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« The economics of biofuels | Main | Introducing 'The Scythe' - Josh 213 »

30 seconds

You turn your back for 30 seconds (well, a couple of days) and all hell breaks loose. I took some time off while we had guests over Easter and in my absence the volume of material appearing across the web has been astonishing, much of it focused on the Marcott paper.

It began when Marcott et al issue a thoroughly evasive FAQ about their "scythe" paper; McIntyre responded here. Pielke Jr took a pot shot at the integrity of the climate science field and called for the paper to be corrected, along with the press release and the newspaper reports. McKitrick published an op-ed on the subject in the mainstream media. And to round it off, McIntyre accused Tamino of plagiarising his insights into the workings of the Marcott paper (although we have seen just as bad from Tamino in the past - he clearly has issues).

Climate remains a field in which you cannot relax your concentration for a moment.




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Reader Comments (124)

Amongst all the drama, discussion, debunking and derobing this study of giant easter egg on face has gone through it will stand as a test of scienfic integrity amongst our warmer friends that is to our utmost advantage. I read comments about the alarmist winning the war while we secured the battles, along with the idea that the IPCC will set the stage for political discource no matter what, and that the McIntyre plagiarism is eighter or whatever. Your all missing the big picture points, that is the little human interaction points grown stronger in number.

Whenever someone say that the science behind CAGW is clear or that the peer review process is any guarantee of sound science, you tell them about Marcott et al. If someone say that Michael Mann is a scientist to be listened too you tell them about this insident. Gavin? Marcott. Revkin? Marcott.

This might not be the end for government intervention, but it is a complete non-sense stopper and winner for any personal discussions you might have. The valid question being, if they did this, what else did they do.

Apr 2, 2013 at 11:52 PM | Unregistered Commenternormalneerw

FWIW - SMc has indicated he'll put some time into explaining the plagiarism issue to Revkin:
Since you mention your unawareness of the plagiarism issue, I'll do a separate writeup on the topic.

April 1, 2013 at 11:55 p.m.

Apr 3, 2013 at 12:48 AM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

While I am usually in complete agreement with Hillary, having read her posts at various blogs, I'm going to have to disagree with a few points she has made at 9:53 pm. I think Revkin's smooth manner caused Shakun to let down his guard and make several ridiculous claims. I think the questions were on the money and forced Shakun into defending what is essentially an indefensible paper, especially when all the initial claims are taken into account. I'm not an apologist for Revkin, but considering he works at the NYT, we could do a whole lot worse. His confusion over who did the heavy hauling on the uptick controversy is understandable given he was traveling and also writing posts on other subjects. People need to understand that his job is to write about the environment in general and not just climate. He doesn't have the luxury like many of us of going on line for hours on end and closely following each climate science debate as it arises and proceeds.

Hillary, you write: "But even though Revkin had acknowledged Steve's work, to the best of my knowledge he didn't show him the courtesy of asking for further details. I wonder why."

Steve's work is very dense and doesn't fit well in what is essentially a newspaper format. The work stands for itself. I think Revkin knows that most of what Steve writes will go over the head of the average reader. I know this to be true because it often does with me! I think we need to be satisfied with what Revkin is doing. He's being as fair as possible in his circumstances. He's not going to start writing columns that echo Marc Morano any time soon. He'd probably be fired in short order if he did.

Did you see the second part of the interview with Shakun in Revkin's initial piece on Marcott et al? If you didn't, I recommend it. Shakun turns into the interviewer and Revkin speaks for most of the ten plus minutes. I could find very little to disagree with in what he said. He's a very smart guy who's been at this for a long time. Here's the link:

Apr 3, 2013 at 2:37 AM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

Judith Curry jumps into the middle of the debate on Marcott et al with both feet. Very forceful stuff.

Apr 3, 2013 at 2:41 AM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

theduke | Apr 3, 2013 at 2:37 AM

I'm going to have to disagree with a few points [Hilary] has made at 9:53 pm.

[Striking my best Jack Benny pose] Wwwell ;-) But seriously ...

Thanks for reminding me about the second video, Duke, because I hadn't seen it and I had meant to go back and watch it. Now that I've seen it, I cannot disagree with your take on Revkin's views. Well, I wouldn't disagree, if these same views were conveyed within the context of the climate issues he chooses to cover/discuss. But, perhaps I've missed the articles in which he has done so.

That being said, however, I may need to watch the first part of his interview with Shakun a second third time (I just watched it again!); because "smooth" is not a word I would have chosen to describe Revkin's interview technique. Sympatico, accepting and unchallenging, yes. But not smooth :-) To my ear, the two of them were confirming each other's biases.

I do appreciate that everything is relative - and that global warming/climate change is not the primary focus of his blog. But whatever happened to, "if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well", eh?!

Duke, (speaking of biases!) ... ask yourself to whom does Revkin invariably turn in the course of his discussions - regardless of which side of the fence a paper might fall.

Don't know about you, but I was really offended that during l'affaire Gergis he found it necessary to confirm with Karoly the contents of an E-mail Steve McI had received from him (and posted on CA). And his ready, willing and able participation in l'affaire Gleick did him no credit whatsoever.

Not to mention the five minutes of fame he gave to that physics prof (whose name escapes me at the moment) because he is a Holocaust survivor who thinks this gives him the right to label as "deniers" those who don't share his advocacy-driven opinions regarding CAGW.

And I'm sorry, but I don't buy the argument that simply because Steve's style on his blog would (as you say) go over the head of the average reader (much of it goes over mine, too!) it's not suitable for his column. That's where he presents his "work" for review by those who do possess the wherewithal to follow and understand the points he's making.

But I have every confidence that if Revkin were to ask Steve to give his "elevator speech" on a specific part of his work (or that of a work he was critiquing) he would do so in a far more articulate and comprehensible fashion than Shakun was able to muster.

And if he thought that the issues were too complex for him to present to laypersons, in the time/space allotted, I'd be willing to bet he'd probably say, "Talk to Ross McKitrick or Andrew Montford; they're both excellent at getting to the heart of these matters - and 'translating' into language that is meaningful to the statistically-challenged."

So who does Revkin turn to for an opinion - and "expert judgment" on the statistical work - of Marcott et?! I'll let him speak for himself (as he did, in his first article):

My followup question for Mann:

Separate from the potential northern bias, are you confident that jogs similar to the one recorded in the last century (a well-instrumented century) could not be hidden in the “smear” of millenniums of proxy [indirect] temperature data? (This is where my ignorance of the strengths/weaknesses of these statistical tools forces me to rely on expert judgment.) [emphasis added -hro]

After all the water that's passed under this particular bridge, I cannot imagine that anyone would even dream of considering - let alone relying on - the "expert judgment" of Michael Mann. Unless, of course, he chose to keep his eyes wide shut:-)

So, as faint praise as it might be, I would agree that Revkin is better than most at the NYT - and indeed, he does have his moments (heck, he's even drawn favourable attention to a few comments of mine, in the past!). However, in my view, most of his actions (and choices) speak louder - and more consistently - than his words on that video.

But no argument from me on the "forceful stuff" of Judith Curry's post on Marcott et al :-)

Apr 3, 2013 at 7:10 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov


I completely agree with your above post. It seems odd that Revkin, someone who reports extensively on climate change was unaware of the issues the anti-Christ, sorry Steve McIntyre, has raised time and time again.

I would expect an average reporter to source his information from RC because that's what a lazy journalist would do. However I expect more from someone like Revkin who has been reporting in the climate for what seems like forever to be fully informed of the ins and outs of the climate war and would expect a man with limited time WOULD read climate audit as one if his main information portals etc.

For him to openly state he was unaware of the issues around Marcott is inexcusable given the detail the anti-Christ has already gone in to over.



Apr 3, 2013 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

The Met Office has given notice that it intends to respond to the relatively high level of interest shown in how it has handled the news item related to the Marcott report.

"Due to the quantity of comments that we have received in relation to this article, we have decided to invite a Met Office Climate Scientist to respond to some of these comments. Due to the Easter break we aim to publish a follow up article or video next week."

My Climate and me

[ Although in providing this updated comment they appear to have removed what they had previously said about the importance of this paper. ]

Apr 3, 2013 at 12:47 PM | Registered Commentermatthu

@ Latimer - here's a version I copied from a regular here (name not noted):

"I worked for an international company where we had project teams made up of all countries. One particular French guy thought we were ignoring him. The story went that he eventually blew his top, claiming: 'You English! You think I know fuck nothing!! Well, I show you, I know fuck all!!'


Apr 3, 2013 at 1:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavidR

Mailman - "However I expect more from someone like Revkin who has been reporting in the climate for what seems like forever to be fully informed of the ins and outs of the climate war and would expect a man with limited time WOULD read climate audit as one if his main information portals etc."

Yes, I think it is very odd especially given his self defined patch:


Recognized for creating “pioneering social media” about climate and sustainability with “worldwide readership and impact”
Blogging as a class assignment

Revkin brings his style of communicating to his students at Pace.

This fall he has launched a new graduate course called “Blogging a Better Planet.” He says his students will explore how the blogosphere and World Wide Web can, positively, “build a brand, create a collaborative globe-spanning community, challenge traditional media, or spark the kinds of innovations and relationship that could make the world a better place.” However, he also will make sure they learn “how blogs can create insular ideological bubbles, foment hatred, and spread myths and falsehoods.”

Apr 3, 2013 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I dare say Revkin's a busy guy and doesn't have time to read all the posts at every major climate blog. But, how long does it take to scan the topic headings every few days?

When someone who claims (according to nby's links) to be the bees' knees on the topic of the international climate blogosphere doesn't get an antennae twitch when McIntyre runs a series of posts with the word "Marcott" in the title - he's lazy, or he has no friends or colleagues who help him out with tips, or he's just in denial about what tends to happen when Steve runs a series of posts about a particular paper.

His explanation, like so many we hear from the Team and their allies, is simply unconvincing.

Apr 3, 2013 at 3:35 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

johanna: Not entirely in line with the facts as I remember them. Here's my picture of the chronology. Revkin was well aware that Steve had criticised Marcott, within hours of him starting to do so with Marcott Mystery #1 on 13th March, six days after Andy and others at the NYT broke the story. What he didn't do was pay really close attention to all of Steve's posts. As you say, he's a busy guy. After they'd published the Marcott 'FAQ' on 31st it was the folks at RealClimate who recommended Tamino's article to Revkin. They knew very well that Steve had been well ahead on these issues, as did Grant Foster himself. I'm sure Steve's subsequent anger was directed much more at them than at Revkin and rightly so.

The jury's out on the Dot Earth man but there have been some good signs since 7th, as well as some less good ones.

As an aside, but I think a suggestive one, note how someone called Nick at Tamino's actually thought I meant it when I wrote "You can’t do this job properly without 24/7 hate" yesterday. I do think Revkin has managed to escape from 24/7 hate. Worrying times for those that depend on such a commitment.

Apr 3, 2013 at 4:08 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

johanna - fwiw I wonder if there is a back story here? Just my view, but...

Revkin clearly knew of Steve's work on Marcott as he'd already referenced it AND referred to efforts to broker a discussion between the author's and SMc. However when the FAQ came out it was published under the RC brand and the "helpful" links supplied to Andy by RC were to Tamino's posts. The Revkin brokered author's discussion with SMc never appeared despite it being clear, from posted videos, that Revkin himself had "interview rights" with the authors. I doubt that SMc would have declined the opportunity to resolve queries with the authors so I surmise that they didn't want to go "face to face" with SMc. At some point the RC managers (Revkin's term) took over the press handling of the FAQ issue and Andy, like the team player he is, switched roles from honest broker to loyal supporter.

I think that SMc showed his annoyance with his comment re: Andy going one-sidedly with the "helpful" links to Tamino without question or attribution. It'll be interesting to see if SMc does a post for Revkin on the plagiarism issue.

Apr 3, 2013 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Richard Drake,

That is a magnificent little exchange on Tamino's blog, kudos!

Hilarious to see how readily someone can agree upon the need for alarmist "24/7 hate"..... A reminder of how so many were earnestly involved in the preparation of the "exploding deniers" video for the 10:10 campaign, with no sense of embarrassment or shame even after public reaction made the video such a liability to "The Cause".

Apr 3, 2013 at 8:34 PM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

Skip: I was worried for a moment that I might have stirred up genuine desire to 'burn Revkin bad,' whatever that might mean to these nutters - and I use that term in the nicest way possible, of course. I mulled over the reply to 'Nick' for a whole day, partly for that reason. Glad you enjoyed the final result.

Apr 3, 2013 at 9:09 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Sorry, I misunderstood Revkin's comment about "having no idea this was an issue" as referring to doubts about the Marcott paper, rather than the plagiarism issue.

There are so many cross-currents here it's getting hard to keep up.

Apologies to Revkin for that.

Apr 3, 2013 at 11:30 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

Hillary at 2:37 am: thanks for your response. It might interest you to know that I directed a few words of displeasure at Revkin today for posting a link to yet another stupid survey by a group named the Center for Climate Change Communication (read indoctrination) at George Mason University. It was a poll of Republicans, of all people, and (surprise!) it found that Republicans overwhelmingly support measures to address climate change and supported renewable sources of energy and never mind the details. Now all Republicans who don't feel that way will be able to consider themselves bone-headed reactionaries for not going with the flow. I put about as much stock in that survey as I do Lewandowsky's.

And yes, I think Revkin should give Steve as much time as he gave Shakun/Marcott et al and also allow himself to be questioned by Steve. I think it would make for a fascinating two-way interview. And yet, Revkin would suffer for offering Steve a soapbox and I'm not sure he wants to provoke those who control his fate and write his checks. It's a pretty good gig he's got there. If the paper starts getting emails complaining about him, which would surely be the result, if the NYT starts losing subscriptions because of him, he becomes vulnerable and likely expendable. Their readership is overwhelmingly and trenchantly liberal. (Steve's a liberal also, or something like, but that doesn't matter.) It's not in his interest to annoy too many of their readers with an interview with the diabolical McIntyre. Might I suggest you raise the possibility of such an interview in a post there one of these days? Do you need a subscription to post there? If you do, and don't have one, I could make the suggestion myself, because I am a subscriber.

Revkin is trying to moderate between two sides and that is vastly preferable to what Juliet Eilperin was doing at the Washington Post, although she didn't moderate a blog. She just pumped out the green propaganda.

Apr 4, 2013 at 2:54 AM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

Johanna at 11:30 pm: I'm sure he will accept.

I found Revkin's response to Steve on the issue of plagiarism by Tamino compelling because I think it revealed something about his blogging philosophy. He wrote: "As David Weinberger has written, the room is indeed smarter than anyone in the room."

He's providing the room, he's the moderator and he likes that people are coming and hashing things out. He's saying, "Okay, I'm here to learn also and I just learned something." So, in contrast to someone like Eilperin who just kept pumping out the green stuff, he's situated himself in the middle and inviting all comers. Compare that to the post-censoring habits at RealClimate, OpenMind and most of the other places where the consensualists hang out and don't want to truly engage.

It's likely Revkin is a consensualist himself, but I think he also retains his skepticism, which is really all that matters. You keep an open mind, but not the kind of OpenMind that Tamino controls. Tamino's mind is so open all his brains have fallen out.

Apr 4, 2013 at 3:28 AM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

I have long defended Andy Revin's curiosity and intellectual integrity. I blogged at DotEarth for nine months in 2008 and he was tolerant of skeptic comments, for me a novelty at warmist blogs. A few of the bitter ones called it DotKim for the free rein he allowed. In all that time, I think he only censored four comments, and as befits the finest editors I've had, they were my best.

Andy Revkin may not know it, but he is a techno-optimist, encrusted at an early age with Neo-Malthusian perspective, all but his heels. Once the alarum over catastrophe eases, and he understands better Tom Fuller's insight that CAGW is a war on the poor, then Andy will be an eloquent and influential messenger of adaptive and developmental ideas for the Human inhabitants, and for this glorious boat we've gone to sea in, er, stuck at sea on.

Apr 4, 2013 at 4:21 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Nice, Kim.

As for censoring your best comments, I've got more in the bin at ClimateAudit than I do at DotEarth. ;) Of course, compared to RealClimate and the rest of the consensualist mob blogs, those snips are minor.

But that is as it should be.

Apr 4, 2013 at 5:08 AM | Unregistered Commentertheduke

IF EM were in any way serious, he might have spotted the contribution of Raypierre on Realclimate - he being the well-funded climate alarmist scientist Ray Pierrehumbert:

I do think, however, that some of the commentary in the blogosphere regarding how unprecedented the warming of the past century looks (notably the “wheel chair” graph comparing Marcott et al with the instrumental record) risks going beyond what can really be concluded from the study. As noted in the FAQ, the time resolution of reconstruction is approximately a century. Thus, it is not quite fair to compare the reconstruction to instrumental data that is not smoothed to the same time resolution. It is conceivable that there are individual centuries in the Altithermal where the temperature rose as fast as today, and to the same extent or more, but these would not show up in a record smoothed to 100 year time resolution. I think this is very unlikely, but the paper doesn’t strictly rule out the possibility. This remark applies only to the warming of the past 100 years. Where we are going in the next century is so extreme it would show up even if smoothed down to the centennial resolution, I think.

Apr 4, 2013 at 5:44 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

"Where we are going in the next century is so extreme it would show up even if smoothed down to the centennial resolution, I think."

Hmm, that "I think" looks a bit half hearted for something so extreme.

Apr 4, 2013 at 6:16 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

@NBY I find it interesting that, in this instance, Pierrehumbert is much closer to the "sceptic" side than to the exceptionally open-minded Tamino.

Apr 5, 2013 at 6:05 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

diogenes - from my understanding of the Marcott issue I don't see how anyone who professes to be a scientist can draw any conclusions re: short term variability of historic temps. As a result I think PH is just trying to protect his reputation by not saying something patently stupid - he saves that for the future view which he knows is the realm of conjecture, and even then he can't quite say it as a definite. But maybe I ought to go and read Tamino's and have my mind opened...

Apr 5, 2013 at 7:10 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

As a ps on the journalism issues: WUWT just highlighted a new interview with Freeman Dyson:
"They’re absolutely lousy," he said of American journalists. "That’s true also in Europe. I don’t know why they’ve been brainwashed."
Perhaps an issue "honest broker" Revkin could follow up on?

Apr 5, 2013 at 7:15 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

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