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Climate change scientists starved of media coverage

According to the Independent they are, anyway.

The study showed climate change deniers were featured in nearly 50 per cent more media articles than expert scientists.

Naturally, the Indy cements its point by putting a video of renowned climate scientist Greta Thunberg at the top of the article. They also put up some graphs and, discussing them, can not quite bring themselves to use the study’s terminology of CCC (climate change contrarian) and talk about the non-existent CCD (climate change denier) data set. A testament to the Indy’s devotion to reporting accurately the true official expert view.

The Indy even gives us a lovely example:

For an example of how some media outlets mistreat environmental issues – Fox News had a debate about the Trump administration’s move to weaken the Endangered Species Act yesterday.

A former senior Interior Department official was defending the act, while a random editor from the conservative website Townhall was defending Trump.

One of those people is vastly more qualified to talk about the act than the other – Clue: It’s the one who worked for the government…

So not about climate change, and “worked for the government” is a synonym for “scientist” as far as the Indy is concerned, it would seem. Good work, guys.

As for the study, I am curious about how they selected the media outlets for comparison, but I have not yet looked. And I wonder what would happen if we measured media attention given to non-expert climate change alarmists?

In any case, even on the face of it the study does not quite show what the Indy thinks it shows:

Here we show via direct comparison that contrarians are featured in 49% more media articles than scientists. Yet when comparing visibility in mainstream media sources only, we observe just a 1% excess visibility, which objectively demonstrates the crowding out of professional mainstream sources by the proliferation of new media sources, many of which contribute to the production and consumption of climate change disinformation at scale.

I guess “crowding out of professional mainstream sources” is something the Indy would want to play down. Other than that it is the same old story: the peasants are revolting and the nobility are afraid.

42 comments to Climate change scientists starved of media coverage

  • People agreeing with the orthodox view is not news.

  • Runcie Balspune

    At the very least, there is a minor change in attitude, using a definition of “contrarian”, which although does not cover the vindictive baggage of “denier” it does still paint an impression of “wrong”.

    What most climate alarmists cannot seem to get their head around is that most “deniers” don’t actually deny the basic scientific evidence of human effects on the climate, but are questioning whether (a) anthropogenic CO2 emissions are the primary driver, (b) things will get worse and (c) there is an impending eco-catastrophie waiting for us and we must act immediately.

    It is neither denial or incorrect to question any of the scientific hypothesis, doing so is not contrary to anything but part of healthy discussion of the scientific method.

    Note that the Indy is parroting the same left-wing fantasy, implying that once you work for the government you become some hyper-intelligent paragon of goodness with enhanced morality and instant scientific understanding in all fields.

  • Stonyground

    It really doesn’t matter what your credentials are, if you are wrong you are still wrong no matter how well qualified you are to comment. None of the predictions made by climate science in the last thirty years have come to pass, not a single one. The suggestion that their hypothesis has been falsified and that they need to re evaluate it is perfectly reasonable. The Climate Change Contrarians are those that are still insisting that CAGW is a thing after it is quite evident that it isn’t.

  • Darrell

    Shall we send them to the camps, or just take ’em out and shoot ’em?

  • Ian Bennett

    Given that we have repeatedly been told that “the science is settled”, why do we still have climate scientists?

  • Cesare

    The author has plainly never met anybody from the US government.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Runcie Balspune: not to mention (d) the action we must immediately take is to implement socialism.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    From the ‘Nature’ article: “We juxtapose 386 prominent contrarians [i.e., real scientists pursuing the truth] with 386 expert scientists [i.e. money-grubbing unscientific useful idiots supporting the Party line] …”

    Goodness gracious! There are 386 “prominent contrarians”! There is hope for the human race — and for science — after all.

  • Nullius in Verba

    They are such lying weasels!

    “Historians of science have detailed the political origins of the CCC movement, documenting how its strategic efforts succeeded in distorting the science-based narrative on multiple fronts, e.g., by promoting the idea that there is a lack of scientific consensus concerning anthropogenic CC [6,8,9,10,11,12], despite the fact that objective research has found little evidence for such a claim. One study comparing consensus scientists with unconvinced scientists found that the 2–3% of researchers unconvinced by evidence for anthropogenic CC were not only small in group size but also had substantially lower levels of authority in the CC literature [10]. Another study surveying ∼3000 earth scientists found the highest levels of CC consensus to be among the most expert climatologists [5].”

    Reference [10] is Anderegg and Prall 2010, which compiled a list of climate experts both for and against the consensus (903 for, 472 against, 1372 total, 3 names in both lists), that were 66% for and 34% against. They made no attempt to claim this sample was representative of scientists or climate scientists as a whole. They simply observed that those who disagreed with the consensus didn’t get published as often in the climate science journals.

    You can confirm the numbers here.

    Reference [5] is Doran and Zimmerman 2009, which can be found here.

    Doran and Zimmerman got 3146 Earth scientists of various specialisations to complete a survey asking two questions:

    1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant?

    2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

    They only got asked question 2 if they answered “risen” or “fallen” to question 1. They say:

    Results show that overall, 90% of participants answered “risen” to question 1 and 82% answered yes to question 2.

    Since the 82% is 82% of those 90% who were asked question 2, only about 90% of 82% could have answered risen/yes. That’s about 74%.

    That’s for scientists generally. They don’t mention the figure for climate scientists in the text, but the number appears as column 3 in figure 1 and is around 88%. Again, that’s 88% of those asked, but we can’t tell how many were.

    Again, it’s only when they narrow the sample down to the group that gets lots of papers published in the climate science literature that they (almost) hit the 97% figure so widely cited. There were only 79 such scientists out of the initial sample of 3146. Only 77 of them answered question 2, and 75 of those answered ‘yes’. (Presumably ‘risen’/’yes’, but there’s nothing here to say that none answered ‘fallen’/’yes’.) So that’s at most 75/79 = 94.9%. But they’re not going to miss any weasel trick to get a higher number, so they say:

    “Of these specialists, 96.2% (76 of 79) answered “risen” to question 1 and 97.4% (75 of 77) answered yes to question 2.”

    Papers reporting the supposed consensus of ‘scientists’ or ‘climate scientists’ are in fact reporting a consensus of ‘climate science journals’. Only consensus scientists get published – that’s at 97%. But as Doran and Zimmerman show, significantly less than 97% of scientists are believers. Which demonstrates that the climate science journals are not representative of scientific opinion, or even the opinion of climate scientists.

    And yet, almost without exception, all the lying weasels citing the 97% figure say it’s the percentage either of ‘scientists’ or ‘climate scientists’! Their numbers are wrong, as can easily be discovered by simply following their own references (!!), let alone having any knowledge of how this particular subject has been extensively treated in the climate debate they claim to have just studied, which suggests that the authors here didn’t. Or that if they did, they figured they’d better pretend they hadn’t too if they wanted to get any more of their papers published!

    Perhaps having discovered through their research that the best way to get published in journals like Nature is to lie like a weasel, they exploited their research findings for professional profit?

    ‘Nature’, of course, burned their reputation to the ground when they first published the infamous ‘Hockeystick’ paper by Mann, Bradley, and Hughes without checking it, and then failed to deal with it in a scientifically ethical manner when the flaws and falsifications were discovered. That they still haven’t learned the lessons of recent history even today is no great surprise.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As pointed out in the OP this quote from the Indy has nothing to do with climate change, but here it goes:

    For an example of how some media outlets mistreat environmental issues – Fox News had a debate about the Trump administration’s move to weaken the Endangered Species Act yesterday.

    A former senior Interior Department official was defending the act, while a random editor from the conservative website Townhall was defending Trump.

    One of those people is vastly more qualified to talk about the act than the other – Clue: It’s the one who worked for the government…

    So Fox News gets a highly qualified person to argue for the anti-Trump side, and a cowboy to argue for the Trump side.

    How is that not blatant evidence that Fox News is biased against the Trump administration?

  • neonsnake

    environmental issues – Fox News had a debate about the Trump administration’s move to weaken the Endangered Species Act yesterday.

    Already noted at least twice, but: GAH!

    I hate when people equate every environmental concern with one’s position on climate change!

    It’s entirely possible to be (at least) uncertain about the impact of/necessity of government intervention on climate change and still have other (unrelated) environmental concerns!

  • Julie near Chicago

    Neon’s summary is much more restrained than mine would have been, but I do think it applies to all of Rob’s quoted material. (NOT, of course, to his own remarks in his posting). To wit:

    GAH !

    .

    I do think that our Mr. de Havilland has an interesting visual there. :>))

  • Gene

    What most climate alarmists cannot seem to get their head around is that most “deniers” don’t actually deny the basic scientific evidence of human effects on the climate, but are questioning whether (a) anthropogenic CO2 emissions are the primary driver, (b) things will get worse and (c) there is an impending eco-catastrophie waiting for us and we must act immediately.

    I think we should add 2 more questions that must be asked: (d) do those convinced something must be done have an intelligent, workable plan for what it is we must do, and (e) if such is the case, have those in possession of allegedly workable plans spent any time at all considering the possible unintended consequences of their proposed course of action?

    The list could go on, of course: Are the actual people now running first-, second- and third-world governments capable of managing even 5% of the elements of this grand plan of action without FUBARing the whole scheme?

    And of course, the final and most important question of them all is: How bad must the inevitable police state be before the suffering caused by your policy outweighs the gains from it?

  • neonsnake

    Neon’s summary is much more restrained than mine would have been

    How very unusual of me!

    😉

    Wot wiv it being a Friday night, the Lady and I are putting the world to rights, whilst being a couple of bottles of Malbec in.

    We’re listening to the new album by our favourite punk guy, and it’s very, very good.

    He’s been mentioned on these here parts before 🙂

    We’re trying to work out this, and we’re struggling.

    The Lady is a Feminist. I will fight anyone who says that Feminism is no longer relevant, since she comes from a country where it clearly is relevant.

    I know, it’s off topic, but we don’t know where else to post 🙂

  • David Norman

    OT as well, and cheeky since I’ve only commented once here, but this seems a good time to mourn the recent passing of the reclusive, disturbed and brilliant David Bergman, the inspiration behind the quixotic indie band the Silver Jews. Possibly 97% of people have never heard of him or the band. My only excuse is it’s Friday.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I hate when people equate every environmental concern with one’s position on climate change!”

    They do tend to be strongly correlated, though!

    Although in this case the argument is not really about whether the environmental concerns are genuine or not, but whether the interests of wildlife should always and unconditionally be a higher priority than the interests of people, (and what doing so does to people’s attitude to wildlife).

    “It’s entirely possible to be (at least) uncertain about the impact of/necessity of government intervention on climate change and still have other (unrelated) environmental concerns!”

    Are you saying you *are* certain of the necessity of government intervention on *other* environmental concerns?!

    Concern for the environment is like concern for the poor, the disabled, women, homosexuals, the unskilled, etc. The left portray the right as being hostile to vulnerable and persecuted groups that arouse public sympathy, and justify their seizure of power over people on the grounds it is needed to protect the vulnerable. But in many cases their opponents aren’t unsympathetic to such groups, nor deny their vulnerability. They disagree about the *solutions*, not the sympathy.

    Do you think that opposition to minimum wage laws means we’re not concerned about the welbeing of the poorest unskilled workers? That we’re only interested in the profit margins of their employers? It’s the same sort of argument.

    Don’t go assuming just because the environmentalists say so that this law change is directed at harming or ignoring wildlife! The idea is to better protect it by balancing the needs of people and wildlife, ensuring people are not motivated by survival to subvert the law and thus discredit it, and concentrating enforcement resources on the genuine cases.

    “We’re trying to work out this, and we’re struggling.”

    Seems simple enough. You just have to ask what it would take to satisfy the feminists. If men don’t sing songs about women, we’re erasing them from history. If men do sing songs about women, it’s cultural appropriation. If a man sings songs about women, obviously that means you’re going to have a man in centre stage. If he brings in lots of women to sing the songs, then it’s not showing how a man is willing to sing songs about women too. There is no position that counts as ‘success’ for feminism here. The point is not to get men to behave a certain way – it’s to prove that any way for men to behave will be wrong, because they’re men.

    However, I don’t see it as a particularly radical blow for the rights of women, either. There’s no shortage of music by women, or music women like, or people to tell those stories. It might be a gimmick to sell the album by appealing to a particular audience, like aging rockers who insert “youth culture” references, or it might be a bit of attempted political virtue signalling (doomed to fail, obviously, since being a man you can’t join the club).

    The victory of feminism should mean that everyone of any sex can sing about what they want, whatever they find interesting, or inspiring, without having to debate how it fits into the political struggle. Is it good music? Did you enjoy it? Nothing else matters. To paraphrase Martin Luther King: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by their sex, but by the content of their character.” As soon as the critic started discussing the sex of the singer, rather than talking about the quality of the songs, it was made clear that that day is not here yet.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Enjoy Friday evening, neonsake.

    Once you & the lady have sorted out the problems of Feminism, you could turn your attention to the peculiarities in the New Musical Express’s somewhat negative coverage of Frank Turner, specifically:
    “Someone who plays in a band called Möngöl Hörde – and who also refused to change the offensive name …”

    What is so “offensive” about Mongol Horde? Would it be offensive to call my garage band ‘British Empire’? It sounds majorly racist for those honkies in the NME to object to someone celebrating the great mark on global history left by Mongols like Ghengis Khan and Subotai Bahadur. Surely drawing attention to the achievements of Mongols is just as important as drawing attention to Resusci Anne (the medical training doll better known as Rescue Annie) who is actually plastic rather than a woman. In fact, isn’t it kind of creepy to be writing songs about a pretend-female plastic doll whose chest gets pumped promiscuously by men & (real) women alike?

    I probably share your implied view that almost anything is more interesting than Establishment whining about “Climate Change’, for which they have NEVER advanced a scientific hypothesis. (There is a scientific hypothesis for Anthropogenic Global Warming — but observations do not support it. Which means that, in scientific terms, the hypothesis has been rejected).

  • bobby b

    “We’re trying to work out this, and we’re struggling.”

    TL:DR version of El Hunt:

    “You know that Frank Turner guy? He’s no way as woke as MEEEEE!”

  • Julie near Chicago

    Well, for just a few anti-CAGW-alarmists who are still environmentalists:

    Patrick Moore, co-founder and former member of Greenpeace, now a CAGW nay-sayer:

    “The Sensible Environmentalist”:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFHX526NPbE

    At WUWT or on UT, you may have seen Tony Heller. Have a look at his environmentalist record, headed “Lifelong environmentalist”:

    https://realclimatescience.com/2019/04/who-is-tony-heller/

    Then there’s Bjorn Lomberg, the original “Skeptical Environmentalist” who as far as I know brought the questionability of the AGW thesis to the world’s attention.

  • Frank S

    The decline of Nature has been marked. It is little better than a propaganda machine (also, see The Lancet, New Scientist, Scientific American, National Geographic, and no doubt a great many lesser-known outfits, for other examples of this corruption). The Nature editors have been threatened with legal action over this dreadful, shameful, trashy paper and not least its ‘supplementary information’, and here is a recent announcement from them:
    ‘This is an update of an editorial note issued on August 15. Readers are alerted that the editors are aware of a number of criticisms related to this work. These criticisms are being considered by the editors. The Supplementary Information for this Article is currently unavailable due to concerns regarding the identification of individuals. We will publish an update once our investigation is complete.’
    See: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/08/16/nature-communications-blinks-over-slimy-climate-blacklist-from-ucmerced-authors/

  • neonsnake

    “You know that Frank Turner guy? He’s no way as woke as MEEEEE!”

    Oh, it’s a complete hatchet job.

    See, whilst he’s a tattooed folk/punk singer, who is indeed quite woke (in the positive sense that I sometimes use the word), and can ignite a mosh-pit at 200 paces, he’s also got this terrible habit of saying naive things in interviews like “Capitalism enriches everyone – that’s an indisputable fact” and writing songs musing that maybe the government should stay out of people’s lives and property.

    Unsurprisingly, and we were finding it hilarious, sometimes he gets some flak for it – even when doing something as good and decent as writing a concept album about women who have played an important role in his life, getting a woman to produce it, and instead of his normal (male) backing band, getting women to play all the other instruments. The Lady thought it would be funny to “see what your friends on your libertarian website think”, as she puts it.

    Gavin – Mongol Horde is only offensive if you’re thinking of “mongol” as an insult for kids with Downs Syndrome. I don’t know if it made its way across the pond, but calling someone a “mongol” in the UK was a playground insult along the lines of “retard”.

    Are you saying you *are* certain of the necessity of government intervention on *other* environmental concerns?!

    No, not at all 🙂

    I was saying that whilst I remain uncertain of the veracity of man-made climate change, I’m even more uncertain of the government intervention that everyone seems to think so necessary.
    It was more an aside that just because I’m not a full-throated alarmist on global warming, people assume I also don’t care about endangered species, or deforestation, or other environmental issues. I don’t particularly think the government should be involved in them either, but it doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about them.

  • Rob Fisher

    Is “horde” the insult? Dehumanising individual Mongols, perhaps.

    Frank S: thanks for that, I hadn’t realised the paper was as controversial as that. Will add an update to the article about it when I’m near a proper computer.

  • What most climate alarmists cannot seem to get their head around is that most “deniers” don’t actually deny the basic scientific evidence of human effects on the climate

    Not sure that is true Gene, or at least there is another broader subset (“Null-A”) who think that climate change has got bugger all to do with humans at all (or human contributions are a rounding error) and all we are seeing is a normal amount of variability for an interglacial period.

    The real problem here is not that newspapers are giving too much coverage to people that don’t buy into the Warble Gloaming scam, but simply that the CAGW alarmists have been doing their Chicken Little act for so long that we are past the point of their predicted catastrophe dates (ice free arctic, no more snow, death of poochy, etc.) without any noticeable difference.

    July was meant to have been “Worlds Hottest July EVARRR!!”, but apart from a few nice days here and there it was uneventful here in Perth, Scotland and if anything August has been wet, cool and pretty miserable so far. Yes, I know “Weather =/= Climate”, except when it reinforces Warble Gloaming arguments.

    Being hectored by a 16-year old FAS/Autism spectrum Swedish child is not exactly doing wonders for the more sensiblist part of the debate either.

  • Stonyground

    Deforestation, such as that caused by government intervention leading to furnaces at Drax power station being converted to burn wood chips? Despite this being a ludicrous idea it was implemented without a single person in any position of influence speaking up and saying something like ‘Are you effing insane?’

  • Stonyground

    On the subject of the OP, my guess is that the alarmists have had to come up with a reason as to why they are losing the argument. It can’t possibly be because they are wrong so there simply must be some other cause.

  • Stonyground

    Having been interested in the subject of alleged man made climate change for many years I have gradually become one of those who thinks that the difference that CO2 makes to the climate must be negligible. The world has been getting gradually warmer since the end of the Little Ice Age and the records clearly show that there has been no acceleration of this process since industrialisation began.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Neonsnake: “… calling someone a “mongol” in the UK was a playground insult along the lines of “retard”.”

    It would be interesting to consider what has NOT been used as a playground insult at some time or another. Mongoloid referred to some facial characteristics of Down Syndrome children which reminded Europeans of the appearance of the Mongol conquerors who had kicked their asses in the 13th Century — which need not necessarily have been an insult. But in the judgment of the Politically Correct rulers to whom we now kow-tow, Mongoloid has joined Siamese Twins in that ever increasing list of words which we all know but must never say out loud.

    In the meantime, you must excuse me. I have to educate myself about an issue on the intersectionality of Climate Change, Feminism, and Slavery — the peculiar case of one Mia Khalifa.

    Feminists might say that Ms. Khalifa represents a praiseworthy effort at female empowerment by a young Arab woman, which thus merits the full support of every card-carrying feminist. On the other hand, young Mia definitely intended to raise anthropic temperatures, which brings forth the ire of the global warming crowd. Ms. Khalifa’s complaint is that the patriarchy under-paid her for her efforts — and under-payment is getting uncomfortably close to Epstein-like slavery, which should bring the anti-slavery crowd to her defense. These intersections could develop into quite an entertaining stramash, as they would say in Scotland. I need to do some research. This could take a while. 🙂

  • Snorri Godhi

    Julie:

    Then there’s Bjorn Lomberg, the original “Skeptical Environmentalist” who as far as I know brought the questionability of the AGW thesis to the world’s attention.

    Not to be pedantic, but Lomborg did not question the AGW part of CAGW: he only questioned the C part. At least, that was the position of The Skeptical Environmentalist: don’t know if he changed his mind.

    Anyway, the fanatical reaction of Nature, Science, and Scientific American to The S.E. is what made me doubt AGW for the first time (iirc). Clearly, they had something to hide.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nullius did an excellent hatchet job on Doran and Zimmerman. I point this out because it is buried rather deep in the comment, so you might have missed it.

    BTW Mongol culture is one of my favorite non-Western cultures, thanks to Jack Weatherford’s excellent Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World — which i have seen described on Amazon as: Genghis Khan through rose tinted glasses.

  • CaptDMO

    Any mention of exactly how many honest-to-gosh scientists have redacted (or HAD redacted) their “papers” concerning The Anthropogenic Global Warming Theory , and the flailed honest-to-gosh Economic scientists citing the inevitable arbitrary source redistribution of funds needed to reverse it?

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nullius did an excellent hatchet job on Doran and Zimmerman. I point this out because it is buried rather deep in the comment, so you might have missed it.”

    Thanks! To be fair to D&Z, I do sometimes wonder if it was some sort of Trojan Horse paper. They did actually ask the question, and they did publish the numbers. It would have been relatively easy for them to omit the inconvenient ones. That the publicity/promotion only contained the headline 97% may have been necessary to get it past the media gatekeepers, published, and cited everywhere by climate activists who don’t generally bother to read beyond the headlines. It would be a level of subtle and elegant tactical sneakiness that I could only admire!

    But I don’t know. I might be reading too much into it, just because if anyone actually reads it, it turns out to be one of the most effective weapons in the sceptic’s arsenal.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    Snorri G: “Mongol culture is one of my favorite non-Western cultures, thanks to Jack Weatherford’s excellent Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World”

    There are a number of good books on the Mongols, whose history has tended to get short shrift in the West. John Man – ‘The Mongol Empire’. James Chambers – ‘The Devil’s Horsemen’.

    One of the most interesting “What-ifs” in history remains — What if Ogedei Khan had not died in the early 1240s, causing the successful Mongol armies to pull back from their steamrollering progress across Europe and return to Mongolia for the selection of the next great khan? Could we have seen the unification of almost the entire Eurasian land mass, from the Atlantic to the Yellow Sea? And if so, would it have made any more difference in the long run than Alexander the Great’s short-lived conquests?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Snorri,

    As it happens I am underwhelmed by the traumatic horror of so-called “pedantic” corrections. All (correct) corrections appreciated: Thanks. Carry on! :>))

    . . .

    As for the “Global Mean Temperature.”

    “If a man has his head in the oven and his feet in the fridge, on average he’s comfy.”

    Wish I could remember the exact wording, and what commenter on what website wrote it.

    .

    Seems to me the Famous Five apply to the interpretation of “Global Mean Temperature”: Who, When, Where, How, Why?

    (“Who” sets the definition, if one is set at all. Furthermore, in the Real World, both relative competence and preferred outcome are relevant to “Who” — both to “Who” sets the definition and also to “Who” decides the means of acquiring data and of deciding what if anything the acquired data means. Then there’s “Who” judges the probity of the results and of their interpretation….)

  • Stonyground

    I saw this over at Tim Worstall’s blog, can I please nominate it for quote of the day?
    Edward Lud
    They can’t control our borders. Or stop itinerants and immigrants maiming, murdering and immiserating the populace. They cannot balance a budget. Or (facilitate the) build (ing of) homes. Or utter the words, “tomorrow at midday we leave the EU”. They cannot prevent fly-tipping. They cannot even prevent hunting with hounds or the taking and selling of drugs (which they wish to do). Or prevent the deaths of thousands at the hands of the state monopoly in health “care”. Or the deaths and molestations of hundreds of others at the hands of the state monopoly in “social” “care”. They cannot maintain the roads. Despite being one of the richest nations in the richest era ever known, thousands of children routinely leave their tens of thousands of pounds’ worth of schooling scarcely able to read and write. They can scarcely maintain a standing army. And the navy is a threadbare joke. At every turn they institute policy, breaches of which are punishable with criminal sanction, explicitly designed to tear apart the delicate thread of a millenium’s sociable development.

    But they can control the planet’s temperature.

    This needs Dickens.

  • Stonyground

    Sorry, forgot the credit and I couldn’t get the edit thing to work. Quote was by Edward Lud.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Seems to me the Famous Five apply to the interpretation of “Global Mean Temperature””

    It’s a more complicated thing than most people being told of the concept would suppose.

    So to start with, there is a network of temperature monitoring stations around the world. Each is supposed to measure the air temperature 2 metres off the ground (because it varies rapidly with height) and out in the open (because trees and shade from buildings affect the temperature significantly), and this is used to represent the temperature of the entire area halfway to the next temperature station in any direction. (Mmm…) Because the temperature varies over the day-night cycle, they use max-min thermometers and take the midpoint of the maximum and minimum temperature over the previous 24 hours between taking readings. (Obviously, that’s not the definition of ‘average’.) But because this means the result you get depends on what time of day you take the readings, there’s a ‘Time of Observation Bias’ (TOBS) adjustment that gets added on. Each site also has its own seasonal cycle – the temperature rises in summer and falls in winter! So they subtract the average of all observations taken on that day of the year. (There is some difficulty with the issue of leap years, but we’ll pass over that…)

    And then there are other biases to be taken into account. If trees and grass grow up around the station, but are periodically cut down, the temperature jumps. If the Stephenson Screen in which the thermometer is housed is repainted, as you have to do from time to time, the temperature jumps. If there’s building work and they have to move the temperature monitoring station to a different location (often without recording the fact in the official log), the temperature jumps. These sudden jumps are detected, assumed to be station moves, and subtracted from the record. If they’re actually caused by gradual changes suddenly being reset, you get a steadily rising or falling bias from deleting all the resets. (And guess which way it usually goes!)

    It’s also known that cities are several degrees warmer than the surrounding countryside, and not only have monitoring stations out in the rural country 50 years ago gradually found themselves in the middle of towns as they spread, the towns have also got bigger over time. Phil Jones did a collaborative study with Wei-Chyung Wang in China that purported to show that this didn’t have any effect on the temperature average, so they didn’t need to adjust for it. They found a whole load of temperature stations in rural China they said hadn’t moved, and found their average was the same as those in the cities. One sceptic said he didn’t believe it, and demanded the list of stations so he could check. This was the data request to which Phil Jones gave the famous reply “Why should I make the data available to you, when your aim is to try and find something wrong with it?” As it turned out, they made the mistake of doing another study with the same data in a journal that required data to be published, and were forced to release it. It turned out that in most cases the rural stations either had moved, or there were no records of whether they had moved or not.

    And then there is the fact that the temperature stations come and go. Before 1930 they were mainly in Western Europe and America – they only really went global later. So the average is taken from an ever shifting and changing set of sample points. Some places, like the Pacific, Arctic, and Antarctic have very few temperature monitoring stations, spaced hundreds of miles apart. There are also the vagaries of international relations – if you’re not on friendly terms with a nation, they might not want to give you their weather station data. (Guy in remote outpost transmitting strings of numbers to our enemies? What could go wrong with that?) Or if peace breaks out, you might suddenly get 20 years of back-records all at once. From about 1990 to 2010 a lot of the temperature stations dropped out of the networks, a phenomenon wryly called the “Great Dying of Thermometers”, although in many cases the stations are still operating, just not included. (See here for a nice animation showing it.) A lot of the recent rise in global mean temperature anomaly occured at the same time half the temperature measuring stations dropped out of the network. Totally coincidentally, we are assured.

    And then there have been instrumentation changes. We used to use mercury thermometers everywhere, diligently monitored by devoted functionaries who religiously noted down the mercury level observed consistently to the nearest one degree marking, and who never made mistakes, or forgot to do it and filled in some random numbers later. (You believe that?) Nowadays we use electronic thermometers that can be recorded continuously. (Although as they now need long cables to lead back into the buildings where the power supply is, they’ve often been moved to stand next to the building.) The shift to new instrumentation is often associated with a change of behaviour, but often is not recorded in the records sent to the people doing the averages.

    There’s a statistician’s story (Richard Feynman told a version) called the Emperor of China’s Nose. The Emperor of China lived in the Forbidden City, and nobody outside was allowed in, so when the official sculptor came to do his official bust, he didn’t know how long to make the nose. So the Empire’s officials went out to all the towns and villages and peasant’s huts in China, and asked everyone “How long do you estimate the Emperor’s Nose to be?” And then the officials collected up all the many answers, and diligently averaged them. As every statistician learns in school, the standard deviation of an average is the standard deviation of the individual estimates divided by the square root of the number of samples. If everyone’s individual estimate is within 5 cm of the truth, and we average a hundred million estimates, then the average should be within 5/10,000 cm of the right answer, an error of about 5 micrometres. This was deemed sufficiently precise for the offical Imperial bust.

    The same question arises when we take temperature measurements each with +/-0.5 degrees error, and generate an average quoted to a hundredth of a degree or better. Does averaging more data always result in a more accurate answer? If you asked enough Chinese peasants, could you get a result so accurate you could resolve the individual atoms on the Emperor of China’s nose? Professional statisticians know that the answer is ‘no’, but in the introductory stats lessons that scientists in other fields like physics or meteorology take (or, being students, sleep through), this point often doesn’t come up.

    The temperature of the world is a complicated question, even if the scientists involved are totally honest and competent.

  • Gavin Longmuir

    NIV — All good! And let’s not forget the indisputable fact that about 2/3 of the planet’s surface is covered with water. Percentage in the critical equatorial region is even higher. The story of taking the temperature of the oceans is even more fun! No wonder the taxpayer-funded zealots prefer playing with computer models to working with real measurements.

  • Frank S

    This chap, Willis Eschenbach, is a pretty good data analyst, and shares his thinking and his analyses in an open and welcoming manner. He has taken another look at the dreadful, shoddy, trashy Nature Comms paper, and is not impressed:
    ‘Gotta say, every time I look at this heap of steaming bovine waste products it gets worse … but hopefully, this will be the last time I have to look at how this particular sausage was made.’
    Worth a read: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/08/18/inside-the-sausage-factory/

    Truly the deranged pushers of climate alarm are a really unimpressive mob. How soon before enough people see that? Enough to get them sidelined.

  • Myno

    NiV, I grew up in the 60’s on a 25 acre citrus orchard in the SoCal desert. We had a weather station, a little white structure raised ~2 meters off the ground, that had been placed in the middle of our property when the young trees were first planted, and around which they grew eventually to substantial height. The trees were planted in rows about 20 feet apart, the station sitting in the middle between two such rows, eventually protected from direct sun for most of the day, insulated from the cold of desert night. Whatever possessed them to put it there in the first place, I cannot guess, but if that was typical of the care taken in site placement, then the data was seriously skewed and begging for “corrections”.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Whatever possessed them to put it there in the first place, I cannot guess, but if that was typical of the care taken in site placement, then the data was seriously skewed and begging for “corrections”.”

    How about this one?

    https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/tahoe_city3.jpg

  • Bruce

    Greta Thunberg?

    Pol Tot

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