Richard Muller and the BEST Climate Data Review


Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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229 Responses

  1. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    But… but… Koch brothers!Report

  2. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Is his work enough to convince any of the doubters here? If not, what would be?

    I’m going to play Kreskin and predict “No” and “REAL science!” respectively.Report

  3. Avatar Scott says:

    OK, if true the earth is getting warmer. That doesn’t tell us what is causing it.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Scott says:

      It tells us that the people who were vehemently denying any kind of warming can no longer be trusted on the matter unless they explain why they were incorrect in that conclusion and how they’ve re-adjusted their assumption. I won’t be holding my breath.Report

    • Avatar Thomas in reply to Scott says:

      I KNEW that was coming! Well, Scott perhaps we should again listen to the climate scientists that are certain it is our growing greenhouse emissions. So, I suppose you will want another drawn out “debate’ and waste some more time in determining the details. Well, I wonder what the young ones would say about that if they had the POWER!Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Thomas says:


        Those are two separate questions and proof of one is not necessarily proof of the other. There is evidence that the earth has gone though many cycles of warming and cooling so it seems reasonable to ask for scientific evidence what is causing the warming.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:


          Neither sunspots, solar abnormalities, nor ablation are current viable hypothesis to explain warming.

          So, it’s atmospheric, or it’s “something else”. If you’ve got a better “something else”, by all means…Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


            You are the one arguing that people cause warming, so why don’t you find the proof? You want folks to believe you so use that science I keep hearing folks talk about. You criticize the antis for lack of scientific proof but yet you now what folks to believe its people w/o any proof.Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:


              Until someone who disagrees with AGW actually tells me what constitutes “proof” (note: proof is for mathematics, not science), I’m not going down that road.

              Otherwise, “me using science” turns into me playing whack-a-mole as the goalposts move all over hell and gone.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


                That is your way of getting out of having to produce evidence that humans are causing global warming, how pathetic. If you can produce demonstrable evidence of a causal relationship, go for it. If not, don’t expect people to believe you.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                Scott, if you email me your street address I’ll print out the last 20 years of the top 6 climatology journals and mail them to you so that you can hit yourself over the head with them.

                Or, alternatively, you can plant your goalpost in the ground and tell me what constitutes “proof” in your mind on this topic. If I have a reasonable set of goalposts to shoot for, I’ll do research for you. Until then, not so much.

                Currently, the commonly accepted hypothesis is that greenhouse gas emissions (SO2 and CO2) are the major contributors to global warming. There has been investigation into alternate hypotheses, from “the Earth is emitting more heat from the core” to “the Sun is entering a phase of greater production”. Those haven’t panned out.

                Things don’t spontaneously get warmer without causation.

                Establishing a direct causal link is great, when you can do it… but if you can establish a correlation between a reasonably plausible cause and an effect, and there is no other available reasonably plausible cause, you go with what you’ve got.

                If you don’t think this is a reasonable method, then I’m not going to be able to convince you of anything. That’s fine, if that’s where you want to hang your hat. “I still think it might be something else” is not an entirely illogical position, but one would think you at least have a candidate for the cause.

                Since, yanno, if you’re smarter than all these dudes who support AGW as a theory, you ought to have an idea of what’s causing it.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:


                Evidence of a causal relationship not just a mere hypothesis, do I need to repeat myself more slowly? Why would anyone support radically changing our society and way of life on anything less is beyond me.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Scott says:

                Why would anyone support radically changing our society and way of life on anything less is beyond me.

                Have you heard of molecular biology?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                > Evidence of a causal relationship
                > not just a mere hypothesis

                So I take it you’re not a fan of evolution? Or is there sufficient evidence of a causal relationship in that case?

                This is what I mean, Scott. You can repeat yourself again if you like, but I still don’t know what you *mean*. What is sufficient evidence of a causal relationship to make you change your mind?

                How is this not good enough? If you tell me what more you need, then I’ll know where you’re going. If that’s not good enough, you need to tell me *why*. Otherwise, I don’t know how to change your mind.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Scott says:


                Yes I believe in evolution but in this context, so what? Evolution doesn’t ask that we fundamentally change our society and how we live based on a hypothesis or correlation. AGW, on the other hand does.Report

              • Avatar Pat Cahalan in reply to Scott says:

                > Evolution doesn’t ask that we
                > fundamentally change our
                > society and how we live based
                > on a hypothesis or correlation.
                > AGW, on the other hand does.

                It does?

                Even assuming it does… uh, what do the consequences of something have to do with whether or not it is occurring in the first place?

                If AGW is occurring, it is occurring whether it is convenient for us or not. The consequences of it will occur whether we want them to or don’t.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Scott says:

                Policy consequences can matter when it comes to the sincerity of those pointing to the problem.

                If someone supports Policy X and Lifestyle Y for a whole host of reasons, and says that Problem Z is a very serious problem indeed. Oh, and by the way, the solution for Problem Z is Policy X and Lifestyle Y.

                The question I always have is what if an alternate solution to Problem Z is Policy A and Lifestyle B, which they do not like at all? Would they still see Problem Z as a pressing one? Or would they be looking for reasons as to why Problem Z isn’t really a problem, or isn’t that bad of one?

                Many would continue to evaluate the evidence for and against Z, but many would be backing off of it. This is one of the reasons why facts so often follow opinions. A lot of shouters on both sides – often citing studies – don’t actually care if (for instance) Abstinence-Only policies work in the aggregate, make no difference, or are counterproductive. They believe that they are effective, or counterproductive, according to whether or not they believe that it is morally and socially correct.

                As it pertains to AGW, I do think that there is a lot more going on here. However, that the immediate policy prescription that a lot of the banner-wavers favor are things that they support anyway, doesn’t escape my attention.Report

              • Avatar KenB in reply to Scott says:

                If AGW is occurring, it is occurring whether it is convenient for us or not.

                From an omniscient perspective this is true. But for us mortals, we’re really talking about probabilities and confidence levels. It’s reasonable to say that the standard hypothesis about AGW is better than any other contenders but that our confidence in its correctness is still too low to justify paying the price to attempt to contain or reverse it.Report

    • Avatar Marconi in reply to Scott says:

      Correct. But we also know what is causing it.


      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Marconi says:

        Clear proof that Muller was NO DENIER. Yes, he complained about the irresponsible lack of scientific ethics and methodology, as I myself have done ad nauseum on this site elsewhere. In fact the “team” acted like horse’s asses, no doubt about it. The fact that the same “team” runs the show at “” is a perfectly good reason not to A) visit the site and B) trust one word written there. The further fact that they continuously censor and edit and misrepresent authors’ posts on that site only adds to the sordid nature of their hypocrisy.

        Has the earth warmed over the past 100 years? Absolutely, as have the REST OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM”S PLANETS! (Except for Venus, already far to hot for any greenhouse models to explain.) Don’t blame man’s CO2, blame that big yellow thing up in the sky during the day. It is called the sun.Report

        • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

          If occasionally acting like an ass were sufficient reason never to trust one word written by someone… I suppose I should spare everyone the trouble and ban you immediately.

          As well as myself, Erik, and everyone else at this site.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

            Jason, if they “occasionally” acted like an ass, I’d give them a pass too. This behavior has lasted for decades. We may never get to the bottom of all their manipulations, and that’s the problem.

            This quote is indicative of the problem: Stephen Schneider of the National Center for Atmospheric Research described the scientists’ dilemma this way: “On the one hand, as scientists, we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but-which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but; human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broadbased support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to wardsmith says:


              You should quote the whole thing, since he’s presenting it as a moral issue, not as what scientists should actually do. If you weren’t an ass so much, like in this case, we might take you more seriously.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Chris says:

                Calling me an ass does not make you any less of one Chris. Schneider was only ONE of MANY “exaggerators” I quoted here and elsewhere. It does no good to claim obeisance and penitence while in the hallowed domain of peer societies while simultaneously engaging in precisely the behavior he supposed decried in the article. Luckily for Schneider, he died before his more extravagant claims (dozens of new “super-hurricanes per year”) did not come to pass. Is he a “true believer”? Obviously.Report

  4. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Maybe if he funded it out of his own pocket. As you well know, anyone who receives any funding from anyone for any sort of research is suspect of being bought off- particularly the dreaded Koch brothers! Admittedly, it’s harder to make the claim in this case, since they’re global warming skeptics, but he probably got some funding from other groups that are less skeptical of global warming- and they probably bought him off! Not to mention the windfall he’s going to make now from the lucrative global warming industry. Nope. Dude’s a liar. Sorry.Report

  5. Avatar Jim Hall says:

    First impression” This post-“hide the decline” review of the underlying data, was badly needed. On the surface, seems like it is very well done, but the author has caveats regarding corrections and so forth. And it needs peer review. Also there were substantial claims by researchers that the dog ate the original raw data, and that their massaged and improved raw data was all that was available. Unsure how Mueller addresses that.

    But as someone who who has had serious reservations regarding the quality of much of the closed “science” behind climate change claims, the transparency of this study, together with the diversity of funding support, is a breath of fresh air.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jim Hall says:


      Whenever possible, we have used raw data rather than previously homogenized or edited data…In general, our process was to flag dubious data rather than simply eliminating it. Flagged values were generally excluded from further analysis, but their content is preserved for future consideration.”
      (emphasis added by me)

      So, no, they didn’t necessarily use the original raw data.

      I’m pretty sure that doing a curve fit to a broken data set will produce the same result as someone else. Adding in a bunch of scattered, low-confidence data that was too stinky for even the previous researchers isn’t going to change that.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck says:

        So…. he was on your side in this… and he looked at some data that everyone had already reviewed… and he changed his mind for no reason whatsoever?


        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          Weren’t you one of the people saying the opinion of anyone who disagreed didn’t matter? But now they’re saying something you like and suddenly their opinion does matter after all.

          To the extent that I have a “side”, the side is that the science should be done properly. That means repeatable experiments, which means publishing the raw data–prior to any “corrections”–and the methods. It means convincing people that the data you selected were the right ones, and that there were no biases in that data. It means showing that the methods are appropriate for the situation and properly executed.

          Which means that what BEST is doing is what ought to have been done from the get-go. If the CRU team hadn’t been all “show the work? Screw you!” then nobody would even know who Anthony Watts was.


          Is the average surface temperature of the Earth increasing? I’d ask to see the error bars before I made that statement. The IPCC report had error bars so large that you could draw a line showing the temperature was decreasing.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Calling Muller a denier is like calling Christopher Hitchens a born again Christian. Muller (rightly) pointed out that Mann was an ass – specifically referring to the Climategate emails. Muller has always been on board with the AGW theory, he was never a denier, but criticizing Mann put him in that camp among the “true believers”.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Weren’t you one of the people saying the opinion of anyone who disagreed didn’t matter?

            I don’t believe so. If you can find me a quote, I may concede. But that would be a very odd thing for me to say.

            What I am sure I said is that there exists an overwhelming consensus on the question, and only a few doubters. That’s a very different claim.

            Is the average surface temperature of the Earth increasing? I’d ask to see the error bars before I made that statement. The IPCC report had error bars so large that you could draw a line showing the temperature was decreasing.

            You can draw lines on any graph however you like, but that doesn’t make them trend lines. Best fit remains best fit, and in itself, that’s not a question up for debate.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              “”What I am sure I said is that there exists an overwhelming consensus on the question, and only a few doubters. ”

              Every time you say this, and someone points out that it’s actually not true, it ends up with us drilling down to “well there’s an overwhelming consensus of all the actual climate scientists“, implying that the opinion of anyone who isn’t an ‘actual climate scientist’ is useless.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck says:

                When buying a house, I consult a real-estate lawyer because his interest aligns with mine. I do not trust the agents to give legal advice.

                Apparently, 99% of people do not do this. On what will probably be the largest purchase of their life. They’re willing to trust in people whose interests do not align with their own.

                And you really want me to count most of these blokes as anything other than morons? I’ll trust the experts, thanks anyhow.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Kimmi says:

                Kimmi, The “real estate” agents here are the CLIMATE SCIENTISTS and you would have to be a “moron” not to make the connection! THEIR interest is aligned with climate study being a major dish on the feeding trough that is public funding of research. In fact it IS a major dish on that trough.

                Why is this not as plain as the nose on your face?Report

              • Perhaps more to the point, Mr. Smith–God help the academic career of the AGW “skeptic.”

                It’s simply easier and safer to go along, as in all mobs.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Yes, fear the Gore-Scientist-Academia Complex!Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Not to worry TVD, the boy doing the “BEST” work will certainly be offered multiple “jobs” for his fine treatment. It ain’t about the money… because there IS a Santa Claus!Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                not one research scientist in the field unfunded by exxon/oil interests. that appears implausible. I can name people who disagree with gravity, evolution, etc etc. All get published, all aren’t being paid for by external interests.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                Because the people I know don’t take funding at all (at least not for climatology). And they do damn good research — for the Libertarian party even.Report

              • Avatar Zeph in reply to wardsmith says:

                @wardsmith, remember that all of the national academeies of this planet which have studied this issue have endorsed the IPCC’s conclusions, as well as most scientific professional societies like physics and chemistry (minus some petroleum geology societies which are neutral). Only a tiny of the overall scientific body of the world are climate scientists – and any increased funding for climatology is likely to reduce funding for some other branch of science. So the large bulk of the scientists of the world who endorse AGW are acting against their own research budgets, if anything. So the idea that the large bulk of scientists around the world, from capitalist and communist nations, are all in on some conspiracy to enrich a few climatologists at their own expense, is rather ludicrous. Even for a hypothetical climate scientist who wanted increased research budgets, naming greenhouse gasses as the primary cause means that funding priorities need to shift towards mitigation, not research; it would be better for their budgest to say they don’t know yet so more study is in drastically important before coming to any conclusion (or diverting money from research to mitigation). The most plausible explanation is that, well, they are telling the truth about the results of their research. If that was so, then the consequences their research suggests would be serious enough to explain all of their behaviors consistently.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Zeph says:

                Zeph, if you know any scientists, all they need to do to get funding is add, “AGW” to their research and they’re golden. Studying rhesus monkeys? Say, “AGW is Affecting Rhesus Monkey Habitat” to your grant request and you’re in like Flynn. They won’t even notice you used Affecting instead of Effecting. You’re part of the club now. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Zeph says:

                Ward, it’s comments like these that seriously make me wonder if you even know anybody that’s ever filled out a grant application in their entire life.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

                There’s an overwhelming consensus of climate scientists, then… you agree, or no?

                There’s also a very significant consensus of non-climate scientists. The U.S. currently graduates about 30,000 science-related PhDs a year.

                The number of outstanding (science-related) PhDs is somewhere on the order of a couple of million, although I can’t get ready numbers for the distribution of those across disciplines.

                I’m hard pressed to find any list of any real length of AGW skeptics that represents a significant skew away from “the AGW supporters represent a strong consensus”, in fact most of the lists that skeptics have offered up challenging consensus have been pretty dodgy lists (and still not representing anywhere near 100,000 people).

                I’m pretty sure arguing over the nature of the consensus is a bunch of hooey, Duck.Report

            • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

              97% of scientists agree with the statement, “”very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gases have been responsible for most of the unequivocal warming of the Earth’s average global temperature in the second half of the twentieth century.”

              That’s coming from the National Academy of Sciences.



          • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck says:

            error bars on particular measurements != the confidence of millions of data points. But you know this…right?Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jim Hall says:

      *yawn* getting time on a supercomputer is easy these days. so is writing models. I know someone who does both. He’s not part of the “closed” science, because, well, that would actually require showing up. Hard to be part of the groupthink if you aren’t there.Report

  6. Avatar alangreenspan says:

    BEST is not a peer reviewed science publication. It contains so many flawed statistical assumption, and in time it will go the way of the East Anglia University Study. UC Berkeley has taken 1 billion in research funds into ‘green’ energy. They want more. You would have to be very weak at mathematics and statistics to believe the BEST study which will never make it through a peer review. Very, very bad statistical models. No one makes those type of errors by accident. Dr. Mueller is just another clown in the Al Gore-Jacob Rothschilds regressive tax on the working class people.Report

  7. Avatar James hadley says:

    God, this website is a depressing place to visit. Saw it mentioned in the NY Times and was curious. Where the ignorant come to chat. Keep those eyes dimly pointed backwards folks.Report

    • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to James hadley says:

      Because we are like the only blog on the entire interwebs with climate denialists in the comments.Report

    • Avatar Amadeus in reply to James hadley says:

      If you want depression, we Infidels will give you depression like you’ve never experienced before! Same with joy and ecstasy and we shall fight to last man!

      Do not go gentle into that good night,
      Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
      Because their words had forked no lightning they
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
      Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
      And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
      Do not go gentle into that good night.

      Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
      Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

      And you, my father, there on that sad height,
      Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
      Do not go gentle into that good night.
      Rage, rage against the dying of the light.Report

    • Avatar Amadeus in reply to James hadley says:

      By the way, prior to this recent “bombshell” of a story about the earth’s temperature rising less than ONE DEGREE, in the last 120 years or so, the argument shifted from global cooling, to global warming, to global cooling, to global change–now of course we’re back to global “warming”.

      Since you’re putting all the blame on humans and their fun travelling machines, why and how did a rise in temperature occur before Corvettes, Lear Jets, Stage Coaches, monster trucks, Super Sonic Transport, Al Gore’s $10,000 a month electric bill, space station missions, etc. Would you rather be eating bananas in Greenland or a nice bowl of ice? They even had mangoes, too! Choose your weapons, sir. We shall never be vanquished!Report

    • Avatar North in reply to James hadley says:

      The League was mentioned on the NYT?Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to James hadley says:

      I feel like, if something someone writes here can touch one person and make their day just a little bit dimmer, the site has been a success.Report

  8. Avatar Clark says:

    For too many doubters, I’m afraid the HONEST answer to “What would convince you?” is “nothing.” They are not worth talking to.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Clark says:

      What pisses me the FUCK off, is that many doubters are ONLY doubters because they believe that being a believer means that they have to subscribe to certain policy views!
      Fuck That Shit. Science be Science, Policy is not Science.

      You can believe in climate change, move to Saskatechewan, and let the rest of us DROWN. But I’d rather that, than people announcing they’re deniers, Simply Because They Don’t Like The Believers.Report

  9. Avatar North says:

    Personally I’ve not been particularily skeptical about the global warming portion of the AGW issue. Where my skepticism kicks in severely is when we get to the “therefore it is imperitive that we must” part of the analysis.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to North says:

      I think the “we must” part comes from the “holy poop…look might happen from GW.” Now of course what we can/must/should do is directly linked to the causes of GW, but the deniers seems insistent not only that we don’t know the cause but that GW is no big thing. Even if we aren’t the cause, the likely effects of GW are somewhere between significant to massive.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to greginak says:

        Man made GW, is poop, and political science. Everytime one of these discussions breaksout I feel like I’m caught in a PBS NOVA rerun.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to greginak says:

        I’m not even immensly skeptical about the man made part of it Greg, didn’t mean to imply otherwise. But the economic, risk weighing and global political portions of the AGW main line generally strike me as respective incoherent, contradictory and utterly nieve.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to greginak says:

        Now of course what we can/must/should do is directly linked to the causes of GW

        Even if global warming was caused by human activity (and I certainly think it is) it could be the case that

        1. it is too late to do anything

        2. The steps that would have to be taken to ameliorate or reverse global warming could result in worsening global poverty etc etc.

        3. The radical action that requires us to vastly reduce our standard of living may only have a small chance of working.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Murali says:

          I tend to agree it may be to late to do much about AGW in the next few decades. I certainly don’t think anything much is going to be done before there is significant harm happening to many people in the west. Doing nothing doesn’t really harm people my age, 45, and older. The effects will be getting bad as a lot of us are slipping off this mortal coil. However the young folk would benefit from anything we can start to do, even if it just a start.Report

        • Avatar Zeph in reply to Murali says:

          It’s worth examining the hypotheses you list. (1) The science says that reducing greenhouse gas emissions could substantially reduce the effects, but not entirely prevent them – so it’s not too late to do anything (have you ever hit the brakes to reduce an impact you could not entirely avoid?)
          (2) The question is which will produce more poverty – effects of un-mitigated climate change, or the costs of trying to reduce those effects? That actually has been studied (albeit with less certainty than climate as it involves economics), and so far the conclusions are that even partial prevention or reduction is substantially less expensive than dealing with the consequences. You are welcome to investigate further, and these analyses will be continually refined for the rest of our lives, but it’s important to decide based on the best available evidence, rather than stop cold at the first maybe. (3) The best science says that substantially reducing our greenhouse gas emissions is very likely to substantially reduce the negative consequences (if you can accept that as usable definitions of “chance of working”). There is no chance we can reduce the effects to zero, but any substantial reduction is valuable. AND notice that I didn’t say “vastly reduce our standard of living” – there is nothing even vaguely approaching a scientific consensus that reducing greenhouse gasses must inevitably “vastly reduce our standard of living” – that’s not a fact, it’s an assertion promoted mostly by some non-scientists. We should be as skeptical of that as of anything. And any analysis of impact on standard of living has to compare the cost of mitigation to the cost of suffering consequences from not mitigating. It’s very possible that EVERY future scenario involves some loss of standard of living (for some period of time at least), so the key may be choosing the least harmful. Sorry, hopefully that would not be true, but if it is – putting our heads in the sand isn’t going to make it better, we’ll just have to tough out the hard years, as my parents had to tough out WWII because there was no easy option to avoid it by magical thinking. Science is going to have to be our guide through some uncertain choices.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to North says:

      Naturally policy debates are subject to higher ambiguity than scientific ones. I think many environmentalists and climate scientists don’t understand that.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to James K says:

        I’d agree heartily. Plus the environmental movement, like most movements, isn’t very adept at adapting to new considerations. For instance the AGW issue should have turned them from nuclear foes to nuclear proponents but by and large their turn that way has been grudging or nonexistant which leaves them in the unenviable position of trying to claim we can run a growing modern economy on sunbeams and windpuffs alone.Report

  10. Avatar trizzlor says:

    Has this been commented on at all outside of alarmist circles? Both the NRO and Reason fawned over Muller when he started the project, and both are now silent (the NRO even has a climate blog called … Planet Gore). At the very least, the people who crowed over “Mike’s Nature trick” need to be held accountable.

    Based on the reactions at Watts’ place (Watts, Keenan) I’m going to predict that the response will got two ways: vehemently denying that there’s anything new in this study and that everyone already knew that the global was warming; picking out some minute subjective detail in the study (the interpolation procedure, the time-scale chosen, word-choice/grammar) and proclaiming that if they got such a simple detail so grossly wrong then the entire study cannot be trusted. And, as usual, gnashing of teeth over peer-review.Report

  11. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    I’m all ears guys, anyone who denies that GW is in large part man-made, what’s your alternative theory and where are your numbers?Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      Here’s my issue.

      The argument seems to have these premises:

      1) Global Warming is Man-Made
      2) Global Warming is harmful to us all (to different degrees, of course)
      3) Global Warming needs to be stopped

      I’m willing to concede all of these premises. My problem is with the “what ought we do next?” portion of the argument that seems to agree on little other than “I don’t have to do anything personally since my own part in this is sooooo small” and “not in my back yard!” for whatever technology that is supposed to replace whatever it is we’re doing now.

      “I know it may seem hypocritical that my girlfriend drives an SUV but winters are really bad up here and I want her to be safe and I question the morality of anyone who thinks she should be driving a Geo.”

      “I know it may seem hypocritical that I oppose the Cape Cod Wind Farm but that was Jack’s sacred sailing ground.”

      And so on and so forth.

      It’s the famous prayer manifesting itself once again: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet!”

      I’m somewhat more impressed by chastity and continence than by the desire for it at some future date. I’m not impressed at all by public displays of piety that rely on prayers like this one.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Jaybird says:

        It’s hypocritical to support a war unless I personally enlist, is that the essence of your argument?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to trizzlor says:

          Or are personally willing to pay for it or are personally willing to sacrifice on behalf of those who would be fighting it.

          Give me an example of something more than loudly proclaiming “LET’S YOU AND HIM FIGHT!” and I’ll let you know if that has a “good enough” vote from me.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

        I’m not sure what your issue is, JB. What you are describing is the phenomena of “I recognize that change needs to be made and I am more likely to to recognize someone else’s responsibility to be negatively impacted.”

        How is this different from anything else in the world? How does this phenomena negate the initial need for change?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          “How does this phenomena negate the initial need for change?”

          If we are allowed to oppose wind power because we go sailing there and if we are allowed to oppose nuclear power because of earthquakes and we are allowed to oppose coal because of CO2 then we should at least be expected to support, oh, using *LESS* power… right? Perhaps in our own lives?

          Because if change means “everybody changes but me”, I think we’re back in “I don’t give a shit” territory.Report

          • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird says:

            ……murky waters indeed!Report

          • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

            I’m still not sure I understand. As I see it, the relevant public policy questions are:

            1. Is global warming happening?
            2. If so, can we do anything about it?
            3. If so, should we do anything about it – and if so what?

            My understanding is that at this moment the controversy among voters is stuck at question one. I’m not sure how “those rich bastards at Cape Cod whine about global warming but don’t want to look at windmills” is relevant, except in the “other guys are hippies/irritating/hypocrites so I’m going to ignore the question” kind of way.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              I’ve already granted that the answers to the first three questions are yes.

              When we get to question 3b, the action of those who seem most invested in the answers to 1, 2, and 3a being “yes” turn into “eh, it’s not that big a deal”.

              Which communicates a great deal about whether the answers to 1, 2, and 3a are actually held or merely communicated as part of some group membership ritual.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

                This just appears to be moving the “others are hippies etc” farther down the list.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Not exactly.

                It puts it into the “something else is going on” category. If those who claim to care the most about this are unwilling to change and unwilling to implement new things, then something else is going on.

                At the point where we establish that something else is going on, that something else becomes much more interesting.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, let me try approaching this from a different direction:

                No one seems to want to give up their Social Security entitlements, their potential Medicare benefits, or really just about any kind of federal government entitlement or handout.

                Does this mean we should cease asking whether or not to make changes to protect our long-term stability? My assumption is that you would say no, that it is important to look at the system and its sustainability regardless of people wanting to keep getting stuff.

                Why is the important thing in entitlements determining reality, and the important thing in global warming whether or not there is hypocrisy?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                Eventually we will run out of people willing to loan us money at which point we’re going to have to decide whether we want to cut down on spending (cutting benefits, means testing, so on) *OR* turn on the printing presses at mach speed *OR* start taxing the bejeezus out of people.

                We won’t be able to maintain the status quo.

                When it comes to the environment, it seems far more likely that we’re going to run out of oil before we find oil alternatives than we find oil alternatives before we run out of oil.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                no, that’s silly. we will run out of cheap oil. expensive oil will go to medicine/fertilizer.

                But we’ve basically already run out of cheap oil. Last time I drove regularly, gas was at less than a dollar a gallon.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jaybird says:

                Zipcar doesn’t count? Sorry, but if you’re asking me to defend my position, on the grounds that “some shmucks are shmucks” my response will always be “I’m No Shmuck!”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                Kimmi, I’m a Libertarian. I think that you should be able to have whatever position you want and more power to you.

                It’s when it comes time for me to change my position that I start explaining why your positions are insufficient. Not for you to have them, mind… de gustibus and all that. For me to adopt them.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                Okay, so I, as a card carrying “no TV and No Car” person, would like to convince you that global warming is enough of a problem for you to support XYZ investment in green energy/science research.

                …Is that enough? Or do I blasted well need to rassle up those “dippies” who don’t want windpower on the Sound, convince them that they need to do Something, and then you’ll listen?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                How’s this? We’ve cut our household cars down to one, we purchase the “green energy” option from the power company (an additional $4 per kWh), I vote for nuclear power, and I got my vasectomy.

                What more do you need me to do?

                Say stuff loudly?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kimmi says:

                See, I’m actually not about demanding that people do things… But just a quick thing to investigate — working from home. Saves gas, saves the need to heat the huge office building, and gives everyone else a quicker commute.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kimmi says:

                I’m more into the whole “these are the things you can do to address the problem” than the whole “these are the things that you can say to communicate group membership”.

                It seems that there are entire chunks of the “movement” that don’t care about the former so long as the conditions of the latter are met.

                I don’t understand why this doesn’t give the game away.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

              What Jaybird is saying, here, is that he’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who are telling us that it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I know, and it confuses me. GW is either an issue worth dealing with or it isn’t. How your political opponents might feel about it is not relevant to that question.

                Illegal immigration might well be an issue that needs to be dealt with. Or it may be a non-issue. The question seems worthy to parse out; declaring that the question is not worth asking because I can find evidence that a lot of people that get their bee in a bonnet over people with darker skin color seems like smoke an mirrors.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                “GW is either an issue worth dealing with or it isn’t. How your political opponents might feel about it is not relevant to that question.”

                I strongly agree with your argument that the hypocrisy of rich people telling poor people to pay more taxes is irrelevant because there’s an economic crisis and everyone needs to pay more taxes.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck says:

                “I strongly agree with your argument that the hypocrisy of rich people telling poor people to pay more taxes is irrelevant because there’s an economic crisis and everyone needs to pay more taxes.”

                This is not the proper analogy to what I said. The proper analogy would be should you ask “is there an economic crisis?” even if you know someone is being hypocritical.

                You can find hypocrisy on both ends of the political spectrum on taxation and spending issues. Finding that hypocrisy does not negate the need to ask the question, or determine whether or not there is a crisis.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                You just did a fine job of completely missing the point. Fantastic demonstration of knee-jerk stimulus-response thinking.

                If hypocrisy is irrelevant than hypocrisy is irrelevant. You don’t get to pick and choose which kind of hypocrisy matters. If wasteful people can tell me that it’s a moral imperative for me to starve in the cold dirty darkness, then rich people can tell you that you need to pay more taxes.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck says:

                What economic crisis?
                *100% Serious*
                America’s debt leverages our income. It’s not 50 to 1, it’s not even 10 to 1. It’s modest.

                Are we in a hell of a problem economically speaking? Yup, but that’s demand based (nobody wanna buy houses, nobody wanna buy mucha anything), rather than being something we can fix blindly by raising taxes.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to DensityDuck says:

                But plenty of us do put our money where our mouth is. But i’m guessing there will always be some other thing i could or should do that can be used to invalidate the action i think the gov should take. GW is a collective action problem. Honk at hypocrites all you want, thats good clean fun and sometimes makes a valid point, but it is a different discussion then what collective action we should take.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to greginak says:

                The doubt in my mind is that 7 billion people with 200 different governments of widely varying political and cultural systems, not to mention wealth, will ever be able to come to an agreement on the collective action that is both effective and actually followed through on. In the end, it’s probably going to be easier to move everyone from Bangladesh to North Dakota.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to Kolohe says:

                This is my concern precisely. Collective Action Problems are not something that can be overcome by will or political hectoring. Every country has an incentive to step back from abating their carbon emissions, and let the rest of the world handle it. But of course, if everyone steps back, nothing changes.

                If a solution is to come, it will be technological, not political. If zero-carbon energies get cheap enough, it will become politically feasible to move away from coal and oil. Until then, I predict politicians will continue to either deny the problem, or sound concerned but do nothing substantial.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to James K says:

                I pretty much agree. We should have been investing heavily in research on alt energy for the past few decades and we should doing the same now clean energy. We are pretty good at developing all sorts of high tech stuff.Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to James K says:

                Indeed. I’m a fan of setting up prize funds in particular.Report

              • Avatar Marconi in reply to James K says:

                Oh I dunno. The industrialization of the world took place through collective action, despite severe resistance at the beginning.

                The move to controlling pollution happened through collective action, despite severe resistance at the beginning.

                But I agree, that unless we recognize it as a problem, progress will be slow.

                It can still happen if enough, or enough with powers consider and act on it.

                Hitler was eliminated thusly.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to James K says:

                yar. Gov’t does best by investing in science. At least in America, where it’s what we do best.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to James K says:

                The Prize Fund model does seem to work pretty well.

                That’s probably why it doesn’t get enough play. It’s got altruism and practicality and thus neither the Left nor the Right can really make it an argument against the other guy.Report

              • Avatar Marconi in reply to Kolohe says:

                So “let them sink” is your solution.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Marconi says:

                To be fair, it’s also the solution of the folks who don’t think we should change anything.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Kolohe says:

                Damn. That’s a fair point.
                Give ya a different one: if we can just get China/India/Western Europe/Japan and USA to get on the same policy, we basically win. For now at least.
                Hell, you can nearly leave out China if you can get all of the “democratic” East.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                “it is a different discussion then what collective action we should take”

                Great. As soon as you figure out what collective action we should take, let me know.

                Until then, I’m not particularly interested in joining in the “we need to do something that doesn’t particularly inconvenience me!” chants.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                If you want to turn every argument into chanting hypocrisy at peoples labels that is easy peasy. I have plenty of anecdotes about hypocritical liberatarians. That seems boring to me. Then again i’m not a mind reader, as you apparently are, to know that something more is going on.

                Don’t we all already know you are going to be against any action anybody suggests, the question is only what reason you have. But at least we have your detailed plans to dive into.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                It’s not about “hypocrisy”, Greg. I don’t give a crap about hypocrisy beyond its amusement factor.

                “Don’t we all already know you are going to be against any action anybody suggests”

                Really? Because I’ve made suggestions of my own… including alternative energy and lifestyle changes.

                In return I’ve heard about why alternative energy won’t work and why people not only don’t have to change their lifestyles but asking them to is akin to yelling about “hypocrisy”.

                Let me know when there’s more to discuss than whether I’m saying the litany correctly.Report

      • Avatar Zeph in reply to Jaybird says:


        You are correct that many or most people feel overwhelmed with the size of the problem and uncertain how to adequately address it without undue discomfort. (Hence the psychological underpinnings of denial).

        However, it’s not totally bleak. A well administered carbon tax (without self-sabotaging loopholes) could give incentive to ingenuity and investment towards reducing the greenhouse emissions for a given standard of living. Yes, I’m willing to pay the extra price at the gas pump or utility bill – I’d rather pay that now, than pay more later. And yes, I’m also willing to pay for construction of better public transit, so that I can keep employed while driving much less.

        This is the kind of thing which can begin to affect megatons and eventually gigatons of emission. Just switching to compact flourescents is a good small gesture, but limited in impact. Bicycling to work is not an option for me, and it’s not hypocritical to both acknowledge the need for large changes, and be unable for each of us to individually create the alternative infrastructure needed for that change – any more than we would each build our own bridge across the mouth of San Francisco Bay. It takes some kind of shared enterprise to make such big changes – or to build a bridge.

        It is only hypocritical if we are unwilling to pay for the large changes that can be done – like wanting that bridge to be built for free somehow. The problem is that having your cake and eating it too sells too well politically. We want to think that we can keep low gas prices forever, and somebody else will have to pay for a massive new non-fossil fuel infrastructure – or we think a few solar panels will be enough to fix it all.

        Even if it were (hypothetically) almost certain that doubleing gas prices now (and using that money directly and indirectly to finance a new infrastruture) would greatly improve our standard of living thirty years from now, most people would prefer to have the lower prices now and hope some rabbit gets pulled out of the hat later. This effect is not specific to one political party. But in regard to depletion of fossil fuels and other finite resources, or AGW, some political parties are more vested in selling “no pain needed, vote for us and an invisible hand will fix everything somehow” fantasies than others. (In regard to, say, public employee union pension finances, a different set of parties is selling the magic pixie dust, but that’s another story and we’re on this subject now).Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Zeph says:

          It’s not the “overwhelmed” that gets me, it’s the “well, we should do something, just not something inconvenient” that gets me.

          Please put me down for 100% support for things that are not inconvenient to me.Report

    • Avatar Amadeus in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      Well, if I was an atheist, I’d just say this stuff happens. But I’m a Christian, so I say, this stuff happens. The fact that there have been hundreds of recorded instances of climate change, hot, warm, cold–ALL happening without a humans touch. Most recently, you have the Medieval Warming Period-950-1200 and the Little Ice Age–1400-1700. How about the fact there have been 100s of warming and cooling cycles before humans were even in the picture. Most recently, the noted Medieval warming period and the mini-Ice Age above, pretty much completely eliminates the man-made nature of this phenomenon. For goodness sakes, the Vikings were boating in ice free seas! The northern part of Newfoundland was colonized by Vikings (if you don’t believe me, watch some of those Capital One commercials)–In the last 2,000 years, it is incontrovertible that the warmest period was during the Medieval Warming Period.

      And then we have the recent, extraordinary hoax of the Cambridge University hucksters rerdrawing the map of Greenland to show that an incredibly large (15%) part of the ice sheet of Greenland has been melting at an alarming rate. Guess what? A total, complete, absolute lie!! They even admitted it and said it was “misleading and incorrect” and in fact there was no evidence Greenland has lost 115,830 square miles of her ice sheet. None at all. That’s a pretty damn big mistake. Recent satellite photos confirm, if any melting has occurred, it’s pretty much neglible. Time for Times Atlas of the World to go from green to white again. (can you believe these quacks and frauds were off by a mere 115, 830 coastal quare miles??)Report

      • Avatar Marconi in reply to Amadeus says:

        Seriously, lying is a sin.

        Look into itReport

        • Avatar Amadeus in reply to Marconi says:

          Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I just forget my sins, though, but it appears I haven’t yet been residing in Paul Ehrlich’s igloo long enough to absorb the propaganda of the warmers and/or coolers.

          If you would be so kind and explain to me how lightbulbs and jet skis will doom all life on this planet you might get me to change my mind. Why couldn’t the same forces of nature, especially the sun, that have warmed and cooled the planet for the last five billion years be the exact same forces that are doing it now? If you can give me a reasonable answer, I may change my mind today. Thank you.Report

          • Avatar Zeph in reply to Amadeus says:

            Yes, the sun is the primary driver of historic climate change. You can find that in the IPCC report, actually. It’s known that a given amount of solar change is likely to produce a given amount of average temperature change (with delays and error bars of course). The key point currently however is that we can measure that solar effect, and it hasn’t changed enough in recent decades to explain THIS temperature change.

            These discussions are fairly meaningless until we put numbers to the positive and negative effects. For example, it’s well known that not wearing a seat belt has saved many people’s lives – for example, surviving after being ejected from a car which burst into flames or plunged over a cliff. On the other hand, wearing a seat belt has also saved lives. Somebody with a pro or anti seat belt agenda could easily just argue the aspects of this which support that agenda. It’s not until we look at the comparative numbers that we can talk sense, and it turns out to be well validated that seat belts save many more lives than they cost.

            Likewise, we have to quantize the effect of the sun – and this has been done in great detail with good correspondence between the physics and the measurements. By mathematically comparing the solar inputs (called “forcings”) with the climate response, and also taking into account factors like volcanic eruptions which put heat reflecting SO2 high in atmosphere for a while and many other factors, it has become clear to the vast majority of scientists who have investigated this that solar changes do not explain the current temperature record. Any scientist who can mathematically explain the temperature change of recent decades using the instrumental record of solar output can get published because it’s an important area of research – but the evidence just doesn’t support that. Solar input has actually been decreasing slightly in recent times.

            By the way, the IPCC fourth report (AR4) presents the conclusion that they are 90% sure that more than 50% of recent warming is due to human activities, including land use changes and other factors but dominantly due to greenhouse gasses – CO2 and Methane. That’s a carefully qualified and limited assertion, for which they provide a mountain of supportive evidence from many fields. Do you note that they did not say 100% of it? They have done a very thorough assessment of other factors (including the sun) and mathematically the numbers just don’t add up to match the temperature record without adding in a increased greenhouse gasses as one of the “forcings” or inputs to the system.

            “Lightbulbs and jet skis” is of course trivializing this for effect. Obviously you won’t find that assertion in the IPCC; instead you will find information about the number of gigatons (billions of tons) of additional CO2 we add to the atmosphere every year and what the effects of that is. Nor do they say it dooms all live on earth – they say that it is leading to serious consequences which will make life much more difficult for humans (and other critters) in coming decades – in particular ways – droughts, heat waves, flooding of infrastructures, crop failures. Of course there would be some positive changes too (just as some people are saved by not wearing seat belts), but the best analysis so far says there is more negative than positive. That’s not surprising (we have built our societies for hundreds to thousands of years to fit to one set of conditions, and when that changes relatively rapidly our systems will be poorly adapted for a long time).

            So instead of “how light bulbs and jet skis will doom all life on this planet”, a less silly framing would be “how emitting gigatons of CO2 per year will cause climate changes which are seriously harmful to our way of life as an industrialized civilization”. That would be a fair statement, and not a strawman misrepresentation. And yes, there is some very good evidence to support the non-strawman version.

            How good? Solid enough to convince every national science academy on the planet – first world, third world, north, south, capitalist, communist, rich, poor. And most of the scientists reviewing the evidence are not themselves climate scientists and will see if anything a reduction in their own budgets if this is taken seriously – but if they are right, that would be the least of their worries.

            You probably didn’t do the statistics on seat belt usage yourself, and laymen are not going to be able to do all the science for themselves any more than we recalculate for ourselves the civil engineering for each bridge we cross. We have to go for the evaluating “preponderance of the evidence” available to us. If 97% of toxicologists told you a particular chemical was almost certainly going to seriously harm you, and the vast majority of all physicians of all varieties around the world who spent significant time reviewing the research behind that statement agreed – would be be a good bet to eat it anyway? Yes, the mainstream definitely *could* be wrong, but what’s the best bet to place? Where are the odds?

            If mainstream science is wrong on this, it’s either thousands of times larger and more airtight than any conspiracy in human history (alien brain wave control?), or you are so much brighter than the entire worlds scientists that you can discern from some web pages what they with their years of careful study somehow miss. It just doesn’t make sense. Getting more money for a few climate scientists (at their own expense!) is not a good explanation for such a huge majority of all scientists to lie to us all.

            A far simpler explanation – the scientists are basically right, but many people don’t want to believe it because they don’t like the implications (and a very small number of scientists disagree – as will always be the case). That’s completely compatible with everything we know about science and psychology, it makes no outlandish assumptions, requires no suspension of disbelief.

            If you think you might change your views IF what I’ve said is well verified, then I can dig up some references (or you can). If you are so convinced that AGW is not real that it wouldn’t matter, then it would be a waste of my time.

            I’ll point out one resource. I suggest reading enough that you could at least recall the mainstream scientific take on each of the issues when they come up, even if you disagree. What I’ve found happening is that many of the anti-AGW arguments which sounded pretty sensible to me in isolation, don’t sound as convincing in a fuller context. And after a while, I got to seriously distrusting the integrity of some of the anti-AGW advocates, if they keep promoting claims which have been debunked and which work only upon those who are ignorant of the actual research.


        • Avatar Chris in reply to Marconi says:

          Dude, is that the old “historical Jesus” photo? And if so, does that mean that Jesus invented the radio?Report

  12. Dr. James Hanley once wrote that the scaling of graphs can make stuff look a lot probative than it may be. The graph at the link is one, IMO, one degree Celsius looking like a major rise.

    I did a piece awhile back that linked to a warmist defector, Nobel laureate Ivar Giaever, who stipulated

    The observational data indicate a global surface warming of 0.74 °C (+/- 0.18 °C) since the late 19th century.

    This is pretty much what that scary graph shows, I believe, so none of this comes as news.

    Anti-warmist James Watt writes in reply to Mueller’s meta-analysis:

    And, The Economist still doesn’t get it. The issue of “the world is warming” is not one that climate skeptics question, it is the magnitude and causes.

    Further, per his advance copy:

    I made these errors known to all the players, including the journal editor, and the hapless Astill, who despite such concerns went ahead with BEST’s plan for a media blitz anyway. I was told by a BEST spokesperson that all of this was “coordinated to happen on October 20th”.

    My response, penned days ago, went unheeded as far as I can tell, because I’ve received no response from Muller or the Journal author. Apparently, PR trumps the scientific process now, no need to do that pesky peer review, no need to address the errors with those you ask for comments prior to publication, just get it to press.”

    The details of Watt’s reservations [errors, he calls them] may be found here

    So, while I acknowledge Jason’s post here is just stuck over on the sidebar under the ingenuous epistemological rubric of “Is his work enough to convince any of the doubters here? If not, what would be?,” I’ll keep my powder dry for the time being—the approving blitz by the media notwithstanding.

    At least until the Cato Institute’s Pat Michaels weighs in.


    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      TBD, I also recommend this excellent treatment

      Of course the author is not to be trusted, he’s a physicist after all, and we know how THEY are don’t we? Of course Muller is too so…Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to wardsmith says:

        Apparently statistics is, like, totally different when you’re doing it with climate data. You have to forget everything you knew about silly old regular statistics and do twelve years of schooling and postgraduate work to understand climate statistics.Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to DensityDuck says:

          Exactly DD. The other problem is if you’re actually EXPERT in statistics and you find fault with the “climate” statistics you’re a damned denier and will rot in a very warm hell (assuming they can get their models to coerce reality).

          Meantime they’ve done a piss poor job of explaining why all the other planets in our solar system experienced a coincident warming while earth did. Apparently man’s tremendous ability to influence climate reaches beyond the stratosphere (which still isn’t warming as it should – per the models) and on to the other planets. But not to worry, I’ve seen it explained away by an astrophysicist who claimed it was merely regional, he’s right of course it is regional to our solar system… 🙂Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to wardsmith says:

            LOL Ward….that is quality. You actually believe we have temp data on all the other planets that we can compare to Earth.Report

            • Avatar wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

              Greg, would this convince you?

              In point of fact we have temperature data on virtually EVERYTHING in space. It is very easy to get. Indeed if we *really* wanted /true/ average temperature of earth we would send a satellite well away from earth and point it back. From 50-100 million miles away, you indeed will get a far better “average” then from a few thousand data points, mostly on land (earth is only 29% land), mostly in the north. There’s a reason for this, I leave it as an exercise for the student.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to wardsmith says:

                Wow, paragraphs from various research papers…ohh. If you believe that, well that explains a lot. Couldn’t you have found a site that was even slightly less of a collection of conspiracy theories?Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to greginak says:

                Note the links on the “conspiracy” site. NASA, JPL, Nature, MIT, etc. pretty good conspiracy. I wasn’t thrilled about the site, but this site doesn’t like me posting more than 2 links at a time. That site was the only one I could find with a bunch of links all in one spot. I’ve known about Mars ever since it was reported, but even NASA likes to play it down. Guess they don’t want their Mars rovers to be blamed (even though they’re electric). 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to wardsmith says:

                This is an argument that makes sense to me as well. If there is warming happening on Mars, it’s fair to ask “why?” as well as “is the same thing causing the warming on Gaia?”

                That’s one hell of a coinkydink that Mars be warming at the same time as Earth. Not saying it’s impossible, mind… but it requires an explanation greater than the questioning of the motives of the person asking the question.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to wardsmith says:

                FSM on crutch. See this is my dilemma, my first thought on a response was “the stupid, it burns.” But that is insulting, dismissive and first thoughts usually aren’t best thoughts. But you seem to believe that the various data streams we have going back decades in some cases covering sites all around the world is remotely comparable to a few years of remote temp measurements on other planets. Anybody who suggests we have the same detail of data on freaking Pluto and Earth or is comparing a gas giant to Earth is missing a bit. The paragraphs may be from great places but the conclusions are laughable .Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                The great thing about recategorizing the questions raised by others as conclusions that you can laugh at is that you can tell yourself that you don’t even have to address any point that they might have in the alternate universe that might have someone who would ask that question in something approaching naive good faith.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to greginak says:

                That’s a fair point, Jaybird.

                However, the problem with always arguing from the ground that your opponent is arguing in good faith is that you spend a lot of time rehashing the same ground.

                Some topics, I’m not convinced that people will argue in good faith. Even people who otherwise argue in good faith on all sorts of other topics. They might not even realize they’re not arguing in good faith.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                There is an additional problem in the dynamic where it doesn’t seem to matter if people who are “right” on the science are arguing in good faith.

                If you agree that AGW exists, well, then it doesn’t matter what you argue.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to greginak says:

                Generally speaking, in aggregate, I’ve found that when someone offers a question about AGW, it doesn’t take long to find some science blogger somewhere who explains (with references!) why that particular point is not relevant or not a problem.

                Now, you might then go through that science blogger’s blog and find all sorts of individual posts where they aren’t arguing in good faith, but it’s very hard to continually argue in good faith when you keep getting people asking you the same questions, over and over. It’s a pretty natural human tendency to run out of patience.

                I don’t know anybody, for example, who blogs on health science who can keep an even keel when people show up in their comment threads asking about Andrew Wakefield or Thermisol in vaccines. There comes a point when, “This person, by their questioning, is revealing that they’ve either done no research on this topic themselves *or* they have such a biased eye they are supporting well, well debunked nonsense” gets to be overpowering.

                When I go find that stuff, and bring it back, I have yet to have a response of, “That answers my question, I think that clears that up, cool!” It’s always, “Here’s this other thing! And this other thing!”

                Those other things might all be relevant, or they might not be. But it’s hard to keep arguing in good faith when nobody actually acknowledges the work.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                True enough.

                I also suspect that it may be frustrating to have what feels like the same conversation over and over and over and over and over again.

                But that’s what science is.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to greginak says:

                Usually, when you’re sticking to just science, you at least spiral in (or out). You eventually get somewhere closer to reality.

                I’ve tried to have conversations about quantum computing with the guys that live in this building who do that stuff, but I had to begger off because I had to keep asking them to explain things that (for them) were basic bits but that I needed to get enough context to understand what the hell they were talking about. Really complex science is like that.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to greginak says:

                … and people think the climatologists are paranoid! (the people doing quantum computing tend to be worse, from what I’ve seen.) Course, it’s not paranoia if…Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                Indeed if we *really* wanted /true/ average temperature of earth we would send a satellite well away from earth and point it back. From 50-100 million miles away, you indeed will get a far better “average” then from a few thousand data points, mostly on land (earth is only 29% land), mostly in the north. There’s a reason for this, I leave it as an exercise for the student.

                That’s an easy exercise. We had a satellite all set to go, and Republicans shelved it:


                Why would they do that? I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader. (Hint: The budget effects of launching an already-built satellite are negligible.)Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                I would add that we already have ocean data. BEST is actually working on the oceans right now, too.

                Sometimes, it almost seems that people are responding to something based on its conclusion, without actually reading up on it, because they already know they’re going to disagree with it anyway. Sometimes.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                er, don’t forget that we built two Orbiting Carbon Observatory vehicles and they both had launch failures.

                (And there are conspiracy theories about that…although, amusingly, they’re coming from both sides…)Report

              • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

                Let’s stipulate, despite weak data, that the entire solar system is undergoing climate change.

                Does this mean we’re obligated to do nothing about it?

                Perhaps we could try CO2 reduction on earth anyway, and maybe it might both work and be a worthwhile project? Or is that forbidden for some reason I’m not getting?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

                We’re at teh top edge of what a Class M planet is. Seems we should be a bit more careful about warming than cooling, ya?Report

              • It does mean that our efforts need to go into “global warming management” rather than “global warming prevention”.

                This is considered unacceptable by some.Report

              • Avatar Zeph in reply to wardsmith says:


                The reference you gave turns out to be pretty obvious quote mining, if you actually follow the links to the science. For example, on mentions a three year trend of less frozen CO2 at one location on Mars, which may indicate that there are at least some sort of short term changes. Um, how many times do people have to explain the difference between weather and climate, whether on Mars or Earth? That could be part of a weather cycle (like the PDO or many others here), or even just noise.

                Another postulates internal variablity in Jupiter temperatures based on relatively short term atmospheric cycles. It’s very preliminary and even the author is only saying it might be happening – and that its a cycle more like the PDO, not a trend like global warming.

                It is astounding how differerent the bar of evidence is when used by folks who dispute AGW. AGW will not be accepted as “sufficiently likely to be true to justify action” until all 100% of the planet’s scientists agree with it – but a single preliminary short term measurement of rising temperature on another planet shows that it too must be experiencing climate change in a manner relevant to compare with the Earth. This is like maybe 4 or 6 orders of magnitude difference in “how much evidence” is needed to convince them of something they want to believe versus something they don’t want to believe.

                By the way wardsmith, you are wrong about measuring surface temperature from afar. The temperature from afar is not very useful; in fact the scientists know that earth’s temperature seen from afar is not changing much. Why? Because as a whole the planet has to achieve radiative balance, eventually emitting as much energy as it absorbs, which depends on the effective temperature of the emitting surface. The greenhouse effect doesn’t actually change that temperature, which is set by balancing the solar inputs; what it does is raise the altitude of the layer of the atmosphere at which the radiative balance occurs – *where* the apparent temperature as seen from afar would be measured at. From afar, you don’t actually measure the temperature of the surface (on a planet with serious atmosphere), you measure the temperature of the layer of the atmosphere where radiative balance is achieved. The surface temperature of Venus is far higher than you would detect from afar, and we don’t even know what the surface of Jupiter’s temperature might be. (You *can* measure surface temperature of airless planets and satellites).

                The effect of raising the altitude of radiative balance on Earth is that the surface winds up warmer. Put another way, 10 km below the radiative balance height is about the same temperature either way, and 20 km below it is hotter. The higher the radiative equilibrium point, the further below it the land and sea surfaces are, and the hotter the are.

                This is well understood by real scientists, and the equations vs measurements don’t work out unless you take this into account. It’s easily distorted by non-scientists, either incidentally due to lack of scientific training, or due to bias.

                And the quote miner you reference is similarly naive about science (for the most charitable interpretation), apparently just googling NASA for some keywords and then quoting without understanding.

                What would be a true inference: among the many thousands of observations and hypotheses science has gathered or created about other planets, some of these involve short or long term changes of local or global temperatures, and from these one could cull a subset which involve weak or strong evidence of some kind of short or long term warming of at least some part of the planet (while other parts may be equally temporarily cooling, etc).

                To distort that into “all the planets are experiencing global warming” is serious intellectual dishonesty or dysfunction. Go read the actual (cherry-picked) NASA reports and this will become obvious.Report

        • Avatar Marconi in reply to DensityDuck says:

          You are wrong. Not apparently, but really.

          Statistics is exactly the same.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to wardsmith says:

        Aye, Mr. Smith. And Muller wasn’t even a “skeptic” let alone a convert. Another waste of time.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Apparently Tom and all those agreeing with him here missed the “degrees C per century” stat.

      Also, the statistics involved in climate modeling are different, in some ways, from the stats you learn in high school or intro stats in college.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Chris says:

        Yes, the stats are “different” in that “climate scientists” are allowed to “smooth” in a directional trend and “real” statisticians cannot.Report

        • Avatar Chris in reply to wardsmith says:

          Hah, you are clever, but no. You should probably read up on what they meant by smoothing. It’s also something that “‘real’ statisticans” do all the time.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chris says:

            Yes, and with huge debates over the best way to do it, whether you ought to do it at all, and what kind of conclusions you can draw from the smoothed data.

            Like the man said, anything is linear when you plot it on a log-log scale with a fat Sharpie.Report

            • Avatar Chris in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Yeah, and that debate has deeply informed climate science. You should look it up. Not that I think it would change your mind.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Chris says:

                @Chris, asked and answered here. No point in going over all that same ground, including my reservations about the (Berkeley) BEST process (like using a post doc to do the work with NO statistics background).

                Let’s refresh shall we? McIntyre had issues with exactly the statistics as presented by “the team” and as a forensic statistician asked for further information on the smoothing. This led to stone-walling (denial of freedom of information requests, outright lies and the Climategate emails) and destruction of source data by “the team” on 3 continents.

                Patrick says, “So what? Those are just scientists behaving badly”. I say they are KEY scientists, that their work is regularly cited by all the rest and in fact they are the keystones to this whole facade. I also proved rather conclusively from the Climategate emails that the “consensus” was a fraud initially and anyone who “joins” today is a misinformed toad who hasn’t looked into it personally but assumes the “work” has already been done by others. All old ground.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to wardsmith says:

                Except that most of that didn’t really happen, which makes it look much less nefarious (e.g., the data that wasn’t given out wasn’t given out because they didn’t have the rights to it). Climategate emails were a non-issue, as every investigation has shown. What were the lies? What data sources were destroyed? If you’ll engage in sophistry in presenting quotes, you have little room to talk, but I don’t even see scientists behaving all that badly (perfectly, no, but not all that badly).Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to wardsmith says:

                p.s., since it’s clear you know jack about statistics, you criticizing their use of statistics seems… comical.Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Chris says:

                Chris, where do you get off telling me I know “jack” about statistics?Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to wardsmith says:

                By what you’ve said about smoothing, for one. Then again, I could be wrong. It’s clear that you’re a sophist as it is, so maybe you just say what you do to make your position look better (and thereby making you and your position look worse).

                If you do know even a bit about statistics, it’s a shame.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                What do you know about sharpening? How is it different/similar to smoothing?

                There, that’s a basic question — and the answer is also fun.

                [How is that related to statistics? noise reduction, folks.]Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

                doing nothing to disprove sites like exxonsecrets
                Perhaps I’m biased, but I’d rather trust someone who’s published investigative journalism than you. Perhaps I’m an idiot, but I’d rather trust someone whose results I can verify, than you. Moons upon moons, I can do the blasted math, and verify that he’s not messing up basic modeling. In fact, you can too. But naturally you won’t want to listen to my proof by “He’s a Schmart Guy, Lookit What he did In Field Y!”

                you’d do better to bitch about how the seas are warming more and the continents less than predicted, and then to ask “why make policy about things we don’t yet understand”.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Kimmi says:

                What I want to know is, does Exxon have tanks? (sorry, I couldn’t help myself.)Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Chris says:

                … this reminds me of a scifi story about the Kzin. In short — does it matter, if they’ve got enough explosives? 😉Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to wardsmith says:

          I do gaussian smoothing all the time, in fifteen different applications. Do the words difference of gaussians mean anything to you?
          In everything from improving visual quality of movies to interpreting fMRI images, statisticians use smoothing.Report

  13. Avatar Patrick Cahalan says:

    For those who are curious about the “Other planets in the solar system are warming, too” claim:

    * As has been pointed out by some other commentors, the measurements on other planets are not global. The science on whether or not these planets are actually undergoing global warming is certainly not settled. If you are skeptical of the claim that Earth is warming due to problems with measurement, it seems logically inconsistent to be convinced that other planets are warming as well when the degree of measurement has a considerably smaller degree of confidence.

    * Even if we concede other planets were warming, this would be relevant only if the cause was the same. Now, a bunch of other planets warming up at once would seem to be either a remarkable coincidence (although maybe not*), or data that would seem to be linked to a common cause: the Sun having greater output. However, total solar radiance is actually a *very easy* thing to measure, in comparison to temperatures on other planets – or even our own! – and total solar radiance has been on a downward trend since 1980.

    Note that solar radiance oscillates, and in particular the period from 2000 to 2010 shows a remarkable decline in output. Of course, solar radiance will have a variety of effects on the different planets as each planet has a different atmosphere and thus has different heat retention characteristics.

    More from that skeptical science page:

    The global warming argument was strongly influenced by a paper written by a team led by NASA scientist Lori Fenton, who observed that changes in albedo – the property of light surfaces to reflect sunlight e.g. ice and snow – were shown when comparing 1977pictures of the Martian surface taken by the Viking spacecraft, to a 1999 image compiled by the Mars Global Surveyor. The pictures revealed that in 1977 the surface was brighter than in 1999, and from this Fenton used a general circulation model to suggest that between 1977 and 1999 the planet had experienced a warming trend of 0.65 degrees C. Fenton attributed the warming to surface dust causing a change in the planet’s albedo.

    Unfortunately, Fenton’s conclusions were undermined by the failure to distinguish between climate (trends) and weather (single events). Taking two end points – pictures from 1977 and 1999 – did not reveal any kind of trend, merely the weather on two specific Martian days. Without the intervening data – which was not available – it is impossible to say whether there was a trend in albedo reduction, or what part the prodigious dust storms played in the intervening period between the first and second photographs. Indeed, when you look at all the available data – sparse though it is – there is no discernable long term trend in albedo.

    At this time, there is little empirical evidence that Mars is warming. Mars’ climate is primarily driven by dust and albedo, not solar variations, and we know the sun is not heating up all the planets in our solar system because we can accurately measure the sun’s output here on Earth.

    The notion that Jupiter is warming is actually based on predictions, since no warming has actually been observed. Climate models predict temperature increases along the equator and cooling at the poles. It is believed these changes will be catalysed by storms that merge into one super-storm, inhibiting the planet’s ability to mix heat. Sceptical arguments have ignored the fact this is not a phenomenon we have observed, and that the modelled forcing is storm and dust movements, not changes in solar radiation.

    Observations of changes in luminosity on the surface of both Neptune and its largest moon, Triton, have been taken to indicate warming caused by increased solar activity. In fact, the brightening is due to the planet’s seasons changing, but very slowly. Summer is coming to Neptune’s southern hemisphere, bringing more sunlight, as it does every 164 years.

    The warming exhibited by Pluto is not really understood. Pluto’s seasons are the least understood of all: its existence has only been known for a third of its 248 -year orbit, and it has never been visited by a space probe. The ‘evidence’ for climate change consists of just two observations made in 1988 and 2002. That’s equivalent to observing the Earth’s weather for just three weeks out of the year. Various theories suggest its highly elliptical orbit may play a part, as could the large angle of its rotational axis. One recent paper suggests the length of Pluto’s orbit is a key factor, as with Neptune. Sunlight at Pluto is 900 times weaker than it is at the Earth.Report

    • The Mars stuff I looked at talked about the melting polar “ice” caps. I thought we had more data than just two points for that… is that not the case?Report

        • Visiting each of those leaves me with more questions than answers.Report

          • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

            What are the more questions?Report

            • So are the “ice” caps melting?Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes; well, the south cap is. The north cap is growing. In the case of Mars, this is normal. It has a greater axial tilt than the Earth, and a more eccentric orbit, so the Martian “summers” have a much more pronounced effect on the planet than they do here on terra firma – Mars gets 40% more sunlight during the summer than it does during the winter.

                Melt-and-freeze cycle. Astronomers have watched the annual shrinkage and expansion of Mars’ polar caps for the past two centuries.

                The caps on Mars expand outward from the poles to cover up to 30 percent of the planet’s surface area during the martian winter, but shrink to smaller caps covering only one percent of the planet’s surface in summer.

                Mars has entered an axial tilt phase where the south pole is facing the sun. As a result, the cap is melting

                More here.

                The south polar cap is vaporizing now, which means CO2 is rushing back into the atmosphere. “Remember, though,” adds Smith, “there are two polar caps on Mars–north and south. While the south polar cap is vaporizing the north polar cap is growing. It’s a balancing act. Overall air pressure will be greatest when there’s the least amount of CO2 on the ground.” The next such peak is due in early October–that is, early southern summer on Mars.

                Note: since so much more sun hits the planet during the summer, you’d expect the north pole to be growing at a much smaller rate than the south pole is shrinking (even though it’s farther away from the sun and gets less direct sunlight than it does in the winter, the planet as a whole gets more sunlight; this is complicated by the fact that Mars doesn’t have much of an atmosphere so heat transfer isn’t the same as it is here on the Earth)Report

              • This was a Bill Bryson-esque comment, in it’s readability and it’s explaining something I did not understand.

                Well done.Report

              • Something else, then… I’ve heard that ice is growing at one of our poles and shrinking at the other.

                Is this also true?Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yes, JB, it is true. Nothing to see here, move along, move along.Report

              • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to Jaybird says:

                “It depends”. You’ll have to frame that question a bit more strictly before I can answer it meaningfully, actually.

                I’m assuming what you mean is something along the lines of, “Are the ice masses at the north pole growing annually, or shrinking? Are the ice masses at the south pole growing annually, or shrinking?”

                The north pole ice mass is smaller, on a comparison, to its historical record, in a seasonal sense. Basically, it’s shrinking really fast.

                The south pole mass distribution is both suspected to be larger and smaller, depending upon whether you’re talking about total mass or local maxima/minima, sea ice vs. land ice. The total amount of ice is still under study. Precipitation on the South Pole can lead to some areas growing in depth/mass even while others are shrinking. More here.

                Basically, the areas of the South Pole that would be most susceptible to temperature variations are shrinking, and those that are most susceptible to precipitation variations are growing, but I don’t know (myself at the moment) what the associated rates actually are. To the best of my current understanding, Grace, a gravitational field measuring satellite, is showing a migration of mass of the planet that is consistent with ice melting at the poles, but it’s going to be difficult to continue this observation because Grace is going to come down at some point this year (unless it already has, I may not be current on this).Report

              • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

                LOL, Grace thinks the planet is gaining mass because Grace is running into the planet?

                I find it interesting Patrick that when I send you links to scholarly articles, you don’t personally read them at all but quickly look on skepticalscientist (he’s no scientist BTW) to find a rebuttal. I’ve read his rebuts, but he’s not current on published papers. Here’s one. It brings up interesting points that are too often overlooked in the hysteria being generated by dishonest (or at least disingenuous) AGW scientists.

                AGW stands for Anthropogenic Global Warming. It does NOT stand for anything to do with Climate Change. When the models failed to accurately predict the warming that increased CO2 was supposed to produce (based on multiplier effects that themselves were pure speculation), the “spin” changed from Global Warming to Climate Change. This is beyond dispute.

                The reason I said it was trivial to measure the average temperature of a planet from 50 million miles away is because it is trivial. But they don’t want to measure TEMPERATURE they want to study CLIMATE. There are papers on exoplanet climate such as this one. All your apologetics aside, your quoted article was attempting to conflate average temperature with climate changes, and then discounting the average temperature /because/ of climate change. Here we have “sophistry” at its extreme, skeptics can’t argue about AGW because it is “climate” unless of course the “climate” supports the AGW contention (that we’re getting warmer, that it is accelerating and that man is the cause). I say changing terms in the middle of a discussion is verboten AGW means AGW and nothing else so we have to examine the average heating of the globe and compare it to the average heating of the other planets in the solar system to see if something similar is going on elsewhere (this is only logical). In fact it is. Calling that “elsewhere” a local climate phenomenon is dodging the issue. AGW can’t have it both ways.Report

          • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jaybird says:

            More than two data points

            This was big news back in ’07, has been squelched quite a bit since then.

            The solution is too simple. We can (and do) measure the AVERAGE temperature of stars millions of light years away. We can just as easily measure the average temperature of all our planets in the solar system. In fact we already have. By paying attention to those averages over decades we can see if there is a trend.

            This is where things get a bit dicey. NASA is conflicted, they want to make [budget] money on global warming. The Russians are less close minded, which is why Abdussamatov talks about solar ENERGY and not “radiance”, which is the supposed disproof used then (and now).

            I should also be clear that Mars’ atmosphere is already 95% CO2. Venus is 96%. The naivete of some (including at NASA) who wanted to terraform Mars by adding CO2 is telling. Perhaps when it gets to 110%?Report

            • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

              Uh, Ward?

              Adding any gas at all to the atmosphere of Mars is kinda important if you want to terraform it. Adding CO2 rather than O2 would give it more atmosphere and greater heat retention all at once.

              The makeup of the atmosphere, right now, is largely irrelevant in comparison to how little of it there actually is.Report

  14. Avatar Chris says:

    Jason, implicitly, I believe DensityDuck, ward, and Tom have answered your question: no, it’s not, and nothing would be.Report

    • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Chris says:

      Chris, the premises were off: Muller wasn’t a skeptic, and me, I’m waiting to hear from Cato’s Pat Michaels. Further, there was nothing new there

      I did a piece awhile back that linked to a warmist defector, Nobel laureate Ivar Giaever, who stipulated

      The observational data indicate a global surface warming of 0.74 °C (+/- 0.18 °C) since the late 19th century.

      This is pretty much what that scary graph shows, I believe, so none of this comes as news.

      Anti-warmist [Anthony] Watt writes in reply to Mueller’s meta-analysis:

      And, The Economist still doesn’t get it. The issue of “the world is warming” is not one that climate skeptics question, it is the magnitude and causes.

      So, play it straight, por favor. You might have a case against the other fellows, but I ain’t them.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        TVD, it’s interesting to see Muller’s reputation in this thread go from “not a denialist” to “not a skeptic” so quickly. How long until we can move him into the AGW cultist pantheon entirely?

        Muller’s own accusations against Mann over his dimensionality reduction techniques (Mann’s response summarized here) and subsequent statements that the hockey-stick graph is an artifact and that “you are not allowed to do this in science” would lead any reasonable observer to conclude that he was skeptical of these findings. This skepticism drove him to the whole BEST project to begin with, and, eventually, to reproduce to findings that Mann and others had presented.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to trizzlor says:

          Actually, I think “not a skeptic” came first, but upthread other people started saying he’s “not a denialist”later . It seems to me that the guy was skeptical, which made him a skeptic, but he was an honest skeptic, thus not a skeptic in the new lexicon. It’s simple really.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

          Mr. Trizzlor, pls forward material on Muller’s “skepticism.” Let’s clear this up. All I’m aware of is his criticism of Michael Mann’s methodology, which isn’t the same thing.

          doesn’t jibe with

          In the process, Muller’s gone from a self-proclaimed climate skeptic to a believer.

          unless Muller’s skepticism of Mann’s work transformed him from a guy who quit the Sierra Club because they wouldn’t support nuclear power to mitigate global warming into a guy who was skeptical it was even happening atall.

          Not that I want any part of this epistemological mess [I say this yet once again, for reasons previously given, incl that not even the skeptic godfather Anthony Watt disputes the measurement of plus 1 degree Celsius], but since I’ve been called out, either I or Jason K have a correction to make.

          Geez, this is tiring.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            Tom, I linked to the detailed back & forth on Mann’s PCA adjustment in the previous post. Other than that, there’s a lecture (it’s only 5 minutes long) in which Muller takes Mann and the other groups involved in the hockey-stick to task (they deceived the public, I will never read their papers again, the results are completely unreliable, etc.). Lastly, there’s an interview he conducted in which he supports the general tenants of AGW advocacy but does not distinguish himself from AGW skeptics:

            NAS: The Berkeley Earth website says, “None of the scientists involved have taken a public political stand on global warming.” But questioning the “consensus” is, in effect, a public stand. How do you distinguish your position from those scientists who have publicly expressed skepticism of the man-made global warming hypothesis?

            Muller: I disagree. Proper skepticism is part of science. Once we say that anybody who asks a question has taken a public stand, then we are no longer in the realm of science.

            Obviously Muller is no Rick Perry, but since the data he is now presenting reinforces findings he was initially publicly skeptical of, I think it’s unreasonable to call him “not a skeptic”. In any case, his own statements on the issue are linked above, I think they’re much more informative than the denialist/skeptic/non-skeptic/alarmist labels at this point.Report

            • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to trizzlor says:

              Mr Trizz, I hear you, but that’s not “a self-proclaimed climate skeptic to a believer.”

              Pls know I thank you for the straight-up and good faith answer, but it still doesn’t jibe with the link I provided with Muller quitting the Sierra Club, absent the info I requested.

              unless Muller’s skepticism of Mann’s work transformed him from a guy who quit the Sierra Club because they wouldn’t support nuclear power to mitigate global warming into a guy who was skeptical it was even happening atall.

              If and when you get to know me, like everyone I have a POV, but clarity is my first call and my squawk is because it is lacking here, both on Muller’s status and his findings—the latter of which even “skeptics” already stipulate and I document infra. I don’t see the here here or the there there, in the OP or Muller respectively.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                I feel we’re getting into a debate over how skeptical one has to be to be a skeptic; which, like you, I’m skeptical of engaging in.

                However, with respect to your comment that “even “skeptics” already stipulate [Muller’s findings] and I document infra” I will say that it was hard to take Watts’ claims that the BEST research was nothing new when right in his sidebar he hosts a number of books that vehemently denounce the graph that BEST has corroborated. Perhaps I’ve mislead myself on this. Does Muller’s work corroborate the findings* of Mann and others on recent increase in temperature? If so, and it’s still old news, was this conclusion stipulated during the lambasting of Mann after Climategate. My simplistic view of this has been that a lot of people (Muller included) said Mann’s findings cannot be trusted, and then Muller validated the findings.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                What I find odd, Tom, is that you haven’t addressed the evidence. Ward has sophistically done so, it’s true, but mostly by saying, “Look over here,” where here is mostly untrue stuff about climate scientists and quotes without the key parts.

                So, since there is now independent evidence, from an entirely new group, that the globe is warming (at 2.8 degrees C per century, give or take a tenth), do you now believe it, or do you remain troubled by “epistemological issues” related to the earlier scientists’ behavior (most of which, it turns out, wasn’t all that odd, as investigations have shown)?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Chris says:

                The story is not “there’s evidence”, because people have been claiming all along that there are just mounds and piles of completely indisputable and incontrovertible evidence.

                The story we’re being told is “here’s a famous guy who totally didn’t believe in AGW and now he totally does!”Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Tom, you always claim it’s an epistemological issue. What epistemological issue is there with this research?Report

  15. Chris, with all due respect, no substance from you in this thread, only spitballs, and misaimed, at least the one at me.

    Exc you did hit on the ocean temps, to yr credit, though so did “skeptic” Judy Curry.

    Muller wasn’t a skeptic, the preliminary Muller findings come as no news. Carry Jason Kuznicki’s water if you feel to need to. The OP is off.Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Tom, see my questions above. What do you think of this new research? How does it affect your opinion?

      Who cares whether he was a denialist, skeptic, or what have you. It’s independent confirmation. What say you?Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to Chris says:

        Chris, I find the premises of Jason’s OP unsatisfactory for reasons given at least thrice now, that Muller was not a skeptic and his study reveals nothing new here.

        And on a personal level, I have found responding to your own challenges hereabouts a chore, for reasons given countlessly, mostly that your style is to say little and demand far more than you give, not unlike the gentleman for whom you now carry water.


        Hi, Jason. Love you back. Our problem has never been understanding each other—for we unfailingly do—but that we understand each other. I appreciate your tenuous professional position and don’t blame you for letting folks like Brother Chris serve as saboteurs or cannon fodder, as the case may be.Report

  16. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    Okay, to play ombudsman now, it looks like Muller was not a “skeptic” in the sense of being someone who disbelieved in global warming. He accepted the basic premises, which puts him outside of the skeptic camp. I’d rather use the term ‘disbeliever’ for that camp though because it’s less weighted than ‘denier’ or ‘denialist’ (which likely originate with Holocaust denialism) and a bit clearer than figuring out the degrees of skepticism. In other words, he was not a global warming disbeliever, but he was highly skeptical about the science used to get to those conclusions. Muller went on record as saying the Al Gore movie was a pack of half-truths, the global warming movement had sold the public a bill of goods, and the science was fatally flawed by ignoring the objections of Anthony Watts and, I believe, the climate depot site. He believed that shutting those people out of the process was not good science. The study here was an attempt to correct the mistakes he saw earlier studies as making and to bring those people into the process by taking their objections and claims seriously. Apparently, he wanted to test if for himself. One of the things I’m struck by in reading articles, interviews, and testimony about the BEST study is how honestly he approached the question. He’s being dumped on, nevertheless, by people who define honesty by the conclusions one reaches instead of their methodology in getting there- and who once triumphed Muller, one should note. But I suppose his skepticism that good science was not being done is not the same thing as being a ‘skeptic’ in the sense of a global warming disbeliever. Maybe that helps.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Rufus, I agree with everything you stated above with one caveat. Muller did NONE of the work of the reconstruction. He is retired. What he did was organize getting the work done. As far as I can tell he did not even directly supervise the postdoc doing the reconstruction (nor avert any influences on said postdoc). On Aug 20th (linked above) I complained that the postdoc had no statistical background in dealing with something that is purely statistical in basis. Chris and Kimmi can pretend they know chi square distributions better than I do, but pretense is all they can muster. Why is something from probability theory important to this? You would need to familiarize yourself with McIntyre’s work and his published papers criticizing the Mann graph (which all of AGW have backed away from BTW).

      Please be VERY clear on this. I too believe the earth has been warming (as it should – we ARE coming out of a mini ice age) and the REAL numbers indicate .6 degrees Kelvin over the past century. My issue with AGW has ALWAYS been their lack of scientific integrity, scientific method and scientific “humility” for lack of a better term. I work with world-renowned scientists who are experts in their fields. I have been unavailable to blog lately because we were presenting at an international conference. That said, even though hundreds of people attended their talks, they NEVER say, “We /know/ this to be true” but always, “We /believe/ this to be the case given these caveats”. Contrast that sentiment with the top <a href=""AGW team. There are /many/ other example quotes, Chris will pretend I’m sophist(icatedly) picking and choosing out of context but the words on the page speak for themselves. I choose sites that have a number of links on them so my post doesn’t end up in moderator limbo because of too many links.

      Because I respect the man, the work he’s done and his integrity (all the digging done by thousands of mouth breathers around the world has not shown one penny of “dirty” money going into Steve’s pockets) I am going to wait until he’s analyzed the BEST results in his own way.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to wardsmith says:

        Ward, considering I make a fair amount of money working as a statistician, I suspect I do know quite a bit more about it than someone who thinks a.) that smoothing is something entirely different than what it is (or pretends that it is something different than it is, which is worse, but we already know you’re a sophist anyway), and b.) thinks that McInty’re work is damning.

        By the way, have you updated your quote above that I used as the most recent indication of your sophistry? Have you added the following sentences which make the quote quite different from what you make it out to be here? No? That’s nice. Still a sophist.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

        Wardsmith, on this very thread you have already shown that you don’t understand how percentages work.

        It’s either that, or you are dishonest enough to float a transparently innumerate claim and hope for the best.

        Either way, what reason do we have to trust anything you say touching on the mathematics of climate change?Report

        • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          Good God Jason, do I have to add /sarcasm-on/ /sarcasm-off/ statements to my posts for you to grok them?

          Also Patrick took it a bit too seriously on the grant request, apparently since my skills at humor don’t equal JB’s /nothing/I say is allowed as remotely funny, or you’re all just Vulcans with no sense of humor yourselves?

          Mars’ atmosphere is 95% CO2 today. What do you think the models (which is all AGW has to back it up) show when adding 1% CO2 to the Martian atmosphere? In fact I posted a link to exoplanet model software. In fact I could run their equations myself on my own semi-supercomputer running my own license of Comsol Multiphysics. But I don’t need to bother because I already know the result.

          Earth’s climate software models want to show what happens when CO2 at .000038 in the atmosphere goes to .000076 – and of course to hear many of them (Hansen, Schmidt, Schneider, etc.) talk about it, that doubling leads to world ending disasters. We conveniently have two exoplanets in our solar system Venus at 96% and Mars at 95% CO2 which can show us what happens at the extreme edge of what in modelling is called a “boundary condition”. CO2 effect appears to be logarithmic so each additional ppm accomplishes less than the one before it. At percentages (as your snarky comment indicates) we’re talking parts per hundred, apparently I haven’t demonstrated my mathematical acumen to your satisfaction. Perhaps we should compare Phd’s and see whose is “longer”.

          Realclimate has their own opinion on the subject but I’m banned from there because years ago I questioned the (previous) IPCC conclusion that CO2 remained in the atmosphere for hundreds of years. Since my father worked for the AEC and was directly involved with nuclear testing and since I knew that fallout from nuclear tests included Carbon 14, it became a trivial matter to count the C14 from those tests. If it stayed in the atmosphere for hundreds of years (as they claimed) this signature would be easy to spot. That question got deleted, others like it got deleted, eventually someone published a paper on exactly what I’d said and the IPCC quietly changed its CO2 residence time theory. That was the beginning of the end for me and the AGW team, because I came to the fundamental realization that they had an agenda that had nothing to do with scientific research and everything to do with political policy driven by pseudo-science , censorship and fear mongering.

          You may not like this because after all AGW is another signaling method, primarily to determine which color (red or blue) one aligns with. The fact or paucity of fact of science has taken a back seat to the politics therein. But you know this.

          I’ll be interested Jason in whether your novel has characters who have a sense of humor and how detectable said humor is. Maybe the problem is 100% with me. I can live with that, my friends understand my humor but perhaps keyboards are not capable of transmitting the nuances needed to exemplify same.

          I’m all done posting on this subject. I didn’t fall for your OP when you talked about it previously and perhaps I shouldn’t have fallen for your chumming the water this time. Live and learn. Many times I have wholeheartedly agreed with your posts, but as I told TVD (with whom I also often wholeheartedly agree) until I’m banned from this site I intend to disagree with everyone at least once, or in your case – more often.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to wardsmith says:

            Good God Jason, do I have to add /sarcasm-on/ /sarcasm-off/ statements to my posts for you to grok them?

            The suggestion has often been given sincerely, and often sincerely followed. Not sure what’s wrong with it. Given the remarkably low quality of many other claims on both sides of this divide, caution would seem in order.

            AGW is another signaling method, primarily to determine which color (red or blue) one aligns with.

            So science just happens to be blue in your world? Weird.Report

          • I let WSmith’s Mars atmosphere thing go; I too took it as off, but figgered he’d proved his rationality and mathematical literacy around here enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, whatever he’s up to. Unlike many of the ideologues and drivebys hereabouts, he’s a conscientious commenter.

            I’m still not sure if his point holds here, but he clearly has something in mind, and has earned a charitable reading instead of a hostile one.

            I appreciate the shout-out, but on this issue, earth’s twin planet in mass, Venus [surface temp 400+ degrees C, 96% CO2], is the classic argument for the Greenhouse Effect. It’s hotter than Mercury. On the other hand, Venus’ atmosphere is almost 100 times denser [atmospheric pressure] than ours.

            Mars has a “trace” atmosphere, 100 times less pressure than Earth’s, as it turns out. [Man, are we the sweet spot or what?]

            Mars too is 96% CO2 [coincidence?], but is that trace atm enough to hold increased solar activity and make for a Martian global warming?

            Mebbe, shit I dunno. That’s what Ward Smith’s after here, I make. And if he ain’t, then he’s lost all of us, even his lone charitable reader here @ the LOOG.

            (Me, it’s all over my head, so I gotta trust somebody. The “academy,” the AGW establishment—skeptics have started calling them “The Team”—have already been caught cheating or squirreling. Richard Muller’s new clear-the-decks meta-analysis, the topic of the OP, wouldn’t even be necessary if they hadn’t lost the confidence of the world, or at least enough of it.

            And that’s the name of this tune.

            My “skepticism” remains a distrust not of “science,” but of the ability of human beings to play it straight and how the act in groups, crowds and mobs. Fucking lemmings. It’s really a very old question, older than AGW and the like.

            (And perhaps the more essential one.)Report

  17. Avatar JASON HIGHSMYTHE says:

    It is curious that those who were predicting and lamenting global cooling in the 1970’s are some of the same “scientists” on board for AGW. I guess the “science” then was settled too.Report

    • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to JASON HIGHSMYTHE says:

      If there is one bit of garbage I could wish away from the AGW debates on the web, it’s this utter tripe that global cooling was a settled science thing.

      This is the number one sign that you understand this issue not at all. It’s the easiest question to answer, and requires the least bit of research. Not having done that research flunks you out.Report

      • Avatar JASON HIGHSMITH in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        I guess you don’t understand anything which is stated that you don’t immediately comprehend, a sign of religious zeal.

        I suggest you complain to Holdren. He will hold your hand and comfort your disquiet. (As false as that may be.)

        In true science, nothing is ever settled. Ask those at CERN.
        And try to do more careful evaluation of the reported suggested results. But keep your scepticism, as all real scientists truly try to do.

        If you have the opportunity talk to some real scientists; those without your “religious persuasion.”

        An easy helpful hint: go to youtube: look at the comments of Freeman Dyson. Maybe that will help with your science education.

        Good luck.Report

        • Avatar Patrick Cahalan in reply to JASON HIGHSMITH says:

          > I guess you don’t understand anything
          > which is stated that you don’t immediately
          > comprehend, a sign of religious zeal.

          You’ve got me pegged, right quick. I’m the most religiously zealous dude hereabouts. For someone who’s criticism seems to boil down to, “You’re jumping to conclusions”, you’ve jumped to all sorts of conclusions.

          > In true science, nothing is ever settled.

          This is true, but also not terribly useful. Perhaps I’m reading you uncharitably, as you said:

          > It is curious that those who were predicting
          > and lamenting global cooling in the 1970?s
          > are some of the same “scientists” on board
          > for AGW.”

          There were not very many scientists at all who were “predicting and lamenting” global cooling in the 1970s (if you’re going to dispute this, please bring a reference as you’re the one making the claim). Your comparison of “global cooling” to “AGW” is not meaningful at all, unless you’re trying to draw an association between the mechanism in the research and the representative proportions of incredulous vs. credulous researchers involved.

          I’m having a hard time understanding what the point was of your driveby comment if it *wasn’t* to establish a false equivalence. If you meant something else by it, then I apologize for reading you uncharitably.

          > If you have the opportunity talk to
          > some real scientists; those without
          > your “religious persuasion.”

          I’ll take that under advisement.Report

  18. Avatar Ian H says:

    Looks like Muller was trying to “hide the decline”, or at least the flatness, of global temperatures for the last 10 years. So we’ve had a decade of no warming despite increasing our CO2 output and none of the alarmists find that just a bit strange?Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Ian H says:

      here is Curry explaining how she was falsely attributed the claim that Muller is “hiding the decline”. here is a simple set of plots of the BEST data showing the trend estimates with confidence intervals, clearly demonstrating that the warming trend is never outside the CI and concordant with Muller’s claim that “In our data, which is only on the land we see no evidence of it [global temperature] having slowed down.”.

      There are only so many hours in the day, how much bullshit can a skeptic shovel before you’ll consider them an untrustworthy source?Report

  19. Avatar d says:

    Please look at what Judith Curry (Co author) is saying about the way Dr Muller has released the data.Report