Origins of the IPCC or Houston, we have a problem…

My primary interest in this is to know what is correct regarding global warming, but as a policy analyst and someone with a background in social science and the history and logic of science, I can’t help but be interested in this whole mess as a social / political / cultural phenomenon.  As a public policy type, I view public policy as primarily a problem solving exercise — a problem is identified through a variety of possible channels or processes and the government — and public — have to decide whether to respond and if so, how.

Not responding to a perceived problem is, of course, also a policy. In fact, some problems do not require a public policy to be developed and in those cases, no policy is better than a policy that either doesn’t work or makes things worse.

The place to start is of course, at the beginning:

Is there a problem requiring a public policy solution?

According to the scientists who uphold the dominant AGW paradigm, evidence shows that the global average temperature is increasing.  This increase of about 0.74 deg C since the start of the 20th C is due, largely, to the increase in the concentration of GHGs — CO2 in particular –in the atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels.  They claim that modeling suggests that if GHG emissions continue on to a doubling of CO2 and beyond, it will poses a significant threat to human civilization from increased heat crises, crop failure, glacier melt and lack of fresh water, loss of species to extinction, acidification of the oceans, flooding due to sea level rise, environmental refugees, wars over resources — the list goes on. Most of us are pretty familiar with this whole case.

However, you have to admit that if it is valid, that’s a problem.

The rub is of course, is that description of global warming valid?

One of the first steps in the policy process is to research the problem to see what evidence is there to clarify its dimensions and what is known about it.

In the case of global warming, what is the evidence used to identify the dimensions of problem?

  1. Satellite measures of atmospheric temperatures
  2. Measurements of land temperature
  3. Measurements of ocean temperatures
  4. Sea level measures
  5. Measures of ice extent and frozen land, glacier conditions
  6. Carbon dioxide levels
  7. Paleoclimate evidence – ice cores, sediments, boreholes, tree rings, etc.
  8. Model projections and scenarios

I hope to review what both sides say about the sources of evidence so I can feel more certain myself of where to stand on the issue, but that’s down the line.  Right now, I am interested in the big picture of how we got to this point.

Despite the clear statements of support for the AGW paradigm from major science bodies and scientists, and the IPCC’s assessment reports, little has happened with respect to greenhouse gas emissions — certainly nothing close to what the Kyoto Protocol deemed necessary to forestall or prevent serious climate change.

There is a public debate about climate change, especially with the recent climate talks in Copenhagen and the CRU email and document hack/release.  Polls show that public opinion has shifted with respect to global warming, from approximately 30-31% thinking global warming is exaggerated in 1998 to 41% in thinking that in 2009.

Polls taken in the aftermath of the CRU event and the Copenhagen talks indicate that the public trust in scientists has fallen, with increasing percent of Americans (4 in 10) indicating they have little trust in what scientists say about the environment.

So, at this point in time, I have to conclude that this policy question or problem — what to do about global warming — is complicated by a considerable disjunction between what the dominant scientific paradigm says about global warming and the skeptical claims about it and the public perception of it.

Questions have been raised about the normal checks and balances in science intended to ensure the results are reliable and valid, not only by the skeptics but by the emails and documents related to the CRU incident.  The response on the part of major science bodies to downplay the seriousness of the emails suggests a “circle the wagons” approach and an unwillingness to seriously consider the possibility that there might have been any wrongdoing or lack of transparency in the scientific process suggested by their contents. That in itself is troubling.

How did we come to the place where scientists set the agenda and craft messages to influence public opinion on scientific issues?  The appropriate response is to examine the claims and counter claims.

The best way to understand this disjunction between the claims of those within the dominant scientific paradigm  — AGW — and its critics, is to go back to the very beginning. How did we arrive at this international agenda on climate change and its main organ, the IPCC?

Origins of AGW and the IPCC

According to Spencer Weart’s The Discovery of Global Warming, the possibility of global warming was recognized in the mid-20th C. In other words, scientists hadn’t actually detected a clear signal that the earth was warming due to GHG emissions, but they had evidence that CO2 had increased and based on what was known about the greenhouse effect, the potential remained that temperatures would increase in the 21st century.  This potential was used as the basis for early advocacy on the part of scientists like Edward Lorenz, Stephen Schneider and James Hansen.

According to Weart, the science of global warming emerged during a period of considerable social change, which included a different understanding and attitude towards the environment. I think this is a key to understanding the politicization of climate science.  At the same time, there were political developments during this period that led to a decline in trust of the government and politicians — even more so than previously, due to a number of events, including Watergate, the Vietnam War, and various scandals. The nation was not seen as the appropriate body to deal with larger issues as the environment, and a new era of supra-national organizations such as the UN emerged which set the stage for the creation of the IPCC.

There were a number of conferences in the 70s and 80s on the environment and global climate, but according to Wendy Franz, in The Development of an International Agenda for Climate Change: Connecting Science to Policy, it was the Villach conference in October 1985 was key to the establishment of the IPCC.

“…the 1985 Villach conference did not represent a significant change in scientific conclusions about the problems of climate change.  Rather, a new emphasis on certain scientific facts, the unique quality of the international group of scientists, and new perceptions of the opportunity for action on international environmental problems led the Villach group to reach a new set of political and policy conclusions which emphasized the urgency of action.”

This sense of urgency is in contrast with a statement from the US National Research Council report which took a more cautious stance, that “caution not panic” was called for and which did not call for CO2 emision limits.

The research wasn’t any more compelling, but the scientists conclusions based on that research went farther than they had previously been willing. This willingness to go beyond the findings of the science was due to the fact there were no “domestic political constraints” on those attending this conference.

“The absence of domestic political constraints on the conclusions reached by this body cannot be underestimated as a source of leeway in reaching policy conclusions. The scientists attending the Villach conference attended in their personal capacities, not as representatives of their governments. They were selected by the three partner agencies… Although they came to the conference from 29 countries (both developed and developing), they were asked to “shed their national policy perspectives” and to address the global issues in as comprehensive a way as possible.”

These scientists had been selected by the UNEP, the WMO and the ICSU to attend the conference in personal capacities rather than as representatives of their respective governments.  Freed from the constraints of their governments, these scientists were able to go where they felt the science took them.

One very influential event that was part of this new ethos Franz describes was the 1985 Vienna Convention  for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and later, the Montreal Protocol in 1987. As Richard Bendick argues in Ozone Diplomacy,

“Perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the treaty was its imposition of substantial short-term economic costs to protect human health and the environment against unproven future dangers — dangers that rested on scientific theories rather than on firm data. At the time of the negotiations and signing, no measurable evidence of damage existed. Thus, unlike environmental agreements of the past, the treaty was not a response to harmful developments or events but rather a preventative action on a global scale.”

So, Montreal and Toronto set the stage for the development of the IPCC, and brought climate change and action to address it onto the international agenda.

What’s interesting to me is how during this period, scientists became public advocates, not just on the state of the scientific research, but on politics and policy and how to respond to the science — a job usually held by political advisors.

Scientists, in the past, had been seen as objective presenters of what the science says including its uncertainties, while politicians determine what is to be done based on the science through the political process. For the first time, scientists were doing the job of the politician.

I would argue that in part, this is due to the reality of the issue — climate change is not a national issue, although nations will be affected. Climate change is an international or supranational issue. It transcends the nation, but at the same time, requires that nations address it individually and in association with others.

In summary, a number of forces emerged during the mid-20th century, including a growing environmental movement.  At the same time, a new era of concern about politics and the role of international bodies such as the UN led to a growth in faith in them, especially after the success of the Montreal Protocol.  Political scandals led to a decline in the public’s view of politicians.  If one couldn’t trust politicians to do the right thing, then one could turn to scientists, whose “objective” advice was premised on the best evidence.

The creation of the IPCC as the authoritative voice of science on the issue of climate change is a reflection of several social, cultural and political developments in this era.  The whole science of AGW has been shaped by this new alliance between science and policy and has set the stage for the kinds of “war” we see today waged in the pages of papers, on the blogs, and in the mass media.

As Franz points out,

“Several policy and science entrepreneurs advocated action to address problems of global environmental change.  Their conclusions coincided with a number of other developments, including extreme weather in the United States and the successful negotiation of an international agreement to protect the ozone layer, which pressed in the direction of further international attention to environmental problems.”

I would like to do more research on why this skepticism towards politics emerged and why some scientists feel a necessity and empowered to take on the role of policy advocate.  This cynicism rather than healthy skepticism towards government and politics and the failure of the political sphere to maintain what trust it had in the public eye will be the subject of a later post.

These are just some preliminary and rough thoughts about the politicization of science and its origins in the ethos of the 60s and 70’s, so I would appreciate any comments or links to information that would augment or correct these musings.

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About Policy Lass

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50 Responses to “Origins of the IPCC or Houston, we have a problem…”

  1. An interesting take on the IPCC: http://bit.ly/5qReu6 , where one can learn opinions like this: “I’m inclined to agree that, for the most part, the Hockey Stick does not matter to the great issue of the impact of 2xCO2. However, I believe that it matters (or should matter) to IPCC, to governments that relied on IPCC and to climate scientists who contributed to and supported IPCC and to people who may wish to rely on IPCC in the future.”, which certainly shows that policy questions are never very far what climate exchanges.

  2. Yeah, McI is pushing the importance of his work. Yawn.

    The HS was historically important in its moment, but it has been replaced with other graphics that show the possible range of temperatures in the past 2000 years based on the works that followed the HS. The IPCC did not fall crashing to the ground in flames. What happened was that those interests aligned against action on climate change were successful in their disinformation campaigns and influential enough that nothing of consequence happened despite the science.

    The science remains, and the instrumental temp remains and the picture emerging from the real world is more compelling that ever.

    McI seems to be wanting to extend his time in the sun.

    • Susann,
      Wait. I just read your line:
      “The science remains, and the instrumental temp remains and the picture emerging from the real world is more compelling that ever.”

      You are kidding, right? The “science remains.” What science exactly? There is good science showing AGW will not be catastrophic. Is that the science you mean?

      The “instrumental temp remains.” I assume you mean “instrumental temp record.” It depends. The CRU record is no longer. The Met Office has pledged to rebuild it. GISTEMP remains but is being attacked for obvious errors. I still think the world needs a credible temp record.

      The funniest line of all was “the real world is more compelling than ever.” Really? While much of the northern hemisphere is covered in snow and ice and many are afraid of the possibility of a coming ice age, you think the real world is showing global warming? And that it is more compelling than 1998 when the climate was truly warm?

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1242011/DAVID-ROSE-The-mini-ice-age-starts-here.html

      • You are kidding, right? The “science remains.” What science exactly? There is good science showing AGW will not be catastrophic. Is that the science you mean?

        What I mean is that in the absence of the hockey stick, the science remains. There is good science that suggests that a doubling of CO2 might lead to considerable warming. Which do I accept and why?

        The “instrumental temp remains.” I assume you mean “instrumental temp record.” It depends. The CRU record is no longer. The Met Office has pledged to rebuild it. GISTEMP remains but is being attacked for obvious errors. I still think the world needs a credible temp record.

        I don’t know if I accept that the CRU record is “no longer”. It may need to be improved but that doesn’t mean it is wrong or fraudulent. It may be messy. It may need to be brought up to date in terms of code, etc. I don’t think anyone has proven the case that it is unusable or its findings wrong.

        The funniest line of all was “the real world is more compelling than ever.” Really? While much of the northern hemisphere is covered in snow and ice and many are afraid of the possibility of a coming ice age, you think the real world is showing global warming? And that it is more compelling than 1998 when the climate was truly warm?

        First, from what I understand, 1998 was an anomalous year due to one of the biggest el Ninos in decades so using it as a start point or end point to determine trends is inadvisable.

        Second, climate is on the measure of decades rather than years and so even 5 years is nothing more than “noise”. Look at the graph of the last 150 years — there are periods of 5 years of decreases but the general trend is increase.

        Finally, why is it that skeptics – and perhaps I am being generous to use that term — point to a single cold winter as proof that we are going into a new mini ice age when they refuse to accept 50 years of a warming trend? I just don’t understand…

        • Susann,
          Last time I looked on CRU’s website for the temp data, I could not find it. I was able to find it today. I thought they had taken it off the website, and perhaps they did for a time and now put it back but that was the reason for my comment. At the very least, CRUTEMP has lost a great deal of credibility since the raw data is lost or deleted. The Met Office is working to rebuild the lost raw data and they announced they expect the effort to take three years.

          1998 was a strong El Nino year but so was 2005 and 2007 and 2009. Each of those years were predicted to break the record set by 1998. According to GISTEMP, 2005 was the warmest. But Trenberth said in the CRU emails regarding the fact 1998 is the warmest on record – “We cannot explain the lack of warming and it is a travesty we cannot.”

          Yes, climate is measured on decadal scales. We are not talking about one or two years of no warming. In 2006, Gavin Schmidt was asked how many years without a new record would have to go by before he would question CAGE and he answered 10. Ten years have gone by but Schmidt still holds to the faith. This is not science. It is a belief system.

          Your final comment is questioning why skeptics would point to a single cold winter as proof of a new ice age. Actually, the scientist quoted in the newspaper article I linked, Mojib Latif, is not seen as a skeptic. However, I just read that he is claiming the newspaper got the story wrong. In an effort to set the record straight, here is the latest article on the subject.

          http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/11/climate-change-global-warming-mojib-latif

          Notice this paragraph:
          “Latif said his research suggested that up to half the warming seen over the 20th century was down to this natural ocean effect, but said that was consistent with the 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. ‘No climate specialist would ever say that 100% of the warming we have seen is down to greenhouse gas emissions.'”

          This paragraph is partly true, but not all. The 2007 IPCC report makes the claim that “most” of recent warming is manmade. Here Latif claims half of it is natural. Taking a hard line on the meaning of words, both statements cannot be true because “most” means more than half.

          If you read Latif’s paper, you will see he is talking about “climate shifts” like the one in 1975/76. Theses climate regimes are known to last for 30 years or so. Now read this quote from this believer in CAGW:

          “Thus, in the near future, natural decadal variability in the Atlantic and Pacific may not only override the regional effect of global warming, but temporarily weaken it.”

          In my opinioin, this statement is predicting global cooling for the next few decades (about 30 years).

          Here’s another quote:
          “Thus, a joint initial/boundary value problem has to be considered when forecasting North Atlantic sector and global climate variability for the coming decades.”

          This is a very important statement. Roger Pielke has been talking about the fact this is an intial value problem for years but the modelers have all ignored him until now.

          When you use the word “skeptic” referring to Latif, you are not doing so generously. He would be very offended. But his research is being embraced by skeptics because it confirms what the skeptics have said all along.

          I hope this helps.

          • Cram, you are not fooling anyone here with your deception.

            There have been El Ninos in 2002-2003, 2006-2007 and 2009-2010. The warmest year on record, 2005 (NASA GISS) was not during or following an El Nino!

            Researchers have found that an strong El Nino (such as 1997-1998) can increase the global mean temperature by ~+0.2 C, with the highest correlation between the El Nino/La Nina about 5-7 months after the events peaks during the boreal winter. So look for the max. affect on global temps. from the 2009-2010 El Nino to be felt around May 2010.

            El Ninos alone do not explain the long term warming of global temperatures. the super El nino of 1982-1983 and another huge event in 1972-1973 were associated with global annual temperature anomalies of +0.14 C and 0.26 C, respectively. In contrast, 2005 had a global temp anomaly of +0.63C. Strikingly, 2008 which was on the heels of a strong La Nina and at a time when the sun was extremely quiet, came in at + 0.43C; that is, warmer than the 1982-1983 super El Nino (strongest warm event since at least 1950).

            Clearly, GHGs forcing is making its presence felt, there is no denying it.

            You have been getting your information from denialist blogs again Cram, someone has also lead you astray in connection with Trenberth’s comments. Watch the ‘climate crock of the week’ episodes on YouTube by greenman3610. They explain what he meant when he said that and show the journal paper to which he was referring.

            PS; The extreme neg. phase of the AO in December did not “overwhelm” the warming from GHGs, mid-trop temperature anomaly was +0.3 C. keep trying Cram, there is a big world out there other than the USA and Europe. More people (incl. you it seems) need to realise that.

            PPS: Keenlyside et al. (2008) did not predict 30 years of global cooling. Read the damn paper and go to DeepClimate.org for a discussion of how Latif’s statements has been twisted by you and your ilk.

            PPPS: There are several other independent temp. proxies (borehole data, lake sediments, ocean sediments, ice cores). And guess what Cram, they all have a Hockey Stick shape! You and McI do need to get over the original dendro Hockey
            Stick of Mann et al. It is now 2010 mate, get with the times.

            • Insight,
              You may be correct that 2005 was not an El Nino year. My memory is not perfect. But I do remember predictions about 2005, 2007 and 2009 going to set new temp records. It didn’t happen. And 2010 will not set a new record either.

              El Ninos are never extremely powerful during a cool climate regime like the one we entered at the end of 2007. La Ninas are never extremely powerful during a warm climate regime.

              I have read the Keenlyside paper. Here is a quote:
              “Thus, in the near future, natural decadal variability in the Atlantic and Pacific may not only override the regional effects of global warming, but temporarily weaken it.”

              From the context, the authors are talking about a near future multidecadal event which will “temporarily weaken” global warming. A weakening of global warming is global cooling. Read it again to be sure. They are saying we are going to get, not just stagnant temps, but a weakening of global warming. It is pretty clear they are talking about a 30 year period of global cooling. They are not quantifying how much cooling will be seen. Perhaps the authors are objecting to assumptions by the newspapers, but the statement is pretty clear.

              • Ron, key word in your Keenlyside quote: “regional”. What does “regional” mean, as opposed to “global”?

              • The comment by Rattus nailed it, as he/she often does. You are pasting the words Cram, claimed to have read them, but I do not think that they have made it through your denialist filter. The AO and NAO do not teleconnect globally as the ENSO does. They (AO, NAO) are regional modes of internal climate variability (look at the loading pattern for the leading EOFs, and composites for hemispheric P and T).

                I’m curious, who was claiming that 2007 and 2009 would set records. There have been claims made that 2010 MAY be a record year. We’ll see what happens. I’ll be shocked if it is not in the top 3. Cram, global warming does not translate into warmer temps everywhere all the time, year after year.

                Actually I erred Cram, there was a weak El Nino in 2004 into early 2005 (according to the Oceanic Nino Index), the last time we had an official El Nino that weak was 1977 (that year global SATs were +0.13, compared to +0.63 in 2005).

                Anyhow, 2005 was a record year because of other factors besides El Nino, and one significant other factor was GHG forcing. Why is it so difficult for you to comprehend that?

                Anyhow, I cannot keep p with your the stream of misinformation, I have work to do!

  3. Susann,
    The Hockey Stick has been replaced by the Spaghetti Graph, reconstructions by Briffa, Wahl & Ammann and gang. The problem is all of these papers share one or more of Mann’s errors so they are not independent reconstructions at all. Steve has shown the errors in each paper on his blog and he has submitted papers to journals on some of them but Climategatekeeping prevented their publication.

    The IPCC would not come crashing to the ground if the MWP was seen to be as warm as today. However, it would remove the claim urgent action is needed today because we are already in unprecedented temperature range.

  4. The Hockey Stick has been replaced by the Spaghetti Graph, reconstructions by Briffa, Wahl & Ammann and gang. The problem is all of these papers share one or more of Mann’s errors so they are not independent reconstructions at all. Steve has shown the errors in each paper on his blog and he has submitted papers to journals on some of them but Climategatekeeping prevented their publication.

    So many skeptics claim but then, so many AGW supporters deny. I need a scorecard to keep track of where each stands on what paper. 😉 I am slowly working my way through the paleo papers. I think I now understand the issues with MBH98/99 and the responses from MM, Wegman, and the NAS. I haven’t made it to the other papers you mention and the critiques, but I expect it to be more interesting reading.

    he IPCC would not come crashing to the ground if the MWP was seen to be as warm as today. However, it would remove the claim urgent action is needed today because we are already in unprecedented temperature range.

    As to what the MWP being as warm as now means — I am not convinced it means anything much except an interesting insight into past climate flux but neither am I an expert in this area. From what I do know, civilization was a lot different a millennium ago.

    For one, the population was a small fraction of what it is today. I suspect that the consequences of a warmer climate were probably less severe in some measures. Given how huge the current population is now in comparison — 6 billion vs 260 million — and given how precarious the situation is re food distribution and arable land being used to the max, and the increase in populations living close to sea level, we are likely more vulnerable to climate swings such as droughts and floods, despite being so much farther ahead technologically.

    • It should be noted that Mann, in MBH99, stated that the MWP was likely as warm as the mid 20th century. But bear in mind that this was a NH reconstruction only due to a lack of long proxies in the SH.

      It should also be pointed out that there were pretty active discussions on Usenet in sci.environment in the early to mid 90’s over whether or not the MWP was a global or hemispheric phenomenon. Michael Tobis over at Only in it for the Gold was an active participant in these discussions. Perhaps he would be willing to provide more context. At the time I remember reading several papers, looking at historical evidence and following the discussion closely and coming the the conclusion that the MWP was not a globally or even a hemispherically synchronous event and that it was anything but universally benefical. Nothing I have read in the scientific or popular (both science and historical) literature since then has brought evidence to bear that changes my opinion.

      Our higher level of technology may allow us to withstand a higher level of warming, but the fact the the MWP apparently brought down the Anasazi and the Mayan civilizations should be a note of caution.

    • Susann,
      You are changing the subject again. The power of the Hockey Stick (and Spaghetti Graph) is not that it shows something has to be done but that it shows something has to be done NOW. Several IPCC leaders have spoken of the urgency this graph shows.

      Yes, civilization was different 1,000 years ago. But so what? Your discussion has nothing to do with the graph. If it was as warm 1,000 years ago because of natural climate variation, then we have not warmed the planet into dangerous “unnatural” territory with CO2. That’s the point.

      I know you are bright enough to grasp the point. But there are times when you appear to change the subject rather than come to terms with the point. Or perhaps it is a desire to win an argument rather than to learn the truth. Whatever the reason, it is very unbecoming.

      • Well, thanks for stating that I am “bright enough”… Better to be thought bright and recalcitrant than a willing idiot I guess… The unbecoming bit — is it not becoming to a lady to refuse to accept a bad argument?

        Your argument and that of others in your persuasion about AGW suggest that since it was as warm 1000 years ago globally — and I do not know that for a fact — that current warming is no sweat.

        You see, there is a problem with this. First, conditions are different now and the same warming may be much more consequential.

        Second, the cause of the warming is important. If the warming in the past was natural, and perhaps linked to some internal variation that lasted a few centuries, the warming today, if it is CO2 driven, might become much greater unless we act to reign CO2 release in.

        I just don’t accept this “it happened before and so it’s no cause for concern” argument I see thrown around by skeptics.

        That high pitched beep beep beep you hear in the middle of the night? It might be your CO detector needing a new battery — yet again — or it might be that your CO levels are reaching detectable levels and you better act or nasty things could happen.

        • Susann, I am sorry if you took offense at my comment. You are very bright and sometimes you convince me you are honestly searching for the truth. Other times I am not convinced. I do not think “recalcitrant” is the correct word. I am not trying to control you as much as inform you, with the goal of changing your opinion about skeptics. We are not all hopelessly unscientific or funded by oil interests. The facts we possess must be dealt with. The opinions we possess deserve to be heard.

          You currently have a very low opinion of skeptics, apparently because you have been kept in an intellectual closet surrounded only by RC and Joe Romm types who are intellectually dishonest and seek to keep people from knowing the facts. They constantly disparage skeptics and insult their motives in a way that poisons the well of discourse.

          It is a little frustrating to see you brush off facts you find inconvenient to your current worldview. With a sweep of the hand you say “But other people say something different.” True, but it is possible for you to learn the facts.

          Sometimes, during online discussions ilke these, it is difficult to know if the person is presenting a fact or an opinion. You might ask me for support for a particular statement instead of assuming it is my opinion. Or you might ask why I hold a particular opinion and I can usually provide rational support.

          In your comment above, you begin talking about how conditions now are different than 1,000 years ago and the same warming “may be much more consequential.” This is missing the point. You are talking about future warming. I am not. The Hockey Stick is not. It compares present warming to past warming. There are no bad consequences to present warming. The power of the Hockey Stick is that it shows the planet to be unnaturally warm now. It just isn’t so.

          You go on to write: “I just don’t accept this “it happened before and so it’s no cause for concern” argument I see thrown around by skeptics.”

          That’s fine because that is not our argument. If it can be shown that the current warming is from CO2 and the natural warming is coming later, then that would worry most skeptics. But that has not been shown. I hold to the opinion that no one knows how much of 20th century warming was natural and how much was from CO2 or other anthropogenic causes.

          Regarding the Hockey Stick and Spaghetti Graph, the argument is simply this: The Hockey Stick and SG are flawed. You cannot claim the planet is unnaturally warm, warmer than in the last 2,000 years, based on these tree-rings proxies. In fact, tree-rings have never been shown to be good temperature proxies. It is bad science. Based on non-tree-ring proxies, the MWP looks to be as warm or warmer than today.

          • …sometimes you convince me you are honestly searching for the truth. Other times I am not convinced. I do not think “recalcitrant” is the correct word. I am not trying to control you as much as inform you, with the goal of changing your opinion about skeptics. We are not all hopelessly unscientific or funded by oil interests. The facts we possess must be dealt with. The opinions we possess deserve to be heard.

            I am just an outside observer who is concerned about this as a human being and as someone with an interest in this as a policy question — but I’m not nearly ready to analyse options etc.

            I don’t have a terrible attitude towards true skeptics, but towards deniers who claim the title of “skeptic” undeservedly or contrarians who label themselves “skeptics” when they have already decided against the dominant scientific paradigm. Supporters accept the evidence; skeptics want more evidence; contrarians reject the evidence; deniers could care less about evidence.

            Yes, the ideas and suggestions and opinions of skeptics deserve to be heard — that’s in part why I am interested in talking to skeptics – I like the clash of views and opinions and believe it or not, but I value the chance to hear opposing views and opinions, but if I suspect I’m being bullshitted, I can be as nasty as the next person. I’ll even consider the comments of contrarians for sometimes they are actually right — but not deniers. For them I have no respect.

            As long as you honestly express your opinions and are willing to engage in civil if blunt debate, I’m glad to read your views.

    • Susann,
      It is interesting that you now think you understand the issues with MBH98/99 and the various critiiques and responses. In your listing, you did not mention von Storch or Zorita. Have you read their paper yet? I would highly recommend it because they were the only ones to check McIntyre’s claim that Mann’s method would produce a Hockey Stick from trendless red noise as data. This is called the Artificial Hockey Stick. I know for certain the NAS panel did not check this claim but I cannot remember if Wegman did. I think so, but it has been a long time since I have read his report.

      If you truly think you understand the Hockey Stick Controversy, I would love to read your retelling of the tale… as long as you are willing to correct any errors you have which may be pointed out to you.

      • I don’t claim to understand everything about the HS in the way a scientist would, but I have a grasp of the main issues around the PC method and the problem with it giving the Sheep Mountain proxies too much weight. I know there were other issues around data replication that I did not include at first — I believe there was a corrigendum issued about that?

        I will read von Storch and Zorita as you suggest. I was going to do a whole post on the paleoclimate issue itself as part of the AGW evidence and was hoping to be better able to discuss those issues at that time.

  5. Ron, I understand that according to M&M, by decentering the PC by using the average of the 150 year period of the instrumental record rather than the average of the entire record, Mann’s methodology picked out “hockey stick” series like Sheep Mountain and gave them huge weight in the reconstruction so that the first PC was a hockey stick. When the PC was centered correctly, the hockey stick PC fell to fourth place and only accounted for 6% of the variance in the data. That Sheep Mountain is made up of stripbark BCPs which have been said by dendros to be not useful for temperature reconstruction because of anomalous increased growth in the late 20th C that does not correspond to local temperatures. Hence the two main claims are that the methodology artificially selects proxies that have been said should not be used in temp recons because they do not reflect local temperatures.

    However, I have also read other papers that claim to have replicated the hockey stick-like warming without using BCPs and without using PC analysis. In other words, MBH98/99 may have had the methodology wrong, but the basic conclusions were right about the anomalous warmth in the Northern Hemisphere. and globe. I think that there has also been recent work on stripbark BCPs as temperature proxies claiming that they do not show anomalous growth, but I don’t know how valid they are as I am not qualified to do peer review.

    • Thank you for that recounting. I can tell you have been doing some reading but have not fully grasped the issue. Actually, the number of errors Mann made are too many to list. For the best understanding of the Hockey Stick controversy, see the article by Marcel Crok. http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/Climate_L.pdf

      The Divergence Problem is not unique to bristlecone pine series on Sheep Mountain. The Divergence Problem effects many tree-ring series. The problems with the bristlecone pine series stem from the fact it is a strip bark tree. Strip bark trees do not have bark all over the trunk so the trunk is not symmetrical. You only get new tree rings where bark grows. Without a symmetrical trunk, you can core the same tree in different places and come up with an entirely different history of local temperature. This should be fairly intuitive for most people. Without a symmetrical tree, it simply is not possible to core in the “correct place.” Accordingly, the NAS panel report on the Hockey Stick controversy sided with McIntyre on this issue saying that strip bark trees should be avoided for temp reconstructions.

      Certain dendros have tried to rehabilitate strip bark trees and claim they are useful for temp reconstructions, but they are fighting an uphill battle. Even though they got the papers through the peer-review process, most scientists are disgusted with the effort. It is clear strip bark trees are not reliable temp proxies. Never were and never will be.

      If I remember correctly, in addition to Graybill’s Sheep Mountain series, Mann used another series which was also not good.

      Other papers said to replicate or confirm the Hockey Stick make up the Spaghetti graph. The Wegman report showed how the papers in the Spaghetti graph were all written by close associates of Mann and are not truly independent. They share a common Hockey Stick style proxy, the Yamal series. Ross McKitrick wrote a nice piece on this just before Climategate broke.

      See http://climateaudit.org/2009/09/29/the-impact-of-yamal-on-the-spaghetti-graph/

      Dendros simply cannot get a Hockey Stick without including something unreliable like BCP or the Yamal series.

      Does this disprove CAGW? No, but it takes away the specious claim that the planet is in uncharted temperatures with a rapidly approaching “tipping point” all because of anthropogenic CO2. The planet has been this warm before and we are all still here.

  6. Susann,
    Since we have been discussing the Keenlyside paper, I thought you might be interested to see the results of an examination of climate regime shifts by a skeptic.

    Syun-Ichi Akasofu is the founding director of International Arctic Research Center in Alaska and a well-respected skeptic. His examination leads him to believe most of the warming in the late 20th century was natural – a combination of the planet recovering from the Little Ice Age and oceanic oscillations.

    One of his conclusions:
    “This interpretation implies that the temperature will decrease until 2025-2030 and also that the temperature rise due to the recovery from the LIA, if it were to continue, will be 0.5°C in 2100; depending on the phase of the multi-decadal oscillation, ±0.2°C may be added to the above value.”

    See http://people.iarc.uaf.edu/~sakasofu/pdf/Natural_Components_of_Climate_Change.pdf

    By the way, I don’t believe this paper was ever published – another example of Climategatekeeping.

    • Ron, you can’t scare or horrify me with charges of climate gatekeeping. Won’t work. Gatekeeping is the essence of peer review — you know, keeping out the undeserving — according to the peers around at the time and according to their best understanding of the field in question. Ohhh – scary.

      The paper you linked to does not IMO appear to be a legitimate scientific paper that is of a quality of be published in a peer-review journal. It appears more like a nice opinion piece to me — a paper meant to convince people who are not familiar with scientific papers and journals as he is not dealing with any new data but merely looking at existing data. If his conclusions were so novel or insightful I would suspect other scientists would come to the same conclusion. But that’s just my layman’s look at it and I await more learned analysis from those with real credentials in climate science. I could be wrong.

      • It should also be noted that the author is not a climatoloist. His specialty is the study of the aurora. There is nothing wrong with that, and he is obviously a distinguished scientist, however this is quite clearly an example of the classic logical fallacy of the appeal to authority.

        Quite frankly, all I had to read was the abstract to see that he was obviously wrong. This is a prime example of a scientist working outside his area of expertise

      • Susann, you misunderstand. I’m not trying to horrify you. I’m simply pointing out facts. The cause of science has been disadvantaged by the fact quality papers written by award winning scientists have been kept out of the literature for political reasons. It is not horrifying. But it is surely disappointing to those who seek the truth.

        Akasofu’s approach to the subject of determining the limits of natural climate variability is innovative and his conclusions are novel. Peer-reviewed papers do not require new data, only a new way of looking at the data. To my knowledge, Michael Mann has never done any field work. He always uses other people’s data.

        In the comment below, Rattus claims Akasofu is not a climatologist. This is not accurate. He is a mathematical physicist. He began his career studying the aurora and wrote the most cited paper on the subject. But as Director of the Geophysical Institute, he published on many topics including volcanoes, solar activity, geomagnetic storms, sea ice and atmospheric CO2 and their roles in the climate. He has published more than 550 articles in peer reviewed literature, so he knows how to do quality work.

        You can read about his various awards at http://www.iarc.uaf.edu/people/indiv/iarc_all_staff.php?photo=sakasofu

        Susann, when I say the best climatolgists are skeptics, it is for good reason. I will put Akasofu up against the Michael Manns and Phil Joneses of the world any day of the week.

        • Ron, I have no doubt he is a very renowned scientist. Citing this paper as evidence is an appeal to authority as Rattus said above for to me this is an opinion piece not a true research paper — it’s just a renowned scientist offering his opinion based on his review of the research. He does not provide any new evidence that would challenge existing research. That’s what I’m looking for because there is a lot of research out there on all the topics he touches on that support the dominant paradigm and this is just his contrary opinion on it.

          It’s really more appropriate a work of persuasion that would be fit to be published as a newspaper or magazine article. I have to say it reminds me of something one wold find on a website dedicated to astroturfing because it is not hard science, although it is by a credible scientist.

        • Ron, all you have to do is look at the publication list on that page to see that he is not a climatologist. In the last 10 years his entire output has been on subjects related to “space weather”. Not a single paper on climate.

  7. Cram “By the way, I don’t believe this paper was ever published – another example of Climategatekeeping.”

    Prove it. Cram, I have several manuscripts that were never published for one reason of the other. There are many reasons why every piece of research does not go to print. You want to blame everything on Gatekeeping. OMG.

    “if it were to continue, will be 0.5°C in 2100.

    Err, the global temp. anomaly in 2005 was +0.63 C, we have warmed by almost 1 C since circa 1850.

    Climate sensitivity for doubling CO2 (and increasing other GHGs) is around +3 C Cram. Please go to this website:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com

  8. NB. Fourth time now. Check your spam filter.

    Notwithstanding the mention of the “WE” word yet again (whoever the goshdarn heck we might be), an historian tackles with zest and gusto the argument implicitly communicated by the Hockey Stick stories, explicited by Susann, and now fully endorsed by Ron Cram:

    The argument being that, if the medieval warm period is ‘true’ and there really were Vikings farming now ice-bound lands on Greenland (…) then the military-industrial complex ™ hasn’t necessarily caused the current climate rise and so our lifestyle needn’t change hurrah! This is so stupid it makes me want to twist necks, but it is a mainstream idea, (…). This, I tell you, gives me unto despair for my people (whoever the goshdarn heck they might be). It is stupid for several big reasons.

    1. Firstly, it assumes that plural causes of climate change do not operate simultaneously, which obviously need not be true. If the greenhouse effect is demonstrable, then to claim that that is not part of what is going on with our near-global temperature rise is at the very least questionable, even if other things are also going on. (…)

    2. Secondly, it’s not just climate change that urges a lifestyle change (…); when we hit peak oil, if that hasn’t already happened, it is going to hurt.

    3. Thirdly, and much more importantly, it doesn’t flaming well matter what’s causing the temperature rise, it’s still happening. Even if it is not that we have just burnt too much stuff and instead that Mother Sun is getting a little more angry in her middle years, the oceans will still rise, the Nile Delta will still continue to flood and before long there will be nowhere left to grow good coffee, and that’s probably the point at which these people will notice. Unless you actually deny that the temperature of the globe is going up, which can be made to look surprisingly rational but is at the very least a minority view worldwide, you still have to admit that things will be bad unless we do something so really, where the Vikings (or the Spanish Marchers) farmed does not matter to you right now.

    In short, the medieval warm period makes no political difference to thinking people concerned with climate change.

  9. On a somewhat more constructive note, and notwithstanding the mention of the “WE” word (whoever the goshdarn heck they might be), an historian tackles with zest and gusto the argument implicitly communicated by the Hockey Stick stories, and explicited here:

    The argument being that, if the medieval warm period is ‘true’ and there really were Vikings farming now ice-bound lands on Greenland (…) then the military-industrial complex ™ hasn’t necessarily caused the current climate rise and so our lifestyle needn’t change hurrah! This is so stupid it makes me want to twist necks, but it is a mainstream idea, (…). This, I tell you, gives me unto despair for my people (whoever the goshdarn heck they might be). It is stupid for several big reasons.

    1. Firstly, it assumes that plural causes of climate change do not operate simultaneously, which obviously need not be true. If the greenhouse effect is demonstrable, then to claim that that is not part
    of what is going on with our near-global temperature rise is at the very least questionable, even if other things are also going on. (…)

    2. Secondly, it’s not just climate change that urges a lifestyle change (…); when we hit peak oil, if that hasn’t already happened, it is going to hurt.

    3. Thirdly, and much more importantly, it doesn’t flaming well matter what’s causing the temperature rise, it’s still happening. Even if it is not that we have just burnt too much stuff and instead that Mother
    Sun is getting a little more angry in her middle years, the oceans will still rise, the Nile Delta will still continue to flood and before long there will be nowhere left to grow good coffee, and that’s
    probably the point at which these people will notice. Unless you actually deny that the temperature of the globe is going up, which can be made to look surprisingly rational but is at the very least a
    minority view worldwide, you still have to admit that things will be bad unless we do something so really, where the Vikings (or the Spanish Marchers) farmed does not matter to you right now.

    In short, the medieval warm period makes no political difference to thinking people concerned with climate change.

    Source: http://bit.ly/5niOn8

  10. Ron Cram has made a variety of dubious claims here. Let’s examine some of them. I apologize if they’ve already been sufficiently deconstructed.

    “GISTEMP remains but is being attacked for obvious errors.”

    Attacked by whom? The blogosphere? Are such attacks valid? Of great significance? Part of the peer-reviewed literature?

    “While much of the northern hemisphere is covered in snow and ice and many are afraid of the possibility of a coming ice age, you think the real world is showing global warming?”

    Cram’s “evidence” for the “ice age” is a few weeks of cold weather in a few relatively small land-based sections of the world.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/map/images/rnl/sfctmpmer_07a.rnl.html

    He then links a propaganda piece that grossly distorts what a scientist’s research indicates.

    “Yes, climate is measured on decadal scales. We are not talking about one or two years of no warming. In 2006, Gavin Schmidt was asked how many years without a new record would have to go by before he would question CAGE and he answered 10. Ten years have gone by but Schmidt still holds to the faith. This is not science. It is a belief system.”

    Wow…so much is wrong with that paragraph. Gavin has a post specifically on the topic of records. It’s from 2008.

    Gavin:”The two curves are for a new record of any size (black) and for an unambiguous record (> 0.1ºC above the previous, red). The main result is that 95% of the time, a new record will be seen within 8 years, but that for an unambiguous record, you need to wait for 18 years to have a similar confidence. As I mentioned above, this result is dependent on the magnitude of natural variability which varies over the different models. Thus the real world expectation would not be exactly what is seen here, but this is probably reasonably indicative. ”

    2005 was a record in both GISS and NCDC. The “unambiguous record” (> 0.1 ) hasn’t been set yet since 1998, but the 95% confidence interval extends to 18 years. Also, 1998 was a 2-3 sigma el Nino event, making it an extreme real-world scenario and thus making it more likely to push the boundaries of the confidence intervals for this particular case.

    “The 2007 IPCC report makes the claim that “most” of recent warming is manmade. Here Latif claims half of it is natural. ”

    Um…no. From your own quote:

    “Latif said his research suggested that up to half the warming seen over the 20th century was down to this natural ocean effect”

    “up to” means <= 50%, which includes 0 and negative values.

    The IPCC defines "recent warming" as the past 50 years, not the entire 20th century. so it's also a moot point that "most" would imply natural factors are < 50%.

    "If you read Latif’s paper, you will see he is talking about “climate shifts” like the one in 1975/76. Theses climate regimes are known to last for 30 years or so. "

    I have Latif's paper right in front of me. Here's the key graph:

    See much of any cooling there? Neither do I. Check out what happens by 15-20 years.

    "If it was as warm 1,000 years ago because of natural climate variation, then we have not warmed the planet into dangerous “unnatural” territory with CO2. "

    That's certainly the motivation for some to try to discredit proxy reconstructions. The best evidence suggests it wasn't as warm globally at that time.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Was-there-a-Medieval-Warm-Period.html

    Nonetheless, for the sake of argument, if it was, it suggests that climate is more sensitive to various forcings, implying positive feedbacks and thus high climate sensitivity. That's sort of an irony about the "hockey stick is a hoax" fanatics.

    "You cannot claim the planet is unnaturally warm, warmer than in the last 2,000 years, based on these tree-rings proxies. In fact, tree-rings have never been shown to be good temperature proxies. It is bad science. Based on non-tree-ring proxies, the MWP looks to be as warm or warmer than today."

    Another amazing series of false assertions stuffed (or should I say "Crammed") into one paragraph.

    First, non-tree ring proxies most certainly yield similar reconstructions, and the conclusion that late 20th-century warming exceeds that of the MWP holds. That's even nicely stated on the abstract of the most comprehensive peer-reviewed study to date, published in PNAS.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/mann2008/mann2008.html

    The tree ring divergence problem is discussed here:

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Hockey-stick-divergence-problem.html

    First, not all tree ring proxies have the problem. Second, it appears to be confined to recent decades, since non-divergence tree rings match up well with divergence tree rings through their proxy records. Lastly, the divergence problem appears to be anthropogenic in origin, but not necessarily tied to temperatures.

    I think the problem with contrarians is they see everything in binary terms, obfuscating every issue. Every issue or uncertainty is exaggerated to mean we know nothing.

    • MarkB, thanks for taking the time to address the distortion put forth by Ron Cram. Not that the truth will make any difference to a denialist like Ron Cram. His hypocrisy is astounding. He claims the scientists distort the truth, then he goes and does just that over and over again.

      Susann, I think you have a troll in the form of Cram. Engaging trolls just gives them an opportunity to spout more and more nonsense. How do you intend to deal with trolls on your blog?

      I’ve tried smiting them with facts, but then they just keep moving the goal posts and/or ignore your facts and move onto the next myth. They never capitulate or admit error. It is a perpetual task that would require an army of scientists to stem the tide of BS from the denial machine.

  11. Susann, I think you have a troll in the form of Cram. Engaging trolls just gives them an opportunity to spout more and more nonsense. How do you intend to deal with trolls on your blog?

    I think Ron is presenting his case. He is doing it persistently and I don’t agree with most of what he argues, but I hesitate to label him a troll. As I have said before, I love the clash of ideas. I grew up with a father who never let me get away with anything when it came to opinions so I welcome debate. I find it stimulates my thinking, even if only to assist me in clarifying what i think is valid and why in opposition to comments I disagree with.

    I’ve tried smiting them with facts, but then they just keep moving the goal posts and/or ignore your facts and move onto the next myth. They never capitulate or admit error. It is a perpetual task that would require an army of scientists to stem the tide of BS from the denial machine.

    My view of trolls is this — I reply to them, not to convince them otherwise, but to try to clarify what I think is valid, to put a valid response out there in case there are open-minded undecided people out there who will be able to compare the two positions side by side. I guess some people will never see wisdom when they trip on it, or recognize a fact if it grabbed them by the throat and throttled them, but c’est la guerre.

    I don’t want to label people who post here as “trolls” and delete their posts or block them. It would seem rather hypocritical for me to do so given why I started this blog. 🙂

    I understand your point of view on this issue and appreciate your posts here. What I hate more than discussions peppered by disagreement and littered with “trolls” is a chorus. Yuck. Besides, having been called a troll many many times on CA and other “skeptic” websites, I refuse to do so here.

    I realize this may mean a crew descends on occasion to bombard the place with manure, but so be it. Those who post or read will just have to keep our hip waders on. 😉

  12. Hi Susann,

    Thanks for clarifying, you are very tolerant. Call me jaded, but nowadays I have very little time for the likes of Cram– thyey need to be let know that we know their modus operandi all too well. Yes, debate is good, but I do not see the point of rehashing old myths and or of the denialists continually moving the goal posts to myth B when one has just refuted myth A (where both myths have been refuted ad nauseum).

    Anyhow, I for one am pleased (putting on my science cap here) that you have started this blog. There is a real war /affront on science and sicentists going on right now, and the more reasonable voices there are in the public domain supporting the good science (not I did not say all science, some science is just bad both on the pro and anti AGW sides) and perpetuating the good science the better. So thanks.

    I’ll don my hip waders and do my best to tolerate the likes of Cram, but in my experience ignoring denialists is the best way to go. A true skeptic one can engage and debate, but a denialist, no way.

    • I do not see the point of rehashing old myths and or of the denialists continually moving the goal posts to myth B when one has just refuted myth A (where both myths have been refuted ad nauseum).

      In general I agree, but perhaps when it’s all laid out for people to see, they will recognize what’s happening — if we delete evidence of it, that gets lost. I’m as interested in the shenanigans as the truth because it’s all part of the whole.

      I think in this war, there are the generals, the soldiers and there are camp followers — they’re directly involved. Then, there are journalists and historians and social scientists all trying to analyze what has happened. I’m not a soldier and not yet a camp follower. ;). I see myself more as a social scientist trying to describe what I see.

      The reason I want to be tolerant and not start labeling “troll” and moderating or deleting is that what I often see happening is that a neube or honest skeptic asks a simple question out of sincere interest and/or ignorance and because of overall myth/lie-smiting fatigue, they are labelled a troll by supporters. Then someone jumps down their throat and gallops their guts to get rid of a bit of steam — happens on both sides in my experience. Not a good way to win the PR side of things. And the PR side of things is, sadly, one of the important fronts in the war.

      I’m trying not to chose a side right now — although I admit my inclination is to go with the AGW side simply because many very educated and studied scientists have spent decades describing it and support it — but I am willing to consider all arguments because I know that sometimes, the mainstream view can be overturned when the weight of evidence shifts.

      I’m just trying to describe the battlefield from the sidelines.

  13. Susann,
    I am having to work a great deal of overtime these days and so have not found the time to read the blog. However, I know you are interested in Climategate and would be interested to see this news story.

    The policy brief released by Commonwealth Foundation is found at http://www.commonwealthfoundation.org/docLib/20100111_PB2202Climategate.pdf

    I hope you are still attempting to find the truth.

  14. Ron, I watched the video — the first thing I did was to google “Commonwealth Foundation” and of course, I came up with the “Commonwealth Foundation” established in 1965 with guiding principles set out by the Harare Declaration of 1991. Imagine my surprise to find out that this organization would issue a press conference on Michael Mann and global warming.

    Of course, it wasn’t that Commonwealth Foundation but the one with the “For Public Policy Alternatives” in small print at the bottom of the page. The one that “develops and advances public policies based on the nation’s founding principles of limited government, economic freedom, and personal responsibility.”

    The one with the following values:


    – Challenging the general perception that government intervention is the most appropriate and most efficient means of solving societal problems.

    – Demonstrating the power of private institutions—both for-profit and non-profit—to create a good and civil society.

    – Promoting the use of economic reasoning to understand a world of scarcity, trade-offs, and the unseen consequences of governmental solutions to societal problems.

    I would label this as a denialist organization because it, due to its ideological perspective, would be inclined to reject anthropogenic global warming despite the evidence because the implications of AGW — if it is valid — is that some form of government intervention in the economy — at the national scale perhaps through some international treaty — is necessary to regulate anthropogenic greenhouse gasses.

    Which is a no-no to those who believe that government is intrinsically the wrong instrument to address social problems.

    The Sourcewatch article on it is pretty bare bones, but the CFFPPA has been compared to other right wing think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute.

    What I find personally fascinating is that if you go to the webpage, there is no “For Public Policy Alternatives” to be found in easy eye-reach. Interesting, no? You have to scroll all the way down to the bottom of the page and check the small print. Even then, it calls itself a non-profit research and educational institute.

    Hmm. Very similar to the “other” Commonwealth Federation” which has as its values:

    To strengthen civil society organisations across the Commonwealth as they promote democracy, advance sustainable development and foster inter-cultural understanding.

    Values

    The Foundation’s work is guided by the Commonwealth principles, values and priorities as enshrined in the Harare Declaration of 1991. These include democracy and good governance, respect for human rights and opportunities for all, gender equality, access to education and training, poverty reduction, environmental protection and sustainable development.

    One can see that to an unwitting net surfer, it might be a bit confusing which venerable organization hosted the news conference…

    Coincidence? Or really really clever marketing ploy on the part of the PR people who set it up?

    What is perhaps most amusing is that this organization chose the word “commonwealth” for its title — especially since you have to suppose it really is a supporter of free market capitalism in which there is no real concern for “common wealth” but private.

    Or am I being too cynical? 😉

  15. Is global warming a problem requiring a public policy solution? I’m not convinced.

    I just watched part of an hour long Special Report by John Coleman, founder of The Weather Channel, on KUSI TV claiming GISS and NCDC have exaggerated warming by leaving out the cool surface stations. A statement by Jim Hansen in response to the report is found at the bottom of the web page, but the statement does not answer any of the specifics of the Special Report.

    Check it out at http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/81583352.html

  16. I am asking this question out of curiosity.

    Was there ever a medieval warm period?

    Thanks
    Anand

    • Anand,
      Yes. Until MBH98, everyone accepted the WMP was warmer than today. MBH98 photoshopped the ancient temp record to remove natural climate variability. They removed the MWP and most of the Little Ice Age (LIA).

      After McIntyre pointed out the problems with tree-ring thermometry, Craig Loehle decided to do an updated temp reconstruction using all the non-tree ring proxies available which had been calibrated to local temperature. This is the way science is supposed to be done. Use all the data.

      Loehle did not do any of the calibrations himself. The calibrations were all published in the peer-reviewed literature first. Loehle took that data and published a 2000 year reconstruction showing the MWP was at least as warm as today.

      Hu McCulloch, a professor and regular poster at ClimateAudit, read the paper and found some errors. He worked with Loehle to publish a Correction. The Correction is not much different from the original paper. Here are the links.

      Loehle reconstruction without tree-rings
      http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mscp/ene/2007/00000018/F0020007/art00011

      Correction to Loehle reconstruction
      http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/mscp/ene/2008/00000019/00000001/art00009

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