2011-08-07 02:52:24Climate Skeptic Fool's Gold
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

This is intended as a mainstream article on the recent curve fitting posts, and the media response to these 'silver bullet' studies.  Feedback would be much appreciated.  It would be nice to try and get it in The Guardian, but I'm not sure it's good enough in its current state.

Climate Skeptic Fool's Gold

2011-08-07 03:10:30
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.38.161

The red graph rises pretty steadily. What happens if you project it forward, another 50 years?

2011-08-07 03:40:03
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

The rate of rise of the red model is equivalent to the linear trend used by L&S for their case two, the 1850-1950 trend.  It's a coefiicient value of 0.0016˚C/year, which is a measely 0.16˚C/century.  The Case 1 value, 1850-2010, is 0.0042˚C/year.

So, to more directly answer your question, temperatures are predicted by that model to rise another ~0.06-0.07˚C by 2050.  That's not the model that they use, though, to project into the future - they start a new trend 1950-on, which is steeper.  The point of the red plot is to hindcast (which it can't do).

I'll take a look at the article in a bit Dana, busy at the moment but can add the two cents above now at least...

2011-08-07 04:04:57
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

The first thing I'll say Dana is that the title is too long to be catchy.  Long typically only works if you're giving the thesis of the article right in the title.

 

>>>Nevertheless, some scientists distrust the conclusions drawn from modern climate models, and have taken to creating simple models of their own.  The most well-known of these climate "skeptics" is Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama at Huntsville.

I actually like "model skeptics" here, partly because you don't lead in with the fact that these model dislikers are AGW skeptics, and partly because I find the ambiguity in the word "model" appealing (mathematical model v. ideal; snark).

>>>Dr. Spencer has become notorious for frequently using a simple climate model - not too dissimilar from those climate scientists were using in the 1980s - to make wild claims that mainstream climate science is wrong, and man-made global warming is nothing to worry about.

More specifically, he keeps using variations of the exact same model.  Perhaps that would be worth mentioning?

>>>Measurements have shown that the ocean mixed layer ranges from about 25 to 200 meters below the ocean surface, and for a model as simple as Dr. Spencer's, the value should be around 100 meters.

>>>...Dr. Spencer just runs his model without limits and tweaks the parameters until in matches the data.

>>>With so many variables and no requirements to match physical reality, Dr. Spencer could literally get any answer he desired from this model.

Eh, I don't know if "requirements" is the right word here, I think "propensity" would be closer.  Spencer really ought to constrain his parameters, he just chooses not to.

I also warn against implying too heavily that he cooks his graphs specifically to get the conclusion he wants.  It may very well be true, and that would be a large accusation of intellectual dishonesty I would think, but the alternative is that he just always gets damned lucky with his values so that he always gets what he wants.  Complete BS from any sort of inference stand-point of course, but there's a difference between letting people come to that conclusion and leading them toward it.  At the very least, his model has so many "working" answers that it's impossible to get the "right" answer.

Also, I think one of the stronger points about the hindcasting isn't so much the divergence at 1500 AD, but the complete absence of the cycle once you leave the instrumental record.  We've already seen that L&S are willing to accept whatever other variables they want to justify a switch in trend in their model - anthropogenic emissions for instance, which suddenly took a linear effect at 1950.  The same type of excuse could be made for turning the trend back up, but the cycle can't be explained away... why, without being explained away!

Another suggestion, methinks you focus too long on the ideology of Taylor's article.  Isn't the point of that paragraph supposed to be how such stories make big splashes in the blogosphere and news?  I would recommend showing how often this story was replicated, or some other story about S&B was pubslished, such as by here here here here here here and here.

2011-08-07 04:34:49
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

neal - L&S combine the red curve with what they claim is the linear AGW warming trend to predict about 1°C warming between 2000 and 2100.

Alex - you think just change that title to 'Climate Fool's Gold' maybe?  Or Climate Skeptic Fools Gold?

2011-08-07 04:42:25
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Yeah, that sounds good.  5 words is a bit much.

2011-08-07 04:46:38
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

I also think that adding in little jokes here and there will help make it more palatable to the average reader.  Summarize some points with quotes or such, take for example the quote about fitting parameters to make an elephant wiggle its trunk.  That would be a great addition, more user-friendly.

2011-08-07 05:21:57
Andy S

skucea@telus...
66.183.179.249

Dana, I'll give this careful read later but what struck me right away is that if you want to get this published in The Guardian, you'll have to make do with far fewer hyperlinks, since that's the style of the newspaper. Monbiot deals with this limitation by saying at the end of his columns that a fully referenced version of the article can be found on his blog. In any case, I think you'll need to rewrite the article so that it makes sense to the general reader without most of the hyperlinks. I know, that's a tall order.

It's a great subject that deserves a good popular treatment. But I think to make it mainstream you'll have to focus on the take-away idea that climate models are constrained by physics, whereas the curve fitters treat the problem as a physically unconstrained math exercise. The von Neumann "elephant" quote is probably worth using, it's a bit of a cliché for science buffs but most general readers likely haven't heard it before.

2011-08-07 05:28:16
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

Thanks Alex, many good comments.  I incorporated most of them, with the exception of using the 1500-1900 figure to show that the 60 year cycle doesn't show up in the temps (which I think you were suggesting).  I did mention that the 60 year cycle isn't visible in the data, but for a MSM article, the full figure showing the divergence between model and data makes more of a visual impact.

Andy - yeah, I think this is probably better suited for TreeHugger than Guardian.  I did add the elephant and lizard quotes as you and Alex suggested.

2011-08-07 06:51:04
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

To Andy's suggestion of hyperlinks to omit, I think these can afford to be dropped:

they run on some of the world's fastest supercomputers

laboratory experiments in 1859 [actually, the way that you have it worded implies that greenhouse gases were already known about before then, I think "certain gases like carbon dioxide trap heat" would be better] [Edit - actually, if there's the need to slim this article down at all, would this paragraph even be necessary?  The "based on physics" part could be added to the end of the preceding paragraph, to help keep the main narrative flowing.]

the ocean mixed layer

"cooking a graph". [the whole reference isn't necessary, merely calling it curve fitting will do.]

700 meters.

 as many as 30 fully adjustable, unconstrained parameters [question, wasn't it thirty sub-layers?  Did each ayer only have a diffusion variable that could be adjusted, or were there more per layer?]

ran the model backwards in time

a story on Spencer's study [simply giving the title would be sufficient, no link necessary]

re-publish

maybe one or two of the later ones as well, I don't know.  If this is too many then, of course, some can be kept.

2011-08-07 07:02:38
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

Ooh, have you also given consideration to the idea of sub-headers?  I really like the idea of "Silver and Gold (sic)" as a header leading into your discussion of the media publications and silver bullet claims, right after you finish discussing the L&S model.  Maybe something witty to lead into the discussion on cooking graphs and curve fitting too?  None of this is necessary, I just think it would be fun and humorous.

2011-08-07 08:54:02
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125
MSM sources generally don't do sub-headers, but maybe on the version we publish on SkS.
2011-08-07 09:15:08
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

OK, sounds good.  Got a thumbs from me.

2011-08-08 04:02:59Guardian version
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.106.125

I tried making a Guardian-targeted version, cutting out the specific details and a lot of the links.  As with Andy's suggestion, I tried to focus more on the main point that it's physics vs. curve fitting. New version here if anyone has time for a quick review:

Climate Skeptic Fool's Gold

2011-08-08 12:54:50
Alex C

coultera@umich...
67.149.101.148

There's no need to have two links to the "Just Put the Model Down Roy" piece by Bickmore.

>>>As the famous mathematician, John von Neumann said, ... [no need for the first comma here, or otherwise add one after Neumann]

I would also suggest modifying the discussion of the cycles of the L&S paper slightly to bring up the fact that their model consisted of a 20 year cycle too, along with the overlying 60-year cycle.  It doesn't make much of a difference from the graphical point of view as the 60-year cycle is the most noticable in the model (and not noticable in the reconstructions), but I think bringing up the second cycle would be best - it would also help explain what the higher-frequency waviness in the hindcasted model is.

>>>Despite Forbes' long history of misrepresenting climate science research...

>>>Yet it seems as though every "skeptic" paper is touted as the silver bullet which is going to disprove the entire theory. [Eh, sentences ought not begin with conjunctions.]

>>>This is quite clearly the case for the Spencer and Loehle & Scafetta papers, and yet predictably, they're being touted as silver bullets by those who don't know any better, but want to believe the man-made global warming theory is wrong.

I think a better choice of punctuation and parsing would be:

"This is quite clearly the case for the Spencer and Loehle & Scafetta papers; and yet, predictably, they're being touted as silver bullets by those who don't know any better and want to believe the man-made global warming theory is wrong."

>>>This is why an independent inquiry found that even the BBC has been giving climate "skeptics" too much air time.

Without a link to the inquiry, or article reporting on it, I don't think this serves as a useful lead in for your concluding paragraph.

 

2011-08-09 01:31:10
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

Thanks Alex, good comments as always.