Renowden misdirects in a septic meander

misdirection

de Freitas feeds his students sceptic propaganda …

So says the radical Renowden, he of the non-sceptical “believe everything they say” warmist persuasion. But read what he says about Chris de Freitas’ crimes and you’ll realise he says nothing, because no crimes exist.

Gareth Renowden is himself guilty of attempting to abridge the academic freedom to study and teach inconvenient facts.

It’s all arm-waving, and Renowden cites nothing in the Geography 101 course that’s untrue. He says many unkind things about the graphs and their provenance, but he never says they’re wrong, and that’s a strange thing to forget, which means he didn’t forget it — he omitted it, because they’re not wrong.

Still, his conclusion, unsupported by facts, depends on belief:

This is not a matter of “academic freedom” — de Freitas is perfectly entitled to believe what he wants — but he should not be teaching foundation courses in climate that depend on the output of US lobby groups and far-right British politicians or are so far out of touch with the mainstream of the science he is purporting to present. His students deserve to learn the subject as we best understand it, not just the painted pig that de Freitas dangles in front of them. In the meantime, the University of Auckland has a problem. What price academic excellence, when you have an associate professor determined to ignore that fine idea?

But Renowden badly mistakes the meaning of academic freedom, which means, according to Wikipedia, freedom of academic inquiry, and:

freedom to teach or communicate ideas or facts (including those that are inconvenient to external political groups or to authorities) without being targeted for repression, job loss, or imprisonment.

Renowden gives us more arm-waving about lobby groups and painted pigs, then he tries to embroil the university in this grubby yet feeble allegation, no doubt in hopes of generating a reaction from them:

In the meantime, the University of Auckland has a problem. What price academic excellence, when you have an associate professor determined to ignore that fine idea?

There’s no problem here. This is a professor demonstrating excellent thinking and the capacity to withstand constant pressure from the establishment for him to adopt their thinking. What price a reputation for not thinking?

Fortunately, Gareth Renowden is not making decisions in our leading university, for he cannot distinguish real freedom. Which is surprising in a former journalist.

Renowden says: “He uses old, out-dated resources.” But remember that they’re studying geography, which is about the oldest thing we have, and you get a sense of perspective — there’s no need for everything to be new. If the resources were wrong, or left out important new information, that would be a different matter. But there’s nothing wrong with them.

It’s about as far from the mainstream of paleoclimate reconstructions for the last 2,000 years as it is possible to be.

So you say, but what’s wrong with it?

De Freitas is presenting material prepared by US lobby groups and bloggers — stuff that’s been deliberately designed to confuse the issue.

So you say. But there’s nothing wrong with it.

The other important piece of context for de Freitas’ behaviour is the people he is lecturing. They are first year geography students, probably 18 – 19 years old, fresh out of school. They are in their first term at university, and they are being badly misinformed by a senior academic at the university they are paying to attend. There is no attempt by de Freitas to “teach the controversy”, no attempt to present both sides of the debate sceptics like to insist still continues. Instead, he presents a partial picture that fits with his preconceived position. His students finish his course likely to believe that CO2 is not important, ENSO rules global temperature, the surface temperature record is unreliable and that current gobal temperatures are not all that warm. They have been grievously ill-informed.

This is full of insight. Renowden has penetrated the core of a “university” education, which is to enter by degrees into the “unus + versus”, “single turn” (singularity?) or “community” of learning and teaching that is a university. Having been admitted, wherever they go, the student will never leave the university. They should learn what is known, what is unknown and what is disputed, freely and without bias.

In passing, he mentions “the debate sceptics like to insist still continues.” Many times I’ve heard a warmist say “there is no debate” and what’s remarkable about that is it’s ALWAYS after hearing somebody debate, or offer to debate, what the warmist is saying. The debate is right in front of them and they deliberately shut their eyes. There is no blindness quite so dark as actually refusing to see.

Professor de Freitas will not misinform anyone. He presents what he knows to be true. In his ill-considered diatribe, Renowden has not identified a single error in what de Freitas is doing. He throws much scorn and no substance.

He thinks that science might be neglected, that the students might gain false notions, and this is illuminating. For without prompting he mentions several crucial facts about climate science that he himself usually neglects.

  • CO2 is not important? It increases the temperature somewhat, but there’s not much of it (it’s called a “trace” gas, measured in parts per million); mankind’s emissions are tiny against the natural cycle; and temperature goes up before CO2 does.
  • ENSO rules global temperature? There’s evidence for that — a strong correlation between them, with a plausible mechanism (ocean warms, warming air).
  • Surface temperature record unreliable? For Renowden to assert it IS reliable is risible. Surfacestations.org documents hundreds of weather stations across the USA which fail basic quality standards; serious problems are reported around the world on accuracy and adjustments.
  • Current global temperatures not that warm? No, it was warmer during the Medieval Warm Period — only 1000 years ago.

The students will not be poorly informed on these counts (for these data are not out-dated).

The right to speak freely has been lost, fought for and won back many times during our long British history and it must not be lost in this New Zealand incarnation.

————–
So far only a single commenter at Hot Topic expresses support for true academic freedom (thank you, Mike Palin). Even Doug Mackie has gone to the dark side. Such is the freedom I grant, so long as you agree with me.

72 Thoughts on “Renowden misdirects in a septic meander

  1. Andy on July 18, 2011 at 9:47 pm said:

    Keith Hunter also seems to be backing up Mike Palin’s position

    http://hot-topic.co.nz/de-freitas-feeds-his-students-sceptic-propaganda/#comment-26868

    I congratulate him for this. Maybe he’d like to talk to “the ilk” again?

  2. Bob D on July 18, 2011 at 9:49 pm said:

    Even Doug Mackie has gone to the dark side.

    Doug Mackie is one of the worst, no respect for that one, from me anyway. He recently referred to Fred Singer, a scientist many hundreds of times his better, as a “sack of shit”. Keith Hunter didn’t condone that.

    Mike surprised me, he may be a man of principle after all, but I’m not fully convinced yet.

  3. Andy on July 18, 2011 at 9:53 pm said:

    There’s cracks in the rank and file. Pistols at dawn?

  4. Yes, that’s most encouraging! Well done, him!

  5. Ah, yes, I had forgotten that.

  6. Alexander K on July 19, 2011 at 12:48 am said:

    Reading the comments on Hot Topic has reminded how small-minded, provincial and vindictive some Kiwis can be. I suspect some of the ardent Rowdenites would welcome the return of Puritan-era Witch-sniffers.
    Keith Hunter’s slightly grudging acceptance of Chris de Freitas’ academic freedom is welcome, but the grudging tone, however slight, is not.
    The fact that there has been no warming globally for the past decade and more, that the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’, the poster-child of the IPCC and created by Dr Michael Mann has been thoroughly discredited and debunked, the MWP is proven to be a global phenomenon which the Mannian Hockey Stick was created to expunge from history, should all be factors that lend credence to the sceptic view of climate science.
    The political fuss in Australia regarding their Premier’s attempts to impose a ruinous Carbon Tax and her attempts to demonise ‘carbon as ‘pollution’, plus NZ’s silly and utterly illogical ETS scheme, should at least be making grown-up people think and perhaps reach for their old High School science texts to check the Carbon Cycle for themselves and the veracity of political statements about global warming.

  7. Andy on July 19, 2011 at 9:21 am said:

    They are complaining about a geography 101 course. When I did geography at school, I learnt about countries, geomorphology etc.

    I don’t recall getting government “information” that 2010 ranked as the warmest year on record, together with 2005 and 1998, making the first decade of the 21st century the warmest ever according to the World Meteorological Organization

    What relevance does this have to a student’s understanding of science and knowledge? Do they not understand that the warmest year on record is statistically a highly likely event if you are already in a warming cycle? It teaches nothing about critical thinking skills, nor does it engender an understanding of the scientific method.

    What the Herald and the likes of Hot Topic wants, is for our students to be pumped full of their propaganda, 24×7, and not to develop any critical thinking skills. Clearly, we know what happens when you do critise the dogma. You get marginalised as “crank”, “denier” “flatearther” etc etc.

    I really wish they’d teach some of Richard Feynman’s lectures on cargo cult science, with a dose of Karl Popper, to get them to realise how far from science this game has come.

  8. Andy on July 19, 2011 at 2:37 pm said:

    It seems that Renowden’s main beef is that de Freitas is ignoring recent paleoclimatic studies, i.e the Hockey Stick.

    It would be a long course if they did that.
    The students would have to learn about Mann’s sort-centred PCA analysis that biased in favour of hockey sticks.
    They would have to learn about the overreliance of bristlecone pine data that skewed in favour of hockey sticks.
    They would have to learn about “Mike’s Nature Trick” that spliced paleo and instrumental data.
    They would have to learn about the blocking of FOI requests from McIntyre et al.
    They would have to learn about climategate, and the whitewash enquiries.

    Perhaps a read of Montford’s “Hockey Stick Illusion” would be a good course book?

  9. Mike Jowsey on July 19, 2011 at 6:35 pm said:

    I don’t know Mike Palin, but when he sings the following to the choir, I wonder if he could be asked to “put up or shut up” with respect to an invitation to a public debate with Lord Monckton.

    As an academic, I find your position deeply disturbing. Take a deep breath and look at what you are advocating – blacklisting, banishment, burning at the stake?

    There are things worse than climate change. Society turning its back on the scientific method is one. It’s the principal reason I’ll argue with any contrarian any day of the week, any hour of the day – their attacks on the integrity of science have been reprehensible. Restricting academic freedom is another – even if it means putting up with the likes of de Freitas.

    http://hot-topic.co.nz/de-freitas-feeds-his-students-sceptic-propaganda/#comment-26869

    (my emphasis)

    (OT & BTW – just love the edit facility on these posts. I wish more blogs had this facility. Nice one RT)

  10. Mike Jowsey on July 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm said:

    I vote for Andy for Vice-Chancellor

  11. Andy on July 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm said:

    Maybe Mike Palin will have a “Judith Curry moment” and see the light shining through the cracks?

  12. Mike’s right. You’re on fire today, Andy.

  13. Alexander K on July 19, 2011 at 11:46 pm said:

    I find it really sad that Renowden can pass himself off as even half-way knowledgable among his faithful when he insists that Mann’s hockey stick is alive and well. Do his readers just accept all of his polemics without checking their veracity?

  14. Bob D on July 20, 2011 at 9:38 am said:

    I’ve just finished reading HSI. Anyone who reads it and still believes in the Hockey Stick is simply delusional, in my opinion. Anyone who continues to argue the issue and hasn’t read it is not worth listening to.

  15. Agree Bob. I need to read it a second time to get all the detail though. It is a classic, no doubt

  16. Mike Palin on July 22, 2011 at 8:29 am said:

    You are correct not to mistake my passion for academic freedom as support for anti-science anthropogenic climate change contrarians that appear to roam this blog. I’d be happy to take on the Lord-not. After all, he seems a character right out of a Monty Python skit.

  17. Richard C (NZ) on July 23, 2011 at 9:31 am said:

    “…he seems a character right out of a Monty Python skit”.

    Yes Mike, he’s returning the dead AGW parrot to the IPCC pet shop.

    And you want to play the part of the shopkeeper?

    AGW “resting” this decade?

  18. “Anti-science contrarians”

    Mike, if you look through the threads on this blog, you will see a lot of references to peer reviewed literature that sometimes goes against the thesis of CAGW

    How is this “anti-science”?

  19. Speaking of anti-science, I see that Bryan Walker’s latest piece is celebrating that the BBC has decided to become even more biased on the climate issue (if that is possible)

  20. Bob D on July 23, 2011 at 11:27 am said:

    Mike:

    I’d be happy to take on the Lord-not.

    As far as I know nobody disputes Monckton is a Lord. He is the third Viscount of Brenchley (inherited from his father), and is addressed as ‘Lord’.
    The only ‘dispute’ I can see is whether he is a member of the House of Lords, something that he disputes (unsuccessfully so far) since it seems the 1999 legislation barring hereditary members is riddled with holes. Personally I don’t care one way or the other about legal disputes regarding the House of Lords, and who is entitled to vote there.
    This is of course irrelevant to the climate debate – would he be a worse debater if he was ‘Mr Monckton’? I doubt it.

  21. Mike Palin on July 31, 2011 at 6:37 pm said:

    Bob D, you are correct. – he could be no worse. To address Monckton as “Lord” disrespects all others with that title, including Lord Rutherford, New Zealand’s greatest scientist.

  22. Mike,

    That’s not what Bob meant, and you’re talking nonsense. Christopher Monckton is an hereditary peer and perfectly entitled to be addressed as “Lord”. Please justify your remarks about disrespect.

  23. Mike Palin on July 31, 2011 at 6:49 pm said:

    Have you read the (US) National Academy of Science report “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years” ? If not, Google it and read the executive summary. It says: “The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on icecaps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.”

    Best not to pass judgement on the ignorance of others from a position of weakness.

  24. Andy on July 31, 2011 at 7:05 pm said:

    Interesting that Ernest Rutherford was titled “First Baron Rutherford of Nelson”.

    I am not that familiar with the peerage system at the time, but one might guess from the title that his sons would also gain the title “Baron Rutherford of Nelson”

    Unfortunately, his title actually cost him his life:

    He was admitted to the Order of Merit in 1925 and raised to the peerage as Baron Rutherford of Nelson, of Cambridge in the County of Cambridge, in 1931,[9] a title that became extinct upon his unexpected death in hospital following an operation for an umbilical hernia (1937). Since he was a peer, British protocol at that time required that he be operated on by a titled doctor, and the delay cost him his life. (source- Wiki)

    No doubt, however, that Rutherford was NZ’s greatest scientist. It is ironic, though, that the man famed for “splitting the atom” hailed from what is now “Nuclear Free Aotearoa.”

  25. Mike Palin on July 31, 2011 at 8:04 pm said:

    I witnessed Monckton’s nonsense firsthand last year in Canberra. My research has provided me the opportunity to become familiar with the life work of Rutherford. Monckton’s performance done under the title of “Lord” was an insult to Rutherford. Do you disagree?

  26. Mike Palin on July 31, 2011 at 8:10 pm said:

    The definitive reference for all things Rutherford is John Campbell’s outstanding website: http://www.rutherford.org.nz/.

  27. Mike, please be specific about Monckton’s “nonsense” and his alleged “insult to Rutherford” because without details you’re just being mysterious.

  28. Andy on July 31, 2011 at 9:52 pm said:

    Mike,
    I do have some empathy to your position on the “Lord” title
    Personally, I don’t hold much value in fancy titles, and my view of Monckton’s continued insistence that he is a member of the House of Lords is, in my opinion, a bit cringeworthy, and distracts from the real issues.

    I have huge respect for Rutherford. I remember doing a sixth form project on his nuclear theories and then went on to study Maths at Uni, which extended these ideas into quantum mechanics, a subject that still fascinates me today
    However, I see a lot of “Lords” that I have significantly less respect for. There’s a bunch of political activist type of character in the UK that now have the “Lord” title. For example, Lord Nicholas Stern, whose (in)famous report has received a lot of criticism

    Blairs NuLabour abolished the hereditary system, but replaced this with a load of cultural marxist dross,

    Just my 2c

  29. Bob D on July 31, 2011 at 9:54 pm said:

    Monckton’s performance done under the title of “Lord” was an insult to Rutherford. Do you disagree?

    Say what? Lord Monckton is a Viscount, and therefore is addressed as ‘Lord’. He doesn’t do “performances under the title of ‘Lord'”, he is a Viscount. Just as the Queen is a Queen, and is referred to as “Her Majesty”.
    You may not like what he says, how he says it or the colour of his socks. It makes not the slightest difference to what he is.
    Rutherford was a great scientist, nobody is disputing that, but what on earth has Rutherford being a Baron have to do with Monckton being a Viscount? Irrelevant.
    You say:

    To address Monckton as “Lord” disrespects all others with that title, including Lord Rutherford, New Zealand’s greatest scientist.

    What tosh. Have a nice glass of wine and think about what you wrote. You address Lord Monckton as ‘Lord’ because he’s a Viscount, not because you like him. In the Army we were taught you salute the rank, not the man. The same applies in civilian life, unless you wish to be uncouth, which is, of course, your privilege.

  30. Mike Palin on August 1, 2011 at 8:48 am said:

    By way of birth (USA), it is my nature to be uncouth and my right to address no man as “Lord”.

  31. Fair enough, although you were happy to accord Rutherford his correct title.

  32. Have you read the Hockey Stick Illusion? The ‘other reconstructions’ are examined in detail, and all include some or most of the Mann proxy records. It’s hardly surprising they show the same results.
    Phil Jones (2000):

    Agreement between the compilations is good, but much of the credit for this is because all contain many common series, so they can hardly be considered independent of each other.

    The fact is there just aren’t that many decent proxy records. Mann in fact assembled a large number, but used a deficient statistical technique to combine them, producing a hockey stick shape that was simply not present in the majority of proxies. The technique he used will produce a hockey stick from red noise, something proven (rather gleefully it must be said) over and over.
    Whether Mann did it deliberately or because of incompetence is unclear, but it should be noted that he tried very hard to hide the R-squared statistic for the verification period for as long as possible, since it was very low and showed failed verification.

    …such as melting on icecaps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.”

    Hmm, not a very convincing finish, was it?
    First of all, the polar icecaps are not melting, only the Arctic is exhibiting any “melting”, whatever that may mean when temperatures are well below zero for most of the year.
    Glaciers have been retreating (and advancing) for hundreds, even thousands of years, we can’t be influencing that. The Antarctic ice sheet is growing, including the shelves – a record sea ice extent was recorded recently. Some Eastern Greenland glaciers were moving quickly over the past few decades, but they have now stopped. The interior has been accumulating ice throughout this period. It is noted in the peer-reviewed literature that Greenland had less ice in the 1930s and 40s. So much for being unprecedented in the last 2,000 years.
    Glacier movement is generally regarded as a poor proxy of global warming because of the time lag effects, and the fact that precipitation greatly affects the mass balance, which affects the rate of flow.
    Remember, nobody is disputing that there has been some moderate warming in the period 1976-1998. The amount of warming, however, is definitely not unprecedented. 1910-1940 saw a similar increase. The Arctic has been through many documented periods of “melting” and re-freezing. 1817, 1922, and 1944 come to mind here, but there were others too.

  33. Mike Palin on August 1, 2011 at 3:12 pm said:

    Certainly not, why should I? I get my science from scientists – and the National Academy of Science is full of damn good ones. If I had a question about my accounts, I might go to an accountant, but never for an opinion on climate science. So the two sources of information are not equivalent.

  34. Judith Curry seems to think that a willingness or not to read HSI is a litmus test of an open mind on this topic.

  35. Bob D on August 1, 2011 at 5:14 pm said:

    I get my science from scientists – and the National Academy of Science is full of damn good ones.

    And yet, as I easily pointed out above, their science is shown to be less than settled.

  36. The role of the NAS in the Hockey Stick affair is well documented in HSI, and in subsequent Bishop Hill posts.

  37. Mike Palin on August 1, 2011 at 6:18 pm said:

    You guys have to be kidding. The NAS is part of the grand conspiracy also? So next you’ll be telling me that the moon landings were faked and that Chris Monckton invented a cure for the common cold. Too much!

  38. What is it with you guys and this “conspiracy”

    How about corruption, self-interest, groupthink, and ineptitude?

  39. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 9:42 am said:

    Remember Mike that in politics things are always murky. The NAS panel was set up specifically to counter the Wegman panel. It was a battle of Democrat vs Republican personalities.

    Nevertheless, the NAS panel agreed with the Wegman findings, and had the following to say:
    1) The principal components method by which Hockey Stick was achieved was flawed
    2) RE tests are insufficient for statistical significance (i.e. the Hockey Stick has zero meaning)
    3) Mann’s Hockey Stick depends on bristlecone proxies which are known to be unreliable
    4) Such strip bark forms should be “avoided” in reconstruction. The reason for this is that strip barking changes the tree’s growth response.

    Under oath, the NAS committee said:
    CHAIRMAN BARTON. Dr. North, do you dispute the conclusions [about the Mann papers] or the methodology of Dr. Wegman’s report?
    DR. NORTH. No, we don’t. We don’t disagree with their criticism. In fact, pretty much the same thing is said in our report.
    DR. BLOOMFIELD [statistician to the NAS Panel]. Our committee reviewed the methodology used by Dr. Mann and his co-workers and we felt that some of the choices they made were inappropriate. We had much the same misgivings about his work that was documented at much greater length by Dr. Wegman.
    WALLACE: The two reports were complementary, and to the extent that they overlapped, the conclusions were quite consistent.

    So what exactly did the Wegman report conclude, considering that the NAS panel said they agreed with Wegman?

    Overall, our committee believes that Mann’s assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade of the millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year of the millennium cannot be supported by his analysis.

    Now since you are on the record as stating that you “get [your] science from scientists – and the National Academy of Science is full of damn good ones”, are you now willing to concede that there is some validity to the claim that the Mann papers are in fact not worth much?

  40. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 11:04 am said:

    Bob, you have it exactly backwards. The Wegman “panel” was an ad hoc group formed to counter the official NAS panel.

    Here is an excerpt from Wegman’s prepared statement at the subsequent House hearings (p. 167):

    “We do agree with Dr. Mann on one key point: that MBH98/99 were not the only evidence of global warming. As we said in our report, “In a real sense the paleoclimate results of MBH98/99 are essentially irrelevant to the consensus on climate change. The instrumented temperature record since 1850 clearly indicates an increase in temperature.” We certainly agree that modern global warming is real. We have never disputed this point. We think it is time to put the ‘hockey stick’ controversy behind us and move on.”

    I would encourage you to read through the original document:
    QUESTIONS SURROUNDING THE ‘HOCKEY STICK’ TEMPERATURE STUDIES: IMPLICATIONS FOR CLIMATE CHANGE ASSESSMENTS

    HEARINGS BEFORE THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND COMMERCE

    HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

    ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
    SECOND SESSION

    JULY 19 AND JULY 27, 2006
    Serial No. 109-128

    It is available from: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/house. You may be surprised how inaccurate reports of its contents via the contrarian blogosphere have been.

  41. The instrumented temperature record since 1850 clearly indicates an increase in temperature.” We certainly agree that modern global warming is real. We have never disputed this point.

    Has anyone ever said there wasn’t warming? Stop moving the goalposts.

    You said that the recent warming was unprecedented in at least 2,000 years. It isn’t. The Wegman report stated that, and the NAS panel agreed with it.

  42. Bob, you have it exactly backwards. The Wegman “panel” was an ad hoc group formed to counter the official NAS panel.

    Rep. Joe Bartman (House Energy and Commerce Committee) started his enquiry in 23 June 2005. As part of that enquiry he requested help from Dr. Edward Wegman, a prominent statistics professor at George Mason University who was chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on
    Applied and Theoretical Statistics.
    The NAS panel was convened in November 2005.

    It’s worth noting the subtle difference between the examination of Mann’s papers, and the examination of Mann’s general assertions. This is where most of the confusion lies, in my opinion.

    Wegman, McIntyre, and many others examined Mann’s papers. Their conclusions were clear, and have been supported by all experts: the Mann papers are not statistically robust (to put it as simply as possible). Therefore Mann’s conclusions drawn from his papers are unsupportable. Does this mean that his statements are incorrect? Not necessarily, he could still be right, but he cannot use his papers as proof.

    Note that the NAS statements you have been quoting are addressing the broader issue of temperature trends over the past 2,000 years, not Mann’s papers. The NAS report’s scope grew wider than just Mann.

    However, they ultimately had to agree with Wegman on this point too, stating (emphasis added):

    The substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion [last 1,000 years] compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming.
    Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium” because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.

  43. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm said:

    Bob D at 11:14 am, you are wrong. I quoted the executive summary of the NAS report, ““The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on icecaps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.” Do you dispute this quote? Do you dispute the findings of the NAS panel?

  44. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 1:12 pm said:

    Andy, are you suggesting those terms apply to members of the NAS panel?

  45. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 1:15 pm said:

    Do you dispute this quote?

    Of course not. The quote comes from a few lines above my own quote.
    However, the NAS panel appears to be tying itself in knots trying to support Mann while pointing out that his papers are unsupportable. Note this:

    The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999)…has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators

    you left out the next bit:

    Not all individual proxy records indicate that the recent warmth is unprecedented, although a larger fraction of geographically diverse sites experienced exceptional warmth during the late 20th century than during any other extended period from A.D. 900 onward.

    They then declare Mann’s conclusion merely ‘plausible’. After that they reduce this ‘plausibility’:

    The substantial uncertainties currently present in the quantitative assessment of large-scale surface temperature changes prior to about A.D. 1600 lower our confidence in this conclusion compared to the high level of confidence we place in the Little Ice Age cooling and 20th century warming. Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium

    Now you may declare this a vindication of Mann’s conclusions (forget his papers at this point – just his conclusions) but I think we can all see it’s a bit of a stretch.

  46. No I am not.
    However, whenever this old “conspiracy” chestnut keeps getting brandished, I like to point out that there are often simpler and more human failings that can be attributed.

    Not all these failings are necessarily intentional or malicious. “Noble cause corruption” is a well-used phrase to explain some actions in many areas of human endeavour.

  47. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 2:16 pm said:

    They point is that the NAS panel never challenged the conclusions of Mann et al. 1998 or 1999. They found that there were better ways to treat the data, which Mann and coworkers had already undertaken and showed did not change their original conclusions. The NAS panel reviewed subsequent work through 2005 and found that it supported those original conclusions. The fact they were even examining the papers in the first place was extraordinary and you expect that they needed to give a prize or something for the work to be vindicated? Get real – it don’t happen that way in the “harsh” disciplines.

    Simply stated, the HS is no illusion and the blade is getting longer by the decade. To claim otherwise is to inhabit a world detached from mainstream science. To mitigate some of the negative consequences of fossil fuel burning, we need to switch to renewable means of energy production. Who wants to dig coal out of the ground when sunlight is free! The switch will be necessary eventually anyway because fossil fuel resources are finite. If you don’t believe so – check at the price at the petrol pump. Why not get a head start on the inevitable?

  48. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 2:24 pm said:

    Now, now Andy, don’t be a tattle-tale. Besides, I was told to have a glass of wine.

  49. Mike,

    At Hot Topic, you just said:

    I’ve been killing brain cells wasting time over at Climate Con(versation) Group

    Please explain.

  50. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm said:

    They point is that the NAS panel never challenged the conclusions of Mann et al. 1998 or 1999.

    Of course they did:

    Even less confidence can be placed in the original conclusions by Mann et al. (1999) that “the 1990s are likely the warmest decade, and 1998 the warmest year, in at least a millennium

    MBH98 and 99 are invalid as significant papers. Amman et al. eventually were forced to publish the verification R-squared values, and they show zero verification. Zero verification skill implies zero reconstruction skill. MBH98 and 99 were broken using their own results.

    The important point about MBH98 was that it showed results very different from all established norms of history, archeology and science to that point. In order to overturn centuries of accumulated knowledge, one has to produce water-tight evidence. MBH98 and 99 failed to do this.

    Who wants to dig coal out of the ground when sunlight is free!

    This is such a naive statement that I’m not even sure you’re serious. Sunlight is as “free” as coal, in the sense that it’s a natural resource. The process of converting it to energy in a cost-effective manner is the issue. Electricity cannot be stored easily, and solar technology cannot match coal-burning for cost-effectiveness. Therefore it’s dead in the water right now unless massively subsidised. Hence the ETS, carbon dioxide taxes, etc.
    So to answer your question “Who wants to dig coal out of the ground when sunlight is free!”, the reply is: “Anyone with a brain who understands solar energy is way more expensive than coal.”

    If you don’t believe so – check at the price at the petrol pump.

    The oil price varies with the political winds, and always has. There is plenty of fossil fuel available for hundreds of years, get used to it. When the alternative technologies catch up (I’m thinking nuclear here), there will be a natural cost-driven switch to using them, but forcing the issue artificially is a non-starter.

  51. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm said:

    So why did the NAS say, “The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on icecaps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.”?

    But the more important point is that Mann et al. 1998 and 1999 are no longer relevant. The science has moved moved forward and we have a much better handle on paleoclimate records. The subsequent work confirms the “Hockey Stick” with greater precision than ever. You’re arguing a call from a game that finished a decade ago!

    There is enough fossil fuel for the foreseeable future, but not cheap oil. You can be at the front of the inevitable switch, or stuck with the dirty, old technology. It’s always been about choices. Get down out of the trees.

  52. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 3:12 pm said:

    I have many other things to do (wasting time here) and I took the suggestion of having a glass of wine (killing brain cells). I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

  53. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm said:

    That’s a very interesting reading of it, considering the NAS panel specifically states that there is very low confidence in their own statement. The reason they give?

    …because the uncertainties inherent in temperature reconstructions for individual years and decades are larger than those for longer time periods and because not all of the available proxies record temperature information on such short timescales.

    The only evidence they provide is arm-waving:

    a variety of local proxy indicators, such as melting on icecaps and the retreat of glaciers around the world, which in many cases appear to be unprecedented during at least the last 2,000 years.

    Uh huh. Very convincing. See my comment above, which you haven’t as yet even addressed.

    There is enough fossil fuel for the foreseeable future, but not cheap oil.

    If that is so, then market forces will drive us towards new solutions. Simple as that. There’s no need to get all worked up about it.
    But I confess I’m a little confused. You’ve been referring to coal up to now (i.e. electricity generation), yet suddenly we’re on oil. Are you saying solar is a viable alternative for use in, say, vehicles? If so, I have some sad news for you.

  54. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 3:33 pm said:

    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! 😉

  55. Mike Palin,

    You were asked about: “I’ve been killing brain cells wasting time over at Climate Con(versation) Group.” You replied:

    I have many other things to do (wasting time here) and I took the suggestion of having a glass of wine (killing brain cells). I didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.

    Spanish Inquisition? No, I’m just asking questions. You don’t really think you’re wasting time here, or you wouldn’t put out such effort to persuade Bob that he’s wrong.

  56. One cannot be seen to be commenting on “denier” blogs when conversing with The Faithful, hence the obligatory put-down.

  57. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 5:44 pm said:

    It was a joke, Bob got it. Concerned I might turn a couple of the faithful here?

  58. Hey Mike, we might not be as uptight as you think.
    It’s OK, we welcome you coming here and giving us a hard time.

    I’d hate to be on one of those awful blogs where everyone agrees with each other.

  59. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 6:23 pm said:

    I’d hate to be on one of those awful blogs where everyone agrees with each other.

    Yes.

  60. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 6:26 pm said:

    Speaking of uptight, wine, and so on, has anyone tried Haagen beer? I normally drink Speights (as you know Richard) but this is quite pleasant.

  61. Can’t say I have. I am more of a Macs kind of guy. Sassy Red is a good brew.

    Mind you, if we move to Dunedin (drum roll Mike) to escape Shaky City, I’ll be on the Southern Man fast track.

  62. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm said:

    When I first arrived in NZ, I sampled all the beers (as you do) and decided Speights was the best. It took me a while to realise I was losing me mates in Auckland by drinking it, so I challenged them as to why they felt that way. It soon became clear that they objected to Speights only in principle, and most had never even drunk it.
    So I leaned on them to try some, and now they almost all drink it in preference to the other beers. Weird.

  63. Sorry Bob, I just got the irony. Bit slow tonight

  64. She’s a hard road to follow, Bob….

  65. Mike Palin on August 2, 2011 at 6:55 pm said:

    Thanks. As you might know, I sometimes stir things up on the other side too.

  66. Bob D on August 2, 2011 at 6:56 pm said:

    🙂

  67. Haagen is good. Speights is good, too. Stella is good. Steinlager is good. Brown with bubbles is good, hic.

  68. Anything with bubbles?

    You mean, specifically CO2, of course

  69. Aw, sheesh, I’ve forgodden. Izn CO2 bad f’ the planet? Or the moon, ha ha ha! Mus’ be CO2, could’n be soap, eh? Hee, hee. Havin’ trouble focssing … where’s my beer … won’t improve the eyes, just makes me feel better about them not working.

  70. Richard C (NZ) on August 2, 2011 at 8:39 pm said:

    Cascade Lager (or two) followed by a Black Mack.

    Had an weird flirtation with Bundaberg Sarsaparilla earlier this year. A great tonic after some strenuous work I found. But I digress.

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