Thursday, December 23, 2004

Alarmists are taking over

OK, some news related to the issue of climate variability. (It may be a better term than "climate change" because "climate change" already includes some sort of answer including a revolutionary "change" and is therefore biased.)

Michael Crichton's thriller State of Fear may be a book of non-fiction after all. Do you remember the eco-terrorist organization NERF that took over the region? The organization based on the lies about the global climate that was promoting their interests using the mafia techniques? So this NERF already have their own blog in the real world, and their goal is nothing less than to "change the way how journalism discusses questions of the global climate". Given the fact that the ratio of the catastrophic sensational newspapers articles to the reasonable science-based articles about the global climate is roughly 5:1 already today, and NERF clearly wants to increase this ratio further, we're not far from Crichton's novel. The website I talk about is

Among its nine authors we find William Connolley, my friend ;-) from Wikipedia who is kind of twisting all wikipages about the global climate, as well as Michael Mann a Ray Bradley, two of the co-authors of the largerly abandoned paper about the "hockey stick graph" which was based on a rather poor manipulation with the tools of statistics.




Hans von Storch has recently shown in Science that the hockey stick graphs underestimated the fluctuations of temperature in the past at least by a factor of two. Incidentally, the same von Storch with L. Barring recently also showed that the storminess in Scandinavia has been amazingly constant, contradicting some previous weird theories of the global warming alarmists.

Let's return to Connolley, Mann, Bradley, and their six friends. That's a very interesting company. And I think that their website is not encouraging a serious scientific debate. They describe their new blog as

  • "a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. ... The discussion here is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science."

Of course that this description itself is another lie. The whole web is a collection of incredibly clearly politically twisted statements for which science is just an unimportant hostage, which are intended to brainwash the readers, especially the naive ones. Moreover, they only accept the comments that flatter them - all comments submitted under their articles are filtered before they appear - it's a "1984" approach to the problem. Let me list the recent titles of their articles, to show how "non-political" they are, and add a short abstract of mine:

  • A welcoming Nature - It is difficult for us to write a scientifically sound article, but it is much easier to convince our friends in Nature to publish an un-reviewed advertisement of our brainwashing blog :-)
  • Just what is this Consensus anyway? - Everyone agrees with evething we say, and if she does not, we will erase her and destroy her
  • Fox News gets it wrong - Fox quoted a person who said that we don't understand global climate well enough, but it is unfair because Fox should have quoted the whole life of that person and the person also said that it is dangerous for people to do anything because it could destroy the world
  • Statistical analysis of consensus - We are getting overwhelmingly effective in destroying the articles that whose results we don't like, and if we make one little step of progress, we will be able to codify our viewpoint in the constitution
  • Michael Crichton's state of confusion I,II: return of the science - Crichton is wrong, and perhaps an alien described by Carl Sagan - and the reason why he's wrong is that there is consensus, and we can eliminate everyone who is wrong
  • Climate change disinformation - Every article we don't like can be linked to oil, and because oil is dirty, we will always be able to humiliate everyone who disagrees with us. A few examples of recent articles in the newspapers follow
  • Welcome to RealClimate - Global climate is a field in which everyone feels that he has something to say. But we're really better than an average crackpot because there is consensus between 9 of us that we're better
  • Weren't the temperatures warmer during the Medieval Warm Period? - It's a myth, myth, myth. Did you hear? A myth. Forget about all papers that describe MWP, and believe us because we have a consensus. Read our crappy papers and avoid all other papers that show why ours are crappy, which is the only path for a true believer
  • But we do know that it was warmer 6000 years ago, don't we? - It's also a myth. In this case, we don't have even crappy papers that would indicate it's a myth, but don't forget that we have a consensus that we're better than others :-)
  • Will you finally shut up and agree that 100.00% of people agree with all of this global warming theory? There are 9 of us plus a lot of powerful friends and we will beat you up if you disagree.

OK, I added the last entry for the sake of clarity, ;-) but at least I always tell you if there is any twist in my postings. They will not tell you anything like that. They know very well that the Arctic region is warming, and Antarctica is cooling, and therefore there must be at least 3 times as many articles about Arctic than those about Antarctic. Just look at the ratio of these two apparently symmetric and equally important places on Earth in their blog! This itself is enough to calculate how unbalanced scientists they are.

They will keep on repeating their lies about the "scientific consensus" until everyone will agree, following the famous dictum due to Goebbels that a lie repeated 100 times becomes the truth. They will never tell you that the influential Russian Academy of Sciences identified the "science" behind the Kyoto protocol as "scientifically unfounded nonsense". Well, Putin's advisor Illarionov compared Kyoto to fascism, as you can see in the same article, but it is a different story.

Instead, these people will keep on telling you that 100 percent of the comments that appear on their web - and in journals that are being controlled by similar policies - advocate the global warming theory.

Global climate vs. string theory

Consider the following comparison: they're a group of 9 people who are interested in the same field of science - if you wish to call it this way. We have examples like that - the string theorists. The string theorists also used the web, usenet, and blogs to exchange the ideas. But if two groups are doing the same thing, it's not the same thing. In fact, it's drastically different. The String Coffee Table or the SCI.physics.STRINGS newsgroup for that matter are primarily meant to exchange the ideas between the experts - and the future experts, so to say - and the postings are as much skeptical as they are excited. The RealClimate.ORG blog, on the other hand, is only meant to brainwash the laymen, and it only publishes the articles that only promote one, rather naive answer to a rather important question. I am not aware of a single blog or website (or a counterpart of arxiv.org) where the global climate scientists themselves would be exchanging the ideas between one another on a daily basis. These things just don't seem to exist: these guys already "know" the answer to everything, and the only remaining task is to force everyone else to join them and accept their beliefs. Of course that their conclusions are incomparably more shaky than the mathematical conclusions in string theory (I am not talking about the description of the real world, but about the correct deduction of facts from other facts within the theory).

Nature and NERF

Nature has made an advertisement for this propagandistic blog - which I think is very bad if they don't do the same thing for the scientific skeptics in the global warming debate. Nevertheless, Nature at least admitted that it is dangerous to rely on a blog that is not peer-reviewed, especially because they could oversell their opinions. There exist eco-terrorists radical enough that even this suggestion by Nature that the scientific statements should be verified by the community (and peer-reviewed) is "preposterous" - for example a famous blogging eco-terrorist called Chris C. Mooney:

His explanation why it is not necessary to verify scientific statements is that "mainstream climate scientists are getting whupped by the industry". Very interesting approach - but it's not quite original because Lenin and Stalin have been using similar arguments, even though not as radically as Mooney.

All these people may call themselves scientists, but they are much less of a scientist than Michael Crichton simply because they don't obey the basic rules of scientific integrity. They always prefer brainwashing over a careful statistical analysis. The last six years have shown that the paper of Mann et al. was crappy, to say the least, but they will keep on promoting this junk science because this is the way how they are funded, and this is the way how to make their friends in politics stronger. Every time it turns out that the climate is pretty normal, they're getting weaker and their funding goes South.

Congratulations to Bjorn Lomborg

Incidentally, the Time magazine's list of top 100 most influential people in 2004 includes not only George Bush and Edward Witten, but also the Danish "skeptical environmentalist" Bjorn Lomborg. He deserves it a lot. In 2001 he published the book The Skeptical Environmentalist. He was brave enough to challenge some dogmas about the humankind heading towards a disaster. Imagine how bold one must be to say "we're not approaching a catastrophe" today! :-) Even Tony Blair who is kind of intelligent keeps on repeating the highly popular stupidities that the global warming is the most serious problem facing the world today.

Lomborg has collected a lot of numbers, evidence, and calculations involving the global climate, economy, price of food, expected growth of population and the world's GDP, the extent of air pollution in the future, and the estimated effect of the new technologies. He argued that the global warming forecasts are exaggerated, and that the humankind will benefit from the mild increase of the temperature which he believes to have a significant anthropogenic component (I am more open-minded about these statements).

His only problem was that the conclusions did not confirm the prejudices and beliefs of his former friends from Greenpeace and the average climate scientists - the "scientists of the consensus". These average scientists decided to discredit him. One of these scientists whose name happens to be Jeffrey A. Harvey, although he's not a string theorist, took Lomborg to a bizarre Danish institution analogous to the Inquisition - it's called "Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty". The comrades from DCSD published a statement that Lomborg was scientifically dishonest. Lomborg had to wait for more than one year (!) until the Danish government finally spanked the morons from DCSD and announced that DCSD was not competent to make such an accusation. (Well, it's still faster than the trials against Galileo et al. that the Church fixed after a couple of centuries.)

Lomborg is a political scientist by training, but his efficiency with which he can do statistics is amazing. He had immediately corrected all the small errors that others found in his book - while the errors made by Scientific American were never corrected. He was able to argue with hordes of average alarmists. The alarmists produced 10 ad hominem attacks including accusations that he is connected with the industry (which would be the ultimate crime!), 20 statements that Lomborg is not an expert, and 30 statements that he has no friends in the alarmist-controlled journals and they will never publish his texts. Meanwhile, Lomborg produces 40 additional well-documented factual quantitative arguments supporting his points and clarifying the glimpses of ideas found in the insults by his opponents, including the references. The comparison of Lomborg's approach with the non-scientific and inefficient approach of the people who are supposed to be scientists is incredible. It's kind of scary that the international institutions pay 20 simpletons for doing badly the same work that 1 Danish guy could do more properly.

15 comments:

  1. Regarding "hockey stick" see

    Myth vs. Fact Regarding the "Hockey Stick"

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=11#more-11

    and

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=8#more-8

    The rebuttal to MMs claims seems scientifically sound (right application of statistics) to me. Where are they wrong?

    excerpt:

    The MBH98 reconstruction is indeed almost completely insensitive to whether the centering convention of MBH98 (data centered over 1902-1980 calibration interval) or MM (data centered over the 1400-1971 interval) is used. Claims by MM to the contrary are based on their failure to apply standard 'selection rules' used to determine how many Principal Component (PC) series should be retained in the analysis. Application of the standard selection rule (Preisendorfer’s "Rule N’") used by MBH98, selects 2 PC series using the MBH98 centering convention, but a larger number (5 PC series) using the MM centering convention. Curiously undisclosed by MM in their criticism is the fact that precisely the same ‘hockey stick’ pattern that appears using the MBH98 convention (as PC series #1) also appears using the MM convention, albeit slightly lower down in rank (PC series #4) (Figure 1). If MM had applied standard selection procedures, they would have retained the first 5 PC series, which includes the important 'hockey stick' pattern. The claim by MM that this pattern arises as an artifact of the centering convention used by MBH98 is clearly false.

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  2. Note that there is not a single complete scientific paper on the website that you can actually view, just the repeated statements that there exist many papers. My article contains links that are equally good as yours.

    Sorry, but the texts on realclimate.org are not a trustworthy source of information. This website is openly a propagandistic machine that only promotes one type of data, and everyone who makes any conclusions based on the website should think twice whether she's not doing something wrong.

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  3. Ummm Lubos - Crichton is a science fiction writer - he makes stuff up for a living, like time travel and cloned dinosaurs and thermodynamically implausible bugs.

    I have attended climate studies conferences and my impression is that there has been a rather vigorous debate in the community. There is a fairly large (but rapidly decreasing) group of scientists who are skeptical about human caused climate change, and a tiny minority of hard core disbelievers. The disbelievers have no trouble getting funded because there are powerful economic interests who want global warming to go away. The disbelievers have trouble getting published for a reason that a string theoriest may have trouble understanding - in atmospheric science we actually have measurements, and they don't fit their theories. Neither do the credible models.

    I don't know anything about NERF or REAL CLIMATE but I notice that you repeat some of the familiar nonsense of the AGW (anti-global warming) propagandists. For example, the cooling in the core of Antarctica is not contrary to global warming models - it is partly a result of the dramatic warming of the Antarctic coast and surrounding ocean.

    Also, every climate scientist knows that there have been dramatically warmer periods in the past - and that the warmest have been correlated with with drastic increases in atmospheric CO2. (The NYT recently carried an article about a period 52 million years ago when the artic ocean became a warm floating-plant covered pond.)

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  4. Dear Pig,

    let me not reply to your arguments (?) defending the global warming alarmism. I've replied to the very same arguments (?) about 50 times, and I am already bored. All of you keep on repeating the same stuff that you heard from others who keep on repeating the same stuff.

    It always goes like this: the corporations are bad, everyone associated with them is bad, our models are trustworthy even though they don't predict anything and they only take a random minority of the factors into account, Crichton and whoever disagrees with us is a bad scientist because there are so many of us who say the same things, and so forth.

    Yes, there are very many crackpots around.

    To be honest, I was first very confused by your nickname. Actually originally it seemed that you were a pro-capitalist person.

    After reading your blog and your comments here it is a little bit more comprehensible now.

    Best
    Lubos

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  5. Just to clarify - I'm a capitalist - not a pro or anti-capitalist. (I'm not really an imperialist, nor even a pig, but I was called that by some lefties and kind of like the name).

    It's a big advantage not replying to arguments, especially if they aren't really arguments, but rather inconvenient facts; it's also proof against refutation. I guess I assumed that because you were a professor at our most prestigeous University and , even more importantly, a theoretical physicist, that you must be a person of keen and critical intellect. Obviously you are very smart - string theory seems very hard (and I even found QFT hard to understand) but you are clearly a very black and white type of guy. Us vs. them. Liberal vs. conservative. Strings vs. LQG.

    I'm afraid that there are more things under the Sun than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Lubos.

    Cheers.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. My apologies for duplicating part of the comment.

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  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  9. I've erased the message posted twice and a one-sentence off-topic anonymous insult.

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  10. Just to add a little bit of empirical data to
    this discussion. Temperature charts are available at
    http://www.ngdc.noaa.gov/paleo/recons.html

    BTW, I found the link on John Baez's webpage 8-)

    Greetings,
    Wolfgang Beirl

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  11. Thanks, Wolfgang, an excellent source of information. Unfortunately most of the linked pages contain numbers, not graphs.

    There seems to be an obvious correlation between the papers and their having "Mann" in the list of authors.

    Many of the other graphs show no signals in the late 20th century whatsoever, like Beijing, Nepal, and many of the graphs from pages with several graphs.

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  12. Perhaps Lubos would be interested to learn that his heros Lomborg accepts that GLobal Warming is - in fact - happening. And that it is infact mostly man-made. He said so in "The Sceptical Environmentalist" and has said so since. He says we should do nothing about it, but that is another issue.

    In fact, Lomborg's views are remarkably close to what realclimate.org publishes as "the consensus".
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=86#more-86
    The main points that most would agree on as "the consensus" are:

    1. The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2 oC in the past century; 0.1 oC/decade over the last 30 years (see update)) [ch 2]
    2. People are causing this [ch 12] (see update)
    3. If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate [ch 9]
    4. (This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it)

    Lomborg disagrees with point 4. I think Lubos is being blinded by his ideology here (as with his absurd endorsement of affirmative action for conservatives).

    Vish

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  13. I know what Lomborg says. And we, skeptics, are not a sect that subscribe to every letter of our opinions - this is another big difference from the alarmist pseudoscientists. There are details in his book that I am suspicious about, including the ratio of the human influence on the climate. I don't see anything wrong about having different ideas from Lomborg about some details that are *obviously* open questions.

    Concerning your ideas what are my opinions:

    Nope, I am open-minded about the influence of human activity on the climate. It's just a completely open question for me, and exactly because there is no convincing evidence of serious influence, it is not a terribly interesting question for me. My default assumption - and evaluation of reality - is that the human influence through CO2 is not too significant. I realize that it differs from Lomborg.

    What I find primary for policy-making is that global warming, even if it is happening - and even if it has significant man-made contributions - cannot be assigned a negative sign.

    One does not have to be a PhD to feel that warmer temperatures are likely to have more *good* consequences than *bad* consequences. Of course, these things depend on your definition of "good" and "bad". Lomborg analyzed, using the tools and data he had, what are the expected consequences of the effects for the future.

    I am not endorsing every letter of Lomborg. We're not a unified sect, once again, who takes anyone who disagrees to the DCSD inquisition. I am in no way endorsing that everyone should believe the same things as Lomborg, everyone should be a gay, vegetarian, and a former Greenpeace supporter. ;-) Lomborg has different ideas about many things, but he has a more scientific approach to these questions than those "people of consensus" who really resemble a rather disgusting, brainwashed religious sect.

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  14. Lubos,

    See also the Beckner-Posner blog this week for comments from conservative stalwarts (not members of any disgusting cult (apart from the GOP, that is).

    http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/

    Im sure it will help a nice, open-minded chap like you.

    Vish

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  15. Dear Vish, thanks for your interesting link. I'm already looking.

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