the IPCC bother to amend their reports? This is no small admission. The highs and variations of the past are at least as critical to climate science as the recent temps.

We already know from careful observations in remote places that carbon dioxide levels have risen worldwide. The question is whether these levels are the principal cause of recent warming.

Whether they are or not, the only way to be sure is to increase photosynthesis. Saving the rain forest serves the long-term interest of the planet in any case and as part of a worldwide campaign to raise CO2 absorption may be easier to achieve than restrictions on the industrial growth of emerging countries. If CO2 can be reduced by natural means, and temperatures then go down, we will know that carbon dioxide was the problem. It should then be easier to reduce industrial emissions globally. If temperatures don't go down, then we will know that their cause is something else.

Mark, let's review the National Research Council report on Mann which stated the following:

- McIntyre and McKitrick's criticisms, while somewhat valid, did not actually affect the correctness of Mann's work.

- A greater amount of skepticism towards Mann's reconstruction work for the years 1000 - 1600 AD was warranted, but work from 1600 onward was more reliable.

- Mann's research was ultimately vindicated on its own terms, and has been subsequently supported by other independent research showing the same basic conclusions. Or, as the NRC said itself:

The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on ice caps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years. Not all individual proxy records indicate that the recent warmth is unprecedented, although a larger fraction of geographically diverse sites experienced exceptional warmth during the late 20th century than during any other extended period from A.D. 900 onward.

So, yes, it is true that Mann's work was not as strong as it originally stated, but it's also true that the work has still been largely validated on its own terms, and that it was never the only piece of evidence underlying AGW theory. That's what the Klimazweibel quote above is referring to, not that Mann's work is "overblown and essentially worthless", which is a complete straw man attack. Get it straight, Mark.

And while I'm at it:

...but if instead the historical record is far more variable and has in fact been essentially just as warm long in the past it lends credibility to the probability that we are simply on the high end of a natural warming trend...

I know you'd desperately like this to be true, but, Mark, even the McShane paper you happily quote above states that "our model gives a 80% chance that [the last decade] was the warmest in the past thousand years." So even if you take their work completely at face value - and the critiques I linked to give more than a few reasons (that you completely skipped over) as to why that's somewhat doubtful - then it's still the case that it's not likely that we're "simply on the high end of a natural warming trend."

Chris, the 'influence map' issue was dealt with back here, with the link to this post .

It looks like there are three interrelated data sets based on a largely common pool of raw data.

It's absolutely true that all of the models point to something like a 'hockey stick'; it's also true that some of the raw data is questionable because of UHI (see the ongoing audit of temp station locations at Watt's site).

Look, Chris, I'm not gonna drop what I'm doing and try and get into a doctoral program on climate studies (note that I couldn't if I wanted to, because there's little likelihood that someone who challenges the 'settled science' is going to get admitted, or that they'll get research money if they do). Buyout...as someone who think Kuhn got it right, brittle consensuses like this (defined as those which are instiututionally protected - see the Hal Lewis letter) don't really make me all warm and fuzzy about making major policy changes at immense cost.

And as someone who has studied the limits of quantifiable modeling - in economies and other less-complex systems like road and communications networks - I have a basic unmovable doubt that we can build conclusive models on this kind of data. Certain things aren't very modelable; we are barely able to model local weather systems on supercomputers - the notion that we can 'definitively' model global climate over millennia on someone's workstation just doesn't inspire lots of confidence in me.

The nearly 100% correlation between the politics of the warmists and their belief in warming - that they tend to be people who advocate far greater state control over our lives and that they are (in my personal experience) people with an inherent suspicion of western industrial culture (while, for the most part, living it up on the output of that culture) also adds a level of suspicion.

And so I'm back to where I started on all this; I think there are a lot of things we ought to do to lower the amount of oil we burn (note that the billion people in China and the billion people in India are all about to start vastly increasing the amount of oil they burn - making our sacrifices kind of meaningless) that don't require crazy levels of restructuring our society and economy.

But interestingly, very few warmists that I've met in person or here on the blog are willing to go "OK, you don't buy warming, but you're willing to work on an energy policy - let's get together and move the dial as much as we can." Why is that, do you think?

Marc

"I know you'd desperately like this to be true, but, Mark, even the McShane paper you happily quote above states that "our model gives a 80% chance that [the last decade] was the warmest in the past thousand years.""

Chris- you really don't seem to understand the point. Yes, its likely the last decade was warmest of the last thousand years. It so happens yesterday was the warmest day this October. That doesn't mean Halloween is destined to be 120F. We are undoubtedly in a warm period of that timeframe... it had to happen at some point right?

The question is is this level of warmth catastrophic. Everything else is just trivia. If in fact, as appears to be true, temps are more variable than the hockey stick indicated, and in fact many temps were high in the past than Mann contested, it is much less likely that current warming is catastrophic.

Simple being at the warming end of the spectrum right now is not nearly as disturbing as being radically out of the norm, which is what made Mann famous.

Chris, the 'influence map' issue was dealt with back here, with the link to this post .

AL, I think you missed my point, so let me state it more clearly: "influence maps" are f&*(ing meaningless on this issue. They're a silly sideshow that nobody but you is concerned about, and they're something you brought up only after it was clear that your initial claim - that the climate model code had never been released - was proven to be utterly false.

And speaking of utterly false:

It looks like there are three interrelated data sets based on a largely common pool of raw data.

It's absolutely true that all of the models point to something like a 'hockey stick'; it's also true that some of the raw data is questionable because of UHI (see the ongoing audit of temp station locations at Watt's site).

No, AL. Not that you care, but other interested parties should look here to get an idea of the depth and breadth of the data available. There are three separate surface temperature records, all of which do slightly different processing on nearly all the available historical records. That's separate from ocean temps, sat temps, sea ice records, ice cores, tree bark samples, climate models, etc. All of which is to say, the data is far broader than you claim, and it's laughably false that you'd try to claim otherwise.

As for Watt's temperature station audits, I already addressed that up above with Mark, but heck, here's NOAA's take on the matter as well. Again, the fact that you'd toss these attacks around when even the slightest bit of Googling turns up fairly strong rebuttals to them speaks volumes about how committed you are to even a basic understanding of AGW.

The rest of your remarks are equally lame. Yes, there's clearly an institutionally protected consensus on climate modeling - that's why McIntyre and McKitrick's attack on Mann was completely buried and ignored. (Aside from, y'know, being thoroughly assessed and dismissed in a 100+ page report from the National Research Council, as well as numerous articles, papers, blog posts, etc.) That's why guys like Keith Briffa completely ignore the attacks on their work (except for the long, detailed rebuttals they invariably offer, which almost always go unanswered in any substantive way.) That's why Climategate was completely swept under the rug (except for four different investigations, all of which cleared HADCRU of wrongdoing.)

A few new interesting wrinkles in your argument, though:

The nearly 100% correlation between the politics of the warmists and their belief in warming - that they tend to be people who advocate far greater state control over our lives and that they are (in my personal experience) people with an inherent suspicion of western industrial culture (while, for the most part, living it up on the output of that culture) also adds a level of suspicion.

It's fascinating that you'd say this right as Ron Brownstein points out that, in fact, the exact opposite is the case - that pretty much the entire rest of the world agrees that AGW is a threat, and it's only American conservatives - people who are morally offended at the very idea of collective action for the common good (for anything other than the military, that is) - who disagree with global warming. Never mind that cap-and-trade - the most market-friendly option for dealing with AGW - is still seen as encroaching government takeover (though it's fine for mercury, sulphur, and a bunch of other pollutants); never mind that Hayek himself pointed to pollution as being something that the government had a mandate to deal with - everybody who's in favor of dealing with AGW is a statist, anti-Westerner, and only you few brave souls are here to save civilization.

But interestingly, very few warmists that I've met in person or here on the blog are willing to go "OK, you don't buy warming, but you're willing to work on an energy policy - let's get together and move the dial as much as we can." Why is that, do you think?

Gee, I dunno... maybe because you're not an elected official, have no actual authority or influence, and seem completely detached from the actual reality of global warming science, let alone actual proposed global warming remedies? That's my vote, at least.

The question is is this level of warmth catastrophic. Everything else is just trivia. If in fact, as appears to be true, temps are more variable than the hockey stick indicated, and in fact many temps were high in the past than Mann contested, it is much less likely that current warming is catastrophic.

Simple being at the warming end of the spectrum right now is not nearly as disturbing as being radically out of the norm, which is what made Mann famous.

Mark, actually, I think it's pretty clear that you don't understand what the case for AGW is based on. Mann's research - which has still not been discredited, despite what you're claiming - is not, in and of itself, the sole reason to think the climate is getting warmer at a potentially catastrophic rate, and that we're the culprits. It's Mann's research in combination with other climate reconstructions, and climate modeling, and current readings on sea ice and ocean temps and sat-based atmospheric temps.

That's not to say Mann's research is not important, but killing it will not undo AGW as a theory, any more than it by itself proves AGW. No serious scientist that I'm aware of is claiming as much - if you can point to somebody who is, I'd like to see it.

And, for the record, let's be crystal clear on what the past decade most likely being the warmest of the past 1000 years actually means. It's not that these temperatures, in and of themselves, are catastrophic. It's that these temperatures are significantly higher than those of just a few decades ago, which were in turn higher than those before. And its that this sudden rise in temperatures coincides with a strong uptick in atmospheric CO2 (which wasn't even addressed by Mann, but has been addressed by other research.) It's the implication that more CO2 will cause the temperatures to rise still further, which means that by the time we hit the end of the current century, we really will be seeing catastrophic warming.

All that being the case, I suggest you ask your local friendly statistician - by all means, talk to one who's skeptical about AGW - what it means if the current decade turns out to be warmer than the last one, and the one after that warmer still. I suspect you'll see that grudgingly offered 80% probability of McShane and Wymer's paper become a whole bunch of 9s... and who knows, perhaps then you guys will be willing to start talking about cutting carbon emissions.

"Again, the fact that you'd toss these attacks around when even the slightest bit of Googling turns up fairly strong rebuttals to them speaks volumes about how committed you are to even a basic understanding of AGW."

The fact that you take the word of the AGW machine that a given study or argument is irrelevant as a 'rebuttal' says a lot about you. The fact that you ignore those entities ties to each other is just ironic. Its no exactly the Vice Presidents office evaluating the effects of the stimulus program, but its not far off either.

You have an interesting little game here- anybody that questions with the company line is defacto not an expert, hence all experts agree with the company line.

"Mann's research - which has still not been discredited, despite what you're claiming - is not, in and of itself, the sole reason to think the climate is getting warmer at a potentially catastrophic rate, and that we're the culprits. It's Mann's research in combination with other climate reconstructions, and climate modeling, and current readings on sea ice and ocean temps and sat-based atmospheric temps."

Chris, I understand that perfectly well. I also understand that when the credibility or certainty of any one of those other studies is threatened, all the other studies are pointed to as evidence that this line of inquiry is unimportant. As I said before, the plural of flawed data may equal consensus. But it does not equal evidence.

And you are underselling the importance of Mann's work. There just ISNT a great deal of other paleoclimatogy to compare it to... and science aside, Manns work had a huge political impact. That hockey stick is stuck in a lot of people's heads- politicians, activists, common folk. And its inaccurate. Does the average congressman know that Mann's method will produce hockey sticks from random data? Did that show up on the cover of Time magazine?

If we don't know conditions of the past, how can we possibly judge the implications of conditions of the present?

Moreover, and more seriously, we having a growing mound of evidence that this closely knit little group of climate scientists have been working very closely indeed to synchronize their messages. We KNOW they've conspired to destroy their emails, we KNOW theyve allowed their data to be lost or destroyed, we KNOW they rely on raw temperature data from (now) 1 data collection agency, we KNOW theyve worked hard to keep much of their work secret, we KNOW they have failed miserably to document their adjustments to raw data used in their datasets, we KNOW theyve failed to make corrections until their feet are held to the fire by the skeptics you demonize so thoroughly as uneducated muckrakers.

So you will excuse me when I don't take their word for it when they wave away criticism.

The fact that you take the word of the AGW machine that a given study or argument is irrelevant as a 'rebuttal' says a lot about you.

Actually, no, Mark, I just take a look at what's actually being said. For example, Watt claims that rising temperatures are an artifact of temp stations being poorly situated and picking up heat emissions from nearby buildings, etc. NOAA points out that this is not a statistically meaningful effect; that even if temperature trends are calculated using only the stations that Watt himself admits are properly situated, the temperature graphs are basically identical.

That's a simple argument to follow, one that's completely independent of the reality of the "AGW machine". One side is clearly right, and the other side is wrong. And at the end of the day, the fact that AGW skeptics can't just admit that and move on, but instead engage in a bunch of hand wringing about how the system is stacked against them, institutional lockout, brittle consensus, blah blah blah, says a lot about their commitment to actual science as opposed to a personal jihad to hand-wave away conclusions that they find upsetting.

Guys, you've had your shot at this. You've had a lot of shots, actually, and you'll get more in the future. But the fact that you keep missing - that's what's important in this debate. Recognize that, and let's move on.

Chris, they're not %^$&* remotely "meaningless"; if we've got a branch of science that reaches conclusions based on thousands and thousands of independent experiments, that's a wildly different level of authority than a branch of science that's built on thousands and thousands of computer models based on three sets of data.

So yeah, the "influence maps" mean a lot.

More later.

Marc

"For example, Watt claims that rising temperatures are an artifact of temp stations being poorly situated and picking up heat emissions from nearby buildings, etc. NOAA points out that this is not a statistically meaningful effect; that even if temperature trends are calculated using only the stations that Watt himself admits are properly situated, the temperature graphs are basically identical."

Chris- once again NOAA is disingenuous. Obviously Watt hasn't looked at anything LIKE 'most' of the temperature stations. His point is that in the small sample size he and others have managed to examine there are a significant number with problems. Which strongly suggests the entire field needs to be examined. Only taking into account the relatively small number Watts can look at is entirely beside the point. Either moving temp stations to airport runways is an important factor or it isn't. NOAA is smart enough to know they are obfuscating with such a backhanded response.

"One side is clearly right, and the other side is wrong"

Shut up, he explained.

Chris, they're not %^$&* remotely "meaningless"; if we've got a branch of science that reaches conclusions based on thousands and thousands of independent experiments, that's a wildly different level of authority than a branch of science that's built on thousands and thousands of computer models based on three sets of data.

And if that were the case, you might have something. But, as I keep pointing out to you over and over and over, that is not the case.

(Not that you bother reading the evidence that's right in front of you, but it's kind of hilarious watching you, say, happily point to Watt as an example of why AGW is flawed right after I've pointed to evidence showing otherwise. So by all means, please do continue with your "there's only three data sets!" routine - it's right up there with "the models have never been released!" and "the Democrats will lose big in '06!" on the AL's Greatest Blunders chart.)

So let me be more clear here: your influence maps (which you never even made!) are f&*^ing meaningless, because you clearly have no idea how climate science even works - what data there is, what it means, how it's used - let alone the skill and lack of bias to analyze how climate science is carried out, and how that compares to other branches of science.

Clear?

Mark-

Obviously Watt hasn't looked at anything LIKE 'most' of the temperature stations.

Bulls&*t.

Go to the Surface Stations home page and the first damned thing you read is:

Surfacestations project reaches 82% of the network surveyed. 1003 of 1221 stations have been examined in the USHCN network. The Google Earth map below shows current coverage.

You might also want to reexamine NOAA's response - again, they run their comparison calculations with only stations that Watt has examined and has said are properly situated. So, the answer to your question is no, it doesn't matter if the stations have been "moved to airport runways" (not that this actually happens) - even if we use only Watt's approved stations, the temperature still goes up.

That said...

Shut up, he explained.

The sterling quality of your arguments has persuaded me. Huzzah, good sir! Death to that treacherous NOAA - the next time they tell me a hurricane's coming, I'll certainly know better than to listen to those charlatans!

"Go to the Surface Stations home page and the first damned thing you read is"

OHHH, I'm sorry! I didn't realize that the UNITED STATES was representative of the WORLD. And im SURE that the foriegn stations are likely to be BETTER maintained on average than US stations. I'm sure the stations in Siberia and Uganda are in fact likely better than the US stations.

NOAA stance it that you can toss out 1148 of 1218 stations and the answer doesn't change, and the REASSURES you? That doesn't lift a giant red flag with fireworks? NOAA is claiming that tossing out 95% of their data is fine because the balance still comes up the same?

This is absurd. The US stations are on average going to be among the best maintained and they are flawed. Meanwhile there are stations in remote areas that are weighed to cover much larger areas and are certain to be even worse maintained. But NOAA says its not a problem and therefore it isnt.

OHHH, I'm sorry! I didn't realize that the UNITED STATES was representative of the WORLD. And im SURE that the foriegn stations are likely to be BETTER maintained on average than US stations. I'm sure the stations in Siberia and Uganda are in fact likely better than the US stations.

Ok, let's unpack this:

- Watt's claims, and his evidence, are about the "UNITED STATES". If he wants to critique the global temperature record, he should bloody well offer evidence that touches on global sites.

- Moreover, Watt's attacks weren't so much on poor maintanence as they were on heat island effects - that is, stations being placed near human habitation that make the temp readings come out unduly warm. The US is the most sprawled-out place on the planet; if there is a problem with civilization encroaching on previously isolated temp stations it'd be more likely to show up here, rather than in Siberia. And, as the rebuttals have shown, a warm bias does not show up here, which makes it even less likely that the bias would effect stations in other, more rural countries.

NOAA stance it that you can toss out 1148 of 1218 stations and the answer doesn't change, and the REASSURES you? That doesn't lift a giant red flag with fireworks? NOAA is claiming that tossing out 95% of their data is fine because the balance still comes up the same?

NOAA - and just about every other climate scientist and science organization - has pointed out repeatedly that the surface station network is massively overbuilt for tracking global temperatures. (This is not surprising, since the network was built for local weather forecasting and record keeping, rather thank climate monitoring.) So, yes, it's not surprising that a lot of the data can be tossed out without any loss of accuracy. Likewise, if you'd actually bother to look at the rebuttals, you'd see that, rather than a warm bias, the stations Watt identified actually have a slight net cold bias in daytime temps... but averaged out across all stations, it doesn't actually add up to that much, regardless.

That said, it's worth pointing out how your reply crosses the line from science to conspiracy (although that seems to be a pretty porous membrane for AGW skeptics). NOAA is a bunch of scientists and bureaucrats; they're too boring to be part of the vast conspiracy to destroy the American Way of Life you seem to be proposing. Moreover, they actually bothered to write up their arguments in scientific form - if what they're saying is the clear lie that you imply, why don't you guys just disprove what they're saying by writing your own paper showing how bogus their calcs are, rather than muttering about "disingenuous obfuscations"?

I have to commend you for your patience. It is Jobian.

"Watt's claims, and his evidence, are about the "UNITED STATES". If he wants to critique the global temperature record, he should bloody well offer evidence that touches on global sites."

Simple reasoning dictates that stations in less developed nations are less likely to be correctly sighted or maintained. Do you really want to argue that? Moreover if you follow Watt's site he has presented evidence from around the world of such sites as well as the impact on their temperature records.

"- Moreover, Watt's attacks weren't so much on poor maintanence as they were on heat island effects - that is, stations being placed near human habitation that make the temp readings come out unduly warm. "

That isn't really true. Sites with stations placed next to air conditioner exhaust are on the home page.

"And, as the rebuttals have shown, a warm bias does not show up here, which makes it even less likely that the bias would effect stations in other, more rural countries."

If you move your thermometer onto a concrete landing strip with jets taxiing around, it doesn't matter that the site is in rural Siberia or Chicago. Moreover, its pretty telling that NOAA is willing to wave away demonstrated problems no matter what they claim the implication is to the overall result. Garbage in, garbage out.

"NOAA - and just about every other climate scientist and science organization - has pointed out repeatedly that the surface station network is massively overbuilt for tracking global temperatures."

Well as long as they say so. How many tracking stations monitor the arctic by the way?

"So, yes, it's not surprising that a lot of the data can be tossed out without any loss of accuracy."

I'll let that speak for itself.

"Likewise, if you'd actually bother to look at the rebuttals, you'd see that, rather than a warm bias, the stations Watt identified actually have a slight net cold bias in daytime temps... but averaged out across all stations, it doesn't actually add up to that much, regardless."

By HOMOGENIZING THE DATA. In other words biasing the suspect data with the 'unsuspect' data. OF COURSE the result looked like the 'unsuspect' data. This averaging of data raises big questions in general- you put a thermometer someone to measure local temperature. If the result seems anomalous, whats the point of modifying it so it more closely adheres to its neighbors? At the end of the day is this really anything more than assuming your conclusions writ large? If NOAA believes its overbuilt, isn't the correct decision to remove the suspect data altogether and rely on raw data from stations you believe are properly sited? Why all the hand waving?

"That said, it's worth pointing out how your reply crosses the line from science to conspiracy (although that seems to be a pretty porous membrane for AGW skeptics)."

Hardly. I don't believe there is a conspiracy. I believe (as you say) there are a bunch of bureaucrats with a pretty good thing going for them that have no reason to rock the boat.

Note- all Watt and his organization have done is hold NOAA to its own standards of placement. Are you arguing that that is a bad thing? Why does climate science always seem to rely on secrecy and call on the rest of the world... including scientists of other disciplines, to rely unquestioning on the word of those on high? Is it really such a burden to do crazy things like show your work, make data available, and _your results reproducible that these guys have to run around hiding data and destroying emails?

Simple reasoning dictates that stations in less developed nations are less likely to be correctly sighted or maintained. Do you really want to argue that?

No, but I'm not actually arguing that.

Moreover if you follow Watt's site he has presented evidence from around the world of such sites as well as the impact on their temperature records.

The plural of anecdote is not "data". If Watt wants to produce the same kind of systemic survey of the entire global surface network he's done in the US, he's welcome to do so. That said, he almost certainly won't, because it would almost certainly result in the same result that his US report did.

Moreover, Watt's attacks weren't so much on poor maintanence as they were on heat island effects - that is, stations being placed near human habitation that make the temp readings come out unduly warm.

That isn't really true. Sites with stations placed next to air conditioner exhaust are on the home page.

Er, Mark, air conditioning exhaust comes out warm, not cold.

If you move your thermometer onto a concrete landing strip with jets taxiing around, it doesn't matter that the site is in rural Siberia or Chicago.

Mark, the point is that the kind of construction boom that would put a landing strip next to a runway is far more likely to have happened in the US than in Siberia. And if you look at Watt's evidence, that's primarily what's happening - not actual resiting of weather stations, but existing weather stations being encroached on by new construction. I've made this point at least two or three times now - is it really that hard to at least undertand the argument I'm making, even if you don't agree with it?

Moreover, its pretty telling that NOAA is willing to wave away demonstrated problems no matter what they claim the implication is to the overall result. Garbage in, garbage out.

Actually, I think NOAA has recognized the problem and is taking steps to correct it in the long term. But the point is that the data is NOT garbage. Ironically, Watt has essentially proven this by providing a "clean" point of comparison.

NOAA - and just about every other climate scientist and science organization - has pointed out repeatedly that the surface station network is massively overbuilt for tracking global temperatures.

Well as long as they say so. How many tracking stations monitor the arctic by the way?

It should be obvious by the fact that NOAA's a national, not global, organization, but fine, let me clarify: the US surface station network is massively overbuilt for tracking global temperatures.

"So, yes, it's not surprising that a lot of the data can be tossed out without any loss of accuracy."

I'll let that speak for itself.

Of course you will, because you're far more interested in spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the scientific process than actually understanding it.

Look, if I want to figure out the temperature in my back yard, I could put a thermometer on every square foot of the yard, average them out, and get a number that way. Or I could look at the data from one or two thermometers, and almost certainly get the exact same answer, especially if I had determined that the thermometers in question were not in weird locations, like next to an AC vent. In that case, and in the case of the US temp network, I can toss out massive amounts of data without it effecting the end results because there's so much redundancy in the readings.

Make sense?

By HOMOGENIZING THE DATA. In other words biasing the suspect data with the 'unsuspect' data. OF COURSE the result looked like the 'unsuspect' data.

No, Mark. Check page 3 of the Menne et al rebuttal I linked to above; there are graphs which show exactly what the difference is between the homogenized and non-homogenized data. Which is to say, not a whole hell of a lot.

If NOAA believes its overbuilt, isn't the correct decision to remove the suspect data altogether and rely on raw data from stations you believe are properly sited? Why all the hand waving?

For f&*ks sake, Mark... read the freaking paper. That's exactly what they've done!

Hardly. I don't believe there is a conspiracy. I believe (as you say) there are a bunch of bureaucrats with a pretty good thing going for them that have no reason to rock the boat.

Ok, so just to be clear, are you saying NOAA is or isn't part of "them"? That is, the same "them" that you were referring to in this rant:

We KNOW they've conspired to destroy their emails, we KNOW theyve allowed their data to be lost or destroyed, we KNOW they rely on raw temperature data from (now) 1 data collection agency, we KNOW theyve worked hard to keep much of their work secret, we KNOW they have failed miserably to document their adjustments to raw data used in their datasets, we KNOW theyve failed to make corrections until their feet are held to the fire by the skeptics you demonize so thoroughly as uneducated muckrakers.

For crying out loud, just unpack some of what you're saying. NOAA's job is to record, track, and forecast the weather. They get the same salary whether the temps are hot or cold, whether the climate's changing or not. Their work is still vital for farmers, maritime work, aircraft... tons of people, regardless of whether AGW is true or not. Why, exactly, would they be jeapordizing their "good thing" by making inaccurate temperature readings?

Note- all Watt and his organization have done is hold NOAA to its own standards of placement. Are you arguing that that is a bad thing?

No, Mark. I think Watt pretty clearly hates the idea of AGW and will do a lot of stuff to convince people it isn't true, up to and including spreading baseless attacks on hard-working data collectors and scientists. The problem is not that he's identified mis-sited temp stations - that's actually a good thing, all things considered. The problem is that he and his followers (e.g. you) using his work to argue that the data is fundamentally flawed, even when it's been shown that's not the case. Misinformation is what's at issue here.

Why does climate science always seem to rely on secrecy and call on the rest of the world... including scientists of other disciplines, to rely unquestioning on the word of those on high? Is it really such a burden to do crazy things like show your work, make data available, and _your results reproducible that these guys have to run around hiding data and destroying emails?

Mark, I don't know what else to say - in my arguments on this site I've pointed to dozens of repositories of data, climate model code, and papers which explicitly show their work. You're convinced - and there's clearly nothing I can do to dissuade you - that a handful of emails (which weren't even successuflly deleted!) undermine all of climate science, but it's simply a delusion that the vast, vast majority of climate science work is not out there, ready to be examined in any amount of detail. All you have to do is actually open your eyes and look.

I would start, incidentally, by actually reading through NOAA's rebuttal paper to Watt, rather than simply taking his word on the fact that it's flawed. Thanks.

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