12 September 2010

An Interview with Fred Pearce

Last week, while on travel I had a chance to read Fred Pearce's recent book on the East Anglia emails (pictured above).  After reading the book, rather than doing a conventional review, I decided to approach Pearce about doing an interview with me.  Pearce responded promptly and graciously.  Below you can see my questions and his answers.  Thanks to Fred for participating!

1. Are you a "climate skeptic"? How would you characterize your views on climate change science and politics?
A: I am sceptical in, I hope, the best sense.  Sceptical but not cynical.  Sceptical in the sense of questioning.  (Sorry, but we Brits spell it with a c.)  I think that those who actively question the mainstream story from climate scientists have done us a good turn by arguing, correctly, that those scientists know less than they sometimes claim, or imply.  There are huge uncertainties in predicting the impact of the "greenhouse effect" on climate, some of them not encapsulate in the models.  Some people have been less than honest about that.  The tide may be changing, however.  I predict that the next IPCC report will have wider error bars than the last one.  The more we know the less we seem to know for sure. 

Where I think some critics of the IPCC are wrong is in concluding that, because we know less than we think, we need not worry.  I think we need to worry more.  High-impact low-probability outcomes are a real concern.  That is why a book I wrote a few years ago (With Speed and Violence) that was subtitled "why scientists fear tipping points in climate change". 

However we arrange it, we have to break our addiction to carbon-based fuels.  Even if we have not got our estimates of climate sensitivity quite right, at some point we have to kick the habit.  Let's get on with it.  The key will be technology.  I am optimistic we can do that, but unclear about the combination of forces (cultural, ethical, political, economic) that will get us there. There are likely to be tipping points in technological development as well as in the  natural system, and I just hope we reach ours before nature reaches its.
2. The issues surrounding the East Anglia emails involve an incredible amount of "he said-he said" and your book seeks to cut through some of these contestations. How important is it for people to understand the various arcane details of these disputes? Is it possible to determine who is right and who is wrong in these debates?
A: Not important at all, except for people who want to.  I wrote the book because I was in a position to, knowing the background to some of the issues, knowing many of the individuals concerned, and (being a freelance) having the time to devote to it.  I also felt that a lot of rubbish was being talked both by those keen to use the emails to trash the scientists and by the defenders of the scientists.  I thought an old-fashioned journalistic investigation could be useful. 

I also had a sense that some times in the past I had no paid sufficient attention to what some "sceptics" were saying, and i personally needed to explore their arguments in a bit more depth.  Some of the details are arcane, and many are not amenable to simple right-and-wrong answers.  One of the advantages of doing a book-length study is that you can reflect that better.  Nuance is a luxury in a thousand-word news story that rarely survives editing.  And of course who is judged right or wrong may depend on your perspective (moral, temporal and others).  You can reflect that, too.  Where I felt people were hiding things or telling very partial truths, i said so.  Where I felt there were simply different interpretations, I said that, too. 
3. No one in your book comes across as a particularly sympathetic character. You are extremely scathing about "the skeptics" and have little sympathy for the scientists in the emails. What does this say about debate over climate change?
A: I suspect that many of the actors in the story got to the point where they simply couldn't see anything other than bad motives among their antagonists. Climategate was a tragedy of mistaken motives.  So, to take one example, the emailers often saw Steve McIntyre as a hostile, politically motivated climate denier, when he was actually a data libertarian of a broadly "luke warm" persuasion.  McIntyre tended to respond by seeing them as having something to hide, when often they didn't.  The debate got rancid.  Many people were being forced to take sides when they did not want to.  "If you aren't for us you are against us."

I think the release of the emails and the fallout that has followed, while unfair to some individuals caught up in it, will result in a much more open and candid debate about climate science in future.
4. In some places in your book you identify who was right and who was wrong in particular scientific debates. How well prepared are reporters to render such judgments and are you confident that yours have held up?
A: Reporters back off such judgments.  Often out of journalistic convention more than anything.  There was a long piece in the Columbia Journalism Review looking at the version of the investigation we ran in the Guardian newspaper here in the UK back in March.  The piece remarked in favourable terms on how we were more willing than US reporters (and journalists in general, I would say) to call a lie a lie.  To take one example, it seemed to me inconceivable that Senator Inhofe did not knowingly mislead in his remarks about the "hide the decline" quote.  His interpretation was entirely inconsistent with the timing of the email he was discussing.  So I said so. 

Of course columnists and op-ed writers are generally free with their conclusions (including those about the motives of people they write about), but they rarely trouble to marshall the kind of evidence to make it stick.  That's the virtue of investigation. If you do an investigation you shouldn't back off conclusions when they are logically inescapable.  Yes, I am confident mine have held up.  But I am happy to admit error where it occurs.  After the original Guardian articles we invited readers (including participants in the story) to annotate a version we put online, and those corrections and criticisms (along with some others that reached us by other routes) were incorporated in the book version, either as revisions or quoted as new perspectives.
5. You assert that Kevin Trenberth was subject to attacks based on hisviews of hurricanes akin to those experienced by Mann and Santer. As a participant in the debates over hurricanes I saw no systematic attacks on Trenberth such as those Santer and Mann faced. Arguably, Trenberth was giving better than he was getting -- did I miss something?
A: Trenberth took a lot of flack, particularly around the time of Katrina.  I agree he gave some out, too.  Not much is systematic, I guess.  I generally subscribe to cock-up theories of history rather than conspiracy.  Stuff happens, as someone once said.  The main difference is that it mostly happened within a few months, whereas the attacks on Santer and Mann have been going on for years.  They were often also more loaded with political baggage (as were some of the responses, as we saw in the emails). 

Judy Curry has argued that the "hurricane wars" were resolved within a few months (or at any rate became civil discussions) because the scientists involved were willing to talk to each other.  Whereas in particular the hockey stick dispute has persisted for more than a decade because they were not.  I think there is probably some truth in that.  As an aside, I notice that Trenberth is now becoming an apostle for discussions about scientific uncertainty.
6. If the big picture of a human influence on climate is not implicated by the emails, why should anyone care about this episode? At one point you call everything else a "sideshow".
A: Maybe they shouldn't. But they did, and i thought it needed serious investigation.  If I wasted my time, so be it.  However, I think there were subtantial issues raised about scientific process and integrity -- about sharing data, about responding to FoI requests, more generally about how science handles FoI, about conflicts of interest in peer review and IPCC report writing, about declaration of interest, about the transparency of the IPCC process.  On the IPCC front, many of the points are taken up in the recent InterAcademy Council report. 

The saga shows that the debates about the hockey stick remain unresolved (even Phil Jones agrees on that now).  But to me it is a sideshow whether the 11th century was as warm as the 20th century.  We know there is natural variability.  If we can use that to assess the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse forcing, that is useful, but the actual temperatures in the 11th century seems to be of little account.  (I might say that I have always argued this, including at points where the IPCC seemed keen to use the hockey stick as some kind of confirmation of man-made global warming.) 
7. Can you point to the specific work by Daniel Nepstad that justifies the IPCC claim that "40% of the Amazon forests could react drastically ..."? I looked into this and found no such statements in any of Nepstad's (or anyone else's) work. You claim otherwise. What have I missed?
A: I took a fresh look at this.  In a statement here:

Nepstad himself says the 40% claim is correct.   He cites two of his own papers:

Nepstad, D., P. Lefebvre, U. Lopes da Silva, J. Tomasella, P. Schlesinger, L. Solorzano, P. Moutinho, D. Ray, and J. Guerreira Benito (2004), Amazon drought and its implications for forest flammability and tree growth: a basin-wide analysis, Global Change Biology, 10, 704-717.
And Nepstad, D., I. Tohver, I., D. Ray, P. Moutinho, G. Cardinot. 2007. Mortality of large trees and lianas following experimental drought in an Amazon forest. Ecology88(9): 2259-2269.
The latter found a “38% increase in mortality” from a simulated drought in a large-scale forest experiment.  That seems reasonable justification for the “up to 40 per cent of the Amazon forests could react drastically”, though one might quibble with Nepstad’s assertion that it substantiated the words about this being the result of “even a slight reduction in precipitation”.  In the context of the IPCC's word "could", maybe it does.  It is arguable.
I also based my summary of the state of affairs on two Met Office papers:
PM Cox et al, 2004. Amazonian forest dieback under climate-carbon cycle projections for the 21st century. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 78, 137–156. DOI 10.1007/s00704-004-0049-4
And RA Betts et al, 2004. The role of ecosystem-atmosphere interactions in simulated Amazonian precipitation decrease and forest dieback under global climate warming. Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 78, 157–175. DOI 10.1007/s00704-004-0050-y
The former predicts a drop in broadleaf tree cover from 80% to 28% between 2000 and 2100 as a result of a combination of climate change (including reduced precipitation) and resulting carbon loss from soils.  The latter predicts a reduction from 80% to “less than 10%” by the end of the 21st century, with strong feedbacks between the carbon cycle and reduced precipitation.  Both therefore suggest changes far in excess of a 40% loss.
You might reasonably say Nepstad’s “later work” does not fully justify the IPCC statement, even if Nepstad says it does.  Though I think it goes a long way.  But the Cox and Betts work (both carried out at the UK Met Office) do seem to justify it, especially as it only says “could”.
I agree I could have been harder on the IPCC at this point.  I have no desire either to support or denigrate the IPCC text which, I suggest, might have been better composed.  In any event, I wished to save my criticism for rather more clear-cut indiscretions.
8. In your book you call me a climate skeptic in several places. On what basis?
A: I used the term loosely. Carelessly, you might say.  I might have distinguished between those who are "sceptical" about the climate science and those who are sceptical about the policy conclusions being drawn from it.  Would I be right to put you in the second category?  Maybe the term is more loaded in the US than the UK.  I sometimes call myself a "sceptic in the best sense".  But in general I don't like giving people labels they are personally unhappy with, without justifying them.  So I regret that term in your case.
9. You say that perhaps journalists hadn't done their jobs. What does this mean and what should they be doing differently?
A: Journalists, under pressure of time and their editors, rarely read the emails before writing their stories.  They essentially reported what was being said about the emails. And did so uncritically.  Mostly, they didn't report the emails themselves at all, other than using the quotes culled from them by protagonists.  I think this is bad journalism.  We should have a mission to explain.  Often we lose sight of that.  I should stress than I do not have daily deadlines (or not every day, anyhow).  So this is easy for me to say.  But we should do more digging and more truth-finding.
10. Finally, you say that the scientists created "two tribes." Yet, your book is full of language that divides the world into "the skeptics" and the scientists, and their associated allies. How would you characterize the climate debate?
A: Yup, probably guilty.  But if people insist in lining themselves into two camps, it is hard not to report them in that light.  I did then try and get beyond that caricature in discussing the substantive issues.  Before the release of the emails, the climate debate had become polarised.  Among mainstream scientists in particular it became hard to criticise any aspect of the mainstream story -- as portrayed in IPCC reports and the "Copenhagen process" without being labelled as somehow a wrecker, sceptic or even denier.  This was unhealthy.  It created the climate in which some parts of the IPCC assessments (notably parts of the working group 2 report on impacts) became occasionally unbalanced -- as highlighted in the InterAcademy Council report. 

I genuinely believe that some of the poison has been removed in the past year. 

19 comments:

eric144 said...

Great interview Roger. You nailed him to the wall.

When the Guardian realised there was no way to whitewash climategate, they brought Fred in to gloss over it. With this help, they created a silly interactive record of opinion. Made even sillier by deleting anything they considered to be less than supportive of global warming.

The result is this book.

The Guardian's environment pages were sponsored by The Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company for around a year before Copenhagen. Shell is a major supporter of carbon trading and is a member of the International Emissions Trading Association.



Climategate: George Monbiot, the Guardian and Big Oil

But who is it that sponsors the Guardian?s Environment pages and eco conferences? Why, only that famous non-fossil-fuel company Shell. (Though I notice their logo no longer appears on top of the Guardian?s eco pages: has the Guardian decided the relationship was just too embarrassing to be, er, sustainable?)

And which company has one of the largest carbon trading desks in London, cashing in on industry currently worth around $120 billion ? an industry which could not possibly exist without pan-global governmental CO2 emissions laws ? BP (which stands for British Petroleum)

And how much has Indian steel king Lakshmi Mittal made from carbon credits thanks to Europe?s Emissions Trading Scheme? £1 billion.

And which companies were the CRU scientists revealed cosying up to as early as 2000 in the Climategate emails? There?s a clue in this line here: ?Had a very good meeting with Shell yesterday.?

And how much was Phil Jones, director of the discredited CRU, found to have collected in grants since 1990? £13.7 million ($22.7 million)

And why does this Executive Vice-Chairman of Rothschild?s bank sound so enthusiastic in this (frankly terrifying) letter about the prospects of the ?new world order? (his phrase not mine) which result from globally regulated carbon trading?

Or why not try this blog, in which a German Green party MP is revealed being given hefty donations by a solar power company?

Or how about this tiny $7o million donation to the climate change industry from the Rockefeller Foundation?

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100019523/climategate-george-monbiot-is-in-the-pay-of-big-oil/

eric144 said...

The Guardian's environment pages were sponsored by The Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company for around a year before Copenhagen. Shell is a major supporter of carbon trading and is a member of the International Emissions Trading Association.


Climategate: George Monbiot, the Guardian and Big Oil

But who is it that sponsors the Guardian's Environment pages and eco conferences? Why, only that famous non-fossil-fuel company Shell. (Though I notice their logo no longer appears on top of the Guardian?s eco pages: has the Guardian decided the relationship was just too embarrassing to be, er, sustainable?)

And which company has one of the largest carbon trading desks in London, cashing in on industry currently worth around $120 billion ? an industry which could not possibly exist without pan-global governmental CO2 emissions laws ? BP (which stands for British Petroleum)

And how much has Indian steel king Lakshmi Mittal made from carbon credits thanks to Europe's Emissions Trading Scheme ? £1 billion.

And which companies were the CRU scientists revealed cosying up to as early as 2000 in the Climategate emails? There's a clue in this line here: 'Had a very good meeting with Shell yesterday.'


http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100019523/climategate-george-monbiot-is-in-the-pay-of-big-oil/

dagfinn said...

Just one small point: Is the hockey stick really a side show? History seems to indicate otherwise. The IPCC first assessment report says: “A global warming of larger size has almost certainly occurred at least once since the end of the last glaciation without any appreciable increase in greenhouse gases. Because we do not understand the reasons for these past warming events, it is not yet possible to attribute a specific proportion of the recent, smaller warming to an increase of greenhouse gases.”

If it was essential to attribution then, it should at least be relevant still.

Jos said...

Roger,

Fred Pearce notes that ...

"The saga shows that the debates about the hockey stick remain unresolved (even Phil Jones agrees on that now). But to me it is a sideshow whether the 11th century was as warm as the 20th century. We know there is natural variability. If we can use that to assess the sensitivity of climate to greenhouse forcing, that is useful, but the actual temperatures in the 11th century seems to be of little account."

I tend to - seriously - disagree with the idea that the actual temperatures in the 11th century are of little account. They really do matter for the following reason.

In all attribution studies that try to explain the 20th century temperature rise, in particular the late 20th century temperature rise - one must some way or another determine what the natural/internal variability of the climate system is. Because one has to show that the late 20th century warming is outside the natural range and requires an alternative explanation. The natural variations would be the null-hypothesis, so to speak.

If natural variability on decadal to centennial timescales is large, then it is less likely that the late 20th century warming can be unequivocally attributed to anthropogenic factors. Or in other words, the null-hypothesis then cannot be rejected, the warming would be a normal manifestation of the climate system. The fact that this warming can (also) be explained by increases in greenhouse gases does not change anything to this. Or, in such a situation having ONE explanation would not mean that that explanation is THE explanation. In case of large internal variability you would have two competing explanations for the late 20th century warming.

An underlying problem here is that in attribution studies natural variability is - as far as I have seen - often derived from climate model simulations (IPCC even says so). Which is tricky. Because how do we verify that climate model simulations on decadal to centennial timescales are adequate? If we assume/believe/think that climate is stable on decadal to centennial timescales, then we have to make sure our climate model produces a similar stable climate. But if we assume/believe/think that climate also shows significant variability on decadal to centennial timescales, we have to build a climate model that can produce similar decadal to centennial variability.

And that – a climate model that produces significant variability on decadal to centennial timescales - would have some serious repercussions. It would matter for the attribution of the recent warming, the estimates of climate sensitivity, climate model performance and the trust that can be put in the ability of climate models to say anything meaningful about the future climate.

Cheers, Jos.

Roddy said...

I enjoyed the book a lot. I see Pearce, in simplistic terms, as a layman/journo expert in the area over decades, who felt misled (his answer to question 2) by the consensus insistence that anyone who criticised must have foul motives once it became apparent, largely thru climategate, that not every member of the consensus had entirely clean hands - and the important thing about that was that it need say nothing about the science.

It also seems to be the case that, as per his answer to question 8, there is a very slow awakening among those with environmentalist bones that policy response is wholly separate from climate science, and that those most expert in climate science might be least expert in policy. So if you, or Tol, or whoever, even me, criticise unjustifiable assertions on policy necessity or impacts, or indeed (as the UK gvt may be beginning to do?) assert that consideration of adaptation is the primary domestic duty of government, the labels sceptic, even denier, certainly obstructionist, are wheeled out without consideration of accuracy.

It may seem presumptuous to suggest that Pearce, with his experience, has been slow to make that distinction, but his answer to 8 suggests that he has, and that he hasn't paid enough attention to what critics have actually been saying, the detail.

I have a lot of respect for Fred, btw, and my email exchanges with him have been interesting and informative. I especially like, as per his answers above, his lack of ego and readiness to admit error.

Frontiers of Faith and Science said...

There is no indication at all that the IPCC, CRU, etc. are doing anything to become more open at all, beyond lip service.
The assertion that we need to kick the carbon based energy 'addiction' is a great talking point that is unsupported. I wish this would stop being treated as axiomatic and start to be explained. But I suspect it has not been explained for a very good reason.
When the big climate apocalypse promoters call everyone bad, instead of only the skeptics, that is just their way of rationalizing their people being so wrong.
And at least he was willing to read the e-mails, or so he says. Would it not have been good journalism to ask for the non-leaked e-mails, to put the leak into context?
But it would seem that Pearce is still completely willing to buy into any excuse that the promoters offered to keep his basic faith intact.
As to removal of poison- don't bet on it. The promoters and profiteers of apocalyptic global warming are not going to back off until they forced to.

Josh said...

Great interview. Fred has a good sense of perspective and I agree with much of what he says.

Except, of course, Amazongate. His 'fresh look' seems somewhat myopic. Basically he shows that the 40% claim is so hedged in uncertainty that the 'could' could mean anything... or not.

But fair enough, this is a hot topic between the Guardian, who he writes for, and other newspapers in the UK so I can understand him wanting to rein in his scepticism here.

Or am I being too cynical?

Stan said...

His answer in #3 equates McIntyre's efforts to get the team to try some real science with the dishonesty, vicious slanders and unscientific behavior of the team. That's so absurd that he has lost all credibility with me. He sounds like someone who desperately needs a new moral perspective and a re-introduction to reality.

bernie said...

What are your takeaways from your interview with Pearce?
Does his book add significantly to what already exists?

eric144 said...

Fred's previous job at the Guardian before he was employed to pretend to be even handed about climategate was the exposure of greenwash (corporate hypocrisy).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/series/greenwash

This was sponsored by BMW, Ford, Jaguar, Alfa Romeo and Volvo, various airlines, long haul holidays, EON (coal fired power stations), Royal Dutch Shell and so forth. The adverts are different now, obviously.


This is a current Guardian page

24 hours in Abu Dhabi riding F1 cars courtesy of the Guardian

It's free to the public on Tuesdays (to walk or cycle around only), or you can pay AED 7,500 (£1,300) for a two-lap blast in custom-built two-seater F1 race car.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/abu-dhabi/24-hours-in-abu-dhabi

It has to be the least sustainable holiday/activity ever invented by corporate mankind.

bernie said...

Roger:
I do not understand the Nepstad bit. Pearce says:
"The latter found a “38% increase in mortality” from a simulated drought in a large-scale forest experiment. That seems reasonable justification for the “up to 40 per cent of the Amazon forests could react drastically”, though one might quibble with Nepstad’s assertion that it substantiated the words about this being the result of “even a slight reduction in precipitation”."
A 38% increase in mortality does not mean 38% mortality. Did I miss something? The Nepstad 2007 article is behind a pay wall - its abstract is very confusing mixing % and ratios.

Roger Pielke, Jr. said...

-10-bernie

I have a different take on IPCC/Amazon than does Pearce:

http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.com/2010/07/deep-into-amazonian-mud.html

Ron Broberg said...

It's fun to contrast comments in that interview with comments in this thread.


The debate got rancid. Many people were being forced to take sides when they did not want to. "If you aren't for us you are against us."

You nailed him to the wall.

But if people insist in lining themselves into two camps, it is hard not to report them in that light.

When the big climate apocalypse promoters call everyone bad...

I suspect that many of the actors in the story got to the point where they simply couldn't see anything other than bad motives among their antagonists.

The Guardian's environment pages were sponsored by The Royal Dutch Shell Oil Company for around a year before Copenhagen.

But fair enough, this is a hot topic between the Guardian, who he writes for, and other newspapers in the UK so I can understand him wanting to rein in his scepticism here

Frontiers of Faith and Science said...

Ron Broberg,
Yes, I think Mr. Pearce is rather naive. No poison has been lanced from the public square yet by a long shot.
Would there be enough space to fairly sample the comments of the AGW believers and promoters?
Or should skeptics be nice and do what the apocalypse community wants?

PaulM said...

" McIntyre tended to respond by seeing them as having something to hide, when often they didn't. "

Interesting wording 'often'. Clearly, sometimes they did.
There was of course the 'hide the decline' email,
the 'delete the emails' email following Holland's FOI request (which then Russell tried to to hide),
the 'cut the last few points off the filtered curve' email...

nigguraths said...

Dear Dr Pielke Jr
Fred Pearce is wrong about the 40% claim and in supporting Nepstad. He cites two publications for this.

"Nepstad et al 2004, and Nepstad et al 2007"

Nepstad et al 2004 is a computer-model output of 'RisQue' (as in Risque de Quemada (sp?)- meaning "risk for fire"). These model outputs were presented to the Brazilian Parliament at one point earlier. Nepstad et al 2004 is *not* an assessment of climatic risk for savannization or dieback. It is not valid to be used for that purpose either.

All the papers in that group - starting from Nepstad et al 1994, Nepstad et al 2002, then 2004, then Nepstad et al 2007 - address fire risk under a canopy-loss paradigm.

Nepstad 2004 assumes a 75% soil water deficit will produce a 25% reduction in canopy cover over the entire Amazon system. Stemming from that assumption, sunlight purportedly dries the forest floor wherein lie all the fallen leaves, and causes fires. Look at the old 1998 IPAM webpage cartoon - it shows the same concept. Look at the tree phenologist Borchert's 1998 paper. It has the same concept.

40% of forest is modelled, by extrapolation of soil moisture content estimation directly to cause leaf loss. 40% of the forest is therefore considered to "be at risk for fire", by depletion of water upto 5 meters depth. This is the specific meaning and origin of the 40% number. It has no connection with how it has been used in the IPCC and supported by proponents of a *different* paradigm - the savannization paradigm - simply because both schools of thought share one thing. And that is, estimates of catastrophic forest loss/flip.

We've seen recently (in fact from the past 8 years or so), from the remote sensing studies that moisture depletion occurs in the summer - which is precisely the period of leaf flush, in tropical systems like the Amazon. It is seen in Hawaii, India, Thailand as well (Borchert 2006). Undisturbed tropical forests don't simply flip or burn away, even in prolonged droughts, simply because their physiology is flipped already, to begin with. The undisturbed, unlogged forest canopy stays intact in the regular 'summers', and even the worst of dry periods - the exact opposite of the basic assumption underlying estimates derived from Nepstad et al 2004.

As for Nepstad 2007, please read the comment by Barlow 2008 - they consider evidence presented there to be proof for Amazon system resilience than susceptibility for drastic change.

People like Fred Pearce just say what they want.

Regards

stevemcintyre said...

Contrary to Fred Pearce's statement that "McIntyre tended to respond by seeing them as having something to hide, when often they didn't. ", I frequently stated that I attributed obstruction to "prima donna" conduct by the scientists involving, often regretting the failure of senior scientists to speak out against such behavior.

See for example:
http://climateaudit.org/2009/09/24/how-to-publish-a-scientific-comment-in-123-easy-steps/#comment-194408
I discourage readers from imputing anything to this behavior other than the authors behaving poorly.

http://climateaudit.org/2009/08/04/dr-phil-confidential-agent/#comment-189561
Folks, please resist the temptation to make piling on comments. I have no reason to believe that the stonewalling is evidence of anything more than prima donna behavior or the data deletion from public directories is anything more than a temper tantrum.

http://climateaudit.org/2008/12/30/phil-trans-b/#comment-170798
I think that the withholding is usually a combination of spite, precaution and prima donna-ishness.

http://climateaudit.org/2006/05/09/ob-confidential/#comment-50434
http://climateaudit.org/2006/07/14/wsj-house-energy-report-on-the-mutual-admiration-society/#comment-55952
http://climateaudit.org/2007/04/11/a-reply-to-an-angry-dendroclimatologist/#comment-84750
http://climateaudit.org/2008/06/20/fortress-cru/#comment-151433
http://climateaudit.org/2008/07/07/climate-scientists-and-the-riemann-hypothesis/#comment-153541

bernie said...

I found the Nepstad article on JSTOR(Mortality of Large Trees and Lianas following Experimental Drought in an Amazon Forest
Daniel C. Nepstad, Ingrid Marisa Tohver, David Ray, Paulo Moutinho, Georgina Cardinot
Ecology, Vol. 88, No. 9 (Sep., 2007), pp. 2259-2269) .

The context of the 38% is as follows:

"Following 3.2 yr of measurements, the
community-wide mortality rate in the D plot
(3.77%/yr) significantly exceeded the W plot mortality rate (2.72%/yr) by 38% {P < 0.001)."

Nepstad's experiment essentially halved the rainfall for a period of 3.5 years with an even sharper restriction during the last year. The location of the experiment it should also be noted was not representative of the Amazon - the location was in East Central Brazil.

This article, IMHO, provides little support for the notion of a 40% loss of trees in the Amazon from a drier climate unless by drier we mean dramatically lower precipitation (-50%) levels for extended periods of time.

Mike said...

"the actual temperatures in the 11th century seems to be of little account"

The point of the debate about the Medieval Warm Period IS of account - it is a fairly simple point that if the MWP was as warm as today, or possibly even warmer, then current climate models can't reproduce that warmth.

Most of the debate around CO2 induced global warming depends on the various climate models. The claim is that the current warmth can ONLY be explained by the effect CO2 has on the climate system. If instead, the natural variations of the climate can cause the warmth, it undermines the argument that human CO2 emissions are a problem.

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