Admitting mistakes in a ‘hostile environment’

Reposting from Judith Curry’s Climate Etc.

Posted on November 19, 2018 by curryja

by Judith Curry

Reflections on Nic Lewis’ audit of the Resplandy et al. paper.

In response to Nic Lewis’ two blog posts critiquing the Resplandy et al. paper on ocean temperatures, co-author Ralph Keeling acknowledges the paper’s errors with these statements:

Scripps news release:   Note from co-author Ralph Keeling Nov. 9, 2018: I am working with my co-authors to address two problems that came to our attention since publication. These problems, related to incorrectly treating systematic errors in the O2 measurements and the use of a constant land O2:C exchange ratio of 1.1,  do not invalidate the study’s methodology or the new insights into ocean biogeochemistry on which it is based. We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error.  We are redoing the calculations and preparing author corrections for submission to Nature.

From the Washington Post:

“Unfortunately, we made mistakes here,” said Ralph Keeling, a climate scientist at Scripps, who was a co-author of the study. “I think the main lesson is that you work as fast as you can to fix mistakes when you find them.”

“I accept responsibility for what happened because it’s my role to make sure that those kind of details got conveyed,” Keeling said.

“Maintaining the accuracy of the scientific record is of primary importance to us as publishers and we recognize our responsibility to correct errors in papers that we have published,” Nature said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Issues relating to this paper have been brought to Nature’s attention and we are looking into them carefully. We take all concerns related to papers we have published very seriously and will issue an update once further information is available.”

From the San Diego Tribune:

“When we were confronted with his insight it became immediately clear there was an issue there,” he said. “We’re grateful to have it be pointed out quickly so that we could correct it quickly.”

“Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling said. “We really muffed the error margins.”

Ralph Keeling prepared a guest post at RealClimate, explaining the issues from their perspective.

We would like to thank Nicholas Lewis for first bringing an apparent anomaly in the trend calculation to our attention.

Ralph Keeling behaved with honesty and dignity by publicly admitting these errors and thanking Nic Lewis.

Such behavior shouldn’t be news, however; it is how all scientists should behave, always.

Imagine how the course of climate science and the public debate on climate change would be different if Michael Mann would have behaved in a similar way in response to McIntyre and McKitrick’s identification of problems with the hockey stick analysis.

Hostile environment

In the WaPo article, Gavin Schmidt made the following statement:

“The key is not whether mistakes are made, but how they are dealt with — and the response from Laure and Ralph here is exemplary. No panic, but a careful reexamination of their working — despite a somewhat hostile environment,” he wrote.

“No panic.” Why would anyone panic over something like this? After a big press release, the magnitude of such an error seems substantially magnified. Embarrassing, sure (a risk of issuing a press release), but cause for panic?  Keeling is right, best to fix as quickly as possible.

The Climategate emails revealed a lot of ‘panic’ over criticisms of hockey team research. The motives for the panic appeared to be some combination of fears over threats to careerism ambitions, potential damage to a political agenda, and basic tribal warfare  against climate skeptics that they regarded as threatening their authority.

“Hostile environment.” Exactly what is ‘hostile’ about an independent scientist auditing a published paper, politely contacting the authors for a response and then posting the critique on a blog?

Perhaps Gavin is referring to the minor media attention given to their mistake, after their big press release and substantial MSM attention?  GWPF is bemoaning the lack of attention to this error in the British media [link].

Or perhaps this is a figment of Gavin’s personal sensitivities, and the general strategy of the RC wing of the climate community to circle the wagons in the context of an adversarial relationship with anyone from outside the ‘tribe’ that criticizes their science. I know how this all works, given their ‘help’ during the hurricanes and global warming wars circa 2005/2006. All this made me feel rather paranoid about being criticized by the fossil fuel funded deniers and all that.

Gavin seems to be ‘managing’ the Resplandy situation to some extent (Ralph Keeling has not hitherto posted at RealClimate), and this management does not include any cooperation with Lewis, although Keeling was gracious enough to thank Nic.

Gavin’s views on hostilities is illustrated by Nic’s critique of the Marvel et al. paper,  responded to in a rather contentious blog post with two subsequent updates that admitted that Lewis was partially correct. Two errors in the Marvel et al. paper were subsequently corrected. Was Lewis thanked? No way, he is treated to classic Gavin snark:

But there has also been an ‘appraisal’ of the paper by Nic Lewis that has appeared in no fewer than three other climate blogs (you can guess which).

I should be clear that we are not claiming infallibility and with ever-closer readings of the paper we have found a few errors and typos ourselves which we will have corrected in the final printed version of the paper.

Lewis in subsequent comments has claimed without evidence that land use was not properly included in our historical runs [Update: This was indeed true for one of the forcing calculations]

When there are results that have implications for a broad swath of other papers, it’s only right that the results are examined closely. Lewis’ appraisal has indeed turned up two errors, and suggested further sensitivity experiments.

According to Nic, Gavin’s assertion that Nic’s claim regarding land use forcing in their historical runs was made without evidence was blatantly untrue; Nic had published a detailed statistical analysis indicating, correctly, that land use forcing had been omitted from their total historical run forcing values.

Subsequently, the LC18 paper provided a published critique of key aspects of the Marvel et al. paper.

This blog post by Gavin provides a sense of the ‘hostile environment’ faced by independent scientists who evaluate climate science papers.  Scientists should welcome discussion of their research and being pointed to any errors.  Disagreement should be the spice of academic life; this is what drives science forward.  However, when a political agenda and careerism enters into the equation, we have a different story.  For an overview of the really hostile environment faced by McIntyre and McKitrick re the hockey stick, see Andrew Montford’s book The Hockey Stick Illusion.

So please, lets stop whining about ‘hostile environment’ and get on with our research in an open, honest and collegial way, giving credit where due.

Peer review

From the SD Tribune article:

While papers are peer reviewed before they’re published, new findings must always be reproduced before gaining widespread acceptance throughout the scientific community, said Gerald Meehl, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

“This is how the process works,” he said. “Every paper that comes out is not bulletproof or infallible. If it doesn’t stand up under scrutiny, you review the findings.”

Of course this is how things are supposed to work. This whole episode is being held up as an example of the self-correcting nature of science.

When I first saw the Resplandy paper, it didn’t pass the sniff test from my perspective in terms of a new and inexact method coming up with estimates that exceeded the ranges from analyses of in situ observations of ocean temperatures. Apparently the coauthors and Nature peer reviewers had no such concerns.

The Resplandy paper lists 9 coauthors, presumably all of who read the entire paper and were prepared to defend it. Other than Keeling, I am not familiar with any of these coauthors, but it seems that none have any expertise in data analysis and statistics.

From my own experience, particularly when I have a mentoring role with the first author (e.g. my postdoc or other young scientist), as a co-author I am trying to help them get their paper published preferably in a high profile journal and get some publicity for their work, so that they can advance their career and be successful with their job applications. Young scientists seem to think (probably correctly) that having a senior, well-known coauthor on their paper helps the chances for publication and publicity. I have to say that in my mentoring role as a faculty member, I ended up feeling conflicted about several papers I was coauthor on, with a conflict between my role as a mentor versus my duty to be able to defend all aspects of the paper. At some point, I started declining to add my name as coauthor and donated my time to improving the paper. Career suicide, but at that point I already had one foot out the academia door.

Now for the external reviewers selected by Nature. Imagine if the Resplandy paper identified a smaller trend than identified from conventional observations – the reviewers would have been all over this. Roy Spencer writes:

If the conclusions of the paper support a more alarmist narrative on the seriousness of anthropogenic global warming, the less thorough will be the peer review. I am now totally convinced of that. If the paper is skeptical in tone, it endures levels of criticism that alarmist papers do not experience. I have had at least one paper rejected based upon a single reviewer who obviously didn’t read the paper…he criticized claims not even made in the paper.

Early in my career I spent a great deal of time reviewing papers and grant proposals, and actually put considerable effort into making constructive suggestions to help make the paper/proposal better. Why? Because I wanted to see the outcomes and learn from them, and for science to move forward. I had a cooperative and helpful attitude towards all. In the mid-90’s, my rose-colored glasses got busted, when I was working on a committee and did 90% of work on a major document, only to end up as second author and squeezed out of the major funding. I realized that I was in competition for credit, recognition and funding, and that my ideas and hard work could be effectively stolen. This changed a lot of my attitudes, and looking back this is when I first stopped liking my job as a professor so much.

Frank Jablonsky tweets:

Effective peer review is usually very time consuming & uncomfortable, so it isn’t often done outside of conflicts between keen adversaries.

The ‘keen adversaries’ is key; papers supporting consensus perspectives pretty much get a free ride through the peer review process. Anything challenging the consensus gets either a rigorous review or rejected (or not even sent out for review), often for ancillary reasons not directly related to the substance of the paper.

At this point in my career, I respond to relatively few requests to review journal articles; since I am only publishing ~1 paper per year at this point, I figure I don’t owe the ‘system’ more than a few reviews per year. If I do accept a request to review a paper, it is probably because I know of the author and like their work; I am interested to see what they have to say and happy to help improve the paper if I can.

I probably review more papers for journalists, who send an embargoed copy of a ‘hot’ new paper and ask for my comments. I respond to as many of these requests as I have time for; these requests seem to come in spurts (I haven’t had any in awhile, now that I am ‘retired’). I am typically sent these papers to review since the journalist is interested in an adversarial perspective. And these reviews are prepared after the horse has left the barn (i.e. the paper is already published).

Much has been written about the problems of peer review. There is an interesting new paper: In peer review we (don’t) trust: how peer review’s filtering poses a systemic risk to science.

This article describes how the filtering role played by peer review may actually be harmful rather than helpful to the quality of the scientific literature.

Well, I have to say that I don’t know what is actually accomplished by journal peer review at this point. Academic scientists don’t get any credit or kudos for reviewing, so many  do a quick and shoddy job. The end result in the climate field is gatekeeping and consensus enforcement, which is detrimental to the advancement of science.

Extended peer review

Owing to the relative free ride that consensus supporting and the more alarming climate science papers typically seem to get in the review process, particularly for high profile journals having press embargoes, etc., critical scrutiny is increasingly coming from technically educated individuals outside of the field of professional climate science, most without any academic affiliation.

Of course, the godfather of extended peer review in the climate field is Steve McIntyre. It’s hard to imagine what the field of paleoclimatological reconstructions for the past two millennia would be had not McIntyre & McKitrick happened onto the scene.

Regarding Nic Lewis, the extended peer reviewer du jour, he states it best himself in the WaPo article:

Lewis added that he tends “to read a large number of papers, and, having a mathematics as well as a physics background, I tend to look at them quite carefully, and see if they make sense. And where they don’t make sense — with this one, it’s fairly obvious it didn’t make sense — I look into them more deeply.”

Here is the issue. There are some academic climate scientists that have expertise in statistics comparable to Nic Lewis. However, I will wager that exactly none of them would have the time or inclination to dig into the Resplandy paper in the way that Nic Lewis did. While many scientists may have reacted like I did, thinking the paper failed the sniff test, nothing would have been done about it, and people that liked the result would cite the paper (heck, they ‘found’ Trenberth’s missing heat).

So Nic Lewis’ identification of the problem does not imply that the so-called ‘self-correcting process’ of institutional science is working. It is only working because of the highly-skilled and dedicated efforts of a handful of unpaid and unaffiliated scientists auditing those papers that come to their attention and they have time to investigate. Erroneous papers outside their fields of interest or which do not make the necessary data available are likely to escape detailed scrutiny. Moreover, in many cases it is impracticable to audit a paper’s results unless the computer code used to produce them has been made available, which is very often not the case. The single most important way of making institutional science more self correcting would be for all journals to insist on turnkey code, with all necessary data, being publicly archived by the time the paper is published online by the journal

A large number of articles have been written about this incident (very few in the MSM tho). Nic is referred to as a lukewarmer, a skeptic, a denier, a fringe scientist, etc. There is an apparent need to label Nic with an adversarial moniker, in spite of complimenting him for his work. The same for Steve McIntyre, and anyone else who criticizes a paper that feeds the consensus or alarmist narratives. McKitrick and I are in a slightly different category in terms of labeling owing to our academic positions.

Science as a tribal activity with adversarial tribes fighting for the dominant narrative so as to influence global climate and energy policy is not a healthy narrative for science. Speaking for myself and based on my impressions of Nic Lewis and Steve McIntyre over the past decade, there is no ‘activist’ motivation behind our critical evaluation of climate science in general or auditing of particular papers, beyond a general sense that good policy is based on accurate science and an appropriate assessment of uncertainty.

An interesting comment appeared at RealClimate:

Finally, this episode demonstrates as many others over the last 30 years the role of “gentleman” scientists. In the 18th century most scientists were of this type. As science got bigger, Universities became the preferred profession of those aspiring to be scientists. After WWII science became big business and scientists were often a blend of entrepreneur, public relations flak, and managers of large teams of postdocs and students, with little time left over for actual technical work. The most prolific publishers can not even have read all the papers on which they are authors much less checked any of the results.

Perhaps the scientific community needs to more wisely use the often free services of “gentlemen” scientists, those who are in retirement, and particularly professional statisticians. It continues to amaze me that most science outside medicine seems to avoid placing a professional statistician on the team and listening to him.

Franktoo writes in the CE comments:

IMO, the fact that auditing by Nic Lewis and Steve McIntyre has turned up so many problems (real problems as best this biased individual can tell) suggests that you and the whole climate science community should be deeply concerned about confirmation bias during peer review. However, that is another subject that can’t be publicly discussed without it reaching the conservative press and skeptical blogs.

Virtually all peer reviewers don’t have time to do even a cursory check of the work other than reading it for obvious problems and conflicts with already published papers. If peer reviewers were paid and expected to devote at least a couple of weeks to each review, the quality would be higher. The real problem here is that 90% of what is published is not worthy of the paper its printed on.

That’s why citizen scientists are exceptionally valuable.

The value of such analyses being conducted by independent scientists is substantial. Although the heyday of the technical climate blogs seems past, they remain the essential forum for such discussion and auditing. Efforts to institutionalize this kind of effort with a recognized red team were thwarted by politicization of the issue, and a failure to recognize what really drives the auditing of climate research and what makes it work. The Resplandy et al. paper seems to have revitalized the technical climate blogosphere somewhat; it is been ages since I visited RealClimate.

Fixing it – or not

Resplandy et al. are to be commended for jumping on this and addressing the problems as quickly as they can (apparently, the RealClimate post contains the essence of what they sent to Nature). It remains to be seen how Nature addresses this, particularly as Nic has identified at least one problem not dealt with by the authors in their Corrigendum (Part 3).

While on the topic of ‘fixing it’, I must mention Steve McIntyre’s latest post PAGES2K: North American Tree Ring Proxies. I have long declared CE to be a tree-ring free zone, basically because I have not really delved into this topic and SM has done such a good job. But here is what caught my attention. PAGES  is an international group of paleoclimatologists that is a partner of the World Climate Research Programme and funded by US National Science Foundation and the Swiss Academy of Science. The 2017 PAGES paper  lists about 80 coauthors. After auditing this paper (and the 2013 PAGES paper) and the proxies used, McIntyre concludes the following

  • PAGES 2013 and PAGES 2017 perpetuate the use of Graybill stripbark chronologies – despite the recommendation of the 2006 NAS Panel that these problematic series be “avoided” in future reconstructions.

There is no hockey stick without the Graybill stripbark chronologies. Without having the background or putting in the effort to personally evaluate any of this, I’m asking if can anyone explain how and why the PAGES team has justified using bristlecone strip bark chronologies, given the 2006 National Academies Panel recommendation that they not be used (not to mention MM criticisms)? If this problem is as bad as stated by SM, the whole field of tree ring paleoclimatology appears to be deluded (or worse).

Conclusions

By quickly admitting mistakes and giving credit where due, Ralph Keeling has done something unusual and laudatory in the field of climate science. If all climate scientists behaved this way, there would be no ‘hostile environment.’

I find it to be a sad state of affairs when a scientist admitting mistakes gets more kudos than the scientist actually finding the mistakes. But given the state of climate science, I guess finding mistakes seems to be a more common story than a publishing scientist actually admitting to mistakes.

Given the importance of auditing climate research  and independent climate scientists working outside of institutional frameworks, I wish there was some way to encourage more of this. In the absence of recognition and funding, I don’t have much to suggest. Other than providing a home for such analyses at Climate Etc.

My huge thanks to Nic Lewis for his efforts, the other guest posters at CE, and to all the denizens who enrich these analysis with their comments and discussion.

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94 thoughts on “Admitting mistakes in a ‘hostile environment’

  1. This is how science should be, and rarely is. Resplandy et al were transparent enough in their study to publish enough data that Nic Lewis could check their analysis of that data, and find an error in that analysis.
    It didn’t take a FOIA request, endlessly litigated and stonewalled to clear up this report. And the co-author admitted the error.
    If only this became the norm.

    • Tom Halla: “This is how science should be …”

      While I agree with your sentiment, I expect each peer review to start with a healthy degree of skepticism. Not necessarily ‘hostility’, but when defending a thesis you should expect confrontation. And there should be chagrin and discomfort when admitting mistakes.

      • I thought the peer review process was intended to look for and demonstrate possible errors so paper authors have the opportunity to make corrections prior to publication.

    • “This is how science should be …”

      This is how science is. This is not how all scientists are.

      And that’s the problem.

    • In my experience, the feeling of hostility is one carried by the authors of papers rather than reviewers.

      Defensiveness is something all good scientists learn to put to the back of minds.

  2. Thanks, CTM. You’ve saved me some time. I had been thinking of writing a post about the claim of a “hostile environment”. But I suspect many of the comments on this thread will be about that topic. Yay!!!

    Regards,
    Bob

  3. In the future the alarmist climate scientists will make sure that their studies won’t be able to be even be attempted to be duplicated. The fraud is so extensive that their conclusions will be unverifiable on purpose. So far skeptics have been able to find most of the flaws. It will be become increasingly more difficult in the future NOT becuase the studies will be more accurate but because of subterfuge.

    • “Oh! What A Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice To Deceive!”

      Exposing deceit certainly causes hostility….. from the liars.

  4. These problems, related to incorrectly treating systematic errors in the O2 measurements and the use of a constant land O2:C exchange ratio of 1.1, do not invalidate the study’s methodology or the new insights into ocean biogeochemistry on which it is based. We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error.

    My translation: “Nyah, Nyah, we’re still right.”

    It’s not much of an admission. It’s more like those fake insincere non-apologies you get when someone’s backed into a corner.

  5. Now that there is a very strong possibility of the Earth suffering the effects of a Grand Solar Minimum, I wonder how quickly the MSM will pick up on it, & reverse their scary scenarios?

    • They will somehow fabricate a way to blame CO2 emissions anyway. Most likely they will claim that the cooling is natural and all the ‘hidden’ heat in the ocean will make the unnatural warming come back with a vengeance. Logic tells us that the temperature of the overwhelming majority of the ocean water is less than the average temperature of the surface which means that the deep ocean temperatures are the consequence and not the cause of the equilibrium surface temperature. Of course, since consensus climate science transcends logic they will have no trouble arriving at an illogical rationalization.

    • and that is way he got the job in the first place , he was a ‘safe hands ‘ person who they knew would carry on the ‘good work ‘
      Its was his ‘political’ not scientific abilities that got him the job.

    • Hockey team is correct. You had the hockey stick with Mann and then the goons who tried to protect him.

  6. BBC has finally updated article, but it is not headlined or currently visible from sci./env. page and is closed to comments – with all original comments present.
    So they have buried it, no new coverage I have seen or heard on TV news or radio.
    Unless you know and go looking for it, you wouldn’t ever know there had been an error.
    The original article was given high prominence and saturation news coverage.
    Not good enough BBC.

  7. How long will it be before climate researchers engage Nic Lewis to critique their work before they suffer the embarrassment of retraction? It would be so easy to privately engage his attention. He does the work for free because it interests him.

    • They aren”t interested in being correct. They only attempt to deceive. They will never engage with a skeptic.

    • Willis has the best solution–publish immediately on a blog, with all the data and the code, and let the Internet scientists find the errors, if any

    • gary, you don’t want them taking on nic full time, look what happened to mosher 😉
      this is an outstanding article, really enjoyed reading it.much food for thought. these authors have done something i didn’t expect to see in this field. there are many others that won’t no matter what happens in the future.

  8. Commented over at Judith’s. The pity is that there are so many other climate papers so bad they amount to academic misconduct, yet still stand untouched. I called out five examples in essays High Stick Foul, By Land or by Sea, and Shell Games in ebook Blowing Smoke. All or parts of all guest posted at Judith’s previously.

  9. Perhaps if peer reviewers had some ‘skin in the game’ and were held to some liability linked to the validity of the published paper the quality of review would increase.
    Pal-reviewers may think again about granting free passes to shoddy work if their reputations or careers were also at stake.
    Along with the author’s names, the list of peer reviewers should be published when retractions are required.

    • I generally agree. But reviewers consider their “skin” to be the unpaid work of doing the review. If reviewers were subject to being shamed, there would be a lot fewer reviewers.

      • This ^^^^^. Although I would replace “meaningless” with things like “less respected”, “less funded”, “more fringe”, etc.

    • The reviewers names and all of their comments should be published with the paper and all of the reviewers names should be part of any retraction. Full disclosure in science is what we should strive for. Full disclosure in publicly funded papers should not be optional.

      • Actually, Mike, the reviewers names and comments should be available online for all papers, not just retracted ones.

        I once got some really shoddy reviews on a rejected paper. I told the editor I was thinking about publishing the reviews on an online discussion list within this field. Even though the reviewers were not identified, the editor was very concerned about the threat of exposure of the process. He actually offered an implicit bribe by suggesting I might get a somewhat different paper on the topic published in his journal.

    • Perhaps if the AUTHORS had some skin in the game then they would be more circumspect with their ‘novel , new and improved, more accurate’ methods and consequent claims.

      e.g. Mann still sits in a ‘Distinguished Professor’ chair, regardless of the errors found by all and sundry.

      If scientists (particularly of the climate persuasion) and the politicians who use their ‘science’ were held to account in some punitive manner, perhaps there would be more consideration for the effects their work has on the general population.

  10. Hypersensitivity to criticism is how my children behave when I point out a mess they have made, and which needs them to clean it up pronto. It is a hallmark of immaturity–or climate science.

  11. From the San Diego Tribune: “Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling said. “We really muffed the error margins.</I

    Doesn't that say the whole paper has just been a statistical exercise and any conclusions derived from that work are unsupported? If so should it not be retracted?

      • Lewis is not satisfied with their latest version. See his comment on it somewhere on Judy’s site—or maybe a link to it there.

  12. Obama yesterday with this utterance proved infallible, or was it mistaken?
    Quote: “…we could reduce cabon emissions by let’s say 30%, without any, you know it’s not like
    we would have to go back to caves & you know live off, you know, fire.”

  13. Sadly, any challenge to the orthodoxy by the unwashed will be considered hostile… even if right.
    Where DID I leave my roll-eyes emoticon…

  14. Well I add my name to those encouraged by this exemplary quick, positive response to serious criticism of a clisci paper one of the authors. Keeling is the son of Charles Keeling, a decorated scientist of the old school who clearly mentored his son. Such dynasties in science are rare and valuable in an age of ‘flexible’ morality and “careerism” (Judith Curry’s pithy term).

    Will it lead a sufficient number, or any at all, out of the climate science wilderness (never mind other branches of science in the same place)? I’m cautiously optimistic. I see a ‘tell’ in Meehl’s and Schmidt’s comments that shows they have been affected by the constant barrage suffered by the tattered peer review icon and by their anxiousness to adopt this rare opportunity to claim “..that’s how science works” even though this is the first gracious example that I’m aware of on the alarmist side in climate science (or Schimdt is aware of going by his “hostile environment” comment added to diminish the goodness).

    Finally, some peripheral credit may be due the New Sheriff in things climate: President Trump who cut the Paris monster off at the ankles.

    • Some claim the response was far from quick. But the worst thing Resplandy et al could have done was go off half cocked and compound their mistake. Any response should have been cautiously prepared and then run past all nine co-authors as a courtesy. I presume that t was.

      I have high expectations of Keeling, given his background.

  15. “I find it to be a sad state of affairs when a scientist admitting mistakes gets more kudos than the scientist actually finding the mistakes.”

    Climate science as as whole is a sad state of affairs and the reason is a hostile environment, although this hostility originates from the alarmists, the political left and an ignorant media.

    The cause of the hostility is clear. There’s such a stark difference between the alarmists and the skeptics that only one side has any chance of being correct. The alarmists are so vested in their pseudo science, that to admit the many errors supporting their position would be devastating to their beliefs, egos, politics, careers and wallets. This is also why they refuse to debate.

    If Schmidt has the least bit of scientific acumen, he should be well aware that he lacks support from either the laws of physics or the satellite data and this just causes him to double down on the hostility. I do understand the Peter Principle and it could just be that he’s grossly incompetent but I think it’s more of a case of him being ideologically driven and afraid of the consequences of being so absolutely wrong that his life’s work becomes meaningless.

      • Hugs,

        Nobody can be correct until the margin of error on the ECS is significantly reduced. Anyone who thinks that the IPCC’s presumed ECS with +/- 50% error bars is ‘settled’ doesn’t have a clue.

        The skeptics are far closer to being correct. The alarmists have no chance whatsoever of being correct, as the entire range of ECS presumed by the IPCC can be readily falsified with first principles physics.

        First principles tells is that the TCS is exactly 1 W/m^2 of incremental surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing and the ECS is about 1.62 W/m^2 +/- 10% of incremental surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing given the current average characteristics of the atmosphere. Measurements of yearly averages across 3 decades of satellite data deviate from this ratio by less than 1%. It’s so tightly regulated that there’s good reason to believe that this ratio converges to the golden ratio of 1.618035, especially considering how often this ratio arises in self organizing systems (I’m still working on the definitive proof of this …). If this turns out to be true, then the margin of error on the actual ECS would be exactly zero and the science will become settled.

        • φ = 1 + 1/φ , or having ECS = 1 + 1/ECS and thus = 1.618 C…. would be rather elegant result, except for the obvious fact that the Celsius (and Kelvin) scale is an arbitrary choice for this result. It does not work if one uses say ECS in the Fahrenheit scale.

          In Fahrenheit, a 1.618 C ECS x 1.8F/C = 2.912 F ECS.

          but then, 2.912 (DNE) 1.8 + 1.8/2.912 = 2.418

          • Joel,

            In this case, the golden ratio would be the dimensionless ratio of rates of energy which is independent of the units of temperature or even the units of energy for that matter. This is why dimensionless ratios appear so often in nature. For example, PI is independent of the units of distance.

            You can convert 1.62 W/m^2 of incremental surface emissions into an incremental temperature using the SB Law. At 288K, the surface emissions are about 390 W/m^2. Add 1.62 to this and convert 391.62 W/m^2 back to a temperature becomes 288.3, or 0.3C per W/m^2. If you started at 0K instead, and convert to a sensitivity using the IPCC’s units, it would be 73C per W/m^2.

            In fact, if this is what’s going on, you can calculate the sensitivity in the IPCC’s units of degrees per W/m^2 exactly as 1/(4*e*o*T^3), where e is 1/φ, o is the SB constant and T is the average surface temperature.

          • Alan,

            The verification of this is in the data.

            http://www.palisad.com/co2/tp/fig2.png

            The magenta line is the prediction for a TCS of 1 W/m^2 of incremental surface emissions per W/m^2 of forcing and the red dots represents the initial relationship between the surface temperature (Y axis) and total solar forcing (X axis) for a month of data and each 2.5 degree slice of latitude from pole to pole.

            The green line is a prediction for an ECS given by φ/(4*o*T^3). The yellow dots are the monthly results plotting the surface temperature vs. output emissions of the planet (X axis). In both cases, the larger dots are the averages across 3 decades of data.

            Where the green line intersects the magenta line represents the steady state average state of the climate system and corresponds to output emissions of about 390 W/m^2 corresponding to an equilibrium average temperature of about 288K. The data suggests an equilibrium temperature of only 287K at 239 W/m^2 of solar forcing per the ISCCP cloud data from GISS.

          • Alan,

            To be clear, the relevance of the golden ratio is a hypothesis and the green and magenta lines in the scatter plot are the predictions of the relationships between the average net solar forcing, the average planet emissions and the average surface temperature of the planet if this hypothesis was true. The predictions are based on nothing more than applying the golden ratio and COE in the power domain and converting the result back into a temperature using the SB Law.

            All I’m saying is that the data conforms to this prediction quite well. It also predicts that cloud coverage should be slightly reduced as a consequence of increased CO2 concentrations since the fraction of surface emissions absorbed by the atmosphere also wants to be the constant 2/(1+φ), or about 76.4%. Note that normalizing atmospheric absorption like this is also consistent with Lidzen’s Iris hypothesis.

  16. Keeling only gets half credit in my opinion – if that.

    For years many of my comments have focused on the poor quality of the data and the really poor quality of the analysis of the margins of error and related acknowledgement that the huge margins of errors make a lot of the claims unscientifically based. My first comment on Dr. Curry’s website ages ago, when she still supported some of the climate change theory, was to criticize her failure to show any error analysis and recognize proper data analysis created large margins of error.

    Now Keeling, although recognizing his error, still puts out a public statement with “We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error. ”

    That’s disingenuous at best and, in reality, probably flat out dishonest. The implication is that their analysis is still reliable.

    As a scientist he should recognize that if your data’s margin of errors exceed your theory’s predictions, then you have nothing. Keeling’s statement would leave a layman to think the underlying theory was still reliable.

    Keeling should have been honest.

    • “We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error’

      Which reveals the purpose of the his entire statement – and that is damage control.

      • That is
        |—-figure—-| error bars vs
        |————————————–figure————————————| error bars

    • I think this is too hostile. Keeling doesn’t want to accept the paper’s conclusions were way too pessimistic, but that’s human

  17. “I accept responsibility for what happened because it’s my role to make sure that those kind of details got conveyed,” Keeling said.”

    The ethical problem is the Contributions statement at the end of the Resplandy et al paper. And further compounded by the fact she is listed as the Corresponding author to answer questions regarding the manuscript.

    “Contributions

    L.R. directed the analysis of the datasets and models used here and shared responsibility for writing the manuscript; R.F.K. shared responsibility for writing the manuscript; R.W. performed simulations of anthropogenic aerosols; L.B., J.P.D., M.C.L., W.K. and A.O. provided model results. All authors contributed to the final version of the manuscript.”

    That Dr Resplandy directed the dataset analysis while Dr Keeling only helped co-write the paper speaks for itself on the errors and their origins.

    Dr Resplandy has been an Asst Prof on the tenure track at Princeton since summer 2017. The work that went into this manuscript was done while she was a Postdoc in Dr Keeling’s group at Scripps. The contribution statement is clear, the errors were Dr Resplandy’s in primary, and only Dr Keeling’s error as secondary as the second author. That Dr Resplandy didn’t respond to Nic or to the media as the the listed “Corresponding author” adds further evidence that the more senior (and tenured) Dr Keeling is trying to shield his former PostDoc as she works towards tenure at Princeton. She is trying to hide from this paper’s errors.

    But this is not Dr Resplandy’s first major error affecting the Results and Conclusions in a first author climate science paper either.

    Her 2016 Climate Dynamics journal paper:
    “Resplandy L., R. Keeling, B. B. Stephens, J. D. Bent, A. Jacobson, C. Rödenbeck, S. Khatiwala (2016). Constraints on oceanic meridional heat transport from combined measurements of oxygen and carbon. Climate Dynamics. doi:10.​1007/​s00382-016-3029-3. ”

    has a correction published here:
    Erratum: Climate Dynamics. 1-1. doi:10.1007/s00382-017-3839-y

    That Erratum corrects two errors: the first one major to the paper’s conclusions and the second one merely a typo correction.

    In her uncorrected paper, she provides an incomplete equation for calculating the key parameter of the paper called oceanic potential oxygen (OPOpi) as being “−3.9 nmol per joule of warming”. The corrected value is -4.4. That incorrect value they show is creates about an 11% error in a slope shown in their Figure 1. They correct that in the Erratum, but they do not correct the Discussion section 4.1 first paragraph, where she still uses the incorrect value, and writes, “We showed that PO and heat are tightly coupled via air– sea uxes and ocean transport (slope of 3.9 ± 2 nmol J−1).” The entire paper is junk because that key parameter is propagated through all the subsequent calculations and figures. And that Climate Dynamics paper lays the groundwork for her future work regarding OPO and ocean warming.

    It is worth noting that with that lower (-3.9 nmol/J) value for OPO they can find more missing heat (joules) from the measured oxygen change. With the corrected -4.4 value, there is less missing heat for the observed oxygen change.

    Dr Resplandy needed impact in her publications. She needed high impact publications to get to Princeton’s tenure track. So IMO, merely chocking up to sloppy work Dr Resplandy’s errors, errors that were major factors in upping the alarmism and thus impact, would be charitable

    [I’m letting this one through but you’re using an invalid email address. You will be automatically flagged moving forward until you fix it.~ctm]

    • Sorry about the incorrect email address. I switched to using Safari and it keeps trying to autofill the fields with a very old email address. I’ll try to watch for that. Thanks.

  18. Judith. When reading your paragraph that begins with “Early in my career I spent a great deal of time reviewing papers and grant proposals, and actually put considerable effort into making constructive suggestions to help make the paper/proposal better. Why? Because I wanted to see the outcomes and learn from them, and for science to move forward.” Your complaint that you didn’t get the proper credit, hit home with me. Try to imagine how disturbing it would be if you received no credit at all. I had dicovered the cause of a serious problem with the automatic flight control system (AFCS) that affected several of our US military’s largest and most expensive helicopters (20 million+). This problem had baffled our engineers for over six months and they had wrongly blamed the manufacturer of the AFCS computers. I sent a report about what I discovered and never heard a peep back from them or my supervision. Changes were made quietly to fix it. I did receive a big thanks from the AFCS computer’s program manager. The whole affair made me realize that sometimes people with lesser degrees or status can make great contributions and that the recognition for it may be stolen. I feel better now that I got that off my chest.

  19. ““No panic.” Why would anyone panic over something like this? After a big press release, the magnitude of such an error seems substantially magnified. Embarrassing, sure (a risk of issuing a press release), but cause for panic? Keeling is right, best to fix as quickly as possible.

    The Climategate emails revealed a lot of ‘panic’ over criticisms of hockey team research. The motives for the panic appeared to be some combination of fears over threats to careerism ambitions, potential damage to a political agenda, and basic tribal warfare against climate skeptics that they regarded as threatening their authority.”

    This is called projection or transference. They see everyone through their eyes. These are the classic behavior of a guilty person with something to hide. The wicked flee when no one pursues.

  20. Ask yourself why none of the people who did review the erroneous letter found the error. Now ask yourself if you think Nic Lewis will suddenly be in great demand as a reviewer for Nature. Resplandy made many science errors beyond the math error acknowledged.

    When I first saw the missing heat found headlines all I could think was confirmation bias. The warmists kept looking until they found it. If Resplandy had found 60% less heat uptake you can be damn well assured the math error would have been caught.

  21. To pub blish an entire article because someone admits errors but does not admit that they are significant just does not happen. Except when the publisher wants to push the paper for reasons of his own.

    • A science paper with that major an impact to its conclusions should be retracted in its entirety.
      The Resplandy, et al, 2018, major errors and now evaporated conclusions should demand the paper’s retraction. That is the expected response in other fields on the physical and biological sciences. But not in Climate Science.

      Michael Mann is the poster-child for papers that demand retraction that the climate science community fought against for the political reasons of alarmism. The entire field of Climate Science has gone down the drain since M&M showed how bad the Mann tree ring reconstruction and the Mann hockey stick paper was not retracted.

  22. when you find them.

    but the author nor the peer reviewers DID find them, they should but DID NOT, is that because they stopped looking once then released the ‘headlines ‘ the claims would get

    Meanwhile we can only speculate if this ‘mistakes ‘ had not made it to the public realm if they would have been corrected in the first place or would been all ‘OK’ as it has entered AGW dogma and was ‘useful ‘ the IPCC , has we have seen before ?
    When you spend you time standing in a bucket of ‘sh*t ‘ its impossible not to get dirty shoes .

  23. The so called peer review process has been broken for a long time and not just in climate science. Throughout my career I did peer reviews. Early on my comments were considered and corrective action taken. Later I cannot remember a single paper where my comments were even acknowledged by the editors. One case comes to mind where almost every table, graph, and figure were either wrong or contradicted the papers conclusions. It was one of the longer reviews I ever did. The paper was published uncorrected.

    One of the major problems in the peer review process is that potential reviewers are most often restricted to a very small club, where everyone knows one another, even their writing style. Since it is a small club where those in the club might also review and approve grant proposals, reviews are to put in mildly often not strenuous.

  24. Whether I agree with the authors analysis or not, I applaud their willingness to just admit the mistake and work to fix them. I have absolutely no problem with researchers who have different views then I do, and no problem with mistakes that are found and then fixed. This is how it is supposed to work.

    I DO have a problem with other authors that hide data, refuse to admit mistakes, and deceive to push their point of view. In fact, I have no use for that kind of researcher at all – they are nothing more then politicians.

    I also have a problem with a deceitful peer-review process that is mismanaged by the publishers of papers. They are doing a HUGE disservice to other researchers and the public in general. They are destroying the reputation of science. It is to the point where I think there should be some amount of regulation on what can be called peer-reviewed, and publishers held criminally accountable for purposely sabotaging it. If a research paper says its article is peer reviewed, it should be able to defend that position when reviewed by regulators. (That is not to say all mistakes will be caught, but at least they can demonstrate that a range of reviewers not invested in the article or author looked that paper over for mistakes, and signed off on it)

    It is sad to admit that I no longer have any confidence that scientists and publishers can self-regulate.

  25. It appears to me that there are two contradictory statements made by Ralph Keeling.

    First: “Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,”

    That pretty much nullifies main conclusion of his original paper.

    Second: “We expect the combined effect of these two corrections to have a small impact on our calculations of overall heat uptake, but with larger margins of error.”

    That suggests something like: ‘yes, there is a small error in the calculations but overall conclusions stand firm nevertheless’. Does anyone knows what is the current version of truth?

  26. A little too early, obviously. Wait and see how often this paper will be cited by other scientists to support their own results or that they used this article in their research. Or in review articles on climate change. Should be quite interesting.

  27. They muffed their data to fit their hypothesis.

    And how the champagne corks must have popped, on foot of all the global media attention it generated.

    Problem of course is that the cub journalists and editors in the MSM who emblazoned the study and it’s conclusions over every front page don’t want their own reputations damaged by having to report on the fact that their big climate catastrophe scoop of the year was a little bit fake.

  28. Phil (Climategate ) Jones had published over 200 papers when he was very lightly toasted by Parliament

    ‘The most startling observation came when he was asked how often scientists reviewing his papers for probity before publication asked to see details of his raw data, methodology and computer codes. “They’ve never asked,” he said’

    That was lightbulb moment for me.

    At least in ‘climate science’ , the much-vaunted peer-review process is worthless as a quality control mechanism.

    And anybody with a smidgin of real-world experience can see it is so.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/cif-green/2010/mar/01/phil-jones-commons-emails-inquiry

  29. So once again skeptics are proven correct, and the consensus is shown once again to be wrong and shoddy.
    But since conservatives might talk about it, the “consensus” seems to basically circle the wagons.
    Anything to avoid rethinking the assumptions and bigotry that dominates academia.

  30. …. Speaking of transparency in science, where is the Court Ordered release if dics from Arizona?
    Justice delayed is justice denied.
    I bet the University is obstructing this and will not be surprised if there is a “catastrophic failure” that happens to destroy the records.
    Anything to protect the climatariat.
    Release the documents NOW.

  31. Re tribalism:

    We tend to assume that “tribalism” is an unfortunate survival of ancient human instinct into the modern age. But I think it has gotten worse in the modern age. The reason, I suspect, is the combination of tribalism and the state.

    Back in the old days, if you got in a row with your hunter-gatherer band you could just take a hike and join another band. But in the state system you are stuck as a subject of your state, and suffer severe penalties for failure to believe in the tribal religion.

    Thus I would regard Nazism and Communism not as tragic departures from the progressive arc of history, but as the most characteristic manifestations of tribalism in human history and/or pre-history.

    And I would expect government-sponsored science to be right up there with the leaders in manifesting tribal tendencies.

  32. When results are what you wanted and expected, error checking becomes unnecessary as it can only muddy the ideological waters. GK

  33. How bizarre is this? Math errors?

    The amount of heat in the oceans is measured by the Argo buoys, inaccurately do to “Corrections,” but an attempt to measure the amount of heat in the oceans by measuring O2 and CO2 in the atmosphere does not follow. Argo buoys do not concur with any sort of “60% increase,” error in arithmetic notwithstanding.

    CO2 in the atmosphere rises at the same time CO2 emissions rise. O2 rises at the same time the biosphere greens due to increases in CO2 in the atmosphere. A greening biosphere produces more O2.

    This is off the rails, who could possibly call this “Science” and to help them correct it?

    Does not follow.

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