Thursday, December 07, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

Eventually the reviews from GRL arrived for this paper (actually several days ago now, but I've been busy recently).

There were 3 reviews in all, which is unusual for a standard GRL paper.

In reverse order:

Ref 3 says the paper is "quite correct in its analysis" (he does comment on some technical details), but refrains from giving a recommendation on publication or otherwise, stating his suspicion that the points we have raised may already be accepted by the climate science community, ie the spectre of high S is just a straw man! It is hard to see how anyone who is aware of Stern's Review, and what appears to be in the IPCC draft (and numerous other papers and public comments) could really think that, but least it's a clear endorsement of the principles we have presented.

Ref 2 also has a number of technical points, but recommends publication after revision and even treatment as a "GRL highlight". Interestingly, he says we are too harsh in the way we criticise the approach of Frame et al, apparently believing that they did not seriously propose to use the uniform prior U[0,20] for calculating probabilities. That's right - in his opinion, their approach is so obviously wrong that he cannot even believe they could possibly have meant such a thing - for everyone knows that there is no such thing as an "ignorant" prior.

Ref 1 is a bit of a disappointment. He doesn't seem to understand it at all, despite our attempt to explain things in such elementary terms. He is still sticking to the untenable belief that a uniform prior is "ignorant", and indeed maintains that the whole number line would be the most "uninformed" choice, even in the face of our elementary observation that a uniform prior with a wide range assigns virtual certainty to extraordinarily high sensitivity (including negative values if the prior is not truncated at 0). What makes it worse is that he's clearly an active researcher in the field. Even so, after clearly not understanding it and recommending rejection as not suitable for GRL he then strongly recommends we consider sending it to Science or Climatic Change as some sort of opinion piece!

It gets boring to point it out again, but
(a) If you don't use the probability axioms, as Allen and Frame have explicitly and repeatedly proposed, then what you are doing is simply not "probability" as the term is generally understood. This is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of definitions (at least until and unless someone proposes a new version of "probability", with some plausible basis).
(b) "The uniform prior" does not represent "ignorance" under any reasonable definition of ignorance I can think of - and no, circularly defining "ignorance" to be "the state of knowledge represented by a uniform distribution" is not reasonable!

So any attempt to present our rather elementary (and, admittedly, a bit naive) exploration of how to correctly calculate probability could hardly be suitable as some sort of opinion piece. Indeed, it would undoubtedly fall foul of referees pointing out that it is just a trivial description of probability, and no-one could seriously have ever believed otherwise...

The Editor (Chief Editor this time) obviously jumped on this "not suitable" comment and based his rejection on our paper being just an "opinion piece", telling me to send it to Nature or Science instead. You've got to laugh really - or else cry, I suppose. Couldn't he have made that judgment 10 weeks ago, rather than waiting for 3 broadly favourable reviews (even Ref 1 clearly thought it was important and publishable) and then cherry-picking the worst? In fact Jules had originally suggested Climatic Change (Ref 1's other suggestion) as a suitable destination, and we might have sent it there had GRL not explicitly suggested submitting a full 4-page paper to them. I now have a 500 quid bet with her that it will be rejected if we do send it there - a bet which I placed immediately prior to reminding her that Steven Schneider was the editor :-)

So, it is hard to see where to take it from here. After numerous reviews of various versions, it is abundantly clear that what we are saying is essentially correct - no referee has produced any significant criticism of the principles, although it is obvious that some researchers in the field simply don't understand the subject very well at all (I'm not claiming to be perfect myself, of course, but I've certainly got the gist of it). The approach of Frame et al is excused from criticism by some on the basis that it is so obviously wrong that they couldn't possibly have meant it, and the pathological pdfs that have been published and widely used in the policy debate are excused from criticism on the basis that no-one really believes them anyway. It's clear that a bunch of people are quite happy to see the Inconvenient Truth of our argument not get published. One thing that keeps me sane is that the rejections have been due primarily to journal editors rather than scientists, but the ultimate outcome is of course just the same. I guess I can go to the EGU in April and present the argument there once more, but it's pretty boring to just go and say the same obvious things again and again. Maybe, eventually, the argument that it does not need publication because everyone already knows it will actually come true. Meanwhile, people like Stern and the IPCC can only go by what is in the literature, and the Convenient Untruth of high climate sensitivity is very useful for one wing of the political debate. So I'm sure the disinformation will march on apace...


Anonymous said...

So once again you are posting about how you are obviously right and everyone else is wrong. How many people have to tell you that you are being to harsh on Frame and Allen before you might just stop long enough to consider.

The Frame et al paper is pointing out that the choice of prior matters therefore it is logical for them to use an extreme prior to point out the effects. They have repeatedly said they don’t believe the pdf produced, so why can’t you accept that? Why not even put that in a paper that makes out you are standing on the shoulders of giants and seeing further than Frame and Allen in how far you can cut down the range of reasonable priors. It would then focus more on your choice of prior and less on the probability stuff and look more like an opinion piece.

In case the above looks too much like a rant, let me say that what you are doing to combine all lines of evidence seems important and I think your efforts deserve to get a paper published. You just seem unreasonably obstinate in seeing Frame et al as ‘wrong’ rather than just working on a different problem.


James Annan said...


Bear in mind that you have (presumably) not seen a lot of stuff that Frame and Allen have written in their efforts to defend their approach!

I'm afraid it is beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever that they are wrong. There is an absolutely clear-cut chasm of misunderstanding in the field, with F&A claiming that everyone agrees with them, but everyone else having basically no idea what it is they are doing and merely giving them the benefit of the doubt due to their reputation or perhaps the need to keep up "consensus". Plenty of woolly writing all round has allowed this situation to grow over the past several years.

It's incredibly frustrating to have seen this problem and be absolutely powerless to even tell anyone about it (apart from here).

If they had been prepared to even consider the possibility that they were mistaken in their approach, I'd have been less harsh, but all they've done is basically bluster their way through the mess for the last several months, in the face of some pretty elementary arguments as to why they are wrong.

Anonymous said...

>Bear in mind that you have (presumably) not seen a lot of stuff that Frame and Allen have written in their efforts to defend their approach!

Yes I think *you* should bear that in mind! You have had plenty of opportunity to persuade me of your point of view and Frame and Allen have had little opportunity. You have persuaded me that what you are trying to do is important and that for *your* purpose it is wrong to use a uniform prior.

Where you haven't persuaded me is in relation to what Frame et al is about. They are saying that for the purpose of comparing different datasets ability to limit the range of climate sensitivity, using the same prior is important. They have suggested using a uniform prior.

Your purpose of getting a credible probability estimate from all lines of evidence is important but it is different from the purpose Frame et al had in mind.

I can be critical of Frame et al. eg. it would have been better if they had recommended using two different priors in order to see the effect of the prior. It is of course easy to be critical in the light of subsequent arguments.

This refusal to accept the different methods are appropriate to different purposes argument makes me suspicious of just taking your word for F&A defenses being horribly wrong.


Anonymous said...

I'm afraid Annan (& Hargreaves?) are starting to sound too much like the "climateaudit" sort that screech on & on that Nature & GRL & Science & god-knows-what-else are in some sort of conspiracy to "silence the truth!"

It seems a lot of time & energy & flames & hype has been spent in (a) the McIntyre vendetta against Mann and now (b) the Annan vendetta against Allen & Frame. These great self-assured ego bloggers just can't come to grips that their "smoking guns" elicit yawns by the entire field. What next, claims of a "network conspiracy" & a US Republican "audit?" :-)

Perhaps what Annan & McIntyre should do is SOMETHING ORIGINAL FOR A CHANGE? I mean, where is the great model output from your gloating that you're at the esteemed Earth Simulator? The world still has just received a few half-baked EnKF's with toy models from this 8th or 10th greatest supercomputer under Annan's guidance!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. This brings back memories (I've said this before but I'll say it again...) of my paper in JPO (actually just a short note) on a technical matter of sea ice dynamics. One ref said "this is obvious; we all know that". The other said "this is wrong". Fortunately I was able to persuade the editor that this mean it was worth printing. But then there was no great politics riding on it.

Now James is being attacked for telling people the truth in simple language.

What James hs written is clearly and obviously publishable, and is far superior to a large amount of stuff in GRL, and would be of wide interest. Its not being published because it embarrasses some people; and probably for political reasons too.

Not a good day for scientific publishing.

Anonymous said...

Really, it's the truth? Or just the "truth" according to two bloggers? Sounds like desparate people turning a molehill into the mountain. Perhaps James' persistent bashing of scientists (far and away NOT on scientific issues) and bashing of reviewers & publications has a lot more to do with it? "Where's the beef" (as the saying in the US goes).

Anonymous said...

Furthermore, in a field that typically has error bars the size of the Titanic, I find it hilarious to hear how both Stoat & Gloat (err Annan) are finding "absolute truth" in things. Kind of reminds me of George Bush's "absolute moral compass" regarding everything from abortion to the Iraq war.

But continue to use this BS to whinge about why you can't get in Nature. How can this happen to two esteemed Wikipedians, both legends on their own blog!

James Annan said...


"taking your word for F&A defenses being horribly wrong."

Well there's not much else you can do if you are not going to ask them for their own defence.

But anyway, note that this paper isn't all about F05 by any means - it's clear that the errors are much more widespread than them alone. In fact if you read what we wrote, you'll note that we only refer to them rather briefly. It's just that I couldn't help but be amused that the ref thought we were being unfair to them on the grounds that they couldn't possibly have meant what they said, since they have subsequently explicitly confirmed that this is what they did mean!

If you can't accept this as prima facie evidence of the pathological schism of misunderstanding across the field, then there's not much more I can say really.

James Annan said...


I guess in your view the only form of life lower than someone who writes on blogs (as Dave Frame and Myles Allen have both done, BTW) is the anonymous commenter.

As for "something original", observing and explaining a significant error that is widespread in the field and which has substantial policy implications would normally count as worth publishing. I guess you would feel less threatened if I just went and did something else, leaving the "experts" to pat each other on the back about how they have all managed to define a "consensus" around such deliberately meaningless phrases as "cannot be ruled out".

Sorry, but that's not how the real world works.

I do agree that the world (or even just the Japanese climate research community) would be a better place if I was in charge. Thanks for the vote of confidence, but it's not going to happen any time soon.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but considering you & wife don't even have degrees in anything relating to climate (maths & astrophysics?), I'd tend to listen to real climatologists.

Anonymous said...

Okay, first off I'm having trouble following the probability arguments (never did find this stuff easy to learn). So I apologise for skirting round that and also for the possibility that the answers to the questions below have been stated here (even in answer to me) but, I haven't been able to find it.

As James says this has policy implications, I thought I'd try and clarify the gist in my mind.

1) This is a discussion about the probability of climate sensitivity being higher than a certain value, yes?

2) So we take it that sensitivity is ~3C +-0.5C, and it is (bear with me) very unlikely to higher, yes?

3) So if we get to 560ppmv CO2, what will the actual temperature rise be, assuming (2)?

4) The policy implications are based on the probabilities of it being just 3C or 4-5C (plus even), and how that is worked out? Though the actual temperature rise, while dependant on sensitivity, is not necessarily the same as that figure?

Or have I found the wrong tree to bark up? If so, ignore me.

I'm happy to be pointed to an article or paper (pref non sub) that discusses these points if that's easier - I may even have read it and need reminding, my memory's not what I think was. :(

Or should I wait for the next IPCC and ignore the discussion of higher sensitivities? ;)

Anonymous said...

To illustrate the silliness of the Annan & Hargreaves (& Connelly?) misapplication of Bayesian statistics, which is something that is obvious to say a first year biostatistician, the following example should do:

It would be like a biostatistician taking real numbers of London mortality rates from a 19th century cholera epidemic as their prior, and then applying this to a simulation done for mortality of London AIDS patients in 2006. Nobody in their right mind would do that, but spurious "analysts" like Annan & Hargreaves love mixing chalk & cheese & apples & oranges like this, and claim some intellectual & moral superiority! :-)

It would seem that Allen & Frame are trying to use statistics in a more sensible way than the typical Annan (still stuck as a maths student?) misapplied & cocksure manner.

James Annan said...


Please stop embarassing yourself. I'm sure that standards at Oxford cannot really have slipped that far.

James Annan said...


Your questions look fine to me:

1) Yes, although it's important to realise that "the probability" is not fundamentally a property of the natural world, it is a description of the researcher's beliefs. Climate sensitivity is a fixed number, it doesn't have any intrinsic probabilistic distribution.

2) Yes, although I would personally choose 2.5C as my best estimate - the gentle upward creep in recent years seems to be based on sociological factors more than scientific.

3) Climate sensitivity is simply the temp rise for 560ppm at equilibrium - ie assuming we get to 560ppm and stay there. At the instant we reach 560ppm, the temperature at that time will be rather lower due to thermal inertia. In general, the temp rise at equilibrium is basically sensitivity times the number of co2 doublings. Of course it is rather simplistic to assume that we will do such a thing as reach a level and stay there, but it's also a starting point for more realistic calculations.

4) If you want to work out the expected economic consequences for a given course of action (emissions scenario), then you have to take account of the probability of different outcomes (note I mean "expected" in the mathematical sense as the integral of outcome x probability, not just the colloquial sense of "most likely"). Since the outcome for a >~5C warming is considered to be rather bad (eg a lot more than 4 times worse than +1.25C), then the overall result is highly sensitive to the probability assigned to high sensitivities.

Anonymous said...

Adam, I will provide an answer for a different perspective but don’t count my views as worth much.

1. Yes.

2. It is very difficult to rule things out at the 1% level. James reckons he has a reasonable method of ruling out a climate sensitivity as high as ~4C at the 5% level.

3. Depends on the time frame you look at. The higher the sensitivity the longer it will take to get there. This is because to agree with observations you need to change the ocean heat uptake rate. If we get to know climate sensitivity is 5C soon then we will never get to 560ppmv because preventative action is the obvious thing to do.

4. According to James, he thinks we should take more preventative measures (i.e. cut greenhouse gas emissions) even if climate sensitivity is 0. Under that view, it is hard to see much in the way of policy implications. I think this shows that James either accepts he is wrong on that or is changing his views to suit the argument he is making. That view implies a high value is attached to bio-diversity and little value to economic growth. If you reverse that, then there are clear policy implications: If climate sensitivity is only 2C then economic growth should be the priority and adaptation can deal with the problems created. If climate sensitivity is 5C then the eventual consequences are so catastrophic that much more must be spent on prevention.

Frame and Allen think we will not get to know the climate sensitivity well enough until after we reduce carbon emissions and by then it will obviously be too late to work out when to reduce emissions. Therefore we have to reduce emission soon just in case. They do, of course, claim to just concentrate on the science in a dispassionate way and just provide the information for politicians to make such judgements. (I wonder what proportion of people believe that.)

I think there is a high probability that that is too costly for the problem and therefore we should explore all possible methods to measure climate sensitivity. This means James paper should be published as soon as possible so it can be scrutinised and improved upon by other climatologists.


Anonymous said...

I think a bit too much have been made out of negative referee opinions on one single paper.

The peer review process produces noisy results. My feeling is that the results are especially random with high-esteem journals such as Nature and Science, where only a small fraction of all submitted articles are published, and where a goal is wide interest. In my experience with Nature, a good story is at least as important as novel results.

And as long as the review process is not blind, author's name and institution will affect the results . Authorship gives evidence, a kind of prior, for the referee. The evidence is sometimes "wrong", but it is useful often enough, and cheap enough, to be used. Referees are busy people, doing refereeing for free, and understanding an article is much more time-consuming than looking for the author's name - in a sense, here you get what you pay for. :)

As referees are human, the style of the article will affect the results. Implied aggression towards the referee, his or her friends, values, or something which he or she presents, is likely to facilitate rejection. Combine aggression with an unknown author, and from the referees' viewpoint we have a loser or an outsider, somebody not part of the community, a "young angry man".

On the other hand, it is _very_ easy to see one's own work as overly important.

And yes, politics may play a role, although I don't personally see that very likely here.

(I have PhD on Bayesian machine learning, but unfortunately I haven't had time to read the paper. So no comments on the substance.)

I'd advice James to go on, either with this by expanding or deeping it somehow, or with something else. Raising a war against imperfections of the scientific process is likely to be counterproductive, especially as a part-time job, although it would certainly be satisfying, at least initially.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to James & Chris for the responses, both very useful.

Emissions scenarios will also have to take into account carbon cycle feedbacks (as we've discussed before)?

EliRabett said...

Put it into Arkiv as a marker

Luboš Motl said...

Hi James,

uniform priors are of course mathematically ugly and hard to justify but when you choose the interval right, you can get one or a few results at the end correctly, too.

I am also puzzled by the comments about "straw men" - that "it is already believed by the climate science community that things work like this and therefore it is a straw man". I just don't understand this kind of reasoning of the referee. In science, we should be making discoveries and finding the truth, not reaching consensus. If there is some calculation in your paper, what matters is whether it is right or wrong, and if it is right, it still matters whether it has been done before. If it has been done before, the referee must quote a published paper that has already scooped you and contains morally the same stuff with the same rigor.

If your particular choice of input data, precision, or methods is new and it is not demonstrably incorrect, surely it deserves to be published if it is relevant for some questions of general interest. And the behavior of upper limits of the sensitivity is certainly one as we are overwhelmed by texts that like to build on the theories that it can be 5 or 10 degrees or whatever.

Science has mostly lost control over itself in the case of the climate. What is good to publish or bad to publish is now decided primarily by manipulators with political ambitions such as Al Gore and his appendices, not by scientific rules. Isn't it what you wanted?


coby said...

The enemy of my enemy is my friend, eh Lubos? Poor James, getting support from this character!

I am however very intrigued as to how it was Al Gore managed to suppress publication of the paper dicussed in this post...

Anonymous said...

Err, wait a minute, it seems as if the "friends of the RealClimate arbiters of the AGW consensus", namely William Connelly & James Annan, are banding together to show that their spurious stats & preconceived priors agree with the RC consensus of excluding high sensitivities. I mean, it's right out of the Gavin Schmidt playbook. Annan has concocted a prior to agree with his long-held notion that high sensitivies are no good.

After all, that does seem to be the "consensus" from the realclimate types, i.e. "stick with three degrees & rule out high sensitivities." But somehow Annan & his wife (& now Connelly) are acting like the "bold scientific renegades" because they are sticking with the RC status quo? And it's a "shameful day for scientific publishing" because peer reviewers see through these concocted priors? HAHAHAHAHAHA

It would seem as if the editor is actually ON THE SIDE OF SCIENCE -- i.e. not publishing by some sort of Wikipediaesque fiat or cult of blogger personality.

And Annan -- grow up -- it's embarassing seeing you continually whine that you can't cut it in the peer review process. Then you slag off every reviewer & editor in the field, and wonder why nobody likes you any more! Too funny!

Luboš Motl said...

I am just amazed by the amount of irrational, ad hominem appraisals and motivation that is the primary factor for many people to decide about these otherwise serious matters.

It's not just crackpots such as "coby" who permanently compute whether saying XY or UV will help them politically while they have absolutely no respect for the truth whatsoever.

This politicized and unscientific approach has contaminated a significant part of the climate science. It's just too bad. I encourage everyone who thinks that it has been a bad development that should eventually be cured to start to do something about it.

markbahner said...

"Sorry, but considering you & wife don't even have degrees in anything relating to climate (maths & astrophysics?), I'd tend to listen to real climatologists."

Why not consult the Sacred Scrolls?

James Annan said...

To Anon up there talking about unknown authors and angry young men (a bit confusing with different anonymous commentators):

I'm certainly not completely unknown in the field, although of course equally I'm not one of the most prominent researchers. Furthermore, the majority of referee reports (7 so far, in various formats) have actually been broadly favourable if a bit guarded. But even ignoring the Nature rejections which I agree don't count for much, it is frustrating to spend so long on it (about 9 months so far) only for an editor to eventually decide that it is "not appropriate" for their journal - not wrong, just not the sort of thing they want to publish. Given that GRL has historically shown itself to be open to a wide range of perspectives (ok, to be blunt they have published a fair amount of contrarian nonsense) I am not confident of getting a more sympathetic hearing anywhere else.

markbahner said...

"Frame and Allen think we will not get to know the climate sensitivity well enough until after we reduce carbon emissions and by then it will obviously be too late to work out when to reduce emissions."

CO2 has already risen by more than 100 ppm (>36 percent) from pre-industrial levels. Methane has doubled from pre-industrial levels. By most accounts, we're about 60 percent of the way to effective doubling of CO2 concentration. Can't a decent engineering guess be made?

James Annan said...

Sorry, but considering you & wife don't even have degrees in anything relating to climate (maths & astrophysics?), I'd tend to listen to real climatologists.

On matters of probability theory, I hope most would agree a mathematics background to be more relevant than atmospheric physics. Not that I claim to have a strong background in probability theory, but I am capable of learning.

BTW newcomers to this blog might not realise that the anonymous author of many of the ad-hom and idiotic comments appears to be part of the Oxford University group that is one of the worst offenders in matters of probabilistic estimation. It's a shame that they won't discuss the content of of our work in a sensible manner.

Anonymous said...

BTW newcomers to this blog might not realise that the anonymous author of many of the ad-hom and idiotic comments appears to be part of the Oxford University group that is one of the worst offenders in matters of probabilistic estimation. It's a shame that they won't discuss the content of of our work in a sensible manner.

I don't frequent this blog often, but it's not hard to spot C.C.

James Annan said...

Shhh...I'm trying to pretend I don't know who he is :-)

Anonymous said...

Tell you what, you whinge to my boss, and I'll send the directors at JAMSTEC evidence of your ad-hominem attacks across a wide range in the field, and we'll see who gets in trouble and who is really making a fool of themselves, mmmK? The Japanese are getting real value for money with slackers like you & your wife, HAHA!

James Annan said...

Good grief Carl (is it ok if I call you that now?), don't wet yourself. You boss can hardly be unaware of your antics, so it's a fair bet that they already approve.

As for JAMSTEC, I wish you luck on finding the appropriate forms to fill out (in Japanese) to make an official complaint :-)

You might use your time more profitably in looking up "ad-hominem" in a dictionary instead. The term hardly covers such mundane activity as pointing out errors in the literature, but dismissing our argument on the basis that I'm a mathematician is a good example.

If you actually think I've said anything that is unfair, you are welcome to identify something specific rather than just frothing aimlessly.

Anonymous said...

Your bitchy tone has long been noted and derided, and not just by the Oxford group you laughingly think has been "keeping da man down" (i.e. it's our fault you can't get your tripe published). For one thing, my boss(es) don't know I post here, which is why I do so anonymously, but as you see a simple IP address check can occasionally get to see who I am (when I'm bored at work and surf your "esteemed" blog). So I suppose you could score a point or two by whingeing in outrage to Allen and/or Frame that I post here. And in fairness, I can send JAMSTEC my copies of your ad-hominem comments on people in the field, journals, and even the Japanese way of life.

Anyway, my bosses prefer to put their arguments in the peer-reviewed media rather than waste time frequenting blogs. So don't flatter yourself that my pointing out the emperor's new clothes here has anything to do with them or their opinions. Although I realize that to puff up your pride further, and make yourself feel important, you would need to think that.

It's funny that you try and claim some high ground that you are just "pointing out errors" --- yet from what I've seen you have constructed things a priori using toy models & hand-picked "priors" to get the answer you want. And then you tout this strawman around as the "undeniable truth" and belittle everyone who doesn't agree with your strawman. It sounds like this work you've wasted 9 months on is ripe for auditing by McIntyre & McKitrick! Maybe one of these days you'll actually run a good model on the Earth Simulator? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Mark Bahner said...
CO2 has already risen by more than 100 ppm (>36 percent) from pre-industrial levels. Methane has doubled from pre-industrial levels. By most accounts, we're about 60 percent of the way to effective doubling of CO2 concentration. Can't a decent engineering guess be made?

AIUI, that allows scientists to estimate the rate of climate change in response to a set of emissions quite well. As the build up has been rather steady, little information is provided on how long that rate of change will continue after a change in the emission forcings. James thinks he can make a decent engineering guess. Frame and Allen think he is overconfident, James thinks they are under confident and/or admitting defeat without really trying.


Luboš Motl said...

Dear Anonymous from Oxford,

let me mention that what you're writing here and how you do it seems highly problematic on moral grounds. And it indeed reinforces the picture of a secret anonymous mafia that is using illegitimate tools to suppress certain inconvenient findings.

I am convinced that such things can never last for too many years. You're doomed.

McIntyre and McKitrick might try to audit anything, if they have the power and breadth to do it, but I still guess that they would prefer to start with published articles instead of poor James' drafts.

Allen is a textbook example of an alarmist climate crackpot. See for examples these interviews with him where he assigns thousands of deaths to global warming and estimates the *increase* of costs of the hypothetical "fight against the global warming" to be 100-fold per generation even though it is obvious that the actual answer would be a *decrease*.


Luboš Motl said...

Incidentally, do your boss(es) at still predict, using their screwed software spread among hundreds of thousands of poor users, that the Universe will collapse in 2013?

Anonymous said...

HAHA, it's funny "lumo" the Slovakian sucker is on the side of the blogger crybabies who whinge they can't get published. Or does that sound a lot like your record in "string theory" so you feel a lot of empathy with the Wikipedians?

William M. Connolley said...

Is it really Carl Christensen posting all that tripe? I must admit to being deeply disappointed - I thought he was more sensible. Can you not try addressing the content instead?

Anonymous said...

I have addressed the content -- Annan is still whining about an uninteresting paper that seems to be rightfully rejected. And you leap to his defense with such tripe as "a sad day for scientific publishing!"

You guys are showing how ridiculous you are --- puffed up with your self-important blogging & Wikipedia entries (sad to say that John A was right about you "Stoat"!)

I mean, honest to god, it's unbelievable you guys are trying to "play the victim" over a damn paper rejection. There's not a damn thing in that paper that is being controversially surpressed or whatever.

And this "victim role" is pretty funny considering Annan rakes Nature/GRL/Science authors/editors/reviewers over the coals for over a year every time he gets a damn rejection. I'd say the Nature/GRL/Science authors/editors/reviewers have more sense to not basically be held hostage to the whingeings of bloggers. Hell, it's like Britney Spears crying about the papparazzi taking a pic of her crotch whilst running around town with no underwear.

I find your crocodile tears pretty damn funny as well as hypocritical.

Anonymous said...

Furthermore, isn't is a bit unethical for Annan to discuss & post reviews of his papers? I would have thought that is a more private matter, but I guess if you have nothing else to argue with but "conspiracy theories"....

EliRabett said...

Precisely why is it unethical to publically discuss reviews of your own papers? It might be unethical to print the names of the referees if the review is anonymous, but that is about it.

markbahner said...

"As the build up has been rather steady, little information is provided on how long that rate of change will continue after a change in the emission forcings."

Actually, forcing from greenhouse gases hasn't been very steady. See slide 43 here:

James Hansen's Keeling Lecture

Forcing peaked at about 0.05 W/m2/yr in 1988, and it's now down to about 0.03 W/m2/yr.

Black carbon emissions probably peaked in the 1995-2000 time frame, and will likely be down by at least 20% from that peak in the next 10 years.

markbahner said...

"...and every generation that you put off the decision to do something about the problem, it puts up the cost by a factor of a hundred or more."

Bwahahahaha! A FACTOR OF 100 in a generation (~20 years)?!!

That's doubling in less than 4 years! Given the fact that the earth has been warming by ~0.2 deg C per decade, that's a doubling in cost for every ~0.1 deg C!

Let's say the cost in 2005 was about $20 billion per year. That's $2 *trillion* in 2025, $200 trillion in 2045, and $20 QUADRILLION in 2065! That's likely larger than the whole world economy in 2065.

This is a *scientist*?! Who apparently can't even do basic math?

markbahner said...

Oops. I see he was talking about the cost to solve "climate change" not the cost of the damage from climate change.

But if anything, that's even more ridiculous. As Lubos noted, the cost should go down, not up.

And the let's say the cost to "solve" climate change is $200 billion (it's probably at least that much, since more than that amount will be spent on Kyoto, which will do essentially nothing).

That puts the cost at $20 trillion in 2025, and $2 quadrillion in 2045. Once again, that's likely larger than the whole world economy in 2045.

What an unbelievable load of crap. Why is such a nut job "teaching" kids?

James Annan said...

Unethical? If I was trying to "out" some anonymous reviewers, you might have a point. But I've been careful to avoid mentioning any details that could possibly identify them, irrespective of whether they signed their reviews, and far from "post[ing] reviews" have in fact only quoted just a very few words. I think it's obviously interesting that such a short and relatively simple paper can generate such widely divergent opinions within the climate science community, and absolutely appropriate to discuss this on a blog. I'll quite possibly be discussing it at the EGU next April too.

Anonymous said...

>Well there's not much else you can do if you are not going to ask them for their own defence.

I would express like this: I have looked at one of your previous posts that quoted the words "resolves", "arbitrariness", "objectively determined", "the solution" and "resolved" from F05 and when I looked up the sentences in F05 and found quite different meanings to that implied by your post. If this is good enough for me then there is not much you can do to force me to ask for their defence.


Anonymous said...

James, why wait for EGU, AGU is right now, and San Fran isn't too far? And you're picked up by "PEAK OIL BALONEY - AN ANTI-GREEN WEBSITE" so presumably you can do a talk with Steve McIntyre how you're both persecuted by an "evil Green conspiracy!"

Luboš Motl said...

Dear William,

of course it is Carl Christensen. I can also monitor clicks from this weblog to my blog, and certain IP addresses from Oxfordshire just nail it down.

Moreover, find another fanatical person about the preservation of high sensitivities who confuses Czechia with Slovakia and who doesn't know how the adjective "Slovak" is spelled. And who thinks that string theory can be used as a toy model for the climate.

If you remember how the software was collapsing in 2013, I wouldn't be surprised if it had been a deliberate bug added by Carl Christensen in order to make people more aware of the looming global warming catastrophe. It would fit his intelligence as measured by his contributions on the blogs of two of you.

Some people and whole institutions are simply parasites whose whole existence depends on spreading and maintaining various myths such as the 5+ degree climate sensitivity. All institutions that are paid as scientific ones but that actually have a clear interest in producing one particular kind of results should be abolished - the funding should stop because they are only adding noise and garbage.

I am talking about both sides even though I am only aware of loud examples of this kind on one side.


Anonymous said...

HAHAHA Lubo the moron adds to the "conspiracy theories." What brilliant deductions considering I "uncloaked" about 20 posts ago! I'm glad to see you guys know how to look at a web-log, that's probably the most computer modelling any of you hacks have done in months! ;-)

Lubo, I suppose a desperate right-wing Czech, just dying to join the Republican party, is the sort that loved the idea of Hitler coming in to "liberate" your homeland, eh? And that laughable accusation that a bad ancillary file was done on purpose to make people think the world was ending in 2013! god are you bloggers funny!

I am intrigued by the notion that right-wing hacks like Lubos are on the side of Annan, and presumably agreeing that this is a "conspiracy" against him (after he's dissed practically every publication in his profession --Karen Silkwood he ain't...)

Then again, was it mere coincidence that a few months ago here, Annan led a feeble attack here on detection & attribution studies; and a week or two later, McIntyre led an even more toothless "rebuttal" (presumably until Hans van Storch told him how wrong he was)?

So, anyway, Lubos, you fully agree with him on a tight constraint of future climate around 2.5degrees C eh? Wow, you'd best tell the climateauditors of your new conversion! But please tell me who is paying off on these high sensitivities, we on CPDN could use new Maseratis!

Luboš Motl said...

Dear Carl,

I am not promoting any conspiracies here. I'm just pointing out some strange things that are happening in another field of physical sciences.

And yes, I think that the technical blogs about climate science have higher quality than the mainstream media and a bad portion of the expert journals; and James + William are on the edge of being includable into this category. This superiority of blogs is an anomaly that will eventually disappear but it exists now.

I don't believe we can calculate the sensitivity with the accuracy you announce. But I am confident that we can rule out, at a very high confidence level, values of sensitivity that exceed 5 C or so just like -2 C or so simply because most of the doubling of the greenhouse effect has already occured, and we have seen roughly 0.5 Celsius degrees of warming from that.

A 5C additional warming is a 10- sigma effect which is extremely unlikely. Things usually don't get multiplied by 10 from a statistical expectation without a good reason.

The climate sensitivity is rationally expected to be twice what we have already seen as the warming of the industrial era, so the average value is around 1 C or 1.5 C while the standard deviation is comparable to 0.5 or 1 C.

With this obvious counting, it is plausible that the sensitivity is zero or 2.5 C, but it is not plausible that it is 5 C as long as one knows how normal distribution looks like.


Anonymous said...

>I don't believe we can calculate >the sensitivity with the accuracy >you announce

You would make more sense to say "with the accuracy that Annan is so cock-sure about." After all, the CPDN people (not just us, but the great participants in the experiment! :-) are showing a bigger range in sensitivity than Annan and a few others (a bunch of "RealClimaters") can handle.

So Lubos, I'm afraid in your zeal to support other bloggers & Wikipedians (i.e. Annan & Connelly) -- you have really misinterpreted things. It's Annan that is proclaiming this tight constraint of climate sensitivity around 2.5 degrees; based on this "expert prior" which he seems to have pulled out of his ass (or prehaps it's based on Jules favorite stitching pattern). It's the CPDN guys and others such as Hegerl that are showing a higher uncertainty and slightly wider range. So it seems that the "skeptics" would like this bigger, uncertain range; which is why I find it odd & funny that they are shrieking about this "conspiracy of supression." Or is it all just some sort of game to agree on a lower number for some reason?

Luboš Motl said...

Dear Carl,

I don't care whether I sound sufficiently skeptical to you.

If James Annan gets 2.5 plus minus 0.5 or anything else, let be it. I think it is obvious that the error, if computed rationally, will be of order 1 Celsius degree, and if someone can get a smaller one, he might be just better in calculating it.

My calculations that may be less sophisticated than Annan's calculations - but that may be sufficient - give me a gaussian around 1 C plus minus 0.5 C. Annan's result is compatible with what I obtain within the error margins.

The gigantic predictions for the sensitivity are, however, not compatible. That's a simple reason why I believe that Annan probably did a better job.

I agree with him that a prior expectation used for further calculations may simply be so far off that a finite amount of refinements won't remove it.

The ideal science of course works in such a way that the results are more or less independent of the initial expectations because what we learn along the way dominates over the preconceptions - we have a lot of data.

Because of these controversies, that's clearly not the case of the climate sensitivity so far, and it is important not to build on wrong priors that are equivalent to adding flawed datasets to the calculations.


Anonymous said...

>sufficient - give me a gaussian
>around 1 C plus minus 0.5 C.
>Annan's result is

What the flying Philadelpia fuck? I rest my case. Blogging scientists & scientist bloggers should be shot in the head!

James Annan said...


Please act like a grown up and sign your posts.

If you are actually interested in returning to the science, then FWIW, Hegerl (with Frame as co-author, remember) completely ruled out all sensitivities above 10C though their prior (Uniform on [0,10]). We assigned a prior probability of about 5% to those extremely high values. Frame (in GRL) said 50%. Are you really going to pretend that 0% and 50% are both just fine because Dave Frame says so, but 5% is unreasonable when I use it?

It's strange I don't hear you (or anyone else like Frame himself, for that matter) whining about Hegerl "ruling out high sensitivities a priori".

James Annan said...


Please look at this current manuscript and see if you still think I have misrepresented F05 in any way.

You may recall Dave himself read and commented on it, I don't expect he particularly likes the content but he did not complain about how we had referenced him, so it seems a bit much for you to get worked up over it.

C W Magee said...

Good lord. Who would have thought that the poms could devote so much of the blogoshpere to whinging about each other? I may have to do a statistical analysis and publish it in Nature.

Seriously, the role of editors in the peer review process is an interesting one, especially when you look at the necessary effort and pay that is involved in the writing/peer reviewing/ publishing process. In my blog to-do pile is a comment on the new science anti-fraud policy, and how it partitions the reward and punishment for fraud and fraud detetion between these three stakeholders.

From an emperical experimentalist's point of view, it would be interesting to set up a journal where the editorial functions were handled by algorithm- to see if the peer review system functions better or worse with a transparent, predictable mediation system. It would certainly cut down on cost...

Anonymous said...


I am not getting worked up about what you have written in your draft (or should I say rejected?) papers. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. I was defending myself against your comment that gave the appearance of an accusation that I should see both sides before making up my mind. If this happens to give the appearance that I am mildly getting worked up about the blogging process then that is appropriate. It is clearly only very mild compared with what Carl is saying.


Anonymous said...

Note to CC: Please lighten up.

Note to Lab Lemming: JA and CC are technically not poms.

Dr. Lemming said...

Further discussion of the review process here: