NOTE: In this essay, commenters have noted that Dr. Tim Ball used a rhetorical device in this sentence:
“The following is a possible email from John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar, to bureaucrat Karl, or at least to his boss, at NOAA.”
Had I seen the word “possible”, I would not have allowed the subsequent paragraph where Dr. Ball outlined a “possible” email. While I understand what he was trying to do, this is just wrong, and I apologize to readers that this rhetorical device even exists in this essay, because it opens the possibility that somebody may interpret this as a real email.
UPDATE: This article has been revised and updated, and Dr. Tim Ball writes: Here is an extensive revision of my article to replace the one that caused so much grief.
The current article as of 7PM PDT 6/16/15 has been fully updated.- Anthony Watts
UPDATE2: 6/17/15 9:20AM PDT Dr. Ball adds via email with request it be posted here:
I wish to thank Anthony for the opportunity to rewrite the original article. It is no excuse, but I let my views color my judgment. It was triggered by the claim on the White House web site that “The weather is getting more extreme.” Evidence does not support this claim, as I believe the President’s Science Advisor should know. The [rhetorical] device used to draw attention to this was inappropriate.I have always said that if I am wrong about the global warming/ climate change issue as presented by the IPCC then I must be the first to publicly say so. It is important that I maintain a credible voice to continue to confront misuse of climatology and climate science.
Guest Opinion by Dr. Tim Ball
One dictionary defines Modus Operandi (MO) as
…a particular way or method of doing something, especially one that is characteristic or well-established: the volunteers were instructed to buy specific systems using our usual modus operandi—anonymously and with cash.
Use of a nefarious example illustrates the predominant use of the term by criminal investigators. The recent publication of an article by Karl et al. (2015) Possible artifacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus (paywalled) appears to fit the modus operandi of official climate science, at least since the 1995 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Several analyses and comments outline the serious problems and contrived nature of the article. Bob Tisdale addressed his comments to the lead author, Thomas Karl, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. Tisdale concluded,
“The results of the statistical methods used on the earlier version of the NOAA sea surface temperature data (ERSST.v3b) did not provide the results NOAA was looking for now, so NOAA/NCEI, under your direction, mixed and matched methods until they found the results you wanted (ERSST.v4).”
He cited Judith Curry’s conclusion.
“This new paper is especially interesting in context of the Karl et al paper that ‘disappears’ the hiatus. I suspect that the main take home message for the public (those paying attention, anyways) is that the data is really uncertain and there is plenty of opportunity for scientists to ‘cherry pick’ methods to get desired results.”
I disagree with Curry’s conclusion, even for “those paying attention”. Very few know about the problems with leather bucket, metal bucket, and ship water intake temperature measures. Most don’t know how cherry picking the start and end of a graph is central to official climate science. The point Tisdale and Curry miss is that Karl et al., don’t care. All they want is a headline that removes the hiatus from the debate. They know the media and public don’t understand. They also know it’s easy to counter by calling challengers deniers. The article and its timing are in the sequence or modus operandi of the IPCC and the proponents of anthropogenic warming (AGW), at least since 1995.
The first example of the MO of finding the science or scientists to provide support for the global political agenda started with selection of James Hansen to appear before a 1988 Senate Hearing. As former US Senator Timothy Wirth said in PBS Frontline interview.
We knew there was this scientist at NASA, you know, who had really identified the human impact before anybody else had done so and was very certain about it. So we called him up and asked him if he would testify. Now, this is a tough thing for a scientist to do when you’re going to make such an outspoken statement as this and you’re part of the federal bureaucracy. Jim Hansen has always been a very brave and outspoken individual.
The transition from the 1990 Report to the 1995 Report marked a shift from reasonable science to directed science. Both Reports worked from the UNFCCC definition of climate change that restricted them to only human causes. However, the decision to restrict the definition caught up with the scientific method. Because they chose to prove the hypothesis rather than disprove it, they ran into contradictory data and evidence. The situation caused Richard Lindzen, an atmospheric physicist and former Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to comment that the consensus was reached before the research had even begun. It also eliminated the possibility of the null hypothesis that something other than human activity was the cause of global warming.
The AGW hypothesis developed around the idea that the highest temperatures in the record occurred in the latter part of the 20th century. The deception is in the focus on the modern instrumental record. A few scientists pointed to warmer temperatures during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) a thousand years before the instrumental record and approximately 800 years before the Industrial Revolution. They also identified the lack of a discernible human signal in the record. Both problems appeared in the 1990 Report, the MWP as part of Figure 7c (Figure 1), and the latter in commentary.
The IPCC essentially had two options, acknowledge the evidence and adjust their science or refute it. They chose the latter and took the first steps in the modus operandi that led to the Karl et al., article.
No technique existed to eliminate the MWP when the 1995 Report appeared. They focused on the lack of a discernable human influence issue. They achieved this through the amendments made to Chapter 8. The IPCC committee under Chapter 8 Lead Author Benjamin Santer, a graduate of the Climatic Research Unit (CRU), wrote,
· “None of the studies cited above has shown clear evidence that we can attribute the observed [climate] changes to the specific cause of increases in greenhouse gases.”
· “While some of the pattern-base discussed here have claimed detection of a significant climate change, no study to date has positively attributed all or part of climate change observed to man-made causes.”
· “Any claims of positive detection and attribution of significant climate change are likely to remain controversial until uncertainties in the total natural variability of the climate system are reduced.”
· “While none of these studies has specifically considered the attribution issue, they often draw some attribution conclusions, for which there is little justification.”
The sentences Santer placed in the Report said,
· “There is evidence of an emerging pattern of climate response to forcing by greenhouse gases and sulfate aerosols … from the geographical, seasonal and vertical patterns of temperature change … These results point toward a human influence on global climate.”
· “The body of statistical evidence in chapter 8, when examined in the context of our physical understanding of the climate system, now points to a discernible human influence on the global climate.”
In 2006 Avery and Singer wrote,
“Santer single-handedly reversed the ‘climate science’ of the whole IPCC report and with it the global warming political process! The ‘discernible human influence’ supposedly revealed by the IPCC has been cited thousands of times since in media around the world, and has been the ‘stopper’ in millions of debates among nonscientists.”
The situation required a peer-reviewed article to establish Santer’s credibility. It appeared rapidly (July, 1996) in the journal Nature with the title “A Search for Human Influences On the Thermal Structure of the Atmosphere” authored by Santer, Wigley, Jones, Mitchell, Oort and Stouffer.
Research designed to confront the MWP did not appear until the 2001 IPCC Report. David Deming revealed they were working on the problem. In a letter to Science he wrote,
“With the publication of the article in Science [in 1995], I gained significant credibility in the community of scientists working on climate change. They thought I was one of them, someone who would pervert science in the service of social and political causes. So one of them let his guard down. A major person working in the area of climate change and global warming sent me an astonishing email that said “We have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period.”
Most of the story about creation of the “hockey stick” that eliminated the MWP is extensively documented. The hockey stick actually promoted three misperceptions for the public. It eliminated the MWP and the Little Ice Age (LIA) in the handle of the stick, which accentuated the upturn in temperature of the 20th century temperature record. All three were false, but necessary to the objective of showing that current climate conditions were exceptional.
Ironically, the hockey stick eliminated a bump in the temperature graph but the next problem was no bump. Temperatures leveled starting after 1998, but CO2 levels continued to rise. The response by AGW people followed the MO by changing names from global warming to climate change instead of correcting the science.
The President is promoting climate change as the greatest threat to the world. A major challenge to his agenda is the hiatus or pause in temperature increase for the last 18 years. It is as big a hindrance to this agenda as the MWP was to the IPCC agenda. Attacks on the MWP included production of the hockey stick but also personal attacks on Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas. They produced an article “Proxy climatic and environmental changes of the past 1,000 years” with extensive proof of the existence of the MWP. John Holdren, Obama’s Science Czar, helped in the attack.
In an email on October 16, 2003 to Michael Mann and Tom Wigley he wrote:
“I’m forwarding for your entertainment an exchange that followed from my being quoted in the Harvard Crimson to the effect that you and your colleagues are right and my “Harvard” colleagues Soon and Baliunas are wrong about what the evidence shows concerning surface temperatures over the past millennium. The cover note to faculty and postdocs in a regular Wednesday breakfast discussion group on environmental science and public policy in Harvard’s Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is more or less self-explanatory.”
Here is what he, Holdren wrote to the Harvard Wednesday Breakfast group:
“I append here an e-mail correspondence I have engaged in over the past few days trying to educate a Soon/Baliunas supporter who originally wrote to me asking how I could think that Soon and Baliunas are wrong and Mann et al. are right (a view attributed to me, correctly, in the Harvard Crimson). This individual apparently runs a web site on which he had been touting the Soon/Baliunas position.”
Holdren would understand the need for peer-reviewed research to show there is no hiatus and temperatures continue to rise. As he wrote to the person questioning his views on the Soon and Baliunas article,
“But, in practice, burden of proof is an evolving thing—it evolves as the amount of evidence relevant to a particular proposition grows.”
The evidence is evolving but it is showing the hypothesis is wrong. The solution all along was to counter with inaccurate information. The President exemplified the problems on the White House web page with the false statement that, “The weather is getting more extreme.”
Thomas Karl’s article is another example of the MO of the IPCC and its adherent’s willingness to produce science to fit the political need. Curry’s claim that the public takeaway is that the data is uncertain with a high cherry picking potential misses the point. The real point is that the data chosen and how it was handled are so inappropriate they would fail a first-year climate class paper. How it ever got through peer review is a disturbing mystery, except it is climate science and peer review was never a roadblock. It is so wrong that there is only one conclusion based on the MO it was created to eliminate problematic evidence, namely the hiatus. Ironically, the hiatus is giving AGW proponents a hernia.