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Lewis lands a blow

Over at Climate Audit, Nic Lewis has outlined the latest developments in the saga of the Marvel et al paper, which claimed to have demonstrated that climate sensitivity is low, but appeared to have a whole series of problems, not least of which that it had got its forcing data mucked up, leaving out land-use changes entirely.

In a typically erm...robust article at RealClimate, Gavin Schmidt ignored all the evidence Lewis had presented showing that land-use change had been overlooked, and said that Lewis's critique was made...without evidence. However, it now seems that he has decided that this position is not tenable, at the journal at least,and a correction has been issued admitting that land-use was indeed missing.

The historical instantaneous radiative forcing time series was also updated to reflect land use change, which was inadvertently excluded from the forcing originally calculated from ref. 22.

Gavin has thanked Nic Lewis for pointing out the error. Unfortunately, he has chosen to ignore four other problems that Lewis has has pointed out. 

But hey, one out of five ain't bad.

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Reader Comments (36)

so, pal review worked well again.:)

Mar 14, 2016 at 9:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards


1 - They claimed that the identified error did not affect the paper's conclusions - even though it did.

2 - They did NOT thank Lewis for 'pointing out the error'. They thanked him for 'reading that paper carefully'. The 'error' then magically became 'identified' by some strange process. But accepting that a 'd*n*er' had actually found an error was obviously too much for them to acknowledge...

Mar 14, 2016 at 9:11 AM | Unregistered CommenterDodgy Geezer

Re: Dodgy Geezer

It is an improvement though. Usually the error is found "independently" and no reference is made at all to any 'd*n*er'

Mar 14, 2016 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

It's been said before that in fields with such as this big fragile egos you can be forgiven for being wrong, but not for being right.

Mar 14, 2016 at 9:27 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Is a mark of 20% considered to be a pass in climate science exams?

Mar 14, 2016 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

To be precise, the Marvel et al. paper did not claim "to have demonstrated that climate sensitivity is low". That would have been surprising! They claimed to have demonstrated that the efficacy of some factors leading to warming (or forcings) had been low over the recent historical period. Roughly speaking, the efficacy is the ratio of the actual warming effect caused by some or other factor and the warming effect that would be expected based on the magnitude of the forcing. Long-term, all efficacies should be equal to one, but the claim is that several forcing terms had had low efficacies in the last decades. If this would be true, it would imply that the relatively low warming observed in recent decades is consistent with a long-term high sensitivity. To paraphrase a bit more crudely: Nic likes to calculate climate sensitivity based on known CO2 concentrations and known temperature changes from recent decades. He finds low, un-alarming, sensitivity (albeit with some error bars). But Marvel et al. claimed that some special factors, that can't be expect to last, were keeping temperatures down despite the rise in CO2 concentration, so Nic's calculations are wrong. Nic has now shown that their calculations are not quite right.

Mar 14, 2016 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

And so the edifice grain at a time.

Mar 14, 2016 at 10:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterIvor Ward

Only another 80% of the collapse to go. Think of it as a version of 9/11. Very soon, the raging 'thermate fire' inside the towers will destroy the main structural girders and the final collapse will be very sudden.

Another analysis is to compare this scam wit 18th Century 'Phlogiston': once Lavoisier had proved heated bodies gained mass, it took three years for the scammers to be vanquished.

Mar 14, 2016 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

I thought you got a pass for turning up. Or in some cases sending your sock puppet along instead.

Mar 14, 2016 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

This corruption of an old song keeps coming to mind when reading of such admirable work by Lewis, and such tawdry stuff from Schmidt:

Inch by inch, row by row
We shall make the rascals go
All it takes is to look, don't you know,
'Cos their case is so unsound.

To the tune of the Garden Song.

Mar 14, 2016 at 11:11 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

The demon of manmade warming and its unholy offspring (ocean acidification, weather extremes, gulf stream shifts, climate costs, etc, etc) are entirely borne from excluding important bits of reality either inadvertently or deliberately.

Mar 14, 2016 at 11:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Schmidt appears to be a smart (if grumpy) guy, so why does he keep risking his reputation by rooting for dodgy papers and arguing with people with contrary views right up to the point where he runs out of road? Does his job really depend on it..?

Mar 14, 2016 at 11:45 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

The update is a hoot.

jamesp, I suspect desperation. Wagons get circled.

Mar 14, 2016 at 12:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Mistakes by climate scientists, whether intentional or not, always support their demands for more money. Just like a bunch of bankers really.

For more trust in Bankers, that world leaders can depend on, what about a blog called 'Bank Audit'?

Schmidt has a track record of failing to be honest about mistakes he can't/won't see, or acknowledge. Bankers would be very appreciative of a Banking watchdog with such a level of selective shortsightedness.

Mar 14, 2016 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Roughly speaking, the efficacy is the ratio of the actual warming effect caused by some or other factor and the warming effect that would be expected based on the magnitude of the forcing....


Mar 14, 2016 at 12:30 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

Forcing as a scientific argument is unphysical: no-oe has ever proved it exists by calorimetric evidence.

Mar 14, 2016 at 12:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterNCC 1701E

NCC 1701E, forcing works in grant funding applications for politically correct causes. This has been been proven by climate scientists in over 97% of cases.

Mar 14, 2016 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


I suspect the fall out from admitting a denialist is right (because you are wrong) is far more severe than the fallout for merely being wrong?


Mar 14, 2016 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Alternatively .....

Politically correct funding is the biggest cause of global warming theories. Marvel proves something after all.

Mar 14, 2016 at 1:54 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Jeremy Harvey has called attention to the error in the opening sentence (Marvel et al were defending a HIGH sensitivity) but it has not yet been corrected.

Mar 14, 2016 at 2:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterLance Wallace

Jeremy Harvey has called attention to the error in the opening sentence (Marvel et al were defending a HIGH sensitivity) but it has not yet been corrected.
[..]suspect the fall out from admitting a denialist is right (because you are wrong) is far more severe than the fallout for merely being wrong[..]

Mar 14, 2016 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered Commenterwert

Second author Schmidt's actual Real Climate post on land use forcing said Lewis' original critique was unsupported post hoc complaining because he did not like the result. There are only two possible conclusions. 1. Schmidt's post was a deliberate prevarication. 2. He did not know about the goof, showing how shoddy the GISS work is. The published correction suggests #2.

Mar 14, 2016 at 2:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

Global Warming experts are highly sensitive to comments about the predictive ability of Mann's Hockey Stick, despite having fabricated a career around it.

97% of climate scientists can't bring themselves to admit fault with Marvel et al either, and Schmidt is a major source of inspiration.

That climate scientists are prepared to sacrifice their credibility to ensure Mann's survival, is inexplicable. But what else can any of them do?

Mar 14, 2016 at 4:02 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Rud Istvan,
I have little doubt that Gavin Schmidt at that point did not believe that they had goofed by omitting land use change from the historical period forcing measured in GISS-E2-R. However, IMO the regression results in my 2nd (update) article, which had by then been published, strongly suggested that they had made this mistake. To be fair, I wasn't sure what the explanation for my regression results was. I didn't appreciate, until PaulK pointed it out, that it was quite feasible for an error to result in land use forcing being omitted when historical forcing was measured in the model without it being omitted from the forcing actually applied in the historical simulation. So at that point I thought it possible land use forcing might have been omitted for both purposes, until Ron Miller assured me that it had been included in the applied forcings.

On a separate point, I would say that the authors have accepted two of my six main objections to what was done in the paper, since they had already publicly agreed that the forcing values used for a doubling of CO2 (F2XCO2) were wrong for both iRF and ERF, and have fixed that as well as the omitted land use change issue in the corrected (10 March) version of the paper.

Mar 14, 2016 at 4:04 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

Nic Lewis & Rud Istvan, plus Alan Kendall!

Thank you (and others) for all your efforts to help climate scientists!

I am not asking you to break any confidentiality agreements, but out of interest, have any of theses climate science journals ever asked you to peer review an article? They seem to have issues of competence from within their own loyal and obedient ranks.

It seems that a lot of (mainly taxpayer funded) time and effort could be saved, if Climate Science had better systems of Quality Control.

Mar 14, 2016 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

GC, in my case no. But there are larger issues. I wrote Marsha McNutt, then chief editor of Science, providing irrefutable evidence that Marcott had committed scientific misconduct in his 2013 hockey stick paper. (Essay A High Stick Foul, comparing the thesis version to the Science version). Receipt of information noted by her assistant. No action, no further communication. I provided similar evidence concerning Fabricious corals miconduct (hydrogen sulfide poisoning) to Nature Climate Change and Seattle Times, and about OLeary's highstand corals/ ice sheet collapse (Quobba Ridge earthquake) to Nature Geoscience. No action.
Climate Scientists, IMO, don't want true scrutiny. They want pal review and science by PR. The scrutiny comes from the bloggosphere. In my case, then publishing the posts in ebooks. Rare is the blog forced journal correction, although McIntyre has forced a few in paleoclimate without getting deserved recognition. Rarer still the acknowledgement, as here.

Mar 14, 2016 at 6:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterRud Istvan

GC. Me neither, but then I would not expect to be asked. I'm not a climate specialist (nor ever wanted to be). I am a geologist (specifically a sedimentologist) with an amateur's interest in climate.

My involvement in giving lectures on the subject was in the context of the environmental impact of fossil fuels and a single lecture to first year students to stimulate them to be more.critical when evaluating controversial subjects. I was always very careful to stress that I was not a climate scientist, had no qualifications in the field and that my presentations were personal views. I never asked examination questions on climate change because I never would jeopardize the student's chances - I could never predict who the second marker might be nor their views on sceptical climate evidence.

If ever I had been asked to be a reviewer for a climate journal, I would have declined. I have often reviewed geological manuscripts.

Mar 14, 2016 at 6:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Rud Istvan, thank you. A sad reflection on modern science, unfortunately not exclusive to climate.

Some austerity efficiencies could be found to benefit taxpayers, as, so far there has been little else to show for the billions spent. (apart from better weather forecasting)

The original Hockey Team have turned their mistakes into a lucrative business, and never find anything wrong in what they have done.

Mar 14, 2016 at 6:46 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Alan Kendall, our posts crossed. Thank you, for your response on this thread, and others recently. Your input has been very constructive.

Mar 14, 2016 at 7:01 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Put simply, Gavin has a proven ability to speak unequivocally and with absolute authority, complete crap, directly out of his ass. This is just a recent example.

Mar 14, 2016 at 7:28 PM | Registered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

GC, yes, I've been asked by various climate science journals to peer review manuscripts, and I have done so on several occasions. I consider my reviews to be fairly thorough.

Mar 14, 2016 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterNic Lewis

Thanks to Jeremy Harvey (10:22 AM) for that clarification, I thought for a moment there had been a coup at the palace.

Mar 14, 2016 at 8:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Hanley

Nic Lewis, thank you for that clarification, additional input, and all your previous work in pointing out the accidental mistakes made by climate scientists.

What are the chances that 97% of climate science published mistakes have been in favour of their cause? It is almost as though there was a consensus in making mistakes.

Mar 14, 2016 at 10:05 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I love the graphic picture that goes with the title!

Is that where Gavin spends his time?

Birds of a feather flock each other and all that?

They're in such a rush to jot out another flawed research paper that they overlook impacts caused by a significant portion of Earth's surface.
as before, they dash out the paper, run it by the pals and then up the flagpole with it.

Flaws pointed out by the careful methodical scientists and the authors go out of their way to pay a back handed compliment, ignore several other problems and likely kick their dogs and cats when they think the animals aren't looking.

Mar 15, 2016 at 2:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterATheoK

"Epicycles." ---Martin A


Martin A @ 12:30 pm: While I was writing my earlier comment, my thoughts were with rhoda, and on how on earth one might set out to measure efficacy....

Mar 15, 2016 at 11:02 AM | Registered CommenterJeremy Harvey

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