No-one understands him but his woman

We’ll never put this to bed completely, so why not do a post focused on the Hockey Stick Chart? It eventually gets dragged into any discussion of climate change that lasts over five minutes, so for those who are interested, let’s make this a compendium of remarks, assertions and civil discussions of the icon that turned a simmering debate into all-out war.

And then let’s keep it here.

Hockey_stick_chart_ipcc_large

  1. Was it wrong to publish this chart without specifically noting that the paleoclimatic data trended downwards at the end of the series?
  2. Should The Team have said more about the uncertainty of their findings?
  3. Should the AR3 Summary of Findings have had more specific language about the lack of certainty inherent in the data used to compile this figure?
  4. Was a real, significant Medieval Warming Period airbrushed out of existence?
  5. Were similar studies producing similar results in fact similarly flawed?
  6. Is tree ring data fit for purpose for establishing temperature records at that fine a level of detail?
  7. Was the version of PCA used by The Team selected post study in order to yield the shape they favored?
  8. Did The Team overstep the bounds of propriety in publicizing the implications of their work and agitating for suppression of dissenting views?
  9. Do Steve McIntyre’s criticisms overall have merit and should they be acknowledged in the world of climate science as substantive and valuable contributions to the record?
  10. Should different data sources be overlaid in a graphic presentation without specific explanation of the process and implications of the choices made?

There might even be one or two questions I’ve missed–feel free to jump in with more questions as well as your answers.

But remember–Even if all the answers prove to be negative for the actions of The Team, this really isn’t about human contributions to the Current Warming Period. This isn’t about the blade at the end of the Hockey Stick. The warming has in fact occurred, although we are uncertain as to the magnitude of human contributions.

We know what this particular controversy is truly concerned with–the well-publicized effort to convince politicians that the Current Warming Period is unprecedented over the last millenium.

It’s not about the Blade. Wesley Snipes wouldn’t stand a chance. It’s about…

shaft1

Can you dig it?

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75 responses to “No-one understands him but his woman

  1. Or as comedian Steven Pearl used to sing, ‘Who’s the president who’s so Stout, when he gets in the tub he can’t get out? ….Taft! Can you dig it?’

    Something to remember if Governor Christie gets the 2016 nomination…

  2. Rather than going through all the problems with your summation I’d like to hash them out one at a time.

    “Was it wrong to publish this chart without specifically noting that the paleoclimatic data trended downwards at the end of the series?”

    First problem. That chart is from MBH 99… wherein the paleoclimatic proxy data used did NOT trend downwards at the end of the series.

    Fact: The “divergence problem”, wherein some tree ring temperature proxies show lower temperatures than thermometer readings, began in 1960.

    Fact: The chart in question shows temperatures RISING through 1980.

    Conclusion: The proxy data used for MBH 99 continued trending upwards well PAST the point of the divergence problem. Ergo, there was no ‘downwards trend’ to disclose.

    • You manage to be original at least, CBD. I have read many arguments saying the removal of the data since 1960 was justified. You are the absolute first to say they did not do it.

      • CBDunkerson

        Obviously we run in different circles, because I see that fact stated all the time.

        If you believe MBH 99 removed the data after 1960… then how do you explain the line going up to 1980? Are you claiming that the last 20 years of the proxy data in MBH 99 were ‘made up’? Or does 1980 not come after 1960 in ‘lukewarm reality’?

    • CBD, there are hundreds of references to show he removed the data. Did you see the short video from Richard Muller posted below?

      • The Muller video, in addition to being his usual nonsense, covers a different graph made by completely different people.

      • CBD, ” The Muller video, in addition to being his usual nonsense”

        I don’t mind having a conversation with you but when you make statements like that, one has to wonder what you are trying to accomplish.

    • Well that’s an interesting re-write of history. No chance this assertion could backfire and damage your credibility, eh? Who’s arguing 1960 vs 1980?

      The point was the intentional removal of inconvenient data to show a better picture. Ethically OK, or not? There are different views. It is not a controversy that it occurred or not.

      • Guys, it doesn’t matter how many times you SAY that there is no controversy here… the graph still shows proxy data to 1980 with rising temperatures to the end. Ergo, the claim that data was removed to hide the tree ring divergence problem after 1960 is false. Visibly, obviously, blatantly FALSE. This isn’t ‘Shroedinger’s graph’… it can’t both have and NOT have post 1960 data at the same time. It HAS the data. You can SEE it. Ergo… it hasn’t been removed.

      • andrew adams

        There’s no doubt that post-1960 data for proxies which exhibited the DP was not used in certain reconstructions (which is a choice that can, and should, be defended or criticised on purely scientific grounds), but as CBD points out MBH99 shows values up to 1980. I don’t know the details of the particular proxies Mann et al used but in his book he says that they used very few proxies based on tree ring density (which were the only kind affected by the DP) and the DP is not an issue with MBH98/99.

      • It did not show up on the IPCC graph. It was in the text. ClimateGate documented the decision making process behind it. It was to show a tidy “story”. Mike’s nature trick. Hide the decline. Ring any bells?

        Honest science? From this engineer’s view, no. You are entitled to your own opinion. A huge deal in the grand scheme? Not really.

        The divergence problem was documented in the text, but not shown in the graph for political reasons. The divergence problem obviously calls the reliability of the entire tree ring proxy data series into question. That is why it was not shown, it is quite untidy. If you can’t track data reliably against the recent temperature record, what make you think it can do so for the last 1000 years?

        It’s a serious technical problem. It’s simply unethical to present scientific data this way to such a high profile audience.

      • andrew adams –

        I might be wrong here, but didn’t the PCA method used in MBH98/99 give enormous and undue influence to those few tree ring proxies? To the point that excluding them greatly changed the curve shape?

      • Layman Lurker

        re: CBDunkerson | March 8, 2013 at 10:37 am |

        Guys, it doesn’t matter how many times you SAY that there
        is no controversy here… the graph still shows proxy data to 1980 with rising temperatures to the end. Ergo, the claim that data was removed to hide the tree ring divergence problem after 1960 is false.

        This is wrong. The MBH99 hockey stick graph shows a reconstruction which splices 81 to 98 instrumental to end of the proxy data, then smooths with a 40 year filter, then truncates back to 1980. It is the influence of instrumental padding coupled with the smooth which causes the endpoint of the reconstruction to go up. UC’s perfect emulation shows the end point contrast in the instrumental ‘spliced’ and ‘unspliced’ versions of the reconstruction. Clearly the proxy data does not trend up to 1980. The reconstruction endpoint is wholly an artifact of the instrumental endpoint padding and smoothing.

      • Layman, the McIntyre claim you reference is also quoted extensively and linked by Tom Fuller below. Unfortunately, it is a bit schizophrenic in that it concedes that there was no decline to hide in MBH 99;

        “As is well known, the long portion of the MBH98-99 reconstruction is little more than an alter ego for bristlecone chronologies and did not “require” removal of the decline.”

        …yet also insists that the instrumental temperature record MUST have been spliced on to the data because he could generate a similar curve by doing so.

        The, rather obvious, flaw in this ‘logic’ is that if the MBH 99 proxy data did not suffer from the tree ring divergence problem (as McIntyre concedes) then the proxy and instrumental data post 1960 MATCHED… and you would get the same curve using EITHER.

      • andrew adams

        kch,

        The point is that there were numerous tree ring proxies used in MBH98/99 and (according to Mann) very few of these were affected by the divergence problem. I don’t pretend to be an expert on the technical questions but I think the PCA issue is a totally separate matter, which is more about the opposite end of the HS.
        I think it is widely accepted that the criticisms of Mann’s use of PCA are valid but I’m not sure that it actually makes a great difference to the result.
        There is a comparison of the results using different PCA methods included here – notwithstanding the hostile tone of the article I have no reason to think it incorrect.

        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2010/07/the-montford-delusion/

      • andrew adams

        Tom Scharf,

        I think you may be confusing MBH with another (Briffas?) paper. I can’t see that MBH99 mentions leaving out post-1960s data to and Mann says there was no need.

        If you can’t track data reliably against the recent temperature record, what make you think it can do so for the last 1000 years?

        Because there are grounds to believe that the divergence from the recent temperature record is due to some physical change in the environment affecting those trees which has occured in the period in question? Especially given that it only affects a particular subset of proxies from particular locations. Of course the divergence problem raises questions about the use of tree rings but I don’t see it as anything like slam-dunk case for throwing them out altogether. I think the kind of criticisms Jim Bouldin makes are far more compelling, although I haven’t had a chance to properly look into them.

      • andrew adams –

        I’ll bet you’re more of an expert on the technical questions than I’ll ever be. :)

        So yes, I’ve gone back and looked, and PCA is indeed a separate issue from the weighting, as the weighting step was done following the PCA step (I think, anyway). Still, I believe that weighting *was* an issue, with some of the tree ring proxies given such weight that removal of them would change the curve shape.

        “I think it is widely accepted that the criticisms of Mann’s use of PCA are valid but I’m not sure that it actually makes a great difference to the result.”

        If the method is invalid, the result really can’t be said to mean anything, so yes I’d say it makes a difference – at least for these studies, which are the specific ones under discussion. Of course, if Jim Bouldin is right, this is all meaningless anyway.

  3. Fred from Canuckistan . . .

    We mourn the death of the Medieval Warm Period, sacrificed on the altar of global warming fraud.

    Because when you have to disappear reality, you know you are running a really good grift.

  4. Tom, it is also instructive, as a means of understanding the duplicity of the Hockey Team, to take a look at Andrew Montford’s Caspar and Jesus post.:

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2008/8/11/caspar-and-the-jesus-paper.html

  5. Can/should one tack on a thermometer record on the end of a paleoclimatoligical record, where the statistical methods used to generate the paleoclimatoligical record wash out the short term variations that thermometer records capture?
    Note this has been done once again in Marcott et al.
    Apples and oranges, people!

  6. I think the difficulty with trying to discuss the ‘hockey stick’ is the very central question of:

    Just exactly what the hell are we discussing?

    There are various versions of the hockey stick and various different critiques of those versions, all spread across numerous publications, reports and blog posts. This makes it very difficult to have any real debate as we will almost inevitably end up talking past each other.

    A good example of this occurs earlier in this thread with the exchange between CBD and Tom. Tom is approaching from a general point of view, CBD is responding by concentrating on the study the particular graph shown came from.

    Could they both be right? Possibly. Tom’s generalist view accords with my limited knowledge, but I’m not so sure of CBD’s view – the details of MBH99 and its proxies aren’t in my memory (and I’m not going to waste the time trying to dig it out right now). Is it worth continuing on? Probably not – it’ll just be more of the same old, same old.

    If we want to have any kind of meaningful discussion of such a broad topic, I think it’d be best to take a specific overview and work from there. Something like this, maybe:

    http://climateaudit.org/2005/04/08/mckitrick-what-the-hockey-stick-debate-is-about/

    Probably not a perfect starting point, but you’ve got to start somewhere.

    • Well done. You have achieved actual thought!

      Yes indeed, the specific graph makes a great deal of difference. That said, “the hockey stick” originally referred to the graph (from MBH 99) in the post above and, in this case, we are clearly talking about that particular graph.

      Now, if we want to leave off Michael Mann and the hockey stick graph for a moment… the graph which actually DID remove post 1960 tree ring data was one made by Phil Jones for an obscure World Meteorological Organization report in 2000. The Muller video Bob linked to shows it… though Muller still manages to mangle the facts in his critique. THAT graph was indeed improper and should have included much more disclosure.

      However, that has nothing to do with Mann or ‘the hockey stick’ from MBH 99. The charge Tom made in his first question above is FALSE. It is a valid criticism of Jones. Not Mann.

      • Well done yourself! You’ve achieved an off-putting, arrogant tone! Is it natural, or do you have to work at it?

        Still, at least you’ve also managed to not misread everything I said. I suppose I should be happy with that, but…

        You seem to feel some triumph because Tom’s first question was poorly referenced. Fair enough, though I’m not sure why you couldn’t bring yourself to just point that out and allow him to restate. Much more conducive to discussion, I’d think.

        But that’s only one out of ten. Why not move on to the next?.

      • CBDunkerson

        Apparently you missed the fact that I already HAVE ‘moved on to the next’. See my response to Andrew below.

        As to ‘why not point out the actual incorrect graph right away’… I was TRYING to get people to consider basic inescapable logic and realize that their position must be incorrect. Getting people to think things through rather than just repeating talking points and dismissing everything they don’t want to believe is the only way we will ever make any progress in these debates. You thought about it enough to realize that maybe the stuff you had heard about declining temperatures not being shown applied to some OTHER graph. None of the other ‘skeptics’ here did. Indeed, they still haven’t. That kind of mental block in the face of such an obvious proof (i.e. 1980 > 1960) is the root of virtually every disagreement in the ‘climate debate’.

      • CBD –

        “Apparently you missed the fact that I already HAVE ‘moved on to the next’”

        Why, so you did. Or, at least, responded to someone else who did. My bad for missing it.

        “I was TRYING to get people to consider basic inescapable logic and realize that their position must be incorrect”

        I kind of doubt it – I’d guess that you were more interested in scoring points by misdirection. I really do think you’d get much further by a genuine attempt at discussion. If that’s what you want.

        And thanks, by the way, for being kind enough to describe my thought process here – I might never have figured it out for myself. Not quite my recollection of my thoughts, but, hey, what do I know?

      • If I may borrow from Climate Audit, “Mike’s Nature Trick
        Mike’s Nature Trick was originally diagnosed by CA reader UC here and expounded in greater length (with Matlab code here ). It consists of the following elements:
        1. A digital splice of proxy data up to 1980 with instrumental data to 1995 (MBH98), lengthened to 1998 (MBH99).
        2. Smoothing with a Butterworth filter of 50 years in MBH98 (MBH99- 40 years) after padding with the mean instrumental value in the calibration period (0) for 100 years.
        3. Discarding all values of the smooth after the end of the proxy period.
        The splicing of instrumental data with proxy data prior to smoothing has been established by UC beyond any doubt (as will be reviewed below.)

        Nonetheless, both Mann and Gavin Schmidt have vehemently denied such a splice.
        Mann and Schmidt have denied the use of the method – see UC’s chronology here.
        Some of their vehemence undoubtedly arises from Mann’s original and notorious denial of digital splicing of proxy and instrumental records as follows:
        No researchers in this field have ever, to our knowledge, “grafted the thermometer record onto” any reconstruction. It is somewhat disappointing to find this specious claim (which we usually find originating from industry-funded climate disinformation websites) appearing in this forum. Most proxy reconstructions end somewhere around 1980, for the reasons discussed above. Often, as in the comparisons we show on this site, the instrumental record (which extends to present) is shown along with the reconstructions, and clearly distinguished from them (e.g. highlighted in red as here).
        In the wake of Climategate, Gavin Schmidt staunchly denied digital splicing e.g. here A reader had written in, accurately observing that Mann had spliced instrumental values prior to smoothing:
        I don’t think the Nature trick has been described adequately in your post. It isn’t just graphing the instrument record for comparison, but graphing it to ‘hide the decline.’ They didn’t just cut off the proxy value and add on the instrument record from 1961 on; they used the instrument temperature values to calculate smoothed average value for earlier years as well. That is the ‘trick,’ to let the instrument record replace actual values of the data that are lower than you want.
        Gavin responded with the disinformation that has become standard:
        [Response: This has nothing to do with Mann’s Nature article. The 50-year smooth in figure 5b is only of the reconstruction, not the instrumental data. – gavin]
        First, here is the relevant figure from MBH99. Note the closing portion of the smoothed reconstruction with a sort of upside-down S-shape at the end.

        …Although Mann and others have regularly described his “Nature” trick as nothing more than plotting both instrumental and reconstruction data in the same graphic, the “trick” was more than that: it was, as shown above, the splicing of instrumental data with proxy data prior to smoothing. On one occasion however, Mann implictly conceded the Climate Audit exegesis of his Nature trick, stating in an inline comment at realclimate as follows:
        In some earlier work though (Mann et al, 1999), the boundary condition for the smoothed curve (at 1980) was determined by padding with the mean of the subsequent data (taken from the instrumental record).
        From the precision of the emulation, it appears certain to me that the padding was by the instrumental data (rather than the mean of the subsequent data), but either method involves padding with instrumental data.
        Far more serious than “Mike’s Nature trick” is Keith’s Science Trick – the deletion of adverse data (a trick that Mann supported as a Lead Author in IPCC TAR.)
        [Note – this section was somewhat rewritten on Sep 5, 2012 adding the figure excerpts in response to a request for clarification of the various tricks.]”

        http://climateaudit.org/2011/03/29/keiths-science-trick-mikes-nature-trick-and-phils-combo/

    • “I think the difficulty with trying to discuss the ‘hockey stick’ is the very central question of: Just exactly what the hell are we discussing?”

      Yes that’s a big one. And why is the other big one.

      • Why is because of the continuing – and necessary – influence of the reconstructions on the shaping of policy responses to the rise of GHG’s. I can’t see how it can be avoided, tedious as the endless relitigation is.

      • That’s not what I meant by “why?”. I meant “why that set of technical issues instead of the ones that are more fundamentally important?”

      • Jim –

        Ah, I see. Perhaps because that’s the set of technical issues that are most prominent/accessible for the majority of us.

        Also, possibly, because taking one good chunk out of the edifice makes it appear shaky, and the hockey stick is a reasonable easy target.

  7. On the second question, regarding uncertainties, first of all we can look at the figure shown above and see the extent of the grey area prior to 1600, which certainly indicates considerable uncertainty. Then there is the actual title of the paper: “Northern Hemisphere Temperatures During the Past Millennium: Inferences, Uncertainties, and Limitations[my italics]. And here is an extract from the abstract –

    We focus not just on the reconstructions, but the uncertainties therein, and important caveats. Though expanded uncertainties prevent decisive conclusions for the period prior to AD 1400, our results suggest that the latter 20th century is anomalous in the context of at least the past millennium.

    So yes, I think they did give due consideration to the uncertainties involved.

    • Precisely the argument I was planning to make… with the addition that subsequent studies, using better analysis methods and more extensive data, have all fallen within the grey uncertainty range shown on the MBH 99 graph.

    • Those uncertainty ranges are essentially worthless–they don’t mean anything.

  8. “7. Was the version of PCA used by The Team selected post study in order to yield the shape they favored?”

    Isn’t it at least as likely that the method was the result of confirmation bias? That they used the method, liked the results they got, and decided to stick with it?

    By all means, if the evidence is there, make the accusation. For me, though, I’m always more comfortable with error, not mendacity, being the default assumption.

  9. Hi Tom,

    Good you’re getting this out of the way. I see that some people are still obsessively rehashing the rehashed hash. In just about every discussion on climate, sooner or later the hockey stick emerges and tender feelings get hurt. Oh, for a hug from mom! Barring that, I hope the people that insist on bringing it into discussions will consider therapy or perhaps medication.

  10. “Round and round, and round we go” (“Come and Go Blues”, Allman Brothers, 1973)

    All of this type of endless discussion of hockey stick legitimacy is…..
    IRRELEVANT.

    The reason that it is IRRELEVANT is because there are more fundamental level considerations that first need to be accounted for. It’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic: it doesn’t matter, you’ve got much bigger problems to deal with. If your tree ring chronologies are biased, because the procedures used to produce them from the raw ring series introduce such a bias, WHICH THEY DO, then it DOESN’T MATTER how you center your principal components, or where you cut the series off at the recent end, those things are likely overwhelmed by the biases in the chronologies from which the PC’s are derived.

    The fundamental fact is this: you CANNOT accurately estimate a long term trend from ANY of the existing sets of tree ring chronologies used in ANY existing studies, because they all potentially have this problem. I say potentially because you can’t actually know how strong the bias actually is. It’s not specific to Mann et al’s work, it applies to everyone’s reconstructions, and there are a bunch of them. That’s what my series on “Severe analytical problems in dendroclimatology” is all about. PLEASE READ IT IF YOU HAVE NOT.

    Everyone is FOCUSED ON THE WRONG ISSUE with this whole hockey stick discussion. But explaining this is like trying to persuade a mule to go where you want it to, when it gets its own ideas into its head, which is to say damn near impossible. This whole issue is so confused. Hopelessly confused I fear.

    • Thomas Fuller

      Bout time you showed up here. I’ve been waiting for you all day. Pray continue…

      Sent from my iPhone

      • People are going to have to read my dendro series and ask me questions there, it’s the only way I can proceed on this. I don’t have time to re-explain everything.

        I understand that I’m raising new issues that were not considered at the time the hockey stick controversy erupted, so people would tend to focus on all those issues. But that was then and this is now, and the set of issues is not the same.

      • Thomas Fuller

        Jim, can I ask if you followed McIntyre’s treatment of all this?

        Sent from my iPhone

      • Only the main parts, having to do with the principal components analysis and some other details. That stuff is all Mann-specific.

      • This represents the big difference between what he and I have done. I’m focused on general statistical and biological issues in tree ring analysis as a field whereas he’s focused on the issues arising from Mann et al.

        You have to remember, there are also whole bunches of tree ring workers working on various general topics and problems–that’s what scientists do. You just never hear about those people.

    • Jim –

      I skimmed some of your “Severe analytical problems in dendroclimatology” posts when you first wrote them and am now in the process of reading them more closely. As you can imagine, I have questions, mostly dealing with the implications.

      You’d like us to discuss this on your blog, which seems more than fair. Will you be willing to try explanations at the layman level? If so, I’ll start asking. (If it gets too annoying, let me know and I’ll leave off.)

      The one question I will ask here – and only because someone will undoubtedly bring it up – is this: The paper your series is based on was rejected at PNAS. Why then should we use it to discredit what others have done with tree rings?

      • I always try to explain things at layman level kch. That’s the main point of the blog.

        I anticipated your question before I even started the series. Bad papers often get accepted and good ones get rejected. It happens all the time unfortunately. The paper was rejected unfairly. That’s why I wrote the posts explaining the issue and then also put the necessary code up on Google Docs when somebody asked, so that people could examine it for themselves instead of just taking my word for it. So far however, it does not appear (based on the comments) that more than one person has done so, and the only reason that person did was because he was basically convinced that I had it all wrong and he was trying to show me up, which is why he asked for code in the first place.

        What I’ve discovered is that basically, most people aren’t really all that interested in exploring the issues themselves, for whatever reason.

        Remember this: Blog discussions are a poor and biased representation of the actual issues being addressed by scientists. Sometimes almost worthless.

      • Jim –

        “most people aren’t really all that interested in exploring the issues themselves, for whatever reason.”

        I’d put this down to comfort: few people are willing to have their worldviews challenged. Most, including me I suppose, are more interested in things that confirm their current thinking. As an aside, do you see this as part of the reason for avoidance of Loehle2009 on the part of the larger dendro community?

        “Blog discussions are a poor and biased representation of the actual issues being addressed by scientists. Sometimes almost worthless.”

        Still better than media reports, then. :)

      • Agreed kch. People are much more like mules than they like to admit. Challenging views bring discomfort. Scientists are much better than most however, because they (generally) are aware of how tricky things can be. They should be anyway, and most are in my experience.

        I should clarify also that a number of people have actually downloaded the code. How closely they’ve examined it, and the posts themselves, is unknown however.

      • Thanks Jim, I continue to find your explanations very valuable and a real service to public understanding of science. You may be frustrated at not getting more engagement thus far but I think that your audience will grow.

        FYI, I know that this is a wide “laundry list” of issues compared to the very focused and fundamental work you are doing, but I thought that you might find this item of interest:

        http://climateaudit.org/2009/10/07/yamal-and-the-divergence-problem/#comment-404909

  11. “6. Is tree ring data fit for purpose for establishing temperature records at that fine a level of detail?”

    Tree rings are among the very best of proxies in terms of their temporal resolution (1 year, and very accurately dated). The problems arise due to confounding effects on the LONG TERM trend (multi-decadal to multi-century) estimates. These effects arise from geometric and biological issues, combined with sub-optimal field sampling practices. There are historical roots to the latter.

    You cannot take a process (tree growth) that has more than one input (i.e. climate, tree age/size, internal biological processes), attempt to remove (“detrend”) the effects of one of those inputs (tree age/size) by statistical curve fitting, and know with confidence that you have in fact removed the effects of only that factor. You can’t do it, it’s mathematically impossible. This is one of the two fundamental problems. The second one has to do with the field sampling and is too complicated to get into here.

    • “You cannot take a process (tree growth) that has more than one input…”

      Of course you can. You put it all into a magical statistical black box (it’s math!), then hit the blend button, and twist the knobs and levers until you get what you want out. It’s called “science”. Knowledge of the internal processes is not required.

      It is humorous how the PC analysis kept changing. Do we have 3 or 5 PC’s now and which one should we say is temperature this time?

      The first thing everyone should look at it is the raw data series from each tree ring series. The only response you can have is “Well this is an effing disastrous mess”. I have little to no faith they can calibrate tree rings accurately beyond the serious confounding factors involved.

      McIntyre posted the “most important tree on earth” that somehow almost single handedly tracks global temperatures from Siberia. One of the things he did that most people don’t understand well is that he examined the weightings of each tree ring series after the numerical black magic and asked does this really make sense?

      There just isn’t sufficient data to get a good read on temperatures through tree rings. The ability to do so was overstated.

      • This is way over-stated.

        The raw data series themselves are not “disastrous messes”. That’s not where the problem lies, short of the issues surrounding age structures and field sampling, but that’s not what you are referring to. Tree rings *do* respond to the environment, and if you improve on existing methodological problems you will generate useful information, because there is in fact a signal in there. But the fixes are not simple, and in at least one important case, only partial. But they are improvements, which is what we are after in the end. We don’t just throw our hands up and say it’s hopeless and give up on it.

      • I’m not arguing there a lot of honest people out there trying hard, and I’m not saying it’s a useless exercise.

        What I am saying is the solid line HS graph put out by the IPCC was misleading on a number of levels. When legitimate challenges were made, the response was to demonize the opposition, obfuscate the problems and deflect the criticism.

        The confidence level placed on the HS graph shape (the “unprecedented” result) was inappropriate. They downplayed the uncertainty for political reasons. They still do.

        It should be pointed out that “they” for the most part don’t include most climate scientists (except Mann who routinely overstates results). “They” are the activists and media who overstate the confidence levels. I do fault the climate scientists for sitting on their hands and not correcting the overstatements though.

  12. In retrospect I probably shouldn’t have posted this when I did. I wrote it in a hurry, didn’t even check my own book (don’t have it with me) and haven’t been able to participate in the conversation.

    I really appreciate the fact that we’ve maintained a fairly civil tone throughout this thread. Maybe I should stay out of more discussions.

  13. This abuse of the term “The Team” has to stop however. What “Team”??? Where? Who? Based on what definition exactly? It’s never stated.

    • Hi Jim,

      The Hockey Team is a term chosen by the blogging team at Real Climate to describe the authors of MBH 98, the blogging team itself, and a few other advocates of the paper’s importance to policy discussions.

      It’s the name they chose for themselves. If I had the book in front of me I could tell you who exactly was on it and when they coined the phrase.

      • re: “Hockey Team”

        It seems to have originated with Michael Mann and Gavin Schmidt in 2005, refer to all proxy reconstructions which support a “Hockey Stick” (per Mann & Schmidt at link below):

        Mann and Scmidt at Real Climate, January 27, 2005

        [emphasis added]


        “…The validity of the so-called “Hockey Stick” can, of course, neither rest on the strength of MBH98, nor any one reconstruction or model simulation result alone. Rather, as demonstrated in IPCC(2001) [see this comparison here] and numerous additional studies since, it is what is perhaps more aptly termed the “Hockey Team”–that is, the multiple independent reconstructions and model simulations that now indicate essentially the same pattern of hemispheric mean temperature variation in past centuries, that support a “Hockey Stick” description of past temperature changes….”

        Steve McIntyre linked to that post as what he believed to be the first usage of “Hockey Team” in this context:

        The Origin of the [Term] “Hockey Team” March 6, 2006

      • Of course it’s a loose usage, since “Hockey Team” could be taken (often is) as referring to the scientists themselves, those propounding or endorsing such “Hockey Stick” temperature reconstructions. Still, the main point is that Mann and Schmidt seem to have introduced the term, for better or worse.

      • Thanks Skiphill. I remember that RC piece now that you remind me of it

        It would nevertheless be much better if people just referred to particular people or works or statements instead of using that term, especially since even the original specificity of the term is vague. [I do not necessarily agree with that statement by Mann and Schmidt. In fact, I do not agree with it, for more than one reason, not the In fact I do not agree with much of what Mann says on this whole topic in general.]

    • Jim,
      If you are unaware of the history of the origins of “the team”, how can you possibly think you are up to speed?

      • What, you think understanding the origin of that term has any bearing on understanding the scientific issues involved here????? Good God man get a clue.

      • I did not mean to suggest that a scientist such a Jim Bouldin need concern himself with all the vicissitudes of “blog war science” any more than I pretend to be able to judge the scientific issues myself (I’m not a scientist). I was merely providing some context since the question of the term’s origin and usage had come up.

        As I try to mention periodically (to avoid any unwarranted pretension), I am only a “Joe Citizen” trying to make sense of the climate wars in relation to public policy and citizenship, i.e., who should I believe, what policies should I support or oppose etc.

        Jim, I greatly appreciate your own blog and especially your series on analytic methods in dendro. I don’t comment there since I don’t have anything very scientific to add, but I try to learn more about what I should know.

      • Skiphill I wasn’t referring to you there. I appreciate your comment and in fact had just written a comment to say exactly that but accidentally deleted the whole thing and don’t have time to re-write it. I was talking to hunter there.

  14. Just to be clear, the last statement and link, beginning “Steve McIntyre linked….” is NOT from the Real Climate article but is my own addendum — sorry I forgot to end the

  15. One last time, sorry I’m on a device not my own and the keyboard is giving me trouble (I touch type fast and it can get messy with an unfamiliar keyboard)….. I was trying to emphasize that I did not end the blockquote from RealClimate, which is why my own sentence beginning “Steve McIntyre linked….” appears in italics and indented as though it might be part of the preceding passage, when it is not. Hope that’s clear now, or maybe I can just trouble our moderator to fix my first post and eliminate the others (sorry Tom).

  16. You know, as I look at the extensive coverage of the new Marcott study I see one paper after another interviewing people like Gavin Schmidt, Katharine Hayhoe, and… Michael Mann. Further, in marked contrast to the past, I don’t see them talking to McIntyre, Pielke, Monckton, Spencer, Christy, or any of the other usual sources of doubt. I’d have expected at least Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and the rest of the ‘conservative’ press to be trotting out the ‘skeptics’ to deny everything… but thus far I haven’t found any examples.

    At which point I have to wonder if the ‘debate’ really matters any more. It seems clear that the ‘skeptics’ have lost the media, and thus the general public. They ‘cried wolf’ one too many times. Made too many accusations that proved to be false. The mainstream media seems to want nothing to do with them and even their ideological allies are backing off. Mann is being widely described as a groundbreaking scientist who was attacked to create doubt about the science where none should exist. Clearly the tide has turned on that story.

    Further, it seems to me that most of the human race will be living in areas where unsubsidized solar is at ‘grid parity’ with subsidized fossil fuel power by the end of 2015. Indeed, if you compare solar over its lifetime to the rising future (rather than current) price of fossil fuel we already have been for several years. The changeover to solar power has already begun and will only increase in intensity each year going forward until by 2020 it should be obvious that the era of fossil fuel power is ending.

    In short, there is nothing to fight about any more. Sure, there will be much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the ‘skeptics’ as their theories about the evil science conspiracy are increasingly ignored and the percentage of the public confused about the science dwindles… but the large scale economic and social struggle has ended. We now only have to wait to see how much damage was done by the delays. Hopefully we get human emissions under control well before hitting 560 ppm and CO2 and methane release from permafrost and the oceans won’t be too bad. We’re probably still facing centuries of wild change, but if we’re lucky it could still be predominantly manageable.

    • CBD, we live on separate planets.

      ‘Media’ never interviewed McIntyre, Monckton, Pielke, Spencer or Christy. Individual journalists or bloggers might have talked with them occasionally. The major media never wanted much to do with them and after Revkin got the horse’s head in his bed, they wanted it even less.

      The tide has turned? Tell Europe’s carbon trading team. Tell China. Tell the UK’s new energy minister. Tell Canada’s prime minister. Hell, tell Lisa Jackson.

      As for stealing my line in 2009 about crying wolf too often, see my first sentence. And double it. We live in separate universes.

      I write reports on solar power. It will be at grid parity counting subsidies for about 30% of those living in developed countries by 2015. The average income for a solar roof owner in the developed world is $150 thousand per family. Separate realities. I am the biggest fan of the potential of solar power on this planet. You’re welcome to visit any time.

      If there is nothing to fight about, why are you fighting? More like whistling past the graveyard. Why are you picking fights? Lewandowsky calling people conspiracy theorists, Nuccitelli gaming online surveys–why persist in the failed provocations a la Anderegg, Prall et al, John Mashey, etc.? If there is nothing to fight about, why is The Team continually picking fights?

    • Nice press release. Classic case of projecting.

      Pretty much explains why the environment and global warming consistently rank dead last in voter’s concerns. If this is what winning looks like, I’d sure hate to see losing.

  17. Tom,
    Steven Pearl indeed! So now, the argument against human CO2 emissions is that without them we would be on a long, slow slide to glaciation. How’s that for provocative.

    • That’s the only line Steve Pearl used in his act that was clean enough to quote. And when you understand the point they’re trying to make would you please explain it to me? Feel free to use words of one syllable or less… Cuz I don’t get it.

  18. It’s occurring to me from this thread that the only way to fully put all of these various paleoclimate technicalities and their various implications, into a context that allows people to understand which are relatively more and less critical to climatic reconstructions than others, is to write a book, or at the least, a very extensive and thorough review. This would be a serious undertaking, but it does badly need to happen. There is way too much confusion on these topics, even amongst scientists. The poor general public doesn’t stand a chance.

  19. Why is there always an alarmist trotting out the false “heavily subsidized fossil fuels” meme and then pretending that “green energy” is currently economically viable?

    Those with green energy programs subsidize the producers of green energy, those with fossil fuel subsidies financially support consumption while taxing producers of fossil fuel.

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