Thursday, November 19, 2009

global warming predictions (and James Hansen) gone wild

I love to see Malthusians gettin' a beatin' (with hat tip to and analysis by Sevens)...

In his article on "Flawed Climate Data," Ross McKitrick tears apart the last remaining Climate Hockey Stick analysis, stripping all the Global Warming hype to nothing.

I have been probing the arguments for global warming for well over a decade. In collaboration with a lot of excellent coauthors I have consistently found that when the layers get peeled back, what lies at the core is either flawed, misleading or simply non-existent. The surface temperature data is a contaminated mess with a significant warm bias...Climate models are in gross disagreement with observations, and the discrepancy is growing with each passing year....The IPCC review process, of which I was a member last time, is nothing at all like what the public has been told: Conflicts of interest are endemic, critical evidence is systematically ignored and there are no effective checks and balances against bias or distortion.

All you really need to know is that many of our representatives still listen to what James Hansen has to say even though his 1988 prediction, in the graph at the top, tells what his analysis is worth. Actual temperature levels entering 2010 are trending completely opposite of his predictions and temperatures are lower today than if we had actually crippled our economy and taken his drastic recommendations back in 1988.


At November 20, 2009 at 8:18 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

The journal Science had an article, "What happened to global warming," by Richard A. Kerr, in its issue of 2 October. It's behind a pay wall, but the summary of the article reads: The blogosphere has been having a field day with global warming's apparent decade-long stagnation. But climatologists are finding that although global warming has indeed paused, it is likely to return with a vengeance within a few years. What's particularly interesting in the article is that climatologists say while we can expect short-term climate fluctuations to produce decade-long pauses in the upward temperature trend, it would be much less likely to have pauses lasting 15 years or more.

At November 20, 2009 at 10:12 AM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

First, I'm glad to hear them admit that GW has at least "paused".

Second, why is GW "likely to return with a vengeance"? This assertion is based on what well-established theory and predictive data?

Third, the saddest thing here would be if the concerns about anthropogenic-caused GW were true but shills like Hansen and Gore make people so cynical that they don't embrace it.

At November 20, 2009 at 2:08 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

From reading the article, I believe the idea is that the AGW "signal" is superimposed on pre-existing natural cycles that operate over 5-10 year time frames. So in 1998, it was extraordinary warm because an El Niño, while currently (apparently) it's not quite as warm because the natural cycles are at a low point.

Not sure I would call Hansen a shill. Granted, he is the director of a government lab that does research in AGW, so there might be a competing interest. But he is a major scientist, and it is reasonable to assume he's sincere; he might be wrong, but in a sense, he has a right to be wrong—he has every right to strenuously argue for a theory in the face of strong public or corporate opposition. He might be wrong, and we may know in 5-10 years, but unless he refuses to abandon his position in the face of strong scientific evidence, he's doing what he's supposed to do.

Now what would be really sad is if AGW is correct, but a relentless 20-year PR campaign by the petroleum and coal industries deflected needed action to mitigate AGW.

At November 20, 2009 at 3:47 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Is it really falsifiable, in practice? When his efforts are so far off from 20 years ago, it's brushed aside-- by proponents-- as no big deal.

Had you heard about the data disappearing (in the other post)? Is there another side to that story?

The global warming/cooling crowd has so little credibility already, given its record-- that more of the same is simply not helpful (if they're right).

At November 20, 2009 at 3:55 PM , Blogger Janet P said...

Evidently, there is enough research to draw the conclusion that... no one really knows.

I don't know whether people like Gore and Hansen have been willing to make any concession to the "other side" and acknowledge that they could be/have been wrong, but they should. It would make it a lot easier to take them seriously.

Another thing - Certainly we should not be making sweeping public policy changes based on unknowns.

Also, I wouldn't be quick to dismiss conflicts of interest. They are essentially what keeps the world power structure operating and have contributed majorly to the destruction of our monetary system.

Here's something I sometimes think about related to this issue - and call me a cynic if you choose - but even if global warming turns out to be a reality, what difference is it really going to make if we all go from 8 cylinder to 4 cylinder automobiles, especially considering the fact that so many more people in the developing economies (China, India)will be owning and driving cars over the next 10 years.

At November 20, 2009 at 9:39 PM , Blogger William Lang said...

Presumably AGW is falsifiable: if warming never resumes, we'll know there's a big problem with the theory. (Actually, AGW consists of numerous specific claims by scientists, on various aspects of atmospheric physics and so forth, each of which are subject to testing.)

Concerning the 'missing' data: I don't of course know what the story there is. But it is my understanding that scientific data is considered to be the property of the research group that developed or collected it. So it is not ordinarily the case that anyone can expect to be given the raw data upon request. The reason for this is simple: it takes a great deal of money to produce or collect data, and a team that did all the hard work of putting together grant applications and then developing the data shouldn't be expected to allow someone else to use the data to arrive at what should have been their own scientific results. Therefore, if you would like to do research on a certain subject, you need to ask permission to have access to the data. I did exactly this last year when I asked for access to a certain pathology data set from a University of Washington pathologist. (He gave us access, but we decided not to pursue the project we had in mind.) At any rate, it is unsurprising to me that a researcher in AGW does not want to share his data with anyone hostile to his work, whose goal is to cherry-pick data to disprove AGW.

Back to the PR campaign. Allegedly (from what I've read), most of what you have been posting on your blog is actually generated and propagated by people connected with the energy industry. Allegedly (I saw allegedly because I'm not that familiar with the details or ins-and-outs of the matter), certain PR firms are behind a well-funded and carefully-constructed effort to convince the public that AGW is controversial if not wrong. And allegedly this strategy is being managed by the exact same PR firms that pioneered this strategy ("manufacturing a controversy") for the tobacco companies back in the 1960s. (Indeed, certain PR firms or advocacy groups, such as the Heartland Institute, still do work on behalf of the tobacco companies.) Now none of this is particularly surprising: corporations have a legal responsibility to promote their interests. And it is true that many geologists doubt AGW; it wouldn't surprise me if the people who run these corporations sincerely doubt AGW. But what would be truly dreadful is if one day we find out that the energy industry knew all along that AGW was true, and continued its campaign against it. This is exactly what happened back in the 1990s when it became clear that the tobacco companies knew how dangerous and addictive their products were, even while they lied to the public (in many ways on many fronts) about their products. There will be hell to pay if this is what is going on with AGW. Of course it goes both ways—if Hansen and company are the ones who are insincere, there will be hell to pay on that account (and science will have been severely damaged, a true tragedy). But somehow, at least for now, I have a lot more trouble believing that the climate science community is dishonest or incompetent, than I have trouble believing that the energy companies are using their very considerable resources to distort public policy debates.

At November 20, 2009 at 10:04 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

I hear you on falsifiability-- and that works on paper. But if we didn't have warming, then wouldn't they start moaning and worrying about cooling again?

I understand the data issue as well. But my understanding is that this was publicly-available data-- although compiled/manipulated privately. How does falsifiability work in that context-- if the data is not made available. And the flip side of not releasing it to "opponents" is that only "proponents" get to look at the data-- hardly objective and Scientific, right?

Neither side is objective, so now what? And some of this is self-fulfilling perceptions. If you don't believe GW, then you're a skeptic and in the pockets of X. If you believe GW, then you're a proponent and have various self-interests to serve. Again, this is hardly Science.

At November 20, 2009 at 10:12 PM , Blogger Janet P said...

Look, Hansen went out on a limb and his "science" didn't pan out. These predictions are now seemingly ridiculous.
So that means we're supposed to continue to pay attention and take notes?

Sorry, but that's like being asked to keep listening to these PhD economists who had no clue that anything was wrong with the infrastructure until the whole thing tanked last year.

No offense, Eric - I think you are micro, anyway, right?

At November 20, 2009 at 10:26 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Yep, Micro.

William, to that point: What is the downside for Hansen's mistakes? Does he own them and apologize/repent-- or just keep moving? Does he lose reputation? Are his predictions taken as less credible down the road?

This stuff doesn't really seem falsifiable-- in practice.

Similarly, why would anyone listen to Paul Ehrlich anymore-- looking at his record?

At November 21, 2009 at 7:20 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

It isn't just Hansen and his prediction, or Gore either for that matter. It is a large body of research by many researchers, on many lines of evidence, that make the climatologists confident in AGW. If AGW is wrong, it will be scientists who verify that it is wrong; only through science can we resolve this kind of scientific question. We'll probably know in a decade.

At November 21, 2009 at 7:57 AM , Blogger William Lang said...

Something disturbing has appeared in this morning's New York Times: an article about a large collection of email uncovered by computer hackers, from climate scientists to each other. AGW skeptics are already claiming these show the dishonesty of these scientists, who apparently discuss ways of massaging data in their favor, and ways of besting their opponents.


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