The Undiscerning Climate Science Bookshelf

Read time: 7 mins

SHELVES in popular book stores can be undiscerning little buggers, as can the book stores themselves.

For example, I recently had cause to wander through the tightly-bound and bulging aisles of my local Dymocks book store in Brisbane, Australia. They have some really quite “special” offerings both online and in-store.

Even though we essentially know that astrology is, for all intents and purposes, basically b******s, I can report that the paperback version of “Practical Astrology” is “in stock”.

Failing that, there's also “Homeopathy for your Cat” within the pages of which you can find out how magic water can cure your ginger's urinary tract issue.

Are you a book-shopping parent who has “wished for a handbook on each child”? Well tough, because Dymocks has sold out of “Homeopathy and Your Child” so you'll have to work out your kid's “physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs” some other way (by the way, I'm not singling out Dymocks here - most of the big high street book sellers also hawk similar enlightenment-crushing garbage).

And there are the books on climate change.

Without any prior knowledge, it's easy to see how the average punter might be easily fooled by the line-up of  books cosying-up in Dymocks and elsewhere.

As you can see by the image above, there's some excellent stuff on offer from well credentialed authors and scientists. There's What We Know About Climate Change by MIT Professor of Atmospheric Science Kerry Emanuel. Just beneath, is The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the front lines from Professor Michael Mann, director of Earth System Science at Penn State University, also in the US.

And sharing the same shelf space, is Taxing Air written by Dr Bob Carter, an Australian geologist and advisor to about a dozen climate science denial organisations around the world, and John Spooner, a cartoonist for The Age newspaper in Melbourne, Australia.

Bob Carter's fringe views on climate change (it's all natural) make him a favourite of fossil fuel-funded propaganda unit the Heartland Institute and many, many other groups with similarly dismissive views on human-caused climate change and its risks.

Carter was recently let go by James Cook University in Queensland, where he had been an unpaid adjunct professor for over a decade, because he wasn't pulling his weight. Carter hinted - and his supporters screamed - that he had been booted out because he was a climate sceptic. I covered that case for DeSmogBlog and also summarised this and other recent goings on for the ABC Science Show.

But back to Taxing Air, which is yet another climate sceptic book with strong links to a conservative “think tank” - in this case, the Institute for Public Affairs, where Dr Carter is the Science Policy Advisor. The IPA paid for copies to be sent out to Australian members of parliament and has also hosted a launch event for the book.

Research has found that almost four out of five climate sceptic books published since the early 80s have links to conservative think tanks. Dr Carter, it should be noted, has only written one scientific paper on atmospheric climate change, which claimed - wrongly as it turned out - to have found that recent global warming was down to natural cycles of water temperatures in the Pacific. One group of leading climate scientists who analysed carter's paper concluded that the conclusions he and his co-authors drew were “not supported by their analysis or any physical theory presented in their paper”.

But is Taxing Air any good? Well, I have a copy which I'm still trudging through (I may not get to the end). But one academic who has finished it is Australian Ian Enting, and he is none too impressed.

Mathematical physicist Enting (author of the Australian Mathematical Scences Institute book Twisted: The distorted mathematics of greenhouse denialworked at Australia's leading science agency, the CSIRO, for 24 years in atmospheric research and modelling of the global carbon cycle.

Enting has analysed the book, describing it as a “polemic” characterised by “half-truths and slanted misrepresentation” and “appalling hypocrisy”. At one point, Enting's document notes how one chart  in Taxing Air is taken from a leaked draft of the not-yet-published United Nations IPCC Assessment Report 5 (due out in two weeks). The chart has been altered, Enting's document notes, removing a shaded area that shows the uncertainty range which, had it been left in, shows how climate models agree with the observations within the range of uncertainty. Enting finds dozens of other examples like this.

But my real reason for going into the Brisbane Dymocks store was to hunt out a copy of Killing the Earth To Save It, written by UK-based climate science denialist and wind-farm hater James Delingpole. In the UK, it was published under the name Watermelons.

There was something remarkable about the book which I had read and was keen to confirm. The book was published by Connor Court, which has published several other climate sceptic books. The editorial board of Connor Court also includes the IPA executive director John Roskam.

The IPA also paid for Delingpole to tour Australia to promote his book in September 2012 - a favour which he returned by running a public appeal for people to donate cash to the Melbourne-based group, which doesn't reveal its funders but has run a long campaign of climate misinformation.

But none of these are the “remarkable thing” I referred to earlier. The remarkable thing was an entry in Chapter 8 - “Welcome To The New World Order”. Delingpole continues to spruik on his Daily Telegraph blog, most recently earlier this week. Here's what Delingpole says on page 174 of my newly purchased copy:

Probably the best analysis of the Club of Rome's tangible effects on global environmental policy comes courtesy of a website called “The Green Agenda”:

While researching […] and during my academic studies, I have come across many references to the Club of Rome (CoR), and reports produced by them. Initially I assumed that they were just another high-level environmental think-tank and dismissed the conspiracy theories found on many website claiming that the CoR is a group of global elitists attempting to impose some kind of one world government. I am not a conspiratorial person by nature and was faced with a dilemma when I first read their reports. But it's all there - in black and white.


So what exactly is “The Green Agenda” which Delingpole tells his readers is offering this leading analysis? Here's the source of the quote, on the website “The Green Agenda”. And who runs “The Green Agenda”? It is a sister site of The Watchman's Post - which describes itself as a “Christian/ Messianic  End Time Messenger!” based in New Zealand.

That's right. Delingpole's “analysis” of a jumped-up conspiracy theory about plans for a one world government come direct from a group of Christian fundamentalists who preach about second comings and “end times”. The watchman's website details the coming of an “anti-Christ”, “times of distress and tribulation” and “Triads of evil”. Here's a taster:

True Christians will be seen at best as ‘insane’ and at worst as worthy of elimination. However, note; the period being introduced at that time and rightly called the ‘Time of Tribulation’ will quickly degenerate into a terrible time of trouble for almost everyone in the whole world, not just believers in Jesus. [We will explain more, later!] We can add with conviction, that we believe the ‘Time of God’s judgmental anger’ is a separate period of time as indicated by the pouring out of the ‘Bowls of Wrath’ when all true Believers will be sovereignly protected! [We will explain later.]

Perhaps it might be worth checking a few more of Delingpole's sources in “Killing the earth to Save It” which is described by News Corp. columnist Andrew Bolt on the back cover as “wonderful” with “devastating facts and lacerating anecdotes”.

Not just devastating and lacerating, but potentially world ending - apparently - just not in the way Bolt and Delingpole might have expected. Oh, did I say that Killing the World To Save It and Taxing Air are available in “all good bookshops”?

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In Canada's major book chains I see very little anti-science.  Its few and far between, and certainly not prominant.  Pro-science is more prominent and a lot more available.

So the IPA paid for Delingpole's book tour, eh? Wow, just wow.

Do you know who pays for Michael Mann's book tours to promote the “Climate Wars” BS? The American taxpayers, that's who. Do we have a choice? No! It's all part of his and other Cliamte scientists' massive funding, something that needs much more oversight going forward.

By the way, I hear that Australia won't be 'taxing air' for much longer since the Labor party was run out of town on a rail in the biggest defeat in history! 

Got anything to back up your claims that tax payers subsidize Mann's Book tour?  There is no general consensus on who pays for what. How does that contrast with Lintzen's activities I wonder?

And you are right, its not good news that the labor party was run out.  I makes me wonder how long good climate information will be made available to the public, such as this;

I don't know if you know this but in Canada government scientists aren't allowed to speak to anyone without a government appointed political minder.  Its the same tactic used by Saddam Hussein during chemical weapons inspections. It was vilified as being Orwellian at the time by the US press. You're not even allowed to talk to a federal climate scientist without permission from the Prime Minister's Office.

I don't see how anyone could read Michael Mann's Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars along side Andrew Montford's Hockey Stick Illusion and not conclude that Mann's hockey stick is crappy science. This has nothing to do with how big a problem AGW is. Not calling out bad science tarnishes the whole field!

Mann's was merely the first hockey stick.  It has been reviewed repeatedly and shown to be correct.

Can you provide the citations to the scientific journals that cut down Mann's work?  I have read negative journaled reviews which went in detail, warts and all, and still concluded that the paper was correct.  (I clearly remember reading it, because I knew at that time, that years in the future people like you would be working hard at dishing on Mann.)

Further more there are dozens more hockey sticks produced by many more scientists.  I'm curious but did Andrew's book cover off the other few dozen hockey sticks?  I mean, if was trying to be scientific about it, that is what he'd have to do.  (My guess is that his book is think tank regurgitation, and therefore stopped after vilifying Mann.)

My guess is that you will refuse to provide any sort of scientific citation to back your claims.  That appears to be the current MO for the climate denial circuit.  Spread FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt) and never back it up with a fact that can be reviewed.

McIntyre found the other studies to be biased by the same flawed proxies. The Wedgman report found that almost all the authors were also coauthors with Mann.  Steven Schnieder went to rediculous lengths to get Ammann and Wahl published and included in the Forth IPCC Assesment report. Montford summed it up nicely in a blog post:

Defend this:

What I asked you for was citations from scientific journals and papers.  I want to see peer reviewed science, and not oil and gas PR.  For instance in peer reviewed articles they will cite sources, short comings, and use terms like 'statistically significant' which is an actual measurement of accuracy.

Life is hard enough in the technical world without having to read wishful thinking and fairyland beliefs from uneduated bumpkins.

I'm still waiting for you to provide citations that are of some technical merit and not just entertainment pieces.  I distain crappy oil and gas bloggers almost as much as greenpeace and religious junk.  I mean seriously… McIntyre is a joke.  He spent a good 6 months blogging that no one was listening to him… then Briffa revealed what he was saying…  Only use tree rings from the trees that diverged.  So the joke here is that instead of QCing the data in future reports, he used it all, most especially the trees that diverged.

Unlike McIntyre's silly blog, Briffa published his results;

Conman shows how desperate his coterie of deniers is by referring to both McIntyre and Wegman (Conman, notice the spelling, poor spelling makes you look even more lacking in education that your postings do) in the same sentence. The McIntyre/Wegman statistical nonsense is as fraudulent as it gets in denier land.

Thanks again for showing how dishonest your friends are.

I spend the majority of my time hounding the low brow commentators.  I've found that asking for citations is like the plague to them.  They scurry away like cockroaches in the light.

A consequence of asking for citations is that I haven't had to do any meaningful technical reviews in years.  Indeed I'm genuinely getting bored of them and their boorish drivel.  This technique has worked pretty universally for me and gets better results than indulging the trolls.

This year I've had two dim wits admit that they think this is all a green conspiracy and only special people like them can see it.  The delusion knows no bounds.  One was busily attacking Dr David Schindler for his work measuring contamination in the Tar Sands.  When I pointed out that the Alberta government reviewed and then supported Schindler, the response was that the Alberta government was clearly under the control of green influences and in particular TIDES Canada.

When it comes to fracking, I generally have to beat it out of drilling engineers.  But they always end with; wells aren't perfect, they can leak, check the cement logs.  The fact is that we build a lot of sensors to detect leaks.  I don't think we do this because we do such a good job in the first place…

As John Cleese says, “You just can't make this stuff up.”

I checked out your “plain-English discussion”. You're claiming that M&M have not removed the trend from their red noise. Did they put a trend in it? Does “the persistence properties of the North American tree ring network” include one? This is not clear.

… the ability to read is quite separate from the ability to comprehend.  To be fair,  unless you have a math degree, I doubt you could follow that.

No M&M did not put the trend in the data.  That trend was in the data to begin with.  M&M left the trend in the data before analyzing it.  Then they cherry picked data to best highlight their poor math skills.  You need to factor in all data in order to make a statement that is statistically significant.  M&M clearly failed to do this because they cherry picked their data.

M&M did this negligently, or worse, intentionally.

Here's Mcintyre and Mckitrick's paper;

In the conclusions:
“Here we have shown, in the case of MBH98, that a ‘‘standardization’’ step (that the authors did not even consider sufficiently important to disclose at the time of their study) significantly affected the resulting PC series. Indeed, the effect of the transformation is so strong that a hockey-stick shaped PC1 is nearly always generated from (trendless) red noise with the persistence properties of the North American tree ring network. This result is disquieting, given that the NOAMER PC1 has been reported to be essential to the shape of the MBH98 Northern Hemisphere temperature reconstruction.”

So M&M claimed that Mann didn't disclose remedial math, and that somehow Mann got it all wrong.  Meanwhile M&M left a nice big signal in their 'noise' and claimed that all analysis will generate a hockey stick.  Then they cherry picked the best of the best of the positive hockey sticks and used ONLY that for their badly processed data.

M&M generated random red noise. They gave it the persistence properties of tree ring data. I find it hard to believe that these properties are going to be substantially different for hockey stick shaped and non hockey stick shaped tree ring series. It sounds like it could be easily tested by comparing red noise runs made with persistence properties from each type.

Principle Component Analysis is not remedial math. Mann's “short centering” (he calls it “modern centering” in his book, I read it) is not a known standard method of doing PCA and was criticized by PCA experts like Ian Jolliffe.

They did not generate red noise.  Read it again;

“We generated the red noise network for Monte Carlo simulations as follows. We downloaded and collated the NOAMER tree ring site chronologies used by MBH98 from M. Mann’s FTP site and selected the 70 sites used in the AD1400 step.”

They took hockey sticks and then left hockey sticks in the data.

Here's how, read point 11:

“Inspection of the MM05 Monte Carlo code shows that realizations of x are not adjusted to the variance of the instrumental record during the 1902 to 1980 training interval — a critical step in the procedure.”

After that, everything M&M say is fairy tales and wishful thinking. To put it lightly.

It is remedial if you do it all the time.   For instance, to me, autocorrelations are remedial.  I know them like the back of my hand.  It really depends on your education, audience, and field of work. Also, most technical people tend to rely on techniques they know well, warts and all.  Since Mann's efforts had no significant impact on his conclusions… why not?

But alas we are beating a dead horse.  Mann changed his techniques, and I see no attempts at a take down paper for that, or any of the other papers for that matter. 

I do seriously doubt your technical capabilities. You've never demonstrated any sort of technical aptitude here.  Your lack of citations pretty much marks you as someone who's never wiffed air from a science classroom or lab.  I'd guess poli sci if you have any education at all.

Montford's book covers Peter Huybers' GRL comment and called it “one of the more challenging responses to McIntyre's new paper”. The gist that I come away with is that Huybers was saying that M&M were exagerating Mann's PCA bias, implying that their was a bias to begin with. From Huybers' paper:

 ”[4]…To remove the bias in MBH98’s calculations, MM05 set records to zero mean over the entire 1400 to…”. 

This implys Mann's PCA centering was biased.

Remember, McIntyre was not trying to show that tree ring data were showing whether there was or was not a hockey stick. He was trying to show that tree ring data could not show if there was or was not one.

You're too willfully stupid. Read the paper, not armchair bull from an entertainer's book;

“[12] The MM05 code generated realizations of x having roughly a fourth the variance of y, biasing RE realizations toward being too large. MM05 thus estimate a RE critical value substantially higher (RE = 0.6) than that of MBH98 (RE = 0.0) and incorrectly conclude that the AD1400 step of the MBH98 temperature reconstruction is insignificant. When the MM05 algorithm is corrected to include the variance adjustment step and re-run, the estimated RE critical value comes into agreement with the MBH98 estimate. (Data and computer codes used for PCA analysis and the estimation of critical values are provided as auxiliary material.)”

I would point out that Montford's book is entertainment.  Not science, you need to read scientific journals for science. This is known as the Lomborg Defense. He claims his work is not science so not subject to any sort of peer scrutiny.  I don't really care what entertainers say.  He could juggle goats and I still wouldn't look.

If he has anything to counter with, he can publish it. Otherwise, I say he's lying, and or demonstrably lame.

Plus I really don't care.  I'd like to see M&Ms (published) responses to all the other reconstruction papers which use different or the same data with different or the same methodologies.  Good science stands the test of time.

From McIntyre's paper:

Computer scripts used to generate simulations, figures and statistics, together with a sample of 100 simulated “hockey sticks” and other supplementary information, are provided in the auxiliary material. We carried out 10,000 simulations, …By the very nature of the simulation, there were no 20th century trends, other than spurious “trends” from persistence. … hockey stick occurs over 99% of the time.

The 100 so called “cherry picked” simulations are examples for the supplementary material. Their results are based on 10,000 simulations.

I got that already. First, if they wanted to offer conclusive evidence they’d provide the 10,000 samples they generated. Or in technical vernacular they could leave the pseudo random number number seed in order to do an exact reproduction of their work. I also have no idea which of the 10000 they chose. Researchers who fake data frequently do this. In any case a statistical evaluation of the samples chosen by McIntyre has also not been demonstrated. So there is no way to determine if they were truly random or cherry picked. If its not obvious to you random number can indeed generate patterns. Only a statistical analysis can show wether the numbers are exhibiting this kind of error. The only thing we do know is is that McIntyre got the math wrong. And he did that in such a way as to cause a statistic error. Overall McIntyre’s work stinks of fraud or gross incompetence. You pick which.

If M&M wanted to prove there were hockey sticks in the noise samples, they probably should have reproduced Mann's data sets.  As it is they did not.  McIntyre didn't search for, or measure whether Mann had hockey sticks in his noise samples.

McIntyre invented hockey stick data in a fashion wholely unrelated to Mann, and concluded that there was hockey sticks in the data set he manufactured. Case closed.  The guy is stupid.

It seems to me that if you wanted to show that M&M's red noise had been salted with hockeystickicity, all you would have to do is find a bunch of non hockey stick tree ring series and run them through their R code, which includes Mann's short modern centering. See if you still end up with hockey sticks. Judging by how dependent this shape seems to be on just a few series, it shouldn't be too hard to find some.

McIntyre showed that he did it all wrong.  Read his paper and look through his code.

McIntyre created and analyzed a totally different data set than Mann. Case closed.

You do bring up an interesting point about finding tree rings without hockey sticks then running the stats to verify that the noise is unbiased.  But why bother?

Huang 2000,  (Boreholes)

Whal 2007, uses a variety of techniques with and without Mann's statistics and or data.

Smith 2006, (Stalagmites, which aren't trees)

Majorwicz 2006. (Oil wells)  Alberta's oil industry proving Mann right! Considering Federal funding was involved, its no wonder we haven't heard about this one.  Harper has a Ball Gag on anyone talking about Climate Science.

I could go on all day, but I'm bored and I want to read a book.

As I said, whether Mann is right or not is irrelevant at this point.  His work has been replicated with different data sets, different techniques, and different proxies.  Each one of those papers has dozens of papers which lead up to the conclusion. Each of which, Montford would have to take apart, and that science goes back 30 years.  (Good luck with that.)

There is no vetting for Montford's book.  Its just PR crap for morons unable to understand real scientific work.

When Lomborg was confronted by scientists about the contents of his book he argued that his book was not a work of science. Ergo they had no jurisdiction.  This is known as the Lomborg Defense. And it applies to Montford's book, and John Christy's personal life and books.

If these guys are so smart why can't they write scientific papers?  Are they illiterate?  Stupid?  Inept?    Huyber's paper clearly shows what M&M did wrong, and McIntyre never did a rebuttal paper.  Case closed.  His inability to defend himself with proper math speaks volumes.

The public are clearly not able to understand the work required let alone delve into the details of it all.  Going to the public is really just a crappy PR campaign to spread FUD (Fear Uncertainty Doubt).

Canman, you are a clear example of someone who's been duped by this fraudulent behavior.  You personally believe that trees do not use or drink water.  Your Blogger heroes and books told you this, and you took it hook line and sinker.

What do you think the detrending is?  That step M&M erroneously or negligently left out?  Hmmm?

There is another hockey stick in that data. Moisture in the atmosphere will increase rain. We know this.  You have to subtract that effect from the data to get tree rings that only represent temperature.