Friday, April 2, 2010

New article in Spiegel

A lengthy article in DER SPIEGEL discusses the present situation - in German and in English.

The last sentence of the article is a quote of mine, which may easily be misunderstood, unfortunately. Instead of the rather short "Climate change isn't going to happen overnight. We still have enough time to react." I would have preferred the more extensive "We should reduce our emissions for reducing climate change. But we have also to deal with reducing our vulnerability. We are able, and have time to do so."

During the early part of the week, when the article was available only in the printed version, few reactions took place. Among them this e-mail: Hans,You are all going to be put in prison in Nuremberg.  You are particularly guilty, so you punishment and reformation are going to be difficult for you. Love, Stan. (person unknown to me).

Two other relevant articles on spiegel on-line were a critique of Ottmar Edenhofer by Richard Tol, and a poll indicating a strong change in the German public perception of the climate issue.

-- Hans von Storch


P Gosselin said...

The overall view of the report is a bit flakey. It presumes that warming will continue, with nobody really knowing at what rate, but, for sure, warming will keep going on, and with man being responsible for it. Any honest scentist will tell you the data simply are not there to make that conclusion. Even Phil Jones recently admitted there has been no real warming in the last 15 years.

And nowhere does the report speak about the probability of future cooling, which is a real probability. So, in a way, by refusing to do so and stubbornly staying stuck on warming, we could be setting ourselves up to be caught with our pants seriously down in the next dacades. The German media is still very much stuck on warming.

But give Der Spiegel credit where it's due. It wasn't that long ago when they were trumpeting "scientific consensus" and all the catastrophic predictions. At least now they are giving rational persons a voice.

Finally, I second the proposal of taking a few years to establish a reliable global temperature record with the involvement of sceptics or lukewarmers. But does anyone really believe this could be done without political meddling? I think the chances of hell freezing over are higher.

eduardo said...

This article is written in a more journalistic style than the previous summary of the state of climate science published in The Economist. The Spiegel article reads more like a novel and in a few places it does contain some debatable assertions. All in all, I think it is a good article in the sense that it clearly portrays the uncertainties still present in many climate projections, something that it was not displayed in the media in the last years.

The main message, however, is that in spite of all these uncertainties, global temperatures will rise with increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, they can rise more or less - but rise they will. By no means can we call off anthropogenic climate change, the climate system has to be monitored very carefully. And I hope that in the future, *all* claims about climate change, and not only some of them, will also be monitored very carefully.

Some other points with which I am not happy in the article are:

-Jones is finished 'emotionally, physically and professionally'. I do not know how Jones feels now, but he is certainly not professionally finished. I have been critical to Jones before because of his role as gatekeeper in the peer review process, and not because of his scientific work and scientific publications, which I think are excellent. Sure, he was sloppy with the data and did not behave optimally in the data sharing issue. However, I remember quite well when I started in climate sciences in 1989 that it was almost impossible to get data from other groups and the public data banks, which now seem to be obvious, were barely existent at that time. I myself have been only asked once for data by a reviewer, and never for code. I think Jones did not understand that times were changing and adopted a very stubborn position against critics of climate change. However, I would not hesitate at working in a project together with 'the scientist Jones', although probably this will not happen. I think. many climate scientist share this opinion.

-"If I had a vacation house on Mallorca," Max Planck scientist Jochem Marotzke jokes, "I would sell it and look for one on (the Baltic Sea island of) Usedom
I will have to tell Claudia to sell the house. Werner, would you like to buy?

-Steve McIntyre: To look critically into any scientific publication should be certainly allowed and even encouraged, and he certainly has good skills in spotting errors in the papers where he wants to find them. However, by the same token that we criticize, in my opinion rightfully, the IPCC because all the errors so far go in one direction, McIntyre should also be criticized because he only looks for errors in 'some papers' . Many papers contain errors - including mine-, but I find curious that McIntyre and all other sceptics blogs for that matter, very seldom if ever spot clear errors in papers authored by sceptics. Isnt it remarkable that those papers seem to never contain errors?
I hope that now the pendulum seemed to have swung in the other direction, some blogs will try to correct also all those errors. Just for reasons of credibility.

Zajko said...

Walks an interesting balance between portraying climate science as a broken corpse and urging a realistic degree of caution about future warming. I expect the paper's readers will end up quite confused, but hopefully better informed.
And I'm personally happy to see Mr. von Storch putting his views out there, into the wide-open credibility void. I'm sure you will be rewarded with some more nasty letters, but I'd say this is an important time to keep up a public profile.

eduardo said...

I forgot one further point

'Lemke, like most of his fellow scientists, expects the sea level to rise by somewhere between half a meter and one meter.'

Peter Lemke was coordinating author of the Sea Level chapter in the last Fourth IPCC Report, and so I assume he is very well informed about what the consensus view on future sea-level is.
If the quote is faithful and if it refers to the year 2100 (it is not clear in the article) I think it contradicts clearly other claims we have heard recently about sea-level rising up to 2 meters in 2100, and even claims that the 2-meter limit is the current consensus.
I am sure the authors of the sea-level chapter in the next IPCC report are going to enjoy the discussion.

Zajko said...

To give him credit, McIntyre did post a critique of Lindzen & Choi by Judith Curry

But it would be nice to see more skeptics being critical of each other - just as it's been refreshing to see the warmers breaking ranks.
Politics bands people into camps, science should shake them up. Maybe one day scientific disagreement will be seen not as a sign that someone is being dishonest, but as the sort of healthy skepticism that ultimately leads to credibility.

Werner Krauss said...

In the context of the 20 year prediction:

'Germany will see many more tepid summer nights, and spring will begin earlier and earlier. And in only 20 years, snow could become a thing of the past in Germany. All of this can no longer be averted.'

In 2001, one of Prof. Marotzke's colleagues famously stated that 'we will never have white Christmas again'.

Climate scientists are poets, they can't help it...

_Flin_ said...

The former news magazine shows once again, why it is called thus by some people:
- "storms of unprecedented strength" become "nie dagewesene Superstürme"
- "there are many indications that in medieval times, between 900 and 1,300 A.D., when the Vikings raised livestock in Greenland and grape vines were cultivated in Scotland, it was in fact warmer than it is today".... And these indications come from? The Heartland Institute? Which peer reviewed study makes such a claim?
- No word about McIntyre having the raw data all along
Hurricane Expert
- No word about sea level rise if Greenland and the antarctic ice shelfs melt to a high extent
- The climate in Germany... well, I might as well fall down laughing about that one. How can you possibly paint the future in brighter colors?
- A drastic shift in tourism "might" benefit Germany, and then they say there will be no snow in Germany. I guess southern germany's tourism industry will really love that!

This is junk journalism. Biased, prejudiced, one-sided and sloppy statements get mixed with pure speculation. The only positive surprise is that noone from a PR think tank was in the article.

The former news magazine adds another nail to it's quality coffin.

P Gosselin said...

Werner Krauss,
There certainly is debate on whether we'll see warmer or colder winters. Listen to Mojob Latif:

He is sticking to his colder winters scenario. I believe him (especially after this winter!).

P Gosselin said...

What evidence can you present that shows this is junk jounalism? You cannot call it junk just because you are disturbed by its content.
Jounlaism means being objective and presenting both sides to a story.
I actually think it was still one-sided in favour of warming, and are wrong to do so. Read my first comment above. There are a number of scientists who project cooling. But I wouldn't call it junk journalism. Perhaps it bothers you that the German media is slowly realising that the science is indeed in debate and that there are many sides to the issue.

P Gosselin said...

Is Flin actually Stefan Rahmstorf?

Ya'll better ease up on the "bashing". Some sensibilities are being hurt.

_Flin_ said...

@P Gosselin:
"Journalism means being objective and present both sides of the story"

This is a common misconception. Journalism needs to present facts as facts and opinions as opinions. Sometimes there are no two sides of the story. This may be harmless (e.g. Germany is no Monarchy), not so harmless (British Chiropracticians cannot heal children with asthma) or outright criminal (There was a holocaust).

On the other hand if there really are differences in interpretation of facts then it will be good journalism practice to give an balanced account of them.

In this article, however,
- the IPCC AR4 mistakes (although I wondered about the "mistake of the Jones temperature curve") blown out of proportion, just to mention the conservative sea level estimates a few pages later, which is being portrayed as conservative estimate (=positive), not as a mistake(=negative).
- McIntyre is portrayed as the clever White Knight how is able to calculate on his old PC for what the stupid climate scientists need large supercomputers
- Feedbacks are only mentioned when they might be negative (clouds). Positive feedbacks are'nt mentioned.
- the MWP is stated as a fact, although I am not aware of any peer reviewed study that shows any temperature in this period close to our current temperatures

etc. etc.

So, by your own standards, this article is junk journalism.

P Gosselin said...

This Der Spiegel report seems to have really kicked up a storm. Rahmstorf has gone ballistic. He is not amused by Der Spiegel. I think his comments alone about people who disagree with him and how he unloads on Prof von Storch tells a lot about his character.
I'm not sure it's wise to attack Der Spiegel and others the way he has.

Werner Krauss said...

The following quote is not from a cheap detective story; it is from the Spiegel article:

"Their target was well selected. Jones was like a spider in its web. Almost every internal debate among the climate popes passed through his computer, leaving behind a digital trail. Most of all, however, Jones controlled the 'smoking gun' of climatology: the Earth's temperature curve."

Have a look at the metaphors used in these few lines:

"target - spider in the web - climate popes - digital trail - smoking gun - temperature curve'

And this is only one example. There is not one fact in this paragraph; it is all about denunciation, ornament, entertainment, tension, crime. The language of the article is loaded, and its full of innuendo. On the one hand, this is a problem of bad journalism (the metaphors don't even fit: the temperature curve is a smoking gun? Oh my dear!); on the other hand, this is a problem of science, too.

Someone made the point in this blog (Reiner?) that climate science does not exactly know what it is, it doesn't have a paradigm. This comes to my mind when reading this article: climate science is deeply affected by the language of the media. It is the metaphors that write the stories, not the facts. As if there were no scientific reality untouched by this language.

This makes things really complicated. Metaphorical language and scientific data do not really belong to the same category. You cannot counter metaphors (Jones is a target, a spider in the web) with scientific facts (is his curve correctly calculated or is it faked), but it works the other way round (your facts turn you automatically into a 'denier', a 'skeptic' or an alarmist).

It is frightening to see how closely media and climate science are tied together (spiegel, the economist). The good guys versus the bad guys. I am afraid this road will lead straight to hell (to use a strong metaphor myself), that is, to irrelevance.

P Gosselin said...

Rahmstorf lists Emanuel 2005 as one of his references. I guess he forgot that Emanuel later backpedalled, 2008, Bulletin of the American Meteorlogical Society.

But I guess busy readers and climate scientists do not have all day to research such things, as Mr Rahmstorf says.

eduardo said...

@ Gosselin,
Mr Rahmstorf also prefers to read some blogs instead of fact checking. If he was up-to-date with the literature in climate reconstructions he would know that *all* later studies have confirmed that the method used by Mann et al in 1998 was wrong.
But this thread is about Der Spiegel, I guess.

Werner Krauss said...

Just another word to Rahmstorf: he is painfully aware of the power of metaphors:

'In diesem Artikel sagt er (v. Storch) Dinge wie "Manche meiner Kollegen verhalten sich leider wie Pastoren, die ihre Ergebnisse genau so präsentieren, dass sie zu ihrer Predigt passen." Dieses Zitat passt vor allem zu der Inflation der Worte "Gurus", "Päpste", "Strafprediger", "Missionare" usw. im Artikel.'

(R. highlights that HvStorch compares his colleagues to 'priests', who manipulate data in order to fit their sermon. This, so Rahmstorf, is perfectly in tune with the metaphors used by the Spiegel, such as guru, missionary, popes etc).

Maybe Rahmstorf does not always check the scientific publications, but his linguistic analysis is not a bad one!

In turn, he makes use of another trope and plays the who-has-more-Nature-publications- melody in order to deconstruct Hans' authority. He also knows how to play the metaphors and symbols!

Here I neither want to defend Rahmstorf nor blame Hans; both seem to be trapped inside the same struggle for discursive hegemony. In this battle, Der Spiegel, The Economist, The New York Times are like capricious gods who sometimes favor the one and sometimes the other. The facts may play a role, for sure, but this is not exclusively about facts. The media gods are only interested when there is a good story to tell (the email hack, for example). Climate science from the beginning tried to pack its diverse and maybe even unconnected findings into coherent narratives. Strangely enough, today it seems as if the narratives had gained control over the facts.

Hans von Storch said...

Werner - "Strangely enough, today it seems as if the narratives had gained control over the facts." - isn't that normal, or to be expected, in case of postnormal science?

eduardo said...

I think there is a way to distinguish a pastor from a normal mortal. A pastor receives the revealed truth and everything that contradicts him/her is evil. Human beings are categorized in believers and non-believers, and the latter can be bullied and threatened with eternal hell. And, of course, a pastor does not allow dissent in the church.

which blogs are heavily moderated, and which arent, for instance ?

The pastor discourse is for me all too familiar, as I grew up in a catholic dictatorship.

Anonymous said...

Eduardo. In your first comment on this thread you say: "I find curious that McIntyre and all other sceptics blogs for that matter, very seldom if ever spot clear errors in papers authored by sceptics."

Have you ever thought about why this is so? Perhaps the reason is that those advance the scary scenarios of the CAGW hypothesis are seeking to make massive changes to the way we live, in carbon markets etc to the tune of literally trillions of dollars.

It is surely not unreasonable that those making claims requiring such massive changes should be held accountable for the veracity of what they say.

The many problems that have emerged, the unexplained 'adjustments' that all seem to go just one way, the acknowledged 'sloppy' work, the failure/refusal to disclose data/codes/methodology, the failure to comply with the archiving policies of the journals, the corruption of the peer review process, the 'loss' of primary data all call into question the bold assertions of the 'climate scientists'.

That members of the profession are not calling their colleagues to account, leaving the job to sceptics, is surely a condemnation of their commitment to professionalism.

It is not the sceptics trying to impose massive changes on the world community. It is not the sceptics making the bold, and often unsupportable assertions.

Who do you think should be holding the climate scientists accountable? A compliant media? Journals that have apparently lost their commitment to objective truth? Those who are dependent, in various ways, on continued funding flows from government?

The fact is that the job has been abrogated by all but the sceptics. They deserve our respect and thanks, even if we disagree with them.

mheimann said...

A very poor article - classical Spiegel. The journalist has a mission, just as Mr. Rahmstorf. Most disturbing is the way Phil Jones is portrayed. This is not good style. Will be interesting if "Der Spiegel" will now also report on the recent report by the UK house of commons commission.

Actually it is interesting that Klimazwiebel features prominently "Der Spiegel" but not the latter report, nor the similar articles/comments in the SZ from last week. But those were published south of the Elbe.

In any case, it is currently much more fashionable to "...kick them while they're down," and "They deserve to be publicly flogged." (Quote from Mr. Morano).

Werner Krauss said...


mheimann, you are perfectly right. I think the Spiegel won because of the klimazwiebel family. Anyway, the SZ paints a completely different picture. They debunk networks of skeptics, which gain ground in Germany and manipulate public opinion.

One SZ article is titled "Where deserts are hocus-pocus". Exxon mobile and others invest more than 50 million dollars in order to destroy the credibility of climate science; they build a network of deniers:

"We don't need no climate scientists': this article is about a network of skeptics in Germany, which works in close relationship with the US skeptics. The FDP already organized a climate conference. Guess who was invited: good ol' Fred Singer!

These two stories are as good or as bad, as relevant or true as the other stories in Der Spiegel. It is useless to argue for one or the other side. it's a trap, and there is no way out, except: see next comment.

Werner Krauss said...

Nordhaus & Schellenberger from the Breakthrough Institute published an interesting article; they simply suggest to separate climate science form the question of energy policy:

"Freeing Energy Policy From
The Climate Change Debate.
Environmentalists have long sought to use the threat of catastrophic global warming to persuade the public to embrace a low-carbon economy. But recent events, including the tainting of some climate research, have shown the risks of trying to link energy policy to climate science."

I think the same is true for the skeptics. They also make use of science to support their claims and to convince the public.

The article is here

and was discussed here:

_Flin_ said...

@Anonymous: Skeptic blogs find no errors in skeptic papers because
- there aren't many skeptic papers
- every skeptic paper needs to be hailed as either a "smoking gun" or as "YetAnotherGate"

Made adjustments are usually documented. Not adjusting often is a mistake, as seen in the issue about the spin problem with the UAH satellite temperature.

Furthermore it is questionable to bemoan that data is not available, when data is not allowed to be shared or published by the rightful owners, i.e. the national weather services.

And it is beyond any reasoning to say that "It is not the sceptics trying to impose massive changes on the world community". So what do you call something like global surface warming of 4.1 - 5.1 Degrees Celsius in 2010, which the MIT Integrated Global System Model calculated last year for our current emissions path? These aren't "massive changes"?

And what's happening to the Greenland Ice Shelf on our current emissions path aren't "Massive changes"? Neither is the ocean acidification and the extinction of maritime species due to acidification and temperature rise?

The only constant thing is change. We change the world if we don't change ourselves. If we change ourselves and our behaviour, maybe the world doesn't change that much.

It is no option to do nothing at all and pretend that everything is fine. There are many easy steps that can be done to improve CO2 emissions.

Finding the right balance between changing the world and changing ourselves is what we have to achieve.

_Flin_ said...

Oops, transposed digits.

MIT Integrated Global System Model calculated the 4.1 - 5.1 Degrees Celsius for


sry 4 doublepost

Hans von Storch said...

mheimann/22 - ... the recent report by the UK house of commons commission. Actually it is interesting that Klimazwiebel features prominently "Der Spiegel" but not the latter report, nor the similar articles/comments in the SZ from last week. .

The rationale of pointing to the SPIEGEL article was not to endorse it; obviously it is a journalistic piece, a piece with a narrative to shed light on a well-known issue from a different angle, maybe to provoke, not a scientific analysis. As you said: "classical Spiegel" - something what people expect from Spiegel, why some people value Spiegel.

For me, the significance of the article is that it tells about the state of the public domain. The article is a measure of what is thought, or considered possible by parts of the public. Certainly an article which would not have been written in this way just 6 months ago.

SZ - why not SZ? I am not aware of the article. If you thought it relevant, why didn't you point to it? UK house of commons commission? - That was in the regular news; I personally hold limited respect for the British political establishment.

If you want to imply a biased reporting here at Klimazwiebel - would you think that this contribution of mine would support this perception of bias? Or the input submitted by Myles Allen and myself to the UK house of commons commission?

Hans von Storch said...

Werner /18 - you wrote ... die ihre Ergebnisse genau so präsentieren, dass sie zu ihrer Predigt passen.(R. highlights that HvStorch compares his colleagues to 'priests', who manipulate data in order to fit their sermon. ....
The translation of "Ihre Ergebnisse so präsentieren..." as "who manipulate data" is certainly not adequate. "Ihre Ergebnisse so präsentieren" would be "who present their results so that ...". Manipulation of data is something different. Results and data are different objects in climate science.

eduardo said...

Werner, you could have posted and commented that SZ article here ?

This is one of the few blogs I know where authors have different views, are free to post, and openly offers the possibility to any reader to post an article within the limits of netiquette.

This is very different from trying to manipulate public opinion.

eduardo said...

@ 21

'Have you ever thought about why this is so? Perhaps the reason is that those advance the scary scenarios of the CAGW hypothesis are seeking to make massive changes to the way we live, in carbon markets etc to the tune of literally trillions of dollars.

I do not agree with you. If one's commitment is to set the scientific record straight and then let societies decide on their future, one should not pre-filter the papers that should be scoured.
I think the real reason is too common: not to give ammunition to the enemy - we see it in all political parties.

@ReinerGrundmann said...

To those who talk about 'junk journalism':
you do not seem to like what the message is, so you want to shoot the messenger. A bit shortsighted, I think, as the next story could be of a different tone. In fact, most news stories on climate change in the past 20 years in Germany were of a different tone.

What is a good news story? Journalists have their own criteria, and would normally take exception to exhortations from those whose feelings are hurt.

One element is drama and a sense of justice. So whenever there is a David/Goliath moment, the media are eager to portray it. And to keep it going. This is what kept Greenpeace going, and what kept ozone politics alive (Rowland and Crutzen in the 1980s). It also, initially, played a role when the IPCC appeared. Imagine the script: on the one side the scientific truth, on the other, dirty business (coal, oil) interests. Now it is Steve McIntyre with the outmoded laptop, fighting against the supercomputers.

WHO is complaining?

Werner Krauss said...

@eduardo 29
Of course, there is absolutely no problem in posting the SZ articles! My remark concerning 'klimazwiebel family' was easy to misread, sorry. I just wanted to say that the Spiegel article addressed many of the topics we already discussed here on klimazwiebel.

Werner Krauss said...

@ reiner 31

I absolutely agree. Does it contradict what I said in my previous comments? I don't know...

_Flin_ said...

@Reiner Grundmann: It is a time where media companies try to make the public pay for their inability to adapt to a changed environment and earn further money from their outdated business models (aka "Leistungsschutzrecht").

The reason for that is often the so called "Qualitätsjournalismus", a feat that can only be accomplished by the experienced banner holders and journalists of the existing publishers (opposed to bloggers and other amateurs).

As someone who is a proponent of a free market I am therefore highly critical when a peer group that likes to wallow in it's supposed superiority (i.e. journalists) shows such a dismal performance in meeting their own professional standards.

On the other hand I see web sites like Skeptical Science that inform the reader about science in understandable and provable terms.

So someone who claims to deliver quality journalism needs to be measured by his own standards. If he writes an article that is
- biased
- not balanced
- states assumptions and fairy tales as facts
- distorts reality to bring some point across
- smears people
- glorifies other people that have never ever added something positive and productive to science
- fails to research facts in the original sources (IPCC statement concerning storms)

then I call this for what it is: junk journalism on a tabloid level.

If I read this in Energy & Environment, which I know to be partisan, then this is one thing. In Spiegel it is something completely different.

Anonymous said...

@ 21

'Have you ever thought about why this is so? Perhaps the reason is that those advance the scary scenarios of the CAGW hypothesis are seeking to make massive changes to the way we live, in carbon markets etc to the tune of literally trillions of dollars

Russian academy of science December 17th seems to agree

One of the main topics of discussion was also the theme of climate change

Vice President RAS Nikolai Laverov and Director of the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology RAS Yuri Izrael, and briefly described what research are in the area of climate and advised the president not to succumb to the general panic created now in the West around this topic.

"So now the issue heated up interest, and in all this I feel the taste of money. Otherwise I would so zealously that never had it,” - said Dmitry Medvedev – “ If we were talking about just a general scientific discussion, such a deep dive into the material of the world leaders who are not scientists, as is known, but then we are dealing with big politics, and with big money, and at the same time - the threat to which we will need to meet all together. "

Presidential doubts about the "drama" of global warming, supported and Nikolai Laverov actually called the president at a summit in Copenhagen "to weigh the position" and not to enter the country "serious commitment", besides those that will be useful for the development of the country.