Stephen Lewandowsky has co-authored (yet another) paper attacking climate skeptics. His colleagues-in-arms this time are long-time climate consensusite Jeff Harvey , Bart Vergheggen, and a cohort of ecologists along with Michael Mann. First author Harvey is well-known to climate commenters as a rant-prone passionate bulldog for the climate cause.
The main supposed finding of the paper is that zoologist Susan Crockford is the source of a number of skeptical blog posts. Harvey and colleagues claim a large figure (80%). The authors then claim to identify a ‘majority-view’ position in the polar bear literature, which they say is diametrically opposite of the Crockford-based blog position/s.
Polar bear alarmism has a checquered history and scientists Ian Stirling, Steven Amstrup and Andrew Derocher have been prominent proponents. All three have made several statements pushing a specific line – that polar bears are under severe threat, that anthropogenic global warming is the cause, and that their ability to adapt to changing conditions is limited. Of note here, the paper is co-authored by Ian Stirling and Steven Amstrup. Susan Crockford has been critical of both scientists on her blog and other venues.
My first thought was on seeing the Harvey et al text was whether the so-called ‘majority-view’ papers mainly cited Stirling, Amstrup and Derocher papers in support of their views. Did they identify a view present in the literature which traced its antecedents to their own papers?
It turns out the situation is much worse.
Of the 92 papers included in the study, 6 are labeled ‘controversial.’ Of the remaining 86, 60 are authored or co-authored by Stirling or Amstrup, or Derocher. That is, close to 70% (69.76%) of the so-called ‘majority-view’ papers are from just three people, 2 of whom wrote the attack paper themselves.
In other words, Stirling and Amstrup did not discern an organically coalesced body of opinion from several polar bear papers by sifting through the literature. They did not even uncover a body of literature supporting a particular stance that cited their own work, as self-referential as that might have been. They ‘found’ their own papers to constitue a ‘majority-view’ in the polar bear literature!
Stirling and Amstrup attack Susan Crockford for not following the ‘majority-view’ and the ‘majority-view’ is what’s expressed in their own papers.
But there’s worse to come. The authors list 6 papers as being ‘controversial’ for eliciting ‘critical comments and discussion in the peer-reviewed literature.’ It turns out Stirling, Amstrup and Derocher themselves wrote comments to 4 out of 6 of these papers. Put another way, Stirling and Amstrup labeled papers they did not like ‘controversial.’
It is no wonder the ‘majority-view’ (green triangles above) displays such a tight cluster of perspectival homogeneity. It is not a majority view but rather a minority one, of just three scientists. The near-absolute lack of variability in opinion along the PC1 axis is likely just due to standard boilerplate alarmist text in the papers of Stirling, Amstrup and Derocher, repeating the mantra of polar bear doom from melting ice, rather than any emergent phenomenon in polar bear literature.
A true majority view (if there can be such a thing) can be discerned only if a representative sampling of the polar bear literature is carefully assessed, with attention to their scientific content (as opposed to mere headcount), the nature and strength of supporting evidence presented and the caveats that scientists are careful enough to always include. In such a setting opposing viewpoints cannot be dismissed as being controversial merely because they oppose one’s own views.
The paper has several hallmark characteristics of a Lewandowsky piece: the language is dominated by ad hominen attack (for e.g, the word denier occurs 31 times) and the text is notable for a number of false statements. The authors purport to analyse ‘the views’ of blogs but ascribe views to the blogs themselves followed by analysis of the same views. Last but not the least, the full data from the paper is not made available. But the fatal flaw of non-independent analysis by the paper’s authors renders its conclusions invalid.
Scare Pollution is the story of Steve Milloy’s investigation of experiments the US Environmental Protection Agency conducted on human subjects with diesel exhaust. Milloy stumbled upon the EPA’s activities when it published a case report of a middle-aged woman who developed cardiac arrhythmias and needed to be taken to the hospital. It turned out she was one of several study subjects who were exposed to diesel exhaust piped into test chambers, and monitored.
EPA claims the purported notorious killer PM2.5 in diesel exhaust killed hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year and needs to be regulated stringently.
Behind closed doors, when questions over the experiments arose the EPA had a remarkable defense: PM2.5 was actually not dangerous when inhaled in high concentrations, at all. It was just some harmless experimentation.
This kind of two-faced rhetoric is common in the climate debate. The latest example surrounds John Bates’ criticism of Karl et al 2015 (K15), a paper touting the effect of adjustments to the instrumental global average record.
Karl et al came out in 2015, some months before the Paris climate agreement. At the time climate consensusists were getting hammered by questions about the pause, an 18-year stretch starting 1997 that showed almost no increase in global temperatures. K15 ocean temperature adjustments tweaked the global average just enough to create an upward trend.
This is the headline Carbon Brief ran for the paper:
The authors were clear their paper affected the pause.
This was their title:
This was their abstract:
This was the editorial note to the paper:
To anyone, the paper was about the pause. It’s in the paper title, abstract, and accompanying press releases.
If you got your news from Zeke Hausfather or Victor Venema …
…you would think K15 almost had nothing to do with the pause.
Venema is fond of pushing the line that adjustments ‘reduce global warming.’ By focusing on the pause K15’s authors left themselves and the practice of adjustments open to the charge of manipulation of trends. Adjustments actually ‘make our estimate of global warming smaller,’ says Venema, as he castigates David Rose for printing John Bates’ objections.
So we have quite some irony here. Rose never mentions that the adjustments make our estimate of global warming smaller; that would not have fit into the conspiracy he is trying to sell.
The context was only slightly different but here he is in 2015, pushing the same line:
Being land creatures people do not always realise how big the ocean is, but 71% of the Earth is ocean. Thus if you combine these two temperature signals taking the area of the land and the ocean into account you get the result below. The net effect of the adjustments is a reduction of global warming.
It was the skeptics, and David Rose, who focus on the ‘right end’ of the global temperature (the pause):
But Rose is obsessed with the top panel. I made the graph extra large, so that you can see the differences. […] The “problem” is the minute change at the right end of the curves.
You can see Sou Bundanga pushing the same message here:
Applying the corrections to the sea surface temperature data reduces, not increases, the rate of warming over the instrumental period. This is the opposite to what deniers often claim – that all adjustments increase warming!
She even includes a graph from the paper she annotated to drive home the point:
Here’s Realclimate’s Gavin Schmidt at it:
The second panel is useful, demonstrating that the net impact of all corrections to the raw measurements is to reduce the overall trend.
What Schmidt, Venema and the others perform here is pure misdirection.
‘Question Karl et al’s adjustments, will you? Look at all adjustments. We even reduce trends and global warming. You should have no problem buying Karl et al.’
The reality, almost no skeptic has questioned adjustments to the sea surface records of the 1910-1940 period. In fact, there are reasons to question them, apart from the straw-man arguments of Venema and Schmidt. These NOAA adjustments—which are present in ERSSTv3 and have nothing to do with Karl et al—by reducing the 1910-’40 rate, make temperatures match climate models more easily. They reduce an inconveniently high rate of warming during a period with reduced anthropogenic CO2.
Speaking of complaints about reduced rates, here is the effect of NOAA’s methods on the 1940-1979 period, compared to HADCRUT:
That’s right – by reducing the rate of cooling, NOAA renders 1945 – 1974 as a warming period!
No one objected to adjustments because they increase a so-called ‘overall trend,’ a metric that involves ridiculously drawing a straight line from 1880-2015 right through the many ups and downs. If you examine the paper itself, you will see it makes only scant mention of the ‘overall trend.’
Embarrassingly for Schmidt/Venema, K15 make clear its own adjustments have no effect on the full period of record (emphasis mine)
For the full period of record (1880–present) (Fig. 2), the new global analysis has essentially the same rate of warming as that of the previous analysis (0.068°C decade−1 and 0.065°C decade−1, respectively) …
K15 state explicitly their adjustments mainly impact the pause:
…reinforcing the point that the new corrections mainly have an impact in recent decades.
This is Carbon Brief in their article on K15 (emphasis mine)
While the authors apply their corrections to the full temperature record stretching back to 1880, the biggest impact is on the rate of warming in recent decades, say the authors.
If misdirection was not enough …
.. confusion is further propagated by misquotation and quote surgery.
Take the example of this Zeke Hausfather tweet:
Hausfather is responding to David Rose’s article on Bates’ criticism of K15. As described, you can see Hausfather talking about NOAA adjustments in general, all taken together, making the exact opposite claim of the paper.
But there’s more. Look at the graph in the tweet which appears to have been created by him and an organization called ‘Climate Feedback‘.
The annotation at the top quotes Rose’s article reads “<<this resulted in the dramatic increase of the overall global trend>>,” making it appear as though Rose was talking about the 1880-2015 overall trend. Climate Feedback then responds (highlighted in yellow) by offering the now-familiar excuse that ‘all adjustments’ decrease the global warming trend.
But head over to the Daily Mail and it is plain Rose is talking about K15 adjustments to ship-buoy sea surface temperatures, affecting the 2000-2014 period, which in turn produced a dramatic increase in the ‘global trend.’
The sea dataset used by Thomas Karl and his colleagues – known as Extended Reconstructed Sea Surface Temperatures version 4, or ERSSTv4, tripled the warming trend over the sea during the years 2000 to 2014 from just 0.036C per decade – as stated in version 3 – to 0.099C per decade. Individual measurements in some parts of the globe had increased by about 0.1C and this resulted in the dramatic increase of the overall global trend published by the Pausebuster paper.
What adjustments were done in K15 to sea temperatures affected the global trend – big mystery there, isn’t it?
Climate Feedback and Hausfather have to rip out part of a sentence from its context, pretend its author is not saying what he is saying, but instead is something they have a pre-cooking talking point lined up for, in order to pretend they’re providing ‘feedback.’
If you are credible scientists why would you, repeatedly, counter criticism of K15 adjustments by pretending they were about ‘all adjustments’? These are not people who deserve to be taken seriously.
As it is practiced now, no distinct lines are drawn between changes that are needed as an integral part of deriving a global average temperature and adjustments that are justified on grounds of available data being less than ideal. The two are treated as though they were conceptually the one and the same. As much as possible, papers and their authors describe their work as an indispensable part of one amalgamated methodological continuum. This continuum however has no room to distinguish tweaks that produce changes of insignificant magnitude and more significant ones. The main purpose of deriving a global average temperature has shifted from one of monitoring changes over long periods of time, say decades, which requires a reasonably accurate but stable methodology and high-quality data sources, to one that chases the mirage of the ‘one true temperature,’ and increased precision in the service of media talking points and rebuttals to climate skeptics.
Adjustments are not questioned by skeptics because ‘they are produce increase warming.’ As they stand, adjustments reduce the rate of warming during a period of less anthropogenic influence and reduce the rate of post-WWII cooling. They slightly nudge up temperatures to convert a lack of a trend into a positive trend. In other words they seem to serve a variety of purposes, both political and scientific, at different points of time. Rather than cooling or warming overall, they appear to reduce the magnitude of natural variability that is likely present in the instrumental record, as each truth overwrites the previous one. The Climategate emails show the people in charge of deriving a global average openly discussing tweaking warming or cooling during various periods when talking about adjustments. The bias inherent in such a situation lies right in front of our eyes.
Climate scientists are fond of signing their name to activist letters. Usually, these letters end in some fiasco or the other. The latest, the Guardian has reported, is one written by ‘leading scientists’ to British PM Theresa May asking her to persuade Donald Trump away from climate skepticism. The letter (alternate link: here) was ‘delivered to Downing Street on Friday,’ the Independent informs somberly, after being signed by ‘100 of the world’s leading climate researchers working in the UK.’
Not unexpectedly, contained within was the usual combination of admonishments, pleas for funding and veiled threats one has come to expect from climate science nowadays, and sadly enough from the science establishment in general. The tone is dismally poor and presumptuous, a familiarity to anyone associated with the climate debate.
Checking the letter’s metadata in Acrobat showed the letter’s author was one ‘WARDRE.’
That’s right. It is climate activist Bob Ward, ‘Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics’ whose name is listed as the document’s author. Ward lists his email address as ‘email@example.com’ at his employer’s web profile. I think it is fair to conclude Bob Ward wrote the entire letter, though other conjectures are possible.
What’s more, Ward signed on the letter himself though he is no scientist. That close to a hundred professors and leaders in UK climate science would sign off on such a poor letter can at best mean they did not read its contents. At worst, they actively worked with an activist Ward and are happy to be tarred by his political brush.
How is this all presented, in the media, to the outside world? Here’s Ward himself on his Twitter feed:
More accurately put, it would read ‘Bob Ward urges Theresa May to pressure Trump on global warming.’
In large part, letter campaigns do not befit science. These types of documents seem to represent the views of small cliques in any discipline, the kind that will not do science and instead spend time in activism. Such letters, usually on a politically sensitive topic, then get passed around head to head and people simply sign off to avoid confrontation, keep the peace and be seen as doing the right thing. Their prestige is used to score political points or ride the news cycle.
UPDATE: It appears the letter is set to ‘private’ on the Scribd document hosting platform. If you travel to this page on the Climate Home website and scroll down, it remains available to read.
The US House Science committee tweeted a link to a James Delingpole article on the drop in atmospheric temperatures of the Na Nina that is underway.
Look at the climate alarmist and intelligentsia response:
Science writer Deborah Blum:
The articulate British scientist Doug McNeall:
PhD scientist Bob Ward:
Former journalist Leo Hickman:
Climate activist ‘Climate Truth’
Climate communicator Michael Mann:
Climate communicator Michael Mann
Climate communicator Things Break:
Climate communicator ‘Climate Truth’
‘Journalist’ Hywel Robers
Anti-e-cig activist John Mashey:
Veteran Climateprogress commenter Lou Grinzo:
Climate communicator Eric Steig:
‘Physicist’ Aatish Bhatia:
That’s right. A veritable stream of tweets feigning outrage and fainting over the name ‘Breitbart’ but not a single one that explains why they are angered.
It’s the flavor of the season: how outraged you manage to be is proof how wrong/evil your opponent is.
In all, I saw one response by biologist Karen James who attempted to come up with some form of reasoning why the US House Science, Space and Technology Committee was wrong:
Unfortunately, with Delingpole’s article becoming ‘heinously misleading,’ there is only emotional ranting and little thinking going on here. The Breitbart article does not say anything about ‘greenhouse gases from human activity causing climate change’ or even ‘something like that.’
All it does is point out how mum the climate establishment has been given the drop in temperatures corresponding to the La Nina. It quotes David Whitehouse and and Myles Allen as sources. What a shocker.
The same establishment makes a deafening racket every time there is an El Nino. In fact, climate activists actively hope for El Nino warm periods so they can hyperventilate about ‘record temperatures’ and advance their policy goals.
Now that Milo Yiannapoulous’ work has been used by propagandists to smear Breitbart as a ‘racist’ platform, it would be doubly delicious were James Delingpole—who has been writing for Breitbart for even longer—to become the de facto source of climate updates. It would be sharp, scientific and right-on-target.
Unlike the dumber-than-a-sack-of-rocks climate activists who can’t find the words or come up a single reason for their outbursts.
Climate diplomacy is just war by other means. In fact, climate as diplomacy took birth for this purpose though the pretense at the surface is anything but. The initial momentum of the climate movement was Malthusian – directed at overconsumption of ‘resources’ and ‘overpopulation’ of the earth by the wrong types of human beings in developing countries. Paradoxically however, the movement incorporated globally negotiated treaty-making under the UN as an integral part of its design. This meant inviting the very targets of the Malthusians to voluntarily subject themselves to the intended curbs—in growing crops, using forests and land, producing and using fossil fuels—essentially in all elements of modern life. This central, unresolved paradox has remained at the heart of the UNFCCC/IPCC process.
When things kicked off (at Rio de Janeiro) in 1992, the only way to entice developing countries to participate in the UNFCCC was via (a) promises of a temporary reprieve and special permissions to continue using fossil fuels – the so-called principle of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities,’ and (b) dangling the twin carrots of technology transfer and financial aid to overcome the ravages of climate change. Developing countries like India and China, then utterly secure in their backwardness, were eager to accept these conditions. All one had to do was accept climate consensus formulations (‘the science’) to appear scientific, which was an attractive proposition to the global South. Once accepted the Rio template brought further benefits. They could band together in berating developed countries like the US and the UK for their ‘rampant consumerism,’ ‘capitalism,’ and ‘exploitation of resources.’ They could pretend to ‘care’ for ‘the environment.’ The ball of ’emission reduction’ was not yet in their court which made the moral posturing easier.
To be fair, as poor nations lacked leverage, there were direct participatory pressures on developing countries. If they chose to keep away from the UNFCCC/COP negotiations, they could find themselves subject to mandatory rules made in their absence. The safety valve in all this was the knowledge that the US was neither about to transfer nuclear technology nor freely part with gobs of cash. The developed countries had their safety valves, too. For a good while, countries like Germany and Russia double-counted incidental large dips in their GDP toward the Kyoto protocol. In the US, the Senate proved to be an insurmountable barrier for climate activist legislation. Ironically, in climate circles, the knowledge/belief that neither India nor China would accept accept verifiable mandatory emission reduction targets has itself served as an inhibitory force. In other words, each party depends on the other to act in their self-interest in order to protect themselves from self-harm in the name of climate!
Developed countries use ‘the science’ to pursue Malthusian dreams of their environmentalist cohorts. Developing countries pretend at believing in the science to play at being the global left. Skepticism at the whole charade drops between the cracks. This has been the climate story over the past 22 years – of pantomime fools dancing around a Gordian knot.
There is, however, great danger even in play-acting in a Malthusian drama. At regular intervals, countries have found themselves paying a real price for the indulgence. The Climate Change Act in the UK is one such example. Written entirely by a college-level activist, the passage of the CCA exposed the weakness of ‘checks and balances’ in the UK and showed how trivial it was to being gamed. The EPA coal rules – the so-called ‘Clean Power Plan’ of the Obama administration in the US are a second example of calculated harm inflicted by a government on its own citizens. With Copenhagen, the UNFCCC/COP system entered an unstable phase. Here a hastily assembled alliance of countries BASIC fended off a binding agreement. But the wall of ‘common but differentiated responsibilities’ was crumbling fast with the growth of the Indian, Brazilian and Chinese economies. Post-Copenhagen, the United States went to work breaking down the BASIC alliance and by 2015 had largely succeeded. Stung by failure, climate activists were under pressure to show the world they could succeed. India did not want to be seen as a lone villain obstructing a treaty. The Paris agreement was born.
With Paris, there were only two safety valves left standing. One, that developed countries would not actually cough up billions of dollars annually for ‘climate adaptation.’ Two, the US Senate or the political system would not ratify and implement an internationally imposed mandate of emissions reduction. It is at this juncture that Donald Trump has been elected. As Benny Peiser points in the Financial Post, if Trump carries out what he has proclaimed, there would be no free cash flowing toward developing countries in the guise of a climate fund. The Obama-era climate regulations could see themselves dismantled completely. These should provide enough excuses for developing countries—if they have the sense to recognize the opportunity—to disengage from economic self-harm and walk away from the precipice. The abysmal failure of the Indian position at Marrakech should serve as yet another example that moral posturing on the climate brings zero tangible benefits to countries.
With Trump, and open climate skepticism, a global era of countries depending on others to act in self-interest in order to protect their own can finally come to a end. The chapter of fake collective global climate guilt can be closed.
Imagine a researcher studies the ideas of psychiatric ward patients suffering hallucinations. “It’s staggering, ” he concludes, ” the evidence points to aliens controlling the minds of these people via special radio waves.”
Now picture a group of astronomers studying the brightness of a distant star (called KIC 8462852). “It is astounding, ” they conclude, “the evidence points to aliens controlling the brightness levels of the star via an enormous mega-structure.”
In the world around you today, if a researcher concluded the former, he would be thrown into an asylum himself. If he arrived at the latter conclusion – that aliens were controlling the brightness of a star – he would be paraded in the front pages of newspapers and be given media interviews.
Want to make lots of money, be famous and sell out? Join science and push out your premature conclusions. Just make sure you include a ‘sci-comm’ hook, like aliens.
Exhibit 1 is from Michael Mann drawing a connection between climate change and Brexit. That’s right, you guessed it: Brexit was caused by climate change
In reality, ‘climate change’ is a news headline parasite. Whatever issue is making headlines is either a cause of climate change or is caused by it. The rule is far simpler, easily remembered, and probably true.
Exhibit 2 is from Gavin Schmidt drawing a parallel between Brexit supporters and vaccine-averse parents.
Anyone who has a different opinion than Schmidt is an idiot, an anti-vaxxer, ‘racist’ or a Holocaust denier. Even if they constitute >51% of the voting British public.
Exhibit 3 is from James Annan, according to whom the Brexit vote must simply be thrown away.
That’s right. The final outcome of a referendum, with only two possible results as outcomes, happens to be something that needs to be rejected. Why did they even hold the referendum in the first place?
A sudden crisis nearly always brings out hidden currents, which may have otherwise never surfaced. In his string of tweets Schmidt appears to blame ‘Brexit’ for the killing. His tweets followed the incident so closely in time there was no reliable information on motive.
The only possibility, then, is Schmidt was influenced by early reports that said the killer shouted “Britain first!” or the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee who wrote a long article squarely laying the blame for the murder at Brexit’s feet.
Schmidt pulls the trick climate activists have been resorting to, for decades:
This is an incredible giveaway, isn’t it? Here we have an activist climate scientist, in the throes of a heated crisis, capitalizing on an event to attribute blame for murder on his political opponents, and going beyond, that if his side is defeated — in a fair election no less — more such incidents would occur.
It is speculation, wrapped in plausible deniability, capped off with a threat. How does he know the incident had anything to do with ‘Leave’?
Rremember, reliable information available on the killer’s motive was next-to-none at the time he wrote this. Yet Gavin Schmidt was quick off the bat.
Why wouldn’t I think he does the same with climate, and weather? ‘While no single weather event can be attributed to anthropogenic global warming, more such disasters would occur in a climate-changed world’ — how many times have we heard this from activists and scientists alike?
It is a reflexive exploitation of a crisis – you ascribe blame on your target, and while you cannot be fully sure it was what caused it, you nevertheless proceed to forecast more of the same, investing the threat with a cloak of probabilism.
Note: I wrote this originally on Medium. Only slightly modified here.
The US government has known about the dangers of global warming since the first IPCC report.
Yet it has funded the research of scientist John Christy.
He even maintains a satellite temperature record that shows no global warming for the past 18 years.
Climate scientists have said he is ‘providing legitimacy to those who refuse’ to accept global warming.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) knew this. Yet they funded his work, right up to 2014.
The DOE must be investigated by the DOJ for racketeering.
There has been a huge uproar in CSIRO which is set to shed scientist jobs following a restructuring by its boss Larry Marshall, who was brought in specifically to effect change.
The scientists are upset because ‘they are passionate about what they do’ and some of them have ‘spent 20 or 30 years working in a particular area’ and ‘that’s what gets them out of bed in the morning’.
If they lose their jobs all this would be … gone.
For a profession engaged in the radical transformation of the entire world, these notions seem hypocritical and peculiarly sentimental. Attached to their jobs, livelihoods, fulfilling professions, and a sense of purpose in life… how quaint.
After all, these are things climate scientists, indirectly, worked day in and out to eliminate for thousands upon thousands of people everywhere.
If we want to cut carbon we need to eliminate waste and redundancy. Climate science is settled. Who is redundant once ‘the science’ is settled?