“The journals want the papers that make the sexiest claims. And scientists believe that the way you succeed is having splashy papers in Science or Nature - it’s not bad for them if a paper turns out to be wrong, if it’s gotten a lot of attention.” Michael Eisen
Last October, LaTimes had an interesting article in the business section titled Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity, subtitle Researchers are rewarded for splashy findings, not for double-checking accuracy. So many scientists looking for cures to diseases have been building on ideas that aren’t even true. Excerpts:
A few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology. But what they found was startling: Of the 53 landmark papers, only six could be proved valid.
:The thing that should scare people is that so many of these important published studies turn out to be wrong when they’re investigated further,” says Michael Eisen, a biologist at UC Berkeley and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Eisen says the more important flaw in the publication model is that the drive to land a paper in a top journal - Nature and Science lead the list -encourages researchers to hype their results, especially in the life sciences. Peer review, in which a paper is checked out by eminent scientists before publication, isn’t a safeguard. Eisen says the unpaid reviewers seldom have the time or inclination to examine a study enough to unearth errors or flaws.
Eisen is a pioneer in open-access scientific publishing, which aims to overturn the traditional model in which leading journals pay nothing for papers often based on publicly funded research, then charge enormous subscription fees to universities and researchers to read them.
But concern about what is emerging as a crisis in science extends beyond the open-access movement. It’s reached the National Institutes of Health, which last week launched a project to remake its researchers’ approach to publication. Its new PubMed Commons system allows qualified scientists to post ongoing comments about published papers. The goal is to wean scientists from the idea that a cursory, one-time peer review is enough to validate a research study, and substitute a process of continuing scrutiny, so that poor research can be identified quickly and good research can be picked out of the crowd and find a wider audience.
PubMed Commons is an effort to counteract the “perverse incentives” in scientific research and publishing, says David J. Lipman, director of NIH’s National Center for Biotechnology Information, which is sponsoring the venture.
Earlier this month, Science published a piece by journalist John Bohannon about what happened when he sent a spoof paper with flaws that could have been noticed by a high school chemistry student to 304 open-access chemistry journals (those that charge researchers to publish their papers, but make them available for free). It was accepted by more than half of them.
One that didn’t bite was PloS One, an online open-access journal sponsored by the Public Library of Science, which Eisen co-founded. In fact, PloS One was among the few journals that identified the fake paper’s methodological and ethical flaws.
It was the traditionalist Science that published the most dubious recent academic paper of all.
This was a 2010 paper by then-NASA biochemist Felisa Wolfe-Simon and colleagues claiming that they had found bacteria growing in Mono Lake that were uniquely able to subsist on arsenic and even used arsenic to build the backbone of their DNA.
The publication in Science was accompanied by a breathless press release and press conference sponsored by NASA, which had an institutional interest in promoting the idea of alternative life forms. But almost immediately it was debunked by other scientists for spectacularly poor methodology and an invalid conclusion.
To Eisen, the Wolfe-Simon affair represents the “perfect storm of scientists obsessed with making a big splash and issuing press releases” - the natural outcome of a system in which there’s no career gain in trying to replicate and validate previous work, as important as that process is for the advancement of science.
The demand for sexy results, combined with indifferent follow-up, means that billions of dollars in worldwide resources devoted to finding and developing remedies for the diseases that afflict us all is being thrown down a rathole. NIH and the rest of the scientific community are just now waking up to the realization that science has lost its way, and it may take years to get back on the right path.
JC comments: This article raises some important issues, convolutes several of them and then concludes that science has lost its way. Has it?
In thinking about this issue, I find it useful to return to the previous CE post on Pasteur’s quadrant, and the distinction between pure discovery research, use-inspired research, and applied/regulatory research. The arsenic study is arguably pure discovery research, whereas most of the rest of the research (including the deliberately fake paper discussed in this Science article) is use inspired research. It doesn’t really matter outside the scientific community if pure discovery research is incorrect, i.e. it is not immediately obvious what kind of adverse societal impacts might be associated with arsenic and the bacteria in Mono Lake. On the other hand, with cancer research, there are substantial societal and financial impacts involved. The other distinction is between mechanistic research, whereby physical/chemical/biological processes are postulated, in contrast to epidemiological research which is fundamentally statistical. Mechanistic flaws are more easily identified, whereas flaws in epidemiological research is much more difficult to identify and to replicate.
There should be different reward structures for scientists working in the different quadrants – novelty and pushing knowledge frontiers is key for Bohr’s quadrant. However, in use-inspired research there is tremendous potential to provide a misleading foundation for applied/regulatory research, and this is where I see the biggest problem. Replication/auditing and robustness should be key goals for use-inspired research (and part of the reward system for scientists working on these problems). Unfortunately, scientists are rewarded in a way that makes sense for Bohr’s quadrant, and not so much for Pasteur’s quadrant.
Where does climate research lie in all this? Elements of climate research and mechanistic focused on processes, whereas other elements are statistical in nature. In terms of money being thrown down a rathole for climate research, I argued in the Pasteur’s Quadrant post that taxonomical studies of model-based regional impacts rests on the premise that climate models provide useful information for regional impact studies, and they do not.
And finally, I am a big fan Eisen’s models for open access publishing and extended peer review, and I am not a fan of the Nature/Science model with its press releases and press embargoes. Eisen’s model provides the right incentive structure for scientists, whereas the Nature/Science model IMO does not.
So, has science lost it’s way? I don’t think so, but the Science/Nature publishing model and the way that universities reward scientists are providing perverse incentives that do not serve well the societally-relevant applications of science.
By Anthony Watts
A couple of days ago, Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. updated his famous graph of hurricane drought, and despite some ribbing from me on what could happen in May 2014, has confidently extended the drought out to the start of the hurricane season in June 2014:
NOAA issues this press release today:
Slow Atlantic hurricane season coming to a close.
No major hurricanes formed in the Atlantic basin, first time since 1994
The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Saturday, Nov. 30, had the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982, thanks in large part to persistent, unfavorable atmospheric conditions over the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and tropical Atlantic Ocean. This year is expected to rank as the sixth-least-active Atlantic hurricane season since 1950, in terms of the collective strength and duration of named storms and hurricanes.
“A combination of conditions acted to offset several climate patterns that historically have produced active hurricane seasons,” said Gerry Bell, Ph.D., lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, a division of the National Weather Service. “As a result, we did not see the large numbers of hurricanes that typically accompany these climate patterns.”
Thirteen named storms formed in the Atlantic basin this year. Two, Ingrid and Humberto, became hurricanes, but neither became major hurricanes. Although the number of named storms was above the average of 12, the numbers of hurricanes and major hurricanes were well below their averages of six and three, respectively. Major hurricanes are categories 3 and above.
Suomi NPP satellite peers into Tropical Storm Andrea, the first storm of the season. (Credit: NOAA/NASA)
Tropical storm Andrea, the first of the season, was the only named storm to make landfall in the United States this year. Andrea brought tornadoes, heavy rain, and minor flooding to portions of Florida, eastern Georgia and eastern South Carolina, causing one fatality.
The 2013 hurricane season was only the third below-normal season in the last 19 years, since 1995, when the current high-activity era for Atlantic hurricanes began.
“This unexpectedly low activity is linked to an unpredictable atmospheric pattern that prevented the growth of storms by producing exceptionally dry, sinking air and strong vertical wind shear in much of the main hurricane formation region, which spans the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea,” said Bell. “Also detrimental to some tropical cyclones this year were several strong outbreaks of dry and stable air that originated over Africa.”
GOES East satellite tracks Subtropical Storm Melissa, the last storm of the season. (Credit: NOAA)
Unlike the U.S., which was largely spared this year, Mexico was battered by eight storms, including three from the Atlantic basin and five from the eastern North Pacific. Of these eight landfalling systems, five struck as tropical storms and three as hurricanes.
NOAA and the U.S. Air Force Reserve flew 45 hurricane hunter aircraft reconnaissance missions over the Atlantic basin this season, totaling 435 hours, the fewest number of flight hours since at least 1966.
NOAA will issue its 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Outlook in late May, prior to the start of the season on June 1.
No mention of the failure of the predictions in 2013, nor the fact that this year goes against wild claims made by alarmists of increasing hurricanes due to global warming, something Pielke Jr. also illustrates with a new graph:
The graph below shows total US hurricane landfalls 1900 through 2013.
The five-year period ending 2013 has seen 2 hurricane landfalls. That is a record low since 1900. Two other five-year periods have seen 3 landfalls (years ending in 1984 and 1994). Prior to 1970 the fewest landfalls over a five-year period was 6. From 1940 to 1957, every 5-year period had more than 10 hurricane landfalls (1904-1920 was almost as active).
The red line in the graph above shows a decrease in the number of US landfalls of more than 25% since (which given variability, may just be an artifact and not reflecting a secular change). There is no evidence to support more or more intense US hurricanes. The data actually suggests much the opposite.
Dr Ryan Maue adds:
Here’s a sorted list of North Atlantic hurricane ACE numbers from 1950-2013 - this year tied for 5th lowest on record
By the way the tornado season was the quietest on record and the wildfire season the quietest since 1985 when the current monitoring method began.
Meteorologists and other atmospheric science experts are playing important roles in helping society respond to climate change. Members of this professional community are not unanimous in their views of climate change, and there has been tension among members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS) who hold different views on the topic.
In January 2012, the AMS surveyed its members via email and found 52 percent believe global warming is happening and is mostly human-caused, while 48 percent do not. The survey also found that scientists with professed liberal political views were far more likely to believe global warming is human-caused than others.
Authors of the survey recommended that the AMS should “acknowledge and explore the uncomfortable fact that political ideology influences the climate change views of meteorology professionals; refute the idea that those who do hold non-majority views just need to be “educated” about climate change; [and] continue to deal with the conflict among members of the meteorology community.”
The “early online release” of the survey, to be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, is available for free viewing
I did an informal survey of 25 professional AMS member known to be skeptics. I was not surveyed. Only 2 received and one responded to the survey. There were weasal worded questions as is typical of surveys in which Ed Maibach is involved. One of those who have advocated a more open approach among the 25, Mike Smith says it like it is. “I am a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and a Certified Consulting Meteorologist. To the best of my memory I never had a chance to respond to this poll of the AMS membership.
That said, the fact that 70% of scientists say that humans affect the climate is utterly unsurprising. That has been known scientifically since Changnon’s METROMEX study in the early 70’s. The fact that 9 out of ten that publish on the subject of climate believe humans affect the climate is also utterly unsurprising.
For me, the money question was #6, “How worried are you about global warming?” Only 30% answered “very worried.” This would make 70% of the respondents “deniers” since that pejorative term seems to be applied to anyone who does not accept the “IPCC consensus” of catastrophic global warming. A statistically similar number (28%) is not worried or “not very worried” about global warming.
So, you can spin the results any way you want but this survey of a small number of AMS members doesn’t reveal any great concern about global warming.”
I could add a long list of former active professional members including fellows who have left the society because of their stance on climate change. I have kept my powder dry and stayed in the society hoping to be around to pick up the pieces when the lies are openly exposed and the scam collapses.
by Neil Frank and E. Calvin Beisner, November 20, 2013
Super Typhoon Haiyan and the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy should remind all of us of the tragic suffering that is part of living in the post-fall world, affected by both human sin and the divine curse (Genesis 3).
But is Rev. Darren A. Ferguson, of Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Far Rockaway, NY, whose home and church Sandy destroyed, right to insist that “climate change” made Sandy stronger than it otherwise would have been?
Assume for a moment (though there is good reason to doubt it) that the world’s been warming rapidly and beyond the bounds of natural variability and that, as he put it, “we are the primary cause.” Does that entail that Sandy was more powerful because of it?
Contrary to Rev. Ferguson’s claims, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) denies that there is good evidence that global warming, manmade or not, causes greater frequency or intensity of hurricanes. In its 2012 special report on extreme weather events it said, “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration), after accounting for past changes in observing capabilities.” In its just-released Fifth Assessment Report, it said, “Current datasets indicate no significant observed trends in global tropical cyclone frequency over the past century...No robust trends in annual numbers of tropical storms, hurricanes and major hurricanes counts have been identified over the past 100 years in the North Atlantic basin.... In summary, confidence in large scale changes in the intensity of extreme extratropical cyclones since 1900 is low.”
Nonetheless, it’s widely thought that even if global warming didn’t cause Sandy, it did make it worse a stronger or bigger storm, or with storm surge exacerbated by global warming-driven sea level rise. What of those ideas?
Did higher sea level caused by global warming make Sandy’s storm surge more devastating? No. Land subsidence and natural sea level rise, both happening ever since the Ice Age, account for all of the apparent sea level rise at Battery Park in New York City.
In fact, as geoscientist David Middleton reports, Sandy’s “storm surge was likely surpassed in the New England hurricanes of 1635 and 1638” and “at least seven hurricanes of intensity sufficient to produce storm surge” greater than 3 meters “made landfall in southern New England in the past 700” years. All seven occurred prior to 1960 before manmade global warming. In 1821, at low tide and with sea level a foot lower than today, a Category 3 hurricane brought a 13.9 foot storm surge to New York City. The same storm today, hitting at high tide, as Sandy did, would have caused much greater flooding than Sandy did.
Was Sandy bigger or stronger because of global warming? In strength, Sandy never exceeded Category 3 (out of 5) and was actually no longer a hurricane but only a post-tropical storm when it made landfall at Atlantic City. The diameter of Sandy’s gale-force wind field was greater than any Atlantic hurricane in recorded history but only by about 3% and for this measure “recorded history” reaches back only to 1988.
Rev. Ferguson says those who disagree that manmade global warming was to blame for Sandy “would have trouble explaining the fact that in this New York City peninsula where I live and pastor a church, the Atlantic Ocean and Jamaica Bay had not met in over 50 years” before Sandy. But if they met 50 years ago, before any significant manmade global warming, why invoke it to explain their meeting last year?
While at the time those who blamed Sandy on global warming included a handful of climate scientists (Kevin Trenberth, whom Rev. Ferguson cites, plus Katharine Hayhoe and James Hansen, none of whom is a hurricane specialist), they also included nonscientists (Al Gore, Joe Romm, Bill McKibben, Chris Mooney, Roseann Barr, Michael Oppenheimer, Jennifer Granholm, Van Jones, Chris Matthews, Bill Clinton, Stephan Lewandowsky, and Michael Moore).
Although those who disagreed include a handful of what Rev. Ferguson calls (when they disagree with him) “know-it-all pundits, who lack any scientific credentials” (Limbaugh; UK Telegraph science writer Tom Chivers; New York Times environment blogger Andrew Revkin), most are scientists. Two, though not climate scientists, specialize in climate change (Norman Page, a consulting geologist; Eric Berger, science writer for the Houston Chronicle). Most are climate scientists (Martin Hoerling, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Roger Pielke Jr., University of Colorado; Karsten Brandt, Donnerwetter.de; Patrick Michaels, formerly University of Virginia, now Cato Institute; Judith Curry, Georgia Tech; Gerald North, Texas A&M; Roy Spencer, formerly NASA, now University of Alabama), and four are hurricane specialists (Chris Landsea and Stanley Goldenberg, National Hurricane Center; Ryan Maue, Florida State University; and William Gray, Colorado State University).
As NHC’s Goldenberg put it in an email to Dr. Beisner, “If someone says Sandy was stronger due to AGW, that goes against even the current hurricane climate studies which suggest that in the future, there could be a very slight increase in intensity for the stronger storms… although Sandy was strong for that region, it was by no means among the strongest Atlantic hurricanes. As for increased flooding due to sea-level rise firstly the total sea-level rise since the great 1938 Hurricane is only about 7 inches, and about 1/2 of that is due to land subsidence. Of the other several inches, some would certainly be due to natural climate fluctuations (especially the natural warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the mid-1800’s) and if there is any contribution from AGW, it would be at the most on the order of a few inches. Compared to the contribution from the lunar high tide and the actual storm surge (together totaling 10 to 17.5 feet in the hardest hit regions), these few inches… are hardly significant.”
Rev. Ferguson claims “97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and we are the primary cause.” He says “Rush Limbaugh and other climate change deniers” “recklessly deny climate change because [doing so] confirms their ideology and advances their agenda.”
Although Dr. Beisner has read about forty-five books on the science of climate change, large parts of all five IPCC assessment reports, and thousands of articles on it over the past twenty-five years, and consults regularly with climate scientists, he’s not a climate scientist, so Rev. Ferguson can, as he does with others who disagree, write him off as one of the “know it all pundits, who lack any scientific credentials” - on condition that he write himself off as well. But he can’t write off Dr. Frank, for he is a Ph.D.’d meteorologist and former director of the National Hurricane Center.
What about Ferguson’s claim that “97% of scientists agree that climate change is real and we are the primary cause”?
Science isn’t about consensus, it’s about evidence and reasonable explanations.
Consensus among scientists has changed radically, and repeatedly, in the past as, for instance, from nearly universal rejection to nearly universal acceptance of continental drift.
As Georgia Tech climatologist Dr. Judith Curry has shown, such “consensus” as there is among IPCC and other global warming true-believer scientists is worthless because it was intentionally constructed, not spontaneous.
The publication survey on which the 97% claim rests had such broad criteria (e.g., not specifying that people are the primary cause or that the warming was dangerous, let alone catastrophic) that it would have counted most critics of CAGW (catastrophic, anthropogenic global warming) as in agreement. As Dr. Roy W. Spencer, an award-winning NASA climate scientist and Cornwall Alliance Senior Fellow, put it recently on CNN, “I’m one of the 97%!” Both of us would be, too. In reality, while repeated attempts have been made to prove a consensus on dangerous, manmade global warming, none has succeeded as if it would matter if they did (see 1 above).
In short, Rev. Ferguson is wrong to blame “climate change deniers” (the pejorative term meant to equate them, viciously, with Holocaust deniers) for global warming and to blame global warming for Sandy’s size, strength, and devastation.
If Rev. Ferguson is going to call natural disasters divine judgments, he should, as the Bible often does (e.g., Genesis 19; Exodus 7-14; Psalm 107:33-34; Isaiah 35:6-7; Jeremiah 14; Zephaniah 1:2-3), attribute them to sins clearly revealed in God’s law - worshiping false gods, idolatry, blasphemy, Sabbath breaking, dishonoring parents, murder, adultery, theft, false witness, and coveting (Exodus 20:1 -17) - not burning fossil fuels to provide energy to lift billions out of poverty, disease, and premature death.
Rather than assigning blame, though, we would do better to reduce the risk of future catastrophes by eliminating policies, like government-funded flood insurance, that encourage construction in high-risk shoreline locations. What made Sandy and Haiyan so devastating was not their size and strength (many surpassed them) but where they struck: densely populated regions with vast amounts of property on vulnerable shorelines.
And when people are harmed, we should act compassionately: We should pray for and donate to their rapid recovery. We should pray that the Christians among them will come to understand, as they seek God in the midst of their suffering, how God works it for their good (Romans 8:28); that it is not worthy to be compared with the glory that will be revealed to them (Romans 8:18); indeed, that “this slight momentary affliction is preparing for [them] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as [they] look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18). And we should pray that the unbelievers will become Christians, lest after this life they enter upon suffering that will make Sandy and Haiyan seem like paradise.
[A slightly modified version of this article was published in The Christian Post Tuesday, November 19, 2013.]
Neil Frank, Ph.D., a meteorologist, is former Director (1974-1987) of the National Hurricane Center, former Chief Meteorologist of Houston CBS affiliate KHOU-TV (1987-2008), and an evangelical Christian. E. Calvin Beisner, Ph.D., author of Where Garden Meets Wilderness: Evangelical Entry into the Environmental Debate, is Founder and National Spokesman of The Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, a coalition of evangelical theologians, pastors, ministry leaders, scientists, economists, policy experts, and committed laymen promoting environmental stewardship and economic development built on Biblical principles.
Unlike the alarmists blogs and media sites, realist sites aren’t funded by Soros or Fenton Communications, or foundations like Rockefeller, Pew and Heinz or the enviro groups. Instead all we get we get harassment. and ironically the alarmists like to claim WE are motivated/well funded by big dollars from big oil and the Koch brothers. I assure you we get no such funding. We hobble by, paying the rather steep maintenance fees (needed for security and to stop the Denial of Service Attacks we experienced before). Some months we end up paying the fees from our own pockets. I am fortunate to work at Weatherbell Analytics but my salary goes to pay my bills and college loans and we live a simple lifestyle. I don’t post as much as I used to as my duties at Weatherbell are 7 days per week. But I try and keep this and redneckusa.wordpress.com going after my other duties are finished. I have been asked to keep ICECAP going because of the 6700 stories that can be used (our search can provide you a wealth of info on most topics). We tend to focus on data not as much on papers which suffer from a failing peer review process.
I am also working with lawyers and scientists to battle the EPA and this month to do another in a series of cable TV shows exposing the fallacy of AGW and lunacy of the energy policy in Washington and NH. My partner Art Horn will again be part of the cable show. He has to travel almost 4 hours to get here. Your DONATIONS (left button) would be greatly appreciated to help us go the extra mile. We will post the cable show YOUTUBE video and can help you do the same in your local area to educate you neighbors and if you wish provide you the graphics. As always, we greatly appreciate your help. Of course, we all will be giving aid to our friends in the Philippines who suffered from Haiyan as well as out returning soldiers who have given so much for our country and those hit hard by the rash of November tornados in Illinois and Indiana this weekend. We hope you will think of them too and find a way to help these people in need.
Joe D’Aleo and Art Horn
By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM
A strong outbreak of severe weather hit the central states Sunday as Joe Bastardi on Weathrbell warned Saturday. Tornadoes were concentrated in the Midwest with Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and southeast Missouri hardest hit.
High risk areas and outbreaks in November do happen - most recently in 2002 and 2005 as SPC noted.
The ORD NWS showed animations of some supercells.
Left loop is from the NWS Lincoln and Chicago Radars, 0.5 degree Reflectivity. The right loop is centered on the long-lived supercell that likely produced multiple tornadoes from the Pekin and Washington areas northeast in the Dana area and across Grundy and Will Counties.
And here are rotation tracks of the long track storms in the Chicago area.
Other November Chicago outbreaks occurred in earlier years.
But we are tracking beneath all years in the record for number of tornadoes year-to-date.
So as of November 16, we appeared to be running 187 tornadoes BELOW THE ALL TIME QUIETEST SEASON on record since 1954. With the 81 tornadoes (there are likely many duplicates as the long track storms are observed multiple times by observers. NWS will eliminate duplicates. They average a reduction of 15-20% and in some cases more (like thi with longer tracks) but even if it was 70, we will still be running 117 below the all time record lowest.
This time of year you can get tornadoes even without extreme surface heating because the jet stream is stronger. You need that contrast so it will occur not in warm November but cold ones which provide the contrast. Warm Novembers have the jet stream up in Canada and people enjoy Indian Summer not severe weather. WIth the warm temperatures in between cold air masses this weekend, some areas popped temporarily above normal but that will be short lived. We had temperatures 10 to as much as 20 to 30F below normal in the air mass prior to the storms and will se 20F below again with snow. With that kind of cold, strong jet streams can develop even with temperatures in the 60s and 70s and the winds can with shear spin up tornadoes.
Here are days 1-5 and 6-10 anomalies (weatherbell.com). Going to be a cold and in many areas not expecting it a white pre Thanksgiving.
Snow cover shrunk back west and globally the early positive anomalies have gone but that is temporary as snow is coming to the US, Asia and Europe this week.
See how it has been more snow since October 1 in the Rockies and northwest.
See how a few systems promise more the next 10 days.
Note how the snow extends into the central AND southern Plains, northern Delta and Midwest.
See it explode in Asia above and Europe below.
Last year November to April snow extent in the hemisphere was the highest on record. We started faster this year than last. 4 of the top 5 snowiest winters on record have occurred in the last 6 years. UKMO, NOAA, UCS all had predicted snow would be decreasing a decade ago due to warmer conditions. Temperatures have not warmed for 16 years and cooled since 2002 globally.
by Suzanne Hamner
On Friday, Obama signed an executive order that instructs federal agencies to work with state and local governments to boost preparations for the impact of global warming. Obama’s war on coal has threatened one sixth of America’s electrical output by placing 150 coal-burning power plants on the chopping block all due to global warming. Citing global warming has already having an effect on communities and public health across the nation, Obama directed infrastructure projects to take into consideration future climate conditions which naturally could result in a higher price tag for new projects or repairs to already existing structures. However, new scientific evidence has surfaced that “the solar activity is decreasing at the fastest rate as anytime in the last 10,000 years”.
Environmentalist Lawrence Solomon wrote in the Financial Post, “Now an increasing number of scientists are swinging back to the thinking of the 1960s and 1970s. The global cooling hypothesis may have been right after all, they say Earth may be entering a new Little Ice Age.”
The Daily Caller reported:
Solomon adds that Columbia University’s George Kukla. who warned the US government about the dangers of global cooling in 1972, postulated that “global warming always precedes an ice ago… The warming we saw in the 1980s and 1990s, in other words, was expected all along, much as the calm before the storm.”
Recently, scientists have been looking to solar activity as a predictor of world climate. Low solar activity has been connected with cold periods in human history, while high levels of solar activity have been connected with warming periods, like the one from the 1950s to 1998.
The United Nation’s climate authority has tried to downplay the influence of solar activity on the Earth’s climate, but climate scientists have been more assertive that the sun plays a role in affecting global temperatures.
According to Dr. Judith Curry, chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology, the public debate is moving away from the 15 to 17 year pause and toward the cooling since 2002.
Professor Cliff Ollier of the School of Earth and Environmental Studies at the University of Western Australia indicates a correlation between sunspots and climate change. Prof. Ollier postulated earlier this year that the sun was the major controller of the climate.
According to Ollier, “Solar cycles provide a basis for prediction. Solar Cycle 24 has started and we can expect serious cooling. Many think that political decisions about climate are based on scientific predictions, but what politicians get are projections based on computer models.”
Scientists from Russia and the UK are also positing global cooling based on Solar Cycle 24. Habibullo Abdussamatov of the Russian Academy of Science expects global cooling to begin as early as 2014 with another “Little Ice Age” in 2055. Professor Mike Lockwood of Reading University predicts a “Little Ice Age” for Northern Europe because of the decline in solar activity.
Prof. Lockwood bases his postulation on the examination of certain isotopes contained in ice core samples, indicating how active the sun has been over the last thousands of years. Lockwood believes the sun is declining in activity “more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.”
The last Little Ice Age occurred in the 1600s and coincided with an inactive sun, called the Maunder solar minimum. According to Don Easterbrook, professor emeritus of geology as Western Washington University, the earth has been thawing out for the last 400 years.
Easterbrook states, “So the warming we saw, which lasted only from 1978 to 1998, is something that is predictable and expectable. When the ocean changed temperatures, global cooling is almost a slam dunk. You can expect to find about 25 to 30 years yet ahead of us before it starts to warm up again. It might be even more than that.”
So, scientists studying solar activity and the sun along with isotopes from ice core samples have identified a cycle correlating warming and cooling periods of the earth with the solar cycle. These correlations are based on actual observation and study, not a computer model whose predictions are based on information supplied by scientists who cannot identify all variables to enter into the equation. The computer model information then becomes faulty, inaccurate and cannot satisfy the requirements for the scientific method. Model prediction versus observational, data gathering analysis is a no win scenario for model prediction.
Since Obama has declared “global warming/climate change” a dire threat to the US, a threat that must be acted on immediately, all other scientific data opposing the big myth of global warming is ignored. It is ignored because it does not meet the political agenda.
The identification of solar cycles leading to periods of warming and cooling flies in the face of Obama’s agenda to cripple the United States. If these postulations are correct, instead of destroying one sixth of America’s electrical output, measures should be taken to secure electrical output. America should sustain dependable energy sources instead of chasing the pipe dream of “renewable energy.” America should be working to increase its security from invasion, shore up its economy and stimulate job growth and independence of its people. This is not done by expanding federal government, but holding it to its constitutional limits with the possibility of dismantling unconstitutional agencies and declaring null and void strangling regulations based on controlling businesses and the citizenry.
This administration and Congress would rather cripple this nation’s resources, by stalling a pipeline project and destroying the coal industry, to make Americans more dependent on the government, the more people that are dependent on the government, the easier they are to control. If the government controls resources, such as water and electricity, an entire community could be deprived of resources to bring it in line with the government agenda. The theoretical myth of global warming accomplishes this whereas the cyclical climate trend of the earth caused by solar activity does not.
By ignoring these scientific facts on solar activity and ice core samples, Obama is demonstrating hard headed, stubborn, narcissistic and dictatorial behavior. He supports a lie instead of the truth. It isn’t a far stretch to see that last statement as fact. Every time he opens his mouth to speak, an entire repertoire of lies is forthcoming; Obama lives a lie. To him, a lie is truth as long as you can hide the facts, berate others who bring forth the facts, and hypnotize a population of low intellect individuals. A lie benefits an agenda to where the end justifies the means.
As I learned as a child, if you tell one lie, you have to tell another to prop it up; then, you have to keep telling lies to prop up all the previous ones. At that point, you have built a house of cards that comes tumbling down at the slightest of disturbances. Lies end up catching up to the liar as it is harder to remember what lies you have told than it is to tell the truth; truth does not change. The point eventually comes when there are no more lies to tell and the house of cards cannot stand; the lies then become the card that topples the house.
US Has Its Least Extreme Weather Year On Record
Steve Goddard, Real Science
The number of 90F readings in the US has been steadily declining, with 2013 recording the fewest in the modern record.
Index of /pub/data/ghcn/daily/hcn/
The US was hit by no hurricanes in 2013, and suffered the fewest tornadoes on record.
Storm Prediction Center WCM Page Enlarged
Forest fire burn acreage was the second lowest in a decade, and the number of fires was lowest since 1984.
Enlarged. National Interagency Fire Center
Enlarged. National Interagency Fire Center
Obama believes global warming is getting worse because apparently he’s sweating a lot more during his second term
- Jay Leno
by Senator Sessions
It has been eight years since the last major hurricane struck the United States - a lull that experts call an “extended and intense hurricane drought,” the longest such drought since reliable records began in the 19th century.
This is welcome news for Alabamians. The nation still remembers Hurricane Camille (a Category 5 storm) that hit our region in 1969. Hurricane Frederic (a Category 3 storm) made landfall at Dauphin Island in September 1979, leaving widespread devastation and a tree on the roof of my home in Mobile. Hurricane Opal (a Category 4 storm) struck Alabama in October 1995. And it doesn’t take a major hurricane to cause tremendous damage, as “Superstorm Sandy” demonstrated.
We face other forms of extreme weather too, like droughts, floods, and tornado outbreaks that can leave a wide path of destruction. Extreme weather happens, and we should all take common-sense, cost-effective steps to plan, prepare, and respond. The federal government has a key role to play there.
But the Obama Administration, congressional Democrats, and other climate alarmists are now pointing to extreme weather in a desperate attempt to promote their political agendas at the expense of hardworking Americans.
There is a reason for this dubious strategy: We are in the midst of a 16-year period without a measurable increase in global temperatures. It’s hard to sell voters on a trillion-dollar plan to fight global warming - already rejected by Congress - when the globe isn’t actually warming as much as they predicted. So the alarmists are increasingly citing extreme weather to convince Americans that we need a carbon tax, more job-killing regulations, and more wasteful federal green energy subsidies.
Al Gore recently asserted that “all weather events are now affected by global warming pollution.” Senator Barbara Boxer (D CA) called last year’s Superstorm Sandy “evidence of climate change mounting around us.” In his “Climate Action Plan,” President Obama contends that we are having more weather disasters than before. The facts disprove this argument.
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, of which I am a member, recently held hearings about climate change and extreme weather. A clear finding of those hearings frustrated the alarmists: The frequency of extreme weather events is not increasing.
The testimony of Dr. Roger Pielke - a noted climate-impacts expert who even endorses the idea that global warming is partly caused by humans - was particularly compelling. Dr. Pielke testified: “It is misleading, and just plain incorrect, to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally.”
He also said that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”
And Dr. Pielke provided data to back up his position:
Globally, “weather-related losses” have not increased since 1990.
In the U.S., hurricanes have not increased in frequency or intensity since at least 1900.
Since at least 1950, the intensity and frequency of floods in the U.S. have not increased.
The frequency and intensity of tornadoes have not increased since 1950.
Drought has not increased globally in half a century.
Dr. Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama-Huntsville also testified that “there is little or no observational evidence that severe weather of any type has worsened over the last 30, 50, or 100 years.”
And when climate alarmists made the unsubstantiated claim at a Senate hearing last year that we are experiencing more extreme temperatures, State Climatologist Dr. John Christy showed that there were, in fact, many more high temperature records set in previous decades, particularly the 1920s and 1930s, than we see today.
This is a serious matter. President Obama has asked the American people to accept higher energy prices, fewer jobs, and a lower standard of living to prevent storms, droughts, and other changes in climate. Senate Democrats are pushing for a tax on carbon emissions that will increase the cost of gasoline and electricity for every American.
When it comes to understanding and predicting the Earth’s climate, I believe we need to be more honest and humble. No one person knows everything about the future of the planet’s climate. Earth’s history has seen ice ages and warming periods long before modern technology came around. Meanwhile, many technological advances - like electricity and automobiles - have resulted in improved quality of life and lifespan for billions.
We certainly can’t say that any particular weather event is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions. Just five months ago, government experts were forecasting an “active or extremely active” hurricane season.
Good policy should be formed on the basis of rational, humble and fact-based judgments. It should improve, not degrade, the conditions for working Americans.
(Jeff Sessions of Mobile was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.)
By Joseph D’Aleo
ENSO has an effect on annual temperatures in the US and globally. Major volcanism plays a role with multi year cooling with a lack of volcanism leading to warming.
El Ninos produce a global pop in temperatures and La Ninas a dip. The frequency, strength and duration of El Nino and La Nina varies with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).
The positive PDO which favors more El Ninos bring global warming, the negative PDO more La Ninas cooling.
The Atlantic also has an effect (besides increasing Atlantic tropical activity and summer ice melt and winter high latitude blocking which brings more cold and snow to Eurasia and North America). The positive (warm) AMO leads to global warming and the negative state cooling.
See the step change with the AMO flip in 1995.
Both the AMO and PDO produce warming in their warm mode and cooling in their cold mode. Obviously when both are warm, the global temperatures should be warmest and when most negative, coldest.
You see a connection (all data with 11 point smoothing)?
For our friend John Neilson Gammon, Andrew Dessler and the other idealogues in the once great Texas A&M program, I present the Texas annual temperature (NCDC) versus the sum of the AMO and PDO (both standardized, which offsets the fact that the indices are determined in different ways). Both the AMO and PDO have the same tripole ocean anomaly pattern.
The AMO drives the drought frequency in the southern plains and Corn Belt with location determined by the PDO (McCabe etal 2004).
BTW, CO2 rose according to ESRL the whole time the temperatures in Texas, the US and globe rode the AMO/PDO roller coaster. Oh and about the sun, well the TSI suggests the sun may drive the AMO and that the AMO may start an early decline soon.
Carbon Dioxide is not Pollution
The Carbon Sense Coalition has accused those waging a war on carbon dioxide of being “anti-green”.
The Chairman of Carbon Sense, Mr Viv Forbes, said that carbon dioxide is the gas of life, feeding every green plant, producing food for every animal and in the process releasing oxygen, another gas of life, into the atmosphere.
A recent report on measuring global vegetation growth notes that data from remote sensing devices show significant increase in annual vegetation growth during the last three decades. They also report that CO2 fertilization is more important than climate variation in determining the magnitude of the vegetation growth. “The CO2 fertilization effect of the carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels, such as coal, gas and oil, is beginning to assume its vaulted position of being a tremendous boon to the biosphere...”
Current levels of carbon dioxide are well below optimal levels for plants, so all true environmentalists should welcome any increase - all life would benefit if the carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere was triple current levels. The biosphere always flourishes during the recurring but short warm eras on Earth. Ice ages are the times of extinctions. As oceans warm, carbon dioxide is expelled and water evaporates. Warmth, and more moisture and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provide ideal growing conditions for the green world.
Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is replenished mainly from warming oceans but also from termites, volcanoes and exhaling animals, assisted by about a 3% contribution from burning carbon fuels. No rational person could define carbon dioxide as “pollution”. It is a harmless, non-toxic, colourless natural gas that is the essential food for all plants which then produce food and oxygen for all animals. Almost everything in coal was derived from plant material so burning it is no more dangerous than burning wood. Both will suffocate you if burnt in a confined space, but when dispersed in the vast atmosphere their emissions are beneficial plant fertilisers.
Naturally we should minimize real pollution of land, atmosphere and oceans. Everything that man does could be seen to create some “pollution”. But very little pollution comes from modern coal-burning power stations. Modern power stations have extensive filtration equipment which ensures that the exhaust gases are harmless natural gases already present in the atmosphere nitrogen, water vapour and carbon dioxide all essential to sustaining life on Earth.
The smogs of Asia are not caused by burning washed coal in modern power stations. They are caused by burning everything else, usually in dirty open fires. They burn cow dung, wood, cardboard, plastic, paper, recycled oil, tyres, dirty coal, kerosene, anything available that will cook food, provide warmth/light or deter mosquitoes. Forest fires in Indonesia, cremations in India and dust from the massive Gobi desert all add to Asian air pollution. As do old worn-out boilers, furnaces, engines and obsolete power stations which can spew unfiltered exhaust gases, ash, soot and unburnt fuel into the air.
These are what cause real air pollution. carbon dioxide does not.
Fifty years ago, the suffocating smogs of London and Pittsburgh were solved by:
* bans on open fires and dirty furnaces, plus
* clean coal-fired electricity, and
* clean-burning piped coal gas.
The same solution will banish most Asian smogs today.
Correlation, Causation or a Carbon Tax Con-Job?
If two things vary in parallel, that is a positive correlation. But it does not prove that one causes the other. For example, wet roads always occur when it rains. But wet roads do not cause rain. Three things are required to prove that rain always causes wet roads.
Firstly, no exceptions, roads must get wet every time it rains. They do.
Secondly, the cause must always come before the effect. Rain always comes before wet roads (apart from snow, floods, burst water-mains etc).
Thirdly, we need a credible explanation of the mechanism. We have it - rain is composed of falling drops of water, and the water wets the road.
The three conditions are satisfied - therefore rain does cause wet roads. The theory becomes a law.
Now, let’s look at the theory that carbon dioxide (CO2) controls global temperature.
Firstly, there is no consistent correlation - CO2 has risen consistently for the last century but global temperatures rise and fall, and the trend has been flat for over a decade. This absence of consistent correlation proves that CO2 is not the prime controller of global temperature.
Secondly, ice core data shows that temperature turning points occur long before reversals in atmospheric CO2 content. This evidence suggests that global temperature may control the CO2 carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere, rather than the reverse. And there is a proven mechanism to explain that - warming oceans expel CO2 and cooling oceans absorb it.
Thirdly, although the mechanism of carbon dioxide warming exists, it is progressively less effective as CO2 levels rise.
It is clear that CO2 fails all tests as the controller of global temperatures. Other factors such as solar cycles, clouds and oceans have much bigger impact. Thus the carbon dioxide theory of global warming is a carbon tax con-job.
The Last Word
The Big Dollars are against us. In the last issue of Carbon Sense, we advised that our cartoonist had not been paid, and we appealed for funds. Admittedly it was in small print, but two weeks passed without a dollar. Then we received one subscription for $500. We paid a miserly $250 to our cartoonist and $374 to our internet mail server, leaving a deficit of at least $124 for the month. In the same period the sacked Climate Commissioner, Tim Flannery, set up a new Climate Council to carry on his climate scare campaign and raised $1,000,000. Then we hear that green councils are finding ways to soak ratepayers to support the discredited Climate Commissioner. Soon we will find that all sorts of State and Local government bodies, Universities and other Qangos will be paying subscriptions to fund Flannery’s never-ending climate alarmism, thus frustrating the desire of the government and the voters that this waste of tax funds must stop.
Naturally national climate conferences will also be organised so that the Government Climate Industry can continue to have annual parties at our expense. We have a big job ahead. And the big dollars are against us.
See the full PDF newsletter with many hyperlinks to support the arguments here.
October 22 04:57 PM
In Memory of Peter R. Leavitt
June 29, 1931 - October 21, 2013
Peter “Pete” Leavitt of Newton Centre on Monday, October 21 at 82 years old following a long battle with cancer. Meteorologist, founder of WSI Corp., Patriots fan and pianist; possessed with endless intellectual curiosity. Pete was a close friend and a great man. A true intellect, Pete was a joy to speak to about almost any topic. But clearly Pete was one of the top meteorologists in the country.
Peter received one of the first degrees in Meteorology from M.I.T. in 1956. He served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Weather Services Corporation and was also founder of the WSI Corporation in 1978. He was a recognized authority on worldwide weather and its impact on crops. Peter ensured that The Weather Channel got the data it needed by putting resources at our disposal and working with the NWS on formatting. His knowledge of history of instrumentation, of the workings of NWS and politics made him an invaluable consultant to Icecap and served on the board over the few years where we were a C3 corporation.
As John Coleman, TWC founder commented last night:
“OMG I am deeply saddened to read here of the death of Peter Leavitt. As Joe D’Aleo has noted he was a key player in the development of the computer data function, a key element, in building The Weather Channel. He was also a close consultant for me on my relationship with the AMS. I last saw him at the Climate Skeptics conference in New York 10 years. He was very warm and cordial, witty and very well informed on the issues. What a delight. He was the founder of WSI, the ultimate weather data computer company and a great private meteorology firm on every level. My deepest condolences to his family.”
Alan Galumbeck, IT Director at TWC at start-up remembers on a facebook post last night.:
“I remember our early meetings with Pete Leavitt. He put his best people on our start-up project and virtually dedicated them to us for at least nine months. This was at a time when WSI, the weather data company, was the little brother to WSC, the private forecast company. Pete saw to it that we got the WSI resources we needed, even, I suspect, ahead of WSC’s needs.”
Pete was a Certified Consultant Meteorologist. Pete was a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and charter member of the National Council of Industrial Meteorologists. Peter Leavitt was a professional consultant to private companies world-wide and contemporary peer professionals. He served on several academic and government advisory committees of the National Weather Service, National Academy of Sciences, AMS, NCIM, etc.
Peter lived near Central Park in NYC for many years and was intimately familiar with the siting and changes over time. He and I did the analysis referred to here that we presented to the EPA and NOAA on their temperature assumptions. But Peter’s knowledge of music and politics and history and sport always made for made enlightening and lively conversations. He was a true intellect not an elitist who just thinks they are, of which there are, Peter would agree, too many.
I will miss talking with Peter. Rest in peace my friend.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Peter R. Leavitt Family Fund for GI Oncology Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston.
Perspective from a weather forecaster
by Judith Curry
The answer is the fruit of my labor, not the object of it. Because of that, you’ll look for anything to come up with the correct answer, not just a predetermined one where your self-esteem depends on it. Joe Bastardi
The last two weekends, I have featured perspectives on the climate debate from:
an engineer (Mike Haseler)
a physicist (Pierre Darriulat)
This week I feature a perspective from a weather forecaster, Joe Bastardi, which was published in the Patriot Post. I’ve received permission from Joe Bastardi to reproduce this in full:
I would love to debate Dr. Michael Mann. He’s a professor at Pennsylvania State University, and I’m a Penn. State Grad (Meteo. 1978). Enough people know me, as well as him, so we could charge a modest admission, fill Eisenhower Auditorium at PSU, and give all the money back to the PSU meteorology department whom I still love dearly in spite of my outcast status on the anthropogenic global warming issue.
But Dr. Mann would probably want no part of debating me on the main drivers of weather and climate given I have no higher degrees. C’mon, a BS in meteorology from PSU against this:
Education: A.B. applied mathematics and physics (1989)
MS physics (1991)
MPhil physics (1991)
MPhil geology (1993)
PhD geology & geophysics (1998)
Alma mater: University of California, Berkeley, Yale University
This would be a blow out. What chance would I have?
Let me be clear: Dr. Mann’s resume, along with anyone who receives a PhD in the physical sciences, impresses me. I have read almost everything Dr. Mann has written and, because of that, I understand where he’s coming from. But there are things that are lacking if one is pursuing the right answer, and that’s the methodology one learns in putting together a forecast, as to how to weigh factors in determining what’s going to happen. One has to examine all of what his opponent has, not close his eyes to anything that might challenge his ideas.
For instance, while I’ve read almost everything Dr. Mann has written, how many times has he had hands on experience in making a forecast that has to verify? It’s laughable to think, as a private sector meteorologist whose livelihood depends on being right, that one can separate climate from weather. I realized a long time ago that being able to recognize current patterns from understanding the past (it was drilled into me by my father, a degreed meteorologist) was essential to making a good forecast. The fact many climatologists downplay the relationship, or say they’re different, shows me they don’t know what they’re talking about. In other words, I do what they do, but they don’t do what I do. I read what they write, but they won’t stop to look at the other side.
Perhaps it’s like something we sometimes see in sports, the curse of talent. Most of these people are very smart. I went to school with future PhDs and could see that in the classroom, they were like my wrestling coaches at PSU, guys that were great doing what came natural to them. However, my wrestling coach used to stress that when you’re used to having everything come to you, it’s very hard to change and step up your level. Consequently, you’ll get beat on your weakest point and what you don’t know, and that’s where the methodology in forecasting comes in to the climate debate.
You see, in what I do, one must weigh factors and decide which ones are most important. Additionally, one gets used to challenges that can never really be seen in research. How so? Suppose someone gives you a grant to study global warming. Can you come back and say, “My research says there’s no global warming”? You have been given a grant to produce a result; how can you possibly justify that result if it;s the result that would cost nothing to come up with in the first place?
In my line of work, getting paid (having clients) depends on the correct result. The client doesn’t say, “I want a cold winter, here’s the money, forecast it.” The client asks for a forecast that gives him an edge. If you are right, the client renews; if not, it’s bye bye. But there’s no up front money that looks for a set result. This means the forecaster does not care whether it’s warm or cold, just that he gets the right answer, whatever that may be. This is not the case in the AGW branch of academia. Research grants come with the cause du jour just try getting a grant to disprove global warming (actually, you don’t need one; it’s easy to refute it just by understanding what’s happened before).
That said, regarding the climate debate, what factors am I looking at to come up with my conclusion? To me, this is a big forecast, and the simple answer is: It’s hard to fathom that CO2 can cause anything beyond its assigned “boxed in” value to temperatures because of all that’s around it. It comes down to the sun, the oceans and stochastic events over a long period of time with action and reaction, versus a compound comprising .04% of the atmosphere and 1/100th of greenhouse gasses.
But unless you work every day in a situation where you are reminded you can be wrong, you don’t have appreciation for the methodology of challenge and response you need to be right!
Then there’s another big problem: What if you have all this knowledge, you’ve taken a stand on this, and it’s your whole life, how can you possibly be objective? The climate debate and past weather events are needed building blocks for my product. That product involves a challenge each day. In the case of a PhD on the AGW side, they believe the idea is the product. Destroy the idea, you destroy the product; destroy the product, you destroy the person. Therefore, it’s personal. Your whole life all the fawning students, the rock star status is all gone. I would hate to be in that position. Each day I get up, and there it is the weather challenging me. The answer is the fruit of my labor, not the object of it. Because of that, you’ll look for anything to come up with the correct answer, not just a predetermined one where your self-esteem depends on it.
So these giants of science have a fundamental problem, and it runs contrary to their nature. In the end, the very talent and brilliance of a lot of these people may be what blinds them to what it takes to truly pursue the truth.
JC comment: Bastardi raises a critical point, regarding the issue of forecasting as it relates to climate science. Until recently, the public and policy makers were content to consider projections of future climate that depended only on scenarios of future greenhouse emissions. Since the climate models and observations agreed during the last quarter of the 20th century as portrayed in highly confident attribution analyses, these scenario projections were treated by many as forecasts, including the IPCC, who expected a temperature increase of 0.2C/decade in the first few decades of the 21st century.
The growing divergence of climate model simulations and observations in the 21st century is leading to the growing realization among scientists, policy makers and the public that other factors are important in determining climate on decadal and multidecadal timescales. The IPCC dismisses this as unpredictable internal climate variability, unpredictable solar variability, unpredictable volcanic activity. Well, this is good enough only for scientists that are only interested in the CO2 impact on climate, but not for the public and policy makers (paying the bills for all this climate research) that want to know how the climate will actually evolve over the the 21st century.
Here is an analogy from my personal experience. My company CFAN started making hurricane forecasts in 2007 for a major oil company, who wanted advance knowledge (better than market and NOAA) of Gulf hurricane activity. We had devised a scheme that predicted the formation of hurricanes from African Easterly Waves, up to a week in advance. We had some major successes in our first season, notably our forecasts for Hurricane Dean and TS Erin (which I understand made them a lot of money in natural gas trading), but we completely failed (along with everybody else) to predict the formation Hurricane Humberto. Humberto formed near the Texas coast and rapidly intensified. This was not picked up by our prediction scheme, since Humberto did not form from an African Easterly Wave. Well, telling our clients that this kind of hurricane just isn’t predictable wasn’t going to be good enough for our clients. So we embarked on a research project to figure out what kind of predictability there was for this type of storm, and developed a probabilistic warning scheme with different scenarios for this type of storm.
The point is this: climate modelling needs to move towards actually predicting future climate variability change. The initialized decadal forecasts are a step in the right direction, but we need scenarios of future volcanic and solar activity as well (not to mention more research needed to figure out the sun-climate connections). Having climate modelers work on the seasonal climate forecast problem, and watching their forecasts fail to verify, would be invaluable experience for climate modelers making the productions runs for CMIP/IPCC.
And finally, a remark about Bastardi’s invitation to Mann to debate, which is captured in these tweets:
Michael E. Mann @MichaelEMann16 Oct
#JoeBastardi (http://www.desmogblog.com/joe-bastardi ) and #AnthonyWatts (http://sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Anthony_Watts...): The best that #ClimateChange #Denial has to offer!
Joe Bastardi @BigJoeBastardi16 Oct
@MichaelEMann Anytime you would like to debate me and have proceeds go to PSU met, set it up. Eisenhower Auditorium will see who knows what
Rich Fraser @richmanwisco16 Oct
@BigJoeBastardi @MichaelEMann To debate Bastardi would be granting him the false balance that he craves but does not deserve.Retweeted by Michael E. Mann
Based upon Mann’s retweet, I don’t expect him to debate Bastardi. I note that if a Georgia Tech alumnus wanted to debate me or otherwise meet me, i would offer to go to lunch with them to discuss. In fact, in response to this article in the Georgia Tech Alumni magazine, I was invited to lunch by an alum to discuss climate change. There were 4 of us at lunch. Towards the end of the lunch, the alum admitted that the invite was intended as sort of an ambush, intended to trip me up as they presented all sorts of skeptical arguments. He said that they were delighted to have such an open and honest discussion about the issue, and that the learned a lot from talking with me. The following week, the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences received a check from the alum for $10K.
So I encourage Mann to at least meet with Bastardi to discuss. But imagine a public debate or discussion or Q&A between Mann and Bastardi. That would be an event I would pay to see (well I wouldn’t travel to Penn State, but I would pay to watch it on the internet). Since Mann has only joined the Penn State faculty within the last decade, there are generations of Meteorology alums who have not been exposed to his wisdom. He could hold a book signing etc. Sounds like this event could be a real winner for Penn State in terms of alumni relations and fund raising.
The winter snow season is off to a roaring start. A record fall snowstorm hit the Black Hills Friday and Saturday with up to 48 inches of snow at Deadwood and winds that reached 71 mph at Ellsworth AFB.
NWS at Rapid City
Deadwood, South Dakota
Lead, SD has 43.5 inches. Lead, SD gets an average of 197.5 inches of snow a year. But as for daily records, this will rank 4th largest on record behind 1973, 2006, 2008. It is the biggest early October storm since 1982.See the clean up in this storm chaser video.
The snow is increasing rapidly in North America and Asia. Running well ahead of last year. Recall that the arctic ice increased almost 60% over 2012.
More is forecast the next 10 days. (maps from weatherbell.com)
Another snowstorm is on the way further south in the Rockies and high central plains.
Some are trying to blame the snow and winter cold on the lack of arctic ice. Of course trying to blame the late winter and spring blizzards last year to the lack of ice that had returned by the previous October should raise a question in any truly objective mind.The early snows following the recovery to arctic ice and the coldest summer on record in the arctic according to DMI questions that theory. As you know we attribute the cold winters and increased hemispheric snows to the +AMO and negative PDO (with help from low solar and high latitude volcanos) in recent winters. The positive AMO favors a negative AO and NAO which delivers the cold and snow.
Joseph D’Aleo, CCM
In the September 2013 issue of National Geographic, the feature story is on rising sea levels and how they are changing our coastlines. It shows a Statue of Liberty half submerged. The magazine in at least the past decade has adopted the failing climate change advocacy position prevalent in today’s mainstream media. It has become more science fiction than science fact. It is sad because it once was a very popular very balanced and informative trustworthy magazine. A lot of the hype on sea level rises including talk by Mayor Bloomberg of the need to spend $20 billion dollars to protect the city from rising seas and storms is based on faulty data.
The entire environmental movement is based on flawed theories and models. Whenever the data disagrees with the data they assume the data is wrong and adjust it to fit their projections.
The late, great Richard Feynman, a Cornell Physicist said about the scientific method that if data or experiments don’t support your theory no matter how beautiful it is or smart you are, the theory is wrong.
For example, global temperatures stopped warming close to 17 years ago and have cooled since 2002. This is while CO2 has increased over 11%. None of the climate change models used by the UN showed this hiatus. Claims of the warmest decade and very high ranking months and years are based entirely on our government manipulating climate data. In 1999 when NASA’s James Hansen observed relative to the US annual temperatures in the 20th century, that the 1930s was clearly the warmest decade and 1934 the warmest year, 1934 was a full 1.1F warmer than the spike in the super El Nino of 1998 in the NOAA’s/NASA’s prize US data set which adjusted for urban contamination.
That was inconvenient since their global data set that was not adjusted for urbanization was showing significant warming over the same period. NOAA in 2007 removed the urban adjustment and changed other processing steps. The result was now that 1998 became 0.2F warmer than 1934, a change of 1.3F. One data set that was not altered, the state all time record highs and lows, showed a very different story more like that depicted in 1999. 39 of the 50 all time state record highs occurred before 1960. The most, 23, occurred in the 1930s. More state record cold records than warm have been set since the 1940s.
NOAA NCDC data compiled by Dr. John Christy for senate testimony in August 2012
The government loves to reinvent statistics. Does anyone really believe our real unemployment number is 7.3%? We get there by not counting people hopelessly unable to find employment. The CPI each month implies inflation is under control. But they exclude ‘volatile food and energy’. Sure boxer short prices are not rising at an alarming rate but gasoline is double what it was when Obama took office and a tank of heating oil may soon require a second mortgage. We shoppers all experience sticker shock when they go to buy package of chop meat. Sadly, this affects the poor and middle class the most as food and energy is what they spend the most money on. Europe went through this same green madness and is now abandoning it. That is not to say coproations don’t manipulate data when big money is involved - think Enron, MF Global, Bernie Madoff, and big pharma, but this is bigger and worse because it affects everyone.
But not the National Geographic, which had abdicated the once honest science for junk science advocacy. Let’s look at the facts.
Sea levels rise and fall as ocean temperatures rise and fall (causing expansion and contraction of the water) and as water is locked up in or increased in the major ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland or during major glacial periods on the continents.
During the last glacial period, an ice sheet as much as 2 miles thick covered many parts of northern Europe and Asia and North America over Canada and the northern United States down to New York and south of Chicago. When the interglacial began and the ice retreated, meltwater caused a rapid sea level rise of 360 feet. In the last 8000 years sea level rise slowed to a crawl.
This figure shows sea level rise since the end of the last glacial episode based on data from Fleming et al. 1998, Fleming 2000, & Milne et al. 2005.
It likely varied with the cooling and warming periods that occur naturally. Global sea levels temporarily rise more when the ocean enter their warmer multidecadal phases and during major El Ninos and slow when the ocean basins cool and during major La Ninas.
Antarctica has been growing for 30 years, locking up more of the planet’s water in the icesheet. Greenland was 4C (8F) warmer than today’s level during the last interglacial without melting. With the Atlantic soon the head into its multidecadal cold mode and the sun into a 200 year slumber, cooling is likely to increase ice in Greenland. We already are seeing more snow in winter on land. 4 of the top 5 snowiest years for the hemisphere have occurred in the last 6 years.
Renowned oceanographic expert Nils-Axel Morner has studied sea level and its effects on coastal areas for some 45 years. Recently retired as director of the Paleogeophysics and Geodynamics Department at Stockholm University, Morner is past president (1999-2003) of the INQUA Commission on Sea Level Changes and Coastal Evolution, and leader of the Maldives Sea Level Project. In a 2010 paper in 21st Century Science and Technology Morner said
“While the IPCC and its boy scouts present wilder and wilder sea level predictions for the near future, the real observational facts demonstrate that sea level has remained virtually stable for the last 40-50 years.”
This is in sharp contrast with the model projections, similar to the way temperatures are defying the models.
Morner (2011) Enlarged
Measurement sea level change at any location with tide gauges is complicated by the fact that the land is in many places sinking or rising. The mean of all the 159 NOAA tide gauge sites gives a rate of 0.5 mm/ year to 0.6 mm/year (Burton 2010). When you exclude those sites that represent uplifted and subsided areas, you are left with 68 sites of reasonable stability. These sites give a present rate of sea level rise in the order of 1.0 (+/- 1.0) mm/year (about 4 inches per century). Morner noted that most tide-gauges are installed on unstable harbor constructions or landing piers. Therefore, tide-gauge records are bound to exaggerate sea level rise.
A paper by Wenzel etal (2010) using a neural network on tide gauges found a mean sea level rise of 1.56 +/- 0.25 mm.yr from 1900 to 2006. They found the sea level changes are dominated by oscillations with periods of about 50-75 years, which relate nicely to the 60 year ocean oscillations.
Satellite altimetry offers the reconstruction of sea level changes all over the ocean surface. The technology though has also produced disappointing results to the alarmist community as it has not shown the rise they expected.
The Topex/Poseidon and later Jason missions recorded the variations of the ocean surface with high resolution. Having applied all technical correction needed, Menard 2000 and also Aviso 2000) presented a linear trend of 1.0 mm/year from 1992 to 2000. However, the rise came mostly from a spike due to the ocean warming from a super El Nino in 1997/98. Eliminating that spike, gave as change of 0 +/- 10mm. This graph provides no indication of any rise over the time-period covered (Morner 2004, 2007a, 2007c).
Morner presented this trend analysis that treated the 1997 El Nino peak (yellow) as a separate event superimposed on the long term trend. This shows a stability over the first 5 years blue and possibly over the whole time period covered (from Morner 2004, 2007c).
The IPCC in 2007 was actually conservative (an average of 15 inches) with their projections compared with others who projected a change of 3 feet up to 20 feet or more. If you recall in the movie, an inconvenient truth Al Gore used a crane to demonstrate how high 20 feet was. It appears, he could have instead stood on the Manhattan phone book.
But even the IPCC played data games. The IPCC combined tide gauge and altimetry and to their alarm, showed no change. But they made an ‘adjustment’ to the data using the sea level change from one of four Hong Kong gauges. It was the only one that showed a sea level rise, indicating that the land was likely subsiding there. At the Moscow global warming meeting in 2005, in answer to Morner’s criticisms about this “correction,” one of the persons in the British IPCC delegation said, “We had to do so, otherwise there would not be any trend.”
Satellite altimetry data also shows no consistent upward trend and to resolve this dilemma, corrections were applied including corrections assuming that land is still rebounding from the retreat of the glaciers 10,500 years ago (glacial isostatic adjustment).
As with the surface temperatures, most all of the increases are in the adjustments.
So what does all this data suggest for the National Geographic scenario of a 200 foot rise?
Of course if the recent sea level rise has been 0 and it continues so, it will never reach the level depicted in the National Geographic. If it is Morner’s 1 mm/year, which the tide gauges, without accounting for the 1997/98 El Nino spike suggest, it would take 65,200 years. If the rise of 7 inches the last century repeats, it would take 36,629 years. If the mid range 15 inches predicted by the IPCC in AR4 remains in the Fifth assessment and were to verify, it would take 17,112 years.
Considering the fact we are already well past 10,000 years into the current interglacial and interglacials historically ranged from 10-15,000 years, under none of these scenarios would we ever see the Lady Liberty swimming. In fact we are more likely to be able to walk to the statue on a frozen sea/river or encased in ice.
Day after Tomorrow still
“The IPCC has thrown down the gauntlet - if the pause continues beyond 15 years , they are toast.”
Judith Curry, professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology
Lord Christopher Monckton
SYDNEY, Australia It’s official. What I was howled down and banned for telling the recent U.N. climate conference in Doha is true. There has been no global warming for 17 years.
Rajendra Pachauri, the railroad engineer who heads the U.N.’s accident-prone climate panel, the IPCC, recently admitted this fact here in Australia.
The Hadley/CRU temperature record shows no warming for 18 or 19 years. RSS satellites show none for 23 years. Not one computer model predicted that.
Pachauri said the zero trend would have to persist for 30-40 years before it mattered. Scientists disagree. In 2008 the modelers wrote that more than 14 years without global warming would indicate a “discrepancy” between their predictions and reality. By their own criterion, they have grossly, persistently, profitably exaggerated manmade warming.
The 17-year flatline gives Australia’s $180,000-a-year, part-time climate kommissar, Tim Flannery, a problem. In January he crowed that extreme weather like Sydney’s recent heatwave had been predicted for decades.
Note Tim Flannery and his entire climate commission got their well deserved pinks slips after the election of Abbott.
Skeptics, he wailed, continued to ignore the thousands of hot-weather records tumbling worldwide. Yet without statistically significant warming for nigh on two decades, recent extreme weather cannot be blamed on global warming.
Warming that was predicted yesterday but has not happened for up to 23 years until today cannot have caused yesterday’s “droughts and flooding rains,” now, can it?
Flannery relentlessly gives only one side of the story when it is his duty to give both. He is carefully silent about the thousands of cold-weather records that have also tumbled in recent years more than 650 this week in the U.S. alone.
The Northern Hemisphere is enduring one of its coldest winters in 100 years. Before the usual suspects try to blame that too on global warming, the IPCC says unsurprisingly that warmer weather means less snow.
Sea-ice extent in the Arctic has reached a record high for this time of year, despite a record low last summer. In the Antarctic, sea ice has been increasing for 33 years.
There will be further extreme weather in the coming decades. It will not matter whether the world warms or cools. Extreme weather is not the new normal. It is the old normal but the new slogan.
The best-kept secret in climate science is that extreme weather, or “tipping points,” will be no likelier if the planet warms than if it cools. For the climate behaves as a chaotic object. What mathematicians call “bifurcation” can occur at any time.
We may warm the world this century, but not by much. What is important is not only the embarrassingly long absence of warming but also the large discrepancy between the rate of warming the models predict and the real-world rate.
The IPCC baselessly predicts 3 degrees Celsius manmade warming this century. The warming rate since 1950 has been a third of that. The maximum warming rate over any decade since 1850 was equivalent to less than 2 degrees per century.
No surprise, then, that the IPCC recently gave the lie to Flannery in a special report saying extreme weather cannot yet be attributed to manmade warming. Yet its own errors relentlessly exaggerate both manmade warming and its consequences.
In 1990 the first of its five reports said that from then till now the world would warm at 0.3 of a degree Celsius per decade. Outturn: less than half that.
In 1995 the scientists said five times there was no human influence on temperature and they did not know when it would become detectable. IPCC bureaucrats got a single bad scientist a one-man “consensus” to rewrite the report to say the flat opposite.
That year another bad scientist emailed a colleague: “We have to abolish the medieval warm period.” His problem was that the Middle Ages were warmer than now. Today’s temperatures are normal.
In 2001 the IPCC’s “hockey stick” graph duly “abolished” medieval warming. The shank showed little temperature change for 1000 years; the blade showed a sudden spurt in the 20th century, which the IPCC six times blamed on us. In 2005 two Canadian scientists proved the graph bogus.
In 2007 the IPCC doctored another graph to pretend manmade warming is accelerating. The Obama administration is using this faked diagram to justify introducing a carbon tax just as the EU/Oz tax collapses.
This year will bring a fifth “Assessment Report.” As an expert reviewer I shall try to halt further fraud. It will not be easy. The weevils are at it again. This year’s new predictions, backcast eight years to 2005, bizarrely overstate already measured warming and project the exaggerations to 2050, forecasting unrealistically rapid warming.
A senior Australian police officer specializing in organized-crime frauds tells me the pattern of fraud on the part of a handful of climate scientists may yet lead to prosecutions.
When the cell door slams on the first bad scientist, the rest will scuttle for cover. Only then will the climate scare mankind’s strangest and costliest intellectual aberration be truly over.
Dr. Richard Lindzen
The issue of global warming (or climate change or weather disruption or whatever the current label is) is often put forward as a moral issue, but this does not change the need to pay attention to the science. Indeed, the latter is a crucial prelude to the former. The situation here may not be as complex as is sometimes suggested. Frequently the questions posed in public discussions are so reductionist as to be silly. Is it warming or not? Is CO2 increasing. Is climate changing? Is summer sea ice decreasing? Such questions actually disguise what are the real policy-relevant questions. These are inevitably quantitative rather than yes-no in character.
Though it would be difficult to speak of universal agreement over any aspect of the issue, it is nonetheless the case that there are many areas of agreement among most of the scientists on both sides of this issue. Such agreement hardly insures that these views are correct, but, for the moment, they are a reasonable starting point.
There is general agreement that there has been a relatively small and irregular increase in global mean temperature anomaly over the past couple of hundred years; by ‘relatively small’ I mean relative to the actual variability of this quantity at any given location or even region. There is also agreement that this quantity has not risen for the past 17 years or so. Over the past two centuries the warming has been less than 1C.
There is general agreement that climate is always changing. To be sure, climate is more than simply the global mean temperature anomaly.
There is agreement that there is a greenhouse effect, and that doubling CO2, in the absence of any feedbacks, will lead to warming on the order of 1C; this is generally felt to be unalarming and perhaps even beneficial. The issue of feedbacks is crucial. Alarm requires, at the least, that these feedbacks actually greatly amplify the impact of man’s contribution to greenhouse gases.
There is agreement that CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, and that current levels are about 35% greater than pre-industrial levels; there is agreement that much of this increase is likely due to industrial emissions.
There is agreement that when combined with other increasing greenhouse gases (like methane, nitrous oxide, etc.), the total greenhouse forcing is about 80% of what one expects from a doubling of CO2. That is to say, we are effectively pretty close to a doubling of CO2 in terms of greenhouse impact.
While there is significant disagreement as to whether feedbacks will diminish or amplify the effect of CO2, there is virtually no disagreement that the impact of each added amount of CO2 diminishes relative to earlier amounts. This is referred to as the logarithmic regime.
There are two more points which I find substantial agreement over within the climate research community, but which might be contested by environmental activists:
Namely, that increases in CO2 will not jeopardize the planet, itself, and that any relation of increases in global mean temperature anomaly to such more relevant issues such as regional climate, storminess, extreme weather, etc. are not evident in the data nor are they robust features of models.
It is worth noting that none of the above point to alarm. Nevertheless, there has been a huge effort to implement mitigation policies. The presumed basis is essentially the precautionary principle. Despite the fact that there is no evidence for alarm, neither can it be rigorously rejected. The arguments for alarm are, moreover, frequently based on the misuse of scientific statements. For example, the IPCC iconic statement that there is 90% certainty that most of the warming of the past 50 years is due to man’s emissions. While one may legitimately question the subjective assignment of a probability to such a statement, the statement, itself, is again completely consistent with there being no problem. To say that most of a small change is due to man is hardly an argument for the likelihood of large changes.
Such misuse of language and logic bring to mind Orwell’s comment on the political implications of language: “It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” As to political language, itself, Orwell notes that it “is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Turning to policy, there is widespread agreement that mitigation measures, such as the Kyoto Protocol, will have no discernible impact on climate regardless of one’s position on feedbacks.
Much more extreme measures will have no discernible impact on climate unless the most pessimistic and least supportable estimates of climate amplification are correct, and the proposed measures are universally adopted. All such measures, moreover, will have negative impacts on income, development, the environment, and food availability and cost especially for the poor. We know these impacts are real because we are already seeing them and have been doing so for some time. That these measures are endorsed by the environmental movement is hardly reassuring. The movement has racked up an impressive record of endorsing measures that have led to the death and debilitation of millions of the world’s most vulnerable. The complete banning of DDT and its impact on malaria is a notable but not unique example.
Under the circumstances, it would appear that the reasonable and moral policy would be to foster economic growth and well being in order that societies be better able to deal with climate change regardless of its origin. Mitigation policies appear to have the opposite effect without significantly reducing the hypothetical risk of any changes in climate. While reducing vulnerability to climate change is a worthy goal, blind support for mitigation measures regardless of the invalidity of the claims constitutes what might be called bankrupt morality. It is worse than bankruptcy when the proposed measures are counterproductive. It is not sufficient for actions to artificially fulfill people’s need for transcendent aspirations in order for the actions to be considered moral. PDF
Every once in awhile a window opens and shows us the dark, illogical souls of the bureaucrats in the climate cabal. This is one of those times.
Regardless of whether or not scientists are wrong on global warming, the European Union is pursuing the correct energy policies even if they lead to higher prices, Europe’s climate commissioner has said.
Let’s say that science, some decades from now, said ‘we were wrong, it was not about climate’, would it not in any case have been good to do many of things you have to do in order to combat climate change?.
These are the views of the EU climate commissioner, Connie Hedegaard.
Read it all here
“The IPCC graph shows that climate models [that provided the foundation for its first four Assessment Reports] predicted temperatures should have responded by rising somewhere between about 0.2 and 0.9 degrees C [post-1990]. But the actual temperature change was only about 0.1 degrees, and was within the margin of error around zero. In other words, models significantly over-predicted the warming effect of CO2 emissions for the past 22 years,” wrote Dr. Ross McKitrick, an expert reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, and a member of the Cornwall Alliance Advisory Board who has co-authored several of our major papers.
Writing in the Financial Post, he continued, “...Judging by the drafts [of its Fifth Assessment Report] circulated this year, [IPCC] is in full denial mode. Its own figure reveals a discrepancy between models and observations, yet its discussion says something entirely different. On page 9 of Chapter 1 it explains where the numbers come from, it talks about the various challenges faced by models, and then it sums up the graph as follows: ‘In summary, the globally-averaged surface temperatures are well within the uncertainty range of all previous IPCC projections, and generally are in the middle of the scenario ranges.’ Later, in Chapter 9, it states with ‘very high confidence’ that models can correctly simulate global surface temperature trends.
“The IPCC must take everybody for fools. Its own graph shows that observed temperatures are not within the uncertainty range of projections; [observed temperatures] have fallen below the bottom of the entire span [of projections].”
“As the gap between models and reality has grown wider, so has the number of mainstream scientists gingerly raising the possibility that climate models may soon need a bit of a re-think,” McKitrick wrote. “A recent study by some well-known German climate modelers put the probability that models can currently be reconciled with observations at less than 2%, and they said that if we see another five years without a large warming, the probability will drop to zero.
“What’s more, the U.K.’s main climate modeling lab just this summer revised its long-term weather forecasts to show it now expects there to be no warming for at least another five years. Ironically, if its model is right, it will have proven itself and all others like it to be fundamentally wrong.
“To those of us who have been following the climate debate for decades, the next few years will be electrifying. There is a high probability we will witness the crackup of one of the most influential scientific paradigms of the 20th century, and the implications for policy and global politics could be staggering.”
Note: See on Judith Curry’s site, this excellent review of recommendations on how policy relevant science should be conducted.
Posted on September 14, 2013 by Anthony Watts
This post contains excerpts of a letter sent to staff at the Ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL, English: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne) is one of the two Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology and is located in Lausanne, Switzerland.
I wonder how many more letters like this we will see after AR5 is released.- Anthony
An Aspiring Scientist’s Frustration with Modern-Day Academia: A Resignation
I am writing to state that, after four years of hard but enjoyable PhD work at this school, I am planning to quit my thesis in January, just a few months shy of completion. Originally, this was a letter that was intended only for my advisors. However, as I prepared to write it I realized that the message here may be pertinent to anyone involved in research across the entire EPFL, and so have extended its range just a bit.
While I could give a multitude of reasons for leaving my studies, some more concrete, others more abstract, the essential motivation stems from my personal conclusion that I’ve lost faith in today’s academia as being something that brings a positive benefit to the world/societies we live in. Rather, I’m starting to think of it as a big money vacuum that takes in grants and spits out nebulous results, fueled by people whose main concerns are not to advance knowledge and to effect positive change, though they may talk of such things, but to build their CVs and to propel/maintain their careers.
(1) Academia: It’s Not Science, It’s Business
I’m going to start with the supposition that the goal of “science” is to search for truth, to improve our understanding of the universe around us, and to somehow use this understanding to move the world towards a better tomorrow. At least, this is the propaganda that we’ve often been fed while still young, and this is generally the propaganda that universities that do research use to put themselves on lofty moral ground, to decorate their websites, and to recruit naive youngsters like myself.
(2) Academia: Work Hard, Young Padawan, So That One Day You Too May Manage!
I sometimes find it both funny and frightening that the majority of the world’s academic research is actually being done by people like me, who don’t even have a PhD degree. Many advisors, whom you would expect to truly be pushing science forward with their decades of experience, do surprisingly little and only appear to manage the PhD students...Rarely do I hear of advisors who actually go through their students’ work in full rigor and detail, with many apparently having adopted the “if it looks fine, we can submit it for publication” approach.
(3) Academia: The Backwards Mentality
A very saddening aspect of the whole academic system is the amount of self-deception that goes on, which is a “skill” that many new recruits are forced to master early on… or perish. As many PhD students don’t truly get to choose their research topic, they are forced to adopt what their advisors do and to do “something original” on it that could one day be turned into a thesis.
(4) Academia: Where Originality Will Hurt You
The good, healthy mentality would naturally be to work on research that we believe is important. Unfortunately, most such research is challenging and difficult to publish, and the current publish-or-perish system makes it difficult to put bread on the table while working on problems that require at least ten years of labor before you can report even the most preliminary results. Worse yet, the results may not be understood, which, in some cases, is tantamount to them being rejected by the academic community.
(5) Academia: The Black Hole of Bandwagon Research
Indeed, writing lots of papers of questionable value about a given popular topic seems to be a very good way to advance your academic career these days. The advantages are clear: there is no need to convince anyone that the topic is pertinent and you are very likely to be cited more since more people are likely to work on similar things. This will, in turn, raise your impact factor and will help to establish you as a credible researcher, regardless of whether your work is actually good/important or not.
(6) Academia: Statistics Galore!
“Professors with papers are like children,” a professor once told me. And, indeed, there seems to exist an unhealthy obsession among academics regarding their numbers of citations, impact factors, and numbers of publications. This leads to all sorts of nonsense, such as academics making “strategic citations”, writing “anonymous” peer reviews where they encourage the authors of the reviewed paper to cite their work, and gently trying to tell their colleagues about their recent work at conferences or other networking events or sometimes even trying to slip each other their papers with a “I’ll-read-yours-if-you-read-mine” wink and nod. No one, when asked if they care about their citations, will ever admit to it, and yet these same people will still know the numbers by heart. I admit that I’ve been there before, and hate myself for it.
(7) Academia: The Violent Land of Giant Egos
[He must be talking about Mannworld here -Anthony]
I often wonder if many people in academia come from insecure childhoods where they were never the strongest or the most popular among their peers, and, having studied more than their peers, are now out for revenge. I suspect that yes, since it is the only explanation I can give to explain why certain researchers attack, in the bad way, other researchers’ work. Perhaps the most common manifestation of this is via peer reviews, where these people abuse their anonymity to tell you, in no ambiguous terms, that you are an idiot and that your work isn’t worth a pile of dung. Occasionally, some have the gall to do the same during conferences, though I’ve yet to witness this latter manifestation personally.
(8) Academia: The Greatest Trick It Ever Pulled was Convincing the World That It was Necessary
Perhaps the most crucial, piercing question that the people in academia should ask themselves is this: “Are we really needed?” Year after year, the system takes in tons of money via all sorts of grants.
What’s bothersome, however, is how long a purely theoretical result can be milked for grants before the researchers decide to produce something practically useful. Worse yet, there often does not appear to be a strong urge for people in academia to go and apply their result, even when this becomes possible, which most likely stems from the fear of failure. you are morally comfortable researching your method as long as it works in theory, but nothing would hurt more than to try to apply it and to learn that it doesn’t work in reality. No one likes to publish papers which show how their method fails (although, from a scientific perspective, they’re obliged to).
read it all at Pascal Junod