Monday, 1 April 2013

Dodgy Cliff and Randy Mann

Someone cited two alleged climate experts, messrs Cliff Harris and Randy Mann in an I had argument recently.

The graph below was referred to.  It was meant to  prove something or other - though they were coy about telling me exactly what it was I was supposed to be seeing.

It's something about temperature, right?  I know that, because it says Temperature in big red letters in the top left corner.

And volcanoes, yes, I can see that.  There are lots of volcanic eruptions given.  Volcanoes pop off every now and again, and the global temperature changes.

Presumably, from this, I am supposed to see how It Is Not All Not Our Fault, as if it hadn't been pointed out a million times at least, that past temperature misbehaviour doesn't really tell us much about current temperature misbehaviour, because Things Were Different Then.  You know, just like Things Are Different on Mars.

In fact, now that my mind has almost caught up with my consumption of Milcrest Estate 2010 Pinot Noir (Bloody Hell it is good - and my wife was using it for cooking!) I recall I even made something of a Lurgee's Paradigm of this sort of nonsense.

Ah!  The folly of youth!  When I actually had time to blog and subscribed to the foolish belief that - if I just repeated the bleedin' obvious one more time - I might succeed in changing someone's mind.

But, anyway, back to the graph and what it is supposed to be telling us. Something, I think, about temperature variation and a correlation with volcanoes?

Only, there isn't much of a correlation, really.

There are some points where there are cold spells with no or few notable eruptions; and 'sudden' cooling taking 400-500 years, and instances where multiple eruptions don't seem to have had any discernible impact on rising temperatures - 35 recorded immediately prior to BC/AD switch over, for example, just as a warming spell kicked off.

The impact of volcanoes on global temperatures is a Known Thing We Know About, not some Ghastly Secret Concealed In The Climategate Emails.  And even though the short term cooling impact of Old Vulcan's  particulate emissions - and the insignificance of volcanic CO2 compared to humanity's -  is generally Not Secret, why is it no medium scale act of Vulcanism can occur without a chain email sweeping the world claiming all humanity's efforts to stem climate change have just been undone?

What might be a bit more interesting is what causes the warm / cold spells recorded (the chart seems to be missing a Y axis scale, or is it just the booze blurring my vision?) and whether it might have any influence on the current trend.

On that, of course, the graph has nothing to say.

Being a thoroughly nasty piece of work and not at all ashamed of playing them man rather than the ball, I cyber-stalked the creators of the graph, Mr Cliff Harris - a climatologist, apparently - and Mr Randy Mann, who is described as a meteorologist.

(I concentrated on Mr Harris rather than Mr Mann, mostly because I'm not so foolish as to run 'Randy Mann' through a search engine.  Oh, no.  That can only lead to perdition.)

What I discovered was that Messrs Harris and Mann run a website (which puts them on a par with yours truly) and occasionally get mentioned in their local newspaper, a degree of fame to which I can only aspire.

Other than that, it all becomes very vague.

We are assured they have been providing media and public bodies with weather forecasts for decades, and that may well be true, but it is remarkably short on detailing any actual credentials the two may hold.

In a profile (again in what appears to be his local newspaper) of Mr Harris, we are told:
Harris estimates he has earned more than 300 college credits from seven different colleges and university.
That's nice, Cliff, but do you actually have a degree of any sort in anything?  Because at the moment you are looking even less credentialed than the 31000.  And that ain't good!

Frighteningly, on their website, Harris doesn't even seem to know what the initials IPCC stand for, naming it the International Panel on Climate Control. Maybe it was meant to be a joke, but you know, the thing about jokes is they are meant to be funny ... I get the feeling Harris and Mann really believe this stuff; and true believers don't often joke about their faith.

They also claim (I am not making this up) their weather forecasts are based on secret information that was divulged to them by an organisation called the Weather Science Foundation, which once employed "over 60 people to gather world wide data."  Sixty people, gathering world wide data?  They must have been pretty busy.

Only, those 60 people were rudely dumped on the dole queue and (oddly) don't seem to have thought their stupendously important information might have been of use to the people studying the impact of human activity on climate.  Instead - I kid you not - they decided to gift the information to Mr Harris but made him promise not to use the information for 30 years.

It gets worse, though.

Further probing lead me to a name I know well ... Marc Morano.  A-ha, I thought, here be bullshit, for the name of Morano is always found where crap about climate change has been posted.  And verily, it was so.

Seeking out the source article, I discovered Mr Harris holding forth in - inevitably - the columns of his local newspaper, to this effect:
Although the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted that sea levels will rise 100 cm by the year 2100, actual measurements do not bear out that conclusion.
This is simply and obviously incorrect. The IPCC made no such prediction. It is simply not true.

The actual projections in AR4 can be viewed right here - about half a metre, +/- 10cm.  He was writing in 2012, before you ask, and the projections in the TAR - while a bit wider - were not so spectacularly extreme as to justify the claim that the IPCC predicted sea levels will rise by a metre.

Bluntly, it is a lie.  Not an exaggeration or a bit of hyperbolic rounding, but a lie.  He must have known it was so, but he went ahead and published it anyway.

(But at least he got the name of the IPCC right, this time.)

Perhaps I am too good for this world but I still find it slightly shocking to actually discover someone calling themselves a climatologist simply telling lies.

Not the sort of vaguely-almost-might-be-kinda-sorta-true-if-you-look-at it-this-way-I'm-buying-the-drinks-ain't-I-so-don't-tell-me-it's-bullshit stuff that is denier stock in trade, but an outright Thing That Is Not True And Which Must Have Been Known To Be Untrue.

If if it was the IPCC putting out some similarly shonky claims, you know how it would be treated, right? Think Himalayan glaciers!

So I feel Messrs Harris and Mann can be ignored, henceforth.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, was looking around to see if anyone found this chart credible and I appreciate your post.

(had been researching for a comment I was writing at Daily Kos under this diary:

Anonymous said...

Rather enjoyed your - - - - confusion coupled with fake confusion?

I glanced at chart - and yes, noted that - obviously, the climate changes. It gets warmer, then cooler - - and it obviously is cooler today, than it has been.
(to me, that appeared to be the point to the chart).

Chart also seemed to throw in Volcano activity - and no, I did not see a great deal of purpose to this. Chart then sort of concluded that volcanoes did not appear to have a lot to do with climate change - - but did note that Sun Radiation output did seem to possibly have something to do with warming. Ha. I found that funny. My House seems to get warmer when I turn up the thermostat also!

In conclusion, I rather liked the chart. It seems to be mocking those with PHD's, in a very simple way - as it seems to confuse them.

johnallmanuk said...

A lot of people recently have been trying to argue that the weather is, or should be made, a political issue. The theory seems to be that politicians can and do effect the weather, and that a party's weather policy is therefore a very important consideration for a voter. This isn't yet being taken to its logical conclusion, with party's seeking election to government spelling out what sort of weather their election to office will give us, and why that is good weather for us to want our governments to provide for us. But that the politics of weather is still in its infancy, with not a single university having appointed a professor of weather policy, hasn't prevented heated arguments online, which are thin on science and real politics.

It was one of those heated arguments, sparked by a weather forecast of some unseasonably hot weather for a day or so in Alaska - temperatures expected to soar as high as 274K, compared to mean temperatures at this time of year of about 250K. I was asking questions rather than joining in the argument. Not getting a good reception there, tempted me to search for "global temperature graph last 4000 years". I quickly found the Harris & Mann graph, and then searched for these two names hoping to find comments on the information in the graph, and perhaps criticisms that the graph was inaccurate or bogus. That brought me here.

I am sorry to say that what I found here does, alas, seem to fit the description, "The thoughts, semi-thoughts, splenetic rantings and vague half ideas, of a leftie-lib". I had hoped that that description of this blog might have been tongue-in-cheek, and that it would actually educate me, but no such luck.

I have read an awful lot recently, that comes across as criticism of my ignorance. I am ignorant, it is true, of what a I need to know. That is the value judgments behind the emotion. I can understand conservatism - a mindless phobia of all change. But climate conservatism is a non-starter. The Harris & Mann graph tells one that climate has changed, and there's no point in protesting that climate change is an intolerable evil. What we therefore need to do, is to agree as to what sort of climate is best, and intervene to stabilise the climate over time, so that climate stops changing. If it's getting hotter than we want, we need to find a way of cooling the earth's atmosphere down. If it's getting too cold, we need to warn the atmosphere us.

It strikes me that if we plan to take over control of the world's weather system, from factors outside our control that have caused the climate diversity the graph depicts in the past, it is time to start a conversation as to what our ideal, permanent world climate would be.

Schrödinger's cat said...

Bigotry is great, isn't it?

Randy is a very common US compaction of Randal/Randall, a very popular American male name.

Mann is quite a common surname.

I took the trouble to Google that name and it gave me many examples of it, including several soccer players, real estate agents, politicians, judges and other perfectly respectable people. See here:

Plus this:

The co-subject of your article was under-researched by you - through sheer prejudice.

Your message is devalued by your attitude. What a pity.

lurgee said...

Humour not your strong point, kitty?

'Randy' means 'desiring sex.'

'Mann' is a bit like 'man.'

The internet, being the internet, is likely to return a lot of hits for 'randy man' that have nothing at all to do with climate science.

I was not prejudiced. I just made a crap joke.

Lighten up.