Thursday, July 08, 2010

Monbiot exonerated

The long-anticipated Monbiot Inquiry has reported and finds that, while Monbiot's allegations were utterly baseless and incorrect, they were fully justified by the general atmosphere of fervid speculation that he built up surrounded him. No apology is necessary.

You may be surprised that Monbiot is not only the subject, but also the author, of this report. That's the way the press works these days. Self-regulation, donchaknow.

We now return to our regularly-scheduled manufactured scandal.

36 comments:

Steve Easterbrook said...

Good stuff - that really made me chuckle.

I have a soft spot for Monbiot, as I loved his book 'Heat', and used to read him regularly in the Grauniad. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, on the basis that as a non-scientist, he really had no idea how human real scientist are, and what the cut and thrust of doing science really looks like.

What worries me most is that Monbiot probably represents a large swath of the public - people who are genuinely concerned about climate change, but who are now confused about whether there actually was a scandal, and whether that means that some of the science is now discredited.

It seems that swiftboat-style attacks are remarkably effective, even among smart, well-read people.

James Annan said...

I agree his heart is pretty much in the right place. But he over-reached pretty badly on this one. Without, as far as I can tell, actually bothering to talk to (m)any(?) scientists before rushing to judgement. It's a serious error for someone who is supposedly a journalist first and pundit last, if at all.

Steve Bloom said...

What Monbiot did was by no means excusable, but should probably be seen through the lens of his enthusiasm for FOIA.

georgesdelatour said...

I read a slightly more nuanced message in these reports. They seem to be saying, "the scientists didn't do anything wrong, but we'd prefer they didn't do those not wrong things any more". I think the way climate science is presented to the public will change now, and probably for the better.

James Annan said...

Well, things always change. Remember the last IPCC thought that open access to the comments meant they could hide them in the unlit basement of some library on the other side of the world, to be seen though prior appointment in person only, until enough of us complained.

While I strongly support the movement towards increased access, I don't think those emails have a great deal to do with it.

Tom C said...

James -

These "exonerations" are pathetic in the extreme, you should be ashamed to trumpet them.

Be that as it may, the larger issue here is what we can conclude about Medieval vs. modern warming. Jones apparently admitted that it was probably impossible to do 1000 year reconstructions with any accuracy, a position perfectly in accord with both science and common sense.

What do you think? Do you believe that the reconstructions presented by Briffa et. al. are accurate portrayals of medieval vs. modern? In brief, do you agree with the strategies employed by Briffa, Mann et. al.?

bigcitylib said...

"Jones apparently admitted..."

Because you heard it at Climate Audit does not necessarily make it true.

Carl C said...

ha, well Monbiot is still a bit over the top with "might have been illegal" yes Jones is excused by "being pushed to the limit." Does anybody think Phil Jones was driven to madness from those numerous, stupid requests? I think all that climategate showed was:

a) scientists can personally be complete assholes (hardly earthshattering news)

b) British civil servants can be as lazy & obnoxious (as parodied endlessly over the years by "Yes Minister", "Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" etc.)

So, in the end, these are the dramatic revelations that will fuel 1000 bloggers and more tedious books from Montford & Pielke Jr?

The fact that McI et al screech this as some "smoking gun" which tears down the wall of all climate research is pretty laughable, considering they built this strawman with their endless inane requests anyway....

Pete Ridley said...

Hi James, as you seem to have chosen to ignore my most recent comment on your “Penn State Live .. ” thread (Note 1) I am soliciting help from relevant associates of yours on the GMD Editorial Board. You may be interested in the E-mail contents below.

QUOTE:
Recently I have been chatting with two GMD Editorial Board associates of yours, Michael Tobis and James Annan on their blogs (http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/06/there-are-more-than-two-camps.html, http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2010/07/its-end-of-world-as-we-know-it.html#comments and
http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2010/07/penn-state-live-investigation-of.html
about climate change. Two aspects of particular interest to me are:
- the extent of involvement of expert statisticians in analysing and auditing palaeoclimate research results and conclusions,
- the validity of attempts to reconstruct past climates from air “trapped” in ice cores,

Little useful information has been forthcoming so I wonder if any of you can help me on these. As you will be aware the recent “whitewash” enquiries into the Climategate revelations (and the related enquiries in 2006 under Wegman and North) all indicate the importance of involvement of expert statisticians during the analysis of climate research, rather than depending upon the analyses to the scientists themselves. With the IPCC presently establishing its teams of experts to be involved in its 5th assessment report I had hoped that it would have recognised the importance of including expert statisticans but I see no evidence of this, although I may have missed it.

The cryospere specialists among you should also be able to advise about which expert statisiticians have been, are or will be involved in what Richard Alley refers to as the “Gold Standard” for reconstructing past atmospheric CO2 concentrations. My specific concern here is that processes identified by Jaworowski as having the potential to distort the results have not been thoroughly researched, particularly regarding the preferential diffusion of CO2 over N2 and O2 both in firn and in the “solid” ice after close-off due to its smaller kenetic molecular diameter. Despite clams that Jaworowski has been refuted by various researchers I have not found any convincing evidence that this is the case. More details of my concerns can be found at http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/a-glorious-defeat/ and http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/richard-alley-at-agu-2009-the-biggest-control-knob/

Both of these topics are significant in the debate between sceptics and supporters of The (significant human-made global climate change) Hypothesis so I would appreciate any assistance that you can give in resolving the uncertainties surrounding them, which of course are only two such areas within that extremely complex subject known as climate science.

UNQUOTE.

I see that as anticipated the Russell report (Note 2) inquiry into the Climategate revelations has been another white-wash like those that preceded it but this will do nothing to allay the fears of the general public that they have been the targets of a con trick over the use of fossil fuels causing potentially catastrophic global climate change.

NOTES:
1) see http://julesandjames.blogspot.com/2010/07/penn-state-live-investigation-of.html
2) see http://www.cce-review.org/pdf/FINAL%20REPORT.pdf

Best regards, Pete Ridley

Rocco said...

Pete Ridley: Now tell us the one about Al Gore, brainwashing, and the Nazis :-)

Pete Ridley said...

Rocco, try http://globalpoliticalshenanigans.blogspot.com/2010/05/propaganda-evangelism.html and all of those lovely links. You may learn something.

Best regards, Pete Ridley

David B. Benson said...

IMO, Monbiot blewed it.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Pete, you are absolutely incoherent. I didn't know that paleontologist studied past climate change in any direct way. Come back when you know what you are talking about.

Pete Ridley said...

Hi Ratti, your comment is as enlightening as was Carl C’s on my Global Political Shenanigans blog (Note 1). Perhaps you’d like to help the person who claimed “that paleontologist studied past climate change in any direct way” towards a better understanding by pointing him or her to appropriate information. There are numerous sources of information about the subject so I’ll leave it to you to recommend one but warn whoever it is that one source that could be misleading is Chapter 6 of the IPCC’s AR4 (Note 2). Unfortunately, although many gullible people consider that to be something of a “bible” on the subject it presents a biased picture because it is politically orientated rather that scientific). Who trusts a politician, eh?

NOTES:
1) see http://globalpoliticalshenanigans.blogspot.com/2010/05/propaganda-evangelism.html
2) see http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg1/ar4-wg1-chapter6.pdf

Best regards, Pete Ridley

Marco said...

Pete, you may want to look up the word "paleontologist".

After that, you can go here:
http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/07/jaworowski-refutation.html
to understand why people are getting fed up with your infatuation with Jaworowski. There is nothing there.

Pete Ridley said...

Ratti, if I misled you by incorrectly using “palaeontology” on one or two occasions instead of paleoclimatology” then I do apologise. (I’m not the only person to make this mistake – eg. see http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2009/10/23/naomi-oreskes-the-lecture-lord-monckton-slept-through-which-he-hopes-you-will-not-see/ and http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2009/03/_internal_modeling_mistakes_by.html – and I’m sure I wont be the last).

Marco, I had already seen that comment from Michael Tobis. As you are fully aware from the discussion early this year on Chris Colose’s “Richard Alley .. “ thread (http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/richard-alley-at-agu-2009-the-biggest-control-knob/), Jaworowski published papers on the subject long after those in ‘92 & ‘94.

As you can see from my earlier comment today I hope to hear from associates of Michael and James who are involved in such work and I’ll let you know what they come up with if anything.

Best regards, Pete Ridley

Marco said...

Yes, Pete, I'm aware Jaworowski published more papers. More opinion pieces which cite Jaworowski as evidence and are in fringe journals.

I'm pretty sure James' and Michael's "associates" are all firmly in the Severinghaus-camp.

James Annan said...

Oh, I see TomC actually posted a coherent question before Pete came along...

Tom, I am actually working on climate reconstructions now, I don't have firm conclusions yet but am getting there. Phrases like "impossible to do with any accuracy" aren't really very meaningful, the interesting challenge is to do as best we can *and* understand the limitations of the reconstructions, whatever they are...

My preliminary results indicate that it's certainly possible in theory to achieve some skill in reconstruction, but that this skill is rather limited. And yes, I can and will put numbers to those statements, but not yet...

Pete Ridley said...

PART 1

Marco, as you would be aware if you bothered to read the links that I have provided on other blogs where you have thrown in your worthless opinions, Jaworowski suggested several mechanisms which could distort the concentration of gases in air “trapped” in ice. His main criticism is that these have not been properly researched. In his 2007 paper (Note 1) he cites Severinghouse, Grachev and Battle 2001 (Note 2) and Hurd 2006 (Note 3).

In their abstract Severinghaus et al. conclude “ .. the data do not fit the model well in the deeper part of the profile and yield a systematic drift with depth in relative thermal diffusion sensitivities (except for Kr, constant at 34 ± 4%), suggesting the action of some other process that is not currently understood”.

In the Australian Institute of Geoscientists newsletter of Nov 2006 Hurd says “..There are two major problems which could effect gas analyses. One is the adsorption and desorption of gases on sample system surfaces. This process is most pronounced with polar molecules such as H2O and CO2 .. Knudsen diffusion occurs when the mean free path of the molecule is longer than the diameter of the diffusion path. Knudsen diffusion can cause an increase or decrease in atmospheric gas concentrations inside a pressurized sampling system if there are minute leak paths in the sampling system”. Although he’s talking about the sampling process, not processes within the ice, but do not the same processes apply in situ?

My “infatuation” (as you put it) is not with Jaworowski but with preferential fractionation of CO2 due to its smaller kinetic diameter than the main atmospheric gases. Supporters of The (significant human-made global climaste change) Hypothesis prefer to use collision diameters whereas practitioners in other fields use kinetic diameter. As I commented back in January on Chris Colose’s “Richard Alley .. “ thread (Note 4) QUOTE: .. Severinghaus and Battle 2006 quotes sizes for N2, O2 and CO2 of 3.8, 3.5 and 3.9Å, rather than those used by practitioners in the field of “molecular gate” technology used in the energy industry. Severinghaus and Battle do acknowledge “.. that effective diameter depends on the nature of both molecules in a collision. .. so the values given here (which were measured in pure gases) may have limited relevance” UNQUOTE. I also said QUOTE: Kobashi, Severinghaus and Kawamura (5) state “ .. post-coring gas loss involves two distinct types of fractionation. First, smaller molecules with less than a certain threshold size leak through the ice lattice .. ” UNQUOTE.

As I told you on the Greenfyre thread (Note 5) on 11th June , Dr. Hartmut Frank (Professor of Chemistry and Ecotoxicology, University of Bayreuth, Germany) who wrote the forward to Jaworowski’s 1994 paper, says QUOTE:
.. Prof. Jaworowski's main argument is valid and will remain valid because it is based on simple, but hard physicochemical facts. Most of the facts can be found in the old, traditional "Gmelin's Handbook of Inorganic Chemistry” - but nobody reads such books anymore today. The facts are so basic that one cannot even start a research project on an investigation of the validity of such carbon dioxide analyses in ice cores because the referees would judge it too trivial. But if one would apply proper quality assurance/quality control principles, as they are common in most other areas of application of chemical-analytical methods (for instance in drug control or toxicology) the whole building of climate change would collapse because of the overlooked fault.

And so one continues because there are so many living in or from this building.
UNQUOTE.

Pete Ridley said...

PART 2

It all comes back to those enormous uncertainties arising from our poor understanding of global climate processes and drivers. Much much more research is required before we have a hope of being able to say what global climates will be like in 10 (never mind 100) years time.

I’ll try to post this comment directly onto Michael Tobis’s thread (Note 6) but he has said that I’m not welcome on his blog and refused to post a comment of mine yesterday. Perhaps Michael doesn’t like open debate.

NOTES:
1) see http://www.warwickhughes.com/icecore/zjmar07.pdf
2) see http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2001/2000GC000146.shtml
3) see http://www.biomind.de/nogreenhouse/daten/AIGnewsNov06.pdf#page=10
4) see http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/richard-alley-at-agu-2009-the-biggest-control-knob/
5) see http://greenfyre.wordpress.com/2010/06/07/a-glorious-defeat/
6) see http://initforthegold.blogspot.com/2010/07/jaworowski-refutation.html

Best regards, Pete Ridley







I had already seen that comment from Michael Tobis. As you are fully aware from the discussion early this year on Chris Colose’s “Richard Alley .. “ thread (http://chriscolose.wordpress.com/2009/12/18/richard-alley-at-agu-2009-the-biggest-control-knob/), Jaworowski published papers on the subject long after those in ‘92 & ‘94.

As you can see from my earlier comment today I hope to hear from associates of Michael and James who are involved in such work and I’ll let you know what they come up with if anything.

Best regards, Pete Ridley

Pete Ridley said...

Please ignore the final part of that second post - it is a hangover from a previous comment.

James Annan said...

I'm sure my readers will have no problems ignoring all of it :-)

However TomC may be vaguely interested in what I wrote recently.

Nathan said...

Pete,

Are you a lawyer?

Marco said...

James, I will do just that. Pete and I are going around in circles. Apparently, an opinion by a non-expert (Jaworowski, Frank) trumps that of hundreds of experts. And no, Nathan, Pete is not a lawyer. He's an engineer by training.

And if anyone is interested in uncertainty and how it is used by politics to delay action, see here:

http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/cgi-bin/fulltext/119396631/PDFSTART

Jeff GLASSMAN said...

Pete,

You're standing on the third rail. Please move over.

The Rocket Scientists Journal said,

>>Transition species are missing from the paleontology record, but fossilization is an infrequent event, much longer than the periods of speciation.

I don't think you really want that to read the paleoclimatology record.

Rattus Norvegicus said...

Yes, Pete, Ed did use it incorrectly. He should have said geology. Now shut up and go away.

Tom C said...

James -

Yes I am vaguely interested in your work on reconstructions. You seem intelligent and a decent enough fellow; don't know why you hang with your crowd.

What do you think is a sound statistical strategy for a proxy-based reconstruction? Will your strategy differ than those that have been the source of such controversy?

Tom C said...

James -

Yes I am vaguely interested in your work on reconstructions. You seem intelligent and a decent enough fellow; don't know why you hang with your crowd.

What do you think is a sound statistical strategy for a proxy-based reconstruction? Will your strategy differ than those that have been the source of such controversy?

Steve Bloom said...

Pete and re-pete.

James Annan said...

Or even a three-Pete, $Deity forbid.

TomC, yes I do have a new method up my sleeve, but it only addresses part of the problem (climate reconstruction from limited proxy data, not proxy calibration itself). I'm also not sure what crowd I'd supposed to be hanging with, invites to good parties are welcome!

Pete Ridley said...

Jeff (Glassman) my apologies to you sir. I read only a small part of your article far too quickly.

Ratti, you’re starting to sound like Steve Bloom (long-time environmental activist and Sierra Club California’s Executive Committee member?). Don’t you believe in open and honest debate?

TomC, don’t you agree that a “sound statistical strategy” should include independent audit by expert statisiticans such as McIntyre, McKitrick, Wegner, Haslett?

James, thanks for those links to Steve Easterbrook’s articles which at first glance look very interesting. The first provides a link to Jon Pipitone’s Masters thesis “Software quality in climate modelling” and the second to “Engineering the Software for Understanding Climate Change” by Easterbrook & Johns. My initial impression after a quick read was that the first only looked at one aspect of the VV&T process, the engineering of the software. The second did little more, although it does mention Verification and Validation. In fact the conclusion acknowledges this with “Our goals in this study were to characterize the software development practices”.

Several statements in the Easterbrook/Johns article made me cringe somewhat. “The findings show that climate scientists have developed customized techniques for verification and validation that are tightly integrated into their approach to scientific research”, “Software Verification and Validation (V&V) is particularly hard in computational science [4], because of the lack of suitable test oracles and observational data”. “V&V practices rely on the fact that the developers are also the primary users, and are motivated to try out one anothers’ contributions”. “The V&V practices are absorbed so thoroughly into the scientific research that the scientists don’t regard them as V&V”.

I spent the final years of my career closely involved in VV&T of operational and business support systems (OSS/BSS) developed for use in telecommunications networks and services. Commercial organisations recognised that such systems must be subjected to thorough VV&T procedures carried out by professional and independent practitioners before they can be brought into operational use. The above statements suggest to me that this is not even considered appropriate for global climate models. In my opinion without it the results they produce are highly suspect and should not be relied upon for making policy decisions.

Software engineer and ex-climate modeller William M. Connolley (Note 1) has presented a critique of the Easterbrook/ Johns article (Note 2) on his “Stoat” blog which you may find of interest.

NOTES:
1) see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:William_M._Connolley
2) see http://scienceblogs.com/stoat/2010/06/engineering_the_software_for_u.php

Best regards, Pete Ridley

Steve Bloom said...

FYI Pete, the time to try to engage someone in conversation is before the drooling and foaming at the mouth, not after.

Tom C said...

James -

Oh, you have a new "method" up your sleeve. At least you are savvy enough to not call it a "trick".

EliRabett said...

There is nothing left to be said about Jaworowski that Jim Eager has not said unless you want it in the original

Martin said...

Pete Ridley, I hope you followed your own second link to Stoat, and absorbed the comments both by Connolley and Easterbrook there. These folks are very well acquainted with how GCMs are quality controlled in practice (hint: inter-code-base replication), and I would take their considered opinions very seriously. Especially the ones expressed brusquely... there is a reason for that :-) Including, drop the Jabberwocky nonsense, for your own good. Pretty please.

Pete Ridley said...

Martin, please see my response on that same blog.

Best regards, Pete Ridley