Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. on two recent “game changing” climate papers

“Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. on two recent “game changing” climate papers” (2012-07-31). “In case you missed it”, Anthony Watts wants you to know that someone important is singing the praises of his submitted paper manuscript final draft “discussion paper”. Occasional collaborator Dr. Roger Pielke Sr., who has spent years declaring with a straight face that Anthony “is devoted to the highest level of scientific robustness”, still thinks that every time Anthony flaps his trap he educates the world.

It’s a game changer! Yes, but what’s the game?

Pielke Sr. started backing away within a day: “To be very specific, I did not play a role in their data analysis. [Anthony] sent me the near final version of the discussion paper and I recommended added text and references.” He tries hard to maintain BFF status though: “Anthony Watts clearly understands the research process in climate science.” This like telling someone they’re not fat, just “big-boned”.

But surely co-author and obsessive skeptic Steve McIntyre will back Anthony unequivocally? Nope:

Anthony sent me his draft paper. In his cover email, he said that the people who had offered to do statistical analysis hadn’t done so (each for valid reasons). So I did some analysis very quickly, which Anthony incorporated in the paper and made me a coauthor though my contribution was very last minute and limited. I haven’t parsed the rest of the paper.

40 thoughts on “Dr. Roger Pielke Sr. on two recent “game changing” climate papers

  1. It’s been fun to read all the scientific commentary over Anthony’s paper. I wonder if he’ll consider any scientists as his friends after all the dust settles on this.

    [The list of people who are dead to Anthony is a long one and growing. – Ben]

    • So who’s on that list Ben?

      [Pretty much anyone that changed their mind. Dr. Muller is the classic example, going from revered to hated because he followed the evidence. Steve Mosher’s another semi-turncoat who has gone from touted poster to disdained commenter for the same sin. – Ben]

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    • Interesting? It’s the usual “but this paper is really important! [insert self-citation]” and handwaving.

      [I detect a trace preparing the ground for a face-saving withdrawal from the subject: Anthony may end up accidentally proving there’s no bias… – Ben]

    • Actually, Marco, in the post Pielke also admits that:

      “The inclusion of the TOB may eliminate the differences in trends in the means, maximum and minimum temperatures between well- and poorly-sited locations. Or it might just eliminate the differences in one or two of these temperature measures. If it eliminates all of them, the Watts et al 2012 study remains a game changer, as it would confirm (from a skeptical source) that the BEST. NCDC, GISS and CRU assumption that siting quality does not matter is robust. This is not the “game changer” that we expected, but if that is what the science tells us, you accept it. Coming from the detailed, thorough analysis that Anthony is leading, this would be a definitive result.”

      [So much pondering from Pielke and so little thinking! – Ben]

      • I thought it at least interesting since, as far as I know, Pielke still stands in support of Spencer & Braswell 2011.

        Personally, I’d prefer to see more actual engagement of Pielke on the science. A little, occasionally, on RealClimate and more often on SkS but I’d like to see a continually updated “Pielke Watch.” Barring that, I’m guessing that Watts will go down in flames on this one, taking Pielke down a bit too.

        More interesting than Pielke is your snippet from Steve McIntyre. If I read it right, Watts was desperate for statistical analysis and is now submitting with perhaps only some quick statistics from from McIntyre.

      • I know he admits that, but just before that he was touting the McNider paper, claiming some kind of potential problem with measurement height. “Game-changer”, right…

        And he still manages to follow that section you quote with a sneer at the scientists who actually already know there is a Tobs that has an effect, that know that siting has an effect (there is a reason they were working on a new network), that know that homogenization is a necessity, etc.

  3. As a scientist, I cannot imagine being inserted as a co-author on a paper that I had hardly read and for which I had only some last minute analysis and critique. It would not help that the first author has essentially no scientific/academic credentials.

    [For all his squirming McIntyre seems okay with it actually. – Ben]

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  5. Hi Ben.

    Spotted by way of “Lotharsson” on Deltoid Science blog and again reproduced by the wiley rabbit “Eli”.

    Non Sequitur, sequence of cartoons sums up nicely the denialati science of pure nonsense:

    Link 1: http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2005/06/06

    Link 2: http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2005/06/06

    Link 3: http://www.gocomics.com/nonsequitur/2005/06/10/

    Or, as a group of Australian Research Scientists would say, in this rap song (clean version), released on May 13th, 2011.

    “The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.” Winston Churchill

    Cheers :)

  6. Hi Ben,

    I know that sometimes we jest, but this is a serious question and I just want an honest and serious response from you without any of the character assassination etc…


    Do you agree with Anthony that the data *for that particular station* has been biased by its location right next to that fire bin and/or tennis court?

    Can you post data from close by (with pictures of the stations to illustrate that the location is better) which contains similar rises in temperature?


    [“goverenor-brown”, huh? To think Anthony has the brass to tweak the noses of others about quality control… Surprisingly, Lake Tahoe is the only weather station in the world for which I don’t have complete historical/geospatial records. Seriously, get a life. How often do you think that trash barrel is ignited? Please give me your estimate in hours per month, broken into five year divisions and by season. Then we can have the deep discussion you’re itching for. – Ben]

    • I reckon it is on fire most of the time given the temperature readings of the thermometer which is next to it. Can show that the readings are higher due to some other factor – such as Global Warming, by posting data from other thermometers in the area which are not next to a fire bin.

      Can’t you use some of your contacts to get the data for that region?

      • Even if it is on fire most of the time, it is a no-brainer that the *rate* of temperature increase over the years, and not the actual temperature, is insensitive to it. I suppose you are clueless about why data homogenizations are needed when compiling the overall US temperature trends from individual weather stations? But then brains do not exactly come to mind when thinking of high-school graduate Anthony, does it? By using a photo he thinks he can hide his agenda of trying to undermine the science/facts.

        Ah, where would Anthony be without the sycophant followers like you? Birds of no-brains flock together, don’t they?

      • It is unlikely that it is ever lit in its current position – it’s standing on a wooden pallet for flips sake!

      • @dada Well if that is true then Ben won’t mind posting the data from other stations in the area along with evidence that they are not next to a source of heat. That way he will have shown evidence contradicting what Anthony wrote rather than just brushing it off with the usual slurs.

        Keep your personal insults and prejudice to your self please. They have no place in a scientific discussion and have no impact on me.

        [You still haven’t provided your estimate of trash barrel burn time in hours per month, broken into five year divisions and by season that I requested. What are YOU hiding? – Ben]

        • “What are YOU hiding?

          Lack of training? An agenda? No data? Trick question, Ben?


      • OK, Chris, let’s have a scientific discussion. Let me start that discussion with a few questions, several of which may be leading:

        1. Can you come with a reasonable estimate how many times that fire bin would be used? Once a day? Once a week? Once a month?
        2. If Anthony is right that paper is burned in that fire bin, can you come with a reasonable estimate as to how warm that fire bin would become?
        3. How long would that fire bin have to burn to have a noticable influence on the temperature recorded by the weather station?

        Feel free to start with question 2 + 3. You can even do an experiment: take some papers, put them into a pan, and burn it (please do so outside!). Then stand at different distances and “feel the heat”.

        After all that, you may not even need to answer question 1…

      • “It is unlikely that it is ever lit in its current position – it’s standing on a wooden pallet for flips sake!” – another rip roaring scientific analysis of the data proves AGW!

        Just post the data already! Anthony says that the bin biased the data. You say it didn’t. Just post the data which proves your point. If the other stations do not contain a fire bin near the thermometer and are not placed near a heat island and they show similar warming then you will have shown some evidence that there was a warming which completely discounts Anthony’s objection. I mean, duh! It is pretty simple.

        [Always demanding that we do something that you can do for yourself if you weren’t so enthralled with the sound of your own voice. Here’s a tip: Anthony’s the one who’s making the claim of bad data, its up to him to defend it. – Ben]

      • @Chris Now we have to even pretend that you are interested in a “scientific” discussion, do we? And that too even after I gave you the answers, which didn’t get through because Anthony and his sycophants like you live in an alternate reality. Just in case you have missed them, here they are again:

        1. the *rate* of temperature increase over decades – after all we are interested in the rate – is insensitive to the trash burner, although the absolute temperature value may be.
        2. There is an incredible amount of peer-reviewed literature on data homogenization around – how to combine temperature records from various sites, go dig that before you swallow the global conspiracy theory on cherry-picking and data-fudging by climate scientists.

        Evidently you are not interested in them, as your favorite hobby seems to be going around the bloglands and then trolling the science – easily done from behind a computer, and requires little training and background.

        “Scientific” discussion, what an audacity! Grow up, find how data homogenization is done for yourself before you come back for a scientific discussion – don’t be a crybaby and expect others to find things out for you.

      • Chris, in a scientific discussion you need to provide evidence for your claims. Anthony Watts provides no evidence, he merely states his belief that something is present. That’s not science, and hence not worthy of a scientific discussion.

        Also, history has shown that on most cases that Anthony Watts held a belief in the field of climate change, he was wrong. The most obvious example being his continuous attempt to claim there is spurious warming in the surface record. He even went as far as doing one of the most unscientific things ever: ignoring KNOWN biases, not correcting for them, and follow that analysis with false claims about spurious warming introduced by the correction procedures. A rational person, one capable of having a scientific discussion, would have been much, much, much more skeptical of anything Anthony Watts says. You are not a rational person.

      • @Marco “Feel free to start with question 2 + 3”. There is no data available to answer those questions.

        But you could show the data for other stations close-by which are not next to a fire-bin or other source of UHI. If they have the same temperature rise then Anthony cannot claim that the temperature rise is due to the fire-bin or UHI.

        It seems like the ideal post for Ben to write on his website. He could even go as far as writing it in a mature manner without the usual personal attacks and insults.

        It’s pretty stunning the reception that somebody gets for saying, hey, Anthony claims XYZ. Here is a way to show he is wrong, which is easy for somebody who has all of the data in the correct format (aka you guys). It is incredible how spiteful Ben and co get against anybody not sharing their belief system. But that is your choice to behave that way.

        The simplest “debunking” is not to examine the details of the fire-bin but to show the data from other stations close by which do not suffer from UHI or a fire-bin. Don’t you agree, Marco? I mean, if you had a Ph.D. student who was setting out to investigate the “fire-bin effect” at this station, would your first advice be “go and learn about the fire-bin” or would it be “compare the data from that station with data from other stations close-by which do not have a fire-bin”?

        [Once again you tell us what we should be doing but won’t do it yourself. I don’t have to “debunk” anything until a factual claim has been made. Anthony, and by extension yourself, is the one who must prove these scattergun assertions. Until then Anthony’s just a partisan blowhard. Given Anthony’s “success” with his surface stations claims, I think he prefers that status. – Ben]

      • Chris, it is clear you do not have any experience with setting up scientific experiments. There are many aspects that can affect the temperature readings of a temperature station. You know, it includes the stuff Anthony Watts willfully ignored in his latest attempt to have his preconceived notions satisfied. Just comparing to nearby stations (which likely are still far away) will tell us nothing, whether they confirm the readings of Lake Tahoe or not. We’d have to dig much, much further to determine any and all possible reasons for a difference (other side of mountain, Tobs changes, change of equipment, prevailing winds, etc). Thus, if we’d find a station really nearby with a different trend, we don’t know what causes the differences, and if it is the same, it may well be an ‘accidental’ similarity.

        However, it is very easy to confirm whether one of Anthony’s suggestions will have any impact: the fire bin. I proposed the experiment, but I know why you will not even try it out: deep down you KNOW it will do nothing. But you are like Anthony: come with as many as possible objections, demand people come with evidence of the absence of an impact, and if that evidence is not provided, declare the whole thing suspect.

        What is and remains unscientific is to react to any and all brainfarts from Anthony Watts, considering the lack of actual scientific sound content in the vast majority of blogposts on his website. A scientist would demand Anthony Watts to come with proof of his claims, and so far he has consistently failed in the very few attempts he has made (that would be Fall et al.; Watts et al shows he could not even get the partisans to approve of his manipulation).

      • You “reckon?” Is that, like, post-modern science-y talk, for “I really have no data, but I don’t LIKE the idea of data anyway” remark? Really? YOU RECKON???

        Do you RECKON that the few THOUSAND other t-stations around the freakin’ planet, the vast majority of which indicate a general trend upwards, *might* have some relevance? Or that BEST study, funded by the Kochtopus Brothers (devoutly hoping Muller would find “for them”), found that ~1.6 BILLION bits of data, showing the globe is warming, *might* just obviate any *possible* error, from a temperature probe you “reckon” is “on fire a lot of the time” [data, please],” if true, might not be an outlier?


    • @marco

      “Anthony Watts provides no evidence, he merely states his belief that something is present. That’s not science, and hence not worthy of a scientific discussion.”

      Well, er, not really. He shows the picture of the fire bin and tennis court next to the station (ENTERED INTO EVIDENCE DO YOU WISH TO DISPUTE IT? Are you claiming the picture is false?) and he shows the plot of the temperature readings from that station (ENTERED INTO EVIDENCE DO YOU WISH TO DISPUTE IT? Are you claiming the readings are false?). He claims there is a “jump” not a ” rate of change”.

      As to when the fire-bin was alight:
      “Some investigation revealed that 1980 was about the time a concrete tennis court was installed next to the surface station. According to the condo property manager that an investigator spoke to said the court was installed in the “early 80′s”, though she was not there at the time. This tennis court heats up during the day and gives up energy at night, warming the area. According the grounds keeper, he picked up trash during the day and burned it at the end of the shift, leaving a warm burn barrel to increase the night time temperatures.” (ENTERED INTO EVIDENCE [WITNESS EVIDENCE AND CONFESSION OF RUBBISH BURNER] DO YOU WISH TO DISPUTE IT? Are you claiming that he is lying about this?).

      He then goes on to show data for “Starting in the late 1980s the Forest Service started installing remote automated weather stations (RAWS) well way from built up areas with potential heat sources like the Tahoe tennis court. These remote rural sites do not show any significant Sierra warming.” (ENTERED INTO EVIDENCE DO YOU WISH TO DISPUTE IT? Are you saying that these data are incorrect?].

      So as you can see, Anthony provided much evidence. Which bits do you dispute? Where is your counter evidence? Where is the data form nearby stations which are not next to a fire bin which somebody says gets lit every day and is not next to a UHI source?

      I mean, come on Marco! Where is *your* evidence and science here? I don’t know who is right on the issue, but you are not doing a very convincing job of debunking what he said on that page. And debunking what Anthony says is what this site is for? Right? That is why I read this site, to read a criticism of what Anthony posts on his site. So far, all I have encountered is personal attacks.

      [What you consider “evidence” is nothing more than unsubstantiated assertion. – Ben]

      • There we go, Chris does not want to have a scientific discussion, he wants a legal discussion. Well, I can do that, too:

        1. Tennis court installed in the 1980s: hearsay. Worse even, double hearsay: Anthony Watts telling what a woman told who had not witnessed it.
        2. Tennis court causes spurious warming: evidence not provided, it is merely an assertion.
        3. Fire barrel: same story – hearsay and not shown it affects the trend.

        Combine that with the proven track record of Anthony Watts being wrong (aka “unreliable witness”), and even in court the issue would be waved away.

        That leaves the evidence provided for ONE other station, of which the data starts well after the notable increase in the Tahoe City data, of which the location is not shown, and of which no evidence is provided that there are no potential biases in THAT station. Double fail.

        Note that I do not claim anywhere that Anthony Watts is lying. I am merely pointing out that Anthony Watts has a pretty poor track record in providing evidence for his claims. Remember his years of insisting that the pictures of the poorly sited stations showed (yes, SHOWED) that there was an artifically inflated trend? That when the first person to do an analysis on those stations did not find such inflated trend, it was ignored (one apparently does not crunch the numbers, one makes assertions, and that’s it). It took Menne et al to finally make Watts do that number crunching, which he then had to outsource to John Nielsen-Gammon, and they found…what Menne et al already had found: the poorly sited stations did nothing to the trend of the average temperatures. Anthony Watts, not happy with his own data showing him wrong, then decided there MUST be something (you know, it’s physics, somehow at least, that those pictures show the trend is at least in part an artifact), and thus ignored known biases. And found what he always wanted to find: a supposedly artifactual increase in the trend. Confirmation bias rears its ugly head again, and Chris Smith cheers it on, because it nicely fits HIS confirmation bias: it ain’t warming, and if it is, it isn’t warming that fast, and even if it is, it isn’t (that) bad, and anyways, it isn’t us, and if it is us, we can’t do a darn thing about it, so there!

        • Well, some posts past that’s what I tried to convey about the high-school graduate Anthony Watts’ ability to do a proper calculation. No wonder he has to outsource all his number crunching – remember that in the most recent discussion masterpiece paper he had to invoke McIntyre for some last moment statistical analysis? The ignorant man is incapable of doing science, and it is most definitely worse for his sycophant cheerleaders.

          Froth out nonsense faster than one can blink, in the name of “scientific” discussions, and FoI requests to “prove” conspiracy theories by climate scientists. If you throw a lot of mud, something should stick, and in any case, sow confusion. That’s all there is to WUWT.

          [The burning question: is Anthony a high school graduate or a college drop-out? – Ben]

      • I vote for…DNFTT. It’s only a troll, it doesn’t care about truth, and it keeps spouting bullshit.


  7. Well I vote we just omit the data from Lake Tahoe in all future calculations of temperature anomalies for the whole of the world.

    That’ll make a difference. (Those Argo floats measuring ocean temperature will be completely overridden by somethingorother from Lake Tahoe, betcha.)

    [But… Cherry Picking proves that there’s no global warming!!!!! – Ben]

    • That is a great idea. Do not include stations for which there is reason to suspect a bias, such as being in an urban area or next to a fire-bin. If you do that then your argument will become more robust. [Thanks for the beautiful example of ignorant perfectionism, a favorite denialist tactic for sowing confusion. This is not a planned and controlled laboratory experiment, it’s the real world where data collection procedures and environmental conditions change continuously. Ben]

      Ben: That is not called cherry picking, it is called good science. If you know that there is an external bias for some of the stations then it is good science to compare the results you get by excluding those to the results you get when including them. [You’ll truculently find fault with every temperature record that doesn’t suit your goal, won’t you? Statistics; look into them. Well-applied they reduce bias while retaining the data. Your “sciencey” way is to discard data until you like the result. – Ben]

      Cherry Picking would be to select, say, a certain tree ring data set which gives the result you want and designing a weighting scheme which over weights that data in order to produce the desired result. [Not sure invoking Steve McIntyre’s game-playing helps your argument. – Ben]

      • You are suffering from a severe case of garbage in, garbage out. More garbage in will reduce your estimated “error bars”, but all you get is a more precise measurement of garbage.

        There is nothing wrong with saying, hey, many scientists object to these particular stations [Except they don’t. Denialists do for their own purposes. – Ben]. Let’s, show ’em, let’s repeat the analysis without those stations included. Sure, our naive error bars will increase because we have fewer data points, but if we are correct about the mean behaviour of the system then the AGW bias will still be part of the dataset and those objections cannot be used against our conclusions – our conclusions will be more robust, even though we used less data (because nobody can tell us the data we did use contained e.g. UHI biases so the bias must be from GW of the climate or some unknown process). [You seem to have forgotten how Anthony’s “surface stations project” tried to claim exactly that, but when only Anthony’s “best quality” stations were used the trend was exactly the same as the ‘maliciously biased’ set of stations. – Ben]

        That is called good science and I would be surprised to find that a reviewer did not ask for such an analysis to be carried out (hmmm, actually, perhaps we should not be surprised given the standard of “peer” review in this field!) [Lazy ad hominem. – Ben].

        What you have done is purposefully included data which you know contains an external bias unrelated to AGW and then claimed that the bias which you inevitably found is due to AWG. That is a complete no-no in Statistical Analysis. [No. The scientists are retaining as much historical data as possible. – Ben]

        The fact is that it is temperature measurement 101 to not place the thermometer next to a source of heat (such as a fire bin or tarmac). What idiot put it there anyway? What the hell were they thinking? In any event you have to accept that that particular station is bad, due to the idiot who put the thermometer next to the fire bin, and ignore that data. [Good one, Einstein. You think the station was intentionally placed next to the fire barrel! Is it possible the barrel came second? The environment changed, the temperature trend was examined for introduced bias, no correction was needed. Not scientifically controversial, but a great denialist distraction. – Ben]

        You do need to carry out data quality control to eliminate factors such as the UHI. That is part of the Statistical Analysis. It is called Data Selection and Quality Control.

        I mean, how the hell do you think we can measure the UHI strength? Any ideas? Well here’s a thought. You could split the data into two groups and compare them. And that is all you need to do here. It is not rocket science it should be obvious to a five year old. [Which is why, Rip Van Winkle, scientists have been doing precisely that, amongst a host of valid analytical techniques, for 100 years. – Ben]

        • Thumbs up..for *Ben’s* “clarifications,” not the troll’s continued and tiring use of standard denialist memes. Yawn…

  8. “Do not include stations for which there is reason to suspect a bias, such as being in an urban area or next to a fire-bin.”

    Or we could get all fancy and sciencey. We could check (what a concept!) whether any concerns we have show up in the data. If we find no problem, no problem! If we do find a problem we try to work out how it arose. We work it out, we work around it. No problem! We can’t work it out just now? We keep right on working.

  9. This is an excellent summary of a thread:

    “Smokey, I’m not sniveling. I’m pointing out the hypocrisy of complaining about climate scientists calling others a jerk, in a thread where you call someone a coward and a hater, and your mates call him a national socialist and an idiot.

    It’s especially hypocritical when the insults in the thread are exactly the same as those in the emails (right down to specific words: “nit-picking.”) It’s real shoe-on-the-other-foot stuff, this is: you are laughing at climate scientists for getting “uppity” when someone “nit-picks” their work, but then when someone does exactly the same thing to an extremely bodgy analysis you like, you get really angry at them for it and use lots of rude words.”

    [Beautiful. – Ben]

  10. Whoever was in charge seems to have corralled the dangerous Steffy screen to keep it from biting republicans in the ass. Notice that the are has become a junk yard. Old palletts, unused burn barrells, trickle down hopes.

    One wonders if there are any thermometers in the screen or if the whole site was junked.

    Tony once published a poleroid that proved something. The stupid scientist ( smart scientists can see in the dark) installed a LIGHT BULB in a screen thus disproving global warming. What our tiger failed to notice was that there were no thermometers present.

    I am sure that no warmists were injured by Tony’s junkyard pics.

    John McManus

    • You seem to be forgetting Tony *proved* that UHI effect was present in Antarctica! I mean, Wattsy showed us a *pidger*!!!!


  11. Ben, just a side-note. Can you enable some kind of deeper threading for discussions if that is possible?

    Back to the scientific discussion.

    “Once again you tell us what we should be doing but won’t do it yourself. I don’t have to “debunk” anything until a factual claim has been made.”

    But Ben, isn’t that the point of your website? To “debunk” what Anthony writes on his site? As for factual claims, see my recent response to Marco where I list the factual claims that Anthony made. So now that you have the claims, you can go ahead and “debunk” them.

    [Anthony call spout bullshit faster than anyone can correct it. That’s precisely the poisonous impact he seeks. If Anthony presents a honest scientific argument I will present a legitimate assessment. But just to clear up your apparent mistaken perception, I’m not a climate scientist. I’m a real skeptic that is disgusted by Anthony’s dishonesty and manipulation. – Ben]

  12. Yesssss (stroking my non-existent Van Dyke), yesssss, Roger Pielke, Jr, who DOES NOT HAVE a degree in any earth sciences. THAT expert opinion?


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