Geoff Sherrington Responds to Chattering Class

I am responding to the criticism of my letter in ‘The Australian’ of 15 February 2006 which read:

“THERE is an excellent argument for curbing the public statements of scientists like those from CSIRO, a former employer of mine. Scientists, like the public, cover a spectrum of beliefs, some of which are based on emotion rather than science. There are greenie scientists in CSIRO and there are honest ones. Human nature being what it is, there are private agendas pushed by CSIRO people that would make your jaw drop. An example is the selection of Australian weather recording sites used to construct the temperature measurements of the continent, which play a big part in southern hemisphere weather models. From the beginning, most sites that showed little or no temperature rise or a fall from, say, the 1880s to now were rejected. The few sites selected to represent Australia were mainly from capital cities and under suspicion for “heat island” effects. I could give example after example as it was one of my employment functions to distill the best results from the bogus on many matters related to energy/greenhouse/nuclear etc. I found few truly objective submissions among those masquerading as science.”

1. Nowhere did I mention BoM.

2. Nowhere did I criticise BoM.

3. Nowhere did I say I had worked for BOM.

4. I was critical of some statements made by people in CSIRO, but not about the selection of weather sites for early greenhouse models. What alarms me more is the stupified silence of senior scientists when they see bogus data. That is my real criticism.

5. Since writing that letter I have recognised it was the University of East Anglia, not Bath, which used the climate data from Australia.

6. I have since asked Phil Jones from East Anglia for a copy of his selection of the original Australian data. He says “We no longer have the Australian station date we were using in the early 1980s. At that time we had a limited network.”

7. In the MID-1980s (which was my time choice) there were abundant stations which were not used by Jones at all. Here is a list for which data were then available, but not used by Jones – not a full list, just a sample: Geraldton, Narrabri, Hay, Albany, Rottnest Island Lighthouse, Walgett, Deniliquin, Bourke, Cape Naturaliste Lighthouse, Coonabarabran, Echuca, Cooma, Moruya Heads Pilot Station, Omeo, Dubbo, Alice Springs, Gabo Island Lighthouse, Bathurst, Strathalbyn, Mt. Gambier, Yamba, Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse, Newcastle Signal Station, Cape Otway Lighthouse.

8. These stations, when averaged from the 1880s to the mid 1980s, showed a temperature decline until about 1951. This decline was not used in Jones’s paper, which some would say ignited the greenhouse debate with its alarmist conclusions.

9. These and many other Australian stations, averaged from 1951 to 1985 or so, showed a slight increase in temperature. Jones’s modelling was essentially post-1950.

10. Point is proven.

11. I continue to find the poorest quality of science in greenie publications. The most common error is to manipulate the raw data to fit the desired theory. Some is quite stupid, like from the nuclear industry, “Radwaste has to be managed for 250,000 years”. How many nuclear scientist who know this to be nonsense, whether from the CSIRO or not, have stood up and said so?

12. The Think Tank for which I helped formulate direction was the Tasman Institute. The person who brought this climate data to my attention was Warwick Hughes, a geologist (I am a Geochemist) used to dealing with hard data.

13. The statistical manipulations being used for climate data, that I have read, would commonly fail the stringency tests required of geologists when interpolating values of economic ores in deposits from drill hole data. If high standards of maths are needed to avoid wrong estimates of orebody worth, then they are equally needed for political-scientific issues like climate modelling.

14. I have suggested to Phil Jones that he use a certain type of mathematical statistic to get better results.

15. So, how many of you bloggers will now admit to wrong interpretation of, and confusion about, my letter to the Australian? I can prove all that I said and have proved some of it above.

16. I am currently moving home, so my telephone, email etc address will change in the next few days and I do not yet know what they will be. So don’t bother to try to argue with me, contemplate your navels instead.

71 Responses to Geoff Sherrington Responds to Chattering Class

  1. Louis Hissink March 28, 2006 at 7:55 pm #

    Ironical isn’t it – geoscientists are finally looking at the climate data and finding, as we do, glaring errors of measurement, assumptions and statistics. And it is going to get far worse for the climate changers as the physical scientists (geologists, geophysicists, geochemists, physicists, chemists etc) start looking at the claims of climate science.

    So I fully endorse Sherrington’s comments here and in his letter to the Oz.

    As for the misprepresentations of his comments, the evidence in his reply is sufficient. I have indeed noted elsewhere of the thunderous silence – no one has so far contradicted his comments, probably because he is correct.

  2. Geoff Sherrington March 28, 2006 at 8:10 pm #

    Thank you Louis. Please permit a small correction. Geoscientists have been looking at climate change maths for decades – we are not merely ‘finally doing it’. The problem has been getting published or heard amongst the noises from distant drums. There is a really powerful, well funded pro greenhouse lobby, but that does not make it free of error. It has been prudent to wait until the inevitable errors became really evident so the culprits have no choice but to volunteer confessions. Geoff.

  3. Ender March 28, 2006 at 8:11 pm #

    “There are greenie scientists in CSIRO and there are honest ones.”

    So there are no honest greenie scientists?

  4. Phil Done March 28, 2006 at 8:17 pm #


    This would have to be the greatest piece of hypocrisy in blog history. What a veritable blog harlot.

    Last night Louis says:



    This thread is about a fraudulent letter to The Australian Newspaper.

    Now what are you thinking the CSIRO’s stuff is about, since no one raised it before except you.

    Posted by: Louis Hissink at March 27, 2006 09:13 PM

    So why are you reproducing fraudulent letters on your blog then?

    Posted by: Phil Done at March 27, 2006 09:38 PM

    Because at the time I did not have 20-20 hindsite. Being human I err, often, but not being stupid, and thus incapable of error, statistically, I found little room to explain my actions.


    Louis – stand totally condemned – you would use ANYTHING. You as clueless tonight as you were last night. You were utterly convinced last night it was wrong. Now you’ve swung back the other way. Glad we’re not in a life boat or you’d sink it.

    I note Sherrington is unsure what university he was even talking about. Has he got it right now?

    The original letter not say he was talking about the past. Conveniently is not talking about the 1990s or 2000s.

    The letter clearly gives the impression that it’s current day.

    The CSIRO staff he’s talking about may or may not now even be with the organisation.

    BoM’s reference network provides the temperature record not CSIRO. So the whole letter is irrelevant.

    Who knows what he’s talking about.

    The thunderous silence is the time taken to get our jaws off the floor with the degree of utter b/s being promoted.

    What a joke and a waste of time. Unimpressed to the max.

  5. Louis Hissink March 28, 2006 at 8:18 pm #


    Correction accepted :-). Warwick has been on the job for, what, 20 years?.

    But I doubt they will confess their scientific errors – honest scientists do as a matter of course, as it’s the scientific method, but greenie scientists, or Lysenkoists, can’t, as distinct from won’t. A cruicial difference.

  6. Louis Hissink March 28, 2006 at 8:28 pm #


    Once again you have shown yourself an expert of interpreting lexical black holes.

    I changed my mind in light of changed facts. Then more data posted by Sherrington here, and my initial position was correct after all, but remind your audience that I merely called politcally motivated science as Lysenkosim.

    And interpreting my change in mind as being utterly convinced is quite wrong, too.

    The real problem is whether you know what you are talking about since the B/S is the climate apocalypse you and your mates are trying to scam the world with with your specious science.

  7. Ender March 28, 2006 at 8:44 pm #

    “So don’t bother to try to argue with me, contemplate your navels instead.”

    So you know everything about how climate science is done. You also discredit all the scientists like Annan, Jones etc that have worked for years gathering data. Futhermore you seem so arrogant in your knowledge that you demean us as navel gazers. Sure are good qualities in a scientist – humility and wonder.

    Perhaps you should have a look at the Exxon-Mobil petroleum geologists that play with some Monte-Carlo simulations and conclude that there is 2 trillion more barrels of oil to be found. Where is their standard of maths and hard data. The manipulation of data accusation can be applied equally to your god like profession of geology.

  8. Phil Done March 28, 2006 at 8:48 pm #

    Louis – mate we have nailed you to the wall on this one. No escape.

    You are still utterly aware of ANY facts.
    You are as ignorant last night of this matter as you are now. You a non-discriminating extremist.

    I was going to say con artise. But just con artist will do. Not even any class.

    Go back to Shonkyworld and post some more second hand drivel without thinking.

  9. rog March 28, 2006 at 8:55 pm #

    Well put Phil, you are a credit to your kind.

  10. Louis Hissink March 28, 2006 at 8:56 pm #


    I’ll use your last post as a template, if that is ok. It is the best example of an ad hominem yet.

  11. Phil Done March 28, 2006 at 9:00 pm #

    You’ll never live this down Louis. After all the crap you’ve posted for months now you have been done like a dinner.

    (Rog the knife merchant enters stage right for support – well it wouldn’t be left would it).

  12. Thinksi March 28, 2006 at 9:18 pm #

    Phil’s 1st comment above is spot on.

    If “there is an excellent argument for curbing the public statements of scientists like those from CSIRO” as Sherrington claims, then why didn’t he make it?

  13. Louis Hissink March 28, 2006 at 9:20 pm #


    Thanks for the free advertising. My Google score will benefit immensely. Yours? Probably like a black hole – a fiction – one of many reasons most don’t get too involved with your multidimensional inanities.

    Incidentally everyone knows who I am but you?

    Certainly not an Aussie, people renowned for honesty.

  14. Thinksi March 28, 2006 at 9:40 pm #

    If not an honest Aussie, then Dutch?

  15. Louis Hissink March 28, 2006 at 9:58 pm #


    Are you Phil’s Left-hand puppet?

    Or his central one?

  16. rog March 28, 2006 at 10:06 pm #

    Apparently I am guilty of underestimating Thinksi, all I have to do now is prepare an appropriate estimate as validation.

  17. Thinksi March 28, 2006 at 10:18 pm #

    back on topic: anyone care to validate Sherrington’s weakly defended claims?

  18. Ender March 28, 2006 at 11:01 pm #

    Louis – “Thanks for the free advertising. My Google score will benefit immensely”

    Well you do have the distinction of the worst post on AGW ever so I guess even bad press is good press.

  19. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 9:58 am #


    I presume you refer to Lambert’s opinion that a scientific possibility I raised to explain certain observations. I might add it is not my initial idea at all. It was proposed often for different reasons by scientists over the last few hundred years. The idea of the earth tippe-topping or changing its geometrical alignment in 3D space is not a new idea at all. And as I stressed, and which Lamberts ignores, if the only force is gravity then yes Lambert might have a point. But as I have electrical forces to explain the theory, then I don’t have a problem anymore, you and your gravitational nitwits have.

    Lambert’s opinion results from the fact he does not understand the issue, as you and Phil Done et al also do not.

    I would suggest you work out if the Artic was raised in temperature to temperate levels to allow Mammoths to exist, and then determine what the temperature would be at the equatorial regions, and see if there is any evidence for that. You will find a serious problem with the assumptions used to explain the existence of the frozen biota in the artic tundras.

    Otherwise don’t critcise, like Lambert, things you don’t understand.

  20. Travis March 29, 2006 at 10:12 am #

    I don’t know who you are Louis. Sweeping statement indeed about your presence.

  21. Phil March 29, 2006 at 10:31 am #

    Well Ender I must admit it was a classic.

    And Madame Thinsky I sense your disappointment – still no validation or support of Sherrington – surely Rog or Joe would have a go? Come on guys !

  22. Jim March 29, 2006 at 11:42 am #

    Phil/ Thinksi,
    Validation of what?
    That Sherrington is right?
    Why reverse the natural order – shouldn’t those who disagree prove he’s wrong?

  23. Ender March 29, 2006 at 12:06 pm #

    Louis – “Otherwise don’t critcise, like Lambert, things you don’t understand.”

    Well it seems that most people don’t understand it. However I guess it is the mark of true genius to not be understood in your time. Cling to that thought.

  24. Geoff Sherrington March 29, 2006 at 2:49 pm #

    For ender who logged “There are greenie scientists in CSIRO and there are honest ones.”

    “So there are no honest greenie scientists.”

    The answer is, go back to your logic text, if you ever had one. There are greenie scientists, there are brownie scientists, there are blue chip scientists, there are bad scientists, there are good scientists……

    In my book a greenie scientist who is a bad scientist can commonly be identified by selective use of data to prop up a preconception. If you take the preconception that nuclear energy is bad, then you can write innumerable papers that show you for what you are and many of them will be bad because the underlying proposition is not supportable by historical record. Greenie papers on average are bad more often than non-greenie papers, in the opinion of this observer who was working in the field before the term “greenie” was even coined.

    Similar observation are there for the unbiased to see in fields of endeavour – to name a few – like forest logging, uranium mining and use, fluoridation of water supplies, organic vegetable farming, refusal to vaccinate children, use of altmed diagnostic devices, over-use of herbal remedies, vitamins and minerals, dowster swivelling, the occult and the dangers of recreational drugs including alcohol.

    I’ve seen it all, mate.

  25. Phil March 29, 2006 at 3:46 pm #

    So ciggy companies must have employed greenie scientists then ?

    Geoff you have listed a huge grab bag of issues in your last statement. Assessments of most I suspect many of us might agree on.

    But there are still room for independent and clear thinking i.e you could be concerned about AGW and also be pro-nuclear. It doesn’t all have to run to opposite political ends of the spectrum.

  26. bugger March 29, 2006 at 4:30 pm #

    Reckon Geoff should enlighten us a bit more on his views, say fluoridation?

    Now there is a curly one from way back!

  27. Geoff Sherrington March 29, 2006 at 4:32 pm #

    I have no interest in ciggie companies and have not bothered to read science papers by their employees, so I cannot comment specifically. But pro or anti smoking issues are not greenie issues in any case.

    I AM concerned about the buildup of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and have been since I first saw the data from Hawaii in Scientific American in (if I recall correctly) the late 1970s. It is one of the most blatant examples of man-made pollution that is around. What it does to climate is a different subject. My concern is with abatement because we have to stop the pollution no matter what it does. Since we used to own the Ranger Uranium Mine I had easy, even compulsory, access to source documents on nuclear, which were generally of top standard science and which presented a strong case for U to remediate CO2. I think we have saved about 500 million tonnnes of C02 going into the air by now, but that figure is from memory and is debatable. Anyone else able to make a claim like this on behalf of improvements to society?

    So on one hand I balanced papers from pros at Oak Ridge (lovely place to visit, love the accents) and on the other hand I studied papers about the Arctic ice melting and raising sea levels, in defiance of Archimedes’s principle. I accept the former logic and substitute my own with the latter (as on Mythbusters) and give them labels that you people seem to find objectionable. Why?

    Are you into the finesse of professional argument on this blog? Is it just here to play with words, or to spread knowledge?

    Anyone found any errors in my Australian greenhouse weather station data yet?

    I’m as keem to learn of any errors as much as anyone else is, because the big game is getting closest to acceptable truth (as truth is seldom absolute).

  28. Phil March 29, 2006 at 5:11 pm #

    Well Geoff you brought up a list and examples don’t fit. Science can be corrupted by any side of a debate. Thalidomide, Foundation 41, Korean genetic engineers of late, maybe even Mendel himself with perfect peas.

    I personally would not class CO2 as a pollutant per se. CO yes – CO2 no.

    If you’re on sea level rise – you’re way off beam – most of the increase thus far is attributed to thermal expansion not Artic melting – unless it’s ice sitting on land, floating ice isn’t relevant to sea level.

    Anyway are you aware of the current climate change detection network in Australia – what’s wrong with it??

  29. detribe March 29, 2006 at 7:56 pm #

    Geoff bought up an argument that data were selectively omitted from the Jones climate which might has changed the interpretation of long term temerature trends. Are we accepting that his argument has validity them by moving on to other topics. Isn’t Australian temperature trends the point of his letter?

  30. Geoff Sherrington March 29, 2006 at 8:18 pm #

    I don’t have a problem with the current temperature network in Australia now as from all I have read – not a great deal – it is designed, operated and staffed by competent people who have not expressed alarming ideologies.

    What is wrong is the use of data from the past, by others. Much present modelling covers too short a term. It thus places too much stress on possible short-term recent changes, possibly making noise seem like signal. I seek to be convinced why precious data going back to the 1870s is rejected, including sea level measurements (and yes, I understand isostasy, gravity gradients, etc).

    There are other directions which trouble me where I seek help and guidance. There are scenarios for melting Antarctic land ice and calculations that a full melt raises sea level by 14.7 m or whatever. But is it not the case that ice cores show a continuous record going back 35,000 years, indicating that at least part of the Antarctic survived climate changes intact for that period? Or can someone inform me that there are large discontinuities in the pile, where massive melting took place some time in that 35,000 years? Ditto Greenland.

    Regarding ocean thermal expansion, the thermal coefficient is well known, but the influence of currents is not. It seems a fact to me that any thermal expansion of sea volume can only be caused by a change in the temperature of all of the sea, on average. It does not happen that a piece of sea off New York gets hot and so levels rise in New York Harbour, over a period of more than hours.

    Further problems with the bewilderment of those who are trying to match cyclone intensity in the Gulf in the last year with rising surface seawater temperature. For huge storms like those we have had, for the theory to work, there has to be transfer of this latent heat from the sea surface to the storm. Can this happen fast enough? What is the flux mechanism, convection, conduction, radiation or what? Did the surface seawater temperature drop in the storm as it gave its energy to the storm? Was it measured? Does it model out as capable of causation?

    Re your examples of drugs that turn out to be dangerous – I have long been a critic of the meta statistical approach now favoured by authors wanting their names in big lights. Go back a few years, and I inherited the job of dealing with some land we acquired at Ardeer in Melbourne’s west. Had been a battery recycling plant and the ground was contaminated with lead after the bulldozing. I engaged the help of Dr Allen Christophers who had been in charge of occupational health in Victoria for a number of years and had studied lead toxicity for 30 years. We were under attack from scientists claiming that the ingestion of small amounts of lead by children lowered IQ. Allen’s retort was that pica for lead (like kids eating window putty with lead paint) caused elevated blood levels of lead as measured and expected, but that the habit was more prevalent among children with lower IQ. The main opposition to Allen’s postulates was from researchers after funding grants to test the alternative theory into exhaustion through statistics. These same suspect statistics are, I expect, the reason a rogue drug gets into the system once in a while. Some of the assumptions made in dealing with side effects are breathtaking. Estimates by “experts” of the weight of solids ingested daily by children and used in their models for lead ingestion varied over two orders of magnitude. (One of our corporate solicitors suggested that the contaminated Ardeer site be turned into a cemetary where lead-lined coffins were permitted).

    No need to go any further. One person cannot be expert in all fields, but an experienced person can sometimes sniff out a potential problem pretty quickly. I have waited some years for certain past errors to become self-evident as active warfare over them costs millions, as we found when we took the feds to the High Court over an environment/property rights matter. (They won by changing the law overnight when the Judges were leaning our way).

    To conclude, Mendel’s peas in hindsight do not appear perfect. It took Barbara McClintock and a Nobel prize in 1983 for jumping genes to show that. But that example confuses the bumpy road of progress in science with fraudulent or incompetent science.

  31. Phil Done March 29, 2006 at 8:32 pm #

    Australia’s official climate change detection which we have discussed extensively of late (and Jen accepts as fair and reasonable) is determined by the Bureau of Meteorology’s reference network. See previous references & URLs in climate archives this blog. These data point to an unambiguous warming of much of the Australian continent. 2005 being a record.

    I would add the global network which in general shows a warming – heat island effects discussed and dismissed in published papers. And we would add to the list warmer oceans, satellite and radiosonde verified warming, melting glaciers, melting Artic, loss of ice mass and acceleration of Greenland and Antarctic glaciers (recent papers in Science), and changes in species range and behaviour world wide. With a few exceptions I think it would be very hard to argue that the world has not warmed.

    Warwick Hughes and Geoff Sherrington may wish to argue about what’s in the CRU data records. IMHO opinion Warwick has had long enough to show us what difference any “errors” make in a paper, and regardless, the body of evidence has somewhat overtaken matters.

    The counter propostions are:

    (1) the majority of the world including Australia has cooled
    (2) the majority of the world including Australia has stayed the same
    (3) we’ve don’t know anything well enough to know anything

    I’m sure a few will still argue for one or more of the above.

    Detribe would you like to make the argument !

    As for Blair’s lonely list; if we were to agree that the world has warmed we then could debate why:!

  32. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 8:37 pm #


    your remarks are wonderful examples.

  33. Phil Done March 29, 2006 at 8:44 pm #

    Geoff if you go back just a few threads in the climate archives here you will find comprehensive discussions of recent developments in cyclone issues and research. You not get attribution to AGW in a single storm or a few storms. BUt there are indications (hotly debated) of intensities increasing.

    The IPCC’s Third Assessment Report provides answers to many of your questions, as does the RealClimate web site on the science.

    New research reported in Science in just the last week confirms movement in polar glaciers and decrease in snow pack.

  34. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 8:45 pm #

    I must disagree with Geoff’s opinion that CO2 is a pollutant.

    We exhale CO2 as living organisms based on carbon.

    If CO2 is deemed a pollutant then all CO2 emitters are polluters by definition and need to be eliminated.

    An extreme view? No, I merely repeat the litany preached here, that CO2 is bad.

    CO2 is not a pollutant, it is life for the plant kingdom which mammals rely on to live.

  35. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 8:51 pm #

    Polar Glaciers, presumeably the ones also at the North Pole.

  36. Phil Done March 29, 2006 at 9:00 pm #

    Louis – I have said above that CO2 is not a pollutant like carbon monoxide or dioxin. It’s not poisonous in small quantities. But that doesn’t mean too much of anything is wonderful.

    Water is essential for life on Earth but you can drown in too much of it. Everyone needs salt NaCl – but too much will makes you sick or can kill you. Small amounts of essential elements are needed for enzyme function but an excess is toxic e.g. chromium, copper, fluorine, manganese, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc.

    And what could be more dangerous than pure oxygen. CO2 is absorbed by plants for sure in photosynthesis – but it is also emitted by the dead and decaying.

    As it turns out – CO2 by virtue of its molecular geometry it turns out to be an absorber and emitter of infrared radiation. It’s also nice in soft drink and beer.

    Life on Earth is a fine balance of many factors.

    Asserting that a little CO2 is good for us, so more must be even better is simply too simple.

  37. Phil Done March 29, 2006 at 9:01 pm #

    polar regions – Greenland if you wish to be tedious.

  38. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 9:03 pm #

    Detribe’s point above is salient – and raises the question of how individual temperature data are weighted in terms of contributing a balanced input to an Australian yearly mean temperature.

    This is a methodology well known in the mining industry and we have vast experimental data on it – its called mining and extraction.

    And it requires an understanding of the difference between intensive and extensive variables. If you don’t understand this basic principle, then the rest of the debate is pointless. Essex and McKitrick pointed out this issue some years back in their TRex chapter of their book on the Climate Changers Index.

  39. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 9:05 pm #


    I will be tedious, Greenland is not polar by any stretch of the imagination.

  40. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 9:09 pm #


    I said Geoff Sherrington considered it a pollutant, not you. You are over reacting, but then anyting signed by me would cause an excitement in you, irregradless of its content.

    Sigh. How exciting.

  41. Patrick March 29, 2006 at 9:48 pm #

    Hi all,

    Like a true man of science Mr Sherrington attempts to present science as a value free enterprise unsullied by any particular motivation. This type of old school rubbish has as much validity of many of the debunked theories of science itself. Any scientist is working to try and prove something. The facts are open to interpretation, that’s the basis of doing science. As to those who oppose Sherrington proving him wrong, this seems a circular arugment as it is Sherrington who is burdened with proof since he is attempting to prove the fallacy of the current thinking on global warming. Let him produce the wanton misinterpretation that he claims underpins the domainiant theories and kill whole climate change thing once and for all, if he can.


  42. Phil Done March 29, 2006 at 9:49 pm #

    No I was talking to Geoff initially on CO2 – you interrupted. And talking the usual CO2 nonsense line.

    Earth’s polar regions are the areas of the globe surrounding the poles, north of the Arctic circle, or south of the Antarctic Circle.

    A fair swag of Greenland gets in – that’s close enough. So Google that and get a geography lesson !

  43. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 9:52 pm #


    You just changed the definition of polar to fit Greenland into your definition – post hoc modifications to make facts fit the preconception.

    Not on.

    Leave the class for fraud.

  44. Louis Hissink March 29, 2006 at 9:56 pm #

    Patrick has written a non sequitor.

    Is it modern then to reject the notion that science, unsullied by any particular motivation, as opld school rubbish?

    Obviously Patrick supports the opposite, that if tainted science, that of politically correct science.

  45. Phil Done March 29, 2006 at 10:39 pm #

    No that’s the definition from Wiki and others.

    Back to Shonkyworld with you – that magical land of delirium where nothing makes sense and everything is inverted.

  46. Tim Lambert March 29, 2006 at 10:53 pm #

    Ah yes, Essex and McKitrick and intensive variables. Dealt with here

  47. Tim Lambert March 29, 2006 at 10:54 pm #

    OK, if I can’t make proper links:

  48. Patrick March 30, 2006 at 12:02 am #


    I disagree on the grounds that it fundamental in science to set out a hypothesis before proceeding. Surely this leads one to attempt to prove or disprove the hypothesis? If not it would seem impossible to proceed. Anyone attempting to support or refute an argument will have to engage rhetorically with the audience they attempt to convince, it may be that the advocate of an argument may not fundamentally believe in the truth or otherwise of their case nonetheless they have the goal in mind of increasing their standing in the eyes of their judges by presenting an interpretation of the facts that best supports their hypothesis.
    Your reply is somewhat weakened by your own rather lame rhetoric.

  49. Jim March 30, 2006 at 7:07 am #

    I’m not a true man of science by any leap and I don’t expect scientists to be free of prejudice or ideology – any more than the rest of us. However , I do expect that scientists from an organisation as respected as the CSIRO would have enough integrity to acknowledge findings inconsistent with their beliefs.
    As to the “proof” test – isn’t AGW itself an hypothesis?

  50. David March 30, 2006 at 8:04 am #

    Geoff you owe us all an explanation as to how…

    Uni East Anglia became Uni of Bath became CSIRO & how the mid 1980s became now.

    When you have done this suggest you go away and do some reading and learning. For example…

    >There are other directions which trouble me where I seek help and guidance. There are scenarios for melting Antarctic land ice and calculations that a full melt raises sea level by 14.7 m or whatever. But is it not the case that ice cores show a continuous record going back 35,000 years, indicating that at least part of the Antarctic survived climate changes intact for that period? Or can someone inform me that there are large discontinuities in the pile, where massive melting took place some time in that 35,000 years? Ditto Greenland.

    The Antarctic Ice cores actually go back 700,000 years. During the sequence of interglacials during this period, the peak temperatures have only varied slightly and fell short of the temperatures the Antractic will experience by the end of this century. Current estimates are that the West Antarctic will become vulnerable to disintegration at around 2C of further global warming… Greenland’s threshold for disintegration is rather lower.


  51. David March 30, 2006 at 8:17 am #


    >As to the “proof” test – isn’t AGW itself an hypothesis?

    There is no such thing as proof in a complex physical science. To ask for one is to ask for the unanswerable. However, we know certain things about climate change and the anthropogenic greenhouse effect with extremely high confidence.

    These include:
    The enhanced greenhouse effect is an observational fact, with a closing of the atmospheric CO2/NO/CH4/CFC emission windows (Increase in greenhouse forcing
    inferred from the outgoing
    longwave radiation spectra of
    the Earth in 1970 and 1997
    John E. Harries, Helen E. Brindley, Pretty J. Sagoo & Richard J. Bantges
    Nature 410, 355-357 (2001).

    We know that if these windows close that the earth must find an alternative way to remove extra heat. These all require the surface to warm… a process which increases the upwards transport of heat energy (sensible heat), latent heat energy, and radiative energy.

    We know that the globe is warming very rapidly (~0.2C/decade), and that this warming has occured in the absence of any natural forcing process and is occuring about 10 times faster than the sustained warming at the end of the last ice age.

    We know the observed warming is happening at exactly the rate we expect to occur as a result of the enhanced greenhouse effect.

    I could go on but I’m sure you get the picture.

    As I often tell people, it is possible that the extra radiative energy is being swallowed by invisible endothermic monsters and that the warming is caused by the flapping of invisible fairy wings. There are a number of people on this blog who might even believe this explanation.


  52. detribe March 30, 2006 at 9:48 am #

    You called on me to say whether I care to get invo’ved in argument. On topics that I’m not fully equipped on, and not fished all my homework ,I prefer to stay out of arguments and just ask questions and perhaps put up a few limited deductions for scrutiny.

    As far as I’m concerned, errors in reason or judgement implied by Geoff need to be considered and put on the record in case they seriously undermine key hypotheses.

    I do get concerned when they are not addressed. Someone has to do the legwork and check them out.

    Whether they do threaten key hypotheses or not is another question entirely.

    In fact argument by authority (eg CSIRO are pretty good professionals, blah blah blah, I’m sure they checked it out, etc, is not science, its medioeval religious authority.

    On the other hand David’s last comment is really helpful – sound to the point summary of well established mechanisms. Where these counter Geoff’s suppositions they are worth taking seriously, but Geoff’s empirical observations can’t be dismissed without looking at them specifically.If they are in fact part of an exising comment by Warrick Hughes thats been already refuted please tell us specifically where.

    What I am hearing from all this that there are several solar or atmospheric effects that perhaps amount to 30% of total forcing that may be being ignored by standard IPCC models and also substantial uncertainties in economics that mean the exact trajectory of future temperature changes is not certain. My sense of it is its a band of probability between manageable rises for which Business as usual will get us by, up to quite serious change where policies can minimise harm substantially.It still seems temrature increase will continue up for at least a few decades but exactly how far who knows. The empirical tragectory is not to worrying using linear extrapolation and seemingly at the lower end of this band.

    BTW in re-reading William Cline in Lomborg 2004 I found his case for policy responses to AGW quite persuasive. I found it ironic that Lomborg is bucketed by John Quiggin for supposedly downplaying AGW when he actually presents a reasoned case (via Cline’s chapter) for action in his book on the Copenhagen Consensus Conference.

    And since I’ve just re-read Ilya Prigogine’s The End of Certainty for other reasons (see GMO Pundit if you’re interested)and I’m starting again on Prigogine and Stenger’s Order Out of Chaos with Alvin Toffler’s brilliantly accessible introduction, I’m fully alert to the fact that strict determinism in systems away from thermodynamic equilibriun (eg the real world we live in) is a dead hypothesis, so we need to tread carefully when interpreting IPCC scenarios in terms of policy responses.

  53. Jennifer March 30, 2006 at 10:01 am #

    FYI, I’ve copied one of David’s comments above and started a new thread here: relating to possible natural sources of forcing.

  54. Geoff Sherrington March 30, 2006 at 10:11 am #

    For David who wrote
    “During the sequence of interglacials during this period, the peak temperatures have only varied slightly and fell short of the temperatures the Antractic will experience by the end of this century. Current estimates are that the West Antarctic will become vulnerable to disintegration at around 2C of further global warming… Greenland’s threshold for disintegration is rather lower. ”

    Thank you for the additional information I sought.

    The problem with your response is “Current estimates…. 2C..” This is an estimate and it is only as good as the data behind it. Much of the temperature data are taken from the last decade or two. If this data set is non-representative, then the projections are invalid. I keep asking why early records are not used, as we were putting CO2 into the air back then also.

    Mt attitude is to use all available observations. This includes the resistance of the Antarctic ice to melting for a long time past. Who can state with confidence that there is not an compensatory feedback mechanism, as yet unrecognised, (such as a redistribution of ocean currents and heat flow, but not limited to that) that cuts in when the temperature in the kitchen gets too hot? We simply do not know. In the meantime, as I agree, it is prudent to reduce CO2 emissions by available means. Quickly.

    When I write that CO2 is a pollutant, I mean that excess portion over the natural that is created by the actions of man (excluding breathing, growing and decay of the human body).

    Yes, I do apologise, I apologise for the mention of University of Bath in an unexpected phone call from Jennifer when I cast my mind back 20 years in a hurry. I meant East Anglia. I had had matters with both in the past. The mention of CSIRO followed from a 4 corners program. I repeat my contention that there are scientists in CSIRO with private agendas which are way out of whack with mainstream thinking. I attended a talk by one on greenhouse on 15 March and it was zealotry, not science. But I did not say that CSIRO scientists had fudged temperature data. I was talking about the data available when world models first hit the scene in the mid 1980s. At that time I postulate that there was selective culling of data. I do not recall CSIRO being involved then or not. The effect of these early estimates was to set a benchmark which new models are compared against and to convince most of the interested public that warming was inevitable. Thirty years before that, wisdom was that a New Ice Age was coming.

    My original letter stands. All I have got is some nit picking, partly arising from the loss of paragraph spacing in the version you people saw. The original scans differently.

    I have offered no opinion as to whether global models are now right or wrong. I suspect them as being premature as others are still researching and discovering inputs that will affect the estimates. Even Phil Jones wrote the other day to say that differences had just been found in seawater records from the days of thermometer in bucket versus measurement at ship cooling water intakes.

    Modellers would be prudent to keep their frameworks up to date, with periodic testing and private comparison with others, until consensus is reached that the methodology is scientifically good and all plausible effects are quantified. Economists should not make predictions until that consensus is reached, unless they like eating humble pie.

    If, in my earth sciences past, our company had announced a new ore deposit and given figures for its value to the Stock Exchange that were premature, we would well have ended up incarcerated. If we got our maths wrong and mined a body that turned out a dud, we could go out of business and on the street. These outcomes instil a certian caution and accountability. Greenhouse modellers who produce premature estimates don’t have the same sword hanging over their heads. Their reward is more likely idolatory from supplicants.

  55. cinders March 30, 2006 at 2:30 pm #

    Thanks for your efforts to respond to Four Corners and your call on scienctists with private agendas to be exposed. Clearly the general public expects that scientists base their public statements on rigourous scietific methodology, not a personal opinion or philosophy.

    The Four Corners Program criticised industry people for attempting to influence Government Policy but criticised CSIRO management for restricting the activities of those employees who were also trying to influence policy. Four Corners was not affronted by the fact that one CSIRO scientist was a member of a lobby group put together by the WWF whilst still an employee of the government.
    Keep up the good work of highlighting discrepencies in these types of public statements.

  56. Phil Done March 30, 2006 at 3:48 pm #

    What a beatup – come on. Everyone has a private agenda. Is anyone acting for ultimate purity or some metaphysical high concept.

    Geoff by the looks has plenty of agendas. Nuclear power? (and he is entitled to his view – maybe I even agree – but that’s not the point)

    This sort of stuff is also used in industry protectionist mode – “did you actually observe the cigarette smoke causing the lung cell to mutate under a microscope??” Who decides what absolute proof is?

    So it’s OK for politicians and members of the public to write any rubbish at all – and yet scientists are to remain silent until absolute proof. Come on.

    Of course it’s very important that any scientists differentiates speculation of concern from suggesting hard evidence of proof. Or degreee or quality of evidence.

    For example there is reasonable concern about the effect that climate change may have on tropical cyclones. Surely we need to know the concern – but are also entitled to know how strong the evidence is for such a proposition.

    The CSIRO staff muzzling was about scientists potentially embarrassing a governent policy position. Witness Kevin Hennessy’s “no comment” in that interview. Repeated no comment. It’s a disgrace that he was not free to answer the question.

    Scientists don’t set policy – they inform policy. It becomes very difficult if they are witnessing a policy that is not scientifically defensible. There is a long tradition in western society of seeking scientists’ opinions. And we seek that opinion even though it may not make us happy or be counter to our personal beliefs.

    And I would have thought the electorate is as cynical as buggery about everything – big business, governments, NGOs, green groups, mothers, fathers and scientists too.

    And cinders would it not be convenient for industry to keep any forestry type scientists with ecological concerns silent until they have absolute proof. Don’t want any trouble now do we?

    Of course if the goverment wants some quick action with salinity maybe we can go with “sorta modelled – good enough for government work proof”)

    Cuts both ways. You shouldn’t control scientists ability to speak publicly on issues of scientific concern. The responsibility also goes back to the scientist to live up to that trust of being seen to be fair and independent.

  57. rog March 30, 2006 at 4:00 pm #

    Whats your private agenda Phil?

    And hows the new business going, the science based one? Tough times for putting theory into practice.

  58. Phil March 30, 2006 at 4:29 pm #

    Rog – business is booming ! Not to the heights of Thinkso-saurus regina – I’m not at retirement like herself but close.

  59. rog March 30, 2006 at 5:11 pm #

    “Retirement” is as ill defined as is “solid financial background”, all euphemisms

  60. cinders March 30, 2006 at 5:18 pm #

    Phil Done,
    You totally miss my point and instead decide to attack the forest industry on baseless claims. Perhaps you have an agenda as well.
    Four Corners clearly had one, no where in the script does the ‘WWF’ appear nor the association of the featured former CSIRO scientist had with this lobby group.
    There is a clear conflict of interest of some one working for the tax payer also representing the views of a privately funded organisation. This interest must be declared so that the tax payer can be in the best position to make an informed decision.
    Four Corners, that claims to be the best in investigative journalism, also appears to treat the viewer with contempt with a similar non disclosure.
    Perhaps you could be better informed about Four Corner’s practices in environmental reporting by reviewing the ABC’s Independent Complaints Review Panel’s report on “Lords of the Forest’ available at the ABC’s corporate web site.

  61. Phil March 30, 2006 at 5:33 pm #

    Am I attacking the forestry industry. Not really. Perhaps you have an agenda that you’re defending?

    Maybe one of the scientists was a Mason too? Does it really matter. Perhaps one was a satanist. Did he mention WWF issues? How did he represent WWF?

    Perhaps you can’t a be Labor Party member and work for the Howard Government or a Liberal Party person and work for the Beattie Govt.

    Where do you stop?

    This is just a generalist swipe against scientists. Anyone that doesn’t fit what the majority or even a minority lobby group wants – is a biased greenie ratbag.

  62. Thinksi March 30, 2006 at 6:35 pm #

    Scientists who work for industry, are however, apparently entitled to make opinionated public statements and comment on policy in attempts to influence govt and public opinion.

    It’s only the govt scientists with a tendency to think independently and ask q’s, and particularly those who care for the environment, who are expected to have lobotomies or resign to make way for ‘yes’ men.

  63. rog March 30, 2006 at 8:30 pm #

    Chatterers’ respond to their own criticisms of public condemnation of scientists..

    ..really thinksi + done, biased greenie ratbag thoust art.

  64. Geoff Sherrington March 30, 2006 at 8:34 pm #

    Temperature reconstructions from ice cores over tens to hundreds of thousands of years rely upon oxygen isotopes in the main.

    As one who used to own a laboratory with expensive, state of the art equipment I know a little about analytical error. As a geochemist who has worked with uranium, lead and other isotopes, I know a little about isotope theory. It therefore comes as no surprise that I cannot accept as gospel the ice core temperature data, when parts of a degree celcius are sought in accuracy from samples tens of thousands of years old. This is without going into the fractionation theories of oxygen isotopes, which are also partly hypothetical.

    It is no coincidence that I quote Prof Richard Fairbanks of Lamont-Doherty: “Somewhat at odds with the ice core community, we have argued for some time that the primary oxygen isotope signal recorded in Greenland ice cores is changing air mass mixing and not air temperature, although the two correlate. Greenland is unique from a meteorological standpoint; it marks the confluence of numerous air mass trajectories containing very different oxygen isotope compositions. Changes in the proportions of these various air masses on a seasonal basis can explain most of the regional and millennial variability. In particular, Greenland oxygen isotope chemistry is very responsive to the flip-flop from meridional climate to zonal climate patterns that the North Atlantic region regularly experiences during the late Pleistocene.” Some of this hypothesis can be applied to the Antarctic.

    Also, growing plant and other matter like coral discriminates between oxygen isotopes, but unlike ice cores which lock up the isotopes, these materials decay and release mixtures of oxygen isotopes throughout history, add ing noise to the signals in the ice cores. The constancy or otherwise of oxygen isotopes in ice core has to be adjusted for the global vegetation differentiation of oxygen isotopes and for seasonal changes and it is hard to model this back for 100,000 years.

    I don’t place blind faith in predictions of Antarctic ice melting based on the oxygen isotope methods in past eras because of these and other uncertainties. Others might. It is taking a long brush to say that oxygen isotope measurements on Antarctic ice cores have not recorded temperatures higher than those of current times, or statements that approximate that. There are published papers that show otherwise. Whether they are right or wrong or uncertain is a bit academic. I again introduce the argument that we should be remediating CO2 rather than trying to predict what it will do.

    This does not infect me with a pro-nuclear label, as someone has inferred. I simply find the relevant nuclear research more rigorous than the ice core work and the publications I have read are of better quality, especially in the relams of error analysis and coping with artefacts.

  65. bugger March 30, 2006 at 8:47 pm #

    Perhaps its time to stick my neck out and say I bet no one on this blog has read more thermometers of one type or another over the last fifty years than me. Also, for a long time we could not read much better than half a degree C or one % of what ever in any measurement. I reckon we can make what we each want from old weather records.

    This is partly in response to Geoff

    Fifty years ago no one was that bothered about global averages even if they could calibrate to a standard of one hundredth of a degree. It leaves us stuck with a lot of guessing around say 15 C back then. But just 2 C rise from 1950 to 2050 is a hell of a lot of extra heat to hide. Only a fool would say the ice caps won’t notice meantime.

    Let’s make another claim about whoz been studding vortexes. I started in the early 1960’s, vortexes in vessels, vortexes in fuels, vortexes in heavy particles, vortexes in bushfires, vortexes in streams and the atmosphere. The energy levels at plus 2 C will certainly create some surprises for those same fools.

    Cinders mates can’t grow enough trees to stop it now however cinders may be surprised to know I recommended not a pulp mill but a complex to make paper wrappings for our consumer rubbish as we go on. Simply we won’t be able to afford the plastics.

    Now; only those retired with out an axe to grind need give their opinion on my position


  66. cinders March 31, 2006 at 7:36 am #

    I have no issue with scientists or any one being a member of a political party or even a green organization. The issue I have is the conflict of interest when you are part of a Government body and a specifically convened Group, set up to lobby for a change in government policy.

    Dr Pearman the former CSIRO scientist quoted on the Four Corners Program is a member of the WWF Australian Climate Change Group, in the program he made statements that appear to be from the WWF Climate Change solutions report.

    The WWF created the Australian Climate Group to be an “

  67. Geoff Sherrington March 31, 2006 at 10:25 am #

    Oh good, a vortex expert. Let’s discuss a the sea off SE USA where the big blows were. Let’s assume that surface sea temperatures were indeed 2 deg C warmer than in previous years. I don’t know how much latent heat this means since I don’t know how deep the temperature anomaly was. I also do not know if the seas were warmer than normal on the hour that the storms seeded and continued.

    Now let’s look at the vortex that was each major storm. It acquired its energy from either temperature redistribution of the surrounding air, or by transfer from the suface beneath, or a bit of both. My question is, given the comparative brevity of the storms, was there adequate mechanism for the excess surface temperature of the sea to find its way into the vortices? Or was it all over before the sea could contribute?

    I’ve casually watched a few hundred willy-willys in the outback and formed the impression as a fool (not as a scientist) that they gained their momentum from redistribution of hotter and colder air as they wandered over the countryside that varied below them. Was I wrong? I am in unfamiliar territory and I am seeking the advice of experts, not expressing an amateur opinion.

    It is part of my inherent scientists’ wonder about natural events (which others have said I lack).

  68. bugger March 31, 2006 at 3:04 pm #

    Geoff: although far from being an expert I’m obliged to carry on with this vortex interest.

    I stumbled upon this site a few weeks back where there are excellent diagrams of atmospheric events leading to extreme weather.

    The hurricane structure (after Abbott) shows the downdraft in the inner tube. Now let’s introduce the Hilsch vortex tube and demonstrate the impact of separation on the cold fraction.

    Our first attempt at ICI research labs years ago to copy the original design and build a pair in glass for a science exhibition failed. Besides the problems of freehand glass blowing at tiny but critical dimensions the glass itself carried too much heat back into the cold end. We went back to metal. See this rather similar construction-

    A Google on “vortex tube” reveals many industrial applications.

  69. bugger March 31, 2006 at 3:49 pm #

    Geoff; our discussions here around difficulties in obtaining average temperatures often remind me of our needs to homogenize solid suspensions in liquids. There is nothing better than a vortex to the job properly.

    The same people above had me building tiny pumps in beakers for generating high speed recycling currents and then we built an intense shearing model based on a singer motor that was flat out at 10.000 rpm. Simultaneously Silverton in the UK patented theirs.

    Now everybody has one and it’s called a stab mixer.

    Google on vortex mixer homogenizer to see how they all latched on.


  70. Geoff Sherrington March 31, 2006 at 8:42 pm #

    Thak you for the references to vortices. They are quite istructie qualitatively. I guess that the maths modelling has been done to verify that the postulated heat transfers can take place at the magnitudes and times required, I still have envisioning troubles with severe enhancement caused by a 2 degree C SST elevation because we are doing the maths in degrees absolute and going from figures like 293 to 295 degrees absolute, whic ain’t much.
    Thank you again Geoff.

  71. Rewvebecca March 15, 2008 at 6:46 pm #

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