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« Lock up your daughters | Main | Renewables "most expensive policy disaster in modern British history" »
Wednesday
Mar182015

A comment by Roger Pielke Jr

Roger Pielke Jr left this comment in the thread below one of his own posts. I have taken the liberty of reproducing it in full.

Over at Real Climate, Kerry Emanuel of MIT, has a post up with his views on tropical cyclones and climate change. Emanuel doesn't cite the IPCC, but what he reports is pretty much consistent with the AR5 (trends inconclusive, expected changes in the future, etc.).

Here I am not discussing the science presented by Kerry, but instead, I note this passage:

"When a 100-year event becomes a 50-year event, it may take a few destructive hits before we adapt to the new reality. This is of particular concern with tropical cyclones, where the application of existing damage models to projected changes in tropical cyclone activity predict large increases in damage, as documented, for example, in the recent Risky Business report commissioned by Michael Bloomberg, Hank Paulson, and Thomas Steyer."

What Emanuel does not say is that he was in fact the one commissioned by Steyer et al. to produce the scary scenarios in the report (which are completely at odds with IPCC AR5 and KE's own published academic work - I've explored this is some detail).

Thus, Emanuel is (a) self-citing in stealth fashion, and (b) failing to disclose a big COI.

Two big non-nos in science, but which in the climate world get a free pass if you are perceived to be on the "right side." Another day in climate science.

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Reader Comments (38)

The Climate pseudoscience Night of The Long Knives is nigh.

Mar 18, 2015 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

There is one set of standards for progressives, and one for normal people.

Please do keep up with Obamania

Mar 18, 2015 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

I have long had a fascination with Catastrophe Theory, and have the feeling that we are approaching the point where just one little nudge will bring the entire edifice of AGW tumbling down like a house of cards. The only problem is that it is a multi-dimensional theory, so it is not easy (or, most probably, even possible) to determine exactly what the event will be or when the event will occur. The only thing we can hope for is that it will not be damaging to innocents, but will take out many of the guilty (and that can be almost entire governments!), and accept that it really cannot happen soon enough.

Mar 18, 2015 at 1:26 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

In my days of "trolling" the Grauniad you'd sometimes get comments from people hoping for a very destructive El Nino, a few thousand deaths now to save millions in the future, that kind of thing. Besides those folks who gaze at the tea leaves of monthly temperature updates, salivating when there is a miniscule rise, there must be many hoping for some nice destructive storms to boost the chances of decisive action, blah blah blah at Paris.

Mar 18, 2015 at 1:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikky

The attribution of the work to Kerry Emanuel is not easy to find in the report/s themselves. Does anyone know where Emanuel's name is listed?

[Edit: the way the report is organized is muddy. The report was written by some authors then 'reviewed' by an 'expert panel' one of whom we can learn is Kerry Emanuel. So did he (i) write portions of the report, (ii) perform the modeling used for the report ?]

Mar 18, 2015 at 1:45 PM | Registered Commentershub

I ... have the feeling that we are approaching the point where just one little nudge will bring the entire edifice of AGW tumbling down like a house of cards.

I fear you are too sanguine. If AGW collapsed, it would take down with it a host of other cherished PC notions such as deliberately educating people to be stupid, sneering at Christianity, and suppressing free speech.

All those ambitions are promoted by the same people, and if they were to lose AGW, the rest would be under threat.

I see holding the line on AGW as a modern version of Stalingrad -- so many resources and reputations have been poured into attacking man-made CO2 that a failure to win the battle would be catastrophic.

Efforts will be redoubled in the run up to the Paris gabfest.

Mar 18, 2015 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Radical Rodent:

I have a relative who was taught by Zeeman at Warwick in the days when it rivalled Cambridge as a Maths university. I'm sure it would be most appropriate if the catastrophe could be classified as a "butterfly".

Mar 18, 2015 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

NCC 1701E the 'night' of the long knives, may be longer than expected, if there is no power to turn the lights on.

Coming soon, to a neighbourhood near you, or me, or indeed anyone.

Mar 18, 2015 at 3:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

shub, I expect Emanuel did really important stuff, like choosing the font, and size of the pay cheques.

Mar 18, 2015 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Damages is not a good way to evaluate/compare hurricane effects, as the construction of houses in the hurricane zones has increased the amount of property exposed to the winds and water.

Mar 18, 2015 at 4:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimbrock

Golf, Pielke's says Kerry actually produced scenarios for the report but the risky business website links to another website for the 'Rhodium group' which carried out an 'independent' assessment for Tom Steyer et al in writing their report. In the Rhodium report (which is the real deal as the first one is just fluff and full-spread colour pictures), Kerry Emanuel is acknowledged for being part of an 'Expert Review Panel' that provided 'invaluable critiques during the development of th[e] report'. He is not an author of the report, nor is he attributed the chapter that contains the bit about 'extreme events' (pp 32-24).

Further in, he is thanked for providing data:

We thank Kerry Emanuel for supplying hurricane activity rate projections for RMS’s coastal flood
modeling, as well as for invaluable discussions along the way

The report itself is classic environmental pressure group style Greenpeace 'Energy [R]evolution' type modelling stuff: it uses Kerry Emanuel's (published in PNAS 2013) data, and produces estimates for sea-level rise, hurricane damage etc probabilities using RMS's 'North Atlantic Hurricane Model'. The output is inflated numbers in every measure.

The hurricane stuff is on page 95. You should look at the laughable graph - it is a normal distribution made up entirely of just tail.

http://rhg.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/AmericanClimateProspectus_v1.2.pdf

It does appear Kerry contributed to the report more than just reviewing but has failed to declare/disclose his contribution/authorship appropriately on Realclimate. Stealth citation - absolutely yes. COI - I'm not sure. Unless Emanuel was compensated by Steyer and his buddies for this contribution.

Mar 18, 2015 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commentershub

shub, aren't climate scientists immune from Conflict of Interest, Freedom of Information, being held responsible for bad science, Big Green Lies etc. They certainly act that way anyway. They never seem to be held accountable, provided they keep getting paid and bankrolled by others.

Mar 18, 2015 at 4:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterGolf Charlie

Climate science is in its infancy stage.... or is it infantile?

Mar 18, 2015 at 4:51 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter


It does appear Kerry contributed to the report more than just reviewing but has failed to declare/disclose his contribution/authorship appropriately on Realclimate. Stealth citation - absolutely yes. COI - I'm not sure.

How is this stealth citation? Even if he was an author (which he isn't) your own name doesn't always appear in a paper that you write if you cite one of the other papers on which you're an author. In the journals in which I publish, you only include all authors in the bibliography if there are 8 or less, otherwise you just write "et al". So, if you cite a paper by Smith et al. you don't go "blah blah blah (Smith et al. 2015 - oh, I'm author on this paper too)". Similarly if you are acknowledged at the end of a paper that you choose to cite, you don't go "blah, blah, blah (Smith et al. 2015 - oh, they acknowledge me in this paper)".

Given that Emanuel isn't formally an author of the report, it can't be stealth citation, almost by definition. He could have acknowledged that he helped, but even that isn't standard. It only becomes an issue if there is no way to find out that he was involved. Being involved doesn't immediately make this some kind of stealth citation problem.

As with you, I'm also failing to see how this is some kind of conflict of interest. Quite how Emanuel benefits from mentioning this report in a blog post is somewhat beyond me. Even if he was paid to help, it wouldn't necessarily be a COI unless his payments depend on how many times the report gets mentioned somewhere else.

Mar 18, 2015 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Ken Rice: "I'm also failing to see..."

Ken Rice attempts to escape Bishop Hill...

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

Mar 18, 2015 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBen Pile

ATTP-

The relevant results in the Risky Business report (i.e., 25% in US hurricane damage in 15 years) are a direct function of a new analysis by Emanuel's company WindRiskTech, LLC commissioned specifically for this report.

Emanuel created new quantitative analysis, which then determined the implausible RB results. The RB conclusions on this subject at odds to IPCC AR5 (and even Emanuel's own work). At RC, Emanuel cites that analysis in support of claims he is making. Because he does not disclose his role in the production of the claims he is citing, he is allowing the impression to uninformed readers that they somehow offer independent support for his claims. That is a no-no in my field. Maybe not yours.

Mar 18, 2015 at 5:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Pielke Jr.

No, No, No CoI is only an issue for non climate scientists.
All climate scientists are by definition honorable people and thus would never, ever be conflicted /sarc

Mar 18, 2015 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Dent

Roger,
Firstly, I was making a point that is (I think) self-evidently true; it can't be self-citation - stealth or otherwise - since he's not an author. I fail to see how one can claim otherwise.


The relevant results in the Risky Business report (i.e., 25% in US hurricane damage in 15 years) are a direct function of a new analysis by Emanuel's company WindRiskTech, LLC commissioned specifically for this report.

Okay, this I did not know. This still does not, however, make it some kind of stealth self-citation as this still does not make him an author of the report. It does, potentially, create a conflict of interest but even that is not obvious. How does he benefit by mentioning the report? Is his company going to benefit if people start to believe that damage will increase? I don't know the answer, but I'm still somewhat confused as to how one can claim a COI. A bigger problem would be if he wasn't acknowledged in the report, but that's clearly not the case.


Because he does not disclose his role in the production of the claims he is citing, he is allowing the impression to uninformed readers that they somehow offer independent support for his claims.

Again, this would seem to be more of a problem if his role was not known at all. Actually, I thought it was a very nicely nuanced post (which is one reason I think your suggestions are unfortunate - it's a pity that some seem to always find something to criticise). To be clear, though, I'm not arguing that it isn't a COI, I'm just not convinced that you've actually made the case.


That is a no-no in my field. Maybe not yours.

Well, the point I was making above is that it is not normal to point out that you're an author of something if your name is so far down the list that it doesn't make it into the bibliography, and it isn't standard to point out that you were acknowledged in a paper that you choose to cite. In other words, being associated with something doesn't automatically mean that you need to make that abundantly clear if you choose to cite it. I would be surprised if this differed in your field.

I'll make a broader point. The whole issue of TCs and GW is clearly a very nuanced and complex topic. You're the first to jump up and down if anyone makes an association with GW that you think is unjustified. Now that someone writes a post that addresses the whole issue very carefully, you choose to jump up and down because you think you've found a form of stealth citation and a COI. Is it actually possible for someone to write something about TCs and GW that you won't find a reason to criticise?

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:09 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP -
Stealth citation is unquestionable. Emanuel mentions the Risky Business report almost as a throwaway and there is no way for readers to know he is referring to results *of his own work*. I am talking about what he wrote on Realclimate. Would RC readers know KE's referring to his own work, rather than a 'report' comissioned by Tom Steyer et al, whose names KE mentions?

Even if one reads the Rhodium reports which pegs itself as an 'independent assessment', there is actually no 'independence' when it comes to hurricane activity - the data comes almost entirely from KE. The RMS Hurricane damage estimator uses KE's data, buried somewhere inside another set of documents

The projections of future Hurricane activity in Emmanuel (2013) (supplemented through personal communications) were obtained as absolute values for basin activity and for activity at landfall (across the entire north Atlantic domain) by maximum storm intensity (as measured by the maximum 1-min sustained wind speed).

I don't know how KE can be part of an expert review panel for an economic modeling group and help them 'assess' his own work. Nor can I see how this is assessment of peer-reviewed literature, it is in fact modeling, and synthesis of new data.

As for his company's involvement, it is mentioned nowhere in the reports or anywhere else. It is hard to draw a line between company and KE, since there appears to only be a couple of employees, himself included. So I am still not sure about the COI, unless it is so thoroughly undisclosed.

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:18 PM | Registered Commentershub

ATTP, cross-posted here.

Why don't you go a bit slow on this?

1) KE has prior issues of non-disclosure.
2) This is stealth citation only known openly because RPJr draws attention to this. KE should have absolutely made clear the claim about increased hurricane damage comes from his work, i.e., is his own.
3) You stating that it is not stealth citation because he is not even an author of the report, is a strike against your position.
4) RPJr is currently a target of nonsensical investigations so he has every right to point out such absurdities as this.

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:25 PM | Registered Commentershub

Shub,


Stealth citation is unquestionable. Emanuel mentions the Risky Business report almost as a throwaway and there is no way for readers to know he is referring to results *of his own work*. I am talking about what he wrote on Realclimate. Would RC readers know KE's referring to his own work, rather than a 'report' comissioned by Tom Steyer et al, whose names KE mentions?

He is not an author of the report. Therefore he can neither claim to be an author nor be engaging in self-citation if he choses to mention the report. If you want to argue that there was a conflict that he should have acknowledged, go ahead, but claiming self-citation when he wasn't an author, doesn't make sense.

Just out of interest, has anyone bothered asking him this on the RC post? It already seems to have grown legs and - AFAICT - noone has tried to clarify this with him directly.

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:25 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Shub,


You stating that it is not stealth citation because he is not even an author of the report, is a strike against your position.

Why? It's is very obviously not self-citation. He's not an author. You can call it something else if you want to make a stronger case, but calling it self-citation is self-evidently wrong.


RPJr is currently a target of nonsensical investigations so he has every right to point out such absurdities as this.

I agree that RPJr is being targeted by nonsensical investigations. For the record, I think the investigation into RPJr and others is completely wrong and I object strongly to politicians behaving in this way. I fail to see, however, why that is necessarily a justification for anything else. I hope you're not suggesting that RPJr is doing this because of the investigations, as that would seem rather churlish if so.

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP, let me see if this helps

KE makes a claim on RC: "This [human ability and willingness to adapt] is of particular concern with tropical cyclones, where the application of existing damage models to projected changes in tropical cyclone activity predict large increases in damage ..."

Clearly, he says damage models predict large increases - the claim.

What is the reference cited?

RB report.

What is the source for the RB report to make this claim? Kerry Emanuel's data

Why didn't he simply say 'As shown in the RB report using my data...'?

If KE had done the same in a journal paper instead of a blog post, calling this stealth citation would actually be going easy on him. When you make a big claim and frame it as though it were independent, but it is actually not, you've got a problem.

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:47 PM | Registered Commentershub

Send all this to Barbara Boxer. She is bound to go after Emanuel in the interests of fairness!

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterBillTheGeo

Ken/ATTP

I agree with you that stealth-citation is perhaps not the best term. I'd say it's more circular citation or citation "laundering". Essentially as Roger says about the RC post: the Risky Business model crunched the numbers and said that if cyclone activity goes up there will be larger damages (I'm paraphrasing). I don't think that's unreasonable to think if there are more cyclones/hurricanes more stuff will get damaged/people may get killed.

What Kerry is then alluding to, though obviously not explicitly saying mind, is that global warming/climate change will cause more damage through increased cyclone/hurricane activity since the models appear to show this. The problem is that that's purely based on his original data, rinsed through the Risky Business model. If you took his reference to the model and associated paper it would appear to back up what he says but that's because it's only once removed from his input data.

There's an update at the bottom of the RC post that effectively caveats that ie:

It has been pointed out that in my reference to the Risky Business report, I might have mentioned that I contributed synthetic hurricane event sets that were used by Risk Management Solutions, Inc., to estimate damages from tropical cyclones

So it's fair enough for Kerry Emmanuel to post his opinion and work but he needs to be careful that others don't read too much into his associated references and blow something out of proportion.

Mar 18, 2015 at 6:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterMicky H Corbett

Shub,


Why didn't he simply say 'As shown in the RB report using my data...'?

Sure, as he now appears to have done.

Micky,


So it's fair enough for Kerry Emmanuel to post his opinion and work but he needs to be careful that others don't read too much into his associated references and blow something out of proportion.

Indeed, as appears to have happened.

Mar 18, 2015 at 7:09 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

ATTP,

How far down this rabbit hole would you like to go?
http://www.windrisktech.com/about-us.html

Congressional testimony?
https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/hearings/Emanuel%20testimony.pdf

Papers?
http://www.windrisktech.com/publications.html

Look, Kerry is a good guy, does good work, and plays by the norms of the geoscience community -- in which disclosure of COI is not a standard norm. So either the rules apply to everyone, or they apply to no one.

I've got plenty more material to work with, which I will be happy to share. Red pill or blue?

Mar 18, 2015 at 7:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Pielke, Jr

"...don't read too much into his associated references and blow something out of proportion."

Absolutely. If Willie Soon had been Kerry Emanuel and his work supported by a libertarian-leaning oil and gas tycoon in the Midwest (as opposed to a West Coast hedge fund manager), he would have lost his job by now. :)

Mar 18, 2015 at 7:25 PM | Registered Commentershub

Roger,


How far down this rabbit hole would you like to go?

Not particularly far. If you want to go ahead and make some kind of big deal of this, go ahead. I don't have a problem with disclosure at all. That certainly wasn't my point. Accusing someone of self-citation for mentioning a report on which they're not formally an author is, however, an odd way to frame a criticism - IMO at least.


Look, Kerry is a good guy, does good work, and plays by the norms of the geoscience community -- in which disclosure of COI is not a standard norm. So either the rules apply to everyone, or they apply to no one.

The rules should ideally apply to everyone. However, I suspect that defining a conflict of interest is less simple than maybe you're implying. Many people are involved with things that some would regard as a COI and which they might not.

I guess I'm just not sure what you think you gained by choosing to make the criticism in the way that you did. To be fair, though, I'm not trying to hold any kind of moral high ground, as I certainly can't claim to have always approached this in the best way I could.

Mar 18, 2015 at 7:59 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Simples, it's lousy and deceptive science. And Emmanuel is a good guy. Told ya' it was simples.
============

Mar 18, 2015 at 8:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

ATTP:

1. "Not particularly far."

A very good choice.

2. "If you want to go ahead and make some kind of big deal of this, go ahead."

It was a comment on a blog post. On an obscure, niche blog ;-)

3. "I suspect that defining a conflict of interest is less simple than maybe you're implying"

Good thing then that I have plenty of experience doing exactly that, e.g.
http://bipartisanpolicy.org/library/science-policy-project-final-report/

In the broader science community, we have lots of experience with COI policies. They are just not very familiar in the geosciences. Lately some have argued they should be. If so, then lets take the issue seriously.

4. "I'm just not sure what you think you gained by choosing to make the criticism in the way that you did"

I probably should have just taken to Twitter to call people names;-)

5. "I certainly can't claim to have always approached this in the best way I could."

Sure, we are all human. There are nonetheless important issues of science policy here, and science in politics. They are worth talking about in the open, even in the midst of tribal warfare.

Thanks.

Mar 18, 2015 at 8:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Pielke, Jr

Roger,


I probably should have just taken to Twitter to call people names;-)

Technically I didn't call you a name, but I'll grant you that I was being a little bit of a Tosser myself. And people here say I don't get irony :-)

Mar 18, 2015 at 8:30 PM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

Ken Rice trying to slice and dice an argument using a very dull blade. His most on target comments are "I'm also failing to see ... " and "I'm still somewhat confused ... "

Mar 18, 2015 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered Commentertimg56

Quote: When a 100-year event becomes a 50-year event, it may take a few destructive hits before we adapt to the new reality.

Here is the rainfall Average Return Intensity for a random location on the Sunshine Coast. (30 minute storm event)
1 year 58.8mm/h
2 year 74.6mm/h
5 year 91.9mm/h
10 year 102.0mm/h
20 year 115.0mm/h
50 year 133.0mm/h
100 year 147.0mm/h

The increase from a 50 year event to a 100 year event is a 10% increase. From an observer’s point of view, you won't tell the difference. And the difference in flood height will be between 1% and 3% due to the extra storage capacity as the flood water spreads out.

This logarithmic pattern happens for all natural events, and probability return period is based on this theorem. So if future storms were to increase as stated, the current building codes will be adequate to handle then. Zero net difference from an observer’s point of view, but perhaps more debris flying, so more minor damage, and it will look messier.

Pure hype, nothing more. He's getting excited over his own imagination.

Mar 18, 2015 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

ATTP, bad behaviour is bad behaviou any way you slice it. And if you really are confused about the ethics of the situation...

Mar 18, 2015 at 9:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

100-year tropical cyclone events are hard to come by in the US at the moment. 3,432 days and counting since the last land-falling major hurricane in the US, Wilma on 24 Oct 2005 (as a Cat 3).

The only 100-year record likely to be broken in the next year is the one for the smallest number of hurricanes affecting the US in the decade since 2005.

2006 - 2009 produced only 4, 2010 -2014 produced only 4; another 4 are required in the 2015 season to equal the low record of the 1970's. Seventeen hurricanes would be required to affect the US this coming season in order to equal the high record of the 1880's.

Kerry Emanuel is barking up the wrong tree as far as the US is concerned.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_hurricanes#Climatological_statistics

Mar 18, 2015 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

I think academics who get their honesty in early by declaring their possibly conflicting commercial interests usually get treated with at least as much respect, if not more, by most audiences. These days, IMO, Emanuel's bigger problem is having a post up at RC.

Still, regular regular readers at BH can quickly think of a worse place.

Mar 19, 2015 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

So ATTP walked back from every objection he had.

Mar 19, 2015 at 4:55 AM | Registered Commentershub

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