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Uncharted - Josh 366

Climate super sleuth Brandon Shollenberger discusses a strange climate expertise chart over on his blog which made us wonder about what kind of other data might be lurking down the dimmest corridors of climate science. Brandon and Anthony helped with locating the data points.

Cartoon by Josh

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Reader Comments (167)

One of the top finds of a barrel bottom scraper, was a fake Nobel Prize. Ever since, Coopers have reverted to making barrel bottoms out of planks of wood, rather than chain sawed discs, cut from a log.

Apr 18, 2016 at 11:20 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"my only speculation is that Powell et al was in press at the time Cook et all was being developed - we know it was withdrawn"

Desperate, desperate stuff. Evokes similar wincing as fingernails being scraped down a blackboard, yet despite everything tinged with a faint overlay of embarrassment for the poor bloke.

GC, your own speculation sounds cock on.

Apr 19, 2016 at 12:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

@golf Charlie
'It just seems there is a bit of a time delay, awaiting responses from your sponsors.'

that rings so true. if you changed it to
'It just seems there is a bit of a time delay, awaiting responses from rebuttal central'

I think you would have nailed it

Apr 19, 2016 at 12:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterEternalOptimist

His brief is inadequate and outdated. Were I he, I'd be angry.

Apr 19, 2016 at 1:27 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

golf Charlie. You refer to "Our Henry", but I doubt if he ever turned his bruised hands to making barrel bottoms. Too busy on TV and being a National "Tresur".

Apr 19, 2016 at 8:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

PC, happy to agree with you about the spelling of 'consensus', at least. But my previous comment was not entirely flippant. It was inspired by an article on (smiffy, and others of a similar delicate sensibility, look away now!) the GWPF website - by Lindzen. He says there are three main Narratives (as we call them these days). The first Narrative is of Working Group I, which says (not implausibly) that the greater part of climate warming since 1950 has been caused by increased CO2 emissions . This Narrative is not inconsistent with (I choose my words carefully) the world being about to end. The second is the Sceptics' Narrative (Lukewarmers, I suppose), which (for the most part) does not challenge the scientific views of Working Group I (even if emphasising different facts - such as the retreat of the glaciers in the 19th century, and the warming prior to 1950) but strongly denies that the first Narrative entails that we're all going to fry.

The Third Narrative is that of 'political promoters of climate alarm'. This goes well beyond the conclusions of Working Group 1 - and maintains that we ARE all going to fry, unless we forswear fossil fuels - furthermore, that failure to draw this conclusion is economically superfluous, physically pernicious, morally atrocious and politically abominable (I paraphrase) and evidence of idiocy and gross turpitude. Lindzen's point is that there is a fair measure of consensus between the scientific views of the First and Second Narrative - but it is the Third Narrative that is the problem. There are not many practising scientists (he claims) who embrace the Third Narrative.

So, what is the consensus that this 16-author paper seeks to establish? Is it that we're all going to fry? Or is it that carbon dioxide emissions have contributed to temperature rises since 1950? If the latter - " Parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus ". Maybe we could have an answer from the Third Narrative Men?

Apr 19, 2016 at 8:36 AM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

osseo: Interesting point. All the consensus papers asked whether it was warming and whether humans had caused it. None addressed the issues of the consequences because real scientists, and the majority in the climate science community are real scientists, will not attempt to foretell the future. Having said that even with a bar set so low that they would probably have 97% of sceptical scientists agree with them they failed to get anything near the 97% in the raw data. Here are the numbers from Doran and Zimmerman (who BTW changed her own stance on the causes of climate change from believing it was human caused to being neutral after she'd done the survey. Doran was her supervisor and took her MSc project added his name to the front and published it - nice).

Ms Zimmermann sent out two questions to 10,257 scientists these were:

Q1: “When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?”

1. Risen
2. Fallen
3. Remained relatively constant
4. No opinion/Don't know

Q2: “Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?”

1. Yes
2. No
3. I'm not sure
3146 replied, many of them telling Ms. Zimmermann that counting votes for and against a hypothesis was not best scientific practice. The authors then excluded all respondents to those who’d published climate science papers in the scientific literature. 5% - or 157 – were climate scientists, but Doran and Zimmermann filtered them further until they got to 79 scientists.

Even then they managed to get two of the 79 who didn’t think it had warmed between pre-1800 and the present. (which may be true because statistically, taken over a long enough period, it might not have warmed).

So the second question was reduced to 77, 75 of whom thought that human activity had contributed significantly to increased temperatures, and that’s where the 97% came from.

“The objective of our study presented here is to assess the scientific consensus on climate change through an unbiased survey of a large and broad group of Earth scientists.” (my emphasis). Is 77 climate scientists “a large and broad group of Earth scientists”? I don’t think so.

In any event, the final 75 scientists thought the Earth had warmed and human activity was a significant factor, none of them spoke about the dangers of warming.

Cook et al was even worse:


“We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'. We find that 66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW, 32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming. In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers. Compared to abstract ratings, a smaller percentage of self-rated papers expressed no position on AGW (35.5%). Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus. For both abstract ratings and authors' self-ratings, the percentage of endorsements among papers expressing a position on AGW marginally increased over time. Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research.”

Here’s what the actual data was

11944 abstracts (1991-2011) were reviewed by Cook et al.
7930 abstracts were excluded for expressing no opinion. 66%
3896 abstracts agreed humans caused some warming. 32%
64 abstracts stated that humans caused most warming 0.5%
42 abstracts stated humans caused most warming since 1950* 0.3%
0 abstracts stated there would be man-made catastrophes
(h/t Christopher Monckton)

*The IPCC position.

What you can see from these numbers is that the bulk of scientists (3896) who expressed an opinion believe that humans have caused some warming. 106 said the humans had caused most warming and none had said the warming would be dangerous.

It wasn’t well received by serious scientists.

“The “97% consensus” article is poorly conceived, poorly designed and poorly executed. It obscures the complexities of the climate issue and it is a sign of the desperately poor level of public and policy debate in this country that the energy minister should cite it.”

Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate Change in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia.

“The paper is a treasure trove of how-not-to lessons for a graduate class on survey design and analysis: the sample was not representative, statistical tests were ignored, and the results were misinterpreted.”

Richard Tol Professor of economics at the University of Sussex and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He has been involved in the IPCC since 1994.

What is clear, apart from the massive amateurism shown in the work, is that the "researchers" started out with the answers and then, when the didn't come, tortured the data until the could get to the 97% assuming, correctly, that most of the people who want to quote these papers wouldn't have the ability/inclination to check them for accuracy. The papers a simple a weapon in the PR war being waged by the environmental/left-wing activists making up UNEP.

Apr 19, 2016 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

“There is no doubt in my mind that the literature on climate change overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis that climate change is caused by humans. I have very little reason to doubt that the consensus is indeed correct.”

Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the literature

- Richard Tol.

The consensus is of course in the high nineties. No one ever said it was not. We don’t need Cook’s survey to tell us that.

Richard Tol - Comment at ATTP's blog.

Richard Tol Professor of economics at the University of Sussex and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. He has been involved in the IPCC since 1994.

Apr 19, 2016 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

geronimo, apparently some people thought it was a worthwhile exercise to try to reinforce the previous survey you describe, with a fresh 'imaginative' approach to science fiction.

The Flat Liners are determined to prove the climate never changed before mankind started to produce CO2. Not much brain activity is being displayed.

Apr 19, 2016 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Geronimo, many thanks. I really appreciate the endorsement - based on a much fuller review than mine.

I have now got as far as downloading the original paper - though to date I've only read the abstract (not sure I can stomach any more). The abstract confirms that the consensus is" that humans are causing recent global warming". If you are not careful, you might read this as 'humans are the sole cause of recent global warming' - which of course they are careful not to say. And also 'recent' presumably means 'since 1950'? - so they don't have to deal with queries about earlier warming (in the 1930's, or indeed since the end of the Little Ice age in the 19th century). The abstract also defends Cook against Tol's criticisms of his classifications of climate change papers. This on the basis that papers that are silent about the consensus do not necessarily reject it. True - but neither do they necessarily support it.

I begin to see what is meant by the cry "Watch the pea!". There is a strong consensus (including Tol - and indeed Lindzen). But this is that there is (some) anthropogenic warming. It is NOT that this has increased, is increasing dangerously and must immediately be stopped whatever the cost - and that we can easily do this if we give up fossil fuels. The trick is to misrepresent the scientific consensus as what it is not.

Apr 19, 2016 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

The usual stupid pet tricks by the usual stupid pets. Few deny AGW, it is the Catastrophism that is the crux.

No catastrophes, no need for draconic and destructive policy. It's that simple.

Apr 19, 2016 at 6:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Phil Clarke

The consensus is of course in the high nineties. No one ever said it was not. We don’t need Cook’s survey to tell us that.

We understand that Phil, I don't doubt that there's a consensus that humans cause climate change in the high 90s. But what is that consensus? Is it that there is some natural and some human warming? Is it that humans have caused most of the warming? I don't believe there is a consensus in the 90s on the latter because there's no science to support it. I suspect you'll find there's a consensus on the former in the high 90s because it's accepted that humans have all sorts of effects on local climates and of course the increased CO2 in the atmosphere from fossil fuels ( and presumably ocean degassing ) must cause some warming. There isn't any evidence whatsoever that 97% of scientists believe it's warming and it's going to be catastrophic, there may be some, but I doubt you'd get a proper scientist telling you that the sea levels are going to rise 3metres by the end of the century. And that's what's important in this particular bunfight in which he alarmist protagonists don't give a FF about climate change/global warming, but see it as a chance to frighten people into socialism. Conspiracy theorist moi? Nope, I've read what they've said about CC.

Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized civilizations collapse? Isn't it our responsiblity to bring that about?"

Maurice Strong, Founder of the UN Environment Programme

"This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution."

"This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model for the first time in human history."

Cristiana Figueres, Head of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

"No matter if the science of global warming is all phony... climate change provides the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world."

Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment

"If we don't overthrow capitalism, we don't have a chance of saving the world ecologically. I think it is possible to have an ecologically sound society under socialism. I don't think it is possible under capitalism."

Judi Bari, Principal Organiser of Earth First!

In any event, science, or indeed life in general, is about getting your information from the data. All of these papers are seriously flawed in the way the collect and process the data. Since we're quoting Professor Tol, who by the way, supports taking action on climate change, let me repeat for you what he had to say about the Cook paper:

Apr 19, 2016 at 6:14 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Yes kim but there's the problem. It means no more big bucks for important research, no more feeling good about ourselves, no more saving the world bulls**t, no more jetting off to conferences or influencing committees, and so on and so on.

With so much to for them to lose and so many already in positions of power how can they lose, how can we ever win?

"The truth will make us free", yeh right, in another universe.

Feeling quite upbeat today!

Apr 19, 2016 at 6:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

What is shocking is how effective the strategy is.

Cook et al (2016) (the 'Rugby team' paper?) may be (to put it mildly) dubious methodologically. But its claim of consensus " that humans are causing [at least some of] recent global warming" is very modest. Never mind. That's not how the rest of the world understands the consensus. They 'know' what the consensus is – and it's not that. What the world (from the US president down) 'knows' is exemplified by the following quote (Washington Times, April 17) from an email from Vermont Attorney-General Sorrell to colleagues seeking to prosecute oil companies for 'fraudulently' denying that the climate changes: “As we all know, global warming, if not reversed, will be catastrophic for our planet.

Apr 19, 2016 at 10:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterosseo

Where's Phil?

Apr 19, 2016 at 10:42 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Geronimo. Phil has left the building. His light's still on over at Palaeoclimate Towers, the tallest building in the Bishopric.

Apr 20, 2016 at 5:58 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

@ Phil Clarke

As far as I know, nobody ever said it wasn't a rubbish conspiracy. Nobody ever suggested it was good scientific practice either. Oh wait- hundreds of alarmists did. Which is why I'm sceptical of their claims.

Apr 26, 2016 at 5:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterLeo Morgan

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