Scientist Slams National Post's Accuracy

Wed, 2006-08-23 16:35Richard Littlemore
Richard Littlemore's picture

Scientist Slams National Post's Accuracy

In a hysterical piece in the National Post today (see next post), business page Editor Terrance Corcoran rails at the Globe and Mail  for “distortions, errors, untruths and omissions.”

His outburst attracted this riposte from University of Victoria Professor Andrew Weaver:

Dear Mr. Corcoran,

I read the article today that you wrote in the National Post. I thought I would correct a number of factual errors in your piece.

1) I am neither a government of Canada employee nor have I ever been (except back in 1983 when I had a student summer job with DND). I am not a civil servant and do not work for a division of Environment Canada. (a quick google search would have revealed that I am a Professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria).

2) I do not lobby for more climate funding. If you ask anyone who has actually interviewed me, they will say that what I say is “We don't need more research money to deal with the issue as to what needs to be done. “.

3) You state “These days apparently federal civil servants – which is what Mr. Weaver is – apparently have absolute freedom…”. As I mentioned, I am not nor have I ever been a civil servant.

4) I have never been a member of any political party and I have criticised Liberal policy as much as I have criticised Conservative policy. In fact, I have not passed any public judgment on the current administration's climate policy as I have publicly stated that I take a wait and see position on what this “made in Canada” solution is. I also pointed out how unimpressed I was with Liberal “accounting games” in trying to meet Kyoto targets (buying credits; trying to get credit for forests etc).

5) Mr. Ball is interviewed in a taped recording on the Ottawa Citizen web

page: http://www.canada.com/ottawacitizen/galleries/06-05-17.mp3 wherein he states climate models don't account for water vapour (at least twice).

6) I never dismissed “the original hockey-stick research debunking research debunking the 1,000-year claim as “simply pure and unadulterated rubbish”

In fact your newspaper already published a retraction to the original quote on February 2, 2005. To remind you it says:

“Andrew Weaver, a professor in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences at the University of Victoria, has described the contention that the theory of global warming is reliant on research published by Dr. Michael Mann as “unadulterated rubbish,” but he has not read a recent paper challenging Dr.

Mann's work, by Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre, published in Geophysical Research Letters. Incorrect information appeared in the National Post of Jan. 27. The Post regrets the error.”

Andrew Weaver

 

Previous Comments

It is fascinating to see that you correct the most egregious errors in Corcoran’s long article while failing to mention some of the lesser known, inconequential facts about your own views on Hockey Sticks, Medieval Warm Periods and statistical incompetence. 

 So for the record:

 Do you accept that the Mann Hockey Stick contains no statistically useful information and cannot be used to claim that the modern warm period is unprecedented in the last 1000 years?

 Have you stopped teaching that the Mann Hockey Stick contains the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period within it (as you did here: http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=139 ) and as Michael Mann specifically denied (see http://www.climateaudit.org/index.php?p=95 )

Have you retracted your claims made about Steve McIntyre at that time? Have you accepted that Steve McIntyre was essentially correct to point out the severe flaws in Mann’s statistics which Prof Wegman described as “bad” and Hans von Storch described as “quatsch” (junk) ? 

“Accept that Mann’s hockey stick has no statistically useful information”

Are you serious? What about the NAS conclusion that Mann’s study confirms that the earth is hotter now than any time in the last 400 years, that sounds pretty significant.

Did you read the NAS report, or just the National Post’s take on it?

The NAS reaffirmed the pre-Hockey Stick consensus of the global extent of the Little Ice Age - a global climatic event that Mann specifically denied had existed. 

 And… that’s it. They downgraded the rest of the Hokey Stick to “plausible” and said that the specific claims of the 1990s being the warmest decade and 1998 being the warmest decade were not tenable. More specifically they agreed with every single conclusion and recommendation of McIntyre and McKitrick WITHOUT EXCEPTION.

 Just in case you think that being the warmest in 400 years is terrifying, there are clear indications of warmer periods than the current one 1000, 2000 and 5000 years ago.

In the last 400 years, the life expectancy of humans has doubled, deserts have shrunk (and some have disappeared), forests have massively spread across the tropics and closer to the poles, and the amount of cultivable land has increased with the decline of deserts and the use of modern agriculture to preserve the soil. This is clearly cause for alarm.

John A said: ” And… that’s it. They downgraded the rest of the Hokey Stick to “plausible” and said that the specific claims of the 1990s being the warmest decade and 1998 being the warmest decade were not tenable. More specifically they agreed with every single conclusion and recommendation of McIntyre and McKitrick WITHOUT EXCEPTION.”

This makes no sense whatsoever.  If the NAS “downgraded the rest of the Hockey Stick [have you forgotten how to spell “hockey”?] to ‘plausible’,” then how the heck can they agree “with every single conclusion and recommendation of McIntyre and McKitrick WITHOUT EXCEPTION”?

M&M have basically stated that the whole Hockey Stick (HS) is bunk.  The NAS concluded that the latter 400 years of the HS is statistically accurate and you said that the first 600 years of the HS is “plausible”.  This means that the graph is anywhere from “plausible” to statistically accurate.

John A, you are being inconsistent to the nth degree.

Also, John A, you said this: “The NAS reaffirmed the pre-Hockey Stick consensus of the global extent of the Little Ice Age - a global climatic event that Mann specifically denied had existed.”

This is an outright LIE!  See this:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/11/little-ice-age-lia/

Mann’s research, the HS, shows a cooling in the 15th to 19th Century as compared with the Medieval Warm Period and the 20th Century.  The HS proves the LIA and MWP actually existed.

John A, stop your lying and obfuscating now before someone is brainwashed!

John A, stop your lying and obfuscating now before someone is brainwashed!

Stephen, that is John A’s job. You wouldn’t want to put a man out of work, would you?

Best,

And we’re still wating for Doc Weaver to respond. He appears to be unembarassed to put an op-ed on the blog of a political PR firm so why is he so twitchy about being called politcally biased?

 Oh here’s another clanger while we’re waiting:

 In 2003 McIntyre and McKitrick published their first criticism of the Mann Hockey Stick, drawing attention in particular to Mann’s poor data quality, which turned out to be a) true and b) minor in comparison to the statistical horrors found later. This has never been explained by Mann nor refuted.

Weaver’s response?

“If that paper had been submitted to a science journal, it would have been rejected.” …

Weaver believes that giving equal space to both sides in a dispute can be dangerous, particularly when applied to scientific matters. “They let these random diatribes of absolute, incorrect nonsense get published,” he says. “They’re not able to determine if what’s being said is correct or not, or whether it’s just absolute balderdash.”

How brave and noble of Weaver to say it, especially as he freely admitted he hadn’t bothered to read MM03, so how did he know whether it was “absolute balderdash”? Was it telepathy?

Yes Dr Weaver, it is dangerous to give equal space to both sides in a dispute, particularly when applied to scientific matters, otherwise people might be able to make up their own minds based on the evidence presented rather than have an artificial and spurious “scientific consensus” forced upon them by kindly patriarchs such as yourself.

Are you the same John A that caused all the trouble on Tim Lambert’s popular Deltoid site last year?

You seem quite obsessed with the hockey stick… you know that was one study of the the 1,000’s on climate change, right? Seriously, let it go. The only people still harping on this are you, the National Post and Senator Inhofe.

Here’s the stuff Lambert wrote about John A from the Climate Audit website:

http://timlambert.org/2005/07/climate-audiot/ and http://timlambert.org/2005/08/climate-audiot2/

My questions are addressed to Dr Andrew Weaver and not some denizen of Tim Lambert’s troll blog. Doltoid is a blog of character assassination against whoever Tim Lambert doesn’t like.

So far no reply from Dr Weaver. How very brave.

Hmmm. It all comes clear why you caused such a stir on Deltoid, and why a respected scientist like Weaver would be reluctant to address the issues of one such as yourself. Again, move on, Mann’s hockey stick study is one of thousands and only one of multiple lines of evidence showing that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it. Seriously, you are kind of freaky in your obsessiveness. 

… about Deltoid, no?

Just for the record, this isn”t Andrew Weaver’s blog, though we are grateful to him for allowing us to reprint his letter to the Financial Post.

If you have a specific reference in which Weaver says he had not read the M&M piece before he dismissed it as unworthy of publication in a real science journal, by all means forward it here. If you have a reference to the M&M work ever passing a peer-review process, again, please pass it along.

In the meantime, let’s go back to your first comment here, in which you began by saying:

“It is fascinating to see that you correct the most egregious errors in Corcoran’s long article while failing to mention some of the lesser known, incon(s)equential facts about your own views on Hockey Sticks, Medieval Warm Periods and statistical incompetence.” (My emphasis.)

I don’t have a view on the Medieval Warm period, and I believe statistical incompetence is bad. I also find that statistical competence is like journalistic integrity: open to interpretation.

But I think you’re right on the money in your contention that the hockey stick is, in light of all the other evidence, inconsequential. As Kevin said: Let it go.

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