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A Debate: And Dick Lindzen takes a Beating

Debate enthusiasts will love this long, but worthy video showing Texas A&M atmospheric scientist Andy Dessler mopping the floor with his increasingly out-of-touch colleague from MIT, Dick Lindzen.

The fact of Dessler’s victory is a value judgment that you may not trust without watching the video yourself. But speaking of value judgments, Dessler got off a great shot during his rebuttal, in which he commented on how often Lindzen had said that climate change presents “no cause for alarm.”

That, Dessler pointed out, is also a value judgment - not a scientific finding, adding:

“Before the lecture, he (Prof. Lindzen) was smoking. That’s a risk. He’s decided that’s a risk he’s willing to take. But not everybody would take that risk, so when he says there’s no cause for concern, he’s giving you his value judgment.”

Proceeding beyond the degree to which Lindzen has bad breath - as well as bad judgment - the lecture hosts at the University of Virginia School of Law jumped in with two policy presenters, Jonathan Cannon, making all kinds of sense, and Jason Johnston bending over backwards to argue that because economists can’t accurately put a cost on the coming climate armageddon, we shouldn’t bother taking out any insurance to prevent it. (Pass that man a pack of Camels. It’ll make it easier for him to blow smoke in the future.)

A debate: "and since the topic is science, the non-scientists don't get a vote"

A fabulous Bill Maher explanation of why Global Warming is NOT a debate.

Climate Audit: Is being offensive really the best defence?

In a breathless update on the tawdry Wegmangate tale of plagiarism, mining promoter and amateur statistician Stepehn McIntyre (proprietor of Climate Audit) has tried to distract from the case at hand by imagining an earlier instance of plagiarism, allegedly committed by Edward Wegman’s victim, Raymond Bradley.

For those just catching up, the blogger Deep Climate and his research partner John Mashey have produced a document that shows just how extensively the once-respected statisitician Wegman cribbed from one of his apparent victims (Ray Bradley) in a report that Wegman produced for Congress. Mashey argues that Wegman’s errors and plagiarism were more than merely unprofessional: he says that they constitute a barefaced and illegal effort to mislead Congress. George Mason University is currently investigating the plagiarsim charges.

McIntyre has chosen to run interference on that complaint not by actually defending Wegman (whose shoddy work seems increasingly indefensible) but by attacking Ray Bradley, one of the authors of the iconic “hockey stick graph” that Wegman had been hired to attack. McIntyre points out in his post that Bradley had earlier used a series of figures from a 1976 book by H.C. Fritts and, according to McIntyre, provided inadequate credit.

This, however, seems less like plagiarism and more like an effort to build good science on a solid foundation.

It's good that the Yes Men punked Chevron - We Agree!

If you missed it, the Yes Men spent the day yesterday rendering (even more) ridiculous a new Chevron ad campaign that purports to show an oil company acting responsibly. There’s a great Fast Company account of how events unfolded here.

I have to say, each time the Yes Men pull one of these counter campaigns, I find myself longing for the content to be true - wishing that an oil company (in this instance) really would own up to its failings and indicate a real willingness to move on. Naive in the extreme, I know, but if the bad guys can live in denial, why can’t I enjoy the occasional delusion?

Joe Barton: Misleading Congress; Misleading America

Rep. Joe Barton, already implicated in an effort to mislead Congress about the science of climate change, is obviously choosing offence as his best possible defence, renewing his slander of Penn State climate scientist and “Hockey Stick” author Dr. Michael Mann.

As then-co-chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Barton was responsible in 2006 for inviting the increasingly controversial statistician Edward Wegman to prepare a critique of Mann’s iconic hockey-stick-shaped graph illustrating a 1,000-year climate reconstruction. Although Barton has denied that he had a previous relationship with Wegman, implying that the subsequent report and hearing were not a set-up, John Mashey has documented the extensive direction that Barton provided to Wegman through Barton staff member Peter Spencer.

Hockey Stick Basher Wegman Under Investigation

Is Talk of Lawsuit A Trick to Hide His Decline?

George Mason University has confirmed that it is investigating its Professor Edward Wegman, the statistician who was point man in the 2006 political attack on the so-called “hockey stick” graph.

Wegman, who was chair of the National Academy of Sciences’ (NAS) Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, was tapped in ‘06 by Republican representatives Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield to assemble a so-called “expert panel” to critique the famous hockey stick, a graph illustrating a thousand-year temperature record as reconstructed by climate scientists Michael Mann, Raymond Bradley and Malcolm Hughes. But Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Mashey has since demonstrated that, rather than convene a group of experts, Wegman tapped a couple of grad students and together they produced a report that was generously plagiarized from Bradley’s own work and then twisted - or just misrepresented - to appear to undermine the hockey stick and its creators.

Climate Prosperity: Canadian Government Launches Huge Campaign to Spin Global Warming as Good for Canada

The Conservative government of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has launched a huge Suncor-sponsored campaign to reframe climate change as a good thing for Canada’s economy.

In a joint project between the government’s National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy and the (in this case compromised) Royal Canadian Geographic Society, the Conservatives have introduced “Climate Prosperity,” on the face of it, a benign educational program that “lays out the physical effects of climate hange on Canada.”

But (points for transparency), the government also admits the thrust of the campaign on its tar-sands-funded  website:

“While the phrase ‘climate change’ is familiar to many — and a scientifically accepted phenomenon —  the phrase ‘climate prosperity’ is newer. It is a phrase the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy wants Canadians to embrace.”

WUWT: Just Enough Information to Mislead

You can’t beat Anthony Watts’ team at WUWT (either Watts Up With That or We Use Wishful Thinking, it’s hard to tell) for the delicate selection and presentation of “evidence” to argue that climate isn’t changing.

Here, for example, is a post that trumpets a Nature article on the climate effects of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. WUWT also credits the reputable German publication Der Spiegel as an intermediate source for this information and then posts the graph (left) as easy visual proof that what’s happening in climate today is all part of a normal up and down.

But have a close look at that graph. First, it doesn’t come from the Nature paper or from Der Spiegel. It was cobbled together on a denier site run by an engineer named Alan Cheetham.  Second, the yellow lines showing a downward resumption on the right side are based on - well, actually, on no data points whatever. While Cheetham may have a crystal ball, a touching optimism or a cavalier disregard for objective presentation, he has no evidence at all.

But he has a fan in Anthony Watts. Watt does that tell you?

Wegman, et al: Using Statistics to Mislead Congress?

The computer scientist John Mashey has called once again for the Department of Justice to investigate Edward Wegman on a charge of misleading Congress with his 2006 report on the famous and famously resilient “Mann Hockey Stick.”

In a new report now available on the Deep Climate blog, Mashey doesn’t exactly accuse Wegman and his team of lying, cheating and incompetence. Rather, he offers more than 200 pages of evidence: documented examples of Wegman and leading writer Yasmin Said plagiarizing material, padding their references, “crediting” reviewers who either never saw the report or whose comments were ignored, injecting errors into plagiarized text and failing to perform the actual statistical analsysis that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce had requested.

If Wegman hopes to maintain a shred of academic credibility, he must either sue Mashey for libel (and win) or apologize and admit that the 2006 report was a political put-up job. Given the weight of Mashey’s evidence, a lawsuit seems laughably unlikely. A charge of misleading Congress, on the other hand, awaits only the interest of the DOJ.

Arctic Ice: There's bad news and worse news

Update: NSIDC pinpoints Sept. 19 as date of least Arctic ice extent in 2010

Arctic Sea Ice Extent, which the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Co., announced had reached its annual minimum on Sept. 10, has now slipped even further, to a point that could be below the 2008 minimum. That would make this the second lowest summer ice cover in recorded history.

“It’s awfully close (to the 2008 low),” NSIDC research scientist Dr. Walt Meier said on Wednesday (Sept. 22, 2010). “And even though the air temperatures are getting colder, the ocean has a lot of heat in it and can continue to melt ice.”

Meier acknowledged that the NSIDC jumped the gun in announcing the apparent annual minimum. The ice extent had been increasing for three consecutive days and the scientists assumed the season had turned. But much of the ice is broken up and thin, conditions that mean “it doesn’t take a lot to get late season melting,” Meier said.

Ice watchers may be more concerned, however, by the inset Polar Science Center graph of ice volume, which shows that the total amount of ice (as differentiated from the extent of the Arctic ice cover) has dropped off a cliff.

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