Richard Lindzen: limited understanding?

A recent WUWT post by Richard Lindzen is a rather lame attempt to defend an equally lame opinion piece by Freeman Dyson in the Boston Globe. Evidently, Lindzen felt the need to defend Dyson’s piece because it was rather roundly refuted in a response by 8 members of the faculty of MIT.


I leave it to readers to dissect Dyson’s opinion piece and the response. I’d like to point out something Lindzen said which betrays a problem with Lindzen. Talking about the statements made by the 8 MIT professors, he attempts to minimize climate change thus:


“… the claim that most of the climate change since 1960 is due to human activities, refers to more than half of a change on the order of only 0.5C …”

I’ve heard claims like this many times, and I always wonder: is this person deliberately misleading his readers, or is he that ignorant? You can’t even get that right?

Here’s global temperature, annual averages, according to data from NASA:

nasa1

The lower dashed lines mark two estimates of the 1960 value, and the upper dashed lines are 0.5C above those. For an honest definition of the “since 1960” value, we might use the smoothed value of -0.046 deg.C, or we can just use the 1960 average, -0.031 deg.C. They’re not that different.

To define the present value, we can use the smoothed value of 0.75 deg.C, the 2015 annual average so far (based on the first 11 months of the year) of 0.845 deg.C, or the average of the most recent 12 months, 0.839 deg.C.

Whichever honest choice you make, the warming since 1960 has been bigger than 0.5C. You could honestly say 0.8C, or 0.88C, or 0.87C. But you can’t say 0.5C without being either dishonest or astoundingly ignorant (or both).

We’re not only well above 0.5C, we’ve been above that level for at least 15 years:

nasa2

This isn’t just “pretty basic,” it’s as basic as it gets. When you underestimate the warming since 1960 by 60% or more, you’re not telling it like it is. Either you don’t know, or you’re hoping readers don’t look for themselves.

In a crowning achievement of irony, Lindzen attempts to turn a phrase used by the 8 MIT critics against them:


A careful reading of the letter of the 8 professors leaves one wondering whether the dismay they express over Dyson’s “limited understanding and short-sighted interpretation of basic elements of climate science” is not merely a projection of their own limitations and biases.

When Lindzen uses the phrase “limited understanding,” I think he can only be referring to himself.

70 responses to “Richard Lindzen: limited understanding?

  1. I read the Dyson opinion piece.

    A couple of sentences near the beginning would have caused me to stop reading further.

    Dyson opinion [with my comments]: “The biggest of all climate changes have been the ice ages [absolutely false], which have covered half of North America and Europe with kilometer-thick sheets of ice [true]. Ice ages happened repeatedly in the past [so what?], and we are [were, but not since the industrial revolution really kicked in] about due for another one to start [in several thousand years].” He doesn’t really know much about paleoclimatology. Why should I consider the opinion of someone who is rather ignorant?

    I read the refutation by the MIT faculty members. No comment, except that it is sad that such is needed.

  2. Lindzen openly boasts about getting paid for his denial. The man is a fossil fuel company shill and proud of it. There’s no argument too stupid for him to make to those ignorant of climate science. He’ll gladly use “Mars is warming” to a lay audience, even though he could never get it past peer reviewers. Just a dishonest human being.

  3. Lindzen has been embarrassing MIT for about 25 years now. I can’t sympathize for these researchers unless and until they are prepared to stand up for their institution and their own professional reputations – against hacks in their midst. To quote the great Robert Muldoon, Lindzen was quite the “clever girl” to post his attack piece in WUWT, where his fellow travelers can mold the debate. Nevertheless, it’s about time for the faculty at MIT to show the world that they are actually competent in earth science, and it’s not all about Lindzen – because frankly, whenever I think about MIT and climate issues, I only think about Richard Lindzen.

    • I agree with your points.

      “clever girl”. Sexism is never appropriate however.

      • Sexism?

        ““Clever Girl” is a catchphrase that can be used to express respect or admiration for something [that] has demonstrated substantial intelligence. It is often associated with the extinct Velociraptor dinosaur genus.” – Know your meme.

        [Response: It’s also a quote from the film “Jurassic Park” — what the game warden says just before the velociraptor kills him.]

      • arch stanton

        ‘k

  4. We’re not only well above 0.5C, we’ve been above that level for at least 15 years:

    Yes, but Lindzen has effectively stopped using his brain since 2000. The lie has now fossilized and there is nothing that can remove it.

    • It’s not just Lindzen. The entire deny-o-sphere have convinced themselves that there’s been no warming or even some cooling since ’98 so they feel perfectly justified in using wrong estimates.

      • Yeah, the other day some idiot on CBC.CA stated that while this year might be warm, it was no warmer than three other years from three different decades, and asked wasn’t it remarkable how things ‘go in cycles?’

        Posted the anomalies for all the relevant years in 3 different data sets by way of rebuttal, but how in the hell can anyone make such a statement with a straight face? (OK, I’m *assuming* that he wasn’t grimacing or smiling in manic glee over the keyboard as that dumbass post was typed.)

    • I was a post-doc at MIT in 1980. I can aver that R. Lindzen had already ‘stopped using his brain’ at that point.

  5. DIckie Lindzen has been entirely untrustworthy on AGW for a long time. I remember him over two decades ago making statements that were not appropriate for one in his position. For me, I think the descriptor “liar” was impossible to ignore when I witnessed his shuffling of data in a lecture at the Palace of Westminster in 2012 (specifically pp35-36 here)
    Then, when you are in denial strange things happen. Faith in your own delusions result in firstly a truly perverse view of the evidence and secondly in what appears to be a ‘bugger you all’ attitude which allows egregious statements solely on the grounds that, well, it might shake a bit of sense into a world you think has gone stark-staring mad. Such is the lot of any denialist although most don’t do it on film. (The shuffling of evidence is in video 2, at 22 mins. The actual years displayed can be found at the DMI.)

    • Can we stay off the stupid nickname thing? So his name is Richard. Har dee har. The man says plenty of dumbass things, let’s stick to mocking him for those.

      • Agree, just go after his theories. For example, Lindzen’s 40-y/o theory behind the Quasi-Biennial Oscillations of stratospheric winds could never have worked. He relied on a spontaneous resonance to generate the 28-month period, which is a “magical” ingredient considering that the lunar gravitational tidal force is a perfectly plausible alternative explanation that matches the cycle precisely.

        I think Lindzen was able to snow his peers by layering lots of math on his theory. The actual explanation for the QBO behavior doesn’t need all this.

        Since a retired Lindzen is now out of the picture as a contributor to atmospheric physics, I suggest that climate scientists re-evaluate QBO and consider how the luni-solar forces can explain the effect. He is no longer a force to battle with, as I am sure he was in his heyday. Personally, I battled the cranky Martin Fleischmann (pre-cold-fusion fame) and see a lot of similarities between him and Lindzen in their overbearing attitude.

        Lindzen’s crusade to “own” this theory has lasted several decades, mine has lasted a few months, but I am sure someone else will pick up on this, as the agreement is too impressive to ignore.

      • Douglas McClean.
        Just as I am called “Al” by those who know me, it is my understanding that Lindzen is called “Dickie”, both diminutive versions of our respective names.
        Mind, if I had called him “dicky” as to mean “poorly functioning” I would still be unrepentant. The man is a disgrace. In that 2012 lecture at the Palace of Westminster I linked to above he describes AGW as “trivially true and essentially meaningless.” This he concludes from his analysis of the global temperature record. As a climatologist, the ‘take-away’ he offers his audience from such analysis are that “the changes (in global temperature) are small … in the order of several tenths of a degree. … (These are) always present at virtually all time scales. .., If some day I should see the changes are twenty times what I’ve seen so far, that would be certainly remarkable, but nothing so far looks that way.” So Dickie tells us he would not consider it remarkable, thus worth remarking on, unless global temperature varied by twenty-times several tenths of a degree. That equates to a rise of 14ºC. And this vacuous arsehole stands in front of an audience in the seat of the UK government and pretends he speaks as a climatologist? As I say, I would be entirely unrepentant had I called the man “dicky”.

  6. “… the claim that most of the climate change since 1960 is due to human activities, refers to more than half of a change on the order of only 0.5C …”

    Note Lindzen says “on the order of only 0.5C”

    He has covered himself. ” on the order of 0.5C” means anywhere between 0.05C and 5C.

    • He has covered himself. ” on the order of 0.5C” means anywhere between 0.05C and 5C.

      And I don’t think this is a joke either.

      • Well,then, one could just as well say that the warming since 1960 is “on the order of 7 C” since it’s more than 0.7 and less than 70…

      • One could but it’s only someone like Lindzen who actually would (in the opposite direction of course).

    • I disagree – “on the order of” means within a factor of sqrt(10), or roughly 3, not 10. So you are generous beyond excuse.

      • Why sqrt(10)? I thought it was ‘order’ as in ‘order of magnitude’ (in base 10), but I could be wrong. Even with sqrt(10) as the definition Lindzen is technically (but uselessly and misleadingly) accurate.

      • Wookie:
        If you work on a log scale, values are equally-spaced at -1, 0. 1, 2, etc., but this translates to 10^-1, 10^0, 10^1, 10^2, etc, or 0.1, 1, 10, 100…
        “On the order of 10” translates as “closer to 10^1 than to 10^0 or 10^2”, and that covers the range 10^0.5 to 10^1.5 on a log scale. 10^0.5 = sqrt(10), and 10^1.5 = 10*sqrt(10).
        Does that make sense?

      • Bob,there’s no indication that Lindzen was talking about a log “closer to” rather than linear. And since he was talking to a lay audience, the lay audience, sans advice otherwise, would assume linear.

        Lying by omission is still lying. We also call it “misdirection” and is still counted as deception.

      • Wow: “there’s no indication that Lindzen was talking about a log “closer to” rather than linear.”
        Well, then you and I have an different idea of what “on the order of” means.
        In no way am I trying to defend Lindzen. He’s slime of the highest order (to use a different meaning of “order”). I’m just trying to explain the sqrt(10) concept.

      • I think that the idea of some unspecified value being the same order of magnitude as a particular stated value does here push the limit of credulity if the sqrt() relationship is not invoked in some way.
        If I said a certain quantity “is in the order of 0.9” do I mean to say that this unspecified number will literally have the same “Order of Magnitude” as 0.9 and thus lie in the range 0.100 to 0.999?
        Of course, this is a little awkward for this 0.9 example as the ‘best estimate’ sits very close to the discontinuity between numbers of the order of 10^-1 and numbers of the order 10^0. So I could invoke use of a range centred on that 0.9 by using the +/-*sqrt(10) suggested here by Jerry.
        Or do I mean that the two values will have a ratio no greater than 10-to-1? This would suggest a range 0.09 to 9.0 which is a range spanning a lot more than one order of magnitude. But while there is a 1-in-2 chance of the actual order of magnitude being different from 0.9’s, this could be easily corrected if the values were rescaled.

        In my view of this, subjects like physics or engineering where numbers up for discussion do so often range massively in potential size, the phrase “of the same order” can be (and often are) used to mean the 10-to-1 definition. But it is also used more frequently (even in physics & engineering) to mean ‘a difference of no great significance’. And that is irrespective of what constitutes ‘significant’. Thus in normal speak I would expect the +/-*sqrt(10) interpretation with the 10-to-1 interpretation only in force when it is sensible for its use, which is not here.

        That said, Lindzen the Liar didn’t actually use that phrase. He wrote (so presumably didn’t mis-speak) “refers to more than half of a change on the order of only 0.5C”.
        I think we can ignore certain interpretations of this quote as Lindzen has made similar statements elsewhere. (0.5C could be considered as the size of the “half of a change” and that use of the word “on” does allow some seriously bizarre literal interpretations.)
        What stands out like a sore thumb is the word “only,” a word that could mean uniquely, or merely or no more than. Lindzen the Liar does continue this narrative by saying that “the warming since the end of the little ice age (around 1800) of about 1C has been accompanied by improvements in virtually all measures of human welfare,” so he probably does mean ‘merely.’ And in that follow-on line he is probably trying to say that the change in global climate since the little ice age has had little negative impact on humanity, which is a little less egregious than implying (as he actually does) that the warmer climate is responsible for the advancement in human welfare over the last two centuries. His real bit of lying is in the follow-on from that invocation of the LIA where he asserts that “Why another 1C should be considered planet threatening is rarely explained.” Now those are the words of a liar.

  7. Harry Twinotter

    In my opinion the situation is as it appears – Richard Lindzen is deliberately misleading his readers.

    I won’t bother speculating about his motivations.

  8. “Limited understanding”: Dyson himself admits that his understanding of climate is limited and nobody should rely on his opinions to deny the mainstream science.

    But let me object to the use of “lame” as a synonym for “inadequate.” I know that it might seem excessively PC of me, but as someone married to a lame person, I can say without question that “lame” does not mean “inadequate. “

  9. Lindzen is a separate case and will end up with the handful of contrarian climate scientists motivated by reasons that I won’t bother to speculate on here (but that emphatically exclude the pursuit of scientific excellence), but emerititus seems to have hit Dyson and Giaever hard. It’s embarrassing to read or watch interviews where Dyson reveals he last gave serious thought to the issue in the 1970s or where Giaever talks about his half-day of Internet research into global warming, but despite this the AGW ‘skeptics’ put them on pedestals and lap up their every proclamation.

    Maybe Dyson & Giaever are the best they can do.

  10. With Lindzen, Singer and Dyson approaching their dotage, it seems Richard Tol has his eye on these soon-to-be-opening niches.

    The IPCC, where I’ve spent years co-authored the climate reports, assumes a warming of up to 5 degrees. The warming between 06:00 am and 12:00 pm is on an average 8 degrees.

    https://trustyetverify.wordpress.com/2015/12/24/the-absurd-idea-that-our-grandchildren-are-in-danger-from-global-warming/

    • Why link to a climate risk denial article?

      • I generally try not to, but in this case it’s an interview with Tol. Since the number of academics under 50 who can be used as fronts by the denial movement is very, very limited now (Tol, Roger Pielke Jr., Bjorn Lomborg, Nir Shaviv, probably not Willie Soon any more… any others?) it’s worth keeping track of any particularly dumb comments they make.

  11. Richard Lindzen spent his entire research career trying to figure out the basis for the Quadri-Biennial Oscillation (QBO) in upper atmospheric winds. He first started looking at this in the early 1960’s and started to claim victory by 1970. Yet, it is pretty obvious now that the QBO follows the elliptical cycle of the lunar tides modulated strongly by a seasonal signal http://contextearth.com/2015/11/21/qbo-model-sensitivity/

    Lindzen even hinted at this possibility in a 1974 paper of his (“Lunar tides are especially well suited to such studies since it is unlikely that lunar periods could be produced by anything other than the lunar tidal potential.”) but never followed through, thus setting back progress in climate modeling for a generation.

    The big question is why Lindzen never spotted this pattern. It could have been intentional, as a deterministic forcing doesn’t fit in well with his denialist beliefs that climate variation is a spontaneous and random act of nature.

    Attack Lindzen for his previous research because that is where his credibility is derived from. He is nothing more than a Steven Goddard without this.

  12. Technical question:

    I used Excel to calculate ‘least squares’ regression from Jan 1960 to November 2015 in the latest GISS monthly data set. Using the formula =LINEST(‘data’)*671 (where 671 is the number of months’ data in question) returned a value of 0.89C.

    Is this another honest way to arrive at the ‘best estimate’ (i.e. excluding+/- error margins) total amount of warming in GISS since 1960? It seems right because it’s what I’d normally use to calculate a decadal trend over the same period; only multiplying by 120 (months) instead of 671 in that case.

    Thanks.

    • Technical answer: Never, ever END with a calculation in probability or statistics. Start with laying out what you really want to identify and then work towards coming to the best answer. Rise/55 years seems like not a convenient answer to me at least.

      Further, why, oh,WHY would you want to ignore “error margins”? A best estimate is worthless without some estimate of error. Using data aggregated monthly, error is a bit complex to figure due to autocorrelation from the seasonal signal and within the longer time series itself. Going with annually aggregated data you remove the seasonal signal but there is still some autocorrelation. Still, the error in that case is closer to a realistic value without correction.

      A quick look at woodfortrees shows you are likely in the ballpark, but what does the ballpark mean?

  13. Richard Lindzen needs to be marginalized for his body of research work. Without that giving him credibility, he is nothing. So what exactly has he contributed to progress in climate science and atmospheric science?
    Nothing really. He has just made it needlessly complex.

    • WHT – So what exactly has he [Lindzen] contributed to progress in climate science and atmospheric science?
      Nothing really

      I think that you are selling him short. Lindzen wrote a lot of good stuff on planetary waves (including a well-respected textbook) and many other aspects of atmospheric dynamics, mainly from the late 60s through the early 80s. He wasn’t awarded an endowed chair at MIT for nothing. Although I never met him, colleagues of mine who interacted with him had a high regrad for this early work.

      Which makes it all the more interesting how such an accomplished scientist can go so far astray. Some day someone will write a book about the (more than a few) illustrious scientists who wound up espousing crackpot, or, to be generous, unorthodox, views. Besides Lindzen, Shockley, Pauling, Dyson, Alfven, Hoyle and Gold come to mind.

      • The point is that Richard Lindzen could not figure out the forcing behind Quasi-Biennial Oscillations of upper atmospheric winds, even though he had been researching the phenomena since the early 1960’s. That is where he made a name for himself (see Wikipedia), and so if that is all wrong then the rest of his work is suspect.

        Like I said above, Lindzen even hinted at an alternate lunar-based forcing of QBO in a 1974 paper of his (“Lunar tides are especially well suited to such studies since it is unlikely that lunar periods could be produced by anything other than the lunar tidal potential.” !!!!). All one has to do is look at the periodicity of QBO and the fact that it aligns exactly with aliased lunar cycles makes this a significant advance. Very few natural phenomena will start oscillating with such precise cycles unless a forcing with the same periodicity is behind it.

        Lindzen is not giving any quarter to other climate scientists so I believe the feeling should be reciprocated. David Appel at Quark Soup coined the “Lindzen Paradox” as someone like Lindzen who claims that the smartest people do not engage in climate science, which means that Lindzen is self-identifying. What goes around comes around.

      • Pat, it’s worth adding Kary Mullis to that list.

      • @Bernard J.
        “Pat, it’s worth adding Kary Mullis to that list.”

        I don’t know that I’d consider Mullis to have ever been a distinguished scientist. He had one flash of insight, that one could apply geometric expansion to the replication of a region of DNA – an idea that had actually been published 20 years before – and convinced Cetus that it was an important insight. Most of the work of actually making PCR into a workable technique, including the first demonstration that PCR could be performed on anything other than a synthetic target, and its first use to amplify part of a specific gene, and the use of thermostable reverse transcriptase so that the process became affordable and automated and therefore useful – also previously described and the patent later invalidated – was done by others at Cetus.

        That’s it. That one insight and a modest amount of accompaning work, won him a Nobel prize. His new idea at Altermune might be a second bright idea, too early to know. But he’s spent more of his life surfing, doing LSD, playing with crackpot ideas, and denying climate change, ozone depletion, and that HIV causes AIDS, than he ever has as a scientist.

        “Mullis reported an encounter with a glowing green raccoon at his cabin in the woods of northern California around midnight one night in 1985. He denies the involvement of LSD in this encounter.” Wikipedia, in the section on Mullis’ belief in extraterrestrial life.

        That just about sums it up, I think.

  14. I saw Dyson being interviewed online, and it was a shameful leading of an old man who seemed to have little understanding of what he was talking about. The interviewer was from some right-wing think tank and in between flattering the old guy, asked leading questions like “CO2 is just a trace gas, isn’t it?” and “Global warming may be good for the earth, would you agree with that?”. Poor Dyson lapped it up and was egged into adopting stronger and stronger denial myths. Pitiful, does Dyson have no friends who really care about him, and might tell him what is happening? His reputation was once as high as that of Richard Feynman, with whom he almost shared a Nobel Prize, but he will be remembered as a denier in his dotage.

    [Response: Dyson never won the Nobel prize. Feynman shared one with Tomonaga and Schwinger.]

    • Sounds like the shameless manipulation of Roger Revelle in his last few years. That’s an appalling story, too, but I’ll let anyone interested research that themselves. IIRC, Fred Singer was the manipulator.

    • Just for clarification, Dyson worked with Feynmann at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study after WWII, collaborated with him, and made a contribution to the theory of electrodynamics which won Feyman and the others the Nobel Prize. He is one of those some thought might have been recognised as well. See James Gleick’s biography of Feynman.

      However, Dyson’s glory days are well behind him now.

    • Had trouble submitting this a while back, but thought some might be interested:

      Yes, Dyson has at least one colleague who tried (a family friend); he was and is not interested. Sorry I don’t think I should share the name but also don’t think it’s entirely age. My impression is that he always prided himself in going against the mainstream and is convinced he knows better. My father remains in awe of some of his work, but says he is a technocrat with, as I understand it, a blind spot. He mentioned that Dyson wanted to fuel early rockets with something equivalent to an atom bomb, before the dangers of fallout were understood.

  15. “… The forecast for the eastern US is of continuing high temperatures – Washington DC could see a record daily high of 23C (73F) on Sunday….”
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-35184869

  16. Lindzen’s iris hypothesis in 2001 was genuine science, in that it lead to observations that refuted it and showed that there was no negative feedback from tropical clouds. The problem is that he never re-evaluated afterward. He hasn’t done much of anything since then.

    I think the hardest thing for a once-active scientist to do is to state that “I am an old man” and not one to throw in his two cents.

    • Commenter PC mentioned Thomas Gold above in the thread. Lindzen is nearing Gold-status for hack theories. Lindzen’s theories of Iris, QBO, and his claim of temperature inaccuracies make it three strikes.

      Gold had theories of unlimited fossil-fuel, that the lunar lander would sink on the moon because it was all soft dust, and a debunked cosmology theory with Hoyle.

  17. Lindzen was interviewed by the BBC “One Planet” show Oct 3 2010. Audio here.

    In this interview he puts forward his own definition of “skeptic”, says he doesn’t like being called a “skeptic”, and then he says that “denier” comes closer to describing what he is.

  18. Quoting from this 2012 NY Times article on Lindzen:

    “In his Congressional appearances, speeches and popular writings, Dr. Lindzen offers little hint of how thin the published science supporting his position is. Instead, starting from his disputed iris mechanism, he makes what many of his colleagues see as an unwarranted leap of logic, professing near-certainty that climate change is not a problem society needs to worry about.”

    The article concluded with this quote from Kerry Emanuel:

    “Even if there were no political implications, it just seems deeply unprofessional and irresponsible to look at this and say, ‘We’re sure it’s not a problem,’ ” said Kerry A. Emanuel, another M.I.T. scientist. “It’s a special kind of risk, because it’s a risk to the collective civilization.”

  19. See Western Fuels Assocation’s The Greening of Planet Earth.
    1) The whole thing is instructive, as many of the key false memes in the Skeptical Science database seem to have been promoted there.

    2) But especially, see Lindzen, starting ~13:50.
    That seems the origin of the “It was warmer in the Medieval Warm Period” meme. See href=”http://www.desmogblog.com/2015/01/26/medievaldeception-2015-inhofe-drags-senate-dark-ages”>MedievalDeception 2015: Inhofe Drags Senate Back To Dark Ages for some of the history behind that.
    Lindzen had already gone wrong in the early 1990s.

    • Interesting link, John, thanks. As a resource geoscientist who’s trodden on a few of the lesser-beaten paths of the globe from 35S to 70N I could say what my knee-jerk reaction to Richard Lindzen or Gerd-Ranier Weber or some of the other scientists for hire in that film would have been given an extra pint or two… but Grant runs a nice polite blog here and I don’t want to put him in a position of deleting my comment. So I’ll leave it at “infuriated”.

      • I’ve been backtracking origins of the most popular Skeptical Science menes, and that video has a few of the enduring favorites.
        Gerd-Reiner Weber? You have a problem with Lindzen tag-teaming with German coal guy?

  20. Richard Lindzen stopped being a scientist when he started misleading the public with arguments he knows to be wrong (e.g. “there’s warming on Mars, too…”. He’s an embarrassment to any decent human being.

  21. Lindzen brings to mind Cromwell’s famous expostulation: I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible ye may be mistaken. .

  22. Scientists are people that tell the truth. When one stops telling the truth, one stops being a scientist.

    It does not matter who the employer is. If one works for Exxon, collects, and organizes information, and tells the truth, then one is a scientist. If you work for MIT, and you lie, then you are not a scientist, regardless of the job title. It is OK. MIT does employ lawyers, managers, and etc. Always telling the truth is not a requirement for working at MIT.

    Lindzen has devalued the “MIT brand”. MIT’s lawyers and managers did not do their job and let him get away with it.

  23. Thomas Peterson

    While I appreciate you bringing facts into the discussion, Tamino, I find this all very sad. Freeman Dyson is 92 and discussing things far from his area of expertise. But think about poor Richard Lindzen: His colleagues publish in the Boston Globe and he is now down to publishing in WUWT. How the mighty have fallen.

  24. Michael Hillinger

    A bit off topic but I’d be interested in Tamnio’s take on Anthony Watt’s poster at the AGU. He claims that adjustments to temperature at many stations shows a systematic bias.

    • claims that adjustments to temperature at many stations shows a systematic bias

      Nothing new here.

    • Watts is the poster child for that poster; it’s now he made his fame before becoming Curator of Crackpots over at that clearinghouse for deniers called WUWT.
      None of his accusations have yet borne fruit outside the echo chamber circlejerk that he touts ad nauseum as the world’s premier climate site.

    • If/when the peer reviewed paper comes out actually making said claim with appropriate detailed supporting data, clear definitions of terms, and actual tests showing significant bias, that would be time to comment.

      Of course to pass competent peer review, a paper making a claim of systematic bias will have to document a great many issues in specific detail. A poster does not generally do this being a much more limited outlet. Most specifically, they will have to document why their procedures–which differ from standard procedures in the field–are superior. For my part, while the word “significant” appears in the poster, I am unable to locate the error bars and/or specific statistical tests that would document a systematic bias on the poster. But that may be my lack.

      We’ll see, but I have my doubts, personally.

  25. Michael H – You can find a discussion of the Watts et al poster at Victor Venema’s . Evan Jones (one of the co-authors) stops by to make a few comments, but nothing new from Evan considering this discussion has been going on now for over 3 years.

    A few things to consider – they stop the analysis in 2008. They have no physics to describe their results. USHCN tracks USCRN; siting issues are not a problem with USCRN. Given they made elementary errors in the first version of this poster/paper/press release back in 2012, I would not be confident they’ve got it right this time – especially lacking a physics explanation (an explanation they assured would be forthcoming, but now admit they don’t have). But until they release the data and methodology we’ll never know for sure.

  26. Guys, it’s not about facts. This is the run-up to the next US election.
    That line about fooling enough of the people enough of the time? It has been amended by adding “for those with enough money”, e.g. see:

    http://profit.ndtv.com/news/corporates/article-for-the-wealthiest-a-private-tax-system-that-saves-them-billions-1260456

    You’ll find no return on investment better than buying politicians.

    • “You’ll find no return on investment better than buying politicians”
      THIS x 1000!!
      Say what you like about the pandering shills that get elected but to their corporate masters, they’re worth their weight in pure platinum

      • Morin Moss,
        Interestingly, the traditional relationship of platinum being worth less than gold has been inverted for most of a decade now. It is, I believe an indication of suppressed economic activity (Pt is still used mainly in industrial activities) coupled with economic insecurity (Au continues to be a safety blanket). Perhaps the shills can aspire to golden status in the coming election, especially if they manage to cause economic collapse.

  27. I thought that readers might be interested in the recent Central England Temperature data. The month of December 2015 has turned out to be a scorcher, 5.2C hotter than the 1961-90 average, which it was above for every day of the month (pending data for the 31st). Both of these may be records/firsts.

    The month was so extraordinarily hot that not only is it easily the warmest December in the record (since 1659), a massive 1.7C hotter than the previous record (1974), but it’s also warmer than every November in the record except one (1994), defying the normal progress of the seasonal cycle.

    Indeed, looking at the estimated daily values (finalised quality-controlled data to come), we can see that one day in December, the 17th at 12.8C was as warm as a day in July of the same year, the 26th at 12.8C.

    • zebraphile,
      It was certainly a warm December. The CET daily mean data posted in the full record actually shows the warmest 2015 December day at 13.1ºC which would put it above (instead of below) the previous record for a December day set at 12.9ºC in 1994.
      Yet your last point is less telling. It is not that uncommon for a December day (or days) to exceed the temperature of a July day (or days). 1994 didn’t manage it as that was a hot July with the July minimum day up at 14.4ºC. But a combination of cool July and/or warm December did achieve it in 1836, 1843, 1848, 1856, 1867, 1888, 1898, 1907, 1912, 1929, 1948, 1954, 1965 & 1993. (Interesting that it doesn’t appear in the first 45 years of the CET daily record.)

    • Just back from a few rainy days at the lake in South Carolina. It was in flood, as the whole Catawba basin still is. The local crest was ~106 feet, where 95-100 is normal. (Bear in mind that the basin is managed by a series of dams.) Got there on the 27th, turned off the heat that night as it was too warm. Never turned it back on again.

      Anecdotes, of course. But it sure is freakish.