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« Quote of the day, Nature edition | Main | The alternative Mannian oscillation »

Me at the Spectator

I have a short post up at the Spectator blog, looking at the Bengtsson affair.

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Reader Comments (17)

Well done, it's good.

May 19, 2014 at 5:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Yes, hits all the spots, very succinctly.

May 19, 2014 at 5:31 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

[Snip - Wrong thread I think]

May 19, 2014 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Well done.

The rights and wrongs of the paper’s rejection are hard to gauge since few have seen the paper. But the Bengtsson affair is only adding to the sense that something is very wrong with climatology and the way that some climatologists conduct themselves.

Their conduct will surely be worthy of study for many years to come. And hopefully that will lead to insights to help protect society from their like.

May 19, 2014 at 6:33 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I followed the link here from the Spectator. I very much agree that we need high quality climate science and that we need to avoid its politicisation. In that vein we should hope that articles are published based on their quality as science. Reading the two reviews of the paper, the overriding impression given is that this was not a good paper (describing it as simplistic and shallow doesn't sound at all positive to me). When you say there was a "political justification given for rejecting his work", you seem yourself to be politicising the case when if fact it seems just to have been a bad paper. Would you recommend publication given the damning nature of the reviews?

[BH adds: Thanks for stopping by. I was careful to note that the political justification was only one of the reasons given. I think it's fair to say that the reasons given in the first published review were pretty feeble. One was outright wrong (see post a couple of days ago on this site). I haven't really looked at the second review yet. This is not to say that the paper was good. We haven't seen it yet. I think the bigger story is the attempts to ostracise Bengtsson rather than the rejection of his paper]

May 19, 2014 at 7:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterQuarzill

Being self-defined as a Militant Moderate, or Extreme Centrist, I came to the climate change issue with no political or scientific inclination one way or the other. And frankly, my grasp of the science is tenuous at best. So I conscientiously pored over the climate blogosphere from WUWT and Bishop Hill to RealClimate and Skeptical Science, trying to develop an informed and balanced view. Ultimately, the behaviors of Gavin Schmidt, Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Peter Gleick, Dana Nuccitelli, Julia Slingo, Naomi Oreskes, James Hansen and Bob Ward have convinced me - I have become a full-fledged skeptic.

May 19, 2014 at 7:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Maloney

Quarzill: Welcome. I think Andrew was just stating the fact in saying there was a "political justification given for rejecting his work" because the first reviewer (the first published that is) did exactly that:

… actually it is harmful as it opens the door for oversimplified claims of "errors" and worse from the climate sceptics media side.

This is totally unacceptable, even if the paper should have been rejected on other grounds. That the potential reaction of ''climate sceptics" is even mentioned is a major red flag on the current culture of climatology.

May 19, 2014 at 7:26 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

Given that the BBC has failed to tackle the Bengtsson affair, sweeping it under the carpet, I think it is highly relevant that they have chosen to give maximum publicity to a spoiler story to distract from other media including the Spectator from publishing about Bengtsson. The leading comment (not mine) on the Spectator article makes this very point.

May 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

Quarzill @ 7.13pm. I like the impression that you give of just "wandered in" to this blog and that you are some kind of reasonable member of the public "reading the two reviews of the paper" new to this debate but to read these reviews and make the comments you do requires seasoned campaigning in this field.
I have also read the reviews and loved reviewer one's "the model are calculating true global means whereas the observations have limited coverage", ie models trump observation.
Reviewer two, as an aside, speculates that the "missing heat" has entered the oceans. No bias there then.
I can certainly agree that we need to avoid politicization of the climate debate - trouble is - we are 25 years too late.

May 19, 2014 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenese2

If they want to occupy the moral high ground then they need to be, well, moral.

What we do see looks to be robustly consistent with* desperation.


May 19, 2014 at 8:31 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Hello Richard, thank you for the welcome. Personally I would shy away from calling anything "unacceptable" when it is in private correspondence.

May 19, 2014 at 8:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterQuarzill

I posted the following at

The second reviewer said: “The casting of ECS in the odd units of K/(W/m**2) is completely unnecessary and not only is confusing, but makes it difficult to check some of the numerical values reported. ECS should be reported in K since it is a temperature change in response to 2xCO2 forcing.”

My recollection is that ECS, since it is a sensitivity, is correctly expressed in K/(W/m**2). (It is also widely defined as the temperature rise resulting from a doubling of CO2 seems to be more widely used, but that does not make the former definition wrong.) What the reviewer said, to me, displays a level of ignorance that is hard to credit.

(The best reference I could quickly find was IPCC 2007: “The climate sensitivity parameter (units: °C (W m–2)–1) refers to the equilibrium change in the annual mean global surface temperature following a unit change in radiative forcing.” )

Also, non-dimensionless quantities are routinely plotted on log-log plots - spectral density versus frequency, for example. Contrary to the belief of the reviewer.

May 19, 2014 at 8:43 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"The best reference I could quickly find was IPCC 2007"

That same document says, clearly

"In IPCC reports, equilibrium climate sensitivity refers to the equilibrium change in the annual mean global surface temperature following a doubling of the atmospheric equivalent carbon dioxide concentration."

The referee was perfectly right. Referees are supposed to ensure use of standard definitions.

May 19, 2014 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

The referee was perfectly right. Referees are supposed to ensure use of standard definitions.
May 19, 2014 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

If so, the reviewer could have simply said something like "the more commonly used definition of ECS as temperature change in response to doubling of CO2 would be preferable and would aid the reader" .

Talking about "odd units", and the reviewer's apparent difficulty with them, suggests that the concept of actually expressing ECS as a sensitivity is foreign to the reviewer, which does not inspire confidence in their depth of knowledge.

May 19, 2014 at 9:54 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

"The referee was perfectly right. Referees are supposed to ensure use of standard definitions."

SI units are perfectly standard.

May 20, 2014 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterNullius in Verba

"SI units are perfectly standard."
The units are SI, but they are not the units of ECS.

May 20, 2014 at 1:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterNick Stokes

Nicely crafted column, Andrew.

May 20, 2014 at 4:28 AM | Registered Commenterpottereaton

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