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Climate cuttings 61

The problem with being away from your desk for a day is that there is so much to write about when you get back, as well as a backlog of real work. Here are a few of the things I might spend time on if I had more of it.

Nigel Calder reports the latest findings of Henrik Svensmark and his team. They now have experimental support for the idea that the molecular clusters formed by cosmic rays keep growing to a size where they can become condensation nuclei - something that some people said was impossible. The findings need to be caveated though as they are submitted to a journal but not yet published.

Lubchenko and Karl have a paper in Physics Today on extreme weather events. Roger Pielke Jr is unimpressed, tweeting as follows: "Even more nonsense, an embarrassment of riches". We'll have to wait for details of his critique.

Citizen Joe Smith writes in the Huffington Post about presentation of the climate change argument, noting that the public "know that over-hasty phrases like 'the science is finished' misrepresent the work". This appears to be a toned-down version of his description of it the other day as a "tactical lie". Now I come to think of it, wasn't "the science is settled" at the core of the BBC seminar on climate he ran with Roger Harrabin?

The Columbia Journalism Review looks at Gleick's misdeeds and considers the legal implications.

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Reader Comments (30)

Another resounding victory for the "models".

Mar 2, 2012 at 9:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

They now have experimental support for the idea that the molecular clusters formed by cosmic rays keep growing

I'd be more impressed if they had a model that supported it. Experimentation is not the way to do proper science.

Mar 2, 2012 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

The Lubchenko and Karl article is dire. I can see what Pielke Jr means. It is nothing more than a full on scare story designed to, quite openly as well, plead the case for the continued funding of the NOAA. They list every single weather event of the last year in the US and attribute it to climate change. They also try to claim that the NOAA forecast most of them in one way or another too. I can only imagine that there must be rumours flying around over there that they are going to lose some of their budget. Perhaps some of our american posters can shed some light on that.

Mar 2, 2012 at 9:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterLC

I find Calder's summary most insteresting;

Scandals of a political character engulf climate physics these days, but future historians may shake their heads more sadly over scientific negligence. Isn’t it amazing that such a fundamental activity of sulphuric acid, going on over your head right now, has passed unnoticed since 1875 when cloud seeding was discovered, since 1996 when Svensmark found the link between cosmic rays and cloud cover, and since 2006 when the Danes suggested the catalytic role of electrons? Perhaps the experts were confused by the ever-present dislike of the role of the Sun in climate change.

So Svensmark and the small team in Copenhagen have had nearly all of the breakthroughs to themselves. And the chain of experimental and observational evidence is now much more secure:

Politically correct science at the end of the 19th century nearly prevented the breakthroughs in modern physics. It took over 25 years to overturn established opposition to quantum ideas. Today we are seeing that the imposition of climate orthodoxy in science is having a huge effect on scientific breakthroughs in that discipline.

Svensmark should be congratulated for upholding the scientific method in the face of an organised smear campaign by the advocates of cAGW. He deserves the plaudits that will surely come his way.

Mar 2, 2012 at 10:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The columbia Journalism Review article looks weak to me, supporters of PG may find some comfort there, but maybe the Law Review would have taken a different tack. The article conflates assuming a false identity with what Gleick did. But he actually represented himself as a real person. That is not the same thing. The article also misses the wire fraus angle. I'd take my legal advice more readily from Steve McIntyre.

Mar 2, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Quote, Joe Smith, "Not Sceptics, but Climate Dyspeptics"

A Definition:

Dyspeptics - Persons suffering from a gloomy, pessimistic, irritable and morose dispositions.

Doesn't that actually describe climate alarmists who believe we are all going to burn, drown and boil all due to human profligacy?

Honestly, where do they get people like Joe Smith from!

Mar 2, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterMac

The Columbia Journalism Review looks at Gleick's misdeeds and considers the legal implications.

Very wishy washy.

I felt much in tune with Donna Laframboise's comments pointing out that Gleick not only deceived the Heartland Institute, he deceived the bloggers he passed material to.

She asks "Where Do Gleick’s Apologists Draw the Line?..."

Mar 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

>Honestly, where do they get people like Joe Smith from!

Freudian Projection does seem to be a core of the personality defect. Just think about Glieck's fraud.

Mar 2, 2012 at 11:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterac1

this is very interesting indeed, and on the right track methinks. CAGW would be dead and buried if it weren't for the almost monolithic MSM refusing to drop the memes. read all:

28 Feb: American Thinker: Russell Cook: Fakegate Opens a Door
Fakegate may offer a similar doorway into an elaborate scheme, more complex and nefarious than mere identity theft and fabrication of false documents.
In this case, the Wall Street Journal's 2/21/12 "Not-So-Vast Conspiracy" editorial opened the door ever so slightly about an otherwise unexplored older and bigger problem surrounding the entire global warming issue. Facts not mentioned in the editorial open it further.
The name of Ross Gelbspan indirectly figures in the WSJ editorial. A 1995 Harper's article cited in the editorial was written by Ross Gelbspan. The stolen Heartland Institute documents first appeared on the internet at the enviro-activist blog site Desmogblog. Its star blogger is Ross Gelbspan.
The door opens wider with the revelation that Pacific Institute scientist Peter Gleick confessed to inappropriately acquiring the documents. A little digging reveals a still-current Pacific Institute web page dating to April 2004 titled "Science, Climate Change, and Censorship" (backup link here), where Gleick says this about skeptic climate scientist Pat Michaels: "He is one of a very small minority of nay-sayers who continue to dispute the facts and science about climate change in the face of compelling, overwhelming, and growing evidence." Farther down that page is a prominent reference to Ross Gelbspan...
Al Gore's 2006 movie prominently attempted to illustrate a parallel with old tobacco industry efforts to confuse the public about smoking hazards. In the movie's companion book, Gore cited Ross Gelbspan for proof about a "leaked coal industry memo," saying Gelbspan discovered it...

Mar 2, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

The Columbia Journalism Review also fails to note - and thus consider the implications of - the fact that Peter Gleick was in the frame well before his confession, due to his writing style being a rather characteristic match with that of the faked memo.

If HI do take legal action, Gleick is going to have to explain, in rather more convincing detail that he has to date, how he came to be in possession of the faked memo. A task this commenter suspects will be considerably more challenging for Gleick than his apologists would prefer to believe.

Mar 2, 2012 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered Commenterthe curious case of peter gleick

the curious case of peter gleick commented

The Columbia Journalism Review also fails to note - and thus consider the implications of - the fact that Peter Gleick was in the frame well before his confession, due to his writing style being a rather characteristic match with that of the faked memo.

I was amused to learn from Climate Audit that this hinges on his use of what in the UK is often called the "Oxford comma".

Mar 2, 2012 at 12:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkeptical Chymist

Re: Lubchenko&Karl, Pielke I think is objecting to their use of NOAA's "14 U.S. weather events in 2011 with over US$1B in damages", which statistic Pielke rebutted in prior columns, viz. here and here.

Briefly, although NOAA have now adjusted the damage values for inflation -- a stunning oversight in their original release -- they have not (yet) normalised for the increase in property values in the affected geographic areas. This adjustment can be estimated by accounting for increased building density and also for increased value per building (in real terms), or similar terms using population. Pielke cites this 2008 paper (on which he was lead author) as proper methodology.

Barthel and Neumayer wrote: "Climate change neither is nor should be the main concern for the insurance industry. The accumulation of wealth in disaster-prone areas is and will always remain by far the most important driver of future economic disaster damage."

Mar 2, 2012 at 1:06 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Couldn't post this at Huffpost and I rather like the lobotomy analogy, so here is what I would have suggested to Prof Smith:

Professor Smith: you write quote:
Oreskes and Conway's Merchants of Doubt shows the similarities - and links - between the tobacco and climate story. unquote

A better analogy from the sceptical POV links climate change to lobotomy -- widely accepted but poor science which even convinced the Nobel Prize committee. Your wider point about why people do not engage with the scientists who try to sell GW is simply explained: those pushing the meme tend to be either condescending, or rude, or, in one notable case, a bully, not to mention those for whom the cause is more important than veracity.

To convince me -- I like to think I am still sceptical rather than antipathetic to the theory -- then simple prediction (not projections, not forecasts that are adjusted every few years, not sudden discoveries of factors which explain why the graphs do not match reality) and a more rigorous logic will need to be deployed. 'It must be anthropogenic because we can't think of anything else' is playground reasoning and demonstrates a lack of imagination rather than knock-down demonstration. Politeness, unvarying even if icy where appropriate, would also help.

Julian Flood

Mar 2, 2012 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJulian Flood

Skeptical chymist - perhaps you also read that the ID'ing of Peter Gleick as the author of the forge memo hinged on about five other issues as well? See SM's previous posts to the Eats Shoots and Leaves..

apologies in advance if you just meant that as a quip, and therefore I am being pedantic.

Mar 2, 2012 at 1:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterconiston

@Skeptical Chymist: I was amused to learn from Climate Audit that this hinges on his use of what in the UK is often called the "Oxford comma".

Fair point, although it should be born in mind that this type highly subjective analysis was sufficient to quickly round on Gleick as a - in relative terms, given the small number of alternative candidates - potential source; which likely precipitated his confession to all but faking the memo ... the memo being, amusingly, the thing which made him the focus of suspicion.

It's also worth noting that Gleick's confession created the appearance of denying that he was the author of the faked memo but, as Author Dent has commented on this blog, it only appeared to do so and Gleick has stopped answering follow-up questions that might have clarified the issue.

Mar 2, 2012 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered Commenterthe curious case of peter gleick

As an undergraduate of Columbia College and having taken a introductory course in Journalism fifty years ago at the Columbia School of Journalism, I am totally appalled by the Columbia Journalism Review piece. How low has that great institution fallen to allow such poorly reasoned tripe to be printed in the CJR.

There are several other comments above that demonstrate this. I guess they are now training "journalists" for the Guardian.

And to take 3,000 words to say nothing up substance. Verbal masturbation.

Mar 2, 2012 at 3:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Pablo de la Sierra

The Columbia Journalism Review's idea of journalism:

"...revelations about the misleading global warming curriculum for K-12 schools..."

In fact, there is no indication in the documents that the HI curriculum is, or is intended to be, "misleading." This is blatantly false editorializing, for which CJR should apologize.

Mar 2, 2012 at 3:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

As stated above, there was no evidence to suggest that the "curriculum" was to be "misleading."

Also, the article states, without evidence, that there was a "plan to create a “global warming curriculum for K-12 schools” that would teach students—incorrectly—that “there is a major controversy over whether or not humans are changing the weather.”

If they haven't noticed a controversy, they haven't been listening!

Mar 2, 2012 at 3:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterPolitical Junkie

I suspect that a review of recent Columbia Journalism Review articles would find several that decry the behavior of reporters and editors at the Murdock papers that are now in the dock. The situational ethics are breath-taking.

Mar 2, 2012 at 5:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

Re: Columbia JournalismReview piece

That "journal" has been notorious for its politically correct hack work for a generation at least. Think of them as the Guardian with a slightly academic veneer.

Mar 2, 2012 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterSkiphil

I took my own advice and took a look at the Columbia Journalism Review ( I found several essays about the bad behavior of the Murdock press empire in the UK. They considered the behavior of Murdoch's reporters and editors to be deplorable but Peter Gleick's behavior's to be almost saintly. Their situational ethics are disgusting. It is no surprise that the press is held in low repute when the journalism schools preach that situational ethics are acceptable.

Mar 2, 2012 at 8:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterRayG

Columbia has as much credibility as Gleick, which is none. Lawyerly mumbo-jumbo with a leftward tilt that is so steep, all the toppings fall off into your lap. You are left with a bland cracker you would never eat on its own. Appetizers that cost as much as those at the CAGW Meeting should have some meat and some taste on them.

Mar 2, 2012 at 11:38 PM | Unregistered Commenterdfbaskwill

I used to be skeptical of the warmist positions but I've frankly moved even further than that: They have been shown to have lied (or whatever gloss word they might want to use for lie) so often that I will discount anything they say that isn't backed up by observed (NOT adjusted) events. Zero credibility.

Mar 3, 2012 at 5:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda Ramirez

Mac (Mar 2, 2012 at 11:01 AM)
“Honestly, where do they get people like Joe Smith from!”

From academia, which is a breeding ground for bright young things like Smith who want to break into the more exciting and better-paid world of the media, possibly by buttering up BBC executives with the help of a nice fat check from the taxpayers, via UEA.

Mar 3, 2012 at 8:43 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Dear Andrew

My latest post is relevant to a few of the comments here and elsewhere: 'Call time on climate name-calling: start talking risk politics'



Mar 3, 2012 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Smith

Joe Smith
It’s rare for climate activists like you to post on sceptic blogs in a spirit of open-mindedness. As far as I can see, the latest comments on your blog date from a year ago. Are you intending to open up a dialogue between “warmists” and “deniers”? Such a move would be most welcome.

Mar 4, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

@Geoff, @Joe Smith, I'm not sure that there is much chance of an honest and constructive dialogue coming out of all this, because behind the arguments over the science, there are two mutually incompatible world views in conflict with one another, very broadly speaking. It would be a bit like NATO and the Taliban taking tea together. I'm not holding my breath.

An acid test would be something like Solitaire Townsend's "carbon fairy" thought experiment - would you want the carbon fairy to wave her magic wand and remove all anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere but leave human nature and human societies intact (including the possibility of "business as usual" industrialisation and economic growth)? Those who push for drastic CO2 mitigation but would say no to the carbon fairy, reveal, to my mind an underlying antipathy to the modern world and a deep pessimism about all the real gains that economic growth has brought to humanity.

A case in point; there was an interview on Channel 4 News at the beginning of the year, with Paul Younger of Newcastle University and Michael Jacobs of the Grantham Research Institute. They were discussing underground coal gasification, a technology that offers the possibility of tapping "syngas" that could be used, according to Paul Younger, for electricity generation, feedstock for plastics and to produce hydrogen for fuel cells, along with the possibility of carbon capture and storage. A win-win situation, you'd think - abundant electricity and industrial productivity with (potentially) zero carbon emissions. Michael Jacobs, who had already stated flatly "Coal is not the future" and "We have to leave it the ground", had no real counter argument, other than that in places like India and China they might not be so keen on CCS.

I'm not a mind reader, but my impression is that Michael Jacobs, and many like him, would say no to the carbon fairy on general principle. They look at the rest of us and see idiot children with machine guns, to borrow Paul Ehrlich's expression. One does not reason with idiot children any more than one is likely to take tea with the Taliban - one finds ways of controlling, "othering", neutering, disempowering, silencing and shutting down debate.

Re calling time on climate name-calling, I've just listened to an interview (h/t Ian L. McQueen, commenting on Pointman's blog) on Canada's CBC (listen from 36:45):

Dr. Richard Peltier, a physics professor at the University of Toronto has just won the prestigious Herzberg Gold Medal, Canada’s highest award for science and also $1 million in funding for further research.

In the interview, he also mentions "deniers" no less than 5 times.

Mar 4, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Registered Commenteralexcull

@pat, Mar 2, 2012 at 11:46 AM, above: My thanks for linking to my article from last week.

I'm the first to admit I don't know a thing about climate science. What struck me when I first pointed out contradictions between skeptics vs IPCC assessments in my discussions with other ordinary citizens, was how my opponents could not engage in simple debate about what explained the contradictions, they instead turned to accusing the skeptics of being corrupt. To me, that was irrelevant. It is entirely plausible that a Greenpeace/WWF-funded AGW scientist could nevertheless come up with a brilliant, highly technical paper on how human-induced GHGs are driving global warming. His funding has no influence on what he wrote if he was already engaged in such studies before the funders ever learned of his existence....... unless he was paid to fabricate his findings under strict orders by his funders.

That's been the weakness of Al Gore and his media followers since the early '90s, he has literally never tried to prove 'questionable' funders of skeptics were NOT providing such money - paltry amounts, it turns out - simply because they liked what the skeptics said. Without so much as a shred of evidence that skeptics are corrupt, POOF goes any excuse the media had for ignoring/downplaying those guys for the last 17+ years.

Mar 6, 2012 at 8:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell C

Dear Geoff

I don't have a comments facility on my blog because my attention to the blog is so intermittent and I can't afford time to attend to them (which would then look rude without meaning to). Its also true that in addition to some polite and interesting exchanges some blog commenting and posting around these topics are far from being either, and I didn't want to add to the number of things that might make me miserable in the week when I don't have to!

As an academic and teacher my arguments and opinions are fairly easily publicly available, and I'm also quite regularly out and about debating questions, so I've viewed the blog as a place to put some thoughts that don't really fit into other places I write rather than a debating chamber.



Mar 7, 2012 at 7:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterJoe Smith

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