Saturday, March 25, 2017

¶2 A look behind the curtain of John Bates’ facade - The John Bates Affair

This is the second installment (paragraph 2) of this citizen's examination of the article at the heart of this season’s faux climate scandal.  For some background link here.  I’ve borrowed Bates’ subtitle since I’m exploring his wordsmithing in order to ponder his motivations.

Climate scientists versus climate data
by John Bates, posted on February 4, 2017 | ClimateEtc - J. Curry
“A look behind the curtain at NOAA’s climate data center.”

For perspective, all this hubbub is over the difference between these two lines


Bates writes in ¶2:   ‘The most serious example of a climate scientist not archiving or documenting a critical climate dataset was the study of Tom Karl et al. 2015’ 

If this is Bates’ “most serious example” - what’s the big deal?  If it was a big deal, why wasn’t Dr. Bates duty bound to formally raise concerns while in his position of responsibility at NOAA?

“Bates does not directly challenge the conclusions of Karl's study, and he never formally raised his concerns through internal NOAA mechanisms. (W. Cornwall, P. Voosen

Instead Bates retired and only then does he drag his personal dirty laundry over to Judith Curry for her make-over skills.  Then he releases his complaint to a public that has no technical understanding of the issues.

That’s not how serious scientists or competent administrators operate.  Smells more like vendetta ensnarled by political dirty tricks.

This begs the question, why doesn’t Bates take his own advice?

(Bates) cautioned scientists against advocating policy.
"You really have to provide the most objective view and let the policymakers decide from their role," Bates said. "I'm getting much more wary of scientists growing into too much advocacy. I think there is certainly a role there, and yet people have to really examine themselves for their own bias and be careful about that."(W. Cornwall, P. Voosen)

Please consider the audience Bates is writing for.  Judith Curry’s ClimateEtc blog - is a community dedicated to ignoring fundamental climate science, misinterpreting minutia via the conviction that serious scientists are fools and villains, while self-anointed  “Galileos” need not abide by the standards of science, or honesty, or fair-play.

This would help explain why Bates’ dramatic indignation sounds so much more banal when he speaks with more critical interviewers.

Bates alleges that NOAA's Tom Karl and the rest of the team behind the paper failed to adequately follow NOAA’s internal processes for archiving their data and stress-testing the updated databases they used. (Scott K. Johnson)

In an interview with E&E News yesterday, former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration principal scientist John Bates had a significantly more nuanced take on the controversy that has swirled since a top House Republican hailed his blog post as proof that the agency. …

Bates said the NOAA study relied on land data that were "experimental." Typically, NOAA officials can publish research that relies partially on experimental data, as long as the data are properly identified, especially if there is an urgent situation that requires something to go out quickly because it is related to human health, safety and the environment. …

Ironically in a different context, back at ClimateEtc. while rebutting Peter Thorne who wrote on the topic, Bates points out Karl et al. was internally approved and published, so Dr. Karl must not be that bad.
Bates writes: Karl et al used as ISTI databank. This databank combined in excess of 50 unique underlying sources into an amalgamated set of holdings. The code used to perform the merge was publically available, the method published, and internally approved.

Bates writes:   (hereafter referred to as the Karl study or K15), 

For a little perspective, here’s a picture of what the Karl et al. 2015 study is all about.  

Bates writes:  “purporting to show no ‘hiatus’ in global warming in the 2000s”

Now Bates makes himself judge of the science, insinuating that an early 2000s “hiatus” in global warming actually occurred.  But that notion is alt-universe stuff in complete denial of simple down to Earth fundamentals.

The geophysical reality is that our global warming is caused by increasing GHGs slowing the escape of heat, thus retaining more heat.  The anomaly during the early century was all about recording the heat that is moving around the globe and into the oceans.  

There was nothing about our atmospheric radiative properties that changed and to insinuate the physics was put on hold is insane and a fraud against society.

The definition of hiatus is “a pause or gap in a sequence, series, or process.”
No matter how many reporters and scientists thoughtlessly misuse that word - There was no pause, or gap, in the warming process of our planet!  

For Bates to actively suggest as much puts his allegiance firmly within the politically motivated climate science contrarian crowd.  Go figure, fits right in with Bates running to Curry for ghost writing.

Dr. Hausfather happens to be a scientist who is in a position to interpret the data.  He’s made a short video that explains the situation.

Recent Ocean Warming has been Underestimated

Published on Jan 4, 2017
In a paper published in Science Advances, we used data from buoys, satellites, and Argo floats to construct separate instrumentally homogenous sea surface temperature records of the past two decades. We compared them to the old NOAA ERSSTv3b record, the new ERSSTv4 record, the Hadley Centre’s HadSST3 record, and the Japanese COBE-SST record. 

We found a strong and significant cool bias in the old NOAA record, and a more modest (but still significant) cool bias in the Hadley and Japanese records compared to buoy, satellite, and Argo float data. The new NOAA record agrees quite well with these instrumentally homogenous records. This suggests that the new NOAA record is likely the most accurate sea surface temperature record in recent years, and should help resolve some of the criticism that accompanied the original NOAA study.

Bates writes:   The study drew criticism from other climate scientists, who disagreed with K15’s conclusion about the ‘hiatus.’

Mind you Bates started this article alleging concern with improving data archiving protocols - after all that is his professional expertise and supposedly at the root of his complaint.

Yet here he is sidetracking that, in order to focus on disputing the conclusions of their paper, something beyond his professional capabilities. 

“The study drew criticism” is a trick phrase intended to inject a sinister undercurrents.  In reality, if a study isn’t drawing criticism and discussion it’s an irrelevant paper.  

Observing and recording and processing global temperatures was an impossible challenge.  Now with near a century of ongoing disciplined self-skeptical constructive efforts scientists are getting good, of course still with room for improvement.  

The perfect instrument or study has never been created, still they keep getting better. Oh and the fantastic feats they have accomplished.  Every study gets critiqued in order to learn and improve.  

The study Bates is referring to is yet another red flag.  This particular study has become infamous for all the wrong reasons.  To us nonscientists Fyfe et al. 2016 offered up a muddled Rorschach test rather than the promised clarifications.  Many, including Bates’ have mischaracterized it, many have criticized it for its shortcomings.

Making sense of the early-2000s warming slowdown
•  John C. Fyfe, Gerald A. Meehl, Matthew H. England, Michael E. Mann, Benjamin D. Santer, Gregory M. Flato, Ed Hawkins, Nathan P. Gillett, Shang-Ping Xie, Yu Kosaka & Neil C. Swart

Nature Climate Change 6, 224–228 (2016) doi:10.1038/nclimate2938
Published online 24 February 2016

Though I can’t argue with their science, I certainly can take issue with their muddled confused wordsmithing, and did so.  I shared my critique with the coauthors and posted it at: 

Elevator pitch to co-authors of Fyfe et al. 2016 - need for clarification
Bates writes:   “The paper also drew the attention of the Chairman of the House Science Committee, Representative Lamar Smith,” 

Here again we have an indication that Dr. Bates has become a partisan in a political battle, with his data issues merely an opportunistic hook.  

Now regarding Rep. Smith, he’s about as Tea-party partisan and anti-science as they get.  Here are some quotes from the seventh letter that the ranking Democrat on his Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Eddie Johnson sent Representative Lamar Smith, previous six seem to have been ignored - aren’t these supposed to be American politicians working together for America?

On October 23 I wrote to you concerning the unilateral subpoena you issued to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan.  You never responded to that letter so I feel compelled to once again write to you.

In my prior letter, I noted that in four separate written demands to NOAA to comply with your "investigation" you never actually identified what it is you were claiming to investigate. Instead of responding to either me or NOAA with some legitimate rationale for your actions, you instead wrote a fifth demand letter to NOAA 1 which continued your insistence that NOAA must comply with your demands because of your "investigation" - still without ever making any accusation of any waste, fraud, or abuse to be investigated.  Just last week, you also sent a similar cajoling letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker 2. In six separate, and increasingly aggressive, letters, the only thing you accused NOAA of doing is engaging in climate science - i.e., doing their jobs. …

Moreover, your "whistleblowers" don't even appear to be challenging the findings of the study, but rather, that the study was "rushed." This mild accusation would hardly seem to warrant the hyper-aggressive oversight and rhetoric you have leveled at NOAA. 

Neither I nor my staff can evaluate the veracity of your whistleblower claims, because you have not shared them with the Minority. However, one sentence in your letter gave me pause immediately. You state:

"More troubling, it appears that NOAA employees raised concerns about the timing and readiness of the study's release through e-mails, including several communications just before its publication in April, May, and June of 2015 ." 

I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Karl study was actually submitted to the journal Science in December of 2014 - four months before your alleged whistleblower communications. Science accepted the study for publication in May of 2015. 

Moreover, the Karl study relied, in part, upon the work of two previously published studies by Boyin Huang5 and Wei Liu . It was these studies which explained NOAA's updated sea surface temperature records, not the Karl study. These studies were submitted to the American Meteorological Society's Journal of Climate in December of 2013 - nearly one and a half years before your alleged whistleblowers raised their concerns

Given these discrepancies, I hope you will take this opportunity to provide the Minority with the whistleblower information you possess, so we might better be able to evaluate the veracity of these claims. Until you provide the Minority with this information, I hope you will understand my skepticism regarding the new claims you have made in your seventh demand letter.    (Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson)


Lamar Smith Is Hot and Bothered About Climate Science
The Texas Republican is using new authority to question federal scientists on climate change.
By Alan Neuhauser, Staff Writer | Nov. 23, 2015

By Lawrence M. Krauss   September 14, 2016

How a minor committee became a 'weapon' of the climate wars
Scott Waldman, E&E News reporter
Climatewire: Monday, February 13, 2017

Bates writes:   “who questioned the timing of the report, which was issued just prior to the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan submission to the Paris Climate Conference in 2015.”

Here we have Bates echoing yet another contrived “un-truth” with malicious intent. 

'Whistleblower' says protocol was breached but no data fraud
Scott Waldman, E&E News reporter
Published: Tuesday, February 7, 2017

… Whether the research was published to influence the Paris climate talks is a moot point, said Andrew Light, a senior member of the State Department's climate talks negotiating team in 2015. He said the talks had already been underway for about four years when the paper was published and that 188 nations were relying on a tremendous amount of research to support their goal of reducing humans' carbon emissions to slow the warming of the planet. They had also already crafted proposed reductions by the time the research was published, he said.

"I never heard it discussed once, let alone this one NOAA report, discussed in Paris, the run-up to Paris or anything after Paris, so this is really just an incredibly bizarre claim," Light said. …

None of this helps explain what the Karl et al. team did wrong, instead it’s busy trying to create prejudice against Dr. Karl.  That is not the scientist’s way.  Considering Bates’ history it’s natural to wonder if all this might simply be Bates settling an old score. 

How a culture clash at NOAA led to a flap over a high-profile warming pause study
By Warren Cornwall, Paul Voosen | Feb. 8, 2017 

Personal grudge?
Some suggest Bates’s criticism might also have a personal side to it. Tanner says Bates was administratively admonished and relieved of a supervisory position at NCEI in 2012, at a time when Karl led the center. Karl confirms that Bates was removed from his post as division chief, and placed in a position where he was not supervising other people.
Bates confirms the job shift, but denies his complaints are driven by any animus toward Karl. “He's just sort of an example. The reason I wanted to have a more public discussion was not to focus on him, [but] to have a bigger discussion about how we ensure the quality of the data,” Bates says.

David Rose doubles down on #climate disinformation about NOAA. Let's get some perspective
Sou, February 13, 2017

Lots more that could be said
I contacted people who would know him, and they behaved very professionally. They didn't want to impugn the character or guess at motives of John Bates. Pity that John Bates didn't show them the same respect.

I've taken the line that this behaviour cannot be tolerated and strong words are needed. The main message I've figured out from people who know him, and elsewhere, is that John Bates accepts climate science and is very clever. However he is not what one would call a "people person" and does not have a calm unflappable disposition. He has been known to "lose it" quite magnificently. Is that too harsh? I doubt it. Here is how he behaved just recently (read to the end). …

Peter Hadfield put together a nice short video that reviews the sordid details with a bit of humor - yet thoroughly fact-checked

NOAA vs Mail on Sunday -- FACT CHECK

  Published on Feb 9, 2017

0:20 -- “Possible artefacts of data biases in the recent global surface warming hiatus” Karl et. Al, Science 2015

3:39 -- Why don't they adjust the ship data down? Because it makes absolutely no difference to the result but takes a lot more man hours. I wrote to Dr. Zeke Hausfather with this question and he replied: "NOAA adjusted buoys up to match the ship record in version 4 of their ocean temperature record simply because ships make up 90% of our ocean record, with buoys only available in recent years. In response to folks getting confused about this, NOAA will be adjusting ships down to buoys in their upcoming version 5, but this makes no difference on the resulting temperature trends."

4:13 – “Extended Reconstruction Sea Surface Temperature Version 4 (ERSSTv4). Part 1: Upgrades and Intercomparisons” – Huang et al, Journal of the American Meteorological Society 2015

6:00 -- David Rose's previously challenged "quote" was from Murari Lal in 2010.

8:38 – “Assessing recent warming using instrumentally homogeneous sea surface temperature records” – Hausfather et al., Science 2017 

10:28 -- Ibid. 

¶1 A look behind the curtain of John Bates’ facade - The John Bates Affair

¶3 A look behind the curtain of John Bates’ facade

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