Friday, April 21, 2017

The Squeegee Kid Returns or Steve Koonin on Team B

Eli had a rockem sockem post cued up on the replication crisis (nononono, Eli and Ms. Rabett are much too old for that stuff) but the Squeegee Kid, Steve Koonin reappeared in the Wall Street Journal editorial swamp and duty calls.  When last see, Koonin was huffing off in anger because APS (American Physical Society) leadership had frustrated his designs on their public statement on Climate Change.

Those looking for a primer about Koonin's understanding of climate science could read the short version from Ben Santer who had the pleasure of dealing with him in the red team/blue team exercise that Koonin put together for the APS panel

Another source of real frustration is that Dr. Koonin had a real opportunity to listen. To consult experts in many different aspects of climate science. To do a deep dive into the science. To seek understanding of complex scientific issues. He did not make use of this opportunity. His op-Ed is not a deep dive - it is a superficial toe-dip into a shallow puddle, rehashing the same tired memes (the "warming hiatus" points toward fundamental model errors, climate scientists suppress uncertainties, there's a lack of transparency in the IPCC process, climate always varies naturally, etc.)
or somewhat less pithy though pointed ones from Andy Lacis and Ray Pierrehumbert.

Suffice it to say there is little new in Koonin's latest jeremiad which is merely a continuation of the House Science Committee farce w/o Mike Mann.  As the Weasel has pointed out we have had over 30 years of real red team evaluations of climate science
Well to start with it isn’t necessarily totally stupid, unless it is being run by a group of ideologues with a fore-ordained conclusion for which they’re desperately searching for evidence. How likely is that? Secondly, this is language from a different area (the military; business) being imported into science. If it was being done by the pols, you could simply put it down to ignorance. That it is being done by scientists in an effort to sell their ideas to pols I think you put down to something rather different. But the military and business are areas with rigid hierarchies and enforced obedience and suppression of dissent. C+C are trying to tell the pols that science is like that; and it isn’t. Science already provides all the internal red teams that it needs.

Could the idea actually be of any use? In the present context, I think that’s doubtful. Suppose they did it anyway, what happens? Probably, C+C and their ilk get thrown some taxpayers money to attack their should-be-colleagues, which would be galling but minor in the great scheme of things. They would fail to do anything of scientific use, and that failure might ultimately be revealing, and therefore good. But in the meantime they get a platform to spout nonsense. Ah well, these are difficult times, you cannot expect to choose amongst different good outcomes.
Among the many red team exercises in the US there have been multiple NAS reports on climate change and particular issues involved with climate change.  A major outcome of one was to put the wood to Spencer and Christie's UAH satellite record which was claiming global cooling because of errors.  Then, of course, the Jason (Koonin is one of them) model from the early 1980s as well.  IPCC reports are also massive red team exercises with open commenting.

But as the Weasel points out what the worthies want is not a red team exercise, but Team B.  Team B was a politically motivated operation run by Richard Pipes and populated by ideologues whose reason for existing was to exaggerate the threat from the Soviet Union.  There was a long campaign to impugn the CIA analysis, resulting in the formation of Team B under Pipes leadership.  Their report was a major impetus to the dangerous arms race of the 1980s including the fictional Star Wars programs pushed by the late, and not lamented George Marshall Institute.  As one critic of Team B, Anne Hessing Cahn, wrote of their report "I would say that all of it was fantasy. ... if you go through most of Team B's specific allegations about weapons systems, and you just examine them one by one, they were all wrong."

Joshua Rovner, in his book, Facixing the Facts, National Security and the Politics of Intelligence"points out where the Pipes Team B exercise went
The fundamental criticism of Team B was that the intelligence [read climate science-ER] community relied almost exclusively on "hard data" about capabilities. . . 
an eerie prequel to where Koonin, Curry and Christie want to go. Following Rovner, Eli can also tell you what Team B's report will be based on
Team B also defeated the purpose of the exercise by relying on open source publication rather than classified intelligence.  Although the panelists were cleared to evaluate the same data that went into the NIE [National Intelligence Assessment -ER] the Team B report contained very few references to intelligence.
Perhaps they will also cite Rabett Run, but more likely all the nonsense in WUWT and Curry's blog.  If anybunny wants to save money, of course, we also have any number of publications from the Heartland Institute that can be had for a penny or two. 

Okay, now that the bunnies have done their assigned reading Eli can flip the blog and let them loose in the comments


Fernando Leanme said...

Im hoping president Trump will name a decent head of NOAA, and build up a nice unbiased team, with a decent budget, to research unsettled issues, such as climate sensitivity, whether we are seeing more hurricanes hit land, and which emissions pathway causes less sea level rise in 50 years.

Toby said...


That is what President Obama did. But it suits a certain style of mythologising to say otherwise.


magmacc said...

FL's moved to full-on trolling these days, Toby.

Russell Seitz said...

Jason's decages of labor deserve some credit for the outstanding outcome of the Cold War, but Steve & the WSj are losing the Climate Wars on their own.

Meanwhile in Washington, some tens of thousands may be stemming their retreat by misadventure- today is Day One of The Peoples Climate Mobilization.

I think I'll wait till it's over and go the the Maryland Hunt Cup next Saturday, in hope Delingpole will show and ride into another brick wall at the gallop.

EliRabett said...

Koonin, Happer, Dyson, Nierenberg, Lewis, Katz. Eli senses a pattern there

E. Swanson said...

Here's a link to Koonin's latest in the WSJ, "A ‘Red Team’ Exercise Would Strengthen Climate Science". As usual, it's behind a paywall, so I can't read it, but there's a video...

Steve Bloom said...

Let's see:


That pattern?

Russell Seitz said...

A lot of dimensional analysis is called for before attempting to push a sick bear over a cliff.

You may even have to argue with its science advisors.

magmacc said...

"Koonin, Happer, Dyson, Nierenberg, Lewis, Katz. Eli senses a pattern there"

Don't forget Ivar 'what I found there will shock you' Giaever.

Nigel Franks said...

I'm always amused when people fixate on the number of hurricanes etc that hit land, especially if they also focus on the damage caused. Surely hitting land and the amount of damage caused are random variables. IMO a fairer metric would be the number and strength. YMMV

Steve Bloom said...

Hey Eli, may I suggest having a little fun with (This is the 2nd edition; possibly you did last year's version?)

Content aside, I notice Joe D'Aleo is now a PhD. Well, no, although the report neglects that detail. It turns out he got an honorary PhD from Lyndon State College in Vermont, where he taught for some years. As might be expected from an institution of its size (~1,200 students) and type it's not PhD-granting, and FTM is pretty limited master's-wise as well. That type of misrepresentation is, AIUI, quite offensive to academic eyes. So would LSC management, or perhaps UV management (the one that actually has PhD programs), be interested to hear this? Has he been doing this in other contexts? Noses twitch with curiosity. Note that the project home page does mention that the degree is honorary, but that's a little too easy to miss.

Christy's bona fides are presumably bona fide, but I was moved to wonder about the third author, John P. Wallace III. His listing says:

Jim Wallace & Associates, LLC
50 Years Mathematical Modelling Team Management
Ph.D., Economics, Minor in Engineering, Brown University
M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Brown University
B.S., Aeronautical Engineering, Brown University

Brown lacks an open listing of graduates, although apparently any alumnus can register and look. That 50 years plus education time would make him rather elderly, and indeed the listed address for Jim Wallace & Associates looks like a retirement condo in Sarasota (and not a pricey one to all appearances).

Anyway, an engineering minor as part of an econ PhD? I never heard of such a thing, but maybe that's my inexperience showing. It does make me wonder if the degree itself is legit. Of course even if it is it's not a subject with any relevance to their publication.

Russell Seitz said...

Just read Eli's January 2015 account of the APS brouha- my take away is that the most important feature of the self-congratulatory Forum and Panel On Public Affairs is their size, which has grown from under a dozen in 1987 to inder two dozen in only 40 years., recalling an age old question :

Russell Seitz said...

Why do feelings run so high at faculty meetings ?

Because the satakes are so low.

Mal Adapted said...

Russell Seitz: "Because the satakes are so low"?

Huh? Russell my 'steamed frenemy, you've surpassed your previous obscurely-allusive best.

E. Swanson said...

Steve Bloom - That paper by Wallace, Christy and D'Aleo has some glairing faults. They are trying to prove there's no "Tropical Hot Spot", but they get their facts wrong. For example, they claim that balloon data at 150 hPa is in the stratosphere (p 24), whereas it's well known that the tropical tropopause occurs at a higher elevation around 100 hPa. Of course, since Christy's on board, they point to the unadjusted MT (P 27) as proof there's no warming in the middle troposphere, whereas it's well known that the MT is contaminated by stratospheric cooling and thus understates the real warming. that's just a repeat of Christy's testimony last month before Rep. Smith's House Science committee.

They neglect to say how they removed their so-called "Natural Factor" from the various records. There's a comment (Figure caption, p 21) saying Christy provides the calculation for balloon data, as shown in Appendix H, which doesn't appear to be attached to the paper. Looks like more Climate Ball to me...

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