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Monthly Archives: January 2011

I wish people would spend as much time reading my scientific papers as they do reading my e-mails. – Professor Phil Jones, CRU, University Of East Anglia, ‘BBC Q&A’, 13 Feb 2010

Over Christmas I had a frank discussion with two older relatives, both over 60, about Climate Change. They believe or pretend to believe that Climate Change is a crock for a number of spurious reasons typical of the anti-AGW denialist crowd. I see them as willing victims of popular media and popular political parties.

What makes them willing victims is their lifelong antipathy to the Green movement which has become an inaliable part of their identity. It is virtually impossible for these particular over-60’s to admit the Green’s might be correct about anything because to do so would force them to admit that they (the said over-60’s) were incorrect – which would be a massive affront to their pride, let alone their semi-religious belief in the superlative brilliance of the Capitalist economic system – which defeated the heretical Communist movement in the heroic good vs. evil struggle of the Cold War.

Admitting the Greens might be right is tantamount to admitting that their over-60’s Capitalist religion might be wrong. Which is unthinkable and undoable.

Existential Death
As I brilliantly summarized in another post, AGW is a death threat to Capitalism as a doctrinal system.

For those who have fully invested themselves into the belief that Capitalism is the best of all political systems, the possibility that it might be invalidated by any consideration is deeply emotionally and psychologically unsettling. That a Green cause, Climate Change, might be the proximate cause of the invalidation of Capitalism is, for the true believers, literally unthinkable, because Green Parties have always been regarded by them as hypocritical, irrational and unrealistic.

The death of Capitalism for so many represents a death of self, because of the intensity of their belief in the Capitalist system.

No-one wants to die.

So AGW must be denied

Both of my rels bought up the so-called East Anglia ClimateGate emails as proof of the unreliability of Climate Science. I cobbled together a short email of my own to refute their prejudices about the CRU which I now reproduce here.

My rebuttal material is fundamentally an extended plagiarism from the brilliant pro-AGW hypothesis web site Skeptical Science.

The East Anglia ‘ClimateGate’ emails were a beat up, pure and simple.

Quite simply there was nothing in the emails that contradicted or undermined the AGW hypothesis.

The emails and associated hysterical commentary were released to the public a few weeks before Copenhagen with the intention of derailing those talks. The emails were released publicly in conjunction with a coordinated media strategy on approx 20 November 2009. The Copenhagen Climate Conference commenced 6 December 2009.

The strategy of the Climategate/Anti-AGW crowd was to throw mud at the reputations of the climatologists associated with University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Climatic Research Unit (CRU) and thus run an argument against AGW/IPCC based on guilt-by-association of the entire climatological community.

The specific accusations against the climatologists located the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) are confected from quotes in the emails which are divorced of their context and then loaded with meanings not intended by the email authors.

Where The Heck Is Global Warming?

The Blog “New American” is typical of the tone.

For example, ‘New American’ quotes climatoligist Kevin Trenberth as writing

“I have my own article on where the heck is global warming? We are asking that here in Boulder… The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t.” 

And goes on to claim that that Trenberth’s comments constitute an admission that Climatoligists know that AGW is not real.

In fact, Trenberth was commenting on the inability of the Climate Models to predict exactly how heat is transferred through the Earth’s major systems (Land, Sea and Atmosphere) i.e. the mechanism by which the Earth’s total heat energy is distributed.

Trenberth was NOT saying that AGW is not real, that the average global temperature of the Earth was declining, that the Climate Models don’t accurately predict global warming, that C02 does not produce long-term warming or anything else that would contradict the AGW hypothesis.

Hide The Decline

Another infamous assertion of the ClimateGate crew was that Climatologist Phillip Jones admitted to falsifying temperature trends.

In an email dated 16/11/1999, Jones wrote:

I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”

Jones was not hiding anything.

In this email Jones is referring to a temperature proxy record known as Maximum Latewood Density (MXD) in which Earth’s historic temperature is derived by examination of tree-rings. Up until 1961 MXD accurately trends to actual temperatures as measured by instrumental data (weather stations). After that it diverges (declines) from the instrumental record. This ‘decline’, known as ‘The Divergence Problem’ has been discussed openly in the Scientific Literature since at least 1998.

In 1999 Jones produced a graph for the World Meteorological Organisation in which he spliced post 1961 instrumental data onto the tree-ring proxy data up until 1961 to produce a composite graph which ‘hides the decline’. His audience of professional climatologists who read the graph knew exactly what he was doing, which Jones openly stated anyway.

‘New American’, Fox News, The Australian and others of their ilk did not even try to understand what Jones’s graph was for, who it was intended for or what it meant. Even though Jones 1999 graph was never used by the IPCC (it was for the WMO), they just reported ‘IPCC Scientist Hides Declining Temperature Data’ and that therefore IPCC findings are falsified and unreliable.

The blog ‘American Thinker’ offers a relatively sophisticated critique of ‘Hide The Decline’ from an anti-AGW perspective but uses the word ‘Gotcha’ over and over again, not realising the decline or divergence has been known all across the Climatology field for decades.

Noting the divergence post-1961 American Thinker says the MXD series should be completely abandoned as a proxy temperature series but may not realise that from 1980 Solar Output levels also decline or diverge from instrumental record data.

To be consistent American Thinker should also advocate that the IPCC abandon Solar Output as a predictor or proxy record of Earth temperature. Of course no-one in their right mind would do so. Plainly both series become bad predictors of temperature at different points for different reasons. For MXD it is probably air pollution, for Solar Output the most likely thing ( > 95% according to the IPCC) is that human-generated C02 is causing a greenhouse effect.

Perverting Peer Review.

A serious allegation of the anti=AGW crowd was that CRU and the IPCC generally pressure journals to drop anti-AGW articles so that only pro-AGW articles get printed in the scientific literature.

The oft-quoted example is the journal Climate Research which published a very weak paper in 2003 by Soon and Baliunas. Jones wrote:

“I will be emailing the journal to tell them I’m having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor, a well-known skeptic in NZ.”

So, say the anti-AGW crowd, this proves that anti-AGW views are silenced. What the anti-AGW crew do not say is that a number of Climate Research’s own editors resigned over the publication of the paper, that the journal’s publisher admitted that the journal should have requested appropriate revisions of the manuscript prior to publication and that the Editor in Chief resigned on being refused permission by the publisher to write an editorial about what he regarded as a failure of the peer review system in place at the journal.

The anti-AGW paper by Soon and Baliunas was substandard. It should never have been published.

Destroying Data

A common charge against the IPCC and the CRU is that it destroyed or falsified temperature data. In fact this is impossible to do since the CRU does not own the temperature data. It collects its data from publicly available sources and anyone can get hold of it.

And as it turns out, the CRU temperature series, HadCRUT indicates one of the lowest global warming trends of any temperature series. Why falsify temperature data to make a lower than average assessment of climate change yet still argure Climate Change is a globally critical phenonemon demanding immediate action ?

We Could Continue

On a case-by-case basis every one of the attacks on the CRU can be shown to be absurd hyperbole. You can find a full rebuttal here

Unfortunately, the popular press is not very interested in Science, only controversy, and some papers such The Australian and some news outlets like Fox News are deliberately setting out to derail a sensible response to the problem of Climate Change. For ecample The Australian published no less than 85 stories about Climategate, but not one about the Muir Russell inquiry which cleared the CRU of any wrong doing.

So, Climategate is a beat up or, as Skeptical Science puts it, a ‘fake scandal’. Any reasonable consideration of the evidence shows that the CRU emails do not in any way undermine the AGW hypothesis.

Joseph and Benjamin

I have never really paid close attention to the story of Joseph before but while reading the story the other week I found myself asking “why didn’t Joseph simply tell his brothers who he was when they first turned up?” The whole shell game Joseph played with secret identities, silver cups, and elaborate feasts seems inordinately complex and a waste of time.

Some commentators take the line that Joseph orchestrated a number of tests for his brothers designed to bring them to awareness of their sin in selling Joseph into Egypt so that the brothers could make proper repentance before God and a true family reconciliation could take place based on full recognition of the brothers’ sin and its effect on Joseph.

The line is that Joseph with genius-level psychological and spiritual insight calmy pulls the emotional levers in his brothers until they become truly penitent for their past behaviour. Finally, at the apogee moment Joseph leaps out of the birthday cake with a big sign on saying “Surprise, surprise” and all live happily ever after.

I feel that this view misguidedly “canonises” Joseph, elevating him into a kind of spiritual superman while failing to take into account Joseph’s struggles with his feelings and his deep human pain at his past treatment by his family.

As in the lives of all the Patriarchs, beginning with Abraham, the real hero of Genesis is God, who regularly redeems the chronically bad choices made by His children (including those of Abraham), who actively protects His own promises, and who works through tragically flawed vessels for righteousness sake. In his deep mercy and lovingkindness, even while working his purposes for mankind at a global and cosmic level, God simultaneously reconciles brothers and families, bringing dignity to his people, even the cowardly (like Abraham and Isaac), the wantonly violent (like Simeon and Levi), the fornicators (like Judah), the duplicitous (like Jacob) and the emotionally slaughtered (like Joseph).

God’s ways are deep and tender.

When Joseph had his first son in Egypt he called him ‘Manasseh’ (which means ‘causing to forget’), saying ‘now I forget my family and my father’. For Joseph, his heritage was dead and buried. He was making his career and life in Egypt as an Egyptian. What a rude awakening when his 10 brothers suddenly appeared in his court during the famine.

What memories came flooding back. Imagine the pain that resurfaced in those moments. Joseph’s first response – he threw them all in jail for three days while he thought about…everything. It is not always pleasant when family turns up suddenly.

In his first reflections on this unexpected turn of events, Joseph recognises the fulfillment of the prophetic dreams of his youth. The brothers are here, bowing before him, but Joseph is concerned for Benjamin, not present at the first meeting, and for his aged father. In all Joseph’s interactions with the brothers before his revelation of his identity there are the repeated solicitous inquiries –

– What about your younger brother?
– What about your father? Is he alive?

For the 10 older brothers there is the repeated dismissal
– You are free to go

In my opinion, Joseph had no intention of reconciliation with his older brothers prior to the completion of their second visit. Their value to Joseph lay solely in the access they provided to Benjamin, which access Joseph guaranteed by holding Simeon captive prisoner (i.e. hostage) for several months after the first visit. The silver cup then provided the pretext for Joseph to retain Benjamin permanently in Egypt in Joseph’s care following their second visit. Joseph’s objective was to bring Benjamin to live with him in Israel while dismissing his older brothers back to Canaan and to continue his forgetting-life (Manasseh) separated from them.

Joseph, based on his own personal experience, did not trust his older brothers. After all, neither did Jacob, who had long ago figured out that the older brothers had disposed of Joseph and had (in Jacob’s opinion) killed him (see Genesis 42:36)

I am uncertain whether or not Joseph originally intended to reveal his identity to his brothers at the banquet. Overall I think Joseph wanted to tell his brothers who he was but was inhibited by the pain and mistrust he felt toward them. Certainly at the great feast that accompanied the arrival of Benjamin in Egypt there were two significant hints as to the identity of Joseph, these being the arrangement of the brother’s seating in age order and the favourable treatment given to Benjamin. A third hint followed during the search for the cup, which was also done in descending age order. These hints could be taken to show that Joseph wanted to make his identity known to his brothers but nevertheless his final words to them following their arrest for the frame-up on the silver cup were “go back to your father.”

It is Judah’s entreaty to Joseph which provides the catalyst to Joseph’s revelation of his identity and this speech is centred firmly on the sorrow that Jacob will experience at the loss of Benjamin. Judah’s speech thus hits Joseph in his weak points – his father and Benjamin. The emotional force of Judah’s entreaty overwhelms Joseph’s remaining barriers. The twin torrents of pain and love for his brothers are finally intermingled. He breaks down utterly. Love prevails. The whole family is reconciled and reunited.

I think the story of Joseph in Genesis 42-45 shows a progressive work of God in Joseph of forgiveness. God took Joseph on a journey from a wastleand of emotional denial (Manassah ‘I forget’) to rude pain (throw brothers in Jail) to masked affection (The Great Feast) to full reconciliation (I am Joseph). This was not achieved without significant emotional struggle. But God did it. He worked in Joseph and Joseph finally yielded.

I believe that Joseph knew at an early stage that he was God’s agent to protect the Abrahamic Messianic blessing on Israel – possibly as early as those first three days he had his brothers in the slammer. But Joseph tried to do his duty to God while simultaneously withholding family affection and reconciliation – ask Simeon about Egyptian jails sometime – but as God worked in Joseph, he gradually moved closer to true relationaship with his brothers. Lots of masks were first involved but God ripped them off in His time and to His glory, for the benefit of His children 🙂

A question that appears to undermine my analysis of Joseph’s attitudes is “when did Joseph decide to settle his family in Goshen ?”.

Immediately after Judah’s entreaty and Joseph’s self-revelation Joseph comforts his brothers with a description of their family history centred on God’s sovereign will and His promises to Abraham, which also encompasses the realities of the present famine and Joseph’s response to it on behalf of his family (Gen 45:5-11). This short speech by Joseph in which he guarantees Israel’s habitation of Goshen is rich in understanding of God’s plans and promises and exhibits careful forethought. It is obvious that Joseph could not have produced this analysis without careful prayer and reflection. I think it is on this basis that most commentators make their Joseph Spiritual/Psychological superman line.

I agree that Joseph knew what God wanted him to do with his family (i.e. house them in Goshen), what I disagree with is the view that Joseph was always willing to do so. In the first instance I think that Joseph felt he would guarantee Israel’s survival by periodically selling them grain (Gen 43:34). Just as God progressively worked in Joseph for forgiveness I think that God progressively worked in Joseph for compliance to His plans. By the time the brothers had been framed for the cup Joseph knew what he had to do (house them in Goshen), but his pain and mistrust of the brothers prevented his obedience. Remember those last words before Judah’s entreaty – ‘The rest of you may go home to your father’. Judah’s entreaty based on Jacob’s feelings and fate being intertwined with that of Benjamin undid Joseph. That speech was God’s final instrument in God’s work in Joseph vis-a-vis reconciliation with his brothers.

The great benefit of viewing the story of Joseph in this way, I believe, is that it leaves it in harmony with the other Patriachal narratives. (In Craig Groves’s terms “we have more treasure value”.)

In all the other narratives from Genesis 12, God is the hero, working with and in and in despite of fallible, disobedient, sinful humanity to protect his promises to Abraham. Abraham gives his wife away, so God has to get her back for him. Isaac does the same, then underhandedly tries to re-sell the birthright to Esau against God’s prophetic word. God intervenes to pass the blessing in line with his word. Barren wives bring forth children, famines ruin the land, but God protects his word. Joseph’s struggle to completely forgive his brothers would have left Israel in a parlous state, dependent on intermittent trade for survival and teetering on the brink of starvation for the next five years. God wanted them in Goshen where they could prosper and multiply. His obstacle was Joseph, just as his obstacles had been Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Making Joseph the hero of his narrative pushes God put of the picture somewhat. It is God who gave Joseph his dreams, God who interpereted them, God who blessed Joseph in prison and in Potiphar’s house and God who dealt with Joseph’s brothers and Joseph’s own pain.

God is the hero.
Of Genesis and every other story.


The “Joseph as Hero” scenario has it that Joseph engineered repentance and confession in his brothers and it is this that allowed Joseph to reveal his identity, since the preconditions for true reconciliation had been made. But the brothers never confessed fault to Joseph. Judah’s entreaty mentioned only Jacob’s supposed belief that Joseph had been killed by wild animals – but Judah knew that not even Jacob really believed that. The only brother to admit murderous intent while in Egypt was Reuben, and he had never agreed to the plot anyway, and when he spoke of it he wasn’t talking to Jospeh.

The brothers never confessed anything to Joseph.


1. Simeon
Why, of all the brothers, did Joseph select Simeon to be held hostage ? Reuben was the eldest, but Reuben was opposed to killing Joseph at the time the other older brothers had hatched their plan in Dothan those many years ago and had ended up dumping him in a cistern. Simeon was second-eldest and had a reputation for excessive violence (Genesis 49:5, Genesis 34). It is possible he was the ring-leader of the plot. Maybe Joseph was enacting revenge.

2. Forgiveness
Our Lord’s Messianic promises to Abraham ended up being secured and protected through the vehicle of forgiveness. This is another way in which Joseph is a type of Christ who fulfills the Messianic prophecies and obtains descendants uncountable like the stars for Abraham through His cross and the forgiveness of sinners.

AW Pink has catalogued / 100 types of Christ in the life of Joseph