Mann Blocks Lew, Loses Betts

It’s like the children’s game “scissors cut paper wraps stone”, or an image from a medieval bestiary showing a circle of mythical beasts, each one chomping at the private parts of the next. But these aren’t mythical beasts, they’re climate scientists.

Let’s start with that paper by Karl et al.  which, as you probably know, ironed out the kink in the temperature anomaly graph and thereby eliminated the Pause.

[Our Favourite Astrophysicist will be along in a minute to point out that the Karl paper makes no difference at all to things in the real world, any more than untying a knot in a piece of string alters the dimensions of the string. Just as a number 40 Lothian bus takes you from Musselburgh to Penicuik whether or not there’s a deviation due to roadworks at Bonnyrigg, so the temperature goes from A to B whether or not there’s a Kraken lurking in the depths of the Pacific jealously hoarding a pile of Joules he stole from the dwarves of the NOAA.]

Where was I?

But Karl et al 2015 was not the only effort to untie the knot and get the traffic flowing again at Bonnyrigg-the-data. There have been over thirty I believe, including three papers by Stephan Lewandowsky, James S. Risbey & Naomi Oreskes, the latest of which: “On the definition and identifiability of the alleged “hiatus” in global warming”  was discussed by Lewandowsky in an article at the Conversation in which it was demonstrated that a pause is neither a pause, nor is it a hiatus, but a “routine fluctuation.”

Professor Richard Betts (Betts of the Met) commented – politely, as is his wont:

“It’s not true that the “pause” meme started as a sceptic thing then got taken up by the scientific community, as Steve Lewandowsky et al have claimed. In the mid-2000’s, climate scientists working on the new topic of decadal forecasting found that a slowdown then return of warming was forecast by their models […] ..a perfectly respectable scientist got labelled a “denier” for his pains.

This is all just symptomatic of political correctness amongst “climate communicators”. In reality, we do not expect the global mean surface temperature to follow a linear trend. The suggested new phrase of “routine fluctuation” is pretty dismissive of climate research IMO – it suggests “nothing to see here, move along….” – whereas in fact there have been some interesting and (importantly) unpredicted things happening. So, sorry Steve, but we (climate scientists) still reject your conspiracy theory that we cowed to the sceptics…”

I intervened too, to point out that the graph used in the Conversation article was not the one used by Lewandowsky et al. in their paper. Their paper used a GISTEMP graph which clearly showed the “pause” (which they then demonstrated to their own satisfaction was not a pause, but a routine fluctuation) while the Conversation article used the graph from the Karl et al. paper which used new data (missing heat due to Kraken farts in the deep ocean) from which the routine fluctuation was clearly absent.
Needless to say, my argument – that illustrating an article about a paper which said one thing with a graph from a different paper saying something quite different was a little – unorthodox – was dismissed by the Conversation’s resident band of climate scientists, who emerged from under their rocks beating their chests, making priapic gestures and howling “Look! No Pause!”
Enter Michael Mann, who is co-author of a new paper which takes issue with Karl et al. The abstract states: “It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming, has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims.”

There has been some speculation as to why Mann (and a lot of other big climate names) should deny Karl’s pausebusting paper. Climate scientists usually show an admirable solidarity. Could it be anything to do with the possibility of Karl being hauled before the Science Committee of the US Congress? Surely not.

Mann is only one of eleven authors after all, but it’s interesting that he should put his name to an article which proposes a thesis which, according to Lewandowsky, has been deliberately fabricated by climate contrarians in order to subvert science by a process of “seepage”.

And it’s doubly interesting in that Mann and Lewandowsky (together with three other authors) collaborated last year on an opinion piece in Nature listing the different ways that science was under attack. Mann mentioned having received an envelope containing white powder; third author Linda Bauld described the machinations of Big Tobacco; and Lewandowsky described one anonymous email which called him a Nazi zionist kike and a number of other emails which bullied his editor into retracting an article of his. (In a separate article he linked to blog posts which named the bullies: Steve McIntyre, Anthony Watts and me.) This joint work, entitled “How Antisemitic Climate Contrarians are spreading Anthrax and Hurting my Feelings” or words to that effect, can be found here.

With Mann and Lewandowsky now in opposite camps on the question of the Pause, it will be interesting to see if they air their differences in public, for instance at the Conversation, where Lewandowsky is a frequent contributor, with 39 articles, just like the Church of England.

Mann, on the other hand, has only one, written in tandem with philosophy professor Lawrence Torcello, entitled “Limiting Global Warming to 2°C: the Philosophy and the Science,”  which describes a “phony, immoral, and dangerous attack on settled science,” which phrase links to the Mann & Lewandowsky article on anthrax attacks and anti-semitic emails and to an article by Mann’s co-author professor Torcello, the abstract of which stated that:

“It is morally condemnable for public officials to put forward assertions contrary to scientific consensus when such consensus is decisive for public policy and legislation. It is imperative upon educators, journalists, politicians and all those with greater access to the public forum to condemn, factually and ethically, pseudoskeptical assertions made in the public realm without equivocation.”

So is Mann’s own co-author telling him it is a moral imperative that he should condemn publicly Lewandowsky? Lewandowsky has already insulted Betts in a retracted (but republished) peer reviewed paper. But should he also condemn Mann? It all depends whether Mann and his ten co-authors, or Karl and his eight co-authors (and hence Lewandowsky, Risbey and Oreskes) are right about the pause (and by “right” I mean of course “part of the consensus”.)

And that, no doubt, depends on whether the head of the Congressional Science Committee orders Karl et al to cough up their emails and their backs of envelopes.

35 thoughts on “Mann Blocks Lew, Loses Betts

  1. RAFF
    Try telling that to Cook, Lewandowsky, Mann & co. You’re either with them or against them. Hence the 97% and their inability to engage in debate, since debate would oblige them to recognise the variety of sceptical positions, and the frequent overlap of their positions with ours. They can’t, for ideological reasons, let their Venn diagrams interact with ours. But they must, sometimes, adjust their positions to maintain some overlap with reality. So we meet, and either collide or pass like ships in the night.

    You’ve got to admit that it’s pretty funny how Karl eliminates the pause by ironing out the kink where the upward trend meets the flat bit; Lewandowsky says straight out that the pause is not there, based on a graph where it’s there for all to see, and gives it a new name; and Mann says they’re both wrong, it is there, while Mann and Lewandowsky coauthor a paper treating everyone who doesn’t agree with them as subverters of science.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Why the merry-go-round?

    Look at it from their point of view – they used to be super-stars – now as the “data python” slowly strangles their alarmist scam to death, they are finding they just can’t say anything interesting any longer – they aren’t getting the headlines they once got and now they are just has beens trying to get some attention.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Most religions seem to eventually founder on factionalism.

    Shia v Sunni, Anglo v Catholic, Reform v Orthodox……. & now…. The Believers in the Mystery of The Pause v The Disciples of The Unyielding Fire

    I guess when your religion requires unquestioning acceptance without real evidence it becomes a bit hard to set limits to the power of imagination.

    If history’s any guide – it seldom ends well.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Geoff, your account does sound amusing, but experience with “skeptics’ ” interpretation of events tells me that reality is probably somewhat different.


  5. Many thanks Roger

    Sticking to my Venn Diagram image, it seems perfectly possible that you, Foxgoose and Scottish Sceptic are all right.
    It really does look like a religion coming apart, but it’s worth pointing out that the squabbles of the early church didn’t stop it from becoming the official religion of the Roman Empire and remaining in power for 1700 years.
    It’s also perfectly possible that temperatures will start rising in a worrying fashion (they haven’t done so yet) and everyone will forget just how awful most of the science, and the behaviour of the scientists, was.
    On the other hand, if temperatures don’t rise, they’ve got comfortable university jobs and can retire gracefully into obscurity. The “data python” is powerless against security of tenure.
    What motivates us sceptics, I’m beginning to realise, is not the joy of being contrarian (though it has its fun side) but the idea of preserving one’s intellectual freedom. I can even agree with you if I feel like it. That’s an intellectual advantage that Lewandowsky and Mann don’t share.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Yeah, Geoff. Knowledge is a bummer. Without it you can believe the CO2 and methane levels can soar with no ill effects. With knowledge, one’s intellectual freedom is so cramped, tied down by reality. Oh for the fredom of being ignorant!


  7. Did the author and editor get in trouble with the leaders at the NY Times when Andy Revkin wrote in 2014 that scientists were trying to figure out The Pause, which didn’t exitst?

    “There’s been a burst of worthy research aimed at figuring out what causes the stutter-steps in the process [global warming] — including the current hiatus/pause/plateau that has generated so much discussion. The oceans are high on the long list of contributors, …”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. RAFF
    I would be interested to know the source of your knowledge that a large rise in GHG levels will have large adverse consequences. That is that future temperature rises will be non-trivial and have significant consequential effects. I am not asking for the level of proof to show that ceteris paribus a person smoking 40 cigarettes a day throughout from age will have a short life expectancy than one who does not. Just a “proof beyond reasonable doubt” criteria that would convict a criminal in a fair trial.
    In the context of this post, the temperature data changes have not conformed to the AGW hypothesis. Nobody can categorically state why. If it due to natural fluctuations, then you have to demonstrate that the late twentieth century warming was not augmented by the such fluctuations. If it was due to errors or biases in temperature data anomalies, you have to demonstrate more rigorous methods this round.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Yes, I second that.

    If RAFFI could only share this secret knowledge he’s guarding so jealously – we could have a group hug, a quick chorus of Kumbaya and all get on with healing the planet together.

    It seems almost perverse to keep it to himself.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Foxgoose
    Maybe I could help RAFF out, as actually making a clear cut case that can be cross-examined is something that he appears to have little experience.
    The strongest case, contributed to by thousands of the Worlds leading scientists, is made in the IPCC reports. From AR5 WG1 SPM section D3 it says

    It is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.

    A cross-examination might include
    – What about the early twentieth century. The Torcello/Mann article quoted by Geoff implies all the warming of the last century was human caused.
    – For CO2 alone, the central model climate sensitivity estimate implies at least as great a warming as any of the measured data sets. Then there is the methane impact on top.
    – Then there is this annoying slowdown. Can you prove it is a hiatus or pause? Which of the 52 excuses are you going to claim is authoritative? Or would you withstand cross-examination of the attempts to reevaluate the temperature data? Which one would you chose? Cowtan and Way 2013 or Karl et al 2015? Maybe just stick to the latest version of Gistemp – but by the time the case came to court the darn thing would have probably been revised again.


  11. RAFF,
    I will not be able to give you much help case on the evidence for the catastrophic part of CAGW. The IPCC reports are meant to be authoritative, but you case will become a bit unstuck if someone dips into AR4, with its Himalayan Glaciers, disappearing Amazon Rainforest and worsening droughts in some African countries by 2020. Even worse if someone mentions Lenton et al 2008 – Tipping elements in the Earth’s climate system. Would you be available to be cross-examined on on the possible tipping elements on the world map in Fig1?

    Of course, you may have much better evidence than this. You have an opportunity to truly amaze us.


  12. Bean counter, you misunderstand, as usual. Geoff might call you ‘shallow’. In the same vein as my example above, someone with no knowledge, you perhaps, might think that his blood alcohol level can soar with no ill efects. With knowledge, one’s intellectual freedom is cramped, tied down by reality and one knows that this may not be true. That doesn’t mean it *will not* be true, mind.


  13. Nice post. To paraphrase a famous line in a certain very popular movie franchise (Star Wars, Episode IV, Obi Wan Kenobi), I sense a great disturbance in the warmunist farce.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Raff, you might wish to expand your own knowledge of CAGW by perusing the climate portions of my ebook Blowing Smoke. Don’t just believe MSM like BBC and Guardian. Lots of analysis of IPCC AR4 and AR5, (both closely studied as to EG1 and WG2), and much related C in CAGW. Lots of footnotes for you to follow up on. Lots of color pictures under the seeing is believing and worth a thousand words hypotheses.
    Recommended starting points No Bodies (AR4/5 WG2 extinction risk), Tipping Points (rapid sea level rise), By Land or by Sea ( a Paul Revere’s ride reference meaningful to Yanks) on past sudden SLR (hint, academic misconduct), and Shell Games on ocean acidification (hint, two cases of academic misconduct concerning corals and oysters). There is much more to ponder, like Last Cup of Coffee, Snows of Kilimanjaro, Himilayan Glaciers, False Alarms, Credibility Conundrums (ok, US centric, but still completely debunking every single example in the overview chapter of the official 2014 Climate Report) …
    And thats just the C section. The AGW section is also illuminating, with many literature references.
    You will sleep better with lower blood pressure after a few fun reads. The end is not nigh.


  15. Betts is to be applauded for confronting Lewandowsky’s absurd conspiracy theory that the warming pause was an invention of climate sceptics that climate scientists fell for.
    But the implication that scientists saw it coming in the mid 2000s is an almost Orwellian bit of history re-writing. The IPCC in its 2007 AR4 report said that they expected warming of about 0.2C/ decade for the next two decades. Then there is the notorious 2009 Trenberth email, “where the heck is global warming”, “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it’s a travesty that we can’t”.
    The fact is that the mid 2000s was the time of “peak climate prediction” when climate scientists were at their most overconfident. Having been humbled by the pause, they are now more cautious. For example, there isn’t a projection over the next couple of decades in AR5 (2013) analogous to that in AR4 quoted above.


  16. Geoff old chap. Have you appointed RAFF as your intermediary?
    RAFF, How do I misunderstand? Are you proposing that CAGW might be both true and false at the same time? I will lower the criteria. Lets say > 95% change of CAGW being true, provided the Bayesian statistics are verified from statistics professionals.


  17. Manicbeancounter
    I didn’t want to interrupt.

    I said I enjoyed the intellectual freedom of being able to envisage different possibilities, including the possibility that the warmists might be right and warming might start at say 0.3°C/decade any time now. RAFF apparently doesn’t enjoy that freedom because of something he has called knowledge, which he can’t or won’t share with us. It seems to make him uncomfortable.

    I can’t remember offhand who I called shallow. Remind me. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t you or anyone who comments here. More likely scientists who can’t see further than a dodgy proxy or climate model.


  18. Raff, just to illustrate MacBeanCounter’s point about the IPCC AR5 statement (that the human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century) being complete bollocks rather far-fetched, here’s the GISP2 proxy with Hadcet appended:

    Source data:

    And before you say that the GISP2 proxy data is unreliable due to noise/kraken farts or whatever, it actually correlates well with the Vostok data: (from Bender at al, Nature, 1994)

    so I would say it is a good proxy for global temperatures.

    Geoff – another great piece, loved the references to the No.40 Lothian bus and the Bonyrigged data. I digress but I once tried to chat up a girl at a noisy student party in Edinburgh, asked where she was from and I thought she said Salerno, so I started that’s interesting, never been to southern Italy etc. She looked at me as if I was a bit weird, found out later that she was from Balerno.



  19. Geoff, your paragraph ‘There has been some speculation as to why Mann (and a lot of other big climate names) should deny Karl’s pausebusting paper. Climate scientists usually show an admirable solidarity. Could it be anything to do with the possibility of Karl being hauled before the Science Committee of the US Congress? Surely not.’ gets some more support at WUWT:

    Back in the summer of 2015, I sent Dr. Tom Peterson of NOAA/NCEI a private email saying that I’d lost my trust in him as an unbiased scientist and that this Karl et al. “pause buster” paper (of which Peterson did most of the work since Karl is just an administrator) would be his “Waterloo”.

    It seems that with the publication of a paper saying Karl et al. is wrong by some big names in climate science last week (including Mann of all people) and now this, my prediction is coming closer to reality.

    Did White House Collude With NOAA Over Temperature Adjustments?

    Distancing themselves from Peterson’s work could well be a straw being grasped at by Mann et al.


  20. It was Oreskes, Geoff.

    What motivates us sceptics, I’m beginning to realise, is not the joy of being contrarian (though it has its fun side) but the idea of preserving one’s intellectual freedom. I can even agree with you if I feel like it. That’s an intellectual advantage that Lewandowsky and Mann don’t share.

    I imagine they share that freedom. If they look at estimations of climate sensitivty, the curves show non-zero probability at very low values and at very high values. So one can very easily contemplate low sensitivity as a possibility. Equally, and with similar probability, one can envisage a high sensitivity world. But it is not as if one gets to pick between values – today I’ll agree with you and choose low sensitivity; tomorrow I’ll take a more concerned view and go with high. The chances of painlessly low sensitivity are perhaps the same a those of painfully high sensitivity.


  21. Raff,
    What you are saying here is that there is more than reasonable doubt that there is high sensitivity. The scientific way to see which is the more probable is to look at the evidence, rather than opinion. In legal terms it is trying to get high quality relevant evidence, and reject hearsay.
    By the way Raff, after misquoting Geoff I suggest you also look up the term “sceptic” in a dictionary. You will find that the Oreskes / Mann / Cook version is quite different from the OED.


  22. Of course there is reasonable doubt about high sensitivity. You’d have to have read/understood nothing of climate science not to know that.


  23. RAFF
    I’m glad we can agree about that. The problem is that all those who attended the COP21conference, plus all those who commented on it in the media, are clearly to be counted among those who “have read/understood nothing of climate science.” We sceptics point this out. Those in the science community who have read/understood something of climate science should thank us, but they don’t.


  24. Skeptics point out lots of things, including disputing the greenhouse effect, accusing science of some ulterior motive in changing the name of climate change to global warming, or perhaps the reverse, the existence of global UN conspiracy to control the world, force X from outer space, and so on. Are you surprised if thanks don’t come your way?

    Doubt about high sensitivity is of course balanced by doubt about low sensitivity. Do you share that?


  25. ‘…force X from outer space, and so on .’ Our pal Riff lives mostly in a world of his own imagining. It seems to be like some kind of awful pantomime with caricatured Wicked Sisters and him in some kind of heroic Buttons role. He (if that he be, or is it they?) gives us glimpses at his script from time to time, and his weak grasp of the ‘climate debate’ is revealed. For him, it is just a pantomime after all. Why should he take it seriously?

    Why should we take him seriously? Is it just because in some of his appearances at least, he gets to play a nasty character, and we revert to childhood, where we might have boo’d and wanted him shoo’d off the stage? Or do we just want some fun too?


  26. Shade, “force X” is a proposition from David Evans, husband of Jo Nova. They are two of the “skeptics”, prominent down-under, whom Geoff thinks climate science should be thanking for their efforts. Maybe they could be thanked for helping to make AGW skepticism the laughing stock it is, but they get plenty of help from bishops and lords in the UK.

    Doubt about high sensitivity is of course balanced by doubt about low sensitivity. Do you share that?

    Well do you? That would show rather a lack of intellectual freedom if an ideology prevented you from confirming the obvious.


  27. Oh my bad! I thought ‘force X’ was something you just made up, or found at the back of some comic book or other. I had forgotten about the usage by David Evans. His work is hugely enterprising and I would love to spend more time studying it. This is real science at work, albeit from someone working on his kitchen table. From careful analysis of the data, he comes up with a refutable/verifiable hypothesis and spells it all out in a highly transparent way. Readers might start here with it if this is news:

    As for your ‘doubt’, you are getting confused with risk. I doubt that CO2 is a major driver of the climate system, and that it threatens us. I note there is a small probability of low sensitivity to CO2 in some climate model analyses, and also a low probability at the high end. These are ‘risks’, or quantified possibilities worth taking seriously if you accept the models as reliable guides to reality. I do not.


  28. RAFF
    ”Doubt about high sensitivity is of course balanced by doubt about low sensitivity. Do you share that?”

    Of course I do. And when you don’t know whether something is going to be high or low, big or small, good or bad, what do you do? Wait and see of course. And measure. And the measurements say “low” – until they’re adjusted to say “high.” It’s kids’ stuff. Arguing with climate catastrophe believers is like playing snap with children.


  29. Shade, is it really “real science”? Most accounts I’ve read say it is bollocks. You’re the first “skeptic” outside of Nova’s site I’ve seen who’s taken in by it. Readers would be better to start here at Hot Whopper:

    I doubt that CO2 is a major driver of the climate system…

    Based upon what? It is very well established that it is. Is your doubt also “real science”?


    Of course I do. And when you don’t know whether something is going to be high or low, big or small, good or bad, what do you do? Wait and see of course.

    There’s no “of course”. I’m sure you could think of plenty of uncertain situations where waiting might work out well. But you could probably, if you actually used your intellectual freedom, think of just as many where it would not. So the question is whether the climate issue is the former or the latter.

    And measure. And the measurements say “low” – until they’re adjusted to say “high.”

    Ah, so those wicked people adjusting the records. Then you’re going to have a field day with the new RSS 4.0. And doubtless UAH Feb 2016 has been fudged upward too.


  30. RAFF
    Rather than shoot down people, how about demonstrating that there is a big relationship between changes in GHG levels and temperature.
    Then there is your defense of the temperature records.
    An analogy that is relevant. There have been huge advances in pharmaceuticals in the past few decades. Before a new product is launched on the market it must go through a stringent testing regime conforming to independent standards to demonstrate that it both makes the claimed difference and any side effects are properly understood. The researchers who work on these new products have collectively great demonstrable skills. Maybe we should suspend this process that costs hundreds of billions of dollars a time and just trust the opinion of these experts. This could be a great opportunity for you. When folks start questioning the expert opinion due to their Aunt Mable having bits drop off or growing an extra finger after taking the drugs, you could troll the blogs calling them science deniers.


  31. Pingback: Left Alone in the Gloom and Doom | Climate Scepticism

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