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Discussion > The Moral and Intellectual Poverty of Climate Alarm

I think your assessment is spot on!
The reservations that many of us on this side of the house have is that while we know that environmental activists are not susceptible to reason, the scientists are supposed to be.
I expect WWF and Greenpeace and Fiends of the Earth to be cavalier with truth because — hey, we're saving the planet, guys! And that's rely, rely important, innit? We trust scientists not to behave like that.
We also trust the BBC not to behave like that. You made a comment on Unthreaded this morning that in normal circumstances I would have agreed with, but I suggest you might revise your ideas a little if you took a look at what is now known as '28-gate'.
Yes, 90% of people don't give a stuff about climate one way or t'other. All the more reason why the BBC should be providing a balanced view and not acting as cheerleaders for the eco-activists.

Mar 22, 2016 at 11:41 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Here, here, MJ. Mr K. and his friend, Mr Dennis, appear to be newcomers to this site, and may be unaware of the depths of corruption that infests the AGW myth. To find that its tendrils reach deep into one of this nation’s more cherished institutions could well be a bit of a shock, so treat the gentleman with a little compassion; he is soon to be exposed to many more such shocks.

Mar 22, 2016 at 1:40 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

Radical Rodent, I must disabuse you in your supposition. I have been reading blogs such as this since before 2009. I am therefore fully aware of the machinations of warmistas. I also met my full share of activist students at UEA. I just chose until just recently to avoid contributing my own thoughts into the fray.

Paul and I often discussed these matters, so he also has a longer connection than you suppose.

Mar 22, 2016 at 2:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Yeah… I have since been reading a few of the contributions in the “Climategate” fracas to, from and about you; appearances can be deceptive, and even I can draw the wrong conclusions (who would’ve known?). You certainly give the impression that you hold the value of due scientific rigour, without leaping to conclusions. In further correspondence, it was good to see you slapping down criticism of which sites you choose to view.

Mar 22, 2016 at 6:33 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

The mass media opportunism of Prof Tim Palmer deserves a place in our Hall of Shame. Well done Paul Homewood for highlighting it.

It appears that making up numbers as you go along, and making claims that are negated by a few simple checks, have become the norm for climate scientists.

Scaring the public is one way to get big grants. Climate scientists have being getting quite a few:

But coming back to the Palmer example. It was on the radio:

Christopher Booker has alerted me to a piece on yesterday’s BBC Today programme, in which John Humphrys interviewed Oxford professor Tim Palmer to discuss Cyclone Pam.

Palmer is a Royal Society Research Professor in Climate Physics, interested in the predictability and dynamics of weather and climate, and is one of the gang often wheeled out when climate change is discussed on the BBC.

According to Booker, the piece, at around 8.38am, went something like this:

It began with a news update on Vanuatu and extracts from a recorded interview with the country’s president (quite widely reported elsewhere), saying that the cause of the disaster was climate change – rising sea levels etc.

John Humphrys then asked ‘what do the scientists think?’ and interviewed Oxford professor Tim Palmer (a Royal Society Research Fellow), “in charge of modelling and climate change”.

The key quotes were that he said of the recent “incredibly intense” cyclones in Vanuatu and Haiyan in the Philippines that “these are producing record breaking winds and it’s exactly this type of extreme cyclone that is predicted by the climate models to increase under climate change, under global warming”.

When Humphrys suggested that we have always had cyclones, Palmer said that these latest ones have seen “wind gusts that have never been measured before, 200-plus mile an hour winds“. When Humphrys pressed him on this, asking him to confirm that they are quite unprecedented, Palmer repeated that “these things have never been seen“.

When Humphrys suggested that climate models have not always been right, Palmer momentarily seemed to be a bit taken aback, but then said that “models are approximations of reality”, and that if only we had more powerful computers, they would give us a clearer picture.

Palmer was dishonestly conflating Pam with Haiyan, presumably to exaggerate the former’s strength. So it is important that we look at each separately.

Cyclone Pam

Let’s start with the claim that it was “incredibly intense”.

Pam’s atmospheric pressure is claimed to have dropped to 896mb. This is certainly low by South Pacific standards, though not as low as Cyclone Zoe that hit the Solomons and Vanuatu in 2002, registering 890mb.

In terms of the Pacific as a whole though, cyclones dropping below 900mb are actually quite common. In the Western Pacific alone, there have been at least 37 since the 1950’s, with Typhoon Tip claiming the record of 870mb in 1979. Fortunately, the vast majority of these never hit land.

Then we get on to the claim of “record breaking winds, wind gusts that have never been measured before, 200mph plus winds”.

As I showed in yesterday’s post, this is drivel. In the South Pacific alone, there have been four other cyclones as strong or stronger since 1989, in other words an event that comes along every 5 years or so.

See the post for much more:

Mar 26, 2016 at 3:52 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

If ever a man was in out of his depth it is Gavin Schmidt, the mathematician/programmer turned 'climate scientist'. His jejune behaviour is notorious. Here, at Climate Audit, Steve M points out just how and why yet another trashy comment from Gavin directed at a good man and genuine scientist is 180 degrees out:

Apr 19, 2016 at 10:10 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

I can't wait for Judy's reaction.

Apr 20, 2016 at 1:14 AM | Unregistered Commenterkim

Well, kim, here's a reaction from Josh to be getting on with:

Apr 23, 2016 at 4:50 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

More on the hapless Schmidt:

In my most recent post, I discussed yet another incident in the long running dispute about the inconsistency between models and observations in the tropical troposphere – Gavin Schmidt’s twitter mugging of John Christy and Judy Curry. Included in Schmidt’s exchange with Curry was a diagram with a histogram of model runs. In today’s post, I’ll parse the diagram presented to Curry, first discussing the effect of some sleight-of-hand and then showing that Schmidt’s diagram, after removing the sleight-of-hand and when read by someone familiar with statistical distributions, confirms Christy rather than contradicting him.


May 7, 2016 at 11:21 AM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

Just one snippet:

Schmidt: “”absurd” situation where some runs contributing to the model mean were outside the confidence interval for the model mean.”

Commenter: Schmidt is working with statistics and understands nothing about them! If you have 100 model runs you should have about 5 of them outside a 95% confidence interval. All runs that contribute to a mean are not withing the confidence bounds unless there are very few runs and a very high percentage confidence interval.

Another comment in the CA thread;

Outsiders have little idea of what is taking place in the shadowy world of climate science. There are scores of instances that would drop the jaw of any “outsider” who has a general appreciation of science and scientific methodology. The annals of Climate Audit are full of meticulously detailed dissections and accounts, similar to this post in the level of astonishment that they provoke.

May 7, 2016 at 12:26 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin A

The only astonishing thing is that McIntyre would devote so many words and activity to a Straw Man. Schmidt never claimed his histogram 'refuted' Christy, just that it was a clearer way of depicting trends and differences. I agree.

May 7, 2016 at 5:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

BTW, Christy is at it again.

May 7, 2016 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Tawdry Phil. Q.E.D.

May 7, 2016 at 10:32 PM | Registered CommenterJohn Shade

BTW, Phil Clarke is at it again, posting links to discredited Green Blob propaganda

May 7, 2016 at 11:44 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Gosh, I thought Tamino had a point, but after that devastating, detailed, well-sourced rebuttal, I am not so sure. more convinced than ever.


May 8, 2016 at 9:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke.

Skim read the original paper. Noticed it's about, and only about Alabama. Conclusions relate only to Alabama. Christy based in Alabama. Wonder if there might be a link.

But critique covers whole of USA. Honest criticism?

How is Christy "at it again"?

Not surprised you are a supporter.

May 8, 2016 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Half right Alan, using Alabama only was indeed the first cherry-pick, others included using TMax and JJA. Without which, no cooling, and they recommend adopting these choices as a fundamental climate metric, a proxy for tropospheric heat - globally, not just in Alabama.

They also fail to list the stations used and ignore relevant previous literature, amongst other methological problems. The journal should be ashamed.

Never an Auditor around when you really need one.

May 8, 2016 at 10:41 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil Clarke. Alabama a cherry pick?, when the paper only concerned Alabama, and every reader is made absolutely aware of this, come on.

About the other "pickings" , aren't you aware of them because the authors tell you about them in the paper? Cherry picking implies falsely hiding something about the subject in the paper. What was hidden?

Are the conclusions not supported by the evidence presented?

Anyone is at liberty to question the significance of a piece of research, but you are going much further than this, by questioning their data. Looking at the paper again it seems to do everything it says on the tin, and the tin's label seems comprehensive.

When it comes to an AGW supporter complaining about cherry picking, I start counting the silver.

May 8, 2016 at 12:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Phil Clarke at it again!

The Christy paper looks at Alabama tmax temperatures in June/July/August and compared them to the outputs of 77 model runs from the CMIP5.

I am not sure what you understand about climate modeling, but if you believe that the CMIP5 models are outputting reasonable data that we can use to change society, then you must agree that each regional output of CMIP5 must also agree?

Unless of course you believe that averaging the regional output of the models gives you a more accurate result?????

May 8, 2016 at 2:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Who would have thought that selecting an area and studying it within carefully prescribed conditions, all of which are laid out and specified, with conclusions specifically related to the study and its limitations, without extrapolation of the results, could be called cherry-picking? That sort of makes almost all scientific study invalid because it is cherry-picking: that surgeon should not have cherry-picked that faulty kidney for replacement; the entire body should have been treated; that chef should not have cherry-picked the ingredients for the cake from so many sources; they should all have been chosen from the same tree. What is your definition of “is”?

Reverting to the moral and intellectual poverty of climate alarm, let me refer you to a link I posted on unthreaded (for it to be ignored – boo hoo) about Runaway Ocean Warming. My non-scientifically trained brain managed to detect lots of non-scientific thinking in a paper (not least, its conclusion) written by a claimed scientist. Now, the question I have to ask is: am I (and, by inference, most of the rest of us on this, and similar sites) missing something about the scientificicity (hey! – if the BBC can broadcast someone talking about the “academisation of schools” then I, too, can make up long, stupid words!) involved in climate alarm?

Read the paper and weep – either for joy that someone has found another terrible threat about to engulf us, or for grief for yet another example of a dreadful future based to upon dreadful “science”, which Believers will gleefully wave in our faces. Your choice.

May 8, 2016 at 2:14 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

I am not sure what you understand about climate modeling, but if you believe that the CMIP5 models are outputting reasonable data that we can use to change society, then you must agree that each regional output of CMIP5 must also agree?

Depends on the definition of 'regional'. The GCMs do reasonably well at continental scales but expecting accuracy at the scale of a single, carefully selected, US State is absurd.

Also ridiculous is that the phenomenon of the anomalous cooling or slower warming in the area has already been studied, documented and yes - modelled.

Kunkel, K.E., X.-Z. Liang, J. Zhu, and Y. Lin, 2006: Can CGCMs simulate the Twentieth Century “warming hole” in the central United States. J. Climate, 19, 4137–4153.

Climatic effects of 1950–2050 changes in US anthropogenic aerosols –E. M. Leibensperger et al.

Which found that, with the correct aerosol forcings…

Our model results show that US anthropogenic aerosols can explain the observed lack of warming over the eastern US from 1930 to 1980 followed by very rapid post-1980 warming. Without US anthropogenic aerosol sources, we find in the model a relatively constant rate of warming over the 1950–2050 period, driven by increasing greenhouse gases. Increasing aerosols until 1980 offset the warming. Decreasing aerosol after 1980 accelerated the warming due to the loss of the aerosol cooling shield. We find that the observed warming from 1990 to 2010 is significantly greater than would have been expected from greenhouse gases alone

Neither paper cited by Christy. Very odd.

May 8, 2016 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Phil. Last time I looked the good ol' jackhammer state of Alabama wasn't in the "central" United States. Interestingly your other reference deals with the Eastern US. I wonder where those models placed Alanama, or was that one of the model variables?

To add to your geographic knowledge, Alabama forms part of the South.

May 8, 2016 at 3:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

And what “anthropogenic aerosols” might these be?

I suspect that this is deliberately conflating the term “aerosols”, meaning air-borne particles of whatever origin with “aerosols”, meaning propellants and contents found in cans where the contents are delivered in spray form. Judging by the dates, it is trying to link this to the CFC propellants that were commonly used in aerosol cans until the hole in the ozone layer over the South pole was discovered, whereupon, the use of CFCs was banned (though nobody even tried to plug Mount Cerebus, to stop it pumping out so much chlorine… hey-ho). Mind you, what caused the warming to stop around 1998 does not seem to be explained here.

Anyhoo… if this is not right, you have to look on the bright side – the aerosols being put into the atmosphere by the forest fire in Canada should be an effective cooling shield for quite some time; perhaps sea ice will return to the Arctic.

Somehow, I suspect that, whatever happens it will be Bad, and it will all be the fault of humanity, with the strong subliminal message that humanity must go – except for the Chosen Few, of course.

May 8, 2016 at 4:35 PM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent


is the equation CFCs = Chosen Few Converts essentially correct?

May 8, 2016 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Kendall

Shorter Alan - look a squirrel !

May 8, 2016 at 6:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke