Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Another interview!

While jules was busy getting her hair pulled over there, I was having an exclusive interview with David Rose of the Daily Mail, some of which appeared in this article (apologies to anyone who suffers an allergic reaction to any of those words - firefox users may find this add-on useful).

In the interests of openness, here is the full transcript...



The reality is that there was no interview: he never even contacted me to check he had represented my views accurately, just as he didn't ask Ed Hawkins before apparently plagiarising his graph (and misrepresenting it into the bargain).

The "increasingly untenable" quote seems to have been pulled off the Revkin article (without attribution, naturally) which quoted me recently. Andy Revkin did exchange a few emails with me to ensure he had fairly represented my view, and I have absolutely no complaint with him on that score. The bit Rose adds about "the true figure likely to be about half of the IPCC prediction in its last report in 2007" is a complete fabrication of course, it's not something I can imagine having said, or being likely. I do think the IPCC range is a bit high, expecially the 17% probability of sensitivity greater than 4.5C. But their range, or best estimate, is certainly not something I would disagree with by a factor of 2. See here for some more extensive recent commentary from me.

Given all that, it's perhaps a bit pointless to comment on the other opinions quoted by Rose, as they may also be lies. However, Piers Forster appears to defend his (IMO reasonable) comment (though not the article as a whole). I'm a little more surprised by the comment attributed to Myles Allen - if he really thinks the higher estimates are "looking iffy" then it's hard to think of anyone who could still defend them. It wasn't long ago he was arguing that the IPCC projections were too optimistic.


46 comments:

unsettledclimate.org said...


Myles Allen suggesting a climate sensitivity of 2C.. plausible

(FULL comment taken from Bishop Hill)
http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2013/3/9/lindzen-at-the-oxford-union.html#comments

"I was deeply embarrassed to be associated with Hasan's ad hominem attacks on Dick Lindzen, in particular his going on about speaker fees and airline tickets. I thought this was going to be a discussion of climate science, and most of it seemed to be, as ever, about people and politics. As I hope I made clear when I had the chance, these were completely irrelevant to the discussion (and nothing he brought up seemed in any way exceptionable anyway) and that kind of attempt at personalising everything is just what is preventing a sensible discussion. I am very sorry that a visitor to Oxford was treated in this way.

On the science side, I'm happy to accept that studies comparing simple models with observations of the recent record, of which several have been published recently, suggest a climate sensitivity in the region of 2 degrees (although this isn't the only line of evidence). But even a two degree sensitivity, if we do decide to burn all available fossil carbon, which would take concentrations well over 1000ppm, would be more than enough for 4+ degrees of warming. The real question, therefore, is whether 4+ degrees is OK. That's what we need to be discussing, and unfortunately, because once again it was side-tracked onto irrelevancies, the debate didn't go there.

Mar 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM | Myles Allen

James Annan said...

Thanks, that really does sound like quite a substantial change from what I understood his previous position to be - though with no error bars on that 2C, it is hard to be sure.

unsettledclimate.org said...

so rather than 'lies' perhaps his interpreation of things.. given Myles was not having an issue with 2C?

especially as Rose had a long chat with Myles Allen at the Oxford Union Prof Lindzen debate. ie Ed Hawkins explanation of things come across as pedantic.. see Lucia's comments about it
http://www.climate-lab-book.ac.uk/2013/updated-comparison-of-simulations-and-observations/#comment-23625


(should have credited Ed though)

but plagiarism too strong,(newspaper not a journal) I don't think anyone would think that the graph is Rose's own work (just source not quoted, and that could be a sub editor, also Rose would have had no control over the headline.

James Annan said...

Certainly the other opinions may have been accurately reported - I have no evidence either way (well Piers doesn't seem to have a complaint, it is Myles' that seems strange to me). Mine, however, was neither sought nor given, other than my previous public comments. Which do not support the claim that the true figure is likely to be half the IPCC 2007 estimate.

BBD said...

James

This 'Miles Allen says 2C' meme has already come up elsewhere.

MA's second paragraph is somewhat ambiguous. One reading could be simply that he acknowledges the existence of studies comparing observations with *simple* climate models (surely a caveat there?) suggestive of 2C, but that there are other lines of evidence that point to a higher value.

MA's then reasons that 'even if' S = 2C etc. Not S = 2C therefore...

With luck he will clarify soon.

BBD said...

Given what Rose is doing at the moment, it would be helpful if everybody was as clear as humanly possible. Especially in comments at BH.

unsettledclimate.org said...



So this bit seems OK interpretation, given Rose also heard Myles views?

"James Annan, of Frontier Research For Global Change, a prominent ‘warmist’, recently said high estimates for climate sensitivity now look ‘increasingly untenable’,"

but the second half questionable:

"...with the true figure likely to be about half of the IPCC prediction in its last report in 2007."


Now the IPCC said this..


"Progress since the TAR enables an assessment that climate sensitivity is likely to be in the range of 2 to 4.5°C with a best estimate of about 3°C, and is very unlikely to be less than 1.5°C. Values substantially higher than 4.5°C cannot be excluded, but agreement of models with observations is not as good for those values"

http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/mains2-3.html

Which is vague enough to say perhaps he is not out of ball park wrong.. ie consensus about 3.0C

(about rangeing from say 2.5 - 3.5, depending who you ask, or even narrower say 2.75 - 3.25 C say)


Your Revkin email stated,

"all makes a high climate sensitivity increasingly untenable. A value (slightly) under 2 is certainly looking a whole lot more plausible than anything above 4.5.’"


Your slightly under, (1.9, 1.8?) is not a million miles away from 'about half' (about could also mean slightly less than half) of IPCC which was 'about' aswell

I really don't see any deliberate intent, he I think does quote everybody else fairly. SO it is NOT perfect, but I don't think deliberate attempt to mislead. Hope this does not become a distraction from an article with interesting points.. especially Myles' thoughts

Would have been better if David Rose had perhaps run it by you first.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294560/The-great-green-1-The-hard-proof-finally-shows-global-warming-forecasts-costing-billions-WRONG-along.html#ixzz2NyfhwStb


James Annan said...

The first bit is ok. I do think that values greater than 4.5C are pretty hard to take seriously, certainly at the 17% probability level. I have a few papers which say 5% ish for such high values (and these don't even account for the latest data).

But when I say less than 2 is more likely than greater than 4.5, this does not mean that I think that sensitivity is likely to lie in the range 1-2.25 (ie half what the IPCC said), nor that 1.5 is a better estimate than 3C (which was the IPCC best estimate). I'm just saying that the previous 2-4.5 range is unbalanced and I think the probability of sensitivity lying outside the low end is greater than it lying outside the high one.

I'd agree that it is a shame that he misses the chance to write a reasonably accurate and informative article, in favour of making stuff up. If he couldn't work out what I meant, I'm only an email away...

Steve Bloom said...

James, I expect Rose had other correspondents who were more than happy to tell him what you meant.

guthrie said...

I thought you would know that Rose is toxic as hell. Please remember for next time!

Paul Price said...

Tumbleweed! I know this is an Empty Blog but this is ridiculous.

nigguraths said...

You are cross with him because he called 'likely' what you considered 'plausible'?

EliRabett said...

Sorry James, for someone who insists on precision, you have to become more precise with the press. It is easy enough to say things like IMHO greater than 4.5 C is exceedingly unlikely, but less than 2 is unlikely also although there might be a small amount of wiggle room on that end. The most likely value lies between 2.5 and 3 C.

with people like Rose bear in mind that they have a script they want you to follow. That is why politicians in interviews repeat themselves constantly to avoid lose statements that can be manipulated.

Martin Vermeer said...

Huh. Was this a voluntary interview?

nigguraths said...

Dr Annan
I would agree with the Rabi

If you wish to garner the impression that you are battling mathematical and statistical ignorance at the IPCC and would like to make claims that their 'tail addiction' and 4C addiction is unfounded, then there has to be a point where someone's going to put two and two together to conclude 'Hey, that means this guy thinks sens is somewhat low'.

You certainly give me the impression that you are firmly in the warmie camp and yet someone who remains above the fray. There is only so long you can ride two horses.

Good luck with your Rose-bashing.

BBD said...

Shub

The point is that Rose *misrepresented* JA and he is objecting to that. Trying to frame this as 'Rose-bashing' is risible.

skanky said...

There wasn't an interview. Rose never spoke to James and just lifted a few out of context quotes, then added a fabrication. Hence the full transcipt being a "tumbleweed".

James Annan said...

Yes, skanky has it exactly right. I never had any communication with Rose. I thought that the tumbleweed, together with the explanation that "he never attempted to contact me" would be clear enough, obviously my miserable communication skills to the fore again, though plenty of people did somehow manage to get it right. Maybe the rest of you just couldn't believe that a "journalist" would simply make up stuff without any attempt to contact the supposed source? That's what happened!

All those who are trying to blame me for being insuficiently clear on how I expressed my views: if you want to excuse it all as a lack of clarity, your beef should be with Revkin, the professional and highly experienced journalist, as he was the one that chose what to quote out of our conversation, how to parse it, and added the surrounding discussion. Not me.

(Just again, for the avoidance of doubt: I don't think that Revkin's article was unclear. I think that Rose read it, didn't find anything anywhere near sexy enough for his article, and therefore made something up.)

David B. Benson said...

There are no journalists at the Daily Mail.

David Young said...

This strikes me as unfortunately par for the course in a field as highly politicized as climate science. It's the same in medicine where people have already digested the issues with positive results bias, anecdotal evidence, and the influence of money and activistis who are often just wacky, for example a lot of naturopathy. There are better controls there and more healthy skepticism and also a more open literature. But that's another story.

Rose should probably do a correction of his offending sentence. I note that corrections in climate science seem to never be done, no matter how important the issue. The most recent example is Marcott et al where the press releases and press reports are just not justified by a reconstruction that has a time resolution about 5 orders of magnitude longer than the modern thermometer record. Any talk of "rates of warming" in this context is just nonsense. Likewise, the hockey blade is a statistical artifact as shown by McIntyre quite convincingly. And the author himself admits its "not robust."

James it seems to me has been very cagey about an exact value, which is a wise thing given the uncertainties in the models, the noisey data, and the fact that those who have crossed the team in the past have paid a price. So, I don't fault him in this. One can make a number of cases based on various estimates. There are a lot of them that have been lower recently, but lets not debate that here. None of us really knows with any certainty.

One thing that is very clear is that the IPCC has used flawed statistical methods that bias their estimates to the high side. I've seen no response to this point either here, on Real Climate (where Nic Lewis and Jewson put in an extended appearance), or anywhere else for that matter.

That should really be the headline: IPCC needs to use valid statistical methods and actually consult real statisticians so we can avoid the way the paleoclimate Mannian controversy had to be debated in Annals of Statistics. Why wasn't this done in a climate journal?

James Annan said...

I've lightly edited the post to make it absolutely clear that there was no interview, or indeed any contact from Rose, before he made up and published that stuff about me.

Martin Vermeer said...

> Maybe the rest of you just couldn't believe that a "journalist" would simply make up stuff without any attempt to contact the supposed source? That's what happened!

Oops. I should be getting out more...

EliRabett said...

David, to understand what McIntyre did on the hockey stick you need to read Nick Stokes who reconstructed McIntyre and Mann's calculations. Essentially Steve cherry picked his own results. You will be shocked.

SteveS said...

Myles has now broken cover to give his own explanation:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/mar/20/response-mail-on-sunday-great-green-con-climate-change

From his line of argument I think BBD guessed about right. The 2 degree thing is an 'even if...' sort of assertion

guthrie said...

My apologies to James for thinking he'd be stupid enough to talke to Rose.

You know, this sort of thing is what I'd hope an actual press regulator could deal with. I can't tell if that will be the case, yet, since it's all in legalese.

BBD said...

Steve S beats me to it, but here's a Myles Allen quote anyway:

I have argued for years that the odds on a high climate sensitivity are largely irrelevant to the warming we should expect over the coming century, and I certainly never suggested to David that my assessment of the odds on any particular level of warming by 2100 had changed. Sure, current rates of warming in the highest-response models are looking iffy, for reasons that may or may not be relevant to their forecasts for 2100, but at the rate emissions are rising, you don't need a particularly high climate response to get to 4C by 2100 and 5C not long thereafter. The only time I mentioned 5C in our conversation was in the context of the long-term response to doubling CO2.

Who loses from this kind of thing? Well, there is no denying it makes me look a bit of an idiot. As one of my colleagues (who had best remain nameless) put it, "serves you right for talking to these ****s." But if climate scientists refuse to talk to Mail on Sunday correspondents, then their only information sources left are bloggers and David Whitehouse.


It seems you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.

nigguraths said...

Climate scientists appear to expect journalists to just rubbers-stamp their pronouncements. Any specimens with own brains are seen as an affront. Heh.

David Young said...

I'm a little surprised too by the tone of these almost slanders about Rose. Ring him up and try for a correction. More likely than any corrections on Marcott et al which are at least as bad. Are we trying to win or trying to clarify?

Hank Roberts said...

> almost slanders

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence ...

David Young said...

Yea, Hank, I see that Rose's articles are not always accurate. He was wrong in this instance with regard to James Annan's statements. Apparently, Allen has resisted the urge to join the name calling which I applaud. Have you followed the Marcott coverage? Do you regard it as wrong too? That seems worse to me because one of the authors was spreading unsupported assertions and the coverage was equally wrong. The problem here is that the field is politicized in no small measure due to the leaders of the field themselves. I think we deserve better.

James Annan said...

I certainly hope that Myles isn't sufficiently naive to believe his suggestion about the article being hacked up by an editor.

I wasn't that interested in Marcott, I didn't think it changed very much (just generating a more thorough and complete proxy analysis) and assumed that the talk of a recent rapid uptick referred to the observed warming and perhaps the future projection. It's probably fair to say that the proxy reconstruction wouldn't resolve a sharp rise if it had happened in the past, but on the other hand, there isn't any plausible hypothesis as to why such a thing might have happened.

andrew adams said...

David Young,

It's not just a case of Rose misrepresenting James and Myles Allen (although that's bad enough), the whole article is a pile of crap. He makes a bold claim - temperature projections are fundamentally flawed, and as "proof" gives us a graph which shows nothing of the sort. Nothing in the press coverage of Marcott even approaches this level of disingenuousness and Rose has form so he can't claim it's an innocent mistake.

David Young said...

James, In higher resolution reconstructions such as Greenland ice cores, there are many very sharp "upticks" in the Holocene and a huge one coming out of the ice age that dwarfs anything else. All are very rapid. Of course, that's regional and not global, but it indicates there may have been global changes as well. To say anything that makes sense scientifically, if that was the goal of the authors, one would have to rely on something other than low resolution data as was presented in their paper. The recent uptick in the paper is a statistical artifact and was NOT in Marcott's these that used the same data. How they "changed" the data (perhaps without realizing its impact) is shown very convincingly by McIntyre. Its so simple, a journalist could understand it. As a wag said, what was correct in Marcott et al wasn't new. What was new wasn't right.



David Young said...

This is something that bothers me. There seems to me to be plenty of evidence that the Mideval Warm Period was global. Yet Mann seemed to show it didn't exist. Not both can be right. How does one explain the hundreds of proxies from all over the world that seem to show it existed? I'd like to hear a consistent story.

David Young said...

James, You might be interested in some email Marcott sent to the Discovery blog's Tom Yulsman who had to significantly amend his post on this paper.

"We cannot say whether this change is unique across the entire Holocene because of the resolution (i.e., the sampling of temperature per unit time) of the entire dataset is about 120 years, and the nature of the Monte Carlo simulations smooth everything out to less than about 300 years.

[So] it would be incorrect to say the rate is greater than anything else seen in the past 11,000 years. When looking at our reconstruction of temperature it appears this way. [But] it is, in fact, just a resolution issue related to this dataset."

I guess he agrees with me on this one and disagrees with all the media outlets who trumpeted the unprecedented rate or warming.

Shakun was quoted as saying recently:

"Just a quick point here. I state in the interview that we can’t be sure there aren’t any abrupt global warming blips during the Holocene similar to the current one due to chronological uncertainties and the relatively low time resolution of our global temperature reconstruction. It is worth considering though that we do have several high resolution proxy climate records from various regions around the world (think ice cores), and if abrupt global warming events happened in the past, then we might expect these local records to show them…..but my sense is they don’t. So, this isn’t hard and fast proof that there weren’t any abrupt global events like today during the rest of the Holocene….but if I had to lay down a bet, it might make me place my wager on that side of the argument."

I guess he is not that familiar with the Greenland ice cores. Isn't he supposed to be an expert on paleoclimate? To me this does not inspire confidence in the profession.

James Annan said...

Of course he's fully aware of the Greenland ice core. The large rapid changes are all before the Holocene. The Holocene is strikingly stable in comparison:

http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/pd/tidescurrents/media/effect_influences_3.gif

The important distinction is that during glacial times, there is an additional mechanism (ice sheet dynamics) that can lead to very large changes on at least a regional scale.

David Young said...

I have seen the data. There are several upticks that are larger than the current one including one leading up to the Minoan warm period. But the current uptick seems to peak around 1940 if we trust the recent temperature record and assume its comparable to the ice core data. That uptick couldn't have been due to CO2 if we believe the IPCC. The graph is readily available. If you look at a blow of the last 20000 years in your plot, you will see it too. If I am missing something, please correct me.

David Young said...

James, Here is a link

http://hot-topic.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GISP210klarge.png

This has what I think is a crude attempt by someone at I think Skeptical Science to indicate the current temperature as the upper black line. Not sure of its accuracy, but its probably an overestimate if it came from SkS. It is probably an attempt to debunk Easterbrook and so errs on the high side.

Also why did the current uptick seem to end in 1940?

James Annan said...

David, you've got to realise that although these graphs are presented in terms of (estimated) temperature, there are potentially a lot of other things going on there too. The d-O18 record depends on the entire time history of the water molecules that end up in the ice, not just the teperature at the point of precipitation. So for example shifts in winds could easily lead to changes in proxy values. Note that our uncertainty in the temp change over Greenland from LGM to Holocene is of the order of 5C. Of course the phenomena of polar amplification and land/sea constrast also imply that any coherent global change will be substantially smaller than what is observed in Greenland.

David Young said...

I agree with everything you said in the previous message, James. However, I still think Shankun is kind of out on a limb and his characterizations are not exactly based on solid science. So then why is he out there making a splash about something that is not new? And why was the spurious uptick in their Science paper? Surely they noticed that their data manipulations had caused it. Marcott's thesis based on the same data had NO uptick. Maybe Marcott being a recent PhD, was vetoed by his thesis advisor.

It seems to me that this is another instance of scientists not being wholly up front and seeking publicity, perhaps having noticed the meteoric rise of The Mann from graduate student to Nobel Peace Prize Winner. That's not the worst thing in the world and is a natural tendency of everyone, but we shouldn't pretend its just low key scientists giving us "just the facts."

As BBD, who seems to consider himself some type of generalissimo of climate scientists, said earlier on this thread, "Everyone should be as clear as humanly possible, especially at BH." Why just Bishop Hill? BBD (affectionately known as Blah Blah Duh at other blogs) it seems to me has by accident hit the nail on the head. It seems to me it should be a general rule for scientists who wish to be perceived as objective by the public. If only Mann paid attention to his anonymous generalissimo!

BBD said...

'David Young'

Misrepresentation *and* name-calling. Woo.

And that would be Jeremy *Shakun* that you are accusing of being 'out on a limb' and producing results 'not exactly based on solid science'. If you are going to call his professional competence into question in public, at least get the man's name right.

David Young said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
James Annan said...

By all means have a discussion, but silly name calling and abuse aren't interesting.

David Young said...

Lets be as "clear as is humanly possible." I have not said that Shakun or anyone else is incompetent. But I do think his public statements have encouraged incorrect and exaggerated press reports that are not helpful. Marcott seems to be trying to rein in the most outrageous press reports, which I would say is a good thing. Where is the misrepresentation?

David Young said...

Speakng of sharp spikes and whether they are unprecedented, what do you think, James, of this work:

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10136&page=R1

It seems that abrupt shifts and "spikes" are rather more common than I had thought.

James Annan said...

That's pretty much what I was talking about with the old Greenland record (and there are other examples). The questions of how relevant they are to the present (immediate future), and why the Holocene was so stable in comparison, are largely open. But as I said, large ice sheets are thought to be a major player in at least some of the rapid shifts.

Hence the widespread interest in this sort of research.