Gergis 2012 Mark 2 – Hurdles to overcome

BishopHill reported yesterday on the withdrawn Gergis paper that

The authors are currently reviewing the data and methods. The revised paper will be re-submitted to the Journal of Climate by the end of July and it will be sent out for peer review again.

It is worth listing the long list of criticisms that have been made of the paper. There are a lot of hurdles to overcome before Gergis et al 2012 should qualify for the status of a scientific paper.

My own, quite basic, points are:-

  1. Too few proxies for such a large area. Just 27 for > 5% of the globe.
  2. Even then, 6 are well outside the area.
  3. Of these six, Gergis’s table makes it appear 3 are inside the area. My analysis is below.


  4. Despite huge area, there are significant clusters – with massive differences between proxies at the same or nearby sites.
  5. There are no proxies from the sub-continental land mass of Australia.
  6. Need to remove the Palmyra Proxy because (a) it has errant readings (b) fails the ‘t’ test (c) > 2000km outside of the area, in the Northern Hemisphere.
  7. Without Palmyra the medieval period becomes the warmest of the millennium. But with just two tree ring proxies, one at 42 O South and the other at 43 O S representing an range from 0 to 50O S, this is hardly reliable. See the sum of proxies by year. Palmyra is the coral proxy in the 12th, 14th and 15th centuries.


On top of this are Steve McIntyre’s (with assistance from JeanS and RomanM) more fundamental criticisms:-

  1. The filtering method of Gergis excluded the high quality Law Dome series, but included the lower quality Vostok data, and the Oroko tree ring proxy. McIntyre notes that Jones and Mann 2003 rejected Oroko, but included Law Dome on different criteria.
  2. Gergis screening correlations were incorrectly calculated. JeanS calculated properly. Only 6 out of 27 proxies passed. (NB none of the six proxies outside the area passed)


  3. The Gergis initially screened 62 proxies. Given that the screening included proxies that should not have included 21 proxies, but should it have included some of the 35 excluded proxies. We do not know, as Gergis has refused to reveal these excluded proxies.
  4. Screening creates a bias in the results in favour of the desired result if that correlation is with a short period of the data. RomanM states the issues succinctly here. My, more colloquial take, is that if the proxies (to some extent) randomly show C20th warming or not, then you will accept proxies with a C20th uptick. If proxies show previous fluctuations (to some extent) randomly and (to some extent) independently of the C20th uptick, then those previous fluctuations will be understated. There only has to be a minor amount of randomness to show bias given that a major conclusion was

    The average reconstructed temperature anomaly in Australasia during A.D. 1238-1267, the warmest 30-year pre-instrumental period, is 0.09°C (±0.19°C) below 1961-1990 levels.

UPDATE 03/08/12

The end of July submissions date seems to have slipped to the end of September.

BBC Newsround is misleading our children on climate change impacts

For nearly 40 years the BBC has shown “Newsround” a children’s version of the news. This morning I caught a glimpse of a report on Rio+20 at around 7.40am, with examples from the Isle of Man. In the main bulletin at 5.30pm a much fuller report was given. This later report was again from the Isle of Man, but with a very different slant. (UK based people view here) I have made two separate complaints:-

Complaint about the 7.40am report

Newsround reported on the Rio+20 meetings – aimed at getting agreements to combat global warming. Then switched to the Isle of Man. Mentioned about pollution, coastal erosion and oil running out. Then has a High School Girl show us the impact of recent coastal erosion. This gave the following misleading impressions.

1. Pollution is solely about global warming. It is not.

2. Man-made climate change caused the erosion. If it did (through contributing to a sea-level rise of less than 30cm in the last century) it was a very minor effect. Coastal erosion, with beach build-up elsewhere is a natural feature.

3. If one believes that CO2 is causing adverse climate change then oil running out is a positive thing. It should mention that Rio+20 is looking to find ways to encourage us to leave the stuff in the ground.

Complaint about the 5.30pm report

1. Local coal supplies were running out, which an elderly lady was finding more expensive. Missed out that this was (a) a local problem (b) coal is the worst of the fossil fuels for causing climate change (c) there are abundant global supplies (d) so Rio+20 is looking encouraging making it more expensive to leave the stuff in the ground.

2. A schoolgirl pointing to cliff erosion, the implication that this was caused by climate change. It was not pointed out that in the last 20 years sea levels have risen by just 0.06 metres, so the 20 metres of retreat of a soft cliff will be approximately 100% due to natural coastal erosion.

3. A schoolboy saying he can no longer kayak in the sea due to raw sewage being pumped into the sea. This is a local problem. In most areas of Europe this is reducing by national government action.

Summary

Newsround shows quite contradictory messages through editing. It creates the impression that only global governance can solve what are local problems; creates the misleading view that nasty humans are the cause of all the environmental issues; and fails to point out that the “solutions” to climate change involve making fossil fuels more expensive. That means old ladies who continue to use coal getting poorer; children being increasingly denied holidays in warmer countries; and parents spending less time with their children due to having to spend longer travelling by public transport, as car travel becomes too expensive.

97% of Climate Scientists claim they are not “Climate Deniers” Survey

In the back of my mind on analysing Charles Hanich‘s bogus Climate & Science questionnaire recently, was another, more prominent, survey. The 2009 questionnaire by Peter T. Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman, amongst scientists, concluded

It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely non-existent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes. The challenge, rather, appears to be how to effectively communicate this fact to the policy makers and the public who mistakenly perceive debate among scientists.

Laurence Solomon has shown has biased the result actually was. First by excluding scientists who might be give greater emphasis on natural causes, like “solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists and astronomers.” Second, by whittling down the 3146 responses from “earth scientists” to just 77, they create an insignificant sample. Here I want to consider some points that can be drawn from the method and the conclusion

Questions do not isolate the trivial from the catastrophic

The Survey Questions were

1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

Most people would accept that temperatures have risen in the past 200 years. Most climate scientists who are active in the field of researching anthropogenic global warming will tend to think human activity has a significant impact. However, this could not mean as little as 10% or over 100% of recent surface temperature warming could be accounted for by human activity. As such the questions are far from sufficient to establish consensus that there on a high level problem that requires a high level policy response.

Identifiable responses create bias

Laurence Solomon has shown has biased the result actually was. First by excluding scientists who might be give greater emphasis on natural causes, like “solar scientists, space scientists, cosmologists, physicists, meteorologists and astronomers.” Second, by whittling down the 3146 responses from “earth scientists” to just 77, they create an insignificant sample.

However, there is a further element. The responses were identified, hence the ability to classify the core scientists. What if you are a practicing climate scientist, who no longer believes in the scientific case for global warming? The scientist finds themselves in the position of a priest/pastor/minister of religion in the Christian Church who has lost faith. They may enjoy the status, and the work, and the people they work with. With a questionnaire such as this, there is a risk of being “outed”. There are three strategies to adopt. Firstly it is not to respond. Secondly, to respond, but rationalise or lie. The wording of the question allows for rationalising. Thirdly, is to answer truthfully, risking your career, along with possible damage to friendships and co-workers funding. This is a huge issue for opinion surveys on controversial subjects. The best way to get honest answers is to guarantee anonymity, and for the survey to be conducted by an independent polling organisation.

Publishing record is not a good indicator of scientific understanding

Climate science, like in many other empirical research areas, is full of papers with multiple authors. The issues are complex, and the workload enormous, so the bulk of the work is done by the research assistants, and often most of the science. The lead authors may act as a project manager, or even just a name to get the work published. Major journals need articles by big names to maintain readership and prestige. The leading scientists, by publishing in the major journals, and having lots of works cited are able to attract funding for further projects and thus promote the other department members and the prestige of the university or other institution to which they belong. Thus looking to a core group based on publishing record might be misleading. Some of the leading scientists might now be more managers than cutting edge scientists. Others might be so enmeshed in the detail and hard-working, that they might never step back and question the bigger picture.

On the other hand, highly intelligent people who believe that the science is flawed, or dogmatic, will never have the desire to enter the field, or move into other areas when they change their minds. Alternatively, they may stay in the subject, but keep quiet about their views, backing away from publishing.

The Boundaries of Climate Change Denial

Many of the “pro-consensus”, “pro-science” blogs call those who think the science is faulty, flawed, or unsubstantiated, “deniers” or “denialists”, without ever defining the characteristic features actually are. This survey gives us the minimum criteria for knowing that someone is not a denier. It is someone who supports the “mainstream” view that the world has warmed, and that humans are to some extent, part responsible for it. This survey can only be taken as a public proclamation by a small minority that they are true believers.

If, however, the definition of “denier” is anything different then there is the logical possibility that people can be both part of the mainstream and climate change deniers. As such the word “denier” is nothing more than a term of discrimination and abuse by those in the mainstream.

Update

Published in response to an article in Nature, mentioning “Deniers” in the Scientific literature for the first time. Responses by Anthony Watts, Bishop Hill and Warren Meyer.


How Gergis Suppressed The Medieval Warm Period

The now withdrawn Gergis paper proudly proclaimed in the abstract

The average reconstructed temperature anomaly in Australasia during A.D. 1238-1267, the warmest 30-year pre-instrumental period, is 0.09°C (±0.19°C) below 1961-1990 levels.

On this basis, Gergis was able to say

A preliminary assessment of the roles of solar, volcanic, and anthropogenic forcings and natural ocean–atmosphere variability is performed using CSIRO Mk3L model simulations and independent palaeoclimate records. Solar and volcanic forcing does not have a marked influence on reconstructed Australasian temperature variations, which appear to be masked by internal variability.

This conclusion is from a single rogue proxy – the coral proxy from Palmyra Atoll.

There were only three temperature proxies covering this medieval peak period. Both Mt. Read in Tasmania and Oroko in New Zealand are tree ring proxies that cover the entire millennium. The Palymyra Atoll coral proxy data covers just 398 years over 4 periods. These are 1151-1221, 1319-1465, 1637-1704 and 1888-1999. Following Gergis, I have calculated the decadal averages. Below is the plot from my pivot table for the three proxies.


I contend that Palmyra is distinctly “odd” due to the following.

  1. Nowhere in the world am I aware of a single instance of massive cooling during the early 13th Century. If not rogue data, the it must be a purely local phenomena.
  2. Nowhere in the world am I aware of a single instance of massive cooling during the 17th Century. Nor was I aware the early 17th century had significant warm period. If not rogue data, it must be a purely local phenomena.
  3. The Hadcrut3 global temperature set has slight cooling at the end of the 19th century / start of the 20th Century, and a warming period from 1910 to 1940 almost as large as the warming period from 1975 to 1998. If not rogue data, it must be a purely local phenomena.
  4. The post 1960 warming trend is phenomenal. In fact it makes the twentieth century warming trend the largest of all the 27 proxies. (See table “Analysis of the Proxies in Gergis et al. 2012” below)

For these three reasons it would appear to be an outlier. So what is the impact?

I looked at the decadal average of the two tree-ring proxies and ranked the hundred decades from 1 for the highest to 100 for the lowest. I then took the decadal average of the three tree-ring proxies and similarly ranked the results.

The change is the decadal ranking was as follows:-


The medieval warm period is suppressed, and the twentieth century is “enhanced”.

Now let us be clear. There were 24 other proxies in the data set. However, none of the others were prior to 1430. Therefore the impact on the overall ranking will not be quite so marked. However, the fact remains that the conclusion that last decade of the 20th century is the warmest of the millennium is based on this one rogue data set.

But there are two more reasons that the Palmyra data set should not have been included in the reconstruction.

Firstly, the Gergis paper was withdrawn upon the publication of the JeanS ‘Gergis Significance’ t-values. Unsurprisingly, Palmyra was one of the proxies that failed the t-test, so is a rogue data set. See table below.

Secondly, is geography. The study is a “temperature reconstruction for the combined land and oceanic region of Australasia (0°S-50°S, 110°E-180°E)“. Palmyra Atoll is located at 5°52′ N, 162°06′ W, or over 2100Km (1300 miles) outside the study area.

Conclusion.

The Palmyra Atoll coral proxy study is clearly an outlier statistically and geographically. In no way can it be considered a suitable proxy for the Australasia region, yet the major, headline, conclusion of the Gergis et al 2012 temperature reconstruction relied upon it.


Australian Climate Science Opinion Survey – Confirming Prejudices?*

This survey I took in June is not the one used in the recent Lewandowsky et al paper. The one I took at “Watching the Deniers” is a development that 2010 survey. There are less questions on conspiracy theories (but “NASA faked the moon landing”, along with Diana, JFK and MLK assassinations are are still in) along with exactly the same questions on Free markets v Environmentalism. But the new survey has more on political beliefs (a good thing in my view) along with new sections on religious beliefs and GM foods. It seems to be directed beyond the free-marketeers, to other groups like the American Religious Right.

The Psychology Department of the University of Western Australia, under psychology research assistant Charles Hanich is conducting a short questionnaire on Science and Society.

UPDATE – The survey questions are available here.

SCIENCE AND SOCIETY

This study explores people’s beliefs about a wide range of topics, ranging from scientific propositions to claims made in the media and on the internet. In addition, the survey is interested in your attitudes towards your own life and issues confronting modern societies at the moment.

The questions all have five options – Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neutral, Agree and Strongly Agree.

The questions are from both perspectives, so that people who are anything but totally neutral will have to agree with some questions and disagree with others.

The sections as follows (My headings)

  1. Climate Change – 5 questions
  2. Genetically Modified Foods – 5 questions
  3. Vaccines – Benefits and harms – 5 questions
  4. Position of the Conservative / Liberal perspective (US definitions) – 7 questions
  5. Select neutral (check of the software, or check for spam?) – 1 questions
  6. Free market system v social justice / environment / sustainability – 5 questions
  7. Conspiracy theories (political) – 6 questions
  8. Conspiracy theories (scientific) – 6 questions
  9. Personal Spirituality & Religion – 8 questions
  10. Evolution – views upon – 7 questions
  11. Corporations – 13 questions
  12. Personal emotional outlook – 6 questions

That is 74 questions in total. Like a lot of surveys, it understates the questions (“about 40″) and the time taken.

Climate Change Questions

  1. I believe that the climate is always changing and what we are currently observing is just natural fluctuation.
  2. I believe that most of the warming over the last 50 years is due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations.
  3. I believe that the burning of fossil fuels over the last 50 years has caused serious damage to the planet’s climate.
  4. Human CO2 emissions cause climate change.
  5. Humans are too insignificant to have an appreciable impact on global temperature.

There is a complete absence of questions about future projections of warming; whether that warming is catastrophic or benign; of the strength of the science or the uncertainties; our trust in what scientists are telling us; nor of the ability of policy to do anything successfully combat it. These are the questions that many sceptics, including myself, are grappling with.

Genetically Modified Foods
Questions

  1. I believe that genetic modification is an important and viable contribution to help feed the world’s rapidly growing population.
  2. I believe genetically engineered foods have already damaged the environment.
  3. The consequences of genetic modification have been tested exhaustively in the lab, and only foods that have been found safe will be made available to the public.
  4. I believe that because there are so many unknowns, that it is dangerous to manipulate the natural genetic material of foods.
  5. Genetic modification of foods is a safe and reliable technology.

In contrast these are questions do look at the benefits and costs of the science; the current impacts and future impacts; along with the strength of the science and the uncertainties.

NB the vaccines section follows more on the model of GM foods section rather than climate change.

The political spectrum questions I will leave for others to comment upon. It seems to be written by an American-influenced “liberal” who lacks knowledge of the full spectrum of political thought.

Free Markets v social justice / environment / sustainability

  1. An economic system based on free markets unrestrained by government interference automatically works best to meet human needs.
  2. The free market system may be efficient for resource allocation but it is limited in its capacity to promote social justice.
  3. The preservation of the free market system is more important than localized environmental concerns.
  4. Free and unregulated markets pose important threats to sustainable development.
  5. The free market system is likely to promote unsustainable consumption.

It is based on a notion of free-market anarchy against on the beneficial utopian society. No mention of awkward facts, like the worst environmental disasters and social injustices in the last century occurred in authoritarian regimes of left and right.

Conspiracy theories (political)

  1. A powerful and secretive group known as the New World Order is planning to eventually rule the world through an autonomous world government which would replace sovereign governments.
  2. The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was the result of an organized conspiracy by U.S. government agencies such as the CIA and FBI.
  3. The Apollo moon landings never happened and were staged in a Hollywood film studio.
  4. The assassination of John F. Kennedy was not committed by the lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald but was rather a detailed organized conspiracy to kill the President.
  5. The U.S. government allowed the 9-11 attacks to take place so that it would have an excuse to achieve foreign (e.g., wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) and domestic (e.g., attacks on civil liberties) goals that had been determined prior to the attacks.
  6. Princess Diana’s death was not an accident but rather an organised assassination by members of the British royal family who disliked her.

Basically, if you read the communiques and the proclamations coming out of annual meeting like Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban that say we must have a strong global organization to impose climate change, you should consider yourself as much a crank or nutter as those who think George Bush was capable of the phenomenally detailed planning required to stage the 9-11 attacks (but totally failed to successfully bring peace through conquest in Iraq or Afghanistan).

Conspiracy theories (Scientific)

  1. The claim that the climate is changing due to emissions from fossil fuels is a hoax perpetrated by corrupt scientists who wish to spend more taxpayer money on climate research.
  2. U.S. agencies intentionally created the AIDS epidemic and administered it to Black and gay men in the 1970s.
  3. The alleged link between second-hand tobacco smoke and ill health is based on bogus science and is an attempt by a corrupt cartel of medical researchers to replace rational science with dogma.
  4. The HIV virus causes AIDS.
  5. Smoking causes lung cancer.
  6. Lead in drinking water poses a serious long-term health risk.

The questions on climate and second-hand tobacco smoke lump two concepts together; a lot of money wasted for very little output along with the alleged motives of those practicing their research. In between is a particularly distasteful conspiracy theory, the very idea of which would be repellent to most people. The other three questions are simple statements of well-established science. There is no loading or controversy.

Religion and Evolution.

  1. God is important in my life
  2. I believe there is a life after death
  3. I get comfort or strength from religion
  4. There is no proof of God: if there is a God, he would have shown himself by now
  5. I think of myself as a religious person
  6. I have made a personal commitment to live my life for God
  7. I have had an experience of spiritual worship that was very moving and powerful
  8. I have experienced a definite answer to prayer or specific guidance from God
  9. Modern humans are the product of evolutionary processes that have occurred over millions of years
  10. The theory of evolution is based on speculation and not valid scientific observation and testing
  11. Most scientists accept evolutionary theory to be a scientifically valid theory
  12. There is a significant body of data that supports evolutionary theory
  13. Humans exist today in essentially the same form in which they always have
  14. Evolution is a scientifically valid theory
  15. Current evolutionary theory is the result of sound scientific research and methodology

This is meant to distinguish between the US bible-belt evangelical Christians and the atheistic scientific community. It does so in a non-partisan way, so that Muslims could answer as well. However, it does not take into account the more nuanced, earnest, balanced and thoughtful approaches to the interactions of hard science and the timeless spiritual truths, as typified, is not caricatured, by Dr Rowan Williams, The Archbishop of Canterbury.

Corporations

  1. Corporations are not respectful of laws
  2. Corporations do not accept accountability for their actions
  3. People who run corporations will lie if doing so will increase company profits
  4. Corporations do not care about acting ethically
  5. Corporations will break laws if they can make more money from it
  6. Corporations put their own interests above the public’s interests
  7. Corporations are driven by greed
  8. Corporations care only about money
  9. Corporations want power at any cost
  10. Corporations take a lot more than they give
  11. Corporations intentionally deceive the public
  12. Corporations do not consider the needs of their employees when making business decisions
  13. Corporations exploit their workers

Any notion of balance goes completely out of the window. It is by far the largest section in a questionnaire on “Science and Society”. There is no switching between good points of corporations – such as technological breakthroughs, or much of our phenomenal prosperity. That includes the “Eco” technologies and the must-have gadgets from a fruity American 70s start-up. It is almost as if they want the more moderate participants to give up in disgust. Do avoid permanent psychological damage, they questionnaire end with a few personal questions about things in life you are thankful for, and people that you are grateful to.

The missing sections

No not the political spectrum one. The missing questions that a more balanced questionnaire might ask.

  1. General trust in climate science.
  2. Trust in carefully presented evidence, with questions respectively answered, as against the dogma of “scientists agree”.
  3. Questions for the Australian people, of whether carbon tax policies are worthwhile
  4. Questions on trust in government; the motives of politicians; the ability to deliver on promises. In relation to both Western democracies and tyrannies past and present.
  5. The importance of tackling climate change relative to other issues like unemployment and prospective financial meltdown in parts of Europe.

Conclusion

When devising a questionnaire, one must always try to eliminate bias, and avoid emotionally loaded the questions that will prejudice the answers. Neither should it contain multiple issues in a question. This survey does just the opposite. It is started off being deliberately designed to elicit certain polarized responses, ending up showing the deeply prejudiced and politically extreme position of the author.

*Please note. I am not aware of any copyright restrictions on reposting the questions. I accessed this from “Watching the Deniers” website, where there was no mention of copyright material. Neither was there any mention of copyright on the introductory front page. The doing a search I only came across a link to a 2010 survey. Neither could I find a link within The University of Western Australia Website, though it is on their servers.

Mid-Pacific Coral temperature proxies from Gergis et al. 2012

How odd is the Palmyra Atoll Coral Proxy?

In the last post I noted that there was something odd about the Palmyra proxy used in the Gergis paper, particularly in the late 20th century. This is at 5°52′ N, 162°06′ W.

There are four other coral proxies in the Mid-Pacific area. There are two proxy studies from
Rarotonga in the Cook Islands at 21° 14′ 0″ S, 159° 47′ 0″ W and two from the Fiji. For all five proxies I calculated a nine year centred moving average.


Palmyra shows a late 20th century warming trend more than twice that of the other series. Unless there is a locally recorded temperature anomaly on the atoll, then this is clearly wrong. If there is a local temperature spike, then it one should question why it is included in a reconstruction for which it is over 2000km outside the boundary. Either way it should be deleted from the study.

So how reliable are coral proxies. Here we have two pairs. If they are a good proxy for temperature, then they should be a good proxy for each other. On Fiji, they studies be less than 150km apart and on Rarotonga less than 10km apart, meaning they should be near identical. So I have plotted the differences between the moving averages.


It is not a statistically sound method, but indicative of the real issues with the proxy data sets. It also seems that the further back, the greater the consistency. The Palmyra study has four sections, the oldest of which starts in the 12th Century. Although Gergis claims to have done a series of tests for robustness, there is no correlation test over the known temperature record. Given that a central conclusion is:-

The average reconstructed temperature anomaly in Australasia during A.D. 1238-1267, the warmest 30-year pre-instrumental period, is 0.09°C (±0.19°C) below 1961-1990 levels.

Given that there is some question of the selection of the ice core studies at Vostok in preference for the closer and more robust studies at Ice Dome, then central conclusion of the study is not credible on such a small number of proxies.

Palmyra Atoll Coral Proxy in Gergis et al 2012

There is a lot of discussion on Bishop Hill (here and here) and Climate Audit of a new paper in Journal of Climate “Evidence of unusual late 20th century warming from an Australasian temperature reconstruction spanning the last millennium“, with lead author, Dr Joëlle Gergis. The reconstruction was based upon 27 climate proxies, one of which was a coral proxy from Palmyra Atoll.

There are two issues with this study.

Location

The study is a “temperature reconstruction for the combined land and oceanic region of Australasia (0°S-50°S, 110°E-180°E)“. The study lists Palmyra Atoll as being at 6° S, 162° E, so within the study area. Wikipedia has the location at 5°52′ N, 162°06′ W, or over 2100Km (1300 miles) outside the study area. On a similar basis, Rarotunga in the Cook Islands (for which there are two separate coral proxy studies), is listed as being at 21° S, 160° E. Again well within the study area. Wikipedia has the location at 21° 14′ 0″ S, 159° 47′ 0″ W, or about 2000Km (1250 miles) outside the study area. The error has occurred due to a table with columns headed “Lon (°E)”, and “Lat (°S). Along with the two ice core studies from Vostok Station, Antarctica (Over 3100km, 1900 miles south of 50° S) there are 5 of the 27 proxies that are significantly outside the region.

Temperature Reconstruction

Palmyra Atoll reconstruction is one of just three reconstructions that has any data before 1430. From the abstract, a conclusion was

The average reconstructed temperature anomaly in Australasia during A.D. 1238-1267, the warmest 30-year pre-instrumental period, is 0.09°C (±0.19°C) below 1961-1990 levels.

From the proxy matrix I have plotted the data.


This indicates a massive change in late twentieth century temperatures, with 1996 being the most extreme on record.

The other two data sets with pre-1430 data are tree ring proxies from Mount Read, Tasmania and Oroko, New Zealand. These I have plotted with a 30 year moving average, with the data point at the last year.


There is something not right with the Palmyra Atoll proxy. The late 20th century trend is far too extreme. In the next posting I will compare to some other coral data sets.

George Monbiot’s narrow definition of “charlatan”

Bishop Hill quotes George Monbiot

I define a charlatan as someone who won’t show you his records. This looks to me like a good [example]: http://t.co/5hDF57sI

Personally, I believe that for word definitions one should use a consensus of the leading experts in the field. My Shorter OED has the following definition that is more apt.

An empiric who pretends to wonderful knowledge or secrets.

Like John Cook’s definition of “skeptic“, Monbiot’s definition is narrower and partisan. Monbiot was referring to maverick weather forecaster Piers Corbyn. If someone has a “black box” that performs well under independent scrutiny, then they are charlatan under Monbiot’s definition, but not the OED’s. This could include the following.

  • A software manufacturer who does not reveal their computer code.
  • A pharmaceutical company that keeps secret the formulation of their wonder drug.
  • A soft drink manufacturer, who keeps their formulation secret. For instance Irn-Bru®.

The problem is that these examples have a common feature (that Piers Corbyn would claim to share to some extent). They have predictive effects that are replicated time and time again. A soft drink might just be the taste. Climate science cannot very well replicate the past, and predictions from climate models have failed to come about, even given their huge range of possible scenarios. This is an important point for any independent evaluation. The availability of the data or records matter not one iota. It is what these black boxes say about the real world that matters. I would claim that as empirical climate science becomes more sophisticated, no one person will be able to replicate a climate model. Publishing all the data and code, as Steve McIntyre would like, will make as much difference as publishing all the data and components of a mobile phone. Nobody will be able to replicate it. But it is possible to judge a scientific paper on what it says about the real world, either through predictions or independent statistical measures of data analysis.

Forcings – Hansen et al 2000 v UNIPCC 2007

Two months ago I did an analysis of aerosols in the UNIPCC AR4 report, observing that

  1. That the IPCC can’t add up.
  2. The figures appear contrived to show that only CO2 was the problem.

Anthony Watts has a posting today “Shocker: The Hansen/GISS team paper that says: “we argue that rapid warming in recent decades has been driven mainly by non-CO2 greenhouse gases“. This is based on the James Hansen (and others) paper analysing natural forcings, with the following graphic.


Hansen et al Figure 1: Estimated climate forcings between 1850 and 2000.

I thought that I would do a quick the comparison between what the IPCC were saying in 2007, with what Hansen et al. were saying in 2000.

According to the UNIPCC

  1. Hansen underestimated CO2 component.
  2. Hansen overestimated the CH4 component.
  3. Hansen overestimated the impact of the sun.

However, Hanson could counter that the UNIPCC have completely forgotten about the impact of volcanoes.

It could be completely coincidental, that further analysis by climate scientists gives a greater role to CO2, and therefore even stronger justification for constraining CO2 emissions. However, although they became more certain on positive forcings, they are less certain than Hansen on aerosols. It gives even greater credence to the cynical view that the climate science community are exaggerating the influence of anthropogenic forcings on climate. Given the billions of dollars annually being poured into research one could reasonably expect a reduction in the uncertainties over time.

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