Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Golf, the Final Frontier

WHEN the last grant-rich vein of the climate-change gold mine runs dry many settled scientists will be forced to take up other areas of inquiry. For those casting about for alternate occupations, here is a suggestion: golf.

Why is it normally an easy shot to drop a lob onto a green 100 metres distant, but that effort so often is apt to go astray when water lies between tee and hole?

Even though an ARC grant has yet to arrive, the Professor will be spending much of the day's remainder conducting field research at Imperial Bearbrass. When peer reviewed, today's scorecard will be added to the body of literature now stored in the bottom pocket of the golf bag, which will be the basis for an ambitious funding application. If climate scientists can be forever be jetting hither and yon with their taxpayer-funded travel passes, why shouldn't a poor Bunyip push the frontiers of human understanding at St Andrews, Pebble Beach, Augusta and other locations where expense-account are welcome at clubhouse restaurant and bar?

Back later, when today's research is done.

UPDATE: Whoops, too late. The climateers are already off the tee.

Damn it. Late to the ball again.

The Obama Social Network

THERE was much recent publicity in Melbourne about Facebook pages naming career criminal Adrian Bayley as the killer of Jill Meagher. The police wanted them taken down for fear of prejudicial pre-trial publicity making a conviction impossible to achieve. The courts and judges were equally miffed, as were sundry politicians who lined up to condemn the public for voicing opinions about matters only their betters on the bench were said to be capable of blessing with rational consideration.

Facebook resisted for days before eventually making some efforts to gag those pages and their commenters.

But criticise Obama and some anonymous kid wearing a knitted cap deep in Facebook's bowels will silence such observations in a twinkling. Here is what Facebook has refused to allow:

It is not just governments that believe a gagged populace is a quiet populace.

Karolygate VI

BLAME it on an older Bunyip's sense of outraged propriety, but of all the assaults on common sense and honesty mounted by ardent warmists the one that continues to grate most of all is that Hungry Beast rap video, "I'm a Climate Scientist". Now it is true that much larger sums have been squandered on spurious science linking minute twitches of the mercury to all manner of earth-threatening ills, from peculiar fish to the clustered incidence of bearded dwarf women and so forth. But in its own small way, the ABC-funded clip captures every single reason why careerist climateers are to be despised.

There is the adolescent arrogance of the exercise first of all. With only one or two exceptions, the performers are hardly better than children, and there is nothing quite so tiresome as being hectored by a self-righteous teenager. Then there is the ABC's abuse of its charter, which does not include an obligation to bathe viewers and listeners in streams of obscenity. But most of all, what crawls furthest up an adult's nose is the sneering of a kind that so often drips from the lips of those who believe themselves so much smarter than the rest of us.

Now, at last, the recent collapse of the Gergis et al paper has provided some delicious consolation. Remember, when not shouting about "sucking d*** in Copenhagen" or using "mother****er" as a form of punctuation, the climate rappers' oft-repeated refrain is that their work is "peer reviewed" and must not therefore be doubted or dismissed.

Well isn't that just rich! Amateur rapper and blonde climate careerist Ailie Gallant is one of the co-authors of the discredited Gergis paper, which had sailed through the revered peer-review process and was poised for publication when it was noticed -- by whom remains a matter of considerable debate -- that the paper's claim of Australia never being hotter was based on the entirely wrong set of numbers.

Here is a still from that vile video. It is of Gallant, who could have made a useful career posing for Ralph, but instead chose to waste her life crunching numbers about growth rates of Balinese coral and insisting they tell us much about the ancient climate of Tasmania. Don't laugh, that is the sort of link the Gergis paper claimed to have established beyond doubt and scepticism. 

A picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, and this one tells us everything a taxpayer needs to know about the credibility of the peer-review process and more tellingly, those who hang their hats upon its rotten peg.

Karolygate V

IT IS almost inconceivable what it must feel like to wake up one morning and discover that you have lost $300,000. Not spent it on women and pleasure, as the old joke goes, but actually wasted it – left it on the tram or mistaken it for Sorbent in the dark of a bush night, that sort of thing. You would feel pretty low, that’s for sure, and it would only be human nature to first concede screwing up and then, by small degrees, invent little excuses and explanations to mitigate the crushing guilt of blowing all that dough.

The three-year climate study led by the Parkville Asylum’s Joelle Gergis, sorcerer’s apprentice to David Karoly, had cost precisely that sum when, on June 6 of this year, a co-author alerted his colleagues to the fact that they might just as well have sent that taxpayer cash down the pipes to Werribee. The bringer of sad tidings was Raphael Neukom, and nuke ’em he did with a very explicit explanation of the paper’s flaws. The entire letter is worth reading (and all the others in the same folio of correspondence) but the bits underlined are the most relevant to this post:
Subject: Mistake in the Australasian TT paper
Date: Wednesday, 6 June 2012 9:46AM
From: Raphael Neukom <>
To: Joelle Gergis <>, David Karoly
< . au>
Conversation: Mistake in the Australasian TT paper

Hi Joelle and David,
As just discussed with joelle on skype, I found a mistake in our paper in journal of climate today . It is related to the proxy screening, so it is a delicate issue. In the paper we write that we do the correlation analysis for the screening based on detrended {instrumental and proxy) data, but in reality we did not use detrended data.

The origin of the mistake is that at the stage when we were writing the paper my approaches have already evolved and I had made the proxy selection for the SH reconstruction based on detrended data. I therefore had in my mind that we had done the same for Australasia months ago and was very negligent not to check this carefully.

Using detrended data would only select very few proxy records that would not allow a reasonable reconstruction. I think it is basically justifiable to do the screening without detrending but changing these words may cause troubles.

Fortunately we have not received the proofs yet. So my suggestion is to write to the editor, explain the mistake and ask for permission to correct the error, if necessary via sending it out to review again.

I apologize for the mistake and the troubles it may cause and hope that we can find a good way to correct it.

David your advice on this would be very much appreciated.

Thanks a lot and best regards
Let all that technical palaver go through to the keeper; there are plenty of science bloggers who get heavily into that sort of thing and it is to their sites the curious should turn for enlightenment. At the Billabong the fascination has been observing the evolution of an excuse. Follow the trail from the climate comrades’ emergency Skype session to the pages of national press and see how things work with grant-funded warmists.

First, Raphi concedes he was “very negligent” to use the wrong figures, a mistake he admits is at the root of the team’s problems. Yet he is desperate to be helpful, even to the point of embracing cognitive dissonance. Sticking with what has been submitted to the learned, peer-reviewed Climate Journal would not represent “a reasonable reconstruction”, he states in one sentence, only to suggest in the very next that it would be “basically justifiable” to bluff it out and leave things as they are.

As all the FOI emails from Melbourne University demonstrate, quite a bit of thought goes into satisfying reporters’ curiosity, which fortunately for the unsettled scientists was rather limited. Whatever conversations took place, whichever strategies were adopted, by the time Bernard Lane is explaining the paper’s flaw to readers of the The Australian on June 13, the explanation has evolved into something radically different. Indeed, it seems to have no relevance whatsoever to the reality of Rafi’s mea culpa email.

First, Karoly tells Lane that either of two methods might have been used, no doubt failing to mention one of them cannot produce a “reasonable reconstruction.”

Second, in explaining how such a mistake came to happen, Karoly makes no mention of his “very negligent” comrade’s oversight. Rather, he blames the rather more convenient, and previously unmentioned, ghost in the machine:
Professor Karoly said the data would be reanalysed using the year-to-year variations only. A switch in the computer code was wrongly set to include the long-term trend and this went unnoticed.
How the hapless Rafi feels about being dismissed as a humble and inanimate “switch” we will never know. What would be good to find out is how much knowledge the $300,000 poured into such a schermozzle actually purchased, where the money went and how many delusions were peddled to the public as part of a post-failure snow job.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Karolygate Set Aside

MELBOURNE is turning on one of its gloriously wondrous spring days, so golf is compulsory. Further examinations of the Karolygate emails will be posted as 18 holes, dinner, a bottle or two and an indolent Bunyip's inclinations allow.

Back later.

Karolygate IV

IN MAY of this year, when things were going swimmingly for David Karoly and Joelle Gergis and their co-authored claim that Australia is hotter now than at any time since Ethelred the Unready was King of England, The Age’s resident green megaphone Adam Morton waxed rhapsodic about the coming climate catastrophe and the weight of evidence that settled the science behind this assertion once and for all. The headline on his article was a half-witty invocation of the alleged scientific method, which in this instance involved the charting of tree growth (and other “proxies”) to establish when the thermometer rose and fell. “Climate research has ring of truth” the title insisted, followed by some 1,300 words of unquestioning and largely unqualified enthusiasm:
Co-author and University of Melbourne climate science professor David Karoly says the study for the first time establishes that claims there was a substantial mediaeval warm period hotter than today had no basis in Australasia. The study uses climate proxies - surrogates for the record of observed temperatures that date back to only the early 20th century.

Initially, the data from tree rings and other sites was tested for its ability to reconstruct temperatures between 1921 and 1990. The palaeoclimate records from 50 sites were compared to the actual temperature record for these years. The palaeoclimatic data that did not display a statistically significant temperature signal, but was found to have been more strongly influenced by other climate factors such as rainfall, was excluded. But the data from the 27 sites that remained collectively matched the actual temperature increase with a high correlation coefficient of 0.83, and were considered suitable for use as a proxy for the real thing to reconstruct temperatures over previous centuries.

The results matched what was known about certain historical periods. It was found early European settlers would have suffered through the coldest period of the past millennium in the 1830s and 1840s - the peak of what is known as the global little ice age. In pre-industrial times, the warmest lengthy stretch was found to be between 1238 and 1267, which the study estimates was 0.09 degrees cooler than the mid-to-late 20th century average.

But the warmest decades were found to be the last three examined: the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Instrumental temperature records show the first decade of the 21st century was hotter again....
Now let us leap three weeks forward from the date of that Age article’s publication. It is early June and Karoly and his confederates have just been made aware that their research methods are fatally flawed, data useless and the bally-hooed study likely to become an object of immense ridicule.

How to react? According to those astonishing emails just released in response to an FOI request, Karoly knew just what to do: First, add this additional paragraph to the earlier press release spruiking Karoly and Gergis’ alleged achievement.
An issue has been identified in the processing of the data used in the study, which may affect the results. While the paper states that "both proxy climate and instrumental data were linearly detrended over the 1921-1990 period”: we discovered on Tuesday 5 June that the records used in the final analysis were not detrended for proxy selection, making this statement incorrect. Although this is an unfortunate data processing issue, it is likely to have implications for the results reported in the study. The journal has been contacted and the publication of the study has been put on hold.
That done, it was time to deal with the press, as Karoly explains in an email sent on June 11: 
There have been emails from Andy Revkin of teh (sic) New York Times and Adam Morton at the Age. Adam will have a short article in the Age tomorrow, to update his piece that covered the original paper at length 3 weeks ago.
Karoly & Co weren’t having much luck chronicling past temperatures, but the climate guru’s prediction of what Morton would be writing verged on the clairvoyant. It was indeed a “short article”. A very short article, reproduced below in its entirety.
A WIDELY reported study that found the past half-century in Australasia was very likely the warmest in a millennium has been ''put on hold'' after a mistake was found in the paper.

Led by scientists from the University of Melbourne, the study involved analysis of palaeoclimatic data from tree rings, coral and ice cores to give what was described as the most complete climate record of the region over the past 1000 years.

It was peer-reviewed and published online by the Journal of Climate in May, but was removed from the website last week at the authors' request after the discovery of a ''data processing issue'' that could affect the results.

Study co-author and climate science professor David Karoly said one of the five authors found the method of analysis outlined in the paper differed to that actually used.

The Climate Audit blog - run by Canadian Steve McIntyre, who has challenged the validity of palaeoclimatic temperature reconstructions - claimed credit for finding the issue with the paper. Professor Karoly said the authors uncovered the problem before Climate Audit blogged about it.
He said the data and results were being reviewed.

''This is a normal part of science,'' he said.

''The testing of scientific studies through independent analysis of data and methods strengthens the conclusions. In this study, an issue has been identified and the results are being rechecked.''

Morton’s “short article” went to press on June 12, and please do note that date. Why? Well according to the Karolygate emails, the collapse of the paper’s credibility by that stage had moved well beyond it being put merely “on hold”.

On June 9 – well before before Morton was fed that line about it being “on hold”, John Chiang of Climate Journal, which had accepted the, ahem, peer-reviewed paper and published an advance copy on its website, wrote a private note to Gergis (emphasis added at the Billabong):
From: John Chiang [jch_chiang@berkele~eduf
Sent: Saturday, 9 June 2012 9:04AM
To: Joelle Gergis
Cc: John Chiang
Subject: Fwd: Error in our JCU - D- 11-00649 submission
Dear Joelle: After consulting with the Chief Editor, I have decided to rescind acceptance of the paper- you'll receive an official email from J Climate to this effect as soon as we figure out how it should be properly done. I believe the EOR has already been taken down.

Also, since it appears that you will have to redo the entire analysis (and which may result in different conclusions), I will also be requesting that you withdraw the paper from consideration. Again, you'll hear officially from J Climate in due course. I invite you to resubmit once the necessary analyses and changes to the manuscript have been made.

I hope this will be acceptable to you. I regret the situation, but thank you for bringing it to my prompt attention.
Best regards,
So, just to recap:
On June 9 the Gergis paper’s acceptance was rescinded, it was removed from the publication’s website and its authors instructed to go back to the drawingboard and try harder this time.

On June 11, Karoly intimates that Morton will do no more than touch on the paper’s troubles and that his report will be a nothing-to-worry-about “short” report that the paper is merely on “on hold” when the fact of the matter is that Journal of Climate’s editors had already decided it was dead, discredited and fit only to be discarded.

One June 12, Morton fulfils Karoly’s prophecy by dutifully transcribing the stenographic notes of his exchange, misleading as it was.

How climate scientists conduct their affairs has received a lot of attention since late in 2009, when the original Climategate emails surfaced, but the role of their enablers in the press has gone largely unexamined by the press itself. It is a topic that screams to be explored, and a splendid local starting point for that inquiry might be the editor’s office at the Age, where this question or something like it needs to be put to the newspaper’s environment editor:
“Adam, sorry to bother you, but do you think you might be too close, and far too sympathetic, to your fellow believers in global warming? And while we are on the subject, why didn’t you contact Climate Journal to make sure you weren’t being spun silly by your mate Karoly?”
The answers might be very interesting, even allowing for lots of stammering.

A NOTE: All the Melbourne University emails can be found here. The specific emails quoted above are all reproduced in this file.

Karolygate III

SOMEONE WHO understands how YouTube works should put this video on the third party's server, just in case someone at the Parkville Asylum decides it would be better flushed down the memory hole.

Karolygate II

Read Karolygate I first

AFTER deficiencies in their paper were pointed out and with efforts to stonewall outside examination of the data not going well, David Karoly writes to two colleagues about what might be done to save the rotten fruit of three years' work and God only knows how much money. The email was sent in early June:
Hi Raphi and Joelle,
Following some email discussions with Mike Mann and helpful discussions with you both last week, there appear to be several different approach es that we can take with revising the Australasian temp recon paper. I am going to go through some of them briefly, and then raise some suggestions for further data analysis that might be needed.

1. Amend the manuscript so that it states the actual way that the proxy selection was done, based on correls that included trends and were significant at the 5% level. The calibration was also done using the full data variations, incuding trends, over the calibration period. As Mike Mann says below and in the attached papers, this is a common approach. Don't seriously address the proxy selection for detrended data

2. Revise the manuscript to present results for reconstructions based on both proxy selections for full correls and proxy selections for detrended correls. Expand the paper to show both sets of results and explain why the full correls are better.

3. Re-do the analysis for proxy selection based on what the manuscript says, proxy selection based on detrended carrels, which gives only about 9 selected proxies and only one prior to 1400. No reliable reconstruction prior to 1400.

4 . Redo the analysis based on proxy correlations with local/regional temps at interannual and decadal timescales, not the Australasian area average; select proxies that have strong local temperature signals, then average the proxies to get the area average temperature. This approach is like what Raphi is doing for the SH paper, I think.

My preference is now for 1. or 2. above, and not for 3.....

Now re-read proposition #3 -- the one that concedes that, if the study had been done as advertised -- only nine proxies would have been relevant, with just one of those purporting to define climate prior to 1400AD. Obviously, that's not going to save the research and get the paper published.

Karoly's preference is to .... ignore that option!

Now look at option #2, one of Karoly's two favoured options, and don't forget that the paper originally sold the notion that Australian temperatures were at a 1000-year high on the strength of allegedly "detrended" data. That detrending wasn't done, which is why the paper had to be spiked, so now Karoly's idea is for everyone concerned to insist un-detrended numbers are the better option.

Just coincidentally, that approach saves the headline-grabbing claim that Australia is hot as Hades and poised to get a whole lot worse.


Karolygate I

THOSE good at sums, which the Professor is not, will probably get quite a lot out of this Climate Audit post concerning the paper recently "withdrawn" by the Parkville Asylum's chief catastropharian David Karoly, his carbon-fighting sidekick Joelle Gergis and several other up-and-coming climateers, including blonde academic Ailie Gallant, whose previous and best-known contribution to science was shouting obscenities in a very expensive rap video paid for by the ABC.

For those with only a limited grasp of statistical regression and standard deviations -- that term has no know relevance to Craig Thomson, by the way --  these emails obtained under an FOI request by Climate Audit supporter Mike Kottek make fascinating reading all the same. Just to whet the appetite, know that they are the formerly private emails between Karoly, Gergis and sundry other settled scientists, reporters, publicists, spinners and editors of scientific publications, all passing this way and that as the researchers' claim that Australia has never been hotter fell very publicly to pieces.

This particular .pdf, one of five, takes ages to download and the presentation of the emails in contains is somewhat chaotic, with one even presented upside down. But after an hour's perusal the initial impression at the Billabong is that quite a few people need to be asked some very hard questions. The emails make it clear that we cannot expect impartiality from reporters, who figure as sympathetic players in several notes, so the investigation should probably be conducted by a Senate committee or somesuch, preferably with the power to exact sworn testimony.

There is much to be learned in these emails of the way the Climate Establishment works. The greater number of eager eyes picking through them, the more comprehensive the resulting picture will be.

So if you have the time, dig in. There is a stack of good, shocking stuff.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Mister Buttinski

LET US  all play a little guessing game, shall we?

On Q&A tonight, how many times will Tony Jones interrupt, and who will he interrupt the most?

Here's the field:

Kate Lundy, Minister for Sport and Multicultural Affairs
Eric Abetz, Liberal Senate Leader
Archie Roach, Indigenous singer-songwriter
Sekai Holland, Zimbabwe Minister for National Healing & Reconciliation
Grahame Morris, Political adviser

At the Billabong, the betting is that Roach will not be interrupted at all, Holland only in the most deferential manner and Lundy perhaps once or twice.

Morris and Abetz can expect more static, with Morris likely to be the more frustrated of the pair, since he does not sit in the Senate and can exert little influence on the ABC budget.

Smokin' It In The Mountains

A RELATIVELY SHORT drive and no more than four dozen speed cameras from Melbourne’s CBD, the Dandenong  Ranges rise not majestically and to great no height. The roads up that way are narrow and winding and the loudest locals are determined to keep them that way, an activism many of their neighbours are likely to regret when Victoria’s current wet spell runs its course, the next drought begins and the hills go up in flames, as they have done quite often. Many people will die attempting to escape, but until then there are attractions aplenty. Puffing Billy and a pedal-boat ride at Emerald Lake make for a pleasant outing. There is an excellent pie shop in Sassafras. And, for night owls and devotees of the special mushrooms that sprout beneath the hills’ pine trees, the view of Melbourne’s illuminated plain from atop Mt Dandenong can be quite the eyeful.

Now the Dandenongs have another spectacle to offer, albeit of considerably lower wattage. In the village of Tecoma, public spirited sorts are out in force to stop the construction of a McDonald’s they believe will ruin the sylvan charm of their ostentatiously organic and sustainable hamlet – sustainable until those fires come, but that will be another story. So far their efforts have come to nought. Planning authorities have rejected their pleas and the local council has declined to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court, which leaves whining and posing as the last remaining weapons in the gentle mountain folks’ arsenal of obstructions. Neither is proving potent and desperation is mounting to a comical degree.

The activists have occupied the site and set up a Facebook page which may be the funniest thing anyone has seen since Cathy Emerson came home one afternoon and caught the glimpse of a large, pale bottom vanishing over the bedroom’s windowsill. One anti-Macca sort had this to say:
Hi people, the woman keepers of the Garden have asked put the call out for a share dinner tonight ( 5pm on.. Sunday) at the garden. To bring love and presence celebrate the garden being blessed by Murrundindi elder this morning & to show support
Well that should settle the hash of McDonalds, which the Age this morning chose to describe as “the multinational” – a tag that, while true, overlooks the fact that the eatery will most likely be operated by an Australian franchisee employing Australian burger flippers. But again, the incidence of willful ignorance and loaded language in the pages of the Age is another story.

Tecoma's real source of excitement over the weekend – one of them – was that much-anticipated blessing by a genuine, bona fide Aborigine. The prospect certainly fluffed up Age reporter Benhamin Millar’s sense of awe and spirituality.

Murrundindi, the Wurundjeri Nation headman, visited the protest site in Tecoma today to add his voice to the outcry over the arrival of the fast-food giant.

He said the proposal was an affront to the memory of his ancestors.

"The people up here are connected to the spirit of the land. McDonald's is going to take in junk food and spoil the views of the mountains and the valleys."

It was fortunate the visiting Murrindindi, who walloped the Ham Burglar with a full-blown-smoking ceremony, was wearing a fur coat, as it made it possible to tell him apart from the hippies and their sprout-fed progeny.

Here’s a closer view of the McExorcism.... 

... snapped, presumably, at the moment when the demonic Apple Turnover was pointed toward lower altitudes, where the bogans live and streets are fouled by the stench of Subway shops:
Monique Saunders: Subway also in Monbulk, they sneak in as they can slip into any shop. But subway is just as bad. Promoting they are healthy food when nothing is fresh. You only have to come within 20 metres of a shop before you can smell their disgusting food.
 The Big Smoko-o was one of the weekend’s notable events in Tecoma. The other was the handiwork of some outsiders who slipped into town late at night and set fire to the protesters’ tent. According to the Age, this comment appeared on a Facebook page set up by a rival group of McDonald’s fanciers:
“We are pro-anything that upsets you hippies. So burn garden, burn!"
How can be people be so inconsiderate?