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Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’ _by Professor Cliff Ollier

2012/01/28 2 comments

Infamous Soviet scientist Trofim Lysenko has become topical again after the recent WSJ “Don’t Panic (about global warming)” letter (read about it also here and here). In the interest of historical record, I am posting here the recovered text of “Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’” written some years ago by Professor Cliff Ollier and mentioned in this blog almost four years ago.

The original link does not work any longer (and the WaybackMachine hides the text for some reason). There is also a slightly different version in the Lavoisier Group website. (h/t Justin Ert)

Lysenkoism And ‘Global Warming’
by Professor Cliff Ollier

Trofim Denisovich Lysenko [Трофи́м Дени́сович Лысе́нко; pictured left] (1898 – 1976) was an insignificant agriculturalist who thought he had a new way of developing crops that would vastly increase food production in the starving Russia of Stalin. It was called ‘vernalisation’, and it included treating seeds before cultivation to affect their behaviour.

Significantly, Lysenko introduced his ideas first through politics, in which he benefited from weighty support. Some argue that his precepts had a Marxist flavour, because they asserted that biology could be modified in the way that communists wanted to control people’s behaviour. The government was anxious to increase food production and to quell disturbances among the growers, while Lysenko was an adept propagandist. He became a cult leader who impressed the peasants.

Lysenko was the head of the Soviet Lenin All Union Institute of Agricultural Sciences, and he ran the nation’s research in this field. He promised to triple or to quadruple crop yields.

He demonised conventional genetics, which again suited his masters, who believed this to be the basis behind fascist eugenics.

No Opposition Tolerated

Opposition to Lysenko was not tolerated, and was labeled ‘bourgeois’ or ‘fascist’. Lysenko used his position to denounce Mendelian geneticists as “fly-lovers and people haters”, which had serious consequences. From 1934 to 1940, with Stalin’s blessing, numerous geneticists were shot, and others exiled to Siberia. Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov [Николай Иванович Вавилов; pictured left] (1887 – 1943), for example, a truly great geneticist and biogeographer, was sent to Siberia, where he died of starvation in 1943, while Lysenko, in person, took over his role as Director of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences. Any survivor of the purge had to keep quiet. In 1948, genetics was officially labeled a ‘bourgeois pseudoscience’, and genetic research came to a halt. Krushchev also supported Lysenko, but, after his departure in 1964, the Academy of Sciences investigated the records, and a devastating critique of Lysenko was made public. The ban on genetics was finally lifted in 1965.

When Lysenko denounced Mendelian thought as reactionary and decadent, he also announced that his speech had the approval of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. The parallel for the ‘Global Warming’ movement is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IPCC, which works through national and international organisations. The IPCC claims its reports are written by 2500 scientists, but in reality they are drawn up by only about 35 people, and are effectively ‘controlled’ by an even smaller number.

Opposition to ‘Global Warming’ is often likened to ‘Holocaust Denial’. We are repeatedly told that there is no debate – hardly a scientific approach. The influence of the IPCC has spread, and it has become increasingly difficult to get research funding without being a ‘believer in Global Warming’.

A New Religion

Why would governments be persuaded to follow this idea before it was scientifically evaluated? One reason may be that there was a rising tide of what some have likened to a new religion – ‘Environmentalism’. Of course, no politician wants to be seen as ‘anti-environment’, or to lose the votes of the ‘Greens’. The ‘Greens’, for their part, are happy to follow the climate-change line because it gives them enormous political power. As a minor party or influence they hold the balance of power, and the major parties dare not offend them.

The propaganda machine of the IPCC is magnificent, with its greatest tool being the Al Gore film, An Inconvenient Truth. This still has enormous impact, although the High Court in Britain did decide it could not be shown in schools without comment because it contained major errors. I suspect that this film was the reason that the Nobel Peace Prize was given to Al Gore and to the IPCC.

Another propaganda hit was the infamous ‘Hockey Stick Graph’, purporting to show that temperature was rising at an ever-increasing rate. This has been totally discredited, but it still seems to be branded on the collective mind of politicians and the public. Much Government propaganda has been lent to support ‘Global Warming’, and major media outlets, such as the BBC in Britain, have chosen to join in on the ‘Global Warming’ side.

No Siberia

Climate change, like Lysenkoism, is much easier to understand than the complexities of real science. This appeals to the public, and also to politicians and other influential people, who can talk as if they understand it. If questioned about details, they simply refer back to the IPCC reports.

So-called ‘independent reports’ on climate change have been produced by Nicholas Stern in Britain and Ross Garnaut in Australia. Both Stern and Garnaut make it plain that they are not scientists and have based their conclusions on the IPCC reports. Yet, both continue to make public statements warning about the increasing dangers of climate change. This merely keeps their reports in the public eye, and echoes the flawed science of IPCC ‘Global Warming’.

At a lower level, without the need for evidence, everything can be blamed on ‘Global Warming’ – droughts, floods, malaria, hurricanes, and even global cooling! The IPCC rhetoric continues, although their predictions have failed to come true, just as Lysenkoism continued when the promised crop-yield increases never arrived. The IPCC forecast ever-increasing temperatures, but average global temperatures have become lower since 1998. They have now put off ‘Global Warming’ for 15 years because some other factors have intervened. The models did not predict this, but such details do not affect ‘the faithful’.

Some scientists sided with ‘Global Warming’ in the early days, and are so committed that they cannot now get off the bandwagon. Others worked for the IPCC, but resigned when they realised how their work was being used, or that real science did not support the claims that were being made. Luckily, we do not have the equivalent of Siberia to deal with these scientists.

‘The Global Warming Affair’ has already lasted over twenty years, and many administrative and scientific research centres have sprung up – most of the latter involving computer simulators. Computer simulation has a part to play in science, but it should not replace observation, hypothesis-testing, and falsification. There are now ‘Departments of Climate Change’, for which read ‘Departments of Global Warming Blamed on Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide’.

A Lesson From History: Parallels With Lysenkoism

We should not forget a basic fact, namely that the one villain of the piece – and the one that is costing billions of dollars – is anthropogenic carbon dioxide. This is the equivalent of ‘vernalisation’ in the Lysenko era.

In summary, the comparisons between Lysenkoism and ‘Global Warming’ can be rehearsed as follows:

1. Work first through political organisations;

2. Claim that the science is settled. There is nothing to debate;

3. Disregard, or deny, all the accumulating evidence that the predictions might be wrong;

4. Demonise the opposition (Mendelian geneticists; ‘Global Warming’ Deniers);

5. Victimise the opposition (execution and exile; loss of jobs or research funds, public and media humiliation);

6. Relate to a current ideology (Stalinism; Environmentalism);

7. Support a vast propaganda machine; and,

8. Create a huge bureaucracy where many people have careers dependent upon ‘the ruling concept’.

The parallel can be seen perfectly in a work by Helena Sheehan(1), who wrote of Lysenkoism:

“What went wrong was that the proper procedures for coming to terms with such complex issues were short-circuited by grasping for easy slogans and simplistic solutions and imposing them by administrative fiat.”

Lysenkoism was eventually replaced by real science. The same will happen to ‘Global Warming’, because real science will not go away. _____________

(1) Helena Sheehan, 1993. Marxism and the Philosophy of Science: A Critical History. (Humanities Press International, Inc.).

Further Reading: Paul Reiter, 2004. ‘Passion and politics cloud the climate debate.’ (Nature 431, 739, October 14, 2004|doi:10.1038/431739c).

NOTE TO ALL READERS: About Climate Or Anything Else, Don’t Let Up On The Bully

2011/12/18 2 comments

NOTE TO ALL READERS

If you see strange trackbacks on websites from “Ocasapiens” in Italian after I post a comment, there is this feckless Italian journalist whose main activity appears to be following me on Google in order to post abysmal bullying attempts at her blog.

I would feel proud of being an inspiration of anything, however if a blog is measured by the quality of its content, a blog where I am the content can’t be that good.

Live Microblogging Of Launch Event For “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism”

2011/11/15 6 comments

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of the Launch Event of the RISJ publication “Poles Apart: the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” (British Council, London, November 10, 2011):

  1. At The British Council for the launch of “Poles Apart:the International Reporting of Climate Scepticism” by J Painter
  2. Due to start at 6pm, slightly late. No @BBCRichardBlack
  3. Benny Peiser is here. I’ve said hello to chair John Lloyd, had met him years ago in Oxford
  4. Finally it starts. Delay was all the fault of video-linked @Revkin 🙂
  5. Lloyd : report is unique. Climate change important. IEA says today that door is closing
  6. Video link not perfect. Painter says he’ll be brief
  7. Painter : “summoned by science” published 1 yr ago. Found difference in skepticism.
  8. Painter: people confused about different types of skepticism.
  9. Painter keeps mentioning academic research they wanted to complement
  10. “Is climate skepticism an Anglo Saxon thing”?
  11. Two newspapers per country, left and right leaning but not in China
  12. Focus on 2007 wg1 and wg2 IPCC publication time and Copenhagen time
  13. Shows increase in skeptical voices in US and UK around Copenhagen
  14. “What explains country differences? ” interviews suggest factors
  15. Media and extramedia factors (listed in report)
  16. India – CC as a nationalistic point
  17. Brazil- very large coverage. Journalists said strong science.units in newspapers
  18. Lalaland time
  19. Climategate moved some.uk newspapers away from the others
  20. Lots more analysis for the UK – skeptical voices more in right leaning newspapers
  21. Explanatory factors -.in the report again
  22. . @Revkin frozen in time. Video still imperfect.
  23. Rebecca Nadin talks about China. She’s been there for years to work on climate change
  24. Complex diagram showing interactions in China.
  25. Says mostly discussion is not about AGW vs natural
  26. Chinese government has strong position about AGW. It’s not politically contentious
  27. Over 2200 newspapers and many social media networks
  28. Very limited debate about integrity of climate scientists and no much nimbyism
  29. Pollution concerns very high.
  30. Core group at Beijing uni and academy of sciences debating speed and severity
  31. Mentions agriculture body saying production in inner Mongolia will increase
  32. Immediately adds a however
  33. Some.skeptics depicted as nationalistic nutters
  34. Sciama; starts.with Allegre and another skeptif
  35. . @Revkin alive again
  36. They’re using Webex not Skype
  37. French revolution replacing aristocracy with meritocracy and support for science
  38. Laments lack of skepticism in France?
  39. No coal lobby in France
  40. France is very centralized so importance of State intervention high
  41. He’s explaining belief in AGW in France in purely non-scientific terms!!!
  42. Ends saying opposition to.State.may.make climate policies impossible in uk and USA
  43. Revkin : report.defines skepticism others didn’t
  44. Skepticism and support are variegated
  45. Mentions Inhofe giving floor speech saying hoax is about catastrophe of global warming
  46. USA exceptional for many reasons. More fuel consumption and many climates
  47. Public discourse always degenerates in.shouting matches
  48. Policy debates are legitimate @Revkin
  49. Bob Ward laments the GWPF – skeptic voices given opinion pieces
  50. Revkin mentions Delingpole as selective and duplicitous. Liberal opinion makers in USA stretching “but”.
  51. Lloyd : ft not into entertainment. Penchant for combat eg debating societies
  52. Tom of ecologist magazine asks about treatment of skeptics in TV media
  53. Revkin talks of study about fox news. Pretty clear which way they lean.
  54. Networks fairly “progressive” on climate change
  55. Benny Peiser : report is comprehensive and balanced. Definition of skepticism but gwpf skeptical of policy
  56. Thanks Bob ward for the hits
  57. Gwpf focus not on science rather government approach so more media coverage
  58. Revkin says Peiser is.right problem is policies leftists is USA did.disservice making AGW a single sentence
  59. World will end soon
  60. Blogger mentions criticism of NYT by Romm.
  61. Another q: science cannot settle debates
  62. Phone rings at the Revkins
  63. Part of the news.process means being wrong.some of the time Joe Romm is.never wrong – laughs
  64. Painter talks of think tanks bloggers tradition of questioning the.science
  65. Revkin : even without fuel lobby there’d be not much action
  66. Difficult to.change as.fossil fuels still.cheap -.forces of.stasis.have an easy task
  67. Left.journalism to work on fostering innovation
  68. Meeting now of climate scientists about ozone.treaty
  69. . @Revkin gone.
  70. Online media amplifying skeptical coverage?
  71. Empirical evidence of coverage online depending on generating traffic
  72. Blogospheric.pressure in France? New.phenomenon
  73. People outspoken to generate traffic? Not in France
  74. Chinese blogosphere? Environment not.global warming
  75. Water pollution more meaningful to people’s life
  76. Rapley – skeptics talk of uncertainties to prevent action. Risk assessment?
  77. Painter : haven’t looked at framing. Quantitative analysis
  78. Should understand what kind of skeptics “we’re talking about”
  79. Climategate emboldened the daily express in mentioning skeptical voices
  80. More.questions showing French reaction not as in uk
  81. Elite debate in France for.years.
  82. Steve.Jones of bbc report fame. Says typical reporting strives for balance
  83. Media.don’t understand debate in.science?
  84. Due impartialityis important according to Painter
  85. Lloyd bbc criticized for having expoused. Climate change not easy for the bbc
  86. I asked.about need for academic findings so.report isn’t much good.
  87. Another q: more people.haved moved away from extremes.
  88. Another q: media lacking about political economy of climate change
  89. Not many people talk of policy?
  90. Nadin: change in degree of skepticism yes in China. Debate on adaptation.
  91. Talks of “climate change” forcing people to.relocate
  92. Sciama: science journalist talking science. (Maybe that’s problem?)
  93. Shift in position towards warming but natural
  94. More worried about disappeared climate reporting than space given to skeptical voices
  95. Datasets are academic conclusions less so

Live Microblogging Of Cardinal George Pell’s “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change” For The GWPF

2011/10/30 2 comments

This is an ordered version of my live microblogging (Twitter – @mmorabito67) of “One Christian Perspective On Climate Change”, the GWPF Annual Lecture by the RC Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell (Oct 26, 2011) (not exactly a staunch traditionalist, apart perhaps from his views on the family), presented on the evening by Benny Peiser with:

[…] In this week’s issue of Church Times, the weekly journal of the Church of England, Peter Forster, the Bishop of Chester and one of our Trustees and who, I am happy to say, is with us tonight in the audience, wrote:

The Churches have tended to follow climate alarmism with uncritical enthusiasm, but it is now time to take stock. The moral issues surrounding climate policy, as well as the underlying scientific and economic issues, are much more complex than is usually acknowledged. It is time for the Churches to recognise this, and to lead a debate which helps our society to a more sensible set of policies.

I believe that nobody has done more to raise these awkward questions within the Catholic Church than Cardinal Pell. It is an irony of our bewildering times that it is a courageous churchman who dares to question one of our society’s most entrenched dogmas – but that is exactly what he will do tonight.

  1. Reached Cardinal Pell’s lecture some 30 minutes late Will microblog whatever is left
  2. Cardinal Pell talking of English wines and warm Greenland
  3. Room quite full, more than 100 people for sure Yes, there’s a podium and a microphone
  4. Now mentioning the globality of the medieval warm period
  5. Maya civilization collapsed during MWP
  6. Conclusions: Western world unlikely to develop further of money is spent to fight global warming
  7. “Extreme weather events are to be expected but are always unexpected”
  8. “Money should be spent to prevent vulnerability”
  9. Too often people approach climate change with assumptions not questions
  10. Need a cost benefit analysis economically and morally
  11. Any benefit apart from more money to governments via taxes and to whoever works in the AGW sector?
  12. Long applause 30 minutes of questions
  13. Q: AGW nonsense is a cult or a biz opportunity or political? Q: Roman Catholic concerns on climate change? Even Pope
  14. A: no judgment on people’s motives A substitute of religion for some $10B/y for years Not much global government
  15. A: 9 years Chairman of Caritas Australia so has seen the world and third world
  16. Speaking as individual – RC is a Church with no competence on scientific claims
  17. Cardinal Pell sees his speaking as a way of telling the truth People may disagree but he’d like to see good policies
  18. Q: oil running out, new extractions make environment worse Q: Political divergence between Australian parties?
  19. A: eventually we will run out of fossil fuels Past predictions spectacularly wrong Technology will provide alternatives
  20. No apologies for the mistreatment of anybody anywhere Some commercial developments are very rough Try minimize costs
  21. Says he has not much opinion on either Australian political parties
  22. Q: why the IPCC never cares about the advantages to the world of increased CO2? Q: theology of husbanding resources
  23. A: no mention of advantages? (Talks of Bob Carter’s book) People reluctant to admit anything contrary to previous belief
  24. A: husbanding the world for the future yes
  25. My Q: do Cardinals talk about AGW when they meet up? Q: responsible for future? Pope might disagree with Pell
  26. A: never discussed AGW among Cardinals Opinions evenly divided in a conference
  27. A: pontifical academy of science also contains differing opinions Husbandry important but what are the facts?
  28. Follow Church for morality and religion not obligated to follow the PAS on science
  29. Q: Attenborough mention of changes due to climate change Will make claim that humans are partially responsible
  30. Q: (more theology)
  31. A: Attenborough’s changes? Things have always changed We can pick and choose anything for any argument
  32. A: always look at evidence Disagreement among scientists
  33. many geologists doubt catastrophesA: too many unknown unknowns No way of computing the future of climate
  34. Q: did AGW replace Marxism? What right to keep poor nations poor by preventing use of fossil fuels?
  35. Q: AGW is taught as a fact Is that moral?
  36. A: people need a religion so there’s something in people finding comfort in AGW
  37. China very polluted and would need free press We can’t impose impossible fuel standards
  38. There’s been global warming during last 100 years but we don’t know if it’s dangerous and how much humans contribute
  39. Some Christians feel uneasy about their faith so concentrate on feminism or social psychology instead
  40. Q: (inaudible) Q: important points made Opinion on Carbon tax? How can we help poor by taxing them?
  41. A: balance and trust are based on truth Worried about unscientific words uttered by scientists
  42. A: no problem when disagreeing with other people in the Church
  43. end of session with Lord Lawson

Socrates, Or Pointing The Way For The Future Of Climate Science

2011/10/27 1 comment

Roger Pielke Jr laments the withering of climatology:

Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system

Actually, it was December 2009 when I wrote in the pages of the Spectator (UK):

This might be the most important lesson of the 1974 report on global cooling: that we need to grow up, separate climatology from fear, and recognise — much as it pains politicians and scientists — that our understanding of how climate changes remains in its infancy.

Here we are, almost two years later. For example, what do we understand about the past? Willis Eschenbach at WUWT shows it in the non-smoothed BEST reconstruction graph:

"BEST global surface temperature estimates. Gray bars show what BEST says are the 95% confidence intervals (95%CI) for each datapoint"

And what do we understand about the future? Patrick Frank in Skeptic.com’s Reading Room:

"The Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES-SPM-5) A2 projection from Figure 1 showing the physical uncertainty of the projected temperature trend when including ±10.1% cloud error (light shading), or the uncertainty in greenhouse gas forcing (dark shading). Inset: A close-up view of the first 20 years of the A2 projection and the uncertainty limits."

In other words: for the past, all we know for sure it’s that the error bars cover from -5C to +3C if we go back to 200 years ago. For the past, all we can estimate for sure it’s that error bars cover an enormous span if we move forward 100 years (even removing cloud uncertainty, still the 2100 error goes from -10C to +16C).

For all we know, Romans were conquering a world that was 50C colder than today, and oceans will boil before the XXII century. Or vice-versa.

=====

Please do not start speculating about uncertainty as a reason for doing nothing – it isn’t.

Think of science instead: what’s the way out of this cul-de-sac made up of giant error bars? How can our understanding finally leave its infancy? The way out has actually being indicated already, by a guy born in 469BC:

Socrates was wise in that he knew the he knew nothing, whereas others were unaware of their own ignorance.

If and when such a realization will become widespread, only then climate science will be able to mature away from silly manipulations, towards the approach so nicely described by Professor Sir Bernard Lovell to David Whitehouse:

One evening we unrolled the pen recorder data in a long ribbon down the corridor outside the main observing room. “Now,” he said, “look at the data. Get to know it.” His point was that before us was what the universe was saying, and that it was more important than any theory.” Data is never inconvenient. It beats theory every time.

An unexamined climate is not worth studying…

Schechtman’s Lessons

2011/10/05 5 comments

From Haaretz, from an article published a full six months before the Nobel Prize was awarded to Dan Schechtman, some climate-relevant findings. In no particular order:

  1. “Unchallengeable basic tenets” must be considered as transient in any scientific field
  2. Any scientific field that is considered “closed”, “solid”, “total” is ripe for a revolution that will still be burning decades later
  3. New discoveries are surrounded by suspicion and ridicule, accompanied by outright rationalized dismissals
  4. It doesn’t matter if you can show people your discovery. It doesn’t matter if they can replicate your discovery in their own lab. Many will still refuse to believe it. We have not moved an inch since the times of Galileo and telescope-denier Cesare Cremonini
  5. Many of them will change their mind only if the discovery is demonstrated using their old techniques
  6. Scientists-discoverers don’t keep their techniques secret
  7. Many discoveries are observed for many years, before somebody realizes there is a new discovery to be made of those observations
  8. Scientists-discoverers are worried about losing their job because of their discovery
  9. And rightly so
  10. They are even worried of being unable to find any job because of their discovery
  11. You need at least two Professors to support the article describing the discovery, before it passes so-called “peer” review
  12. The famous, influential, powerful people invited to deliver the keynote addresses at scientific conferences, they are very likely wrong on any new topic
  13. We have no idea how many Schechtman’s will forever remain unknown, because they didn’t have the luck and the guts to persevere the way Shechtman did

And now for the excerpts:

[…] Since the birth of modern crystallography in 1912, when x-rays were diffracted from a crystal for the first time, until that moment 70 years later, this branch of science had relied on an unchallengeable basic tenet […]

The scientists concluded that there can be no pentagonal symmetry in crystals, since they cannot create periodic order – as anyone who has tried to cover a bathroom floor with five-sided tiles knows. In countless observations over many decades, crystallographers indeed saw only geometric crystals, all of them possessing rotational symmetry.

But on that April day in 1982, when Shechtman looked at the pattern of points created by the crystal of the alloy he had prepared in the lab from aluminum and manganese, he saw a structure that contradicted both rules: the 10 points that appeared through the microscope attested to the existence of pentagonal symmetry; and the immediate conclusion was that the crystal did not possess a periodic structure. Shechtman had discovered a new world, in which there are solid crystals, but the known order was gone. […]

Within days, his peculiar ideas generated suspicion and ridicule, to which he would be subjected for some time […]

“I told everyone who was ready to listen that I had material with pentagonal symmetry. People just laughed at me,” […]

In the months that followed, he tried to persuade his colleagues in the lab that what they were looking at was a previously unknown crystal. But in vain. “I knew my observations were in order. I couldn’t explain the phenomenon, but I knew it was material that no one had seen before me, impossible material according to the laws of crystallography,” he says […]

One day, the administrative director of his research group approached him. “He gave a sheepish smile, placed a textbook on my desk and said, ‘Please read what’s written here.’ I told him that I taught my students from the book, but that I also knew that we’re dealing with something that exceeded the book’s understanding,” Shechtman says. The director returned 24 hours later and asked him to leave the research group, because he was “bringing disgrace” on the members. […]

the researchers at the institute were not able to check the discovery for themselves. Many of them did not know how to work with an electron microscope, which is the most appropriate tool for identifying rotational symmetries in small crystals. Moreover, he notes, “They were not really interested in dealing with it.”

Shechtman also forwarded the findings to a friend, who was about to go on a scientific tour. When the friend returned, Shechtman relates, he brought an array of off-the-wall explanations for the 10 microscopic points, gleaned from colleagues. None of them took seriously the possibility that it was a case of pentagonal symmetry. […]

only one person was ready to listen in earnest: Prof. Ilan Blech […] Shechtman now felt sufficiently confident to publish an article on the subject. Until then, he says, “I was afraid to publish alone, in case it turned out to be nonsense.” […]

Shechtman turned to the senior scientist John Cahn, who had invited him to work in the institute. Cahn initially had reservations, but afterward worked with Shechtman and proposed that they co-author an article. For the mathematical aspects he added a French crystallographer, Denis Gratias, and the three wrote an article that was a concise, refined version of the first article. They added Ilan Blech’s name as a fourth author and sent the article to Physical Review Letters, which also deals with physics. The addition of Cahn’s name turned out to be a winning move: the article appeared in November 1984, within a few weeks of its submission […]

To get researchers to believe him, Shechtman described exactly how to prepare the alloy. “There are people who keep the mode of preparation secret, but I wanted every researcher who had an appropriate laboratory to be able to prepare the material and examine it under an electron microscope within a few days,” […]

despite the success in repeating the experiment in several labs, only a few scientists accepted the thesis of pentagonal symmetry. Leading scientists rejected Shechtman’s conclusions, and towering above all of them was Linus Pauling […]

“There are tens of thousands of chemists in the United States, and Pauling was their star,” Shechtman notes. “He would open the conferences of the American Chemical Society, and quasiperiodic crystals were always his topic. I attended one of the conferences, at Stanford. Thousands of people were there, and he attacked me. He would stand on those platforms and declare, ‘Danny Shechtman is talking nonsense. There is no such thing as quasicrystals, only quasi-scientists.’ […]

In the first years following the discovery, Shechtman’s support came primarily from physicists and mathematicians. But crystallographers had a serious problem with the findings: Shechtman had used an electron microscope, whereas their main tool was the x-ray. “It’s as though a mechanical engineer were to explain to a heart surgeon how to perform an operation,” Shechtman says. “From their point of view, I was not a crystallographer, because I had used a tool they considered imprecise and illegitimate.” […]

in 1987, friends of Shechtman’s from France and Japan succeeded in growing quasi-periodic crystals large enough for x-rays to repeat and verify what he had discovered with the electron microscope: the existence of pentagonal symmetry. […]

“In the forefront of science there is not much difference between religion and science,” Shechtman says. “People harbor beliefs. That’s what happens when people believe something religiously. The argument with Linus Pauling was almost theological.” […]

As his fear of not finding employment faded, Pauling’s assaults became a compliment for Shechtman. “I realized that if it’s Pauling against Shechtman, then at some level we are equals. […]

Prof. Shlomo Ben-Abraham, one of the first Israeli scientists to support the discovery, says, “Until Danny’s discovery, we thought the subject of crystal structure was completely closed. Today, nearly 30 years later, we know we have not even scratched the surface. […]

Prof. Ron Lifshitz, a physicist from Tel Aviv University, describes Shechtman’s discovery as “a scientific revolution that is still in going on.” Science, he says, must now answer questions that were once thought to be basic and closed, such as what a crystal is, alongside new questions, such as how the nonperiodic structure influences the qualities of those materials. […]

For decades, crystallography clung to a mistaken description of the physical world, which was presented as a solid, total truth. On the other hand, that same science was able to acknowledge its mistake and refute long-held basic assumptions within a relatively short time, once the theory was shown to be inconsistent with reality. Still, it was necessary to have someone who is capable of shouldering the revolution.

Prof. Ben-Abraham explains Shechtman’s strength: “The greatness of a discoverer lies in knowing what he has discovered. People encounter things and ignore them for one reason or another. I know of four documented cases in which people found this before Danny.” However, he notes, because all the books state that pentagonal symmetry is inconsistent with periodicity of crystals, the researchers ignored what they saw. […]

Klima Süß

(comment just left at WUWT)

From the [Crownies] show’s website (my emphasis):

Richard is prosecuting a case in court, this time with a good chance of winning. But he is not happy. He has to prosecute his climate scientist hero Tim Coghburn for assault, after Coghburn punched a persistent climate denialist, James Watt. Watt is an annoying gadfly and Richard detests all he stands for. And the fiasco is made worse when Richard sees Coghburn is being represented by Richard’s old, much admired law lecturer. Richard makes a stuttering start in court, and the defence QC makes Watt look unreliable and a bit of a goose. Part of Richard wants to lose because of his environmental concerns, but part of him needs a win. Richard finally cross examines Tim Coghburn and gets to reconcile his needs. He leads Tim through a series of questions as put by James Watt and his ilk, stirring Coghburn’s anger as he airs the simple rebuttals. Eventually Tim blurts out that yes, he did hit James Watt, and it felt great. Richard has his win, Tim is fined, and Watt still comes out of it looking like an idiot.

If it were England, a trip to the defamation court would have been in order.

Anyway…a filmed story that has no connection with reality and portrays the “villain” using basic, demeaning stereotypes? Where did we see that already

Wolfgang! Wolfgang! What Have You Done?!

2011/09/05 10 comments

Here’s some commented text from paper 1 at pages 1 and 2 of issue 1 of Remote Sensing, Feb 20, 2009…yes, of course an editorial by brown-nosed Professor-with-little-to-teach Doctor-with-nowhere-to-guide-to Wolfgang Wagner, introducing the new journal with “A Better Understanding of Our Earth through Remote Sensing” (PDF):

We are so accustomed to seeing satellite pictures of the earth that it seems as if there is nothing left to be discovered. […] Yet, does this truly mean that all the secrets of the earth have now been disclosed? Can we extract all the information we need from existing earth observation data?

No we can’t. Why? Because of people like you, Wolfgang, trying to remove credibility from those that do use “existing earth observation data” and spending their time sending apologies to the ones who pretend “there is nothing left to be discovered“.

[…] we have now more open questions and needs for environmental monitoring capabilities than ever before […]

No we don’t. See above. How did you dare mention “open questions” a few months before Copenhagen?

[…] What is the mass balance of glaciers and how strongly does their melting contribute to sea level rise? Are sea surface temperatures rising and will we experience more hurricanes and tropical storms as a result of that? Can we measure subtle changes in sea surface salinity and how do they affect ocean circulation?[…]

Say what? So, in 2009 you did ask questions like a climate skeptic. Wow. Impressive.

[…] These and many more question can only be answered by combining remote sensing and geophysical modeling capabilities in a process-oriented framework.

Process-oriented, uh? As in, by establishing processes that do not depend on the whims and egos of the people involved. What a dream. Too bad it died around 30 months later, when your “framework” stopped caring about the “process“.

The scope of the new journal Remote Sensing is to publish regular research papers, reviews, letters and communications covering all aspects of the remote sensing process, from instrument design and signal processing to the retrieval of geophysical parameters and their application in geosciences. Remote sensing is understood in broad terms, encompassing a wide range of sensors that acquire data about the Earth and its environment, and other physical objects and processes […]

Now this is important. You know, following your resignation people have started saying the nastiest things about Remote Sensing, a minor journal of no interest for climate science. People who? People like the person you apologised to, dear Wolfgang.

[…] Remote sensing is a highly interdisciplinary field where electrical engineers, physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists, and surveyors meet with their colleagues from photogrammetry, GIS, and the various geosciences[…]

They meet, alright, then what? You try to ostracize some of them, uh? Do they have to listen to a recording of all RealClimate posts in Vogon language?

Is that what a meeting of minds should be about?

[…] Due to the confounding influence of other natural parameters it may for example not be possible to achieve an unambiguous interpretation of the remotely sensed data. The limited number of independent measurements may also mean that an exact solution is unattainable or at least impracticable […]

So if you KNEW all of this in Feb 2009, what made you throw it away in Sep 2011? On which date exactly did your mind lose coherence (or you evil cousin took over)?

[…] The scientific challenge is to develop retrieval algorithms that describe the physical measurement process in sufficient detail, yet be simple enough in order to allow a robust inversion of the remotely sensed signals […]

Are you sure your newly-found friend Gleick would agree? Actually, do YOU agree with that statement and if so how can you, now?

[…] My personal wish is that Remote Sensing will stimulate the exchange of scientists from around the world […]

And yet, when you have seen your wish granted you ran away. What have you done, Wolfgang? Do you realize, from yesterday onwards, each and every paper published on Remote Sensing will be greeted by a question: “What does Kevin Trenberth think about it?”.

It’ll be better and more sincere for MDPI to add a little note to every contribution: “I’m Kevin Trenberth and I approve this paper“.

——

ps in his introductory editorial, Wolfgang mentions “climate change” twice, “global carbon balance” once. Of the seven rhetorical questions he poses, six can be traced to climate change. I don’t know what one should think, but the importance of “climate change” for Wolfgang and Remote Sensing is self-evident.

Policy Lass (And The Climate Bullies) Didn’t Get It

2011/06/18 6 comments

I knew I was asking for a miracle even bigger than catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, still for a few short hours my optimist side took over and kept waiting for any signal that Policy Lass would “get it”.

“It” being the rather obvious fact that by antagonizing anybody that doesn’t adhere to their particular aspect of climate faith, by focusing on exclusivity nobody will ever be able to see approved and then implemented any policy, climate or otherwise. That applies to democracy, but also to pretty much all dictatorships apart from Burma and North Korea perhaps.

Now, considering also the fact that 19 years of international climate efforts have been even less effective than 40 years of international illegal drugs efforts, one starts to wonder

does Susan/Policy Lass/Shewonk actually care about the environment, climate change and the planet, to the point of being willing to participate to the building of effective, practical, realistic, implementable environment and climate change policies…or is she just interested to participate to a good fight?

The end result of my probing? Susan “Shewonk” didn’t get it, actually launched into a tirade of extreme pessimism regarding policy of any kind. That still doesn’t explain what she would find worthwhile in berating people that don’t totally agree with her. Also somebody (Friedman?) said pessimists are right, but it’s the optimists that can change the world. So Susan can’t change the world, and doesn’t even want to.

Another commenter “sharper00″ went a step further, and appeared to justify the aforementioned berating by the desire to tell people when their attitudes and decisions are not based on science, where “science” is whatever “sharper00″ means it is. It’s the famous strip, why don’t you come to sleep, wait, somebody’s wrong on the internet. This doesn’t strike as a particularly effective way of saving the planet either.

In a few short hours things degenerated, as usual, with the all-too-predictable actions of a pair of bullies, the aforementioned sharper00 and the notorious Dhogaza, transformed in the Climate Torquemadas, spending their Saturday by reading my contributions to Steven Goddard’s blog in the insane attempt of finding a mistake for me to admit. I’m feeling honored already.

What they found, was instead a collection of sarcastic remarks. Alas, they didn’t get that either. How many people really equate sarcasm to “joke”, I wonder. Apart from climate believers that is.

Anyway…what I find ridiculous in the extreme, beyond sarcasm even, is that those that scour the web in search of a “denier” to bully, are the same people that claim the world is going to experience a series of disasters unless something’s done pretty quickly.

It makes absolutely no sense.

Reposting anyhere my complete blog presence since January 2003 will do nothing, nothing, nothing at all wrt preventing the AGW disasters they fill their mouths and keyboard with. So why would anybody do that?

Why do they do that?

There has to be somebody out there capable of explaining themselves.

Turning All Lights On Against “Earth Hour”

2011/03/25 8 comments

Like in 2010, I will definitely not turn the lights off for “Earth Hour“. I will do the exact opposite.

Why?

Because I don’t want this to happen. And even if it will happen, still I will be the last one standing with a house full of lighting.

Earth Hour? No, thanks

"Earth Hour"? No, thanks

 

The Scientific Consensus On The Mistreatment Of Climate Uncertainties

2011/01/28 2 comments

For future reference, a collection of statements about the mistreatment of climate-related uncertainties by climate scientists.

Notably, there is not a skeptic in sight among the authors of the statements below.

  • Mike Hulme about the BBC’s recent “Science under attack” docufiction

I do not recognise [Nurse’s] claim that “climate science is reducing uncertainty all the time”. There remain intractable uncertainties about future predictions of climate change. Whilst Nurse distinguishes between uncertainty arising from incomplete understanding and that arising from irreducible stochastic uncertainty, he gives the impression that all probabilistic knowledge is of the latter kind (e.g. his quote of average rates of success for cancer treatments). In fact with climate change, most of the uncertainty about the future that is expressed in probabilistic terms (e.g. the IPCC) is Bayesian in nature. Bayesian probabilities are of a fundamentally different kind to those quoted in his example. And when defending consensus in climate science – which he clearly does – he should have explained clearly the role of Bayesian (subjective) expert knowledge in forming such consensus.

  • Lord Oxburgh, during one of the hearings by the UK Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee

Q40 Chair: So you concluded that the approach that Professor Jones had adopted was one of dealing with presentation of the data rather than an attempt to deceive?

Lord Oxburgh: Absolutely. I think when you come to the presentation of complicated scientific observations and making them available to a much wider audience, you come up against some very tough “honesty” decisions. How much do you simplify? It is the same when you are teaching undergraduates. How much do you simplify in order to get a general idea across? I, personally, think that in various publications for public consumption those who have used the CRU data and those who have used other climatic data have not helped their case by failing to illuminate the very wide uncertainty band associated with it.

Recent public discussion of climate change and summaries and popularizations of the work of CRU and others often contain over- simplifications that omit serious discussion of uncertainties emphasized by the original authors. For example, CRU publications repeatedly emphasize the discrepancy between instrumental and tree-based proxy reconstructions of temperature during the late 20th century, but presentations of this work by the IPCC and others have sometimes neglected to highlight this issue. While we find this regrettable, we could find no such fault with the peer-reviewed papers we examined

  • Lord Oxburgh’s Panel member Michael Kelly, Professor of Electronics at Cambridge

Up to and throughout this exercise, I have remained puzzled how the real humility of the scientists in this area, as evident in their papers, including all these here, and the talks I have heard them give, is morphed into statements of confidence at the 95% level for public consumption through the IPCC process. This does not happen in other subjects of equal importance to humanity, e.g. energy futures or environmental degradation or resource depletion. I can only think it is the ‘authority’ appropriated by the IPCC itself that is the root cause

On the allegation that the references in a specific e-mail to a „trick‟ and to „hide the decline‟ in respect of a 1999 WMO report figure show evidence of intent to paint a misleading picture, we find that, given its subsequent iconic significance (not least the use of a similar figure in the IPCC Third Assessment Report), the figure supplied for the WMO Report was misleading. We do not find that it is misleading to curtail reconstructions at some point per se, or to splice data, but we believe that both of these procedures should have been made plain – ideally in the figure but certainly clearly described in either the caption or the text.

Understanding requires proper statistical interpretation, i.e. to determine the confidence level associated with a statement such as “the present is likely warmer than the past”. To do this as objectively as possible would require a complex (and difficult) study to perform hypothesis testing in a mathematically rigorous way, taking proper account all of the uncertainties and their correlations. We are not aware that this has been done in the production of IPCC reports to date, but instead qualitative statements have been made based on definitions of ―likely‖, ―very likely‖ etc according to criteria laid down by the IPCC ( ̳Likely‘ means a probability greater than 66%, and ̳Very Likely‘ means a probability greater than 90%).

The best one might hope for the future of peer review is to be able to foster an environment of continuous critique of research papers before and after publication. Many writers on peer review have made such a proposal, yet no journal has been able to create the motivation or incentives among scientists to engage in permanent peer review (50-52). Some observers might worry that extending opportunities for criticism will only sustain maverick points-of-view. However, experience suggests that the best science would survive such intensified peer review, while the worst would find its deserved place at the margins of knowledge.
This process of weeding out weak research from the scientific literature can be accelerated through more formal mechanisms, such as the systematic review. A systematic approach to selecting evidence focuses on the quality of scientific methods rather than the reputations of scientists and their institutions. This more rigorous approach to gathering, appraising, and summing up the totality of available evidence has been profoundly valuable to clinical medicine. There may be useful lessons here for the IPCC. Climate sceptics and climate scientists, along with their colleagues in other scientific disciplines, would likely welcome this greater rigour and scrutiny. It would certainly promote quality and strengthen accountability to a more critical public (and media) with higher expectations of science. More importantly, intensified post as well as pre publication review would put uncertainty – its extent and boundaries – at the centre of the peer review and publication process. This new emphasis on uncertainty would limit the rhetorical power of the scientific paper (53), and offer an opportunity to make continuous but constructive public criticism of research a new norm of science.

  • The InterAcademy Council, in their Climate Change Assessment, Review of the Processes & Procedures of the IPCC

Characterizing and communicating uncertainties. IPCC’s guidance for addressing uncertainties in the Fourth Assessment Report urges authors to consider the amount of evidence and level of agreement about all conclusions and to apply subjective probabilities of confidence to conclu- sions when there was ‘high agreement, much evidence.’ However, such guidance was not always followed, as exemplified by the many statements in the Working Group II Summary for Policymakers that are assigned high confidence but are based on little evidence. Moreover, the apparent need to include statements of ‘high confidence’ (i.e., an 8 out of 10 chance of being correct) in the Summary for Policymakers led authors to make many vaguely defined statements that are difficult to refute, therefore making them of ‘high confidence.’ Such statements have little value. Scientific uncertainty is best communicated by indicating the nature, amount, and quality of studies on a particular topic, as well as the level of agreement among studies. The IPCC level-of-understanding scale provides a useful means of communicating this information.

Chapter Lead Authors should provide a traceable account of how they arrived at their ratings for level of scientific understanding and likelihood that an outcome will occur.

In addition, IPCC’s uncertainty guidance should be modified to strengthen the way in which uncertainty is addressed in upcoming assessment reports. In particular, quantitative probabilities (subjective or objective) should be assigned only to well-defined outcomes and only when there is adequate evidence in the literature and when authors have sufficient confidence in the results. Assigning probabilities to an outcome makes little sense unless researchers are confident in the underlying evidence (Risbey and Kandlikar, 2007), so use of the current likelihood scale should suffice.

Studies suggest that informal elicitation measures, especially those designed to reach consensus, lead to different assessments of probabilities than formal measures. (Protocols for conducting structured expert elicita- tions are described in Cooke and Goossens [2000].) Informal procedures often result in probability distributions that place less weight in the tails of the distribution than formal elicitation methods, possibly understating the uncertainty associated with a given outcome (Morgan et al., 2006; Zickfeld et al., 2007).
Climate change assessments | Review of the processes and procedures of the IPCC 41
Recommendation
►The likelihood scale should be stated in terms of probabilities (numbers) in addition to words to improve understanding of uncertainty.
Recommendation
► Where practical, formal expert elicitation procedures should be used to obtain subjective probabilities for key results.

According to the IPCC uncertainty guidance, quantitative scales should be used when the results are themselves quantified and when there is ‘high agreement, much evidence.’ For many of the Working Group III conclusions, this is clearly not the case.

The IPCC uncertainty guidance provides a good starting point for charac- terizing uncertainty in the assessment reports. However, the guidance was not consistently followed in the fourth assessment, leading to unnecessary errors. For example, authors reported high confidence in statements for which there is little evidence, such as the widely quoted statement that agricultural yields in Africa might decline by up to 50 percent by 2020. Moreover, the guidance was often applied to statements that are so vague they cannot be disputed. In these cases the impression was often left, incorrectly, that a substantive finding was being presented.

The Working Group II Summary for Policymakers has been criticized for various errors and for empha- sizing the negative impacts of climate change. These problems derive partly from a failure to adhere to IPCC’s uncertainty guidance for the fourth assess- ment and partly from shortcomings in the guidance itself. Authors were urged to consider the amount of evidence and level of agreement about all conclu- sions and to apply subjective probabilities of confi- dence to conclusions when there was high agree- ment and much evidence. However, authors reported high confidence in some statements for which there is little evidence. Furthermore, by making vague statements that were difficult to refute, authors were able to attach ‘high confidence’ to the statements. The Working Group II Summary for Policymakers contains many such statements that are not supported sufficiently in the literature, not put into perspective, or not expressed clearly.

(whole section: Use the appropriate level of precision to describe findings)

The quantitative scales used by Working Group I raise four additional issues: 1. It is unclear what the use of separate confidence and likelihood scales accomplishes. For example, one could have very high confidence that obtaining two sixes when rolling a pair of fair dice is extremely unlikely. But why not just say that obtaining two sixes when rolling a pair of fair dice is extremely unlikely? This suggests that the confidence scale is redundant when the likelihood scale is used, a point also made by Risbey and Kandlikar (2007).
It is well-documented in the literature that people interpret the terms ‘very unlikely,’ ‘likely’ etc. in Table 3.3 in different ways (Patt and Schrag, 2003; Budescu et al., 2009; Morgan et al., 2009). Specifically, the use of words alone may lead people to underestimate the probability of high- probability events and to overestimate the probability of low-probability events (see also Lichtenstein et al., 1978).

More consistency is called for in how IPCC Working Groups characterize uncertainty.

The extent to which results are quantified and measurement or model uncertainty is presented differs significantly across the chapters of the Working Group II report.

The extent to which results are quantified also differs in the Working Group II Summary for Policymakers and the Technical Summary. The Summary for Policymakers presents quantitative information on the extent of agreement between different physical and biological trends and trends in temperature. Conclusions about observed impacts of climate on the natural and human environments and about future impacts (Sections B and C of the Summary for Policymakers) are usually stated in qualitative terms using the confidence and likelihood scales. No additional informa- tion is presented to characterize the uncertainty in the results of individual studies or to indicate the range of estimates across studies. In contrast, the Technical Summary includes more quantitative information about uncer- tainty.

In the Committee’s view, assigning probabilities to imprecise statements is not an appropriate way to characterize uncertainty. If the confidence scale is used in this way, conclusions will likely be stated so vaguely as to make them impossible to refute, and therefore statements of ‘very high confidence’ will have little substantive value.11 More importantly, the use of probabilities to characterize uncertainty is most appropriate when applied to empirical quantities (Morgan et al., 2009)

(the whole chapter 3. IPCC’s evaluation of evidence and treatment of uncertainty)

Non-technical Comment For Curry’s Technical Thread

2011/01/19 2 comments

This comment of mine in reply to Judith Curry’s “Pierrehumbert on infrared radiation and planetary temperatures” might or might not survive the night at Climate Etc: 😎

Well, if you are wondering whether any progress in understanding of an issue like this can be made on the blogosphere you can’t leave this thread as purely technical can you?

raypierre is the perfect example of what has gone wrong between mainstream climate scientists and the rest of the world, starting from the “blogosphere”. One can be the smartest kid this side of the Virgo Supercluster of galaxies, but if in one’s mindset questions are considered as instances of lèse majesté and examples for the general public are routinely simplified in the extreme, so as to make them pointless, well, one will only be able to contribute to the hot air: because the natural reaction of most listeners will be to consider whatever one says (even the good stuff) as just a lot of vaporous grandstanding.

From this point of view, SoD‘s work should be more than highly commended.

“Stop Lord Monckton!”

Peter Gleick of “weak thought” and “let’s-pump-up-some-controversy-exactly-when-my-book-is-published” fame has surfaced again, this time in a comment to a photograph posted by Andy Revkin on Facebook, showing Lord Monckton and Brad Johnson in Cancún.

Sadly, there isn’t much positive to report this time either.

Ironically (or exactly!), Gleick’s comment is posted exactly underneath my quote from Carl Sagan, “the cure for a fallacious argument is a better argument, not the suppression of ideas“. Here’s Gleick’s:

I cannot believe that Monckton has a booth. Astounding.

And this is my reply:

Whilst I am not surprised by Peter Gleick’s comment, exactly juxtaposed to Sagan’s quote, a quick google search identifies Lord Monckton as “advisor” to CFACT.

Therefore it is incorrect to claim that Monckton “has a booth” in Cancun.

On the… other hand CFACT describes itself as “a UN credentialed NGO [that] has been sending delegations to UN conferences for many years“. So if anybody is itching for a bit of censorship and has a problem with the UN credentials system, an email or two in the direction of that glass building in Turtle Bay are in order.

We Have To Cure Ourselves From The Itch For Absolute Knowledge And Power

2010/12/02 9 comments

As I find myself repeating, AGW has been so far impossible to falsify, in the sense that nobody has any idea of what kind of observation or observations would be needed to disprove it, either as-is or in its catastrophic form.

This is no small detail, as the very existence of catastrophic AGW is used by many people in blatant violation of Cromwell’s Rule:

if a coherent Bayesian attaches a prior probability of zero to the hypothesis that the Moon is made of green cheese, then even whole armies of astronauts coming back bearing green cheese cannot convince him

How many AGWers would be able to accept the famous exhortation, “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken“? Very very few, especially among those of an activist variety. And this brings one straight back where I started for tonight’s research, a chance view (via the concept of “scientific allegiance“) of a short, emotional clip from “The Ascent of Man” by Jacob Bronowski, author of the quote that is the title of this post.

Bronowski makes a very poignant point, inviting each and every one of us to reach out to people, instead of transforming them into numbers. And what is the accusation of “denialism” but an attempt to de-humanize anybody that is not an AGW True Believer?

The world being built anybody using the term “denialism” in an AGW context ain’t pretty. Bronowski again:

There is no absolute knowledge. And those who claim it, whether they are scientists or dogmatists, open the door to tragedy. All information is imperfect. We have to treat it with humility. That is the human condition; and that is what quantum physics says. I mean that literally.

The Current State Of AGW Science

2010/11/18 34 comments

Whilst blog posts are quite visible for whomever wants to read them, very good comments are more often than not lost unless they appear near the top of the heap. One example is the following extract from note #16 written by commenter Max (“manacker”) at Harmless Sky’s BBC impartiality review post, and IMNSHO one of the best summary of the current state of AGW science:

[…] The scientific method involves four steps geared towards finding truth (with the role of models an important part of steps 2 and 3 below):

  1. Observation and description of a phenomenon or group of phenomena.
  2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena – usually in the form of a causal mechanism or a mathematical relation.
  3. Use of the hypothesis to quantitatively predict the results of new observations (or the existence of other related phenomena).
  4. Gathering of empirical evidence and/or performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments, in order to validate the hypothesis, including seeking out data to falsify the hypothesis and scientifically refuting all falsification attempts.

How has this process been followed for AGW?

  1. Warming and other symptoms have been observed. – DONE
  2. CO2 has been hypothesized to explain this warming. – DONE
  3. Models have been created based on the hypothesis and model simulations have estimated strongly positive feedbacks leading to forecasts of major future warming. – DONE
  4. The validation step has not yet been performed; in fact, the empirical data that have been recently observed have demonstrated (1) that the net overall feedbacks are likely to be neutral to negative, and (2) that our planet has not warmed recently despite increasing levels of atmospheric CO2, thereby falsifying the hypothesis that AGW is a major driver of our climate and, thus, represents a serious future threat; furthermore, these falsifications have not yet been refuted scientifically.

Until the validation step is successfully concluded, the “dangerous AGW” premise as promoted by IPCC remains an “uncorroborated hypothesis” in the scientific sense. If the above-mentioned recently observed falsifications cannot be scientifically refuted, it may even become a “falsified hypothesis”.

So the flaw of the “dangerous AGW” hypothesis is not that several scientific organizations have rejected it, it is simply that it has not yet been confirmed by empirical evidence from actual physical observation or experimentation, nor has it successfully withstood falsification attempts, i.e. it has not been validated following the “scientific method” (and has thus not yet become “reliable scientific knowledge”).

And this is a “fatal flaw” (and there certainly is no sound scientific basis for wrecking the global economy with draconian carbon taxes and caps as long as this “fatal flaw” has not been resolved using the scientific method). […]

Martin Luther, Here I Come!

2010/11/18 11 comments

The “AGW is logically impossible” list (aka Global Warming Miracles) has suddenly jumped to 52 items, doubling in size in a little less than three weeks. As commented at the Italian version of the page, I am now only 43 items away from putting a poster at the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Or perhaps I should find out where the bulletin boards are, at the University of East Anglia…

Nixon Would Still Be In Office…

2010/11/16 5 comments

…with journalists like these.

A roomful of them, not one with the courage to ask a thing to Michael Mann. If a strong press is a sign of a strong democracy, what is a weak press a sign of?

Twitter Bot Proves AGWers’ Mindless Attitude, Explains Their Vast Numbers Among The Educated Classes

2010/11/04 13 comments

And somebody is naive enough to find the whole situation “hilarious”.

In truth, if a software developer can write an automated responding machine for Twitter ready to spit out standard AGW Truths, logic indicates that people that repeat those same Truths are just as mindless and devoid of critical thinking as any computer program. As I commented at Technology Review:

My impression of this whole affair is that the joke will ultimately be on the bot’s creator. If you can be replaced by a mindless machine, what does that tell people about your reasoning skills?

If a bot can sustain your argument despite being devoid of critical thinking, what should one conclude about your own critical thinking?

Yes, there is a vast literature in favor of AGW, and one can go around fishing for whatever pro-AGW statement one could ever wish for. There is even a website cataloging everything that is supposed to be linked to AGW, and that means literally everything, and its opposite. What has that _quantity_ got to do with proper science, I will never understand.

Remember Einstein…”wieso hundert Autoren?”…

This squares out nicely with Judith Curry’s statement about having in the past felt “obligated in substituting the IPCC for my own personal judgment“. It also explains perfectly why otherwise brainy people like the Bad Astronomer consistently and unremittingly fall for the shoddiest of climate-change “science” presentations.

Just like on Skeptical Science, it’s a matter of switching off all forms of independent thought, and from the comfort of residing in the mainstream, of repeating the usual mantras with a certitude that goes far beyond the scientific. Replace cerebral activity with quantity of citations, and you’ll be onboard to. Obligated to do so, just like the average chatbot.

ps Had myself a couple of encounters with @AI_AGW. What I remember noticing, was the absolute lack of interest in moving the discussion beyond the usual statements. Just like the average AGWer…are we sure it WAS a chatbot? 😎

UPDATE: as if on cue, Phil Plait joins in, blissfully unaware that the age of the chatbots will pretty much force science writers to ask if you would like fries with that. This is my comment:

Phil is as wrong on this topic as an army of astrologers convinced of replacing vaccines with UFO-inspired homeopathy. The only thing the chatbot demonstrates is that it’s pretty easy to imitate an AGW believer, and that brains or critical thinking are not needed to believe in AGW. Actually, one does rather well without brains or critical thinking, if one wants to believe in AGW.

Suffice it to say that no moon hoax debunker, no astrology debunker, no creationism debunker ever dreamed of building anything like a chatbot…

So the end result is that from today onwards, every time I will discuss with a fervent AGW believer, one of those people that think that it is a scandal to ask any question about AGW, then I will have to wonder if I am talking to a human being or to a chatbot. And it will be very, very hard to tell. 8-)

President Vaclav Klaus At The GWPF Inaugural Annual Lecture: Quasi-live Blogging

2010/10/19 16 comments

Since I couldn’t get enough connectivity in the conference hall tonight, here are my quasi-live notes about President Václav Klaus’ Inaugural Annual GWPF Lecture at The Great Room of Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce in London (UK):

(these notes are provided as they are, with very little corrections – I will post my own reflections later)

(UPDATE: see also Reuters)

(UPDATE: full text of the lecture at the GWPF website)

Atrocious weather getting worse…is Al Gore in town, by any chance?

Around 70 people. Klaus’ book free to all attendants.

I meet Rupert Wyndham of BBC’s Complaint Procedure fame

Packing up quickly. Many are diplomats, as I have later learned.

7:07 Lawson and Klaus

Peiser starts. There is a lectern this time and a microphone. Videorecording equipment.

Klaus introduced as political leader but also an intellectual, of the classical liberalism variety: individual liberty, limited government, freedom to dissent.

“couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate speaker”

Copenhagen failure, Climategate, IPCC debacle: change in the political atmosphere.

Pres Klaus has been calling for rational and freedom-loving people to respond to the threat posed by collective environmentalist hysteria.

7:10
Klaus’ accent sounds better than mine

Special thanks to Nigel Lawson. Large range of institutions that support those that doubt current-prevailing dogma. This is not enough. Bias, carefully-organised propaganda needs to be countered with rationality.

Cites Bob Carter. The issue is not the warming, but the “dangerous human-induced warming”. Scientific debate is not about the policy. Public-policy debate has enormous implications. Governments, politicians, lobbyists search to grab more decision power for themselves.

Response to climate change can become the most costly mistake in history after Communism.

Cites McKitrick. Nobody is an expert on global warming. Too many aspects. Every body is an amateur on many if not most topics.

There are many respectable but highly-conflicting scientific takes on the subject. We must resist the attempt to shut down the debate. Real risk is to end up renouncing democracy.

Need to separate environmentalist myths from theories.

Has followed the literature. Carbon dioxide is a minor player, not primary cause of global warming. Cites Nobel-laureate: carbon dioxide across geological scales. Planetary changes don’t ask for permission.

Dangerous public policy consequences: many have concluded the current hypothesis is very weak. Not sufficiently tested. Can’t be used for policy decisions without looking at alternatives, opportunity costs, etc.

That is why he wrote the book about “green shackles”. (humor: since you’ve all got it, no need to continue speaking). Published in 16 different languages including Japanese and Arabic.

A year after publication, “Appeal to Reason” by Nigel Lawson. Klaus wrote the preface.to the Czech edition.

We are not on the winning side yet, but looking back since the launching of the AGW propaganda at the Rio Summit in 1992 and subsequent general pickup of the hypothesis, things have been improving.

Reputation of the scientific integrity of some of the most prominent researchers has been undermined, eg the Hockey Stick that was the basis of the 2001 IPCC report: pseudoscientific mindset, faulty data selection, frenzied propaganda, unscrupulous campaign, dubious statistics, etc etc (it’s a citation)

Copenhagen 2009 showed heterogeneity of views,

Three simple facts GW armies should keep in mind

1- Global mean climate does change, has changed, and will undoubtedly change

Over last 10k years, climate has been much the same and average temperature has not changed. Long-term, slight cooling.
GW armies are presenting a few decades as a threat to the planet to respond to with a wholesale change of our lifestyles.

Why are they so successful? Doctrines usually take much longer. Specifics of our time? Constanlty online? Religions less attractive? Desire to refill the emptiness with a new noble cause, saving the planet?

Environmentalists discovered some “more noble” than our down-to-earth lives. Can’t be accepted by somebody that lived under “noble” communism.

2- Medium-term timescales, 150 years (joke about Keynes), temperatures have shown a warming.

This is since the Northern Hemisphere emerged from the LIA two centuries ago. Trend was repeatedly interrupted.

Warming is modest and everything suggests future warming and consequences are not a cause for concern and something to battle against.

3- CO2 in atmosphere sometimes precedes, sometimes follows temp increases. Not fully understood.

No need to dispute those facts. Dispute is when people claim the coincidence in time is a “proof” of AGW. This is the current doctrine. This has existed for centuries, always with nature as the “starting point” to go back to. People are considered a foreign element. But it makes no sense to speak of a world without people, because there would be nobody to speak to (laughter).

Mentions his studies of econometric modelling. No conclusion can be based on correlation of two or more time sequences. So simple correlations do not exist.

Eg CO2 emissions did not start to grow visibly until 1940s. Temperatures at times moved in the opposite way of CO2.

Statistical analysis doesn’t demonstrate anything. Two Chinese scientists used random walk model for global temp variations. Result shows the model perfectly fits the data. No need to add human effects. No other model has given a btter fit.

There are other aspects of the doctrine, not just the simple relationship between temps and CO2. Another is the idea that increasing temperatures will be detrimental to the planet.

Many environmentalists don’t want to save man, but nature. Economics for them is irrelevant. For example the Stern review and its unreasonably low discount rate (that was what prompted Klaus to join the debate). The choice of discount rate is critical (cites Lawson). High discount rate=little meaning in any intervention.

We should use the market rate, as it is the “opportunity cost” of climate mitigation. Stern and others do not want to do that.

Klaus doesn’t deny increasing temps will see losers and winners. Even if overall is going to be detrimental, with proper discount rates the consequences are too small to worry about.

Why do many people think differently? Many have invested too much in GW alarmism. Fear of losing out on the political and professional side. Biz people hoped to make a fortune and are not ready to write it off. There is a coalition of powerful special interests endangering us. (hence the subtitle of his book.

We need to stand up against all attempts to undermine our democratic society.

We need to be prepared to all kinds of future climate changes but never accept to lose our freedom

ends at 19″43

room is packed. >100

there is a video being taken

Peter Glover: Arctic forum. No engagement at all on the two sides. The “other side” never seems to have thought things through logically.

Klaus: Many scientists are engaged Journalist in The Times keeps receiving articles and books about the dogma. The fact that the other side doesn’t listen is not new to people that lived under Communism.

Q: Roll back the ETS in Europe?

Klaus: Cap-and-trade is one of the policy measures in the hands of the environmentalists. It’s not just the USA staying away from it. But the EU is post-democratic (laughter)

Hartwell (metallurgic engineer): Presentation is political. Royal Society published paper on climate change. Many scientists there are seriously interested. We should manage the risk of future rises in temperatures

Klaus: Not impressed by science established by committee or vote. Remember nobody is an expert in GW. Another quote from Bob Carter: wide range of disciplines among “climate” scientists. Most alarm from scientists from meteor and computer modelling. Geologists see no cause for alarm.

(argument ad providentiam)

Klaus says he has used computer models too. Computer modellers are not climatologists.

Q: Ecological modernisation used by many groups to look for environmental problems to push for technology. Amount of money in the academic community is very strong. WG-III is real push for IPCC.

Klaus: can’t understand sustainable development. Environment should be differentiated from GW.

Physicist: Comment on RS. Previous head didn’t’ give space to “deniers”. current document requires further revision. Draft Copenhagen agreement deals with putting together a world government (57? 58?). Why didn’t you use that?

Klaus: Only retirees dare write against AGW. COP-15 was so confused there was no point to go there. Details impossible to follow and not relevant. Documents have no writers and no readers

Q: Bloggers have changed the nature of the debate

Lawson: Yes. Extremely-expensive decisions should not be taken without a proper debate and there hasn’t been one. The RS has been obliged to move a little bit, not much, but more than nothing. Even the BBC says dissenting voice ought to be heard.

My questions

What would convince Pres Klaus that there is something to worry about? What would he choose, climate disruption or liberty?

Klaus: Empirical evidence is what is needed. Starting point still remains. Quality of measurements for example is important. Models are not convincing, too many mistakes in the methodologies, statistics, I am not convinced

Philosopher: The psychological side. Green lobbyists want to have cars and dirty industries banned. They found the scientific reason in AGW. Political agenda feeds on fear.

Klaus: One reason for scaring us disproved, another one pops up. My interests at the beginning of the 1970a. Could get only economical reviews and scientific publications. Couldn’t understand Club of Rome and Limits to Growth. That’s total nonsense. Same computer modellers of LtG continued with AGW. Same people.

Q: AGWers are organised by somebody?
Piers Corbyn: Prepare for extreme events…ask the UN to do that?

Klaus: Anybody controlling? People that have outlived communism are oversensitive regarding the issue of getting controlled

Q: Oxford Union debate, victory. Other side went for ad-homs. Wind farms are completely useless and evidence is transparent. How do rational politicians live with that knowledge?

Klaus`; Times journo asked if other leading politicians are against AGW? Many have similar views but are afraid to say it openly. Anecdote. Some nonsense is very evident. Solar energy during the night. Wind farm generation by electrical motors.

Lawson concludes. Mentions Klaus’ bravery as he is still in office.

end at 20:29

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Is This The Face Of Evil At The BBC?

2010/10/11 1 comment

 

He Who Questions Science

He Who Questions Science

 

Mukul Devichand…try to remember this name (well, it helps if you’re Indian, Welsh, or both)…why? Because Mr Devichand’s “The Spirit Level: the theory of everything?” programme on Radio4 tonight has surely been the most shocking BBC documentary since Oct 18, 1922.

You see, Mukul “Scourge of Science” Devichand HAS QUESTIONED A COUPLE OF SCIENTISTS’ THEORY.

The shock! The horror!

Yes, you’ve read it correctly. Rather than recording the usual regurgitated press release in order to reaffirm how any scientist that happens to be near a microphone is always right and always will be, Mr Devichand has done his job, what should be the normal job for every self-respecting journalist at the BBC and elsewhere: he has put forward interesting, probing, challenging questions to the scientists at hand, making sure the listeners understood the limits of the proposed theory, and going as far as to suggest some of the criticisms could be warranted.

Have you ever heard of a more evil person? (yes, I have)

The programme had no qualms in discussing the policy implications of the proposed theory, and didn’t try to paint opponents as anti-Science people. Finally, there was an open admission that (esp. in matters of public policy) things will always be interpreted according to one’s “heart”.

Is this an example of things to come? I HEREBY EXPRESS MY SUPPORT FOR THE PROMOTION OF MR MUKUL DEVICHAND AS BBC CLIMATE NEWS SUPREMO.

If only.

Just think, how many Jos Abbesses are out there, lurking in wait of another chance to metaphorically beat a BBC employee to submission at the first sign of doubt

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