Monday, November 30, 2009

Bad Astronomer on ClimateGate: nothing to see here. Readers: Huh?

I didn't want to write dozens of posts about the ClimateGate although this event almost certainly deserves them. But there are 12 million pages about the scandal on the Internet and some of them are better than what I could write.

There's much to say but I won't say much. Let me hope that you are watching the developments on Google News and elsewhere. Instead, let me just mention a rather irrelevant non-event. Bad Astronomer, Phil Plait, wrote an article called
The global warming emails non-event (click)
in which he argues that you shouldn't look at the documents because there's nothing to see.

The article became the locus of a huge comment activity on his blog, receiving 100+ comments in a few hours. That's not bad for such a non-event. ;-) And most readers actually disagree with Plait and give him decent and thoughtful arguments why the ClimateGate is something one should be concerned with.

Of course, not all readers are climate realists. The following comment is a good representative of the quality of the opposing side's - the new deniers' - thoughts:
T_U_T says:

holy !$!%f ! What a crop of denialists here. Even the arch-crank Motl crawled out of his fetid sewer. Seems every sorry piece of reality denier comes out of the brushwork now.
The other alarmists' comments are analogous and I think that every single one of them uses the word "denier" or "denialist". ;-)

The gap in the intellectual quality between the two sides couldn't be more stunning.

Of course, I have known Plait's far-left political fanaticism for quite some time. Several years ago, we exchanged a few e-mails, learning that we liked the blog of the other. When I suggested we would trade the links, he answered that it was inconceivable that he would ever link to a blog with right-wing blogs on its blogroll.

I was really surprised that someone who is interested in astronomy - or at least pretends so - may be so blinded by an idiotic ideology and so thoroughly unable to separate politics from science and other parts of life. He looked like a guy who was advised by a new "Stalin" not to do inconvenient things. In reality, he has always been a prototype of the totalitarian atmosphere in the contemporary left-wing scholarly circles.

Well, as environmentalist George Monbiot has said, those who claim that the ClimateGate is no problem are the new deniers.

They think that if they won't look, the problem won't exist. Well, while I feel that the ClimateGate is already evolving at a slower pace than the Velvet Revolution did 20 years ago, it is surely continuing and when the dust settles, people will find out that the majority convinced that the case for AGW is not scientifically reliable will be so huge that any projects to regulate the climate will become politically unrealistic.

However, the dust hasn't yet settled.

P.S. FoxNews just reported that since 2007, the United Nations have wanted to establish UNEP, an environmental watch dog, to push environmentalism as a replacement of religion, "as the only compelling, value-based narrative available to humanity." Whoops.

I wonder how these things are going to be established e.g. in the Czech Republic where religious officials are considered "black asses" ("černoprdelníci") by the overwhelming (atheist) majority of the population and where the environmentalists are indeed going to follow the religious example. ;-) Also, we have a bill that outlaws "movements attempting to suppress basic human rights and freedoms."

The United Nations, come to visit us in Czechia, you will be kicked into your black asses, too. ;-)


  1. I have been following the latest posts both here and at lately.

    I also read a little about the CLOUD project and looked at Jasper Kirkby's presentation:*

    I have two questions that you may have reflected upon Mr. Motl:

    The fact that the correlation between cosmic ray intensity and temperature ends about the time of "hide the decline" .

    1) Could it be that current temperatures are not much higher than they were in the 30’s and 40’s as Karlens work would suggest and if so, how would that correlate with cosmic ray intensity? A match?

    2) If current temperature estimates are correct and cosmic rays/sun activity are the main driver of temperature/climate. How large is the excess warming presumably caused by CO2.

    Is it 10% 20% 50% of total warming?

    Are there any good graphs on this? Have you reflected on this issue?

  2. Dear Svein, I would like to know the answer. Of course, I tried all kinds of fits etc. And it is true that I don't see a convincing "overall" change in the cosmic ray flux - which is a pretty difficult quantity to measure.

    So it could still be that within a particular century, CO2 ends up being around 100% of the change, while the other changes are sometimes positive, sometimes negative, averaging to zero.

    The best fits by Svensmark and Friis-Christensen add cosmic rays, volcanos, etc., plus a 1.4 °C per century recent warming trend. These fits are pretty impressive. Those 1.4 °C per century remains unexplained by the cosmic ray flux changes, and it might be CO2 or something else.

    I don't have a complete picture and attributions. But be sure that one could choose some particular solar/cosmic quantities to be the "main" factors, like the CO2 people are assuming with their mechanism, and adjust the things so that all other factors are just variations that have averaged to zero.

  3. Dear Mr. Motl.
    Thank you for your reply.
    I see that my point is on a too narrow timescale and include too few factors to be of significance but still, I was curios: Kirkby mentions in his presentation that the divergence between cosmic ray intensity and temperature could be due to CO2.
    Maybe he made that point just to be at peace with the "consensus". :-)
    Your answer reminds me a bit of the points made by former Greenpeace scientist Peter Taylor in his 2009 book "Chill".
    In short he talks of many different cycles that contribute to the climate and how they come together in one "big" harmonic (he uses the analogy of a sound wave, there is a harmonic but not a distinguishable pattern) that is the climate. He also makes the same point as you that current models are assuming that natural factors are just variations that have been averaged to zero. And with that as a premise they have to apply an external forcing to make the models fit with the last 30- 40 year temperature progression.
    This harmonic as you say consists and positive and negative pulses that either amplifies each other in the negative and positive direction or cancel each other out.
    Finding the signal of CO2 or many other factors in this noise I presume is extremely difficult if not impossible.


  4. Hey Mr. Motl:
    Just read you comment on the BA's blog. All I can say is, OUCH!! haha. I can't believe a guy who claims "He is a skeptic, and fights misuses of science as well as praising the wonder of real science" would just blow off something as huge as this fraudulent data. Keep up the good work and thanks for what you do.