Watt about Monckton and the 97%?

I must admit that the continual attack on the Cook et al. (2013) Consensus paper is all getting a little tedious. I would have thought that people might have moved on by now. Maybe one could aim the same criticism as me and argue that I too should just let it drop, but it’s hard to simply ignore something that you think is wrong. If you wish to ignore this post, feel free to do so.

The most recent is a Watts Up With That (WUWT) article by Christopher Monckton. The article is called 97% climate consensus denial : the debunkers debunked. As Sou has already mentioned, Monckton’s post is remarkably childish. It’s full of snippy little insults. Refers to the Cook et al. raters as paid schoolboy interns in propaganda studies. Uses terms like brats, zit-faces’. Rather ironic that Monckton refers to himself and his colleagues as the grown-ups and Cook et al. as the kids. Based on the style of this article I would argue that it’s more likely the other way around.

Monckton’s article appears to be based on the recent paper by Legates, Soon, Briggs and Monckton that attempts to debunk the Cook et al. (2013) study. In fact, the Legate et al. paper seems to actually be a comment on an entirely different paper (Bedford & Cook, 2013) but then veers into a discussion of the Cook et al. consensus study. As a basic summary, the Legates et al. paper appears to essentially redefine the Cook et al. study and then point out that they got the wrong answer. Quite a remarkable strategy. You’re wrong because you didn’t do what we thought you should do.

In a little more detail, however, here is the basic premise of the Legate et al. study. The IPPC position is that more than 50% of the warming since about 1950 is due to enhanced greenhouse gas concentrations. Cook et al. had 7 different endorsement categories that they explain quite clearly. These range from explicitly endorse (with quantification), explicitly endorse (without quantification), implicitly endorse, have no position, implicitly reject, explicitly reject (without quantification), and explicitly reject (with quantification). The basic result of the Cook et al. study was that of those papers that stated a position with respect to anthropogenic global warming (AGW), 97.1% endorsed AGW. Legates et al. claim that only those that are explicitly and quantifiably consistent with the IPCC position (that half the warming since 1950 is anthropogenic) can be regarded as endorsements. They find 41 such abstracts (Cook et al. find 64). There were a total of 11944 abstracts rated and hence Legate et al. claim the endorsement fraction is 0.3%, not 97%.

Firstly, and obviously, Legate et al. have decided to include all the abstracts when determining the level of consensus. Why would that be reasonable (and yes, this is a rhetorical question)? Clearly many take no position and hence should not be included in the calculation. There is, I think, a more fundamental problem with the assumptions in Legate et al. Yes, the IPCC position may be that at least half the warming since 1950 was anthropogenic, but it’s also that any future warming will be anthropogenic. There is no scenario in which we can have continued warming that isn’t anthropogenic. There is no known natural process that can produce future warming at the level of 2 to 3 degrees by the end of the 21st century. A large fraction of the abstracts surveyed by Cook et al. considered the future impact of climate change/global warming or whether or not we should mitigate against climate change/global warming. Any abstract that indicated that their model suggested that there would be an impact, in the future, due to global warming is, by default, endorsing the IPCC position. Any abstract that indicated that their model indicates that we should act to mitigate against global warming (or discussed the need to mitigate against future global warming) also endorsed the IPCC position. If AGW is wrong, there is no future warming (or no evidence that we should expect any future warming) and hence there will be no impact and no need to mitigate.

Now, I have a feeling that the Cook et al. raters were quite cautious and didn’t simply rate all impact and mitigation papers – that indicated that there would be an impact or a need to mitigate – as endorsing the IPCC position. I think they actually required that the abstract made a more definitive statement with regards to AGW. As I mentioned in an earlier post I rated 133 abstracts and found a very similar fraction of endorse and no position abstracts as found by Cook et al. (I didn’t find any reject, but only because I didn’t rate enough abstracts).

Now some seem to argue that some of these papers are written by people who are not actually studying if there will be future warming or if the warming since 1950 was mostly anthropogenic. The argument is then that these papers shouldn’t be included because such authors aren’t expert enough to know if the science associated with AGW is right or wrong. The point is, however, that the Cook et al. study was not intended to determine if the science is right or wrong. It was simply attempting to establish the level of consensus in the literature. It’s extremely common to use results from one study in a different study. Those carrying out the new study don’t need to redo all the work from the first study, they simply use the results. Of course they shouldn’t simply use it as a black box. They should understand what it applies to, when it’s appropriate and anything else they need to know to establish if they’re using the results properly. It’s therefore entirely reasonable to use how often something is used in the literature as a measure of acceptance/endorsement. If there are many different models as to how something might work, you’d expect to see that reflected in the literature. Over time, you’d expect certain models to disappear as it becomes clear that they’re not correct and eventually one might dominate. That would indicate the level of endorsement for that particular model.

So, I should acknowledge that I wasn’t involved in the Cook et al. study so really can’t say for certain that there aren’t problems with their result. As I’ve said before, though, this should be established by doing another study, not by trying to pick holes in what they’ve done (especially if this is done by redefining what they did). I should also add that my assessment here is my interpretation of the actual IPCC position and hence why I think the Cook et al. endorsement categories are appropriate. If anyone thinks I’ve interpreted this incorrectly, feel free to comment. It does seem, though, that a lot of the discussion around the Cook et al. study is based on a mis-understanding of the IPCC position. One might hope that this could be cleared up quite easily. One might quite easily be wrong though.

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121 Responses to Watt about Monckton and the 97%?

  1. Rachel says:

    Oh god, don’t tell me Christopher Monckton actually has his name on a published paper! I see he felt the need to put it as CM of Brenchley, as though that last bit is important. How did that paper pass peer review?

  2. I believe that he is now, indeed, an author of a peer-reviewed paper. We all know that that really doesn’t mean anything. I suspect we may never hear the end of it though.

  3. Rachel says:

    I still think it might be worthwhile to create some sort of online voting system whereby every climate scientist in the world can vote yay or nay for whether they think humans are mostly to blame for climate change. I can’t see how anyone could criticise the results of this provided it was a secure system and the majority of scientists voted. Of course, it’s probably not worth the effort but it would surely be less time consuming than the process Cook went through. The most difficult aspect would be compiling the list of scientists. Not an impossible task though.

  4. I think it still wouldn’t work. Wasn’t the BEST survey funded by some right-wing think tank and the idea was that they would be unbiased and the skpetics said they’d accept the result. Well that didn’t work as far as I can tell.

  5. Rachel says:

    Which survey was that? I haven’t heard of it. Yes, you’re probably right, they’ll never accept anything. I still think it’s worthwhile though, having these consensus studies done though because it’s repetition (which is what the contrarians do all the time – repeating the same nonsense things) and this repetition will eventually filter through to the uninterested public. Look how much publicity Obama’s tweet about the consensus got? That has done far more good than the nonsense the contrarians do by trying to pull it apart.

  6. Sorry, that wasn’t very clear. BEST was the Berkely Earth Surface Temperature project. It was an independent test of the GISS, HadCRUT, NOAA surface temperatures. Some (Anthony Watts I think) said they’d accept the result as they trusted those who were doing the work. When it replicated the other datasets they were somewhat quiet and still go on about UHI. There’s more here.

  7. I guess Wotts is referring to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project.

    I am quite sure that no matter how well done a survey among climate scientists would be, the climate ostriches would not like the number and would produce a similar flood of nonsense posts. They will find some insignificant details to complain about or make them up.

  8. Rachel says:

    Oh yes, I have heard of that. Sadly, I think many contrarians will not accept the science until the changes to our climate become more apparent to them personally.

  9. Talking of insignificant details, I’m currently embroiled in a Twitter debate because, in my previous post, I used the term “recovery” and David Rose (in his Daily Mail article) used the term “rebound” – when referring to the September 2013 Arctic sea ice extent. Apparently they mean completely different things, which was news to me.

  10. > You’re wrong because you didn’t do what we thought you should do.

    That might be OK, as long as follows “here’s what doing it like we think it should have been looks like”.

    This what separates constructive criticism from Climateball.

    This is where Richard failed so far.

  11. BBD says:

    Well, obviously, climate is a bouncing ball and it “rebounds”!

    🙂

  12. If David means rebound in a technical sense, ask him if he would buy, hold or sell, and how much he’s willing to lose.

  13. Rachel says:

    I don’t know how you do it. There are so many mistakes and biases in that article and to focus on something insignificant like the word “recovery” is just a deflection in my view.

  14. dbostrom says:

    “I would have thought that people might have moved on by now. ”

    Absolutely not. Creating and feeding the impression of “no consensus” is the bedrock of the denial apparatus, perhaps even the keystone of the arch supporting the shambles.

  15. Martin says:

    The most interesting question is, of course, why you are embroiled in that twitter debate. When you say that you are relatively new to the climate debate, I never understood that to mean that you did not use the internet until six months ago, mdr.

  16. BBD says:

    Martin

    I’ve been an internet user since ~1990 but I don’t have or desire to have a Twitter account.

  17. For a long time, I thought the 97% consensus paper to be irrelevant, demonstrating only what was obvious to anybody who ever opened a random issue of any climate journal, but now I am beginning to wonder if it is not a marvellous stratagem. Is it a decoy on which the deniers will foolishly exhaust themselves, and thereby have less energy to harass scientists; or a lure to get the “respectable” contrarians to reveal their true nature.

  18. Martin says:

    Which was, of course, exactly not my point. But then, probably I just didn’t get what I wanted to say it, or something. You know, given our rather obvious communicational Sapir-WHAT?!?-y mismatch I’ll resolve the problem by not further reading you, so that none of us loses time on this tedious nonsense, which is also sort of what my comment was about, so I’ve come ( magically) full circle, arrested by the wonders of mother nature.

    Wait, there was internet in the 1990s? (Trick question, think about it!)

  19. Martin and BBD, you make a perfectly valid point. I sometimes wonder why I have a Twitter account myself. I still get caught out quite regularly but thinking that someone I’m engaging with is being honest, only to discover otherwise when it’s a little too late. One of my many failings that I’m trying to improve on as I learn more 🙂

  20. Yes, I agree. It’s quite reasonable to do the study in a different way. In a sense the Legate et al. paper has at least attempted to actually do something with the data to try and show a different result. Having said that, they effectively change the study from how the IPCC position is endorsed in the literature to how much of the literature actually directly addresses the IPCC position. If you’re going to do something differently you have to actually be trying to test the same thing as the other study, not something different.

  21. I knew when I wrote that sentence that I was being naive 🙂

  22. An interesting possibility. I have argued before that, academically, the consensus paper has been a success simply because of it’s impact. That’s irrespective of whether or not it’s “right” or “wrong”. Additionally, as you suggest, it could be seen as a success through the impact it is having on those who are pseudo-skeptical.

  23. How about a post on the value of Twitter in science communication?

    Some of my colleagues seem to like it. From following twitter on the twitter homepage occasionally, I fail to understand why.

  24. Martin says:

    Well, it was quite a long shot, but I am happy that we have succeded in our demonstration.

  25. Victor, it’s an interesting idea but I don’t think I could write a coherent post on the subject. I can see value in simply discovering information. People post links to articles and papers and you read things you may not have read otherwise. You could do this without Twitter, but it does make it easier. You can also engage with people with whom you wouldn’t otherwise engage. Michael Mann, Gavin Schmidt, Tamsin Edwards, and others. However, as far as a site for debating these contentious topics, it’s more negative than positive as far as I can tell. You can block or ignore people, but even that can be taken as meaning something by those who are trying to be distruptive. So, I’m not really sold on Twitter despite using it.

  26. Martin, I’m not quite following what your demonstration was about, but maybe that was the point 🙂

  27. BBD says:

    Martin

    Posting incoherent nonsense and then blaming others for finding your nonsense incoherent is not constructive.

  28. toby52 says:

    On Skeptical Science today, Tom Curtis mentioned Bray & von Storch (2010), a survery of climate scientists whose results differ from Cook, Anderegg and others.

    As he points out, the results do not differ enough for them to give any comfort to deniers. And there are other results that are downright embarrassing, like only 1.35% of scientists believing there are no anthropogenic effects in climate change.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/debunking-climate-consensus-denial.html

    http://gkss.helmholtz.de/imperia/md/content/gkss/zentrale_einrichtungen/bibliothek/berichte/gkss_berichte_2010/gkss_2010_9_.pdf

  29. Fragmeister says:

    I notice that David Archibald’s piece about solar activity began with a statement about consensus on future solar output. Interesting that there is no discussion about science not proceeding by consensus on that claim. What’s sauce for the goose must be sauce for the gander.

  30. That is already a short post. Thanks. I was mainly thinking of the dysfunctional debates I had seen, but had not considered twitter as scientific information source.

  31. Wow, another great scientist with the Holocaust and the exhaust.

  32. Denier (n) an old small French silver coin [signifying how cheaply bought some prominent contrarians have been], also later, a copper coin of the value of 1/2 sou [and the rest even cheaper], hence a very trifling sum [of their arguments]; a unit of silk, rayon and nylon yarn weight [signifying how threadbare contrarian arguments are].

    Seems entirely appropriate.

  33. Martin says:

    Though offtopic, a long read by Henry Farrell (via crookedtimber) that might be interesting with regard to to climate wars in general, and Monckton, particularly:

    http://www.democracyjournal.org/30/the-tech-intellectuals.php

    Especially this here:

    “By criticizing prominent intellectuals in ways that are both offensive and extravagantly wrong, Morozov tempts these intellectuals to respond in public. Their response (and Morozov’s further responses to the response) attracts still more controversy and attention, fueling the next phase of a repeating cycle. When this strategy works, it creates a kind of perpetual motion machine of error and public controversy. The world being what it is, the error is forgotten, the controversy remembered, enhancing Morozov’s stature and lecture visibility.”

  34. Interesting, thanks. The quote you include is very apt. Not that I am an intellectual, but I have already learned that any discussion with “skeptics” is invariably never-ending, actually achieves nothing and ends up focusing on something (the meaning of a word, for example) that is largely irrelevant to what started the original discussion.

  35. Hypocrisy, irony (or ignorance of), and lack of self-awareness seem quite common amongst some associated with the climate change/global warming debate.

  36. I wasn’t aware of the Bray & von Storch study. Probably because it has been conveniently ignored by those who would normally dispute such things. Still seems reasonably consistent with the basic Cook et al. result though.

  37. Richard, I wonder how Sou will respond to the suggestion that she is only twice the value of a denier 🙂

  38. Tom Curtis says:

    I was tossing up bringing up Bray and von Storch here in response to this claim by Monckton:

    “What does the silly Cook survey really reveal? It reveals the utter stupidity of all such headcounts among scientists; despite the authors’ attempt at artful suppression, it reveals the truly interesting and no doubt unintended result that explicit support among climate scientists for the IPCC’s version of consensus is vanishingly different from zero; and, above all, it reveals that the overwhelming majority of climate scientists do not express political opinions about the climate in their published papers. They just get on with the science.”

    In fact, Bray and von Storch show that 93.808% are significantly convinced that “climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic, is occurring now” (question 20); that 83.51% are significantly convinced that “most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes” (question 21), and crucially 78.92% are significantly convinced that “climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to
    humanity” (question 22, my emphasis). It is left to the respondents (and readers) interpretation as to whether a threat to a sufficiently large number of humans constitutes a threat to humanity, or whether that must involve a threat of extinction.

    Personally I consider Bray and von Storch’s questions poorly phrased in a way which is likely to bias the results against the consensus position. Given that, I think these values are lower limits and that the true values for questions 20 and 21 at least are likely to be above 95%. (Of course, the actual value will also depend on how you define “climate scientist”.) But there is no way to honestly go from Bray and von Storch’s 83.51% to Monckton’s (incoherent) “vanishingly different from zero”.

    Being fair, defenders of climate science have also tended to ignore Bray and von Storch in discussions of the consensus partly because the values are different from the typical >95% consensus found in other studies; and partly (I suspect) because it is dubious as to whether 84% consent can be properly called a consensus. Bray and von Storch do not fit comfortably with either sides constructed narrative, even though if accepted as being accurate, it resoundingly refutes the denier strategy.

  39. Thanks, Tom. Interesting. I guess the Bray & von Storch analysis wasn’t published (or peer-reviewed) but still does rather refutes the idea that the consensus is 0.3%. Maybe 84% isn’t actually a consensus, but it’s still fairly overwhelming.

  40. Telford seems to have done his research well. He went straight to the point. I didn’t know ‘denier’ meant someone who could be bought for money. I used to think it was someone who denied the Holocaust happened.

  41. In all seriousness, denier just means someone who denies something. In fact, below is the definition of the word in the first online dictionary that I could find after typing denier into google (well, I first found Richard’s definition).

    a person who denies something, especially someone who refuses to admit the truth of a concept or proposition that is supported by the majority of scientific or historical evidence:
    a prominent denier of global warming
    a climate change denier

    So, alone, the word “denier” does not mean someone who denied that the holocaust happened. That is a “holocaust denier”. You can’t just choose to ascribe context to what someone else said just because you would like it to sound worse than it explicitly appears.

  42. Rachel says:

    It’s fair to say that I am in denial that Tony Abbott is now Prime Minister of Australia.

  43. Tom Curtis says:

    Yes, Rachel. But that is a different sort of denial, being one of the stages of grief.

  44. chris says:

    “I didn’t know ‘denier’ meant someone who could be bought for money. I used to think it was someone who denied the Holocaust happened.”

    Really Shub?.. better tell David Bellamy “I am a denier, and proud to be one” that you’ve unilaterally redefined usage of a perfectly appropriate noun used in context. Dr. Bellamy was talking in response to questions on his views on climate science and so the context of his comment is clear (even if his opinions on climate science are ill-informed).

    Dr. Richard Lindzen also self-identifies with the term:

    For his part, MIT’s Lindzen told the BBC in 2010 that he rejects the “skeptic” label because it should be reserved for situations where one is contradicting a “strong presumptive case,” which he insists is not the case with climate change. “I like ‘denier,’ that’s closer than ‘skeptic,’” he said when asked about labels he preferred for himself. “Realist is not bad.”

    Rather in contrast to your faux concern, Dr. Lindzen is Jewish and in fact his parents fled Nazi Germany to arrive in the US.

    If these individuals are able to deal rationally with the semantic context of words, it’s very difficult to understand why you struggle to do so…..

  45. Has global warming stopped?

  46. Marco says:

    Wotts, note that Shub has pushed you into a discussion on the meaning of words again, with the explicit aim to disrupt the discussion (tone trolling).

  47. I hate being called names and you call that a ‘concern’?

  48. Nice ‘discussion’ you guys were having there. I’ll leave you gentlemen to it.

  49. Shub, noone has called you a name. You seem to have assumed that a general comment made by someone referred to you. Why would you assume such a thing?

  50. chris says:

    Not really Shub,

    Clearly Professor Lindzen in choosing the term “denier” to describe himself in that particular context is not associating himself with Holocaust denialism. Your attempt to link the term “denier” to Holocaust denialism is, in fact, rather creepy and repellent.

  51. Marco says:

    Shub, if you hate being called names (which appears to be a complaint about the word “denier”), can you please tell me why it is OK for you to use the word “gentlemen” in such obvious sarcastic manner?

  52. I can imagine that the percentage of climatologists that is sceptical is higher as the percentage of papers.

    Personally I know quite of few of such climatologists. Being against and trying to find holes is a good personality trait for a scientist. Many cite the exaggerated media stories on the consequences of climate change (as if that changes the value of the above non-exaggerated questions). Like the climate ostriches they are typically old, have no stakes in the future any more.

    That you do not notice these sceptical climatologists in the scientific literature is because they do not have good arguments for it. Thus they cannot write an interesting paper about it.

  53. Tom Curtis says:

    Victor, from Anderegg et al, we know that scientists who are “convinced by the evidence” publish at approximately twice the rate of those who are “not convinced by the evidence”. Based on that, and taking Cook et al on the proportion of papers, that would suggest 94.2% of climate scientists accept that >50% of recent warming is due to anthropogenic causes.

    Interestingly, from Bray and von Storch in question 41a we find that only 3.145 % of climate scientists think that the IPCC has overestimated (responses 6 & 7) future warming, while 89.38% think the IPCC is essentially correct (3 -5), and 4.4697% think the IPCC underestimate future warming (responses 1 & 2). It is difficult to fathom on what basis IPCC estimates could be considered accurate without acceptance of IPCC figures on forcings and climate sensitivity. Therefore for the 93.85% of respondents who think the IPCC is accurately predicting or underestimating future warming, it is likely inconsistent for them to believe that less than 50% of recent warming (ie, since 1950) has been due to anthropogenic factors, a fact that strongly supports my contention that the wording of question 21 distorted the response. Excluding respondents who did not answer that question on the survey, the number rises to 96.8%. (Amazing how the 97% figure just keeps coming up.)

  54. Dennis Bray says:

    I would like to point out that there is a common weakness in ‘consensus’ studies, namely that consensus on what is seldom clearly specified and the conclusion generally reached is that ‘the science is settled’, rather than what aspect(s) of the science. I contend that often two (or more) accounts of consensus refer to different things. I have pointed this out in the peer reviewed paper:

    Bray, D., 2010: The Scientific Consensus of Climate Change Revisited, Environmental Science & Policy 13 (2010) 340-350

    http://www.academia.edu/3077313/The_Scientific_Consensus_of_Climate_Change_Revisited

    Abstract: This paper first reviews previous work undertaken to assess the level of scientific consensus concerning climate change, concluding that studies of scientific consensus concerning climate change have tended to measure different things. Three dimensions of consensus are determined: manifestation, attribution and legitimation. Consensus concerning these dimensions are explored in ore detail using a time series of data from surveys of climate scientists. In most cases, little difference is discerned between those who have participated in the IPCC process and those who have not. Consensus however, in both groups does not equal unanimity. Results also suggest rather than a single group proclaiming the IPCC does not represent consensus, there are now two groups, one claiming the IPCC makes over estimations (a group previously labeled skeptics, deniers, etc.) and a relatively new formation of a group (many of whom have participated in the IPCC process) proclaiming the IPCC tends to underestimate some climate related phenomena.

    Taking a constructive approach to determining what is agreed upon and how much agreement there is, rather than polar mudslinging, might just work to the benefit of science.

    @ Tom Curtis

    Re: “Personally I consider Bray and von Storch’s questions poorly phrased in a way which is likely to bias the results against the consensus position. Given that, I think these values are lower limits and that the true values for questions 20 and 21 at least are likely to be above 95%”

    Sorry, no questionnaire is perfect. But you do point out one of the major flaws in the peripheral climate debate. There are far too many ‘I thinks’ and too little ‘this is what objective research indicates’. It’s quite insightful how simply think, with no evidence to back you claim, that my reported ‘values are lower limits and that the true values for questions 20 and 21 at least are likely to be above 95%’. Perhaps I should tell you what ‘I think’ about such statement, but I will leave that for another day.

  55. Thanks for the comment. I agree that consensus studies have the kind of weaknesses you suggest. It is, in some sense, an odd thing to do as it is not something that would be done in other fields. It seems that the consensus studies are a response to claims/implications/suggestions that there is not a strong agreement within the scientific community with regards to climate change. Presumably, they will always be partly political. I’m not sure that I completely agree that the conclusion reached is that the “science is settled”. That is certainly how it is perceived by some and this is then used to claim that this is an attempt to “speak with authority”.

    I have felt that much of the discussions associated with Cook et al. (for example) has tried to be careful and make it clear that this does not indicate that the science is settled, but does indicate a strong level of agreement. I do agree, however, that distinguishing between which aspects are well understood and which aren’t isn’t always all that well done. I will say, however, that this seems to be a fundamental problem in this whole debate. If we could get people to recognise which aspects are well understood and which aren’t, it would be quite an important step in the right direction.

  56. Tom Curtis says:

    Dennis Bray, it is unfortunate that your first sally on this forum is a direct misrepresentation of me as just thinking there are flaws in your study “with no evidence to back your claim”. In fact, some of my reasons are linked to above by Toby52. Specifically:

    “I think this survey question poorly framed. IMO, somebody who thinks that there is a 5% probability that it will rain today and a 95% probability that it will not is not “a little convinced that it will rain”. Rather, they are mostly convinced that it will not. Therefore, as the survey question is asked, anybody who responds with a value greater than 1 is at least 50/50 on the proposition, and likely much greater. Of course, people understand the context of survey questions, and will often treat the middle value as 50/50 even when the logic of the question suggests they should not. As a result, and as a result of the significant disagreement with other relevant surveys, I consider the poor framing of the question to have biased the result low.”

    Frankly, considering the ambiguity of “a little bit convinced that” (ie, does it indicate that you entertain a slight doubt regarding the negation of the proposition, or that you are more than 50/50 in your acceptance of it) , I am surprised that you changed the grading system from that in prior surveys where you asked respondents on their level of agreement, ranked from strongly agreed to strongly disagreed in 7 grades. The former wording allowed far less ambiguity.

    However, given ambiguity of the question, it is reasonable; and given the low value compared to other, similar surveys – it is reasonable to conclude that your result is at the low end of the spectrum. This is particularly the case with Cook et al, which asks whether papers endorse that >50% of recent warming is anthropogenic in origin. Most directly comparable are the responses in self ratings, in which 96.4% of authors responding indicated that their papers endorsed that view. On the not unreasonable assumption that authors agree with the contents of their papers, that indicates endorsement levels among scientists >90%, and probably greater than 95%.

    More important still, are the responses to question 41a of your survey, which are inconsistent with the responses to question 21, as discussed above. In brief, the high level of agreement with IPCC temperature projections is inconsistent with a belief that anthropogenic forcings are not the major driver of recent and near future temperature changes. This inconsistency of result in a single survey strongly suggests that a significant number of respondents have misinterpreted the more ambiguous of the two questions (question 21).

    Finally, I find it very ironic to be accuse of not presenting evidence when I more than anybody else in forums I frequent draw attention to your survey including the result I think is biased low; and when I make a point of presenting my reasons for thinking it is biased low so that my readers can both read your survey and my reasons and make up their own minds. Perhaps you would prefer the quiet oblivion to which climate change deniers and many defenders of climate science consign your survey?

  57. Dennis Bray says:

    Tom, you wrote:

    “it is unfortunate that your first sally on this forum is a direct misrepresentation of me as just thinking there are flaws in your study “with no evidence to back your claim”. In fact, some of my reasons are linked to above by Toby52. Specifically:

    “I think this survey question poorly framed. IMO, somebody who thinks that there is a 5% probability that it will rain today and a 95% probability that it will not is not “a little convinced that it will rain”. Rather, they are mostly convinced that it will not. Therefore, as the survey question is asked, anybody who responds with a value greater than 1 is at least 50/50 on the proposition, and likely much greater. Of course, people understand the context of survey questions, and will often treat the middle value as 50/50 even when the logic of the question suggests they should not. As a result, and as a result of the significant disagreement with other relevant surveys, I consider the poor framing of the question to have biased the result low.””
    I think you will find that the range of possible responses in my questions is:
    1 = not at all (or something representing a total absence)
    to
    7 = a great deal (or something representing a total presence/level of agreement))
    In which case, a value of 1 does not mean ‘a 5% probability it will rain’ or that someone is ‘a little bit convinced’. If someone has interpreted the question and responses differently than they were posed, it is not the fault of the survey. If anyone is interested, the survey results, contain the questions and response ranges can be downloaded here:
    http://www.hzg.de/imperia/md/content/gkss/zentrale_einrichtungen/bibliothek/berichte/gkss_berichte_2010/gkss_2010_9_.pdf
    Accordingly, you state
    “However, given ambiguity of the question, it is reasonable; and given the low value compared to other, similar surveys – it is reasonable to conclude that your result is at the low end of the spectrum.”
    Is it not also reasonable to conclude that perhaps the other surveys contained an inherent bias?
    You continue:
    ”This is particularly the case with Cook et al, which asks whether papers endorse that >50% of recent warming is anthropogenic in origin. Most directly comparable are the responses in self ratings, in which 96.4% of authors responding indicated that their papers endorsed that view. On the not unreasonable assumption that authors agree with the contents of their papers, that indicates endorsement levels among scientists >90%, and probably greater than 95%.”
    Unfortunately Tom, this doesn’t tell us much at all. The majority of climate scientists agree there is some anthropogenic influence, and according to Cook, anthropogenic influence is claimed to account for more than 50% of this warming. Just a brief digression given recent assessments “What warming?”
    No one would disagree with that there is a considerable likelihood that anthropogenic behavior has had some influence.
    I am not familiar with the Cook’s survey nor any peer reviewed papers associated with it, but I would like to know more about the sampling.
    Given that attribution studies are in the early stage I phrased the question a little differently:
    21. How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes? Note, I am talking about the complex of climate change, not temperature rise.
    Tom continues:
    More important still, are the responses to question 41a of your survey, which are inconsistent with the responses to question 21, as discussed above. In brief, the high level of agreement with IPCC temperature projections is inconsistent with a belief that anthropogenic forcings are not the major driver of recent and near future temperature changes
    The two questions in question are:
    21. How convinced are you that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes?
    41a. The IPCC reports tend to under estimate, accurately reflect (a value of 4) or overestimate the magnitude of future changes to temperature
    Sorry Tom but for someone who claims an education in philosophy, I cannot follow your logic. Question 21 is about science; Question 41a is about the ICPP. Question 21 is a question about attribution; question 41a is a question about legitimation. Question 21 is about science; Question 41a is about what science thinks of the IPCC.
    I find your final paragraph equally as confusing. True I am not familiar with your other blog postings or comments (speaking of quiet oblivion), but I am afraid in your comment to which I responded I saw no excerpts of any of the surveys you mention; ie. You did not present anything empirical in which a reader could make an informed decision.
    If as you say I ‘prefer the quiet oblivion to which climate change deniers and many defenders of climate science consign your survey?’ and if this was the case, I would be proud, it has never been my intention to bias my work towards either polar extreme in the climate change fray. The intention has been to attempt to derive an objective picture of what the majority of climate scientist think. Perhaps I am old school but headlines, fame or infamy just do not fit in my scheme of things.

    Finally, I took the liberty of looking at your web page. First, I would have to say, that it is extremely biased towards the climate change alarmist position, adding nothing constructive, only mere criticism of your archenemies. Second, on the matter of remaining in oblivion, people who live in glass houses …

  58. Dennis Bray says:

    One of the most obvious faults is the assumption that the IPCC reports are accepted as representing the perceptions of the broader climate science community. Often the IPCC and the climate science community are treated as being synonymous. They are not. Most of the questions in my surveys are designed with the help of climate scientists and with the purpose for climate scientists to distinguish which aspects of the science are well understood and which aren’t. If some people choose to use these arguments to represent one of the polar positions in the debate, that is his or her choice, but it was not the intention of the surveys to provide fodder for either position. Perhaps this is why, as Tom Curtis says, the survey results remain in relative oblivion. (Although 5000 downloads of the last survey in one weekend speaks to the contrary.) I attempt to stay away from the mudslinging that seems to contradict one extreme or the other. Finally, although I am not certain, didn’t Al Gore, in a testimony to Congress declare that “The science is settled”? (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9047642) And, I do think this does seem to be the conclusion reached by many of the alarmist persuasion, scientist or otherwise, explicit or otherwise.

  59. Dear Dennis Bray, when you state that “Often the IPCC and the climate science community are treated as being synonymous”, you are formally right.

    However this statement suggests that the IPCC reports are not a fair review of the state of the scientific literature or of the range of opinions in the scientific community. Would you also support these later propositions? Did your survey find topics where the IPCC was more certain about some aspect as the climatologists that studied that topic? (I can imagine that climatologists are less certain about aspects they did not study themselves.)

    I personally had the impression that the IPCC reports present a fair review of the state of the scientific literature in the fields where I am knowledgeable: clouds and homogenization. I may not agree with every sentence, but that means that I have not convinced my colleagues yet or mainly that I still have to see if my hunches are right and write some papers.

  60. Dennis, you’re probably right that some on both sides of the debate have used the “science is settled” argument. One to complain about the “appeal to authority” and the other to (I guess) appeal to authority. It’s a term I don’t particularly like and one I haven’t used much (I don’t think). By itself, it doesn’t really tell you much as there clearly are aspects that are still uncertain and other aspects that are much more certain. I will say, however, that – in my view – the science is much more settled than many are willing to acknowledge. For example, it appears that the ocean heat content data is telling us that fundamentals of global warming are robust (at least in terms of the influence of the various forcings). Of course there is still uncertainty with respect to aerosols and clouds. There is also uncertainty with respect to how the excess energy is distributed throughout the climate system (on short timescales at least). There also uncertainty with respect to climate sensitivity but, from what I’ve read and seen, very few climate scientists would, for example, argue for an ECS below 2 degrees. So, yes there is uncertainty but not in terms of whether global warming is right or wrong.

  61. BBD says:

    Just a brief digression given recent assessments “What warming?”

    Oh dear. An OHC denier.

    🙂

    First, I would have to say, that it is extremely biased towards the climate change alarmist position

    Oh dear, oh dear, he said “alarmist”.

    I’ll leave you to Tom.

  62. Marco says:

    “extremely biased towards the climate change alarmist position”
    This I would love to see substantiated. Dennis, you would first have to explain what you mean with “alarmist position”, and when that position is “extremely biased towards”, as you believe Tom is.

    This could be interesting – I finally get a possibility to see the academic abilities of Dennis Bray. So far I am not impressed (to put it mildly).

  63. What Victor said. I perfectly agree. Same impression for my field of expertise (atmospheric aerosols).

  64. K.a.r.S.t.e.N (did anyone ever tell you, your name is hard to type?), 🙂

    I was thinking of writing a post on the homogenization part of the IPCC report when it is published. If it does not change, stating that it fits to the state of the scientific literature.

    Now that you state the same, I am starting to wonder if it would be nice to make a blog “circle” out of this. Where every climatologist with a blog discusses how well the IPCC fits to his understanding of the literature.

    Doug McNeall‘s blog has a list of scientist bloggers. Might that work?

  65. Victor, just make it Karsten ;). It’s a remainder of my activity at the “Wetterzentrale” (which you might know), where I found my first name being already taken (wanted to have a shorther nick there) … so I added the dots for the sake of style. Kept it for the sake of consistency elsewhere afterwards. Probably some degree of “nerdi-ness” involved 😀

    Great idea with the blog “circle”. Jan Perlwitz, Barry Bickmore, Jim McQuaid are other names we could add to the list. As I’m not a blogger myself, you may kick this thing off, spreading then the word to those in question. Certainly wotts can help, and so can others, including myself of course. Might well be a medium-term effort given there’s a lot to read first. I might share my very modest wisdom with Ellie (Highwood) … let’s see …

    A personal example re AR5: I happened to have a pretty clear number for the total aerosol forcing in mind before I got to see the leaked SOD. A number, which was clearly lower than the previous AR4 estimate. I wasn’t too surprised to notice that the IPCC guys came up with pretty much the same number (though they used a slightly different approach to get there). Can’t wait to see the final result. Luckily, I’m gonna miss most of the inevitable fuss surrounding next weeks AR5 release (thanks to the AeroCom workshop).

  66. Tom Curtis being alarmist. Dennis, I’m afraid you picked the wrong movie. Happens sometimes (certainly happens to me once in a while). So you may reconsider your choice. Sure you’re gonna pick the right one then …

  67. Tom Curtis says:

    Dennis Bray:

    “I think you will find that the range of possible responses in my questions is:
    1 = not at all (or something representing a total absence)
    to
    7 = a great deal (or something representing a total presence/level of agreement))
    In which case, a value of 1 does not mean ‘a 5% probability it will rain’ or that someone is ‘a little bit convinced’. If someone has interpreted the question and responses differently than they were posed, it is not the fault of the survey.”

    Actually, on your interpretation a (1) would indicate a subjective probability estimate from 0 to 7.1%; a (2) would indicate a subjective probability estimate from 7.1 to 21.4% and so on to (7) which would indicate 92.9% – 100%. Further, even that directly contradicts the question instructions in that “a great deal” is not the same as “totally” or “completely” regardless of your intent. To fit this, the percentage ranges should have their lower values shifted towards zero by an indeterminant amount such that (7) represents a subjective probability estimate with a lower bound no less than 75% and an upper bound (always) of 100%.

    However, your response simply ignores my argument. To be “convinced that P” is to be “very sure that P” (Mirriam Webster). It is incoherent to say that you are a little bit very sure that P when you think P is very improbable. Consequently people will only tend to say that they are a little bit convinced if they are moving from a position of indifference or agnosticism towards belief. If they are strongly convinced that not P, however, and you persuade them to question their position, they will say “you have certainly raised some reasons do doubt that ~P”, or something equivalent.

    Against this, standard survey convention gives you a choice between zero belief and total belief. That convention has clearly influenced your interpretation, given that you interpret “a great deal” as meaning “complete” or “total”. Unfortunately linguistic and survey convention lead to two distinct response patterns in your survey, making interpretation of the results difficult.

    “Unfortunately Tom, this doesn’t tell us much at all. The majority of climate scientists agree there is some anthropogenic influence, and according to Cook, anthropogenic influence is claimed to account for more than 50% of this warming. Just a brief digression given recent assessments “What warming?”
    No one would disagree with that there is a considerable likelihood that anthropogenic behavior has had some influence.
    I am not familiar with the Cook’s survey nor any peer reviewed papers associated with it, but I would like to know more about the sampling.”

    A link to Cook’s survey can be found in the first sentence of the OP above. As an aside, further on you criticize me for “not present[ing] anything empirical in which a reader could make an informed decision.” In fact, all of the linked discussions are comments on blogs directly related to Cooks survey, and including links to it or to other blog posts discussing the contents of Cook et al 2013 in more detail (and including links). Cook et al, in turn discusses the preceding literature, noting that “Surveys of climate scientists have found strong agreement (97–98%) regarding AGW amongst publishing climate experts (Doran and Zimmerman 2009, Anderegg et al 2010).” (Again with links.) The empirical matter, not already canvassed, which I have brought to the discussion has been your survey. I work under the assumption that readers are already aware of the empirical substance discussed in the main post.

    Thankyou, by the way, for your brief digression about warming, which warns the readers far more clearly about your bias than anything I could say. The warming of which I speak is the ongoing warming which exceeds the linear warming trend since 1880, even with the cherry picked start year of 1997 (GISTEMP), and which is clearly lowered below the underlying trend by ENSO. Thank you also for trying to slide anthropogenic cause of “>50% of recent warming” into “some influence”, with the same effect.

    “Sorry Tom but for someone who claims an education in philosophy, I cannot follow your logic. Question 21 is about science; Question 41a is about the ICPP. Question 21 is a question about attribution; question 41a is a question about legitimation. Question 21 is about science; Question 41a is about what science thinks of the IPCC.”

    You claim an education in philosophy, but cannot follow logic? What a surprise on both counts.

    But of course, you intended to refer to my education in philosophy (despite what you actually wrote) and are merely launching a snide ad hominen. The ad hominen seems intended to distract from the poverty of your argument.

    Given your difficulty in following logic, let me make it plain to you. The second question is, as you say, about “legitimization”, ie, whether or not, in the opinion of the scientists, the IPCC got the science correct. However, it follows logically from the claim that X believes that Y correctly believes that P (where X and Y are people, and P is a proposition), that X believes that P is correct, ie, X believes that P. Therefore there is no clear logical demarcation between questions about science, and questions about what scientists think about the IPCC’s science.

    The difficulty in interpreting the relationship between the two questions, therefore, does not arise from the role they serve in your survey. Rather, they arise because question 21 refers to past and near future states, while question 41a refers to middle future (2050-2100) states. These issues, however, are closely related scientifically. The issue of attribution comes down to what are the relative strengths of anthropogenic and natural forcings over recent times, what is the characteristic time required to reach Charney equilibrium with constant forcing, and what are the contributions to temperature increase of natural variability (periodic or otherwise). These are also the factors in assessing future temperature projections (ie, expected temperature increase for a projected forcing scenario). There are very few combinations of these factors that will both give the same answer as the IPCC on future warming, and a different answer on attribution. There are even fewer that are seriously proposed. Ergo, the inference that people in significant agreement with the IPCC on future warming (as the scientists clearly are) will also be in agreement on attribution is warranted. It follows that the results of your question 21 have been biased low by some factor.

    Put more simply, it is near impossible to consistently agree with the IPCC that a forcing pattern equivalent to the various SRES scenarios will lead to the warming predicted by those diverse scenarios, but disagree with the IPCC that the historical forcings retrodict a greater than 50% human contribution to recent global warming. Yet your survey appears to show approximately 10% of scientists doing just that. As question 41a is not at all ambiguous, it is question 21 that must be suspect of returning a biased result.

    With regard to obscurity, I do apologize that when afflicted with glandular fever and clinical depression in the final years of my university education, I did not abandon my wife and young children to quickly return to the academic fold so that my career would have been sufficiently noteworthy for you to pay attention to my arguments.

    With regard to alarmist, I know that “alarmism” is a great concern for you. So great, in fact, that you included question 52 in your survey:

    “Some scientists present extreme accounts of catastrophic impacts related to climate change in a popular format with the claim that it is their task to alert the public. How much do you agree with this practice?”

    You were so intent of finding a condemnation of “alarmism” that you committed the “fallacy of many questions”, an obvious mistake in survey design. I suspect in fact that many of the people “agree[ing] with this practice” merely disagreed with your unsupported claim that “Some scientists present extreme accounts of catastrophic impacts related to climate change in a popular format with the claim that it is their task to alert the public.”

    What is worse, so intent were you in finding a condemnation of “alarmism” that you did not include the obvious question exploring the other side of the spectrum. “Some scientists underplay accounts of catastrophic impacts related to climate change in a popular format with the claim that it is their task to prevent policy mistakes. How much do you agree with this practice?”

    Given the clear bias shown by this, and other factors, I will take the attribution of “alarmist” by you as the compliment it is. I must be in good company, for I stand with the 78.92% are significantly convinced that “climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity” (question 22). Poor Dennis Bray. He finds from his own survey that to not be “alarmist”, he has to disagree with the vast majority of climate scientists.

  68. Dennis Bray says:

    Dear Victor Venema
    I would not say that the IPCC is not a fair representation of the state of the science. I am not qualified to make such a statement. What I can say is that in the last survey of climate scientists some climates scientists thought the IPCC presented over estimations and some climate scientists thought the IPCC presented under estimations. Most scientists however, thought the IPCC presented a fair representation.

    To wottsupwiththatblog says:
    I think you make some good assumption concerning the use of ‘the science is settled’. And I think within science it is taken with a grain of salt, as NO science is ever fully settled, and anyone trained in science knows that. Where I think the use of the term is problematic and where it is more often found is in communication with politics and public, those with only a lay understanding of the use of the term uncertainty. I think the use of ‘the science is settled’ – by either side of the debate – has done considerable damage to the formation of reasonable and acceptable policy. It is simply a politicized position used both derogatorily and reinforcingly by both extremes of the debate.

    Dear BBD:
    Not being a frequent visitor of blogs leaves me somewhat at a disadvantage as to matters of blog etiquette and conformity. Could you tell me what an OHC denier is? (I have often wondered if abbreviated communication is the result of, or will lead to, abbreviated intelligence.) Also, further apologies, I was not aware that the word alarmist was taboo, especially given the frequent use of the word denier.

    Dear Marco:
    I will try and answer your questions in the fashion they were posed. “– I finally get a possibility to see the academic abilities of Dennis Bray. So far I am not impressed (to put it mildly).” – Wow! Them’s harsh words mister! But, to put it mildly, I am not overly concerned about your opinion. I don’t even know who you are and I presume you see the purpose of a blog as an entity where like-minded people meet to pat each the on the back. But, to use your tactics, ‘I would love to see it substantiated’.
    I will admit however, that I did not provide an operational definition of the terms I used. If you are not sure of the meaning of operational definition I would suggest you refer to Churchman,1959, Measurement: Definitions and Theories, ed. with P. Ratoosh.
    So, there seems to be a commonly used scale to represent people’s perceptions of the climate change issue. At one end, there are those labelled deniers. At the other end, there are those labeled alarmists. Neither term is completely adequate. In between there are those who would not deny that climate change is happening, just that is not such a big deal as made out to be; there are those that think it is happening but it is too early to discern if drastic policy measures are necessary; there are those who think perhaps it might be ok to err on the side of caution, even if we are not sure about climate change, there are those who readily accept that climate change is indeed occurring but some caution should be taken in policy formation, there are those who think climate change will wreak havoc if we do not respond immediately and there are those who think we are facing Armageddon without immediate radical policy change. These are very loose approximations; this is a bog, not a manuscript, so some leeway in your criticisms please. Of course, in the oversimplification of the typical discussion, the first in the list are labeled deniers and the latter alarmists.
    So where does Tom Curtis fit. I am not about to spend days researching a personality but a quick browse on the web produces the following statement made by Tom Curtis.

    http://ourchangingclimate.wordpress.com/tag/tom-curtis/
    Nevermind that the politicans still wouldn’t have a clue as to what is more likely true. The science has to be assessed and weighted; that is what makes the IPCC process useful. There already is another outlet for every crackpot idea out there (NIPCC report); it doesn’t need to be done by the IPCC as well.

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2013/07/tom-curtis-doesnt-understand-the-97-paper.html
    There is a large measure of idiocy in Ben Pile’s post, and in Mike Hulme’s endorsement of it.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/anthrocarbon-brief.html
    As a child I enjoyed playing Cluedo (Clue in the US market). I soon learned you discovered more from the questions people did not respond to than from those that they did, and developed a matrix from which to plot responses and non-responses. Filling in the matrix soon honed in on the correct answer, who killed whom, with what and where. Science is sometimes like that. The lines of evidence are the questions we put, and if we plot out our matrix, it quickly becomes clear that it is the humans who have caused the rise in CO2levels, by burning fossil fuels in the twentieth century. Every other hypothesis makes a host of predictions that do not pass the test of the evidence.

    http://bybrisbanewaters.blogspot.de/2013/05/tols-gaffe.html
    Tol, however, may have fell for that line. Certainly he has implicitly endorsed it. Or some other equally absurd misrepresentation of Cook et al. Certainly when he read the paper he did not understand it. I wonder what other clear facts his new friendships require him to misunderstand?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/09/25/a-modest-proposal-to-skeptical-science/
    Tom Curtis seems to have no problem with the use of the term ‘denier’

    http://www.climate-resistance.org/2013/07/tom-curtis-doesnt-understand-the-97-paper.html
    This site raises many accounts that would attest to someone prone towards at least climate activism.

    There are doubtless many more such examples. Perhaps he doesn’t reach the end of the scale as an alarmist, but there is a tendency for him to be an ally of that position before he would join the ranks of the deniers.

    Moving on

    Dear K.a.r.S.t.e.N:
    Where would you place him – objective observer?

    Dear Tom Curtis
    I think if one offered a category of ‘totally or completely’ as you pose, they would receive no response. Remember, we are talking to scientists about science. They are aware that there is always a degree of skepticism. I often wonder why people with your level of insight don’t conduct the perfect surveys.

    Tom Said “However, your response simply ignores my argument. To be “convinced that P” is to be “very sure that P” (Mirriam Webster). It is incoherent to say that you are a little bit very sure that P when you think P is very improbable.” I’m sorry, but this is a little difficult to follow. It seems like only ‘all or nothing’ option would satisfy you. I agree that “It is incoherent to say that you are a little bit very sure that P when you think P is very improbable.”” But if you thought P was very improbable then why would you answer that you are “a little bit very sure P”? Are you talking about posing 1 question or 2 questions? What is you scale and full response range? The questions used on the survey were all pretested a minimum of 3 times before employed in the survey. Any that were problematic or confusing were rewritten (or deleted) and pretested.
    “ Consequently people will only tend to say that they are a little bit convinced if they are moving from a position of indifference or agnosticism towards belief.” And isn’t this as it should be?
    “ If they are strongly convinced that not P, however, and you persuade them to question their position, they will say “you have certainly raised some reasons do doubt that ~P”, or something equivalent.” Just what is the mechanism of persuasion? I really do fail to follow your reasoning.
    “Against this, standard survey convention gives you a choice between zero belief and total belief. That convention has clearly influenced your interpretation, given that you interpret “a great deal” as meaning “complete” or “total””

    Thanks for telling me what ‘really’ I mean, I was never really sure of that. Actually, I thought I meant a great deal, not complete. In writing up the data, I use ‘a great deal’, not ‘complete’. What is odd, it seems only people who disagree with the data that is presented are the ones who have trouble with interpretation.

    Have you ever tried to find anything other than a few comments about Doran and Zimmerman 2009? Not easy to figure out what went on there. Do you know the sampling and the sample size? This is not a criticism, I would simply like to know as I could never find much in the way of methodological details. Unfortunately your link does not seem to work.

    “Thankyou, by the way, for your brief digression about warming, which warns the readers far more clearly about your bias than anything I could say.”

    No bias, or is all the recent evidence presented demonstrating that for the last decade there has been no warming trend invalid? Oh yes – you use a longer time scale. Now things are much clearer.

    Thank you also for trying to slide anthropogenic cause of “>50% of recent warming” into “some influence”, with the same effect.
    Pardon me?

    “You claim an education in philosophy, but cannot follow logic? What a surprise on both counts.”
    No Tom, I do not claim an education in philosophy. You frustration seems to be clouding your comprehension.

    “But of course, you intended to refer to my education in philosophy (despite what you actually wrote) and are merely launching a snide ad hominen. The ad hominen seems intended to distract from the poverty of your argument.”
    Are people on blogs typically this paranoid? Are we witnessing a junior conspiracy theory? Calm down.

    “Given your difficulty in following logic, let me make it plain to you. The second question is, as you say, about “legitimization”, ie, whether or not, in the opinion of the scientists, the IPCC got the science correct. However, it follows logically from the claim that X believes that Y correctly believes that P (where X and Y are people, and P is a proposition), that X believes that P is correct, ie, X believes that P. Therefore there is no clear logical demarcation between questions about science, and questions about what scientists think about the IPCC’s science.”

    I’m sorry, this this just makes me P’ed off. The questions about science are in a totally difference section of the survey. And why can I not agree with the IPCC but think they under estimate some of the phenomena?

    “The difficulty in interpreting the relationship between the two questions, therefore, does not arise from the role they serve in your survey. Rather, they arise because question 21 refers to past and near future states, while question 41a refers to middle future (2050-2100) states.”

    I am really not sure how you reached this conclusion.

    “Put more simply, it is near impossible to consistently agree with the IPCC that a forcing pattern equivalent to the various SRES scenarios will lead to the warming predicted by those diverse scenarios, but disagree with the IPCC that the historical forcings retrodict a greater than 50% human contribution to recent global warming. Yet your survey appears to show approximately 10% of scientists doing just that. As question 41a is not at all ambiguous, it is question 21 that must be suspect of returning a biased result.”

    The effort in your analysis alone warrants a response. Thanks for pointing that out.

    “With regard to obscurity, I do apologize that when afflicted with glandular fever and clinical depression in the final years of my university education, I did not abandon my wife and young children to quickly return to the academic fold so that my career would have been sufficiently noteworthy for you to pay attention to my arguments. ”
    Oh please!

    With regard to alarmist, I know that “alarmism” is a great concern for you. So great, in fact, that you included question 52 in your survey: “Some scientists present extreme accounts of catastrophic impacts related to climate change in a popular format with the claim that it is their task to alert the public. How much do you agree with this practice?”
    You were so intent of finding a condemnation of “alarmism” that you committed the “fallacy of many questions”, an obvious mistake in survey design. I suspect in fact that many of the people “agree[ing] with this practice” merely disagreed with your unsupported claim that “Some scientists present extreme accounts of catastrophic impacts related to climate change in a popular format with the claim that it is their task to alert the public.”
    I have asked the same question since 1996. You might be surprised to know that there are always some that DO agree with it.

    What is worse, so intent were you in finding a condemnation of “alarmism” that you did not include the obvious question exploring the other side of the spectrum. “Some scientists underplay accounts of catastrophic impacts related to climate change in a popular format with the claim that it is their task to prevent policy mistakes. How much do you agree with this practice?”
    In 1996 skeptic accounts in the media were almost no existent. Schneider’s instructions of how to present climate change to the media was definitely an oversell strategy.

    “Given the clear bias shown by this, and other factors, I will take the attribution of “alarmist” by you as the compliment it is.”
    You are welcome. Given the trajectory of you past you deserve praise.

    “I must be in good company, for I stand with the 78.92% are significantly convinced that “climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity” (question 22). Poor Dennis Bray. He finds from his own survey that to not be “alarmist”, he has to disagree with the vast majority of climate scientists.

    For the record, the 2013 survey – which is still being analyzed – shows, despite recent controversy, that still about 79% of the respondents are convinced (sorry, your significantly convinced is a misinterpretation) that climate change poses a very serious threat to humanity.
    Damn, foiled again. But I don’t think I ever explicitly stated a position. I merely presented the results of a survey. I am sorry if not all perceptions presented by the scientific community lived up to you expectations.

    Well, it has been fun. I don’t often venture into the blogosphere. There seems to be two predominant types of blogs. One, a circle of like-minded cyber personalities that like to meet daily and reinforce each other with a pat on the back and two, those which elate in criticism, but never offering constructive alternatives. Luckily, occasionally a person comes across a blog that offers something new, something constructive. Sometimes they conflate. What I don’t understand is the partisan mentality.

  69. Dennis, a very long comment, almost a post in itself 🙂 Some very interesting comments. I won’t even try and respond to what you’ve said other than to comment on your very last point.

    I don’t know if you’re referring to this blog when you mention coming across a blog that offers something new and constructive, but that was the intent even if that isn’t what I’ve achieved. I, like you, didn’t understand that partisan mentality when I first engaged (not very long ago) in this whole topic. I think, sadly, I do now. I’m trying not to become too partisan myself, but it is remarkably difficult. I’ve had too many exchanges with people that have been unpleasant, frustrating, circular and ultimately pointless to think that it really is possible to engage sensibly with all who are involved in this topic. I’ve tried all sorts of things to try and keep certain discussions on a sensible track. Apologising if someone thinks I’ve unfairly characterised them (Ben Pile for example). Doesn’t work. Rather than accepting, there’ll be a complaint about something else. Acknowledge something that they’ve said that has merit. Doesn’t really help. Rarely will certain people acknowledge anything on the other side of the debate (Ben Pile actually commented somewhere that he would have acknowledge an error/uncertainty in any of his points if he’d made any). Veering into conspiracy theory territory rather than accept that a dataset may indicate ongoing global warming (for example).

    The consequence is that it’s very difficult not to become partisan in some sense. I think I can now identify those discussions that are not going to be pleasant or constructive and so would rather not have them. So, I’m more than happy to have alternative views expressed here but unfortunately the tendencies is for them to be expressed in a manner that turns the discussion unpleasant and confrontational. I don’t really expect discussions to end with everyone reaching some kind of agreement. It would be nice if sometimes they could end with an acknowledgement (as you’ve done actually) that it was interesting and thought provoking, but that we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    There is, however, one other issue. On more than one occasion I’ve identified issues with some commentators understanding of basic science. Not climate science itself, but something fundamental (like energy conservation) that has important implications for climate science. It’s very difficult to continue a serious discussion with such a person when you realise that they misunderstand something so fundamental and that this misunderstanding appears to be influencing their views of climate science. You’d hope that you could clarify this issue and they would go away and think about it and the implications for climate science. Sadly, that has yet to actually happen.

  70. Rachel says:

    Dennis Bray,

    Don’t you think a projected rise of sea level of 2m by the end of the century with an eventual 9m to come over the longer term is cause for alarm? I find these projections rather alarming don’t you?

    And if caring about protecting our coral reefs for future generations to enjoy as I have during my lifetime makes me also an alarmist, then I will gladly be one. Do you not think it worthwhile to protect the Great Barrier Reef for everyone to enjoy both today and tomorrow?

  71. BBD says:

    Not being a frequent visitor of blogs leaves me somewhat at a disadvantage as to matters of blog etiquette and conformity. Could you tell me what an OHC denier is?

    I’m extremely surprised to find that you are unfamiliar with the standard abbreviation for ocean heat content. OHC continues to increase much as expected, demonstrating that energy is continuing to accumulate in the climate system despite modulation of tropospheric warming by changes in the rate of ocean heat uptake.

    Just a brief digression given recent assessments “What warming?”

    When someone presumably conversant with the fundamentals of physical climatology makes a statement like this, I can only conclude that they are denying the existence of OHC or being disingenuous.

  72. BBD says:

    I was not aware that the word alarmist was taboo, especially given the frequent use of the word denier.

    It is not taboo. It is an attempt at framing, which is why I flagged it up. This is in clear contrast to the term “denier” which is an accurate description of the behaviour of many participants in the climate “debate”.

  73. A very interesting idea and would, of course, be happy to help. However, not being an actual climate scientists myself, would be more than happy to publish a guest post on the topic if any actual climate scientists were willing to write one.

  74. Marco says:

    “Perhaps he doesn’t reach the end of the scale as an alarmist, but there is a tendency for him to be an ally of that position before he would join the ranks of the deniers”

    That would be an implicit admission that you went way overboard in your analysis of Tom Curtis. It would have been nice if you would have started with that admission, rather than first attempt to defend your claims with a few loose quotes that you then in the end admit don’t really reach what you had originally claimed. It gets worse: you assigned a quote to Tom Curtis which in reality was one from Bart Verheggen. That’s bad science, Dennis…

  75. Dear Dennis,
    I am usually extremely reluctant to speak for other people, but sometimes one has to make exceptions. Here I make such exception, as I know few people who are trying to be as objective as Tom Curtis. Nobody is infallible, nor is anyone ever perfectly objective, but I can’t help but admire Tom’s efforts to represent the current state of the science as good as one possibly can, with a critical attitude towards overblown statements and downplayed risks likewise (Dennis, you may sweep through some SkS discussions to get a better impression). It’s hard to believe that he isn’t actually an active climate scientist given his degree of knowledge. I go as far as to claim that he is more knowledgeable with regard to the “big picture” than many “domain experts” who merely focus on their particular field of research, without bothering too much about the big picture (due to inevitable time constraints).

    Hope that make sense to you, Dennis. Thanks for clarifying your point of view on the IPCC in your reply to Victor. Good to see that we agree on that particular point. Not so much on others, but that’s perfectly okay.

    Tom, my sincere apologies for taking sides with you. As I said, I don’t usually do that as it has a partisan smell (no matter whether it is actually the case or not). I am sure we find sth which we disagree on some day soon …

  76. Sounds good. Let’s see what can be done …

  77. Tom Curtis says:

    Bray on alarmism:

    “So, there seems to be a commonly used scale to represent people’s perceptions of the climate change issue. At one end, there are those labelled deniers. At the other end, there are those labeled alarmists. Neither term is completely adequate. In between there are [1] those who would not deny that climate change is happening, just that is not such a big deal as made out to be; [2] there are those that think it is happening but it is too early to discern if drastic policy measures are necessary; [3] there are those who think perhaps it might be ok to err on the side of caution, even if we are not sure about climate change, [4] there are those who readily accept that climate change is indeed occurring but some caution should be taken in policy formation, [5] there are those who think climate change will wreak havoc if we do not respond immediately and [6] there are those who think we are facing Armageddon without immediate radical policy change. These are very loose approximations; this is a bog, not a manuscript, so some leeway in your criticisms please. Of course, in the oversimplification of the typical discussion, the first in the list are labeled deniers and the latter alarmists.”

    (Numeration added)

    Let’s leave aside that this (despite Bray’s claim) is not an operational definition, for the simple reason that he specifies not operation (or algorithm) that generates of picks out the thing being defined.

    I will also use his first specification that the various positions actually defined lie “in between” those of “deniers” and “alarmists”; rather than his later and contradictory specification that “the first in the list are labeled deniers and the latter alarmists”. Contradictory both because it contradicts the earlier specification of those positions as lying between those of “deniers” and “alarmists”, and also because the first intermediate position is “those who would not deny climate change is happening”, and hence hardly “deniers” in Bray’s terms.

    So with that clarification, an “alarmist” in Bray’s terms is somebody with an even more extreme position on global warming than one who “who think we are facing Armageddon without immediate radical policy change”. As proof that I lie in that radical club he offers (as a quote from me) something Bart Verheggen said; the fact that I believe, and show with evidence that humans are responsible for current rise in CO2 emissions, and whatever grab bag of irrelevant quotes he can drum up. Had he actually found any of my quotes on the potential harm of global warming, he would have found I lie at least two steps below his category of “alarmist”. It is hard to be more than two steps below as he has two categories for the 79% of climate scientists who lean towards or strongly agree with the view that “There is a great need for immediate policy decisions for immediate action to mitigate climate change.” (Question 67), and who are significantly convinced that “that climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity” (Question 22), while he has 5 categories for those who think we should go slow on, or do nothing about climate change; and of course one category for that rare group who think that global warming means that we face Armageddon, but that it is too late to do anything about it. (At least, that is the only way I can think of to be more extreme than his sixth intermediate position, as his “alarmists” are by his claim.)

    Given the lopsided nature of Bray’s classification system, I think it is far to say it is an example of creating a false middle ground so that his relatively extreme views can appear “reasonable” by contrast.

    Finally, I am very curious by Bray’s including my post on the anthropogenic origin of the increased CO2 concentration over the twentieth century as indicating my “alarmism”. Does he seriously think there is any doubt on that issue? In fact, given his claimed agnosticism on the science, on what basis does he treat a discussion of the science as evidence in any way of my “alarmism”? And if he gives up the pretense that he has no opinion on the science, and considers stating that the recent CO2 increase was primarily (about 90%) anthropogenic alarmist – how is he not thereby shown to be a denier plain and simple?

    (I will not post on his other comments, which only demonstrate repeatedly that his English comprehension is poor.)

  78. Tom Curtis says:

    Karsten, don’t apologize. I am flattered. However, I believe you have significantly overstated my level of knowledge on the subject.

  79. Tom Curtis says:

    I apologize, I do have one more thing to say about Bray’s comments. He writes:

    “Schneider’s instructions of how to present climate change to the media was definitely an oversell strategy.”

    That is a transparent misrepresentation of Schneider, and one for which there is no excuse.

    As quoted in the original Discover Magazine article, Schneider said:

    “On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.”

    As I have written in an as yet unpublished blog post on the topic:

    “Looking at the details of the quote, it is clear that by “honesty”, Schneider means a particular sort of scientific integrity. Richard Feynman expressed the ideal by saying:
    “I would like to add something that’s not essential to the science, but something I kind of believe, which is that you should not fool the layman when you’re talking as a scientist. I am not trying to tell you what to do about cheating on your wife, or fooling your girlfriend, or something like that, when you’re not trying to be a scientist, but just trying to be an ordinary human being. We’ll leave those problems up to you and your rabbi. I’m talking about a specific, extra type of integrity that is not lying, but bending over backwards to show how you’re maybe wrong, that you ought to have when acting as a scientist. And this is our responsibility as scientists, certainly to other scientists, and I think to laymen.”
    With this ideal, you can offer a scenario that you firmly believe is likely to occur, but still fail the standard of integrity. You must not only express the scenario you think is probable, but also explain what the reasonably probable alternatives are. Not only that, you must then go on to show what the evidence is in favour of the scenario you think is most likely, and show how it could be falsified. It is a very arduous standard, going far beyond the requirements of simply being truthful.

    Yet clearly it is this arduous standard that Schneider sets in opposition to being “effective”. “[A]s scientists”, he says, “we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.” (My emphasis.)

    With this as the contrast, not being “honest” in Schneider’s terms is not a matter of simple dishonesty. It is a lack of the fulsome honesty that mentions all the caveats. In Schneider’s scenario, the scientist who chooses their role as citizen over their role as scientist need neither lie nor exaggerate. They need only express the scenarios they consider most likely without clearly indicating the uncertainty.”

    Not only did Schneider not recommend being dishonest, he recognized that in order to communicate the caveates, you need to communicate in depth. In the abstract to his article Mediarology, which discusses the issue, he writes:

    “Scientists, policy makers, the general citizenry, and journalists should enter the public debate, or the popularization of potential probabilities and consequences of climate change will occur without their input and will likely be more inaccurate, if not spun to ideological positions. It is impossible to obtain frequency data for events occurring in the future, so it is necessary to use subjective probabilities built on projections/models that compile all the relevant information we can bring to the problem, including, but not limited to, direct measurements and statistics. Scientists should provide subjective probabilistic assessments of climate change impacts for policy makers, with a special obligation to make any value judgments explicit. We must attempt to keep our value judgments out of the scientific assessment process, but if we choose to express a policy advocacy position as a citizen, it is imperative we make our personal values and prejudices explicit. A scientist-popularizer should publicly report community assessments and personal values clearly and explicitly. An effective scientist-popularizer must balance being heard good sound bites and simple metaphors with the responsibility to be honest all the caveats. Being both effective and honest is essential metaphors that convey both urgency and uncertainty work well, though it is a tough tradeoff when one has 20 seconds or 20 words to do it in! I believe a hierarchy of back up products op eds, Scientific American-type articles, and full length popular books to add all the nuances can help navigate sound-bite conundrums.”

    Chris Russel has an excellent discussion of Schneider’s theory of communication to the public here:
    http://www.academia.edu/3800837/Stephen_Schneider_and_the_Double_Ethical_Bind_of_Climate_Change_Communication

  80. Dennis Bray says:

    Hi
    Given all of the criticism (not necessarily constructive) on all types,of matters – in this case survey questions – might it be possible that authors of,such comments unify their efforts (on a blog) to develop and eventually distribute the mother of all surveys. Questions could then be debated until they are perfect, as could the sampling frame. I would not want to participate but I would like to follow the progress. The transparent development of the perfect survey. Now there’s a thought.

  81. Dennis Bray says:

    Sorry, I was not aware that deniers were categorised. As for the what warming, I was making casual reference to recent temperatures, the plateau the models failed to produce. Please don’t place me in the denier category for agreeing with the recent assessments of the abilities climate models.

  82. I suspect that reaching any kind of meaningful agreement would be virtually impossible 🙂

    Surely one of the issues is that the whole concept of doing a consensus study is semi-political. The goal is to understand (in some sense) the level of agreement within the scientific community. Although I agree that defining what that means is maybe non-trivial, even if we could agree on what consensus means, there would still be those who would attack the results simply because (as far as I can tell) they’re inconvenient. From what I’ve seen this varies from attacking the definition of consensus, the survey itself, and the analysis. Designing a study that would satisfy everyone seems like a virtually impossible task.

  83. Dennis Bray says:

    So sue me. Good Lord, some people,just have too much time on their hands. Marco, THAT IS NOT SCIENCE AT ALL. and was not intended to be. It was a few casual observations. Are you all so insecure that you are forced into pettiness? It gets worse, which quote?

  84. Dennis Bray says:

    Hi K.a.r.S.t.e.n.
    I am sorry you know so few people. It is good that you recognize that nobody is infallible, and that no one is perfectly objective. On these matters I fully agree with you. Now if you could just convince some of your fellow bloggers …

  85. Dennis Bray says:

    Rachel, are you aware of what PIK is? Anyway, I presume you are referring to this paragraph:

    Sea level is like a big ball — it takes a while until you get it rolling, but once it’s rolling you can’t stop it easily. The projections by 2100 are significantly below 2 meters [6.6 feet] of global sea level rise. But we expect over a period of 2,000 years a sea level rise of 2 meters for each degree Celsius of warming. Now if you look at the projections for temperature by 2100, a business-as-usual scenario in which we increase the CO2 emissions every year like we have done in the past would lead to a warming of about 4 to 5 degrees Celsius [7 to 9 degrees F]. And long-term, 4 to 5 degrees in our study translates to something in the vicinity of 9 meters [29.6 feet] of sea level rise. So it’s less than 2 meters sea level rise projected for 2100, but in the long term it’s 9 meters.

    … Projections by 2100 significantly BELOW 2m … Over a period,of 2000 years. I guess this implies a business as usual scenario for the next 2000 years too? Of course, we should expect this, as nothing has changed much in the way the economy works in the past 2000 years.

    Science or science fiction? Or a dash of each.

  86. BBD says:

    If I were you, Dennis, I would think more and say less. I know you will deny this, but you have made rather a revealing mess on this thread. Also avoid card games where there is money on the table.

  87. Dennis, I must admit that I’m slightly confused by your response. You seem to acknowledge much of the standard science in the first part of your response. Probably 4 to 5 degrees of warming by 2100 and eventually a 9 metre rise in sea level. Then you seem to partially dismiss this at the end. So, I’m a little confused by what you’re implying.

    As far as I can tell, if we get to 500 – 600 ppm of CO2 by sometime around 2100, then we will probably have locked in 4 – 5 degrees of warming. Even if we stopped emitting CO2 at that stage, it would still take hundreds of years to reduce and sea levels would presumably continue to rise. So, it’s not clear why we need to consider a business as usual for the next 2000 years.

  88. Dennis Bray says:

    Tom, like you I will be selective in my reply. In particular, your last comment on my comprehension of,English. Forgive my ignorance but what do you mean by ‘ … for the simple reason that he does not specify operation (or algorithm) that generates of picks out the things being defined.’

    A definition is what distinguishes one entity from another. It does not specify how entities are related.

    Why do you continually resort to petty insult? It really does not add much to a,constructive debate. (I would add that perhaps you might feel threatened by a constructive debate, but that would be resorting to petty insult.)

  89. “…I know few people who are trying to be as objective as Tom Curtis. ”

    That’s a good one, Dr Karsten.

  90. Dennis Bray says:

    Well done! Are things written for blogs published or posted? How do,you know what S meant by honesty, do you have some special insight, or does your definition simply suit your needs?

    hmmmm – ” bending over backwards to show you’re maybe wrong” I like,that. Didn’t notice it though in the statement about sea level rise in the next 2000,years. But what better way to get ‘loads of media coverage’? Was that a scientist or a citizen making the comment?

    I like S’s statement that ‘we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified and dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts …” Yep, sounds like honesty to me. Hasn’t the failure to mention doubts been the source of a lot of problems of late?

    I do,like your selection of,quotes: F and S seem far from agreement. Then again, this might simply reflect my poor comprehension of English.

    And with that, good night

  91. Tom Curtis says:

    Dennis, I tend to respond with like for like. You started in with ad hominens against me with your initial response. Ergo, you get the same back. Possibly I should have taken the high road, but I don’t think your worth it.

    In this case, however, there is no ad hominen. Your English comprehension is simply not good. Take this gem, for example:

    “Sorry Tom but for someone who claims an education in philosophy, I cannot follow your logic.”

    You claim that the sentence indicates that I have an education in philosophy, but please actually take a second and identify the subject of the sentence. My name appears only as the person addressed. You are the subject of the sentence. It follows that “for someone who claims an education in philosophy” is a descriptor of you rather than me. We all know what you intended to say, but it is not what you wrote.

    It may help you to see the idea expressed correctly:

    “Sorry Tom, you claim an education in philosophy, but I cannot follow your logic.”

    Thus expressed, the second clause of the sentence receives a clear subject, that being the person addressed. Unfortunately for you it also makes clear that the “but” is a non sequitur (see side comment below).

    This is not the only example of poor English comprehension you have demonstrated here. Further, it is directly germane to my critique of elements of your survey. Specifically your use of the word “convinced”. You ask above why we don’t design the “perfect survey”, but of course no survey is perfect, and yours is the best that currently exists canvassing the opinion of scientists on climate change. That does not mean it cannot be improved, and it would be a significant improvement change question choices involving the word “convinced” back to the former range between “Strongly disagree” and “Strongly agree” which suffers no ambiguity. (You should also break question 52 into two questions, asking initially whether some scientists present extreme scenarios first.)

    (Apropos insults, that sentence is also, and very clearly, a snide ad hominen. What relevance has my education to your ability to follow my logic? It is only mentioned to suggest that my education “did not take”. And please do not show yourself to be one of those tiresome people who pretend that being snide is the same thing as not making the insult.)

  92. Dennis, just as some sort of disclaimer in order to put “few” in the right context: I was referring to the entirety of the blogosphere. I consider all my colleagues to be equally objective when it comes to the science. And I think I got to know quite a few in the last couple of years. In case that isn’t enough of a reference, here is another example: I consider Gavin Schmidt equally objective as Tom when it comes to blogging, i.e. communicating the science (not to mention his scientific integrity).

  93. Dennis, wotts is right. Once we hit the 4-5° mark, the ocean is inevitably going to rise over the following 1000 years to 6-10m above preindustrial, regardless of what our emissions are going to be afterwards. Even in the unlikely event of us stopping them completely by 2100, the temperature would remain stable with an insignificant downward trend over the next millennia. Basically, it’s the balance between natural carbon sinks and additional CO2 emitted by the slowly warming oceans in order to restore the planetary energy imbalance, which determines the ultimate sea level rise. Only geoengineering could reverse this trend. Two examples for how this would look like for current temperatures: Matthew and Weaver 2010 and Armour and Roe 2011

  94. Tom Curtis says:

    Dennis, some interpretations of people are so obtuse that it is difficult to distinguish them from deliberate dishonesty. As an example, you ask, “How do,you know what S meant by honesty”? But Schneider do not just say that scientists are bound to be honest, he went on in the same sentence to describe what is involved in that honesty:

    “[A]s scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.”

    (Emphasis added)

    Your version of the quote just may not include the highlighted words, but I doubt it. If it does include them, there can be no doubt that by “honest” Schneider means “tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.”

    That much is straightforward English comprehension; but Schneider returned to the subject later in the article Mediarology (abstract linked to, and quoted from above; full article not currently available online) and carefully expounded what he meant by “being honest”. Thus there is no excuse for not understanding what Schneider was saying. He has made it clear. It is just that some people are so intent on blackening his name for political purposes that they will not listen to what he clearly says. Apparently you are among those people.

    In fact, until you have read Mediarology you are in no position to comment on Schneider’s views on this issue; and unless you are critiquing those views as expounded in Mediarology you are critiquing a straw man.

    With regard to sea level, Schneider responded to a specific question, “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?” In Schneider’s response he points out that a very rapid rise in sea level would be a game changer in the policy debate on climate change. His response, however, contains caveats.

    “We cannot pin down whether sea levels will rise a few feet or a few meters in the next century or two”

    “But it can be — and has been — argued it is just a short term fluctuation since large changes in ice volume come and go typically on millennial timescales”

    Nor does he say that the current science implies that meters of sea level over a couple of centuries will happen, but only that, “Another decade or two of such scientifically documented acceleration of melting could indeed imply we will get the unlucky outcome”.

    He even indicates that the lower level predictions, which are all that are justified without that additional decade or two of accelerating ice melt in Greenland are only ” nasty but relatively manageable with adaptation investments”; and correctly indicates the measure of how troublesome sea level rise will be (except for isolated islands, deltas and Florida), ie, the pace of sea level rise “in the time frame of human infrastructure lifetimes for ports and cities” (a point I am continuously at pains to make).

    So, in the end, what we have is that Schneider, in a forum that is asking people to “be out their”, still fills his response with caveats and makes sure to mention the relevant factors. But this does not stop his response from being cherry picked for out of context quotes by deniers and you, in order to vilify him.

  95. Tom Curtis says:

    Mediarology is back online, so I will let Schneider speak for himself:

    “Would you trust a scientist who advises his/her colleagues to use scary scenarios to get media attention and to shape public opinion by making intentionally dramatic, overblown statements? Would you have confidence in his or her statements if the scientist said that “each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest”? Understandably, you’d probably be suspicious and wonder what was being compromised.

    I confess: those were SOME of my words, yet their meaning is completely distorted when viewed out of context like this. You will find hundreds of places — especially on the web sites of industrial or economic growth advocates opposed to global warming policies that might harm their or their clients’ interests — in which I am similarly (mis)quoted alongside a declaration that my environmental cronies and I should never be trusted.

    I’ll spend a few paragraphs telling you what I really said and why, as I want to illustrate the sorts of pitfalls that will confront a scientist or other expert diving headlong into scientific popularization, media appearances, advocacy, or some combination of these. This example illustrates the risks of stepping from the academic cloister to the wide world out there. A scientist’s likelihood of having his/her meaning turned on its head is pretty high — especially with highly politicized topics such as global warming.

    First, consider a movie theater marquis selectively quoting a critic as having said a movie was “spectacular,” when the critic might have actually written: “…the film could have been spectacular if only the acting wasn’t so overplayed and the dialog wasn’t so trite…” You get the idea. We see this kind of distortion in sales and advocacy, by citizens and politicians, from businesses and ideologists, in the public and private sectors.

    My first experience in being misrepresented in the public debate began after the 1988 heat waves in the US, when global warming made daily headlines. I probably gave twenty interviews a day for several months that year. The global warming debate migrated from the ivy-covered halls of academia into the public policy spotlight via congressional hearings, daily media stories and broadcasts, pressure on the government from environmental groups pushing for control of CO2 emissions, and loud and angry denial by industries with high CO2 emissions of both their contribution to global warming and the credibility of the science behind climate change. I was — and still am — quite frustrated about the capricious sound-bite nature of the public debate. Typically, a scientist or other party in the global warming debate is given twenty seconds (maximum) on the evening news for his or her quote, which is supposed to represent either the “catastrophe” or the “no problem” side of the debate, for this is how the media have too often categorized it. If one decides to elaborate on the various complexities associated with the problem, one risks being overlooked or boxed in.

    I expressed my frustration to Jonathan Schell, a Pulitzer-prize-winning writer doing a story on the contentious climate debate for Discover magazine. I guess my first mistake was to be a bit tongue-in-cheek — I painted a stark picture of the opposing viewpoints in the climate change debate: gloom-and-doom stories from deep ecology groups and others versus pontifications on uncertainties from big industry and others, who used that to argue against preemptive action. I complained that even though I always make a point in my interviews to discuss the wide range of possibilities, from catastrophic to beneficial, media stories rarely convey the entire range. All too often, a scientist’s viewpoint is boxed into one extreme or the other. Usually, but not always, I am put in the “it is a big problem” box rather than the “it is too uncertain to do anything” box, even though I acknowledge both perspectives have some plausible arguments. (See the opening paragraph in my review of Lomborg for Scientific American).

    I tried to explain to Schell how to be both effective and honest: by using metaphors that simultaneously convey both urgency and uncertainty, and also by producing supporting documents of all types and lengths (see the “scientist popularizer”). Unfortunately, this clarification is absent from the Discover article, and this omission opened the door for fifteen years of subsequent distortions and attacks. Ironically, this is the consummate example of my grievance about problems arising from short reports of long interviews.

    Here is the published quote from that interview with Discover, from which selected lines have been used for over a decade as “proof” that I exaggerate environmental threats:

    On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
    The Detroit News selectively quoted this passage, already not in full context, in an attack editorial on 22 November 1989:

    On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
    The most egregious omission in the Detroit News quotation is of the last line of the Discover quote, the one about being both honest and effective. The Detroit News clearly misquotes me, presumably since including the addendum would have weakened the effectiveness of their character attack. In response, I prepared a rebuttal containing the full quote and the context of my interview, which actually showed that I disapproved of the sound-bite system and the media’s polarization of the climate change debate. (See the Detroit News editorial and my rebuttal).

    While the Detroit News readers had an opportunity to see my true intent, albeit a month later, when the rebuttal was published, I simply cannot respond and correct every article misquoting me, as they have proliferated and now number in the hundreds. Despite many attempts on my part — in my books, papers, talks, and other op-eds — to outline my opinions and dispel the media-propagated myths, the distortions continue to this day, even in “respectable” publications like the Economist, which ran a partial quote (also taken from the Discover article) without even calling me to see if it was valid. (See the quote from the Economist. The ‘brave’ editor of this attack does not even sign his polemic, but I am told it was Clive Crook.) The most egregious distortion I am aware of was in a 1996 opinion piece by Julian Simon (see also my rebuttal), a business professor at the University of Maryland, in which he not only used an out-of-context quote from the Discover article to “prove” that I advocate exaggeration in order to get attention, but he also invented a preamble, that I advise people to “stretch the truth,” and he attributed that to me, while (of course) leaving off the last sentence of my actual remark.

    Some friends have advised me to file lawsuits against such distortionists engaging in showcase journalism, but as a public figure, I have just learned to deal with character assassination and polemics as part of the “real world” of public policy debate. Moreover, lawyer friends have told me that partial quotes, even those that turn the original meaning of the full quote upside down, are generally protected by the First Amendment. In the face of this no-win scenario, I warn those who venture into this quagmire simply to expect such pitfalls and to prevent them from causing too much discouragement. It is difficult to correct these reporters and other media icons, who are the ones actually stretching the truth, since most people do not check the originals quotes or stories for accuracy or fairness.”

    The full article, plus his letter to the Detroit News should be read to understand Schneider’s views. Anybody who has not read both (and particularly Mediarology), and does not critique the views expressed in them – instead critiquing an out of context quotation from a secondary source- is not engaging with Schneider’s views. They are merely attacking a strawman with the intent of vilifying Schneider.

  96. Rachel says:

    No, Dennis, I’m not aware of what PIK is.

    Yes 2m is the upper limit it would seem by the end of the Century. There’s a new article in Nature this week about sea level rise (http://www.nature.com/news/climate-science-rising-tide-1.13749?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20130919).

    Process models generally predict rather less than 1 metre of rise by 2100, whereas semi-empirical models top out at between 1 and 2 metres — enough, at the higher end, to flood the homes of 187 million people.

    It doesn’t mater whether 187 million people will lose their homes in 100 years or 200 years does it? Are the people living 100 years from now more worthy of our concern than the people living 200 years from now? I don’t think so. It really doesn’t matter which Century they are born in.

    40% of the city of Jakarta in Indonesia is below sea level. There are 10 million people living there. This is cause for alarm is it not? Unless you don’t care about other people and I’m sure this is not the case. (source: http://news.nationalgeographic.co.uk/news/2013/07/pictures/130723-jakarta-indonesia-flooding-sea-level-rise-sinking-disasters/)

  97. Marco says:

    Rachel, a little background may help here: PIK is a major research institute in Germany in the field of climate research. Rahmstorf and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber are the most well-known names. GKSS is the German research institute where Dennis Bray works, together with Hans von Storch. This institute does not nearly get as much attention as PIK. Hans von Storch, Dennis’ direct colleague at GKSS, has frequently accused PIK of “alarmism”, and I mean alarmism in the form of supposedly unsustainable assertions about future trajectories.

    Thus, when Dennis Bray asks you whether you know what PIK is, he does not want you to say “it’s the premier climate research institute in Germany”, but “it’s the alarmists that make up scary stories just to get attention”. Feel free to ignore Dennis on that.

  98. Rachel says:

    Ok, thanks Marco. I have heard of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research if that’s what PIK stands for. I would not have understood the question though even if I had known this, so thank you.

    If all of the ice melts, how hard is it to refreeze? Impossible? This is cause for alarm.

  99. Dennis Bray says:

    Hi Rachel,
    Indeed I would find a 2m sea level rise by the end of the century very alarming. But where did you find this projection? Maybe we read different articles but the one you sent the link for reads “The projections by 2100 are significantly below 2 meters [6.6 feet] of global sea level rise.” How much below 2m is never discussed. Nice omission. I also see you are well versed in similar means of presentation: “… 9m to come over the longer term…” – wasn’t the estimate 2000 years? Quite distant from the ‘today and tomorrow’ you mention. I haven’t yet been able to locate the paper that was ‘released’, do you have idea of the margin of error in these projections?

    Please do not misunderstand me. I am in full agreement that sea level rise poses a serious issue. However, hasty policy is not necessarily good policy. It can squander a lot of scarce resources. I live in a area where dikes are common and storm surges routinely result in local flooding. Do you think we should begin to discuss raising the dike height to consider a 9m rise in sea level? Or maybe wait and see if technology advances towards being less damaging over the next 200o years?

    If the utility of such knowledge is to influence policy then consideration should be given to producing useable knowledge. If the production of such knowledge is an academic endeavour, then leave it as such. Mixing the two creates significant confusion in the practical world.

  100. Dennis, you say

    I am in full agreement that sea level rise poses a serious issue. However, hasty policy is not necessarily good policy. It can squander a lot of scarce resources.

    I tend to agree. There is a difference between the scientific evidence and what we should do given that evidence. What I find happening, however, is that people (and with all due respect, I think you’ve done some of this) are dismissive of the science (or scientific evidence) and then claim that it’s because we shouldn’t make rash policy decisions. I do apologise if I have unfairly characterised what you’ve said. Personally, I would quite like to see the discussion (in general, I mean, not here specifically) distinguishing between discussions about the science and the scientific evidence and discussions about what we should do, given the scientific evidence.

    If I was being cynical, the reason that discussions sometimes don’t typically end up distinguishing between the scientific evidence and what we should do (given the evidence) is that if they did, it would be much clearer that we should be doing something. Blurring the boundaries, in my opinion, allows those who are reluctant to consider that we should take action to claim that there is maybe too much uncertainty to make any decisions yet. To be clear, I’m not suggesting that this is the case here but might explain why parts of the discussion here have been less constructive than maybe one would like.

  101. BBD says:

    You seem remarkably sanguine about SLR of ~1m or more by the end of the century. Especially as there is no obvious reason why once the WAIS begins to collapse it will not continue to do so with increasing rapidity (Hansen 2007; Katz & Grae Worster 2009). Paleoclimate evidence suggests that this is indeed the case (O’Leary et al. 2013; Blanchard et al. 2009).

    The implication is multi-metre SLR over the course of a few centuries, rather than a couple of millennia. One has to remember that Eemian MSL was >5m above present MSL and the global average temperature during the Eemian was no more than about 2C above the Holocene, perhaps less.

    Call me an alarmist or call me objective. Your call.

  102. BBD says:

    The above was in response to Dennis Bray.

  103. Tom Curtis says:

    Rachel, houses and other building infrastructure have an average lifetime before replacement of around half a century. If the rate of sea level rise is sufficiently slow that houses do not need to be built any faster, just further inland – then the total cost of sea level rise (excluding places like Florida, low lying island states and major river deltas for obvious reasons) will be relatively low. The cost of replacing houses and infrastructure due to sea level rise will largely come from money that would have been spent anyway for natural replacement. In contrast, with rapid sea level rise, the cost of replacement housing and infrastructure to replace that swallowed by the sea will be largely additional costs to the normal replacement costs, and hence quite burdensome. Similar considerations apply to the rate at which the focal point of cities are shifted further inland to deal with rising sea levels. Hence the rate of sea level rise is critical to the overall cost of sea level rise.

    As it happens, I think sea level rise will be relatively slow, and that consequently the cost of sea level rise in global terms will be one of the least concerns from global warming, at least in the first few centuries. In certain regions, that is not the case. Sea level rise is a killer for Florida, and probably for Bangladesh, the Nile delta and probably other major delta systems as well.

  104. Rachel says:

    Dennis,
    The highest I can see is 1.4m by end of Century from here http://www.nature.com/news/climate-science-rising-tide-1.13749?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20130919. Apologies if I was claiming otherwise. But I still have the same question which is: Why is that 2m by 2100 is alarming but 2m by 2200 is not alarming? Yes I understand the speed with which the change occurs is important in terms of mitigation and adaptation but the outcome, which is people losing their homes, remains the same. It seems rather arbitrary to say 1m by 2100 is acceptable, but 1.1m is not or whatever value people choose because in the end, the sea level will just keep on going up if we don’t start sucking up the CO2 now.

  105. I do not think that the average life cycle of a house is 50 years and would also not see that as the right time scale.

    Amsterdam has many houses older than 50 years and like almost all cities is still at the same place it was multiple centuries ago.

    You cannot just rebuild Amsterdam on a meadow in Germany. A city is a community and part of an intricate network that has taken centuries to build up.

    Even if you could rebuild Amsterdam, people being people, they will evacuate the city after the flood, not before the flood.

  106. Rachel says:

    Tom, I find your comment a little callous because you consider a house from a bricks and mortar perspective only. But people have quite an emotional attachment to their homes that goes beyond bricks and mortar. We form an attachment to the land and our local environment as well as the people in our community. Moving 187 million people is a great deal more expensive than just the cost of building new homes for them in a new location. I also find it hard to believe that governments like the one in Indonesia would simply foot the bill for the refugees that are sure to result when homes become uninhabitable.

    It may be true that many homes don’t last for more than half a century but the house I’m currently living in is more than 100 years old and has plenty of life left in it. I’ve never much liked the attitude that results in shoddy structures that might be cheap in the short-term but expensive in the long run.

  107. Dennis Bray says:

    Well, here we go again.

    Good morning K.a.r.S.t.e.N

    I am afraid this time you have shot yourself in the foot. If you do not know why, I wish you luck. If you do know why, I am afraid luck will not suffice.

    Dear wottsup

    I have addressed some related issues in a response to Rachel below but …
    If I was to mention to you The University of Chicago, for example, it does not conjure up any image of a particular bent of research or research mission. If I say to you The Heartland Institute or The Global Warming Policy Foundation I presume you assign them a particular flavor. PIK is sometimes considered to be a similar type of animal, but with a different flavor.
    Reportedly, Levermann stated “The projections by 2100 are significantly below 2 meters [6.6 feet] of global sea level rise.” … “So it’s less than 2 meters sea level rise projected for 2100, but in the long term [2000 years] it’s 9 meters.”…

    To report that by 2100 nothing much changes is not news, publication material, alarming or motivation for policy initiative. Also, if the actual estimated rise for 2000 years in the future can be offered, why then gloss over of magnitude by the year 2100?

    I have not been able to locate a copy of the ‘paper’ so I really can’t make much of a comment other than as reported in the link in this posting. But interested readers might want to browse
    http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.de/2010/04/sea-level-rice.html#more
    http://klimazwiebel.blogspot.de/2012/05/pumping-sea-level-up.html
    where the physics are debated at a level far beyond my command.

    So why did I partially dismiss this at the end. To me, the 2000 years is not very meaningful outside of science. It is academic. It is a nice experiment, ok, but to release it as a scary story smacks rather cheap.

    I have just learned from the NASA site that the sun will likely burn out in approximately 5 billion years. I hardly doubt this will lead to a run on winter clothing this years.
    Also, in 2004, NASA announced
    “2004 MN4 is now being tracked very carefully by many astronomers around the world, and we continue to update our risk analysis for this object. Today’s impact monitoring results indicate that the impact probability for April 13, 2029 has risen to about 1.6 percent, which for an object of this size corresponds to a rating of 4 on the ten-point Torino Scale. Nevertheless, the odds against impact are still high, about 60-to-1, meaning that there is a better than 98 percent chance that new data in the coming days, weeks, and months will rule out any possibility of impact in 2029.”

    As far as I know, it is still not difficult to purchase a hard hat and roof engineering has not changed considerably. Of course, NASA was not suggesting world economies and human behavior should change. NASA also presented the likelihood of the event occurrence. I guess not all scary stories are presented the same.

    Finally, the business as usual scenario: OK, in this case I will admit to being a little facetious. But I get tired of scary stories that for the most part, outside of scientific interest, are basically meaningless in today’s reality. Don’t get me wrong, science can also produce good news. Why didn’t the sea level rise headline read “Good News. Research Shows There In No Need For Alarm Over Sea Level Rise. Today scientists from PIK made the announcement that sea level rise by the year 2100 will be significantly less than expected.” (Although for reasons of your choice, they never mentioned how much significantly less.) Not scary enough I guess. I will leave you to ponder what this does NOT invoke.

    In this day and age, I think people need some good news once in a while.

    Hi Tom – this is usually the fun part

    To your first response: How can I take your critique of my grammar and syntax seriously when in your opening statements you write “Possibly I should have taken the high road, but I don’t think your worth it.”

    Still, it was a good effort. Unfortunately, I doubt anyone took the time to read it. I know I didn’t.

    Now, as for your ‘high road’, I think the discussion all began with YOUR criticism of MY work. Upon scouting around the web, I found other similar retorts under your name. I found it most amusing that you recently called the efforts of Mike Hulme (if I remember rightly) “idiocy” simply because his beliefs differed from yours. Open up a little, listen to the idea of other, it might enlighten you.

    Moving on, Tom told me “Dennis, some interpretations of people are so obtuse that it is difficult to distinguish them from deliberate dishonesty. As an example, you ask, “How do,you know what S meant by honesty”? [I am not sure how my question is an example of deliberate dishonesty? It is a question, not a response. Can questions be dishonest? Damn my weakness in the English language!]

    Tom said “ But Schneider do not just say that scientists are bound to be honest, he went on in the same sentence to describe what is involved in that honesty:” [again, it might simply be my lack of understanding of English, but this sentence construction does not sound correct to me]
    Tom, Schneider, according to your quote, said honesty involved
    “promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but – which means that we must include all doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands and buts.”

    What’s your point? This indeed, sounds like honesty to me. But he also said:
    “That, of course, means getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have.”

    I believe he calls this the ‘double ethical bind’ and says “Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.” And I think we both know how that turn out more often than not. Sea level rise 2100 versus sea level 4100 is a nice example.
    It is not about how Schneider defines honesty that is in question. It is about how he suggests scientists employ it. That much is straightforward comprehension, regardless of language. No one is arguing about how he defined honesty! You really do seem to miss the point.

    Tom again: “In fact, until you have read Mediarology you are in no position to comment on Schneider’s views on this issue; and unless you are critiquing those views as expounded in Mediarology you are critiquing a straw man.”

    Strawman here: Please, given the previous commentary on your past health, calm down. Stress is not a friend of healthy blood pressure.

    Back to Tom: “With regard to sea level, Schneider responded to a specific question, “What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?” In Schneider’s response he points out that a very rapid rise in sea level would be a game changer in the policy debate on climate change. His response, however, contains caveats.”
    So maybe he didn’t practice what he preached. But, is this the same Stephen Schneider that in 1971 wrote “However, it is projected that man’s potential to pollute will increase 6 to 8-fold in the next 50 years. If this increased rate of injection… should raise the present background opacity by a factor of 4, our calculations suggest a decrease in global temperature by as much as 3.5 °C. Such a large decrease in the average temperature of Earth, sustained over a period of few years, is believed to be sufficient to trigger an ice age. However, by that time, nuclear power may have largely replaced fossil fuels as a means of energy production” .( “Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Aerosols: Effects of Large Increases on Global Climate” (Science 173, 138–141).

    According to you, Schneider also said “We cannot pin down whether sea levels will rise a few feet or a few meters in the next century or two”. PIK certainly seems to have solved that one.

    Schneider also said, according to Tom, “Another decade or two of such scientifically documented acceleration of melting could indeed imply we will get the unlucky outcome”. See PIK release

    And then Tom said: “So, in the end, what we have is that Schneider, in a forum that is asking people to “be out their”, still fills his response with caveats and makes sure to mention the relevant factors. But this does not stop his response from being cherry picked for out of context quotes by deniers and you, in order to vilify him.”
    Tom, I am still not sure what it is I am supposed to be denying, other than your ability to make a point. As for vilifying Schneider, on the contrary, unlike many he had the ability to make significant original contributions to science, be they proven right or wrong. He had conviction in his statements and the intelligence to back them up. I would say, I do, (for want of a better word) the opposite of vilifying him (I hate it when my knowledge English vocabulary fails me).

    And lastly to wottsup, not a response, simply an observation and comment

    As I mentioned before, I do not make a habit of participating in blog ongoings. But when I do, I also like to take note of behaviours and types. I think everyone is aware that there are many functions for blogs: information, support groups, collaboration, etc. Mostly I look at blogs related to climate change. I have noticed a tendency here for many to transform from information and collaboration to model more the blogs for support groups. Typically, a group of like-minded bind together to repeatedly reassure themselves of their belief ad nauseam (See Tom, we do have something in common, we both like to throw in the occassional bit of Latin. However, while you favor ad hominem, I prefer ad nauseam) It often appears that they are so insecure in their beliefs that any criticism or diversion from their beliefs is met with hostility (sometimes ad hominen), although, in the self-confirmation of their beliefs it is righteous behavior to be critical of others (sometimes ad hominen). Now most people in the self-help-climate-change type of blogs never seem to offer anything new, innovative or constructive, despite the fact that the blogosphere is a wonderful tool for exploration. Can I coin the phrase cyber-deadwood, or has it already been taken?

  108. Dennis, I think maybe you misunderstood the point I was trying to make (possibly I did not make it very clearly). As Rachel pointed out (and I’ve looked at the Nature article) it seems that a sea level rise of 1 – 2 m by 2100 is possible. Hence there are two interesting discussions one could have. How likely is this range? What are the uncetainties? And, secondly, what should we do? And we could repeat this kind of discussion for many others aspects associated with climate change. Ideally, though, we would try to separate the discussion about the evidence from the discussion about what to do. My point was simply that many seem to dismiss the evidence out of hand (as you seem to have done by suggesting that by 2100 nothing much changes). I think that a 1 – 2m sea level rise by 2100 is somewhat alarming. That doesn’t mean that we should immediately panic and do something that might be damaging, but it does seem like we should at least consider whether or not to do something and what that should be, if we do think something should be done.

    As far as blogs go, you may well make a very valid point. This debate seems incredibly polarised. I started this on the spur of the moment because I realised that I really couldn’t comment on blogs such as WUWT. I could, but only if I was comfortable with fairly extreme forms of online abuse. I had hoped that maybe it would be a place where discussions could be civil, but I suspect that that is rather a naive hope. I do try to do so myself, but don’t always succeed. I also am never quite sure what to do when I see other discussions becoming vitriolic. I would prefer that other commentators tried to maintain some form of civility but it’s hard to intervene without seeming to take sides and sometimes (I will acknowledge) that I have some sympathy with one side of the argument, even if it is not being conducted in a way that I would have done myself. It’s certainly a failing of mine and apart from acknowledging it, I’m still not sure what to do. Just do the best that I can really, even if it isn’t good enough.

  109. Marco says:

    http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~anders/publications/levermann_clark13.pdf
    That took me all but five seconds to find (“Levermann” + “sea level rise”).
    You may note that the authors are not just from PIK, but from several institutes around the world. I guess GKSS will now add further groups to their blacklist of “Heartland-like organizations”?

  110. Tom Curtis says:

    Rachel, I do not ignore the attachment people have to particular houses. I also do not expect the rest of the world to pay for the particular attachment I have to certain houses. Further, attachment to houses is something that forms, and can be reformed over years and decades. Thus, typically in Australia, when children grow up, the will leave their parents home and live temporarily in some form of rented accommodation for a few years, before buying their own home in their thirties. Assume (atypically) that they become attached to that home, and stay there for the rest of their lives. (More typically they will own several houses over their life, and not return to live in the home of their parents.) That gives you a displacement rate from normal life patterns of about 1% of the population per annum. The expected displacement rate from sea level rise, using the 187 million over two centuries is 0.027% per annum. Provided that the young people establishing their own households allow for the projected sea level rise over the coming century in choosing where to live, the net additional cost – economic or emotional – becomes very small.

    The costs will be greater in some locations, of which Amsterdam is likely one. But the total population and land surface area affected by these greater costs are small so that the total cost of adaption to sea level rise within IPCC projections will be small relative to the cost of mitigation. This does not mean that there will not be tragedies in places like Bangladesh. There will be. For most citizens of Bangladesh, however, the tragedy will be no greater than those they currently deal with unless they are left to their plight without aid, or option of emigration to other nations (without leaving the role of host nation solely to India).

  111. Tom Curtis says:

    Following Dennis Bray’s latest effort, I have concluded that he is being dishonest, in the way of Monckton. He is not interested in debate as such, but in rhetorical misdirection. At least, I can give no other account for why, when he asks “How do,you know what S meant by honesty”, he should dismiss my answer to that question on the grounds that:

    “It is not about how Schneider defines honesty that is in question. It is about how he suggests scientists employ it. That much is straightforward comprehension, regardless of language. No one is arguing about how he defined honesty! You really do seem to miss the point.

    Nor can I account, on the assumption of sincerity, for his several jibes about PIK not mentioning how much below 2 meters the sea level is expected to rise by 2100 when the article in question cites a peer reviewed paper on that subject, thereby giving the answer to any wishing to learn rather than score rhetorical points.

    Readers of his comments will by now know that these are not isolated examples. Given my opinion of his motives and tactics, I do not consider him worthy of further response. DNFTT

  112. Dennis Bray says:

    Thanks for the news. Are you implying PIK and Heartland are similar? I also never knew that Heartland was on a GKSS blacklist, nor that GKSS had a blacklist for that matter. By the way – GKSS as GKSS has not existed for some time now. If you need to find it on line try HZG. But are you really saying that PIK is a Heartland type institute?

  113. Dennis Bray says:

    You know Tom, it is of little consequence or concern to me how you feel about me. Not sure what DNFTT means. But before you start stamping your feet I will leave you to your fan club. Be sure to reinforce each other on a regular basis. I’m sure loyal fans will always tell you you are right. People with this level of insecurity should actively recruit.

    Ah – DNFTT – do not feed the troll. So you were already stamping your feet.

    For your sake, let’s say that you win

    Reward yourself: http://www.thinkgeek.com/

  114. Tom and Dennis, I’ve been unsure of whether or not to intervene. As I’ve said before, one of my many failings with regards to managing this blog. Like Karsten and others, I have a lot of respect for Tom as he is remarkably knowledgeable and very balanced. Regularly correcting those who make claims (myself included) that are not justified or not supported by the evidence. Having said that, I’m not a fan of the DNFTT style of rhetoric, as it has been applied (unfairly) to me in the past on other sites. I also appreciate it when the authors of papers being discussed here are willing to make a comment even if they do say things with which many would disagree. Having said that, Dennis, some of what you’ve said has appeared a little inconsistent and I’m not sure what to make of that. I get the impression that there is some context here of which I’m currently unaware. I can’t see extending this discussion producing anything constructive so I plan, in a short while, to close the comments. I’ll leave them open for a little while in case anyone wants to make a case for extending this 🙂

  115. Dennis Bray says:

    Quickly, isn’t the conclusion for 2100 ‘significanly less’ than the 1 – 2m, or ‘could be’ significantly less? Also, focus should be on probabilty, not possibiility. Possiblity provies a range – why should we react according to the maximum? As for what we should do, I think would first require an analysis of regional characteristics. If we are working on the premise of maybe’s, ie. in area x the sea level MIGHT rise to Y then by all means it is good to begin discussion on what x could do. In fact, adaptation debate is at least equal if not superceding the mitigation debate. Regional models are in a continual state of development. You need also to remember that here the debate involves real local economies, often with more pressing concerning than weighing possibilies at the end of the century. Adaptive measures cost real reseources that at this time might be better spent elsewhere. What needs to be addressed is the development of incremental adaptive strategies that can be adjusted in the most economic way in light of possible sea level change and weather patterns. Give concrete options to those whom are deemed to need them, not confusing projections for the next 2000 years.
    One last question, is the paper in question repesentaive of findings in other research?

  116. Dennis Bray says:

    Sounds like a plan

  117. To be fair, I’m no expert. I don’t know if it is representative or not. The part of the article that I read that may be relevant is probably this

    When it comes to making projections, the choice of models has big consequences. Process models generally predict rather less than 1 metre of rise by 2100, whereas semi-empirical models top out at between 1 and 2 metres — enough, at the higher end, to flood the homes of 187 million people. These high-end, semi-empirical estimates are extremely controversial, and the IPCC has low confidence in them. “The only advantage of these models is that they’re easy to calculate,” says Philippe Huybrechts, an ice modeller at the Brussels Free University. “I think they’re wrong.”

    As far as I see it, if it continues at the current rate, we get 30cm. So, any acceleration gets us towards 0.5m and higher. I agree that this is a very complex situation. If all we were dealing with is rising sea levels, then Tom’s point (and, I guess, what you’re saying) about timescales has merit. We can adapt to these kind of rises over the next century. We’re not just talking about rising sea levels though.

    Beyond that though, my point was that we should be aiming to have the kind of discussion we’re kind of having now. What is the science actually suggesting (with uncertainties)? Then, what should be consider doing?

  118. Pingback: Watt about Roger Pielke Jr? | Wotts Up With That Blog

  119. My post with a review of the IPCC statements on homogenization is now published. I feel this part honestly represents the scientific literature.

    The blog circle works, there are already links to 4 other blogs reviewing the IPCC report.

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