2011-10-28 06:06:25Can someone please refute Singer's BS at Nature?
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
198.53.65.169

Sorry folks, I posted on the wrong thread!

2011-10-29 18:28:20post?
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.49

Below a draft post on Singer comment. I'm not sure we should have a post on it, I still think that if a denier, a paper or a blog post does not get traction the best thing we could do is ignore him.

I think we should not publish it, at least untill we see it quoted. But given that I wrote it for myself (as I ofted do when I read something really irritating) and it is in a more or less publishable form, I'll let you decide.

----------------------------

Waiting for the dust to settle, we still see a host of different reactions to BEST's results. The very first shouts from many skeptics has been along the line of "no one has ever claimed that the planet is not warming", although we know that in many instances it's not true.

Apparently, something is starting to change. Contraddicting their skeptic allies, we now see more and more people maintining the indefensible position of "it's not warming"; between them, the well know and reputable scientist Prof. Fred Singer, Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He took issue with an editorial recently published on Nature (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v478/n7370/full/478428a.html#/fnbad718078e074765b71d729067dd66db) and left a comment in their blog for the record.

Apart from the "obvious" accusation of being biased, Singer finds surprising that Nature welcomes BEST's results. He says that these new results "added little to the ongoing debate on human causes of climate change.", which I find somewhat trivial. Indeed, any confirmation of a scientific finding in some sense "adds little" but "subtract something", it leaves less room to alternative hypothesis. If you like the word "add" more, I may say that it adds confidence on previous results, but it's semantics.

On the scientific side, Singer says that "They included data from the same weather stations as the Climategate people". I'm not going to comment on his referring to the "Climategate people", it's really irritating to see what should be a scientific discourse turned to innuendo. Anyway, he's entitled to his opinion and his style; the real problem is with the claim that BEST includes the same stations as GISS or HadCRU. <a href="http://www.berkeleyearth.org/study.php">Let's see what they say</a>:

"We are using over 39,000 unique stations, which is more than five times the 7,280 stations found in the Global Historical Climatology Network Monthly data set (GHCN-M) that has served as the focus of many climate studies."

They share less than 20% of their database with others and they started from scratch using the raw data (not massaged data if you like) and implementing a new method. It's worth noting that they has been carefull enough to provide a comparison with other datasets analising only stations not used by other groups (<a href="http://www.berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Decadal_Variations">fig. 1 here</a>). Singer's attempt to cast doubt on BEST results based on the common use of the GHCN has then no merit.

Singer then continues his attempt to undermine station based datasets by claiming that

"unlike the land surface, the atmosphere has shown no warming trend, either over land or over ocean — according to satellites and independent data from weather balloons."

What is the atmosphere for Prof. Singer, the whole atmosphere or just the troposphere, is not clear. Assuming he's referring to the latter, both UAH and RSS show warming, as the two teams themselves report and can be easily checked plotting the data.

[image of the two satellites datasets with trends]

Those interested can find a thorough comparison of the different datasets <a href="http://www.skepticalscience.com/surface-temperature-measurements-advanced.htm">here</a>.

What about the mid-tropospheric trend from radiosonde?  <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/ratpac/201101-201109.gif">Same story</a>, it's warming and <a href="http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/service/global/global-sfc-radiosonde-temp/201001-201012.gif">at a similar pace as surface temperature</a>.
Singer claim, again, does not stand scrutiny.

[image linked by Albatross in the other thread of radiosonde and surface temperature]

His last try is with tree rings, ice cores, ocean sediments and stalagmites; he claims that "They don't show any global warming since 1940!". I find intriguing that Singer likes proxies more than direct measurements, more so given that he complained about the area coverage of the land stations. Does ice cores, for example, have a better coverage than weather stations? And why should one use ocean sediments to infer land temperature?
The quoted proxies are typically used for long term temperature reconstructions for a reason, not as a substitute of direct measurements; would you prefer direct radiometric measurements of solar irradiance or plant growth as a proxy?
Proxies are much less accurate than thermometers, do not have a good area coverage, are noisy and often need heavy filtering thus reducing their time resolution, may be affected by several things other than temperature. No one would through direct measurements away and keep a much less reliable indirect one.

This is Spencer's quite unsound science as per his comment on Nature's blog, but there's another thing worth noting. Presuming that the Editor of Nature "evidently haven't read the four scientific BEST papers" he tries to fill the gap by quoting the Berkley scientists as saying that "The human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated". Note that the quoted sentence starts with the "T" in capitals.
What is actually written in the paper (<a href="http://berkeleyearth.org/Resources/Berkeley_Earth_Decadal_Variations">pag. 12</a>) is "In that case the human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated", where the case is the hypothesis of the AMO driven by natural variability as opposed to forced by GHGs. The meaning of the sentence has been completely twisted; I hope that Singer took the quote from someone else and didn't read the paper himself, for if he did the conclusion to draw could be much worse.

In summary we count two errors, on stations overlap and on the trends of satellite and radiosonde records, one unthinkable request, substitute all the direct temperature measurements with proxies, and one misquoted or misunderstood (or worse) sentence. I understand that it's just a blog comment but before dismissing the work of collegues and accusing a scientific journal of being biased, I'd expect a reputable scientist to think twice.

2011-10-29 19:17:05
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.96.136

Riccardo:

"the well know and reputable scientist Prof. Fred Singer, Emeritus at the University of Virginia."

On what planet?

2011-10-29 19:19:53
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.49

Well known he is, reputable is just to be generous :)

2011-10-29 20:47:59Minor typo:
michael sweet

sweetdreamfiji@hotmail...
71.180.31.73

Second paragraph from the end: replace "Spencer" with "Singer"

I think your suggestion of not replying unless he gets quoted is a good idea.  I would remove the "reputable scientist" since it has been a long time since he contributed reputable science.  There is no need to complement him, he criticizes scientists much more informed than himself.   Refer to Naomi Oraskes Merchants of Doubt about his contributations to tobacco (and DDT).

2011-10-29 23:38:53
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
91.33.96.136

... and ozone

He's more of a scientific "have gun / will travel" type.

2011-10-30 03:26:13
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.101.55

Nice Riccardo, I was thinking of writing something similar, so I'm glad to see you saved me the effort.  I think Singer has already been quoted on WUWT by the way, and I think this is worth publishing.

A couple of things.  I agree calling Singer reputable is not justified.  Well-known is probably fine, maybe even specifically "well-known 'skeptic' scientist."

I'd replace "massaged" with "adjusted".  Wouldn't even want to suggest that data analysis could be equivalent to "massaging".

It might be worth noting that RSS and UAH aren't the only two groups who analyse satellite data; there are three others who all show even more warming.  Glenn is writing a post on this that we could reference.

I don't know if we want to mention WUWT, but they've been alternating between saying it's obvious that the planet is warming, and denying the BEST results.  It's like they're schizophrenic.  Might be worth mentioning towards the beginning when you're talking about these two denialist positions, but I can understand if you want to stay focused on what Singer said too.

I think the extreme denial of claiming the planet hasn't warmed since 1940 deserves a little more focus too.  We can discuss all the physical indicators of warming (rising sea levels, melting glaciers, etc.) and use the 'warming indicators' graphic.  If deniers can't even accept the obvious and undeniable fact that the planet is warming, then how can anyone possibly take them seriously?  I think that deserves emphasis.

2011-10-30 06:04:17
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.49

Ok, I'll make the suggested changes and add figures. Though, better wait for other opinions on publishing or not on Singer's comment.

2011-10-30 06:43:36
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.101.55

Singer's Nature comment has been quoted by WUWT (twice, actually), and by Climate Depot, among others.  I think it merits a response.  If nothing else we debunk the myths (again) that BEST used the same data as NOAA/GISS/HadCRU, that the satellites show no warming, and that the planet hasn't warmed since 1940.

Frankly just getting Singer on the record as arguing for no warming since 1940 is a victory.  If anybody ever quotes Singer, all you have to do is say "this is the guy who said the planet hasn't warmed since 1940."  That's global warming denial, by definition. 

In fact "Fred Singer's Global Warming Denial" wouldn't be a bad post title.  Or "Fred Singer Denies Settled Science", and you can use the Settled Science logo (because everything here is quite settled).

2011-10-31 05:11:21
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.49

Here we go guys, the first pre-relese version of the post.

I made the changes as suggested, including the infamous "reputable". My goal was to show how i didn't behave as a reputable scientst by first cnceding it and then show why he's not. But I agree that it might be read differently and I dropped it.

I also mentioned the schizophrenic behaviour as suggested by Dana, though not refererd to WUWT in particular. Indeed, it's quite a common pattern in the denialosphere.

Ready for more suggestions.

2011-10-31 08:59:46
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
69.230.101.55

Looks good, I went in and corrected some typos and such.  I still think the title should say something about denying global warming, because that's exactly what Singer is doing.

2011-10-31 10:36:38
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.49

I have no problem with changing the title but I need suggestions, my creativity level is somewhere down toward the floor :)

Thenk you for the corrections.

2011-11-01 07:16:29
dana1981
Dana Nuccitelli
dana1981@yahoo...
64.129.227.4

I vote for "Fred Singer Denies Global Warming".  But I'm kind of blunt like that :-)

2011-11-01 07:22:58
Albatross
Julian Brimelow
stomatalaperture@gmail...
198.53.65.169

Seconded :)

2011-11-01 07:27:38
Rob Painting
Rob
paintingskeri@vodafone.co...
118.93.126.44

Thirded. This ready to go?

2011-11-01 09:47:21
Riccardo

riccardoreitano@tiscali...
2.33.129.49

Change made. It sounds much like a breaking news headline, which is not given his multidecadal denial, but it's the right one.