Tag Archives: RealClimate

Roger Pielke Jr. just can’t help himself

At Keith Kloor’s a little while back, I tried to reach something of an amicable cease-fire with Roger Pielke, Jr. I decided to set aside his constant attacks on the scientists who blog at RealClimate in the interest of moving the discussion on mitigation options forward.

Roger, though, just can’t help himself.

Stefan Rahmstorf and Dim Coumou published an article in PNAS examining the influence of warming on the likelihood of extreme temp events, notably in the context of the blistering 2010 Russian heat wave. Roger accuses Rahmstorf of cherry-picking his period of analysis, and then uses this accusation to cast aspersions on the integrity of climate science more generally.

Here is another good example why I have come to view parts of the climate science research enterprise with a considerable degree of distrust.

Climate science — or at least some parts of it — seems to have devolved into an effort to generate media coverage and talking points for blogs, at the expense of actually adding to our scientific knowledge of the climate system. The new PNAS paper sure looks like a cherry pick to me.

What’s Roger’s actual complaint with the Rahmstorf and Coumou paper? Roger writes:

Look at the annotated figure above, which originally comes from an EGU poster by Dole et al. (programme here in PDF). It shows surface temperature anomalies in Russia dating back to 1880. I added in the green line which shows the date from which Rahmsdorf and Coumou decided to begin their analysis — 1911, immediately after an extended warm period and at the start of an extended cool period.

Obviously, any examination of statistics will depend upon the data that is included and not included. Why did Rahmsdorf and Coumou start with 1911? A century, 100 years, is a nice round number, but it does not have any privileged scientific meaning. Why did they not report the sensitivity of their results to choice of start date? There may indeed be very good scientific reasons why starting the analysis in 1911 makes the most sense and for the paper to not report the sensitivity of results to the start date. But the authors did not share that information with their readers. Hence, the decision looks arbitrary and to have influenced the results.

Roger obviously didn’t bother to actually read the paper he’s attacking.

If there’s one thing Roger can’t stand, it’s scientists pointing out that man-made global warming is making certain kinds of extreme events worse. If there’s another thing he can’t stand, it’s the scientists who blog at RealClimate. Put them together, and Roger goes off the deep end.


Caught out, Roger is predictably moving the goal posts rather than acknowledging that his attacks were unjustified.

First Roger attacked Rahmstorf and Coumou for ignoring the pre-1911 data. He uses this ostensible sin of omission to smear the larger field. Except of course this is completely false. When this is pointed out, Roger moves the goalposts and claims that Rahmstorf and Coumou didn’t actually look at the 1880-2009 data because they didn’t use a linear trend to look at the 1880-2009 data. [Edited to add: this is an implicit rather than explicit claim by Roger, as we'll see.] The paper is quite clear about making the case that the data (for 1911 on and for 1880-2009, for synthetic data and actual obs) are better described by a nonlinear trend, and the passage I cited in the original point makes it clear that the 1880-2009 data were analyzed using a nonlinear trend.

Roger then has the chutzpah to claim that Rahmstorf has “confirmed” Roger’s “critique”:

It would be quite shocking indeed if Rahmstorf actually “confirmed” Roger’s critique. But of course he did no such thing. When Roger claims “they did not run the analysis from 1880″, he’s completely wrong (see the above excerpt from the paper). When he claims Rahmstorf has “confirmed” his critique, what Roger really means is that Rahmstorf confirmed that they did not look at the 1880-2009 data using a linear trend- which, again is perfectly clear in the paper itself. So it has gone a bit like this:

Roger: “They didn’t look at the whole record!”

Uh, yes, they did.

Roger: “No, they didn’t perform The Analysis* for the whole record!”

*Valid only for Roger’s definition of “The Analysis”.

Roger has taken a concession that the paper did not do something it never claimed to have done and declared victory. Perhaps at some point he’ll realize that claiming something does not make it so.


Roger has repeatedly made the claim that Stefan Rahmstorf “confirmed” Roger’s critique. Roger’s original critique was that the 1880-1910 were not analyzed by Rahmstorf and Coumou. This original critique is patently false, as the paper shows in the excerpt I posted above.

The basis for Roger claiming that Rahmstorf “confirmed” his critique was Rahmstorf stating that a linear trend was not used in analyzing the 1880-2009, as is clear in the paper.

I let Rahmstorf know that Roger was claiming Rahmstorf confirmed Roger’s critique. Rahmstorf responded:

That is truly bizarre, since what I responded to Pielke (in full) was: “We did not try this for a linear trend 1880-2009. The data are not well described by a linear trend over this period.” As shown in the paper and above, our main conclusion regarding Moscow (the 80% probability) rests on our Monte Carlo simulations using a non-linear trend line, and of course is based on the full data period 1880-2009. Nowhere did we “use 1910-2009 trends as the basis for calculating 1880-2009 exceedence probabilities”, and I can’t think why doing this would make sense. Faced with this kind of libelous distortion I will not answer any further questions from Pielke now or in future. As an aside, our paper was reviewed not only by two climate experts but in addition by two statistics experts coming from other fields. If someone thinks that using a linear trend would have been preferable, that is fine with me – they should do it and publish the result in a journal. I doubt, though, whether after subtracting a linear trend the residual would fulfill the condition of being uncorrelated white noise, an important condition in this analysis.

And on a final note, Pielke actually had the nerve to write this:

You may read the paper differently than I do and you may interpret Rahmstorf’s comments differently than I do — happens all the time on these blogs. In such a situation I propose that the best course of action would be to solicit further information to resolve the dispute. Or, perhaps you’d rather we just make comments about motives and call each other names

This, after he wrote a post impugning the field over an “omission” that existed only in his mind. Unreal.

Exoneration fails to appease conspiracy theorists, cont’d, cont’d, cont’d

Image courtesy of Flickr user "Jennoit", used under Creative Commons

The National Science Foundation’s Inspector General office has completed its inquiry into allegations of misconduct leveled at Penn State climate scientist, RealClimate blogger, and “hockey stick” lead author Mike Mann. Yet again, Mann was cleared of all allegations of misconduct. And, yet again, this does nothing to dissuade the paranoid conspiracy theorists that fancy themselves “skeptics” but who are anything but.

As always, Conspiracy Theory 101 dictates that when an investigation fails to confirm your tin foil nuttery, it can only mean that the investigation was illegitimate and part of the conspiracy. Previous examples here, here, and here.

[UPDATELike clockwork...]

Hoisted on their own petard

The all out assault on climate reality continues. Anti-science front group SPPI has put together a series of attacks on RealClimate by the Pielkes and others, courtesy of Marc “Swiftboat” Morano.

A favored tactic of denialists is to take the short term behavior of a noisy system to claim that there is no underlying trend. This is most frequently seen in claims that it’s been cooling since 1998 or 2001, when it’s clear that you need at least 20-30 years of temperature data to make meaningful claims about global trends.

Regular readers may remember Bjorn Lomborg using a version of this misdirection to argue that sea levels haven’t been rising recently, and more recently Stefan Rahmstorf’s brutal demolition of Lomborg’s chicanery. Lomborg wasn’t the only person making absurd claims about sea level rise based on a handful of data.

Roger Pielke Sr., too, actually had the chutzpah to claim that sea levels weren’t rising, because at the time 2006 showed a spike relative to more recent years (therefore sea levels will fall incredibly in the future [NOTE: this was hyperbole and not actually Pielke's stated position, see follow up]).

I’d forgotten about Pielke Sr.’s shameful perpetuation of this idiocy until seeing it again on the SPPI site:

This claim was apparently made by Pielke back in June of last year. What was surprising to me about Pielke trafficking in this denialist-type argument was not its dishonesty- he is one of Watt’s biggest supporters after all- but rather its self-defeating nature. Presumably Pielke really isn’t so stupid as to believe that sea levels are in fact falling, and knows that 2006 as an outlier would inevitably be surpassed, illustrating his claim to be both incorrect on its own “merits” and exposing the ludicrous nature of its basis.

Amusingly, the link provided at Pielke Sr.’s blog and the SPPI page is the continuously-updated Boulder sea level data, and sure enough 2006 is no longer the “high water mark”. Pielke’s failure to update his blog and Morano’s republishing of the claim presumably mean that Pielke stands by his assertion, in which case he’s either unequivocally wrong, or deliberately lying.

I eagerly await for Pielke to claim in a year or two that sea level rise is “NOT TRUE… Sea level has actually flattened since 2009″ and again in 2011 or whatever the next short term peak is.

Of course, all this really does is point out how nonsensical the claim was from the beginning. The reason why we look at underlying trends is that simply eye-balling the greatest value doesn’t tell us anything about the general behavior of a noisy system over longer periods of time, and the trend line for SLR hasn’t varied terribly much between Lomborg and Pielke’s claim and the present, even as the maximum value has changed. Continue reading

How’s that “smoking gun” working out for you?

If you’re like me, you’ve probably been eager to see the follow up posts and/or updates written by Serious Thinkers who bit on the “Darwin smoking gun” nonsense from Willis Eschenbach/WUWT, like Ed Morrissey, Megan McArdleJim Lindgren, et al. Unfortunately at the time of this writing there appear to have been none. But I’m sure they’re forthcoming.

In the meantime, RC goes about illustrating why the claims that warming in the instrumental record is a product of data manipulation are ridiculous. Which is something that you might have guessed by the similar warming in the MSU satellite data, as well as the vast amount of physical evidence of warming.

The latest SwiftHack meme: ‘Apply a VERY ARTIFICAL’ outrage

It’s odd how some (sticky? viral?) memes propagate through the denialosphere. The classic example is how “hockey stick” lost all of its original context, and soon there was very little that was not a “hockey stick” according to the denialosphere: from the temperature projections in the AR4 to pre-industrial vs. current CO2 levels. And through an apparent belief in sympathetic magic, all it took was the labeling of something as a “hockey stick” in order to discredit it in the eyes of a certain audience.

The SwiftHack “scandal” is proving to be no different. “Hide the decline” has metamorphosed from the truncation of certain dendro proxy data post-“divergence”  into a fraudulent artificial inflation of, by turns:

  • the global surface temperature record
  • the US surface temperature record (occasionally with unrelated graphics of real NCDC adjustments)
  • GCM projections of future warming

And so on. They’re not really sure what it means, but they’re sure that it’s undeniable evidence of fraud and the global Gore-Commie conspiracy. It’s humorous to watch this spring up repeatedly in comment sections of forums and the like, as the reality-based community seems to be all over it. You can still see it popping up, but its “juice” has been diminished incredibly.

The latest (I’m sure as I write this something new is coming down the pike) meme concerns two nearly identical snippets of code in “briffa_sep98_d.pro” and “briffa_sep98_e.pro”, e.g. at RealClimate here and here, and addressed at Deltoid here. The code comments talked about “arifical” [sic] adjustments and “fudge factors”, and as such it is being taken as undeniable proof of Something Nefarious.

The code in question appears to “test the sensitivity of certain calculations to the presence or absence” of the post 1960 divergence problem in Briffa’s MXD archive. It does not appear to have been used in any published paper, figure, or data set. [Denialists can feel free to set me straight on that- you've got a fixed range in which the publication had to occur, the name of at least one coauthor, the archive it supposedly en-fraud-ulates, and a pretty good idea about what this adjustment will look like] In spite of this, if you’ll find claims that this bit of code is in fact:

  • “Mike’s Nature trick”
  • Phil Jones’s use of “Mike’s Nature trick”
  • fabricated warming in the global surface temperature record
  • fabricated warming in the US surface temperature record
  • fabricated warming inserted into the projections of GCMs

And so on.

I’m guessing that we can expect to this sort of thing repeated over and over and over again for weeks if not months to come. A line in an email, some snippets of code, etc. will be trotted out (completely excised of content) with no grasp of what it actually means as the newest Proof That Definitely Shows Global Warming Is Fake And We’re Serious This Time. The supporting evidence will be non-existent, the explanations of what the “proof” does will be incoherent and self-contradictory, but the confidence with which it will be paraded around will be unshakable. It will be the final nail in the coffin of radiative transfer the hippie scam.

Until the next one.

“Honest Broker” bemoans lack of “common decency” and in the same breath accuses others of plagiarism

In his seemingly endless assault on the reputations of the scientists who blog at RealClimate, Roger Pielke, Jr. is accusing some of them of plagiarism. This is a grave accusation, one that Roger does nothing more to substantiate than repost an email whose own author acknowledges that it does not itself offer solid evidence for such a claim. In a bit of delicious irony, Roger does all this while bemoaning RealClimate authors’ lack of “common decency”. We will recall that this is the same Roger Pielke, Jr. who:

  • accused RealClimate authors and others of censoring debate by “seek[ing] to shut down… discussion with intimidation, bluster, and name-calling” because they were so unkind as to point out Roger’s numerous errors regarding temperature trends (of course Roger’s grandiose and unsubstantiated persecution claims also extend to answering bloggers’ questions)
  • accused RealClimate of being on par with paid denialist shills like Pat Michaels in pushing a political agenda, merely for debunking denialists’ claims
  • accused RealClimate of not making falsifiable predictions, and upon being presented with one, falsely accused RealClimate of reversing themselves on the relative importance of multi-year “trends”, and accused RealClimate of “looking for suckers”, playing with a “stacked deck”, etc. for simply offering odds to a team on their published forecast
  • accused Gavin Schmidt of RealClimate of being a thief by falsely claiming Schmidt had “admit{ted} to stealing”

Etc. I’m all for a little more “common decency” in these discussions.

After you, Roger.

To answer Coby: Much, much lower

[In response to the question posed at A Few Things Ill Considered]

When he blogs, Roger really only has two speeds: anti-mitigation and troll. He’s certainly outdone himself in the latter category, calling Gavin Schmidt of GISS and RealClimate a thief [emphasis mine]:

Due to an inadvertent release of information, NASA’s Gavin Schmidt (a “real scientist” of the Real Climate blog) admits to stealing a scientific idea.

Of course Gavin “admitted” no such thing, nor is the alleged victim of the “theft” actually claiming such. I suppose when a formerly interesting blog becomes little more than a pit stop for the denialosphere, one does what one can to drive up traffic, but still…

[UPDATE: I think WC summarizes it beautifully.]