Friday, March 24, 2017

¶1 A look behind the curtain of John Bates’ facade - The John Bates Affair

This is a citizen's examination of the article at the heart of this season’s faux climate scandal.  For more background you can start here.

Climate scientists versus climate data
by John Bates, posted on February 4, 2017 | ClimateEtc.- Curry's blog
“A look behind the curtain at NOAA’s climate data center.”
I’ve borrowed John’s subtitle since I intend to explore his wordsmithing and ponder his motivations.
Bates writes in ¶1   “I read with great irony recently that scientists are “frantically copying U.S. Climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump” (e.g., Washington Post 13 December 2016)." 
Red flag right out of the gate.

It’s telling that Bates makes light of what the Trump Administration had already done to climate science information.  Given such an intro we must consider the possibility John Bates’ is motivated by politics and opportunism rather than any concern over data records.

With Trump in Charge, Climate Change References Purged From Website
By Coral Davenport | Jan. 20, 2017 | New York Times

WASHINGTON — Within moments of the inauguration of President Trump, the official White House website on Friday deleted nearly all mentions of climate change. The one exception: Mr. Trump’s vow to eliminate the Obama administration’s climate change policies, which previously had a prominent and detailed web page on

The purge was not unexpected. It came as part of the full digital turnover of, including taking down and archiving all the Obama administration’s personal and policy pages.

All References to Climate Change Have Been Deleted From the White House Website
Jason Koebler | Jan 20, 2017



Donald Trump’s presidency has climate scientists concerned about the implications for U.S. environmental policies, the worldwide effort to curb the impacts of climate change, and the ability of scientists to freely to continue their research, which can be insidiously undermined through funding cuts, gag orders, or punitive measures and retaliatory attacks against scientists who publicly discuss their research. …

Here are a few of the many actions taken or planned by the Trump administration with implications for climate science and the environment:
 • EPA and Department of Agriculture staff have been prohibited from discussing research with anyone outside the agencies, including the media.
 • Trump signed executive actions to speed approval of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
 • Trump is preparing an executive action to order the EPA to rewrite rules that regulate greenhouse gas emissions from existing electric utilities, i.e. Obama’s Clean Power Plan.
 • The EPA’s climate change pages have, so far, been altered to remove mention of carbon emissions as a cause of climate change; emphasize adaptation to climate change rather than focus on the root cause of climate change; eliminate mention of Obama’s Climate Action Plan; and remove text about the commitment of the U.S. to international climate talks.
 • The House of Representatives approved a measure that would undo the Bureau of Land Management’s rule curbing methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. It will take effect if approved by the Senate and the president.

A number of other bills have been introduced in the House and/or the Senate that could also slow progress on climate change or roll back environmental regulations.

Another distressing aspect of Trump’s ascendancy is the surge of intolerant and hateful language, particularly online. Climate scientists have been subjected to this kind of harassment for years and are now concerned that it could grow worse. …
Bates: “As a climate scientist formerly responsible for NOAA’s climate archive, the most critical issue in archival of climate data is actually scientists who are unwilling to formally archive and document their data.” 
Makes it sound pretty bad.   

But when Scott Waldman asked Bates about it, the story changed: 

Bates: "The issue here is not an issue of tampering with data, but rather really of timing of a release of a paper that had not properly disclosed everything it was.” 

As for “disclosed everything it was” - In an article by Warren Cornwall and Paul Voosen, Bates tells a way less dramatic story:

Bates: “The Science paper would have been fine had it simply had a disclaimer at the bottom saying that it was citing research, not operational, data for its land-surface temperatures”

Read those first two sentences together, Bates creates an equivalence between Trump literally purging climate data from the public record and a citation protocol issue.

In reality, the entire methodology was spelled out in the paper, and the ship data correction Karl et al selected had previously been published
(H/T Snopes). 
Bates: “I spent the last decade cajoling climate scientists to archive their data and fully document the datasets.” 
“Cajoling” is known as a “word trick” in this case used to imply scientists were not archiving or properly documenting their datasets.  But such a message would be misleading.

Sou at HotWhopper put it into perspective. 
"His incredibly complex archiving system may have been suitable for some purposes, but it clearly was a thorn in the side of users. The diagrams in his paper show it as a very complex, long process involving umpteen steps and a multitude of different work groups at NOAA. I imagine the procedures manual could run to hundreds of pages. 
To what extent did he even involve or listen to users? Good data archiving procedures are important, particularly for climate data. I doubt anyone would dispute that. But what's the point of a system if it doesn't meet user needs? And why try to stop research being published when it's based on solid and well-tested data, just because it hasn't been through the full seven year archiving process?
Even David Rose admits that the formal process takes a very long time."
 Fig. 1. Iterative cycle of maturity of (top) a CDR and (bottom) the six levels of maturity.BAMS

Fig. 2. CDR program research-to-operations process diagram.

 Fig. 3. CDR data flow pathways to products and services.BAMS

How a culture clash at NOAA led to a flap over a high-profile warming pause study
By Warren Cornwall, Paul Voosen | Feb. 8, 2017 

“… Thomas Peterson, a principal scientist at NCEI who was involved in developing the new surface temperature estimates before retiring in 2015, says he spent several years pressing the agency to let its scientists publish parts of the new data analysis. 

But he says he met resistance from some who argued that even though the older approach was less accurate, it had gone through the quality control checks for operational data. The new study “wasn’t rushed. It was delayed for a long time. It would have been out years ago except for all this processing that John [Bates] pushed.”  …. 

This split within the office traces partly to cultural differences between scientists working with satellites and those working with ground-based measurements, says Peter Thorne, a climate scientist at Ireland's Maynooth University, and chair of the ISTI. He worked on surface temperature research at NCEI from 2010 to 2013. By contrast, for several years Bates was division chief for the part of the center that worked with satellite data.

Because the stakes are so high for ensuring the accuracy of a single, costly piece of equipment, and the streams of data are so massive, the people working with the satellites were more inclined to insist on always following detailed protocols.

“Fundamentally it was a conflict between science and engineering,” Thorne says. “Do you want a product that is very well documented; where the code is available, transparent, well documented; where there is fundamental, deep archiving of everything; where you’ve dotted every 'i' and crossed every 't,' even if that product, scientifically, has issues? Or would you rather have the best scientific product you can get your hands on at this time and forgo that process maturity?” …”
Bates: “I established a climate data records program that was awarded a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal in 2014 for visionary work in the acquisition, production, and preservation of climate data records (CDRs), which accurately describe the Earth’s changing environment.”
Dr. Bates is pretty proud of this, it will be interesting to see how it holds up.

Still as much as Bates thumps his chest, I can't help but wonder if data preservation is such an important issue to him why doesn't he seem at all concerned about what Trump has already done to climate data?  

This review will be continued as time permits.

Further reading:

“How a culture clash at NOAA led to a flap over a high-profile warming pause study”
'Whistleblower' says protocol was breached but no data fraud
Scott Waldman, E&E News reporter
Climatewire:, February 7, 2017
Article names “whistleblower” who claims that NOAA manipulated data [Updated]
Allegations in a Daily Mail article seem more office politics than science.
Scott Johnson - 2/6/2017
David Rose doubles down on #climate disinformation about NOAA. Let's get some perspective
Sou | February 13, 2017
Sustained Production of Multidecadal Climate Records: 
Lessons from the NOAA Climate Data Record Program

National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, North Carolina
October 2016
NOAA Scientists Falsely Accused of Manipulating Climate Change Data
A tabloid used testimony from a single scientist to paint an excruciatingly technical matter as a worldwide conspiracy.
By Alex Kasprak  |  Feb 8th, 2017
Discovered and revealed! - Where the climate codes and data have been hiding
July 18, 2013
President Trump Can Attack Agency Science, But Can’t Delete Climate Change
Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Elevator pitch to co-authors of Fyfe et al. 2016 - need for clarification

Dear Fyfe 2016 Co-Authors,

All of you by virtue of being experts of the highest caliber possess a nuanced understanding light-years beyond ordinary citizens, politicians and business leaders.  Belonging within that rarified world you risk being out of touch with how non-scientists, particularly those with hostile agendas, read your papers.  To us nonscientists Fyfe et al. 2016 offered up a muddled Rorschach test rather than the promised clarifications.

Please give this summary of my previous effort a moment to see if something resonates, or not.  I don’t need a response, all I'm hoping is for you to take it seriously, if only for a moment.
¶10  Understanding of the recent slowdown also built upon prior research into the causes of the so-called big hiatus from the 1950s to the 1970s. During this period, increased cooling from anthropogenic sulfate aerosols roughly offset the warming from increasing GHGs (which were markedly lower than today).  This offsetting contributed to an approximately constant global mean surface temperature (GMST). Ice-core sulfate data from Greenland support this interpretation of GMST behaviour in the 1950s to 1970s, and provide compelling evidence of large temporal increases in atmospheric loadings of anthropogenic sulfate aerosols. The IPO was another contributory factor to the big hiatus13. 

Clarify the process so people can 'appreciate' what you're talking about.

Sulfate aerosols reflected the sun’s energy back into space 
before it had the opportunity to be converted into the infrared energy 
that fuels our climate system.  

Thus a cooling trend in the GMST and the global system.
¶11  Research motivated by the warming slowdown has also led to a fuller understanding of ocean heat uptake. … In summary, research into the causes of the slowdown has been enabled by a large body of prior research, and represents an important and continuing scientific effort to quantify the climate signals associated with internal decadal variability, natural external forcing and anthropogenic factors.

Clarify the process …

The heat was moved into the oceans where ~90% of our climate system’s heat resides, thus it was absorbed into the global climate system - even if not registering in the GMST estimate.

Help people viscerally visualize the dynamics.            
Claims and Counterclaims 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Poptech's "Truth" re WhatsUpWithThatWatts.blogspot - Examined

In my decades long experience dialoging with climate science “skeptics" they consistently respond to reasoned critique of their arguments by sidetracking the discussion with personal attacks intent on making their 'opponents' seem as detestable as possible thus making any facts irrelevant, as Zoe so ably demonstrated in the last post.  

Respect, fairplay, honesty, honor, constructive learning means nothing.  Decapitate one’s ‘opponents’ before they can drive home any arguments or evidence regarding Manmade Global Warming. 

Poptech at “populartechnology-net” provided a text book example last year and since he seems to be slinking around the internet peddling his fable again, I figure I’ll get personal myself and share the response which separates Poptech’s fabrications from the facts.

Besides, it fits right in with the pathetic John Bates’ Affair - John’s MO is the same, malicious manipulation and omission of facts, spin the narrative away from the matter at hand and aim for character assassination.

ORIGINALLY POSTED FEBRUARY 2nd 2016 under the title: "Lord of the Flies* (#8 Poptech's Truth).

I thought I could avoid Anthony Watts and Andrew 'Poptech's' attack piece on me, figuring I'd get to it later.  But my old pal AL (a debate mate from this past November 23 to December 13th in the "debating sock-puppet" series.) just couldn't resist rubbing it in my face, and since his link went to Poptech's post, I figured, OK in for a nickel, in for a dollar.  
AL writes Sunday, January 31, 2016 - 1:19 citizenschallengeYT Hahahahaha…:P
Oh boy, talk about desperation to dig up shit, well they dug and they dug and oh the facts and links they've unearthed. But, even more impressive than what they unearthed - is the vindictive theatrical spin they put on everything.

Then, There’s Anthony’s Parrot - A dance with hopelessness.

As it turns out I’m not ready for John Bates just yet.  Still wrestling with Fyfe 2016, I realize I need to write a summary, sort of an elevator pitch for very busy scientists. 

For now I thought I’d share this recent and all too typical “dialogue” with a Republican sort of climate science “skeptic” as an example of what climate science communicators are up against.  This comes from a single YouTube comments thread and is intended for the curious student of the rhetorical tactics of denial - here's a case study in stonewalling. 
AFA Dr. Willie Soon - Are CO2 Levels and Climate Change Related? 
Astroturfed by the co-called American Freedom Alliance
The thread starts with Martha Ball hocking her hubby's book
{The fun doesn't really start till Zoe shows up ;- ). }
I would like to tell you of my latest book, “Human Caused Global Warming”.
Available on ‘’ and 'Indigo/Chapters'.
Dale writes: Perhaps you need to stop trying to hijack this thread to sell your own book. That's totally unethical.

It's not near as unethical as Soon is -  Although should add that Tim Ball is as contrarian a fool as Soon and every bit as dishonest in his presentation of the issues. -

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fyfe et al. 2016: stamp collecting vs informing and clarifying. Examining a failure to communicate

(edited March 21, 2017)
... and a question of perspective.
Alternately, Behold Seepage in Action.

In working on my review of Lamar Smith’s press release I distractedly glanced at Fyfe et al. 2016 a couple times.  Then given that John Bates’ singled it out in his ClimateEtc attack piece I took the time to read it carefully.  It was written by some of the foremost experts in the field, I’ve listened to their talks on YouTube, I’ve exchanged emails with some.  A couple have endured malicious and vicious attacks based on pure fabricated deception, yet they continue doing world class science.  These are the real deal, heck some are among my heroes.  I don't presume to second-guess such experts about their science.  

Yet, I was stunned reading their treatment of the so-called “global warming hiatus” - it’s not their facts I question, but their presentation.  Can’t help it, I take climate science communication very seriously and their wording knocked me right off my pins.  I've felt compelled to explain my reaction ever since, if only to myself.  I've been spending days wrestling with this and I admit I hope some of the authors and a few others will give me a chance to make my case - I've striven to keep my comments as concise as possible.  Give it a skim.  You decide if I succeed.

NATURE opinion & comment
Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown

Nature Climate Change | Vol 6 | March 2016 | Pages 224 to 228 © 2016 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved

I am reprinting the full text of this paper by right of the Fair Use doctrine - 
for the purpose of doing the following detailed critique.
John C. Fyfe, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Michael E. Mann, Benjamin D. Santer, Gregory M. Flato, Ed Hawkins, Nathan P. Gillett, Shang-Ping Xie, Yu Kosaka and Neil C. Swart
The introduction:
It has been claimed that the early-2000s global warming (b) slowdown or hiatus (a)(e), characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming (c), has been overstated, lacks sound scientific basis, or is unsupported by observations. The evidence presented here contradicts these claims (d).

Why the labyrinthian phrasing?  Simplify wording. Clarify meaning.  

(a)  Creates a false equivalence between “slowdown” and “hiatus” - hiatus means STOPPED!  But, Global Warming never stopped!

(b)  Creates a false equivalence between “global warming” and “global mean surface warming.”  

(c)   Furthermore: “early-2000s global warming slowdown or hiatus, characterized by a reduced rate of global surface warming” -  implies “surface” warming slowdown (or faux hiatus) is a symptom of a “global” warming slowdown.

(d)  “Evidence presented here contradicts these claims.”  Given the paragraph's convoluted wording one could easily conclude this is saying: the “hiatus” (that is global warming stopping) is not contradicted

… which is exactly what the contrarian PR machine was hoping they could twist any science into.  Why make it so easy?

(e)  Why even use the politically charged term “hiatus” beyond a footnote?  What possible purpose does it serve other than to fatally wound clarity and invite gross misinterpretation?

This paper seems a textbook example of “seepage” in action.  Or as I would phrase it, unconsciously adapting the contrarian’s script.  Please keep this in mind as you continue.
¶1  A large body of scientific evidence — amassed before and since the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC AR5)1 — indicates that the so-called surface warming slowdown, also sometimes referred to in the literature as the hiatus

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Fyfe 2016, Global Warming Hiatus? Nope. Not even!

I've been spending the past couple days digesting Fyfe 2016 on account of John Bates, and his ClimateEtc hit-piece, which uses it to imply the global warming ‘hiatus’ was a real thing >>> Mind you “hiatus" = "A pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.”:
J. Bates writes: "The most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset was the study of Tom Karl et al. 2015 (hereafter referred to as the Karl study or K15), purporting to show no ‘hiatus’ in global warming in the 2000s (Federal scientists say there never was any global warming “pause”). The study drew criticism from other climate scientists, who disagreed with K15’s conclusion about the ‘hiatus.’ (Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown)" 
Link to a readable Fyfe et al. 2016:
When I read Fyfe 2016 I was stunned and appalled by how it was worded.  Yet, it’s co-authored by some of the foremost climate scientists in the world.  A couple having endured vicious and vile attacks fabricated out of pure lies at the hands of the Republican PR campaign of climate science deception.  Scientists whom I consider genuine heroes.  I am under no illusion.  I cannot dispute their facts, but it's the way their facts were presented that seems to me a prime example of the “Seepage” suffered by well meaning, but extremely conservative and cautious scientists, playing right into the Contrarian’s Script, rather than clarifying how our global heat and moisture distribution engine operates in a manner were it can “click” with non-sciencie citizens.

Before I post my critique, which is far from finished, I want to share what Sou at HotWhopper has to say.  She was trained as a scientist so approaches this paper differently than I do, from my own street-level perspective, that of a high school grad (‘73) lay-person, albeit one that’s spent a lifetime paying attention to developing Earth Sciences and the evolving insights they’ve offered into Earth’s fantastical pageant and our place in that pageant.
Therefore I think it appropriate to first REPOST her article of February 25th.  She explains the scientific perspective in a way I never could.  I’m going to begin with her closing paragraph because that’s exactly what I’m struggling with.  I also a thank you Sou, for allowing me to repost your work.

Global surface warming continues without pause contrary to denier claims
Sou | Feb 25, 2016

I want to start with Sou's closing paragraph since it echoes the thing that got under my skin and that my review is struggling to articulate.
This is a useful paper from a scientific perspective. 
From the perspective of informing the public, I would have preferred the authors were more constructive rather than making it appear there are disputes in scientific circles when there aren't.  
Deniers aren't going to read the paper. They aren't going to care that there was no change in the long term trend. They aren't going to care that the models differed from observations because the estimated forcings were wrong. All they are going to do is point to the paper falsely claiming it is "evidence" that scientists disagree, when on these issues there would be very little disagreement (if any) among climate scientists.  
Or they'll do as Anthony Watts {and also John Bates}  did, and point to the paper claiming there was a "hiatus" or stopping of global warming, when there isn't and hasn't been. 

There's another new paper out in Nature Climate Change today that discusses the recent trends on global surface temperature. It's by a rash of notable authors: John C. Fyfe, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Michael E. Mann, Benjamin D. Santer, Gregory M. Flato, Ed Hawkins, Nathan P. Gillett, Shang-Ping Xie, Yu Kosaka, Neil C. Swart. Anthony Watts heralded the paper (archived here), which is unusual because he normally scoffs at the findings of most of these authors. He referred to an article in the Examiner newspaper, which claims that this paper contradicted "another study last June" that stated that the "the hiatus was just an artifact that “vanishes when biases in temperature data are corrected.”

Well it doesn't contradict it. Needless to say Anthony and the Examiner was comparing apples and oranges.