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Friday, November 15, 2013

Salby's Ratio in Hamburg

Just over a year ago, I drew attention to Murry Salby's efforts to suggest that CO2 was not a major contributor to ongoing warming in the twentieth century by the simple expedient of changing the scale ratio between two graphs that compared CO2 concentrations and temperature.  By greatly reducing the number of parts per million of CO2 in the scale relative to the degrees centigrade when comparing observations, Salby drastically increases the apparent slope of the CO2 observations relative to the temperature observations, thereby artificially creating an appearance of disparity where none exists.

I recently noticed the same two charts were used by Salby in his lecture at Hamburg.  Not only were the same two charts used, but much of the discussion was the same.  First he draws attention to the close match between CO2 concentrations and temperatures in model projections of the twenty first century, telling us that:
"Global temperature doesn't just increase with increasing CO2 - it tracks it, almost perfectly."

As in Sydney, having overstated the close relationship between temperature increases and CO2 increases in the model world, Salby goes to great lengths to draw attention to the disparity between the observed rise in CO2 and that in temperature - a disparity almost entirely created by his manipulation of scale ratios.  He says (1:02:00):
"In blue is the observed record of global temperature from the satellite MSU.  In green the observed record of CO2.  The long term evolution of temperature parallels that of CO2 during the 1980s.  It's been scaled to match the trend then, as was obtained by models of the IPCC.  With account of the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1992, their correspondence is similar during the 1990s.  But after the El Nino of 1997, CO2 continued to increase.  Global temperature did not.  Their divergence over the last decade and a half is now unequivocal."
(My emphasis) 
As can be seen by comparing with the transcript of his Sydney Institute lecture from a year ago (in my article linked above), that is almost word for word.  The only significant difference lies in the addition of the sentence which I have bolded; a sentence which purports to explain the choice of scale ratio.  That sentence is rather ambiguous.  It is not clear what Salby mean by it, and he nowhere specifies the method whereby he "scaled to match the trend".  More importantly, there is no interpretation of that sentence in which it is both relevant and true.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Skeptical Science and the Lewandowsky Survey

Note:  This post was intended as a footnote for a later, longer post dealing with the Lewandowsky survey of 2010.  That has been much delayed, so I am publishing this now to clear it out of the way.

Some controversy has erupted over the claim that notice of Lewandowsky's survey on attitudes to climate change, the free market and a variety of conspiracy theories was posted on Skeptical Science.  As it stands, no internet accessible evidence dating from that time exists of such a post, although a tweet by John Cook notifying people of the survey on the 27th of August still exists.

Despite the lack of internet evidence, John Cook has claimed that a post was made on Skeptical Science in 2010.  His memory of the event is vague.  He initially was confused as to the year of posting, initially remembering it as 2011 rather than the correct 2010.  Further, he infers rather than remembers that the post was removed after the data was collected.  His memory that the survey was posted has been verified by Lewandowsky who has said,

"Hi Barry, the survey was done about 2 years ago, and I don’t have the link to SkS: I worked with John Cook directly at the time and; he posted it (and I made a note of it), but I don’t have the actual URL to the survey dating back to the time when he posted it.;I suspect he removed it when the survey was closed because then the link would have been dead."

Unfortunately the recollection of both Cook and Lewandowsky is faulty.  Following the method used by McIntyre I have examined the Way Back Machine record.  Rather than examining the home page as he does, however, I examined the much longer list of recent articles to be found in the "Latest Posts" in the sidebar.  Doing so for three dates (Aug 30th, 2010; Sept 8th, 2010; and Sept 23rd, 2010) provides a continuous overlapping record of Skeptical Science posts from Aug 17th to Sept 23rd that can be compared with the Skeptical Science Archive.  During that period, all articles listed on the Way Back Machine are still listed in the Skeptical Science Archives.

Monday, June 10, 2013

More Tol Gaffes

In a prior post, I examined how Tol claimed to find evidence that was "...indicative of the [poor] quality of manuscript preparation and review" in Cook et al, (2013) - evidence that upon examination consisted entirely in Tol's superficial reading of that paper.  Embarrassing enough, I guess, in a blog post, but that gaffe by Tol was in a "Comment" Tol was preparing for academic publication.  Tol is now in draft three of his comment, and has largely removed eliminated that blunder from the text. (He is still insisting that information from a co-author of the paper is irrelevant to his analysis.)  Draft three still contains several outright blunders, indicative of Tol's antagonistic intent and superficial analysis in his comment.  I examine two of those blunders below.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Tol on "Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature"

Richard Tol has been turning a series of intemperate and poorly supported criticisms of Cook et al (2013) into an intemperate and poorly supported comment, currently in its second draft.  Taken to task about the negativity of the criticisms, Tol responded that he did not have the option of constructive criticism because he does not have the resources.  Willard points out how absurd this excuse is.  In fact, I think he is over generous.  A constructive criticism need not formulate a better approach.  It need only show the likely impact of the relevant factors on the results of the paper being criticized.

In fact, it takes minimal resources and time to be constructive in this way.  Tol, however, at avoids every opportunity to lift above pure negativity in this way.  The consistent bias in his approach shows his claim that he does not have the resources for a constructive criticism is sheer bunk.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Tol's gaffe

Richard Tol has claimed that five out of the ten abstracts rated by Cook et al, 2013 were incorrectly rated.  Let's run through the list of those abstracts for him.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Salby's Ratio

Reposted from Skeptical Science.

On the 24th of July, 2012, Murry Salby gave a talk at the Sydney Institute.  He makes a large number of claims in the talk, some of which are even true, while some merely misrepresent the science.  Of these, one the worst  is his discussion of the relative contribution of CO2 (and other long lived greenhouse gases) to the greenhouse effect.  Another is his continued misunderstanding of what has caused the modern increase in CO2 concentrations.  I will be ignoring these, and other, errors.  In this post I focus only on a misrepresentation that cannot be explained by inadequate knowledge, or simple misunderstanding.

Climate Change Cluedo: Anthropogenic CO2 - Notes

Original article.

1) Timing
2) Correlation
3) Mass Balance
4) C14
5) C13

Climate Change Cluedo: Anthropogenic CO2

Reposted from Skeptical Science.

Anthropogenic CO2?

The human-caused origin (anthropogenic) of the measured increase in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is a cornerstone of predictions of future temperature rises.  As such, it has come under frequent attack by people who challenge the science of global warming.  One thing noteworthy about those attacks is that the full range of evidence supporting the anthropogenic nature of the CO2 increase seems to slip from sight.  So what is the full range of supporting evidence?  There are ten main lines of evidence to be considered:
  1. The start of the growth in CO2 concentration coincides with the start of the industrial revolution, hence anthropogenic;
  2. Increase in CO2 concentration over the long term almost exactly correlates with cumulative anthropogenic emissions, hence anthropogenic;
  3. Annual CO2 concentration growth is less than Annual CO2 emissions, hence anthropogenic;
  4. Declining C14 ratio indicates the source is very old, hence fossil fuel or volcanic (ie, not oceanic outgassing or a recent biological source);
  5. Declining C13 ratio indicates a biological source, hence not volcanic;
  6. Declining O2 concentration indicate combustion, hence not volcanic;
  7. Partial pressure of CO2 in the ocean is increasing, hence not oceanic outgassing;
  8. Measured CO2 emissions from all (surface and beneath the sea) volcanoes are one-hundredth of anthropogenic CO2 emissions; hence not volcanic;
  9. Known changes in biomass too small by a factor of 10, hence not deforestation; and
  10. Known changes of CO2 concentration with temperature are too small by a factor of 10, hence not ocean outgassing.

Greenhouse Effect Basics: Warm Earth, Cold Atmosphere

Reposted from Skeptical Science.

Heating and Heat Flow

Some physics, everyone knows.  In our daily lives we encounter the effects of physics all the time, and as a result, we know what physics predicts in those circumstances at a gut level.  We may not be able to put it into numbers.  We may not be able to apply it in novel situations.  But we know it all the same.
One example is as simple as putting on a blanket.  We know that if we want warm something up, we can increase the supply of heat - or we can reduce the escape of heat.  Either is effective.  If you have a pot that is simmering and you want to bring it to the boil, you can turn the heat up, or you can put on the lid.  If we put on the lid, the pot will go nicely from simmering to boiling, and we don't need to turn up the heat even slightly.  Indeed, if we are not careful to turn down the heat, the pot may well boil over.
Likewise, if you have two identical motors running with an identical load and speed (Revolutions Per Minute), one with the water pump working and one without, we are all physicist enough to say that the second one will run hotter.  It does not matter that the energy supplied as fuel is identical in both cases.  The fact that heat escapes more easilly with water circulating through the radiator will keep the first cooler.  The consequence is that stopping the the water from circulating will lead second motor to disaster.

Nor do we find people who doubt this.  Suppose somebody told us their water pump was broken, but that the Second Law of Thermodynamics prohibited transfer of heat from a cooler place (the water) to a hotter place (the engine block), so they'ld be fine so long as they didn't rev any faster than normal, we'ld look at them in complete disbelief.  Or we would if we were too polite to burst out laughing.  And if they set out cross country confident in their belief, it doesn't matter what destination they claim they're heading for.  Rather, as we all know,  they're really heading for a breakdown!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

The following is a copy of a rather substantial comment at Skeptical Science:

It turn's out that Shollenberger has had his post published at WUWT, and asked his question (with no reply).  His article takes exception to three quotes in Lewandowsky et al 2013.  Just three!  Out of thirty-two!  Here we where hoping for criticism on substantive issues, but as we expected, given Shollenburger's form, he focussed on trivial weak points because he knows any attempt at substantive critique will fail.  Indeed, so unsure is he of the possibility of substantive critique that when alluding to the possibility substantive critique, he merely mentions that others "have taken issue" with aspects of the paper - no link, and no endorsement.  It is like criticizing AGW by noting that the skydragon crowd "have taken issue" with the greenhouse effect while firmly believing that the skydragon crowd are wrong.
Shollenberger, it you have a substantive critique to make - make it!  The longer you dance around the issue the clearer it becomes that you know that the paper is substantively correct.
But am I being unfair?  Shollenberger certainly begins by suggesting the three alleged misquotes are substantive issues.  He (or Watts) provides an abstract for his post which reads:
"Fabricated quotes and gross distortions are used to paint skeptics as conspiracy nuts.  The question is, is it a conspiracy, or is it just incompetence?"
Later, he writes,
"People have taken issue with a number of aspects of the paper, but to my knowledge, nobody has noticed Lewandowsky and Cook fabricate things in their paper.  That’s right.  They make things up."
Being generous, it appears to have escaped Shollenberger's attention that he has already answered the question in the abstract.  Specifically, to "fabricate" something is always an intentional act - by definition.  By saying that Lewandowsky et al "fabricated" things, he says they acted deliberately to construct them.  That is odd, of course, because Shollenberger later disavows the possibility that the "fabrication" and "deception" could be deliberate, so he contradicts himself.
Shollenberger, therefore, owes Lewandowsky, and Cook, and their fellow authors an apology - and he needs to delete any refference to fabrication from his article.
Indeed, I would go further.  There is no suggestion by Shollenberger that the alleged misquotes may not be willful deception (apart from the dog whistle in the abstract).  On the contrary, he continuously reffers to Lewandowsky et al's acts in active terms, strongly suggesting willful acts.  Only in the final paragraph does he finally say,
"And for the record, I don’t think any of this was intentional."
It is almost as though he is aware of the "familiarity backfire effect" and is taking deliberate advantage of it to spread FUD, while maintaining plausible deniability.  If that was his intention, it certainly workd at WUWT with a number of commentors finding it utterly unbelievable that the alleged misquotes where not deliberate (giving us yet anothe recursion on AGW skeptics love of conspiratorial tropes).  Perhaps, however, it was not deliberate and Shollenberger was merely incompetent.
What, however, of the alleged misquotes.  In the first, a quote from Foxgoose is presented as alleging that no humans took the survey for Lewandowsky et al, 2012, whereas he actually alleged that no "skeptical" bloggers where contacted by Lewandowsky.  This is actually a misquote.  However, the meaning of Foxgoose is far  from clear, even in context.  Indeed, Shollenberger, having quoted Foxgoose in full, finds it necessary to refer to the original discussion for further context to show that it is a misquote.  Even that further context, involving as it does a comment by Eli Rabbet, is far from clear.  The most probable cause of the misquote is simple misunderstanding of Foxgoose's intentions.  That, however, is portrayed in terms only appropriate when discussing deliberate deception, despite, purportedly, Shollenberger believing it was no such thing.
(As an aside, I do remember some coments to the effect that the survey results for Lewandowsky 2012 were entirely manufactured, so while few "skeptics" where that extreme, it was not (contrary to Shollenberger) a "fabricated" belief.)
The second alleged misquote is an example of quotation out of context.  Lewandowsky 2013 discuss a conspiracy theory that "Shaping Tommorrow's World" (Lewandowsky's blog) had selectively barred access to the site to certain people, with the intention of then permitting access when the purported selective barring was commented on to "prove" the conspiracist thinking.  As it happens, nobody was selectively barred and the conspiracist thinking was self generated.  Nathan Kurz applauds the machiavelian ellegance of such a device, if true; but then goes on to disagree with the theory.
Lewandowsky et al only quote Kurz as applauding the elegance of the alleged strategy.  They do not say that Kurz actually agrees with the quote.  Indeed, there primary point may be the point curiously not stated by Kurz.  If, as Kurz states, "there is no way for anyone to complain [about the alleged strategy] without matching the stereotypical conspiracist of the study"; and the allegations of strategy where false as Kurz maintained, and people were complaining, then they were acting just like the "the stereotypical conspiracist of the study".  That logic was, of course, the key point of Lewandowsky et al's discussion of the allegations of deliberate blocking.
Because of this, I was at first unsure whether I should even call this a misquote.  But the cardinal rule of quotation is that if the quote without context could lead to mistaken beliefs about the quoted persons beliefs, a clarrification is in order.  Regardless of whether or not Lewandowsky et al intended people to believe that Kurz agreed with the alleged conspiracy (and it is highly dubious that they did), they should have included a simple disclaimer indicating that he did not.
This is then IMO, an example of inadvertent quotation out of context.  It is not, and contrary to Shollenberger a "blatant" distortion of the quote.  It is only such a distortion if Lewandowsky et al intended for people to believe that Kurz himself agreed with the conspiracy theory.
In the third case, Lewandowsky et al do not distinguish between words quoted by the person they are quoting, and those he wrote himself.  This is unquestionably a misquote, apparently brought about by dropping formating.  (The quote was only indicated in the original source by indentation, and not, as it should be, enclosed in inverted commas.  Geoff Chambers, the person quoted by Lewandowsky et al, did indicate the source of his quote, but in a manner indistinguishable from the standard method of indicating the person to whom you are repplying in non-nested comments.)
Shollenberger finds something far worse here.  He accuses Lewandowsky et al of fabricating the quote, whereas, all that happened was an indent was dropped.  He further accuses them of siting an inaccessible source, saying:
"As though that wasn’t bad enough, neither comment can be viewed by readers of the paper as the comments were both edited/deleted by moderators of the site associated with two primary authors of this paper!" 
In fact, the post quoted by Chambers has been deleted from the site, and hence is inaccessible, except, possibly to moderators of the site.  Chamber's post has also been moderated, but it took me 5 seconds to find the full quote on the linked site and to identify that all the words quoted from Chamber's post came from that post without alteration, but with a html block quote command dropped.  And, I do not have any privileged access to that site.
To sum up, Shollenberger does identify three genuine misquotes.  As such, the authors of Lewandowsky 2013 should issue a correction for the paper to avoid inadvertently misleading people.  Ideally they should also explain how the misquotes occurred so that we can be reassured they will not reccure in the future.  But Shollenberger has still not identified any substantive issue.  The first quote is a side reference and has no relevance to the substance of the paper.  The second quote, if the context is established, merely shows the logic of their argument at that point was transparent and agreed to by a (presumed) AGW "skeptic".  The third misquote, if corrected, merely shows that, not one, but two people found plausible an utterly inplausible conspiracy theory about Lewandowsky 2012.  In identifying the misquotes, Shollenberger in no way builds towards a substantive critique of the paper.  He merely resorts, yet again, to the chewbacca defense.