the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

The Hockey Stick Peer Review Gauntlet

Posted by Jeff Id on November 24, 2009

One thing I do different than other science blogs is point out some of the issues with very little political correctness.  If ya’ keep it bottled up it will make your head explode.   There is a subset of the emails dealing with paleo reconstructions  that have very strong implications as to the quality of paleo science.   A couple of reporters have taken the time now to contact me on my opinions on these emails.  My opinions will come out over time but to start with I and others are very unhappy with Michael Mann’s 2008 hockey stick work which as I’ve said for over a year now is absolute rubbish that couldn’t get published in a college lab.  It’s been one of the bane’s of this blogger that anyone with a technical background could possibly accept these techniques as reasonable.  Links above.

Here is a reply I was working on this morning to a very simple question.  How did you get into this?

I’m an Aeronautical engineer by training but work as an optical engineer.  I got interested in climate science when I started wondering how bad global warming was going to be.  I noticed the different temperature metrics were divergent and started wondering how come we can’t nail down temperatures better than that.  After a few questions on that at RC well before the Air Vent, I started reading CA, RC and WUWT more regularly but never left comments.  What really got me into blogging on climate issues was Mann08 which is yet another hockey stick.  This happened a bit over a year ago so I’m not as experienced with these papers as McIntyre and some of his regulars.   What was discussed on tAV and CA about Mann08 is very relevant to the climate discussion in these emails and particularly so to the Jones,”hide the decline” quote, the ousting of editors of GRL and several others.

In particular, a post this post back in October 08 contained this graph – https://noconsensus.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/before-and-after.jpg and some explanation of the angst associated with the ‘hiding of the decline’ which in any reasonable context says exactly what it means.  The out of context arguments put forth by scientists have no validity and are simply hopeful remarks such that those without the will to review the detail can wash it from their happy little heads.

This remark is repeated in the computer code in about a dozen  Briffa/Osborne files.

; Plots a HovMueller diagram (longitude-time) of meridionally averaged
; growing season reconstructions. Uses “corrected” MXD – but shouldn’t usually
; plot past 1960 because these will be artificially adjusted to look closer to
; the real temperatures.
I don’t know how familiar you are with temp proxies but they start like this.

– Find some physical explanation for how temperature could affect something.  i.e. warm means trees grow faster of warm means nearby glacier melts more and therefore more sediment will be found or warm means more life in the sediment found.  Those sorts of hypotheses which are reasonable however in all cases, other things affect the proxies i.e. tree growth can be affected by moisture, competition, nutrients and CO2.  Just considering trees, (Without getting too deep) these growth affecting factors are impossibly difficult to separate.  It simply cannot be done in my opinion but paleo-scientists disagree and simply choose certain types of trees which are declared ‘temperature sensitive’.

Then the only step taken to my knowledge which  ‘proves’ these trees (and other proxies) are temperature trees is to check correlation.

Now correlation is a mathematical process which is very dependent on slope.  Two signals with high positive slope and lots of unrelated noise give good correlation.  Temperature rise has  non-zero positive correlation to CO2 but also to population, the number of cars on the road, world wide fish consumption, you get the idea.

So what got me into climate science was the revelation that Mann08, used 1209 initial proxies which were originally assumed to be temperature by the authors that created the proxies.

Of these 1209 the first step in Mann08 was to correlate to CRU temps (the highest trend in the business – good for hockey stick correlation) the low correlation proxies (downslopes) are then thrown away.

Think of it like this – check for upslope since 1850 , if upslope (keep) else if no upslope (throw out).

The remaining information is scaled and averaged one series at a time to fit temperature as well as it possibly can.  So is it any wonder he always get’s unprecedented results?  Not to us.  When they claim that so many independent studies come to the same conclusions, remember, the same data,  similar methods, friends reviewing — same result.

In Mann08, some data was chopped off the ‘hide the downslope’ series mentioned above and new fake data was pasted on.  This fake data which then had an upslope and high correlation was then accepted as temp and used to make several new hockey sticks.

Since I (and others) are of the strong and certain opinion that this is completely bogus science, we have been questioning peer review for a long time all the while believing what the sad answer must be. The technical detail of the emails reveals clearly that many paleoclimatologists seem to know this too.  This means that the consensus of science is in some portion manufactured.  At RC in particular there has been constant pressure to force skeptics through peer review only in specific journals.  This has now been clearly exposed to be a controlled and disingenuous process.  Mann and friends at RC have long lambasted Energy and Environment for accepting MM’s debunking of the hockey stick – now it seems that the GRL is the journal with no credibility.

I’m therefore certain in my opinion that the dishonesty amongst not only Mann but the editors, reviewers and coauthors is far worse than we see in these emails (unless you interpret them in the worst possible way).  The boys were very cautious, especially in the later emails in my opinion.  These emails just scratch the surface.  It’s a strong opinion but it is my own.

It should prompt independent or internal reviews across all the major journals but the media will have to do a lot more raising of consciousness to get it done.  While the scientists speak of reason and context in a transparent attempt to obfuscate the truth, this goes far deeper than even these emails and files show.


42 Responses to “The Hockey Stick Peer Review Gauntlet”

  1. KeithIsDeepThroat said

    How to make a Hockey Stick:

    Find a system that has a critical threshold such as the fact that ice doesn’t melt at all until T rises above zero C.

    Realize that T has risen steadily for the 350 years that thermometer records are available for so each decade will indeed be the “hottest in recorded history!”.

    Find that point on the planet where average temperatures are just now rising above zero C in summer.

    Plot a graph of ice loss there.

  2. Brian B said

    Good post Jeff. For now we can only wonder what it was they deleted (per Jones) if these are the ones they felt somewhat safe leaving lying around.

    If you have time could you refresh my memory of whether a reason was proffered and if so what it was for the hitherto accurate tree thermometers suddenly becoming inaccurate tree thermometers fifty years ago?

  3. Hi, Jeff: The CRU e-mails raise the question of transparency but I can’t find more details on you on this blog. Who are you? How do you fund this blog? Could you document what drives your agenda? Thanks, Ken

  4. Tonyb said

    BrianB

    The climate beetle is well known to cause statistical problems to tree data as it gnaws through the bark and into tree rings in an elliptical fashion, making it difficult for information to be collected in as robust a manner as previously.

    The climate beetle has thrived in recent decades due to the warmer weather globally as a result of AGW. Previously it was confined to areas where tree rings were never collected and therefore did not have any effect at all on the highly accurate tree thermometers that prevailed fifty years ago.

    Fancy you not knowing that 🙂

    PS Must go and prepare a request for funding to follow this hypotheses through.

    Tonyb

  5. Jeff Id said

    #3 I’m Jeff, engineer, the blog is free, I am partner in a green company that has saved more CO2 than all these scientists put together, and I wish for god sakes someone would fund me!! haha.

    I’m simply motivated to find a real view of global warming (which I believe in). Where I think things go wrong is when people claim to know the magnitude of future warming – they don’t. The consequences of the magnitude – they also don’t. And what we should do about it – really don’t.

    It would be nice to see the science be depoliticized to some degree and opened so rational decisions can be made as to how to proceed. The draconian measures being proposed are simply political power gimmicks which will cause far greater harm than good.

  6. Brian B said

    –Who are you? How do you fund this blog? Could you document what drives your agenda? Thanks, Ken–

    When he becomes a public agency and receives millions of dollars of taxpayer money and is given the responsibility of providing the guiding info for the IPCC, which in turn advises worldwide policy makers, perhaps your analogy will have some merit, Ken.

  7. yes, jeff, please document what drives your agenda. no personal statements. we’d like a cache of private emails that reveals the sinister figures behind your operation. if none exist, then we’ll need a brain scan that demonstrates how your thoughts arise from the flux of electrical transmissions inside your skull.

  8. Jeff Id said

    It’s fun to say green company. That usually shocks the critics. I’m negatively financially incented to do this blog, perhaps if someone can dig up some big oil funding we can offset some of that. Anyone know the phone number to Shell central?

  9. Jamie said

    Jeff #8

    I’ll give it to you as soon as I get my check from the CIA.

  10. Amber said

    And what we should do about it – [they] really don’t [know]

    Hi Jeff, that part is really easy. One thing we can all do is plant more trees. A couple in the back yard, a couple in the front. If every household did that, imagine the increase in the global carbon sink.

    Beyond that, if someone wanted to, maybe some shrubs, maybe a birdbath (no, nothing to do with CO2), maybe plant some vegies (the seasonal cycles are fun and instructive as well as yielding some fresh vegies to eat).

  11. Basil Copeland said

    Ken Edelstein said
    November 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    Hi, Jeff: The CRU e-mails raise the question of transparency but I can’t find more details on you on this blog. Who are you? How do you fund this blog? Could you document what drives your agenda? Thanks, Ken

    Ken, who are you? Could you document what drives your agenda, i.e. what caused you to ask such a silly question in the first place?

    Thanks,

    Basil

  12. mitchel44 said

    Jeff,

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/recons.html shows a lot of paleo reconstructions with authors such as Mann, Jones, Briffa, Overpeck, Wahl, Ammann, Crowley, Cook, D’Arggio, Esper, Kaufman, Schneider, etc. Essentially the cast of characters from the CRU hack.

    So, how many will still be there in 12 months time? 24 months?

    How many that papers out there don’t have those names attached, but are based on their data and methods?

    How “skilled” is the actual work?

    These reconstructions form the framework that AGW is built upon, pull the reconstructions and what happens to the rest?

  13. Brian B said

    –I’m negatively financially incented to do this blog, perhaps if someone can dig up some big oil funding we can offset some of that.–

    Well I’m a logger, timberland owner and semi professional forester, so if I ever get some carbon offsets to not cut my trees I’ll send some your way.
    Unfortunately my industry is presently experiencing what are known as profit offsets.

  14. Pat Frank said

    I had to confront questions like Ken Edelstein’s in #3 several times when I was defending my Skeptic article. Who’s funding you; what’s your agenda? As though any of that bore on whether the analysis is correct or not. They’re red herring questions, designed to redirect focus on to the individual rather than remaining on question, and to convert arguments into ad hominem polemics rather than fact-based evaluation.

    It seems to be that few, if any, among AGW believers are able to engage the concept that methodological critics are motivated by a desire to rescue science from an on-going subversion by politics and ideology. That was and remains my motivation, and from reading tAV and your comments at CA, I’m pretty convinced it’s yours as well, Jeff.

    Ken, it’s time you figured out that the desire of good people such as yourself, to do the right thing, has been systematically derailed. You’ve been led down the AGW garden path, and uncovering that is the biggest environmental story ever. This whole AGW business is the worst abuse of science ever, in my very considered view as an experimental scientist. It’s worse than the scandal of Lysenkoism because the willful subversion of climate science was, and continues to be, done freely and without the fierce coercion of Stalinist tyranny.

    for those of us who have actually confronted the climate science literature, it’s been obvious for years that the science did not and could not support the claims of AGW.

  15. Jeff C. said

    “How do you fund this blog? Could you document what drives your agenda?”

    Just how do you pay for this massive organization? You don’t even have a tip jar to keep those blog big bucks flowing. I hear Ryan O recently upped his guest post rates to $20K per submission. How can you pay for that? Who is your George Soros?

    The thinking behind non-sequitor comparisons like those from Ken always baffle me. When government acts to limit our freedom, the common man has the right and obligation to question their motives. This is certainly true with representative government, but is even more true with an unelected, unaccountable organization such as the UN IPCC. Sometimes there are very good reasons for the limitations (e.g. legitimate national security issues), at other times these limits are abused to drive an agenda or personal gain. Regardless, the people have the duty and right to ensure those in power act honorably.

    What has changed, and so infuriates the elites, is that the common man can now voice his concerns to a wide audience via the internet in addition to collecting information from a diverse spectrum of opinions. No longer is discourse limited to viewpoints from those with the resources to own a newspaper or a broadcast outlet. The people now have the ability to review information from countless sources and draw their own conclusions. It is as threatening to the political class as Gutenberg’s’s printing press was to the Church more than half a millenia ago. The gatekeepers have been rendered impotent, the elites are now at the mercy of the common sense of the people. It is a unsettling thought to those who consider the rest of us to stupid and boorish to have a say in our own destiny.

    Had the political class understood the full implications of the internet, it would have been strangled in the crib.

  16. vjones said

    Hi Jeff, I am surprised (I shouldn’t be I guess) to read that you believe in global warming. Care to elaborate?

  17. Spam said

    I could give you Shell’s e-mail, but seeing as they are trying to be “socially responsible” and have committed to reducing emissions, not sure they’ll help you!

  18. David Jay said

    Please explain to me how these “carbon sinks” work on centenial or millenial time scales…

  19. David Jay said

    Above question was for Amber: “One thing we can all do is plant more trees. A couple in the back yard, a couple in the front. If every household did that, imagine the increase in the global carbon sink.”

    sorry, screwed up the block quote.

  20. Jeff Id said

    #16, The basic heat capture mechanism makes sense from an electromagnetic point of view. It’s impossible to claim zero, however not much is proven beyond that. The effect could be very small and perhaps immeasurably so with current methods. It could be half as large as claimed too but I’m really not sold on these 4C for doubling scenarios, nor on the effects it would have.

  21. Bernie said

    Wegman was prescient when he appended his social network analysis to his dismantling of Mann’s method and validation of Steve McIntyre’s and Ross McKitrick’s critique and methods. It now looks like something the FBI would have done to map organized crime.

    It is also a shame that Michael Crichton is not around to see his State of Fear manifested and vindicated.

  22. Basil: You can find out plenty about me by searching my name. But I’m happy to share with you who I am. I’m a journalist in Atlanta, Georgia. I write a column on the media and the environment at the Mother Nature Network . I also run a website at MyGreenATL.com.

    Jeff Id: I’m working on a Mother Nature News column about this controversy, which is the main reason I posed questions for you on my earlier comment. The gist is this: Skeptics, primarily from outside the world of science, spend much time and effort searching for evidence of a hidden, nefarious, “political” agenda among climate scientists — to the extent that e-mails that (while perhaps personally embarrassing) don’t really address the substance of the research are viewed as a reason to disqualify the research, the broad scientific consensus accumulated by thousands of studies, and the very extensive evidence on the ground. If political attitudes, personal motivations and e-mail correspondence between colleagues is of paramount importance in evaluating the merits of climate research (indeed more important than the peer review process, professional qualifications, or any multitude of corroborating studies), doesn’t it stand to reason that those leveling the charges of bias be open to at least the most rudimentary examination of their own agendas and potentials for conflict of interest?

    At the most basic level, that would entail using your real name. So, again: who are you?

    Along those lines, Jeff, you’re a critical enough thinker to acknowledge that you anonymously calling your unnamed business “green” is meaningless in terms of establishing credibility: What is the name of your company? What is its line of work specifically?

    Is there anything else you can you do to enhance your own credibility by being transparent in a parallel fashion to the one you believe is necessary for us to understand the motivations of scientists?

    The argument has been made here that a private blog isn’t required to follow FOI because it doesn’t receive government money and also that you shouldn’t be held to the same standards as, say, scientists because you’re “the common man.” My question regards credibility, however; that can’t be brushed away by with legalisms or populist rhetoric: The comments here demonstrate that you have a bully pulpit; you are in position to influence the debate. So, to further the discussion, your credibility IS important in determining whether you’re evaluating information fairly — whether your work is furthering an understanding or obscuring that understanding.

    For example, you’re ascribing the most dastardly meanings to certain e-mails (e.g. the “trick” sentence) that have been explained benignly (and perfectly credibility) by Schmidt, Revkin and others. So a better sense of who you are, your sources of income and your political agenda would enhance your credibility. Or not. So again, in the interest of your own credibility, could you be A WHOLE LOT more forthcoming in this regard?

  23. Espen said

    One interesting thing that the mails relieve, I think, is that Keith Briffa actually seems to think that the Mann hockey sticks are bogus too. And he thinks the MWP is real, BUT he doesn’t think that that necessarily disproves the AGW hypothesis.

    Jeff, maybe you can help me out on this one: One thing which really puzzles me is how they manage to get hockey sticks from polar proxies by correlating with temperature records. Arctic temperature records, also for north russian sites like Murmansk, show that the recent warm period is not any warmer than the ~1930s warm period. In fact, for some areas, most notably Greenland, that previous period was warmer. So how do they do this? Do they use some really bad data from the “local grid” from the CRUtemp data base, or are they actually (which one of the mails seemed to indicate) trying to fit a large set of diverse proxies from all over the NH (but mostly in colder areas) with the whole north of 20N temperature record?

    I’m an educated mathematician, but statistics was only a supplementary subject for me. Nevertheless, I’ve done a little statistics professionally (in fact, as a student, I also assisted with biometry of species from different arctic lakes, but for zoological, not climatological purposes. We used stepwise regression and cluster analysis (which I reinvented before I learned its name ;-)) as exploratory statistics methods, though, no PC analysis), and from the day I started to look at your and Steve’s work on this, I don’t know if I’m more confused or more appalled (not because of the excellent work you and Steve do, of course, but because of the Hockey Boys) . The statistics work in these proxy analysis stuff seems so crazy to me that I think I’m must misunderstand something – so let me try once more to understand if I got it right:

    – They’re actually throwing away data that doesn’t correlate with their dubious temperature record? Really? And they’re throwing away selected individuals from each set, not whole sets? (the latter would be slightly sensible, like: We throw away our complete Norilsk tree core set (no, I don’t thin that exists :-)) because every tree within 50 kms from Norilsk died from pollution 10 years after the cores were taken anyway.) I’m sure you could use inverse vodka consumption as a temperature proxy then, because you’d throw away everything but a few siberian cities where vodka consumption goes up when the temperature drops.

    – And when they’ve thrown away that, and the data set thus is really tainted, i.e. probably 99% worthless already, they’re applying PC analysis to the rest of the data? And what then? Are they then using the estimator they got from the PC analysis on the same data? In my innocence, I thought exploratory methods like PC analysis and stepwise regression etc. were meant to help you find estimators, which THEN should be applied to a completely FRESH dataset of the same kind, not the set you used to find your estimator. If you use the latter, you can forget about trying to find confidence intervals.

    Please help me out. This is so stupid that I think I must have misunderstood something. Please bear in mind that I haven’t worked with this kind of statistics for 25 years (I now work as a computer programmer and do some financial risk analysis, but not with very simple tools, not all those fancy statistics methods that helped create the financial crisis).

  24. Espen said

    Oops, substitute “reveal” for “relieve”. Sorry – not a native english speaker!

  25. Jeff Id said

    If you wish to discuss my identity off the record, you can contact me at the email on the right and I’ll consider it. Jeffid1 at gmail.com The team and just about everyone who’s taken the time to discuss in private knows me already. I try to keep most of the death threats a step away though. That will likely come to an end in a month or two with an upcoming publication.

    Your piece summary regarding the personal embarrassment vs scientific content is inaccurate to an extreme. The fact that I have your name after a flatly false statement gives me no reason to assign credibility to you. In fact I strongly suspect you’re just looking to smear someone and help attempt to sweep this massive scandal under the rug. There is the potential that you’re just ignorant so if you’re willing to learn, feel free to ask.

    Regarding my own transparency, you need to work a little on disaggregation. This blog is a science blog. There are many posts which work directly with the data. You’ll notice the hockey stick posts linked above provide ALL data and code to replicated the results. This is all that is required for scientific credibility and is what makes blogs like Climate Audit and even the little The Air Vent so hard to ignore. In science you can name yourself doofinshmirtz and nobody will question you if you provide data, code and a clear rationale for your results.

    I make claims, provided with the information to support those claims. My own credibility isn’t the point at all. Nobody is ever asked to believe me over their own thoughts. You can read the claims and explain whether the data provided supports the conclusion.

    By the way nobody I noticed has any problem with the “trick” wording, it’s the “hide” wording that’s the problem. It’s been an issue discussed here and at other blogs for years now. We’ve been ticked off at the disingenuous use of this MXD latewood dataset since well before both Jones and Osborn (in the code) had their own understanding of it revealed. It is not a single reference Jones story and it’s definitely not ‘out of context’.

  26. Jeff Id said

    #23, You have the right idea. There is a lot of info already done on this. The hockey stick posts at the top have the simplest explanation of Mann08. The code is provided too if you don’t mind downloading R for free. They actually throw away anything without an upslope and scale and average the rest, rescalinlg again when it’s done. This results in reduced variance in the handle portion in comparison to the sorted portion due to noise averaging.

    Also used are multivariate regressions where things with bigger upslopes get heavier weights. There are dozens of techniques which do the same thing to the same result – all seem to go through peer review unmolested.

  27. Espen said

    Thanks Jeff. I’ve read quite a lot of the info already, but I guess it must be the relatively polite way Steve M and you present your objections which made me unsure whether I might have misunderstood something. Because this “science” is so bad that it’ simply difficult for me to fathom. I have to thank Al Gore, his propaganda (which I haven’t even seen, but my kids have) made me wake up and started questioning the “science”, before that I had simply assumed that this was sound science using sound statistical methods.

  28. Jeff Id said

    #27, When I first found out it made me so nuts I turned this into a climate blog. haha.

  29. vjones said

    #20 Jeff, thanks for responding. I’d have to broadly agree, although I’m increasingly going with natural variation being responsible for most of the warming, if you strip away manipulations. I was shown something in the last few days that would seem to confirm that.

    #22 Ken Edelstein, you have a lot to learn about skeptical bloggers and you should learn some manners as well.

    1. You should not assume that all skeptics are not scientists. You could not be more wrong. Many are not, true, but they act more like scientists than many climate scientists. A basic definition of a scientist is someone who “questions, finds an answer to the question, then questions the answer”. Climate scientists seem to have forgotten how to do that.
    2. Many choose to hide behind an assumed identity because it is politically expedient to do so – for example if you work in an energy or environmental field. If you live by your trade often you can’t afford to alienate half your clients.
    3. What you see on blogs is only the tip of the iceberg; most serious skeptics carry on the real work away from view. (Skeptical science will get published.)
    4. This is because most of the public deals badly with uncertainty (or so the media would have us believe). Quote from “The Rules of the Game” in the hacked files:

    “Everyone must use a clear and consistent explanation of climate change”

    4. The majority of skeptics I know have few if any political motivations, but are truth seekers: they don’t like being told what to believe. Give us a political label if you must, but it will say more about you than about us – individually or collectively.

    Verity (the name means ‘truth’)

  30. doofinshmirtz said

    #25 – good to know!

  31. Jeff C. said

    “The majority of skeptics I know have few if any political motivations, but are truth seekers: they don’t like being told what to believe.”

    That might be true, but I would add that many don’t like being told how to behave (without good cause). If the goal of AGW alarmism was simply to fill people minds with nonsense, it might be considered annoying, but relatively benign (sort of like your teenage daughter’s phone conversations). Of course that isn’t the case as the alarmist predictions are always followed by calls for drastic action. Whether it be cap and trade, energy usage restrictions, development moratoriums and so on, it always involves fewer choices for the individual and more decisions made by the state. Unfortunately, that makes it political even if those involved are motivated by the best of intentions.

  32. 40 Shades of Green said

    What really get me is this. The Climat-ati decide that there is a divergence problem after 1960 because the graph goes down while the thermometer based temperature record goes up. Essentially they are saying that after 1960 temperature going up causes the graph to go down.

    If this is the case in 1960, why is not the case also in 1860. Why does not a graph dip in 1860 mean the temperature went up.

    Or could it just be the simple explanation that Trees are not good thermometers.

    Ken

    Do you not find this blindingly obvious?

  33. Schmirtzindoof said

    #31 Me, too!

    Hi, Ken!

  34. Ryan O said

    And fortunately for me, others already have blogs, so I don’t have to put one together myself. Haha! 😀

  35. Matt Y. said

    I’m therefore certain in my opinion that the dishonesty amongst not only Mann but the editors, reviewers and coauthors is far worse than we see in these emails (unless you interpret them in the worst possible way).

    That is my opinion as well. Nothing about the emails is surprising to me other than the fact that they kept an electronic record. Clearly this is just normal operating procedure, and they are perfectly comfortable with it. One can only imagine what they say and do off the record.

  36. Amber said

    #18/19 David, I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand your question but I’ll have a go at answering anyway. Apologies in advance if I get your question wrong. Planting foliage now is a good thing. When trees die, they don’t have to be re-planted, they are quite adept at renewing themselves; they spread lots of seeds in the expectation that at least one will germinate. So on very long timescales, they are self-perpetuating.

  37. Jeff Id said

    Amber,

    Planting trees is a nice hobby. What several bloggers here are aware of is that the recapture of CO2 is dependent on several factors including how fast does the tree rot and return the CO2 to the atmosphere. It’s under a hundred years (mean) in most estimates. So the carbon you capture is returned quickly.

    The issue is far more complicated than that. Solar energy is converted through photosynthesis at less than a 3% rate so the wattage captured by a tree is very low in comparison to energy consumption. The numbers are complicated but the magnitude is massively different between output and tree capture. If most of the dry weight of a tree is carbon, and most of the burnt weight of a tank of gas is carbon, how many trees does it take to capture your tank of gas.

    Fortunately there are a lot of trees out there and algae and other things but basically we output more CO2 than can be absorbed by plants. It cannot go on forever though and nobody really knows how much warming it will create- my guess is a lot less than the IPCC says but I don’t know either. A hundred years ago most travel was still by horse, what will technology do in another hundred years?

  38. […] The Hockey Stick Peer Review Gauntlet […]

  39. […] Jeff Id (”an aeronautical engineer by training but work as an optical engineer”) published this blog post yesterday. It explains why he’s had longstanding issues with the Global Warming researchers’ use […]

  40. Peter B said

    I’ve been following these discussions for over a year now. I’m a chemical engineer, and the physical and chemical logic behind the very idea of using those proxies is easy to follow.

    Having said that, the thing that always left me wondering about the hockey stick and similar studies is simply this. After pre-selecting the general locations of their proxies (such as trees in colder areas, etc) by following more or less clear criteria, they seem to (1) narrow down their choice of specific samples, (2) establish a supposed correlation between their properties and temperature (“calibration”) and finally (3) use statistical analysis to fit the individiual results of (2) into graphs such as the hockey stick.

    In my professional field I have limited need for complex statistical analysis, so I wasn’t familiar with the specific methods Steve McIntyre has used and described so well. But I’ve always thought that in work such as Mann’s and Briffa’s, you shouldn’t *need* to go for complex statistical methods in order to see such obvious trends as the hockey stick. That trend should have been somewhat visible in enough of the plots of individual samples. That is, if, added to inevitable errors introdudced in my steps (1) and (2) above, you still need complex statistcal data processing methods to arrive at a hockey stick, a shape that was visible only in very few of the individual samples, that is in itself an indication that there isn’t really anything to it, besides a desperate attempt to squeeze a hockey-stick shape out of the data by whatever means necessary (which are then kept hidden from outside scrutiny).

    I mean, the above seems pretty obvious to me, even without formalizing it in precise analyses auch as Steve McIntyre’s. To me that’s already an indication that there’s something very flawed with the whole field and its peer-review – especially if it was for that kind of work that Mann started his rise to fame in the field. It’s not even necessary to go into deliberate manipulations and the like to conclude that the hockey stick is essentially a smokescreen of circular-thinking data processing hiding a great deal of nothingness as far as temperature records are concerned.

    Or is that too harsh and I’m missing something?

  41. Amber said

    #37 Jeff, thank you for your considered reply. Pity about the patronising opening; I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume your comprehension of my post was weakened by the lateness of the hour in your part of the world when you posted.

    The premise of your response is incorrect — I did not suggest that planting trees would solve the problem. You lamented that ordinary people did not know what to do and I responded that one thing they could do was plant some trees (and other foliage), which would have the effect of increasing the global carbon sink.

    To reduce atmospheric CO2, one can decrease sources (eg. emissions), or increase sinks (eg. trees) or both. Planting trees is self-evidently a constructive measure which anyone can do.

    To the substance of your response, now. Discussion of wattage is irrelevant. Trees are the lungs of the planet, converting carbon dioxide to oxygen. They are self-evidently A Good Thing. Talking about the shortcomings is just rubbish. Talking about the return of CO2 after a tree dies is just rubbish, because another tree has in the meantime germinated and grown to replace it. What you want to do is talk about the net result, after accounting for the number of trees that died and the number of new trees that grew in the same period — that is a useful discussion to have.

    As to whether the sinks outweigh the sources, that is another useful discussion. Your statement that “we output more CO2 than can be absorbed by plants” is irrelevent because plants are not the only carbon sink.

    Of course, CO2 is not the only greenhouse gas but CO2 is what we were discussing so I won’t introduce sources and sinks of those other gases here.

  42. Amber said

    #40 Peter, I have no training is statistics apart from elements picked up in other courses but I gained the same impression as you, that it seemed unnecessarily complicated, and possibly even circular. But I don’t know enough in this area to form an actual view — I look forward to the outcome of that particular scientific debate.

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