Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pachauri Confuses Levels With Rates of Change

"I don’t think there is a slowdown (in the rate of temperature increase). I would like to draw your attention to the World Meteorological Organization which clearly stated on the basis of observations that the first decade of this century has been the warmest in recorded history."

(Quote from Rajendra Pachauri, Chairman of the IPCC, in a BBC story)

Judging by this quote, the chairman of the IPCC is either innumerate or being deliberately dishonest. The fact that the first decade was the warmest in recorded history, if true, is not evidence that the rate of temperature increase has not slowed down, only that it is above zero.


At 1:11 PM, September 24, 2013, Anonymous Laird said...

My money's on deliberately dishonest, which accurately describes many of the global warming shills. His snout is deep in the trough and he doesn't want anyone pulling it out.

At 1:37 PM, September 24, 2013, Anonymous Daublin said...

Dishonest. He knows what those words mean, and he knows the truth, and he knows what people who aren't paying close attention will think when he says those words.

More precisely, he is advocating for a cause and using any justification he can. He's not summarizing the available information so that others can make what they can of it.

Steve McIntyre just posted a similar misleading statement from the first draft of IPCC AR5:


The first draft claimed that current temperatures are in line with the models described in AR4. The second draft takes that back, because there's simply no way to rectify the AR4 models with actual developments. Again, the editors are clearly fishing for a rationale for their prefered position. They are not following the data to wherever it goes.

All in all, many people hope that by allying with the IPCC and with Al Gore, they are supporting science against its attackers. This has been a partial success, in that many more people are in favor of something they call "science". However, science is also substantially tainted by association with this kind of muck.

I would prefer the term "science" be reserved for people who follow some form of scientific process. Scientists don't suppress contrary evidence from publication. Scientists would never call for a taboo against anyone poking at their sacred cows.

At 1:59 PM, September 24, 2013, Blogger Tibor said...

Last year I noticed the same error and/or dishonesty in Paul Krugman. He argued that the politics of France and the UK of cutting down government expenditure was a failure...the only problem was they were only decreasing the rate of increase of government spending. I don't think Krugman as a Nobel laureate doesn't understand the first derivative (and really, you don't even need to understand that concept to see the problems), so in his case I would definitely go with dishonesty. And probably in the IPCC one as well.

At 2:28 PM, September 24, 2013, Anonymous J Storrs Hall said...

Actually, the rate of increase could well have dropped below zero at some point during the decade and the decade still be the hottest. Indeed the peak would be the point where the rate was exactly zero.

At 4:14 PM, September 24, 2013, Blogger Power Child said...

Pachauri's rather impressive background in engineering and economics suggests that he is numerate. However, going by his Wikipedia page at least, it looks like in the course of his career he's done a lot more sitting on boards than being a practitioner, so he may have become accustomed to fudging numbers (or in this case, number concepts) to make a point rather than using them make realistic calculations.

At 1:27 AM, September 25, 2013, Anonymous Michael said...

Read the report, e.g. page 3, at http://library.wmo.int/pmb_ged/wmo_1119_en.pdf, and you will see that while the brief quote doesn't fully capture it, Pachauri is absolutely correct.

At 1:49 AM, September 25, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

May be Doc Pach is far too busy writing his next porn novel to notice temps.


At 11:34 PM, September 25, 2013, Blogger David Friedman said...


Whether or not Pachauri's claim that warming has not slowed is true, his purported evidence is not evidence for that claim, for the reason I pointed out. Hence he is either innumerate--if he doesn't realize that--or dishonest if he does. If warming had slowed down but not stopped, the decade would still be the warmest.

To decide whether the claim is true, you have to look at more than the IPCC's selection of time periods to compare--it's pretty easy by selecting one's end points to make trends look faster or slower than they really are. There are, as it happens, time period you can select in the past fifteen years for which warming is negative, as you can check for yourself pretty easily if you look at the graphs, published in various places.

At 2:45 AM, September 26, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what if he simply made a mistake, mis-spoke.

At 10:35 AM, September 26, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are not only playing "gotcha" with someone speaking to the press, you didn't even finish his quote.

"And I think the rest will be brought out by the report itself when it’s released."

At 12:29 PM, September 26, 2013, Anonymous Simon said...

Oh, I see, he was speaking to the press. Of course then it is O.K. to be dishonest.

At 12:54 PM, September 26, 2013, Blogger Power Child said...

In the final analysis, I don't think it matters much whether Pachauri was lying or simply misspoke, or even whether he was correct but being obfuscatory: This is really more just part of David Friedman's larger ongoing project of pointing out that clear information about global warming is hard to come by even from the so-called experts, while steadfast opinions about climate change's causes and implications are everywhere.

A further point, though one I'm not sure whether David intends to make it, is that one's stance on global warming really has very little to do with one's beliefs about our climatological future. Instead, one's stance on global warming is a sort of dog-whistle that Westerners (especially educated whites) use to signal what side they're on in some great emergent political divide.

At 1:14 PM, September 26, 2013, Blogger Tibor said...


How exactly does that last sentence change the meaning? I don't see that it does. If it does not, then it is not necessary in the quote (otherwise the only complete quote would be the entire speech).

At 4:55 PM, September 26, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...


"I would like to draw your attention..."

He is pointing out a study that concludes it is hotter.

"And I think the rest..."

Could mean evidence on rate of change.

At 1:23 AM, September 27, 2013, Blogger Tibor said...


Well, if that were the case, Pachauri should clearly find someone to do his talks for him. His statement was "rate of change did not slow down". Then immediatelly he mentions the meteorological organization which I think pretty much everyone will understand as his argument for the previous statement. And then he only says that there will be more info in an upcoming report.

He could have of course said the statement, then skipped to something completely different and then got back to his original argumentation...that is horrible speaking, because then you cannot follow the speaker at all. And I don't really think that is the case.

So either he actually was dishonest, or is unable to speak clearly at all.

At 7:32 AM, September 27, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems that global heat content of the ocean is rising, even if atmospheric temperature isn't: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2013/09/what-ocean-heating-reveals-about-global-warming/

At 9:16 AM, September 27, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the two field of study share a very similar set of challenges and methodological approach. I am neither a climate scientist nor a macro-economist though, so maybe I am wrong here. Would anyone disagree with my assumption?

If not... the popular notion that predictive economic models are a bunch of hooey while climate science is the word of god makes for an interesting example of the interaction between science, politics, journalism, and mainstream thought.

At 2:08 PM, September 28, 2013, Blogger George Weinberg said...

But it's worse than that. Not only does does his "evidence" not support his claim, his claim is clearly untrue. Global average temperatures have been essentially flat for the past 15 years. Now,it may well be the case that the pause is only temporary, but the fact that surface temperatures were raising quickly in the last few decades of the twentieth century and haven't risen since then isn't really in dispute.

At 10:35 AM, September 29, 2013, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a (non-serious) theory that Irving Fisher caused the Crash of 1929 by saying "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." Everyone who heard him said "So, they're not going to go up any more?" and sold.

At 7:13 AM, September 30, 2013, Blogger jrkrideau said...

@George Weinberg

Too short a time period for real significance especially as we have had some significant La Nina runs recently.

Run a simple linear regression through the longer term data and see what it looks like. The is a good short article on the subject in the Sept 2013 issue of Skeptical Inquier but not yet available on the website, currently just in hardcopy.


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