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« It's the greens, stupid | Main | Wanna bet? »
Tuesday
Jan122016

"Nothing in it is correct"

The eminent statistician (and occasional BH reader) Radford Neal has been writing a series of posts on global temperature data at his blog. There are three so far:

What can global temperature data tell us?

Has there been a pause in global warming?

and finally

Critique of "Debunking the climate hiatus", by Rajaratnam, Romano, Tsiang and Diffenbaugh.

They are all rather technical but very well written - the clarity of thought is striking. But I particularly recommend the last one, a gloriously deadpan take on a much-trumpeted paper (one which trashes claims of a hiatus, apparently), with gems like this:

The authors are all at Stanford University, one of the world’s most prestigious academic institutions. Rajaratnam is an Assistant Professor of Statistics and of Environmental Earth System Science. Romano is a Professor of Statistics and of Economics.Diffenbaugh is an Associate Professor of Earth System Science. Tsiang is a PhD student. Climatic Change appears to be a reputable refereed journal, which is published by Springer, and which is cited in the latest IPCC report. The paper was touted in popular accounts as showing that the whole hiatus thing was mistaken — for instance, by Stanford University itself.

You might therefore be surprised that, as I will discuss below, this paper is completely wrong. Nothing in it is correct. It fails in every imaginable respect.

...and this:

Rajaratnam, et al. describe [their] data as “the NASA-GISS global mean land-ocean temperature index”, which is a commonly used data set, discussed in my first post in this series. However, the data plotted above, and which they use, is not actually the GISS land-ocean temperature data set. It is the GISS land-only data set, which is less widely used, since as GISS says, it “overestimates trends, since it disregards most of the dampening effects of the oceans”.  They appear to have mistakenly downloaded the wrong data set, and not noticed that the vertical scale on their plot doesn’t match plots in other papers showing the GISS land-ocean temperature anomalies.

You have to read it now, don't you?

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Reader Comments (73)

Its about time proper serious statisticians started looking at so called climate science.

Jan 12, 2016 at 1:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterJustAnotherPoster

But Shirley this was peer reviewed, doesn't that mean that it is beyond reproach ?

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterBloke down the pub

Mistakenly downloaded the wrong data set? Duncha believe it, necessarily.......:o)

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

No verification = no quality procedures. In the real world this would lead to sackings for gross incompetence.

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:13 PM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

You Shook Me...Dazed And Confused...Communication Breakdown...How Many More Times...?

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPMT

"Nothing in it is correct"

"Everything you know is wrong" Firesign Theater.

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Its about time proper serious statisticians started looking at so called climate science.

Jan 12, 2016 at 1:58 PM | JustAnotherPoster
==========================================================================
Steve McIntyre has been doing so for years, at Climate Audit.

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

So what's wrong with this, then, attp? You don't need to be a physicist to know that deductions from an incorrect data set are meaningless? Even in academia, which as well know, is a special case.

"Rajaratnam, et al. describe [their] data as “the NASA-GISS global mean land-ocean temperature index”, which is a commonly used data set, discussed in my first post in this series. However, the data plotted above, and which they use, is not actually the GISS land-ocean temperature data set. It is the GISS land-only data set, which is less widely used, since as GISS says, it “overestimates trends, since it disregards most of the dampening effects of the oceans”. They appear to have mistakenly downloaded the wrong data set, and not noticed that the vertical scale on their plot doesn’t match plots in other papers showing the GISS land-ocean temperature anomalies."

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterJeremy Poynton

Stanford is also home to Jacobsen; he of the '100% renewables is possible everywhere by 2050' claim and his ilk. It turns out that this Stanford 100% renewables research is mostly supported by the gas industry in the US. I've been perusing some eco-energy blogs and it seems this fact has caused some lesser-alarmists to believe that the fossil fuel industry knows full well that gas will be required in big quantities if wind power displaces nuclear power so they want to push wind energy up in order to push out nuclear power - the real enemy. This conspiracy theory is of course rejected by the full-blown alarmists who call these lesser-alarmists 'climate delayers' because for them the real conspiracy is that fossil fuel companies are against renewables at all costs and to justify that belief they pronounce that everyone knows nuclear power is more expensive than wind and solar* anyway. The latter loons somehow manage to simultaneously describe renewables as the cheapest option yet still needing government 'action' to sustain.

It's truly a revelation the extent of paranoid bullshit that can be generated in the alarmist mindset. We used to put these types on medication!

Anyway it seems there is a looming war between warmists who fear CO2 versus those who fear nuclear power more. None of them manage to imagine that the real fear should be that we end up with an energy crisis due to their sparring lunacies.

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Ah, I get it Bish, very clever! Clearly, to download the wrong data and to make po-faced derivative pronouncements on the right data is henceforth to be called The Hindenburg Manoeuvre

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

Climate science keeps setting new standards for quality in the published record of science.

Jan 12, 2016 at 2:59 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Has anybody been able to print the full posts at Ranford Neal's site?

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:07 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

At the end he says:

"Those familiar with the scientific literature will realize that completely wrong papers are published regularly, even in peer-reviewed journals, and even when (as for this paper) many of the flaws ought to have been obvious to the reviewers. So perhaps there’s nothing too notable about the publication of this paper. On the other hand, one may wonder whether the stringency of the review process was affected by how congenial the paper’s conclusions were to the editor and reviewers. One may also wonder whether a paper reaching the opposite conclusion would have been touted as a great achievement by Stanford University."

Exactly the same point has recently been made with regard to Lewandowsky's work.

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:08 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

No, NCC: The heading pic says it all: Crashed and burned!

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

Lewandowsky's work? I think I trod in some once; the smell last for months.

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

It's irrelevant. Stats cannot be used to tell much about 'the pause' but you need a physical model that has some credibility to go further and thus far the only one close to reality is the Russian CMIP5 model with low climate sensitivity, high ocean inertia and smaller water vapour feedback. ie it supports what skeptics have long been saying.

Of course the basic physics tells us that for CO2 to be a climate driver it actually has to be seen to be driving climate. When the rate of temperature rise reduces whilst the rate of CO2 rise continues apace then its bleeding obvious that isn't the case. Any excuses involving adjustments, 30 years data or unknown cooling masking unseen warming by unphysical and/or unmeasurable mechanisms is just yet more bullshitting. At this point anyone with any regard for physics must admit that they don't have a clue what drives climate but that nature, not man, is clearly in the driving seat somehow. Of course doing so would affect 'policy'; the tail that wags the dog.

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Neal's problem is that he fails to understand that such poor practice is not just a normal element within climate 'science' it is actually rewarded , and he therefore mistakenly thinks these people will make corrections if he points out errors. While in reality its simply not in their interest to make changes which reduce the 'impact ' of their claims , even if they increase their validity.

In short they work in an area where sh*t sells and therefore why produce anything else .

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered Commenterknr

ATTP's drive-by and responses removed.

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:19 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

knr, I think you are wrong, I think he does understand that it's not in their interest to acknowledge the pause - see his penultimate paragraph which I have quoted above.

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:23 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

I think he does understand that it's not in their interest to acknowledge the pause

Indeed. I don't think German academics in the 1930s would have got very far if they relied on observational evidence, which pretty much indicated that Jews were much the same as other people. Either they just went with the flow, or were such zealots for the cause that 'evidence' was whatever it took.

Jan 12, 2016 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

The astounding thing is how many people have to varying degrees hung onto the climate crisis obsession despite the lack of anything close to compelling evidence. The subset of those believers who are dedicated fanatics and impervious to reason is well represented by ATTP and the other climate fundamentalists.

Jan 12, 2016 at 4:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hmmm . . . I wonder if Professors Neal and Easterbrook (http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/about/) have gotten together to hash things out?

Jan 12, 2016 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterDan Hughes

I don't suppose we'll be seeing a retraction of the paper any day soon, if Mr Greenskull has anything to do with it.

Crisis management – a green perspective.

Pointman

Jan 12, 2016 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

18 months ago I predicted that statistics would be the undoing of alarmist, IPCC-back climatology:

https://jonathanabbott99.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/lies-damned-lies-and-hang-on/

Jan 12, 2016 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

Paleoclimatic temperatures can tell us that albedo is the primary modulator of temperature, not CO2.

Prof Clive Best has a nice review of the dust-ice-albedo theory on his blogsite. And the bottom line is that ice ages are forced by precessional insolation, but initiated and modulated by dust-ice-albedo.

http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=7024

Jan 12, 2016 at 5:08 PM | Unregistered Commenterralph Ellis

Given that photo, I thought that this article was going to be about Led Zeppelin's first album released 47 years ago this very date.

Jan 12, 2016 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterCliff Jennings

Indeed. I don't think German academics in the 1930s would have got very far if they relied on observational evidence, which pretty much indicated that Jews were much the same as other people. Either they just went with the flow, or were such zealots for the cause that 'evidence' was whatever it took.
Jan 12, 2016 at 3:59 PM | Unregistered Commenterbill

Einstein has stated that the Nazis got 100 of their "scientists" to say that he was wrong by testimonial. As Einstein pointed out, all it needed was for just one of them to prove he was wrong!

Jan 12, 2016 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

"Climatic Change appears to be a reputable refereed journal, which is published by Springer, and which is cited in the latest IPCC report."

Right.....

Whenever something like this appears, check out the editorial board, this one is an IPCC "Who's Who". I am not of course saying they are disreputable.

http://www.springer.com/earth+sciences+and+geography/atmospheric+sciences/journal/10584?detailsPage=editorialBoard

Founded by the late Stephen Schneider, current co-editors are Michael Oppenheimer and Gary Yohe.

Oppenheimer was and I believe still is, an advisor to Environmental Defense. He helped to start the Climate Action Network of NGO's which has such a powerful influence on politicians and the media. Environmental Defense President, Fred Krupp, is on the Grantham Institute Advisory Board.

Yohe is a long time member of the club having been an IPCC author and lead author since the outset. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Yohe

Notables on the editorial board include,

Peter H. Gleick, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security, Oakland, CA
Philip D. Jones, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
Thomas R. Karl, National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, NC, USA
Rik Leemans, Wageningen University, The Netherlands
Diana Liverman, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, USA (ex Oxford ECI)
Michael Mastrandrea, Stanford University, CA, USA
Linda O. Mearns, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO, USA
Richard Moss, World Wildlife Fund, Washington, DC, USA
Ben Santer, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, CA, USA
Hans-Joachim Schellnhuber, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK (note his "location")
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium

Will the paper be retracted? Answers on a postcard please......

Jan 12, 2016 at 5:55 PM | Registered Commenterdennisa

@DennisA, hole in one.

When it all becomes a cynical joke, you might as well have it at their expense.

Pointman

Jan 12, 2016 at 6:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

dennisa & Pointman

With such a panel of experts on the editorial board, how could this paper slip through? It is amazing that some of them have input to the IPCC, because we are assured they are the best of the best.

Jan 12, 2016 at 6:28 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"ATTP's drive-by and responses removed."

I well understand the impulse, but imo his responses should be posted. They are quite revealing about the thinking of scientist-activists -- although few so candidly express them. They're usually fun too read, also.

Jan 12, 2016 at 8:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterEditor of the Fabius Maximus website

I'm very patient with ATTP, but this time it was so obviously an attempt to derail the thread that I decided I could do without it.

Jan 12, 2016 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

“overestimates trends,.............. dampening effects of the oceans”. Since the oceans according to AR4 embody 90% of 'global warming' it seems odd that these Stamford buffs refer to the oceanic effect as being some minor contributory factor rather than the main event. To confound these statisticians further, Atlantic being 23%of the oceans volume but near 50% of total GW ocean heat content. The facts speak volumes, the scientists drink volumes.

Jan 12, 2016 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterconor mcmenemie

The wrong data set! Really? They didn't use it upside down as well (although acceptable in climate science).

Jan 12, 2016 at 9:55 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat

The titles alone suggest that these academic papers, like Lewandowsky’s ‘Moon Landing’ and Cook’s 97% , are not meant to be read let alone analysed, they are only done for propaganda purposes to become headlines and be interminably quoted by the commentariat to support policies.

Jan 12, 2016 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

LOL. Radford Neal’s blog certainly stirred the hornet’s nest from SkS (read the comments in his first 2 articles). Though not one comment in his third article from the ‘crusher crew’.

Jan 12, 2016 at 11:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruceC

'When I name a data set,' Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone,
It means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.'

Jan 12, 2016 at 11:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterBeth Cooper

BruceC, following your suggestions to the comments at Radford Neal's, the name Peter Jacobs cropped up. Is that the same co-author of the Cook et al 97% collaboration?

Somebody was not happy about this thread.

Jan 13, 2016 at 2:15 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I'm very patient with ATTP, but this time it was so obviously an attempt to derail the thread that I decided I could do without it.

Jan 12, 2016 at 8:22 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

No worries, Bish.
Regular readers here know that you don't go trolling at ATTP's blog in a lame attempt to generate internet traffic.
He comes trolling here.

Jan 13, 2016 at 3:35 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Aha Stanford, All Your Base Are Belong To Us !

Jan 13, 2016 at 7:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterClimate Change Chronicle

attp response should be stored for posteriority as an example of post modern leftard laced pseudoscience.

our very own Doctor Oktar..

Jan 13, 2016 at 8:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterVenusNotWarmerDueToCO2

90% of warming is in the Oceans (AR4). Almost 50% of said warming is in the Atlantic despite it containing only 23% of the Planets water. Yet the statisticians refer to this as being a 'global' and atmospheric problem, when it is clearly neither.

Jan 13, 2016 at 8:22 AM | Unregistered Commenterconor mcmenemie

Not trying to play devils advocate but I saw nothing wrong with ATTP's comment. He was 100% correct to infer that you can't use statistics on the temperature record and expect any meaningful results and that you absolutely need some reference back to the original physical basis. This is what Doug Keenan has been saying in a different way too. The focus of that ATTP criticism must therefore be with the authors of the paper who were the only ones pretending that statistics alone could reject the notion of a pause. All Neal is doing is saying they made elementary mistakes.

But note that "Rajaratnam is an Assistant Professor of Statistics and of Environmental Earth System Science. Romano is a Professor of Statistics and of Economics" so any skeptic claiming that statistics professors need to be more involved in climate science is wilfully ignoring that statistics professors are just as human as the rest of us and prone to just making stuff up to suit their own worldview. That they made elementary mistakes was imo deliberate because it was 100% political from the outset and they did not expect any another statistician to look at their work because up to this point statistical professors have been utterly blind to some very clear basic stats blunders made by Mann, Annan, Santer, Schmidt and many others in climate science, including the IPCC reports. We need less stats in science, not more. And fer gawds sake when will we manage to persuade the statistics profession to abandon the much-abused and mostly meaningless concept of statistical significance.

The pause means nothing by itself since it has happened before in the record. It's only significance is with relation to the failed models that predicted parabolic rises and to the IPCC statement (based on those crap models and circular reasoning) that after 1950 mankind dominates the climate system - which clearly has no basis.

Jan 13, 2016 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I agree with Editor that it is better to let Ken's comments stand than open yourself to accusations of censorship.

Jan 13, 2016 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Abbott

sks:
"The speed bump only applies to surface temperatures, which only represent about 2 percent of the overall warming of the global climate. Can you make out the tiny purple segment at the bottom of the above figure?"
http://www.skepticalscience.com/ipcc-global-warming-pause.htm
And the hiatus rebutting paper only considered surface temperatures?

Jan 13, 2016 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterrotationalfinestructure

I agree that Ken Rice' comments should be shown as a warning to anyone who considers reading, researching or lecturing astrophysics at Edinburgh.

Jan 13, 2016 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

Richard,


I agree that Ken Rice' comments should be shown as a warning to anyone who considers reading, researching or lecturing astrophysics at Edinburgh.

And yours, of course, is an illustration of why many people probably avoid engaging in this topic, or choose to be pseudonymous if they do. Somehow you seem to think that disagreeing with what someone says in their personal capacity is justification for dismissing the credibility of an entire discipline at a major university. I suspect that the Economics Department in Sussex is quite pleased that most people would regard it as juvenile to judge an academic discipine on the basis of the online behaviour of one of their staff members.

JA,


I agree with Editor that it is better to let Ken's comments stand than open yourself to accusations of censorship.

You don't need to worry about me in that regard. I think people should moderate their blogs as they see fit. IMO, associating blog moderation with censorship is stupid.

Jan 13, 2016 at 11:00 AM | Unregistered Commenter...and Then There's Physics

I totally understand His Eminence's decision to dump ATTP's comment, because I for one am getting really tired of whole threads diverted to ATTP's trolling instead of discussing the content of the article.

The irony of the contrast between his very impressive screen name "And Then There is Physics" and the unscientific, biased and extremely uncivil content of his comments can be seen everywhere.
So deleting one of those piles of cr@p every once in a while will not detract from that image but did help this thread.

Jan 13, 2016 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered Commenterwijnand
Jan 13, 2016 at 11:15 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

I wonder if the poor chap realises what a hornets' nest he's stirring? Careers, research budgets & taxes depend on this stuff not being looked at too closely old chap!
Probably get added to the lists of those who Climastrologists wish to meet in dark alleys.

Jan 13, 2016 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterAdam Gallon

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