The transformation of the science of climatology, in like a Lamb, out like a Lion

Hubert Lamb And The Transformation Of Climate Science

Hubert_LambLondon, 10 February: A new paper by Bernie Lewin and published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation re-examines the legacy of the father of British climatology Hubert Lamb (1913-1997).

After leading and establishing historical climatology during the 1960s, Hubert Lamb became the founding Director of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (CRU). What is not widely known is that, in contrast to current research directions at CRU, its founding director was an early and vocal climate sceptic.

Against the idea that greenhouse gas emissions were (or would soon be) noticeably warming the planet, Lamb raised objections on many levels. “His greatest concern was not so much the lack of science behind the theory,” Mr Lewin said, “it was how the growing preoccupation with man-made warming was distorting the science.”

Lewin said that “Lamb was already sounding this warning as early as 1972; soon after that the entire science would be transformed.”

As research into man-made warming began to dominate climate studies, Lamb worried that the recent advances in our understanding of natural changes were falling into neglect.

A foreword by eminent climatologist, Professor Richard Lindzen, explains how, “in this new paradigm, the natural variability that Lamb emphasized was now relegated to ‘noise’.”

Speaking from his own experience, Lindzen says that “Lamb’s intellectual trajectory is typical of what many other senior climate scientists around the world experienced.”

Bernie Lewin is an historian of science investigating the global warming scare in the context of the history and philosophy of science. Over the last 5 years he has published many essays on various sceptical blogs, including his own, Enthusiasm Scepticism and Science.

Full paper (pdf)


52 thoughts on “The transformation of the science of climatology, in like a Lamb, out like a Lion

    • That’s a bit too adversarial and not at all true. Certainly, a convocation of third-rate academics with second-rate degrees have turned “the consensus on climate” into a first-rate fraud over the past three decades, but the discipline of climatology has been a legitimate field of endeavor, and in fact has made contributions to the understanding of real phenomena in the physical universe. It has even greater potential to effect advances in knowledge once we – well, perhaps only figuratively – hang the tarred corpses of “Mike’s Hockey Team” from lampposts outside the entrances of every university with an Earth Sciences Department, and otherwise lime the outhouse these goddam quacks have made of a legitimate subspecialty in meteorology.

      • Certainly, a convocation of third-rate academics with second-rate degrees have turned “the consensus on climate” into a first-rate fraud over the past three decades…

        I cannot think of a better way of describing the current state of ‘Climate Sicence’.

      • Posts the hapless neo norah4you at 2:10 on 10 February:

        IF you believe what I write,
        Your problem. Not mine.
        I have studied Theories of Science.
        Have you?

        Being blisslfully unfamiliar with “what [you] write,” what the hell reason have I to “believe” the least little goddam thing you “write,” anyway?

        Though in advance I’ll admonish that I consider blank verse to be better-perpetrated by cockroaches.

        But as for “Theories of Science” (ooh, stupid pompously inappropriate capitalization, too!), I’m an old medical doctor with experience as an investigator in clinical medicine who’s done work on both sides of the unpaid labor-intensive blinded peer review see-saw, so in the laboratory, in the library, on PubMed, in conferences, in poster sessions, at charting stations on nursing units, and all that kinds of stuff, I’m not just “studied” in the principles of scientific method but trained and practiced as well.

        The blanket condemnation of a discipline like climatology because of a cadre of quacks, fraudsters, and idiots is rather too goddam much like issuing a blanket condemnation of pharmacology because in 2004 we caught those bastids at Merck suppressing the patient safety data in their clinical trials on rofecoxib back in ’98.

        Better to think of the antics of “Mike’s Hockey Team” (and those accessory to their crimes both before and after the fact) as having taught us the wisdom of the old Russian proverb “doveryai, no proveryai.”

        Which is, of course, how scientific method is supposed to be implemented.

      • No it isn’t. I suggest that you as soon as possible study Theories of Science and/or Logic argumentation as in Philosophy.

        Your lines speaks for itself. Your problem

      • Tucci78,

        “That’s a bit too adversarial”. Are all things not relative?

        Still wishing you the very best!

    • Unfortunately the earth sciences are not necessarily experimental. Quite a lot of what passes as “correct” thinking, the earth scientists arrived at through consilience, and always has been so. Eventually a preponderance of members of the club agree on what is true. This is how one can go from a belief in continental drift in 1962 marking one as a scientific crank to, in 1963, not believing in continental drift being sign of a crank. Yet we still manage to correct erroneous thinking–it just seems to take more time than a well-designed experiment would.

      But even experimental sciences falls into this same problem. Medicine, which ought to be experimental and informed by nothing but data, has bandwagons and groupthink.

      • “Old” Theories of Science is logic and goes for everything when argumenting for and/or against a Thesis.

        Empiri rules and has nothing at all to do with what you seem to have been taught. Experimental “science” if sound is one thing. Nothing sound in thesis re. CO2 at all.

        By the way. Back in 93 I myself analysed sealevels from peak Stone Age up. Systemprogram exam 1971. I used 43 (fortythree) needed variables.
        I haven’t found ANY of the so called models worth one single dime when Theories of Science is on the table.

        Pseudo Science is what the so called models is. Never try to tell me false information – which the one you gave me re. Contintal drifting. IF you have had such completely wrong information re what was known 1963 – your teachers and school book must have been unaware of what geologs knew to be true and what I myself learnt in 5th to 7th grade at that time.

      • There you are if not completely right so almost right.
        Not only are they doing it wrong. But they are forgetting the most essential difference between Science and Pseudoscience:
        Never temper with data. Bad input -> Bad output.
        Empiri rules over models.

    • Historical Ocean temperatures and carbon dioxide follow the in phase sinusoidal variation. Here the temperature is driving force for carbon dioxide. That is when ocean temperature rises, carbon dioxide is released in to the atmosphere and when the ocean temperatures fall the atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the Oceans.

      The theory of global warming is not the same but it is reverse. Also, the Earth temperature and radiation are controlled by the water vapor and albedo factors — ecological changes form part of it. The temperature change in black soil is different from red soil for the same amount of radiation. So also is the case with soil & water, soil & snow, Soil & forests, etc. Because of this the temperature of Southern Hemisphere is quite different from the Northern Hemisphere.

      I found global solar radiation as a function of cube root of precipitation over north-east Brazil. Model predictions clearly show that the temperature raise is not a function of carbon dioxide — model to model prediction changes drastically. Carbon dioxide measurements started around 1956 and the network increased non-linearly. Same is the case with temperature.

      “The UK’s Met Office (officially the Meteorological Office until 2000) is the national weather service for the United Kingdom. Its Hadley Centre in conjunction with Climatic Research Unit (University of East Anglia) created and maintains one of the world’s major climatic databases, currently known as HADCRUT4 which is described by the Met Office as Combined land [CRUTEM4] and marine [sea surface] temperature anomalies on a 5° by 5° grid-box basis. It is not possible to calculate the global average temperature anomaly with perfect accuracy because the underlying data contain measurement errors and because the measurements do not cover the whole globe.”

      So, the averages of temperature so estimated are based on interpolation & extrapolation of data. That means the average temperature is inaccurate on global level/average.

      In all these estimates are based on statistics. That means statistics has played the main role. So also is the case with natural variation in climate. There are statistical methods to infer the cyclic nature of the data – moving averages, auto-regression, spectrum analysis, harmonic analysis, etc. Even the meteorological forecasts are stochastic in nature — %.

      Theory is different from the practical application. It is true not only in meteorology but also in agriculture.

      Sunspots and solar flares present natural variability. Rainfall presents a natural variability.

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

      • Mostly true but there big problem isn’t there. It’s the complete lack of Theory of Science approach the CO2-believers show.

        First of all:
        * One need to understand that IF you anywhere in your ackrebi from Hypothesis to Conclusion miss to show that
        A could lead to B and B could lead to C in almost all cases
        having analysed every single premisses needing to be true for A resp B and C
        Then the Hypothesis doesn’t “hold water”

        * Actual empiric data should never ever be tempered. And above all – IF one present an Hypothesis one also need to present actual empiric data and all assuming one have done so everyone who wants to and have capablity to analyse can do needed checking

        * Everyone needs to understand that reflexion from Earth and empiric temperature 1 m above ground/water resp 3 m up aren’t the same

        * Lack of understanding that Earth’s seasons, angle and wobbling impact on any assumed/”calculated” algoritm

        * Lack of understanding the impact of different saltination percentage as well as direction of water- and air at any given place one want to analyse

        But the biggest problem of all is lack the CO2 belivers have understanding energy and energytransportation. Of course one can’t expect most of them to be able to understand String theory. Neither the first presented nor the second. But at least they should be aware that they don’t understand as much as they believe themself to do.

  1. Shortly before he died Hubert Lamb wrote this

    “The idea of climate change has at last taken on with the public after generations which assumed that climate could be taken as constant. But it is easy to notice the common assumption that mans science and modern industry and technology are now so powerful that any change of climate or the environment must be due to us. It is good for us to be more alert and responsible in our treatment of the environment, but not to have a distorted view of our own importance. Above all, we need more knowledge, education and understanding in these matters.”
    Hubert Lamb DEC 1994

    Historical climatology as practised b y Hubert Lamb is now unfashionable, as primary research and interpretation has given way to models.

    Hubert’s son Norman , is currently an MP in the UK conservative Govt but regrettably has no interest in historic climate and very much toes the consensus line.


  2. I was pleased to see the new GWPF Paper re Lamb and Climate Forecasting methods.
    It has been clear almost ab initio that the IPCC – GCM type models are useless for climate forecasting – see Section 1 at the following link.
    It is also clear , as Lamb understood ,that it is not possible to make intelligent climate forecasts without consideration of where we are with regard to the natural millennial ( 960 – 1020) solar activity cycle seen in the temperature and other data -see Figs 5-9 in Section 2 .
    The earth is just approaching, just at or just past this millennial peak. (Fig 9) The periodicity curve is not sinusoidal- there is about 650 years of general cooling and a period of relatively rapid warming of about 350 years. If we look at the neutron count record – Fig 14 which, together with the 10Be data ,is the best proxy for solar activity it is obvious that solar activity peaked in about 1991. There is a 12 year delay between the driver peak and the global RSS temperature peak which probably occurred in mid 2003 since when the earth has been in a cooling trend .
    The sharp drop in solar activity seen at 2005-6 in Fig 13 should result in a noticeable cooling and a steepening of the cooling trend in 2017 -2018.. Check Section 3 for forecasts of the timing and amplitude of the coming cooling which should bring us to the depths of another LIA at about 2650.
    The scientific quality of the IPCC modelling is appalling. Apart from the fact that such complex models are inherently incomputable, the modelers essentially operate analogously to taking the temperature trend from say Jan- June and then projecting it forwards linearly for 10 years or so. It is well past time that the GWPF publicized the fact that the IPCC model outcomes do not provide a basis for any meaningful discussion of future climates and that the historical Lamb type approach such as used on my blog is the only useful way ahead,
    Using this approach ,it turns out that forecasting future climate change is reasonably simple ,transparent and so straight forward that even the politicians, the MSM (especially the BBC ,the Guardian,NYT and WaPo) might be able understand it.

  3. Some years ago I was investigating N. Hemisphere’s magnetic field changes then I came across H. Lamb’s famous LIA temperature graph

    Curiosity got better of me (fortunately I wasn’t a feline creature) there was no way back, however it earned me derision and ridicule of those who have no understanding or interest in endless wonders of nature.

    • I know, who would ever think that properties of the earth itself could influence climate. Every genius enamored by their own brilliance would ridicule the very thought.

      Just like the geniuses in California who not only prevented construction of new water infrastructure, but reverse-engineered existing projects which diverted water away from agriculture, and ensured certain species of fish thrived while flesh and blood families suffered. But fear not, using their advanced masterful minds they found it was not their stupid, narcissistic, inhumane policies the cause of the drought crisis, but instead found the true culprit, the arch nemesis of mankind, global warming. We are all thankful for their brilliance.

    • Vuk

      What index or graphs or source would have those geomagnetic field numbers today? Are there comparisons to the levels for the last 50 years or so? Interesting stuff.

      • Hi
        On of the more respected global temperature reconstructions (on this side of Maunder Minimum) is ‘non-tree ring’ by Dr. Craig Leohle reconstruction (ending on 1980)

        In the graph I plotted change in the Earth’s magnetic field over period of 20 years compared to the Leohle’ temperature anomaly. Units for both variable’s are appropriately coloured.
        I also compared the Arctic temperature’s data to average change (month by month) to average of the earth’s magnetic field as found in the N. Hemisphere.

        There are two possible mechanisms
        – Svensmark’s hypothesis
        – Tectonic effects on the Arctic/N. Atlantic oceans currents (my preferable)

        Although, I do all this as a hobby, and I’m not particularly concern by ridicule of the ‘know it all’ experts it was great moral boost when I came across a comment from one of the world’s top experts on geodynamics.
        Dr. J. Dickey – NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena:
        “One possibility is the movements of Earth’s core (where Earth’s magnetic field originates) might disturb Earth’s magnetic shielding of charged-particle (i.e., cosmic ray) fluxes that have been hypothesized to affect the formation of clouds. This could affect how much of the sun’s energy is reflected back to space and how much is absorbed by our planet. Other possibilities are that some other core process could be having a more indirect effect on climate, or that an external (e.g. solar) process affects the core and climate simultaneously. “

      • Thanks Vuk. That average (red line) is a nice match. Now all we have to do is figure out the interactions for the Earth’s core and how it affects the magnetic field and how that interacts with solar & cosmic fluxes in Earth’s atmosphere and we’re done :)

        We have a lot of work ahead of us but it is very addictive trying to figure out these complex systems. I view it as a Zen sort of thing. It isn’t the destination but the travels there that will be most important. We may never figure it all out but boy will we learn a lot along the way.


      • Hi Phil
        I have downloaded a .csv Loehle’s annual data file starts in AD16 and ends 1980, unfortunately I couldn’t find the link. Anyone else? (happy to forward file it if email address available)
        I did email an early version of the graph Loehle, he wasn’t convinced that could be a viable link explaining correlation.

      • Thanks, there are some important differences between my .csv and your link .txt file. I remember that he did some corrections, so I will contact Dr. Leohle (if his email I have is active) and get the latest data.

      • Major difference is that .txt file (your link) has boost of temps at time of the Dalton min (around 1800 -1830), while mine .csv file has temps fall (see the graph) which is generally accepted to be so.

      • vukcevic, I suggest you take it up with Loehle, that’s the data from “One of the more respected global temperature reconstructions (on this side of Maunder Minimum)”. If your file is from the first draft of his paper it contains several errors in dating.

  4. This is a repost of a comment I made on Joanne Nova’s blog.

    With the advent of the modern era of rocketry, it wasn’t long before the phrase “This (ABC) ain’t rocket science” appeared in the common man’s lexicon. The phrase, usually used in a semi-humorous/semi-derogatory vein, implies two things. First, rocket science is complex. Second “this (i.e., ABC)” is much simpler than rocket science and should be understandable (or doable) by all but the mentally challenged. I predict that in the near future the phrase “This (DEF) ain’t climate science” will become a humorless/wholly-derogatory part of the lexicon. Like the rocket-science phrase, the climate-science phrase will carry two implications. First, climate science as practiced today isn’t science, but rather is a quasi-religious/fear-mongering/invective-spewing belief system being promulgated by people who for the most part are (a) convinced they’re saving the Earth from the pox that is mankind and/or (b) using the belief system to (i) seek personal aggrandizement, or (ii) achieve a political agenda, or (iii) amass financial gain. Second, unlike climate science, “this (i.e., DEF)” must obey the laws of nature and be amenable to analysis using the scientific method.

    • “This ain’t climate science” – Simply brilliant. To make it very clear to the average believer, it needs to be mixed in with other quotes like:
      “This ain’t astrology”
      “This ain’t fortune telling”
      “This ain’t the land of make believe”
      “This ain’t watermelons”
      “This ain’t throwing darts at a board”
      “This ain’t bullsh!t”

  5. “Lamb worried that the recent advances in our understanding of natural changes were falling into neglect.” Put that into the context of the amount of resources ($$$,$$$,$$$,$$$) that have been distributed in the name of promoting the AGW panic; using emotionalism to take advantage the of the general public’s lack of climate knowledge. Would not those funds been nice for legitimate investments into the sciences. As an outcome, a great investment by science truth sayers has been beneficial in their efforts to both inform and learn.

  6. Lamb is similar in his warnings as Eisenhower warnings of the military industrial complex.

    They are similar in that in both cases the warnings went unheeded, allowing what they warned about to grow uncontrollably. I am not against the military, I am not against climate research, I am against how they have spawned malignant tumors.

  7. I suggest people go and read the entire document before rushing to judgment. Pay special attention to the last paragraph that precedes Lamb’s prescient observation that

    “A precarious and threatening situation has developed for climatology: a tremendous effort was made to land research funds in all countries, mostly the USA, on the basis of frightening people about the possible drastic affects of Man’s activities, and so much has been said about climate warming there will be an awkward situation if the warming doesn’t happen or not to the extent predicted.”

    The CRU is infamous, not famous and Lamb is virtually unknown to most.

    Lamb’s reason for setting up the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) was stated in his autobiography.

    “…it was clear that the first and greatest need was to establish the facts of the past record of the natural climate in times before any side effects of human activities could well be important.”

    It is even more true today as weather stations close and all the money goes to climate models built on inadequate data.

    Disclaimer: I spent hours with Lamb as he helped me with my doctoral thesis. We discussed both climate issues and the political climate scenario that was evolving.

    • It was a wonderful read. I have seen a lot of references to him but not in this detail. Truly should be recommended reading for everyone interested in what is going on today.

  8. norah4you on February 10,
    2015 at 6:44 am
    Climatology isn’t science
    neither historic nor
    contemporary – only
    In Theories of Science it’s
    never ever possible to prove a
    thesis right. Only to falsify a

    Yes, the austrian Popper said so.


    Just show how to live neglecting prove.


    Every planning awaits ‘falsification’.

    Every Judge, every Engeneer:

    awaiting correction in a distant ‘future’.


    norah4you –

    sleeping to the dawn of the ‘perfect world’.

    Regards – Hans

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