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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Joseph Romm: Earth to John Christy: Misleading for free is wrong, too!

Earth to John Christy: Misleading for free is wrong, too.

Climate Progress, December 15, 2009;This is by guest blogger Paulina Essunger, a science writer.

On December 9, 2009, John Christy (University of Alabama-Huntsville) and Gavin Schmidt (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) appeared on CNN. Wolf Blitzer asked Christy if he takes money from oil companies.

Christy: "I do not take any money from oil companies, energy companies or any of those."

Let’s take as a given that Christy is not, in fact, on the payroll of Exxon-Mobil or any other energy company. That’s not the point. Since when did “not-deceiving-for-money” become the standard? “Misleading-for-free” is not the middle ground, flanked by deceiving-for-money on one side and truth on the other.

And, as shown below, Christy was definitely being misleading in the CNN interview.

Early on in the interview, Schmidt talked about the human role in climate change. In responding, Christy contributed this gem:

Christy: “[W]hat is being referred to here is being assumed from climate models”

Christy appeared to be saying that the attribution of most of the recent warming to human greenhouse gases is an “assumption” “from” “climate models.”


Climate scientists do not “assume” that humans are warming up the planet “from models,” as Christy claimed. Schmidt corrected Christy:

Schmidt:  “Climate models are a tool; they allow us to understand why climate changed in the past, why it’s changing now, and what that might mean for the future…they provide us with very good evidence that what we’re seeing now is in fact caused by the things that we know we are doing to the atmosphere.”

Scientists make assumptions in the course of their investigations. The results of these investigations are not called “assumptions.” They are called “results.” Obviously, Christy knows this. So, why did he call the results “assumptions”?

Christy goes on:  “I am underwhelmed…with what we see in the ability of climate models to prove anything, they really can’t prove anything.”


Duh. Wrong classroom, Professor Christy. Proofs happen in math and logic, not science. You know this, so why the fake complaint about being “underwhelmed”?

When Blitzer turned to the materials recently stolen from climate scientists at University of East Anglia, Christy insisted that even some of the wildest misinterpretations of the stolen materials are actually fair representations.

Christy: “When they say [in the emails] ‘hide the decline’ that’s exactly what they were trying to do; it even is in the computer code.”


I don’t think anyone really needs to hear once more why Sarah Palin and friends are wrong in thinking “the decline” in question was a decline in global temperatures and wrong in thinking that anything was actually being hidden.

If you haven’t heard the one about the “decline-hiding” being “in the computer code,” and you want to know what that’s all about, try this.

Schmidt’s on-show response pretty much sums up the whole shebang.

Schmidt:  “That’s completely wrong, John. That’s not true.”

Christy probably did get one thing right, though. He is probably right about why he is intent on being wrong and misleading.

Christy:  “As someone who was derided in many of those emails, I just completely disagree with what Gavin has just said.”

So, that’s why he’s disagreeing! He didn’t like what they had written about him! Has there ever been a clearer statement by any contrarian?
“I don’t like you; you make me feel bad, so I’m going to disagree with you, truth be damned.”
I don’t know to what extent Christy was derided in the emails. But if you want to know why anyone who worries about climate change might say something unflattering about Christy, this Climate Progress post from last year sums it up.

Joe Romm asks: Should you believe anything John Christy says?:
[Christy was] wrong — dead wrong — for a very long time, which created one of the most enduring denier myths, that the satellite data didn’t show the global warming that the surface temperature data did. As RealClimate [a climate science website co-founded by Schmidt] wrote [quoted by Romm]:
We now know, of course, that the satellite data set confirms that the climate is warming , and indeed at very nearly the same rate as indicated by the surface temperature records. Now, there’s nothing wrong with making mistakes when pursuing an innovative observational method, but Spencer [Christy's co-author on many papers; Spencer is/was also paid to write for an Exxon Mobil-funded website] and Christy sat by for most of a decade allowing — indeed encouraging — the use of their data set as an icon for global warming skeptics. They committed serial errors in the data analysis, but insisted they were right and models and thermometers were wrong. They did little or nothing to root out possible sources of errors, and left it to others to clean up the mess, as has now been done.

1 comment:

ccpo said...

Yeah, I had all the same reactions when I watched that video, but didn't want to bother signing up to the site it was on.

One small point was left out. They were talking about the Arctic ice cap melting and Wolf asked what Christy thought, and THAT'S when he went off on a tangent about a string of unrelated things and didn't answer the question.

Everything he said was bull. Except, of course, where he whined about being spoken badly of. Many have done that. More will.