By Andy May
"If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, amaze them with Bull …" W. C. Fields
and fly a bomber over Berlin.
In late February 2015, a New York Times article on the front page of Kert Davies (Gillis & Schwartz, 2015) accused Willie Soon of failing to disclose conflicts of interest in his articles in trade journals. It's not mentioned in the Gillis and Schwartz article, but the timing suggests that an article in the Science Bulletin, “Why Models Run Hot: Results of an Irreducibly Simple Climate Model” (Monckton, Soon, Legates, & Briggs, 2015), Davies was & # 39; Concern, concern. We will abbreviate this paper as MSLB15. In addition to Soon, the other authors of the work are Christopher Monckton (senior author, Lord Monckton, Viscount of Brenchley), David Legates (professor of geography and climatology, University of Delaware) and William Briggs (mathematician and statistician, former professor of statistics) at the Cornell Medical School). In the January 2015 article, the authors state that they have no conflict of interest.
MSLB15 was instantly popular and devastating for the root cause of climate alarmism and for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2013). The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a research organization founded by the United Nations in 1988. MSLB15 was released online on January 8, 2015 and downloaded 22,000 times in less than two months, an outstanding number of downloads. The New York Times article appeared less than two months after MSLB15 hit the Internet. It was a "fake news hit job".
The paper caused a stir because it stated that the IPCC's Fifth Assessment Report, or "AR5", significantly reduced its short-term warming projections but left its long-term, higher projections alone. This was because the IPCC's central, CO2 feedback-based estimate of climate sensitivity to CO2 went from 3.2 ° C (2.8 ° F) to 2.2 ° C (4 ° F) for every doubling in CO2 concentration was reduced. The sensitivity to CO2 is often abbreviated as "ECS" for Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity. The MSLB15 calculation was performed as used by the IPCC in its fourth assessment report with the abbreviation “AR4”.
If the new estimate is correct, the projected temperature increase for the 21st century is less than one degree C. Another consequence of the change is that burning all estimated fossil fuels would only result in a temperature increase of 2.2 ° C (4th century) ° F). This warming is trivial, good for humanity, but bad for climate alarmists.
The organization that models climate projections for the IPCC is the CMIP or the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. It was launched in 1995 to consolidate climate models from around the world into a series of projections that could form the basis of the IPCC reports. The CMIP climate models used for the fourth and fifth IPCC assessment reports significantly overestimate global warming, as shown in John Christy's diagram from an earlier post and shown here again as Figure 1.
Figure 1. John Christy's famous diagram comparing the AR5 IPCC climate models with weather balloon and satellite observations for the middle troposphere. The satellite and weather balloon observations are independent of each other and of surface measurements. From Christy's testimony from the 2016 Congress (Christy, 2016).
AR5 was essentially a repetition of AR4 in terms of calculating human impact on climate. However, MSLB15 tells us that deep in AR5, a dramatic change has been made in the model calculations that lowers the calculated climate impact of CO2. However, the change was not reflected in the AR5's long-term climate projections. Monckton points out that the IPCC made the changes due to pressure from experts to align their climate projections and model parameters with the observations (Monckton, 2015b). The IPCC made the change and then ignored it in their longer-term projections.
Modern computerized climate models are expensive general circulation models that model thermal energy moving through the atmosphere and the upper part of the oceans. The models break down the atmosphere into 3D grid boxes, which are assumed to be in local thermodynamic equilibrium, and only change at their edges where they touch neighboring boxes. The older models, such as the 1979 Charney model (Charney et al., 1979), were simpler and conceptually modeled the entire atmosphere and upper ocean.
As explained in our last post, the complexity of modern models has not changed or made the estimated climate sensitivity to CO2 more accurate. The 1979 Charney Report model calculated the same sensitivity range for CO2 as AR5 did in 2013. This range (1.5 ° to 4.5 ° C) has risen over one hundred billion US dollars in 2014, despite the efforts of thousands of researchers. US dollars survived intact for forty years between 1993 and 2015 (US Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2016) in the US alone.
When MSLB15 showed up online, it was stated that the feedback estimates of the AR5 model suggested an ECS of 2.2 ° C (4 ° F) instead of the AR4 estimate of 3.26 ° C (5.9 ° F) ( IPCC, 2007, p. 798)) it caused a great stir. As Rud Istvan stated in a post at the time, "When you take heavy flakes, you are over the top." The B-17 or Avro Lancaster, flown by Christopher Monckton, Willie Soon, David Legates and William Briggs, must have been right over the center of Berlin, given the reaction of alarmists and the news media.
The direct warming by CO2 or ECS is low and is around one degree Celsius, which leads to a doubling of the CO2. This slight warming creates feedback that is commonly believed to be due to an increase in absolute humidity caused by warmer temperatures. Water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, so these climate alarmists are concerned about this reduction in feedback from AR4 to AR5. Why is the ECS area in AR5 the same as it is in AR4 when such an important component of CO2 induced warming has been reduced? Has politics overruled the scientific knowledge?
Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that AR5 did not give a best possible estimate of the ECS. There are many ways to calculate ECS and they do not agree so much that the IPCC has not made a best estimate. Both TAR (the third IPCC assessment report) and AR4 gave a best estimate of 3 ° C (5.4 ° F). So, if AR5 had reported their feedback ECS of 2.2 ° C (4 ° F), the steep decline would have occurred, which was obvious and politically damaging. So they were silent. The obvious question is why? Did you think no one would notice the intellectual dishonesty?
To estimate the ECS, climate model results, analysis of feedback (as in AR4 or MSLB15), observed temperature and CO2 changes (Lewis & Curry, 2018) or paleoclimate studies can be used. The dilemma the IPCC faced in AR5 was that these estimates were mismatched and many of them were well below those reported in AR4 and previous assessment reports, as shown in our previous post. One wonders why the IPCC is so certain that humans control the climate with their greenhouse gas emissions when the effects of the main greenhouse gas CO2 are so poorly understood? Since AR5 did not give a best possible estimate of the ECS, it can be argued that our understanding decreases over time.
When Christopher Monckton and his co-authors, including Willie Soon, noticed that the CO2 feedback forcing was being reduced in AR5, they created a simple model to examine this difference and published their assessment. It is practically impossible to attack the “irreducibly simple climate model” presented in the paper, it is too fundamental. As Istvan reports, the derivation of the MSLB15 model is flawless. So the alarming cabal initially said that the Science Bulletin was an obscure magazine, so the paper cannot be good. It probably didn't work, and the Science Bulletin is the Chinese version of Nature or Science.
Criticism of MSLB15
Rud Istvan's contribution on paper is insightful and interesting, as is Monckton's answer. Many traditional climate researchers, even Judith Curry, are somewhat opposed to MSLB15. They believe that this simple approach to climate modeling fails to provide any insight into why the climate models do not agree with observations. Kevin Trenberth complains that the model is too simple (Briggs, 2015). Istvan comments: "Trenberth's comments on the NYTimes are, in my opinion, unsustainably misleading and provide an illustrative lesson on the consensus" science "and its reporting" (Istvan, 2015). We agree with this assessment. MSLB15 specifically recognizes that their model is simple:
“(The MSLB15 model) is of course not intended to replace the much more complex models that are widely used. Rather, they should be illuminated. "(Monckton, Soon, Legates & Briggs, 2015)
The irreducibly simple model is simple, it is in the title of the paper and Trenberth's statement to the New York Times (Briggs, 2015) is empty. MSLB15 is important, not as an advance in climate science, but because it highlights the serious shortcomings and internal contradictions in the IPCC / CMIP climate models. Further evidence that the IPCC models have serious shortcomings is that they do not predict the climatic effects of CO2 more accurately than they did in 1979, the MSLB15 model merely driving this painfully obvious point home. Billions were spent; you'd think we've seen some progress by now.
The subtitle of this post, a quote from W. C. Fields, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, amaze them with Bull …", it says perfectly. The IPCC computer models and the ridiculous idea that their averaging will give us a reliable and useful prediction of future climate are an attempt to "baffle us with cops …". This human-made eternal waste of money must provide answers through climate change or be cut off from funding.
The MSLB15 model reduces the nonsense to the essentials and shows this deception, if not clearly as we would like, at least more clearly and concisely than the IPCC. Compared to the real world, the IPCC models are too simple. Their complexity does not help us understand how humans affect the climate. It is merely a way of hiding its shortcomings and advancing a chosen agenda. This is what I took away from reading MSLB15.
Rud Istvan believes the simple model could be made simpler and have the same effect. Monckton believes that the model needs all of the elements to be useful. In either case, Istvan found the model useful and we agree. I have no problem with the model as a useful way to understand the more complicated general circulation models. It is not a substitute for them, as MSLB15 readily admits. It illuminates them and provides a useful reality check.
The point that MSLB15 highlights is that the ECS estimates based on the IPCC model are inflated. You could add that they are inaccurate and will not improve with time and money. In his counterargumentation, Monckton says to Istvan that we have to “let the daylight into the magic” (Monckton, 2015b, p. 6). Do we agree?
Mark Richardson and colleagues (Richardson, Hausfather, Nuccitelli, Rice & Abraham, 2015) try to show that the MSLB15 model underestimates global mean temperatures. Richardson et al. don't refute MSLB15, they are simply refuting a straw man of their own creation. The only period that Richardson et al. The usage long enough to be considered a "climate" is between 1900 and 2010. For this period, both CMIP5 and MSLB15 have errors that are within the margin of error for the temperature records they cited HadCRUT4, Cowtan & Way and lie Berkeley Earth. Their shorter periods 1970-2010 and 2000-2010 are too short to make sense.
Next, the alarmists, possibly including John Holdren, chief adviser to President Obama, Willie Soon, one of the authors, began attacking through his employer, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. John Holdren had already attacked Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas' papers in 2003 (Soon & Baliunas, 2003) and (Soon, Baliunas, Idso, Idso & Legates, 2003b) when, according to The Harvard Crimson (Sanchez, 2003) was still at Harvard). He claimed the papers were "a flawed analysis". They weren't faulty, and neither was MSLB15. MSLB15 may be too long and difficult to read, but it isn't buggy as far as we can tell.
The alarmists couldn't attack science and wanted the skeptics to be silenced at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The Smithsonian responded with a new code of conduct that included a "loyalty to the Smithsonian" clause. The Smithsonian's inspector general soon investigated and found no wrongdoing on his part, but this simply enraged the critics and did nothing (Arnold, 2016). Attacks on climate skeptics were widespread in 2015 and 2016, and the Obama administration was not alone. Some of the harassment came from Congress, particularly Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressman Raúl Grijalva.
The New York Times and the other news outlets covering the story should have written about what MSLB15 said. The story isn't that complicated or difficult to explain. But they didn't. The fact that they attacked the authors without discussing what they wrote in their peer-reviewed article speaks volumes, as stated on Andrew Montford's Bishop Hill website (Montford, 2015). The news media didn't care about climate science, after all, "science is done", is it?
The 2015 attack
As noted in the post above, the New York Times (Gillis & Schwartz, 2015) attack on Willie Soon culminated on February 21, 2015. They personally attacked Willie Soon. They relied on false information from Kert Davies (Davies, 2020), the founder of the secret Climate Investigations Center (CIC). Davies suggested that Willie Soon had a conflict of interest and was lying on MSLB15 when he said he didn't. Davies and the New York Times alleged that Soon received undisclosed money from ExxonMobil and the Southern Company.
Most of the New York Times article is either false or misleading. In our new book "Politics and Climate Change: A Story" we address each of your allegations. Here we are only going to cover some of the most outrageous lies. The attack was based on a request from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to obtain internal documents from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, where Soon is employed as an astrophysicist. The FOIA was submitted by Davies and Greenpeace.
As in 2010 (see our book for details on the 2010 FOIA request), Director Charles Alcock made a critical mistake and ordered Willie Soon to comply. Unlike departments in the executive branch of government, a government trust like the Smithsonian Institution does not have to meet FOIA requirements. Thus, Alcock's command is the pursuit of an employee. Alcock explicitly allows Davies, the New York Times and Greenpeace to intimidate and harass one of his employees. The documents (New York Times, 2015) include research proposals from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory authored by Soon an The Southern Company (NYSE: SO), a leading natural gas and electricity utility, ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Charles Koch Charitable Foundation and Donor & # 39; s Trust.
Science is a process of challenging the consensus view. Science cannot prove anything, the scientific process is about refuting things, especially consensus opinions. For example, both Copernicus and Galileo disproved the idea that the sun revolves around the earth. Science uses observation, analysis, and logic to refute false assumptions made by the public.
The New York Times clearly does not understand this definition of the 9th grade scientific method, and its article claims:
“The documents shed light on the role of scientists like Dr. Soon in promoting public debate about whether human activities are causing global warming. The vast majority of experts have concluded that this is the case and that greenhouse gas emissions pose long-term risks to civilization. "(Gillis & Schwartz, 2015)
This unsupported claim is ridiculously anti-scientific. As we have seen, "the vast majority" or consensus of scholars is a political matter. One scientist looks at the “vast majority” conclusion and asks, “Is that true? How can I test this idea? "Challenging the consensus view is the whole idea of science. A real scientist wants to encourage 'public debate'.
The premise of the New York Times article is quite troubling for several reasons. First, they believe the so-called "consensus" view that climate is man-controlled is true, although there is no direct evidence to support it. The computer model projections cited by the IPCC are not direct evidence. In fact, MSLB15 suggests the models aren't even accurate. Let's not argue about the words "cause climate change" and "control climate". Everyone agrees that people have some influence on the climate, the debate is about how much. The alarmists clearly believe that CO2 is the "control button" for climate change (Lacis, Schmidt, Rind & Ruedy, 2010).
Second, they assume that privately funded research by an established and highly credible astrophysicist who works for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is somehow compromised by donations to Smithsonian. Third, they seem to believe that since Soon "he has received little federal research funding in the past decade," he is somehow inferior to other researchers. All three assumptions are terrible. Do you really think that private companies cannot fund scientific research? Or, if so, that research should only be discounted based on the source of funding?
Not only are these views youthful, they are anti-scientific and potentially violate the freedom of speech of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is illegal to attempt to lose a person's constitutional rights through intimidation or any other means (Columbia Law School, 2020).
One of the Smithsonian studies, partially funded by ExxonMobil, Donor's Trust, and the Southern Company, was "Understanding the Variability of the Sun and Climate Change: Signals from US Temperature Records". For someone interested in climate change, this seems like an important topic that needs to be investigated. The checks from these organizations were made out to the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory or the Smithsonian Institution (photocopies of the checks are in my book). No money was paid to Willie Soon, a government employee who paid a salary. He wrote the proposals for the Smithsonian Institution as one of his roles as a Smithsonian contributor (Arnold, 2016).
The science stands on its own, the conclusions either emerging from the evidence and analysis presented or not. The study may or may not be replicated. Funding has nothing to do with it. Just because New York Times reporters can't understand Soon's papers doesn't mean no one can. Other scientists will read his work with a really skeptical eye and let him or others know if there is a problem. The papers survive or fail on their own.
The first change grants people, and through them, businesses the right to freedom of expression and the right to apply to the government for redress of complaints. This concept is supported by the Supreme Court in judgments such as Citizens United (Smith, 2020). The New York Times article alleges that Soon presented his Smithsonian-funded research from the Southern Company, ExxonMobil, and the Donor's Trust to Congress. Are you saying that Soon and the people who funded some of his research should have their first right to amend because they disagree with "most" scientists or the New York Times? That's not how science works or the United States. In general, the article was anti-scientific and anti-American.
The scientific community offers scientists the opportunity to discuss ideas. The science playground contains thousands of journals where all sites can present their data, analysis and conclusions for inspection. Unfortunately, when politicians and the news media got involved in the man-made debate on climate change, it turned into a disaster. Politicians used personal attacks, the suppression of opposing views, ridicule, harassment and intimidation instead of enforcing their views on scientists. All of this was used against Willie Soon and his former supervisor Sallie Baliunas. His friends and colleagues David Legates, Christopher Monckton and William Briggs were also attacked unfairly. Politics and the scientifically ignorant news media corrupt science to an unacceptable level. For this reason we are against any state funding of scientific research. My next post and new book further discuss this point of view.
This is an abbreviated excerpt, with minor changes, from my new book, Politics and Climate Change: A Story.
Click here to download the bibliography.