14 February 2010

Glantz and Pielke Letter in the Boulder Daily Camera

Mickey Glantz and I have a letter in today's Boulder Daily Camera, here it is:

Watch that finger pointing

In an Associated Press article in the Daily Camera (Feb. 11) NCAR`s Kevin Trenberth is quoted as saying that the social sciences are "soft sciences," hence they bear responsibility for the sloppiness that has been revealed in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Dr. Trenberth`s comment on the social and other scientists working on part of the multi-volume IPCC report is an attempt to deflect attention away from increasing and legitimate concerns about the panel`s credibility.

Indeed, the defensive approach taken by the IPCC and its leadership is part of the problem, and has made the IPCC`s difficulties even worse.

The facts are that the IPCC Working Group 2, the impacts report he refers to, was put together by all people from many disciplines -- physical, biological and social sciences. The two of us -- both social scientists -- have raised issues about the integrity of the IPCC assessments for years, only to be ignored by IPCC scientists, including our former colleague, Dr. Trenberth. The IPCC`s failings are the result of an organization that operates with far too little accountability and transparency.

For instance, we have repeatedly warned about the lack of a scientific foundation in claims that the increasing toll of disasters can be attributed in part to warming temperatures. The IPCC`s gross mistreatment of this subject is only now being widely recognized, and rightly so.

Yet just last October Dr. Trenberth testified to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that the rising toll of disasters has been at least in part caused by global warming (cdphe.state.co.us/climate/ClimateChangeTrenberth.pdf). There is simply no scientific basis for this claim. Increasing wealth, population and reporting explains the entire increase. Before pointing fingers at other scholars, Dr. Trenberth may first wish to ensure that he has his own facts straight and is not misleading policy makers.

We have no doubts that humans have an influence on the climate system, with a significant influence from accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. We have both advocated action to reduce emissions and improve adaptation. Enacting such policies will be much more difficult if processes of expert advice lose their credibility and trust with the public. Finger pointing, rather than taking responsibility, will not help rebuild that lost credibility.

MICKEY GLANTZ AND ROGER PIELKE JR.

Boulder

19 comments:

edray1 said...

Phil Jones?? Is it finally over?

edray1 said...

Phil Jones!! Is it finally over?? There actually was a MWP!

Craig said...

Perhaps the first sentence of the last paragraph should begin with "Consistent with our preferred policy preferences,..." Without scientific definition, "influence" and "significant influence" seem to be just another manifestation of canard.

Sylvain said...

I would say to mr Trenberth, not sure that I should call him Dr, that climate science is as close a social science as science can get.

There is a lot of similarity in the quality and type of data, as well as in the level of uncertainty of those data.

Just like social science, climate science can't produce in lab experiment of many of their hypothesis and rely heavily on computer models, which can't be compared to reproducible lab experiment.

bigcitylib said...

Interested in commenting on this from RMS and Muir-Wood;

http://www.rms.com/Publications/2010_FAQ_IPCC.pdf

"Yes, RMS believes the IPCC fairly referenced its paper, with suitable caveats around the results, highlighting the factors influencing the relationship that had been discovered between time and increased catastrophe costs. We believe it was appropriate to include the RMS paper in the report because, at that time, it was the only paper addressing global multi-peril catastrophe losses over time that had been normalized for changes in the values and exposure at risk".

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-5-bigcitylib

Thanks for this pointer.

I see that RMS admits publicly the shenanigans involved with getting around the IPCC publication deadline.

I also see that they avoid any mention of the "mystery graph."

Nothing in the RMS statement contradicts anything I've argued on this blog, and for some aspects of the issue RMS confirms what I have been arguing.

bigcitylib said...

You wrote previously that:

"The bottom line is that the IPCC indicated a relationship between increasing temperatures and the rising costs of disasters when no such relationship has been found in the literature -- in that literature cited by the IPCC or otherwise. This issue is not nuanced; it is not clouded by ambiguity."

I find it hard to believe that this is consistant with a "fair representation" of the paper. Yet Mr. Muir-Wood holds that is was. Surely you differ with him on this?

Sharon F. said...

Scientists are human, scapegoating is a human activity.. climate scientists may see social scientists as "other" and hence the first, but certainly not the last for potential scapegoat-hood.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-7-bigcitylib

At the Ri debate in London Robert Muir-Wood and I were asked specifically about where we disagree. You can hear it on the audio if you'd like.

We don't disagree at all. Our work on hurricanes shows an increase in damages from 1970 to 2005 and so too does their global analysis, driven by entirely by US hurricane losses in 2004 and 2005. Muir-Woods work shows no increase 1950 to 2005, neither does ours.

He and I are in complete agreement on what the data show.

Damages increased from 1970 to 2005 a lot like the world has been cooling from 1998 to 2010. If you cherrypick a short data series from a longer one, you can come up with all sorts of conclusions;-)

Miller et al. 2008 concluded "We find insufficient evidence to claim a statistical relationship between global temperature increase and normalized catastrophe losses."

I stated, and you quote, "no such relationship has been found in the literature -- in that literature cited by the IPCC or otherwise"

I think that is a pretty fair representation of Miller et al. as well as the broader literature.

Jer said...

"We have no doubts that humans have an influence on the climate system, with a significant influence from accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere"

I would like to see the scientific proof of "significant" and while we are at it do you even understand the enhanced greenhouse theory?

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-10-Jer

"Enhanced greenhouse theory"? Never heard of it.

You forget, I'm a political scientist;-)

Craig said...

"I'm a political scientist ;-) "

Were you a Dr. Hansen protégé?

dreese said...

You have...

"advocated action to reduce emissions and improve adaptation".

Where is the science that compares the cost of such action to reduce emmissions with the benefit of such action?

Where is the science that identifies the global optimum level of CO2 in the atmosphere, considering and weighing both the beneficial and detrimental effects of a higher level of CO2?

It is self evident that CO2 levels of 0 ppm and 1,000,000 ppm could be considered "bad", and on a relative scale that 385 ppm could be considered "good". How do we know whether 250 ppm or 425 ppm are not "better"?

The EPA defers to the IPCC on these items. Is that adequate considering what is being discussed as appropriate advocated action?

jae said...

"Enhanced greenhouse theory"? Never heard of it.

You forget, I'm a political scientist;-)"

Then you should stop this kind of crap (which seems to me to pretend you are a "climate scientist") in the Daily Camera:

"We have no doubts that humans have an influence on the climate system, with a significant influence from accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. We have both advocated action to reduce emissions and improve adaptation. Enacting such policies will be much more difficult if processes of expert advice lose their credibility and trust with the public. Finger pointing, rather than taking responsibility, will not help rebuild that lost credibility. "

Sharon F. said...

jae-

can we not use bad language in this blog..? I'd prefer to it to be an island of civility in a sea of squalor.

jgdes said...

Also from that RMS reference by BCL, most of which is a good example of typical climate PR double-speak, taking many words to say nothing:

"After showing that it was possible to find statistical correlation, it was determined that the result was very sensitive to small changes in assumptions,"

Yes quite. So the exercise is of not much value until you investigate those assumptions. Much like all of the IPCC report and most studies that include the phrase "statistical significance".

Also this concluding phrase is worth analysing:
"Scientific research shows that the climate is changing due to increases in CO- emissions; it is highly likely that this will have an impact on the occurrence of extreme events at some point in the future."

Because;
a) Again climate is confused with global temperature. When you define climate as "long-term weather patterns" then their own report contradicts itself. This obfuscation clearly allows anyone to say anything they like.

b) Is there any sound argument why we might expect an impact on extreme events in the future or is this merely yet another pessimistic assumption? Most of the flora and fauna on planet earth seems to prefer warmth to cold funnily enough. And let's be honest, extreme weather events occur due to local, large potential differences which are not very likely to be affected by tiny global changes.

c) The word impact is weaselly ambiguous because it can also encompass overall reductions in storms.

jae said...

Sharon F, Roger: Sorry, in retrospect the statement came out a lot stronger than I intended.

cannydia said...

"We have no doubts that humans have an influence on the climate system, with a significant influence from accumulating greenhouse gases in the atmosphere"

cannydia said...

Then you should stop this kind of crap (which seems to me to pretend you are a "climate scientist") in the Daily Camera:

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