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« Celebrity greens inflagrante | Main | The Yeomen's report »
Thursday
May222014

Bengtsson speaks

Swedish website Uppsalainitiativet has managed to get a guest post from Lennart Bengtsson in which he examines the recent furore over his brief involvement with GWPF and explains his views on climate science.

What is perhaps most worrying is the increased tendency of pseudo-science in climate research. This is revealed through the bias in publication records towards only reporting results that support one climate hypothesis, while refraining from publishing results that deviate. Even extremely cold weather, as this year’s winter in north Eastern USA and Canada, is regarded as a consequence of the greenhouse effect.

Were Karl Popper alive today we would certainly have met with fierce critique of this behavior. It is also demonstrated in journals’ reluctance to address issues contradicting simplified climate assessments, such as the long period during the last 17 years with insignificant or no warming over the oceans, and the increase in sea-ice cover around the Antarctic. My colleagues and I have been met with scant understanding when trying to point out that observations indicate lower climate sensitivity than model calculations indicate. Such behavior may not even be intentional but rather attributed to an effect that my colleague Hans von Storch calls a social construct.

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Reader Comments (47)

Lennart Bengtsson is a rare entity - an honest and intelligent climate scientist

May 22, 2014 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

"social construct"

Definition: a social mechanism, phenomenon, or category created and developed by society; a perception of an individual, group, or idea that is 'constructed' through cultural or social practice

How very polite!

May 22, 2014 at 9:01 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Swedish, not Finnish

[Thanks. Fixed]

May 22, 2014 at 9:10 AM | Unregistered Commenteranonymous

It's interesting that he offers *no evidence whatsoever* for the statements that you've highlighted.

May 22, 2014 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug McNeall

This item at WUWT has been pushed down the page by the posting rate there but I think it is worth reading, as is anything by rgbatduke

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/05/21/is-the-climate-computable/

It strongly implies that the CS in GCMs is pretty much hard-wired in. Is RGB right? (Or has rhoda misunderstood?)

May 22, 2014 at 9:16 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

Hey, it's Drive-by Doug. Why should he offer any evidence when you only want to find something wrong with it?

Now, is the CS hard-wired in?

May 22, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

An excellent defence. I was particularly interested in these three sentences:

My colleague in Hamburg, Guy Brasseur, told me the other day that an insignificant change on about 70 km height in a climate model’s mesosphere, made the weather systems relocate from north Germany to the Alps, consequently with radical regional climate change as a result.
Just think about that one for a minute. It effectively renders all climate model projections/predictions/wild guesses meaningless.
Apart from a possible increase in precipitation and a possible intensification of tropical hurricanes that has not yet been detected, there are no indications of extreme weather in the model simulations, and even less so in current observations.
This is probably the worst heresy of the lot as far as the politicians and the activists are concerned since it gives the lie to the major justification for Hencken's aphorism that "the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
As Daniel Boorstin put it: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”.
And as Donald Rumsfeld put it: "There are known knowns ..."

May 22, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Doug - congratulations for commenting from a different planet

May 22, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"It's interesting that he offers *no evidence whatsoever* for the statements "

Yes a little like Julia Slingo!

May 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Mike - it's well known that a minute change in cloud cover could explain all changes observed in a place like Germany

May 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"Bengtsson had to be destroyed. Not only was he opening up a dialogue with the climate skeptics, which meant he was straying away from the teachings of the one true church, but he’d also called into serious question the ability of the computer models to generate credible climate predictions."

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/the-age-of-unenlightenment/

Pointman

May 22, 2014 at 9:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

"It's interesting that he offers *no evidence whatsoever* for the statements "

The evidence in the original story was that he had experienced a [low CO2-sensitivity] paper being rejected as "harmful" by a reviewer.

May 22, 2014 at 9:58 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

What Hans von Storch calls a social construct was described by Thomas Kuhn in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Naomi Oreskes applied some of Kuhn's ideas to the evolution of the theory of plate tectonics in her book The Rejection of Continental Drift: Theory and Method in American Earth Science.

Sadly, Ms. Oreskes has applied Kuhn's theories to legitimate the role of "normal science" in suppression of challenges to the new scientific orthodoxy: catastrophic man-made climate warming.

From being a description of the history and sociology of science Kuhnism has become a prescription of science by fiat of whoever can manage to occupy a position of authority.

Kuhnism as history is enlightening. Kuhnism as prescription contains within it the seeds of Lysenkoism.

May 22, 2014 at 10:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterFred Colbourne

Requests for additional evidence in this case are supremely offensive for any intellect to make and to receive. How many climategates do we need? And how many Wagners, the only editor to resign for a paper that hasn't, cannot and should not be retracted? Do we have to repeat the story of von Storch's experiences, or seeing yet more Tols being hounded by and via PR for inconsequential changes to their papers?

Do we need more Currys to be publicly called trolls? Do we? Any climate scientist who does, he/she explains the fascist state of their science, I mean, the social construct they are happy inhabiting.

May 22, 2014 at 10:11 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Doug McNeall: "It's interesting that he offers *no evidence whatsoever* for the statements that you've highlighted."

Doug, do you accept that this particular highlighted statement is true?

"Even extremely cold weather, as this year’s winter in north Eastern USA and Canada, is regarded as a consequence of the greenhouse effect."

And where is the evidence for it?

Here: https://uk.news.yahoo.com/weather-climate-change-39-blame-39-storms-094607277.html#ViUidGi :

"Dame Julia Slingo said there was not yet "definitive proof" but that "all the evidence" pointed to a role for the phenomenon [climate change]....

The Met Office's latest analysis finds that persistent rainfall over Indonesia and the tropical West Pacific triggered the weather system that has sent wave after wave of storms across the Atlantic to the UK.
It says: "The severe weather in the UK coincided with exceptionally cold weather in Canada and the USA.
"These extreme weather events on both sides of the Atlantic were linked to a persistent pattern of perturbations to the jet stream over the Pacific Ocean and North America....

"Of course, as yet there can be no definitive answer on the particular events that we have seen this winter, but if we look at the broader base of evidence then we see things that support the premise that climate change has been making a contribution."

May 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM | Unregistered Commentersam

Fred Colbourne

You are right that Kuhn's distinction between "normal science" (working within a paradigm) and revolutionary science was not intended to be prescriptive. The fact that the bulk of scientific investigation is done without challenging the fundamental tenets of the ruling paradigm does not legitimate that approach - Kuhn calls this science as "puzzle solving", a far cry from Popper's normative "Conjectures and Refutations". Nevertheless, the seeds of scientific irrationalism are in Kuhn because of his thesis of "incommensurability" according to which, amongst other things, there can never be adequate rational grounds for prefering one "paradigm" to another.

May 22, 2014 at 10:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

And where is the evidence that supports your allegation of lack of evidence, Doug McNeall?

May 22, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

A little off topic, but it shows how the social construct is distorting the public square:
"The Antarctic Ice Sheet is projected to remain too cold for widespread surface melting, and to receive increased snowfall, leading to a gain of ice. Loss of ice from the ice sheet could occur through increased ice discharge into the ocean following weakening of ice shelves by melting at the base or on the surface. In current models, the net projected contribution to sea level rise is NEGATIVE for coming centuries, but it is possible that acceleration of ice discharge could become dominant, causing a net positive contribution. Owing to limited understanding of the relevant ice flow processes, there is presently no consensus on the long-term future of the ice sheet or its contribution to sea level rise.”
(Climate Change 2007: Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis AR4)"

Where were the high profile public discussions of this? And note that our media and opinion leaders have had about seven years to discuss it.
Instead, Antarctica gaining mass is ignored. But a dubious and rehashed report based on a minor portion of Antarctica is world wide news.
As to Doug and his inability to keep up with current events, you might want to keep up with current events a bit more.

May 22, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hunter - let's also not forget how skill-less regional models have been used a few days ago to prop up the policies of the current White House resident despite the fact that 100% of the scientists and 100% of anybody who knows anything about climate models agree that regional models possess no skill whatsoever.

The acquiescent silence from 100% of the community is actually remarkably talkative.

May 22, 2014 at 11:01 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos

"What is perhaps most worrying is the increased tendency of pseudo-science in climate research."

When this is the view of a scientist of his experience, policymakers and fund providers should take notice.

May 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

The personal nastiness of some of his "colleagues" seems to have surprised Professor Bengtsson. If so, it is hard to understand why that came as a surprise to him,

May 22, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

The whole thing is worth a read. This bit caught my attention:

"The low-point is probably having been labeled “world criminal” by a representative of the English wind power-industry."

May 22, 2014 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

@Schrodinger's Cat: what do expect after 30 years of indoctrination in fake fizzicks!

May 22, 2014 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

Wow. Those are excommunication-level words...I'm confused.

If the good professor was so cowed by the outrage over joining the GWPF, why poke the tiger this hard this soon???

My best guess is that becoming a heretic is a process not a singular event. Other ideas? If this is right, I would for the professor to join the GWPF eventually.

James

May 22, 2014 at 12:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames

The dishonesty of the established climate scientists is really disgraceful. Why on earth should they not accept the likelihood of climate sensitivity being too large? Where is the science in wishing for catastrophic climate change?

May 22, 2014 at 12:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

Bengtsson's latest statement is a severe indictment of the 'consensus' science, the Alarmists have scored a massive own-goal over this by painting him into a corner.

Obviously Bengtsson is the climate topic du jour, and I've just written my own post on the topic: http://jonathanabbott99.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/scientists-one-by-one/

My basic point is that enough scientists like Bengtsson have to stand up and be counted, to create a critical mass of anti-IPCC scientists that politicians can then latch onto. Without enough 'official' science to back them up they will never fully turn off the Green funding taps. I wonder who will be next to go 'over the top'?

May 22, 2014 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

Good questions, Peter Stroud! Can it be that there is just too much enjoyment of a 'crisis'? Too much excitement to resist joining in or tagging along, reinforced in some cases by a sense that it is all somewhat helpful for the political views they hold or feel they ought to hold? In that sense, the deadbeats who turn up at demos such as the Occupy ones, or the anti-fracking ones, share the same mentality.

May 22, 2014 at 1:08 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

The mob attack on Bengtsson was the action of those who have come to control Climate Alchemy to grab the Cargo Cult grants. It's the behaviour of organised crime, a science Mafia. They are aided and abetted in this by the Politicians fronting the carbon traders and the renewables' Mafia.

May 22, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpartacusisfree

... it's well known that a minute change in cloud cover could explain all changes observed in a place like Germany
May 22, 2014 at 9:21 AM | Registered Commenteromnologos
Yes, but known by whom, precisely? Certainly not by my long-term friend, the Man on the Clapham Omnibus. He certainly does not understand or pretend to understand that minute cloud changes can have major effects on climate. And the climate science community does not explain this to him because doing so throws their models into disarray. If this statement of Bengtsson's was well-known and its implications well-understood climatology as we know it would fall apart,

Peter Stroud
I have been asking this question for years and no-one has ever given me a sane answer. When I go to the doctor with symptoms that could be a stomach ulcer and he tells me that it's only indigestion my immediate reaction is not to tell him he's wrong or that it might "turn into" a stomach ulcer or worse in the next month/year/decade. If I have reason still to be concerned I may ask for a second opinion but presented with reasonable evidence that he is right and I am wrong I will at least be inclined to consider that possibility.
In climate science it appears that everything is a stomach ulcer or worse either now or in the future because the models say it must be and to suggest that the evidence points in a different direction is anathema. I don't call that science, I'm afraid.

May 22, 2014 at 1:27 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Courtillot's 2010 EIKE's speech is a keeper and should provide him for a senior position in a world class institute , once
the -thieving- Champagne Chossulists have CLEARED THE DECK,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG_7zK8ODGA

he mentions it all: the obstructionism, the leftist infiltration, the warmish bias the warmish hype, the fact that obsessing over warmism means NOT obsessing over more urgent problems (I know Connie and Lurch do not care)

May 22, 2014 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterbalthasard

His point about chaos is a good one. It obviously applies to weather forecasts, but at first I thought he might be wrong that it applies to climate, thinking about the turbulent flow of fluid in a pipe. The flow at a particular point could not be predicted, but you would be confident about predicting some overall things like flow rate and average temperature.

But then up pops our old friends El Nino and ice ages, both clearly non-linear processes which affect global temperature.

So nice to read some proper climate science, rather than the CO2-thermostat stuff.

May 22, 2014 at 2:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

Where I see the difference between Bengtsson and McNeall is that Bengtsson looks out from his windows and sees that the climate is not as the 'warmists' would have; while McNeall looks into his 'Windows' and sees that the climate is how it has been programmed (to satisfy his political masters).

May 22, 2014 at 2:41 PM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

The problem with Lennart Bengtsson is that he was responsible for the production of the best weather models.
He knows what he is talking about when he says that climate models are junk.

May 22, 2014 at 2:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Silver

"My colleagues and I have been met with scant understanding when trying to point out that observations indicate lower climate sensitivity than model calculations indicate. Such behavior may not even be intentional but rather attributed to an effect that my colleague Hans von Storch calls a social construct."

Let us not forget that the "first reviewer" who did not want to give ammunition to "deniers" also stated that using data to criticize models is an error. The "first reviewer" seemed astonished that anyone would think that data are relevant to models. I predict that we are in for a more aggressive defense of models. I think they are going to claim that there is a consensus about the models. In other words, the same brazen approach that is found in "the science is settled." "Deniers" will become "Village Deniers."

May 22, 2014 at 2:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheo Goodwin

balthasard on May 22, 2014 at 1:51 PM

"Courtillot's 2010 EIKE's speech is a keeper and should provide him for a senior position in a world class institute , once
the -thieving- Champagne Chossulists have CLEARED THE DECK,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IG_7zK8ODGA

he mentions it all: the obstructionism, the leftist infiltration, the warmish bias the warmish hype, the fact that obsessing over warmism means NOT obsessing over more urgent problems (I know Connie and Lurch do not care)"

Thank you for the link. It was an enjoyable 30 mins, listening to a straight talking man with a positive attitude to life, an enthusiasm for science and a good, clear speaker.

I hope we hear more of him. It looks like he has a better understanding of Physics than just drawing graphs!

May 22, 2014 at 3:18 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

" Even more alarming is the tendency of giving people the impression that weather events are becoming more extreme, and that this has actually already occurred. Apart from a possible increase in precipitation and a possible intensification of tropical hurricanes that has not yet been detected, there are no indications of extreme weather in the model simulations, and even less so in current observations."

Re: no evidence of the above, well Julia has the "Holy Trinty" working on it:-

New European extreme windstorms catalogue

" May 2014 - The Met Office and the Universities of Reading and Exeter recently launched the XWS (eXtreme WindStorms) catalogue - a freely available database of the most intense winter storms to hit Europe over the last few decades.....

......New science

During the creation of the catalogue, many science questions had to be addressed. One of the main issues was how to define an extreme storm, because unlike for hurricanes, there is currently no widely accepted scale for ranking European windstorms.
After much investigation, the XWS storms were selected by taking the top 50 storms as ranked by the index NUmax3, where N is a measure of the damaging area of the storm (the number of land grid points where the maximum gusts exceeds a threshold of 25 ms-1) and Umax is the maximum 925 hPa wind speed given in the storm track. Theoretically Umax3 is a measure of the advection of kinetic energy of the storm. This index was chosen because it was found to be a good meteorological proxy of storm damage as measured by insured loss. ."


So the metric is written, get ready for the reporting of every "extreme"

May 22, 2014 at 3:46 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Bishop Hill

The 'underside of science'

In the paragraph from Lennart Bengtsson's article that
you recite, Bengtsson uses the term 'pseudoscience'
('pseudovetenskap' in the original Swedish) to describe
the practices of certain climate researchers that he
reprobates.

I think that the term 'post-scientific' affords a better
description than 'pseudo-scientific' for practices that
'pervert' rather than 'reject' the scientific method.

In this way we reserve the description 'pseudo-science'
for the product of authors who totally fail to follow
the scientific method, but as a matter of presentation
misleadingly choose to put a cosmetic 'scientific'
gloss or label upon their findings.

That's the popular understanding of the term.

So when scientists in their internal debates extend the
term to mean in addition 'bad science', lay people--such
as politicians and officials--in their wider debate
probably feel that they're stretching things a bit.

But better does not mean best. Maybe your followers have
already hit upon and are using some more accurate
terminology.

I have read some of Karl Popper's writings on the
scientific method, but don't remember from them any
suitable terminology that would help.

Maybe Richard Feynman ... !


Stephen Prower

Stevenage

May 22, 2014 at 4:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Prower

Maybe Richard Feynman ... !


Stephen Prower

Stevenage


"Cargo cult science?"

May 22, 2014 at 5:04 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Yes, Cargo cult science. I remember now - although I can't lay hands on the book.

Feynman likened some "scientists" to some pacific islanders post WW2, setting up control towers and trying to get aircraft to land by calling them via wooden microphones and bamboo short wave antennas. He said that the "scientists" think they are doing science and they go through the motions but the critical bit of searching for things to falsify your hypotheses and making predictions, then testing them, is missing. It reminded me of Phil Jones in the emails saying how he was going to carry on "doing good science".

May 22, 2014 at 10:38 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

I read quite a few of the comments on Uppsala, a curious polarity split between believers and non-believers. Not much analysis.

May 22, 2014 at 11:53 PM | Registered CommenterEuan Mearns

Who could be so dishonest and unintelligent as to cut the money quote from Bengtsson's interview :

"I do not believe there is any systematic “cover up” of scientific evidence on climate change or that academics’ work is being “deliberately suppressed”, as The Times front page suggests. I am worried by a wider trend that science is gradually being influenced by political views. Policy decisions need to be based on solid fact."

May 23, 2014 at 12:28 AM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

Martin A

I read Feynman's coinage of the phrase 'Cargo cult
science' in the popular book he wrote: 'Surely you're
joking Mr Feynman!'

But the relevant passage, as accurately summarised by
you, as lifted in full from Wikipedia, goes:

'In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people.
During the war they saw airplanes land with lots of good
materials, and they want the same thing to happen now.
So they've arranged to imitate things like runways, to
put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a
wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces
on his head like headphones and bars of bamboo sticking
out like antennas--he's the controller--and they wait
for the airplanes to land. They're doing everything
right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it
looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land.
So I call these things cargo cult science, because they
follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific
investigation, but they're missing something essential,
because the planes don't land.'

Not quite?

The problem of terminology is that when one alleges
practices such as obstructing the falsification of
the findings of a scientific study, one moves out of the
area of bad science--the area of Cargo cult
science--into the area of scientific ethics.

No scientist wants, by invoking the issue of ethics, to
remove scientific controversy from scientists into the
hands of politicians, officials or lawyers. There is a
strong element of rhetoric in the argumentation of these
persons that is anathema to scientists.

So scientists awkwardly search for words to describe the
conduct of fellow scientists, such as practising
'pseudo-science'--or practising 'advocacy', there's
another example--that don't question their ethics.

But it would be convenient to find words that are a better
fit.

And it's a view that some of the practices of modern
scientists, intoxicated by computers, statistical
packages, and substantial funding, that we critical
souls complain of are taking science into a new
'post-scientific' era.


Stephen Prower

Stevenage

May 23, 2014 at 12:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Prower

The 'money quote':
"I do not believe there is any systematic cover up of scientific evidence on climate change or that academics’ work is being deliberately suppressed"

Is of course pretty much contradicted by:
"This is revealed through the bias in publication records towards only reporting results that support one climate hypothesis, while refraining from publishing results that deviate."

The question being; is this 'gatekeeping' done systematically for policy reasons or is it a 'social construct', driven by a mixture of blind dogma and/or funding protection? He is merely stating that he 'believes' the latter. but there is no doubt in his mind that this gatekeeping exists and that it amounts to 'pseudo-science'.

Quite how it took so long for his blinkers to fall of is beyond me but it is further illustration that men go mad in crowds and come to their senses slowly and one-by-one. Of course he can forget receiving any more prizes or accolades because these are only given out to pessimists. Plus he can forget about getting anything else published until the blinkers fall off substantially more people in the climate clique.

May 23, 2014 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

JamesG

Bengtsson seemed already to have been regarded as being a bit off-message by some of The Team.

But the reaction to his joining the GWPF seems to have come as a shock to him. And, as your words suggest, having blotted his copybook, backing out of the GWPF will not have unblotted it for him.

May 23, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

May 22, 2014 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered Commenter Doug McNeall:

It's interesting that he offers *no evidence whatsoever* for the statements that you've highlighted.

Absolutely correct! Bengtsson, of course, should have offered "evidence" in the same way as is done by the jewel in the crown:

“With the warming we are already committed to over the next few decades, [...]”

This unsupported claim is a phrasing that was offered not once but twice during the course of the Met
Office's ever-changing ventures into the wonderland of Gunning-Fog in February of this year.

See: More fog from Dame Julia’s jewel in the crown

May 23, 2014 at 7:50 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Dream on, James D:

Dream on

May 25, 2014 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRussell

This is what happened behind the scenes in the Bengtsson affair:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7VEp6yX5FAk

Enjoy!

May 26, 2014 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterJPC Lindstrom

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