Climate science discussion between Burt Rutan and Brian Angliss

Posted on January 31, 2012

On January 27, I wrote an “open letter” to Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer and former CEO of Scaled Composites, expressing my disappointment that he would co-sign a commentary in the Wall Street Journal that contains incorrect and misleading information on climate science and economics. On January 28th, Rutan responded in the comments. He also CCed his response to Anthony Watts, who published Rutan’s response on What transpired is a huge number of comments that essentially drowned Rutan’s and my exchanges.

This post extracts from the original comment thread just Rutan’s and my responses, ignoring all the other comments, good, bad, or ugly.

Comments on this post are closed, and any further exchanges between Rutan and I from the original post will be posted here for clarity. If you have something to say about what we’re talking about, please comment in the original post’s comment thread instead – everything here is also there.

[Updates #1-10 (Feb 2, 2012 through Feb 17, 2012): Added a number of comments and responses by both Burt and Brian. Added the navigation list below.
Update #11: Added another response by Brian.]

* * *

Brian Angliss’ original open letter to Burt Rutan

Letter originally posted on January 27, 2012

Dear Mr. Rutan,

Ever since you won the Ansari X-Prize in 2004 you’ve been a minor hero of mine. I’ve felt that the development of private human spaceflight was the critical next step toward moving humanity off our small blue marble since I was in high school, and SpaceShipOne was the first major step in that direction. The commercialization of space travel is a large part of why I work in aerospace myself designing satellite and space vehicle electronics.

This is why I was disappointed to find that you had co-signed a Wall Street Journal commentary regarding human-caused climate disruption along with 15 other scientists and engineers. The commentary was replete with incorrect and misleading information. So much so, in fact, that I was surprised that you, as an engineer, would attach your name to it.

You may not be aware of this, but greenhouse crops are very productive because farmers take great care to ensure that the crops have optimal nutrition. The farmers ensure that the crops in the greenhouses have enough water, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients in addition to higher carbon dioxide. Without increasing all of these nutrients merely increasing carbon dioxide in the greenhouse’s air will not produce fast growing, nutritious crops. This is why the greenhouse claim made in the Journal commentary was incomplete and misleading – higher atmospheric carbon dioxide only leads to greater productivity when all other nutrients are also more available. It’s not a foregone conclusion that, outside of greenhouses, the other nutrients plants need to flourish will be more available. In fact, a great deal of research over the last few years suggests the opposite, that usable precipitation and fixed nitrogen will actually become rarer, counteracting most if not all of the improvements in crop yields and overall carbon sequestration by plants worldwide.

This is one example of incomplete and misleading information from the commentary you signed. There are at least five more. I can detail them for you if you are interested.

Mr. Rutan, as a successful engineer you have certainly developed an innate understanding that the quality of your opinions can only be as good as the information you have. In the case of human-caused climate disruption, I’m afraid that the information upon which you’re basing opinions appears to be rather poor quality. Climate realists like myself accept that the case for human-driven climate disruption is supported by multiple independent lines of evidence and that no alternative hypothesis yet presented has withstood scientific scrutiny or explained the observed climate changes. In this case, the strongest and best available data supports the proposition that humans are driving global climate disruption, that the disruptions to the Earth’s climate will continue to worsen this century, and the sooner we address the root causes of climate disruption, the better.

Mr. Rutan, if you our your people are reading this, I’d love to sit down with you sometime, engineer to engineer, and discuss why I think your opinions are based upon incorrect and incomplete data.

Very truly yours,

Brian Angliss

* * *

Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #4

Comment originally posted on January 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm

In my background of 46 years in aerospace flight testing and design I have seen many examples of data presentation fraud. That is what prompted my interest in seeing how the scientists have processed the climate data, presented it and promoted their theories to policy makers and the media.

What I found shocked me and prompted me to do further research. I researched data presentation fraud in climate science from 1999 to 2010.

I do not have time here to define the details; if interested in my research, a PPT or PDF can be downloaded at:

In general, if you as an engineer with normal ethics, study the subject you will conclude that the theory that man’s addition of CO2 to the atmosphere (a trace amount to an already trace gas content) cannot cause the observed warming unless you assume a large positive feedback from water vapor. You will also find that the real feedback is negative, not positive!

Specifically, the theory of CAGW is not supported by any of the climate data and none of the predictions of IPCC since their first report in 1991 have been supported by measured data. The scare is merely a computer modeled theory that has been flawed from the beginning, and in spite of its failure to predict, many of the climate scientists cling to it. They applauded the correlation of surface temperatures with CO2 content from 1960 to 1998 as proof, but fail to admit that the planet has cooled after 1998 in spite of the CO2 content increasing.

The failure of the IPCC machine is especially evident in the use of “models” to justify claims, so it might be worthwhile to just look at modeling and science.
Modeling is more correctly a branch of Engineering and there are some basic rules that have been flouted by CAGW _ CO2 modelers.
Firstly there has to be a problem analysis which identifies relevant factors and the physical, chemical and thermodynamic behaviors of those factors within the system.
Any claim that this has been done in the CO2 warming problem is PREPOSTEROUS.
There are perhaps a thousand PhD topics there waiting to be taken up by researchers.
We could start with work on understanding heat transfer between the main interfaces; eg Core to surface / surface to ocean depths/ ocean depths to ocean surface / ocean surface to atmosphere and so on, not having yet reached the depth of space at just slightly above absolute zero.

To claim that the entire system of atmospheric temperature moderation has been described by
the fluctuations of atmospheric CO2 content while excluding the other obvious factors such as atmospheric water vapour content, solar flux and orbital mechanics is just nonsense.

The whole point of modelling when done correctly is that it links accurately measured input of the main factors and accurately measure target output. Where you have major input factors that are not considered and poor and uncertain measurement of all factors then all you have is a joke or more seriously Public Fraud based on science.
You do not have science.

CO2 is not a pollutant. When the Dinosaurs roamed, the CO2 content was 6 to 9 times current and the planet was green from pole to pole; almost no deserts. If we doubled the atmospheric content of CO2, young pine trees would grow at twice the rate and nearly every crop yield would go up 30 to 40%. We, the animals and all land plant life would be healthier if CO2 content were to increase.

Do the study yourself. Look at how and why the data are manipulated, cherry-picked and promoted. I will bet if you did, you too would be shocked.

The mark of a good theory is its ability to be falsified by new data. The mark of a good scientist is the ability to accept that.


The Difference between an Environmentalist and a Denier.
You can easily tell if someone is a true environmentalist, i.e. an advocate for a healthy planet – he is one who is happy to hear the news that the arctic ice content has stabilized. He is one who celebrates when the recent climate data show the alarmist’s predictions of catastrophic warming might be wrong. The denier, if he is an eco/political activist, always denies new data that show the planet may be healthy after all. The Media usually defines deniers as those who deny the scientist’s computer model predictions. However, denying the measured climate data meets a better definition in the world of science.

* * *

Brian Angliss’ response, from Comment #99

Comment originally posted on January 29, 2012 at 10:47 pm


I’d like to thank you again for responding to my open letter. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to discuss climate disruption, engineer to engineer, with someone who has done so much as you have. I am, however, bemused why you chose to describe my letter as a “diatribe” in your email to Anthony Watts. If you feel that I was bitter, abuse, or satirical in my original post, I apologize. That was certainly not my intention.

I’d also like to thank you for the link to your presentations. I’ve had little time to do more than skim the January 2011 presentation, but I’m afraid that even a brief skim revealed a number of what I consider to be inconsistencies, errors, and misunderstandings. However, detailing them in a way that is likely to convince you to reconsider will take time, so I ask for your patience.

You have, however, made a number of points that I’d like to address directly.

First, you say that you’ve witnessed many examples of “data presentation fraud” over the course of your career. I think we may have different opinions of what that means, so I’d like to explain what I think. To me, the word “fraud” means that someone has presented data in a way that was intentionally misleading. In my experience, scientists and engineers almost never intentionally mislead others with their figures and graphs. What is far more common is that inexperience leads someone to present data in a way that seems reasonable, but ends up being misleading. I did so when I was fresh out of grad school, and the same is true of every junior engineer I’ve mentored and worked with. I suspect that every engineer has had this same, embarrassing experience at least a couple of times in their careers.

Furthermore, every time you or I or anyone presents data in a graphical form, we make subjective decisions about the “best” way to present the data. We base those decisions on our experience, but they are nonetheless subjective. For example, there are times when I can present a voltage trace as either an AC or a DC trace, and I decide which of the two to use based on what I’m focused on – DC for when I’m looking for power supply noise or local AM radio broadcasts coupling into my electronics, AC for when I’m focused on circuit noise, that sort of thing.

The same is true of presenting climate data. I’ve occasionally encountered people who feel that presenting temperature graphs as anomalies instead of actual Celsius temperatures is misleading. I disagree, and given that you used anomalies in your January 2011 presentation, I suspect you disagree as well. Nonetheless, there are some who feel that way. The problem is that this can be taken to an absurd level – if we have to mark temperature in true Celsius degrees instead of temperature anomalies, then what’s to prevent someone from demanding that it be marked in Kelvin instead? I hope that you would agree wtih me that such decision would be highly misleading.

Unfortunately, you yourself appear to have done something similar in your January 2011 presentation on pages 15, 18, et al with respect to carbon dioxide concentrations. Instead of representing CO2 concentration as is standard in climate science, with a Y-axis referenced to pre-industrial concentrations of about 270 ppm, you choose to refer it to 0 ppm. I consider this misleading because there has never been a point in geological history (since the Earth’s had an atmosphere, anyway) when CO2 concentrations were 0 ppm. In fact, were CO2 to ever fall that low, the Earth would freeze solid due to the lack of greenhouse gas forcing and its associated positive feedback. However, I feel that this is an issue on which reasonable people could disagree. My temperature anomaly vs. actual Celsius temperatures, however, is not.

Decisions about what data series goes “on top” in a multi-line graph, whether to start an axis from 0 or from some offset value, whether to normalize or not, whether to use log or linear axes, whether to include error bars or not, et al affect how easily understood the graph will be. All of these decisions are largely subjective, and may in fact vary depending on the audience for a given figure. A technically proficient audience may demand error bars be shown on the graph and reject an image where they are not. When presented to a lay audience, however, including error bars could very well confuse and distract from the main point of the graph. In that situation, it may well be appropriate to discuss the error in accompanying text instead of cluttering up the figure. Does that make a graph without error bars automatically fraudulent? In my opinion, no.

Which brings me to something else I noticed while skimming your Jan. 2011 presentation. On Page 64, you appear to accuse Al Gore of data presentation fraud because he removed the data scatter and gray error range from the IPCC TAR Figure 5 before using it in An Inconvenient Truth. However, none of the 20 images on pages 59 through 63 in your presentation have any error bars associated with them. Nor do they have any discussion in the image captions, the explanatory text, or in the slide notes attached to slide 59 in the original Powerpoint file. It strikes me that you are being inconsistent here by applying a different standard to Al Gore’s arguments and figures than you are willing to apply to your own. After all, if I brought you graphs of the electrical performance of two competing avionics packages and only one showed error bars, you’d rightly send me back to determine the missing error data.

Second, I agree completely that direct human emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases do not directly heat the earth by the amount that climate models project. I agree with you that the feedback mechanisms are critical, but I disagree that the “real” feedback is negative. There is a significant amount of data that shows positive feedback, not just the ERBE data you show in your Jan 2011 presentation on page 37. Paleoclimate data from multiple periods and acquired using multiple different techniques as well as data from recent volcanic eruptions such as Mt. Pinatubo indicate that the feedback is positive. Pinatubo was particularly good for this, because as Soden et al 2002 showed, the GCMs of the day not only accurately modeled the atmospheric drying after the eruption, but also demonstrated that a positive water vapor feedback was required to explain the MSU-measured lower troposphere temperatures.

Third, several of the points you claim that the climate models don’t include have been included. Geologists from the University of Michigan estimated in 1993 that the heat loss through the Earth’s core was approximately 90 mW/m^2, about 5% of the estimated radiative forcing due to greenhouse gases. Water vapor and clouds are both included in state of the art climate models, although clouds are not yet directly modeled well by GCMs due to the complexity (although all GCMs do attempt to model clouds using sub-grid parameters). I’m not sure exactly what you mean by “solar flux,” however, and exactly you’re talking about determines whether your information is accurate or not. For example, solar insolation (to the tune of about 1761 W/m^2) is obviously included, but I’m not sure if the GCMs attempt to model any hypothetical frequency dependence or not. To the best of my knowledge, the effects of the solar wind are not yet modeled, but the impacts are expected to be small. And galactic cosmic rays are not modeled because no evidence yet supports the hypothesis that they can significantly impact cloud formation. If you have information that suggests that any of this is incorrect, I’d love to know about it.

And finally, your claims about carbon dioxide in the past are correct, but incomplete. Yes, CO2 levels have been much higher in the geologic past than they are now, but we can’t assume that means much of anything for the world today. The sun was cooler by several percent back then. There was less oxygen in the atmosphere too. The continents were in a different configuration, and as a result oceanic currents would have been entirely different. Ocean chemistry was different as well. All of those differences would have affected the climate of the past in complicated ways. Unfortunately, while it’s safe to say that we know a decent amount about the CO2 concentration from tens, even hundreds of millions of years ago, what we know about climate that long ago largely comes from models. And if, as you suggest, we know very little about our present climate and how it behaves, then we can’t trust much of what scientists say they know about how geologically ancient climates either.

This same problem applies to people who say that the Earth is warming due largely to the sun because Mars (or Jupiter, or Pluto) is warming. We’ve got multiple satellites, thousands of buoys and weather stations, measurements from from tends of thousands of radiosondes, and hundreds of temperature proxy datasets providing data on the Earth’s climate. Depending on the source, that data extends back at least 32 years, with some proxies going back millions of years. We have nothing comparable for Mars, the most intensively studied planet besides our own – one satellite, a couple of rovers, and not much else. If scientists can’t properly attribute the Earth’s warming temperatures with all that data, then there’s no hope that scientists can properly attribute Mars’ warming.

I’m afraid that your January 2011 presentation appears to be filled with many similar examples of incorrect or misunderstood information. I look forward to addressing each of them in turn.

* * *

Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #126

Comment originally posted on January 30, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I have to post a closing comment before moving on to my real work, since this ‘debate’ has moved fully away from the type of discussion the public should expect from professional scientists.

This 122-post list of alarmists and skeptics is very telling about how the subject is treated at large and why it has little chance to be moved toward a logical study of the technical issues – i.e., if our species faces a threat from CAGW. [See the comments to the original post for what Rutan is referring to]

The alarmists attack the credibility of the sources, but do not allow discussion of the point I originally made – that there is a very real agenda-driven mis-use of climate data to promote a set of computer model theories that make the point that policy makers read to either award continued grants or distribute wealth. They do this in spite of the failure of the models to predict the climate.
I suggest that whoever stays on this thread do one or both of two things, in order to focus the discussion back on what is worth reading;
1). Make a list of every prediction made by each IPCC report (summary reports, not the important data that should have been used to support the claims made to policy makers). Then, using real data (not those subsets of modified data that have been contaminated by the folk who have been shown by their leaked emails to be fraudulent) make an honest comparison of the prediction with the measured future data. You will likely be shocked at what you find, and a reasonable person, technical or not, will then have no confidence in any of the claims.

2). Read something you rarely see; presentations of all the data, not just those data that are selected by someone on either side of the debate. There are many presentations of this in my PDF ( For example, compare slide 63 and slide 64. Now ask yourself this question: is it possible to believe that the presentations in the IPCC reports (that are the only things read by policy makers and media) are honest representations of what has and is happening to our climate? Is it even possible to assume that those that presented those charts did not intend to deceive the intended audience? Study slides 88. 89 and 90, then ask yourself – are you honestly comfortable not correcting the media media claims of scientific consensus on CAGW? Can you really sleep, knowing that the public is told that 98% of scientists and all the IPCC players support the claim of a undeniable planet threat? Nope, I did not think so.

Disappointed in where most of this discussion has gone, I will focus now on threads that actually do look at real data and real analysis and share honest presentations like this one:

Now, I will make a prediction. The alarmists (scientists or not) will, upon addressing the above Surface Temperature pdf document, will attack the writers or source, but will not be willing to engage in a discussion of the data therein, nor its analysis and conclusions.


* * *

Brian Angliss’ response, from Comment #148

Comment originally posted on January 31, 2012 at 4:00 pm

I’m sorry that the discussion didn’t meet your expectations, Burt, but I’m afraid that you bear some of the responsibility for the lack of constructive dialogue. Not only did you permit Anthony Watts to post this at WUWT, along with your mischaracterization of my original letter as a “diatribe,” but you’ve accused people who don’t agree with you as being “alarmists.” Not only that, but your second comment (#126 above) failed to address any of the issues I raised in my response above (#99).

To recap, I pointed out that engineers and scientists make all sorts of subjective but experience-based decisions on graphical representations of data, and that in my experience neither scientists nor engineers intentionally mislead people. I explained why and used examples from my own career. You didn’t address this in any way, not even with a simple “my experience differs from yours.” If one of your people at Scaled Composites had done to you what you just did to me (ignored a relevant point you’d just made), you’d probably have him fired for his lack of respect.

I pointed out that you were inconsistent in accusing Al Gore of “data presentation fraud” for removing error bars when you yourself failed to include them in 20 images on just 5 pages of your January 2011 presentation. You didn’t address this inconsistency, either to explain the discrepancy or admit you made an error. That’s the kind of thing I’d expect from a Pointy-Haired Boss, not from a Dilbert as you claim to be.

I pointed out that a claim you made in your original response (#4) about how there was actual data, with documentary support, that supported positive feedback and, again, you ignored it. You also ignored the multiple errors you made in claiming that certain effects were not included in climate models, including one that I referred you to peer-reviewed literature for proof, If I was one of your design reviewers and you’d completely ignored multiple specific and documented criticisms about your design, I’d go out of my way to make sure that your annual performance review indicated that you were not meeting my expectations for an engineering intern, never mind an engineer with 46 years of experience.

You raised a number of points in your second comment, one of which I would would like to address. You claim claim that the illegally hacked and published CRU emails demonstrated proof of fraud. Beyond the fact that you’ve offered no proof of that claim while something like a dozen different investigations disagree with you. In fact, one of your co-signers to the Journal letter, Michael Kelly, sat on the Royal Society panel led by Lord Oxburgh. That panel found that

after reading publications and interviewing the senior staff of CRU in depth, we are satisfied that the CRU tree-ring work has been carried out with integrity, and that allegations of deliberate misrepresentation and unjustified selection of data are not valid. (emphasis added)

Here’s something I’d like you to consider. Imagine for a moment that a hacker broke into Scaled Composite’s email servers and did keyword searches on SpaceShipOne, X-Prize, Paul Allen, Burt Rutan, and similar related search terms. Then imagine that the hacker published those emails. How hard do you think one of your competitors would have to search to find something that they could take out of context or quote mine to make you and your teammates look bad? Do you think that those emails alone would produce a complete picture of all the challenges, funding problems, arguments, etc. you and your team dealt with while designing and testing SpaceShipOne? I don’t, and if you do, then you’re lying to yourself. (see this post for a great deal more detail on this point)

You’ve done great things in the past, Burt, and nothing can take those many accomplishments away from you. But to claim the mantle of “skeptic” one must have an open mind that is willing to be challenged and open to criticism. That’s one of the defining characteristics of a good engineer. Like many commentors who came here from WUWT, you’ve ignored my challenges and criticism as well as that of others. You’ve shown no willingness thus far to actually engage in discussion and instead stuck doggedly to what strike me as ideological talking points. Those aren’t the hallmarks of a good engineer, they’re the traits of an ideologue who used to be a good engineer.

I’m still interested in an actual discussion, Burt. But to date your comments indicate that you aren’t interested in a good faith exchange or in having your conclusions challenged. If you change your mind about that, let me know and we can each step back to our respective corners and try again.

* * *

Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #150

Comment originally posted on February 1, 2012 at 8:08 am

Checking back in, for a good reason. My study on CAGW initially focused on a very specific aspect – data presentation bias/fraud in the climate data as presented by climate scientists to the public, the media and the policy makers. That was a “target-rich” environment for sure and it quickly became repetitive and boring by itself. I moved on to looking at the “why” – why a professional scientist would place ethics aside in his defense of a theory that continued to look indefensible. The why is a much more complex area of study and one that represented a totally different area of research. Why do climate scientists behave like politicians and lawyers when most other scientists enjoy the search for answers about our physical world and are not so largely distracted by things outside their field of study?

Likely those who have posted comments to this story have not been aware that it has produced some new data for me on the tactics of the alarmist. For example, the attack on me ‘wanting to live with the dinosaurs’. What you fail to understand is my reference to that period is to shed a bit of light on the fraud that has led the media and public to believe that the recent carbon increase is “unprecedented” and the recent warming is “unprecedented”. Now, I know you will answer that you did not really say that, but I should not have to remind you that it is your ethical duty as a professional, to correct those statements when you see them in the public and policy-maker discourse. Why is it that an engineer, in a completely different field of work have to be the one to have to correct mis-information about climate? Of course you can say that it is not your duty, when your focus is on your science. Ordinary logic tells us that anything out there that supports your hopes and goals will go unchallenged.

Reading the comments by Brian Angliss at it forces one to remember the tactics of the O J Simpson team of lawyers – ignore the evidence and win at all costs in spite of it. I now see the basis of his rage; I am one of those “libertarian engineers “he works with who know that “data matters even more than ideology”. His argument that “the 1100 emails represent no more than 0.1% of the entire email record” is sad indeed. His post #80 on the climategate email comment list is an attempt to distract from the email’s context by submitting a complex engineering/scientific analysis of the numerics of the emails! Frankly the public at large, using basic human logic, knows the context and cares less how the context is discussed within the band of alarmists, fighting for their reputations and against the conclusion that history will show they gave all of science a black eye. It has taken behavior like that to allow the public to finally recognize the fraud, moving CAGW from its major concern to near the bottom of the list.

As far as your comment that my company would be embarrassed if its emails were released – do you really think they would include destruction of data as important as that which would get in the way of a goal to force increases in global energy costs? Do you really think they would reveal a conspiracy to overstate the certainty of things as serious as climate disruption, conceal evidence to the contrary, and a willingness to manipulate the peer-review system? The scientists known as ‘The Team’ (Phil Jones, Michael Mann, Keith Briffa), hid evidence that their presentation for politicians and policy makers was not as strong as they wanted to make it appear, downplaying the very real uncertainties present in climate reconstruction. I guess when you live within your world, you just conclude that everybody does it. Sad.

In my business we recognize that when our palls review and comment on our work, it is not significant. We do not call it “Peer Review”, like you trumpet.

There is sufficient context within the emails themselves to prove that several climate scientists had deleted “inconvenient data” regarding tree rings in service of a political end, namely the removal of a “potential distraction.”

The mails clearly demonstrate that the scientists were concerned about “diluting” the message. They were not concerned with telling the whole truth, but rather a version of the truth that was packaged according to their agenda.

The leaked files showed that The Team had done this by hiding how they presented data, and ruthlessly suppressing dissent by insuring that contrary papers were never published and that editors who didn’t follow their party line were forced out of their position.

Phil Jones lied to Parliament when he said it was standard practice to not share data. It is clear that The Team withheld data from other scientists, destroyed data and emails they knew would incriminate them and fought the FOIA process. This is the behavior of criminals, not scientists.

I find it hard to believe that you guys can still defend Mann/Briffa on their attempt to formulate a hockey stick with the tree ring data. When others were finally allowed access to their data it was clearly found that it did not support their intended HS goal, without some laughable cherry picking. They withheld their analysis/presentation code too. When it was finally released it was found that it generated a hockey stick even when fed random numbers for tree ring data! – Cute.

Of course, logic and ethics had no chance when you were faced with defending it, since the Hockey Stick graph (the only one reproduced multiple times in color in any IPCC summary) was the primary basis for convincing the Media and Policy Makers that immediate action was needed to offset unprecedented warming, obviously caused by unprecedented increase in CO2. Backing down from that would throw Gore under the bus and would show that the scientists were agenda driven from the start. I predict that you will still support your heroism in saving the planet after the hoax goes mainstream, just like you did in the ozone hole scare.

Several of the commenters seem to think that I am a climate scientist, and should know their field. I am very up-front with the fact that I do not have that expertise and cannot critique the atmospheric analysis within the computer models that theorize the coming catastrophe. I do have a 46-year background in data analysis and presentation and that has enabled me to see much of the problems with verifying the carbon GHG caused warming theory. What I present is not always liked by the alarmists and some of it is attacked vigorously, because it leads to a conclusion that is unacceptable to them. I accept that, and understand it but it does not force me to join the echo chamber of those still selling the theory when the data says it is suspect.

I have been accused of not using the best data to use in my presentations. So, I will now use only the “best” data, as defined by the alarmists (HadCRUT) in presenting the following observations:
Breaking down the last hundred years into two halves; the first half, 1912 to 1961 and the last half 1962 to 2011. The alarmists claim the human sinning (CO2-pollution) was primarily during the last half.
Increase in CO2 Increase in global temperature
1st half +18 ppm +0.52 deg C
2nd half +74 ppm +0.39 deg C

Another period; 1997 to 2012, the recent 15 years. CO2 increased 15 ppm while global temperatures showed essentially no increase.

Looking at only these data would indicate that adding CO2 cools the planet – not true of course, but it makes the point that your theory is not supported by the most basic data, requiring you to look elsewhere (ocean bottoms?) to find the heat. I suspect that you look there (even though the rate of sea level rise has significantly diminished) because you refuse to accept that your model assumptions on feedbacks are wrong.

OK, flame away, you scientists……..get me some more behavior data.


* * *

Brian Angliss’ response, from Comment #173

Comment originally posted on February 2, 2012 at 10:59 am


I agree with you that it is my “ethical duty as a professional, to correct [inaccurate or misleading] statements when [I] see them in the public and policy-maker discourse.” That is, in fact, a large part of why I wrote my open letter to you – it was my ethical duty as a professional and as an engineer to point out that you had signed on to a letter that was filled with incorrect and misleading information. That is why I seek to engage in a good faith discussion with you and why I ask you to explain and/or correct the incorrect, inconsistent, and misleading information you yourself have repeated in this thread, even though you have not shown any willingness to do so.

In that spirit, however, I continue to be disappointed that you refuse to explain what you mean by “data presentation fraud,” or to explain the inconsistency in your own presentation. Recall that you accused Al Gore of fraud for removing error bars from an IPCC graph while failing to include error bars or even any discussion of uncertainty in 20 graphs on the preceding five pages of your January 2011 presentation. As I see it, it is your ethical duty as a professional and an engineer to either a) explain how those 20 images do not actually represent a double standard on your part, or b) retract your claim that Gore committed “data presentation fraud” and then correct any of your presentations that make that claim.

You write that “I do not have that expertise and cannot critique the atmospheric analysis within the computer models that theorize the coming catastrophe.” But this doesn’t hold with what you wrote above in your Comment #4. You wrote there that

Modeling is more correctly a branch of Engineering and there are some basic rules that have been flouted by CAGW _ CO2 modelers.
Firstly there has to be a problem analysis which identifies relevant factors and the physical, chemical and thermodynamic behaviors of those factors within the system.
Any claim that this has been done in the CO2 warming problem is PREPOSTEROUS.
There are perhaps a thousand PhD topics there waiting to be taken up by researchers.
We could start with work on understanding heat transfer between the main interfaces; eg Core to surface / surface to ocean depths/ ocean depths to ocean surface / ocean surface to atmosphere and so on, not having yet reached the depth of space at just slightly above absolute zero.
To claim that the entire system of atmospheric temperature moderation has been described by
the fluctuations of atmospheric CO2 content while excluding the other obvious factors such as atmospheric water vapour content, solar flux and orbital mechanics is just nonsense.

This strikes me as yet another inconsistency – you say you cannot critique the analysis generated by climate models, yet you did that very thing just a few days ago. You can’t have it both ways.

Which brings me again to another criticism you have still failed to address, namely that your CO2 argument made in Comment #4 is incomplete. I pointed out in #99 that you were neglecting a significant number of factors that were different between today and prior geologic eras. The point I didn’t make then, but will now, is that all those differences make the climate in prior geological eras incomparable to modern climate. In essence, the proper response to “When the Dinosaurs roamed, the CO2 content was 6 to 9 times current and the planet was green from pole to pole” is: so what? The burden of proof is on you to prove that all the differences I listed in Comment #99 are inconsequential.

It’s true that the hacked CRU emails and the subsequent investigations found that the University of East Anglia and CRU did not properly handle FOI requests. They fought the process tooth and nail, and they shouldn’t. But you can’t honestly tell me that you wouldn’t fight tooth and nail yourself against a competitor using a FOIA action to try and get your emails, flight data, and design blueprints for a US government program. Of course you would – you’d be handing over the family jewels to a competitor. So while what CRU did was wrong, it was completely understandable and reasonable to any anyone who has worked in business, never mind an engineer.

I’m stunned to see you resorting to a smear in your attempt to address the argument I made about insufficient context in the hacked CRU emails, Burt. Why do you choose to ignore the arguments I made in the piece and instead resort to making statements without supporting them? “The 1100 emails represent no more than 0.1% of the entire email record” – if you find the argument unconvincing, then explain why. Simply calling it “sad” is an evasion, not an argument.

However, you did address one of my criticisms of you, and so I’ll explain further what I think we’d find if Scaled Composites’ emails were hacked, cherry-picked, and subsequently published.

I think the emails would show you and/or you employees badmouthing your competition and occasionally your partners and financial backers. I think the emails would show repeated examples of your engineers saying one thing internally while spinning something different for your customers or the public, likely even including what you’d call “data presentation fraud.” I think the emails would show your marketing department tries to cast your own company in the best light possible by glossing up data. I think the emails would show early versions of code that have placeholder functions and artificial test data, and comments that were removed in the final code that could be spun to make it look like you had fudged your simulations and risked peoples’ lives.

I think the emails could be spun to show that you had inappropriate contact with government officials from time to time. I think the emails could be made to show your financial situation wasn’t as good as you told people. I think the emails would show that you and your engineers are just like every other engineer out there – you use words like “trick” and phrases like “hide the (fill in the blank)” in ways that are completely innocuous when the context is known, but that could be spun to make it look like you defrauded your customers, lied to the public, and risked lives.

Published emails from Scaled Composites would say all of this and more for two reasons. First, some of these behaviors are entirely normal – it’s normal for people to badmouth the competition and to complain about their partners in private. It’s normal for marketing departments to gloss things up – that’s the entire reason marketing departments exist. It’s normal for early versions of code to have placeholders, use test data from oddly-named files (“were_so_screwed.dat,” for example). It’s normal for people to say things using technical shorthand that look really, really bad to anyone not familiar with the shorthand.

Second, when someone cherrypicks 0.1% of a large email record, the person doing the cherrypicking can make the emails say anything they want, even things that are outright false. Can you honestly tell me that three emails in the middle of a long thread, or the first half of an email train, tells the whole story?

I’d also like to point out that the Independent Climate Change Email Review, the most thorough of all the investigations, found that my argument about insufficient context was correct. From my post on the ICCER final report:

The third specific allegation that addressed by the ICCER was that Keith Briffa had asked an anonymous reviewer to justify Briffa’s rejection of a manuscript that Briffa ostensibly disagreed with. However, the ICCER found that the published CRU email record lacked sufficient context to justify the allegation. Briffa provided copies of the complete email chain from his personal records to the panel and the result was a very different picture. The complete email chain showed that Briffa had apologized for the delay in sending the reviewers’ comments to the manuscript’s authors and offered to “fast-track publication” of the manuscript if the authors revised it as recommended by the the reviewers. The ICCER said “we see nothing in these exchanges that supports the interpretations of subverting the peer review process that have been placed upon [the original published CRU email]” and that the complete email chain provided by Briffa doesn’t “provide evidence of subversion of process in rejecting contradictory ideas as has been alleged.”

The ICCER quote is from Section 8.5 of the ICCER final report, BTW – I invite you to read it yourself, and then to correct any allegations of fraud you’ve made against Keith Briffa as a result of the email.

You did provide specific data, but unfortunately your calculations are incorrect. Here’s the actual temperature trends lines for the data points you provided (click on the image for a larger version at

While I used adjusted global mean data for the plot above, unadjusted global mean data shows essentially the same thing – an increasing trend, contrary to your claim above. The temperature calculations in your last response are quite simply wrong. Not only that, however, but since you’ve been studying climate science since 1999, you must also be aware that HadCRUT has a number of problems that prevent it from being considered the “best” data, namely the fact that the HadCRUT method underestimates the effects of warming on the Arctic (where warming is occurring the fastest). GISS or NCDC are preferred to HadCRUT because neither has a hole in the Arctic.

Burt, you have claimed the mantle of an engineer, and given your long experience, you’ve earned it. But along with that mantle come certain responsibilities. One is responding to criticism instead of ignoring it. Another is engaging in good faith discussions about disagreements. A third is supporting your claims with logical argument and data. Thus far you’ve done none of these things. Instead, you seem to be taking your plays from the marketing and public relations playbook – repeat your talking points and never respond to criticism. Is that really how an engineer, especially one who has accomplished so much as you have, should behave?

* * *

Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #208

Comment originally posted on February 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm

One of the readers of this thread have asked me why I would shove a stick into this beehive. That is actually a good question, since it is clear that those who are skeptical about the theory of dangerous GHG warming from human emissions, have made little progress changing the minds of the Alarmist/Scientist community.

My reason for throwing my hat in the ring was that I thought the alarmists might learn from looking at a wider variety of data and at my conclusion that the data had not been prevented fairly. Surely they would agree that there is a strong bias in presentations and that the public were being improperly encouraged to believe their conclusions were “incontrovertible”, even when the theories were preliminary; needing additional data to prove.

However, I have found that this experience has been a learning process for me also. Being exposed to a avalanche of comments from the alarmists has made it clear to me that the cherry picking and bias is evident on both sides of this debate. I was not delighted to find that my failure to do the needed checking resulted in me making a claim to this group that the HadC data showed an average warming rate of the first half of the last 100-yr being higher than the second half. Of course I am embarrassed by that mistake and I hereby apologize for it. The thread has also forced me to carefully look for similar problems in my own presentation. With your help I have identified problems with at least 5 of my slides at; I will correct or delete them for the next update. Engineer’s mistakes generally have consequences, so they are usually quick to correct them. Scientists, see little need to correct observed errors, since there is always a possibility that future data might exonerate them on the long path to prove a theory.

I have found what I did suspect: the large number of scientists working in this huge, growing field, supported by grants, do indeed feel that they should be the only biased participants. They vigorously attack others who do not treat the data fairly and do not seem to find fault when they continue to do the same.

I also see a need to clarify what I mean when I accuse the community of fraud. I believe that the majority of climate scientists do feel personally comfortable that their work is ethical. They feel that, like Mann, they would not be found to be criminals under the expected scrutiny. However, I believe the major problem with most of the Climate Science group is related to what they do NOT do, rather than what they DO in their specific tasks. To make my point, consider the following claims:
1. The earth is near a tipping point where human emissions will certainly result in runaway catastrophic warming, mass extinctions and dangerous unprecedented weather events.
2. The arctic ice will be extinct soon, taking hundreds of species with it.
3. The greenland and Antarctic land-born ice might be gone this century, flooding half of Florida as well as London and NYC, driving major populations to higher ground.
4. The earth’s current global temperature and atmospheric CO2 content is unprecedented and its rapid rise is scary. The current deterioration is well in excess of that previously predicted by scientists just a decade ago.
5. The evidence is incontrovertible: unprecedented global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur.
6. While other causes might be in play, human emissions are certainly the primary cause of the future climate catastrophe.
7. 97% of climate scientists strongly agree with the 6 items above.

Now, I believe there are no climate scientists that would put their name on all the items in the list (Gore not being a scientist, of course) and very few that would agree with more than 5 of them. However, these claims are out there in the media, they show up in new children’s schoolbooks, they are used to encourage immediate action from policy makers, they have influenced Nobel committees and are being used to force many of the world’s economies to accept higher cost energy sources. The costs of this dis-information is astronomical. If there were an equivalent in an engineering field, top engineers would be flocking forward in droves to vocally and immediately correct the record, in order to both protect the credibility of the Engineering Profession and to avert the damage. However, the vast majority of climate scientists are mute, and do not stand up and yell that Gore is wrong. Why? Is it really that important to encourage the growth of the grants? Or is there another reason?

Well, of course some are standing up. It is not just Prof Ivar Giaever. See:

It is coming now from many countries who’s scientists have made the decision based on science ethics rather than politics. China, Canada, Russia and others are refusing to hide the truth. Just Monday, it happened in Germany: ( and that will likely go mainstream soon.

Four years ago, as a result of my interface with a customer, I was introduced to and became friends with one of the best known climate scientist alarmists in the world. When we first discussed AGW data fraud he told me that the current situation was nowhere near as disturbing as during the ozone hole scare. Scientists then were denying or withholding publication of data from new sensors that did not fit the agenda of the man-caused ozone depletion scare. Somehow science credibility was protected then in the 70s and 80s. However, the current crop of CAGW alarmists are at more risk, in the internet era.

Re: the “97% consensus among scientists”. It has been difficult to source this claim. Is this it?

If so, the answer is probably somewhere between 75/10,257 and 75/77. Of course, the most damaging errors of the consensus claim is that “2,500 IPCC scientists endorsed the report’s conclusions”. However, when the UN was pressured to release the complete comments and recommendations of its in-house scientist reviewers, the data showed only a tiny minority of support for the two main AGW conclusions (see the 3 consensus slides here:

In conclusion, I think there might be a solution to the gridlock where educated people on both sides of the debate do nothing but pick away at the individual claims of the other side, both throwing around biased data sets. While I did not recognize it back in 2006 when I started my study, it is now apparent that closure is impossible without taking a different approach. Bantering about past data is not working and future data predictions are useless without an agreement of the importance of the results. Thus, I propose the following: I am asking each alarmist climate scientist reading this to answer the following question. “What measurements and results need to occur in the future, in order to have you change your conclusion that human emissions must be reduced to avoid planet catastrophe?” Another way to phrase the question is “Is there measurements that can be made in our lifetimes (I am 68 years old) that would bring you forward to publicly announce that the climate model-predicted planetary crisis alarm from human emissions was wrong and that the new data indicate that it was a mistake?”.

I submit that it doesn’t take a Rocket Engineer to see that the entire debate cannot reach closure without admitting that a proof is possible and defining what future data could disprove the scientific theory.

Oh, and do not shy away from the question – that would be admitting that nothing can change your mind, thus taking you out of any useful debate.

Lookin up…….way up,
Burt Rutan

* * *

Brian Angliss’ response, from Comment #228

Comment originally posted on February 10, 2012 at 11:19 am


I’m sorry that I was unable to take part in this last exchange between yourself and Lotharsson et al [Ed note: see comments #209-220]. Sometimes my engineering day job prevents me from responding in a timely fashion. I’m sure you understand. However, I would still like to respond to your comment #208 above.

First, allow me to thank you for acknowledging your error with respect to the HadCRUT data you posted in your comment #150. As far as I’m concerned, there is no need to apologize – everyone makes mistakes. Just yesterday we had an example of a scientist who projected that Himalayan glaciers were losing ice at an an amazing rate correcting himself and cutting his own mass loss estimate by 30%. That’s an example of science at work – when a scientist makes a mistake, he or she acknowledges it and then moves forward from the point of the correction. That’s the best approach for an engineer as well, IMO.

As for the errors you identified in your presentation (version 4.3 from January 2011, I presume), would you be so kind as to indicate in what slides you identified errors? I’m going through the slides in detail myself at present and don’t want to get sidetracked by anything you’ve already identified as a mistake. Were the lack of error bars on your 20 proxy graphs on slides 59 through 63 and your inconsistent accusations of “data presentation fraud” included in the errors you identified in your presentation?

In a related note, there are a great many graphs from your presentation that do not have sources attached to them or to the slide notes. Do you have a list of where you got the various graphs? For example, there’s no source for the upper left graph of CO2 measurements on slide 18. I’m sure that I can track the original paper down, but if you have a reference for the original, that would be much simpler. Might I also suggest that you consider defining where the data or graphs come from for all of them in your next version? Doing so makes it much easier for other interested parties to investigate your data and claims.

Second, did you mean to shift from claiming that scientists like Mike Mann were guilty of fraud to claiming that they are behaving unethically because they refuse to publicly reject claims with which they personally disagree? Because that’s essentially what you did when you wrote

I believe that the majority of climate scientists do feel personally comfortable that their work is ethical. They feel that, like Mann, they would not be found to be criminals under the expected scrutiny. However, I believe the major problem with most of the Climate Science group is related to what they do NOT do, rather than what they DO in their specific tasks.

If you no longer feel that Mann, Trenberth, Jones, and others are doing fraudulent research or presenting their results in a fraudulent fashion, then that is wonderful news. I look forward to seeing those accusations removed from your next revision of your January 2011 paper and hearing that you have publicly apologized to them for accusing them of fraud.

Third, with respect to your seven claims, I have to come back to something I asked of others in this thread – what is your definition of “catastrophic” as applied to climate disruption? Is it Venus-style runaway warming (which I think we can both agree would certainly be catastrophic), or would you consider a few meters of sea level rise turning several hundred million people into refugees “catastrophic?” It’s a nebulous term, and I’d like to understand your use of it better. While we’re at it, how are you meaning to use “unprecedented?” Unprecedented in human history is very different from unprecedented in geologic time, after all, and we don’t want there to be any confusion on this issue if it can be avoided.

I suspect that you are correct that few scientists would agree with all seven of your claims. I would propose, however, that several of the claims as written could be mutually incompatible, such as claims #1 and #5 – #1 seems to imply a higher level of “catastrophe” than does #5. Furthermore, I propose that there is significant disagreement on the various levels of threat to humanity, and that public disagreements among scientists (and the media’s financial interest in generating controversy) is part of why this issue is so confusing to members of the public. There are very few scientists who take seriously the idea that the Earth could come to resemble Venus, for example, and many who have publicly rejected the idea.

But the main reason that you don’t hear about scientists rejecting your seven claims is that, as you’ve written them, most scientists would either agree with them or would claim that they lack sufficient expertise to agree or disagree. Simply because you feel that these seven claims qualify as “disinformation” doesn’t mean that the mass of climate scientists and actual experts agree with you. And the fact is that scientists see nuances where no-one, not even us engineers, see it. If you asked a scientist what the ideal global average temperature would be, they’d hem and haw and demand you to clarify what species you’re talking about, what part of the world, and that sort of thing. The same is true of each of your statements – a scientist could agree or disagree with all of them simply by mentally adding nuances or refusing to nuance the statements.

Fourth, there was a point in late 2006 and 2007 when there was some question about whether CFCs were causing the ozone hole. Qing-Bin Lu went so far as to suggest that it was all cosmic rays and, based on his modeling, predicted that the ozone hole would be the largest in 2008 and 2009. The data from 2008 and 2009 disproved Lu’s predictions (link) and more recent laboratory research has provided significant additional evidence that CFCs were, and still are, the dominant factors in the ozone hole (paper and references).

Fifth, you still have not addressed the other inconsistencies I identified. You haven’t said whether you agree or not about my characterization of what a biased hacker could extract from 0.1% of Scaled Composites’ emails. You haven’t apologized for smearing me with ad hominem attacks that are, in my opinion, unbecoming of a professional. I’ve addressed your criticisms several times now, including answering direct questions you’ve asked, but you have yet to reciprocate.

Finally, you ask what kind of evidence it would take for me to change my mind. It would take the predominance of evidence to shift from CO2 as the dominant factor to something else. Or it would take an alternate theory that fits all the observations better than the existing theory does. To his credit, Richard Lindzen is trying to do this very thing, but thus far his iris hypothesis doesn’t fit all the observations better than CO2-driven climate change does. The same is true of “we’re just recovering from the LIA” and “It’s planetary cycles” hypotheses – each fails to explain critical components of how the Earth’s climate is changing. And some versions aren’t even internally consistent, never mind consistent with real world observations.

In conclusion, I’m still waiting for you to address the many points I’ve made and that you have largely ignored. It’s hard to have much of a discussion when only one party to the discussion is willing to engage substantively.

* * *

Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #229

Comment originally posted on February 10, 2012 at 5:35 pm

I see a need to put this discussion in perspective, since as it has grossly degenerated.

First a brief sketch of what has happened. Driven by Hanson’s congressional testimony in 1988 and his claim that he was being suppressed, an enormous public campaign was begun well before the theory was supported by data. The Scientific Method was initially ignored, likely because doing so resulted in extensive funding for those in climate science. Some noted that the scientist’s consensus was not being accurately reflected in the IPCC summary reports, but nearly all the scientists remained mute.

The campaign peaked in 2001 when the hockey stick was published. A brilliant accomplishment, showing that the recent hot MWP could be ignored; it was just a “local european event”, and thus the earth as a whole was undergoing unprecedented, dangerous warming that might soon reach a tipping point that could drive us to destruction. This was particularly scary, because of the inferred claim that the earth had been nice and stable before the extensive burning of fossil fuels. The claimed problem was so great that it caught the attention of diverse groups including policy-makers, Nobel committees and even Hollywood. As the hysteria became more mainstream, the science grants flourished to levels never experienced, worldwide.

But the hysteria also brought out a few intelligent people curious to see what was behind the claims. A few scientists, engineers, accountants, statisticians, meteorologists, and just plain folks noticed that something was very wrong. Had they been provided freely with the data and the analysis, and had it looked reasonable the campaign might have accelerated. However, their requests were met with comments like “why should I give you my data, if you are only trying to find something wrong with it?”. Then, some of them admitted that the raw data had been (accidentally?) destroyed, and only modified data were available. That is what initially caught my attention, knowing that despite the fact that I was not a Climate Scientist I could still get an idea about what was happening.

I started by looking at raw data, then by looking at how it had been modified. I almost got bored, but was drawn back in when it became obvious that there was a clear IPCC intent seemingly supported by the scientists themselves, to paint a fraudulent picture of past temperatures by the strange structuring of the hokey-stick chart – it inferred a stable past temperature, but I knew it had been naturally oscillatory.

I looked first at the Vostok core data and found that the current warm period was far more stable that all others going back nearly 500k years and that all the other warm periods had been hotter than the current. I was hooked, this would be a fun hobby, maybe more that the study of pyramid building (Oh, BTW, i found evidence, some very compelling, of casting of limestone and harder rock. That was evidence only, I do not claim to know HOW it might have been done. Google it, I am not alone in gathering these data).

Yes, I did mix localized specific data in with the hockey-stick data in my slide titled “Oh, I bet you were wondering” (slide 68 from See slide 63 for the color table). It certainly did not seem “fraudulent” to me to draw attention to the clear fraud of the hockey team that was clearly hiding the MWP, the LIA and ignoring the Roman warming, the Minoan Warming, the other 5 similar warmings and about 30 smaller “warmings” similar to the 1960-1998 “warming” during the last 11k years. It seemed to me that they were intentionally attempting to get the reader to conclude that the current warming was unusual and even unprecedented. Whether or not they intended that, they clearly succeeded.

In addition to the ‘localized’ data that I used, in spite of the alarmists’ attempts to hide and discredit it, there is now scientific evidence of many other ‘local’ events, happening globally. The attempts to confine the MWP to Europe are thereby exposed. Hundreds of studies at diverse local sites throughout the globe are exposing this mistake (fraud?):

Yes, most claims in my posts have not included sourcing or details. That is required of course when addressing the naive, but you scientists should know the sources. Since you seem to not want to admit it in this thread, I will list a few of the them here. These primarily focus to disprove the 2001 panic claim that recent warming was unique and that the MWP was only local Europe. This issue is extraordinarily important, since the hockey-team’s fraud was the primary lever for moving the panic theme on to the Media and then to the attempts to disrupt affordable energy worldwide:

Confidence of the models:

German peat bogs:


Switzerland Roman Warm Period:

US, Canada Australia. pg 10 at:

Atlantic ocean:

South America:


Europe. pg 8 & 12 at:


Iceland lake:

Subarctic seas:

Greenland summit:

Patagonian ice fields:

Middle East sediment cores:

Dozens of world locations:

Again I ask; why are the climate scientists as a group, mute? Why do most of them still defend the discredited hockey stick, even after the IPCC removed it in 2007?

I previously mentioned that there is surprising behavior in the climate science community. After the recent attacks I have to conclude it is not surprising at all. It certainly makes no sense to call me fraudulent by mixing localized climate data to draw attention to a public that had been convinced that there had not even been a warm recent past, just to draw attention to the real fraud; hiding the past warmings in the first place!

Why am I not now surprised? The behavior should be totally expected by this group of educated competent, eloquent professionals that are now realizing that they made a terrible mistake. It did not look much like a mistake as they enjoyed the world’s accolades and as the grants rose exponentially. The climate scientists became the new world heroes. Every bad weather event was being ‘blamed’ on AGW. The climate scientists will save us from disaster! They have built a reputation that they now have to protect at all costs.

I expect that future postings to this thread will again attack the data and sources I have referenced. You, of course have to attack them, right or wrong. You see my slide 63 and 68 as a extreme problem because anyone can tell at a glance that there is something very wrong with the CAGW theme you have promoted for 24 years. Just like the hockey stick chart in 2001, they are easily understood by the layman. Can fraud be found with both? Yes, climate scientists did find “fraud” with 63/68, up-thread. However, my including non-Mann/Briffa data along with those data is not a fraud that could discredit my profession or land me in jail. My charts do not support a hoax that can result in worldwide disruption of economies, increases in energy costs, starvation, wealth distribution, etc. When I said the slides are intended to inform, I really should have said they were intended to reveal. They have indeed done that, or you would not see the need to attack me at the end of my significant and successful career.

I ask that before you continue your attack, do you really want to continue the attempts to hide the past warming? Do you really think you can still preserve the theme of panic by mainstream press and coastal elites to be foisted on the public and policymakers as “consensus” science, if the earth continues to cool while emissions increase? Do you really think the public will not notice that you are now not acting like scientists using the Scientific Method?

In your attacks, you have noted that I am not following the Scientific Method. The claim is true, of course. I am not practicing Science, and have never claimed to be capable or to have even tried to do so. What is humorous about your S M statements is that as soon as the skeptics started to come forward, their main point was that the Climate Scientists were ignoring the proper Scientific Method. Their failure to do so has been documented at length, making it silly that you reflect the issue back to me, a non-scientist! I really do not think you want outsiders judging the IPCC team of following the S M. Go there; I will warm up the popcorn machine….that one will be entertaining to watch.

I believe the climate scientist community’s biggest mistake was ignoring the effects of cloud formation and precipitation. A good excuse, of course is that cloud formation is so chaotic that it cannot be modeled; thus there is no way to fairly include it in the models. Fair enough, but the fraud was not saying so – not saying that the models could be wrong because of an inability to model chaos.

I see that someone thought that my list of 7 were claims by me! Read more carefully. I was listing things that were being said and believed outside of the communities of science and skeptics, in order to ask why the science group is not coming out to say that they are wrong.

Maybe I am missing it, but I still cannot find an answer in this thread to my question of what would have to happen for you to admit you were wrong. I could be wrong, but I doubt that you can just wait it out, pray for warming and hope that current trends and new studies might leave doubt in the public’s minds during your lifetimes. Again, what new data and new science would bring you forward to admit in public that CAGW due human emissions has been disproven?
……I just now read post 228. No specifics on data, but there is an answer to my big question, thank you.


* * *

Brian Angliss’ response, from Comment #234

Comment originally posted on February 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm


Let me first thank you for providing links to a number of sources for some of your prior claims in your latest comment (#229). It’s not clear to me from the links whether or not they’re in response to other comments or to my request for source for your January 2011 presentation, however. But I’m certain that at least some of those links will get me back to some of the graphs and then, from there, back to the original papers and data, citations, and the like. And given that you issued a number of challenges that I interpreted as “go find the data yourself and tell uswhat you find,” I’m going back to the original sources, not even the sources as filtered by Jo Nova, the Edsos, the NIPCC report, et al. When in doubt, look at the actual data yourself is one of the mantras I live by as an electrical engineer.

The story you tell about Hansen and the hockey stick is an interesting personal narrative, but I’m curious why you seem to buy into the “it’s all about the research grants” meme. There is so little money in climate science in general that any scientist who goes into climate research for the money should have his or her head examined. I did a study on the money involved in climate science vs. the money involved in fossil fuel related industries and found that any money-motivated scientist was better off working for industry than laboring away as a government or academic scientist. Most of the billions of dollars you refer to is in the US, and most of that is for satellites, not grants to individual researchers.

Not only that, but when I looked at whether or not Pennsylvania State University had a financial interest in protecting Mike Mann after the CRU hack, I found that Mann had brought in so little grant money into the university that the risk to Penn State’s reputation (and thus future grants) was far greater if they whitewashed Mann’s inquiry and investigation.

I understand that you want to believe that the original hockey stick was discredited, but that simply isn’t true. It has been replicated by others not associated with Mann, both with and without tree ring proxies, and was in the IPCC AR4 WG1 as figure 6.10. It’s not a global graph, however – it’s only for the northern hemisphere.

Science moves on as new information is learned, and old data is replaced or augmented with new data, better measurement and statistical techniques. This has happened with the hockey stick – the work of Mann, Bradley, and Hughes in the late 1990s has been superseded by newer and better work.

Burt, you don’t get to claim the mantle of engineer and yet claim you know nothing of the scientific method. That would be like a fish not claiming it knew how to swim. Engineers live and breath the scientific method every time they debug a circuit or analyze a failed strut – we take measurements, formulate a hypothesis about what happened, and conduct tests to determine if our hypothesis is correct, incorrect, or partially correct. Furthermore, as an EE, I use models for many of those tests instead of physical hardware. This is often necessary because the physical hardware may be in orbit, or because the customer may have restricted contact with the hardware for any number of reasons.

In fact, it’s my experience with modeling that has given me such a level of respect for the results of climate models – all models are garbage in, garbage out, but when they’re based on solid physics and carefully vetted and verified, model outputs are extremely persuasive to the most skeptical customer. In fact, it’s my experience modeling stochastic processes and noise (which are inherently chaotic systems that cannot be directly modeled except as probability functions) that informs this next statement: climate models can, and do, model cloud formation. Not well, and with extreme simplification, but clouds are modeled.

I’m sorry that you feel that you’re being attacked, Burt. But no-one here asked you to leverage your well earned celebrity to push incorrect and misleading information about human-caused climate disruption to the Wall Street Journal, Wattsupwiththat, or Scholars & Rogues. No-one here asked you to claim, based on your 46 years of experience as an aeronautical engineer, that you knew better than the actual scientists how to interpret their data so that it wasn’t biased or “fraudulent.” It’s no one’s fault but yours that you have failed to address the many inconsistencies that I’ve pointed out, or substantively rebut the many arguments that I’ve made.

No one likes being attacked, Burt, but sometimes it’s our own fault when it happens.

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’m going through your January 2011 presentation closely, and I’m finding many examples of what I consider to be errors, misleading information, and unusual decisions you made a you prepared it. I’ve also found that there are dozens of images and claims you make that I don’t know the source of. Perhaps once I’ve finished researching all your claims and tracking down all the sources you neglected to identify we can try to have another discussion. With luck, that one represent an actual exchange of information between us and also be more fruitful than this one has been.

* * *

Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #253

Comment originally posted on February 12, 2012 at 10:41 am

I have received the following quote from a famous, brilliant, astute observer who has never entered the AGW debate on either side. Unlike me and my attackers on this thread he has not let near hyper-ventilation fog his reasoning. Enjoy……..
“A brief overview shows that you are debating the issue with a short list of screen names and perhaps an even shorter list of actual fools. The common thread is a deep need to apply ad hominem attacks, which is an absolute indicator of a deficient argument. Your are arguing for the scientific method, when it cannot be applied in this case. SM requires independent testing to confirm the hypothesis which then leads to a theory that can then be refined or modified with additional information and tests. It is a process without an absolute conclusion. AGW is a hypothesis, at best, which substitutes correlation for causation. Do alarm clocks cause the sun to rise? Mine does. I can prove it as it happens the same way every day.

The fact that they do not know the nature of the scientific method pretty much proves that they are not scientists in a professional sense. If not scientists, what are they? They are believers. In essence, you are arguing about the existence of God, something else that cannot be tested empirically. If success is measured by the capitulation of the opponent, then this is a battle you cannot win head on. You are using reason to battle emotion and emotion draws from a much larger reservoir in the human psyche.

They claim to be scientists. The scientific method is published. Challenge then to scientifically prove AGW without substituting causation with correlation. That should drive them a little mad(er).”

I also received a very short note from one of the oldest, most recognized climate alarmists out there, the developer of the Gaia hypothesis and key player in the ozone hole scare. I share it with you here:

Be proud to be among the sceptics.


Oh, to another posted point: I allowed my signature to be listed in the WSJ article only on the promise that I be clearly identified as an engineer, not a scientist. They did that in their signatory list. This thread is nearly unique in not noticing that, as you continue to to attack my “science” rather than my role of providing information for the non-scientist that shows all the data, rather than an agenda-driven subset.

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Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #275

Comment originally posted on February 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Re Steven’s comments (comment # 257) [Ed Note: See comments 254 through 274 at the original post for additional context regarding responses to Burt’s comment #253]. Like some of the others, you must have scanned, but not read my comment # 253. “Jim” is not the source of the anonymous multi-paragraph contribution. One of the most noted scientist alarmists of the past 45 years, who for decades has made the same type of quotes heard from today’s alarmists (see my slide #96), has recently read the inane attacks on this thread. His six-word statement to me yesterday says all that needs to be said. If this group reacts like the politicians they have been and throws him under the bus, that will be a story that will likely attract some main stream media attention. Bring it on.

Of course I have not responded to each and every data charge levied by this group of attackers. I am hugely outnumbered; that would be a never-ending effort that could not reach closure and would distract from my real work. Another wise bit of advise from anonymous is certainly appropriate here; “Never argue with an idiot; they’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”.

Many years ago I made bets with a CNN science anchor and an alarmist billionaire regarding florida flooding and survival of arctic ice. In those days it was easy to also get the climate scientists to bet. Lately, I can find no one willing to risk his personal worth on the near-term climate crisis predictions. Yep, things are changing fast and you all know it.

So I leave you to pray for global warming, or climate change, or climate disruption, or what other future event-mandated scary name you need to cling to. Pray hard, because the folks who will be looking for scapegoats are much more dangerous than me.

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Brian Angliss’ response, from Comment #287

Comment originally posted on February 13, 2012 at 11:02 am


On slide 31 of your January 2011 presentation, you write that your policy for aircraft flight safety reviews is “Question, Never Defend.” I applaud your commitment to this as a safety approach, as I’m sure it has prevented many accidents from the unintentional oversights that all engineers and engineering teams are prone to. But this approach only works if the engineers you’re questioning are allowed to defend themselves with data, if you as questioner are willing to answer requests for clarification and definition, and if you’re willing to accept their data when they present it.

Over the course of this discussion you have betrayed an unwillingness to answer requests for clarification and definition. You talk about “catastrophic anthropogenic global warming” but are unwilling to offer your definition of what qualifies as “catastrophic.” In your comments and your presentation you used the word “unprecedented” but have been unwilling to clarify the vagueness of the term even when asked – “unprecedented” over what period, and in what way? You have been unwilling to explain how your accusations of “fraud” or “bias” against Al Gore for failing to include error bars in An Inconvenient Truth square with your own error bar-free presentation of proxy data in your January 2011 slides. You’ve failed to address inconsistencies with how you think about climate models, accepting them in one case but rejecting them in another.

Over the course of this discussion you have also shown that you are loath to accept data when it’s presented to you. In only one case have you explicitly retracted a claim you made, but many other examples have been provided. I’ve demonstrated with links to papers that models do account for a number of factors you said they didn’t, but you haven’t acknowledged it. I’ve demonstrated with links and logical argument that your claims about the CRU emails are insufficient, but your only response was a personal insult. I’ve provided links that demonstrate your implication of “it’s all money-driven” don’t make financial sense, either for Michael Mann in particular or for climate scientists in general, yet you ignored them entirely. I provided a few links that demonstrate that your suggestions of a CFC ozone hole hoax are either incorrect or, at a minimum, lacking in critical nuance, yet you ignored them as well.

And now, after you’ve had your many fallacies pointed out to you, you’re falling back on personal insults delivered by an anonymous but “famous, brilliant, [and] astute” associate and an email of support from James Lovelock. Bringing up your famous friends is a red herring dragged across this discussion in an attempt to distract from your near complete failure to actually address the logic and data demonstrating that you are either incorrect about or ignorant of actual climate science and data.

Put simply, you’re ignoring the very guidelines and experience that made you such a great engineer.

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Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #304

Comment originally posted on February 15, 2012 at 1:13 pm

No, no connections to Heartland, Watts or any other org/people. Never gave $ to any climate group or any political org, and never intend to. As I have noted, my study of data presentation is just an interesting hobby, nothing else.

Many commenters on this thread have claimed that I have ignored their specific claims of fraud or errors on my part. Not true. I am following up on every comment that has been made and do plan to make corrections or notes on each relevant slide on my PPT. The next update will include those revisions as well as the additional data all of you have provided on this thread.

Thanks to all for your help. Accuracy is important to me.

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Brian Angliss’ response, from Comment #318

Comment originally posted on February 16, 2012 at 11:52 am


I’m glad to hear that you’re updating your slide presentation. I look forward to seeing it when you’re done.

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Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #323

Comment originally posted on February 16, 2012 at 11:44 pm

It is obvious that some of you are still not getting my point. You are arguing the science within the scientific community, presuming to offset the claims I have made about misconduct. However, that is not what compelled me to do my research at all. The big problem I saw and still see is that the message has been distorted when it gets fed and covered by the media, the key alarmists and all who benefit from ‘impending crisis’. Your field has thus been hijacked by those who benefit by its incorrect definition of catastrophic. I did show longer time scales on the temperature data and proxies not so much to discredit the deceiving hockey stick, but to address the overwhelming belief by the public and policy makers that the current warming is “unprecedented”, “dangerous” and nearing a “tipping point”. The fraud I see is that the scientists, who know it is not unprecedented, and know from all the past warmings in the last 11k years that a tipping point is not indicated at all, are content to be mute rather than honestly coming forward and publicly correcting the record.

It is clear that many climate scientists have a problem with the definition of CAGW. Of course they do. Like me, they know the planet has undergone some AGW the last 50 years. It not that the physics of greenhouse effect is fraudulent, it is a matter of how much is due to CO2 increases. With very few exceptions they will not personally go on the record claiming it is catastrophic.

Scientists also know that man’s portion of warming is difficult to determine. They had to include questionable feedbacks in their models to show AGW at levels high enough to scare. They are having difficulty confirming the theory by using the measured data. They continue to ‘correct’ past data and bias presentations to make the ‘facts’ fit their desires. They do know, when looking at all the past ‘normal’ warmings that we do not face imminent catastrophe now. They are acting more like advocates than like scientists.

The Media and the alarmists (political, hollywood, marketeers of carbon credits, folk who think it is ok to force increases in energy costs, etc) do understand the definition of CAGW. They use scary words all the time. They seem to like them. Like birds on a wire they fall in line with their predictions of doom. Ethical scientists should correct them. Lacking that, I and many others, am compelled to call them out on it.

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Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #336

Comment originally posted on February 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

After again shaking my head back in forth that you still do not understand my main point, I re-read my post and find that I indeed incorrectly stated my claim. I meant to blame the scientists for being mute, not blame the media for spreading distortions. Correction follows.

The big problem I saw and still see is that when the message gets distorted as it gets processed and published by the media/key alarmists/policy-makers, the science community is mute rather than speaking out to correct them. I assume they are mute since they know that any open debate by them will be interpreted as a lack of confidence in the certainty of CAGW.

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Burt Rutan’s response, from Comment #340

Comment originally posted on February 17, 2012 at 3:34 pm


This has become absurd. You refused to define a number of key terms. You ignored calls to explain inconsistencies in your own statements and between slides in your January 2011 presentation. You faild to acknowledge that I and others have made logical arguments that counter your own preconceived notions. You shifted goal posts several times on various subjects and appear to be in the process of trying to walk back your own claims about the hockey stick graph (“fraud” to “bias” to “deceiving”).

And simply claiming, as you did in #304 above, that you are making changes to your presentation based on these comments isn’t good enough – it’s a breach of blog etiquette to say “you’ll all get answers in X months when I publish my updated presentation” without answering the charges in the comment thread itself. But more than that, it’s a breach of your own professional duty as an ethical engineer too. Any time I’ve made a mistake in my career, I’ve owned up to it and personally informed everyone who was impacted by my mistake, and I apologized if an apology was warranted. I expect that you demanded the same from your people when you worked at Scaled Composites, and I expect the same from you.