Sections

Services

Information

UK United Kingdom

Critically important: the need for self-criticism in science

THE STATE OF SCIENCE: To produce good science, researchers have to be prepared to doubt themselves. Michael Brown investigates the importance of holding science up to scrutiny. Scientists and the public…

Want to be a scientist? Take a long, hard look at yourself. edenpictures

THE STATE OF SCIENCE: To produce good science, researchers have to be prepared to doubt themselves. Michael Brown investigates the importance of holding science up to scrutiny.

Scientists and the public can have very different views of scientific debates.

Are vaccines responsible for increased rates of autism? Does increasing carbon dioxide lead to a rise in global temperatures? For most scientists, these debates have been resolved, but they remain very visible in the public arena.

In part, these debates remain alive due to the contributions of researchers (I use the term broadly) who promote contrary views via the media.

The presence of such researchers in the public sphere is not new. In the 1970s, claims of impending earthquakes due to alignments of the planets were propagated via the media and popular books.

Charles Richter (of the Richter Scale) was particularly dismissive of these researchers:

What ails them is exaggerated ego plus imperfect or ineffective education, so that they have not absorbed one of the fundamental rules of science – self-criticism. Their wish for attention distorts their perception of facts, and sometimes leads them on into actual lying.

How is self-criticism fundamental to science? Why don’t we learn this in school? How is self-criticism relevant in the current debate?

It isn’t easy

Only rarely do scientists have such remarkable insight that science becomes easy. Usually it is hard work. Very hard work.

In press releases, scientists obtain their results and then proclaim their insights. In the real world, scientists must critically examine their own results before saying anything.

They have to ask themselves a number of questions:

  • How could the results be wrong?
  • Are the results consistent with established theory?
  • Are the results consistent with the available data?
  • Have the best possible methods been used?
  • What are the potential sources of error?
  • Do assumptions affect the results?
  • Is the preferred hypothesis the only and most plausible explanation?
  • Are the results statistically significant?

Good scientists can spend more time answering these questions than obtaining their original results. To answer these questions, scientists must examine their own work critically.

Imagine you’re a scientist

Imagine you’re a scientist. Think of yourself in a white coat, wearing elbow patches, in hiking boots or clothed in scuba gear.

You get a great preliminary result. Then you review the literature again. Your result disagrees with those of many leading scientists. What do you do?

Unfortunately, the first step is to assume you are in error. Remember, science is hard and mistakes are easy, no matter how smart you are. For this reason, scientists treat individual results with caution, preferring results that have been confirmed multiple times.

Some errors are hard to track down. A simple typo in computer code can have major consequences. Sometimes all the numbers are correct, but the interpretation of them is wrong.

Repeating each step of the process again and again will mitigate errors, but is time consuming.

What if your result stands? Are the leading researchers all wrong? Perhaps, but unless you have an outstanding insight, it probably comes down to a subtle error.

This has been my own experience.

In 2007, my colleagues and I found that the largest galaxies have grown slowly over billions of years, while two other studies found they grew quite rapidly. The other studies had used good data, but had interpreted their results with a method that (in hindsight) was only applicable to smaller galaxies. The error was subtle, and not at all obvious, even to experts.

Before publication, scientists present their work at science conferences and seminars. In part, scientists do this to get feedback from experts who disagree with the conclusions being made. In this context, it can be a relief to be asked difficult questions.

Scientists finally present their results in articles submitted for peer review. Errors can result in rejection from publication, so there is a strong incentive to critically examine your work prior to submission.

Peer reviewers should catch big mistakes and glaring omissions, but won’t always catch more subtle errors. Your reputation suffers when your publications contain errors, so it is in your interest to critically examine your work.

A lost lesson

The importance of self-criticism is sometimes lost in science education.

A student may have only hours to undertake and report the results of an experiment. There is no time for critical examination of the results. Often there is only one plausible explanation rather than many. Students may even know “the answer” before starting the experiment.

For example, a student studying the time it takes for a heavy ball to fall a short distance can only interpret the results in the context of gravity. Unfortunately, this may teach students that experiments only verify rather than confront scientific theories. This experience may also skew the public perception of science.

Science educators are aware of these problems, but they are difficult to overcome when time and resources are limited.

The current climate debate

How is self-criticism relevant to current debates?

Many climate “sceptics” self-publish research online, write for the general media, or submit their work to journals with ineffective peer review. They are thus sidestepping a key incentive to be self-critical – the risk that the article will be rejected and not published.

“Sceptics” often falsely accuse climate scientists of startling errors. However, the frequent mistakes of vocal Australian “sceptics” suggest it is they who are not self-critical. The many errors in Ian Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth” are just the start.

John McLean has predicted that 2011 will be the coolest year since 1956. However, the flaws in his model strongly linking the El Niño cycle and global climate had already been flagged in the peer-reviewed literature. Rather than being cool, 2011 is now vying to be in the top ten of hot years.

In an online essay, John Nicol (chairman of the Australian Climate Science Coalition) claims scientists wrongly model how the atmosphere absorbs light. However, years after his essay appeared online, Nicol has yet to compare his predictions to readily available data.

David Archibald claims solar cycles and climate are so strongly linked that “a severe cool period is now inevitable”. However, Archibald uses temperatures from just a few locations to back his claim, and overlooks studies that find a far weaker link between solar cycles and climate.

Such glaring errors would be evident to those who critically evaluate their own work. The absence of self-criticism leads to error, or even pseudo-science. While it is foolish to assume every scientific paper is 100% correct, it is surely more foolish to believe critics of science who are not demonstrably self-critical of their own ideas.

This is the ninth part of The State of Science. To read the other instalments, follow the links below.

Join the conversation

148 Comments sorted by

  1. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    I fear Michael Brown is not a wholly reliable source. For example, he begins by asking "does increasing CO2 lead to a rise in global temperatures?” implying that it does without offering any econometric evidence that such is the case. His problem is that there is none at all, using the best econometrics known to us.

    He then sets out a list of rhetorical questions that scientists should answer "before saying anything", in this case about anthropogenic global warming:

    1. “How could [their] results…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim Curtin is a very good example of a "sceptic" with an amateur knowledge of science who is loudly claiming climate science has made gross errors and pushing his own alternate model of climate. Tim Curtin's idea is that recent warming "should be reassigned to anthropogenic water vapour", which he discussed at a recent economics conference. Has he been self-critical of his ideas?

      However, Tim Curtin's understanding of water vapour in the atmosphere and the water cycle are doubtful. In previous discussions…

      Read more
    2. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      To quote Tim: "any econometric evidence";

      What has econometric evidence got to do with CO2 in the atmosphere? Nothing.

      Another troll using technical sounding language with the aim of creating doubt.

      The fact that the technical sounding language and subsequent points are anachronous, irrelevant or disproved will not even enter most non-scientists' heads.

      PS: Modern climate science may be best regarded as a continuing refinement of Arrhenius's theory rather than either disroved by or disproving Arrhenius - thus, current climate science has a long and honourable pedigree in the application of the scientific method to the effects of changes in atmospheric CO2.

      report
    3. Shane Perryman

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Students t-test and p-values are not the be all and end all of statistics.
      See the debate between Frequentists and Bayesians.
      There is also the old joke about how to get significance from a t-test - just take more samples.
      And then there is effect size.

      My anecdotal observation is that in a two group comparison, deniers always underplay the effect size of climate change and "never" doubt there own opinions (alpha = 0.01).

      report
    4. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Hi Michael.

      My post here addressed your Note that launched this thread. Whilst I am flattered that you seem to be diverting the thread to me, you like any good politician have not answered the issues I raised here yesterday.

      All same, I see you persist despite my best efforts in parroting the absurd IPCC line that ‘However, this is because water vapour is a "feedback" in the climate models, not a "forcing"’.

      Daily evaporation here in Canberra (and similarly across all Australia) has increased…

      Read more
    5. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Shane Perryman

      The t-test and p-value remain invaluable tools for all except climate scientists, because like you they hate the implications.

      However correct model specification is crucial, and in my own work I first take the current climate scientists' view that only non-condensing GHGs are relevant determinants of global temperature change and test it, and then secondly take the findings of Tyndall (1861) that uncondensed atmospheric water vapour is 13 times more potent than atmospheric CO2 as absorber and radiator of heat. My regressions show Tyndall was right, and that the climate scientists are wrong in their determination to omit the clearly relevant variable of uncondensed atmospheric WV.

      Shane, prove me wrong, but by physical experiments like Tyndall's or econometrics, not the GIGO models of the climate scientists which yield to order but without scientific validity.

      report
    6. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim, I don't know whether you have seen the Ferguson and Veiser paper which puts an empirical perspective on the relativities of water and CO2:

      http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2007JD008431.shtml

      There is no doubt the Lacis and Schmidt paper on condensation, and the argument that WV is of less imprtance than CO2 because it is condensable, shows an appalling lack of understanding of basic atmospheric process; the Lacis paper wants us to believe the non-condensing greenhouse gases control the earth’s temperature and disaster will occur because of a 3.7 W/m2 forcing over the next 100 years or so. But they ignore evaporating/condensing processes which generate energy fluxes that exceed 1000 W/m2 each day.

      report
    7. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      Dennis: 1) you say "What has econometric evidence got to do with CO2 in the atmosphere? Nothing". Spoken like a true climate scientist!
      Real scientists use econometrics a lot.

      2) But then you speak of "the application of the scientific method to the effects of changes in atmospheric CO2". I assume that you mean by this the measurement of changes in atmospheric CO2 relative to measured changes in temperature. Only econometrics can produce an evaluation of such measurements - and the supposed direction of causality.

      3) Ironically Arrhenius (1896: 238) used least squares regression analysis to assess Langley's data on absorption by GHGs. Obviously if you had been around then you would prevented him from presenting his paper at the RS in Edinburgh because he deployed a technique which according to you has "nothing to do with CO2 in the atmosphere" and so he was thereby a "troll" (your word and attribution).

      If Arrhenius could do LSR, why is there none at all in IPCC AR4 WG1?

      report
    8. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim Curtin's comment is telling. Tim Curtin has no expertise in science, and yet is vigorously claiming that climate scientists should label water vapour a "forcing" rather than a "feedback".

      Tim Curtin's comments on water vapour are a series of conjectures backed up with little evidence (often anecdotal). A few numbers are thrown in, but they are not marshalled into anything coherent. Tim Curtin's response would be far more credible if he demonstrated his clear knowledge of the water cycle. For example, what does happen to anthropogenic water vapour emissions when they leave the atmosphere after a week or so? If they end up in the ocean, lakes or groundwater, how long do they remain there?

      Finally, he throws in 12.9 billion tons of atmosphere H20 again. The accepted value is a factor of a 1000 larger than this. 12900 billion tons is the textbook value and is completely consistent with mainstream science, including the IPCC.

      report
    9. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      It should be obvious that water vapour is generated almost totally independently from any small variations in climate.

      The simple fact that the sun shines and marginally warms the oceans, lakes etc each day, causing evaporation, means it is obvious that there will always be some WV in the atmosphere and the quantities thereof are primarily a function of ocean temperatures and solar insolation. In fact the evaporation continues even at night, hail, rain or shine.

      It seems to me that makes it for the most part "forcing" not "feedback" Michael, and I certainly agree with Tim that it cannot be dismissed just because any particular molecules only hang around for a few days. It is being continually replenished.

      report
    10. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Yet again Doug cotton shows his flawed and partial understanding of climate science.

      Water Vapour is a "feedback" (rather than an anthroprogenic forcing) because (1) we are not putting more into the atmrosphere and (2) the amount present at any time is broadly speaking a function of global temperature - so the warmer it gets the more atmospheric water vapour you get - which in turn adds to warming (indeed it can significantly magnify it)

      CO2 on the other hand is something we humans are adding at…

      Read more
    11. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Dr Harrigan:

      Carbon dioxide radiates about 46% of the total and water vapour, on average, over 50%. (John Nicol posted these calculations recently.) Both are GHG, so if carbon dioxide has a forcing effect, so too has water vapour. You can't have your cake and eat it. So both radiate roughly equal amounts of energy out of the atmosphere - oxygen and nitrogen cannot do so. Energy has to be radiated out of the atmosphere in order for it to cool, which it does because energy is continually pumped…

      Read more
    12. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      DOH! I really hope it is goodbye - but I fear not.

      Plainly you have no idea what is a"Forcing" and what is "Feedback".

      A "Forcing" is an external event. A "Feedback" is a response of the climate system that can either be positive or negative.

      CO2 is a forcing because we are adding it. Water Vapour is a "Feedback" because the climate responds to warmer temrperatures by evaporating more water and a warmer atmosphetre can hold more water vapour. Putting aside debates about how much more water vapour there might be (undoubtendly more due to the warming but still a topic scientific debate) it is undeniable that water vapour Adds to warming since it is a greenhouse contributor. Much of the seicne suggests it can more than double contribution from other GHGs but the point is it ADDS to the problem.

      jeez, you don;t understand anything do you?

      report
  2. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    Thank you Michael. Very clear and perspicacious.

    I remember back in my own university research days studying ionization cross section measurements we found results at very low energies that didn't accord entirely with the theory of the times. We published and offered suggestions as to why (although we weren't sure of the reasons) and invited criticism and feedback. We weren't quite right but the resultant discussion did lead to improvements in understanding in this small field of physics and…

    Read more
    1. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Oh yes, I'm reflecting Mark!

      Seriously lads, you guys have yet to address the issues raised by the 2010 IAC IPCC audit let alone recent developments.

      report
    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      The article talks about self-criticism - and by implication self reflection. Perhaps this point was lost on you?

      report
    3. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Anthony Cox (Secretary of the Climate Sceptics) is an example of a "sceptic" who uncritically accepts those papers that suit his argument.

      For example, in Conversation discussions he has bolstered his arguments using a paper from "The Journal of Cosmology" which (despite its name) is a well known source of pseudo-science. He has also used the self-published essay of Denis Rancourt, which contains a myriad of errors, including approximating the atmosphere with a single layer.

      Finally, it should be noted that the IAC report was requested by the UN Secretary General and the IPCC (see http://reviewipcc.interacademycouncil.net/), so it is reasonable to assume that many of its recommendations are being taken on board for future IPCC reports.

      To see my earlier Conversation discussion with Anthony Cox, click on the link provided below:
      http://theconversation.edu.au/diamond-planets-climate-change-and-the-scientific-method-3329#comment_8747

      report
    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Thank you Anthony - I actually found that link useful. But I'm afraid I still see no sign of self criticism or reflection from you - so I think that shows the entire point of this article was completely lost upon you.

      Not surprised really :)

      report
  3. Stephen Prowse

    Research Advisor at Wound CRC

    The article highlights a major conundrum of science. The public and politicians expect (and need?) to see issues in black and white. Major decisions need to be made on the basis of scientific outcomes. However, scientists are testing hypotheses and know only too well that next week, next year or in the next decade a piece of work will emerge that disproves the hypothesis that they have been working on for a large part of their career. Hence the importance of self criticism.

    One implication of this…

    Read more
    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Stephen Prowse

      Stephen, I think I understand and agree with your point. Indeed I would suggest some scienctists and science bodies have "mispoken" when they use words like "the science is settled" in relation to climate change since no science is ever 100% settlted.

      But I think all they are trying to do is communicate in vernacular language what can sometimes be complex topics.

      Bertrand Russell once said "When one admits that nothing is certain one must, I think, also admit that some things are much more nearly certain than others."

      That can be hard to get across sometimes

      report
    2. Shane Perryman

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Perhaps relate it in the style of a Sherlock Holmes mystery. After eliminating the impossible (and unlikely), what remains is the more likely (and better) explanation.

      report
    3. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Shane Perryman

      Shane, good suggestion - have you been reading Maria Konnikova's series of Articles on Scientific American? She very adeptly uses examples of stories from Sherlock Holmes to illustrate the various traps in our thinking and judgement processes and how to improve them. If you haven't I do recommend them :)

      report
    4. Shane Perryman

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Txs. Maybe an even easier analogy.

      Science is a bit like finding your keys... they'll be in the last place you look, after eliminating all the other hypotheticallly possible locations.

      (a bit)

      report
    5. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Stephen Prowse

      Part of the conundrum may result from the media reporting of science. The results of individual papers are often reported as "truth" whereas scientists view the results of individual papers far more sceptically. Most scientists more likely to believe the results of papers if they are replicated by other researchers (or are at least consistent with multiple lines of evidence from other researchers). This message is rarely communicated in press releases and the broader media.

      How paradigm shifts alter…

      Read more
  4. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Anthony Cox: many thanks for link, in fact I already had the Ferguson and Veizer paper, but good to be reminded of it. I specially like this from the Abstract:

    "In response to variable water input by precipitation, estimates of T [plant traspiration] behaved similarly to net primary productivity, suggesting that in conformity with small-scale measurements, the terrestrial water and carbon cycles are inherently coupled via the biosphere. Although the estimates of T are admittedly first-order, they offer a conceptual perspective on the dynamics of energy exchange between terrestrial systems and the atmosphere, where the carbon cycle is essentially driven by solar energy via the water cycle intermediary".

    My paper currently under review deals with the Schmidt & Lacis "control knob" at length - wish me luck!

    report
  5. Marc Hendrickx

    Geologist

    If Michael Brown looks in the mirror he will see the peer reviewed papers overturning the notion of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming staring straight back at him. That he chooses to look back with eyes tightly shut paints him as a groupthinking hypocrite of the highest order.

    Here's another recent example from the peer reviewed press that shows climate is not as sensitive as alarmists like Michael suggest:

    Schmittner, A., et al., 2011. Climate sensitivity estimated from temperature reconstructions…

    Read more
    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Good news if true. I hope it is validated.

      So now you like climate models?? When they suit your predisposed views? Interesting :)

      report
    2. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Hmm, Schmittner appears to be quite prolific actually. heres another

      http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/2011JCLI3898.1

      Suggesting climate sinks are less efficient in the presence of elevated CO2 (not so good news)

      and here's another by the same author that is considerably less re-assuring

      http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2008/2007GB002953.shtml

      "Future changes in climate, ocean circulation, ecosystems, and biogeochemical cycling simulated for a business-as-usual CO2 emission scenario…

      Read more
    3. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Up to form, Mark, with no evidence to back your claims. There is zilch evidence for any decline in efficiency of carbon sinks in the presence of elevated atmospheric CO2. Try Knorr (GRL, 2009), a co-author of the IPCC's Nobel-prize winning team's favourite paper, Friedlingstein et al. 2006, which used the serial dissembler of the truth Tom Wigley, late of CRU-UEA of Climategate fame, to allege what you claim about declining sinks. Knorr had a change of mind, showing that since 1850 around 56% of…

      Read more
    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      I made no claim, perhaps you are having trouble reading Tim?

      I merely pointed out that the author Mark Hendricks referred to, in order to call Michael an "alarmist", was cherry picking science to suit his predisposed view and that the same author has published other papers that indicate what I have said (and which by the way support the science of AGW).

      I am not, of course, surprised, that you have trouble understanding that. Or that you will also refute any conclusions from those other papers…

      Read more
    5. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      Marc Hendrickx and many other sceptics highlight a small portion of the scientific literature that may be inconsistent with the prevailing consensus. I have no problems with these papers, unless they have large flaws or glaring omissions that should have been caught by peer review.

      However, as I have noted in my article, errors in the scientific literature do occur and most scientists take the results of indvidual papers with a grain of salt until the results have been verified by other research groups.

      report
    6. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Marc Hendrickx

      One thing that I do find interesting is the various "sceptic" models of climate seem to be inconsistent with each other. Can it really be underwater volcanoes, the solar cycle, anthropogenic water vapour and ENSO? Curiously the authors of these models seem largely untroubled by this.

      report
  6. Mark Harrigan

    PhD Physicist

    What is fascinating, but not surprising, is that all the "skeptics" who have posted on this thread have failed to grasp the essence of the article.

    Not one of them has self-criticised or reflected - but rather has immediately taken the opportunity to criticise what they see as the errors of others.

    That's in direct contrast to my orginal post (reflecting on some early uncertainties, self-criticism and practice of science in my own career) or to , for example, the dialogue intiated by the points…

    Read more
  7. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    "Scientists should be prepared to doubt themselves."

    Indeed, Michael. Nothing could be closer to the truth than in the field of climate change, as is very clearly explained by Dr David Evans who consulted full time for the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005. Everyone should read what he says in an article linked from page 2 at . . http://www.auscsc.org.au

    report
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug Cotton has perhaps missed one of the key points of my article. If David Evans has strong evidence against the scientific consensus on climate, he should present his ideas at scientific conferences, have his ideas scrutinised by experts and publish in a science journal.

      Instead, we have another online essay with conjecture and rhetoric. David Evans sidestepped a process that would result in the critical evaluation of his ideas. Consequently, there are a number of errors in his essays, some of which are discussed at http://www.skepticalscience.com/search.php?Search=david+evans

      report
    2. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Dr David Evans has offered to debate in any public forum, but no one dares take him on.

      Sorry, but your SkS linked article is out of date and does not cover all the four key issues in this more recent article.

      In his article he points out the problems relating to the peer-review process, so it would be close to hypocritical for him to now beg for such I suspect - just my view though.

      He has quite cogently pointed out valid errors in the models which, frankly Michael, I'm surprised you yourself can't see.

      How about yourself debating with him directly the physics involved?

      I bet you don't dare, let alone make public such a debate.

      report
    3. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug, that is a great idea; I think it would be sensational; both David and Michael are very photogenic and of course their respective scientific credentials are beyond dispute. I could see this being a prime time television event; perhaps they could have a series of debates around the nation; several of the debates could be outside under the stars, which, of course, are Michael's specialty.

      report
    4. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      The David Evans self published piece of non-scientific media trash has been rebutted comprehensively on SKS here http://www.skepticalscience.com/david-evans-understanding-goes-cold.html

      The fact that he has republished it more recently on the Australian Climate Science Coalitions web page (a real doyen of truth in science that is recyclying discredited rubbish from Fox Media similar to that Doug cotton tried to perpetrate on readers of the conversation on a different thread) doesn't make it any…

      Read more
    5. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      No. Dr Evans' latest article hasn't been rebutted on SkS in their non-peer-reviewed article written more than six months earlier than the article I referred you to and which you obviously do not wish to read.

      Go argue with him directly please. I judge on the basis of the physics, not the person, not their record, not their qualifications - just the physics and relevant information they present. If you consider him so unqualified, then that reflects on the appointment process for the position he held from 1999 to 2005.

      PS I'm still waiting for a valid explanation from you, Dr Harrigan about how oxygen and nitrogen shed their thermal energy. I realise you can't answer correctly without admitting that the energy is channelled through GHG molecules before being radiated, some to space and some to Earth.

      report
    6. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      I've read his article. There's no substantiated science in it whatsoever - just a series of claims and allegations that are repeats of his first article that has been comprehensively rebutted at SKS.

      And for Mr Cox to just continue to recycle the same old tired article on known pseudo science pseudo sceptic blogs doesn;t amount to substantiation - just further repetition of myths and unvalidated claims.

      I am reminded, by the hast with which of all of you psuedo sketpics have jumped on this bandwagon of a quote from Bertrand Russel

      "If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way."

      report
    7. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Anthony - Science is not decided by debate, it is decided by evidence. BUT

      I would galdly offer to debate Dr Evans IF both you and Doug cotton promise to cease forever and a day your endless perpetration of pseudo skepticism which seeks to make a virtue out of doubt without ever critically examining your own positions on this important matter

      report
    8. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Well, that seems a bit unfair; what if you lose the debate? Can't I crow a bit, even if it is to say "I told you so".

      report
    9. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark responding to Anthony said "Science is not decided by debate, it is decided by evidence". So that explains why IPCC AR4 WG1 and Trenberth passim suppress all inconvenient evidence like from econometrics? - and why KT has editors sacked or obliged to resign if he dislikes the evidence in papers they publish?

      report
    10. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      That seems fair IF and only IF you offer to give a permanent and very public retraction and apology for all the pseudo skepticism you have promulgated if your side loses the debate :)

      report
    11. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      What is your substantiated and validated real evidence for that claim/allegation Tim?

      Or are you just proving it "econometically" - or even being economic with the truth?

      report
    12. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Sure, I will retract "all the pseudo skepticism [ I ] have promulgated".

      Now, what are you going to do if you lose?

      report
    13. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Ever heard of Climategate and removal, by the CRU (alma mater of Trenberth) Team, of Chris de Freitas as editor of Climate Research? See Montford The Hockey Stick Illusion for quotes from the CRU emails by Jones et al setting in train the departure from CR of de Freitas and pressured resignation of its chief editor von Storch no less, even though de Freitas had 4 had non-sceptic peer reviewers of the Soon-Balunias paper that so annoyed Team Hickey Stick.

      Ever heard of Remote Sensing's editor being pressured to resign by Trenberth only a couple of months ago for publishing Spencer & Braswell 2011 despite all his due process and peer review of that paper? - or of GRL publishing Dessler rebutting S&B within a few weeks of submission without bothering with peer review except perhaps by Daddy Dessler, former editor of GRL?

      And all this when Spencer has done more remote sensing than any of The Team Trenberth, but then I doubt you have heard of the UAH satellite programs that he runs.

      report
    14. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      A debate is a cute idea, and may be entertaining, although I'm not sure it assist with resolving the issues at hand. A problem with debates is one can present dubious "facts", and while these can be challenged by an opposing debater, to the audience the validity of claim and counter-claim is hard to establish. Consequently, while there have been some famous scientific debates, they have done little to actually revolve scientific arguments.

      One advantage of these online discussions is you can provide links to original source material. It thus becomes clear to readers if reputable sources are being used and readers can verify if the source material is being interpreted correctly.

      report
    15. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Well, have a debate Michael and then you can link to it in your next ABC article as an original source.

      report
    16. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      You can always start by writing to him personally. But I don't respond to blackmail, Dr Harrigan. It just shows how desparate you are to silence the opposite viewpoint because you really don't have any evidence of why carbon dioxide causes net warming, or an alternate valid explanation of how O2 and N2 cool. Why don'y you just ignore my posts?

      "They rise, they collide, they cool, they fall." (LOL)

      report
    17. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      My offer was to let you crow, as opposed to eat crow. Still stands :) Though Michael's point is a valid one and I doubt we could agree on a judging panel.

      report
    18. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Thats just more unsubstantiated smearing - no evidence at all. The Climategate issue has been trumped up by the media and people like you time and again - it's on a par with the 9/11 truther conspricacy theories. Give it a rest.

      report
    19. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Lets look at David Evans' comments on peer review. In his essay the only lines that refer to peer review are;

      "The alarmist government climate scientists say they only respond to what is in the peer-reviewed journals. But that cover was memorably blown in the ClimateGate scandal of 2009, which revealed in their own words that they rig the journals to prevent publication of anything critical. That’s why they go on and on about peer-review – it’s their mechanism for keeping out criticism."

      David…

      Read more
    20. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      I've posted reference to paper after paper whowing where you are wrong and why GHGs cause net warming. I can't help it if you don't understand them. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

      Do you ever reflect on why you are banned from so many sites, have your posts deleted and get so many "unconstructive" scores? probably not I suppose.

      As to "not responding to blackmail" - interesting you saw it that way - you don't respond to evidence or logic that's for sure.

      Go away and play with your silly polynomial fits so you can keep convincing yourself the world isn't warming. The data says otehrwsie but I appreciate you will never accept that simple reality

      report
    21. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      David Evans' essay may be relatively new, but the tactics and arguments are recycled, which makes them relatively easy to rebut (indeed, most have been discussed at www.skepticalscience.com/search.php?Search=david+evans already)

      For example, on the topic of ocean temperatures David Evans plots only the past decade of data, just a single straight line for the climate models, and no margins of error. All three of these issues should ring alarm bells.

      Going to http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/ we see that there has been a significant increase in ocean heat content over the past 5 decades, but superimposed on the long-term trend are bumps and dips.

      report
    22. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      1. Firstly I don't accept articles on SkS as being valid peer-reviewed science, nor do I accept any such science where there is clear cut evidence of tampering with the peer-review system and even manipulating and/or replacing the editors of publications.

      2. The Ocean thermal energy content could not be accurately measured until 2003 as Evans explains when giving his reason for disregarding spurious data prior to that year. Knox and Douglass supported what he found.

      3. Evans does in fact add…

      Read more
    23. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Mark: I supplied rather substantive evidence from the actual emails between members of the CRU hockey stick team. Your comment is pathetic, and devoid of evidence, as usual.

      report
    24. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael, here is a link to the emails in full, many of which indicate how widespread amongst prominent AGW scientists there was a lack of transparency and intent to prevent dissent:

      http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/images/stories/papers/reprint/climategate_analysis.pdf

      This lack of transparency was partially resolved with a FOI appeal by professor Jones against UEA which is discussed here:

      http://climateaudit.org/2011/06/27/ico-orders-uea-to-produce-crutem-station-data/

      In respect of your debate with Dr Evans I would consider Q&A a suitable venue as long as the format and procedure can be mutually worked out.

      report
    25. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      climateaudit is a sceptic blog and scienceandpublicpolicy.org is a sceptic think tank based in Virginia, just across the river from Washington DC. While their report has links to emails, the report itself relies on fragments which are often taken out of context. Rather rely on a clearly partisan report, why not provide complete emails that demonstrate supposed complete corruption of the peer review process suggested by David Evans?

      report
    26. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      It's not a matter of not understanding those papers, Dr Harrigan. It's a matter of understanding them sufficiently well to be able to see their shortcomings - where they went wrong - what they overlooked and how they manipulated data and glorified models which, in reality, are riddled with patches, errors and uncertainty. And, above all, how they glossed over basic logic, assuming what they were supposedly proving, namely whether CO2 causes warming - and overlooking any compensating cooling mechanism…

      Read more
    27. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way"

      Beautiful, Dr Harrigan.

      Instinct says people want a clean, green, pollution free atmosphere without the smell of exhaust fumes etc, etc. Along comes the myth of AGW and the public jumps on it because it seems to achieve these things and lets them play a part in the whole process. And so it is "accepted on the slightest evidence."

      Indeed a beautiful description of the psychology driving AGW acceptance.

      PS Did you read my posts on the Nissan LEAF all electric car - one of which I may well buy?

      report
    28. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      As is so typical of the climate pseudo skeptics they are so ready to embrace uncritically (without substantiation) anything that might seem to support their case (usually without understanding it) and so ready to dismiss out of hand the vast body of scientific evidence and peer reviewed publication that establishes that AGW is real and a problem.

      So called "Climategate" is a classic example, which they continue to trot out despite the fact there have been numerous inquiries into the matter that…

      Read more
    29. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Great, I look forward to your published rebuttal pointing out the errors of all these trained climate scientists.

      In the meantime I will simply say that you once again don;t know what you are talking about

      report
    30. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Well put them in context Michael; what possible reason could the various authors have for wanting to prevent tranparency and the public know about their 'research'? Are you saying the emails are not correct? The full list has been unavailable for some time, as I'm sure you know; the only other list available is this one which gives a chronology of the Climategate scandal:

      http://jonova.s3.amazonaws.com/climategate/history/climategate_timeline_banner.pdf

      report
    31. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      If you do not accpet that the articles on SKS as being based on peer reviewed science then once again you show that you are evidence immune.

      If anyone wants to check - go and look. They ALWAYS link to peer reviewed scienctif literature in all their articles and require those posting to do the same when they make claims.

      That's why Doug Cotton was banned from the site because he cannot/will not do the same.

      Doug, I've answered you countless times as to why GHG's don't cool the planet - there appears little point in doing so again. The evidence simply doesn't support that contention. Let me ask you. IF the mechanism you propose was valid what data would you use to establish it? Because the satellite data shows unequivocally that there is absorption of thermal IR by GHGs that does NOT escape the planet no matter what time scale you mesaure it over.

      report
    32. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Another link to material from a sceptic blog using fragments of the hacked emails to make its partisan point. If the evidence is so solid, why avoid showing individual emails in full? Is it because the complete emails make everything far less sinister than sceptics wish for?

      report
    33. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      No, as I said, the emails are no longer available on the net; do you have a copy?

      In any event to more pressing matters than evidence of scientific skullduggery by climate scientists.

      Do you agree that Q&A would make an acceptable venue for your debate with Dr Evans, assuming that a mutually acceptable format can be arranged?

      report
    34. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "The divergence problem is unprecedented, unique to the last few decades, indicating its cause may be anthropogenic"

      "Unprecedented"? You also mention BEST.

      BEST does not validate recent warming nor any GLOBAL temperature record; here is Muller on the emails and "hide the decline" and by proxy Mann's fictional hockeystick:

      http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/just_why_climategate_was_such_a_scandal/

      I realy can't make up my mind whether you are simply gullible; it's the most charitable option I guess.

      report
    35. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      I supply science papers that clearly discuss the divergence problem and you quote that Doyen of truth and balanced reputation ANDREW BOLT???

      Who is the gullible one I wonder?? What a joke. If you believe him you will believe any right wing misrepresentative nonsense - zero credibility Mr Cox

      report
    36. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Oh yes, Mr Cox also neglects to mention that this video was relased BEFORE Richard Muller published the BEST temperature study in which he conludes categotically
      that "showed a temperature increase similar to that found by other groups" and said this means these other groups "had truly been very careful in their work, despite their inability to convince some skeptics of that. They managed to avoid bias in their data selection, homogenization and other corrections."

      Muller concluded:

      Global warming is real. Perhaps our results will help cool this portion of the climate debate."

      Way to go for Anthony Cox, pesudo skeptic.

      report
    37. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Are we to believe that the complete emails are damning, but the "sceptics" didn't keep copies of complete individual emails? Instead, the "sceptics" want us to trust partisan think tank reports using fragments of the emails.

      report
    38. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug Cotton really doesn't get it. The evidence for AGW is vast, yet a lot of people wont accept it. The essense of the Bertrand Russell quote I provided is one reason why.

      Instict says most people do NOT want to change their life style - which is what a response to AGW will require.

      But in Mr Cotton's case it's a classic case of what Prof Russell was taking about. he seeks to deny all the evidence that establishes AGW, looking for any tiny little issues he can magnify out of all proportion…

      Read more
    39. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Still waiting for an answer to this question Mr Cotton. You seem to demand answers of everyone except yourself?

      report
    40. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      I would base my response on the evidence Mr Cox. As a lawyer you should do so too - but it would be no surprise to anyone that you would rather rely on rumour and innuendo from WUWT - run by Anthony Watts - who is on record as someone who regularly adjusts his stated claims to suit his political agenda to deny climate chamge. Remember his "unequivocal" commitment to accept the outcomes of Richard Mullers BEST study? But when he hdidn't like it - he decided to attack it on the basis of it hadn't (initially) been peer reviewed - This from a man who claims peer review is corrupt.

      You may like to take your opinions from a man who is a proven hypocrite.

      I do not.

      Here's a somewhat different analysis of the latest batch.

      http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/11/22/374559/fool-me-once-shame-on-you-fool-me-twice-shame-on-the-media-more-stolen-emails-global-warming/

      report
    41. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      here is some more balanced coverage of "Climategate" mark 2 -http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15846886

      Collective yawn really. Shows scientists telling each other in vigorous language that they should be grounded in the data while they are discussing draft reports. OH my - what a scandal???

      From the fist email list there were three official inquiries in the UK and two in the US into the working practices of climate scientists. Although these were critical of the scientists’ handling of Freedom of Information Act requests and lack of openness they did not find fault with the climate change science they had produced. Pretty much backs up what I have said elsewhere about this matter.

      Give it a rest Anthony - you need to consider your professional ethics and stop spreading rumours.

      report
    42. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "Collective yawn really"

      Closed mind, what Dr Mark!

      IF the second batch of emails are correct/genuine [and Mann has confirmed those relating to him] then they damn the sceitific process propping up AGW.

      Some samples:

      "<1939> Thorne/MetO:

      Observations do not show rising temperatures throughout the tropical
      troposphere unless you accept one single study and approach and discount a
      wealth of others. This is just downright dangerous. We need to communicate the
      uncertainty and be honest. Phil…

      Read more
    43. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      It's all out in the open now in the Climategate 2 emails. Back in 2009 at least some at the IPCC staff realised there were serious problems with the temperature measurements of the Lower Troposphere. (See Andrew's post quoting the actual emails which admitted several papers showed problems with LT temperatures.)

      That was even before this paper was published http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/2/9/2148/pdf confirming it in no uncertain terms.

      If ever there was proof the models are wrong it is in this paper. And, after all, Jones said it: "Basic problem is all models are wrong"

      I rest my case.

      report
    44. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      For Mr Cox to feign concern about "the blackening of science" is rampant hypocrisy.

      This from a lawyer who routinely claims to know more about climate science than the entire field??

      Selective quotes out of context doesn't prove anything Mr Cox. But then you know that.

      You have several times on this post and others deliberately highlighted matters out of context that you want to overplay and ignored things that don't suit you. You've referenced discredited sites like WUWT, quoted Andrew Bolt…

      Read more
    45. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug Cotton, as usual is so willing to rush to judgement based on little evidence and quotes taken out of context yet hasn't the intellectual honesty to admit his complete erros and misrepresentation claiming warming is due to energy from the earth's core, perhaps enhanced by Jpuiter and relased by nuclear weapons.

      This is despite the fact that the basic physics and calculations on this post http://theconversation.edu.au/improving-climate-change-reportage-a-must-for-the-media-enquiry-4220 unequivocally shows such a suggestion is impossible (and which he hasn't been able to refute instead just, as usual, offering lame excuses and shifting ground)

      We can hope he will rest his case - but on past form that's unlikely - more probably he will continue to dpread bogus science on threads like these

      report
    46. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Oh, that's just comical Dr Mark; big oil done it according to Dr Michael! Actually the leaker gave out a bit of context:

      "
      /// FOIA 2011 — Background and Context ///

      “Over 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day.”

      “Every day nearly 16.000 children die from hunger and related causes.”

      “One dollar can save a life” — the opposite must also be true.

      “Poverty is a death sentence.”

      “Nations must invest $37 trillion in energy technologies by 2030 to stabilize
      greenhouse gas emissions at…

      Read more
    47. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      As I have already stated - I don;t rush to judgement based on skimpy quotes deliberately taken out of context.

      My Cox just continue to demonstrate that he does exactly that

      report
    48. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "I don;t rush to judgement based on skimpy quotes deliberately taken out of context."

      Yep, no judgement there!

      report
    49. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Except that Jones at the IPCC said all the models were wrong. (Climategate 2.0)

      And solid research in several papers confirmed the lower troposphere has not been warming at the rate the models said it should.

      Which is why all the models are wrong.

      The greenhouse effect can't work unless the lower troposphere warms faster than the surface. Peer-reviewed science shows it doesn't.

      report
    50. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      The motives for the leaker are really irrelevant. Interesting you take those on face value but don't question anything else.

      I repeat - I won;t rush to judgement unlike Mr Cox. Let's see what time actually reveals about these emails. But it is worth noting the timing of both releases was designed to be just before key international conferecnes on climate action.

      In any event what matters is what the weight of scientific evidence says (as opposed to cherry picked snippets)- something that, as usual, escapes the intellect of Mr Cox

      report
    51. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "The motives for the leaker are really irrelevant"

      Are you completely off the planet? You quoted from Mann who said the fossil fuel industry and its agents were behind the email leaks, yet here we have a statement from the leaker contradicting that accusation by Mann.

      report
    52. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      I, Mr Cox, am from the planet where it is incontrovertible that the inhabitants are putting more CO2 into the atmosphere than the planet can absorb and where the vast weight of the evidaence and the science, as practiced by qualified atmospheric physicists and climate scientists etc and subjected to constant feedback and peer review, says that this is almost certainly causing massive increases in heat of the planet which will result in temperature rises and shifts in the climate that will damage…

      Read more
    53. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Establishing the reality of AGW doesn't not depend entirely on the various models.

      To say they are "wrong" is misleading. They are certainly imperfect.

      Despite Doug Cotton leaping headlong on to claims about the so called HotSpot - in fact the science of AGW does NOT depend on it's existence as is well explained here

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/tropospheric-hot-spot.htm

      The hot spot is not a unique greenhouse signature and finding the hot spot doesn't prove that humans are causing global…

      Read more
    54. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      "incontrovertible", "causing massive increases in heat of the planet", "damage our collective way of life beyind repair".

      You have to lighten up Mark, although I did find this humourous:

      "vast weight of the evidaence and the science, as practiced by qualified atmospheric physicists and climate scientists etc and subjected to constant feedback and peer review,"

      The only peer review demonstrated by the emails is pressure to conform to "the cause" as Mann apparently kept saying.

      report
    55. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Do you deny that there is more CO2 in the atmosphere and that we put it there???

      Do you not understand that the total energy content of the planet has increased - if not how do you presume to know more than NOOA here http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/OC5/3M_HEAT_CONTENT/ and that's just the oceans.

      Do you not understand what will happen if temperatures really do go up by as much as 3 or 4 degrees?

      If this is not denailism pratcied in public I don;t know what is.

      I repeat - the science is decided by evidence - not hacked emails - which part don;t you get??

      What planet are YOU on??

      report
    56. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Here's an interesting alleged email:

      3052- it's from Salinger (24/04/2003) apparently recommending action against the VC of University of Auckland re having De Freitas on staff, for writing a paper, also discusses von Storch v Jones.


      "Dear All

      For information, De Freitas has finally put all his arguments
      together in a paper published in the Canadian Bulletin of Petroleum
      Geology, 2002 (on holiday at the moment, and the reference is at
      work!)

      I have had thoughts also on a further course of…

      Read more
    57. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      As usual Mr Cox is quick to judge, slow to consider the evidence.

      here is a more balanced presentation and analysis of "so-called" climategate 2

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/nov/24/leaked-climate-science-emails

      It is interesting how, when context is provided (as I recommended we wait to see before rushing to judgement) the interpretation can be so different.

      As I posted elsewhere: A true skeptic would ask - what do these emails mean? in what contect were they made? what is the motivation…

      Read more
    58. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      It is a complete scandal; in the email you link to a statement by Thorne about how, given the so-called observational uncertainty, the evidence for there being a THS [tropical hot spot] is just as strong as the evidence for there not being a THS; ie the observational evidence proves the absence of a THS but there are some minimal uncertainties, which are well known, such as radiosonde measurement contamination in the 70′s and some satellite drift, with those observations therefore the THS must exist…

      Read more
  8. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Michael: this has to be the most pathetic comment ever posted at any Blog:

    "It should be noted that the above search will find instances of "regression" in all parts of IPCC AR4, not just in the section from WG2."

    Sure, Hegerl & Zwiers use the term (in AR4 WG1, Chap.9, p. 668) - but in their Chapter 9 where they admit (p.668) it should be used, it is TOTALLY absent, even from their referenced Section 9.2.2, and even more so from their Appendix 9.A.

    How did you ever get a job at Monash given your…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      I'm surprised Tim Curtin did not respond to this comment, given it is central to his ideas on the role of anthropogenic water vapour;

      Tim Curtin's comments on water vapour are a series of conjectures backed up with little evidence (often anecdotal). A few numbers are thrown in, but they are not marshalled into anything coherent. Tim Curtin's response would be far more credible if he demonstrated his clear knowledge of the water cycle. For example, what does happen to anthropogenic water vapour emissions when they leave the atmosphere after a week or so? If they end up in the ocean, lakes or groundwater, how long do they remain there?

      report
    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim Curtin sometimes throws insults around when things are difficult.

      Section 9.2.2 discusses the "Spatial and temporal patterns of response to different forcing and their uncertainties". In other words, it discusses the expected signatures of various forcing (such as CO2).

      Surely the more relevant Section is 9.A, "Methods used to detect externally forced signals" and the various sections that refer to 9.A. Section 9.A explicitly discusses the regression techniques used, including multi-variate…

      Read more
    3. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael: you don’t get it do you? Anyway it is painfully apparent you know nothing about regression analysis, as pace your links to the passages from AR4 WG1 Chap. 9 (9.4.1.4) and the Appendix to that chapter, neither performs nor reports any regressions, and contrary to Michael’s claim, there are also no mentions of atmospheric water vapour.

      For example, Para.3 of the Appendix states “The regression model has the form y = Xa +u, where vector y is a filtered version of the observed record, matrix…

      Read more
    4. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael’s helpful links to parts of the main body of Chap.9 confirms that the whole basis of that Chapter is models with no analysis of real world data. For example: the caption to Fig. 9.9 states “…The results of full space-time optimal detection analyses (Nozawa et al., 2005; Stott et al., 2006c) using a total least squares algorithm (Allen and Stott, 2003) from ensembles of simulations containing each set of forcings separately are shown for four models, MIROC3.2(medres), PCM, UKMO-HadCM3 and…

      Read more
    5. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim Curtin is fixated on water vapour being absent from the models. However, water vapour is in the models (labelled as a feedback, not forcing) and the models would not work at all without water vapour, as it is a significant greenhouse gas. These facts have been pointed out many times

      Comparisons are done with simulations because the Earth is complex. Our atmosphere has structure, with its content, temperature and density varying as a function of latitude, longitude and altitude. When forcings…

      Read more
    6. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael never will get it! Water vapour is NOT mentioned by AR4 WG1 Chap.9, where it should be. Moreover it is pathetic to imagine that 100% of atmospheric water vapour is a result of, or feedback from, warming wholly attributable to non-condensing GHGs. If evaporation from 342 W/sq.metre of solar radiation is to be ignored as a source of warming pace Arrhenius, on the grounds that the resulting [H2O] is not “long-lived” because it returns to the surface as precipitation within 9 days or so (Trenberth 2011), by the same argument the claimed feedback from 3 W/sq.metre of forcing by GHG is also necessarily not long-lived and therefore can play no role in raising temperature.

      report
    7. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      But surely Michael, at the very least, the reference to WV only lasting 9 days is obviously a red herring. There will always be a new supply. All that is relevant is the mean quantity of the stuff.

      I'm still not hearing an explanation from you regarding the uncertainties in the models.

      I have a similar problem with the fact that satellites have measured the outgoing radiation from the earth and found that the earth gives off more heat when the surface is warmer, and less heat in months when the earth’s surface is cooler. But the climate models say the opposite, that the Earth gives off less heat when the surface is warmer.

      Maybe you can clarify both the above.

      report
    8. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Michael Brown has yet to explain how atmospheric water vapour [H2O] when a “feedback” does not ever precipitate, unlike [H2O] arising from solar radiation, which according to Trenberth has no impact on temperature because it precipitates. His lack of understanding of the hydrological CYCLE shows up when like Trenberth he asks “What happens to anthropogenic [sic] water vapour emissions once they leave the atmosphere, roughly a week after they are emitted? Is their impact diluted when they end up in…

      Read more
    9. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      Micahel Brown: evidently your only scientific capability is to use search engines for words like "regression" and " water vapour" in the AR4.

      The truth is that there are NO regressions performed or reported anywhere in AR4, and also no coherent analysis of water vapour that explains why when it is caused by solar radiation it rains out and is therefore on average zero, while when it results from the annual average global temperature rise since 1950 of 0.0125oC p.a. it forever remains aloft and causes…

      Read more
    10. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      The Clausius-Clapeyron relation shows how the water-holding capacity of the atmosphere increases by about 8% per Celsius increase in temperature.

      However, this does not mean that SH increases when temperature increases, only that there is a capacity for the atmosphere to hold more water vapor; the IPCC makes a number of crucial assumptions which are problematic at best about this; firstly it assumes a constant relative humidity; this is simply not happening:

      http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/FOS%20Essay/GlobalRelativeHumidity300_700mb.jpg

      Secondly, the IPCC assumes that SH is increasing because sea surface temperature is increasing:

      http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch3s3-4-2-1.html

      But SST has NOT increased since the ARGO flotation devices were introduced in 2007:

      http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/hadsst2gl/from:2003/trend

      report
    11. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      That should be 2003 when ARGO was activated.

      report
    12. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Excellent, well explained and cogent posts on WV Timothy.

      Michael is lowering his standards to those of Dr Harrigan I'm afraid to say. He completely avoids responding with sound original arguments based on the physics which I'm sure he knows. Instead they both feel they can refute contrary arguments simply by smearing their "opponent" and pulling out references to the very papers (reviewed and selected for publication in questionable circumstances) which their opponent is demonstrating are flawed.

      History shows this to be a common tactic for those who are floundering to find a logically presented, scientific rebuttal.

      report
    13. Matthew Albrecht

      Postdoctoral Researcher at Curtin University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      "The truth is that there are NO regressions performed or reported anywhere in AR4"

      I prefer watching these dramas, but sometimes it gets sillier than usual. The statement in quotes is a case in point. Of course there are regressions in AR4:
      http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter9-supp-material.pdf

      They're in a nice big table. And this was just the first place I looked.

      report
    14. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug Cotton claims to have "sound original arguments" Well, he is half right. They are certainly "original". Let's list them.

      Global warming is caused by the influence of Jupiter?
      Global is warming is caused by the core temperature of the earth?
      Global warming is caused by the results of underground nuclear testing.
      The earth isn't warming, it's cooling (not sure how they reconcile with one another but we'll let that go). to name just afew... and the latest

      GHGs don't warm the planet they cool…

      Read more
    15. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      1st Mr Cox shows he has no understanding of the truth regarding so called "climategate" (see above) - now he demonstrates his continued poor understanding of climate science in relation water vapour and references some cherry picked misrepresentative graphs from denialist blog sites to claim that levels of atmospheric water vapour are not increasing due to increased temperatures.
      This is along with Tim Curtin's total misunderstanding trying to argue that Water Vapour is a driver of climate change…

      Read more
    16. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Cue nothing of the sort Dr Mark, just the usual rational response.

      Santer's 2007 paper which you link to and various papers by Dessler promote increases in atmospheric water vapor; these are based on satellite data and modelling; the findings are contradicted by radiosonde data as presented by Paltridge and a mixture of satellite and radiosonde as presented by Soloman, Pierce and others who look at modelling eorrors:

      http://meteora.ucsd.edu/~pierce/papers/Pierce_et_al_AIRS_vs_models_2006GL027060.pdf

      Read more
    17. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Based on Anthony Cox's complete demolishing of your ill-informed post, and even my own demonstration of your failure to comprehend several of the 10 key points I have itemised, I suggest it might be time for some "self criticism" Dr Harrigan.

      You obviously refuse to make any effort to understand what I am explaining and, instead, waffle on with totally irrelevant points that, in themselves, demonstrate that you perhaps read a few words and then assume what I am going to say.

      So kindly refrain from interrupting conversations I may be having with others in future, or at least refrain from replying to any of my posts which you have not read carefully with an open mind.

      report
    18. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      Try substituting "Climate change" for "Global warming" Dr Harrigan and you might be able to "reconcile" a bit better. My impression is that nuclear testing has pretty much ceased, hasn't it?

      As for how the known warming effect of GHG molecules may be reduced by a compensating cooling effect as they channel out the thermal energy from oxygen and nitrogen - well it seems the processes of convection, diffusion and radiation are "no known physical mechanism" for Dr Harrigan.

      report
    19. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Anthony Cox

      Another excellent post, Anthony.

      I just noted the very latest NASA data for 14,000 feet ...

      November 18th ...

      2004 -20.79
      2005 -20.74
      2006 -20.86
      2007 -20.96
      2008 -21.09
      2009 -20.72
      2010 -20.83
      2011 -21.03

      making 2011 the second coldest November 18th of all years since 2004, the coldest 2008 being only 0.06 degree less.

      Now I don't claim one day proves anything, but have a look at the data yourselves and select any number of days, take any moving means or trend analysis. http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/

      I don't see how you could prove any warming whatsoever at that altitude for the years shown.

      report
  9. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    All should note the conclusion that the “scaling ratio” (SR, or ratio of atmospheric trend to surface trend: TLT/Tsfc) of the observations is ~0.8 ± 0.3. This is significantly different from the average SR calculated from the IPCC AR4 model simulations which is ~1.4" in a paper linked by Anthony Cox above. Make that my Point No. 11.

    report
  10. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Matthew Albrecht; Which table? I see none with any multivariate regression results.

    Appendix 9.B compares observed temperature only with modelled simulations of temperature, with the models being tweaked and run multiple times until by chance one seems to match the observed temperature. This process is aided by arbitrary fixing of parameter values (not by use of observations thereof), e.g. aerosols, until the desired outcome eventuates. Another arbitrarily fixed parameter is the climate sensitivity…

    Read more
  11. Matthew Albrecht

    Postdoctoral Researcher at Curtin University

    I received this e-mail from Timothy this morning:

    Hi
    I find it very disturbing that you are so plainly unaware of what multivariate regression entails. I have read the stuff in your linked SM, and of course there is no regression at all there, other than mention of a few LSR trend lines which are a different animal and which lack the R^2s and actual confidence levels.

    What is disturbing is that in real pharmacology trials are conducted using controls with placebos to compare with tests of the drug in question in a sample. One does not, at least I hope UWA does not, use computer models of the effect of the drug rather than real world tests.
    Regards
    Tim Curtin
    PS examples of my papers using regressions are at my website:

    report
    1. Matthew Albrecht

      Postdoctoral Researcher at Curtin University

      In reply to Matthew Albrecht

      Classic goal post shift.
      Instead of admitting that there are indeed regressions in the AR4, the e-mail shifts and says that there are no "multivariate" regressions. This could have been averted if it said instead; "what I meant was multivariate regressions". Defensive much?

      In addition, it's implying that LSR or least squares regression is not in fact regression???? That one stumped me. What is least squares regression if it is not least squares regression.

      Then the e-mail says that there are no confidence levels for the (presumably imaginary) regressions. Must be eyesight problems, they're right next to the coefficients in the table.

      Then it goes off topic onto pharmacology, why, I don't really know.

      Drama out

      report
    2. Anthony Cox

      logged in via email @optusnet.com.au

      In reply to Matthew Albrecht

      I don't think you read Tim's email correctly Matthew.

      Are you related to Glenn Albrecht?

      report
  12. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Albrecht, are you aware that Chapter 9's title is "Understanding and Attributing Climate Change". That means in the context of AR4 determining which are the main contributors to climate change. Showing the trend for a single variable is not sufficient. There is No, repeat NO, regression analysis other than for fitting trend lines (badly), io any part of Ch.9 including the SM. And it excludes water vapour.

    report
    1. Matthew Albrecht

      Postdoctoral Researcher at Curtin University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      That wasn't so hard was it?
      Now, I'll continue to get my climate information from climate scientists; Imagine if I got my pharmacology information from economists.

      report
    2. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim Curtin needs to back up his conjectures with evidence, including references.

      Otherwise we should assume Tim Curtin's conjectures have as much credibility as "The truth is that there are NO regressions performed or reported anywhere in AR4", when it is trivial to find evidence to the contrary.

      Tim Curtin states "explain atmospheric water vapour [H2O] when a “feedback” does not ever precipitate". Where does it state that a "feedback" cannot be involved in evaporation and precipitation?

      For Tim Crutin's arguments about anthropogenic water vapour to have any weight, he should demonstrate that he understands how water is exchanged between the atmosphere, oceans, rivers and elsewhere.

      report
  13. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Not only did the nine (9) authors of www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/2/9/2148/pdf show the IPCC models to be in error, but they also stated there was ..

    (a) no rise in sea surface temperature from 1950 to 1979
    (b) a mean rise of 0.12 deg.C per decade from 1979 to 2010

    This equates to a mean for the 61 year period 1950 to 2010 of just over 0.06 deg.C per decade.

    With less than 9 full decades to go till 2100, we can expect about 0.54 deg.C extra by then - which will be similar to 1998..

    Did the IPCC slip up with a decimal point?

    report
    1. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Correction: for 2010 read 2009. Seeing it has got cooler since then, the calculations are not enderestimated.

      report
    2. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      typo: underestimated

      The very fact that there was a level trend from 1950 to 1979 points to the importance of considering trends over periods of at least 60 years, preferably multiples of 60 years because of the clear cut evidence of alternating cooling and warming periods of about 30 years' duration. Nevertheless, these nine authors are comparing likes with likes for the period 1979 to 2009, so this is valid. It just means we should remember that the magnitude of the gradients is exaggerated when considering a 30 year warming period.

      report
    3. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Perhaps if you bothered to understand the science instead of cherry picking periods you might understand better.

      Slthough you deny it - I and others have seen you refer to the last 10 years os so and claim it is cooling. Now you say it should be 60 years.

      The SCIENCE of AGW says that trneds over about 30 years are the meaningful ones. This is because we need to minimise the impact of short term natural variability (such as the solar cycle or the La Nina/El Nino) etc inorder to see whether or…

      Read more
  14. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Michael: It is obvious reading all my posts that I am referring to multi-variate regressions. Using LSR to get trends is trivial, especially when restricted only to linear rather than quadratic, other polynomials or logarithmic, as always by AR4. How does a linear trend for temperature tell us anything about attribution of the causes thereof, as is the purported objective of AR4, WG1, Ch.9?

    Michael, if evaporation caused by natural (i.e. solar) factors at 342 W/sq.metre can be disregarded as proposed…

    Read more
    1. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Was Tim Curtin trying to be threating or amusing?

      Tim Curtin is trying to rewrite climate science, so he should already know the answers to his own questions.

      The uptake / exhange of CO2 molecules in and out of the ocean is described in the literature. The process of CO2 disolving into and out of the ocean is obviously going to differ greatly from the precipitation of water.

      There are many parts of WG1 where the simulation of water vapour is discussed. For example http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch8s8-6-3-1.html

      report
    2. Timothy Curtin

      Economic adviser

      In reply to Michael J. I. Brown

      OK, I will try again, although it seems there is a Force out there trying to stop me!

      As I have attempted to post here previously ( and will email you seperately as the Powers that be are determined to prevent my response)

      I have found confirmation from an unlikely source for my contention that AR4 ignores atmospheric vapour other than as a so-called feedback, namely Santer et al PNAS 2007.

      “Despite a growing body of empirical evidence documenting increases in moisture-related variables (11, 12…

      Read more
    3. Michael J. I. Brown

      ARC Future Fellow and Senior Lecturer at Monash University

      In reply to Timothy Curtin

      Tim Curtin would not need to label his opponents "jerks" if he had rock solid arguments.

      Many of Tim Curtin's conjectures have been proved false. Regression is used in many places in IPCC AR4, including multi-variate regression. Water vapour is discussed in IPCC AR4. Simulations incorporate water vapour, and these are discussed in IPCC AR4.

      Tim Curtin also needs to display his thorough understanding of the water cycle, which should be background material for someone who wishes to claim water vapour is the main cause of recent global warming.

      IPCC AR4 does not incorporate every single test one can imagine. For example there may not have been a fingerprint study of water vapour feedback in the 2007 IPCC AR4. That said, Santer et al. (2007) is such a study and the text Tim Curtin quotes is from the introduction and refers to the prior literature. There has also been subsequent studies on this topic by Santer and colleagues.

      report
  15. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Dr harrigan thinks I said GHG cool the atmosphere. I have not said GHG cool the atmosphere. I have said they have both a warming effect and a compensating cooling effect. The net difference (be it warming or cooling) is likely to be far, far smaller than the warming effect on its own. The two effects are likely to be similar in magnitude because all radiation out of the atmosphere is done by GHG molecules and about half is space-bound and half is Earth-bound.

    What data would I use to support…

    Read more
    1. Mark Harrigan

      PhD Physicist

      In reply to Doug Cotton

      Doug Cotton continues to argue that something which stops heat escaping can contribute to cooling.

      There is NO logic, or science, in the idea that something that "stops" something from leaving can make it leave faster.

      He also continuse to use short time scales to suit his bias (when it is acknowledged in the science that anything less than 30 years is meaningless) and longer time scales when he wants to dismiss things (when it is known that things like solar irradiance, for example, was flat in…

      Read more
    2. Doug Cotton

      IT Manager

      In reply to Mark Harrigan

      There is logic, Dr Harrigan. You just don't try to understand it.

      On another thread you will find a very detailed explanation as to how and why carbon dioxide can have a compensating cooling effect which greatly diminishes, if not eliminates, any warming effect. This does not imply that it cools - ie that the net effect is necessarily cooling.

      However, it is yet another reason why the magnitude of the assumed warming effect is greatly overstated. It was also explained by Lindzen that weather…

      Read more
  16. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    I have found confirmation from an unlikely source for my contention that AR4 ignores atmospheric vapour other than as a so-called feedback, namely Santer et al PNAS 2007.

    “Despite a growing body of empirical evidence documenting increases in moisture-related variables (11, 12), and climate model evidence of a number of robust hydrological responses to global warming (13, 14), there have been NO formal fingerprint studies involving changes in the total amount of atmospheric water vapor, W. Other…

    Read more
  17. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    It's all out in the open now everyone in the Climategate 2 emails. Back in 2009 at least some at the IPCC staff realised there were serious problems with the temperature measurements of the Lower Troposphere. This is fundamental to the AGW case. If the LT does not warm about 1.4 times the rate of the surface, then the models are wrong. When it is actually warming at only about 0.8 times the rate, then carbon dioxide is having no effect whatsoever.

    Thorne/MetO: "Observations do not show rising…

    Read more
  18. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    Mark Harrigan: "As I have already stated - I don't rush to judgement based on skimpy quotes deliberately taken out of context. Mr Cox just continue to demonstrate that he does exactly that".

    The emails are not taken out of context, they are the context, displaying the abusive characters of most probably all the self-tagged climate "scientists" including those posting here.

    The emails provide conclusive evidence that the authors concerned are engaged in a ruthless conspiracy against the public interest, as aptly summed up by Mike Hulme, "ask not what we can do for the climate, but what the climate can do for us".

    report
  19. Timothy Curtin

    Economic adviser

    As this post got lost in the non-chronological order used here if one hits "Reply" here it is again (slightly edited):
    I have found confirmation from an unlikely source for my contention that AR4 ignores atmospheric vapour other than as a so-called feedback, namely Santer et al PNAS 2007.

    “Despite a growing body of empirical evidence documenting increases in moisture-related variables (11, 12), and climate model evidence of a number of robust hydrological responses to global warming (13, 14), there…

    Read more
  20. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    It's a pain that posts don't get numbered here and so, when you read an email it takes a lot of searching to find the post. So I'm just replying to a couple of Dr Harrigan's posts tonight that are somewhere above.

    First he says the atmosphere is 99.9% oxygen and nitrogen, such is his knowledge of climatology. What happened to the 0.93% argon and about 1% water vapour?

    Then, he claims oxygen and nitrogen molecules somehow destroy energy by colliding with each other so they cool. Garbage of course…

    Read more
  21. Doug Cotton

    IT Manager

    Dr Harrigan and others really have been sucked in by the IPCC suggestion that 30 year trends are all we need look at.

    Just suppose for one moment there really is a 60 year cycle and that the cooling periods (roughly) 1880-1910 then 1940-1970 had been used for 30 year trends. All would have looked great for the future in 1910 and 1970.

    Now suppose we are having another from 1999 to 2029 (the cycles are actually 59.6 years) then all you have to do is wait till 2029 and you'll predict the world will…

    Read more