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Jon Stewart versus Gavin Schmidt

December 5, 2009

Obviously, there’s been lots of coverage on Climategate. Jon Stewart’s commentary on the Daily Show neatly rebutted spin by Gavin Schmidt on the “trick”, on the availability of “value added” data and closing with a sensible moral: don’t cut corners. It’s too bad that he wasn’t on the case with Upside Down Mann, where, at a certain point, the only reasonable discussion was satire.

Also here

There are many other interesting commentaries, but Jon Stewart’s is on point for Climate Audit issues.

52 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2009 12:05 pm

    Folks may find this interesting. If you compare the raw CRU temp profiles against the AGW models (which is the right method to assess the models) you discover AGW cannot exist. What CRU has been doing is taking temp profiles that don’t show a hockey stick and adding in hockey stick, which magically matches those models that assume a hockey stick will show up in the Temp data. Climategate just proved AGW as a theory is wrong.

  2. December 5, 2009 12:25 pm

    AJStrata – blimey, that is seriously compelling stuff. Look forward to reading more about it.

  3. Fred permalink
    December 5, 2009 12:29 pm

    Add Rex Murphy as well . . . . the “grade nine science fair” line was priceless.

  4. December 5, 2009 12:41 pm

    More comment from Hulme – he’s creating serious blue water between himself and the Team

    “For too long we have conducted our arguments over different political visions of the future, forms of governance and ethical priorities using the science of climate change as a proxy. We need to free science to be what it is at best: an open, critical and non-partisan form of systematic inquiry into the physical world, open to the concerns, perspectives and insights of science’s most important stakeholder – the public. The quality of both political debate and scientific practice will benefit as a consequence, and the events of the last two weeks need not happen again.”

  5. Shanghai Dan permalink
    December 5, 2009 12:53 pm

    Heck, Gavin is taking on Gavin! In one of the recent posts at RealClimate, Gavin extols the fact that the science isn’t settled, that it will always be in flux. Yet when challenged to go ahead and write a formal statement as such (that the science isn’t settled, and any actions based upon the science to date should be done with the unsettled nature of the science firmly in mind) he flat-out refused.

    Apparently it’s settled when he wants to be seen as the fine, upstanding independent scientist, but it’s concrete and locked when it comes to actions taken based on the results of that same unsettled science.

  6. Karl Fleming permalink
    December 5, 2009 1:04 pm

    Dear Steve:

    I am a nuclear safety scientist and have been reading alot of stuff on global warming ever since I read Chichton’s State of Fear. I graduated from Penn State in ’69 in Physics and am concerned about the reputation of my alma mater. I would like to know if Mann et al have provided a technical rebuttal to your analysis of the techical issues with his hockey stick work. I have read a lot of your stuff and it makes sense to me but I have not seen a credible rebuttal. From what I read about Climategate I am getting the impression that a scientific and reasoned rebuttal may be hard to find. Can you guide me to any?


    Karl Fleming

  7. December 5, 2009 1:12 pm

    But Stewart still apparently thinks AGW is real. His only satire is over some mis-conduct. He still calls those who disagree “deniers”, instead of agreeing that maybe we didn’t know as much as Al Gore says we know.

    Steve: please do not go a bridge too far.

  8. Hoi Polloi permalink
    December 5, 2009 1:41 pm

    You KNOW you’re toast when you’re on the Daily Show.

    As been mentioned before, Jon Stewart for President 😉

  9. December 5, 2009 2:38 pm

    Steve: please do not go a bridge too far.

    Why not? I have the supply lines. 😉

    Seriously though, it was obvious from Stewart’s caveat (“Does this debunk global warming? Or course not.”) GW hasn’t even been “bunked”.

  10. December 5, 2009 3:03 pm

    Christopher Booker wades in again

    “Coming to light in recent days has been one of the most extraordinary scientific detective stories of our time, bizarrely centred on a single tree in Siberia dubbed “the most influential tree in the world”. On this astonishing tale, it is no exaggeration to say, could hang in considerable part the future shape of our civilisation…”

  11. December 5, 2009 3:05 pm

    It doesn’t help when the UK PM weighs in with phrases such as: “There is an anti-science group, there is a flat Earth group, if I may say so, over the scientific evidence for climate change .” – although delegating the “independent review” to a civil servant will probably ensure the desired outcome (like those Iraq inquiries) after a few years.

  12. December 5, 2009 3:12 pm

    Even the BBC is reporting it over here [1]. And Gordon Brown has invented a new word for people who are skeptical about antropomorphic global warming: The new word is “flat Earth group” [2].

  13. Jim Arndt permalink
    December 5, 2009 3:43 pm

    This is how the peer reviewers really think.

  14. cbmclean permalink
    December 5, 2009 3:46 pm

    I know that this is a climate website, and not a weather website, but what is climate, after all, but weather over a period of time? One area of particular interest I have is Arctic Canada. After a normal October, a good portion of the area has had a very mild November, and early December. I am very worried about the arctic winter. I have paid less attention to Siberia, but I have seen that Moscow is well on its way to a second straight mild December. Anyone else worried?

  15. cbmclean permalink
    December 5, 2009 3:47 pm

    Let me clarify that I know that Moscow is not in Siberia. That was poorly written by me.

  16. Sean Inglis permalink
    December 5, 2009 4:06 pm

    @EP I heard this comment on on the radio in the car with Mrs Sean. Rarely have I sworn so much in such a short space of time. I’ve got high blood pressure thinking about it now.

  17. December 5, 2009 4:56 pm

    Dr. Tim Ball was interviewed as well!

  18. Laws of Nature permalink
    December 5, 2009 5:27 pm

    Dear Karl Fleming,

    I was wondering the same for quite a while and realized, that this is quite a question 🙂
    On the proxi level, you can always argue which one is good enough for your analysis or not.
    But there was this article, where Ross and Steve used Pseudo-Proxi in order to show that Mann’s Method mines data (Fig. 2 in )
    The only reply I found to that was something like this
    Now as how to interpret this articles, I can only offer my opinion.
    Both tests have a lot in common, they test the same (!?) method with pseudo-proxis (pp) and find hockeysticks. The difference is, that Mann’s PP contained hockeystick data + red noise, whereas Ross and Steve used data which contained only red noise.
    Mann concludes from his tests, that the Algorithm works very good and the presence of noise does not change much for his data and therefore everything is fine.
    I however don’t see how his tests would transfer to the data without any hockeystick in the data, where Ross and Steve could quite clearly show the data mining… but pehaps I missed something . . like you I would be very much interested in more information about this.
    All the best regards,

  19. December 5, 2009 5:57 pm

    Seems like I don’t know how to embed the interview with Tim Ball in my comment. So I’ll post the link instead:

  20. December 5, 2009 7:11 pm

    I made a mistake in my first comment here. “anthropomorphic global warming” is incorrect. I should have said “anthropogenic greenhouse effect”.
    @DavePR: Great comment. When a rhetorically skilled person labels you as “climate change denier” you have to be extra careful to distinguish between global warming and the anthropogenic greenhouse effect.

  21. boballab permalink
    December 5, 2009 7:16 pm

    A little OT but Steve your old editor from EE has weighted in with a comment to Finnancial times:

    If you go and read it we know who she means by papers not liked by the CRU.

  22. mitchel44 permalink
    December 5, 2009 7:23 pm

    Rex says “When Jon Stewart, the bantum rooster of conventional wisdom, makes jokes about it you know Climategate has reached critical mass.”, I want to start giggling.

    Nobody can hit the right ironic note like a Newf, well done Rex!

  23. Sean Inglis permalink
    December 5, 2009 7:27 pm


    That video link us a great summary, well expressed. And mention of efforts to remove the MWP, although relatively old news, take on a greater resonance in light of recent events.

  24. chip permalink
    December 5, 2009 7:41 pm

    Can someone clarify something. Stewart talks about the data ‘from the 1980s’ being lost, whereas Murphy says the data on which ‘all’ the models are based has been lost.

    Which is it? All the raw data or just that from the 80s?

  25. December 5, 2009 8:12 pm

    Latest neologism for the current crisis: “CRUtape letters.”

    Though I don’t know why they don’t go all the way and add the ‘S’: sCRUtape.

  26. December 5, 2009 8:16 pm

    cbmclean: I know that this is a climate website, and not a weather website

    Actually, it’s neither. Most of the activity here concerns the analyses of data sets and statistical methodology that are used by proponents of anthropogenic global warming.

    In other words, it concerns the “care and feeding of climatological data,” and the discoveries have mostly shown that the data has been starved, neglected, and mercilessly beaten to within an inch of its life.

  27. Barclay E. MacDonald permalink
    December 5, 2009 10:41 pm

    Yes, DaveJR, it is hard for anyone to argue that it has not warmed since the Little Ice Age(LIA) or the 1600s and 1700s. The more important issue is, as you point out, what part of warming is contributed by us homosapiens, anthropogenic global warming (AGW).

    However, others should be clear that the key issue that arises from climategate is not whether there is or isn’t warming, but what is the quality of the science and the data and how does such quality or lack thereof affect our level of certainty regarding AGW.

  28. Doug in Seattle permalink
    December 5, 2009 11:12 pm


    The tundra has survived several warm periods since the last ice retreat some 10,000 years ago (polar bears too). The only difference this time is that humans have developed an advanced civilization that many “believe” is causing the warming. A “belief” is not evidence. Correlation is not evidence of causation.

    I can’t say with certainty whether our civilization is contributing to climate in a meaningful way. Neither can you and the fact is that neither can any of the great minds of climate science either.

    A plausible theory entered into a computer model is not evidence. Until evidence is presented that shows that this theory is better at explaining what we observe, then it is more reasonable to to attribute the recent warming to the same causes that resulted in previous warm periods.

  29. Stacey permalink
    December 6, 2009 7:30 am


    “Second, I would like to encourage a thought experiment. What climate research (at Met Offices) and what research and development (especially in the energy sector) would governments have funded if science had “predicted” global cooling, as had indeed been the fashion among climatologists in the 1970s?”

    I think the above closing sentance admirably deals with the position when scientists and policy become entwined.

  30. M Morris permalink
    December 6, 2009 9:40 am

    Hi all,

    I was reading Booker’s piece in the Telegraph, and the referrred back here for some of the archives on Briffa-yamal.

    Has Steve Mcintyre written a paper for peer review re: criticising Briffa’s selection process for Yamal series?

  31. Fred permalink
    December 6, 2009 10:31 am

    This is a little off topic

    snip – yep

  32. December 6, 2009 10:32 am

    Hi – the press coverage tab has gone so not sure where to post this – snip/move as appropriate

    “UN officials likened the Climategate controversy to Watergate today, claiming that computer hackers who stole thousands of e-mails sent by a senior climate scientist were probably paid to do it by people intent on undermining the Copenhagen summit.

    Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, vice-chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said the theft from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit was not the work of amateur climate sceptics but a sophisticated and well-funded attempt to destroy public confidence in the science of manmade climate change…”

    It’d be funny if it wasn’t so serious.

  33. Kriek permalink
    December 6, 2009 11:05 am

    @Stacey: From an old CIA document from 1974 about global cooling, it’s interesting to note that government also took it seriously and that concerns about the impact of global cooling was a reason to create and fund organisations like the NOAA Climate Prediction Center.

  34. Henry A permalink
    December 6, 2009 11:13 am

    Steve I believe its imperative you strike while the iron is hot and find a way to make a documentary on the different issues covered by your blog. The left is furiously trying to paint the hacked e-mails as a smear campaign, but if you could step by step show your work, graphs, emails and the AGW’s responses (or rather non-responses) it would put the issue into perspective. I know this information in located on your blog, but it’s very ponderous to the vast majority of people with no interest in science or time to wade thru all the posts and comments. The film would make a great story with a good narrator and documentarian. If this is not put into perspective the average citizens won’t understand the level of deceit, I’m afraid the mainstream press (AGW cheerleaders) is going to whitewash it away and we will be soon back to “Hockey Stick” science as usual.

  35. Mike Lorrey permalink
    December 6, 2009 12:41 pm

    BTW our friend William Connolley is at it again, now revising the Climategate article on Wikipedia to remove embarassing information, such as this reference to the Mann investigation:

    which he has requested removed in the discussion page here:

    “[2] should not have been added to a protected page. Please take it out William M. Connolley (talk) 14:01, 30 November 2009 (UTC)”

    Even in the depths of Climategate, he can’t keep himself from continuing to perpetrate the very behavior that the crutape letters authors are guilty of…

  36. bender permalink
    December 6, 2009 1:05 pm

    Dear Gavin,
    Jon Stewart gets it. Why don’t you?

  37. bender permalink
    December 6, 2009 1:17 pm

    Dear Gavin,
    Rex Murphy gets it. Why don’t you?

  38. December 6, 2009 2:54 pm


  39. jaber aberburg permalink
    December 7, 2009 4:06 am

    >Can someone clarify something. Stewart talks about the data ‘from the >1980s’ being lost, whereas Murphy says the data on which ‘all’ the models >are based has been lost.

    >Which is it? All the raw data or just that from the 80s?

    Chip, only the CRU data from the 80ies. The CRU data are just one part of an overwhelming amount of scientific data proving man made global warming. Even if you assume that the CRU findings aren’t true (for which , by the way, there is no evidence), all the other centers who have similar findings still prove global warming. Murphy says “all the data” has been lost. Well, he is lying – or just ignorant. Now, this should make you think carefully about this issue, when you’ve caught Murphy lying like that.. what does that tell you about his credibility?

  40. Amabo permalink
    December 7, 2009 8:55 am

    I don’t find the amount overwhelming at all. Probably because I never see it mentioned outside of the habitual “overwhelming amount of some unspecified scientific data”. Btw, what does scientific mean in this sentence? Is some data scientific and some not?

  41. MikeN permalink
    December 7, 2009 12:27 pm

    Karl Fleming, RealClimate has some posts prominently displayed. Tamino did an explanation of PCA on his site, though the response by Ial Jolliffe explaining his error ended up in another thread.

  42. bender permalink
    December 8, 2009 11:19 am

    Dear Gavin,
    Do you agree with Oppenheimer’s remark in the CNN interview that “there was no deception”? Most everyone else seems to think there WAS some deception, using “tricks” to “hide the decline”. Most everyone else seems to think the email evidence is incriminating in this regard. I would welcome a discussion with you on the topic. TIA.

  43. bender permalink
    December 8, 2009 11:24 am

    Dear Gavin,
    Several years ago I invited you to dump Michael Mann in order to save the RealClimate brand. Now that that brand is ruined I implore you to jump ship and start your own blog focusing on the models. Although the RealClimate brand is in tatters it’s not too late for you and Pierrehumbert to start anew. Keep the modeling credible. Divorce yourselves now from paleoclimatology. Do it for the planet.

  44. patrick healy permalink
    December 8, 2009 11:44 am

    great post from Henry A.
    was thinking along same lines myself.
    it is important that some comprehensive record (taped or written) is kept.
    the winning side do have a record of writing the history books – lets make sure we are on the winning (squash?) team.
    as an irishman i am only too well aware of how history can be moulded.

  45. MrPete permalink*
    December 8, 2009 6:45 pm

    Please visit 🙂

  46. Dave Dardinger permalink
    December 8, 2009 6:52 pm

    The new site hasn’t propagated here yet. I’d noticed the old one was down a bit ago, but no I get “can’t find Server” sorts of messages. We’re off to supper so I’ll see if it’s on by then.

  47. MrPete permalink*
    December 8, 2009 7:09 pm

    If the new doesn’t work, try

  48. Vimy100 permalink
    December 9, 2009 4:01 am


    I would seek further confirmation. I think jaber aberburg is jabbering. My reading of Jones’ comments was that they have kept the intermediate data but a decision was made in the 80’s to throw out all the hard-copy raw data.

    I spent 31 years working with the Meteorological Service of Canada and I have many concerns about the raw data and station documentation. Many sites have been re-located 4 or 5 times over that past 100 to 150 years and a solid record of those locations has not always been preserved. Such knowledge is critical. Furthermore, with the switch to automated observing, a great deal of uncertainty has been introduced into the climatological record and the quality of the data has been diminished as well. One seldom sees this addressed in these discussions.

    Also, I am firmly convinced that the urban heat island effect is not given sufficient weight. Last winter, Edmonton Intl Airport (in a rural locale south of the city) set a record low on a certain day at -4o or -41 C, if I recall correctly. The Edmonton Industrial (Municipal) Airport, located in the heart of the city, reported -29 C. That is 11 or 12 C difference between the two stations under a massive high pressure system. This is a clear example of what urbanization is doing to the climatological record.

    We are always given assurances that this is accounted for in the research but I would really like to see the details of how and why any given adjustment is made. I would also like an assurance from all the national meteorological services that they still retain the actual raw data of meteorological observations in addition to “quality-controlled” and adjusted data.

  49. J. Aberburg permalink
    August 3, 2010 7:51 pm

    >We are always given assurances that this is accounted for in the research >but I would really like to see the details of how and why any given >adjustment is made.

    No, you wouødn’t “like to see” the details, because that would ruin your ideologically motivated worldview. The truth is, these details are publically available and free for everyone to see. Why haven’t you taken a look at them? Because you’re nor really interested in the truth….

    Also: Don’t you see the irony in how you compain about heat island effects and all other sorts of artifacts it’s necessary to adjust for, and then you procced to complain about the fact that climate researchers use “quality-controlled and adjusted data”. Which is it? Make up your mind, moron!

  50. J. Aberburg permalink
    August 3, 2010 7:53 pm

    >Amabo permalink
    >December 7, 2009 8:55 am
    >I don’t find the amount overwhelming at all. Probably because I never see >it mentioned outside of the habitual “overwhelming amount of some >unspecified scientific data”.

    It’s in the scientific literature. No wonder you’ve never seen it, since you have probably never even read a single scientific paper. I bet you get all your information from the internet.. am I right? HA HA HA

  51. J. Aberburg permalink
    August 3, 2010 7:56 pm

    To Mike Lorrey and bender

    The jury is in on the “climategate” case: There was NO deception, no scientific fraud, nothing. The investigation has cleared climate science completely. The whole thing was, as I and many others knew all along, a load of crap from dishonest and/or stupid denialists.

  52. September 9, 2011 11:31 pm

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