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Regressions and Global Warming

December 29th, 2009 1 comment




The webpost http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/how-long/ has a nice step-by-step exposition of how to estimate whether there is a warming trend in temperature data 1975-2008, first using OLS, then using an AR-1 process, then an ARMA. The trend is significant. But the post is responding to the observation that the trend has flattened out since 2000. It doesn’t really respond to that.

To see why, note the graph above. It has artificial temperatures that rise from 1975 to 2000 and then flatten out. If you do an OLS regression, though, YEAR comes in significant with a t-statistic of 25.33 and an R2 of .95. I just did it with Excel, because I haven’t installed StarOffice or STATA on my new computer here, but I’m sure that doing a serial correlation correction wouldn’t alter the result much. Yet eyeballing it, we can see that though it is clear that temperatures have risen since 1975, it is also clear that they’ve flattened out since 2000. A linear regression just doesn’t summarize the data correctly.

Let’s do a couple more examples for fun and to drive home the point. In the second figure, the temperature levels out in 1982 but year is still highly significant, with a t-stat of 4.89, though the R2 drops to .42 (what’s the R2 with the real data? –very small, I’d expect).

Okay, now look at the third figure, in which the trend actually reverses. The t-stat is actually bigger—4.98— and the R2 is .43.



So don’t go and use a linear model when eyeballing the data tells you it isn’t appropriate. When you have a simple regression in which only one variable explains another, use your eyes first, and software second. Do remember, though, that checking for statistical significance— and autocorrelation and all those other things— are useful too, so long as you start off right. Here, the question is not just “Have temperatures been rising with time over the past 30 years?” but, separately, “Have temperatures been rising with time over the past 10 years?”

The way to start addressing that with regression, by the way, is to do a regression of temperature on four variables: Constant, Year, a dummy equaling 1 if the year is after 1999 and 0 otherwise, and an interaction of that dummy with Year.

If a lot of people are interested, I could apply the serial correlation corrections to the artificial data or do this 4-variable regression on the real data, but maybe somebody else can take over now. My Excel spreadsheet is at http://rasmusen.org/t/2009/warming.xlsx, this document at http://rasmusen.org/t/2009/warming.pdf, I’m Eric Rasmusen at erasmuse@indiana.edu, and this is December 29, 2009, and I’ve put a pdf of this post at http://rasmusen.org/t/2009/warming.pdf.

Categories: global warming, statistics Tags:

Spending on Global Warming Research

December 24th, 2009 No comments

Mark Kleiman writes

Bjorn Lomborg turns out not to be a global-warming denialist. He wants to spend $100 billion a year on what he calls “green energy research and development.”… I’m waiting to hear all the Republicans and libertarians who love to cite Lomborg as a guru when he’s attacking Ky0to and its progeny endorse his proposal, and the new taxes required to pay for it. But I’m not going to hold my breath.

I’m a definite skeptic, and I certainly would not reject Lomborg’s proposal without mulling it over. I think a lot of skeptics would support it, in fact— even those who would put the probability that carbon dioxide is causing temperature growth at only 20%. It’s a matter of cost and benefit. Here are some reasons:

1. $100 billion per year is small compared to the cost of the carbon-reduction proposals that have been made.

2. Whether the research is making progress or nor would be much easier to see than whether a carbon-reduction proposal is working.

3. Some of that money, I hope, would be used for seeing whether global warming is actually occurring. I know this would benefit the climatologists who have been such frauds, but if the money were spent on honest research, that would be very useful.

4. Research has a good hope of finding a way to solve the problem. Carbon-reduction proposals just slow down the growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (well, almost all of the proposals– that Canadian editorial’s ruthless “one-child” policy would work). Roughly, instead of the temperature rising X much by 2100, the typical leftwing proposal has it rising X much by 2120.

5. Research spending can be done unilaterally and succeed. Germany, for example, could decide to go-it-alone and spend the $100 billion, find the solution, and give it away.

Categories: global warming Tags:

Latest Links on Global Warming

December 22nd, 2009 1 comment

I’ve decided to use this page for lots of global warming posts. I’ll cut and paste it to the top of my blog every once in a while, so I can have easy access to it. The bottom items in it will be the older ones.

  1. “A Petition I Am Thinking of Circulating.” My draft ClimateGate petition for economists to sign, which has lots of ClimateGate email excerpts on the two topics of fiddling with journals and hiding data.
  2. This 2005 post at ClimateAudit thoroughly discusses the open-data policies of the US funding agencies that the East Anglia people ignored (and the US D. of Energy condoned). It has the story of the famous Philip Jones email quote, when refusing to disclose his data: “We have 25 or so years invested in the work. Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it.”
  3. Dec. 18 in NatureNews, two prominent climatologists not at East Anglia, Von Storch and Allen, show their total unconcern with the unethical practices displayed in the Climategate Emails: “We welcome debate about the ethics of science prompted by the language of some of these e-mails, which, rightly or not, have created concerns about the scientific process.”
  4. This 2009 post has the story of the Kamel Siberia paper that Jones boasted of having gotten rejected. “In the case of another paper (Aufhammer et al )[the economists], obstruction has delayed publication of the paper by six years but the authors are still endeavouring to get the paper into print. This was not the case with the Kamél paper; Kamél himself had abandoned the field.”
  5. This pdf article by James Hansen is a good survey of lots of global warming issues from his warmist point of view. It shows what a fraud he is, too. Two things I note are (1) when he discusses the year-2000 mistake, he fails to point out that it was a skeptic who found it in spite of Hansen’s total lack of cooperation, and (2) when he discusses the failure of temperature to rise over the past decade he says that temperature did rise, because the 11-year moving average rose. (This last is blatantly deceitful, because if temperatures are rising and then flatten, it will take 11 years before the 11-year moving average stops rising! Note, too, that 1998 was by his own admission a year that was unusually warm for reasons unrelated to CO2.) The best place to prove a man’s lack of integrity is from his own writing.
  6. December 20, 2009
    A Climatology Conspiracy?
    By David H. Douglass and John R. Christy. On the conspiracy to slow down an article’s appearance in print till the warmists could write a response (and the editor’s acquiescence and apparent guarantee of acceptance).
  7. Climatedebatedaily is a very good site that in two columns links to Warmist and Skeptic webposts, and even links to “Ripostes” and “Replies” to each webpost. It is especially useful for the Warmist column, I think— better than RealClimate.
  8. Wikipedia’s climate doctor: How Wikipedia’s green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles
    December 19, 2009, Lawrence Solomon
  9. There;s a good post by a statistician showing step by step how to do your own Hockey Stick, at

    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2009/12/fables-of-the-reconstruction.html

    I’d like to try this out myself, but I haven’t yet. He even limits himself to free spreadsheet statistical software (Star OpenOffice–Excel doesn’t have the tools). Any statistician could have found out what was wrong with the Hockey Stick paper, one of the most important in the field, if he’d been allowed to see the data and techniques.

  10. EUReferendum reports on the truly remarkable number of conflicts of interest thatDr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, has. It’s about as bad as if he were a director of Exxon. The number of directorships and consultantcies he has must make him a very rich man. Pegasus Capital, Siderian Ventures, The Sustainable Future Fund Iceland, International Risk Governance Council, Asian Development Bank, GloriOil Limited,Chicago Climate Exchange, Inc. , Oil Trade Associates Singapore, Climate Change Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank. Some of these are “advisory board” positions, so maybe they aren’t paid much, but it makes one wonder.
  11. A good post on public opinion: “You can feel that most crucial of propaganda processes happening with Climategate: the reversing of the burden of proof.”
  12. Hamweather record weather events mapped over the US for last week.

  13. RealClimate, the main Warmer blog, has been surprisingly quiet about ClimateGate. Below are their most recent updates on it. These are useful because they present the Warmer case, which essentially is “I’m a very good guy and so is Phil Jones and it’s a shame people are saying bad things about him ” without mentioning anything specific. There’s not a sign of contrition. Don’t take my word for it— read these.

    Further update: Nature’s editorial.

    Further, further update: Ben Santer’s mail (click on quoted text), the Mike Hulme op-ed, and Kevin Trenberth.

  14. “Pielke Sr. responds to NCDC’s “Talking Points” about surfacestations.org”. Arguments that the US raw temperature record is of dubious value for looking at long-term trends. Very feeble response from the weather station people, it seems.

  15. “The Climate Research Dispute over Publishing Soon and Baliunas”. Response of the journal editor to complaints about his publishing a Skeptic article.

  16. It’s interesting how comments are so often better informed and wiser than the writer. This Megan McCardle post is about death threats to climatologists after ClimateGate. The comments note that the only evidence that such threats were really made comes from the same scientists who have been discredited in the scandal itself.

  17. Fables of the Reconstruction
    (Or, How to Make Your Own Hockey Stick)
    . This goes through it, supplying the temperature and proxy data and telling you how to download and use OpenOffice to do principal components analysis. I’ll do this myself when I have time. I emailed the author asking why principal components was a better technique than just regression here.

  18. From Mark Steyn:

    The documents were leaked on the Internet, the CRU confirmed their authenticity, they’ve announced that they’ve thrown out all their raw data, the head guy has stepped down . . . But that’s no reason not to “continue to look into the issue” for another, oh, three, four, seven months before running a story. I like this fellow’s sign-off:

    Slice your average environment correspondent through the middle and you’re going to find a left-leaning liberal arts graduate who is utterly out of his/her depth. Their world view is being swept from underneath them and they are being shown — in ways that they do not really and have never had to understand — that the guys they thought were the goodies are in fact “at it” and that those they have spent a decade disparaging as deniers were in fact spot on.

    I would find that hard to report too.

    Like eight year olds that just found out there’s no Santa. Kind of earth shattering and traumatic. Lied to by those you most trusted.

  19. The Harry Read Me file is worth having a link to. Here are some excerpts. One of them: “So with a somewhat cynical shrug, I added the nuclear option — to match every WMO possible, and turn the rest into new stations … In other words what CRU usually do. It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad …”

  20. In my regulation class this week, a Taiwanese student jokingly suggested that the way to solve global warming would be to kill any children born to a family that already had one child. Then this Op-Ed appeared in one of the top Canadian newspapers:
    “The real inconvenient truth:
    The whole world needs to adopt China’s one-child policy”

  21. Megan McCardle very gently brings up the Darwin data fraud and politely asks if there’s some reason it’s not as bad as it looks. She hopes the warmist blog RealClimate will say something about it. I’ve been checking that site regularly, and they seem to have adopted the strategy of saying very little about ClimateGate and related scandals, probably because they can’t give good answers and they don’t want to even give their readers access to any details that might upset their views.

  22. Look at the comments on this Boston Globe blog in which Harvard Prof. McCarthy tries to dismiss ClimateGate. The amount of scorn heaped on the Globe is amazing.

  23. Bellamy: Twenty-Eight Years on TV, Then Blackballed for Challenging AGW

  24. Global Warming US Cities Getting Warmer: This is a You-Tube video a geneticist made with his son showing how only the urban temperatures in the US are going up, not rural stations. “A comparison of GISS data for the last 111 years show US cities getting warmer but rural sites are not increasing in temperature at all. Urban Heat Islands may be the only areas warming.” The emperor really does have no clothes. I’ve wondered about that myself, but I thought people in the field had surely looked at something so simple.

  25. Climate Scientist to Revkin: “we can no longer trust you” to carry water for us. Another incredible email leak. A well-known U. of Illinois scientist condemns a NY Times liberal writer for making light of global warming and threatens to cut off his sources. These people have no shame, and no sense of humor either.

  26. It is worth keeping in mind that maybe people who say they don’t believe in absolute truth and who believe that the most important things for scientists to do is to help people, not to advance science, actually mean what they say, in which case they believe that a scientist has a duty to lie about his results if he thinks that will advance social justice. And if they believe that, they’ll do it.


  27. Nature
    has an editorial belitting the importance of ClimateGate and making misstatemetns such as that Antarctic sea ice is diminishing. Read it, and think less of that journal.

  28. A good Levitt-Dubner comment on why anything happening with glaciers is unrelated to global warming (for example– where glaciers are melting, temperatures aren’t rising!)
Categories: climategate, global warming Tags:

Applying Time Series Econometrics to Temperature and Carbon Dioxide

December 17th, 2009 No comments

For an economist, what I suggest below is obvious, but I wonder if anybody has done it.

  1. Does the world temperature rise over time? Check the statistical significance of a time trend.
  2. Next, check for serial correlation, and re-check for whether there is a time trend.
  3. Now regress temperature on carbon dioxide levels. Is there a significant relationship?
  4. Now add a time trend for 1950-2009. Does it explain temperature better than carbon dioxide?
  5. Now start applying some time series econometrics. I don’t know that stuff really. But what we’d want to do is to detrend the variables and include lagged values.

Eyeballing the data, it’s hard for me to believe there’s a significant relationship. The temperature is highly variable from year to year, and the amount of average increase 1970-2000 is tiny compared to year-to-year variation. Once we allow even for first-order autocorrelation, finding an effect would be tough.

As I said, to an economist this is the obvious way to proceed. But has anybody done it? Now that we are finding out how poorly constructed the temperature series are, we’d better ask about all kinds of things.

Categories: global warming Tags:

The Direct and Indirect Implications of the ClimateGate Emails

December 17th, 2009 1 comment

I was just reading a post and comments by a reputable statistics blogger who seems blind to the implications of ClimateGate. My sense is that he hasn’t really looked into it much— he doesn’t seem to realize that the Medieval Warm Period’s existence has important implications, for example. My comment:

It is true that only a few climatologists are implicated in the appalling emails about concealing data and pressuring journals. But just as CO2 is the just the direct driver for warming and the real action comes from indirect effects, we need to look at a second layer: the response of other climatologists.

In my field, economics, if it were revealed that top people in the field had sent emails like this, they would be repudiated by the rest of us. I have had my PhD for 25 years and I’ve never heard of anything like this. There’s sloppy work and contrived results, but we don’t need to use FOIA to get people’s data.

But in climatology, where’s the condemnation? The response seems to be, “Oh, this kind of things is just how scientists talk in private,” and “Well, other scientists have reached much the same results, so this isn’t really misleading,” or “How dare someone leak private emails!”. I don’t trust *anyone* in a field that responds like that. If they say this is humdrum behavior, we can assume they do it themselves, or are so intimidated that they don’t dare publish papers contrary to what the East Anglia people like to see.

Categories: global warming Tags:

Latest Links on Global Warming

December 16th, 2009 No comments

I’ve decided to use this page for lots of global warming posts. I’ll cut and paste it to the top of my blog every once in a while, so I can have easy access to it. The bottom items in it will be the older ones.

  1. “A Petition I Am Thinking of Circulating.” My draft ClimateGate petition for economists to sign, which has lots of ClimateGate email excerpts on the two topics of fiddling with journals and hiding data.
  2. Climatedebatedaily is a very good site that in two columns links to Warmist and Skeptic webposts, and even links to “Ripostes” and “Replies” to each webpost. It is especially useful for the Warmist column, I think— better than RealClimate.
  3. Wikipedia’s climate doctor: How Wikipedia’s green doctor rewrote 5,428 climate articles
    December 19, 2009, Lawrence Solomon
  4. There;s a good post by a statistician showing step by step how to do your own Hockey Stick, at

    http://iowahawk.typepad.com/iowahawk/2009/12/fables-of-the-reconstruction.html

    I’d like to try this out myself, but I haven’t yet. He even limits himself to free spreadsheet statistical software (Star OpenOffice–Excel doesn’t have the tools). Any statistician could have found out what was wrong with the Hockey Stick paper, one of the most important in the field, if he’d been allowed to see the data and techniques.

  5. EUReferendum reports on the truly remarkable number of conflicts of interest thatDr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, has. It’s about as bad as if he were a director of Exxon. The number of directorships and consultantcies he has must make him a very rich man. Pegasus Capital, Siderian Ventures, The Sustainable Future Fund Iceland, International Risk Governance Council, Asian Development Bank, GloriOil Limited,Chicago Climate Exchange, Inc. , Oil Trade Associates Singapore, Climate Change Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank. Some of these are “advisory board” positions, so maybe they aren’t paid much, but it makes one wonder.
  6. A good post on public opinion: “You can feel that most crucial of propaganda processes happening with Climategate: the reversing of the burden of proof.”
  7. Hamweather record weather events mapped over the US for last week.

  8. RealClimate, the main Warmer blog, has been surprisingly quiet about ClimateGate. Below are their most recent updates on it. These are useful because they present the Warmer case, which essentially is “I’m a very good guy and so is Phil Jones and it’s a shame people are saying bad things about him ” without mentioning anything specific. There’s not a sign of contrition. Don’t take my word for it— read these.

    Further update: Nature’s editorial.

    Further, further update: Ben Santer’s mail (click on quoted text), the Mike Hulme op-ed, and Kevin Trenberth.

  9. “Pielke Sr. responds to NCDC’s “Talking Points” about surfacestations.org”. Arguments that the US raw temperature record is of dubious value for looking at long-term trends. Very feeble response from the weather station people, it seems.

  10. “The Climate Research Dispute over Publishing Soon and Baliunas”. Response of the journal editor to complaints about his publishing a Skeptic article.

  11. It’s interesting how comments are so often better informed and wiser than the writer. This Megan McCardle post is about death threats to climatologists after ClimateGate. The comments note that the only evidence that such threats were really made comes from the same scientists who have been discredited in the scandal itself.

  12. Fables of the Reconstruction
    (Or, How to Make Your Own Hockey Stick)
    . This goes through it, supplying the temperature and proxy data and telling you how to download and use OpenOffice to do principal components analysis. I’ll do this myself when I have time. I emailed the author asking why principal components was a better technique than just regression here.

  13. From Mark Steyn:

    The documents were leaked on the Internet, the CRU confirmed their authenticity, they’ve announced that they’ve thrown out all their raw data, the head guy has stepped down . . . But that’s no reason not to “continue to look into the issue” for another, oh, three, four, seven months before running a story. I like this fellow’s sign-off:

    Slice your average environment correspondent through the middle and you’re going to find a left-leaning liberal arts graduate who is utterly out of his/her depth. Their world view is being swept from underneath them and they are being shown — in ways that they do not really and have never had to understand — that the guys they thought were the goodies are in fact “at it” and that those they have spent a decade disparaging as deniers were in fact spot on.

    I would find that hard to report too.

    Like eight year olds that just found out there’s no Santa. Kind of earth shattering and traumatic. Lied to by those you most trusted.

  14. The Harry Read Me file is worth having a link to. Here are some excerpts. One of them: “So with a somewhat cynical shrug, I added the nuclear option — to match every WMO possible, and turn the rest into new stations … In other words what CRU usually do. It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad …”

  15. In my regulation class this week, a Taiwanese student jokingly suggested that the way to solve global warming would be to kill any children born to a family that already had one child. Then this Op-Ed appeared in one of the top Canadian newspapers:
    “The real inconvenient truth:
    The whole world needs to adopt China’s one-child policy”

  16. Megan McCardle very gently brings up the Darwin data fraud and politely asks if there’s some reason it’s not as bad as it looks. She hopes the warmist blog RealClimate will say something about it. I’ve been checking that site regularly, and they seem to have adopted the strategy of saying very little about ClimateGate and related scandals, probably because they can’t give good answers and they don’t want to even give their readers access to any details that might upset their views.

  17. Look at the comments on this Boston Globe blog in which Harvard Prof. McCarthy tries to dismiss ClimateGate. The amount of scorn heaped on the Globe is amazing.

  18. Bellamy: Twenty-Eight Years on TV, Then Blackballed for Challenging AGW

  19. Global Warming US Cities Getting Warmer: This is a You-Tube video a geneticist made with his son showing how only the urban temperatures in the US are going up, not rural stations. “A comparison of GISS data for the last 111 years show US cities getting warmer but rural sites are not increasing in temperature at all. Urban Heat Islands may be the only areas warming.” The emperor really does have no clothes. I’ve wondered about that myself, but I thought people in the field had surely looked at something so simple.

  20. Climate Scientist to Revkin: “we can no longer trust you” to carry water for us. Another incredible email leak. A well-known U. of Illinois scientist condemns a NY Times liberal writer for making light of global warming and threatens to cut off his sources. These people have no shame, and no sense of humor either.

  21. It is worth keeping in mind that maybe people who say they don’t believe in absolute truth and who believe that the most important things for scientists to do is to help people, not to advance science, actually mean what they say, in which case they believe that a scientist has a duty to lie about his results if he thinks that will advance social justice. And if they believe that, they’ll do it.


  22. Nature
    has an editorial belitting the importance of ClimateGate and making misstatemetns such as that Antarctic sea ice is diminishing. Read it, and think less of that journal.

  23. A good Levitt-Dubner comment on why anything happening with glaciers is unrelated to global warming (for example– where glaciers are melting, temperatures aren’t rising!)
Categories: global warming Tags:

Death Threats

December 13th, 2009 No comments

I saw a Guardian article saying that climatologists had been receiving death threats after ClimateGate and that the FBI and British police are investigating. Megan McCardle’s post on this has a lot of good comments. The problem is that when people who have been exposed as cheats who refused to reveal the evidence they claimed to have for their strong scientific assertions say they are being sent death threats but refuse to reveal the evidence they claim to have for being threatened, we ought to be a little skeptical. McCardle comments said:

[1] "I doubt the FBI comments on pending investigations." 

And you'd be right. The don't comment on actual investigations that are under way. That's the point. There is no FBI investigation under way concerning email threats to US climate scientists because there haven't been any.

If you doubt it, I suggest you call the telephone number listed here:

(202) 278-3519

If you are credentialed journalist, the Public Affairs spokesman for the Washington Field Office of the FBI will gladly confirm for you that this Guardian story is a hoax.

Takes five minutes to do this simple legwork.

[2] Yep! If they really wanted people to see these things they could just post emails, with ALL the header info on the web. Everyone, including authorities, would know who sent them. Amazing how that never seems to happen. Instead, it's "trust us".

I googled and found an example of some earlier threats to Skeptics instead of Warmists. From
Scientists threatened for ‘climate denial’
The Telegraph, 11 Mar 2007:

Timothy Ball, a former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg in Canada, has received five deaths threats by email since raising concerns about the degree to which man was affecting climate change.

One of the emails warned that, if he continued to speak out, he would not live to see further global warming.

Compare with the 2009 situation.
“Climate scientists receive death threats,”
Eleanor Hall interview, Australia, December 9, 2009:

ELEANOR HALL:Now to those death threats against climate scientists at the centre of the East Anglia University email affair. The death threats are now being investigated by the FBI in the US and the British police.

Dr Tom Wigley is a former director of the Climatic Research Unit at the East Anglia University and has had several of his emails used by climate change sceptics to suggest that he and his fellow climate scientists have been distorting data and cooking the books to fabricate evidence of global warming….

TOM WIGLEY: Well there’ve been a number of abusive and threatening emails that have been sent to a number of the protagonists here, and I’m not going to mention the names of the individuals but it does include me, and those things are very worrying.

I’ve been asked not to say anything about the details of these threats but I can at least say that the FBI in the USA and the police in England are taking these things seriously and are investigating the sources of the threatening emails as well as they can….

ELEANOR HALL: I understand that you can’t go into detail about who you think might be behind this but can you tell me a little bit more about your reaction? I mean do you now feel frightened for your life?

TOM WIGLEY: You know, I’m in a rather fortunate position that I spend half my time in Australia and half my time in the United States. I mean one of the emails to me said: “we know where you live”. Well I’m not really sure whether they do know where I live.

In that sense I’m not particularly worried but the other emails that some people have received have been rather more pointed and detailed and, as I said, I mean I wish I could tell you more but I just can’t say any more at the moment so…

From my reading of the ClimateGate emails, I doubt that Dr. Wigley would send himself fake death threats, but other people might, and it’s interesting that the journalists just take his word for it, without even seeing copies of the threats. Note, too, the mention of police reaction. Do the police care about Skeptics being threatened too?

Categories: global warming, reputation, thinking Tags:

ClimateGate– Best Links, with Description

December 13th, 2009 No comments

I’ve decided to use this page for lots of global warming posts. I’ll cut and paste it to the top of my blog every once in a while, so I can have easy access to it. The bottom items in it will be the older ones.

  1. “A Petition I Am Thinking of Circulating.” My draft ClimateGate petition for economists to sign, which has lots of ClimateGate email excerpts on the two topics of fiddling with journals and hiding data.
  2. EUReferendum reports on the truly remarkable number of conflicts of interest thatDr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the IPCC, has. It’s about as bad as if he were a director of Exxon. The number of directorships and consultantcies he has must make him a very rich man. Pegasus Capital, Siderian Ventures, The Sustainable Future Fund Iceland, International Risk Governance Council, Asian Development Bank, GloriOil Limited,Chicago Climate Exchange, Inc. , Oil Trade Associates Singapore, Climate Change Advisory Board of Deutsche Bank. Some of these are “advisory board” positions, so maybe they aren’t paid much, but it makes one wonder.
  3. A good post on public opinion: “You can feel that most crucial of propaganda processes happening with Climategate: the reversing of the burden of proof.”
  4. Hamweather record weather events mapped over the US for last week.

  5. RealClimate, the main Warmer blog, has been surprisingly quiet about ClimateGate. Below are their most recent updates on it. These are useful because they present the Warmer case, which essentially is “I’m a very good guy and so is Phil Jones and it’s a shame people are saying bad things about him ” without mentioning anything specific. There’s not a sign of contrition. Don’t take my word for it— read these.

    Further update: Nature’s editorial.

    Further, further update: Ben Santer’s mail (click on quoted text), the Mike Hulme op-ed, and Kevin Trenberth.

  6. “Pielke Sr. responds to NCDC’s “Talking Points” about surfacestations.org”. Arguments that the US raw temperature record is of dubious value for looking at long-term trends. Very feeble response from the weather station people, it seems.

  7. “The Climate Research Dispute over Publishing Soon and Baliunas”. Response of the journal editor to complaints about his publishing a Skeptic article.

  8. It’s interesting how comments are so often better informed and wiser than the writer. This Megan McCardle post is about death threats to climatologists after ClimateGate. The comments note that the only evidence that such threats were really made comes from the same scientists who have been discredited in the scandal itself.

  9. Fables of the Reconstruction
    (Or, How to Make Your Own Hockey Stick)
    . This goes through it, supplying the temperature and proxy data and telling you how to download and use OpenOffice to do principal components analysis. I’ll do this myself when I have time. I emailed the author asking why principal components was a better technique than just regression here.

  10. From Mark Steyn:

    The documents were leaked on the Internet, the CRU confirmed their authenticity, they’ve announced that they’ve thrown out all their raw data, the head guy has stepped down . . . But that’s no reason not to “continue to look into the issue” for another, oh, three, four, seven months before running a story. I like this fellow’s sign-off:

    Slice your average environment correspondent through the middle and you’re going to find a left-leaning liberal arts graduate who is utterly out of his/her depth. Their world view is being swept from underneath them and they are being shown — in ways that they do not really and have never had to understand — that the guys they thought were the goodies are in fact “at it” and that those they have spent a decade disparaging as deniers were in fact spot on.

    I would find that hard to report too.

    Like eight year olds that just found out there’s no Santa. Kind of earth shattering and traumatic. Lied to by those you most trusted.

  11. The Harry Read Me file is worth having a link to. Here are some excerpts. One of them: “So with a somewhat cynical shrug, I added the nuclear option — to match every WMO possible, and turn the rest into new stations … In other words what CRU usually do. It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad …”

  12. In my regulation class this week, a Taiwanese student jokingly suggested that the way to solve global warming would be to kill any children born to a family that already had one child. Then this Op-Ed appeared in one of the top Canadian newspapers:
    “The real inconvenient truth:
    The whole world needs to adopt China’s one-child policy”

  13. Megan McCardle very gently brings up the Darwin data fraud and politely asks if there’s some reason it’s not as bad as it looks. She hopes the warmist blog RealClimate will say something about it. I’ve been checking that site regularly, and they seem to have adopted the strategy of saying very little about ClimateGate and related scandals, probably because they can’t give good answers and they don’t want to even give their readers access to any details that might upset their views.

  14. Look at the comments on this Boston Globe blog in which Harvard Prof. McCarthy tries to dismiss ClimateGate. The amount of scorn heaped on the Globe is amazing.

  15. Bellamy: Twenty-Eight Years on TV, Then Blackballed for Challenging AGW

  16. Global Warming US Cities Getting Warmer: This is a You-Tube video a geneticist made with his son showing how only the urban temperatures in the US are going up, not rural stations. “A comparison of GISS data for the last 111 years show US cities getting warmer but rural sites are not increasing in temperature at all. Urban Heat Islands may be the only areas warming.” The emperor really does have no clothes. I’ve wondered about that myself, but I thought people in the field had surely looked at something so simple.

  17. Climate Scientist to Revkin: “we can no longer trust you” to carry water for us. Another incredible email leak. A well-known U. of Illinois scientist condemns a NY Times liberal writer for making light of global warming and threatens to cut off his sources. These people have no shame, and no sense of humor either.

  18. It is worth keeping in mind that maybe people who say they don’t believe in absolute truth and who believe that the most important things for scientists to do is to help people, not to advance science, actually mean what they say, in which case they believe that a scientist has a duty to lie about his results if he thinks that will advance social justice. And if they believe that, they’ll do it.


  19. Nature
    has an editorial belitting the importance of ClimateGate and making misstatemetns such as that Antarctic sea ice is diminishing. Read it, and think less of that journal.

  20. A good Levitt-Dubner comment on why anything happening with glaciers is unrelated to global warming (for example– where glaciers are melting, temperatures aren’t rising!)
Categories: global warming Tags:

A Petition I Am Thinking of Circulating

December 12th, 2009 No comments

I’m not sure how to get this going, but I’d like to have lots of economists sign a petition on ClimateGate. We scholars are in danger of losing a lot of our moral capital because of our tolerance of bad behavior, and I think we’d end up with the public thinking we’re much less scholarly than we really are— at least we in economics, and, I hope, every field but climatology.

I’m not going to the American Economic Association meeting in Atlanta in January, but maybe I’ll find somebody who is who is willing to sit in a hotel lobby with a petition for people to sign. Volunteers, and comments on the draft below, are welcome, especially comments from anyone who is a strong believer in both global warming and good scholarly practices.

In the November 2009 “ClimateGate” emails from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia certain climatologists casually discuss suppressing other people’s research and thwarting efforts to obtain the data and computer code used in published articles. This has hurt the reputation not only of those scholars but of climatology, science, and peer-reviewed scholarship generally. Unless scholars speak out, there is a danger that the public will believe bad behavior is routine in every field of research. The danger is all the greater because even some scholars not implicated have defended the emails as routine behavior or as unimportant.

We, the undersigned Ph.D. economists, wish to inform the public that we condemn those practices. Any economist writing the ClimateGate emails that we quote below would immediately lose the respect of his colleagues, regardless of their political views. We are making no statement about climate change science or policy when we say this. Few if any of we who sign have expertise in the science of global warming. Economists do have much to say about the costs and benefits of various climate policies, and our debates can be found elsewhere. What matters here is that in economics, requests for one’s data and computer code are considered compliments to the importance of one’s work and are routinely satisfied, whether the other scholar is trying to extend the results or refute them.

Authors are expected to make replication convenient even on controversial topics. John Lott’s work on gun control and John Donohue and Steven Levitt’s on abortion provide good examples of authors providing data to people they knew were seeking to find flaws in their work. The
American Economic Review requires data to be made conveniently available unless special circumstances require confidentiality. The policy at http://www.aeaweb.org/aer/data.php, says:

“All data used in analysis must be clearly and precisely documented.
All data used in analysis must be made available to any researcher for purposes of replication. See Data Availability Policy.
Any requests for an exemption from the data availability policy must be made in the cover letter when the paper is first submitted. “

We are making a statement about economics, not climatology. We do not know whether the ClimateGate practices are common in that field or not, or even whether some extenuating circumstances exist. Rather, we wish to say that we find the specific emails listed on the attached page appalling and shameful.

Signatures in alphabetical order (with affiliations for identification only)

Jane Doe (Ministry of Governmental Affairs, Wherisitstan)
John Doe (Big Research Institute)
John Smith (Random University)

[put signatures in two or three columns]

[NEWPAGE]

The ClimateGate emails, available in searchable form at http://www.climate-gate.org, include the following statements. Boldfacing is added to aid the reader in skimming them.

  1. [January 20, 2005] Proving bad behavior here is very difficult. If you think that Saiers [the editor of Geophysical Research Letters] is in the greenhouse skeptics camp, then, if we can find documentary evidence of this, we could go through official AGU [American Geophysical Union] channels to get him ousted. Even this would be difficult.
  2. [January 21, 2005] Yeah, basically this is just a heads up to people that something might be up here. What a shame that would be. It’s one thing to lose “Climate Research”. We can’t afford to lose GRL [Geophysical Research Letters]. I think it would be useful if people begin to record their experiences w/ both Saiers [the GRL biogeosciences editor] and potentially Mackwell (I don’t know him–he would seem to be complicit w/ what is going on here).

    If there is a clear body of evidence that something is amiss, it could be taken through the proper channels. I don’t that the entire AGU [American Geophysical Union] hierarchy has yet been compromised!

  3. [November 15, 2005] I suspect that this is the first in a line of attacks (I’m sure Tom C is next in line) that will ultimately get “published” one way or another. The GRL leak may have been plugged up now w/ new editorial leadership there, [Prof. Saiers was removed from handling sumbissions responding to the MM paper, and one response he’d rejected was unrejected] but these guys always have “Climate Research” and “Energy and Environment”, and will go there if necessary.

    FOOTNOTE–LINK TO ANOTHER FILE:

    Prof. Saiers says

    “This paper caused a bit of a stir and because I oversaw the peer review of this paper, I assume that Wigley inferred (incorrectly) that I was a climate-change skeptic. I stepped down as GRL editor at the end of my three-year term, long after the excitement over the McIntyre and McKitrick paper had passed. My departure had nothing to do with attempts by Wigley or anyone else to have me sacked.” His vitae says: “2004 – 2006 Hydrology/Biogeosciences Editor, Geophysical Research Letters“.

    Saiers indeed remained as Hydrology/Biogeosciences Editor but:

    “It was announced that the editor in chief of Geophysical Research Letters, Jay Famiglietti, had taken over the file for the McIntyre paper and its responses. This was justified he claimed, because of the high number of responses – four – that the McIntyre paper had received. That two of those responses had been rejected and were no longer in play was not mentioned. The reason for the change quickly became apparent though when, at the end of September, the rejected response from David Ritson turned out not only to have been re-submitted but had also been accepted for publication. This was another clear breach of the journal’s rules, which required that an article’s author should be able to comment on responses before they were accepted. Famiglietti however refused to make any on-the-record comments about why he behaved as he did.”

    END OF FOOTNOTE

  4. This was the danger of always criticising the skeptics for not publishing in the
    “peer-reviewed literature”. Obviously, they found a solution to that–take over a journal!

    So what do we do about this? I think we have to stop considering “Climate Research” as a
    legitimate peer-reviewed journal. Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate
    research community to no longer
    submit to, or cite papers in, this journal. We would also
    need to consider what we tell or request of our more reasonable colleagues who currently
    sit on the editorial board…

  5. I think the skeptics will use this paper to their own ends and it will set paleo back a number of years if it goes unchallenged. I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor. A CRU person is on the editorial board, but papers get dealt with by the editor assigned by Hans von Storch.

  6. Tim Osborn has just come across this. Best to ignore probably, so don’t let it spoil your day. I’ve not looked at it yet. It results from this journal having a number of editors. The responsible one for this is a well-known skeptic in NZ. He has let a few papers through by Michaels and Gray in the past. I’ve had words with Hans von Storch about this, but got nowhere. Another thing to discuss in Nice!

    I have learned one thing. This is that the reviewer who said they were too busy was Ray. I have been saying this to loads of papers recently (something Tom(w) can vouch for). It is clear from the differences between CR and the ERE piece that the other 4 reviewers did not say much, so a negative review was likely to be partly ignored, and the article would still have come out. I say this as this might come out if things get nasty. De Freitas will not say to Hans von Storch or to Clare Goodess who the 4 reviewers were. I believe his paleoclimatologist is likely to be Anthony Fowler, who does dendro at Auckland.

  7. Anyway, I wanted you guys to know that you’re free to use RC [the RealClimate.org website] any way you think would be helpful. Gavin and I are going to be careful about what comments we screen through, and we’ll be very careful to answer any questions that come up to any extent we can. On the other hand, you might want to visit the thread and post replies yourself. We can hold comments up in the queue and contact you about whether or not you think they should be screened through or not, and if so, any comments you’d like us to include.
  8. Just sent loads of station data to Scott. Make sure he documents everything better this time ! And don’t leave stuff lying around on ftp sites – you never know who is trawling them. The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I’ll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? – our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind. Tom Wigley has sent me a worried email when he heard about it – thought people could ask him for his model code. He has retired officially from UEA so he can hide behind that. IPR should be relevant here, but I can see me getting into an argument with someone at UEA who’ll say we must adhere to it!
  9. I’ve attached a cleaned-up and commented version of the matlab code that I wrote for doing the Mann and Jones (2003) composites. I did this knowing that Phil and I are likely to have to respond to more crap criticisms from the idiots in the near future, so best to clean up the code and provide to some of my close colleagues in case they want to test it, etc. Please feel free to use this code for your own internal purposes, but don’t pass it along where it may get into the hands of the wrong people.
  10. I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!
  11. Options appear to be:
    1. Send them the data.

    2. Send them a subset removing station data from some of the countries who made us pay in the normals papers of Hulme et al. (1990s) and also any number that David can remember. This should also omit some other countries like (Australia, NZ, Canada, Antarctica). Also could extract some of the sources that Anders added in (31-38 source codes in J&M 2003). Also should remove many of the early stations that we coded up in the 1980s.
    3. Send them the raw data as is, by reconstructing it from GHCN. How could this be done? Replace all stations where the WMO ID agrees with what is in GHCN. This would be the raw data, but it would annoy them.

  12. The next puzzle is why Wei-Chyung didn’t make the hard copy information
    available. Either it does not exist, or he thought it was too much
    trouble to access and copy. My guess is that it does not exist
    — if it
    did then why was it not in the DOE report? In support of this, it seems
    that there are other papers from 1991 and 1997 that show that the data
    do not exist. What are these papers? Do they really show this?

    Now my views. (1) I have always thought W-C W was a rather sloppy
    scientist. I therefore would not be surprised if he screwed up here.
    But
    ITEM X is in both the W-C W and Jones et al. papers — so where does it
    come from first? Were you taking W-C W on trust?

    (2) It also seems to me that the University at Albany has screwed up. To
    accept a complaint from Keenan and not refer directly to the complaint
    and the complainant in its report really is asking for trouble.

    (3) At the very start it seems this could have been easily dispatched.
    ITEM X really should have been …

    “Where possible, stations were chosen on the basis of station histories
    and/or local knowledge: selected stations have relatively few, if any,
    changes in instrumentation, location, or observation times”

    —–

    I realise that Keenan is just a trouble maker and out to waste time, so
    I apologize for continuing to waste your time on this, Phil.
    However, I
    *am* concerned because all this happened under my watch as Director of
    CRU and, although this is unlikely, the buck eventually should stop with me.

  13. PS to Gavin – been following (sporadically) the CA stuff about the
    GISS data and
    release of the code etc by Jim. May take some of the pressure of you
    soon, by releasing a list of the stations we use – just a list, no code
    and no data. Have agreed to under the FOIA here in the UK.

Categories: academia, global warming Tags:

The Climate Research Dispute over Publishing Soon and Baliunas

December 12th, 2009 1 comment

From the very good, searchable, ClimateGate document site www.climategate.com comes some emails I haven’t seen discussed anywhere. The bottom email is from an editor criticized for publishing Soon and Baliunas by the CRU crowd; the top email is CRU man Dr. Jones’s reaction.

Dear All,
           Keith and I have discussed the email below.  I don't want to start a discussion of
     it and I
      don't want you sending it around to anyone else, but it serves as a warning as to where
      the debate might go should the EOS piece come out.
          I think it might help Tom (W) if you are still going to write a direct response to
     CR. Some of
      de Freitas' views are interesting/novel/off the wall to say the least. I am glad that
     he doesn't
      consider himself a paleoclimatologist - the statement about the LIA having the lowest
      temperatures since the LGM. The paleo people he's talked to didn't seem to mention the
     YD,
      8.2K or the 4.2/3K events - only the Holocene Optimum.  There are also some snipes at
      CRU and our funding, but we're ignoring these here. Also Mike comes in for some stick,
     so stay
      cool Mike - you're a married man now !
        So let's keep this amongst ourselves .
          I have learned one thing. This is that the reviewer who said they were too busy was
     Ray.
      I have been saying this to loads of papers recently (something Tom(w) can vouch for).
     It is
      clear from the differences between CR and the ERE piece that the other 4 reviewers did
      not say much, so a negative review was likely to be partly ignored, and the article
     would still
      have come out. I say this as this might come out if things get nasty.
         De Freitas will not say to Hans von Storch or to Clare Goodess who the 4 reviewers
     were. I
      believe his paleoclimatologist is likely to be Anthony Fowler, who does dendro at
     Auckland.
      Cheers
      Phil

     X-Sender: f037@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Version 5.1
     Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 09:29:22 +0100
     To: c.goodess@uea,phil Jones 
     From: Mike Hulme 
     Subject: Fwd: Re: Climate Research
     Clare, Phil,
     Since Clare and CRU are named in it, you may be interested in Chris de Freitas' reply to
     the publisher re. my letter to Otto Kinne.  I am not responding to this, but await a
     reply from Kinne himself.
     Mike

     From: "Chris de Freitas" 
     To: Inter-Research Science Publisher 
     Date: Wed, 18 Jun 2003 13:45:56 +1200
     Subject: Re: Climate Research
     Reply-to: c.defreitas@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     CC: m.hulme@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     Priority: normal
     X-mailer: Pegasus Mail for Win32 (v3.12c)
     Otto (and copied to Mike Hulme)
     I have spent a considerable amount of my time on this matter and had
     my integrity attacked in the process. I want to emphasize that the
     people leading this attack are hardly impartial observers. Mike
     himself refers to "politics" and political incitement involved. Both
     Hulme and Goodess are from the Climate Research Unit of UEA that is
     not particularly well known for impartial views on the climate change
     debate.  The CRU has a large stake in climate change research funding
     as I understand it pays the salaries of most of its staff.  I
     understand too the journalist David Appell was leaked information to
     fuel a public attack. I do not know the source
     Mike Hulme refers to the number of papers I have processed for CR
     that "have been authored by scientists who are well known for their
     opposition to the notion that humans are significantly altering
     global climate." How many can he say he has processed? I suspect the
     answer is nil. Does this mean he is biased towards scientists "who
     are well known for their support for the notion that humans are
     significantly altering global climate?
     Mike Hulme quite clearly has an axe or two to grind, and, it seems, a
     political agenda. But attacks on me of this sort challenge my
     professional integrity, not only as a CR editor, but also as an
     academic and scientist. Mike Hulme should know that I have never
     accepted any research money for climate change research, none from
     any "side" or lobby or interest group or government or industry. So I
     have no pipers to pay.
     This matter has gone too far. The critics show a lack of moral
     imagination. And the Cramer affair is dragged up over an over again.
     People quickly forget that Cramer (like Hulme and Goodess now) was
     attacking Larry Kalkstein and me for approving manuscripts, in
     Hulme's words,  "authored by scientists who are well known for their
     opposition to the notion that humans are significantly altering
     global climate."
     I would like to remind those who continually drag up the Cramer
     affair that Cramer himself was not unequivocal in his condemnation of
     Balling et al's manuscript (the one Cramer refereed and now says I
     should have not had published - and what started all this off). In
     fact, he did not even recommend that it be rejected. He stated in his
     review: "My review of the manuscript is mainly with the conclusions
     of the work. For technical assessment, I do not myself have
     sufficient experience with time series analysis of the kind presented
     by the authors." He goes on to recommend: "revise and resubmit for
     additional review". This is exactly what I did; but I did not send it
     back to him after resubmission for the very reason that he himself
     confessed to ignorance about the analytical method used.
     Am I to trundle all this out over and over again because of criticism
     from a lobbyist scientists who are, paraphrasing Hulme, "well known
     for their support for the notion that humans are significantly
     altering global climate".
     The criticisms of Soon and Baliunas (2003) CR article raised by Mike
     Hume in his 16 June 2003 email to you was not raised by the any of
     the four referees I used (but is curiously similar to points raided
     by David Appell!). Keep in mind that referees used were selected in
     consultation with a paleoclimatologist. Five referees were selected
     based on the guidance I received. All are reputable
     paleoclimatologists, respected for their expertise in reconstruction
     of past climates. None (none at all) were from what Hans and Clare
     have referred to as "the other side" or what Hulme refers to as
     people well known for their opposition to the notion that humans are
     significantly altering global climate." One of the five referees
     turned down the request to review explaining he was busy and would
     not have the time. The remaining four referees sent their detailed
     comments to me. None suggested the manuscript should be rejected. S&B
     were asked to respond to referees comments and make extensive
     alterations accordingly. This was done.
     I am no paleoclimatolgist, far from it, but have collected opinions
     from other paleoclimatologists on the S&B paper. I summarise them
     here. What I take from the S&B paper is an attempt to assess climate
     data lost from sight in the Mann proxies. For example, the raising on
     lowering of glacier equilibrium lines was the origin of the Little
     Ice Age as a concept and still seems to be a highly important proxy,
     even if a little difficult to precisely quantify.
     Using a much larger number of "proxy" indicators than Mann did, S&B
     inquired whether there was a globally detectable 50-year period of
     unusual cold in the LIA and a similarly warm era in the MWP. Further,
     they asked if these indicators, in general, would indicate that any
     similar period in the 20th century was warmer than any other era.
     S&B did not purport to do independent interpretation of climate time
     series, either through 50-year filters or otherwise. They merely
     adopt the conclusions of the cited authors and make a scorecard. It
     seems pretty evident to me that temperatures in the LIA were the
     lowest since the LGM. There are lots of peer-reviewed paleo-articles
     which assert the existence of LIA.
     Frankly, I have difficulty understanding this particular quibble.
     Some sort of averaging is necessary to establish the 'slower' trends,
     and that sort of averaging is used by every single study - they
     average to bring out the item of their interest. A million year
     average would do little to enlighten, as would detailed daily
     readings. The period must be chosen to eliminate as much of the
     'noise' as possible without degrading the longer-term signals
     significantly.
     As I read the S&B paper, it was a relatively arbitrary choice - and
     why shouldn't it be? It was only chosen to suppress spurious signals
     and expose the slower drift that is inherent in nature. Anyone that
     has seen curves of the last 2 million years must recognize that an
     averaging of some sort has taken place. It is not often, however,
     that the quibble is about the choice of numbers of years, or the
     exact methodology - those are chosen simply to expose 'supposedly'
     useful data which is otherwise hidden from view.
     Let me ask Mike this question. Can he give an example of any dataset
     where the S&B characterization of the source author is incorrect? (I
     am not vouching for them , merely asking.)
     S&B say that they rely on the original characterizations, not that
     they are making their own; I don't see a problem a priori on relying
     on characterizations of others or, in the present circumstances, of
     presenting a literature review. While S&B is a literature review, so
     is this section of IPCC TAR, except that the S&B review is more
     thorough.
     The Mann et al multi-proxy reconstruction of past temperatures has
     many problems and these have been well documented by S&B and others.
     My reading of the IPCC TAR leads me to the conclusion that Mann et al
     has been used as the basis for a number of assertions: 1. Over the
     past millennium (at least for the NH) the temperature has not varied
     significantly (except for the European/North Atlantic sector) and
     hence the climate system has little internal variability. This
     statement is supported by an analysis of model behaviour, which also
     shows little internal variability in climate models. 2. Recent global
     warming, as inferred from instrument records, is large and unusual in
     the context of the Mann et al temperature reconstruction from multi-
     proxies. 3. Because of the previous limited variability and the
     recent warming that cannot be explained by known natural forcing
     (volcanic activity and solar insolation changes) human activity is
     the likely cause of the recent global change.
     In this context, IPCC mounts a powerful case. But the case rests on
     two main foundations; the past climate has shown little variability
     and the climate models reflect the internal variability of the
     climate system. If either or both are shown to be weak or fallacious
     then the IPCC case is weakened or fails.
     S&B have examined the premise that the globally integrated
     temperature has hardly varied over the past millennium prior to the
     instrumental record. I agree it is not rocket science that they have
     performed. They have looked at the evidence provided by researchers
     to see if the trend of the temperature record of the European/North
     Atlantic sector (which is not disputed by IPCC) is reflected in
     individual records from other parts of the globe (Their three
     questions). How objective is their assessment? From a purely
     statistical viewpoint the work can be criticised. But if you took a
     purely statistical approach you probably would not have sufficient
     data to reach an unambiguous conclusion, or you could try statistical
     fiddles to combine the data and end up with erroneous results under
     the guise of statistical significance. S&B have looked at the data
     and reached the conclusion that probably the temperature record from
     other parts of the globe follows the same pattern as that of the
     European/North Atlantic sector. Of the individual proxy records that
     I have seen I would agree that this is the case. I certainly have not
     found significant regions of the NH that were cold during the
     medieval period and warm during the Little Ice Age period that are
     necessary offsets of the European/North Atlantic sector necessary to
     reach a hemispherically flat pattern as derived by Mann et al.
     S&B have put forward sufficient evidence to challenge the Mann et al
     analysis outcome and seriously weaken the IPCC assertions based on
     Mann et al. Paleo reconstruction of temperatures and the global
     pattern over the past millennium and longer remains a fertile field
     for research. It suggests that the climate system is such that a
     major temporal variation as is universally recognised for the
     European/North Atlantic region would be reflected globally and S&B
     have given support to this view.
     It is my belief that the S&B work is a sincere endeavour to find out
     whether MWP and LIA were worldwide phenomena. The historical evidence
     beyond tree ring widths is convincing in my opinion. The concept of
     "Little Ice Age" is certainly used practically by all Holocene paleo-
     climatologists, who work on oblivious to Mann's "disproof" of its
     existence.
     Paleoclimatologists tell me that, for debating purposes, they are
     more inclined to draw attention to the Holocene Optimum (about 6000
     BP) as an undisputed example of climate about 1-2 deg C warmer than
     at present, and to ponder the entry and exit from the Younger Dryas
     as an example of abrupt climate change, than to get too excited about
     the Medieval Warm Period, which seems a very attenuated version.
     However, the Little Ice Age seems valid enough as a paleoclimatic
     concept. North American geologists repeatedly assert that the 19th
     century was the coldest century in North America since the LGM. To
     that extent, showing temperature increase since then is not unlike a
     mutual fund salesmen showing expected rate of return from a market
     bottom - not precisely false, but rather in the realm of sleight-of-
     hand.
     Regards
     Chris

     Prof. Phil Jones
     Climatic Research Unit        Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
     School of Environmental Sciences    Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
     University of East Anglia
     Norwich                          Email    p.jones@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     NR4 7TJ
     UK ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

     --
     Thomas J. Crowley
     Nicholas Professor of Earth Systems Science
     Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences
     Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
     Box 90227
     103  Old Chem Building Duke University
     Durham, NC  27708
     tcrowley@xxxxxxxxx.xxx
     919-681-8228
     919-684-5833  fax

Categories: academia, global warming Tags:

Climate–Various

December 10th, 2009 No comments

I’ve decided to use this page for lots of global warming posts. I’ll cut and paste it to the top of my blog every once in a while, so I can have easy access to it. The bottom items in it will be the older ones.

  1. “A Petition I Am Thinking of Circulating.” My draft ClimateGate petition for economists to sign, which has lots of ClimateGate email excerpts on the two topics of fiddling with journals and hiding data.
  2. “Pielke Sr. responds to NCDC’s “Talking Points” about surfacestations.org”. Arguments that the US raw temperature record is of dubious value for looking at long-term trends. Very feeble response from the weather station people, it seems.
  3. It’s interesting how comments are so often better informed and wiser than the writer. This Megan McCardle post is about death threats to climatologists after ClimateGate. The comments note that the only evidence that such threats were really made comes from the same scientists who have been discredited in the scandal itself.
  4. Fables of the Reconstruction
    (Or, How to Make Your Own Hockey Stick)
    . This goes through it, supplying the temperature and proxy data and telling you how to download and use OpenOffice to do principal components analysis. I’ll do this myself when I have time.
  5. From Mark Steyn:

    The documents were leaked on the Internet, the CRU confirmed their authenticity, they’ve announced that they’ve thrown out all their raw data, the head guy has stepped down . . . But that’s no reason not to “continue to look into the issue” for another, oh, three, four, seven months before running a story. I like this fellow’s sign-off:

    Slice your average environment correspondent through the middle and you’re going to find a left-leaning liberal arts graduate who is utterly out of his/her depth. Their world view is being swept from underneath them and they are being shown — in ways that they do not really and have never had to understand — that the guys they thought were the goodies are in fact “at it” and that those they have spent a decade disparaging as deniers were in fact spot on.

    I would find that hard to report too.

    Like eight year olds that just found out there’s no Santa. Kind of earth shattering and traumatic. Lied to by those you most trusted.

  6. The Harry Read Me file is worth having a link to. Here are some excerpts. One of them: “So with a somewhat cynical shrug, I added the nuclear option — to match every WMO possible, and turn the rest into new stations … In other words what CRU usually do. It will allow bad databases to pass unnoticed, and good databases to become bad …”
  7. In my regulation class this week, a Taiwanese student jokingly suggested that the way to solve global warming would be to kill any children born to a family that already had one child. Then this Op-Ed appeared in one of the top Canadian newspapers:
    “The real inconvenient truth:
    The whole world needs to adopt China’s one-child policy”
  8. Megan McCardle very gently brings up the Darwin data fraud and politely asks if there’s some reason it’s not as bad as it looks. She hopes the warmist blog RealClimate will say something about it. I’ve been checking that site regularly, and they seem to have adopted the strategy of saying very little about ClimateGate and related scandals, probably because they can’t give good answers and they don’t want to even give their readers access to any details that might upset their views.
  9. Look at the comments on this Boston Globe blog in which Harvard Prof. McCarthy tries to dismiss ClimateGate. The amount of scorn heaped on the Globe is amazing.
  10. Bellamy: Twenty-Eight Years on TV, Then Blackballed for Challenging AGW
  11. Global Warming US Cities Getting Warmer: This is a You-Tube video a geneticist made with his son showing how only the urban temperatures in the US are going up, not rural stations. “A comparison of GISS data for the last 111 years show US cities getting warmer but rural sites are not increasing in temperature at all. Urban Heat Islands may be the only areas warming.” The emperor really does have no clothes. I’ve wondered about that myself, but I thought people in the field had surely looked at something so simple.
  12. Climate Scientist to Revkin: “we can no longer trust you” to carry water for us. Another incredible email leak. A well-known U. of Illinois scientist condemns a NY Times liberal writer for making light of global warming and threatens to cut off his sources. These people have no shame, and no sense of humor either.
  13. It is worth keeping in mind that maybe people who say they don’t believe in absolute truth and who believe that the most important things for scientists to do is to help people, not to advance science, actually mean what they say, in which case they believe that a scientist has a duty to lie about his results if he thinks that will advance social justice. And if they believe that, they’ll do it.

  14. Nature
    has an editorial belitting the importance of ClimateGate and making misstatemetns such as that Antarctic sea ice is diminishing. Read it, and think less of that journal.
  15. A good Levitt-Dubner comment on why anything happening with glaciers is unrelated to global warming (for example– where glaciers are melting, temperatures aren’t rising!)
Categories: global warming Tags:

"Baby You Can Drive My Car": Copenhagen Full Limos and . Empty Buses

December 10th, 2009 No comments

Categories: global warming Tags:

The Precautionary Principle

December 9th, 2009 No comments

Sensibly applied, the idea behind the Precautionary Principle could be useful for global warming. The idea is that we should worry a lot about catastrophic low-probability events. The standard warmist scenario is not at all catastrophic. Adjusting to even a rise of 10 degrees Farenheit over 100 years is just not that bad. It’s the difference between Philadelphia and San Diego, and people do find the heat bearable when they move to San Diego. (Or use Boston and Atlanta if you like. But one thing I wonder about is how much of global warming will just be to make winters milder. The Highs in the Tropics are not higher than in the Midwest— they just last longer.)

But there is a possible catastrophe. It would be because of runaway effects caused by, for example, methane being released from Siberian swamps.

Correct use of the precautionary principle would say that we should forget about little things like cap-and-trade and instead (a) study possible catastrophes very hard,and (b) work on geoengineering, since mere cutbacks don’t address the problem (we could well be heading to catastrophe just with our present warming, and maybe it’s too late to go back unless we can get rid of carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere).

Thus, the precautionary principle really has the opposite implication of its standard use, which is to call for expensive CO2 cuts that won’t help with the small-probability, really-bad outcomes.

In fact, we could go a step further. Suppose we are limited to spending at most one trillion dollars dealing with climate change. Suppose, too, we think that(a) there is a 99% chance that if we do nothing, the temperature will rise and cause 3 trillion dollars in harm to the global economy , (b) there is a 0% chance that the temperature won’t rise, and (c) there is a 1% chance that the temperature will rise dramatically, killing off 90% of the world’s population. The standard global warming line is that we should spend the trillion dollars on substituting other inputs for energy, to reduce CO2 output and prevent the loss of the 3 trillion dollars. The precautionary principle says that we shouldn’t waste the trillion dollars on that— we should spend it on geoengineering research and technology to deal with the 1% probability of disaster, instead.

You may be tempted to reply that both the CO2 reduction and the geoengineering projects should be undertaken. Well, suppose we have 5 trillion dollars to spend. Why shouldn’t we spend all 5 trillion on dealing with the 1% probability of disaster? The more we spend, the higher probability we avoid the disaster, so why divert any of the funds to non-disaster scenarios?

ClimateGate–Various

December 5th, 2009 No comments
Categories: global warming Tags:

ClimateGate Jokes

December 5th, 2009 No comments

Q. What’s the proof that global warming is man-made?

A. The East Anglia emails— a man made up the temperatures.

Q. How many trees does it take to make a hockey stick?

A. Twelve.

Q. How many trees does it take to make a hockey stick?

A. None– just two lines of computer code.

Categories: global warming, humor Tags:

Replication in ClimateGate

December 4th, 2009 No comments

Irritatingly often I see comments on Climategate blog posts saying that economics and climatology aren’t real sciences. I don’t mind Econ not being classified as a science; rather, it is the scoffing tone that I don’t like. Econ is not a science; it’s better than science. But I won’t argue that here.

Rather, the main issues in ClimateGate are not special to science. Peer review and intimidation of editors and other scholars is not. Close linkages with supposedly unbiased blogs and newspapers is not. Violating freedom-of-information laws is not. Sloppy scholarship is not. And, finally, the refusal to allow replication is not.

By that I don’t mean to say that all these sins are common in every field. Far from it! But they are possible in every field.

Consider replication. The issue in ClimateGate is the temperature data series. The scientists started with raw data from hundreds of weather stations covering 150 years, and their end product is a monthly average temperature for every sector of the globe (and a global average too). They did not measure the temperatures themselves– they used data thousands of other people collected over 150 years, 95% of which is publicly available, much of it on the web. Their task was to process the data. They had to choose which weather stations are reliable and average different weather stations within a sector, for example. If one station only existed from 1850 to 1917 and the next one in the vicinity lasted from 1935 to 2009, they had to figure out what to do. They had to worry about the Urban Heat Island effect— what happens when a city full of hot air and concrete grows around a weather station that started out in an empty field. So there was a lot of processing.

What East Anglia would not reveal is which weather stations it used for what years, and how exactly they made the adjustments to get their sector averages. Thus, nobody can replicate their work. Indeed, they can’t do it themselves— they have admitted that they destroyed much of their input data, and the ClimateGate leak tells us that even if they had it, their computer code is too poorly written for anybody to understand, even themselves.

Now, back to the general case. This is not a failure of the scientific method, especially. It could happen in any field with sufficiently low standards for publication, if any other such field existed. Analogies:

  1. A mathematician claims to have squared the circle. He gives us the axioms and the proposition, but keeps the proof secret. “I need to use some of the techniques for future research,” he says.
  2. An economist claims to show that sales of Twinkies are a good predictor of recessions. He shows us a graph, and the results of many regressions that have high R2 and significant coefficients, but he keeps the Twinkies sales data secret. “The company that gave it to me did so on condition that I not reveal their sales to competitors,” he explains.
  3. An English professor claims that contrary to what Mencken claims in his famous essay, the American South has produced more good literature than any similarly sized region in the world. He says there are 127 great novels from the South, but he doesn’t say what they are or why they are great, or what other regions have produced. “This is the consensus of the people in my field, though I won’t say exactly who because that is too personal, and the people in my field are very smart and have studied books a lot more than amateurs,” he says.
Categories: global warming, science Tags:

Climate Dementors

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

Marc Hendrickxs has a good post on The Climate Dementors but he doesn’t get it quite right:

Categories: global warming Tags:

ClimateGate, New Zealand Fakery

November 27th, 2009 No comments


I’m really enjoying this. It’s the best things since Dan Rather’s faking of the George Bush letter. I’ll use this post to list some of the best articles.

  • The Climate Audit denier blog has had lots of good stuff.
  • Iowahawk Geographic: The Secret Life of Climate Researchers “The Alpha Grantwriter in our hive has been very successful indeed. He has earned three publications, a keynote address, and attracts the attention of a suitor from the symbiotic grant-giving predator genus Lucra Ecologica Hysterica. The suitor’s grant bags are bulging with carbon credits and tax revenues harvested using the hive’s last graphs, and the pair once again engage in their annual cross-pollination ritual”

  • REGIONAL TEMPERATURE CHANGE Vincent R. Gray. “The high Russia/Soviet figures indicate a common trend of large temperature rises in remote rural sites in severe climates. Other examples are Canada minus W Yukon (+0.96°C), North Pacific (+0.90°C) Spitzbergen (+4.06°C) and South Georgia (+1.91°C). The main reason would surely be the pressure to improve living conditions in these remote sites, involving better heating in the buildings, provision of roads, and the tendency for vegetation around the sites to be encouraged. The narrowing of the diurnal temperature range for many of these sites (Easterling et al. 1997) is further evidence for this tendency. “

“Courtillot and his colleagues were forced to turn to other sources of temperature measurements. They found 44 European weather stations that had long series of daily minimum temperatures that covered most of the 20th century, with few or no gaps. They removed annual seasonal trends for each series with a three-year running average of daily minimum temperatures. Finally they averaged all the European series for each day of the 20th century.”

Categories: global warming, science Tags:

Principal Components Analysis

November 24th, 2009 No comments

From Wikipedia, Principal Components Analysis:

PCA is theoretically the optimal linear scheme, in terms of least mean square error, for compressing a set of high dimensional vectors into a set of lower dimensional vectors and then reconstructing the original set. It is a non-parametric analysis and the answer is unique and independent of any hypothesis about data probability distribution.

Categories: global warming, math, statistics Tags:

The Climate Change Email Leak

November 23rd, 2009 1 comment

From an op-ed at the London Times:

Moreover, the scientific basis for global warming projections is now under scrutiny as never before. The principal source of these projections is produced by a small group of scientists at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), affiliated to the University of East Anglia.

Last week an apparent hacker obtained access to their computers and published in the blogosphere part of their internal e-mail traffic. …

Astonishingly, what appears, at least at first blush, to have emerged is that (a) the scientists have been manipulating the raw temperature figures to show a relentlessly rising global warming trend; (b) they have consistently refused outsiders access to the raw data; (c) the scientists have been trying to avoid freedom of information requests; and (d) they have been discussing ways to prevent papers by dissenting scientists being published in learned journals.

There may be a perfectly innocent explanation. But what is clear is that the integrity of the scientific evidence on which not merely the British Government, but other countries, too, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, claim to base far-reaching and hugely expensive policy decisions, has been called into question.

From the New York Times, which as I recall published the top-secret Pentagon Papers:

The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here.

Below is a comment I posted on Marginal Revolution:

My reaction is like that of physicist David Wright: it is appalling that the scientists in the emails are concealing data and trying to suppress their rivals’ research. I haven’t heard of that in economics. (I am not surprised at this in climate science, but I would be in almost any other area of science.) Indeed, there are a number of episodes in which mistakes have been found in famous economics papers because of close scrutiny of data voluntarily supplied by the writers to scholars they know will search for every flaw. Examples are the Feldstein social security programming error, Lott’s work on gun control, and Levitt and Donohue on abortion and crime.

Of course, all work has some mistakes, and a sophist could use trivial mistakes to try to discredit a paper, but in the profession trivial mistakes are expected and do not discredit, and we are all aware that big mistakes are very possible too, even from top researchers. Moreover, the custom of revealing one’s data and methods is a deterrent to deliberate fraud. I haven’t heard of deliberate fraud in econ published papers, but if climate science does not have the custom of making data and methods publicly available, we should predict that fraud will occur.

Categories: global warming, media, science Tags:

Missile Submarines

March 7th, 2009 No comments

Pater Hitches wrote a very good blog post on his experience going on a missile submarine. I’ve reprinted it here, since it didn’t print properly in its original format.

Categories: britain, global warming, writing Tags:

Obaman Hypocrisy

January 30th, 2009 No comments

From Best of the Web:

He’s So Hot, He’s Cool

“White House Unbuttons Formal Dress Code” reads a headline in today’s New York Times. President Obama was photographed without a jacket in the Oval Office the other day, “only the first of many signs that a more informal culture is growing up in the White House under new management. Mr. Obama promised to bring change to Washington and he has–not just in substance, but in presidential style.”

It turns out, though, that the interesting part of the story is not the contrast between the president and his stick-in-the-mud predecessor. Rather, it is why Obama doffed his jacket:

Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

This is hardly in keeping with candidate Obama’s declaration last May: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said. It’s good to be king.

Categories: global warming, obama Tags:

The Crack Babies Scare

January 28th, 2009 1 comment

Around 1990, people were afraid of “crack babies”: that babies born to mothers smoking crack would be seriously damaged. This might be worth looking at now because it might (I’m not sure) be another case, like Y2K, of a scare caused by experts who supposedly were a scientific consensus– like global warming.

This 1995 MOther Jones article talks a bit about it.

Seizing on early studies that raised alarm over fetal damage from cocaine, scientists cited the same inconclusive data again and again. Local news organs spun their own versions of the crack-baby story, taking for granted the accuracy of its premise. Social workers, foster parents, doctors, teachers, and journalists put forward unsettling anecdotes about the “crack babies” they had seen, all participating in a sleight of hand so elegant in its simplicity that they fooled even themselves.

and

“It really got out of control,” says Donald E. Hutchings, a research psychologist and editor of the journal Neurotoxicology and Teratology, “because these jerks who didn’t know what they were talking about were giving press conferences. I’d be sitting at home watching TV, and suddenly there’d be the intensive care unit in Miami or San Francisco, and what you see is this really sick kid who looks like he’s about to die and the staff is saying, ‘Here’s a crack baby.'”

But what a few cautious scientists had to say did little to weaken the momentum of the crack-baby myth. In fact, researchers who found no or minimal effects from cocaine had a hard time getting their results before the public. In a 1989 study published in the Lancet, Canadian researcher Gideon Koren showed that papers reporting a cocaine effect in child behavior were likely to be accepted over those showing no effect, for presentation at an annual meeting of the Society for Pediatric Research–even when the no-effect studies were of sounder design. “I’d never experienced anything like this,” says Emory’s Claire Coles. “I’ve never had people accuse me of making up data or being an incompetent scientist or believing in drug abuse. When that started happening, I started thinking, This is crazy.”

The earliest and most influential reports of cocaine damage in babies came from the Chicago drug treatment clinic of pediatrician Ira Chasnoff. His first study, published in 1985 in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that the newborns of 23 cocaine-using women were less interactive and moodier than non-cocaine-exposed babies. In the years that followed, Chasnoff was widely quoted and fawned over in the press (“positively zenlike,” according to Rolling Stone) and became known as the rather pessimistic authority on what happens to babies whose mothers use cocaine.

Of course, Chasnoff wasn’t the only researcher to report serious effects. They were legion, some publishing simple case reports that took a few cocaine-exposed kids and racked up their problems. Judy Howard, a pediatrician at the University of California, Los Angeles, piped up regularly, once telling Newsweek that in crack babies, the part of their brains that “makes us human beings, capable of discussion or reflection” had been “wiped out.”

Categories: global warming, media, medicine, science Tags:

An Afghanistan Report

January 18th, 2009 No comments

From James Dunnigan:

The information based tactics concentrate on capturing or killing the enemy leadership and specialists (mostly technical, but religious leaders and media experts are often valuable targets as well). The Australian commandos have specialized in this approach, and made themselves much feared by the Taliban (who will make an extra effort to avoid dealing with the Australians). The U.S. and NATO commanders know that the Taliban leadership is in trouble, with a new generation of leaders only recently shoving the older guys (veterans of the 1980s war with Russia) out of the way, and introducing more vicious tactics (more terrorism against reluctant civilians). This is backfiring, as it did in Iraq, and the Taliban leadership is not having an easy time trying to come up with a new strategy. One strategy that is working is making a big deal whenever foreign troops kill Afghan civilians (about 80 percent of civilian deaths are caused by the Taliban, but that has successfully been played down, a real spin victory for the Islamic radicals). This has caused NATO commanders to issue increasingly restrictive rules of engagement to their troops, which the Taliban eagerly exploit …

Also this:

British medics tried to apply the Geneva Conventions in Afghanistan, but found that they were often targets of enemy fire, even though their red cross symbols were plainly visible. The enemy attitude was particularly disheartening because British medics often treated enemy wounded as well, in addition to Afghan civilians. Didn’t matter. For the Taliban and al Qaeda, anyone who wasn’t working for them was considered a target. So now British medics are under orders to go into action armed, and to use their weapons to defend themselves, and their patients, when necessary.

Of course, one can’t blame the Taliban for not obeying the Geneva Conventions, since they never signed them. It is our folly to think that those conventions apply in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. If we really paid attention to international law, we’d recall that just because countries X and Y make a treaty doesn’t mean that it binds country Z too– or protects country Z either.

Holdren, Intolerance of Science, and I=PAT

January 4th, 2009 No comments

The new presidential science advisor appears to dislike economists and to desire scientists to keep quiet about any scientific theory that sheds doubt on environmentalist polices. First, from Dr. Holdren’s own writing,
The Meaning of Sustainability:
Biogeophysical Aspects

by John P. Holdren, Gretchen C. Daily, and Paul R. Ehrlich:

Confusion about the sensitivity of those conditions and processes to disruption is evident in the comment attributed to economist William Nordhaus that only 3 percent of gross national product (GNP) in the United States depends on the environment. In fact, the entire GNP in the US. depends, ultimately, on maintaining the biophysical requisites of sustainability. Furthermore, the importance of agriculture (the economic sector to which Nordhaus apparently was referring) is vastly underestimated by its present share of GNP.

The greatest disparities in interpretation of the relationships between the human enterprise and Earth’s life support systems seem, in fact, to be those between ecologists and economists. Members of both groups tend to be highly self-selected and to differ in fundamental worldviews. Most ecologists have a passion for the natural world, where the existence of limits to growth and the consequences of exceeding those limits are apparent. Ecologists recognize that a unique combination of highly developed manual dexterity, language, and intelligence has allowed humanity to increase vastly the capacity of the planet to support Homo sapiens (Diamond 1991); nonetheless, they perceive humans as being ultimately subject to the same sorts of biophysical constraints that apply to other organisms.

Economists, in contrast, tend to receive little or no training in the physical and natural sciences (Colander and Klamer 1987). Few explore the natural world on their own, and few appreciate the extreme sensitivity of organisms — including those upon which humanity depends for food, materials, pharmaceuticals, and free ecosystem services — to seemingly small changes in environmental conditions. Most treat economic systems as though they were completely disconnected from the planet’s basic life support systems. The narrow education and inclinations of economists in these respects are thus a major source of disagreements about sustainability.

Second, from
The IPAT Equation
and Its Variants
Changing Views of Technology
and Environmental Impact

Marian R. Chertow, Journal of Industrial Ecology, 2001:

IPAT is an identity simply
stating that environmental impact (I) is the
product of population (P), affluence (A), and
technology (T).

I = PAT

This looked crazy to me when I first saw it, so I should explain that the equation does make sense if its terms (in particular, impact and technology) are defined clearly. For example, the identity might set

Impact = Tons of sulfur dioxide

Technology = Tons of sulfur dioxide per dollar of income

Tons of sulfur dioxide = population * (income/population)*(Tons of sulfur dioxide per dollar of income)

Now let’s go on.

… for Commoner, environmental impact
is simply the amount of pollutant released rather
than broader measures of impact; for example,
the amount of damage such pollution created or
the amount of resource depletion the pollution
caused.4 His task, then, is to estimate the contribution
of each of the three terms to total environmental
impact.

Much to the consternation of Ehrlich and
Holdren, Commoner’s effort to measure impact
as amount of pollution released leads to the conclusion
that technology is the culprit in almost
every specific case he examines. Commoner goes
on to compare the relative contributions of the
three IPAT variables arithmetically: Population,
affluence (Economic good/Population), and technology
(Pollutant/Economic good), in examples
such as detergent phosphate, fertilizer nitrogen,
synthetic pesticides, tetraethyl lead, nitrogen
oxides, and beer bottles. He concludes that the
contribution of population and affluence to
present-day pollution levels is much smaller
than that of the technology of production. He
calls for a new period of technology transformation
to undo the trends since 1946…

Dr. Holdren’s response was energetic.

Following the publication of The Closing Circle
(Commoner et al. 1971a), full-scale academic war
erupted between Ehrlich and Holdren on the one
hand and Commoner on the other…. Their evident
fear comes from “the possibility that uncritical acceptance
of Commoner’s assertions will lead to
public complacency concerning both population
and affluence in the United States” (1972b, 16)….

At this stage Commoner brought to light a
letter Ehrlich and Holdren sent to colleagues in
which they reveal that they had urged Commoner
not to engage in debate about which of
the factors was most important because it would
be counterproductive to achieving environmental
goals. Commoner takes great umbrage at the
idea of avoiding public discussion of scientific
findings in favor of private agreements that, in
turn, erode democracy and “the survival of a
civilized society” (1972b, 56). Commoner identifies
what he believes to be behind the debate:
that “Ehrlich is so intent upon population control
as to be unwilling to tolerate open discussion
of data that might weaken the argument for
it” (1972b, 55).

Categories: global warming, obama, science Tags:

Climate Change Models

December 28th, 2008 No comments

Realclimate has a supposed FAQ post on global climate models that I find disappointing. I get the impression that these models are like the large macro forecasting models that economists build, but which have a bad reputation for accuracy and have been sneered at at least since I was a grad student in 1980, though they, like climate change models, were pushed as sophisticated science at one time. The macro models tried to put in lots of different interactions and calibrate them with data from lots of sectors of the economy, and then were fine-tuned by nudging things to make the numbers come out to be plausible. It turns out that mindless autoregressions– basically, extrapolation without theory– works just as well.

I’d like to see a presentation of a climate change model that laid out its assumptions.

Categories: global warming Tags:

A Global Warming Graph

December 6th, 2008 1 comment

Sometime I’ve got to get round to understanding global warming. This is a good graph of the time trend. What we need is not just a theory to explain the recent warming (which has now leveled off, it seems) but the cooling periods, e.g. 1880-1910. Otherwise, whatever causes the earlier cooling– and it was not carbon dioxide– might be causing the recent warming.

Categories: global warming Tags:

Optimal Gasoline Taxes, Given Externalities

August 20th, 2008 No comments

A good article on optimal gas taxes is “Does Britain or the United
States Have the Right Gasoline Tax?” Ian W. H. Parry and Kenneth A.
Small, The American Economic Review, Vol. 95, No. 4 (Sep.,
2005), pp. 1276-1289. In 2000, taxes were $2.80/gallon in the UK and
$.40/gallon in the USA. They should have been $1.34 and $1.01, in
light of congestion, accidents, and Ramsey taxation (with minor
contributions from pollution and CO2).

Wikipedia says
taxes are $5.20/gallon in the UK, $.47/gallon in the US, $7.61 in
Germany, It is important to include value-added tax, which is done in
those figures.

The Inst. for Fiscal
Studies,
more reliable, gives the fuel duty plus VAT per liter
in pence for different European countries as from 55 in the UK (the
highest) to 24 in Greece (the lowest). Germany is 40; France is 46
(second highest); Italy is 42; Spain is 28.

Thus, it seems Greece and Spain are about at the optimum and all the
other European countries are too high.

Curiously, Parry and Small do not mention one of the major arguments
for a fuel tax: paying for road construction and repair. I seem to
remember that the effect of cars on road deterioration is trivial
(it’s all due to trucks), but I might be wrong on that, and it seems
as if it has to be wrong for city streets.

Parry and Small point out that a gas tax is poorly designed for
controlling congestion and accidents, since it is lower for fuel-
efficient cars. Also, as implemented, it is invariant across
locations, which vary tremendously in the cost from congestion,
accidents, and pollution. They calculate the optimal per-mile tax,
which does better. That is hard to enforce, though, since if the tax
became high, odometer fraud would become common. (Maybe it could be
based on how many miles you live from work, though, and age and sex,
as insurance rates are.)

What might work better would be to increase the vehicle registation
tax, or to at least base the per-mile tax on where the vehicle is
registered. Or, we might combine a gasoline tax with a registration
fee based on the vehicle’s fuel-efficiency, fuel-efficient cars
paying a bigger registration fee since they pay a lower gasoline tax
per mile travelled.

In practice, I think, hybrids and suchlike are actually subsidized by
the government rather than taxed more heavily. What Parry and Small
show is that that hybrids would be driven too much, given that they
cause accidents just as much as other cars.

In view of the importance of accidents as an externality, I’d like to
see that explored more (maybe it is in the paper; I didn’t read
carefully). A big car is safer for the occupants, but more dangerous
to other cars. So it seems, since the effect on other cars is the
externality, that big cars should be taxed more.

Parry and Small find the optimal global warming tax to be very
small, even using liberal estimates of the effect on global warming
and the cost of it. It seems that European countries are emitting too
little CO2 from cars, not too much. That result should be publicized.
The conclusion is true even if other countries such as the US and
China are emitting too much CO2, I think. The cost estimates of the
Stern Report and others are based on “business as usual”, which means
that the marginal benefit to the world from the UK from increasing or
reducing emissions is based on other countries’ not changing their
current policies. Thus, from the point of view of treating all
countries neutrally rather than favoring some at the expense of
others, the UK ought to emit more carbon dioxide.

Categories: Economics, global warming Tags:

Stern’s Ely Lecture on Climate Change and DIscounting

August 8th, 2008 No comments

I just finished reading Prof. Stern’s Ely Lecture ( Stern, Nicholas. 2008. “The Economics of Climate Change”, American Economic Review 98(2), pp. 1-37.). He is in favor of drastic measures to reduce CO2 emissions. Concentrations are now 430 ppm and he wants to stabilize them at 550 ppm. He is fearful of a 5 degree Centigrade temperature increase otherwise. Here are my notes.

1. He says the most recent warm period was around 3 million years ago. Really? There have been lots of ice ages and warmings.

2. He dismisses geoengineering in one paragraph with weak arguments.

3. His Figure 4 from McKinsey has lots of *negative* abatement costs– things such as insulation improvement, fuel-efficient commercial vehicles, water heating, etc. We can’t believe any of that. If it saves money, why isn’t it done already? Liquidity constraints?

4. (p. 13). He cites 1.5% as the indexed bonds rate of return on longterm government bonds, and 6-7 percent for private investments:

In the United Kingdom and United States, we find (relatively) “riskless,” indexed lending rates on government bonds centered around 1.5 percent over very long periods. For private very long-run rates of return on equities, we find rates centered around 6 or 7 percent (Rajnish Mehra and Edward C. Prescott 2003, 892; Kenneth J. Arrow et al. 2004, 156; Sree Kochugovindan and Roland Nilsson 2007a, 64; 2007b, 71).

He has a puzzling sentence about what discount rate to use:

Given that it is social discount rates that are at issue, and also that actions to reduce carbon are likely to be financed via the diversion of resources from consumption (via pricing) rather than from investment, it is the long-run riskless rates associated with consumer decisions that have more relevance than those for the investment-related equities.

This is a good question, but what is the implication? Consumers are willing to borrow at rates on the order of 10%, so is that the appropriate social discount rate?

He makes the point that environmental goods’ prices will change (though he does not point out that those goods are a tiny part of the consumption basket):

Suppose, however, that we persisted with the argument that it is better to invest at 6-7 percent and then spend money on overcoming the problems of climate change later rather than spending money now on these problems. The multi-good nature of the problem, together with the irreversibilities from GHG accumulation and climate change, tell us that we would be making an additional mistake. The price of environmental goods will likely have gone up very sharply, so that our returns from the standard types of investment will buy us much less in reducing environmental damage than resources allocated now (see also Section I on the costs of delay).12 This reflects the result that if environmental services are declining as stocks of the environment are depleted, then the SDR with that good as numeraire will be negative. On this, see the interesting work by Michael Hoel and Thomas Sterner (2007), Sterner and U. Martin Persson (2007) and Roger Guesnerie (2004), and also the Stern Review (Stern 2007, 60). Environmental services are also likely to be income elastic, which will further reduce the implied SDR.

He has some useful sources on the appropriate rate of pure utility time preference:

Indeed, the ethical proposition that delta should be very small or zero has appealed to a long line of illustrious economists including Frank P. Ramsey (1928, 543), Arthur Cecil Pigou (1932, 24–5), Roy F. Harrod (1948, 37–40), Robert M. Solow (1974, 9), James A. Mirrlees (Mirrlees and Stern 1972), and Amartya Sen (Sudhir Anand and Sen 2000). I have heard only one ethical argument for positive delta (Wilfred Beckerman and Hepburn 2007; Simon Dietz, Hepburn, and Stern 2008) that has some traction—namely a temporal interpretation of the idea that one will have stronger fellow feelings for those closer to us (such as family or clan) relative to those more distant.

When it came to choosing a social discount rate, Stern is opposed to using market interest rates. Later, though, when it comes to choosing the appropriate amount of equality and income redistribution, he slyly switches to favoring observed amounts:

Value judgements are, of course, precisely that and there will be many different positions. They will inevitably be important in this context— they must be discussed explicitly and the implications of different values should be examined. Examples follow of what we find when we turn to empirical evidence and try to obtain implied values (the “inverse optimum” approach). Empirical evidence can inform, but not settle, discussions about value judgements… The upshot is that empirical estimates of implied welfare weights can give a wide range of eta, including h below one and even as little as zero.

Here he is trying to squirm out of the powerful growing-income argument against a low social discount rate. The argument goes like this. Suppose we are considering taking $1,000 away from someone earning $40,000/year so we can give $1,600 to someone else earning $107,000/year. Should we do it? Despite the increase in social wealth, it seems unfair and not calculated to increase total happiness. Yet that is what happens when we require $1,000 in abatement costs in in 2008 because it has a 1%/year return in benefits obtained in 50 years, if incomes grow at 2%/year in the meantime. This argument is particularly powerful against liberals, though it works for conservatives too, and lays out starkly the forced transfers that libertarians hate.

There is a lot of posturing going on:

Costa Rica, New Zealand, and Norway, declared targets of 100 percent reductions by 2050, i.e., “going carbon-neutral.” … California has a target of 80 percent reductions by 2050. France has its “Facteur Quatre”: dividing by 4, or 75 percent reductions, by 2050 (Stern 2007, 516). The United Kingdom has a 60 percent target but the Prime Minister Gordon Brown indicated in November 2007 that this could be raised to 80 percent (Brown 2007). Australia, under the new government elected at the end of November 2007, has now signed Kyoto and has a target of 60 percent…

Costa Rica doesn’t matter of course, any more than the United Kingdom does, or anybody else but China and India:

Even with fairly conservative estimates, it is likely that, under BAU, China will reach current European per capita emissions levels within 20-25 years. With its very large population, over this time China under BAU will emit cumulatively more than the USA and Europe combined over the last 100 years.

“BAU” means “business as usual”.

Global Warming: Where and When?

July 22nd, 2008 No comments

I’ve posted before about the importance of the time of year and the regions where temperatures are rising. Apparently, the carbon theory of warming has a prediction which is refuted by the evidence, an article in the Australian says (hat tip: Volokh and Powerline):

1. The greenhouse signature is missing. We have been looking and measuring for years, and cannot find it.

Each possible cause of global warming has a different pattern of where in the planet the warming occurs first and the most. The signature of an increased greenhouse effect is a hot spot about 10km up in the atmosphere over the tropics. We have been measuring the atmosphere for decades using radiosondes: weather balloons with thermometers that radio back the temperature as the balloon ascends through the atmosphere. They show no hot spot. Whatsoever.

I’ve heard before about the prediction of the carbon theory that the warming should occur in the upper atmosphere first. I used to think that one carbon prediction that is true is that warming shoudl occur in arid cold areas in winter first, because there is so little water vapor that a small amount of CO2 makes a bigger difference. I realize now, though, that any theory might predict that, because a little initial warming would result in more water vapor and more warming effect there.

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Maps of Global Warming

June 23rd, 2008 No comments

Here is a neat NASA make-your-own map site for global warming. You choose an averaging period— say 2000-2008— and see how it compares with another period— say, 1950-1960, for a given month. Note that th e base period such as 1950-1980 is during the global cooling period.

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Carbon Dioxide and Global Warming

June 18th, 2008 No comments

This 2007 article on global warming and carbon dioxide looks interesting. It talks about lots of things, including plant use of carbon dioxide.

It has seemed to me that the strongest evidence for a linke between carbon dioxide and warming was the higher amount of warming in cold dry regions. Such regions have less water vapor, so the same absolute increase in carbon dioxide would generate more of a marginal greenhouse effect. I thought of a problem with that, though. If warming in general– for some other reason such as sunspots– occurred, then there would be an increase in water vapor, and *that* increase would have more effect in cold dry regions.

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NASA’s Temperature Data Adjustments

May 8th, 2008 No comments

Too little attention has been given to the news last August that NASA had made a year-2000 mistake in calculating US temperatures, a mistake that meant the temperatures after 2000 were all too high. Details are at Coyote Blog. The mistake was in the adjustment NASA makes for the fact that if a weather station’s location become urban, the temperature rises because cities are always hotter.

What is more important than the mistake itself are that

(1) NASA very quietly fixed its data without any indication to users that it had been wrong earlier.

(2) NASA’s adjustment is by a secret method it refuses to disclose to outsiders.

(3) NASA’s adjustment appears (hard to say since it’s kept secret) to both adjust “bad” stations (the ones in cities) down and “good” stations (the ones that read accurately) up, on the excuse of some kind of smoothing of off-trend stations.

(4) The NASA people doing the adjustment are not statisticians.

(5) It isn’t clear what, if any, adjustment is made to weather station data from elsewhere in the world. The US has some of the best data, and there seems to be no warming trend in the US.

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Biofuel Subsidies

April 28th, 2008 No comments

Mark Steyn on Biofuels:

The EU decreed that 5.75 percent of petrol and diesel must come from “biofuels” by 2010, rising to 10 percent by 2020. The U.S. added to its 51 cents-per-gallon ethanol subsidy by mandating a five-fold increase in “biofuels” production by 2022.

The result is that big government accomplished at a stroke what the free market could never have done: They turned the food supply into a subsidiary of the energy industry. When you divert 28 percent of U.S. grain into fuel production, and when you artificially make its value as fuel higher than its value as food, why be surprised that you’ve suddenly got less to eat? Or, to be more precise, it’s not “you” who’s got less to eat but those starving peasants in distant lands you claim to care so much about.

Heigh-ho. In the greater scheme of things, a few dead natives keeled over with distended bellies is a small price to pay for saving the planet, right? Except that turning food into fuel does nothing for the planet in the first place. That tree the U.S. Marines are raising on Iwo Jima was most likely cut down to make way for an ethanol-producing corn field: Researchers at Princeton calculate that to date the “carbon debt” created by the biofuels arboricide will take 167 years to reverse….

In order for you to put biofuel in your Prius and feel good about yourself for no reason, real actual people in faraway places have to starve to death. On April 15, the Independent, the impeccably progressive British newspaper, editorialized: “The production of biofuel is devastating huge swathes of the world’s environment. So why on earth is the Government forcing us to use more of it?”

You want the short answer? Because the government made the mistake of listening to fellows like you. Here’s the self-same Independent in November 2005:

At last, some refreshing signs of intelligent thinking on climate change are coming out of Whitehall. The Environment minister, Elliot Morley, reveals today in an interview with this newspaper that the Government is drawing up plans to impose a ‘biofuel obligation’ on oil companies… This has the potential to be the biggest green innovation in the British petrol market since the introduction of unleaded petrol…

Etc. It’s not the environmental movement’s chickenfeedhawks who’ll have to reap what they demand must be sown, …

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February 11th, 2008 No comments

Climate Data. Last year I blogged on the good NASA site for weather station data from around the world. The data is arranged so you can pick out stations from a map of the world. I’d really like data where I could pick out a variety of stations at once and put the data into a spreadsheet, which the NASA site is not good for. I’d like to see which stations show warming and which do not. In particular, here are some things I’d like to check:

1. Do rural stations show warming, or just urban stations? (useful for thinking about urbanization bias)

2. Do ocean locations show warming, or just land locations? (useful for thinking about urbanization bias)

3. Do stations with warming show big jumps in warming in particular years and then higher levels? (useful for thinking about urbanization bias)

4. What kinds of stations show zero warming, or cooling? (useful for spotting unforeseen sort of bias)

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January 22nd, 2008 No comments

Global Warming Experts. I just came across some good evidence for why you can’t trust the experts when it comes global warming. The Royal Society has a report which relies on claims of authority and accusations of biased funding, omits key facts, and so forth.

There are some individuals and organisations, some of which are funded by the US oil industry, that seek to undermine the science of climate change and the work of the IPCC. They appear motivated in their arguments by opposition to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, which seek urgent action to tackle climate change through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Often all these individuals and organisations have in common is their opposition to the growing consensus of the scientific community that urgent action is required through a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. But the opponents are well-organised and well-funded. For instance, a petition was circulated between 1999 and 2001 by a campaigning organisation called the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine (OISM), which called on the US Government to reject the Kyoto Protocol. The petition claimed that “proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind”.

These extreme claims directly contradict the conclusions of the IPCC 2001 report, which states that “reducing emissions of greenhouse gases to stabilize their atmospheric concentrations would delay and reduce damages caused by climate change”….

It is crazy to say that skeptics are better funded than proponents, who have entire governments behind them, and the liberal sentiments of environmental scientists, not to mention all the environmental lobbying groups. It is also irrelevant.

Misleading arguments 3. There is little evidence that global warming is happening or, if it is happening, it is not very much. Some parts of the world are actually becoming cooler. Increased urbanisation could be responsible for much of the increase in observed temperatures. Satellite temperature records do not show any global warming. If there has been global warming recently, it would not even be a unique occurrence within the past 1000 years. Europe has been much warmer in the past.

The IPCC report recognised that “temperature changes have not been uniform globally but have varied over regions and different parts of the lower atmosphere”. For instance, some parts of the Southern Hemisphere oceans and parts of Antarctica have not warmed in recent decades. The report also noted that there have been two major periods of warming globally: 1910 to 1945 and since 1976. It concluded that “it is virtually certain that there has been a generally increasing trend in global surface temperature over the 20th century, although short-term and regional deviations from this trend occur”.

Europe has indeed been much warmer in the past– in medieval times, for example. And the world did cool, from 1945 to 1976. And is it just *parts* of Antarctica that have not warmed (as opposed to “have cooled”– as I recall, there isn’t much change, but some of the tiny change is cooling).

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October 15th, 2007 No comments

Global Warming. This picture is from NASA. It shows nicely that global warming shows up as only small summer changes, with the action coming in winter-spring temperatures in the Arctic centered in Yukon and Siberia. I also came across NASA’s page on how they got the 2000-2006 data wrong, with their explanation that the mistakes in their secret method weren’t really important. True, but their credibility is gone now, and if they got the USA temperatures wrong in the direction they favor, how about the much harder to measure temperatures elsewhere in the world?

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October 15th, 2007 1 comment

Global Warming: Ice Caps and the Argument from Authority. Why
should we trust a PhD in climate science when he talks about ice caps
any more than we trust a D.Phil. in theology when he talks about God?
Both are experts, but both entered their vocations because they had
policy views on their subjects. (Click here to read more.)

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