Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Support

 

Twitter
Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace

Discussion > Emails relating to Rob Wilson's post "Large-scale temperature trends" 5/6/12

Jul 25, 2012 at 1:48 PM | Marion

We are asked 'what will happen if...', and we do our best to answer. Nothing in those statements implies that a particular action MUST be taken, nor HOW it could be taken. That is beyond climate science. We do not prescribe policy, we inform.

Jul 25, 2012 at 2:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Hawkins

Jul 25, 2012 at 11:45 AM | Rob Wilson

(1) If I ask you 10 and you give me 20, you're good. If you give me 50, you're perfect. If you send the lawyers and give me zero, you're either a PR idiot or somebody with a very bad conscience.

I suspect most of the CG people fall in the former category.

(2) As for data (and methods, including code) release policies I don't care if they say "6 months" or "6 years" as long as they don't say "never" or "according to the whims of the publicly-paid researchers": because once again, openness is necessary for honesty.

Even the super-secretive Kepler mission has found a way to share data openly, I am sure a reasonable compromise can be reached for every aspect of publicly-funded efforts.

(3) As I work in the City since 1998 I write all my emails self-aware they might be read in a court of law one day. ALL my emails, none excluded. And why not? Once again if we're all aware of it, and it's in the contract, where is the problem?

Likewise it should be for anybody working under FOIA.

Jul 25, 2012 at 2:40 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Geronimo - I appreciate that you agree, and yes, we certainly don't have the solutions! I also agree that some climate scientists go too far in pushing their particular views, as do many NGOs, think tanks etc and some in the media. Perhaps we are too quiet when someone overstates the conclusions of a particular study.

Reducing CO2 is not an option it will simply bring forward different disasters for the human race so telling us it's the only solution, as the Met Office and IPCC does is wilful ignorance.

But the Met Office or IPCC (Working Groups 1, 2) does not say that reducing CO2 is the only solution. For example, they explore geo-engineering, and they also estimate the impacts of a climatic change so as to inform adaptation assuming nothing is done. We could still do nothing, but the politicians have decided what to do with the information they have been given. If you have a problem with the policies then it is them, not us, who have decided the course of action.

Do you have any solutions?

Jul 25, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Hawkins

We should do nothing Ed, because there is nothing we can do, at the moment we're getting the worst of all worlds by spending huge amounts of money on useless renewables and driving up energy costs, paid for by the poor. Kyoto, Copenhagen, Cancun and Ris +20 have all come and gone without a solution. Now that tells me there is no solution because there wasn't a single dissenting voice at any of these meetings.


The science should go on but a solution would be to start spending money on climate science to prove a 3.5C rise in temperature will be extremely beneficial. We'd then get something akin to the IPCC report telling us that the lush tropics will extend 20 degrees northwards with temperate zones up to 80 degrees. An abundance of new crops and plants will be available with new species flourishing. Lots of precipitation and sunshine, with less wars caused by the fight for resources etc. etc.

Don't believe me? Try it is all I say, we could take £1bn out of the £18bn/annum being wasted on our climate change policy and ask scientists to do the science that would prove only beneficial effects. Don't forget the IAC has already criticised the IPCC for playing down benefits arising from warming.

Jul 25, 2012 at 3:15 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Rob Wilson
I don't particularly want to read your emails - they're probably as boring as mine!
And I take your point about PhD candidates' data.
But one of the most terrifying things I read in the whole of this debate was Jones' 'why should I give you my data when all you want to do is find fault?' Of course I want to find fault. Or to be more precise I want to see if there are faults to be found because you're not going to find them (a) because you don't believe they are there or you wouldn't have published, and (b) because with the best will in the world finding faults in your own work is very, very difficult. (There is a third possibility,of course, but let's not go there!)
But if the faults are there and your work is informing government policy in a way which affects millions of lives and millions of dollars then be sure I want them found.
And doubly so if it is taxpayers' (ie my) money that is paying you to do the research.
Things have improved immensely when people like you are prepared to come and talk and listen to people like us but it is still the case that the old belief of scientists as high priests (or even God himself) has gone to some people's heads and they take any suggestion that their work could do with a second look as a personal insult.
And then when we find flaws and ask questions the vitriol that flows makes any unpleasant comments from sceptics very small beer indeed!

May I add as a PS that geronimo's post, which I have just seen, sums up quite neatly what frustrates a lot of sceptics. Rather like our friends the Liberal-Democrats, there is a coterie of climate scientsts (which geronimo lists) who are not above either being disingenuous or spinning the story to suit their audeince or perhaps even being downright mendacious in order to further a "cause". On top of that there are several activists who, arguably, should never have been put in the posts that they hold. Qualified they may be but, as someone remarked recently in a slightly different context, "it's like putting a Catholic doctor in charge of an abortion clinic".

Jul 25, 2012 at 3:22 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I've always thought, as a rule of thumb, that one degree temperature is around one degree of latitude. I may have read something like that in Lomborg. So what is the problem with the average temps in Oxfordshire being similar to what now pertains in, say, Portugal? No problem at all. People live from the equator to the Arctic circle. Now, I may be wrong, but that is a simple estimate of the effect of a temperature change. Bring it on.

Now, are climate scientists responsible for what those with an agenda do with their output? If it is honestly done, no of course not. But if somebody takes their output and massages it, puts a false spin on it, uses it for activist purposes, should the climate scientist speak up?

Jul 25, 2012 at 3:32 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Or should they shrug and say 'nothing to do with me mate'?

Jul 25, 2012 at 3:33 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

Geronimo - who do you mean when you say 'we' should do nothing? Is it the UK? Or the world as a whole? It would seem a bit futile for the UK to act alone. And there were lots of dissenting voices at those meetings you listed, which is why they couldn't agree on very much!?

As for the benefits - of course there are some, though I'm not sure I recognise the tropical expansion, lots of precip and sunshine - where does that come from?

Anyway, that's enough from me for now!
Ed.

Jul 25, 2012 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterEd Hawkins

Rhoda, there's a lot of great science goes on in the WGs of the IPCC, the problem is in the summary for policy makers the benefits are almost completely erased and the uncertainties around the doom-laden forecasts have all but disappeared. I believe the SPMs are prepared by climate scientists, so to Ed's point they are massaging the output to get a political solution adopted that suits their own agenda, they aren't just putting the facts before the politicians, they are putting forward only the facts that will result in the action they (and their environmental supporters) want to impose. Is that all climate scientists? Clearly not the SPMs are prepared by a very small clique of climate scientists in great secrecy.

As for speaking up, maybe they should, but as we've seen in the climategate emails the hockey team aren't above getting people fired. If I worked at the Met Office I doubt I'd speak up if I wanted to keep my career, nor in many universities where people who have spoken up find themselves looking for a job. The climate science establishment (which apparently reads as "climate science" to BBD) won't tolerate any dissent from the political line they've adopted, so speaking up wouldn't be brave, it would be foolhardy.

Jul 25, 2012 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I did not pose that question for an easy answer. It is a matter of conscience rather than science. And when you are weighing whether to protest an exaggeration versus putting a target on your back as an apostate, it can't be easy. Risk your career to get probably replaced by possibly?

I don't want to really get into the politics. But the correct action of the UK as a 2% player would be to do nothing if the major players are not on board. I don't believe though that climate science is pushing policy. I think they are pushing at an open door, that the politicians have their own reasons for what they do and use the science (and the propaganda) as a pretext.

Jul 25, 2012 at 5:03 PM | Registered Commenterrhoda

This discussion has exhausted itself. Obviously the only climate scientists that can afford visiting BH are the ones that don't see themselves as Planet Saviours. No point in discussing policies with the Fab Four if they keep saying they're policy-neutral or that it's outside of their remit anyway.

The only thing missing now is for the Met Office outreach programme to wake up to a truism, a quote I recently dug out for Richard and Doug on Twitter, by Maréchal Villars (1653-1734), Lord protect me from my friends. I can take care of my enemies. Because nobody ruins a climate scientist's work like the Romms and McKibbens of this world do.

We can be nice to each other until the Sun goes Red Giant...but insofar as the headlines keep being filled with "Greenland meltdown!", "Forest fires!" and the likes, climate science will be stuck in its Year Zero.

Jul 25, 2012 at 5:04 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Don't say that he's hypocritical
Say rather that he's apolitical
"Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down
That's not my department," says Wernher von Braun

Jul 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterFairy Nuff

"Because nobody ruins a climate scientist's work like the Romms and McKibbens of this world do."

Yeah. I would love to see some occasional displays of emotion against the people who elevated the public profile of a speculative, non-experimental, non-therapeutic, non-exploitative (of any natural resource) backwaters discipline that was trundling along under the radar.

:)

Jul 25, 2012 at 8:16 PM | Registered Commentershub

Ed: "Geronimo - who do you mean when you say 'we' should do nothing? Is it the UK? Or the world as a whole? It would seem a bit futile for the UK to act alone."

We should repeal the climate change act and get ourselves a realistic energy policy based on shale oil reserves we have, or nuclear. We are actually doing nothing but spending money doing it, let's stop that.

The world will not agree to cut CO2 emissions, that's my point Ed.

"As for the benefits - of course there are some, though I'm not sure I recognise the tropical expansion, lots of precip and sunshine - where does that come from?"

Well I went to the text books to see what the world looked like in the Eocene when CO2 levels were at 1000ppm and here's what I found:

Subdivisions
The Eocene epoch is usually broken into Early and Late, or - more usually - Early, Middle, and Late subdivisions. The corresponding rocks are referred to as Lower, Middle, and Upper Eocene. The Faunal stages from youngest to oldest are:


Climate

The Eocene global climate was perhaps the most homogeneous of the Cenozoic; the temperature gradient from equator to pole was only half that of today's, and deep ocean currents were exceptionally warm. The polar regions were much warmer than today, perhaps as mild as the modern-day Pacific Northwest; temperate forests extended right to the poles, while rainy tropical climates extended as far north as 45°. The difference was greatest in the temperate latitudes; the climate in the tropics however, was probably similar to today's.

It is hypothesized that the Eocene hothouse world was caused by runaway global warming from released methane clathrates deep in the oceans. The clathrates were buried beneath mud that was disturbed as the oceans warmed. Methane ( CH4 ) has ten to twenty times the greenhouse gas effect of carbon dioxide (C O2 ).

Flora
At the beginning of the Eocene, the high temperatures and warm oceans created a moist, balmy environment, with forests spreading throughout the Earth from pole to pole. Apart from the driest deserts, Earth must have been entirely covered in forests.
Polar forests were quite extensive. Fossils and even preserved remains of trees such as swamp cypress and dawn redwood from the Eocene have been found on Ellesmere Island in the Arctic. The preserved remains are not fossils, but actual pieces preserved in oxygen-poor water in the swampy forests of the time and then buried before they had the chance to decompose. Even at that time, Ellesmere Island was only a few degrees in latitude further south than it is today. Fossils of subtropical and even tropical trees and plants from the Eocene have also been found in Greenland and Alaska. Tropical rainforests grew as far north as the Pacific Northwest and Europe.

Palm trees were growing as far north as Alaska and northern Europe during the early Eocene, although they became less abundant as the climate cooled. Dawn redwoods were far more extensive as well.


Antarctica, which began the Eocene fringed with a warm temperate to sub-tropical rainforest, became much colder as the period progressed; the heat-loving tropical flora was wiped out, and by the beginning of the Oligocene, the continent hosted deciduous forests and vast stretches of tundra.

Oceans

The Eocene oceans were warm and teeming with fish and other sea life. The first Carcharinid sharks appeared, as did early marine mammals, including Basilosaurus, an early species of whale that is thought to be descended from land animals that existed earlier in the Eocene, the hoofed predators called mesonychids, of which Mesonyx was a member. The first sirenians, relatives of the elephants, also appeared at this time.

Stanley, Steven M. Earth System History. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 1999. ISBN 0-7167-2882-6

Jul 25, 2012 at 9:10 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

I was somewhat disappointed that no debate ensued from the last email, John Kennedy's, on the subject of one way temperature adjustments.

'I suspect that the 1-way corrections might also include any data set that has been adjusted to make the past colder and the present warmer. GISS, NCDC, Ocean heat content, individual stations, sea level and so on... In all cases, the adjustments have been made for good reasons, as you point out, but a large number examples are out there in the blogosphere showing adjustments all going the one way.'

Over the years, numerous apparently inexplicable adjustments have been noted from around the world, almost all of which appear to cool the past and increase the interpreted warming slope, (even in some cases to reverse a cooling to a warming trend) to such an extent that these examples must contribute very substantially to perceived mistrust. Certainly I remain suspicious, and I suspect I am far from alone.

I see no justification at all, except in exceptional circumstances, for any significant adjustments to carefully recorded historical measurements using precise instruments. Certainly nothing on a scale or magnitude of what appear to be present.

Jul 25, 2012 at 10:11 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

geronimo

The London Clay, in which the tunnels of London's Underground are built, is Lower Eocene. It has an extensive tropical to subtropical fossil fauna and flora, including fossil alligators and crocodiles, turtles, sharks, snakes, rays, a huge list of warm climate plant fruits and seeds, teredo-bored wood etc.

Jul 25, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Jul 25, 2012 at 2:55 PM | Ed Hawkins

I also agree that some climate scientists go too far in pushing their particular views, as do many NGOs, think tanks etc and some in the media. Perhaps we are too quiet when someone overstates the conclusions of a particular study. [emphasis added -hro]

Ed, thank you for this! From my perspective (which I admit is limited to that of a reasonably informed layperson), there's a "quietness" spectrum that ranges from "whisper" to "silence" - with most appearing to fall within the "silence" band! History long ago taught us that "silence is acquiescence".

[As an aside, it appears to me that the IPCC/UNFCCC deliberations (which are quite controlled to begin with!) often operate on the principle that "silence is acquiescence", as well. But I digress ...]

Some notable exceptions that come to my mind are Curry, Lindzen, Pielke Sr., Landsea, Christy and Spencer - all of whom have been, well, "demonized" (and quite "loudly"!) by the "in-crowd" as "outliers".

I can also appreciate that it's (probably!) not part of your job - or that of your colleagues in the Fab Four - to criticize and/or correct the media mavens who carry and amplify such "overstated conclusions".

But ... if not you, then who?!

Jul 26, 2012 at 12:49 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Martin A

I haven't been following BH that closely of late, and there appears to be a lot of O/T comments, but I have read through the posts and comments related to this thread. If I summarise what I THINK has happened, could you point out where I might have gone wrong?

1. Rob Wilson did an 'outreach' posting in June. In comments, he claimed to have received 'insulting' emails from BH posters, which would be 'embarrassing' to the Bishop's congregation.
2. Unsurprisingly (ANU, and all that), some commenters asked for him to show us the emails so the culprits could be taken to task.
3. Rob Wilson refused, deigned not to comment further and exited.
4. You submitted an FOI to St Andrews to get him to show the emails, and said so on the comment thread.
5. The Univerisity declined to meet your request
6. A while later, on this discussion thread, Richard Betts proclaimed he was 'publishing the Rob Wilson emails'.
7. What he actually published were emails between himself, Ed, John and Rob talking about doing the BH Guest Post and then how it went.
8. Rob has still not shown the emails everyone was interested in.

If that's the case, why doesn't Rob just show us the malicious emails? That way the whole matter is dispensed with and nobody can harbour any suspicion that Rob exaggerated their maliciousness or made the whole thing up - which of course was exactly what happened with the 'climate-scientists-receive-death-threats' fabrication at ANU.

Why doesn't he just name and shame whoever sent him the emails? He could even 'redact' the perp's details.

Why not just show and tell? Am I missing something?

Jul 26, 2012 at 4:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Jul 26, 2012 at 4:48 AM | Gixxerboy

Hi,

I'd like to make a correction to your point 6: I did not proclaim to be 'publishing the Rob Wilson emails'. I only said I was publishing the emails that Martin A had requested of Reading University and the Met Office.

Cheers

Richard

Jul 26, 2012 at 9:11 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts

Geronimo - the Eocene sounds great! ;-)

But how high was the sea level?
No ice = ~70m sea level rise + >10m thermal expansion

And how quickly did the temperature change?
In the Eocene it probably took tens of thousands of years, which we might do in ~100 years. Makes ecosystem and society adapting much harder.

Jul 26, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterEd Hawkins

Gixxer, you (and this whole thread I think) are missing the backstory, which is that under a post back in april Rob Wilson wrote a comment and then bizarrely claimed that people had fallen into a trap that he had set. This was probably where he lost the trust of the BH community.

Jul 26, 2012 at 9:47 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2012/05/06/steve-mcintyre-foi-granted/#comment-74240

Steve Mcintyre:

"BTW some fresh data at both yamal and Urals was used in Esper et al 2009 but hasn’t been archived. I’ve asked the various authors to archive the data or provide it to me, but they haven’t acknowledged my requests. I asked Rob Wilson to speak up on my behalf but he asked that I not involve him."

Jul 26, 2012 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Richard B

Apologies, I'm trying to make sense of all this. I thought the emails Martin Ackroyd would be interested in were those Rob Wilson said were 'insulting', not the chatter between your good selves prior to and after his guest post. That is why I asked Martin A to clarify.

It would seem obvious that (and why) there is an interest in:

1. Whether the emails really were insulting (the background being the fabricated fear of 'death threats to climate scientists' via such sources as ANU)
2. Whether those would constitute an 'embarrassment' to Bishop Hill readers. (This seems unlikely. As you surely know, several of us having 'virtually' slapped you on the back and genuinely offered to buy you a pint, it would seem more likely that BH regulars would look very unkindly on anyone behaving badly towards Rob Wilson for openly offering his opinions.)
3. If there were insulting emails sent to Rob, who the culprits were. Because they would surely be subjected to a heap of opprobrium by the Bishop's congregation.

This all seems so blindingly obvious I wonder why we are subject to sideshows like emails between Ed and Rob, and why on earth Rob W doesn't just put his cards on the table? If some knob has behaved badly, let it be known. His name will be mud around here.

Jul 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterGixxerboy

Re: Jul 26, 2012 at 9:34 AM | Ed Hawkins

"Geronimo - the Eocene sounds great! ;-)

But how high was the sea level?
No ice = ~70m sea level rise + >10m thermal expansion

And how quickly did the temperature change?
In the Eocene it probably took tens of thousands of years, which we might do in ~100 years. Makes ecosystem and society adapting much harder."

I agree the Eocene sounds great - and London doesn't seem to have been too badly affected by a 70m sea level rise, see Pharos comment -


Jul 25, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Pharos
"The London Clay, in which the tunnels of London's Underground are built, is Lower Eocene. It has an extensive tropical to subtropical fossil fauna and flora, including fossil alligators and crocodiles, turtles, sharks, snakes, rays, a huge list of warm climate plant fruits and seeds, teredo-bored wood etc."

Oh and what were the CO2 levels in the Eocene?

Jul 26, 2012 at 11:44 AM | Unregistered CommenterMarion

Jul 26, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Gixxerboy

I'm sure Martin A can explain for himself, but maybe he wondered whether Rob had forwarded the emails to someone else in the process of discussing the blog post?

Jul 26, 2012 at 11:46 AM | Registered CommenterRichard Betts