Really Sciency

Visit my other blog 'Really Sciency' looking at Climate Science and its portrayal, misrepresentation and denial in the media.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Legal issues

I would say that making predictions about future events is the last thing an unqualified person like me should do but now that Heartland have got their man, in this post I'm making an exception and will use my crystal ball.

When the Heartland Institutes documents hit the Internet Heartland immediately went into a very heavy handed, legally threatening mode. They issued a statement saying that they intended to pursue all possible actionable civil remedies to the fullest extent of the law, and called on all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions.

In a witty and ironic parody the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, issued an almost word for word identical statement but with the 'Climategate' emails as the subject and asked that;
 "the Heartland Institute, all activists, bloggers, and other journalists to immediately remove all of these documents and any quotations taken from them, from their blogs, Web sites, and publications, and to publish retractions". 
Though it is sobering to think that climate researchers could require the services of a defence fund.

But now Heartland have a target to aim all the legal backed ire at in the form of whistle blower Peter Gleick. I have already seen many posts on blogs from 'Skeptics' calling for the man to be sued. So here is my prediction for the future;
I predict that legally the Heartland Institute will do nothing that could end up with Peter Gleick in a public courtroom. They wont dare.
I feel a psychic certainty that this will be the case. But it is a prediction that I hope I am really, really wrong about. Any defence that Gleick makes will rely heavily on motive and that in turn will bring more public scrutiny upon the documents and who their Mr Anonymous might be. The documents themselves have already revealed that they have set aside;
"An estimated $36,000 to pay lawyers for litigation over whether Heartland can be forced to handover records of conversations with a donor of some five years ago."
A public court case could be very damaging for Heartland if public sympathy turned to favour a scientist who felt the need to go to such extremes in his fight with Heartland. Heartland's other donors, now publicly unmasked within these documents, will not like further media attention on their actions and motives.
As example of similar previous situations, James Hansen has now been arrested three times in protests but has yet to see the inside of a courtroom. On the matter of his first arrest in 2009, the 71 year old has stated in his book, Storms of my Grandchildren, in a published interview with Bill McKibben;
"Still no trial date has been set. According to the law, I could get as much as one year in prison. I am beginning to think that the authorities do not want a trial."
In the Tim DeChristopher trail the activist was found guilty of fraud after bidding on oil-and-gas drilling leases, and winning to keep them out of the hands of Oil and Gas companies. Before the arrest he was hardly known. But when on trail hundreds of activists marched to the federal courthouse in his support, including film stars and other celebrities.

This is the sort of media attention that I can predict with certainty that Heartland will want to avoid, and a possibility they might get by pursuing Gleick.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Biography of a Liar?

The release of funding information for the Heartland Institute has revealed some interesting things about scientists who oppose the scientific consensus on Anthropogenic Change.

One Such scientist is Robert (Bob) M. Carter a research professor at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia. He is a geologist more than a climate scientist who has as published newspaper articles which conflict with the mainstream scientific opinion on climate change.

But currently on the web he specifically states;
"He receives no research funding from special interest organisations such as environmental groups, energy companies or government departments."

He may want to edit this information because the Heartland documents reveal that he will receive $1,667 per month for his work on the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) an opposing document to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

It is worth remembering that the thousands of scientists and other experts contribute to the IPCC reports by writing and reviewing reports do so on a voluntary basis, without payment from the IPCC.

So the question is this man a liar or has he found a coping strategy to allow him so believe that he receives no funding from special interest organisations, while receiving over $20,000 a year from the Heartland Institute whose mission is to "discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems"? Perhaps the 'research' clause will be enough while he just pockets the money?

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Cold reduces snowfall

Yep, that's right in the world according to Goddard.

In one of the  dumbest things I have seen on his site - it its had plenty of competition. Commenting about current snow fall in the US  he states with authority that "the cold areas have also had record snowfall. Climate experts tell us that cold reduces snowfall, because there is less water vapour in the air."

I suppose that the concept of warmer wetter air cooling and the moisture falling out as snow is beyond his comprehension.

I await the flaming comments over there about how stupid and uneducated I am.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


Breaking news in the climate denial front. The 'Think Tank', The Heartland Institute who has always been very secretive about both it's funding and who it in turns funds has had an Insider release the Heartland Institutes budget, and fund-raising plan. Already some quite interesting revelations are coming to light across this interweb thingy;

Links to the released documents are available there "so that others can also scrutinize the documents and bring their expertise to the task".

Should be interesting and may be a blow for the Denial Machine.


Reviews of the documents in this leak are coming in thick and fast and some from very credible sources like Scientific American:


Aggressive Militant Secularism

What exactly is going on when we first we had the head of the Roman Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, criticising what he calls 'aggressive secularism' in Britain and this has now been followed this week by the Muslim peer Baroness Warsi warning that Britain is under threat from a rising tide of "militant secularisation".

What exactly is 'aggressive secularism'? When was the last time aggressive secularists picketed funeral processions or protested at theatres?

What exactly is "militant secularisation"? When was the last time militant secularists attacked people or where last did you see a secularist suicide bomber.

I'm sure if we look hard enough or wait long enough there could be some examples of outright carnage that could be levelled at the non religious but all this who-ha seems to be aimed at making 'Secularism' a dirty word. Have they forgot that secularism is not only about freedom from religion but freedom of religion?

All this has came about when "Mr Justice Ouseley ruled the prayers were not lawful under section 111 of the Local Government Act 1972. However, he said prayers could be said as long as councillors were not formally summoned to attend". This has been blown out of proportion by the media in to some sort of attack on Christianity. Lets consider that ruling. Prayers can be said but it means that non-Christian councillors do not have to endure a religious rite that they have no belief in, how intolerant, aggressive or militant is that?

All this been compounded when a Christian couple lost their case to discriminate against unmarried couples, well they said they did not believe unmarried couples should share a room, and it may have been just a coincidence but the particular unmarried couple were Gay.

The right wing press like the Daily Fail have been true to form but it was heartening to see that many of the comments favoured the judgement. But one of the more telling comments stated;
I am absolutely appalled at this decision. First and foremost it is the couple's home and it is up to them who they invite to stay in their home. They are Christian and it is against their belief for a gay couple to share a bed. Another nail in the coffin of Crhistianity.
I wonder what Liz M, London would suggest to stop this unfortunate thing from occurring again? Perhaps a clear sign in the window and in all advertising; 

But why limit this to just sexual preference, why not;
Or using Titus 1:10 - 12 as a good Christian example, why not;

So here we have two legal rulings that actually promote tolerance and diversity but Christianity has a history where being a martyr is almost a necessity. How can anyone really think that allowing people to discriminate and marginalise people who do not have their same beliefs is ever going to be good for society?

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sea level has been declining for several years, and is lower now than it was in 2003

That is one of the claims Goddard makes in his 2012 Global Warming Report Card. I have already looked at all his 19 points but some are worth examining in more detail, if only because he has emailed me in an accusery tone saying how I ‘compulsively focused on two of them’.

As stated I did a whole post on all of them and found them all to be lacking, but the ‘two’ are his cherry picked claims about cooling in Greenland, that were taken apart by Kevin O'Neill, see Update for Metric 5, and mypost on why he would go to such lengths to doctor a chart. He later had to admit he made a silly error in that attempt – though at this point he has yet to correct the error in the original post. But worse, this ‘report card’ without correct of an error Goddard admits to, is now being made widely available through that great scientific bastion of truth the ‘Science & Public Policy Institute’, (SPPI),  in downloadable PDF form claiming;
“The massive bulk of evidence indicates that nothing is wrong, and that Hansen, Mann and the rest of the hockey team are not being honest with us.”
I have emailed ‘bferguson’ from the 'Contact' information at SPPI, and asked if it will be corrected. Several days and no reply. So who is ‘not being honest with us’?

So now it is time to compulsively focus on a third

The claim that ‘Sea level has been declining for several years, and is lower now than it was in 2003’ is supported by a graph of unadjusted sea level data from Envisat and a link to that data.

I have used Excel to reconstruct Goddard’s graph so that I can look more sceptically at his claims. A trend line clearly shows that even over such a short time period the trend is definitely up.

Goddard’s first claim, that sea level has been declining for several years, looks like a straight forward lie even using his own graph. I cannot not figure out anyway a mind, even Goddard’s, can come to this conclusion, even by another mistake. The max sea level every year, from 2003 to 2010 has been higher than 2003. Which are the several years he believes have declined?  It can only be deliberate misrepresentation. 
The Envisat data set is currently so short it is difficult to tease out any really significant conclusions. But I’m sure that is precisely why Goddard favours it. The real story of sea level rise can be obtained for the same web site this data comes from, which Goddard ignores, and the overall and continuing trend is obvious for all but the closed minded to see.
As a side note, I was told with great authority on another  blog that attracts 'skeptics' that sea level was now below the trend line as if this evidence was of great significance. I had to point out that it was an average trend line - it will be below it about 50% of the time!

 A Cherry Picking Moment

Goddard’s claim the sea level is now lower than 2003 is the classic cherry pick. We actually know almost nothing about the sea level in 2003 as the data only represents the immediate end of that year. But I will give him some leeway and assume he means the start of 2004. It is such a classic because for the first time since the start of 2004, the peak sea level was lower in 2011, so he sort of can claim to be right - or at least right enough for most of the un-sceptical 'Skeptics' who frequent his blog.

But he isn’t actually correct, because cherry picking a single point within a noisy data set like this is a meaningless thing to do. Consider that the unadjusted data when graphed almost resembles a sine wave. It is clear that sea level fluctuates annually with highs at the start and end of the year and lows around the half year point. I wondered what the average sea level each year would be. The average of each annual fluctuation would be more meaningful than just cherry picking a high point to make an assertion and ignoring almost all of the relevant data in the process.

Using Excel I averaged all the annual measurements and plotted them;

So Goddard wasn’t even correct about sea level being lower than the end of 2003/start of 2004. It is clear that the average sea level for all years, including 2011 was greater than 2004, and as the trend line shows, sea level is still rising.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Understanding Climate Change Denial

A recent post, Doctored Goddard, where I theorised why Steven Goddard would misrepresent a piece of research and doctor a chart from it to support that misrepresentation, has created quite a stir with him and amongst his posse. It concluded with him admitting an error, and even giving a plausible reason for it, though that reason highlighted exactly why amateur pseudo-science skeptics should not be taken credibly when  doing their ‘analysis’ of the science. It also gave a insight into the way Goddard thinks.

But first a blow by blow that led to that admission

Within about 10 minutes of Goddard being aware of my post he replied;
 "Hey Lazarus. You are scum. The chart accurately shows regions of increasing and decreasing temperatures from the NOAA map. If you disagree find a region where my map is incorrect. Otherwise, just admit that you are liar".
 I also receive the dubious honour of a post on his blog dedicated solely to me, Enough is Enough ;
 “Reader Lazarus has written thousands and thousands of lines all over the Internet accusing me of producing a bogus map below. As usual, Lazarus is hysterical and completely FOS.”
Somehow I don’t think FOS = Factual and Obviously Scientific. But ‘thousands and thousands of lines all over the Internet’? I’ve told him a million times not to exaggerate!

I also started getting personal emails directly from Goddard himself;

Steve Goddard
25 Jan
to lazarus

Stop spreading misinformation. My maps are quite accurate.”

Oh the irony! This was a different definition of misinformation and accurate than I understood. 

Goddard explained his actions some more;
“Lazarus, you are an idiot. Flattened means that that all regions of increasing temperature are shown in a single shade of red, and all regions of decreasing temperature are shown in a uniform shade of blue.”
This admission of digitally doctoring the chart seemed justified to Goddard. Why it didn’t occur to him that if he had to do that the point he was trying to make might not actually exist, can only be due to the narrowed mind of the science denier.

I replied;
“If that is the case then you will have no objection to replacing your digitally flattened map with the real one, except that the real one and the paper it is from undermines your claim about it.”

Which started an email exchange in which Goddard said;
“Print a retraction.”
 I stuck to my guns. In his comments section he included such eloquence as;
“Lazarus, you are an idiot.”
“You are scientifically incompetent.”
“Print a retraction.”
“Lazarus, you are scum.”
“Admit you are wrong and print a retraction.”

And of course his usual commenter’s started as well;
Mike Davis said; Trolls will be Trolls!”
Stark Dickflüssig said I’ll be(t) this “Lazarus” dimwit thinks that translating Mein Kampf into English is “lying” as well.”
 Isn’t that an example of Godwin’s Law?

All this is quite nasty, but ultimately childish behaviour.

Then the unexpected happened

Someone called ‘mt’ made the comment;
“The gray regions in the original images correspond to trends of -0.05 to +0.05C, your flattened graph uses blue for those regions. You cannot say that “all regions of increasing temperature are shown in a single shade of red”
I have no idea if ‘mt’ is a regular commentator there, or what his position on climate change is but apparently having an epiphany,  Goddard took on board what he was saying. It was like he had a revelation that a chart would have a neutral zone with no significant warming or cooling. He claims that he thought the grey, no change region, was a shade of light blue so that when he digitally altered the image it turned bright blue.

I see no reason to not believe this was a genuine error because then the Enough is Enough post appeared with a correction restating what ‘mt’ said, though still calling grey blue;

“Correction : reader MT points out that in the USHCN map they used various shades of blue for -0.50 all the way up to +0.05. This means that some of the blue area may actually be a slightly positive trend. Given that there is a large area of just barely blue (-0.05 to +0.05) on their map, there is no way to distinguish whether most of the country was warming or cooling.”

And the portion of the post aimed directly at me, including calling me hysterical and FOS, was retracted! To give Goddard credit, he did not simply remove it but added a strike through so it remains for all to see.

Science isn’t done this way

This incident shows exactly why people without credible knowledge should not be taken seriously on scientific matters. I include myself in that group but I try to reflect the published science not re-analyse or reinterpret it.

That last point is where Goddard and his ilk come undone. He has already decided what he believes about climate change. He just needs to know science can back up and justify his beliefs. So he looks only for the evidence to support the answer that he already reverently believes. Science and rational inquiry is not done this way.

This I am certain is what drives science deniers to misrepresent and distort data. They may not even realise they are doing this intentionally, so convinced in the delusion that they are right and the evidence should support that.

I can say this because I am fairly sure Steve Goddard isn’t an unintelligent person, but anyone with a basic comprehension and the intention to understand who looked at the paper he used as evidence would not have made such a silly error. The full chart has a clear legend showing grey in the middle and spanning zero. No one seeking to understand an issue would simply look at a chart and draw a conclusion. They would read the accompanying text and that text contradicts what Goddard assumed the chart was saying;
“Geographically, maximum temperature (Fig. 13a) has increased in most areas except in parts of the east central and southern regions. Minimum temperature (Fig. 13c) exhibits the same pattern of change, though the pockets of decreasing temperature are displaced slightly to the south and west relative to maximum temperature.”
Which implies the opposite of what Goddard was claiming.

Normal service is resumed

Things change but people seldom do. Being wrong for all to see Goddard and his cronies reacted fairly typically. The commentator ‘suyts’ of ‘it’s only some light shading’ fame decided that I could not have known why the chart was wrong;
“Laz, it would be better to know what you’re talking about when you attempt to gloat.”
"And, while you correctly called Steve’s map in error, you have no idea why or how this is shown".
Me gloat? Well maybe a little in this case after all the flaming. And just to add to the comedy value that ‘suyts’ is fast gaining he suggests the researchers were deliberately trying to mislead poor Steve;
“your lack of understanding of what Steve did is just as much the cause as is NCDC’s intentional deception.”
How did my alleged lack of understanding contribute to the cause of Goddard error? Does this joker truly believe that the NCDC tried to intentionally deceive people so that they would think the country is cooling? Not much of a conspiracy tactic when trying to make people believe in Global Warming!

‘suyts’ continues with his paranoid logic in another comment;
“Here's the kicker, you still can't show that Steve's rendering is incorrect.  Given that each pale blue spot has a 50/50 chance of being cooling or warming and that they smooth each spot.  You don't know that what he was trying to show is incorrect.  Odds are at least 50% that each smoothed area shown from the pale blue to the bright blue in Steve's map to be blue would remain blue.

Ain't that a bitch?  You haven't shown jack.  You questioned a map, but you didn't know why it could be wrong.  But, now that you know it could be, you can't show that it is.”

Hilarious! Apparently I’m wrong because all the neutral stuff that Goddard had coloured bright blue had a 50% chance of being blue so he could be right and me wrong! FAIL! The intent was to show that Goddard’s ‘evidence’ for a cooling US was flawed; That the doctored graph misrepresented the data and could not be used to support Goddard’s claims of US cooling. Clearly this Muppet understands that much. I don’t need the research to show the opposite, even though it clearly suggests it, and I don’t need to show anything other that the chart is inappropriate to support Goddard’s claims. So I don’t have to show jack.

Goddard also returned to form with his own comments;
“Do you enjoy behaving like a flaming ahole?”
And he too thought I just had a lucky guess, in a personal email he said;
“Your comments were and are idiotic. MT pointed out something simple in plain English, which you didn't see either.”
I replied by quoting my original post from about a fortnight previous; I said that he "doctored it (or got it from someone else without checking) by colouring everything not showing a temperature increase bright blue"?

It is crystal clear from the legend and I didn't realise he needed it spelling out. But Goddard was in no mood to retire gracefully;
“Maybe you should learn how to communicate in English?”
I have never claimed to be a literary great but what I posted seemed plain enough to me. However being inarticulate is hardly a crime. Nor I would say does it deserve being called an idiot, liar, scum etc. - not the greatest expression of meaningful dialogue in the English language.
But there is the real problem with Goddard expressed here again. The Paper was quite clear that grey was neutral and that cooling hadn't occurred. If he had read the paper with understanding rather than searching for ‘evidence’ to support his beliefs and biases he would not have made the error he did. He would not have tried to 'enhance' it. If he had taken time to look at my posts and links instead of resorting to nasty yet ultimately childish name calling he would have seen exactly why I had an issue with doctoring charts.
But as ‘syts’ puts it, here’s the kicker – Goddard says he has admitted he was wrong and corrected his error, but all he had done is admit that the doctored chart was in error. He has not managed to admit that his claim it was used to support, that the US has cooled since 1895’, is wrong. Nor has he corrected his admitted error where it appears. It still exists in the original Global Warming Report Card post without any reference to the error. There’s no note or correction to let visitors know that it is erroneous.

But worse, this ‘report card’ is now being made widely available through that great scientific bastion of truth the ‘Science & Public Policy Institute’, (SPPI),  in downloadable PDF form claiming;
“The massive bulk of evidence indicates that nothing is wrong, and that Hansen, Mann and the rest of the hockey team are not being honest with us.”
Again without this misinformation and error corrected. I have emailed ‘bferguson’ from the 'Contact' information at SPPI, and asked if it will be. So who is ‘not being honest with us’?

Visitors to either of these sites, and no doubt others where this information is available from, are still going to be misled by it, but that does seem Goddard’s intention by his fervent promoting of his ideological beliefs.