Forecasting Guru Announces: "no scientific basis for forecasting climate"

It has been an interesting couple of days. Today yet another scientist has come forward with a press release saying that not only did their audit of IPCC forecasting procedures and found that they “violated 72 scientific principles of forecasting”, but that “The models were not intended as forecasting models and they have not been validated for that purpose.” This organization should know, they certify forecasters for many disciplines and in conjunction with John Hopkins University if Washington, DC, offer a Certificate of Forecasting Practice. The story below originally appeared in the blog of Australian Dr. Jennifer Marohasy. It is reprinted below, with with some pictures and links added for WUWT readers. – Anthony

j-scott-armstrong iif-website

J. Scott Armstrong, founder of the International Journal of Forecasting

Guest post by Jennifer Marohasy

YESTERDAY, a former chief at NASA, Dr John S. Theon, slammed the computer models used to determine future climate claiming they are not scientific in part because the modellers have “resisted making their work transparent so that it can be replicated independently by other scientists”. [1]

Today, a founder of the International Journal of Forecasting, Journal of Forecasting, International Institute of Forecasters, and International Symposium on Forecasting, and the author of Long-range Forecasting (1978, 1985), the Principles of Forecasting Handbook, and over 70 papers on forecasting, Dr J. Scott Armstrong, tabled a statement declaring that the forecasting process used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) lacks a scientific basis. [2]

What these two authorities, Drs Theon and Armstrong, are independently and explicitly stating is that the computer models underpinning the work of many scientific institutions concerned with global warming, including Australia’s CSIRO, are fundamentally flawed.

In today’s statement, made with economist Kesten Green, Dr Armstrong provides the following eight reasons as to why the current IPCC computer models lack a scientific basis:

1. No scientific forecasts of the changes in the Earth’s climate.

Currently, the only forecasts are those based on the opinions of some scientists. Computer modeling was used to create scenarios (i.e., stories) to represent the scientists’ opinions about what might happen. The models were not intended as forecasting models (Trenberth 2007) and they have not been validated for that purpose. Since the publication of our paper, no one has provided evidence to refute our claim that there are no scientific forecasts to support global warming.

We conducted an audit of the procedures described in the IPCC report and found that they clearly violated 72 scientific principles of forecasting (Green and Armstrong 2008). (No justification was provided for any of these violations.) For important forecasts, we can see no reason why any principle should be violated. We draw analogies to flying an aircraft or building a bridge or performing heart surgery—given the potential cost of errors, it is not permissible to violate principles.

2. Improper peer review process.

To our knowledge, papers claiming to forecast global warming have not been subject to peer review by experts in scientific forecasting.

3. Complexity and uncertainty of climate render expert opinions invalid for forecasting.

Expert opinions are an inappropriate forecasting method in situations that involve high complexity and high uncertainty. This conclusion is based on over eight decades of research. Armstrong (1978) provided a review of the evidence and this was supported by Tetlock’s (2005) study that involved 82,361 forecasts by 284 experts over two decades.

Long-term climate changes are highly complex due to the many factors that affect climate and to their interactions. Uncertainty about long-term climate changes is high due to a lack of good knowledge about such things as:

a) causes of climate change,

b) direction, lag time, and effect size of causal factors related to climate change,

c) effects of changing temperatures, and

d) costs and benefits of alternative actions to deal with climate changes (e.g., CO2 markets).

Given these conditions, expert opinions are not appropriate for long-term climate predictions.

4. Forecasts are needed for the effects of climate change.

Even if it were possible to forecast climate changes, it would still be necessary to forecast the effects of climate changes. In other words, in what ways might the effects be beneficial or harmful? Here again, we have been unable to find any scientific forecasts—as opposed to speculation—despite our appeals for such studies.

We addressed this issue with respect to studies involving the possible classification of polar bears as threatened or endangered (Armstrong, Green, and Soon 2008). In our audits of two key papers to support the polar bear listing, 41 principles were clearly violated by the authors of one paper and 61 by the authors of the other. It is not proper from a scientific or from a practical viewpoint to violate any principles. Again, there was no sign that the forecasters realized that they were making mistakes.

5. Forecasts are needed of the costs and benefits of alternative actions that might be taken to combat climate change.

Assuming that climate change could be accurately forecast, it would be necessary to forecast the costs and benefits of actions taken to reduce harmful effects, and to compare the net benefit with other feasible policies including taking no action. Here again we have been unable to find any scientific forecasts despite our appeals for such studies.

6.  To justify using a climate forecasting model, one would need to test it against a relevant naïve model.

We used the Forecasting Method Selection Tree to help determine which method is most appropriate for forecasting long-term climate change. A copy of the Tree is attached as Appendix 1. It is drawn from comparative empirical studies from all areas of forecasting. It suggests that extrapolation is appropriate, and we chose a naïve (no change) model as an appropriate benchmark. A forecasting model should not be used unless it can be shown to provide forecasts that are more accurate than those from this naïve model, as it would otherwise increase error. In Green, Armstrong and Soon (2008), we show that the mean absolute error of 108 naïve forecasts for 50 years in the future was 0.24°C.

7. The climate system is stable.

To assess stability, we examined the errors from naïve forecasts for up to 100 years into the future. Using the U.K. Met Office Hadley Centre’s data, we started with 1850 and used that year’s average temperature as our forecast for the next 100 years. We then calculated the errors for each forecast horizon from 1 to 100. We repeated the process using the average temperature in 1851 as our naïve forecast for the next 100 years, and so on. This “successive updating” continued until year 2006, when we forecasted a single year ahead. This provided 157 one-year-ahead forecasts, 156 two-year-ahead and so on to 58 100-year-ahead forecasts.

We then examined how many forecasts were further than 0.5°C from the observed value. Fewer than 13% of forecasts of up to 65-years-ahead had absolute errors larger than 0.5°C. For longer horizons, fewer than 33% had absolute errors larger than 0.5°C. Given the remarkable stability of global mean temperature, it is unlikely that there would be any practical benefits from a forecasting method that provided more accurate forecasts.

8.  Be conservative and avoid the precautionary principle.

One of the primary scientific principles in forecasting is to be conservative in the darkness of uncertainty. This principle also argues for the use of the naive no-change extrapolation. Some have argued for the precautionary principle as a way to be conservative. It is a political, not a scientific principle. As we explain in our essay in Appendix 2, it is actually an anti-scientific principle in that it attempts to make decisions without using rational analyses. Instead, cost/benefit analyses are appropriate given the available evidence which suggests that temperature is just as likely to go up as down. However, these analyses should be supported by scientific forecasts.

The reach of these models is extraordinary, for example, the CSIRO models are currently being used in Australia to determine water allocations for farmers and to justify the need for an Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) – the most far-reaching of possible economic interventions.   Yet, according to Dr Armstrong, these same models violate 72 scientific principles.

********************

1. Marc Morano, James Hansen’s Former NASA Supervisor Declares Himself a Skeptic, January 27,2009. http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=1a5e6e32-802a-23ad-40ed-ecd53cd3d320

2. “Analysis of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Greenhouse Gases”, Drs. J. Scott Armstrong and Kesten C. Green a statement prepared for US Senator Inhofe for an analysis of the US EPA’s proposed policies for greenhouse gases.  http://theclimatebet.com


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MC
January 28, 2009 7:21 pm

Anthony,
You remind me of Colombo. Persistent, methodical, constant, questioning, and always after the truth.
I know you would rather we talk about the post but I wanted to give my first thought after reading it.
Thank you for being like Colombo and have a great evening.
REPLY: Steve McIntyre once referred to me as “gumshoe”. I also take it as high complement that you’d compare me to Colombo. – Anthony

Craig Moore
January 28, 2009 7:24 pm

My congressman voted for the Stimulus which contained 400 million for new climate scientists and 2.5 billion for carbon capture. I sent him the link to your article and its contents and asked him to consider the ramifications.

Adam Sullivan
January 28, 2009 7:27 pm

I need to understand something.
I have read conflicting statements from AGW Catastrophists that their models are not forecasts while at the same time stating that in 100 years we will be warmer by X ° C.
I have understood this apparent contradiction to mean that these models aren’t intended to tell you what the weather will be in place Y 10 years from now but that fundamental “ingredients” that make up the environment where climate unfolds will have changed sufficiently to produce the warmer climate.
So I am not sure how to read this criticism by Armstrong. Is he attacking the Catastrophists in an area that they will simply disclaim? That they don’t do forecasts?

Pieter F
January 28, 2009 7:27 pm

And the House voted today to spend $140 million on climate computer modeling? Quick, get this information to your Senators. Perhaps Inhofe will get a chance to present the argument before the Senate votes.

Pamela Gray
January 28, 2009 7:28 pm

Climate is stable, unless you drastically (quickly or slowly – it doesn’t matter) change the location of your address. Weather patterns vary and are quite noisy, but average out to a fairly stable system if you average across several decadel periods. Any model that wishes to be predictive and that does not place this basic understanding of Earth’s atmospheric information into the code will be just plain wrong. But I don’t have to argue that. All I have to do is wait for plain Jane weather to prove it.

Paul Linsay
January 28, 2009 7:36 pm

Yikes, items 6 &7 are absolute killers! These naive models fit on the back of an envelope and can be evaluated with Excel on a ten year old PC in a few minutes. This should create some very interesting discussions.

Kirk W. Hanneman
January 28, 2009 7:46 pm

Another fascinating entry, Anthony. Keep up the great work!

Drew
January 28, 2009 8:06 pm

The volume and credibility of reports seem to be growing. Like the small snowball rolling down the hill, gaining size and speed. But wait…..Algore said the debate is over.
I would suggest someone try to modify the very accurate Indian (Native American, First Nation, etc) Weather Rock into a climate forecasting tool. It is pretty simple:
* If weather rock is wet, then it’s raining.
* If weather rock is white, then it’s snowing.
* If weather rock is swaying, then it’s windy.
* If weather rock is swinging in a circular motion, then there’s a tornado.
* If weather rock has a shadow, then the sun is out.
* If weather rock is underwater, then there’s been flooding.
* If weather rock is unseen, then it’s dark out.
* If weather rock is jumping up and down, then there’s an earthquake.
* If weather rock is dirty, then there’s a dust storm.
* If weather rock is gone, you’ve been ripped off.

Robert Rust
January 28, 2009 8:06 pm

Can you imagine what would happen if the public could get these computer models and play with them? Imagine being able to set up the models with information back in 1850 and then run them – and see what they forecast for today. Or, change various parameters (like methane vs. CO2 vs. O3) and see how the model behaves. I suspect that the models would tend to show an “always getting warmer” bias.

Bill Marsh
January 28, 2009 8:08 pm

Truly a stunning couple of days. I wonder if this gentleman will be forced to recant by the Inquisition. Clearly he is in a state of apostasy with this disagreement with the ‘consensus’.
Unfortunately AGW is now a political consensus, not a scientific one. These are remarkably hard to kill off because so many politicians have now invested thier power and reputation in it. It will not be easy for them to say, “Well gosh, I guess I was wrong.”

yyzdnl
January 28, 2009 8:11 pm

Wow, as much as I would like the basis of this post to be true I feel leery in buying.
First off the article is hacked together. In the first paragraph we have:
“not only did their audit of IPCC forecasting procedures and found that the”
I think somethimg is missing there. I found several blips like that as I read through the article.
My second problem is that logo is just plain scary. Would any organization really select such thing when making a scientific or political statemaent?
I hope this doesn’t end up being a scam but reading it set off my alarm bells, and that didn’t include the world is coming to an end chime.

REPLY:
There may be some mistake in copy/paste that caused the missing words. I’ll see if I can get my hands on the original, rather than relying on the blog post from Jennifer.
As for the logo, I’ll say this. I’ve yet to see a scientist who can color match an image to make it palatable for the masses. just look at some of the awful color schemes used on some scientific maps and even images for public consumption from NOAA.
The fact that the colors and design of the logo are as bad as they are tell me these guys didn’t give one care in the world to it after the initial design, and that’s actually comforting. Because if they had a slick logo design, they’d be a lot like this:
http://green-blog.org/media/images/2008/04/we-campaign.jpg
-Anthony

Frank K.
January 28, 2009 8:22 pm

Pieter F (19:27:53) :
“And the House voted today to spend $140 million on climate computer modeling?”
It will be very interesting to see how our climate modeling friends at NCAR, GISS, GFDL etc. divy up the spoils of this largess. Salary increases all around…new computers…new offices…fat travel budgets (climate conference in Bali, anyone?)…
Yet, government employees like Gavin Schmidt will still complain that there’s not enough money in the budget to document their codes…

Michael J. Bentley
January 28, 2009 8:25 pm

And to continue pummeling the deceased equine:
Again, my fear (along with the feeling my pocket is being legally picked) is that some well meaning moron will attempt some (gov’munt approved and funded) large scale experiment that will really mess up the climate.
OY!
Mike

January 28, 2009 8:28 pm

Drew (20:06:26)
You mean this rock?: click
I’ll put it up against a climate model any time.

Neil Crafter
January 28, 2009 8:41 pm

yyzdnl (20:11:14) :
My second problem is that logo is just plain scary. Would any organization really select such thing when making a scientific or political statemaent?”
I checked out their website, they look like like a legitimate organisation to me, so someone would have had to go to a lot of trouble setting it up for a scam. The logo choice of colours is striking, but perhaps unfortunate.

Robert Bateman
January 28, 2009 8:45 pm

Instead of forecasting, I am looking back through the geologic record for what is currently happening to the West Coast. We appear to be hung in a climate pattern similar to the Younger Dryas, where in the midst of a melting era of the Laurentide Ice Sheet and accompanying western sheets, a cold period returned. It changed the climate here froma persistent forest/woodland to semi-arid. As soon as the melting resumed, it changed back to the persistent forest/woodland growth.
Since there are no recorded temperatures or weather records for my region in the Dalton or Maunder, and there are no legends or lore to be found, this is all I have to work with.
Just need some sort of sunspot proxy to compare the Younger Dryas to.
Anybody got a pointer?

Harold Vance
January 28, 2009 8:46 pm

$140M is the minimum amount to be spent on data climate modeling. It’s just a minimum. They could well spend even more of the $600M total (that’s earmarked for procurement, acquisition, etc.) on data climate modeling.
What I want to know is who insisted on a floor of $140M for something this obscure?
Also, does anyone know why they are allocating another $400M to the NOAA for habitat restoration? Are data climate modelers an endangered species and are they running out of habitat?

Brent Matich
January 28, 2009 8:48 pm

This just keeps on getting better each day! LOL More scientists making a stand on science rather than their politics.
Brent in Calgary

Robert Bateman
January 28, 2009 8:51 pm

Some well-meaning morons already do have some hair-raising experiments planned to “reverse” the dangerous CO2 and overheating they model.
I have it in a course curriculum I found.
It’s best described as a Doomsday Nightmare, and they fully intend to go through with it if they can get the green light.
I am so very glad to see Theon and Armstrong speaking out, as well as Archibald and others.

Chris V.
January 28, 2009 8:55 pm

7. The climate system is stable.
???
They’ve never heard of the ice ages??
Or the Younger Dryas?
You guys should tell them about the midieval warm period!
Look’s like a bunch of business profs dabbling in things they know little about.
BTW, Dr. Armstrong is a Professor of Marketing.
REPLY: Forecasting using time series – numbers know no allegiance to profession. – Anthony

Jim B in Canada
January 28, 2009 9:00 pm

I got to go with yyzdnl on this one, I’ve heard this all before it’s going no where fast. Until one of these guys gets a publicist it’s about 4 websites forever, if FOX won’t even give these people the time of day, nothing is going to happen.
And ya what’s the deal with that logo! I live in a predominately Jewish area, and I saw that logo and yell to the wife to start making room in the attic! _ it’s a joke! sheesh

Mike Bryant
January 28, 2009 9:04 pm

yyzdnl,
Wow, as much as I would like the basis of this comment to be true I feel leery in buying.
First off the comment is hacked together. I found several blips like this as I read through the comment:
“I think somethiMg is missing there.”
You added an “m”.
And this:
“…making a scientific or political statemAent?”
I think something is added there.
And this:
“Would any organization really select such (A) thing when making a scientific or political statemaent?”
It looks like you left out a word there.
My second problem is that your name is just plain scary. Yyzdnl, who would really select such a strange screen name?
I hope this doesn’t end up being a scam but reading it set off my alarm bells, and that didn’t include the world is coming to an end chime.
Maybe you should use your real name like most of the commenters here.
Thanks,
Mike Bryant
PS We all make those little mistakes… Jennifer was probably in a hurry like you were.

Chris V.
January 28, 2009 9:09 pm

Robert Rust (20:06:39) :
Stop imagining. You can download GISS’s climate model at their website.

REPLY:
But getting it to run is a different task altogether. Have you run it? Mind you, not the “educational” version for public consumption with the nice front end GUI, but the one GISS released last year, FORTRAN warts and all, after much public pressure following the 2007 Y2K temperature splice debacle? If you’ve been able to get that one to work, we’d love to see some output here. – Anthony

Neil Crafter
January 28, 2009 9:11 pm

Chris V. (20:55:22) :
Look’s like a bunch of business profs dabbling in things they know little about. BTW, Dr. Armstrong is a Professor of Marketing.”
So Chris, these forecasting specialists are not allowed to criticise the forecasting process of the much touted climate models? Just who is allowed to critique them then? Oh, I know the answer, only the friends of the modellers who already agree with them.

ian
January 28, 2009 9:15 pm

Yes, yyzdnl (20:11:14), I too found that logo just a wee bit on the ‘unusual’ side. Not sure about the article however through the ‘Kester Green’ link, I did find a paper they are submitting to The International Journal of Forecasting titled
‘Validity of Climate Change Forecasting for Public Policy Decision Making’
http://kestencgreen.com/naiveclimate.pdf

January 28, 2009 9:26 pm

@ Neil Crafter (20:41:30) :
If a AGW-organisation would use a logo like this than i would be really scared, the choice of colors is just wrong unless the one who came up with has a twisted sense of humor, still that’s a kind of humor you have to keep in front of you if the subjects are as serious as this.
@ Chris V. (20:55:22) :
Yes, but on a human timescale it is stable, and looking back at the last 8000 years it is rather stable, temperatures and weather do change over time, but never in a catastrophic way unless the temperatures drop like at the end of the medival warm period when Europe lost about 25% of its population due to famine and the “Black Death”, when the Vikings had to leave their colonies in Greenland and the Anasazi who dissappeared in the west of the US.
Climate change is bad when the temperatures drop, in all of history you never hear people complain about rising temperatures, thats only something from the last decades.

Chris V.
January 28, 2009 9:35 pm

Neil Crafter (21:11:45) :
They can critique anything they want.
If I wanted to know about CGMs, I’d ask a climate modeller.
If I wanted to know how to convince people to spend $3 a bottle for something they can get free from the tap, I’d ask a marketing professor.

ian
January 28, 2009 9:37 pm

Chris V. (20:55:22) :
Look’s like a bunch of business profs dabbling in things they know little about. BTW, Dr. Armstrong is a Professor of Marketing.”
O.K. so Dr. Armstrong may not be one of those much vaunted climatologists but he certainly doesn’t seem to be a dill. From the Wharton Uni. of Pennsylvania Marketing Dept.
‘A member of the Wharton Marketing Faculty since 1968, Professor Armstrong received his PhD in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his MS in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University, and his BS degree in Industrial Engineering and BA in Applied Science from Lehigh University…In 1996, he was selected as one of the first six Honorary Fellows by the International Institute of Forecasters’

January 28, 2009 9:46 pm

Robert van der Veeke (21:26:31) :
in all of history you never hear people complain about rising temperatures, thats only something from the last decade
Warm is better than cold, anytime.

F Rasmin
January 28, 2009 9:51 pm

Snow? It was just over 113 degrees fahrenheit here in Adelaide Australia yesterday.

Drew
January 28, 2009 10:01 pm

OK, so Dr. Armstrong is not involved in climate science, and his logo does seem a bit odd, particularly for a Marketing Professor. However, it seems he is questioning the methodology used in the climate forecasts, and it seems as if he is reasonably qualified to comment on science behind forecasting.
I would feel comfortable arguing that the business world has more forecasting experience than the science community. Armstrong has been at Wharton for 40 years. Wharton is considered one of the top 2 or 3 business schools in the world. His PhD is from MIT, MS from Carnegie…..the dude ain’t dumb.
A debate on climate forecasting….Algore vs. Armstrong…. Vegas wouldn’t bother to post odds!

Sekerob
January 28, 2009 10:02 pm

From the never heard off before IIF:
Scott Armstrong (1996) Professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, USA: For his work in establishing the Institute and serving as an editor of the Journal and on the Board of Directors; for his wide-ranging research contributions, particularly on the empirical evaluation of different approaches to forecasting; for innovative approaches to the teaching of forecasting.
Okay, lets follow the money trail.
REPLY: Rob, what makes you automatically assume there’s a “money trail”? Looking for big oil again? 😉 Anthony

Terry J
January 28, 2009 10:09 pm

yyzdnl
Here is a discussion thread on their website: http://forecasters.org/pipermail/iif-discussion_forecasters.org/2008/thread.html If it is fake they put a lot of work in the fake, and there are many more years available.
Sorry I am not conversant on how to make a clicky of it.
The ‘naive’ forecast is a classic “if present trends continue” exercise. What happens when you go back prior to the Dalton or Maunder Minimums and run the same exercise?
Based on the available information I am aware of, it would appear that some combination of solar activity followed by ocean condition (AMO, PDO ENSO, perhaps others) would account for upwards of 85% of any observed variance, unless there is a major volcanic event. Yep, too many weasel words but there are a lot of unquantified influences.
Is there any way to obtain a several hundred year record of actual observed temperatures at clearly rural locations? It would not take may sites if they were widely located and had maintained a consistent rural character to present an unadjusted and unmanipulated picture of temperature trends.
As the deliveryman noted in Alaska last July, it was a nice mild winter that summer.

Robert Bateman
January 28, 2009 10:21 pm

Is there a Grand Minimum to match the Younger Dryas?
Or a series of them?

Ron (Tex) McGowan
January 28, 2009 10:25 pm

I’m no expert but doesn’t it seem strange to anyone that now the economy’s gone to s**t and has become the big issue, all of a sudden all sorts of people are popping up saying “There’s no global warming! We don’t need to worry about CO2!” ??
The rich, the Republicans and big business would be loving this.

juan
January 28, 2009 10:34 pm

Robert Bateman
Some current work suggests incoming objects (comet?) is responsible for the Younger Dryas. See
http://www.uc.edu/news/NR.asp?id=8625
I don’t know how valid it is, but if true, solar phenomena wouldn’t correlate

davidc
January 28, 2009 10:49 pm

I read their 2008 when it was first published. I was convinced that it was a serious study. One thing that struck me was their comment that forecasting was a distinct discipline (like statistics, but including a wider range of factors than just numbers) and subject to empirical study. For example, a high level of consensus leads to weak forecasting (cf IPCC). That’s an empirical observation, look at studies with high and low consensus levels and see which did better. I was also persuaded that scientists don’t often do forecasting: that is, predict a future observation rather than interpret an existing one. There are celebrated cases but only because we remember them because they turned out to be correct. Serious forecasting involves repeated prediction of the future and then checking whether it turned out to be correct. Taken across the board, science as a whole has a very poor record judged in that way.

John Nicklin
January 28, 2009 10:51 pm

Slightly off topic, but in the general theme, CBC, Canada’s national broadcaster carried a story about Rajendra Pachauri, chairman of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying that “There is no clear evidence that global warming is an imminent danger to the world”
The story is at CBCnews.ca.

Just want truth...
January 28, 2009 11:04 pm

“We conducted an audit of the procedures described in the IPCC report and found that they clearly violated 72 scientific principles of forecasting”
I see the word “clearly” in there.
Never seen anything as damnatory to AGW as this man’s findings and reputation; can anything be more!

Drew
January 28, 2009 11:04 pm

Sekerob (22:02:29) :
From the never heard off before IIF:……
I never heard of it either, but before I opened my mouth and inserted my foot I did some research.
Google “forecasting” just for fun.
Google “J Scott Armstrong” he literally wrote the book on forecasting.
He is the second most published faculty member at Wharton, 1988-93.
He knows forecasting. His criticism is damning to say the least.
Here is his bio at Wharton:
http://qbox.wharton.upenn.edu/documents/mktg/cv/ResumeJSA-1-12-09.pdf

Graeme Rodaughan
January 28, 2009 11:06 pm

Mike Bryant (21:04:56) :
yyzdnl,
My second problem is that your name is just plain scary. Yyzdnl, who would really select such a strange screen name?

Google “Cthulhu”…. Lovecraftian names beckon…

January 28, 2009 11:13 pm

Classic and predictable. The Alarmists fire right out with ad hominem and specious attacks. They don’t like the logo, there are typos, and the dude is in marketing!!!
Dr. J. Scott Armstrong is the most distinguished, accomplished, and awarded expert in forecasting in the world. He is marketing professor at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. The Wharton School!!! His home page is here: http://jscottarmstrong.com/
But the real issue is not who but what. The finding of the world’s foremost expert in forecasting are that climate model forecasts are less accurate than naive models of no change. As is well-known, IPCC, GISS, and other modelers have failed in their predictions. Armstrong points out that they have also failed in their methodology.
“…there are no scientific forecasts to support global warming.”
Whatever the CCM’s are, they are not scientific forecasts. They violate the principles of scientific forecasting. Ergo, they cannot be relied upon.
It is tragically absurd to lend any credence to CCM’s that are unscientific and produce bad predictions, some so bad that they forecast the End of Creation.
Yet the US Congress just allocated $140 million to these unscientific CCM’s and threaten a variety of economic hardships on all of us, based upon reliance on junk science (not to mention “economic stimulus” which is an oxymoron in this case).
Absolutely outrageous. Bad government gone rancid. Pathetic and intolerable.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 28, 2009 11:17 pm

The logo reminds me (with very different colors) of the Martian flag in “Mars Attacks”… but I can see where a logo consultant could sell it: Three primary shapes, strong color contract, denotes a sense of fundamentals with strength etc etc..
The fact that a group devoted to forecasting says the AGW models are bunkum for forecasting AND the fact that the modelers have already issued ‘we do not forecast’ disclaimers give a big club to use any time some future prediction is made.
Sidebar: Yeah, Colombo, but with a better suit and sense of precision and detail … maybe a bit of Monk mixed in? And a “Don’t even think of trying to put one over on him” Sam Spade core? (Picturing the end of Maltese Falcon where Sam Spade hands the goods over to the cops and details the intrigues he saw being pulled and how he turned them to his advantage… yeah that fits.)

deadwood
January 28, 2009 11:29 pm

Inhofe had Armstrong give testimony once before the Senate EE committee. Since nobody seemed to be paying attention then, what makes anybody think saying it again will have a greater impact?
The alarmists now control both houses of Congress and the Presidency and they, perhaps rightly, believe they have their best opportunity since the 1970’s to pass crippling anti-business, anti-energy, anti-freedom, and downright stupid legislation to “Save the Planet” (Oh, and to take control of everything else while they are at it).
I say let them dig their hole deeper. It will take a while to dig us back out, but there will be no doubt about the wrongness of their actions.

P Folkens
January 28, 2009 11:39 pm

Robert Bateman (20:45:47) : . . . looking back through the geologic record . . .
There are readily available studies on the Younger-Dryas. Several I’ve read have very high resolution/precision. If I recall correctly Bilal Haq (NAS) and colleagues have some tight sea level reconstructions of the period.
We are presently in nothing like the Younger-Dryas of the Latest Pleistocene or related early Holocene events. Although I believe Malinkovitch cycles were involved (as opposed to sun spots per se), the best take I’ve seen on those events is the cold water rush from the Laurentide lake dam failure and its affect on the North Atlantic termohaline system (Gulf Stream). (Or Lake Agassiz, but that was too far inland to so dramatically affect the oceanic thermohaline circulation.) Though open to the possibility, I’m not buying the comet theory (yet).

Paul Farley
January 28, 2009 11:48 pm

I hate to say I wish for it to get colder still but I think this is what it’s going to take to consign AGW to the dustbin of history. I think AGW will come to be regarded as the largest confidence trick ever performed on the world.
P.S.
yyzdnl
yyz = Toronto Pearson International
dnl = Daniel Field Aiport, Georgia
I need to get a life.

Just want truth...
January 28, 2009 11:48 pm

“Chris V. (20:55:22) :
BTW, Dr. Armstrong is a Professor of Marketing.”
You, of course, left out the rest of his CV. An innocent oversight on your part?
This is a link to his CV :
http://qbox.wharton.upenn.edu/documents/mktg/cv/ResumeJSA-1-12-09.pdf
By the way, Al Gore is a politician.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 28, 2009 11:51 pm

Chris V. (20:55:22) : 7. The climate system is stable. ???
They’ve never heard of the ice ages??
REPLY: Forecasting using time series – numbers know no allegiance to profession. – Anthony

It is also the case that forecasting depends on picking a time scale. I spend lots of time forecasting directions of stocks and markets (rather well too). One of the first things you must do it pick your time scale since on one time scale things may be going down (2 year bear market) but Right Now they are going up (bear market rally).
What the IIF folks did was test stability in the short run of hundred year time scale, and found it stable (the relevant time scale to AGW). Your examples look at 10,000 to 100,000 year time scales and see variability. Yes, you can both be right, since you are working on different time scales.
You are standing 100 miles from the mountain range and saying “Look, the mountains go up and down!” while they are standing in a flat mountain meadow saying “This place is flat enough to build a house.” Both are right.
Per the Younger Dryas: There is good evidence that what caused it was a rock fall from space onto the ice sheet of North America. I don’t think they model “the big rock from space did it” in the AGW computer models… This would also argue that sunspot proxies for the Younger Dryas would be short on value… @Robert Bateman
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas_impact_event
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sunspots_11000_years.svg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas

Neil Crafter
January 28, 2009 11:54 pm

Chris V. (21:35:38) :
Neil Crafter (21:11:45) :
“They can critique anything they want.
If I wanted to know about CGMs, I’d ask a climate modeller.
If I wanted to know how to convince people to spend $3 a bottle for something they can get free from the tap, I’d ask a marketing professor.”
Mr V
It is in the assumption that the models are indeed forecasts where the problem lies, and despite what you say, that is exactly the way that Hansen et al have allowed them to be portrayed in the mainstream media, who have lapped them up, the more catastrophic the better. If you ask a climate modeller he would most likely say his model is very robust and useful would he not? At least a marketer is marked for his results – if he is good and sells a lot of his product he will stay in work, if not he will be out on his ear.

Flanagan
January 29, 2009 12:06 am

So, once again: if the simulations faults are so ominous, why didn’t anybody publish anything consistent about these “faults”? Why another op-ed instead of solid science?
Maybe that’s because news from the climate itself are not really cooling-like. Check for example the UAH global temperature:
http://discover.itsc.uah.edu/amsutemps/
(click the 1 km temp, which is the closest to surface temps)
or the recent evolution of arctic:
http://www.nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images/daily_images/N_timeseries.png
(needless to remind you 2006-2007 was a record lowest winter maximum)
or what’s happening in the antarctic:
http://www.nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/images//daily_images/S_timeseries.png
not to mention the state of the Wilkins ice shelf, which is about to separate form antarctic land and go…well somewhere in the oceans:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/11/081128132029.htm
“The peninsula has been experiencing extraordinary warming in the past 50 years of 2.5°C.”
Don’t worry, that shelf is not big-only the size of Connecticut. Compare the situation in June, July (remember it is winter there at this time) and in December:
http://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2008/06/080613104743.jpg
http://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2008/07/080710115142.jpg
http://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2008/11/081128132029-large.jpg

Kmye
January 29, 2009 12:07 am

Can anyone explain #7 (in the article list) in different, perhaps simpler terms?

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 12:40 am

Robert Bateman (20:45:47) : West Coast.
Since there are no recorded temperatures or weather records for my region in the Dalton or Maunder,

Were there not records from the Spanish Missions from Mexico up to San Francisco? And from the Russians from Alaska down to Ft. Ross in California? They each sent home descriptions of the land and climate of the time (toward the middle / end of the Dalton…)
You ought to be able to get a reasonable idea what a Dalton climate would be like for most of California and maybe even some of the further north coast. (Russians did rapidly move from colder Alaska down to California, but they still ought to have ‘reported home’ on the weather…) Missionaries were prone to tracking rather a lot of stuff, and they all depended on gardens and agriculture (that make a decent proxy).
I can tell you that Mission Olives were grown at all the missions, along with corn, beans, truck vegetables.
On the Russian side the wiki on Fort Ross is a reasonable place to start.
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Ross I followed a link to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johann_Friedrich_von_Eschscholtz
who was one of two naturalist / botanists who detailed what they found. Their works ought to include climate descriptions.
A random google of “California Mission gardens” lead to many including:
http://www.gardenvisit.com/history_theory/library_online_ebooks/ml_gothein_history_garden_art_design/californian_horticulture_mission_landscape_architecture
That says:
To the other side of landscape architecture they brought an equal contribution, that of horticulture. Father Junipero Serra himself planted seeds of the date palm as early as 1770, some of which grew and made fruitful trees. He and his followers also brought other palms, and all the fruits of southern Europe, the olive, the pomegranate, the fig, the lemon, the orange, the apple, the pear, the peach, and above all the wine grape. Because of the climatic affinity between California and Europe already remarked, these importations throve. Most of them were soon acclimatised, and were widely propagated by the industrious missionaries. It is recorded that the Mission of San Gabriel near Los Angeles had over 2000 fruit-trees at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and even today there is exhibited at this mission an ancient grape-vine dating back to those early times.
To me it looks like the same list we are still growing today. Stone fruit, like peaches, require winter chill to set fruit, and palms require some warmth (there is a ‘limit to palms’ line on many globes denoting the end of the warm climate regions…) Add in wine grapes that take summer warmth and not too much winter freeze… These three intersect in only a narrow climate band. California / Oregon Citrus like Oranges currently peter out about 100 miles north of Sacramento (too cold). So all this continues to say ‘not much change’.
(While you can grow some wine grapes in Washington / Oregon it is much harder to do and works best with hybrids of American & European grapes that did not exist then or on hybrid root stock. Cultural practices have also advanced to allow the spread into the areas that were formerly considered too cold for decent wine grapes. Some German style whites grow well as long as the vines are ‘banked’ if freezes are expected, but the missionaries did not use these practices.)
So my ‘first blush’ take on it is that during the Dalton things on the West Coast were not much different from now. I would guess a bit less rain (that, now that we have overbuilt drastically, will be considered a ‘drought’ but ought to be considered ‘normal’…) but otherwise, about the same.
A more detailed examination of particular locations and varieties planted ought to give fairly strict limits to temperature ranges. Some varieties are accurate to a couple of degrees on their limits… Degree-days and ‘chill days’ for stone fruits are known specific quantities.

Jerry
January 29, 2009 12:42 am

juan (22:34:01)
Like P. Folkens I don’t buy the comet theory either. From memory, the temperature graph of the Younger Dryas is a square wave, with very rapid fall, then level, then rise. A single event wouldn’t do that, it’d be most likely to give a rapid fall followed by a linear or more likely exponential rise starting immediately after the event.
I’m not quite sure either why we keep having to have people explaining that climate is unpredictable. It’s known to be chaotic, isn’t it?

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 12:52 am

Sekerob (22:02:29) : “innovative approaches to the teaching of forecasting. ”
Okay, lets follow the money trail.

Teaching? Money trail? Really? On this planet???

Jeff B.
January 29, 2009 12:55 am

Ouch, this is going to leave a mark on the AGW crowd. Wait until Anthony and the gang go to ICCC in NYC. The PR from there will be well timed.

G Alston
January 29, 2009 1:17 am

Harold Vance — What I want to know is who insisted on a floor of $140M for something this obscure?
This is actually a very good idea, and probably indicates a more conservative approach than at first blush. Money into research for this subject is good because enough research might flush out enough real data to use to make any decisions with. Lots of commentators have called for dumping a big pile of money into research so that we have a better picture of what (if anything) we are dealing with. From there we decide what to do (if anything.)
Kmye — Can anyone explain #7 (in the article list) in different, perhaps simpler terms?
Climate changes slowly enough that for short term (100 year) time scales, it’s relatively stable.
The bad news is that this is pretty much in accordance with what the AGW alarmists are claiming, that it’s been stable for ages but all this recent CO2 stuff [insert hockey stick here] temps are now climbing faster than ever seen historically.
There’s more than one way to read the article.

old construction worker
January 29, 2009 1:18 am

I have posted these links before on WUWT.
They are not a joke.
“These studies are meant to inform the US Fish and Wildlife Service about listing the polar bear as endangered. After careful examination, my co-authors and I were unable to find any references to works providing evidence that the forecasting methods used in the reports had been previously validated. In essence, they give no scientific basis for deciding one way or the other about the polar bear.”
Prof. Armstrong and colleagues originally undertook their audit at the request of the State of Alaska. The subsequent study, “Polar Bear Population Forecasts: A Public Policy Forecasting Audit,” is by Prof. Armstrong, Kesten G. Green of Monash University in Australia, and Willie Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. It is scheduled to appear in the September/October issue of the INFORMS journal Interfaces.
http://www.informs.org/article.php?id=1383
The authors of this study used these forecasting principles to audit the IPCC report. They found that:
Out of the 140 forecasting principles, 127 principles are relevant to the procedures used to arrive at the climate projections in the IPCC report.
Of these 127, the methods described in the report violated 60 principles.
http://www.ncpa.org/pub/st/st308

January 29, 2009 1:23 am

A rousing chorus:
“The wheels on the bus are falling off, falling off…”
To be fair to the IPCC they never claimed to forecast; rather they laid out scenarios based on how much CO2 was emitted. And then, from report to report, they revised these scenarios downwards.
All of which leads to the skeptics’ position that while there may be warming (or cooling) at .1 degree Celsius per decade/century/ any thirty one year period that fits, the reality is that no one should be making policy based on highly uncertain forecasts of relatively minor fluctuations.
There are good arguments for better data and more study; there are no arguments for spending (or losing) the hundreds of billions of dollars governments seem intent on spending to deal with an ill defined non-problem.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 1:26 am

Kmye (00:07:12) : Can anyone explain #7 (in the article list) in different, perhaps simpler terms?
I’ll take a whack at it.
If you want to forecast something, the easiest way to do it is to say “What just happened will happen again.” That’s the ‘naive forecast’. So I say “The sun will rise tomorrow at the same time it did today”.
That will be relatively correct for ‘a while’ depending on what exact numbers you put on ‘relatively’ and ‘a while’. After a month or two you might notice the day length changing (seasonal change). Now you need a better model. You start to change your forecast to include seasonal changes.
The test:
You need to compare your seasonal model with your ‘naive’ model to decide which is better. If, first time out, you got the whole ‘longer then shorter then longer’ thing into your model it will beat “same time” fairly quickly.
But if you made your naive model in, oh, April, then noticed in June that the days got longer and only put in “Each day longer by {foo}” as your ‘improved model’, about the time September rolled around it would be pretty clear to everyone that the days were not still getting longer and your naive model is back to being the Top Dog. (And it is a pretty good top dog at the equator!)
What #7 says is that they tested ‘naive’ (no change) over a bunch of time periods. All the one years, all the two years, all the three year groups, etc. All the way up to 58 different 100 year periods. And they found that climate didn’t change much at all. At a 65 year forecast ‘nothing changed’ had it right 87% of the time (13% ‘missed’). They had to make 100 year forecasts to get the success rate down to 67% (failed 33%).
But what was a ‘failure’? 1/2 of one degree C was the test. So a year that was 0.6 C warmer or colder 100 years in the future was a ‘failure to predict’ for the ‘no change’ model. That is one heck of a good model.
The only reasonable way for ‘nothing changes much’ to get it that ‘right’ 65 and 100 years in the future is if: Climate just doesn’t hasn’t changed much on a 100 year scale; so there is little reason to expect it to change in the next 100 years. The more things change, the more they stay the same…
There ‘test period’ included much of the industrialization of the world and the attendant CO2 production, so it’s a fair test.
At it’s core, what #7 says is: Warming? What warming? You would predict better with a broken thermometer stuck on ‘this year’ than with a computer model like the GCMs.

Rhys Jaggar
January 29, 2009 1:28 am

There seems to be a big argument here about how to deal with a combination of:
a. Periods of tight stability around a relatively fixed ‘mean’ temperature.
b. Rapid changes of state to a new relatively fixed ‘mean’ temperature, either significantly higher or lower than the previous one.
To me, it’s a bit like a nuclear reactor. Mostly, there are stable states called ‘elements’. They hang around for ages, occasionally decay, but broadly look the same. Then someone blasts an element with high energy particles and they go ballistic, ending up as something new – maybe lower Mr (fission) or higher (fusion).
Seems any model to describe this needs a set of parameters which are broadly the same all the time and the odd one which is a short pulse of high activity followed by long periods of almost none.
Any of the current models set up that way?

Alan the Brit
January 29, 2009 1:44 am

The wonderful thing about climate models is that they cannot be validated by independent people or bodies. I dare say they are validated internally & there is absolutely nothing wrong with that per se as happens in all organiasations around the globe. However, for something to be taken seriously, independent validation is required. Just to say the output corresponds to expectations & observations is another thing all together. As I have said before, when they can tell me what the weather is going to be for a given day a week inadvance so thta I can plan ahead, then I’ll start to listen to them.
The wonderful thing about Climate Change is that it covers all the bases, if it gets warm = CC, if it gets cold =CC! Absolutely perfect in concept, infallible!
I note that most modellers claim no forecasting or prediction when it suits them, but say that these are projections based on scenarios, or “story-lines” as the IPCC now call them. I always thought story-lines were what they used in Soap Operas, which might go some way to explaining the models, science fiction based on science fact, like all good sci-fi programmes/shows, one uses relatively sound scientific argument coupled with a vivid imagination! I note that when some scientist somewhere comes up with a theory as to why some particular incident happened, within a couple of years or so it is incorporated into some sci-fi script somewhere, Dr Who is a classic example, as is Star Trek, then some half-wits start to think it all true, ( I won’t say which show is best naturally so as not to upset the Americans!) ;-)) Now, where’s my sonic screwdriver?
Note the Met Office’s Dr Vicki Pope frequently mixes & matches projection with prediction in the same articles, sometimes in the same paragraph too. Yet she maintains they do not make predictions, go figure!
BTW, it has became rather damp of late over here, with the all too typical bout of freezing temps to lock everything up solid, like car doors, etc. We are due for a saoking tomorrow I understand, followed by yep you guessed it, more arctic weather! Great. In an island built on coal, & with oil & gas beneath the sea, we’re struggling guys, struggling! Greens are fighting Greens over the Severn Barrage that turns out to be a real white elephant that will cost the good old UK taxpayer another fortune (that we don’t have) to build, & produce no more that 1% of our enegry needs as opposed to the 5% claimed. I believe you Colonials refer to it as SNAFU!!!!!!

Malaga
January 29, 2009 1:47 am

Anthony Watts
Thank you for all your hard work and thank you for this wonderful web site.
The last couple of months have been such an education for me.
League of Gentlemen and Gentlewomen
Thank you for all your wonderful comments, ideas and feedback.
It is such a pleasure to read your intelligent contributions and to witness the establishment of such a fine community.

Chris H
January 29, 2009 1:53 am

Global Climate Models are *not* forecasts on the 1 to 30 year range, but IMHO they *are* forecasts on the 30 to 100 year range. Armstrong appears to correctly be looking at the 30 to 100 year range (e.g. 65 years).

RexRabbit
January 29, 2009 2:37 am

8. Be conservative and avoid the precautionary principle.
I thought the precautionary principle was conservative, and not the other way around. That said, as a species if we had followed the precautionary principle we would still be sitting up in the trees or extinct, take your pick.
Humanity has prospered through risk taking. AGW is BS lets go for it.

January 29, 2009 2:37 am

E.M.Smith (23:17:32)

The logo reminds me (with very different colors) of the Martian flag in “Mars Attacks”…

That’s what I thought of too. Great movie: click

Robert Bateman
January 29, 2009 2:50 am

A couple of missions or trading posts on the coast isn’t going to give you much more than the oceanic influence that still exist today.
It’s inland that was not settled at the time. It’s inland that is missing.
Southern California is not my concern here.
The vegetation maps of the region south of me went basically unchanged except for the Desert Southwest being a woodland.
All I want to know at this point is what the proxy says for any Grand Minimums coinciding with the Younger Dryas.
They didn’t have thermometers in the Dalton.

Robert Bateman
January 29, 2009 2:57 am

Wiki is a poor place to find answers for work that has never been done. And besides, it’s open to editing and the sort of skulldugery that IPCC and Hansen have been up to.
Ought to be Indian lore and legend as they traversed inland all across the Siskyous, Cascades and No. Coast Ranges, but they got mostly wiped out.

Brendan H
January 29, 2009 3:10 am

“REPLY: Rob, what makes you automatically assume there’s a “money trail”? Looking for big oil again? 😉 Anthony”
So if the ‘money trail’ is out of bounds, why did you let this comment though on the Theon thread: “vstarrider (21:42:24) : Follow the money and you will find the cause. Hansen bet his reputation and his wallet on his models.”
On a more general note, I would like to offer some sincere advice. On the Theon thread you have a made a serious error of editorial judgment in running the story as presented. As a result, you have the blog in a fever of expectation about the imminent demise of AGW.
You know that’s not going to happen soon, if ever. You need to start dampening down the hopes and expectations you have raised, otherwise in a few weeks or months there are going to be some very disappointed people on WUWT.
The Theon situation is simple. The US has a new administration which has promised to take action on AGW. Whatever the degree of that action, the stance of the Obama administration represents a 180 deg turn from the previous one.
As happens in these situations, a few wild men have come rushing out of the bush waving pieces of paper in an attempt to stop the tide of history. They will fail because the brute reality is that in climate science they don’t count.
Inhofe is using Theon as cannon fodder, and as a result Theon just comes across as a grouchy old git trying to settle scores. It’s sad and pathetic. If you want to maintain the credibility of your blog, don’t encourage this sort of behaviour.

January 29, 2009 3:21 am

Interesting comments by Sen. Inhofe today regarding Al Gore: click
Check out the reader comments following the article. Most support Inhofe.

Ron de Haan
January 29, 2009 3:58 am

It looks if we have found an independent organization capable of verifying the AGW hysteria reports and publications from the UN IPCC, the UN World Meteorological Organization and the bias National Weather Organizations like NOAA and the Publications produced by the Skeptic Community.
Maybe it is possible to set up a cooperation with the International Institute of Forecasters to set up a non bias committee to peer review any weather of climate report used as a basis for Government policies and legislation.
When I took a look at the web site of the organization a noticed they offer financial support for research promoting forecasting methods and business forecasting practice:
“Grants and Research Awards
SAS/IIF Grant to Promote Research on Forecasting”
“For the seventh year, the IIF, in collaboration with SAS®, is proud to announce financial support for research on how to improve forecasting methods and business forecasting practice. The awards will be (2) two $5,000 grants. Applications should be submitted to the IIF Office by September 30, 2009. For more information on this grant opportunity, click here.
Anthony, I think you should send in an application for your weather station project because no forecasting is possible without sound basic data.
Let’s grab this bull by it’s horns.

pkatt
January 29, 2009 4:24 am

Ron (Tex) McGowan (22:25:05) :
The rich, the Republicans and big business would be loving this.
Im neither rich, nor republican, and I don’t own a business. Im not employed by any company associated with oil.. and Im happy as heck more folks are jumping off the climate scare wagon.. So explain that?? Or maybe you hadnt considered that there might be folks that care about the enviornment but think GW is a money grabbing hoax?
The more folks that come over the better:) Make sure you write your senators tonite or we will have that pig of a stimulas package hanging over the next generations heads to pay off. Wonder what our children will think of us when GW and Carbon credits turns out to be the biggest pyramid scheme ever.

JeffT
January 29, 2009 4:31 am

Michael J. Bentley
From the website “Science Poles”
Polarstern to drop 20 tonnes of iron sulphate in the Southern Ocean near Antarctica.
http://tinyurl.com/bmx99h
This is an experiment to grow algal blooms on the sea, which is supposed to absorb CO2 and drop it into the depths as a waste product of the algae. If it works as per the laboratory, we can expect more of this Geo-chemical Engineering.
On the route trace of Polarstern on the University of Bremen’s website, it appears that the ship is in the region of South Georgia.
You wrote:
“Again, my fear (along with the feeling my pocket is being legally picked) is that some well meaning moron will attempt some (gov’munt approved and funded) large scale experiment that will really mess up the climate.”
Looks like we’ve been pre-empted.
Next thing will be Tim Flannery’s pumping sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, to give the planet “sunglasses”

foinavon
January 29, 2009 4:36 am

[snip, snip snip snip snip snip snip snip, OK here’s the deal. You spent all that time, writing up several point by point rebutalls, there’s some good points in there, but at the same time, you make accusations of the authors pushing nonsense, silly, etc. I’m growing weary of you “foinavon”, attacking people that have the courage to put their name to their work, be it right or wrong, while you sit from the comfort of anonymity and hurl attacks. These two gentlemen have put their names on the line because they feel the methodology is not supported by procedures that insure a bias free outcome. So either use your real name and come to the level playing field that these gentlemen work on, and then use those terms, or revise the post so that it is free from denigrating terms, and I’ll repost it. Science has never been forwarded by anonymity, and I encourage people on both sides to stop this sniping from the shadows and put up or shut up. Example: Simon Evans. While I disagree with a lot of what he says, had the courage to stop being phantom “Steven Talbot”, and for that he has earned a measure of respect, let’s see what you are made of sir. – Anthony Watts]

January 29, 2009 4:49 am

Brendan H (03:10:54) :
“REPLY: Rob, what makes you automatically assume there’s a “money trail”? Looking for big oil again? 😉 Anthony”
So if the ‘money trail’ is out of bounds, why did you let this comment though on the Theon thread: “vstarrider (21:42:24) : Follow the money and you will find the cause. Hansen bet his reputation and his wallet on his models.”

Actually, I don’t see the issue with following the money, on either side of the debate. If anything, it helps to validate the information comeing out. If the “Big Oil” validates the warmists papers/theories and the “Green Lobby” validates the sceptics papers, then this can only be a good thing because it elliminates the bais that is found with those of a similar opinion.
What ever theories/papers that can’t be disqualified on both sides, must be closer to the truth, surely.
Neil Crafter (20:41:30) :
If a AGW-organisation would use a logo like this than i would be really scared, the choice of colors is just wrong unless the one who came up with has a twisted sense of humor, still that’s a kind of humor you have to keep in front of you if the subjects are as serious as this.

As a graphic designer, I can tell you that there is no accounting for some peoples tastes! One persons beautiful is another persons ugly. And don’t forget, the client is always right!!

sod
January 29, 2009 5:21 am

Google “forecasting” just for fun.
Google “J Scott Armstrong” he literally wrote the book on forecasting.

you guys are falling into a trap. Armstrong isn t “the leading expert” on this subject. Armstrong IS this subject!
basically Armstrong and his associates are the only ones, who use their own “forecasting principles”.
they want to prevent government action. they do so, by requiring a long list of principles to be followed, to get a forecast to start government action.
if they find any principles violated, they will claim a failed forecast and use it as a reason to stop government action.
ask yourself this simple question: where is the article of “Armstrong, the forecasting expert”, warning us of the collapse of the financial industries?
now if he can t forecast his own field (economics), how is he qualified to “forecast” climate science?

REPLY: And James Hansen wrote the book on AGW, and GISS is the only organization that uses the procedure he developed, and it wasn’t until last year that GISS released the procedures, bowing to pressure. GISS offers no certification in the procedure they’ve developed. IIS does. Your point is moot. – Anthony

John Philip
January 29, 2009 5:21 am

1. Deja vu. I am all in favour of recycling, but …..
2> … You can download GISS’s climate model at their website.
REPLY: But getting it to run is a different task altogether. Have you run it? Mind you, not the “educational” version for public consumption with the nice front end GUI, but the one GISS released last year, FORTRAN warts and all, after much public pressure following the 2007 Y2K temperature splice debacle? If you’ve been able to get that one to work, we’d love to see some output here. – Anthony

You seem to be confusing the GISTEMP gridded global mean temperature product with the ModelE climate model source code . ModelE will happily run on any unix system that has a FORTRAN compiler and some other (public domain) math modules. Here is a forum for people who have no trouble doing just that.
Looking at actual source code can be informative, however it is frequently better to take the algorithms e.g. for adjustment (which have always been public domain, in the case of GISTEMP) and develop your own software independently to verify results.
REPLY: No I wasn’t talking about GISTEMP, though it hasn’t been successfully run in the wild AFAIK. EDGCM (in the forum you refer to) is the educational version with the GUI, I have it, it is not the same version (as I understand it) as the GISS model E they run in-house. Even for the Model E without the GUI front end, it seems they still haven’t matched the public version with the in-house version. For example this comment on that forum from Gavin Schmidt:

“We welcome feedback on ease of use, compile/runtime problems and indeed climate model results. Do note however, that ongoing development means that some issues have already been resolved in current codes. We intend to update the public code some point soon at which point, public comments will be even more welcome. “

There’s nothing additional from Gavin past that one post he made, and why does he refer to “public code” separately from “current codes” then provide no updates to that forum comment for almost two years now? – Anthony

January 29, 2009 5:23 am

Brendan H,
“Theon just comes across as a grouchy old git”
Thank you very much for your careful and expert analysis.
This is typical of the offensive, ad hominem, ageist attacks employed by the warmists.
In return, I would like to offer you ‘some sincere advice’. Read what Theon and Armstrong et al are saying, try to understand them, and then if you have any specific criticisms of the contents of their statements, make them. But don’t call a scientist with 50 years experience a grouchy old git.
Theon said that important small scale phenomena are not included in the models – true.
He said that some scientists have manipulated data – true (eg the notorious sequence of ‘adjustments’).
Now Green and Armstrong are saying that future climate is very difficult if not impossible to forecast. Read their paper at
http://kestencgreen.com/naiveclimate.pdf

VG
January 29, 2009 5:23 am

Anthony may have noticed more AGW’s coming on this site to post (maybe since its become best science blog ect). Probably a good thing.. examples Brendan H and Flanagan. They do their cause a great favour but they rarely seem to provide data LOL. The data and then the people will decide whether AGW is or is not in the end….

Psi
January 29, 2009 5:34 am

Sekerob (22:02:29) :
From the never heard off before IIF:
Scott Armstrong (1996) Professor of Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania, USA: For his work in establishing the Institute and serving as an editor of the Journal and on the Board of Directors; for his wide-ranging research contributions, particularly on the empirical evaluation of different approaches to forecasting; for innovative approaches to the teaching of forecasting.
Okay, lets follow the money trail.
There are lots of money trails to follow, Sekerob, if you want to follow that line of “reasoning.” We could start with the heavy investments of Al Gore et al in cap and trade.
To me his kind of suggested “analysis” suggests an unwillingness to deal with the fundamentally flawed science and statistics on which the AGW (at least in their extreme forms) models depend. One doesn’t have to been in the pay of “big oil” to see that the emeror of Climate Modelling is skinny dipping in the ice.

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 5:57 am

A couple of points:
1. Armstrong suggests that the naive ‘no change’ hindcast is as useful as the hindcasts of model runs (“A forecasting model should not be used unless it can be shown to provide forecasts that are more accurate than those from this naïve model…”). This graphic shows the mean of 58 model simulations against observations from 1900 (I can’t readily find the equivalent from 1850):-
http://www.ipcc.ch/graphics/graphics/ar4-wg1/jpg/faq-8-1-fig-1.jpg
The comparison, then, is between a no-trend straight line (the naive model) and the mean of the model runs. Which gives a more accurate representation of the temperatures that occurred? Can anyone seek to persuade me that a level line would have represented the temperature as well as the GCMs do?
2. Here is the Hadley graphic of recorded temperatures from 1850:
http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/nhshgl.gif
Draw a level line from the 1850 temperature across the graph (the naive model). It can be seen that from 1920 every single annual temperature is above the ‘naive forecast’. From 1979 every year is 0.5C or more in relation to the naive forecast.
Time for some scepticism, no? If it were being suggested by those arguing their concerns regarding AGW that a straight trendline diverging at an obviously increasing rate for a period of 90 years was a ‘good enough’ representation of the record, what would be the response? That is what Armstrong is suggesting, and the overwhelming response here is one of enthusiastic approval.

gary gulrud
January 29, 2009 6:05 am

“start dampening down the hopes and expectations you have raised, otherwise in a few weeks or months there are going to be some very disappointed”
I predict individuals with these prophesies and admonitions will soon be reduced to populating street corners, in hair shirts, with signs around their neck “Will model climate for food!”.

Wondering Aloud
January 29, 2009 6:06 am

Chris V.
I am glad you are here. Though you are not winning the argument in this case, I would actually think a professional forcaster would be better at evaluating the general quality of forecasts than a climatologist who appears not to understand the weakness of the model.
Sometimes you help people here stay focused, it is easy to get emotional and personal on this issue where so much is not as it seems.
I do think the people at GISS need to either make a large scale attempt to correct and revise the rubbish that the GISS record is now, and to make how it is done transparent so it is reproducible or they should be sacked. If it can’t be reproduced it isn’t science. At the present time the record and model coming out of these people are not up to the standards of Cold Fusion much less science.

January 29, 2009 6:11 am

‘Inhofe is using Theon as cannon fodder, and as a result Theon just comes across as a grouchy old git trying to settle scores. It’s sad and pathetic. If you want to maintain the credibility of your blog, don’t encourage this sort of behaviour.’
Is that something like: “Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.”?

Gurnsy
January 29, 2009 6:14 am

The IIF logo also reminds me of the “” from Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
Rather apt lyrics from “Goodbye Blue Sky”:
“Did you ever wonder why we had to run for shelter when the
promise of a brave new world unfurled beneath a clear blue
sky?”
Thank you Anthony and to you all for this wonderful, eye-opening site.

Luis Dias
January 29, 2009 6:16 am

I’d like to know which “rules” the climate scientists violated, and if such rules are IIF’s own home-made guidelines, or if such rules are recognized by the IPCC or other major independent group.
REPLY: The IPCC makes up their own rules and “home-made guidelines” too, your point? – Anthony

Tom in normal Florida
January 29, 2009 6:22 am

Perhaps all this warming/cooling won’t really matter.
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,483477,00.html

Luis Dias
January 29, 2009 6:25 am

RC replied to this 19 months ago.
Here.

Flanagan
January 29, 2009 6:32 am

VG,
I’ve been here for a while, now… If you want data from me, I can only suggest you the references I gave in the topic on Theon.

Luis Dias
January 29, 2009 6:40 am

What astounds me is the sheer gullibility of almost every single one reader of this blog. Once I skimmed the text, it was clearly obvious that this wasn’t mainstream science, it was fringe science trying to evaluate the mainstream one. Where’s the data from their analysis? And what rules, what criteria is actually used in their evaluation? That’s the good discussion, and until that is addressed (and probably shown to be bollocks’ science trying to say that the other one is the bollocks one) this is sheer opinion FUD. Just like the Theon thing. Even RC posted about this YEARS ago, and debunked the hell out of it in style.
Yes, yes, the RC are the devil themselves. Cut the crap, I don’t care who says what. I care about juice. And while these guys didn’t have it, RC did gave it an astounding punch in the face.
[~snip~ Calling the site owner derogatory names isn’t going to get you anywhere. ~ dbstealey, mod.]
Really. The “best science blog”. Holy Macaroni.

Frank K.
January 29, 2009 6:46 am

John Philip (05:21:27) :
“Looking at actual source code can be informative, however it is frequently better to take the algorithms e.g. for adjustment (which have always been public domain, in the case of GISTEMP) and develop your own software independently to verify results.”
What algorithms? Please tell me where they have documented their algorithms in detail and related it to their software implementation?? And, no the brief descriptions given at the GISS website do NOT constitute documentation! Nor do the pointers to journal articles, which never describe the algorithms in adequate detail.
GISS has decided that their public domain codes do NOT need to be properly documented and, accordingly, no one can independently determine what they’re solving. And the FORTRAN is a jumbled mess. I URGE everyone with programming experience to download their junk and see for themselves…
John – maybe you could find the differential equations and boundary conditions that Model E is solving – please report back what you find…

Just want truth...
January 29, 2009 6:52 am

” sod (05:21:00) :
you guys are falling into a trap. Armstrong isn t “the leading expert” on this subject. Armstrong IS this subject! ”
I see more comments from guys of your ilk lately. Is it because WUWT won “weblog best science blog of the year” so your ilk are coming here trying to discredit WUWT?
We are falling in to a trap? Tell us about your qualifications as a climate modeller that makes you able to discern this ‘trap’.
But we all know this is what you are now doing to Dr J. Scott Armstrong :
“MANMADE” GLOBAL WARMING RELIGION – RULE ONE:
NEVER discuss the science.
Attack the man.
Then repeat the mantra.
Note: Repeat RULE ONE mindlessly until you feel you’ve won the argument.”
What do you think of Antonino Zichichi who has said :
“models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) are incoherent and invalid from a scientific point of view”.
Before answering what you think of Antonino Zichichi you might want to read about him first at this link :
http://www.ccsem.infn.it/em/zichichi/short_bio.html

sod
January 29, 2009 6:52 am

I’d like to know which “rules” the climate scientists violated, and if such rules are IIF’s own home-made guidelines, or if such rules are recognized by the IPCC or other major independent group.
nobody is using those rules, apart from Armstrong and associates.
just think about it for a moment: every climate paper would answer all 140 “principles”.
all papers would double in size, without any real benefit.
REPLY: Just getting them to follow one or two forecasting principles would be a great step forward. Since you seem to be against organizations that create standards, may I suggest that you systematically go through your dwelling and remove all standards for compliance that have been put into it, then watch the results of the entropy creep in. By the way, how’s that website of yours bashing the surge in Iraq doing for you? Looks a little stale. Your moniker SOD stands for “seed of doubt” which was your skeptical view of the government position on Iraq, yet you follow the AGW position without such critical questioning. Why is that? – Anthony

foinavon
January 29, 2009 6:57 am

Going through the list:
ONE. Since we don’t know the greenhouse gas emission scenarios, climate models are run to explore ranges of likelihood in response to ranges of emission scenarios. They’re used to test understanding of the inputs into the earth’s climate and their interactions and so on. So we know they’re not “forecasts” in the commonly used sense of the word.
What are these “72 scientific principles of forecasting”? Where is “Green and Armstrong 2008”? Not in the scientific database. We’d surely like to see it before accepting this analysis. Can we have a proper citation?
TWO. All papers published in the scientific literature are subject to peer review. Papers are submitted to appropriate journals, editors select appropriate reviewers. Why should “forecasters” be used as reviewers of scientific papers that they’re unlikely to understand? If a forecaster (of the type suggested by Armstrong) is involved, it might more usefully be in the arena of policymaking.
THREE. A perusal of Armstrong’s publications indicates that he works largely in the area of conflict forecasting, at least in recent years, and that’s certainly the case with Green [a recent paper K. C. Green and J. S. Armstrong (2007) “structured analogies for forecasting” Int. J. Forecasting 23 365-376 describes forecasting success in relation to “nurses disputes”, “artists protest”, “Telco takeover”, and such like)]. He publishes on “game theory” and “predicting presidential elections” and whether the scientific citation index is fully accurate (it isn’t!) and so on. His complaint against “expert opinion” might be relevant to those arenas.
So Armstrong suggests under his point 3 “Expert opinions are an inappropriate forecasting method in situations that involve high complexity and high uncertainty.” But we’re not talking about “expert opinion”. We’re talking about scientific analysis. Clearly the question of “expert opinion” may relate to policy decisions (that are more akin to the issue of conflict resolution, for example). But in these cases climate models are only a part of the input to policymaking which assesses the entire scientific evidence as well as economic considerations, cost-benefit analyses, environmental issues and so on.
FOUR. Armstrong says: “In other words, in what ways might the effects be beneficial or harmful? Here again, we have been unable to find any scientific forecasts—as opposed to speculation—despite our appeals for such studies.”
There’s in fact plenty of this in the scientific literature. Here’s a recent example of a scientific analysis that incorporates the economic impact of global warming into predictions of the geographical-specified impacts. That took 5 minutes to find. A quick perusal of the scientific database indicates there’s lot’s of scientific analysis in this area.
W. D. Nordhaus (2006) Geography and macroeconomics: New data and new findings. PNAS 103, 3510-3517.
http://www.pnas.org/content/103/10/3510.abstract?sid=7b65659b-5045-490c-92a7-d7004ee586ad
FIVE. Likewise there’s an abundance of published science on cost-benefit analysis in climate change and mitigation. In relation to analyses of costs and benefits of alternative actions to combat climate change, this comes in essentially two broad flavours. The first is the direct scientific study of potential mitigating technologies. There’s a huge amount of study in this area. I opened the current issue of Nature this morning and found a very good example of the careful analysis of the likely benefits of iron-seeding of primary ocean productivity to promote ocean-uptake of CO2 (i.e. dump loads of iron into the oceans). If one wishes to assess the “costs and benefits of alternative actions” that’s the sort of info we need and it’s being published rather widely and in abundance.
R. T. Pollard et al. (2009) Southern Ocean deep-water carbon export enhanced by natural iron fertilization. 457, 577-580.
The other sort is the more academic approach to cost benefit analysis. Nordhaus’s paper cited above is an example of a scientific analysis of cost-benefit analysis in relation to climate-change, and there’s lots more of this stuff out there.
SIX. It’s not obvious that Armstrong’s apparent requirement for a naïve model is really very useful in climate change forecasting. Nevertheless we already clearly do have a “naïve model” for climate forecasting. It’s the vast amount of empirical, observational and theoretical analysis that indicates that the earth under the present climate regime has a climate sensitivity near 3 oC of temperature rise per doubling of atmospheric CO2, and that the earth has various elements of “inertia” that define the rate at which a response to a new temperature equilibrium is achieved in response to enhanced forcing. The climate models are entirely consistent with that. They give further information in allowing predictions of likely geographical distributions of enhanced warming, and precipitation patterns and so on, under given emission scenarios. So they seem to fulfil Armstrong’s requirements.
SEVEN. The climate system is stable when it’s stable and isn’t when it isn’t. According to Armstrong, climate forecasts he made starting from 1850 were within 0.5 oC of the realized outcome. And so? It would be an extraordinarily poor forecast if they weren’t within 0.5 oC, over 65 years since the global warming from 1850-1915 was of the order of a few tenths of a degree. And how can one forecast the temperature of the following 100 years from the temperature of a single year anyway……..?
EIGHT. Both the science and the policymaking seems pretty conservative to me. I don’t understand who’s speaking here by the way. Sections 1-8 seem to be Armstrong’s own words. Section 8 has an “according to Dr. Armstrong…”, in it? Who’s writing this bit?
REPLY: Nice to see you cleaned up the text, it is too bad you didn’t want to come out of the shadow of anonymity. – Anthony

January 29, 2009 7:00 am

F Rasmin (21:51:26) :
Snow? It was just over 113 degrees fahrenheit here in Adelaide Australia yesterday.

Meanwhile, were about to have our coldest winter in 13 years…
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7858104.stm
We are both just posting weather events, which as we know, is not the same as climate…

Frank K.
January 29, 2009 7:03 am

By the way, regarding that great forum at Columbia Univ. that “supports” Model E users.
http://forums.edgcm.columbia.edu/forumdisplay.php?f=26
I popped over there, and found the latest post was from Sept 2008 as follows:
“First post, hoping that this forum is alive enough to prompt a response.
I recently downloaded and compiled the Model E on my linux box.
ftp://ftp.giss.nasa.gov/pub/modelE/modelE1.tar.gz
I downloaded the initialization data in the fixed.tar.gz file also provided.
ftp://ftp.giss.nasa.gov/pub/modelE/fixed.tar.gz
But I was styimed by an error that called out missing ISCCP.tautable files
While I found the ISCCP web site with no problem, I cannot find a single file that looks appropriate.
Anyone here have a suggestion as to where I can find a ISCCP.tautable file for Model E?”
NO responses were posted. Wow, what a great help those GISS guys are!!

JP
January 29, 2009 7:03 am

Lost in all the debate about climate sensitivity, feedback loops, GCMs, and hockey sticks is the fact that AGW proponents cannot predict future global temps with any precisions. There answer to this is simple: they don’t make forecasts but they do issue scenario projections. Most AGW proponents forget this fact when they say that by 2100 the global temps will be 2 or 4 deg C warmer than the year 2000. Hansen himself didn’t forecast anything in 1988, but gave 3 possible temperature projections based on CO2 increases. He had a 1 in 3 chance of hitting his target.
The same with the IPCC 2007 TAR. The IPCC issued scenario projections. After looking at the scenarios it became apparent that the IPCC hasn’t a clue what our climate will be like in 100 years. Call it what you want, but this isn’t science. If the the science is settled why the lack of confidence? Why all the scenarios? This why the Alarmists are all over the board on everything from sea levels, to rainfall projections, to TC predictions.
Forecasting is a much more rigourous thing. It either hits or it doesn’t. You are either wrong or you are right -especially in aviation weather forecasting. Private weather forecasters have businesses riding on thier forecasts. Commodity traders depend on thier long range and seasonal forecasts. If you are wrong too often you will soon be out of work. It is not surprising that one of the largest group of “deniers” comes from the people who do weather day in and day out. Practice breeds scepticism. Climate scientists have thier theories, statistics, and computer driven models. They will be long gone (and thier predictions long forgotten) by the time thier predictions can be verified.

John W.
January 29, 2009 7:08 am

Luis Dias (06:16:44) :
I’d like to know which “rules” the climate scientists violated, and if such rules are IIF’s own home-made guidelines, or if such rules are recognized by the IPCC or other major independent group.

Actually, Luis, we’d all like to know what if any rules, from any recognized, established scientific or engineering discipline the IPCC followed. Or did they use home-made rules as needed to support their political agenda?
With regard to the IIF, it is a professional organization, just as the IEEE, AMS, AIAA, SAE, ASME, etc. are professional organizations. As such, its purpose is establishing standards for the profession, just as the other organizations do.
While we’re on the subject of professional organizations, the IEEE has standards for simulations. Did any of the GCM contributors to the IPCC follow them? If not, is it because the IEEE is not recognized by the IPCC? Or they aren’t considered a “major independent group?” Or are the IEEE’s “home-made” rules irrelevant?
You should be careful about sneering at a professional organization. It creates a very legitimate opportunity to draw inferences that reflect poorly.

January 29, 2009 7:09 am

Just want truth… (06:52:10) :
“MANMADE” GLOBAL WARMING RELIGION – RULE ONE:
NEVER discuss the science.
Attack the man.
Then repeat the mantra.

Reminds me about the rules of fightclub from the film, aptly named… Fightclub, staring Brad Pitt…
1st RULE: You do not talk about FIGHT CLUB.
2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about FIGHT CLUB.
lol!

BernardP
January 29, 2009 7:14 am

“Dr J. Scott Armstrong, tabled a statement”
So where exactly was this “tabled”?

Robert
January 29, 2009 7:16 am

@JP (07:03:41) :
“He had a 1 in 3 chance of hitting his target.”
He had a 1 in 4 chance of missing its target completely.

January 29, 2009 7:16 am

foinavon (06:57:21) :
TWO. All papers published in the scientific literature are subject to peer review. Papers are submitted to appropriate journals, editors select appropriate reviewers. Why should “forecasters” be used as reviewers of scientific papers that they’re unlikely to understand? If a forecaster (of the type suggested by Armstrong) is involved, it might more usefully be in the arena of policymaking.

On the flip side, why should “climate modelers” build their “forecasts” without the understanding of the principles of forcasting? This is a two way road…

Craig Moore
January 29, 2009 7:17 am

Dr. Pielke, Sr. has a clarifying column on weather and climate models. See: http://www.climatesci.org/2009/01/29/real-climate-suffers-from-foggy-perception-by-henk-tennekes/

Neven
January 29, 2009 7:18 am

I recommend everyone to follow the link Luis Dias placed at (06:25:45). What strikes me is that Armstrong already came out a year and a half ago with his critique of IPCC forecasting, but it is presented here at WUWT as though it’s coming completely out of the blue. It’s put on the level of the John S. Theon story, though it’s completely different.
Some remarks following the article on RC are quite interesting:
-The authors also seem to put a large weight on “forecasting principles” developed in different fields. While there may be some valuable advice, and cross-field cooperation is to be encouraged, one should not assume that techniques developed in say, econometrics, port directly into climate science.
-When I see statements like: “Based on our Google searches, those forecasting long-term climate change have no apparent knowledge of evidence-based forecasting methods, so we expect that the same conclusions would apply to the other three necessary parts of the forecasting problem” and I just cringe.
A “Google search” sounds like something I’d see on a second-rate undergraduate research paper; how about using the Science Citation Index for example and show me you’ve really done a thorough lit. review. This is just lazy.
-It seems to me that much of the failure of the G&A article comes from the fact that they are economists. Economics doesn’t have anything resembling physics or thermodynamics, it only has models. For a long time, they thought the velocity of money was stable. Then it changed. For a long time, the P/E ratio of most stocks stayed in the range of 10 to 20. Then the range changed.
-A look at the list of authors and reviewers is enlightening. While a smattering are from information sciences or mathematics the majority are from business schools or business related institutions. Psychology is also represented. Unless I missed someone there is no one from the physical sciences as either an author or a reviewer.
And here’s another interesting link explaining exactly how the IPCC violates Armstrong’s scientific principles of forecasting: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/6/27/0249/19852
I have to say that after doing some extensive reading today about the subject Mr Armstrong’s method is in my view far from objective and hardly scientific.

Pamela Gray
January 29, 2009 7:22 am

Can we not use the word “ilk”. It is a disgusting word in the context of a science debate that should be focused on data and analysis. I have done research and I can tell you that statistical analysis is one way to get the data to say what you want it to say. So data and its analysis is open for serious consideration and critique. That does not make either side “ilk’s”.

BobW in NC
January 29, 2009 7:23 am

Perhaps a little OT, but here it is anyway – another blow for the AGW folks from John Coleman (via Drudge): “The Amazing Story Behind The Global Warming Scam.”
It just gets better and better…
http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/38574742.html
Anthony – your blog is HUGE. Thanks for your hard work and good science!

BarryW
January 29, 2009 7:32 am

Scientists Rank Global Cooling Hacks
And by “Hacks” they’re not referring to Algore.

January 29, 2009 7:39 am

Pamela
‘Ilk’ means merely ‘of the same’ it is in no way derogatary. It often refers to members of the same class or a family, and was formerly used to denote descendants of someone-often high born
People use far worse words than that on this blog-although thankfully it is normally well mannered and swearing is minimal.
TonyB

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 7:49 am

JP (07:03:41) :
The IPCC issued scenario projections. After looking at the scenarios it became apparent that the IPCC hasn’t a clue what our climate will be like in 100 years. Call it what you want, but this isn’t science. If the the science is settled why the lack of confidence? Why all the scenarios? This why the Alarmists are all over the board on everything from sea levels, to rainfall projections, to TC predictions.
Output can only be predicted from known inputs. Projections are made in respect of different sets of presumed inputs. They can be assessed once the actual inputs (aka forcings) become known for the period. The IPCC can’t be expected to predict what humans will choose to do!

Fraizer
January 29, 2009 7:55 am

@Sekerob (22:02:29) :
By all means, let’s follow the money:
http://www.kusi.com/weather/colemanscorner/38574742.html

EricR
January 29, 2009 8:01 am

Now my first thought was “the tide is changing against AGW”, and indeed it is. But my second though was, how “coincidental” it is that this is happening now that there is a Democratic administration. I mean, think about it. These are HUGE bombshells being dropped, both within the last two days, and both not 10 DAYS after Obama was inaugurated. To me, this screams manipulation. And it makes perfect sense in this economic climate. Here we are, about to spend billions on on stimulus, and you’ve still got the Greenies screaming that we need a carbon tax and other craziness. And the Dems CANNOT afford to do this. They know it. Not during a recession. So along comes information that basically says this AGW thing is all completely overblown, just in time for the Dems to have political cover to NOT do any green-type taxes that would kill the economy. This is just more proof that Obama just might be a masterful politician. He gets to look all concerned about the environment, he gets elected in large part because of Greenies who want drastic “change”, and now he is off the hook. So he can / will still pursue renewable energy as a policy (and he should), but he does it with a different goal – energy independence – and he doesn’t need to levy any huge carbon taxes that will cripple the recovery.
Now the real question might be HOW is he doing this? How is this anti-AGW campaign being orchestrated? I’m not sure, it might just be calling in some favors, getting some people who were told to keep quiet before to speak out. But it really does seem AWFULLY convenient. Combine this with the recent Pew poll that says that AGW is WAY down the list of priorities for the American people (something like 30% still think it is a big deal), and you see how the math adds up. This may have been planned all along once these guys got elected, because they cannot give in to their extreme base, and they know it. I think the really AGW-crazed people are about to get marginalized within the party. They were used to get the Dems elected. The Dems never really believed in this AGW stuff, and now that they are on the verge of permanent power (I mean, after thiey spend all of this money, will they really lose again any time soon?), they get to jettison some of the stuff that would threaten their control. I don’t like ’em, but you gotta admire the gamesmanship.

foinavon
January 29, 2009 8:02 am

Paul Shanahan (07:16:32) :

On the flip side, why should “climate modelers” build their “forecasts” without the understanding of the principles of forcasting.

First, of course, because a climate model, and it’s output, is not a “forecast”!
Additionally we’d have to know what these “principles of forecasting” are. Can you provide a link/citation? I’ve had a look at Armstrong’s published papers, and these principles seem not to be in the scientific arena. Perhaps he’s put them on a website somewhere? Or written a book/pamphlet? It seems rather extraordinary to be discussing this issue without anyone seeming to know what the “principles of forecasting” actually are, or whether they have any relevance to climate-related science, let alone climate-related policy…

EricR
January 29, 2009 8:11 am

I realize the above is all supposition, and just as likely the Dems / Obama will be forced to react to events (such as sudden cold and scientific dissent) that are happening. And I understand that there is still funding for the climate models and C02 capture technology in the spending bill. But again, the big issue is carbon-taxing, and I haven’t heard one peep about that. Doesn’t that seem odd, given the “cataclysmic” impact of not removing CO2? It just seems to me like the groundwork is being laid for a tactical retreat, all the while trying to keep the base happy and keeping the scientists happy with funding. I sometimes see more than is what really there, but politics is all strategy. What you see in the press is rarely what is really going on.
For example, think about Pelosi’s recent “backdown” on funding of family planning services in the stimulus bill. She goes on TV, basically says how less poor people IS a stimulus, and then “backs down” because Obama asks her too? This seems all to convenient for me, especially given Pelosi’s reputation as a tiger not to be messed with. She even told Obama to stay off her turf recently. IMO, this looks like a setup, pure and simple. I mean, think about it. They KNEW this would provoke a Rep backlash. There was no doubt about it. If Obama wanted to show real bipartisanship, they would have done this behind closed doors before it ever hit the bill. And Pelosi NEVER likes to look bad. You think she would let this purposely leak out and then “back down” to the Reps? Even after she went on This Week with ‘lil shorty to defend how birth control is STIMULUS because poor people drain services? Why would she make such a big issue out of a small part of the bill? And then back down for Obama’s sake? She would never do this unless it was part of a bigger gaming strategy. Later on, when they want something from the Reps (perhaps voting for this bill when it’s done), they will surely point back to this and say “look what we did for you” to put pressure on the Reps to vote for it.
BTW, I am an independent. I see politics for what it is. There are no saints in politics.

Robert
January 29, 2009 8:20 am

I suspect that Dr. Armstrong’s opinion of and involvment in the AGW debate went through an evolution similar to mine (and probably many reading this). Starting out as sympathetic to the notion of AGW (it is intuituve that we have some warming impact – look at the stuff we burn). Slowly gathering more information over time. Getting drawn into the discussion in some substantive way. Growing incredulity at the tenuous substance of Al Gore’s postion and the credulous MSM that supports it. Growing disgust at the politization of the science.
And then to go over to a site like Real Climate and to compare the discourse there to that here and at Climate Audit. I’ve spent a lot of time sorting through the links at Real Climate that do not establish or prove what is claimed.
The irony is that a few years ago, the AGW position had essentially achieved consensus. Rather than taking yes for an answer, and keeping their heads down during the current cooling, the alarmist kept pushing and making more extreme claims and policy demands. One of those (polar bear extiction) has apparently drawn Dr. Armstrong into the discourse.

Lou
January 29, 2009 8:20 am

Anthony,
I agree with this post (below) and I hope you did have a good evening. As I watch the news this am I see where President Obama is about to make some major decisions regarding “Global warming/change/cooling/…”
In the next moment we see Mr. Gore proclaiming that we can’t wait another second – or else the sky will fall.
IMHO we need a visible personality on TV – interviewed by the media (read Fox) to champion this cause. Again, IMHO, that might be you.
So, what do you think?
You certainly have done some impressive fact gathering and excellent presentation.
Thanks for all your work.
Lou
“MC (19:21:08) :
Anthony,
You remind me of Colombo. Persistent, methodical, constant, questioning, and always after the truth.
I know you would rather we talk about the post but I wanted to give my first thought after reading it.
Thank you for being like Colombo and have a great evening.”

DaveE
January 29, 2009 8:25 am
John Galt
January 29, 2009 8:29 am

Look’s like a bunch of business profs dabbling in things they know little about.

According to the Nasa.gov website, Dr. James Hansen has no degrees in climatology, climate science, geology, earth sciences, chemistry or meteorology. Many other climate change experts are biologists or environmental scientists? What makes them experts on the climate?

Stop imagining. You can download GISS’s climate model at their website.

Thanks for that tip. I haven’t used FORTRAN since 1981. Is there a FORTRAN compiler I can get for Windows? I’m pretty sure they don’t teach that programming language anymore. That’s a government agency for you.

The rich, the Republicans and big business would be loving this.

Check your premises. Look and see who is really going to profit if we mandate more green energy, force people to buy more wind power and force a cap-and-trade scheme upon everybody.
As to why these people are starting to speak out now? They have probably been scared out of their silence by the prospect that some foolish save-the-planet, stop AGW legislation will actually pass this Congress and leave us economically crippled while doing nothing to save the global climate.

G Alston
January 29, 2009 8:48 am

foinavon — Why should “forecasters” be used as reviewers of scientific papers that they’re unlikely to understand?
Non sequitor. Forecasting is a mathematical discipline. You don’t need to be an expert in climate physics to have a valid opinion on the forecasting. I don’t think it would hurt if papers that showing a forecast were forwarded to those who are experts in the field. It could even help. That said, I’m not convinced that the result presented would be any different.
But we’re not talking about “expert opinion”. We’re talking about scientific analysis.
Not really. We’re talking about the output of what amounts to a massive spreadsheet, albeit bigger, faster, and using iterative algorithms rather than formulae, but still, a spreadsheet in concept and execution. (Doubtful that the formula algorithms are self-modifying, in which case an iterative algorithm is different than a formula only in scope — it’s still repeatable.)
This is the one thing that bugs me about climate science, this perception by AGW proponents that model outputs are data. They’re not.

gary gulrud
January 29, 2009 8:58 am

I think I owe Mr. D. Porter, on a prior thread, an apology. Right street, right building, just around the back and down the stairs.

P Folkens
January 29, 2009 9:06 am

Neven (07:18:49) : “-It seems to me that much of the failure of the G&A article comes from the fact that they are economists. Economics doesn’t have anything resembling physics or thermodynamics, it only has models.
-A look at the list of authors and reviewers is enlightening. While a smattering are from information sciences or mathematics the majority are from business schools or business related institutions. Psychology is also represented.”
Excellent observation, Neven. You were taking notice of the IPCC correct? Head of the IPCC is Dr. R K Pachauri — an economist. One of the greatest criticisms of the “2500 top scientists” signing on to the 1992 IPCC Working Assessment was that they were mostly social scientists, political scientists, psychologists, and economists with a smattering from atmospheric sciences, climatology, meterology, and math. It is, after all, all about the money.
[Reply: It should also be kept in mind that all IPCC members are political appointees from their various countries. ~ dbstealey, mod.]

Rod Smith
January 29, 2009 9:11 am

It is hard to fathom why everyone wants to make simple, well known principles more complex.
The naive model is just an extension of what every weatherman learns, which is that weather persists. A good rule of thumb is that tomorrow will be pretty much like today.
So the logical extension of this is that if weather persists so does climate, and “persistence” will predict that next year will be much like the last.
I just don’t understand why this principal is suddenly controversial, nor why demonstrated high success rates with such an algorithm are startling.

John Galt
January 29, 2009 9:14 am

Simon Evans (07:49:29) :
JP (07:03:41) :
The IPCC issued scenario projections. After looking at the scenarios it became apparent that the IPCC hasn’t a clue what our climate will be like in 100 years. Call it what you want, but this isn’t science. If the the science is settled why the lack of confidence? Why all the scenarios? This why the Alarmists are all over the board on everything from sea levels, to rainfall projections, to TC predictions.
Output can only be predicted from known inputs. Projections are made in respect of different sets of presumed inputs. They can be assessed once the actual inputs (aka forcings) become known for the period. The IPCC can’t be expected to predict what humans will choose to do!

I think there is a big disconnect between what the IPCC claims and what the AGW alarmists and profiteers claim. The IPCC says they do “scenarios”. You are correct that the IPCC doesn’t claim to do forecasts.
But of what use are the scenarios? First thing we have to ask, did they get the science right? This has not been independently verified. A scientific theory must be falsifiable and it must correctly predict future events to be valid. The IPCC climate models fall short of this.
I’m sure the climate models have use in helping to understand the climate. Right now, they are helping us to learn how the climate doesn’t work. But at a practical level, these models tell us nothing about future climate.
Climate models can’t predict human behavior and can’t predict nature. Will humans continue to use fossil fuels at the assumed rate for the assumed number of decades, or will hydrogen power become so economical that the world switches to it in a few years? Will the sun cooperate and continue to output energy at the rate assumed by the models? Will there be massive volcanic eruptions in the decades ahead that lead to severe global cooling (by blocking the sun). These things are completely unpredictable.
Lastly, it’s generally accepted that increasing atmospheric CO2 from 280 PPM to 560 PPM will be itself lead to only 1.6 degree C of warming. It’s well known the climate system is not linear, so we can’t even take that degree of warming as a given (this 1.6 degree C of warming will only occur if everything else remains the same and it won’t). The IPCC climate models and others have to add in various positive feedbacks and forcings to get their projected warming. None of those feedbacks and forcings have been shown to actually exist. In other words, nobody has shown the climate actually works the way the IPPC models assume it does. Most of the evidence shows the opposite.

John W.
January 29, 2009 9:15 am

foinavon (08:02:51) :
Paul Shanahan (07:16:32) :
On the flip side, why should “climate modelers” build their “forecasts” without the understanding of the principles of forcasting.
First, of course, because a climate model, and it’s output, is not a “forecast”!
Additionally we’d have to know what these “principles of forecasting” are. Can you provide a link/citation? I’ve had a look at Armstrong’s published papers, and these principles seem not to be in the scientific arena. Perhaps he’s put them on a website somewhere? Or written a book/pamphlet? It seems rather extraordinary to be discussing this issue without anyone seeming to know what the “principles of forecasting” actually are, or whether they have any relevance to climate-related science, let alone climate-related policy…

It’s not forecasting to make statements about what the climate will be in 100 or 1000 years? Then, please, tell us what that sort of activity is called?
Regarding your request, see http://www.forecastingprinciples.com/handbook.html
It’s the link to a book titled, oddly enough, “Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners.” Equally odd, I found the link on a website named “forecastingprinciple.com.”
While I’d expect a bit more from a student in the way of sourcing than a Google search, I’d be more than a bit peeved if one of my engineers did not perform one as a first, rough step to finding out what information might be out there.

January 29, 2009 9:15 am

TonyB:

‘Ilk’ means merely ‘of the same’ it is in no way derogatary.

Not so in the U.S., where ‘ilk’ is deemed to be mildly derogatory [eg, “I want you and your ilk off my property.”]
Another problem word is to “table.” IIRC, in GB tabled means to put something on the table for discussion. In the U.S. it means to postpone. I’m not sure which way Canada leans.

John W.
January 29, 2009 9:22 am

A great many “sceptics” of scientific methods and principles have made disparaging comments regarding Dr. Armstrong’s qualifications to speak to the subject of climate change.
While I disagree with them, I understand their frustration. Only yesterday, an individual with a B.A. in journalism from an obscure college spoke in front of congress, peresenting himself as a world class expert on climate change.
It certainly frustrates me to see people with no apparent relevant training, experience, knowledge or skills presented as authorities.

January 29, 2009 9:24 am

Simon Evans (07:49:29) :
Output can only be predicted from known inputs. Projections are made in respect of different sets of presumed inputs. They can be assessed once the actual inputs (aka forcings) become known for the period. The IPCC can’t be expected to predict what humans will choose to do!

I don’t see how this can be true. Our climate is chaotic at best (don’t confuse this with statement 7 above where the result is that the anomily is stable) so how is it possible to project fron input, through random scenrio to an output? Thats like saying that 50 numbered balls (1 – 50) go into a lotto draw and that the expected result is that every 6 number draw results in the same numbers being pulled out every time. (apologies for the poor analogy, it was a spur of the moment thing) The fact is there are millions of potential outcomes for this draw.
I remember seeing some research where a number of robots were programmed with the same logic (to interact with each other and learn). The expected result was that they would all eventually react the same, but the result was very different. If I remember correctly, one became aggresive, one became submissive and one had a string of bad luck interacting and decided to shut down completely.
My point is (after rambling on) that the climate is extremely complex, with a high element of randomness and choas, where micro climates, gasses, sun, cosmic radiation, land use change effects, etc etc etc all react with each other and never in the same way, so how can we really be able to build a climate model that can give us a limited number of scenario’s when by nature, it should produce millions, if not billions of scenario’s? In my (humble) opinion, It’s just not possible. It’s essentially a holy grail.

January 29, 2009 9:37 am

foinavon (08:02:51) :
First, of course, because a climate model, and it’s output, is not a “forecast”!

Call it what you will, when the story line is that the world will continue to warm and the basis is a climate model, then that sounds like a forecast to me.
Additionally we’d have to know what these “principles of forecasting” are. Can you provide a link/citation?
No, but then I’ve not looked yet.
I’ve had a look at Armstrong’s published papers, and these principles seem not to be in the scientific arena.
I’m interested, what would be classed as IN the scientific arena? This argument is a non starter as we can pick rules that suit our cause all day long.
Perhaps he’s put them on a website somewhere? Or written a book/pamphlet?
Perhaps, but as I say, I’ve not looked yet
It seems rather extraordinary to be discussing this issue without anyone seeming to know what the “principles of forecasting” actually are,
I agree, but here we are. I doubt a lot of people on here from either side of the camp know what the “principles of forecasting” are including you and I. I guess that is the reason why we are debating it.
or whether they have any relevance to climate-related science, let alone climate-related policy…
Again, I’m interested, what is “relevent” and would be classed as IN the scientific arena? This argument is a non starter as we can pick rules that suit our cause all day long.

foinavon
January 29, 2009 9:40 am

G Alston (08:48:09)

foinavon — Why should “forecasters” be used as reviewers of scientific papers that they’re unlikely to understand?
Non sequitor. Forecasting is a mathematical discipline. You don’t need to be an expert in climate physics to have a valid opinion on the forecasting. I don’t think it would hurt if papers that showing a forecast were forwarded to those who are experts in the field. It could even help. That said, I’m not convinced that the result presented would be any different.

First, the climate models and their output are not “forecasts”.
Second, while climate models are certainly part of a “mathematical discipline”, the “forecast principles” are not mathematical in any sense. I’ve finally tracked some of these “forecast principles” down (in a magazine called Energy and Environment vol 18 no 7-8..they don’t seem to be described at all in the peer-reviewed scientific literature) and they’re completely non-mathematical. They are of the form (here’s some of them):
“do not address uncertainty in a traditional (unstructured” group meeting”
“obtain forecasts from heterogeneous experts”
“describe conditions associated with the forecasting problem”
“identify possible outcomes prior to making forecast”

and so on. How this sort of thing is relevant to a scientific paper describing implementation and analysis of some runs of a climate model is rather difficult to see! Why not download a scientific paper on climate modelling and consider yourself how these “principles” might help…

foinavon: But we’re not talking about “expert opinion”. We’re talking about scientific analysis.
Not really. We’re talking about the output of what amounts to a massive spreadsheet, albeit bigger, faster, and using iterative algorithms rather than formulae, but still, a spreadsheet in concept and execution. (Doubtful that the formula algorithms are self-modifying, in which case an iterative algorithm is different than a formula only in scope — it’s still repeatable.)

I would also say “not really”! It’s nothing like a “spreadsheet”. It’s a computer program which analysis the evolution of time series of many elements of the climate system and their interactions, each of which is incorporated in the model by mathematical formulae based on our physical understanding, and with the physical elements parameterized using empirical analysis of real world measurements.
So it is scientific analysis. The extent to which a model is able to reproduce observations either in a hindcast (of the sort that Simon Evans linked to [see Simon Evans (05:57:41)], or predictively, as in the sort described rather successfully by Hansen ((sorry about that, but it’s one that I could find quickly that’s directly linkable!) is an indication of our ability to correctly encapsulate the contributions to the evolution of the climate system wthin a computational model and to paramaterize this successfully. So climate models are a very useful contribution to the development of our understanding.
http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2006/2006_Hansen_etal_1.pdf

This is the one thing that bugs me about climate science, this perception by AGW proponents that model outputs are data. They’re not.

That’s a reasonable thought. A model should be thought of as an encapsulation of our current knowledge of the subject being modelled, as well as our ability to parameterize this (or its components) adequately. I think that most modelers would agree with that. On the other hand, while a model is not “data” it is comprised of data (that informs the modeller of the parameterizations), and provides a means of assessing how the climate will evolve given a particular emission scenario (for example), and within our current understanding of the climate system and its responses.

January 29, 2009 9:41 am

Smokey (09:15:15) :
TonyB:
‘Ilk’ means merely ‘of the same’ it is in no way derogatary.
Not so in the U.S., where ‘ilk’ is deemed to be mildly derogatory [eg, “I want you and your ilk off my property.”]
Another problem word is to “table.” IIRC, in GB tabled means to put something on the table for discussion. In the U.S. it means to postpone. I’m not sure which way Canada leans.
This is primarily related to usage. For instance, someone can put an issue on the table or take it off the table. You can belong to an ilk that you may believe is something positive or something negative.

J. Peden
January 29, 2009 9:47 am

foinavon:
First, of course, because a climate model, and it’s output, is not a “forecast”!
Ok, the “output” is only made to appear to be a forecast. Just as the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change does not really study “climate change”.
Agreed, all of this is really a massive propaganda operation.

January 29, 2009 9:49 am

John W. (09:15:07) :
http://www.forecastingprinciples.com/handbook.html
It’s the link to a book titled, oddly enough, “Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners.” Equally odd, I found the link on a website named “forecastingprinciple.com.”

Many thanks for that, saved me some work!! 🙂

gary gulrud
January 29, 2009 9:51 am

“‘Ilk’ means merely ‘of the same’ it is in no way derogatary. ”
Gonna have to recuse myself on the derogatory call but I hear this word nearly every drive I take. With ‘road-rage’ issues can’t listen to NPR or National News so its ‘Sports Radio’. ‘Nuff said.

John W.
January 29, 2009 9:54 am

G Alston (08:48:09) :
This is the one thing that bugs me about climate science, this perception by AGW proponents that model outputs are data. They’re not.

Indeed. Those of us who have to use modeling and simulation in the course of work that is measured against real world outcomes make a clear distinction:
“Data” consists of measurements taken in the course of observation, test, and/or experimentation.
“Information” consists of outputs from computer programs.
The distinction is one of the principle reasons behind the concept of “Independent Validadtion and Verification.”

foinavon
January 29, 2009 10:03 am

John W. (09:15:07)

It’s not forecasting to make statements about what the climate will be in 100 or 1000 years? Then, please, tell us what that sort of activity is called?

I agree with the top article and with Dr Trenberth referred to there that a climate model and its output are not “forecasts” in the common sense of the word. After all we don’t really know what the emission scenarios are going to be. So climate models are explorations of the evolution of the climate system under a range of different emission scenarios parameterized according to our current understanding of the physical elements of the climate system and its interactions.
There’s a lot of hoo-haw about climate models on all sides. In reality, the concerns of scientists and policymakers are not derived from the results of models. The concerns come from our basic understanding of the climate system and the consequences of enhancing the greenhouse effect. This understanding goes into the development and implementation of climate models by way of parameterization, but nothing really comes out that we didn’t know already, except that we might be able to assign a more generalized regional scale distribution of warming-related changes…and perhaps find the evolution of non-predicted phenomena that we could explore in relation to likely veracity…that sort of thing.
So for example that fact that scientists might predict that with an emission scenario leading to a CO2 concentration of 600 ppm by 2100, the earth will likely be 2 oC warmer than now, with a sea level rise of such-and-such, is a conclusion that is essentially independent of models.

Regarding your request, see http://www.forecastingprinciples.com/handbook.html
It’s the link to a book titled, oddly enough, “Principles of Forecasting: A Handbook for Researchers and Practitioners.” Equally odd, I found the link on a website named “forecastingprinciple.com.”
While I’d expect a bit more from a student in the way of sourcing than a Google search, I’d be more than a bit peeved if one of my engineers did not perform one as a first, rough step to finding out what information might be out there.

In scientific fields, one expects the important information to be sourced in the scientific literature. So (as I would expect form a student, although it’s difficult to keep them away from Wikipedia and such like!) I looked in the scientific data base. One would presume that Armstrong would have published this stuff in the scientific literature. But no.
As you point out it is in a handbook. I also found some information in a magazine. If one is attempting to develop “principles” of any note, one might expect this to be addressed in the peer-review scientific literature!

Bruce
January 29, 2009 10:16 am

So the logical extension of this is that if weather persists so does climate, and “persistence” will predict that next year will be much like the last.
Until it isn’t.
The 20th century climate is a series of 20-30 cycles.
Cooling then warming then cooling again. Dustbowl and drought in the 30’s, cold enough to make people fear an ice age in the 70’s. , warm in the 90’s and cooling the 2007/2008 years.
If you use the previous year to predict the next you are right until the cycle switches, then you are wrong for a year or so and then you are right again for 10 or 20 years.
Climate models that don’t predict the ups and downs are useless.
The IPCC models are useless. They didn’t predict 2007/2008.

Richard M
January 29, 2009 10:23 am

Luis Dias (06:40:00) :
“What astounds me is the sheer gullibility of almost every single one reader of this blog.”
I went over and read the article at RC you referenced. Did you somehow miss all the Ad Hominem attacks and strawman arguments? While I still have no overall feelings on this report I can only wonder how “gullible” you are.

Don S
January 29, 2009 10:23 am

Chris:
By the way, Al Gore is:
A “C” level undergrad
A divinity school flunkout
A claimant to the invention of the internet
A failed politician
A global warming billionaire.
Is America a great place, or what? All you gotta do is find a scam.

Jeff Alberts
January 29, 2009 10:26 am

Ron (Tex) McGowan (22:25:05) :
I’m no expert but doesn’t it seem strange to anyone that now the economy’s gone to s**t and has become the big issue, all of a sudden all sorts of people are popping up saying “There’s no global warming! We don’t need to worry about CO2!” ??
The rich, the Republicans and big business would be loving this.

I’m none of these things, and I don’t think we need to worry about CO2.

Tom M
January 29, 2009 10:50 am

It kind of tortures my mind to hear that a report that clearly predicts temperature changes over the next century is not a “forecast”. Sort of reminds me of trying to define “is”. And this criticism that the IPCC report is not a forecast but only a scenario was, in fact, forecast by Armstong and addressed directly in his paper. Just for easy reference, here is the what is said about it:
Does the IPCC report provide climate forecasts?
Trenberth (2007) and others have claimed that the IPCC does not provide forecasts but rather presents “scenarios” or “projections.” As best as we can tell, these terms are used by the IPCC authors to indicate that they provide “conditional forecasts.”
Presumably the IPCC authors hope that readers, especially policy makers, will find at
least one of their conditional forecast series plausible and will act as if it will come
true if no action is taken. As it happens, the word “forecast” and its derivatives
occurred 37 times, and “predict” and its derivatives occurred 90 times in the body of 1006 Energy & Environment · Vol. 18, No. 7+8, 2007
Chapter 8. Recall also that most of our respondents (29 of whom were IPCC authors
or reviewers) nominated the IPCC report as the most credible source of forecasts (not “scenarios” or “projections”) of global average temperature. We conclude that the IPCC does provide forecasts.

Jeff Alberts
January 29, 2009 10:58 am

Serious forecasting involves repeated prediction of the future and then checking whether it turned out to be correct.

This is the key. If you haven’t waited to see if the results are correct then you can’t make any pronouncements about the accuracy of your prediction/forecast/scenario. So, you have to find another way.

foinavon
January 29, 2009 11:09 am

Paul Shanahan (09:37:52)

foinavon (08:02:51) :
First, of course, because a climate model, and it’s output, is not a “forecast”!

Call it what you will, when the story line is that the world will continue to warm and the basis is a climate model, then that sounds like a forecast to me.

The question I was addressing relates to why climate modellers don’t use these “principles of forcasting” when doing their modelling. The answer is because the model is not a forecast. It’s an exploration of the evolution of a climate system to explore a particular chosen phenomenon (e.g. a possible greenhouse gas emission scenario or range of these).
Now that we’ve seen what the “principles of forecasting” actually amount to (see examples in my post [foinavon (09:40:25)] and Armstrong’s magazine article cited there), it’s easy to see why these aren’t used by climate modellers in their work.

foinavon I’ve had a look at Armstrong’s published papers, and these principles seem not to be in the scientific arena.
I’m interested, what would be classed as IN the scientific arena? This argument is a non starter as we can pick rules that suit our cause all day long.

If someone devised some “principles” of any note, that might be designed to address scientific methodologies, for example, one would expect these to be published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, where their relevance, applicability and usefulness can be assessed.
One can’t just devises a set of “principles”, put these in a handbook, and then consider that these can be used to judge the methodologies of researchers! As you say, such a strategy allows the proposer to “pick rules that suit our cause all day long”. And I agree that this approach is likely to be considered a “non starter” in serious scientific circles…

Luis Dias
January 29, 2009 11:25 am

I’ve been snipped for name calling, but the paragraph was more than that. I’ll repeat myself, now more mr. Nicey style:
What I find astounding in this blog is the ability to call one self “Skeptic” while parading everything one can against GW, without any *ahem* SKEPTIC *ahem* filter against what is pure BULL. I linked to RC’s post and it kills this nonsensical article which is already almost 2 years old!!
It’s a rehash of a non-story which is being bought by gullible people as a “sign” that “change is blowing in the wind” or something to that effect.
And yes, to hilarity:
Did you somehow miss all the Ad Hominem attacks and strawman arguments?
Just like the one you just did? Yes I did. All I watched was RC destroying the entire argument and showing how ridiculous the IIF’s study really is. If they compound it by calling “Stupid” what is definitely “Stupid”, I can hardly see that as “Ad Hominem”.
A duck is a duck is a duck.
And this is a non-story.
REPLY: Opinion noted. But I’m not going back and forth on your opinion any further. You don’t like it, we get it. -Anthony

SandyInDerby
January 29, 2009 11:29 am

This is probably OT but getting on for 40 years ago, as a young man, I knew and worked with an old Ghillie in highland Perthshire. He had a reputation for being a bit of a weather forecasting guru. Apart from a couple grandad rules such as “if the mist is rising like smoke from the hills in the morning then it will rain by the afternoon”; He had a very simple method of telling what the weather would be like tomorrow. He just described today’s weather. If the wind was moving from S&W to N&E then it would be colder and drier and equally the reverse was true. Even in Scotland renown for four seasons in one day this was a pretty reliable forecasting method.
I suppose it could be described as naive as well

Jeff Alberts
January 29, 2009 11:29 am

Here’s another useless forecasting example.
I’m flying out to Washington DC next week (Sunday through Friday), so yesterday I took a snapshot of the 10-day “forecast” from weather.com.
Today I took the same snapshot. Every single day is now different, some drastically so. I understand that GCMs are not the same as weather models, but, how confident am I supposed to be in these things with something so unpredictable?
Here are the two snapshots:
http://jalberts.net/images/DC_01-28-2009.jpg
http://jalberts.net/images/DC_01-29-2009.jpg
I’ll take another one tomorrow and the next day…

gary gulrud
January 29, 2009 11:30 am

“Is America a great place, or what? All you gotta do is find a scam.”
Word. Kinda makes it hard for us nominally decent folk, avarice-wise.

Luis Dias
January 29, 2009 11:30 am

The IPCC makes up their own rules and “home-made guidelines” too, your point? – Anthony
My point is that the IPCC doesn’t have to agree with “rules” that are made up by third parties. Until those guidelines are accepted in mainstream, the sheer gall of these guys of judging models by their own made-up guidelines and just declaring the models unscientific is completely mind-boggling and a total red-herring.
Had they judged models according to their own set of principles and then just concluded that they violated them, it would be fair and balanced, because alas! they do not “own” copyright terms on how is science “defined”, bokay?
RC’s post is more substantive on the method itself, which is horrible. If this is science, then I’m Santa. Wanna’ present this fall, Anthony? Then don’t snip me again ;).
REPLY: Thanks Luis, following your own advice on rules, I’ll snip as needed. Personally I think you are too closed minded on the issue and give RC too much credit. When have they ever agreed with anyone who has suggested a change in their methods? Here we have an agency that certifies forecast methods, they are accepted for coursework by a major university. Businesses use them for risk assessment and economic forecasts where if the methods they use don’t work, they get fired or not paid.
RC climate modelers say “pooh on that, they don’t need such things”. And they may be right, because there is no accountability for them. If the climate model fails 50 years into the future. They aren’t around to be held accountable. Thus it appears they aren’t even interested in looking outside their own realm to embrace something that might improve the model forecasts. The arrogance on display there at RC is stunning.- Anthony

gary gulrud
January 29, 2009 11:36 am

“What astounds me is the sheer gullibility of almost every single one reader of this blog.”
That was my nickname in HS, ‘Gullible’.
Y ahorita Usted tambien? Cuidado.

AJ Abrams
January 29, 2009 11:37 am

foinavon (11:09:51) :
Every engineer reading what you’ve written today has had numerous laughs. Those principles (which I took a moment to read), are very much like every other principles in any certification type organization in engineering (See the IEEE).
That you fail to understand the obvious need for these types of checks on GCM’s says to me that you are either being deliberately obtuse, or are wholly ignorant on the importance of certification organizations in a modern world.

January 29, 2009 11:43 am

Smokey
I said
‘Ilk’ means merely ‘of the same’ it is in no way derogatary.
You said
“Not so in the U.S., where ‘ilk’ is deemed to be mildly derogatory [eg, “I want you and your ilk off my property.”]”
Smokey I think you must have misheard, he wasn’t talking to you he was talking to the elk:)
TonyB

gary gulrud
January 29, 2009 11:44 am

foinavon:
Why suffer the abuse here? Come back to the Stratospheric Heating thread.

foinavon
January 29, 2009 11:45 am

Tom M (10:50:10) :

It kind of tortures my mind to hear that a report that clearly predicts temperature changes over the next century is not a “forecast”.

For my part I have been addressing the “Improper peer review process” point (point #2 in the top article) and the question of whether “forecasters” should review papers on climate models as part of the peer-review process as described in my post [foinavon (09:40:25) ] in response to [G Alston (08:48:09)], and [Paul Shanahan (07:16:32)] who asked “On the flip side, why should “climate modelers” build their “forecasts” without the understanding of the principles of forcasting.”, and so on…
If we agree that it doesn’t make sense for climate modellers to incorporate these “”principles of forecasting” into their work, since a cliimate model isn’t a “forecast”, nor for forecasters to review their publications as part of the peer-review process, then we could move on to a more sensible point which is something like:
should scientific advisors to policymakers or policymakers themselves incorporate a set of defined “principles of forecasting” when preparing/assessing forecasts relevant to policymaking?
Then we would have to ask whether they might not be doing this already, and if not, whether they should, and if they should, what these “principles” might be…

January 29, 2009 11:52 am

Anyone
Threads are moving very fast these days and I often find that the comment I have been replying to lies lost in the past, and I don’t know if the person concerned has replied to me unless I scroll through everything, which can become quite a task unless you log in every few hours.
Is there the facility somewhere to link direct to a comment as with CA? Alternatively, is it possible to have a proper large number by the side of each post rather than numbers that I take to be the time? This would all help to keep the comments to the point and directed towards those who are interested in a particlar part of the thread.
Not a criticism, its a great blog, but things move so fast sometimes its not always easy to follow all the different conversations:)
TonyB

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 11:53 am

John Galt (09:14:42) :
I think there is a big disconnect between what the IPCC claims and what the AGW alarmists and profiteers claim. The IPCC says they do “scenarios”. You are correct that the IPCC doesn’t claim to do forecasts.
I’m not sure whom you categorise as “alarmists and profiteers”. I’m sure they exist, just as “denialists and profiteers” exist to the other side – that is, there are people on both sides of this debate driven by personal agenda rather than an interest in representing the science honestly.
But of what use are the scenarios? First thing we have to ask, did they get the science right? This has not been independently verified.
Is ‘they’ the IPCC? I’m not sure what you mean, if so. Their assessments are of independent scientific studies (not all independent of one another, I guess, but generally so).
A scientific theory must be falsifiable and it must correctly predict future events to be valid. The IPCC climate models fall short of this.
I agree, but with qualifications. In a closed system, where all inputs can be known and controlled, that is simple. However, let us say that I want to demonstrate that a melon and a plum dropped from the Tower of Pisa will hit the ground at (about!) the same time. In the course of my experiment, the plum bounces of the head of a passer-by, and thus reaches the ground later. I’m sure we’ll agree that I haven’t falsified my theory. So, we have to qualify any expectations to take account of unpredictable inputs that may come about in the course of our experiment. We could rerun the plum/melon experiment, but we can’t rerun the climate experiment (unless you accept model runs!).
Secondly, climate projections recognise areas of uncertainty – in particular, for example, the net effect of clouds. Say that I ran my melon/plum experiment in very uncertain wind conditions, strong enough and locally variable enough to affect the passage of the fruit. I would be unceratin of the extent of this effect. Sometimes the plum might be held back, sometimes the melon. In such conditions I would consider getting close to verifying expectations to be persuasive evidence.
I’m sure the climate models have use in helping to understand the climate. Right now, they are helping us to learn how the climate doesn’t work. But at a practical level, these models tell us nothing about future climate.
Currently, I don’t think they’re generally much use in terms of timing climate events (ENSO cycle, whatever), though that is developing apace. They’re not claiming that they do.
Climate models can’t predict human behavior and can’t predict nature. Will humans continue to use fossil fuels at the assumed rate for the assumed number of decades, or will hydrogen power become so economical that the world switches to it in a few years? Will the sun cooperate and continue to output energy at the rate assumed by the models? Will there be massive volcanic eruptions in the decades ahead that lead to severe global cooling (by blocking the sun). These things are completely unpredictable.
I agree, though they do seek to project nature on the basis of presuming inputs. What they suggest is that if nature remains in a fair state of equilibrium otherwise over time, then the addition of GHGs will lead to warming (with consequent effects upon that natural equilibrium, of course). You are entirely right that if nature chooses to surprise us then all bets are off. There’s plenty of science addressing the chances of such surprise (for example, the assessment of vulcanism), but for sure – we might be about to have a major impact event, fopr example.
Lastly, it’s generally accepted that increasing atmospheric CO2 from 280 PPM to 560 PPM will be itself lead to only 1.6 degree C of warming.
I agree, though it’s not by itself, as you say:
It’s well known the climate system is not linear, so we can’t even take that degree of warming as a given (this 1.6 degree C of warming will only occur if everything else remains the same and it won’t).
Indeed: that works both ways, of course.
The IPCC climate models and others have to add in various positive feedbacks and forcings to get their projected warming.
Hmm. This is not really to do with models. It’s basic theory of, primarily, water vapour response to temperature. What is one supposed to do? Ignore that?
None of those feedbacks and forcings have been shown to actually exist.
What evidence would count for you? If temperature rises but relative humidity remains constant, would that not be persuasive? If albedo changes, does that change ‘exist’ as a feedback?
In other words, nobody has shown the climate actually works the way the IPPC models assume it does. Most of the evidence shows the opposite.
I think the most powerful evidence of the influence of feedbacks upon climate is from palaeoclimatology (and no, I am not talking about the Hockey stick!). I am unaware of any plausible explanation of the evolution of Earth’s climate which does not take feedbacks into account. From a near-snowball state, it should have taken billions of years to recover simply from the influence of a warming sun. But it didn’t. To my mind, the past is inexplicable except in terms of the changing influence of GHGs.

Paddy
January 29, 2009 11:56 am

Dr Armstrong’s CV info is instructive:
“A member of the Wharton Marketing Faculty since 1968, Professor Armstrong received his PhD in Management from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, his MS in Industrial Administration from Carnegie Mellon University, and his BS degree in Industrial Engineering and BA in Applied Science from Lehigh University. He has also taught in Thailand, Switzerland, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Argentina, Japan, and other countries.”
He is a scholar concerning the science of prediction. Although he teaches marketing at the Wharton School of Business, U of PA, his expertise is undeniable.
You who criticize, stop sliming the messenger and respond to his message.

January 29, 2009 11:59 am
Jeff L
January 29, 2009 12:00 pm

A comment on persistence & forecasting – back in the day at Purdue, we had a wx forcasting game. Students forecast wx at W Lafayete & a second city. I think we did 2 or 3 games per semester. Anyway, there was always a player called “Penny Persistence” – whose forecast was based only on …. persistence. Penny usually beat 2/3rd to 3/4th of the real players in the game. Not bad for persistence. If persistence has validity for short term weather, it probably has validity at some time scales of climatology (which scales …. I am not sure). I think Armstrong’s comment on persistence is quite interesting in that there is an underlying implication that feedback mechanisms in our climate system are largely negative & stabilizing – which in & of itself is a strong arguement that CO2 is highly unlikely to be a significant problem (other negative feedback mechanisms will cut it’s effect, if any exists)

foinavon
January 29, 2009 12:10 pm

AJ Abrams (11:37:28) :

foinavon (11:09:51) :
Every engineer reading what you’ve written today has had numerous laughs. Those principles (which I took a moment to read), are very much like every other principles in any certification type organization in engineering (See the IEEE).
That you fail to understand the obvious need for these types of checks on GCM’s says to me that you are either being deliberately obtuse, or are wholly ignorant on the importance of certification organizations in a modern world.

That’s excellent AJ…it’s very healthy to laugh!
The question is whether one wants to apply rather nebulous criteria like Armstrong’s:
“do not address uncertainty in a traditional (unstructured) group meeting”
or whether one chooses to do what climate modellers do which is to apply stringent mathematical criteria to the assessment of the reliability of a model. Of course since the climate models address future events, one can only assess the “mechanics” (using the term loosely) of a model in this manner. However some models have been run sufficiently long to assess their capabilities given that we can observe in hindsight what the actual emission scenarios and temperature evolution and so on actually were (an example in [foinavon (09:40:25)]). Likewise one can assess a climate model’s reliability by “hindcasting”!
Some of your concerns apply with more relevance to the assessment of forecasting in relation to policymaking, where some sort of “principles” are obviously appropriate (and of course, these are already adopted by policymakers and their advisors, although whether they’re in the form of a “checklist” of the sort under discussion is doubtful I suspect) .
Anyway, if engineers are generally guided by the sort of principles proposed by Dr. Armstrong, I might avoid crossing bridges on the way to work tomorrow…I’d hope their principles are a bit more “sciency”!

Paddy
January 29, 2009 12:10 pm

AGW hypothesis/(McIntyre+Watts+Wegman+Arstrong) = BS

January 29, 2009 12:23 pm

foinavon (11:09:51) :
The question I was addressing relates to why climate modellers don’t use these “principles of forcasting” when doing their modelling. The answer is because the model is not a forecast.

I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. What is the point of climate models if they don’t provide a forecast? The sole purpose is to extrapolate a given set of outcomes based on a given set of input. The output, regardless of how the IPCC would like to descibe it, is essentially a forecast. Furthermore, the output is being specifically cited in numerous scientific papers in an attempt to prove the AGW theory, the purpose being to prove that the climate will warm catastrophically. In essence, the basis of a forecast.
It’s an exploration of the evolution of a climate system to explore a particular chosen phenomenon (e.g. a possible greenhouse gas emission scenario or range of these).
and this is the problem with the models. As you say, the models explore a chosen phenomenon. This is simply not how the real world works. Nature is an interation of everything, all of the time, not a chosen phenomenon. The models are publicized as being a model of the climate, not a chosen few elements that one can find within the environment.
If someone devised some “principles” of any note, that might be designed to address scientific methodologies, for example, one would expect these to be published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, where their relevance, applicability and usefulness can be assessed.
I’m not saying that all of the principles given by Dr Armstrong are directly transferable to climate modelling, given that they have been designed to encompass all types of forecasting methods, it would be silly to elude to this as truth. However, there are a number of principles that can and should be used in modelling climate forecasts (I know, I know, they’re not forecasts…)
Findings from Evidence-based Forecasting:
Methods for Reducing Forecast Error
Extracts…
Empirical comparisons of reasonable approaches provide evidence on the best forecasting procedures to use under given conditions.
My search for evidence-based findings was intended to include all types of forecasting methods. I examined 17 basic methods: role playing,
intentions/expectations surveys, conjoint analysis, prediction markets, Delphi, structured analogies, game theory, decomposition, judgemental bootstrapping, expert systems, extrapolation models, data mining,
quantitative analogies, neural nets, rule-based forecasting, causal models, and segmentation.

As I say, it would be silly to include all of the above, but principles for “expert Systems”, “Extrapolation Models”, “Data Mining”, “Rule Based Forecasting” and “Casual Models” could be applied.
Has the methodology of the models been peer reviewed? I suspect selective elements have been, but the models as a whole have not. Peer review in itself relates to other professionals in the same field of expertise being able to validate the work, methodology and results. In that respect, Dr Armstrong has had a number of “peer reviews” all listed here

SteveSadlov
January 29, 2009 12:28 pm

(picture a man with an old beat up rain coat and slightly tussled hair ..)
“Oh, sorry Mr. Hansen, I must apologize … there was one more thing I wanted to ask you … it completely slipped my mind. Sorry to trouble you ….”
(Sound of flipping sheets back in coffee stained pocket notebook)

John W.
January 29, 2009 12:33 pm

Paddy (11:56:59) :
You who criticize, stop sliming the messenger and respond to his message.

The entire AGW movement has ignored any sort of recognized professional principles since the start. Notice the lack of response to my question of whether any GCM followed the IEEE standards for simulation.
They apply Cicero’s advice to one of his students: “If the facts support you, attack your opponent’s facts. If the facts support your opponent, attack your opponent.”
The failure to respond on a technical level to Dr. Armstrong is a de facto admission that he’s correct in his criticism. The failure to respond on a technical level regarding M&S standards and IV&V is a de facto admission that the GCMs are crap. The word play involved in calling them “forecasts” or “predictions” when using them to scare the public into accepting Draconian public policy, but claiming they’re simply “scenarios” when challenged, is a de facto admission that the “forecasts” (or “predictions” or “scenarios”) are bunk. Making an issue of Dr. Armstongs credentials, but ignoring the “credentials” of the political appointees to the IPCC, Dr. Hansen, Al Gore, et. al., constitutes a de facto admission that the agenda has nothing to do with science.

Bobby Lane
January 29, 2009 12:35 pm

Flanagan:
I’d have to say that none of your arguments are persuasive. The climate may not be cooling, but it is certainly not warming either. Overall I’d say it’s plateaued. And what warming or cooling there is, which we observe in weather patterns, is pretty minor and expected (e.g., given the PDO has switched to the cool phase). Plus the overall fact that we are coming out of the Little Ice Age still. So if it’s warmer than, say, 400 years ago, then that is actually a GOOD thing. In fact, a bit of warming overall would actually be a good thing, globally. It is (even a bit of) cooling that is actually the worst of all possible threats.
The Arctic seems to be doing just fine itself as winter 2008 has brought an expansion of ice just about on par with what is average for recent years. And the Antarctic is not getting warmer. If you actually thought about it, you’d realize that you are referencing a peninsula and an ice shelf that borders water. First, that peninsula is surrounded on 3 sides by water, and thus is more subject to varying warming and cooling trends around the Antarctic periphery unlike, say, the interior. The same goes for the ice shelf which is subject to winds, oceanic currents, tides, and sundry other natural forces. Furthermore, that whole area is known for its vulcanism. If it were land instead of ice falling into the ocean, we might be concerned. But since a glass full of water with ice in it will not overflow even once the ice floats around in it and melts, there isn’t much reason to panic about a tiny piece of ice (even one the size of Connecticut) falling into the ocean. Considering the bias factors towards warming (oceanic currents, winds, volcanoes) I would be MORE surprised if ice were NOT falling into the ocean. In fact, I don’t believe I have ever heard of any ice in the Antarctic falling into the ocean that was not associated with that very peninsula and its evirons. Now why do you suppose THAT is?
But as to your first question, it is much more interesting:
“So, once again: if the simulations faults are so ominous, why didn’t anybody publish anything consistent about these “faults”? Why another op-ed instead of solid science?”
Why indeed. Although maybe Dr. Richard Lindzen can explain it for you.
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0809/0809.3762.pdf

John W.
January 29, 2009 12:36 pm

Let’s try again, turning italiccs off …
Paddy (11:56:59) :
You who criticize, stop sliming the messenger and respond to his message.

The entire AGW movement has ignored any sort of recognized professional principles since the start. Notice the lack of response to my question of whether any GCM followed the IEEE standards for simulation.
They apply Cicero’s advice to one of his students: “If the facts support you, attack your opponent’s facts. If the facts support your opponent, attack your opponent.”
The failure to respond on a technical level to Dr. Armstrong is a de facto admission that he’s correct in his criticism. The failure to respond on a technical level regarding M&S standards and IV&V is a de facto admission that the GCMs are crap. The word play involved in calling them “forecasts” or “predictions” when using them to scare the public into accepting Draconian public policy, but claiming they’re simply “scenarios” when challenged, is a de facto admission that the “forecasts” (or “predictions” or “scenarios”) are bunk. Making an issue of Dr. Armstongs credentials, but ignoring the “credentials” of the political appointees to the IPCC, Dr. Hansen, Al Gore, et. al., constitutes a de facto admission that the agenda has nothing to do with science.

Robert Wood
January 29, 2009 12:37 pm

I see that this post and the last one has brought out the AGWers en masse.
They must be smarting or something.

Richard M
January 29, 2009 12:38 pm

foinavon (11:09:51) :
“The question I was addressing relates to why climate modellers don’t use these “principles of forcasting” when doing their modelling. The answer is because the model is not a forecast. It’s an exploration of the evolution of a climate system to explore a particular chosen phenomenon (e.g. a possible greenhouse gas emission scenario or range of these).”
I’m glad that’s all straightened out. Since a model is simply an “exploration” then we can all just ignore anything that comes out of them. It does make me wonder what Gore is so worried about.
Seriously, did you read this over before posting? You can’t hide the truth behind a bunch of nonsense words. Anything that provides evidence of future conditions is FORECASTING. Deal with it.

January 29, 2009 12:38 pm

foinavon: “So climate models are explorations of the evolution of the climate system under a range of different emission scenarios parameterized according to our current understanding of the physical elements of the climate system and its interactions.”
That’s a fancy tap dance.
Let’s assume emissions continue as they have.
What do the models forecast?

John Galt
January 29, 2009 12:43 pm

Simon Evans:
I think our observations may be closer than you think, but clearly our conclusions differ. I’m not claiming no feed backs and forcings exist; but that they don’t appear to exist as modeled by the IPCC. When relative humidity rises, that helps trap heat. But humidity also brings clouds and rain, which have a cooling effect.
I also have little doubt that climate models will improve in the future. But for now, their ability to accurately model the climate appears limited. Should we shape public policy on unverified models based upon hypothetical interactions?
You don’t recognize Al Gore as both an AGW alarmist and profiteer? Gore can not only diagnose the disease but also sell you the cure! Surely you don’t think GE is lobbying for more green energy mandates because they plan to give away their wind turbines, do you? The lobbyists pushing cap-and-trade don’t work for free and their clients hope to profit dearly at our expense.
James Hansen is also an alarmist. Is there any scientific basis for his declaration that Obama has only 4 years to save the planet?

davidc
January 29, 2009 12:49 pm

John W. (09:15:07) :
It’s one of the fundamental deceits of the IPCC that they don’t make forecasts or predictions but only “projections” or develop “scenarios” (so they can’t be shown to be wrong). Then they demand urgent action to avoid catastrophe, which implies the opposite, that they are predictions.

TJ
January 29, 2009 12:49 pm

“From a near-snowball state, it should have taken billions of years to recover simply from the influence of a warming sun. But it didn’t. “ – Simon Evans.
“should have”… presumably…. There can be no other explanation? This is what is known as asserting a negative, about global events that occured millions of years ago for which almost all measurments are lost, no less.
Does this feel like logic to anybody? Looks like a rhetorical argument with a considerable admixture of hand waving to me. The rest of the post is no better. Who are you trying to convince? Us our yourself?

foinavon
January 29, 2009 12:51 pm

Paul Shanahan (12:23:07)

I’m sorry, but I have to disagree. What is the point of climate models if they don’t provide a forecast? The sole purpose is to extrapolate a given set of outcomes based on a given set of input. The output, regardless of how the IPCC would like to descibe it, is essentially a forecast. Furthermore, the output is being specifically cited in numerous scientific papers in an attempt to prove the AGW theory, the purpose being to prove that the climate will warm catastrophically. In essence, the basis of a forecast.

I have to disagree with you! A climate model is only a forecast if someone chooses to use it as a forecast. Otherwise it’s just a model. And the output is certainly not being used “in an attempt to prove the AGW theory”. the AGW theory and its evidence is completely independent of climate models. Otherwise there’s a whole lot of “point” to doing climate modelling (see just below, for example)

foinavon: It’s an exploration of the evolution of a climate system to explore a particular chosen phenomenon (e.g. a possible greenhouse gas emission scenario or range of these).
and this is the problem with the models. As you say, the models explore a chosen phenomenon. This is simply not how the real world works. Nature is an interation of everything, all of the time, not a chosen phenomenon. The models are publicized as being a model of the climate, not a chosen few elements that one can find within the environment.

I think you’ve misunderstood. Clearly if one wishes to explore the evolution of the climate system under enhanced greenhouse forcing, one would like to know what the enhanced greenhouse forcing will be. Since we don’t know, a climate model run to explore the possible temporal evolution of the Earth’s climate will be run several times to assess the effects of different emission scenarios. Likewise one could run the model to assess the effect of a putative volcanic eruption in the future and the climate response. Or one might choose to determine how the climate might evolve under scenarios in which major efforts are made to minimize atmopsheric aerosols from burning “dirty” fuels, or the likely effects of long term recovery of the ozone layer….and so on…
That doesn’t mean that all other elements of the climate system and their known parameterizations aren’t always included in all the models as a “default”. But models are generally run to test something!

I’m not saying that all of the principles given by Dr Armstrong are directly transferable to climate modelling, given that they have been designed to encompass all types of forecasting methods, it would be silly to elude to this as truth. However, there are a number of principles that can and should be used in modelling climate forecasts (I know, I know, they’re not forecasts…)

I don’t agree with that. My reasons are outlined in [foinavon (12:10:06)]. Armstrong’s “principles” have little relevance to climate modellers.
Where those sort of “principles” might be appropriate, is in relation to policymaking by policymakers and their scientific advisors. However in this case, one expects that the policymakers and their advisors are sufficiently well-informed that they would assess the entire body of scientific evidence for potential greenhouse-related impacts and consider the role of models appropriately. At least in the case of the IPCC we can be confident that they do so, since their (voluminous) reports are available for everyone to read.

January 29, 2009 12:53 pm

Robert Wood (12:37:45) :
I see that this post and the last one has brought out the AGWers en masse.

This and the Theon thread!

January 29, 2009 12:55 pm

Here is a professor in climatology who is testifying in an environmental case for an appellant in a windfarm case, Chris de Fretas, a prof at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. He has the degrees, he is currently publishing, and all the usual ad hominem that is used to kick at academics who come out against AGW doesn’t apply
http://www.odt.co.nz/the-regions/central-otago/41301/professor-denies-greenhouse-effect
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_de_Freitas

Bill Junga
January 29, 2009 12:58 pm

Excellent article. Professor Armstrong is one of the top scholars in forecasting.
I am a PHD economist, please don’t hold that against me. I am familar with econometrics and forecasting and my dissertation used spectral analysis to hunt out economic cycles. One time when I was young and foolish, I believed in power of the econometric models; today, hopefully wiser, I know all models have shortcomings. So did any econometric model forecast this current downturn one year ago, two years ago? As far as I know ,only the Austrian School economists were raising the red flags, and they don’t use econometric models. If you don’t include the right variables, etc. the model is misspecified. Since I figure the dynamics of the Earth are more complex than an economic activity, those climate model must have issues to say the least. I do not put any faith in them. Why economists fall for AGW, I don’t know except that cap and trade would provide employment opportunities for them. I ,however, am an AGW skeptic.

January 29, 2009 12:58 pm

Robert Wood: “…has brought out the AGWers en masse.”
I’ve noticed the same thing since the Best Blog voting, but I think debate is a healthy thing.
Learned a lot in the last year. A year ago I didn’t know who Hansen was, and wouldn’t have thought that today I’d be tracking ice extent, sunspots, UAH temps etc.

AJ Abrams
January 29, 2009 1:03 pm

foinavon (12:51:38) :
You say “I have to disagree with you! A climate model is only a forecast if someone chooses to use it as a forecast. Otherwise it’s just a model. And the output is certainly not being used “in an attempt to prove the AGW theory”.”
Yet on the other thread you did just that. In an attempt to prove AGW theory you posted numerous papers that were in fact model runs (and one notorious paper by Mann).
It was shown by another poster that each and every one of your cited evidence was a model run of one type or another and now you have the brass b_lls to state the what you did can’t be done…but you did it.
You have now been thoroughly discredited by your own words which are here for the world to read.

Richard M
January 29, 2009 1:03 pm

Luis Dias (11:25:01) :
Richard M – Did you somehow miss all the Ad Hominem attacks and strawman arguments?
“Just like the one you just did? Yes I did. All I watched was RC destroying the entire argument and showing how ridiculous the IIF’s study really is. If they compound it by calling “Stupid” what is definitely “Stupid”, I can hardly see that as “Ad Hominem”.
You entirely missed the ad hominem reference to Bob Carter. You entirely missed this strawman: ‘the authors of the paper have a much larger agenda’. You entirely missed this strawman: ‘G+A’s recent foray into climate science might therefore be a good case study for why their principles have not won wide acceptance’. You entirely missed this strawman: ‘When moving into a new field, don’t assume you know everything about it because you read a review and none of the primary literature’.
You miss a lot don’t you. Also, explain to me how pointing out the problems in RC’s article is ad hominem.

Jeff Alberts
January 29, 2009 1:06 pm

Of course since the climate models address future events,

Interesting. Not “potential future events” but “future events”. So they’re definite, then, are they?

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 1:07 pm

Anthony,
RC climate modelers say “pooh on that, they don’t need such things”. And they may be right, because there is no accountability for them. If the climate model fails 50 years into the future. They aren’t around to be held accountable. Thus it appears they aren’t even interested in looking outside their own realm to embrace something that might improve the model forecasts. The arrogance on display there at RC is stunning.- Anthony
I’m quite interested in the psychology of all this. You’re probably right that there is some arrogance evident over there (although the courtesy that some like to celebrate is not always evident over here, I have to say!). And I appreciate your allowing me to post my contrary views here (although I might appreciate it much more if you banned me immediately so that I could spend more time on the rest of my life ;-)).
The thing is, speaking as a ‘warmist’, I guess, that one is assailed by all sorts of internally contradictory arguments. ‘CO2 is higher than it has been but that’s not a problem’/’CO2 isn’t higher than it has been anyway’, ‘The Earth has warmed but it’s natural’/’The Earth hasn’t warmed’, ‘It’s all the sun’/’It’s all volcanoes’. Internal contradiction abounds, but there seems to be no internal scepticism. Frankly, it seems that any old thing that suggest doubt of AGW is given equal uncritical treatment. There are regular items here commenting on how cold it is somewhere or other. Where are the items commenting on how warm it is somewhere or other? By all means commit yourself to one side of the debate but, if you do, then how can you be surprised when other sites commit themselves otherwise?
You suggest that RealClimate are closed-minded. I suggest to you that there is just as much a case to put that this site is closed-minded in its selection of ‘leads’ and in the weight of commentary upon them. Where is the ‘scepticism’ that people would like to associate themselves with?
I suggest that Armstrong’s ‘naive model’ with its ‘successive updating’ is a confidence trick. What on earth would you make of a climate projection that took advantage of ‘succesive updating’? It’s trivially obvious that if one keeps reworking the forecast according to what actually turns out then one will keep on nudging the percentages towards actuality. The long-term ‘forecasts’ remain entirely inadequate, as I have discussed above, but the rolling percentage looks ok! By contrast, the IPCC’s projections are being assessed in terms of their long-term adequacy. This is not a comparison of like with like. It’s risible, frankly, and amounts to the useless observation that if one runs the same trick from winter through to summer then the ‘forecast’ will be good for whatever percentage of the time. Is there so little scepticism here that people would like to ignore the difference between winter and summer so long as the case put seems to be ‘anti-warming’?

Adam Ruth
January 29, 2009 1:14 pm

This whole “it’s a forecast” / “it’s not a forecast” thing is a bit tiring.
It’s just a semantic game. Here’s what my OED says:

a prediction or estimate of future events, esp. coming weather or a financial trend.

The only lucid argument I’ve heard that the IPCC doesn’t do forecasts is simply that the input may change. Take this example from foinavon:

I agree with the top article and with Dr Trenberth referred to there that a climate model and its output are not “forecasts” in the common sense of the word. After all we don’t really know what the emission scenarios are going to be. So climate models are explorations of the evolution of the climate system under a range of different emission scenarios parameterized according to our current understanding of the physical elements of the climate system and its interactions.

This doesn’t make them any less a forecast. Every forecast is made with certain assumptions, and those assumptions can change after the forecast is made. If that happens, it doesn’t invalidate the forecast, only the assumptions.
Consider a 5-day weather forecast. The forecast is made with the assumption that a volcano isn’t going to erupt tomorrow. If it does, the 5-day forecast will be far off, but not because of a flaw in the logic, only the assumption.
Similarly, climate models claim to predict future temperature, assuming a certain amount of human CO2 production. Claiming that they aren’t forecasts simply because CO2 output may go up or down is nothing more than a dodge. They are forecasts since they make specific predictions of future trends based on a set of inputs, any claim otherwise is simply dissembling.

AJ Abrams
January 29, 2009 1:17 pm

Here is the post from Realitycheck I refer to above – Gee Flanagan…maybe you were caught in a big ol…….BS statement
realitycheck (15:17:40) :
Flanagan:
I appreciate you posting the publications. However, here is my concern and its a large one: – they are ALL based on the output from simulations (models) or in the case of the Mann paper on “climate proxies”. WHERE IS THE EMPIRICAL DATA proof? I have posted my comment on each paper after the R:
1) Natural variability of the climate system and detection of the greenhouse effect
R: In the abstract we read “…Simulations with a simple climate model are used to determine the main controls on internally generated low-frequency variability…” – they are using a model to determine what the range of “natural” variability in the atmosphere is, NOT ACTUAL data
2) Simulations of Atmospheric Variability Induced by Sea Surface Temperatures and Implications for Global Warming
R: The title says it all “Simulations” – they are not using ACTUAL DATA
3) Model assessment of the role of natural variability in recent global warming
R: “Model”, not ACTUAL DATA How can a GCM, which contains gross simplifications of the physics of the atmosphere, and which the IPCC have themselves indicated cannot be used for prediction (see AR4) reasonably be used to determine with the magnitude of natural variability is?
4) External Control of 20th Century Temperature by Natural and Anthropogenic Forcings
R: Here they attempt to replicate the 20th century record by a GCM – the GCM cannot replicate the temperature record – not surprising, since it does not reproduce many of the natural modes of variability in the atmosphere/ocean system such as NAO, AO, PDO, PNA, AMO etc. and even the IPCC indicate that GCMS should not be used for climate prediction (see AR4). So they adopt the old chestnut explanation – what else could it be? aha, must be CO2 NOT PROOF that CO2 drives climate.
5) Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries
R: This is a study by Michael Mann using….oh dear….climate proxies….oh dear. NOT ACTUAL DATA. I won’t even go further here – read any of the excellent work by Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick for further explanation
I will repeat – where is the beef?

davidc
January 29, 2009 1:17 pm

Robert Wood (12:37:45) :
“I see that this post and the last one has brought out the AGWers en masse.”
I think this is an excellent development. They make it very clear to everyone reading this blog that they have no case. Why don’t they say “I believe AGW is happening because of this key piece of evidence”? The dog that didn’t bark in the night.

Luis Dias
January 29, 2009 1:24 pm

Thanks Luis, following your own advice on rules, I’ll snip as needed.
Of course Anthony, unless you happen to believe that I am Santa, in which case I sincerely hope you follow my advice, or else I’ll be pissed off and ruin your holiday.

Bill Junga
January 29, 2009 1:30 pm

Another thing. The initial assumptions of a model determine it’s conclusion, result or whatever you want to call it. So if you set up your model with the “right assumptions” you can get the conclusion you want.
So you want to blame man’s CO2 emissions causing a bunch of dead polar bears or melting ice caps, you can do it.Just as church attendance can cause more drinking. Spurious, but the model says it does. The model has to be right!

foinavon
January 29, 2009 1:30 pm

Richard M (12:38:47) :

foinavon (11:09:51) :
“The question I was addressing relates to why climate modellers don’t use these “principles of forecasting” when doing their modelling. The answer is because the model is not a forecast. It’s an exploration of the evolution of a climate system to explore a particular chosen phenomenon (e.g. a possible greenhouse gas emission scenario or range of these).”

I’m glad that’s all straightened out. Since a model is simply an “exploration” then we can all just ignore anything that comes out of them. It does make me wonder what Gore is so worried about.
Seriously, did you read this over before posting? You can’t hide the truth behind a bunch of nonsense words. Anything that provides evidence of future conditions is FORECASTING. Deal with it.

Yes, Richard, I did read my post before posting! I try to say what I think clearly, but I do sometimes mess up with the html edit markups which can be very annoying when the carefully-crafted message actually appears on the thread… I think you’ve reproduced only one of my answers…the other reason that those “principles” aren’t used by modellers is that they’re not appropriate in the circumstance of model design, implementation and analysis, being rather more relevant to policymaking
From my memory of Gore’s movie, there wasn’t much about modelling. And that remains the same in terms of our basic understanding of the climate system, its response to enhanced greenhouse forcing, the evidence that informs us, and the likely evolution of the Earth’s climate system in the future according to various emission scenarios. So one doesn’t need to get too worked up about climate models. On the other hand the models are very useful for exploring ranges of possible variation (resulting from the range of possible, but as yet unknown, emission scenarios, for example), and for allowing us to get an idea of the likely geographical distribution of consequences in a warming world…

January 29, 2009 1:37 pm

foinavon (12:51:38) :
A climate model is only a forecast if someone chooses to use it as a forecast.
Would you agree that the IPCC create climate models? Lets look at the scientific “AR4 Summary For Policy Makers” From page 12 refers to Projections of Future Changes in Climate. Here we are using the TAR models to “predict” to the year 2100 temperature change of our climate between 2.4 and 6.4 degrees C. Furthermore, the prediction from the models are forecasting sea level rises of 0.26 to 0.59m. This is clearly evidence of models being used to forecast temperature changes. In this case, it’s not just a model.
It’s an exploration of the evolution of a climate system to explore a particular chosen phenomenon (e.g. a possible greenhouse gas emission scenario or range of these).
I think you’ve misunderstood. Clearly if one wishes to explore the evolution of the climate system under enhanced greenhouse forcing, one would like to know what the enhanced greenhouse forcing will be.
But models are generally run to test something!
I agree with some of the point above. I don’t believe I have mis-understood. The models are good to evaluate and validate experiments in lab conditions. But they are not validated, nor peer reviewed, against the real world.
Clearly the AR4 report concludes temperature will rise with increasing levels of CO2. The real world concludes that temperatures have plateaued despite these rises.
I’m not going to argue that the models have been invalidated on this bases as there are more un-modelled natural forcing’s in the real world, however, as the AR4 report, based on forecasts made by the IPCC models is being used as evidence of CO2 forced climate change, then they are not simply being used to test a Laboratory theory. The real world invalidates this.
Where those sort of “principles” might be appropriate, is in relation to policymaking by policymakers and their scientific advisors. However in this case, one expects that the policymakers and their advisors are sufficiently well-informed that they would assess the entire body of scientific evidence for potential greenhouse-related impacts and consider the role of models appropriately. At least in the case of the IPCC we can be confident that they do so, since their (voluminous) reports are available for everyone to read.
Principles of how models are built and for their purpose should happen during the model build. It is unrealistic to assume policy makers or scientific advisor’s can evaluate if the models are worth the listing paper they print results on. Principles built into the models ensure no bias is introduced, nor errors made. It is also unrealistic to assume modellers, climate scientists etc would know or have a set of transparent principles that can be used to predict climate. You need to bring in experts in their fields to fill these voids. I’m not just talking about the world premier authority on Forecasting, also consider biologists, chemists, paleo experts, computer programmers, statisticians, engineers and so on.

foinavon
January 29, 2009 1:40 pm

AJ Abrams (13:03:22) :

foinavon (12:51:38) :
You say “I have to disagree with you! A climate model is only a forecast if someone chooses to use it as a forecast. Otherwise it’s just a model. And the output is certainly not being used “in an attempt to prove the AGW theory”.”

Yet on the other thread you did just that. In an attempt to prove AGW theory you posted numerous papers that were in fact model runs (and one notorious paper by Mann).

Please pay attention AJ. That “other thread” (if it’s the one I think you mean…perhaps you could be a bit more specific) was about assessing past temperatures from analysis of paleoproxies. It wasn’t about climate models. And I certainly wasn’t discussing the paleoproxy data in an attempt to “prove AGW theory”. We were discussing the quality of the proxies and their analyses if I remember correctly. It couldn’t have been about climate models if it was in reference to Mann (Dr. “notorious”!) could it, since I don’t think Mann does climate models….
Don’t say stuff that just isn’t true. If you think my recollection is incorrect or I’m referring to a different thread than you (I’ve posted on three/four threads in the past few days) point out the thread and relevant posts.

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 1:49 pm

John Galt (12:43:40) :
Simon Evans:
I think our observations may be closer than you think, but clearly our conclusions differ.

I agree (if that doesn’t sound self-contradictory!).
I agree that models are not what we might want them to be. Where I differ from some (I’m not saying you) is in the view that therefore they are no use at all.
The IPCC summary projects a 10% chance, say, that AGW will not have much serious consequence at all over the coming century. On the other hand, it projects a 10% chance, say, that it might have a more serious consequence than we tend to address (the ‘alarmist’ view, perhaps!). In the middle of that, there’s the assessment of higher percentage chances which are more or less serious. This is all a bit vague, of course, I would agree.
Still, I think of it in terms of risk assessment. I am persuaded that it’s not a great idea to keep increasing CO2 (and other) concentrations, since this increases risk. I am very aware of uncertainty, but somewhat puzzled by the apparent certainty of those who think the whole thing is a ‘scam’, etc.
You don’t recognize Al Gore as both an AGW alarmist and profiteer?
I think his AIT presentation of potential sea rises was alarmist, in that it didn’t give a clear view of anticipated time scales – it allowed the viewer to think this might be happening ‘soon’. Otherwise, I think he made a few mistakes but felt that mostly it was a fair representation. That’s JMV, of course! I can’t comment on ‘profiteer’. Tbh, I’m not particularly interested – I’m just trying to figure out what the science suggests, rather than what players on one side or the other are up to.
James Hansen is also an alarmist. Is there any scientific basis for his declaration that Obama has only 4 years to save the planet?
I can’t quite remember what he’s said. Obviously, the planet will do just fine! It’s been through conditions that we might not like too much ourselves. My own view is that we are pushing up hard against the level of sustainability, so that we don’t have much headroom to cope with variability (I don’t want to sound too Malthusian here!). I’m concerned about the social implications, and the potentially huge ‘cost’, of perturbation. Scientists will argue about most everything, but I really don’t think there are many who would think it a particularly bright idea to keep on adding to a climate forcing. I am not able to assert that a particular level of CO2 is ‘critical’, but I’m not inclined to find out retrospectively that we didn’t know it was.

buzz
January 29, 2009 2:13 pm

I offer you this heretofore unexplored facet to consider …
go to http://www.cbc.ca/podcasting/pastpodcasts.html#ref14
click on the “Best of Ideas” (about half-way down the page?) & you’ll find Gwynn Dyer’s recent documentary “Climate Wars Parts 1 & 2”, ready to download
Please give it a listen.
Of course, IMHO, the one aspect unfortunately NOT entertained, in that documentory, or anywhere ELSE, is the cast-iron psychological GRIP that THEIR WHEELS have, on the rugged-individualist’s psyche…
essentially it comes down to
“What? ME ride the bus?”
THAT little hiccup – the reality that there’s a goodly proportion of the (esp. lead-footed American) population who would actually rather FIGHT & DIE to maintain their gas-driven scoot – is just one more awesome chasm to be bridged in the not-too-distant-future: the seemingly self-contradictory data of zoomin’, but on foot.

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 2:17 pm

davidc (13:17:57) :
Robert Wood (12:37:45) :
“I see that this post and the last one has brought out the AGWers en masse.”
I think this is an excellent development. They make it very clear to everyone reading this blog that they have no case. Why don’t they say “I believe AGW is happening because of this key piece of evidence”? The dog that didn’t bark in the night.

I’d suggest that you engage in discussion of particular points rather than seeking to denigrate others by such generalisations. There are a lot of comments of your kind on this and other threads.
I could post, in response, “The denialists make it very clear that they have no case”. What would be the point of such an exchange? If you have something to say that’s pertinent then do so, but generalised denigration adds nothing. You (and others) might rally the core, but you’re not going to persuade others unless you can address the science.
As for “I believe AGW is happening because of this key piece of evidence”?, I give you the absorption of IR by CO2 molecules.

Dave
January 29, 2009 2:18 pm

Foinavon,
In an effort to save you a little typing:
“…a climate model run to explore the possible temporal evolution of the Earth’s climate…” = forecast
“…assess the effect of a putative volcanic eruption in the future and the climate response…” = forecast
“…Or one might choose to determine how the climate might evolve under scenarios…” = forecast

JP
January 29, 2009 2:24 pm

foinavon — Why should “forecasters” be used as reviewers of scientific papers that they’re unlikely to understand?
Also english majors read this blog and correct our punctuation and spelling. But we all sometimes agree that there(sp..) changes are correct….
Because English, is their specialty…:)
sentence structure
grammar
tense etc….
jp

January 29, 2009 2:29 pm

Yes, it is almost as if the IPCC and RC true believers are confusing personal insult with logical argument. Armstrong knows his craft: forecasting. He can spot a pretender at 40 paces, and he is calling the IPCC and RC people pretenders.
It is a serious charge from a serious scholar. Anyone who covers his eyes and ignores the warning because it doesn’t suit his prior beliefs has a very real problem, which stares at him every morning in the mirror.

Tom M
January 29, 2009 2:39 pm

foinavon (11:45:02) :
If we agree that it doesn’t make sense for climate modellers to incorporate these “”principles of forecasting” into their work, since a cliimate model isn’t a “forecast”, nor for forecasters to review their publications as part of the peer-review process, then we could move on to a more sensible point…

The model itself may not be a forecast, although if the report on it contains predictions or possible outcomes it tortures the mind, as I’ve said, to say so, but the IPCC doesn’t do the models, they assess them and then use them to predict the risks to mankind of possible man made climate change. Isn’t that forecasting? Shouldn’t IPCC reports be fair game for comment by those expert in forecasting?
Here’s the stated IPCC mandate for example:
>cite/cite<
One cannot really breath the words "climate change" much less "global warming" without casting the mind forward, so to speak. We aren’t really worried so much about change or warming that has already happened are we? It seems to me that if we are really truly interested in this matter, if we find it compelling or important we would want to employ all the useful techniques and disciplines that we can find.
Possibly Armstrong’s assertions, conclusions, principles and methods could be criticized or improved, maybe there is a better forecaster out there to consult, but to see them dismissed on the premise that no climate forecasting has taken place is hard to accept.

kurt
January 29, 2009 2:47 pm

I ran across testimony this guy gave to Congress about a year ago. If I recall correctly, he and his organization have promulgated a number of “principles” that they argue need to be followed when forecasting, but not many other disciplines actually endose the principles, at least not in toto. His critique of the modelers seeems to boil down to an averment that “they violated the principles that I believe are important.” This kind of blanket argument isn’t as persuasive as, say Anthony’s documentation that most of the temperature measurement stations in this country don’t live up to the standards that NOAA itself has set up.
Having said that, many (but not all) of the principles that Armstrong states are essential to accurate forecasts are no brainers, and if you analyze specific principles you can come up with some devastating arguments as to why existing models are useless. For example, the idea that a model should be first shown to produce the results it is used for before you rely on it seems to be self-evident, but climate models by their nature can’t be validated as accurate forecasting tools in anything less than a century. Also, the point that you can’t just rely upon expert opinion on something as comlex as predicting future climate, or attribution of certain observed climate changes to specific causes, is also self evident (and actually a corollary of the previous point – how can you be an expert without first proving that your opinions on forecasts or attributions have been demonstarted as accurate.)

RichardM
January 29, 2009 3:11 pm

Formerly known as Mongo – who died. I killed him.
Interesting new posters here, Anthony and moderating team. While livening up the debate, the attacks from authority have increased massively. I too, can regurgitate info from (pick a site/source) without understanding the underlaying principles.
“if the IPCC is not using climate models to forecast…” then what are they doing? The effect of these non-forecasts/scenario’s has the same effect as a forecast. IMO, they are one in the same in their application.
Ok – old news. I get it. Dr Armstrong has AGW proponents on him like a red rash. Got it. Anything this polarizing is going to manufacture controversy.
As a skeptic, folks, the net effect of this article is zero. Without falsifying this badly flawed theory, we’re still involved in an on-going train wreck. Nice to see this, but it’s kind of a sugar rush. i’ve already crashed…how about you?

January 29, 2009 3:21 pm

Tom M (14:39:27) :
but the IPCC doesn’t do the models, they assess them and then use them to predict the risks to mankind of possible man made climate change.

I think it depends on interpretation. The TGICA clearly states that they don’t do climate models, however, there is also the quote;
***In order to allow climate modelers a quick start with their work after the completion of the AR4, the Expert meeting is also tasked to prepare a few benchmark concentration scenarios…***
To me this means they are involved in the creation of models. Yes, indirectly, but creation non the less.
Cite

Tom M
January 29, 2009 3:40 pm

I messed up on my citation from the IPCC website in my post above.
Here’s the quote that I meant to post:
The IPCC was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. IPCC reports should be neutral with respect to policy, although they need to deal objectively with policy relevant scientific, technical and socio economic factors. They should be of high scientific and technical standards, and aim to reflect a range of views, expertise and wide geographical coverage.
My apologies.

January 29, 2009 3:45 pm

I can congratulate anyone who can put their full faith in either side…that either scientists know what’s going on, or don’t know at all. Such blind faith certainly results in easier living…not having to put much thought into definitive beliefs. Such an easy ‘out’.
Unfortunately, one need only have common sense to know that belching polutants into the atmosphere isn’t a good thing, and digging up oil to burn it into the atmosphere isn’t ‘paradise found’. It’s also a system that specifically benefits the enemies we create to satisfy our demand. So what’s the harm in creating a system based on solar and wind power, or other renewables?
The cost is the harm? Um…we just spend $1 Trillion on wars, got no-where in safety from terrorists, lost 4000 lives and 30,000 US casualties, 100k Iraq casualties. I think we need to take a different approach. I don’t care about the scientific forecasts. I’m just going with common sense. Duh. Let’s create our own energy, with less polution and less money getting siphoned directly to our enemies to supply it.
Nothing in the original posts or most of the comments seems to suggest any massive down-side to decreasing our reliance on foreign, non-renewable energies. Screw the forecasts. Just use your brain a little bit. “Global Warming” isn’t the only issue here.

Jeff L
January 29, 2009 3:50 pm

OT, but will probably be of interest to many here :
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/28/AR2009012803318_pf.html
I dont know what scares me more – that these people run our country …. or that people in our country elected them. Maybe we are doomed …. but not because of AGW.

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 3:59 pm

I’ll point out that nobody has addressed the criticisms made of what Armstrong actually puts forward.
His ‘naive model’ hindcasts are completely useless over a 100 year period once warming is effected. They do not stack up against GCM hindcasts. That is blitheringly obvious!
His “successive updating” is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s trivially obvious that cumulative recalculation will tend towards the actuality.
I’m not particularly interested in his credentials one way or the other. His proposed ‘model’ has no usefulness whatsoever in terms of anticipating the future one hundred years hence. That’s self-evident if you consider its usefulness now rather than its supposed accuracy after its been “successively updated” for the next 99 years!

January 29, 2009 4:13 pm

Jeff L (15:50:06) :
OT, but will probably be of interest to many here :

That article is the best laugh I’ve had all night. Excellent! 😀

Ben Kellett
January 29, 2009 4:16 pm

Foinavon! Just a quick question – what would you regard as “real science”?
While I respect your very eloquent points & clear understanding of the issues here, it appears that there is not a single scientist who offers any sort of challenge to AGW whose opinion or work you respect.
Are they all wrong?
Is there not a single point raised in this thread or any other where you would begin to concede even just a little ground?
Or are you completely convinced that even some of the very well informed contributers here are gullible idiots, deluded by the “blogosphere”?
Just sometimes, your contempt towards other opinions comes across as “he doth protest too much”!!
Agreed – others at times show unjust contempt for your comments, but surely they are best ignored in the interests of exploring the issues at hand in a way that is clearly unprejudiced and unemotive?

January 29, 2009 4:21 pm

Addressing foinavon’s list:
ONE. …climate models are… not “forecasts” in the commonly used sense of the word.
Yes they are. CCM forecasts are widely applied in the political arena as forecasts and are conflated with economic models for increased taxation and socio-economic manipulations. They are used as value-laden predictions by the CCM modelers. See Hansen et al.
TWO. If a forecaster (of the type suggested by Armstrong) is involved, it might more usefully be in the arena of policymaking.
The contention that CCM’s are divorced from policymaking is specious and disingenuous. We all know that CCM’s are used for policy advocacy. To deny such is worse than naivety; it is counter-factual.
THREE. …Armstrong… works largely in the area of conflict forecasting. His complaint against “expert opinion” [in regards to CCM’s is irrelevant].
No, climate change is conflict forecasting. Again, attempts to shelter CCM’s from political implications and policy-making is counter-factual.
“…Expert opinions are an inappropriate forecasting method in situations that involve high complexity and high uncertainty.” But we’re not talking about “expert opinion”. We’re talking about scientific analysis.
No, CCM’s are expert opinions, (albeit the expertise may be questionable). Models are not mere formulas applied to data. They are amalgamations of theories, e.g. opinions.
FOUR. Armstrong says: “[How] might the effects [of GW] be beneficial or harmful? Here again, we have been unable to find any scientific forecasts—as opposed to speculation—despite our appeals for such studies.” …There’s… plenty of… scientific analysis that incorporates the economic impact of global warming into predictions.
I submit that the predictions (foinavon’s word) of dire effects of GW have not been done with any skill or verifiability. Rising sea levels, hurricanes, the Venus Effect, etc. are speculation without scientific rigor. Furthermore, numerous scientific reports on the benefits of GW in the past fully contradict the dire speculations.
FIVE. …there’s an abundance of published science on cost-benefit analysis in climate change and mitigation.
Again, that work has been done without skill or verifiability, lacking as it does any conformance to the principles of forecasting, econometrics, or true benefit analysis of GW. Climate warming is beneficial in myriad ways; it cannot be assumed to be a “cost” and thus “mitigation” cannot be considered a “benefit.” Killing the golden goose does not result in net gain.
SIX. It’s not obvious that Armstrong’s apparent requirement for a naïve model is really very useful in climate change forecasting.
The naive model provides a baseline with which to judge complex forecasting (foinavon’s word) models. It is the null hypothesis required by Popperian science. The naive model does not ignore historical data as foinavon mistakenly implies. On the contrary, it is a treatment of the data as much as any complex model.
SEVEN. … how can one forecast the temperature of the following 100 years from the temperature of a single year anyway?
Armstrong did so! with his naive (null hypothesis) model precisely to test the reliability of more complex climate forecast (again, foinavon’s word) models. The nuance of null hypotheses may escape climate forecasters (who deny/confirm that they are doing forecasting), but said forecasters cannot then claim to be doing Popperian science.
EIGHT. Both the science and the policymaking seems pretty conservative to me.
That value judgment is accepted as such. I do not dispute foinavon’s self-described impressions since I don’t live inside his skin. But to me, from my vantage point, both the “science” of climate modeling and the associated policymaking seem radically authoritarian and destructive of economic well-being, quality of life, and fundamental human rights.

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 4:33 pm

Mike D. (16:21:12) :
SEVEN. … how can one forecast the temperature of the following 100 years from the temperature of a single year anyway?
Armstrong did so! with his naive (null hypothesis) model precisely to test the reliability of more complex climate forecast

Excuse me butting in, but Armstrong’s ‘naive model’ is not a null hypothesis, since it is “successively updated”. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
A null hypothesis would assert no expectation of likely change one way or the other. A “successively updated” model simply tracks whatever change occurs. Surely this is evident?

January 29, 2009 4:37 pm

Al Gore has nothing else, this is it, so no matter what, even in an ice storm he will demand money for his cause. Give him some credit though, he did invent the internet and global warming, the light buld, not the one that Edison invented, the one that you get over the top of your head when you get an idea.
Gore, let me educate you, I will write slower so you can grasp the concept. IN THE SUMMER, IT TENDS TO GET WARMER UNTIL WINTER COMES, THEN IT GET COLDER. Al, find a real job.

January 29, 2009 4:43 pm

Salutwineco (15:45:38)

“Global Warming” isn’t the only issue here.

It’s not the only issue, but it pretty much is the main issue. As point #7 in the article states: The climate system is stable.
That means that CO2 is not having any noticeable effect. What follows from that realization is obvious: taxpayers should not have to fork over $Trillions for a non-problem. The climate is stable. Let’s take care of real problems, like sanitation, malaria, vaccinating kids in poor countries, etc. Money spent to “mitigate global warming” is money wasted.
No one argues that pollution isn’t a problem, or that alternative energy sources shouldn’t be used. Framing the argument that way creates a straw man. You don’t want to do that here, do you?
The central issue in the overall debate is this: a small minority believes that increases in CO2 will lead to runaway global warming and climate catastrophe. Fortunately, there are only about a half-dozen here who keep trying to convince the great majority of other posters and lurkers that the end is nigh. Most everyone else is convinced that CO2 is a beneficial trace gas, and that even if the Earth warmed up a degree or so, instead of doing its current cooling, humanity would be better off with a slightly warmer, more pleasant and healthier climate.
All the other ad hom, incessant, hairsplitting arguments stem from people whose egos are so intertwined with Al Gore’s hypothesis that they simply can not see that as CO2 rises and global temperatures fall, their CO2/climate catastrophe scenario has been defenestrated.
Once someone accepts the plain fact that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, but a beneficial and necessary trace gas, everything else falls into place. As the general population gradually takes notice, they are coming around to the realization that the entire issue is motivated by money and power — not by real science.
Glad to have you come aboard. Visit here for a while and there’s a good chance you’ll begin to see what’s up. As you can see from some of the comments, others used to be believers in the CO2/doomsday scenario too. Then they saw the other side of the argument, and they began to see the agenda. So, be skeptical for a while. See where it leads.

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 4:46 pm

All the other ad hom, incessant, hairsplitting arguments stem from people whose egos are so intertwined with Al Gore’s hypothesis that they simply can not see that as CO2 rises and global temperatures fall, their CO2/climate catastrophe scenario has been defenestrated.
That is an ad hom statement. Are you conscious of your hypocrisy as you write it out?

Joel Shore
January 29, 2009 4:53 pm

Jeff L says:

I think Armstrong’s comment on persistence is quite interesting in that there is an underlying implication that feedback mechanisms in our climate system are largely negative & stabilizing – which in & of itself is a strong arguement that CO2 is highly unlikely to be a significant problem (other negative feedback mechanisms will cut it’s effect, if any exists)

I don’t see why persistence implies negative feedbacks. Furthermore, if such negative feedbacks exist, how do you explain, for example, the ice age / interglacial cycles. You are going to have to come up with some big-honkin’ forcings to explain the changes in temperature that occurred in such a stable system!

Leon Brozyna
January 29, 2009 4:57 pm

A forecast is a forecast is a forecast, no matter what name you use in its stead such as a prediction or a projection (an estimate of future possibilities based on a current trend) or even a scenario.
A few years back a prominent statistician (Wegman) laid out a devastating critique of the infamous hockey stick and its lack of adherence to principles of statistics or even using a statistician in evaluating the work.
Now we see a world renowned forecasting guru rip to shreds AGW oriented climate models for failing to adhere to forecasting principles.
How many of the underpinnings of AGW have to be knocked out before the adherents discover that their belief system is a floating abstraction without a solid connection to reality? *sigh* That’s a rhetorical question, fantasies are clung to with fanatical devotion.

January 29, 2009 4:58 pm

Simon, I mentioned no names, but I was referring to those who instantly attack people like Drs. Theon and Armstrong, Monckton, Lindzen, Goddard, Hays, and any others who don’t toe the UN/IPCC line.
You seem to be like the guy who walks up to a hat rack, picks up someone’s hat, puts it on and exclaims, “Hey, this hat fits me perfectly. So this must be my hat!”
Well, maybe it is.

Kmye
January 29, 2009 5:15 pm

@E.M.Smith (from way, way back up there) Thanks for your help!

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 5:18 pm

Smokey (16:58:58) :
, I mentioned no names, but I was referring to those who instantly attack people like Drs. Theon and Armstrong, Monckton, Lindzen, Goddard, Hays, and any others who don’t toe the UN/IPCC line.
I don’t think there’s much mileage to be had in discussion from insinuating motives on the part of individuals. I do think it’s reasonable to check out authority or claimed authority in a particular field – if someone tells me I need a heart transplant I want to know that they’re a medic at least! Generally I tend to be a bit suspicious of supposed authority when someone is emphasising it as part of their ‘pitch’, but maybe that’s my own cynicism.
I’m really much more interested in what is being said rather than who is saying it. Personally, I think this thread has been rather diverted by discussion of Armstrong rather than of what he says which, personally, I don’t think bears much scrutiny!
It seems slightly odd to me that the ‘contrarians’ (or whatever) tend to scorn the significance of consensus on the one hand but then stress the status of whichever endorser-of-contrarianism is being discussed. We’ve had quite a bit of “how dare anyone question the views of this eminent person” on this thread. I don’t care about that. If his statements don’t stack up, then they deserve sceptical appraisal, IMV.
The ad hom accusations can be tossed around endlessly. If I objected to every ad hom against Hansen/Mann/Gore (who’s a politician anyway, so I’m not too much interested in his views) then I’d be posting even more than I am doing! Personally, I think discussion might be better if everyone reined it in on both sides. JMV, of course :-).

Alan Wilkinson
January 29, 2009 5:40 pm

Against my better judgement I held my nose and did go and read the RC response that Luis Dias linked.
Not surprisingly it consisted of 99% ad hominem attack on the messenger rather than the message with the sole factual rebuttal being a claim that climate models have been extensively validated on data they were not ad hoc tuned to match.
That latter claim I regard with considerable scepticism.

Simon Evans
January 29, 2009 6:03 pm

Alan Wilkinson (17:40:21) :
Against my better judgement I held my nose and did go and read the RC response that Luis Dias linked.
Not surprisingly it consisted of 99% ad hominem attack on the messenger rather than the message with the sole factual rebuttal being a claim that climate models have been extensively validated on data they were not ad hoc tuned to match.
That latter claim I regard with considerable scepticism.

So, can you please address the criticisms of Armstrong’s case that I’ve made here? I would like someone to! I’ll summarise:
1. Their ‘naive model’ hindcast has no long -term (say 100 year) usefulness and is kicked over by the GCM hindcasts, as demonstrated way above (see my first post on this thread);
2. Their “successive updating” of that naive model simply sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy that is bound to tend towards actuality. It is not a null hypothesis and is of no usefulness if we cannot know its actual forecast, which could only be determined once a further 99 years have passed!
Can you address that? I’d like someone to. Sorry to be tediously repetitive, but all the self-proclaimed ‘sceptics’ here seem to have passed by any discussion of the nonsense presented in this “statement”.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 6:09 pm

G Alston (01:17:52) :
Kmye — Can anyone explain #7 (in the article list) in different, perhaps simpler terms?
Climate changes slowly enough that for short term (100 year) time scales, it’s relatively stable.
The bad news is that this is pretty much in accordance with what the AGW alarmists are claiming, that it’s been stable for ages but all this recent CO2 stuff [insert hockey stick here] temps are now climbing faster than ever seen historically.

Um, “I don’t think so G” … They did series of all lengths including single years. The test says that even in the 10s of years and singles of years, nothing is changing much. That would not be the case if the temps were moving like the ‘hockey stick’ or had any other rise of more than 0.5C scale.
The test they did finds both hidden cyclicality and sloping data at all time scales from 1 year to 100. The ‘naive’ case was good at all spans (so cycles may well exist but are not too strong, and there are no strong trends positive or negative in any of the spans.)
AGW takes an arrow to the heart here.

January 29, 2009 6:11 pm

Brendan H (03:10:54),
Big oil interests you. And that is good. Now who is big grease funding? Because big grease wants to displace big oil.

January 29, 2009 6:11 pm

These are some interesting talks you have going on here. Keep it up!!

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 6:13 pm

Drat. Everything from “Um, I don’t think so G” on down is mine.
I need to learn to close the italics better…

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 6:36 pm

Robert Bateman (02:57:57) :
Wiki is a poor place to find answers for work that has never been done.

I like to use it as a place to pick up references (at the bottom), search terms (if my google ideas were ‘thin’) and get a general flavor of ‘how much’ exists. If something is critical, I look elsewhere… but as a first cut it is usually OK (modulo the infestation with AGW junk).
I don’t know where you are, but from your statements it sounds like inland central California. That was fairly well explored and documented by the 1800’s (San Jose was founded in 1777 just to give an idea). Sacramento, per the wiki (an example of picking up a quick non-critical pointer…) says:
In either 1799 or 1808, the Spanish explorer Gabriel Moraga discovered and named the Sacramento Valley and the Sacramento River
So the spaniards were wandering inland at the time of the Dalton. A history of his travels ought to be enlightening.
BTW, they had thermometers since way back. A friend has a “Galileo thermometer” on his desk that is quite accurate. Early 1600’s is when they started making thermometers of odd sorts.
And I ought to point out that the inland areas weather is dominated by the coast. Most of the time inland gets what the coast got a while ago, only hotter or colder as the case may be. (Modulo the occasional Canada Express…) So the coastal conditions being ‘about the same’ implies that inland would be ‘about the same’.
I woud also expect that any ’49er lore might hold references to ‘different from the past’. I.e. something like ‘we had a drought in the past, but now we have plenty of water’ that could be helpful.
Good luck with your hunt.

Mike Bryant
January 29, 2009 6:36 pm

This Global Warming thing seems pretty scary, how much hotter is it anyway?
Well, since 1880 maybe .6 or .7 degrees Centigrade.
Is that alot?
Well, no not really.
Are you sure about the measurements?
Well, maybe a little bit sure.
What do you mean?
There seems to be many questions about instruments and procedures.
Does that worry you?
No because now we have satellite data since 1979.
Well how bad is it?
The earth has warmed about .4C since 1979.
Are you sure?
Well there are still some adjustments being made, but we are pretty sure.
So, Global Warming is really bad?
Yes, it must be since the Global Climate Computer Models say it is.
Are you sure about the computer models?
Of course we are, but they DO seem to keep missing on the warm side.
What does that mean?
Oh nothing, don’t worry we will keep getting better computers until we are right.
So what should I do about Global Warming?
Just keep quiet and do whatever the scientists tell you to do, and do it immediately.

P Folkens
January 29, 2009 6:41 pm

Simon Evans (18:03:28) : “all the self-proclaimed ’sceptics’ here seem to have passed by any discussion of the nonsense presented in this “statement”.”
What Armstrong accomplished was a more highly detailed explanation of observations we skeptics understand from the simple and obvious things AGW wonks ignore. For example, Dr. Hansen’s model presented in 1988 was very specific about what it projected, like a 1.2°C rise in temperature in 20 years. At the 20 year point the rise was only 0.2°C. The simple and obvious thing: the model was completely wrong, yet Dr. Hansen continues to declare its veracity. Example 2: Dr. Mann’s hokey schtick broke several fundamental rules by mixing data sets. Perhaps you didn’t notice—Mann took dendrochronology for a thousand years, hitched direct temperature observations for the last 120 years, then added the worst case scenario from the IPCC Working Group and presented it as reliable data. Dendrochronology is notoriously vague. Even so, he could have continued the dendrochronology to the present (since we still have trees) rather than insert temperature data. If he had done so, it would not have shown the 20th century rise just as it did not show the Medieval Climate Optimum or Little Ice Age. The direct observation temp data itself was problematic for lack of consistency. The model he glued to the end was an untested speculation from the IPCC and the worst of six scenarios which had huge margins of error. Mann’s hokey schtick is unscientific at its core.
Armstrong’s critique of the AGW models as being “unscientific” are spot on and not nonsense in the least.

Mike Bryant
January 29, 2009 6:50 pm

This graph I got from Smokey is the way we should be looking at temperatures:
http://junkscience.com/GMT/NCDC_absolute.gif
The anomaly graphs make it seem that something is amiss.
http://www.climate-movie.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/uah_global.png

Pamela Gray
January 29, 2009 6:50 pm

I would like to see a model that assumes weather as the driver. If CO2 can be assumed to be a driver, why can’t weather related events like PDO, Jet stream, water vapor linked to warm or cold waters, etc? In fact, just for the giggles, remove the anthropogenic trace gas amounts of CO2, and keep in natural occurring CO2, and yes, keep in the methane produced from my cows (why?…because if the cows were not in my pastures, the elk would be). Plug in the temperature changes we know happen (as in 1998) during nina’s and nino’s and then correlate their occurance frequency with PDO switches (and all the other decadel oceanic switches). Finally, run the models with varying jet stream positions. Then run the whole shebang with the anthropogenic CO2 put back in. By the way, keep the Sun at a constant (because changes in the Sun would mean that suddenly, the Sun had to get a helluva lot closer to us). If the two scenarios (without and with the small amount of anthropogenic CO2 added) fall within the error bars, there will be no statistical difference between burning oil and not burning oil.
And how about this idea. Run the current IPCC models with and without the small amount of anthropogenic CO2 added. If the difference is within the error bars, there is no leg to stand on in a court of law. Cap and trade would be based on a non-existent statistical difference. Wait. Hansen already did that. I don’t remember him saying whether or not there was a statistical difference between A, B, or C.

G Alston
January 29, 2009 6:52 pm

Simon Evans — A null hypothesis would assert no expectation of likely change one way or the other. A “successively updated” model simply tracks whatever change occurs. Surely this is evident?
The definition we use at my work is that a null hypothesis would assert no/little change in rates of change of a changing thing, not that there is no change at all. If temps are rising 0.01 deg/decade from the end of the LIA to 1900 then the null hypothesis assumes this is the norm for forecasting 1900-1950. Velocity is constant, not necessarily zero.
In that case the null hypothesis is mere acknowledgement that the temp seems to be slowly going up since the LIA with no attribution of why it’s going up. It just is. The alternative hypothesis would be to attribute a driving mechanism.
Without the hockey stick and other similar graphics purporting to demonstrate a significant and *recent* change in velocity, the null hypothesis wins. The cool thing about this site is that people are paying close attention to the underlying data claimed to support this recent significant change.
I’m a skeptic. And until I see conclusive evidence that 20th century land temps are purely reflective of manmade GHG’s, I will remain one. As far as I can tell the land temps are a better proxy for tracking changes in land use, population, and sprawl than they are for GHG’s. Just in case you misread this, I’ll spell this out: the temps aren’t the temps; they aren’t what we think they are. It’s why I was drawn to this site. The surfacestations project seems to be confirming my suspicion.
That said I’m positive that GHG’s have an effect. Of course they do. And for the most part skeptics will agree with this. Where the vehement disagreement comes is the premise, taken as given by the AGW side, that temps have risen **SOLELY** due to GHG’s.
In part this is a matter of attribution, isn’t it? And getting back to the opening bit, I’m guessing that modifying the null hypothesis (constant velocity) to add land use changes will come a lot closer to hindcasting than any GHG driven model can accomplish (starting at 1850 to present.)
This is why I reckon what Armstrong says is significant.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 6:54 pm

Brendan H (03:10:54) :
You know that’s not going to happen soon, if ever. You need to start dampening down the hopes and expectations you have raised, otherwise in a few weeks or months there are going to be some very disappointed people on WUWT.

Nope. We’re in it for ‘the long haul’. Until my dying breath.
It may take years, decades, or more; but until the science is clean and the answers come from more than computerized fantasies; I’m here, I’m digging into it, and I’m not letting go of this bone until it’s chewed down to dust and coming out the other end to be rapidly buried. Clear?

Mike Smith
January 29, 2009 7:03 pm

“Nothing in the original posts or most of the comments seems to suggest any massive down-side to decreasing our reliance on foreign, non-renewable energies. Screw the forecasts. Just use your brain a little bit. ‘Global Warming’ isn’t the only issue here.”
True, energy policy is a different issue than climate change. But AGW is the strawman to justify massive changes in energy policy.
There are plenty of reasons to modify our current energy policy but those decisions should be made on their own merit (with quality science as input) not as a result of trumped-up “we only have four years to save the planet” nonsense.

Roger
January 29, 2009 7:12 pm

MC said
“You remind me of Colombo. Persistent, methodical, constant, questioning, and always after the truth.”
Something boathas me……

Alan Wilkinson
January 29, 2009 7:22 pm

Armstrong’s ‘naive model’ is not a null hypothesis, since it is “successively updated”

You could equally describe it as being successively backdated. As I understand it, it is simply finding the average prediction accuracy for any randomly chosen pair of years over 150 years of global temperature measurements.
Another way of putting it (using say data from here:
http://dataservice.eea.europa.eu/atlas/viewdata/viewpub.asp?id=3470) is that over 158 years of annual average surface global temperature data, 97% of data points lie with a range of 1 deg C.
This variability is insufficient to validate climate prediction models and to distinguish them from a “no change” model. Seems a fair case to me.

ian
January 29, 2009 7:34 pm

As a former avid campaigner against AGW, I can appreciate the sentiments of both Salutwineco (15:45:38) and Simon Evans . I too am appalled at the social and environmental costs of the world’s insatiable desire to controlling fossil fuel availablility (eg. Iraq, the Niger Delta, Exxon Valdez, the tragic death toll in China’s coal mines, the general destruction of habitat, China’s support for the despotic government in the Sudan to secure oil rights, Russia flexing it’s gas monopoly muscles…) I also agree with Simon Evans that hardening of minds occurs in both camps and is something sceptics should be constantly aware of.
However, since becoming a sceptic myself (that is a sceptic of the alarmist view – I believe like Pielke Sr that human kind is having an impact on climate but CO2 is not the major forcer of climate), I have also witnessed how this obsession on reducing atmospheric CO2 is creating its own nightmare scenarios (eg. the mass logging of forests for palm plantations to support an ever increasing demand for biofuels (http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=37035), this tragedy in Chad (http://www.irinnews.org/Report.aspx?ReportId=82436), and the carbon credit scams popping up everywhere (http://www.wilderness.org.au/articles/20001117_mr).
It comes as no surprise that ‘Greenwash’ is so prevelant because corporations will naturally gravitate toward the money and government’s will promise the world – as in the rhetoric on combatting global warming of our P.M. Kevin Rudd prior to the last election – and deliver little but spin. I suspect that many environmentalists view the ‘global warming’ scenario as the ticket that will finally lead to a more just and humane world. I think that is a danger and a mistake.
Apart from his scientific take on the issue, Physicist and environmental scientist makes some salient points in this regard:
worldhttp://activistteacher.blogspot.com/2007/02/global-warming-truth-or-dare.html
He suggests that ‘global warming’ is mainly a concern for the western middle class, it means very little to those billions suffering through war, persecution, immense poverty and disease. Even if we are able to convert to renewables, it will still be the same corporations in control and the poor, sick and suffering will more than likely still be poor, sick and suffering.
My two cents worth so lets keep up the interesting and polite discussions.

AnonyMoose
January 29, 2009 7:38 pm

Can you rephrase “a press release saying that not only did their audit of IPCC forecasting procedures and found that”? The desired meaning is not apparent.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 7:48 pm

John Philip (05:21:27) :
Looking at actual source code can be informative, however it is frequently better to take the algorithms e.g. for adjustment (which have always been public domain, in the case of GISTEMP) and develop your own software independently to verify results.

I prefer to look at the actual source code being run, thanks. (I just downloaded ModelE and I’ll get to it just after GISTEMP). Often what folks say is in the algorithm is not what they wrote (Bugs, errors, ‘fixes’, etc.) or the description does not fully convey the truth. For example, the GHSC to USHC discontinuity adjustment sounds in the ‘readme’ like it just aligns the ends of the two curves to eliminate a jump. It doesn’t. It rewrites all of past history for that record.
From what I’ve seen so far, there are some very questionable choices made in GIStemp. (Like, exactly why would an equipment or TOB change in the last 10 years be valid for changing all the temperatures from before when that change was made? )
REPLY: […] it is not the same version (as I understand it) as the GISS model E they run in-house. Even for the Model E without the GUI front end, it seems they still haven’t matched the public version with the in-house version. […]
There’s nothing additional from Gavin past that one post he made, and why does he refer to “public code” separately from “current codes” then provide no updates to that forum comment for almost two years now? – Anthony

The general behaviour is common practice. You make a clean Q.A. tested version for public release, then work on ‘enhancing’ the private version. You put in new bugs, break new things, sometimes have a good idea; but it’s not ‘ready for prime time’. Before release, you clean it up to publication quality.
Two issues I do see:
1) 2 years is a very long cycle. One year is common. Quarterly is on the short side.
2) If they are using the ‘private’ version for more than development (i.e. making policy) then they are using the buggy version rather than the Q.A. accepted one. Bad practice. Bad answers.

Jeff L
January 29, 2009 7:48 pm

Joel Shore (16:53:04)
….if such negative feedbacks exist, how do you explain, for example, the ice age / interglacial cycles…..
This is a good and interesting point. We know from the geologic record that substantial changes do occur, so clearly the system isn’t unconditionally stable, but maybe it does have a set point that varies according to solar input. In other words, over the last 100 years or so, the solar constant hasn’t changed that much (see multiple posts on WUWT by Leif Svalgaard on this topic – I have no reason not to believe him on this). Now on a longer scale, the amount of energy coming into our climate system does vary via the Milankovich cycles :
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles
So, even though a 100 years seems like a long time, it is only 0.1% of a 100,00 year long glacial cycle. So, in our relatively short view of 100 +/- years, the climate system appears to be pretty stable – via negative feedbacks. Over longer periods, the solar input does vary substantially, leading to different set points. But the CO2 question is fundamentally a short term set point issue & I would still maintain that the observed data suggests that there are strong negative feedbacks at work in the system – which is why we haven’t seen temperature soar to unheard of levels despite significant increases in CO2 (again making the assumption that it is a positive forcing mechanism, which I know some would even debate that statement).

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 8:01 pm

Simon Evans (05:57:41) :
The comparison, then, is between a no-trend straight line (the naive model)

I think you have misunderstood the naive model. It is not ‘no-trend’ it is ‘the same trend as last time-block’

Alan Wilkinson
January 29, 2009 8:03 pm

Simon, actually the data shows no trend for 80 years (1850-1930), a strong increase 1930-45, no trend 1945-1978, strong increase 1978-1998, no trend since.
So there is a strong trend in just 35 of the last 158 years.
Is that really what climate models are telling us and if so, why and how?

Mike Bryant
January 29, 2009 8:09 pm

Today yet another scientist has come forward with a press release saying that not only did their audit of IPCC forecasting procedures find that they “violated 72 scientific principles of forecasting”, but that “The models were not intended as forecasting models and they have not been validated for that purpose.”
“find” instead of “and found”… Seems pretty obvious to me…

Pamela Gray
January 29, 2009 8:14 pm

My understanding of the null hypothesis is that the applied treatment has no affect on the status quo, which would be the control. By the way, data collected from the control should be published, along with the treatment data. Therefore, the published reports of climate models fail the first requirement of good research, let alone forecasting. Are the results significantly different than the control? In climate modeling, the control would be model runs without the anthropogenic CO2.

Alan Wilkinson
January 29, 2009 8:21 pm

Simon, to put that another way, over the last 158 years the odds that next several years will be a higher temperature than this one are about 1 in 5.
Not great odds for the AGW hypothesis.
Yes, there has been a racheting up of temperature 1930-2000 but that’s an awfully short period given the variability of “weather” events and factors.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 8:22 pm

Frank K. (06:46:30) : And the FORTRAN is a jumbled mess. I URGE everyone with programming experience to download their junk and see for themselves…
You can say that again. I’ve been working my way through GIStemp. I’ve got a general overview doc written with program names, sizes, file names (still sorting out the temporary scratch files that come and go in the same directory the source code is kept at execution) and file layouts for data entry ( started, but very rough).
If anyone does decide to ‘go there’ I’m willing to send my overview to help get them started as long as they understand it’s a work in progress right now. Just a sample of how the code works, cut from the middle of my overview notes:
So we next want to make the formats of the input files closer. (“v2.mean” like) so we run the script anarc_to_v2.sh that does things like turn the missing data markers in antarc*.txt into the same kind used by the v2.mean file and putting it into the output file v2_antarct.dat giving us one combined antarctic data set.
A sidebar on antarc_comb: At this point it gets just a bit messy. The script antarc_comb.sh seems to do the same thing as the next block of this control script does (compile and run antarc_comb.f to create v2_meanx from v2_antarc.dat and v2.mean; but a grep shows that nothing else contains the text “antarc_comb.sh” so I am left to assume it’s a ‘hand tool’ to play with this step without doing an actual run.
I would have made it a working script, then just called it from do_comb_step0.sh but as it stands, antarc_comb.sh explicitly calls the FORTRAN compiler f77 and takes an explicit argument for the antarctic data set and the v2.mean data set. It also links them to two temp files name fort.1 and fort.2 with the output in fort.12 that it then moves to the v2.meanx file. At any rate, the product out is v2.meanx which is a combined v2 and antarctic data set.
The program dumpold.f is then compiled and removes data from prior to 1800 from v2.meanx to yield v2.meany.
Hold onto your hat for the next step. It is a bit convoluted, but just remember that at the end of the day the whole step is to remove the ‘3A’ type records from hcn_dow_mean_data and find the value of the most recent year containing data.
Next the USHCN2v2.f program is compiled and the script get_USHCN is executed. So what does IT do? It sucks in the hcn_doe_mean_data file and makes a file hcn_doe_mean_data_fil with the type “3A” records in it. Then it sucks in the file input_files/ushcn.tbl and sorts it (sort -n) with the output in ./ID_US_g (they are both used by ISHCN2v2 when it is run, as the two input files); at the end, the script executes the program USHCZN2v2 (which produces the output files of USHCN.v2.mean_noFIL and USHCN.last_year which is then read to load the value of the ‘last year found’ into the variable last_yr in this script. Got all that?!?
The data of interest are now in the USHCN.v2.mean_noFIL file.

Pamela Gray
January 29, 2009 8:27 pm

Furthermore, most good research that is on the ground floor of determining causation, would consider several causes, not just one, and thoroughly explore each one. That would mean that different drivers would be given different weights if you will. The models would then be run from beginning to end of a time period that has a known control, in this case, real collected temperature data. The closest matches would then be chosen for further study (and it would be a single blind step, IE the examiners would not know which model is which). My hunch is that CO2 models will look a lot like some of the other model scenarios. Why? Because CO2 is very much a part of temperature change, as any rural-experienced person knows. Animal food is hard to find in bitter cold weather patterns, and more abundant during warming trends. Warmer temperatures should produce more CO2. Increase oceanic temps such as would be the case in a warm cycle, and temp would rise. Right behind it would be CO2. The modelers could be measuring a coattail affect, not a cause. You would not know that unless different drivers are modeled and then blindly evaluated.

maksimovich
January 29, 2009 9:00 pm

foinavon (06:57:21)
FIVE. Likewise there’s an abundance of published science on cost-benefit analysis in climate change and mitigation. In relation to analyses of costs and benefits of alternative actions to combat climate change, this comes in essentially two broad flavours. The first is the direct scientific study of potential mitigating technologies. There’s a huge amount of study in this area. I opened the current issue of Nature this morning and found a very good example of the careful analysis of the likely benefits of iron-seeding of primary ocean productivity to promote ocean-uptake of CO2 (i.e. dump loads of iron into the oceans). If one wishes to assess the “costs and benefits of alternative actions” that’s the sort of info we need and it’s being published rather widely and in abundance.
Unfortunately Lawyers and bureaucrats design policy that precludes any successful experiment being undertaken say like iron fertilization that you uesed for an example
“Bearing in mind the ongoing scientific and legal analysis occurring under the auspices of the London Convention (1972) and the 1996 London Protocol, requests Parties and urges other Governments, in accordance with the precautionary approach, to ensure that ocean fertilization activities do not take place until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities, including assessing associated risks, and a global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanism is in place for these activities; with the exception of small scale scientific research studies within coastal waters. Such studies should only be authorized if justified by the need to gather specific scientific data, and should also be subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts of the research studies on the marine environment, and be strictly controlled, and not be used for generating and selling carbon offsets or any other commercial purposes;”
http://www.cbd.int/decisions/cop9/?m=COP-09&id=11659&lg=0
Iron is not a limiting quality within coastal waters.Strzepek and Harrison 2004 noted that diatoms adapted to coastal regions, where iron is more available, and have a higher PSII/PSI ratio of around 9. compared to diatoms adapted to oceanic regions of around 3, where available iron is often a limiting factor for growth eg southern ocean.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 9:50 pm

Neven (07:18:49) :
one should not assume that techniques developed in say, econometrics, port directly into climate science.

As an economist who trades stock for a living, I think I have some clue on this topic. As I’ve posted here several times, many of the tool used by stock traders to predict the fractal stochastic resonant movement of stock prices look highly applicable to climate science, based on fractal, stochastic and resonant processes. Averages. Moving averages. High, low, and closing price vs. high low and time of observation temps. Hiding detail with averages to see longer term trends. Moving averages of averages. First, second, and third derivatives as supportive or contrary indications of trend. “Forcings” (I hate that word, it has no formal meaning) both external and internal. Least squares fits. Avoidance of data modeling as a trap. How to deal with sudden brittle movements in a generally cyclical system. The list goes on. Math and analysis know no bounds; but stock price patterns and temperature patterns are joined at the hip in terms of analysis.
-It seems to me that much of the failure of the G&A article comes from the fact that they are economists. Economics doesn’t have anything resembling physics or thermodynamics, it only has models.
Then why did I have to take calculus through partials and statistics and linear programming? CLUE: Majors learn more than Econ1A taught you.
For a long time, they thought the velocity of money was stable. Then it changed.
I don’t know how to tell you this, but the very concept of ‘velocity of money’ means that it changes. To the best of my knowledge, the velocity of money was never thought of as ‘stable’. Did you miss in that part of Econ 1B?
Yes, at some point in economic history someone gave it a name, but it’s not like everyone was sitting around before that thinking money always moved from hand to hand to hand at exactly the same speed. Velocity of money is rather like the sun. It’s more or less constant with certain oscillations most of the time, then suddenly drops (like sunspots just did) and lays there.
Those times are called ‘financial panics’ (or banking panics or several other terms from times gone by). Interestingly enough, Stanley Jevons noticed that this tended to happen when the sun went quiet in the late 1800’s. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Stanley_Jevons
He also built one of the earliest calculating machines (his “logic piano”) and was dearly interested in weather (a common thing among economists, since so much of the economy depends on it…) Interest in the set of:{ computing machines, weather, and economics} pervades economics from it’s earliest days, as the Jevons reference points out. They run side by side through history.
The answer to financial panic has always been the same: The “sovereign” supplies more quantity of money to make up for the drop of velocity. It has been that way since the financial panic of 33 A.D. (No, that is not a typo. Time of Christ and all that…) See:
http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Influence_of_Wealth_in_Imperial_Rome/The_Business_Panic_of_33_A.D.
It’s a hoot. (The more things change, the more they stay the same…)
For a long time, the P/E ratio of most stocks stayed in the range of 10 to 20. Then the range changed.
Oh please, no. P/E can be any number at all and anyone who trades knows that. It’s about the most useless metric most of the time. (It is a rear view mirror at best, a ‘value trap’ at worst).
The P/E of stocks ranges from about infinite: no earnings so anything/0=infinity in non-standard mathematics (or is undefined if you feel constrained to standard mathematics. Turn it into a limit if you like, d[anything]/d[earnings] as earnings approach zero approach infinity. More cumbersome, but some folks are not familiar with the field of non-standard math.) to near zero.
On the low side, I’ve seen P/E ratios of very small fractions. (Bought a stock for less than they had money in the bank with a P/E of about 0.8:1 a couple of weeks ago). When a company is headed for bankruptcy they often have very small P/E ratios. Why? The P => 0 while the E is from the last reporting period, when they reported earnings that are now gone. The ‘fast money’ knows the company is cooked and dying, so sell fast. This drives price toward 0. 0/[anything]=0 (again, in non-standard).
The 10 to 20 range is the number you hear as a ‘typical average’ for the S&P 500 during ‘normal times’ that is handed out on talk show news. Anyone who trades stocks knows it exists, but no serious trader gives it more than a casual glance since they know that it’s useless: It is an average based on averages of averages. (Sound familiar?)
The S&P 500 is an average of 500 stocks (kind of like an average of many geographical points – some are hot, some are not). The P and E of those stocks are averaged together (based on earnings reports from the recent earnings averaged over the reporting period – like a monthly average temperature) then divided to give the fictional number “The average P/E of the S&P 500 Average” – kind of like a ‘global average temperature’. Anyone with any clue trading stocks will not depend on this to mean anything nor take any action based on it. AT MOST it will tickle them to look at things that are useful.
Please, if you are going to use examples, pick ones you know something about.

Chuck Bradley
January 29, 2009 10:04 pm

I have not read most of the comments yet, so this might be old news.
Some time ago, a forecasting expert offered a challenge to the AGW crowd,
a bet about future temperatures. I think it was the same guy. Sorry, I do not
recall the venue or the details and I’m unsure of the time but I think it was
2002 or earlier.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 10:06 pm

Simon Evans (07:49:29) : The IPCC can’t be expected to predict what humans will choose to do!
Why not? Economists and folks in Marketing do it all the time. With real money at stake and with known error bands. You wouldn’t be saying that economists and marketing types are technically more capable than climate modelers, would you …

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 10:17 pm

Smokey (09:15:15) : Another problem word is to “table.” IIRC, in GB tabled means to put something on the table for discussion. In the U.S. it means to postpone.
There’s a difference between those two? 😎
Dad – Iowa. Mom – Near London. That explains a lot … 😉

Wondering Aloud
January 29, 2009 10:20 pm

Is it just me or have foinavon and luis and a few others put in literally thousands of words on this thread without ever making any attempt to address the actual issue? IPCC is not a forcast… give me a break.
The efforts to attack any opponent personally rather than even consider their objuctions is just way out of hand.

François GM
January 29, 2009 10:41 pm

I’m in the medical field. I often review articles for medical journals. In medicine, conclusions must be based on evidence – it’s called evidence-based medicine (EBM). If not, the hypothesis is rejected.
There are strict criteria for the 4 levels of evidence in EBM. There are no such criteria in the field of climate science.
I have followed closely the climate debate for several years and I have read the IPCC AR4. There is no way that the conclusions of the IPCC are justified based on the evidence (or lack thereof) provided. With the IPCC, strong conclusions are based on what would be classified as type 3 or type 4 evidence in EBM (weak evidence). This would be a no-no in medicine.
In the field of climate science, hypotheses are presented as facts, associations are confused with causality and contradictions are downplayed or simply ignored. Data from various sources are routinely incorporated in the same graphs. The peer-review process is weak and heavily biased towards AGW. That was how science worked 40 years ago.
Climate science must clean up its act. It needs accountability, transparency and quality control. It must recognize that reproduciblity of results is a sine qua non for evidence. It suffers from a severe case of inbreeding of researchers resulting in narrow mindedness. Journal editors need to recruit reviewers with varied backgrounds and diverse viewpoints.

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 10:53 pm

Kmye (17:15:20) :
@E.M.Smith (from way, way back up there) Thanks for your help!

Happy to be of service. And glad I got it in before the flood gates opened and the tide washed me away….

E.M.Smith
Editor
January 29, 2009 11:36 pm

Jeff L (19:48:56) :
Joel Shore (16:53:04)
….if such negative feedbacks exist, how do you explain, for example, the ice age / interglacial cycles…..
This is a good and interesting point. We know from the geologic record that substantial changes do occur, so clearly the system isn’t unconditionally stable, but maybe it does have a set point that varies according to solar input.

Pick your time scale. In times shorter than thousands of years, the climate is stable. On the 10,000 year up scale planetary orbital mechanics change. On the 100,000 year time scale things even bigger are involved.
Um, think bigger. Bigger than the sun? Why yes… “the galaxy did it”:
http://www.sciencebits.com/ice-ages
So yes, on a time scale of millions of years ice epochs come and go. When we are in one of those, then the position of the earth (precession, orbital obliquity, etc.) per Milankovitch dictates the ‘interglacials’ like we are in now.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles
So where are we now? Near the top of an ice epoch (exited a galactic arm some bit ago) headed toward warmer times and no more ice ages for about 100 million years, in a few million years… But right now in an interglacial that’s a bit long in the tooth. It might end tomorrow, or it might take another 10,000ish years (there is some randomness in the process due to something called stochastic resonance). Or it may already be happening.
Best guess is that we will have at least one more ‘glaciation’ period to go through (a better term than ice age, since folks confound ice epoch and glaciation both into ‘ice age’…) before we are clear of them. But the next one ought to be less cold and icy than the last one. Maybe ice only down to Main and not New York 😉
It is even possible that we have already entered the next glaciation. These things are terribly slow (geologic time!) and ice levels rise at a steady average rate (with surges and retreats short term) over about 100,000 years. So take the present edge of the ice cap, divide the distance to NYC by 100,000. That is how far the ice will advance, on average, each year. (It will have surges up and down (cycles) on top of that trend) So IF the Little Ice Age was the entry to the next glacial then we are already in it and just having a last surge up before the inevitable down.
Worried? Not in the slightest. My estimate of how fast the ice advances is about 800 FEET in a year. Gives a whole new meaning to ‘glacial advance’ doesn’t it? So unless you live within a few of miles of a glacier at the moment, the next (present?) glacial will not concern you, or your children.
But it is coming.

Bill DeMott
January 29, 2009 11:46 pm

My research and teaching often focus on population ecology, where the major goal is to understand and predict (forecast?) changes in population abundance over time and space. I have thought about how Dr. Armstrong’s forecasting methods might be applied to the study of populations. To use his (economic) forecasting models to study population dynamics, we first ignore what we know about the biology and science of populations, including the effects of predators, competitors, density dependence, demographics, responses to the physical environment (temperature, sunlight etc). Instead, we would use a “naive model” which assumes that the short-term tend will continue. Such a model would be quite accurate over a scale of years for long-lived organisms, such as humans and whales. It would often not capture the dynamics of short-lived organisms (e.g., bacteria, insects, algae) over time scales as short as days and weeks. Most importantly, it would provide no scientific understanding of how populations are likely to respond to ongoing or future changes in their environment. Not surprisingly, I am unaware of applications of Dr. Armstrong’s forecasting methods in text books or the primary literature on population biology.

Brendan H
January 29, 2009 11:54 pm

Paul Shanahan: “If the “Big Oil” validates the warmists papers/theories and the “Green Lobby” validates the sceptics papers…What ever theories/papers that can’t be disqualified on both sides, must be closer to the truth, surely.”
Perhaps, but I would prefer to let the climate scientists get on with the job.
M Simon: “Big oil interests you.”
Big oil holds no interest for me. Not sure where you got the idea. My main interest is small petrol. Prices, that is.
EM Smith: “…and I’m not letting go of this bone until it’s chewed down to dust and coming out the other end…”
Sounds like a painful, er, scenario. But each to his own. Mind you, the evacuation metaphor says a lot about the sceptic way of doing climate science.

Brendan H
January 30, 2009 12:40 am

Paul M: “But don’t call a scientist with 50 years experience a grouchy old git.”
I said Theon “comes across” as a grouchy old git. I didn’t write the article. As for scientific papers, I have no expertise so the exercise is pointless. However, I can critically analyse a piece of text.
Here is the lead para of the Theon story:
“NASA warming scientist James Hansen, one of former Vice-President Al Gore’s closest allies in the promotion of man-made global warming fears, is being publicly rebuked by his former supervisor at NASA.”
Two points.
1) The subject and target of the article is Hansen. Theon is just the vehicle the writer uses to launch his political attack on Hansen.
2) Hansen is supposedly being “publicly rebuked” by a “former supervisor”.
This gives the impression that:
a) Theon is Hansen’s former boss
b) Theon is making some sort of official statement
c) Theon has the institutional and scientific authority to deliver a “public[ly] rebuke to a former protégé.
These implications are highly misleading. The writer is engaging in semantic sleight-of-hand to paint a picture that is at variance with the facts: a long-retired scientific administrator with little experience in climate science has written a private letter griping about a former colleague.
The second para.
“Retired senior NASA atmospheric scientist, Dr. John S. Theon, the former supervisor of James Hansen, NASA’s vocal man-made global warming fear soothsayer, has now publicly declared himself a skeptic…
Theon’s supposedly public declaration as a climate sceptic implies that an important climate scientist was once committed to AGW, but has now resiled. There is no evidence that Theon was/is important in climate science.
“Theon joins the rapidly growing ranks of international scientists abandoning the promotion of man-made global warming fears.”
This sentence implies that Theon is the latest in a series of important climate scientists abandoning their commitment to AGW. No such exodus is occurring.
That’s a lot of misdirection in just two paragraphs. I doubt the rest of the story is much better.
As for disrespect, the writer is happy to imply that Theon once promoted “man-made global warming fears”, just like the other charlatans. Nice way to treat your source.

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