Tag Archives: Mann

Old Predictions Make Prejudiced Scientists

On Monday, the Alaska Dispatch News reprinted a Washington Post story by Chris Mooney titled Renowned climate scientist projects rapid rise in sea level, more intense storms The article discusses a research study Dr. James Hansen and 16 of his associates are about to release.  That study predicts gloom and doom even if the UN is successful in controlling climate change. The study has yet to be peer reviewed but is given priority by the Washington Post because as the article states:

It’s an alarming picture of where the planet could be headed — and hard to ignore, given Hansen’s reputation.

Why is it hard to ignore?  Why is gloom and doom by Dr. Hansen news?  Dr. Hansen has been predicting gloom and doom since the 1980’s.  He has been predicting rapid temperature rises and sea level mass destruction since 1982.  His 1988 projections in front of Congress were wrong.  This graph from a Skeptical Science article defending Hansen shows three Hansen predictions.  Scenario A predicted changes with carbon dioxide near current levels: https://i1.wp.com/www.skepticalscience.com/pics/Hansen_1988.gif According to Dr. Hansen, we should be quite a bit warmer.  And I would argue that the black line drawn by Skeptical Science is a bit too aggressive.  Most temperature models show a rapid rise from the 1992 cooling following the  Mt. Pinatubo eruption, to the great El Nino of 1998.  Worldwide temperatures since 1998 have been largely unchanged.  The  Skeptical Science graph makes it look like there is a persistent uptrend that really stopped in 1998.

Climate research sites  UAH, and East Anglia University both show this.   As Skeptical Science said in the article, Dr. Hansen’s models had a too high climate sensitivity. English translation…his predictions were wrong.

Dr. Hansen is not alone, most early models at the IPCC were wildly high  in their predictions.  Climate models have had to be modified to reflect the lack of warming since 1998.   IPCC reports have been toning down the immediate impacts of carbon dioxide (and methane too), using natural climate variation as the reason.

They still think they are right, but natural climate variation appears to be masking the predicted results and their predictions  might take a long time to materialize.  Virtually every temperature based prediction made by the IPCC in the 2007 Climate Change Report was wrong.  The IPCC has now modified their positions to reflect this reality.   Not Dr. Hansen. Back in June of 1988, Dr Hansen is quoted in a New York Times article as saying the following to Congress:

that it was 99% certain that  the warming trend was not a natural variation but was caused by a build up of carbon dioxide and other artificial gasses in the atmosphere.

And in 2007 he had not changed his view one iota as these quotes courtesy of the Steve Goreham website demonstrate:

“…99 percent confiden t that the world really was getting warmer and that there was a high degree of probability that it was due to human-made greenhouse gases.”     —Dr. James Hansen on his 1988 Senate testimony, PBS Frontline, Apr. 24, 2007

Two years later he said:

“The climate is nearing tipping points. Changes are beginning to appear and there is a potential for explosive changes, effects that would be irreversible, if we do not rapidly slow fossil-fuel emissions over the next few decades.”     —Dr. James Hansen, The Observer, Feb. 15, 2009

“The greatest danger hanging over our children and grandchildren is initiation of changes that will be irreversible on any time scale that humans can imagine.”     —Dr. James Hansen, The Observer, Feb. 15, 2009

“Burning all the fossil fuels will destroy the planet we know, Creation, the planet of stable climate in which civilization developed.”     —Dr. James Hansen, letter to Barack and Michelle Obama, Dec. 29, 2008

Back in 1988, we knew much less than we do now and Dr. Hansen was 99% sure he was right.  How could anyone be that sure then or now?   Even the UN is only 90% sure that most warming seen since 1950 is man caused.  Some could be natural climate variation.  This is one extraordinarily difficult science discussion.  A rational person should have more doubt.

Now, Dr. Hansen believes even a modest rise in temperature of less than a degree C will be catastrophic.  I have doubts.  Dr. Hansen is so prejudiced in his view, I doubt he can produce a document that does not display his almost religious zeal on the subject.

Interestingly, the Washington Post decided to use Michael Mann as their independent scientist to discuss this controversial paper presented by Dr. Hansen. Mann would not have been my first choice.

Back in 1998, Dr. Mann produced a paper predicting rapid climate change.  It was the rage of the Climate Community for years. Al Gore used the Hockey Stick Graph as it was called in his film.  In 2005 the study was successfully challenged by Canadian mathematicians.  Dr. Mann has been at the center of a climate fire storm for some 10 years now.

Hansen and Mann share a common problem.  Both made wild predictions in the distant past and must either defend them or admit mistakes.  Neither has been willing to admit errors, and errors were made. Some times I don’t understand journalistic choices.  I cannot think of any duo more shrouded in controversy in Climate Science than Dr. Hansen and Dr. Mann.

All this begs a question – Why did Mr. Mooney give Dr. Hansen such stature and why did he use Dr. Mann as a source confirming the story?

Mt. Tambora – A Mann Hockey Stick Problem

Whenever I look at the Mann Hockey Stick reconstruction of past climate I am ever awestruck by the small amount of temperature change depicted during the first 900 years of the chart.  It just doesn’t seem possible.  Very nearly no climate variation for hundreds of years, and then presto, lots of variation.

I often wonder what the powers that be at the UN must have been thinking in 2002 when they made the Mann Hockey Stick Graph the new climate standard.  A new, untested theory with multiple indications of probable sloppy mathematics; science is not supposed to work that way.  It is still around, and still defended vigorously by many in the climate community.

Here is a copy of an image of the 1000 year Mann graph I pulled from a Skeptical Science web  post defending  Mann’s work:

Climate variation shown before 1950 is, according to the IPCC, mostly natural climate variation. The increase in variation started at about the same time direct measurement replaced indirect measurement.   This chart begins using direct measurement in 1902.  Interesting….and odd too.

The UK’s East Anglia Climate Research Unit (CRU) has direct measurement data that begins in 1860.  NOAA data dates back to 1880. Why start in 1902?   And when does the data begin to look like a hockey stick?  Hmmm…1900…enough said.

Zoom in on 1815 if you can.  A very small decrease in temperature that had been trending downward since about 1775, stops in about 1830.   The net change for the entire period was only a bit over -0.1 degree C.  Something is wrong.  This should be a time of spectacular natural change.  The very small, nearly no change shown makes no sense. Why?  Mt. Tambora.

Mt. Tambora is a 9354 ft. mountain in Indonesia.    It used to be over 14,000 feet tall.  One day in April of 1815, the top 5000 feet went away.  Imagine if you can, an eruption 150 times larger than the Mount St. Helens eruption of May 18,1980.  Tambora is  the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history.   The eruption has been estimated to be 10 times the size of the Mt. Pinatubo eruption of 1991.  Mt. Pinatubo has been credited with cooling  the world’s weather by about 0.5 degree C for 2 years.

Tambora was and still is a big deal.   1815 has been called the year without a summer because the air pollution from the eruption made the world a darker and colder place. Five degrees F. colder or so says a USA Today article. The winter of 1815-16 was a spectacularly cold one all over the world.

An eruption that big should have caused a significant temporary change in the world climate that would have lasted for several years, perhaps longer.   Look at the Mann Chart.  Nothing.   Where did the Mt. Tambora impact go?

Skeptical Science provided the following temperature reconstruction as a defense of the Mann work on their web site.  The two studies supposedly confirm each other.  The new study has an advantage over the Mann work in that it covers a shorter period of time making it easier to read:

Where is the -3 degree C blip in 1815?   Nothing, Nada, Zip?  Whaaaaat? A smaller but significant eruption in 1883, Krakatoa, is not visible either.   Another significant eruption, at Huaynaputina, in 1600 fails to make the chart.   Too small to be detected I suppose.  Changes in the 20th century are here, there and everywhere.  This inconsistency  has never made sense to me.

The Mann reconstruction is a Northern Hemisphere reconstruction of a 1000 year period.   At it’s beginning settlers in Greenland grew hay and their diet was 80% farm animal based including cattle.  Yep cattle in Greenland.   400 years later, most settlers were gone.  The survivors ate primarily whatever they could harvest from the sea.  And all the while the world only cooled 0.1 degree C?  I don’t think so.

20th century warming  7 or 8 times that much?

Most warming before 1950, and some warming since 1950 is presumed to be natural climate variation. No natural climate variation for centuries and then magically lots!?  AND it coincided with a change in the data source.  Come on guys.  Get REAL.

I don’t doubt that the world has warmed, but I do believe that all the data before 1902 in the Mann reconstruction is a guess….a wild ass guess.   Mann has claimed the entire Medieval Warming Period was a regional event or so he is cited in a Scientific American article published in 2005.   I don’t buy it.    Greenland was warm for hundreds of years.   Records all over Northern Europe support the notion that the warmer weather was widespread and lasted for hundreds of years.

Before the Mann study it was widely believed that the Medieval Warming Period was warmer than Mann claims.   Simple charts were included in UN studies as  this one that was featured in the first study published by the IPCC in 1992..


The Third Assessment of Climate (TAR), published by the IPCC in 2002 featured a new world order, the Mann chart.  Magically, the Medieval Warming Period disappeared.

Now consider this.

The scale for measuring volcanoes is called the Volcanic Explosivity Index.  It goes up to 8.  Mt. St. Helen’s was a 5, Mt. Pinatubo, Huaynaputina and Krakatoa were in category 6.  Mt. Tambora was a 7.  The average 7 is 100 times larger than the average 5.

Some 26,500 years ago a big chunk of New Zealand went away in the world’s most recent category 8 eruption at Taupo Volcano.  A category 8 eruption is on average 10 times larger than a category 7.  Imagine what that must have done to the ecosystem.  Now there’s a tipping point, Nature’s tipping point.

This happened during an ice age cold spell.  Wow.

Now consider this.

Taupo was a boringly average category 8.   75,000 years ago, plus or minus 5000 years, the Indonesian area blessed us with Toba, the largest category 8 known to man.  This beast was the equivalent of 3 Taupo’s and is suspected of starting a 1,000 year cooling period.

I’ll bet you right now that science will discover more significant volcanic activity.  Some of that activity will have global climate implications.   Who knows how many more will be discovered that have the ability to impact climate as we look back in time?

Climate Politics — Headlines first, Science if convenient

I have read many complaints by skeptics about the science Dr James Hansen practices.  I had never read any of his publications until last week.   I was surprised.  He appears to have designed a study (the subject of my last 3 blogs) with a successful outcome in mind.   I suspect he selected a specific 30 year period….and then built a rational around the selection.

Why would anyone even bother to complete any climate study with only a 30 year baseline?  A baseline that started in 1951?  I know of no good reason to begin in 1951.  Why only 30 years?  He has 150 years of direct measurement, in varying degrees of accuracy.  Why not 150, or perhaps 1000 years or a million years?  My best guess….publicity.  There hadn’t been any doom speak global warming articles in a while….the cause needed one.

I first saw the story shortly after it was released online at  Bloomberg News.  The following morning there was an article in my local paper.   The Bloomberg story quoted Dr. Hansen and talked about his results.  The local paper included a comment by  Dr. Cristy of the University of Alabama at Huntsville which specifically said the  study was flawed.   That was my first indication that the study used an odd base year.

The next day I read the study.

Today I googled  James Hansen extreme weather and looked at all the different news agencies that picked up the story.  The Washington Post, The New York Times,  ABC and many many more.   Dr. Hansen was given time to talk about his study on PBS.   Wow.  He’ll be on Letterman soon, I’d guess.  It’s good to be famous.

Dr. Hansen and other climate scientists have been getting away with sloppy science since the 1980’s.  It is a frequent refrain in climate politics.  My personal top three:

  1. The Mann Hockey Stick Graph,  with it’s questionable algorithms and odd sampling.
  2. Al Gore’s film, no further explanation necessary.
  3. The 2002 IPCC Synopses Report on Climate that included the unproven Mann study and excluded anything that disagreed.   The 2007 Synopses Report partially corrected the error by including information omitted from the 2002 Report.

Sloppy science and wild ass guessing rewarded by the press.  Darwin’s Theory of Evolution gets more scrutiny than global warming theory and the Scopes trial was a hundred years ago.  I don’t know why global warming theory gets a pass…but it does.

If the press did a better job, Dr. Hansen would be challenged when he makes outlandish statements.  After a few, he would become more careful, and the IPCC would be more careful too. I doubt Al Gore has any careful in his genes.

When the press is scientifically ignorant, we all lose.

World Temperature Data — A Statistical Mess

I prefer  satellite data to land surface  data when discussing global temperatures.  Satellite data has calibration issues but it successfully avoids so many of the surface issues.   Climate scientists using surface data must accurately adjust data to overcome site location deficiencies, poor and incomplete data and a changing environment.  Unfortunately satellite data has only been around since 1979, making it a ridiculously small data set.

The IPCC admits in their 2007 report that the uneven nature of temperature sights are a problem today.  I can only imagine how difficult the problem must have been….say 150 years ago.

That said, there’s lots of temperature data out there….and when I look at all the different pieces of data, I find it difficult to draw the definitive conclusions so many climate experts draw.  When the IPCC says they are 90% certain man has caused most of the warming seen in the last 60 years, as they did in the last Synopses Report in 2007, I wonder what they see that I don’t see.

Let’s begin by looking at the Vostok Antarctic Ice Core Data Set.  The data ends in 1950 and begins 400,000 years earlier.  This chart shows both temperature and carbon dioxide.

Sometimes carbon dioxide and temperature go in the same direction, sometimes not.   Al Gore used only ice core data as his proof (in his documentary film An Inconvenient Truth) that global warming is the serious problem that he says that is.

I find that more than a bit ironic, because ice cores really don’t support his position well. I am particularly fond of the data from about 130,000 years ago.   In one 10,000 year period shortly after the peak temperature dropped 6 degrees C while carbon dioxide  managed to stay relatively steady at about 270 ppm.  Steady carbon dioxide, falling temperatures…and it went on for 10,000 years.

I’m also a fan of 345,000 years ago when carbon dioxide increased 15% in 10,000 years and temperature actually went down.  I suspect volcanic activity, but then that’s for another post.

Let’s move from Antarctica to Greenland and shorten the time span to 4,000 years.

Wow, there really was a Medieval Warming Period…in Greenland at least.   Of course Dr. Mann (of the Mann Hockey Stick Graph fame) has called the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age regional issues.  Well, let’s take a look at the oh so controversial Mann Hockey Stick Graph that was critiqued by me in a previous post

Check out the temperature scale in the previous two charts .   The Mann graph has almost no temperature change for the first 900 years of the chart, the Greenland core shows a change of about 3 degrees C in the same period.  Clearly the Greenland Ice Core disagrees with the Mann Hockey Stick Graph.

I’d be the first to admit that both Antarctica and Greenland are poor proxies for the world as they represent individual very cold locations…and the weather in Greenland will not accurately predict climate anywhere else in the world.   The data supports the argument that temperature is difficult to accurately measure….and it casts doubt on the validity of the Mann study.

Now well finish up with my two favorite very recent charts, the East Anglia University chart beginning in 1850 and a satellite data chart beginning in 1979 provided by the University of Alabama at Hunstville.

Look at all that variation in temperature.  Wow.  And carbon dioxide has been steadily rising.

When I look at all this data I wonder how anyone can make statements about global climate and carbon dioxide that are presumed to be uncontrovertible which appears to have become the new buzz word in the climate science game.

Sloppy Science has a long history at the IPCC

The UN has been in charge of climate research since 1988 when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was formed.   The UN has been in charge of negotiating treaties on climate too.  When one agency has that much control over the process, the opportunities for mischief are almost endless.

The notion that the UN is the worldwide expert on anything scientific seems odd to me.  The UN is not where I normally go when  seeking scientific enlightenment.  But I suppose if one wants to mix science and politics together into some form of sciopolitical stew, it’s the perfect place to go.

There have been too many big  mistakes at the IPCC.  Last week I discussed the 2007 Himalaya Glacier debacle. It was a horrible mistake on a grand scale .  In December of 2009 it was Climategate.  The IPCC has been sloppy for a long time.  My favorite is the 2001, Hockey Stick Graph event, sloppy science in the extreme.

Chapter 7 of the 1990 IPCC Climate Assessment is titled Observed Climate Variation and Change.  Back then the IPCC described in detail weather going back 600,000 years.  A discussion of the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age was a part of their evaluation.  Multiple graphs were included, with one covering the last 1000 years.  Here is that graph from page 202 of the report:

This graph and others like it were causing problems for the IPCC. If it was warmer 1000 years ago (and 6000 years ago too on a different graph), how could the IPCC be sure the warming we were seeing today was man caused?

In 1998 a small miracle appeared.

Michael Mann and others published a new study in Nature that showed rapid 20th century warming.  The study included a 600 year long temperature reconstruction. Another 400 years was added in a second graph in 1999.  That 1000 year long graph became known as the Mann Hockey Stick Graph.  Ta Da, the graph:

The same 1000 years, two very different graphs.  The Mann graph was magical.  In one single piece of research….Poof… the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age were gone. How convenient for the IPCC.

In 2001, the IPCC released its 3rd Climate Change Synthesis Report..  It featured the Mann Graph and the graph became the rage of the climate science community. Pro global warming scientists from all over the world adopted the graph.

Other studies that contradicted the Mann report were mysteriously missing form the IPCC Synopses.  The IPCC had just rewritten climate history based upon a single unsubstantiated piece of data that was brand new.  One sloppy WAG, and wrong too.

The Mann study turned out to be flawed.  It has been challenged both mathematically and scientifically.  But even if it had been accurate it was arrogantly sloppy science.  The study was too new and too untested to be adopted so quickly. Pro global warming advocates all over the world liked the results…it was the proof they needed …so they ran with it.

Look at the data.  There is very little fluctuation in data until 1900 (which  contradicted earlier studies) and then it went nuts.  Mann would later claim (in a March 2005 Scientific American article) that the Medieval Warming Period and the Little Ice Age were regional events. But he was graphing the northern hemisphere, the very region in question.

Earlier studies predicted single century changes of as much as 2 degree C., but not the Mann study.  The data never varied by more than .3 degree C in the first 900 years of the study. The data changed shape at the boundary layer between the  two main data sets (blue and red data sets), always a red flag.  A sudden change in shape that coincides with new data being used is an indication that the data sets might not be properly calibrated.   The IPCC featured the graph and then insisted they were right.  Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.

In the 1992 Synopses Report, the IPCC predicted a .3 degree C increase in temperatures per decade  (using 1990 as a baseline) with a 1 degree C increase by 2025.  In the 2007, the Synopses Report  predicted a .2 degree C increase from 2000 levels by the end of the decade with another .2 degree C increase by 2020.  They had in effect cut their predicted temperature rise by a third after an additional 15 years of study.   Obviously the first estimate must have been a wild ass guess.  And the second guess has been too high to….at least so far….sloppy science, the IPCC way.