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.

Tol vs Curry

lasso KK reports on the Tol vs Curry fight. Tol is complaining that Curry is doing her usual: posting about septic junk and then saying “oh but I’m just asking”. Tol may have long hair but, unlike Curry, he isn’t a bozo, or irresponsible (he did call me rude things in an email once, but I forgive him).

[Update: incidentally, there is an interesting exchange between KK and RP Jr (!) in the comments:

KK> Do you assign lousy, error-riddled textbooks for your class to read?
RP> Yes, absolutely. The Skeptical Environmentalist was a core reading…

It is interesting only because that was a silly question from KK, and a failure-to-think response from RP (or rather, a point-scoring response). The point is, within a managed class structure with someone guiding the discussion, it is fine to discuss flawed texts, for the reason given: it encourages critical thinking. That wasn’t what Curry was doing. There was no guidance at the start, nor does she guide the subsequence discussion.

Also, Gavin’s point]

[Updated again: this turned in the comments into McShane and Wyner and the “Lasso” method. So I’ve added a pic of Lasso being a bit crap, from Gavin et al.’s reply.]


* Question of the Week; from which “There’s no scientific evidence”
* Bart’s view

BEST is fun

When I said BEST is boring I was primarily thinking of the science. I’m not too surprised to find that many other people aren’t. For such folk, there is much fun to be had, so I suppose I’ll join in too.

I was going to take the piss out of Watts (h/t KK) for Nature pans BEST and Muller PR antics, prints letter from Dr. Singer, which he wrote in response to a Nature editorial that said

Global warming is really happening — really. There was no conspiracy or cover-up. Peer review did not fail and the scientists who have spent decades working out the best way to handle and process data turned out to know how to handle and process data after all.

but Watts is dull, so lets take the piss out of Curry instead.

The next bit is really wacky, and apparently evolving as we speak. So its a good idea to start off with some science – Tamino has an analysis of the analysis of the last 10 years of the BEST data. Since that data is essentially the same as everyone else’s (as I thought we had now agreed we all knew from the beginning 🙂 so inevitably it shows the same upward trend (once you remove the obvious broken data; and really, it is obvious, and Tamino even finds the error stats to show it).

Proceeding, again h/t to KK for his A Climate Soap Opera. Which is what it is, so don’t read on if you want edification. The Mail on Sunday, which is full of lies, and David Rose, who is full of lies [see end – W], run a story claiming the familiar GW-has-stopped meme can be seen in the BEST data – and they quote the GWPF, who are also full of lies. The GW-has-stopped meme has been around for a while, has been debunked many a time, and the Tamino link above debunks it once again. All very dull, but then Rose gets Curry to say some dumb things, or possibly he just says “wouldn’t you say X”, and Curry says “yes” (apparently this is the way journos get people to give them the quotes they want). We could do Kremlinology over who really said what, but happily Curry says on her blog “In David Rose’s article, the direct quotes attributed to me are correct”. Which is nice, so we know that ‘There is no scientific basis for saying that warming hasn’t stopped,’ she said. ‘To say that there is detracts from the credibility of the data, which is very unfortunate.’ is direct from her. As is As for the graph disseminated to the media, she said: ‘This is “hide the decline” stuff. Our data show the pause, just as the other sets of data do. Muller is hiding the decline.. And as you’ve all read Taminos article, above, we know that Curry is talking drivel.

Why is Curry doing this? Because the only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about. And Curry, despite being a BEST team member, was invisible. She is direct about this: “I was contacted by a few journos last week, I made my points, but they were interested in the implications for trend analysis, UHI effect, station quality. I made the point that these were complicated issues, and that I regarded the BEST papers (which were as yet unpublished) to be the first of many analyses on these topics using the new data set. This wasn’t what the journos found interesting, and I don’t think any of my quotes on this made it into print.” And I think she got bored and lonely on the sidelines, and decided she had to say something outrageous in order to get her piece of the action.

[Update: Curry has now resorted to redefining the language in a doomed attempt to rewrite her past nonsense into a favourable light. Tamino in understandably unimpressed]

[2013 update: the link I put in to “” no longer works (I hate it that ScienceBlogs broke a pile of old links, they should know better). The internet archive tells me that the state when I wrote it was: so you can see what I intended.]


* Nick Stokes noticed that the “bad” month only has Antarctic stations in it.
* Quark Soup

Roger down the Curry hole?

RP Jr is doing weird stuff – well, he’s doing what he’s done before: misunderstanding the science, in a very fundamental way, and then arguing tendentiously in a desperate attempt to throw enough confusion in the air to hide his original error. JA has the details.

Come on RP: just say sorry and admit your mistake. And stick to policy in future, which you’re good at.

Meanwhile, speaking of “policy”, there is mt on Dr. Charles Monnett, the fellow who had the misfortune to be footnoted by Al Gore on the polar bear question. That was the kind of thing you expected (and which happened) under Bush. Why is this happening under Obama?

[Update: And Keith Kloor has good news, in a sense, though the effort in individual conversion looks rather high.]

Who was that masked man?


Scenes from a ski-ing holiday to Les Deux alpes a few years back. This is La Roche de la Muzelle, which I think is gorgeous. Maybe I’ll get to climb it one day. Summitpost says it is PD / II (though not in winter) and the route to it goes over that beautiful roman bridge.

dscn4258-self dscn4264-our-hero

These are the reasons I was digging around in old pix: at the after rowing curry Andy said he could find a pic of me with pony tail on my wiki page, but it has gone. And I said, aha, but I have far better than that. Note that the beret is a Pyrennean one.

dscn4297-path dscn4300-small-purple-flowers dscn4301-grey-trees

And in a token bit of climate don’t miss The good Baron taking the piss out of… well, can you guess who? Other stuff: Boundary run half marathon and Norwich head.

And also: M pointed this out before christmas, and I’ve kept it in a tab ever since, but I think it is time to confess that it isn’t getting its own post: some guy called Claes Johnson wondering rather plaintively Why are Skeptics Skeptical to Other Skeptics? Well, old fruit, there are two rather obvious answers: (a) they are all chasing the same pot of fame and moment-in-the-limelight, so they need to tread on each others heads to climb upwards – it isn’t as if they are actually building a scientific edifice; and (b) somewhat related to that last point, the only thing the septics agree on is that they hate Al Gore and climate science; that whether the earth is warming, or not, a little, or a lot, whether it might be good, or bad, they all agree that we should do nothing about it; and that is the only thing they agree on.

Just a teensy tiny bit more Curry. But not much.

curry Via Baron von Monckhofen an interesting video, though I think it has been doing the rounds for a while now.

[Update: While I’m on the silly people, there is a nice takedown of the Jonny Ball nonsense by Deltoid. Which features the familiar elements: ridiculous claims which fall apart under the flimsiest examination, but which are nonetheless repeated by the std.septics.

And for something more sensible: Bart goes where I tend not to and discusses biodiversity.

Oh dear. But my blog-reading has now got as far as Tamino, who provides a wonderful example of US political stupidity (see-also the Phytophactor). mt’s example isn’t much better.

Oh dear. And Tim Worstall has an all-too-plausible pice about the possible Triumph of insanity of “gender neutrality” in insurance / pensions. As far as I can tell, anytime you ask a court to rule on issues like this they f*ck it up because lawyers can’t understand maths or science. Or possibly because they have a perverse incentive to make ridiculous judgements in order to foment more business.]

[More update: JB points me (oh thanks) to more nonsense from Curry which is really just FUD. But don’t miss her witty replies to Gavin in the comments, where he makes substantive points and Curry’s only answer is “I’ll take lazy and prejudiced over dishonest, if you insist”. Which is indeed lazy and dishonest of her.]

Go Judy

I gave up watching the Curry train-wreck a while ago, but someone pushed this gem my way, and I can’t resist:

When I make a public statement about what a scientist does or does not know, I make a point of actually reading what that scientist has to say on the subject, rather than what other people say about that scientist on blogs [1]

Curry doesn’t even really read her own papers let alone have a clue about anyone else’s.

Link dump: Safecracking for the computer scientist will repay your time, if such things interest you.


* Judy Curry continues her crazy aunt act – Eli in October 2010.
* [1] RealClimate comment by Curry.

Can’t think of any more amusing Curry jokes

Not that any of the existing ones are that good, either. Anyway: I slagged off her post on attribution a while ago, and then forgot (or couldn’t be bothered) to slag off the nonsense she wrote about uncertainty (although my Judith Curry is now blogging, which is probably a good thing, because now instead of nitpicking other people’s blogs she is now attempting to say what she thinks. Unfortunately this results in some very strange things is becoming every more clearly correct. Having to make a coherent argument is quite hard; Curry needs someone to read her stuff before she posts it). Anyway James (who can do the probability stuff better than me, and is certainly more authoritative than me or Curry on whether it makes sense) is unimpressed, and conveniently points to mt quite forthright.

But since I’m here, I wanted to talk about Heresy and the creation of monsters wherein Curry talks about Climate Heretic: Judith Curry Turns on Her Colleagues which plaintively asks Why can’t we have a civil conversation about climate? And the answer, at least in Curry’s case, is that she often doesn’t know what she is talking about (see the above) but has frequently seen fit to say it in various blog comments, and subsequently failed to apologise for her errors. The ones that stick in my mind is Currygate and her denigration of DC’s charges of plagiarism against Wegman, for which she now looks very stupid (there are far more, those might not even be the most exciting, but they are the ones I can remember). It is very difficult to have a “civil conversation” if people have, effectively, no honour – if they feel able to make false statements and then run away from them. In fact this is very much a divide between the “skeptic” and “science” blogs – all the “science” ones I know of, and bother read, make an effort to be accurate and correct errors.

So, to conclude: of course Curry is happy to attack and discuss the SciAm article – because that article has completely missed the point of the criticism of her. Whether Curry has, and is evading it, or it has just passed her by, I don’t know.

[I had hped not to have to say this: but this and its comments is not the place for PA’s on Curry]


* Attribution errors
* Round in circles with Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice?
* Currygate, part 3: the key papers exposed
*(S)He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense
* Nice comment at RC
* Judith Curry goes from building bridges to burning them
* And even “Jugular” Zorita
* apsmith
* Gf thinks I’m too kind to Curry / SciAm

Attribution errors

Judith Curry is now blogging, which is probably a good thing, because now instead of nitpicking other people’s blogs she is now attempting to say what she thinks. Unfortunately this results in some very strange things. In doubt she appears to believe that, over the next century, natural variablity is as likely to dominate as anthro forcing, and that uncertainty about this is as big as the two put together. Bart can’t make sense of that eany more than I can. She doesn’t seem to make any attempt to tie her opinion to published research, either.

But this post is about her take on the Pakistan floods. Passing lightly over her pointless ignorant snarking about the IPCC (as so often, wiki does it better) we come to her

Apart from the issue of whether or not we can attribute a portion of a particular extreme weather event to global warming (this will be the topic of a future post), exactly what is the point of even trying to do so? Suppose for the sake of argument that an attribution study determined that 5% of Pakistan’s floodwaters could be attributed to global warming. Well, 95% of a catastrophe is usually still a catastrophe, unless that 5% was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Not only is the attribution exercise pointless in our opinion, but it is actually counterproductive in that it distracts from the reality at hand and diverts the efforts of the meteorological and climate communities from actually doing something that might be helpful

mt gets part of the answer: that the idea that you attribute 5% of the thing is rather odd, and a very linear-thinking type approach.

Incidentally, I shouldn’t blame all these errors on Curry. Her co-author Webster makes his share of mistakes, such as

I find it frustrating to read statements (e.g., Trenberth) that attribute every catastrophe to climate change

Well, yes you would find it frustrating if you believed that, the problem is it isn’t what Trenberth said: the piece that Webster himself has just written starts with the usual anodyne quotes from the usual people, including “Kevin Trenberth has gone further, to state: What we can say is that certain events would have been extremely unlikely to have occurred without global warming, and that includes the Russian heat wave and wildfires, and Pakistan, Chinese and Indian floods.

But the point I actually wanted to make was that exactly what is the point of even trying to do so? is a strange question, easily answered. The point is that while we have a fairly good idea that the temperature will go up, and sea levels will rise, and weather patterns will change, we have much less idea about what the costs of climate change will be. Many people can be heard to assert that climate change will even be positive. So, evidence of costs would be valuable for economic discussions of our possible responses. So, say (hypothetically) knowing that 1 oC temperature rise would make such floods 50% more likely (*not* that 50% of the flood was caused by a 1 oC temperature rise) would be valuable information. That doesn’t seem to be a very difficult point to understand; I’m surprised that neither Curry nor Webster managed to think of it.

[Update: just to prove that there is a way back, I point out that Monbiot (who I’ve been fairly hard on before) managed a pretty decent column on Are the climate change sceptics with no evidence just naturally gullible?

Better still, read Inferno: To put two million square miles of arctic sea ice into perspective, imagine two million square miles of arctic ocean covered in ice.]

See also

* Curry jumps the shark
* Another token
* mt on Curry

Round in circles with Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice?

Accelerated warming of the Southern Ocean and its impacts on the hydrological cycle and sea ice? refers, as does Curry’s comments in the comments. I suspect we’re now at the going-round-in-circles stage, but it is probably worth one more spin.

Curry begins rather gracelessly:

William, all of these issues were discussed ad nauseum over at WUWT, on three threads. These are certainly valid questions, but not particularly interesting ones IMO, which is why I was not motivated to answer them until repeatedly queried (including email) about them.

The WUWT thread(s) are sprawling and generally far from the point, and (when I last looked) failed to cover the important issues in any meanginful or focussed way. And contrary to the impression that Curry is giving, I certainly wasn’t badgering her by email.

Below, I’ve put in Curry’s comment, which is essentially my original bullet-listed “major errors” together with her replies. Note that the “bullet-list” isn’t in the original post: I only added that in the comments when Curry, well, pretty well wouldn’t read the post and reply; it needed to be condensed to that before she would reply. Or, put another way, there is more in the original post that she hasn’t replied to (there is an entire section “Looking at the paper – models” that she has ignored). And I don’t think her replies below are substantive: instead they are evasive. In a sense this is what you’d expect: she is busy, the paper has been published, she can’t afford to admit to any real flaws in it.

1) you use data from 1950-1978 that is clearly meaningless.

Reread the 2nd para of the introduction. The problem with the data is acknowledged. The data from 1950-1978 is not meaningless. There is data in the region during these periods. Missing data in the two SST data sets is filled in by an EOF analysis. The two different SST analyses give reasonable agreement in the period post 1950 (they diverge sharply prior to 1950). Our analysis of the trend is broadly consistent with other assessments of the temperature trend that are cited in the introduction.

This won’t do. It is no good waffling about the EOF analysis filling in the data; it is absolutely clear from the zonal averge plots that WE provides (which in turn simply reflect what everyone, including Curry, knows full well) that before 1978 the data isn’t usable over large regions.

2) this data contaminates the entire (obs) analysis.

The obs analysis is a minor part of the paper, intended to compare with the model simulations that were the main source of data used in the analysis. The whole issue of filling in missing ocean obs using an EOS analysis is definitely troublesome, particularly prior to 1950. In fact it makes me really queasy about the “unequivocal” confidence of the IPCC. William, let me know if you are prepared to throw out both the baby and the bath water on this one.

This is now attack-as-defence: yes, her analysis may well be junk, but in that case so is the IPCC’s, ha ha. Again, this won’t do. The issue is her paper (though if anyone wants to raise the IPCC temperature records, I’m happy to do so, but not here: it is a red herring). Calling the obs analysis a “minor part” of the paper is an evasion, and notice how she has skipped the essential point: does she agree that the missing data contaminates the entire analysis? We don’t know because she won’t say. I think that Curry is not very familiar with EOF analysis, so genuinely doesn’t know the answer. Which would be fair enough, had she simply answered “don’t know”.

3) the hypothesis that you put forward is not novel.

We cite the Zhang 2007 paper that describes a different mechanism that is not inconsistent with ours, but does not include the atmospheric hydrological cycle. I probably read the Manabe et al. paper back in the 1990’s, but didn’t recall it as we were writing this paper. Did any of you (other than Grumbine) actually read the Manabe paper? There is one statement in the Manabe paper that is relevant: ” the reduction in surface salinity resulting from the increase of freshwater supply at the oceanic surface is mainly responsible for the weaker convective activity in the G integration.” This statement is made in a paragraph discussing the deep ocean convection in the Southern Ocean. Manabe doesn’t discuss the increasing sea ice extent in this context. Grumbine connected the dots in the Manabe et al. paper and came up with generally the same idea we did (we came up with the idea via a different route), and describes it in a half sentence. So, our hypothesis is not put forward per se in the Manabe et al. paper. I occasionally check in at Grumbine’s site, didn’t spot his post on the Antarctic sea ice. Note, the Zhang paper did not cite the Manabe paper either; it just doesn’t say much about the Antarctic sea ice.

Since I’ve crit her above for failing to say don’t-know when appropriate: no, I haven’t read the Manabe paper properly. I think her defence, above, is possible but rather weak, and amounts to half admitting the criticism (They mention increasing snowfall in the context of oceanic deep convection but not in the context of sea ice in a comment lower down pretty well admits it). Eli is less kind. In way, I don’t care too much about this issue, as it has no impact on the correctness of the results: it is just part of the general malaise of carelessness.

[Update: I really should ahve read the paper rather than taking Curry’s word for the contents. This is yet another example of her carelessness. As Lazar points out in the comments there is far more. The claim for novelty in LC looks very weak indeed now -W]

4) you could have used an extra decades worth of obs data.

The purpose of the obs data was to demonstrate the consistency of the 20th century climate model simulations with the observations. Data from 2000-2010 would not have helped here, since the AR4 climate model simulations do not extend past 2000.

This is evasion / wrong. Using 2000-2010 would have given an extra decades worth of good observations. The C20C simulations end in 2000, of course, but patching them onto the 21st century simulations is quite reasonable.

5) there is no justification for the EOF analysis.

EOF analysis is basically a filtering technique. You can conduct an analysis with the original data, or with filtered data. The latter can clarify the signal. In this particular paper, the EOF analysis didn’t filter all that much. If the study had been conducted with the original data, it would have been more easily understood by a broader audience. The use of EOFs arguably complicated the analysis, but did not in any way compromise the analysis. Jiping Liu prefers to use EOF analysis; I do not. I think I’ve convinced him not to use the EOFs in future papers unless there is a clear advantage that outweighs the addition of the complexity.

I think what this is saying is that yes, using the EOFs was a mistake, so that is good. I could have used a better word than “justified”, or I could have explained it better. What I meant was that there was no justification in the paper for using EOFs. It is just done, with absolutely no hint as to why it is a good idea. Had they attempted to write down why it was a good idea, they might have realised that actually it wasn’t. Also, I don’t think that “You can conduct an analysis with the original data, or with filtered data” is correct here. EOF was their data-reduction technique. They could, instead, have used take-the-trends as their technique. But either way, you can’t use the original data, because (obviously) there is too much of it. You always need some data reduction. Take-the-trends would have the advantage of not corrupting the rest of the field.