The skeptics case?

[This was a draft from 2012. I never really finished it, but I’ve decided I kinda like the invective, so it can go out now.]

The Skeptics Case is by some chap called “Dr David M.W. Evans” posted at WUWT (though it seems he touted it around; there’s a version at von Mises, too. In my own categorisation of “skeptics”, which runs roughly like:

1. stark staring bonkers – don’t even believe in the greenhouse effect at all
2. staring bonkers – don’t believe the CO2 rise is genuine
3. bonkers – don’t believe the CO2 rise is anthropogenic
4. unthinking – don’t believe the observed temperature rise is genuine
5a. just about scientifically valid “skepticism” – believe the basic radiative forcing from CO2, but think the feedbacks are small or negative
5b. just about scientifically valid “skepticism” – don’t believe the observed temperature rise is anthropogenic
6. sane – accept the std.ipcc view

he gets about a 4.5, or maybe a 5a (this, in turn, gets him some stick from the wild-eyed zealots in the comments, but only very mild stick of course, because they are very reluctant to go for anyone on “their side”).

I can’t resist throwing in this:

If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.

which DA attributes to Harlan Ellison. It is WUWT to a tee.

Anyway, enough preamble, on with the show. What exactly is “The skeptics case”? It seems to come in 4 parts:

Air Temperatures

One of the earliest and most important predictions was presented to the US Congress in 1988 by Dr James Hansen, the “father of global warming”… Hansen’s climate model clearly exaggerated future temperature rises.

To which the obvious answer is: well yes, it was indeed one of the earliest predictions. We don’t judge the quality of a modern jet by carefully examining the Wright brother’s aircraft; that would be dishonest.

But Evans’s plot above is even more dishonest that that. Compare it to


Suddenly, Hansen’s projections don’t look so bad, do they? They do the same trick with IPCC ’90, too.

Ocean Temperatures

This one is more straightforward: Evans artificially discards all data before 2004, and then (having produced a meaninglessly short time series) proceed to say meaningless things about it.

What is his excuse for doing this? That ARGO starts in 2004, and before ARGO, no ocean data is good enough.

[At this point I got bored and stopped. Looking back from 2017, that seems like a wise decision.]

The IPCC May Have Outlived its Usefulness?

So says La Curry. She is only two years behind the times. Or maybe a year and a half. To be fair, that is only the headline. But the rest of the content is what you’d expect from a shark-jumper. I cant really be bothered to analyse it, unless anyone out there is unable to see the flaws for themselves.

Sea ice pic

I used to like the IJIS sea ice pic for comparing this year’s progress. And them AMSR went down (I hope I’ve got that right, I really wasn’t paying attention) and they stopped updating. But C points me to

which, while not so pretty, is a good substitute. That comes from which has others.

This post was mostly for me to link to the pic for my own convenience. But we could also look at it… too early to tell, but we seem to be bumping along at the bottom of the range at the moment. Time will tell.

Wegman plagiarism again

Retraction Watch have an article up about the Wegman plagiarism stuff (also covered by Eli).

GMU aren’t making the full report public, though, doubtless to protect the guilty (which I think largely means the shoddiness of the report). There is an oddity in what they have released:

As sanction, Professor Wegman has been asked to apologize to the journal involved, while retracting the article; and I am placing an official letter of reprimand in his file

How can Wegman retract the article? It was retracted by the editors some time ago, on the grounds of plagiarism.

Don’t forget, though, that Wegman plagiarised, but there is worse.


* GMU still paralyzed; Wegman, Rapp still paranoid – DSB
* GMU contradictory decisions on Wegman: Plagiarism in CSDA, but not in 2006 congressional report

So, is it a fake?

Not to spoil the surprise, the answer is: I dunno, but the Arbiter is [was] bored.

This is a follow-up to the Heartland Leak stuff, which ended up posted in various places but (apparently most notably) DeSmogBlog. Heartland have (I think; perhaps only implicitly) admitted to all of them, except the Climate Strategy which they declare to be faked.

Various people have done various bits of textual analysis, which may or may not have been convincing to them, but I can’t see anything that convinces one way or another. Heartland still says its fake, DeSmog says “The DeSmogBlog has no evidence supporting Heartland’s claim that the Strategic document is fake” – which isn’t exactly strong evidence for its genuineness (update: but they have now bumped that up to Evaluation shows “Faked” Heartland Climate Strategy Memo is Authentic). It looks like their stern resolve to expose The Truth is going to be tested: Heartland are sending out legal-looking emails (and possibly letters too; there is some suggestion that their legalese isn’t very good, but their intent is clear). Would Heartland really want to fight this through the courts? Imagine the dialogue:

H: this memo is a fake! You can tell it is, it says things we’d never do, like we’re anti-climate.
D: of course you’re anti-climate. Everyone knows that. Look at this, and this, and…

And so on. Would that play well? Dunno. But, probably H have no choice: having called it a fake, they have to act like it is.

Meanwhile, no-one has questioned John Mashey’s stuff, and that may in the end be more important.

[Update: JA has changed his mind. Its now exciting, and PG is a complete and utter twat of the highest order. The Watties are having fun with PG running the AGU ethics committee.]

[Update: so, PG leaked it, but I still haven’t seen anything definitive on whether its a fake or not.]


* Fakeducation For Years From Heartland
* WtD
* Keep your eye on the ball says Brian.
* A Heartland Institute statement raises questions about “climate strategy” memo’s origin
* WtD
* Nature says he was naughty, but have the grace to wonder In a much-quoted Editorial in March 2010 (Nature 464, 141; 2010), this publication urged researchers to acknowledge that they are involved in a street fight over the communication of climate science. So would it now be hypocritical to condemn Peter Gleick for fighting dirty?
* What people think about the Heartland leaks


Interesting leaked docs fro the Heartland folk: see DeSmogBlog.

[Update: in all fairness, I should point out that Heartland are currently claiming that some of the documents are fake. The truth or otherwise of this is yet to be determined. See follow-up.]

From their highlights,

funding goes primarily to Craig Idso ($11,600 per month), Fred Singer ($5,000 per month, plus expenses), Robert Carter ($1,667 per month), and a number of other individuals… We have also pledged to help raise around $90,000 in 2012 for Anthony Watts to help him create a new website to track temperature station data.

Should be fun. I haven’t read the things yet. There is also John Mashey’s work trying to tease apart SEPP’s finances.

Ah, now from Confidential Memo: 2012 Heartland Climate Strategy this bit is horrible:

effort will focus on providing curriculum that shows that the topic of climate change is controversial and uncertain – two key points that are effective at dissuading teachers from teaching science

which I think really shows the Heartland folk in their true light: their aim is to prevent people being taught science.

WTD has an interesting admission:

At present we sponsor the NIPCC to undermine the official United Nation’s IPCC reports

That isn’t quite what they say about themselves; they think they are an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change. But I think their Heartland paymasters are rather more honest.

Update: this is now quite widely covered, and made slashdot and El Rego. Over at slashdot, someone makes a point that I’d wondered about myself Just to point out that the real incriminating evidence comes from the “2012 Climate Strategy” document that could be falsified. The other documents, like the budget, look pretty legit but the document you are citing is a page and a half. Wouldn’t take much for me, someone who is ultra opposed to the Heartland Institute, to dream that up in a short afternoon with a six pack. I’m poking through the rest of them and am not finding the same sort of evidence. So it’s possible that someone could have gotten their hands on a few legit documents (like the budget) and created this one and added it to the group.

Incidentally, looking through the fundraising doc throws up some humour:

Bruno Behrend, hired in January 2010 to fundraise on school reform, was unsuccessful in doing so in 2011. He was moved to part-time and then to volunteer status by the end of the year. He continues to speak at public events and talk to donors, but we do not expect him to be sufficiently successful to return to paid status in 2012.

A reader writes:

I also like how carefully crafted Bast’s (rather empty) statement about funding was: “no more than 5% of total budget from a single corporate entity”. No mention that 20% came from a single individual with as-yet-unknown ties, and no mention of the foundation+companies within sectors…


* DeepClimate
* The dead are allowed to vote – on the Board of Directors of a denialist, tax-supported charity – John Mashey, via RR.

Amerika headed for theocracy?

This is something I wonder about off-an-on; with Happy Birthday, Charles! The Phytophactor has now put clearly the “doom” version:

There was a time in this country when policy was debated, but then politicians found out it was easier to deny the science rather than debate policy, and now the people who do the science are being demonized. If these ideologues have their way the USA will fall even further under the sway of fundamentalist theocrats, and thus our society will begin to converge on that of Islamic countries charging forward into the past, the distant past, the Dark Ages, at a time when fewer and fewer realize that embracing science is one of the few avenues to maintaining any type of competitive advantage internationally.

It does seem to me that the advantages of science are long-term, and that politicians (and not just politicians) find more advantage in denying science short-term (and this includes the odd folk over in WUWT-land, who actually think they are doing Blog Science, so are not anti-science in principle, indeed they think – possibly even honestly, some of them – that they are defending science. But they are deluded). Without long-sighted people in power / authority, I can’t really see why the long-term stuff should win out.


* Free speech and academic freedom
* Bronte Capital takes hope from the death of LightSquared