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« Channel Four on BEST | Main | Keenan's response to the BEST paper »

BEST paper in the papers

David Whitehouse has done a round up of press coverage of the BEST paper. He doesn't reckon they've done a good job.

There are very few people who do not believe the world has warmed, in various episodes, since the instrumental record began about 150 years ago. We are today warmer than the Little Ice Age, warmer than the Victorian Era, indeed warmer than the 1970s. The proper question is, of course, why? The Berkeley team have no conclusions about this.

So all the headlines that basically say sceptics have been trounced because the world really is warming are trivial. The Berkeley team confirm what has been found in three other datasets and what "both sides" of the debate already agree on. I could say "so what," and "is it news?" Well, news is what reporters print.

He ends by noting a comment in one of the BEST papers about attribution:

The researchers find a strong correlation between North Atlantic temperature cycles lasting decades, and the global land surface temperature. They admit that the influence in recent decades of oceanic temperature cycles has been unappreciated and may explain most, if not all, of the global warming that has taken place, stating the possibility that the “human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated.”

I think this will probably engender a great deal of discussion over the weekend.

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Reader Comments (29)

Well you would never know about that last statement reading the BBC! Then again, Richard Black has done his job for his religion hasn't he.


Oct 22, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

"We are today warmer than the Little Ice Age, warmer than the Victorian Era, indeed warmer than the 1970s. The proper question is, of course, why?"

Another proper question:-
Is the amount of warming actually statistically significant?

And another:-
What EVIDENCE is there that it is a bad thing?

Oct 22, 2011 at 8:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Brumby

Having very little time I headed over the David Whitehouse and the GWPF on this last night and found it the most helpful overview on the BEST release I'd read (though William Briggs should also be good in his response to Keenan). This kind of analysis of the MSM is exactly what's needed to improve standards. Kudos to the New Scientist and Nature (to a lesser extent) for talking to sceptics, not just inventing straw ones.

Oct 22, 2011 at 8:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

So BEST agrees with us and we were right all along. We've always said that the world has been getting warmer but that man's contribution to to this warming has been over estimated.

Oct 22, 2011 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh.

David Whitehouse’s article neatly nails the major criticism of press coverage so far. They missed the story.
“Scientists say human component of global warming may be overstated” is the environmental scoop of the decade, and no journalist spotted it. They can be forgiven for scientific ignorance, even political bias. But missing the scoop when it’s served up to you on a plate is professional incompetence. All environmental journalists should be sacked, or sent back to compiling “Nature notes”.

Oct 22, 2011 at 9:04 AM | Unregistered Commentergeoffchambers

Your right the story has not had the legs some were clearly hopping it would , although the BBC have flogged it for all they were worth and ignored the details , the real problem Gaddafi . That news has dominated the media , Bob 'fast fingers' Ward and his PR friends most be having kittens over the timing.

Because for the same the reason BEST knows what ever happens in peer review will not get covered , as the issues will be 'old news' , by the time the Gaddafi issues has settled down their PR exercise will be old news to.

Oct 22, 2011 at 9:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

KnR said:

"Your [You're] right the story has not had the legs some were clearly hopping it would ..."

LOL! Black Knight, anyone?

Oct 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Bates

Oct 22, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Alan Bates

The ever helpful misterbates strikes again!

Oct 22, 2011 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterIndustrialChemist

It's not all bad. Simon Hoggart has an amusing piece on Chris Huhne in the Guardian:

Oct 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla

The UK/US prestige press is not bothered what you or I think. Australia is in the can. New Zealand is in the can. The developing world (Brazil, India, South Africa, China) has officially brought into the cult even though their citizens know not a thing about 'global warming'.

The real problem is what 'Fox News' says, because the US is still not in the can.

One can recall a wave of synchronized Twitter 'messaging' that accompanies the Sunday Times Amazongate article retraction: "Times withdraws article, that means what the ICC did is right."

People generally register IPCC/environment stories in the outermost reaches of their peripheral attention. When 'Fox' says scientists have been 'hiding the decline' of global temperatures and the sceptics found it all out in the emails, that snags and sticks in the attention of millions of the recalcitrant.

How do you counter-meme it? Just grab the next straw-man that you can construct and ram it down. We've seen that happen before, and it will happen again.

The 'sceptics' are the dupes in all this: their supposed real concerns offer the perfect cover for erecting such strawmans in the first place. You can always go: 'ya know that Delingpole, always creating a ruckus about how global warming scientists 'hid the decline' in temperatures. Well, here you go, Nobel prize winning scientists have shown otherwise'.

Oct 22, 2011 at 2:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

Last night the C4 "news" ran with this. After one journalist had asked another whether this would mean that all the sceptics would now accept that warming alarmism was justified they agree the best way to find out would be to ask.

So they asked Phil Jones.

[Snip - not here thanks.]

Oct 22, 2011 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Today's skeptic position a new one on me, "both sides" of the debate already agree the world really is warming . How is that compatible with the hide the decline narrative?

Oct 22, 2011 at 5:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist


This is probably your first useful comment for several weeks. Your admission that you don't understand the hide the decline episode is helpful.

Here once again,and somewhat simplified, is what it is about.

Briffa's MXD series showed the world cooling after 1960. Everyone knows that it has been warming in that period. Therefore Briffa's MXD series is not a proxy for temperature. Therefore reconstructions of medieval temperatures based on Briffa's MXD series are unreliable. Therefore it was misleading of Briffa and Mann to show the pre-1960 sections (the decline) of the temperature reconstruction based on Briffa's MXD series while hiding the post-1960 sections - readers were "tricked" into thinking that the reconstruction was trustworthy, when in fact it is not.

Oct 22, 2011 at 6:56 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill


"How is that compatible with the hide the decline narrative?"

Hide the decline was the splicing of a warming thermometer trend on a cooling proxy trend and something that Richard Muller(BEST) has taken time to acknowledge and demonstrate.

The sceptical position is that current warming has precedents and may be partly, mostly or all natural. The warmist position is that the current warming has no precedents and is therefore anthropogenic.

Up to speed now? You might like to consider that the conclusion from BEST is that warming correlates to natural cycles and that the anthropomorphic component may well be overstated. Sounds like an endorsement of the sceptic position to me.

Oct 22, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Sorry Bish, posts crossed. THSI has precedent but for Hengist I believe this will help;

Oct 22, 2011 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Dear simpleseekeraftertruth and others

That statement about the anthropogenic component being overstated that you are so keen to highlight is NOT a "conclusion". It's a speculation, no more. What's more it comes in a paragraph the full version of which is this:

"If the long-term AMO changes have been driven by greenhouse gases then the AMO region may serve as a positive feedback that amplifies the effect of greenhouse gas forcing over land. On the other hand, some of the long-term change in the AMO could be driven by natural variability, e.g. fluctuations in thermohaline flow. In that case the human component of global warming may be somewhat overestimated. "

So the AMO may be amplifying the anthropogenic effect. Or, sure, it might be an added 'natural' component. But why would David Whitehouse and, by extension, Bishop Hill, choose only to highlight the last sentence?

It looks to me very much like clutching at straws.

Oct 22, 2011 at 7:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterAll in it together

an interesting post from climate etc, which might help Hengist in his search for his marbles:

John | October 22, 2011 at 9:49 am | Reply

Now that I’ve read the study fully, a very interesting possibility is suggested in the second paragraph before Acknowledgements on page 12.

The numbers suggest the possibility that human climate forcings — from CO2 emissions, methane, ozone, black carbon, deforestation, land use changes, and reduction of sulfate — might have been responsible for about 0.25 degrees warming since 1975.

Oct 22, 2011 at 8:22 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


Oct 22, 2011 at 8:23 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes


That doesn't sound terribly different from Jones explanation, although IIRC he uses the term divergence problem.
Anyhow what it is different to is the 'hide the decline' narrative as exemplified on the MSM which goes that its a decline in global temps. I can even point to an example on the uber warmist BBC . I suggest the public have largely been led to believe hide the decline means something different to the meaning given here.

Anyhow Id like to read up further on BHs explanation above. Could somebody point me to the relevant pages in my treasured copy of HSI and I will read it in bed tonite.

Oct 22, 2011 at 8:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist

PS What does AMO stand for ?

Oct 22, 2011 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterHengist

Independent: Ex-climate sceptic now backs global warming

Never knew he was ever a sceptic... plus

Professor Richard Muller, a physicist at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been an outspoken critic of the science underpinning global warming, said that there is little doubt in his mind the phenomenon of rising land temperatures is real.

Nowhere in the piece is human or anthropogenic mentioned... but is written such that it appears GW and AGW are the same.

Oct 22, 2011 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJiminy Cricket

hey...Hengist does not know what AMO stands for....pleaselet the troll know

Oct 22, 2011 at 10:17 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

"Hengist does not know what AMO stands for....pleaselet the troll know"

Why? He could discover it himself if he were to read the paper;

Oct 22, 2011 at 10:50 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Hengist @ 8:45

The link you give to your 'example' is to your own website with your own misinterpretation. I suggest you may be chasing your own tail.

Oct 22, 2011 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

let's be helpful....
Atlantic Mutidecadal Oscillation index,

Oct 22, 2011 at 11:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Big problem with Bishop Hill's explanation above. The decline or divergence problem was discussed in the scientific literature back in 1998 . I refer to Briffa et al 1998
There's also Briffa et al, 1998 b; and Briffa, 2000 and they are listed in the legend of the WMO figure. I think what Briffa et al is hinting at is that there is probably an anthropogenic cause to the divergence problem. BH's flat statement "Therefore Briffa's MXD series is not a proxy for temperature" doesn't take into account this science.

Oct 23, 2011 at 7:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterHengist

Nobody is disputing that the divergence problem is discussed in the journals. It the hiding of the divergence problem in the secondary literature, including reports for policymakers, that is the problem.

Read D'Arrigo et al 2008 for an up-to-date assessment of the divergence problem. Nobody has been able to show that it's anthropogenic or restricted to the 20th century.

Oct 23, 2011 at 7:25 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Thanks Ive downloaded DArrigo but I am at the very edge of my skill set here
There's an assumption being made that the divergence problem is anthropogenic and you dispute the assumption. What would the WMO diagram have looked like if the entire MXD series had been excluded?

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterHengist

PS If this is covered in your book just give me the page numbers and I will take it from there

Oct 23, 2011 at 10:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterHengist

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