Friday, September 20, 2013

Politicians, nations argue, cry over spilled, cooled milk

Politicians' manipulation with this scientific research reaches comical proportions

I had to laugh when I was reading Tamara Cohen's comments about a political IPCC document leaked to the Associated Press. (See also related stories in The Telegraph, Boston Globe/AP, Forbes, others. Fox News calls it Climategate II: scientists pushed to hide data.)

Next Friday, the 31-page Summary for Policymakers of the WG1 (first working group, physical basis of the climate hysteria) will be officially released although many of you already have it at home. It seems that during the next week, minor and localized corrections to the document will be done by politicians. Three days later, the full (less political, more objective, more boring, less socially "interesting") 1,914-page report of that group will be out, too. In March and April 2014, WG2 (impacts) and WG3 (mitigation) will release their work and all of them will be combined in October 2014.

The topic of Cohen's article is simple. Political employees were assigned the task to fine-tune the summary. A "minor" problem is that the report should talk about the ongoing warming whose rate may even be dangerous but according to the observations, there hasn't been any warming for 17 years (the trend is still negative for the last 16.83 years). Too many people have already noticed that this main actor, global warming itself, didn't arrive to the stage.

So politicians from many nations committed to the climate panic were crying over spilled milk and proposing various original solutions what to do with the milk, milk that seems to be cooling down on the floor every second. If someone can't figure out from this story that the key claims by the IPCC are politically dictated and that the organization is constantly covering up key evidence, then nothing will ever make him to see the simple reality.

The diversity of the nations and their different ways to cry over spilled milk is really amusing.

Let me quote from Cohen's article:
Germany called for the references to the slowdown in warming to be deleted, saying looking at a time span of just 10 or 15 years was ‘misleading’ and they should focus on decades or centuries.

Hungary worried the report would provide ammunition for deniers of man-made climate change.

Belgium objected to using 1998 as a starting year for statistics, as it was exceptionally warm and makes the graph look flat - and suggested using 1999 or 2000 instead to give a more upward-pointing curve.

The United States delegation even weighed in, urging the authors of the report to explain away the lack of warming using the ‘leading hypothesis’ among scientists that the lower warming is down to more heat being absorbed by the ocean – which has got hotter.
And so on. Funny. So we have politicians from at least four countries who were proposing ways to hide a key fact about global warming – that it hasn't been there for over 16 years – and each of them proposed a different "superb solution" that should do the trick. The only problem is that among the participants, there isn't any consensus about the question which of the "unique, unmatched, canonical" algorithms to obscure, cover up, or distort the evidence should be adopted by the collective of diverse fraudsters.

The German comrades (the AP says "politicians" but I think that it's ultimately Schellnhuber et al. who are deciding what "Germany" should say at such meetings) said that the justification to cut any references about the absence of warming should be that "one should focus on decades or centuries" (we are not told how many decades; the vagueness is deliberate, of course). A nice try except that this is not what the alarmists' own "literature" says.

The most recent, widely publicized paper about this very question was published in Journal of Geophysical Research and written by Ben Santer and 16 similarly famous co-authors in 2011 (TRF 1, TRF 2). This genuine "elite" of the alarmist scientists (along with many others like Kevin Trenberth who were enthusiastically promoting this paper) concluded:
Our results show that temperature records of at least 17 years in length are required for identifying human effects on global-mean tropospheric temperature.
According to the expert journals, the marginal length scale at which the predicted anthropogenic warming trend should show up isn't 30 or 50 or 200 years. It is 17 years.

So we can now use records that are 17 years in length and answer the question whether the significant human effects exist. The answer is that they don't. Comments that one should be talking about many decades or centuries may be a good idea for the laymen or for creative politicians but they just don't agree with the results of the scientific research. In politics, promises may be delayed indefinitely and the meaning of words and interpretations of sentences may be shifted indefinitely, too. But in science, we are talking about particular propositions and particular evidence that strengthens it or weakens it (or falsifies it). Ben Santer et al. were talking about some particular warming rate bounded from below, immersed into a particular model of the "natural noise", and it made a particular prediction that was falsified. So the general idea of an CO2-related warming is still alive or plausible, of course, but one must reduce the effect at least by a factor of 2 or 3 to keep the idea viable. And such a reduction makes the effect uninteresting in practice.

Via Lord Monckton, WUWT. The graph starts well after the warm year 1998. The graph is obviously compatible with the trendless noise hypothesis and incompatible with a trend exceeding 2.5 °C per century or so.

The Hungarian comrades didn't even try to propose a clever trick or a convincingly sounding justification for censorship. They just cried over spilled milk. It's a catastrophe, they tell others, because the deniers will notice. Well, the deniers as well as all intelligent people who will care will notice, too. And they should.

The Belgian comrades were more creative. The previous IPCC decision to discuss the last 15 years should be modified and only the recent 14 or 13 years should be discussed so that the period doesn't begin with the 1997-1998 El Niño but with the 1999-2000 and nearby La Niñas which is a way to make the trends look (more) positive. Cutely enough, the skeptics were occasionally accused of cherry-picking the initial years. Some of them may have done it. But you know who primarily does it? The politicians who have the "final word" when they distort the results of the (already sufficiently distorted) scientific research reviewed by the IPCC.

Which length of the period is more natural and representative, 15 years or 14 years? It is up to your taste which numbers are "rounded". But even if you pick 13 or 14 years, it doesn't help much: the temperature trends for the last 13 or 14 years are minus 0.23 °C per century or plus 0.20 °C per century (look at the big table, next to the numbers 13, 14 in the scarce first column), pretty much zero, with numbers plus and minus being equally likely in this region. At any rate, the warming or cooling rate is at least 10 times slower (with both signs) than the IPCC-predicted one even if you omit the 1997-1998 El Niño. The absence of the warming is not just an artifact of the 1997-1998 El Niño. Even if you cherry-pick an arbitrary initial month for the linear regression, then the warming rate extracted from the observation will be smaller than 0.5 °C per century as long as the interval ends with the recent months and its length is anywhere between 19 and 7 years. You actually find much faster cooling trends in the interval; for example, the cooling trend was –0.78 °C per century in the last 12 years. No year 1998 is involved here.

Finally, the American comrades urged the scientists to "explain away" the global warming. They didn't just ask them for the impossible. They told them exactly what the "explanation away" should say. The "explanation away" should be in terms of the "leading hypothesis". The leading hypothesis is, of course, that there is no good reason to expect any statistically significant warming trend to start with. But the American comrades have also told others what they would *like* the "leading hypothesis" to be. The "leading hypothesis" should be that the dog ate my homework. Oops, I mean that the oceans ate the warming.

Nice except that it is not a leading hypothesis, it is not (yet) a justified science at all. It is just a random desperate guess by Kevin Trenberth. The only error should have been the "missing heat". So he first made the guess and then he wrote some paper(s) that attempted to rationalize the predetermined conclusion but as many others such as Judith Curry noted, the attempts to upgrade the guess to science remained inconclusive. Moreover, even if this explanation were right, it couldn't really "save" the climate panic from the impact of the non-existent warming. Why? If the dog or the oceans ate the homework or the warming once, they can eat it again. So it's still true that it's perfectly plausible that there won't be any warming (or there will be cooling) in the next 20, 30, 50, or 100 years. With the effect of the dogs or oceans incorporated, the actual warming trend may easily be 3 times or 5 times or 20 times smaller than in the "dangerous projections".

Quite generally, one could say that the American delegation prefers to publish the facts and supplement it with a (bogus) explanation while the European climate alarmists prefer downright censorship. This opinion is also supported by the comment in The Boston Globe that the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists And Anthony Watts' Dogs is worried that people will be saying "look, the IPCC is silent about the lull" which would be even worse than for "the cause" than a confession that there's been no warming for nearly two decades.

There just isn't any competitive hypothesis about the lack of warming that would be compatible with the meme about a dangerously high (and all natural factors beating) warming trend caused by the anthropogenic man-made emissions. Everyone knows that no such explanation that one wouldn't be ashamed of exists in the scientific literature which is why no one will recommend you any paper of this type. There just isn't one. The leading interpretation of the absence of the warming is that the global warming hypothesis with the numbers that were dominant among the "concerned institutions" in the recent decade has been falsified by the observations. Too bad that politicians are trying to play painful and childish games to misinterpret the results of the scientific research, research that they claim to be listening to but research that they actually want to control so that it suits their political needs.

And that's the sad memo (hopefully not sad for too long).


  1. It's a little hard to resist reminding the Germans about how their most famous long-term prediction fared. I mean the Tausendjähriges Reich, of course.

  2. all the libs over here are blabbing about how you need 'insurance', and do you get the 'benefits' and by the way - global warming is immanent, and we are all going to be murdered by conservatives in our beds.

  3. Actually it is also used for doing some really surprising calculations in algebraic geometry which have nothing to do with ST, e.g. one can compute the number of rational curves on a quintic threefold. Can one do that with your theory? ;-)

  4. Of course not, pure math exercises are not needed in The TOE.

  5. I was afraid of that, Kimmo. I am sorry but you have now lost by support. ;-)

    By the way, has anybody tried to compute this:

    for your theory? Personally I would give you -30 points credit for having a sense of humour but even so I would still worry about the outcome...

  6. It would be nice to hear my "score" :-) However, I suggest that you read those papers of mine. There might be some surprises ;-)

  7. Matt Strassler is surely just as frustrated with Woit as you are, Lubos, but he is trying to be cool and rational, thinking that this may weaken Woit’s ability to damage theoretical physics. He even jumped on Dilaton, who was simply (and politely) expressing the feelings that any informed reader would have upon reading the Strassler/Woit exchange.
    We can hope that reason prevails but just by giving the self-serving jerk a platform he risks adding credibility to Woit’s anti-string campaign.

  8. Yes, just today I was thinking too that the discussion on Matt Strassler's site has probably given the Trollking too much space and importance on a by many people highly respected physics blog ... :-/

    I am not sure about what the net effect of this exchange is. If by means of this discussion he was able to recrute additional subtrolls, or if more people were able to see what a jerk he is by his not even listening to (or reading?) what Matt Strassler said for example ...

    At least some other people than me ;-) noted that the Trollking persues a personal crusade against string-theory and they even said so in the second thread ...

  9. Pols lie about already politicized science? Pshaw....

  10. John F. HultquistSep 21, 2013, 7:04:00 AM

    17 is just a number. It came from
    nowhere. It will return there. Decades is not a number. It's also
    fuzzy. See how they do this.

  11. I dont get why neither of the two teams are willing to open the can of worms to explain the last 17 years, namely the sun spots.

  12. Hm, Clifford Johnson compares the aggressive trolls with nasty squirrels, who sometimes manage to steal / ruin some fruits from time to time ...

    But I think that analogy makes them look less harmful than they are in reality ...

  13. Politicians, mediocre "scientists", politically correct hacks, Gore-ian sociopaths---all have too much credibility invested in propping up AGW. They have generated a reality distortion field, and now that there is a "glitch in the Matrix", they are panicking...

  14. The hysteria will not end. It will be a long time before any government will denounce the alarmists and the AGW hoax. Much damage will be done to economies, power grids and human beings before that.

  15. LOL, you should appreciate that in the Anglo-Saxon world, squirrels are viewed as less cute than in central Europe.

    Here we say: Wow, have a look, what a cute squirrel [veverka].

    When I came to New Jersey for the 1st time in 1998, I saw some cute rodents everywhere in the Busch Campus. So I lovingly asked the first person around: What kind of an animal is this?

    A squirrel, he said, disgusted. ;-)

    They're also grey - we tend to have the brownish squirrels here that are arguably cuter.

  16. Yep, I remember that in Montreal the squirrels are grey too, but to me they looked still cute anyway ...

    It seems that Clifford Johnson (and many others) did indeed a good job in (scientifically and morally) countering the Trollking by politely but consequantly naming his parasitic motivations for his distructive activities by their proper name and pointing them out, some years ago

    But unfortunatly such agressive and obstinate trolls, who do nothing else to make a living but attacking and trying to destroy the work of other people, can not be stopped by any legal means...

    Just from looking not too deep (because my blood pressure started to rise immediately) into these earlier discussions that took place some years before I fell in love with fundamental physics, it is really beyond me how anybody, who followed these things back then and is not an outright jerk himself, can fail to see what an obsessed by his personal crusade ***hole the Trollking is.

    To me it seems, this obsession goes very near a serious mental illness, that should be treated appropriately behind the doors of a closed institution. Another hint to the fact that there is something not quite right with him is his complete failure to accept the slightest criticism. This can be seen by his reaction to reasonable people even politely pointing out his wrongdoings and (to say the least) questionable motivations.

    The behavior of journalists, popular media channels, publishers, etc that amplify such pathological destructive obsessions just to sell an "interesting story" by all means, is not much less parasitic ...

    There is no point in trying to have a serious and civilized conversation with such trolls, and Matt Strassler just had to make this experience too, despite his attempts to partly agree with the Trollking (which were not even noticed by the Troll...)

  17. Lumo, be quick and fetch some popcorn, the show on Matt Strassler's blog resumes and will probably ge going on for some weeks ... ;-)

    The less funny thing is that he really should not devote so much space and time to the Trollking ... :-/

  18. No I have written Matt Strassler on his latest post a last polite, non-insulting, longer farewell comment that I expect to be deleted soon there ... So I'd like to post it here too:

    Dear Prof. Strassler,

    this will be my very last comment here, as you made it cristall clear last Thuesday that readers like me are not welcome on this site. But I'd like to say some final words before departing for good, if you permit at least this.

    Having been a long term reader and admirer of your good work since this site has gone online, I always enjoyed the very nice and clear explanations of physics as well as the cute and to the point debunking of nonsense claims and misunderstandings spread in popular media here. Normally, I would look forward to and enjoy a lot reading and learning about the more or less string theory related physics issues you promised to adress and explain in the upcoming series of posts too.

    But knowing that the stage for these potentially very interesting articles has been set by last Thuesday's not so enjoyable discussions, takes out the fun of it. And I somehow doubt that the advantage of explaining things to many non experts who confuse or even outright dismiss theoretical physics as non scientific etc will not be defeted by giving Dr. Woit too much space and (air) time to broadcast his (often from a scientific point of view not justified) radically negative personal opinions about parts of fundamental physics and push his agenda, too at the same time. Many experts in the field are doubtful about the net benefits for science of devoting too much space, time, and energy to such discussions

    from negative experiences they made some years ago

    and from what I observe I tend to agree with them.

    In addition, I still disagree with there being a need to generally pair theoretical concepts and ideas (not only in HEP!), which have not (yet?) been completely understood, defined, or been experimentally settled, by one (or even several!) qualifiers with very negative connotations (more than once in the same text or even in the same sentence!) each time they are mentioned in a physics discussion. This leaves, as I already said before, the impression that the said theoretical concepts and ideas are worthless crap and every scientist working on or investigating them is at best doing pseudo-science. Catering the demands of (non expert) people who are very negatively prejudiced concerning fundamental physics, probably from reading and blindly accepting the content of Dr. Woit's book, blog, and similar distorting presentations of the field, gives in my personal (certainly prejudiced too) opinion way too much power and influence to people who do mean not well but try to negatively influence or even prevent the natural progression of the scientific method.

    So I will stop reading this site in the same way as I have stopped clicking Dr. Woit's blog some years ago (I do not like to see him repeatedly appear in every comment section), and take refuge to other source to learn more about fundamental physics. As I am interested in learning things a bit technically too, I am maybe not so much among the targetted audience of this site anyway (?)...

    Just a last thing I'd like to clarify: The fact that I consequently prefer commenting anonymously and without giving away any personal information, does NOT mean that I am (academically) completely uneducated, have no academic affiliaten, etc ...

    Best wishes and may the nice explanations of physics here be more successful in establishing an understanding and maybe even appreciation of fundamental physics, than I can imagine ... ;-)


  19. You like to be dramatic, don't you? :-) Nothing wrong with that anyway. Did Matt actually delete your previous comment? Can't be. He allows pretty much anything (within good taste) in his blog.

  20. Nah, he did not delete the previous comments (after telling me to shut up), but my above mentioned longer comment "awaits moderation" now (which had not been the case before) ... ;-)

    So I expect that nobody apart from Matt Strasler will ever see it, but that was its main purpose anyway ...

    Seeing the Trollking appearing repeatedly in every comment section there, drives me too much up the wall, I can not afford this. So I better stop going there...


  21. Dear Dilaton, full sympathies. I just hope and wish you won't be sorry about this "definitive" tone of the message...


  22. By the way, when you manage to log in to your account, disqus gives you the option to merge all your comments into your account.

  23. Thanks Lumo!

    It is always some kind of painful when one has to accept that a former source of joy and enlightening has been lost to the dark side (letting it go is not so easy etc) ... :-/

    But you, the nice TRF community, and other nice people I know and appreciate greatly help me overcome the loss ... :-)