<$BlogRSDUrl$>

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

For want of a proofreader a glacier was lost 


As any regular reader of this blog knows, I am perhaps the worst proofreader ever to practice securities law. It is therefore with a mixture of humility and schadenfreude that I pass along this link, which observes that the widespread story that the Himalayan glaciers would be gone in 2035 because of anthropogenic global warming derives from a typographical error in a recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Apparently the actual date in the underlying academic paper was 2350. And nobody from the U.N. apparently saw fit to admit the error and correct it after the flood of panicked press coverage back in October.

Goddamn.

Why is it that the revealed errors in the climate change lore -- increasingly lore seems like the best word -- all seem to go in one direction? Is it because people see what they want to see?

CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.


16 Comments:

By Blogger Mystery Meat, at Tue Dec 01, 06:19:00 PM:

Lies to advance a good cause are necessary and prudent. Even Harvard atmospheric scientists know that:

“The Civil Heretic” was a perfect example of what Freeman Dyson disagrees with: blatant and unfounded exaggeration. Dyson is not a “global-warming heretic”; he does not dispute the science. He simply says, and rightfully so, that the science is both uncertain and very much exaggerated. It is no secret that a lot of climate-change research is subject to opinion, that climate models sometimes disagree even on the signs of the future changes (e.g. drier vs. wetter future climate). The problem is, only sensational exaggeration makes the kind of story that will get politicians’ — and readers’ — attention. So, yes, climate scientists might exaggerate, but in today’s world, this is the only way to assure any political action and thus more federal financing to reduce the scientific uncertainty."

MONIKA KOPACZ
Applied Mathematics and Atmospheric Sciences
Harvard University
Cambridge, Mass.



http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/12/magazine/12letters-t-THECIVILHERE_LETTERS.html?_r=1&pagewanted=print  

By Anonymous Edward Lunny, at Tue Dec 01, 06:25:00 PM:

" Is it because people see what they want to see? "...No, you mistakenly presume honesty,ethics, and morals where there are none. Greed, for power and money, is the driving factor here. Take their every word, their assertions and positions, with a grain of salt and you will not often go wrong. There are many more of these shenanegins as yet uncovered, I suspect that the deceptions exposed have only just scratched the surface.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Tue Dec 01, 06:50:00 PM:

But the scientific consensus says 2035!  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Tue Dec 01, 06:54:00 PM:

Always click the link. It says:

"According to Prof Graham Cogley (Trent University, Ontario), a short article on the future of glaciers by a Russian scientist (Kotlyakov, V.M., 1996, The future of glaciers under the expected climate warming, 61-66, in Kotlyakov, V.M., ed., 1996, Variations of Snow and Ice in the Past and at Present on a Global and Regional Scale, Technical Documents in Hydrology, 1. UNESCO, Paris (IHP-IV Project H-4.1). 78p estimates 2350 as the year for disappearance of glaciers, but the IPCC authors misread 2350 as 2035 in the Official IPCC documents, WGII 2007 p. 493!"

Let's go p. 493, shall we?

"Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other
part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate
continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035
and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at
the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present
500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005)."

http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-chapter10.pdf

The WWF cite:

"WWF (WorldWildlife Fund), 2005:An overview of glaciers, glacier retreat, and
subsequent impacts in Nepal, India and China.WorldWildlife Fund, Nepal Programme,
79 pp."

So maybe WWF itself cited to Kotlyakov, maybe not. The claim of bad proofreading itself needs a little more proof.

And btw, IPCC appears to have underestimated sea level rise, Arctic ice retreat, and near term carbon dioxide emissions (which have been near to or exceeded the high end of emission scenarios).  

By Blogger DEC, at Tue Dec 01, 07:33:00 PM:

From Survival International, the movement for tribal people:

"Measures to stop global warming risk being as harmful to tribal peoples as climate change itself, according to a new report from Survival.

"The report, ‘The most inconvenient truth of all: climate change and indigenous people’, sets out four key ‘mitigation measures’ that threaten tribal people:

"1. Biofuels: promoted as an alternative, ‘green’ source of energy to fossil fuels, much of the land allocated to grow them is the ancestral land of tribal people. If biofuels expansion continues as planned, millions of indigenous people worldwide stand to lose their land and livelihoods.

"2. Hydro-electric power: A new boom in dam construction in the name of combating climate change is driving thousands of tribal people from their homes.

"3. Forest conservation: Kenya’s Ogiek hunter-gatherers are being forced from the forests they have lived in for hundreds of years to ‘reverse the ravages’ of global warming.

"4. Carbon offsetting: Tribal peoples’ forests now have a monetary value in the booming ‘carbon credits’ market. Indigenous people say this will lead to forced evictions and the ‘theft of our land’."

Link:

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/5273  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Dec 01, 08:20:00 PM:

MSM may be turning. A science editor at NYT is running the meme that the AGW scientists are guilty of smug groupthink and having a political agenda. This looks like the NYT's trial balloon. Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/01/science/01tier.html?_r=1

I'm reading this story like the old Pravda. It hints at more ... much more.

It's one step away from calling Michael Mann a lying sack of shit. It points out that back in 2004, Mann said: “No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, ‘grafted the thermometer record onto’ any reconstruction." Mann later admitted in 2004 that this had in fact happened, but that he was unaware of it.

But this is the exact practice now described in e-mails as Michael's "trick" to "hide the decline." [ Eyebrow arches ] Why is Mann so sensitive to this?

As I've posted below, the elephant in the room isn't just that data was spliced, cherry-picked or lost. It's that the post 1960 instrument-only data showed that 1,000 years of Mann & Co's reconstructed data were unreliable. They ignored this, and did a splice instead: They ‘grafted the thermometer record onto’ their reconstruction" purposefully to obscure this.

The NYT piece references a 2004 blog dialogue on realclimate.org involving Mann. Here's someone's else rejoinder to Mann ... note the sarcasm:

"This seems like incredible bad luck. Here we have a perfectly reliable method for reconstructing past temperatures over hundreds of years – then all of a sudden there is “anomalous behavior in recent decades apparently related to non-climatic (or, at least, non-temperature related) influences on tree growth”. And wouldn’t you know it – this anomalous behavior coincides exactly with a period of ‘unprecedented’ warming."

This goes to my point about "divergence" exactly. "Divergence" was in fact experimental proof that tree ring proxy data was suspect. Mann & Co should have paused when this was first identified as an issue in 1998. But that wouldn't have won Al Gore an Oscar and a Nobel.

The NYT editor is a step away from reporting this. The NYT story already drops references to "Harry." Developing ....

The countdown to Brian's BS data dump begins .... now.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Tue Dec 01, 09:46:00 PM:

The worst part of their lies and trickery is that there is still the possibility that they are right. Scientists who "hide the decline" need to be held accountable for their lies and misdirections.  

By Blogger Brian, at Wed Dec 02, 12:37:00 AM:

Anon (apologies for fact-checking): John Tierney isn't an editor at the Times, he's a rightwinger there who's downplayed AGW for years.

"this anomalous behavior coincides exactly with a period of ‘unprecedented’ warming.'"

No it doesn't. Divergence shows up in 1960, the warmth in mid-1970s.

"But this is the exact practice now described in e-mails as Michael's 'trick' to 'hide the decline.'"

Go read what Mann wrote about it:

"the instrumental record (which extends to present) is shown along with the reconstructions, and clearly distinguished from them (e.g. highlighted in red as here)."

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/myths-vs-fact-regarding-the-hockey-stick/comment-page-1/#comment-345

The problem and the very limited extent that skeptics have any cause to complain, is that Mann may have made the instrumental record easily distinguishable but Jones didn't. That's my understanding, anyway, but I welcome clarification.

"'Divergence' was in fact experimental proof that tree ring proxy data was suspect. Mann & Co should have paused when this was first identified as an issue in 1998. But that wouldn't have won Al Gore an Oscar and a Nobel."

Read Mann again:

"There is no discrepancy in general between the 20th century trends indicating by the instrumental record and by most proxy reconstructions. In some tree-ring reconstructions (particularly, those based on tree-ring density information, and emphasising higher latitudes), however, anomalous behavior in recent decades apparently related to non-climatic (or, at least, non-temperature related) influences on tree growth does indeed compromise the use of these data in reconstructing temperature changes over the past several decades...."

Mann is talking about this publicly in 2004, referencing information published in 1998, and you think it's a secret conspiracy.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 02, 10:47:00 AM:

John Tierney is a columnist at The New York Times, not an editor. My error.

Jon Stewart opened last night with a piece that ridiculed the trick of hiding the decline. He used Fox News clips to do so. This may be a signal event actually. I can't wait for Copenhagen.

Michael Mann should have been hounded from science years ago. Instead, he's a "playa." He's ruined the legitimacy of climate science, and Brian keeps defending him. Brian's defense of Mann is misleading. Mann only talked publicly about divergence in 2004 because he was outed about it. Mann is also responsible for the hockey stick that even the IPCC retracted. But until now, Mann and a handful of cronies have been left the only people with the keys to the locked data vault. Can't you see the problem with this Brian?

At even the level of data, Mann & Co have a basic problem:

* I can determine by myself the current temperature outside my door with some accuracy -- easy to do.

* I can accept the idea that scientists can determine the "current average temperature of Earth" -- but it's not easy to do this. I'd expect legitimate questioning of methodologies and assumptions. I wouldn't be surprised if a substantial minority disagreed with the consensus view of how to do this. But I can see how a legitimate consensus can be reached.

* I'm very skeptical that scientists can -- with high precision -- determine temperatures from hundreds of years ago. Why is this a surprise? It's actually a really hard thing to even ballpark this data. The "divergence problem" is actually proof of the difficulty.

The key point is "precision." I learned in my first high school science class that you can't make your conclusion more accurate than the data you work with. It's one thing to use proxies like tree rings to survey historic climate conditions. It's another to say that global average temperature was 55.2 degrees in 1605 for purposes of a trend line to run computer forecasts of the future. Can't you see that Brian?

Michael Mann -- and perhaps others -- are serial abusers of data. And we're expected to take his word as gospel?  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Wed Dec 02, 03:27:00 PM:

Anon is now speculating. Mann in 2004 talks about something that's in the published literature from six years earlier and Anon thinks it suddenly became new info that Mann's forced to react to.

Interestingly, Briffa who in 1998 published on the divergence problem is the same Briffa who the denialists had been accusing of faking data just a few months ago. I guess they figure he's okay now.

Finally, it would be worth learning something about proxies before proclaiming the PhD guys are totally wrong. I wonder how many denialists even know that there a number of proxies that are completely unrelated to tree rings.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 02, 04:54:00 PM:

Any proxy is just that -- a proxy. Tree rings, ice cores and coral don't provide direct measurement of temperature, obviously. The indirect measurements they yield can be confounded by all sorts of extraneous factors. They may also reflect local conditions unduly. Unless you have a time machine you have no assurance that you've calibrated the proxy correctly.

The "divergence" issue is exact proof of this -- when Northern hemisphere tree rings were compared to actual post-1960 data they diverted from expectations -- but not the tree rings from the Southern hemisphere. Go figure -- no one has yet come up with an explanation for why this is so.

As you rely on proxies to go back in time you can have no assurance that there aren't other divergences. In fact other divergences must be present else there wouldn't be legitimate disagreement over things like the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

I can see how proxies can work well for historical surveys of regional climate, but AGW supporters want to believe they have enough precision to run multivariate computer simulations.

On top of this we have the human factor. Much of what we've been hearing lately falls into the category of "who are you going to believe ... me or your lying eyes."

Once again, Brian speaks with forked tongue. Divergence was only first raised as a concern in 1998. Mann then covered it up with his "trick" -- in 2004 Mann denied that anyone was using his trick until he was outed. As we know from the e-mails, others were also using his trick.

If this was the only time Mann was suspect over his use of data, it'd be one thing. But he's a known serial data abuser. We've given Mann and his cronies the only set of keys to the main data bank. That's like putting known pederasts in charge of an orphanage.

But Brian says I speculate ...  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 02, 04:58:00 PM:

Any proxy is just that -- a proxy. Tree rings, ice cores and coral don't provide direct measurement of temperature, obviously. The indirect measurements they yield can be confounded by all sorts of extraneous factors. They may also reflect local conditions unduly. Unless you have a time machine you have no assurance that you've calibrated the proxy correctly.

The "divergence" issue is exact proof of this -- when Northern hemisphere tree rings were compared to actual post-1960 data they diverted from expectations -- but not the tree rings from the Southern hemisphere. Go figure -- no one has yet come up with an explanation for why this is so.

As you rely on proxies to go back in time you can have no assurance that there aren't other divergences. In fact other divergences must be present else there wouldn't be legitimate disagreement over things like the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age.

I can see how proxies can work well for historical surveys of regional climate, but AGW supporters want to believe they have enough precision to run multivariate computer simulations.

On top of this we have the human factor. Much of what we've been hearing lately falls into the category of "who are you going to believe ... me or your lying eyes."

Once again, Brian speaks with forked tongue. Divergence was only first raised as a concern in 1998. Mann then covered it up with his "trick" -- in 2004 Mann denied that anyone was using his trick until he was outed. As we know from the e-mails, others were also using his trick.

If this was the only time Mann was suspect over his use of data, it'd be one thing. But he's a known serial data abuser. We've given Mann and his cronies the only set of keys to the main data bank. That's like putting known pederasts in charge of an orphanage.

But Brian says I speculate, and Brian is an honest man ...  

By Blogger John, at Wed Dec 02, 07:13:00 PM:

Here I have been doing this all wrong.

I thought that when the data diverged from the theory, you refine the theory. Apparently, you keep the theory and refine the data.

Guess I'm never going to be a climatologist.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Dec 02, 08:02:00 PM:

Master John,

Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of science?  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Thu Dec 03, 01:33:00 AM:

No divergence in non-tree ring proxies. Is that clear enough?  

By Anonymous Brian Schmidt, at Sun Dec 06, 02:02:00 AM:

In the interest of accuracy, I and some others have tried to run down the truth. It's still unclear, but I think it's fairly likely that the typo story is accurate. The typo is in the IPCC cites and not something created by the IPCC itself, but it's still (apparently) wrong.  

Post a Comment


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?