Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Your opinions, please

But only if they are the right sort of opinions, perhaps.

Long-term readers will remember the saga of our opinion poll which EOS declined to publish, on the basis that EOS should not accept summaries of opinion polls. and that they wanted to focus on science instead (even in the "Forum" section).

What should appear in this week's EOS but...the summary of an opinion poll! Entitled "Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change" it reports the results of a web-based poll of (mainly) US-based scientists, and reports that - surprise surprise - about 90% of them agree that "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures".

Of course my opinion is likely to be biased, but surely our poll concerning how accurate and representative the IPCC AR4 was in summarising the state of the science, is much more interesting and (potentially) valuable than yet another flogging of the dead horse concerning the mere existence of anthropogenic global warming.

(And please, I don't really want to re-open the debate about the limitations of what we - or really, what Fergus, cos it was almost entirely his effort - did. The point is that we were explicitly rejected for being a poll at all.)

More commentary from Fergus and Roger.


Chip Knappenberger said...


I (along with Pat Michaels) tried to get a piece published as an Eos Feature about last year about this time pointing out, that despite a rising number of voices, “global warming” (as defined as a warming pressure from an enhancing greenhouse effect) had not stopped. We demonstrated that extending the empirical relationship between global temperatures and ENSO, solar, volcanic, and anthropogenic forcing (a simple linear increase) that we had established in GRL in an earlier paper (Michaels and Knappenberger, GRL, 2000) to the present, indicated that “global warming” was in fact alive and well and had just been offset to a large degree in recent years by “natural variations.”

Eos editors sent out our feature article proposal for review and the review was largely favorable indicating an interest in the paper especially considering the authorship, but was concerned that we may have included too much “new” science (the reviewer only reviewed our proposal, not a full submission). Apparently, there is a recent policy in place the “new” science is not what Eos is about. After a drawn out deliberation (in which I included our entire proposed submission demonstrating that the only “new” part of our analysis was the inclusion of the “new” observations of the ENSO, solar, and volcanic signal (updated from 1999 through 2007, all other procedures were as we laid out in our GRL 2000 paper)), the editors decided that, no new science was allowed and that if we publish our paper elsewhere, we could then submit a proposal in which we described our published work.

Since I went to Eos in the first place because it is more “newsy” than “sciency”, I knew that as the paper currently stood, it had little chance of getting published elsewhere—after all it was designed as more of a newsy piece. Nevertheless, I formalized it and sent it to GRL. It was immediately returned (without being sent out for review) with a note from the editor indicating that there was not enough “new” in the paper to warrant publication.

It figures.

So there you have my sad tale. To this day, as I read Eos, it is not clear to me that “new” science is excluded from the Feature articles.

To me, it is simply a matter of Eos choosing what (and from whom) it wants to publish as a Feature—which is their prerogative. It would just be nicer and more honest if they told the truth in their rejections, rather than making general statements that really don’t generally apply--but I guess that is their perogative as well.

-Chip Knappenberger

Matthew said...

Just buy Piers Corbyn's forecasts which are not expensive at all and you'll see he has a high accuracy rate.

It's pathetic just remembering the things he's got wrong.

Apart from the xmas bet December was excellent and most of January so far.

Headline for Jan was cold, parts of it very cold.

Can you argue with that?

The timings have been excellent of weather events.

James Annan said...

"Just buy Piers Corbyn's forecasts which are not expensive at all and you'll see he has a high accuracy rate."

Actually, I evaluated the forecasts that were available and they fell well short of his claim of 80% accuracy.

Matthew said...

How do you assess his forecasts?

Do u give half marks for time windows where appropriate?

If he warns of floods and the met office etc do the same that's surely a success even if no flood. The idea was correct.

James Annan said...

I evaluated his numerical predictions for monthly temperature and rainfall, against the statistics. You can read all about it in these and these posts (which overlap in part).

I didn't attempt to evaluate his horoscope-like predictions that it might be wet and windy at some place or other, with a time window of plus or minus a few days. It would be interesting to hear from him what he regards as failure in respect of such vague predictions.

Matthew said...

Phone Piers Corbyn up and ask him.

Go to weatheraction.com for his number.

The average is only a guide.

His time windows are very good and detailed given they're so far ahead. Sometimes a day or two early or late.

Forecasts do cover this.

Are you on the side of man made global warming by any chance?

Matthew said...

It wasn't actually Piers who said he's 80% accurate, some of his customers probably.

These figures will fluctuate of course. My experience about 70% so far(over a year) This is very good and much better than luck.

Out of interest the met office get caught out often by the severity of an event when Piers gets it right so why don't you run them down too?

It would be interesting to watch you have a public debate with Piers to settle this matter once and for all.

Can't you afford £10 a month to prove him wrong with his detailed forecasts as you are so desperate to?

I look forward to the public debate.

Matthew said...



Please have a look at these links about Piers Corbyn. The latter is a video of his predictions for 2009 and other interesting things.

Steve Bloom said...

James, RP Sr. mentioned that the final rejection took the form of a note from Fred himself. That sounded unusual. Is it?

James Annan said...


I don't know about EOS specifically, but a Chief Ed usually does a certain amount of normal editor-type-things. However there certainly seems to have been an unusual amount of to-ing and fro-ing between several editors before they came to their collective decision.

James Annan said...


The 80% figure is certainly Corbyn's own, and I've no intention of paying him him any money for the excitement of proving that he's wrong.

I'm certainly not "on the side of man made global warming", I think it is (certainly at the warmer end) a risk we should try to reduce. I'm not such a strong opponent as some though. I hope this comes through clearly enough in my blog posts.

(Hopefully you also may have noticed by now that this thread has nothing to do with Corbyn anyway. If you wish to comment further, I'd be grateful if you could do it in a more appropriate place.)

Matthew said...
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Matthew said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Matthews said...

But EOS is notorious for only publishing one side of the argument. A good example was Damom and Laut, "Pattern of strange errors..." EOS 85, 370-374 (2004). This paper is an attack on the work of Friis-Christensen showing correlation between climate and solar cycle length. Ironically, the only 'strange errors' were those committed by Damon and Laut themselves - they falsely claim that a figure with 'arithmetic errors' was from a paper by F-C, when in fact it was from a paper by Laut himself! F-C wrote a response, pointing this out, along with many other errors of D&L, but EOS refused to publish it. You can read the response ("Comments on the Forum article"...) on the www.spacecenter.dk site.

[Matthew, I think I have an idea why James might be deleting some of your posts. They have nothing to do with the topic.]