Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Whatever happened to Dr. Mann's "hockey stick graph"?

{Sorry about the typos, I'm no professional writer.
I did polish it up a bit Tuesday evening.}

Though I don't have enough free-time for working on Ridley's folly, I needed to take the time to share this because it's both a good assessment of the state of understanding and because it underscores What A Scientist Sounds Like.  

I'm talking about Peter Sinclair's recent post featuring an excellent talk by Professor Richard Alley PhD.  
(After this intro, I repost the video along with some time signature notes for the interested student)
The Weekend Wonk: Richard Alley on Climate History and CO2 
Peter Sinclair | Weekend Wonk | August 1, 2015 
At 3:50 a graph caught my eye because it dawned on me that in a way I was basically looking at "Mann's Hockey Stick" 15 years later.  That is, after 15 years of accumulating data from all sorts of teams studying all sorts of proxies.  This graph includes additional important information, such as solar irradiance, volcanic forcing, other 'forcings' among other information.

Recall the story?  Back in the late 1990s a group of researchers lead by Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes were studying tree rings and using them as a proxy for establishing a paleo-temperature record for the past couple thousand years.

It was pioneering work in data processing and statistical analysis.  When finished their study, in particular their graph, was a dramatic visual wakeup call to how rapidly, if not radically, we were changing conditions on this planet.

For that Dr. Mann was viciously attacked by the Republican/libertarian PR machine as though he were the only researcher involved; and as though denying the solid evidence could make it go away.  In fact, to this day their echo-chamber continues to obsess on a couple minor flaws in those aging '98/'99 studies.

Meanwhile, the grown-ups, that is the serious scientific community, continued doing their work.  With healthy honest skepticism alive as ever, the Mann et al. papers were subjected to brutal interrogation, strong points, weak points were argued over and resolved, lessons were learned - the scientific process in action, striving to learn and improve the work going forward.  

As for Mann et al. original papers, their data, it's interpretation and graph itself have all stood the test of time, though you'd never know it listening to a Republican.


In any event, here's a look how a decade and a half of serious study has evolved that first pioneering effort at understanding our planet's past temperature record:

 -------  Whatever happened to Mann's Hockey Stick?  -------  
Here's a look at the current state of Paleoclimate understanding
followed by an excellent short talk by Prof. Alley explaining the details.

ca. 2015


Richard Alley - 4.6 Billion Years of Earth’s Climate History: The Role of CO2

National Academy of Science member Richard Alley presents on 4.6 Billion Years of Earth’s Climate History: The Role of CO2, during the Symposium—Earths, Moons, Mars & Stars at the National Academy of Sciences 152nd Annual Meeting.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#2 - Matt Ridley let's debate your "cheerleaders for alarm"

Matt Ridley this is the second installment of my review of your blogpost What the climate wars did to science where I describe the various failures in your arguments.  Last week I contacted you about the first installment and to offer a formal invitation to debate.  But, you've remained silent.  
(Admittedly Matt, I can appreciate that hiding from my intellectual challenge, like Jim Steele does, makes more sense than joining the debate in a fair and square manner and revealing how bankrupt your arguments are - still the invitation remains.)

Now on to considering your "cheerleading for alarm" section.

Policy-based evidence making is all too frequent in climate science
By Matt Ridley |  The "Rational Optimist.com" |  Published on Sunday, July 05, 2015
Part Two ±450-935 (out of 5950 words)
Matt Ridley:  Cheerleaders for alarm. This is precisely what has happened with the climate debate and it is at risk of damaging the whole reputation of science. 

What precisely?  You define nothing!

"Cheerleaders for alarm" ? - Who, What, Where, When?
"climate debate" -  It's tough to get any more inclusive than that.

Then you pull the dirty trick of jumping from the nebulous "climate debate" to the "whole reputation of science."  Matt, where do you get off pinning what pundits have said onto scientists?  That's pure dishonestly!

By playing this game you allow yourself to smear any scientist with whatever nonsense you like.  Even though that nonsense never came from any real scientist to begin with.  

That's called fraud and has nothing to do with learning about the why and how of the scientific understanding that underpins the current global warming "consensus."
Matt Ridley:  The “bad idea” in this case is not that climate changes, nor that human beings influence climate change; but that the impending change is sufficiently dangerous to require urgent policy responses. 

Matt, I suggest your "bad idea" is to tailor your sentences toward belittling scientists and rejecting their evidence without ever even considering that evidence.

Here you deliberately ignore the severe impacts that past climate changes had on the biological systems that had developed under their previous climate regime. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Matt Ridley let's debate your "What the climate wars did to science"

{edited for typos and some minor additions 19:30 MDT }

Matt Ridley I've been reading your "What the climate wars did to science" and I'll give it to you, it's one piece of work.  From the bizarre comparison of "Lysenkoism" with two centuries worth of climate science; to your championing that artful misinformer JimSteele (a person who regularly attacks scientists based on misrepresenting the facts, while hiding from debating the merits of his storyline.); then you pile on the malicious Dr. Parmesan slander campaign (while lying about what her paper actually says); etc.; finishing with that lofty plea to 'keep the debate alive'.  It really is too much, still I'm thinking you want a debate, Okay, let's have a debate!  

I believe I can explain why your words are such deceptive theater while outlining the difference between your brand of 'playing games for short term political gain' and scientists commitment to learning in order to understand reality as it is, rather than how we wish it could be.

I challenge you, Matt Ridley, to participate in this public "debate" by rationally explaining why you might disagree with my assessment.  I will post your comments unaltered - I'll even consider a "guest post" from you, if it contains a substantive rational response.

We'll see how it goes.  Since your blog post was six thousand words long and I have very limited free time these days, and people have limited patience, I'll be doing this is smaller segments.  Here I review your first 450 words.


What the climate wars did to science
Published on Sunday, July 05, 2015, updated Sunday, July 05, 2015 
by Matt Ridley - at the so-called RationalOptimist.com  -  5950 words

Policy-based evidence making is all too frequent in climate science

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere

Looks like a SkepticalScience.com double-header considering the noteworthy Guardian.com article by Dana Nuccitelli that SkS shared this morning.  The reason is that I know all too well that implying a grand conspiracy, denigrating scientists and the reactionary dismissal of the significance of a "97% consensus" among actual experts regarding the causes and dangers of society's relentless injection of atmospheric insulation (read greenhouse gases) are about all we can get out of climate science contrarians these days, so I thought this was a must article to add to this collection.

It's about a new study:  "Recurrent Fury: Conspiratorial Discourse in the Blogosphere Triggered by Research on the Role of Conspiracist Ideation in Climate Denial"
By Stephan Lewandowsky, John Cook, Klaus Oberauer, Scott Brophy, Elisabeth A. Lloyd, Michael Marriott

Climate denial linked to conspiratorial thinking in new study

Posted on 8 July 2015 by dana1981

A new study has examined the comments on climate science-denying blogs and found strong evidence of widespread conspiratorial thinking. The study looks at the comments made in response to a previous paper linking science denial and conspiracy theories.

Motivated rejection of science

Three years ago, social scientists Lewandowsky, Oberauer, and Gignac published a paper in the journal Psychological Science titled NASA Faked the Moon Landing—Therefore, (Climate) Science Is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science

The paper detailed the evidence the scientists found that, using survey data provided by visitors to climate blogs, those exhibiting conspiratorial thinking are more likely to be skeptical of scientists’ conclusions about vaccinations, genetically modified foods, and climate change. This result was replicated in a follow-up study using a representative U.S. sample that obtained the same resultlinking conspiratorial thinking to climate denial.

Of course science denial and conspiracies go hand in hand

This shouldn’t be a terribly shocking result. When confronted with inconvenient science, those in denial often reject the evidence by accusing the experts of fraud or conspiracies. We saw a perfect example of this behavior just a few weeks ago. When scientists at NOAA published a paper finding that there was no ‘pause’ in global warming, one of the most common responses from those in denial involved the conspiratorial accusation that the scientists had somehow fudged the data at the behest of the Obama administration.

Nevertheless, nobody likes being characterized as a conspiracy theorist, and so those in the denial blogosphere reacted negatively to the research of Lewandowsky and colleagues. Ironically, many of the attacks on the study involved conspiratorial accusations, which simply provided more data for the social scientists to analyze. For example, the authors were accused of everything from faked data to collusion between Lewandowsky and the Australian government.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Adam Corner, Announcing the "Uncertainty Handbook"

Adam Corner has written a helpful overview of a new handbook for folks who want to try their hand at communicating climate science to a broader audience.  I downloaded the "Uncertainty Handbook" this evening and found it concise, easy to read and filled with simple logical advice for anyone who want's to engage this important issue. 

I feel it belongs in this collection and thanks to SkepticalScience.com's Creative Commons license I'm able to reprint it over here:


Announcing the Uncertainty Handbook

Posted on 6 July 2015 by Guest Author at SkepticalScience.com

by Adam Corner
Have you ever struggled with the communication of climate change uncertainties? Are you frustrated by climate sceptics using uncertainty - inherent in any area of complex science - as a justification for delaying policy responses? Then the new ‘Uncertainty Handbook’ - a collaboration between the University of Bristol and the Climate Outreach & Information Network (COIN) - is for you. The handbook was authored by Dr. Adam Corner (COIN), Professor Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol), Dr Mary Phillips (University of Bristol) and Olga Roberts (COIN). All are experts in their fields and have expertise relating to the role of uncertainty in climate change or how best to communicate it.

The Handbook distills the most important research findings and expert advice on communicating uncertainty into a few pages of practical, easy-to-apply techniques, providing scientists, policymakers and campaigners with the tools they need to communicate more effectively around climate changeDownload the report here, and check out our 12 principles for more effectively communicating climate change uncertainty

Sunday, June 21, 2015

In the shadow of "Seepage" considering our climate system

(final edit 12:30pm, June 21)
To appreciate "Seepage" within the climate science community we must first understand the fundamental scientific reality that the Republican / libertarian's strategic attack on science keeps drawing us further away from (while actively striving to replace honest curiosity and learning with ideological absolutism and rank tribal hostility towards serious climate scientists).

Goal of this article: A) To convey a recognition and appreciation of the fundamental components of our planet's climate system.  B)  To explain the difference between "Global Surface Temperature" and the "Global Temperature" (Something everyone conflates way the heck too often!).

Our Earth's climate is a global heat and moisture distribution engine consisting of three major components.

There's the atmosphere with it's distinctive layers, the lowest one is called the troposphere, it's where our weather lives.  The troposphere varies in height from around five miles at the poles up to around twelve miles at the equator.  

The troposphere is held in place and insulated from space by the stratosphere, mesosphere, thermosphere and finally the exosphere topping out in the neighborhood of three hundred miles - actually, on the leeward side of Earth it goes way beyond, but that's a different story.

Fortunately for life, our atmosphere contains certain greenhouse gases that act to slow down the heat escaping from the surface thus acting as insulation that keeps our planet livable.  The troposphere holds pretty much all the water in the atmosphere, scientists calculate it adds up to a little over 3,000 cubic miles of liquid water.  If spread over the Earth's surface it would amount to an inch

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Considering the two species of debate.

          This was inspired by another comment over at Emily Blegvad's global warming documentary "The Science Behind Global Warming" a very nice effort by a high school student to explain our understanding of manmade global warming. 

Unfortunately the YouTube comments thread has been haunted by a few nasty characters who aren't at all interested in the video, or climate science, they just want to throw insults at us the "brainwashed", "=ucking gullible", and such lovely stuff.  As you can image, it's been a lively and weird comments thread and all sadly distracting from what Emily's documentary was all about.  

But, it does offer learning opportunities, here's a comment that makes for a perfect introduction into describing the anatomy of the two types of public debate.
  Emily, the ingredients to a good debate includes not joining in with herd mentality and siding with bullies that see it ok to attack people personally, that is actually "hate mongering", or are you still in kindergarten?  
And you never thought it was worth defending yourself from my original comments...which are now gone.*  
You see, in this world if you buy into things like this you have to be prepared to defend what you are promoting and not put your fingers in your ears and sing lalalalalala, you belong more to a cult than anything else sweetheart

As it happens I've given 'debate' lots of thought so let me share what I've learned.  (* Incidentally, I don't think anything was deleted.)

A debate is supposed to be about the information each side presents, it's examination and rebuttal - it has nothing to do herds or anything like that.  Also very important to understand is that there are two distinct kinds of debate.  

There's the Political/Lawyerly Debate where winning is everything.  Truth and understanding play second fiddle to winning.  In fact, quite often understanding is the enemy and much effort goes into confusing issues, rather than clarifying.

Then there's the Scientific/Learning Debate where each side argues their understanding using the evidence they have amassed.  You listen to your opponent,  you weigh their evidence according to your own understanding - then the 'other side' has their go at it.  There is an expectation to honestly relay ones evidence and yes, egos and good rhetoric play their part, but in the end it's all about the evidence and understanding the question as well as possible that matters.  

What that means is that if I am shown to be mistaken by the strength of the evidence, I accept it, bruised ego and all.  Because, learning from my mistakes give depth to my understanding of why things are as they are.    

The scientific community is all about a learning experience and always striving for better understanding our reality.  That's where the victory is.

It's not about ruthless defense of ego and ideology, it's about learning!