2008-10-30 Climate Science/analysis

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[edit] Preliminary Conclusions

I don't think he's making a good case against GW methodology. He makes a good case that science in general is in trouble, but his attempt to show that climate science in particular has been corrupted -- and in the particular direction he suggests -- is much sketchier; there is at least as much evidence of attempts to corrupt it in the opposite (i.e. GW-skeptical) direction.

The appeal of his case seems primarily based on the "fear" tactics that he claims GW proponents are using: in his case, fear that science has become corrupted, fear of being manipulated and controlled by bureaucrats, fear of looking stupid for being taken in by political dogma (Lincoln quote)...

If the papers are as biased as he says they are, why doesn't he take them on individually? Surely there is a process for criticizing published scientific papers? (Did he send any "letters to the editor" to the journals in question, when the papers were originally published? If so, what were the responses?)

If the various organizations he attacks are as corrupted as he claims, why not attack them head-on for the flaws in their process? Have they been approached with these criticisms and given a chance to respond? Has the mainstream climate science community responded at all?

--Woozle 01:31, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

[edit] Argument

[edit] Part 1 - INTRODUCTION

  • by the end of the 1960s, scientists came to feel that the real basis for support of science was not gratitude but fear
  • scientists therefore became motivated to focus on generating fear, which (with the end of the Cold War in the 1980s) boiled down to:
  • at the same time, the swelling of government bureaucracy and a corresponding swelling of administrative ranks at universities (out of proportion to actual research staff) led to a more money-oriented, pragmatic approach to scientific investigative strategy (see corruption in academia):
    • the deemphasis of theory (because of its intrinsic difficulty and small scale -- no big grants)
    • the encouragement of simulation instead (with its call for large capital investment in computation)
    • the encouragement of large programs unconstrained by specific goals (endless source of funds)
  • This situation is particularly acute for a small weak field like climatology
  • Climatology is also ripe for fear-based exploitation, being associated with other fields which relate to natural disasters ("meteorology, oceanography, geography, geochemistry, etc.")
  • Climate science has also been "targeted" for exploitation by environmentalism


...more elaboration of the ways science gets politicized:

  • large organizations and even universities are hierarchical structures where positions and policies are determined by small executive councils or even single individuals.
  • this allows a small number of people to set the agenda, leaving the process open to still further corruption
  • political organizations want to associate themselves with "science", whether honestly or not
  • there is a pattern of giving academic appointments to global warming alarmists:
  • a more common method of infiltration involves simply getting a couple of seats on the council of an organization (or on the advisory panels of government agencies)
    • sufficient to veto any statements or decisions that they are opposed to.
    • enables the production of statements supporting their position – if only as a quid pro quo for permitting other business to get done
  • Lindzen then makes a bit of a leap and asserts: "The influence of the environmental movement has effectively made support for global warming, not only a core element of political correctness, but also a requirement for the numerous prizes and awards given to scientists. That said, when it comes to professional societies, there is often no need at all for overt infiltration since issues like global warming have become a part of both political correctness and (in the US) partisan politics, and there will usually be council members who are committed in this manner."
  • The US National Academy of Science has been infiltrated by bypassing the vetting process over a period of more than 2 decades

...and more stuff I don't have time to parse...


  • In response to the various pressures described above, scientists are "making special efforts to support the global warming hypothesis"
    • Data that challenges the hypothesis are simply changed.
    • In some instances, data that was thought to support the hypothesis is found not to, and is then changed.
    • The changes are sometimes quite blatant, but more often are somewhat more subtle. When errors are found (which is common even in the best of science), bias can be introduced by simply considering only those errors that change answers in the desired direction.
  • The goal is to bring the data into agreement with greenhouse models, even though such models haven't been good at explaining or predicting climate.
  • Projections based on greenhouse models are the [sole] basis for global warming fears.
  • Two examples, both involving paleoclimate simulations (intended to show that current models are predictive of past history):
    • Shackleton and Boersma, 1981 — fossil evidence showed much warmer temperatures in Minnesota and Spitzbergen, combined with colder equator; model showed uniform temperatures
      • Barron, 1987, assumed that the warming would be due to high levels of CO2, and using a climate GCM (General Circulation Model), he obtained relatively uniform warming at all latitudes
      • Huber, 2008, more recently obtained much the same results using a GCM, as have other GCM models in the interim; Huber now suggests that the climate data were wrong and maybe the equator was warmer after all
    • CLIMAP, 1976, was a major attempt to observationally reconstruct the global climate of the last glacial maximum, and found that although extratropical temperatures were much colder, equatorial temperatures were little different from today’s. GCM simulations again showed lower temperatures at all latitudes (Bush and Philander, 1998a,b)
  • both of these examples may have involved legitimate corrections, but only corrections that sought to bring observations into agreement with models were initially considered (Query: This doesn't seem like the whole story. Were there other models where the data did fit?)
  • climate associated with ice ages is well described by the Milankovitch Hypothesis that does not call for any role for CO2 (discussed later) (Query: Milankovitch, which is a general theory rather than a model, is a better fit for prehistoric climate data? How do you get data out of a theory without making a model?)
  • IPCC, 1990 — the first IPCC assessment involved the "traditional" picture of the climate of the past 1100 years, whereing there was a medieval warm period that was somewhat warmer than the present as well as the little ice age that was cooler. This was an "embarrassment" for GW proponents (how did we get anything warmer than present without anthropogenic gases?)(Comment: It seems very unlikely that this would be seen as an embarrassment; the presence of other causes of global warming or cooling does not say anything about the existence or nonexistence of any other cause.)
    • "According to Demming, 2005, Jonathan Overpeck, in an email, remarked that one had to get rid of the medieval warm period. Overpeck is one of signators in Appendix 1."
    • Mann et al (1998, 1999) most infamously used primarily a few handfuls of tree ring records to obtain a reconstruction of Northern Hemisphere temperature going back eventually a thousand years that no longer showed a medieval warm period.
    • Query: is it really that terrible, if your model disagrees with your data, and your data is sketchy to begin with, to start looking for data which better supports the model? If you don't find any, that throws your model into doubt.
    • Query: even the traditional climate reconstructions of the past 1100-2000 years which do clearly show the Medieval Warming also show the "hockey stick" jag starting in ~1900. GW theory is not all based on models, and this is one example.

...gives a few more examples of GW papers supposedly gone wrong...

This guy has wasted enough of my time for now. Maybe I (or someone else) will come back to this later and see if there's any meat in the rest of the article. --Woozle 01:20, 8 May 2009 (UTC)



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