## We need a better class of climate “skeptic”!

When I started this blog, it was mainly to address the – mostly – scientific nonsense presented on Anthony Watts’ blog, Watts Up With That (WUWT). After a while this became a little too stressful, and the association with such nonsense became a bit too hard to take. So, I changed the name of the blog and have largely ignored WUWT since then. However, I do still sometimes comment on “skeptic” nonsense when it comes to my attention and when it seems appropriate to do so. However, even this is getting a little hard to take.

In the last week we’ve had David Rose in the Telegraph discussing the significance of the increase in Antarctic sea ice (well, it is interesting, but not in the way that he thinks it is). This article also included Judith Curry largely contradicting her own research, and included a lengthy section by Andrew Montford, possibly the person with the greatest difference between how much some think he understands this topic, and how much he actually understands it.

We’ve also had Matt Ridley (the Rational Optimist?) arguing in the Times that The BBC has lost its balance over climate change, because it has decided that inviting non-experts to talk about climate science is probably a bad idea. Today we had Ben Webster in the Times suggesting that Voices of dissent drowned out by climate change scientists, because a reviewer of a paper published 4 years ago suggested removing some comments that were not supported by the analysis in the paper. This is despite the author commenting

the reviewers who objected to the questions were technically correct because they “were not explicitly based on our results”.

The author rather spoiled it by then saying

However, he said: “We had a right to discuss it . . . If your opinion is outside the broad consensus then you have more problems with publishing your results.”

No, I think that one role of peer-review is to prevent authors from simply presenting their opinions in their papers, especially if these opinions are not actually based on the work they’re presenting. In this regard, I particularly liked this tweet from John Kennedy

Also, if the Times thinks this is newsworthy, then they really must be scraping the bottom of the barrel.

I’ve also spent the last few days playing yes, but random walk with Andrew Montford and Doug Keenan. Well, not really playing since they both largely ignored me as – apparently – I’m a troll. Today I actually read Doug Keenan’s Statistical Analyses of Surface Temperatures in the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, which is a beautiful example of utter balderdash and includes a a discussion of Doug Keenan challenging Phil Jones to pass a statistics exam. Doug Keenan even offers to pay :

I then offered to pay £500/minute to have Jones write the examination. My offer was not accepted.

How old is Doug? Twelve? It also includes this somewhat ironic quote

People are not honest, they don’t admit their ignorance, and that is why they write such nonsense.
—Sigmund Freud

Words to live by, Doug, words to live by!

So, the problem I’m having is that this is all getting so nonsensical that I’d really rather not be associated with it in any way. In some sense, one could argue that it’s brave of these people to have the courage to look ignorant and foolish. I, however, do enough by myself to look ignorant and foolish, without looking even more ignorant and foolish by associating with them. That’s why it would be nice if there were a better class of climate “skeptics”. People who it would be worth having a serious discussion with, rather than people who resort to some form of conspiracy ideation whenever they get challenged (or, sometimes, even without being challenged).

The problem, I think, is that there is actually no sensible middle ground. If you have sufficient knowledge to understand the science and how science works, and have a sufficiently open mind, you end up largely agreeing with the mainstream position. The alternative is to simply look like a crackpot; sometimes with enough knowledge to make a fool of yourself, but not enough to know that you’re doing it. Clearly not everyone who agrees with the mainstream position agrees about everything or about all the details, but they agree about the basics and broadly agree with the IPCC projections. There are some who are seen as being on the more skeptical side of the spectrum, but most of this is healthy skepticism, rather than yes, but conspiracy theory.

So, that’s the problem I’m facing at the moment. There are certainly people with whom I can have interesting and worthwhile discussions about the science, but when it comes to people like Rose, Ridley, Montford, Keenan, Webster, it all seems rather pointless. They either don’t know enough to know that they’re wrong, or they’re being dishonest. In either case, it’s really not worth taking a discussion with them seriously. Of course, one could choose to not take it seriously, but I’m not sure I can really be bothered or have the stomach for that. All I can say is that I’m looking forward to the end of this week, when I start a two week holiday.

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### 657 Responses to We need a better class of climate “skeptic”!

1. Rachel M says:

Personally I don’t think it’s worth wasting time with climate Skeptics. Their views are cemented and unchangeable and I quite often find them completely absurd. I think Skeptics are best ignored. Focus on the much larger percentage of the population who are unmoved.

2. Rachel,
Largely agree, but how does one address that they get a platform in the Times, Telegraph, Mail, ….?

3. AnOilMan says:

I agree with Anders wholeheartedly.

Its not like a single skeptic has produce any evidence what so ever that climate change isn’t real.

Seriously. They’ve been arguing for 20 years without anything to back them up. The best they can do is conflate weather and politics with climate change.

How come they can’t find any evidence to point to? I mean, anything at all?

4. Rachel M says:

There’s nothing you can really do about that except ensure that the science has a platform too. The more platforms presenting the science the better. You’re doing that already with your blog.

5. BBD says:

We can’t ignore them Rachel because as ATTP laments, they conduct their war on democracy via elements of the MSM. This must not go unchallenged. Far, far too many people read the lies and are swayed by them because after all, it is much easier on the heart to reject the scientific evidence than to accept it. You don’t even need to be a libertarian or a creationist. I should know.

So it’s ClimateBall to the bitter end. The game where the only losing move is not to play.

6. Serious critical discussion is demanding, it’s demanding for all participants. When the main stream views are based on real science, all essential criticism must be on the level of science.

We have a number of “auditors”, who have the technical expertize required for finding technical errors in scientific papers, most commonly in statistical analysis. They have found real errors, but few if any of those observations have real influence on important conclusions.

We have also a number of scientists who try to find evidence contrary to the main stream views, such as Lindzen or Christy, but papers of that type are rare, too rare for maintaining much discussion. Nic Lewis has made an attempt to join the group of skeptically minded scientists, and succeeded in producing results published in quality journals.

Then we have the disagreements between people, who all insist that their views fall within the range of main stream results. I do believe firmly that my views belong to those, but it’s obvious that my views are not exactly the same as those of some others who write here. The experience seems to tell that it’s mostly too demanding to proceed from the declaration or observation of such disagreement to productive debate. in most cases none of us is expert enough to present convincing enough evidence or arguments on those issues.

7. Pekka,

Then we have the disagreements between people, who all insist that their views fall within the range of main stream results. I do believe firmly that my views belong to those, but it’s obvious that my views are not exactly the same as those of some others who write here.

Yes, I would agree. That’s kind of what I referring to when I mentioned healthy skepticism.

8. johnrussell40 says:

BBD is dead right. We have to carry on pointing out every lie, every obfuscation, every distortion. Don’t waste time arguing with pseudo-sceptics but make sure the fence-sitters and bystanders get to see/hear them being challenged with the scientific facts. However tiring, we have no other choice, because our children and grand children are depending on us. Eventually the sceptics will just fall silent and disappear and we can then turn our efforts to meeting the increasing challenges climate change will throw at us.

Go and have your holiday, ATTP, and come back refreshed, ready to re-enter the fray. We have work to do until the course is run.

9. We have to carry on pointing out every lie, every obfuscation, every distortion.

What’s the effect of listing all those on this site – or even on many similar sites?

What’s the fraction of population that notices that, and how many of them are influenced in any way. Most cannot be influenced, because they were totally convinced already, and those few of different prior views are also likely to be unaffected. If the goal of writing is to genuinely have some influence, then a lot of thinking is required to figure out, how that might succeed.

Another possibility is that the idea is to learn from the discussion. If the purpose is to learn about the science, discussing the obviously wrong claims is of no value at all. Learning about the formation of public opinion or about policy processes requires a different approach as well.

10. Pekka,
Those are good points, and I don’t really have an answer to any of them.

11. Denis says:

I fully appreciate your frustration and feeling of dismay. It is so important that we have people like yourself maintaining a presence in the ‘front line’ in this ‘war of attrition’ and continually presenting the facts. Your efforts are appreciated! … Even in Australia.

Perhaps the way to deal with the ‘opinions are more important than the truth brigade’ is by the science community, as a coordinated group, presenting regular articles to the press for publication, particularly papers such as the Telegraph. It would be interesting to see if they decline to publish, particularly if the articles were signed by major scientific in institutions.

A coordinated strategy is required where direction and support is set and shared. May I suggest talking to John Cook from the University of Queensland, and Graham Readfearn blogging in the Guardian. This is a world wide phenomenon.

12. Denis,
Thanks for the comment.

May I suggest talking to John Cook from the University of Queensland,

Don’t tell anyone, but I already am :-)

13. Chandra says:

Anders, I agree with others that it is necessary to oppose the disinformation campaign waged by those mentioned. Your site has become essential reading (although I comment rarely) for me and maybe others who try to do what they can.

14. Most of the climate blogs are principally social meeting places of like minded people. There’s nothing wrong in that, but that’s surely an issue to ponder for the host who spends a sizable effort in keeping the site alive.

15. Chic Bowdrie says:

Pekka,

“We have also a number of scientists who try to find evidence contrary to the main stream views, such as Lindzen or Christy….” July 8 at 8:52pm

I don’t think such scientists just start out trying to be contrarian. As any good scientist should, they may be just going where the scientifically methodological data take them.

“Another possibility is that the idea is to learn from the discussion.” July 8, 9:17pm

I agree, but. As a frequent reader and occasional commenter at this blog, my impression is that skeptical arguments are not welcome here.

16. Andy Skuce says:

Matt Ridley has written some superb climate books: The Red Queen, Genome, Nature via Nurture, The Origins of Virtue and others. He was and, I suppose still is, among the best science writers that I have read. Yet, on climate change, he’s rubbish.There’s not even a hint of impartiality or doubt when he gets on this subject.

I simply don’t understand why. I wrote a series on Ridley three years ago at Skeptical Science and I don’t think I got close to why he behaves this way.
http://www.skepticalscience.com/Ridleyriddle3.html

I think that “skeptics” actually do provide a service of sorts in that they prod us into understanding and communicating the science better. They did for me once, anyway. But the thrill has gone and I am tired of arguing with people who often act in bad faith. I will gladly talk to anyone who has doubts or questions and who sincerely wants a constructive conversation. But I am damned if I’m going to waste my time arguing on a blog or on Twitter with somebody who just wants to score points so that they can impress their mates. It’s like the myth of Sisyphus.

17. Chic,

my impression is that skeptical arguments are not welcome here.

Skeptical arguments are more than welcome. “Skeptical” arguments, however, ……..

This is a fairly fundamental point and is what I was trying to get at in the post. Most of the “skeptical” arguments are nonsense (Antartic sea ice being one example). Just because they seem to make sense, doesn’t mean that they do and there is only so much time and effort one can put into pointing this out. Plus, as I’ve discovered, most who make these “skeptical” arguments are unwilling, or unable, to understand this and hence any discussion involving them has a tendency to be never-ending.

18. Eli Rabett says:

Leif is rather fun (and yes he is more than a bit heterodox on climate change). Also Ferdinand Engelbeen

19. guthrie says:

Andy -re Ridley, the only reason I can see that makes sense is that he is ideologically opposed to environmentalism and anything which argues for proper international action, whether carbon tax or trade. What would be interesting would be to re-read his books bearing in mind his conservative (and wrong) views on economics and how people are. I suspect you’d find a somewhat slanted view of evolution in them.

As for Pekka – I think he thinks he’s a good guy, but at times it really isn’t clear. Of course, were we simply discoursing rationally about the science, that wouldn’t matter, but this is politics, so it kind of does. I totally disagree with his pointless questioning above.
Most of the population doesn’t know much about anything, for a variety of reasons. The key point is that the public space that they exist in must be dominated by views and information that is related to the science. If not, the disinformation seeps in and takes over.
And the polls clearly show that most of the public are actually agreeing with us, they just have more immediate priorities which get greater coverage come election time. So no, we can’t just give up and go home, because the work of bloggers and commenters is to populate the public spaces of the internet, and newspaper letters pages, and so on, making it clear that the denialists and anti-science people are not right, they are not accurate, they lie, and they lie to you, the reader, do you want to be taken in by them?

There’s been loads of books and articles written about how to communicate with people. Pekka pointing out that thinking about it is required to write stuff with influence is, well, Duhhhh. Presumably he thinks nobody here or anywhere has read anything, or thought about anything. Or maybe all the arguments about framing, for example, never happened?
Basically just ignore Pekka and get on with doing what you want and what you think works. You’ll be able to tell it works by how many people comment and what sort of online presence you have, and how your views of it all change.

(That was todays last thing before I go to bed illegible screed)

20. Tom Curtis says:

Anders, there already exist a better class of skeptic. They include people like John Neilsen-Gammon, James Annan, Cliff Mass, and Hans von Storch. They typically accept median estimates of climate sensitivity in the lower half of the IPCC range, and/or estimated damage functions with temperature increase also in the lower half of the IPCC range. At the borderline are people like Nic Lewis who does credible work, but is hampered by a complete lack of skepticism about some of his assumptions; or (as Eli mentions), Ferdinand Engelbeen who is brilliant on the anthropogenic origins of CO2, and dodgy on estimated forcings.

I think more exposure to the views of such people, along with simultaneous exposure to genuine warmists (people whose median estimate of climate sensitivity and damage function with temperature are on the high side of the IPCC estimates) such as James Hansen would be a good thing. It would break down the idea that climate scientists are a moholithic group marching in dogmatic lockstep, while exposing people to the genuine debates within climate science. It would also show (by contrast) just how idiosyncratic are the ideas of the purported climate skepticism of of the purported skeptics whose views are routinely presented in the media.

21. Vinny Burgoo says:

Andy Skuce: ‘It’s like the myth of Sisyphus.’

Myth?

22. Chic Bowdrie says:

ATTP,

“Clearly not everyone who agrees with the mainstream position agrees about everything or about all the details, but they agree about the basics and broadly agree with the IPCC projections.”

I wouldn’t consider anyone agreeing with IPCC projections a skeptic. Roy Spencer has a mainstream view of the misnamed greenhouse physics, but is clearly skeptical of IPCC projections.

23. corey says:

“Roy Spencer has a mainstream view of the misnamed greenhouse physics, but is clearly skeptical of IPCC projections.”

I think that’s because the IPCC rejects the “Yes, but God” argument.
:-)

24. Tom Curtis says:

Chic Bowdrie, Roy Spencer is a signatory of the Cornwall Declaration on Global Warming, indicating that his views on global warming are constrained by religious ideology rather than scientific evidence. He is not able to find that global warming is harmful without contradicting his economic ideology masquerading as religion, so he does not. The result is that his scientific results beyond the production of the UAH temperature series are of a very low quality, and his blogging of a lower quality still.

25. Andy Skuce says:

Guthrie: There is a bit at the end of “The Origin of Virtue” where Ridley starts going on about the benefits of Thatcherism on the economy in the Newcastle area. It did strike me at the time that it was odd, but the relevance only kicked in when I later heard about the collapse of Northern Rock.

I think his other books on biology are fine. He was often writing about genetics and that’s an area where rabid right-wingers sometimes go off the rails, but I think that he was always very reasonable on that subject, with no hint of racism or sexism that I can recall.

I suspect that he had a really good editor for his early books, since his standard of writing was much better than in his recent pieces. The editor may also have made suggestions to keep his politics out of it, but that’s pure speculation on my part..

26. > Myth?

The alternative is to imagine Sysyphus happy:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Myth_of_Sisyphus

If he plays ClimateBall ™, he’s my first pick.

27. Chic Bowdrie says:

[Mod: I have not read any bona fide Skeptic arguments from you thus far. This comment is provocative and not constructive. If you don’t have anything else to contribute then please leave it at this, thanks]

28. Tom Curtis says:

[Mod: This refers to a deleted comment]

29. [Mod: This refers to a deleted comment.]

30. Kevin O'Neill says:

I’ve never come to grips with the pseudo-skeptic mindset. It goes beyond global warming to the whole panoply of conservative touchstone issues. In the USA these are abortion, national healthcare, global warming, evolution, taxes, gun control and gay marriage.

If you know a person’s stance on one of these issues you can predict with fairly high confidence what their beliefs are on the other issues. All of these involve, one way or another, scientists telling conservatives something they don’t want to hear. Science is always against them; whether it be social scientists with statistics telling them that a gun owner is more likely to see that gun fired against a relative or friend than an invading criminal; or an economist telling them there is no link between lower taxes and jobs, wages, and GDP growth; or scientists telling them about evolution; etc, etc.

They don’t trust science because it conflicts with their worldview. If it meshed with their worldview *they’d* be the ones trumpeting research results. Political parties and special interests figured this out long ago. They only need to dispute the facts – no matter how flimsy or ridiculous the evidence they can muster – to create an ‘out’ for their followers.

The human mind has an exceptional capacity for rationalization and or self-delusion. Dunning-Kruger shows us that being ‘wrong’ can be used internally to increase one’s belief in being right. Against this fortress of disbelief facts and evidence are puerile weapons.

I have spent way more time than I’d rather admit reasoning, discussing, and arguing,these issues with the true believers. With many of them it quickly devolves into just ridiculing them. I have never found a strategy that I think is effective. I have never won enough converts to make it worth my time. But at least these exchanges leave a marker that there is an opposing view. Passers-by may read them and realize they too can speak out. When you’re alone in a comment thread at WUWT or Goddard’s it can be daunting to stand against all the misinformation, tribal group think, and insults that come your way. I only hope that a few lurkers or future readers will find the arguments and think for themselves. It may not be a lot, but it’s as much success as I’ve come to hope for.

31. Chic Bowdrie says:

Kevin O’neill,

I feel the same way.

32. John Mashey says:

Andy Skuce: “Matt Ridley has written some superb climate books:”
I think you meant biology books :-)

I know this is a broken record, but this discussion illustrates how pseudskeptics have stolen the label skeptic and thus place themselves with Sagan, Gardner, Schneider and most good scientists .. like John N-G or James Annan, neither of whom are “skeptics” and certainly not pseudoskeptics, having attended a workshop with both of them.

33. Nick says:

Well said, Kevin O’Neill.

Living the D-K paradigm is Australia’s pseudo-skeptic leader Tony Abbott, a man who has slashed spending on science and is dismantling carbon pricing and renewables investment, while calling publicly for a stronger, smarter, more diverse economy. In response to a question about the downsides of general criticism of his progress and actions he said:

“It just goes with the territory, but no one likes criticism which they think is completely unjustified. Although as a mate of mine said to me once, unfair criticism is a compliment in disguise.”

34. In other old news:

Adherents of frames that support regulation (‘comply with Kyoto’, ‘regulation activists’) are – in our study – significantly more likely to be lower in the organizational hierarchy, younger, female, and working in government. Indeed, in our study, only seven respondents using these frames are at the highest level in government. Conversely, adherents of those frames that are more defensive and oppose regulation (‘nature is overwhelming’, ‘economic responsibility’) are significantly more likely to be more senior in their organizations, male, older, geoscientists, and work in the oil and gas industry. Adherents of these two frames comprise 33.7% of our respondents overall, but 63.3% of top managers in the oil and gas industry as opposed to 19.1% supporting regulation. The majority of command posts within organizations, especially in the industry, seem to be manned with opponents to the IPCC and anthropogenic climate science. While it may not be overly surprising that industry executives support the industry’s interests, taking into consideration that we have analyzed experts’ frames that are founded on a claim of being independent and non-partisan, it is also important to note that the two frames that especially dwell on the point of ‘real science’ versus ‘hoax’ at the same time represent core economic interests.

http://oss.sagepub.com/content/33/11/1477.full.html

35. Michael 2 says:

“People are not honest, they don’t admit their ignorance, and that is why they write such nonsense.” Sigmund Freud

Including, presumably, Sigmund Freud himself, unless he is not a person ;-)

Nice circular dilemma. If he is telling the truth then he is not telling the truth.

36. Steve Bloom says:

Thanls for that, Willard. Krugman has some context for it.

So it’s clear that no amount of skilled persuasion by climate scientists or activists is going to fix the problem (although, as Kevin relates, incremental progress is possible — people do, sometimes, change their minds based on new information or a new understanding of existing information). This is hardly a new idea, but it continues to beg the question of what will work instead. Unfortunately, when it comes to climate policy it appears we can’t afford slow progress. Dan Kahan goes on about “cultural cognition,” but if the root of the problem is economic it seems that a Marxist analysis based on class interest may be more on point, and may in turn suggest that the most effective approach when it comes to climate may be indirect.

37. Windchasers says:
38. Windchasers says:

That YouTube video is how I generally feel after about an hour of arguing with skeptics.

39. OPatrick says:

What’s the fraction of population that notices that, and how many of them are influenced in any way. Most cannot be influenced, because they were totally convinced already, and those few of different prior views are also likely to be unaffected.

Most are largely without conviction of any sort on this issue. If asked the majority will agree with overwhelming scientific opinion, but the main response is one of apathy.

The previous post, on Russell Brand, provides a good example of why what people like Anders do is important. Brand’s a clever bloke, but whilst he might have been able to work out appropriate responses to the torrent of nonsense for himself I suspect if you analysed it carefully you’d be able to trace most of the comments back to places like this where people worthy of trust are doing the hard, analytical work of identifying and correcting misinformation. Russell Brand, and people like him, can communicate with a whole section of the population you are unlikely ever to reach directly, but what happens here makes that communication better: more reliable, more thoughtful and more likely.

40. With the exception of this blog and one other, I don’t bother going to the comment section if I know there will be idiocy. Anders you have much improved (IMO) your moderation here so that is why I am happy to continue reading past the final line of your posts but in most other places I don’t bother. Personally I have enjoyed your blog posts where you haven’t been debunking idiots but presenting more complex science in a more easily understood format. The non-confrontational style in those posts is more likely to be inviting to genuine fence-sitters and those seeking information. That is your strength I feel and may be most effective in the bigger picture.

41. Tom,
I agree, and that is kind of what I was getting at in the second to last paragraph. Such people, however, are not “skeptics”, but skeptics (as we all should be). In fact, I would argue that they don’t really need a different label, they simply illustrate the range of scientifically reasonable views that can be held.

42. Chic,

Roy Spencer has a mainstream view of the misnamed greenhouse physics, but is clearly skeptical of IPCC projections.

Roy Spencer has signed the Cornwall Alliance’s Evangelical Declaration on Global Warming which essentially says that God would not let us damage our planet. What amazes me is that people accuse climate scientists of having some kind of bias while completely ignoring that Spencer has signed a document stating his bias. I don’t know how anyone can take Spencer seriously given that he has effectively stated that it cannot be anthropogenic.

43. Michael 2,

Nice circular dilemma. If he is telling the truth then he is not telling the truth.

That’s probably why one shouldn’t put quotes at the end of your document that are intended to illustrate that others may not be behaving as they should – the quotes could apply as easily to you as to anyone else.

44. Kevin,

When you’re alone in a comment thread at WUWT or Goddard’s it can be daunting to stand against all the misinformation, tribal group think, and insults that come your way

Yes, I think I noticed that you were all alone on the WUWT thread about Monckers’s fake graph (or, maybe, not Monckers’ fake graph, someone else’s fake graph).

45. verytallguy says:

ATTP,

I agree with much of what you write here. I was also thinking about Victor’s recent post on manure science, http://variable-variability.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/climatology-is-mature-field.html

I’m no climate scientist, but it strikes me that the science has not moved forward much between the TAR and AR5, and there is no real prospect of any huge shift in the next decade or two. As Victor says, the science is mature.

Observations have improved (ARGO) and some of the most dire predictions have been exceeded (Arctic ice). But the overall understanding is still essentially the same. CO2 is driving climate, through radiative forcing, sensitivity is about 3 per doubling. Paleoclimate has a clear big picture, but the details will likely remain uncertain. Modelling is useful but not suitable for exact predictions, and certainly not at regional scale or for many extreme events. New observations will not constrain this picture significantly for decades.

The science is now, to my mind at least, as good as it is going to get for the purpose of policymaking.

So, where is the public debate going? Backwards.

Certainly in the UK, we now have a government which essentially ignores climate change, with a climate change denier in charge of environment policy, subsidising the extraction of new fossil fuels. See also Australia, Canada. Global negotiations have utterly failed. “Sceptical” (ie factually incorrect) views are routinely promoted in the mainstream media. The blogospheric debate is stuck exactly where it was a decade ago.

My conclusion, is that better facts, clearer explanations of the facts, or more debate on the facts, will not shift the imperative for policy.

That’s a depressing post. I’ll maybe put up something more positive later; I’d appreciate your thoughts on how likely the science is to come up with anything really game changing in the next couple of decades.

46. By ranting about conspiracy theorists, appealing to Russell Brand, and tweeting things like “FFS, this isn’t complicated. Do u think clim. sci. like the bible. WTF?” while claiming to be “trying to politely discuss climate change” , you are not doing yourself any favours.
Clearly you need a holiday.

47. verytallguy says:

Paul Matthewsat Judiths:

It’s the so-called scientists who can’t read a thermometer without their political activism getting in the way.

Ranting about consipracy theories much?

48. BBD says:

Heh, that sounds more like me ;-) What you need to appreciate, Paul, is that prolonged discourse with “sceptics” is toxic to the soul.

49. Windchasers says:

My conclusion, is that better facts, clearer explanations of the facts, or more debate on the facts, will not shift the imperative for policy.

Ayep.

There’s one, very simple problem: science is hard to understand. Related problem: it takes 20 minutes to debunk a bad 1-minute talking point. And generally, people’s attention spans just aren’t very long.

If the warming isn’t large and continually ongoing, people don’t care. Add in some well-timed attacks on the integrity of the science (e.g., climategate, the ‘fraudulent’ US temperatures), and you open the door for people becoming polarized on the issue. It’s talking points like “the models are garbage”, “climate change is just a left-wing conspiracy”, etc., and these are continually reinforced by whatever they just read in The Mail or the WSJ.

Polarization on this has certainly increased over the last 10 years. If it wasn’t obvious, you can see it in how US Republicans have distanced themselves from any carbon controls in the US.

The thing is, it’s hard to break such polarization. People become emotionally attached to their beliefs, and resistant to changing them, no matter what the evidence. If global temperatures spike 0.5 C tomorrow, most of them would dig in.

50. jsam says:

No amount of evidence will convince the zealot deniers. There’s no use in posting at Watts, Nova, Goddard or Bishop Shill.

However, there is the odd positive feedback when interceding in slightly more neutral venues. For my entertainment I posted on Christopher Booker, the asbestos denier’s, latest post – teh great NASA conspiracy. Of course the usual brayers were out in force. But I did get this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/10916086/The-scandal-of-fiddled-global-warming-data.html#comment-1475735428. I’ve had similar feedback elsewhere.

So it’s good for the soul. And mocking the ignorant has a long and noble tradition.

Oh, I responded by pointing the gentleperson to this blog and Lewandowsky. :-)

John, I have read many of your replies and they are marvelous! I applaud your patience and your lack of animosity against such people who don’t understand how science works and still debate against its conclusions.

I’d like to ask your opinion on what has been baffling me for years: why are these people denying? Besides the corporations and the anti-government rednecks, there are people who really think that this global warming idea is a farce. To understand how to convince them otherwise, we must understand what made them look that way and strongly believe in this in the first place. It is more than sheer stupidity. It is more than a hatred for governments or a love of corporations (that statement is really contradictory since governments and corporations work hand in hand, the latter controlling the first in a very cynical way and at all levels). Something else is at play here. These people should simply take a chance on the matter and go this route:

– if we do nothing, we risk being very sorry that the global warming dudes were right
– if we do something, worst-case scenario, we’ll have also cleaned air and water pollution, soil infestation, we’ll have worked towards saving bio-diversity, etc.

So logically, even if you don’t believe in Global Warming, since we know about all other freaking issues for a fact (not one idiot is blaming smog on animals or “natural” causes), there’s no real need to deny it as the actions to defeat it are the same as the actions defeating the other issues. And that possibility that GW proponents may be right is an additional motivation.

So what is their true agenda? What makes them so strongly oppose science? What makes them jump on exceptions? Is this a phenomenon of internet cretins wanting to be right at all costs and prove it so that their avatar gets some recognition?

51. Kevin O'Neill says:

ATTP – yes, I spent a day at WUWT playing whack-a-mole. Wasted an entire day (a holiday at that), but we didn’t have anything planned anyways.

It was rather a lot of fun for the most part. I needed a break and my little side trip to WUWT was an interesting diversion. It also served to rekindle some fading interests and clarified some thoughts. Unlike most previous trips to WUWT or Goddard’s I came away from this one feeling like I gained more out of it than the time I invested.

52. metzomagic says:

Kevin, your previous comment was spot on. I’m sure it’s the way a lot of us here feel.

Me, I’m just a lowly EE (although, like our Mr. Mashey here I’ve been programming computers since 1974… and am the co-founder of a successful international high tech company, so not exactly a slouch, I suppose). But I’ve been reading everything I could get my hands on re. climate science for the past 5 years or so, and though I can’t read a very technical paper all the way through without my eyes glazing over (a bit rusty on those ol’ differential equations that I haven’t had to use in 35 years), I can read the more accessible ones like Hansen and Levitus.

In one of those strange coincidences, I only became interested in climate science right at the time Climategate broke, and I wanted to discover for myself which ‘side’ actually had the science backing it. My voyage of discover began here, IIRC:
The Discovery of Global Warming – A History, by Spencer Weart
and I heartily recommend it to any fence sitters who may be reading this.

53. BBD says:

I’ll add my endorsement for Weart’s book to Metzomagic’s.

54. Michael 2 says:

AnOilMan says: “How come they can’t find any evidence to point to? I mean, anything at all?”

Perhaps they are not looking for a thing that does not exist and which they have not asserted to exist. I believe what they are trying to do is find all of the causes and magnitudes of climate change which is universally agreed to exist.

A more correct description of “them” is that “they” are still looking for answers, the science is not settled (nor will it ever be).

55. Chic Bowdrie says:

ATTP,

“I don’t know how anyone can take Spencer seriously….”

I take him seriously because he’s honest about his bias. I think Dr. Spencer’s position is that there is some anthropogenic contribution, but that feedbacks are negative. This is consistent with temperatures leveling off while CO2 continues to increase. It is also not inconsistent with the possibility of a robust planet designed by an omnipotent creator.

Everyone has a bias. What I do as a scientist is try to subjugate my bias and evaluating facts as objectively as possible. The climate science facts are not so clear that we can judge who and who are not legitimate skeptics are as you have done in this post.

56. ann ceely says:

you say “… because it has decided that inviting non-experts to talk about climate science is probably a bad idea …”

Except that the interview was about climate policy which scientists are no good at. It would be brilliant if the climate scientists would stick to their science and leave policy to politicians.

57. Marco says:

Chic Bowdrie, can you point to a situation where Spencer is honest about his bias?

And yes, it is very clear who are legitimate skeptics, even in the absence of clear facts. It really is not that hard if you truly are a trained scientist.

58. verytallguy says:

Chic,

I stopped taking Spencer seriously when it became apparent he had to circumvent peer review to get his stuff published. Which he had to do because it was very low quality work.

After Wolfgang Wagner, the editor of the journal found out, he resigned.

To quote from his resignation letter

Peer-reviewed journals are a pillar of modern science. Their aim is to achieve highest scientific standards by carrying out a rigorous peer review that is, as a minimum requirement, supposed to be able to identify fundamental methodological errors or false claims. Unfortunately, as many climate researchers and engaged observers of the climate change debate pointed out in various internet discussion fora, the paper by Spencer and Braswell [1] that was recently published in Remote Sensing is most likely problematic in both aspects and should therefore not have been published.

After having become aware of the situation, and studying the various pro and contra arguments, I agree with the critics of the paper. Therefore, I would like to take the responsibility for this editorial decision and, as a result, step down as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Remote Sensing.

http://www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/3/9/2002/pdf

Which opens a wider truth about “sceptics” – that their work is, generally of very low quality.

59. Jophn Mashey says:

jsam:
“I’d like to ask your opinion on what has been baffling me for years: why are these people denying?”
I’m not sure if I was the John referenced in the leadin, but I’ll give it a ttry.
Back in 2009/2010 I was trying to understand motivations, as part of building a coherent model of the workings of climate anti-science. See Crescendo to Climategate Cacophony,
p.7-8 definitions
pp.9-14 Machinery of climate anti-science
The list on p.14 is a catalog of all the reasons I could then infer, but see the pages just before for context. For any given person, there might be combinations, created in different orders, i.e. think of these as atoms, combined into molecules, possibly with isomers by order.
IF I ever redo this, I might add a few (but not many) more.
For instance, many blog commenters seem to be people with little relevant expertise or knowledge, but they can express their opinions and get positive feedback that they may not get in the real world. The SalbyStorm has many examples like that. To some extent, that’s PSY6 (“High-bar, low-bar”) from the catalog, but perhaps goes beyond into some social interaction issues. The NOVA comments included thumbsup/down, and people seemed to compete to show insulting, ill-informed emails they’d send to Macquarie U, to applause from equally ill-informed commenters. Some commenters had nothing to say about the actual topic, but just seemedt o show up for entertainment or to generate insults against others.

60. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic writes:”This is consistent with temperatures leveling off while CO2 continues to increase.”

If the energy budget was best represented by SSTs, then there would be consistency; but Spencer knows that OHC contradicts any pause or leveling of SSTs. And that OHC is a far better measure of the energy balance (because of its far greater mass than the atmosphere).

The proper questions to ask are: When, for how long, and what conditions cause SSTs to diverge from the known energy imbalance? Spencer is not asking these questions. I really think he knows better, but has chosen to present ideological propaganda rather than a scientific analysis.

61. ann,

Except that the interview was about climate policy

If it was, that might be fine, but it wasn’t.

which scientists are no good at.

Strange how scientists are this homogeneous group who are only good at one thing. I take your point though, there’s no reason to think that scientists understand our policy options any better than anyone else.

It would be brilliant if the climate scientists would stick to their science and leave policy to politicians.

That would actually be quite a good step in the right direction. It would also require policy makers, and others, not pretending that looking out of the kitchen window in winter gives them some kind of special insight into climate science though.

62. Chic Bowdrie says:

Marco,

Dr. Spencer’s religious views are no secret. The issue is whether his bias leads him to incorrect conclusions. My view is that everyone has biases. I’m less likely to trust your opinion if you claim otherwise.

The quality of scientist does affect his ability to evaluate the facts. But in absence of definitive evidence, scientific analysis is just opinion subject to bias. Judging who is a legitimate skeptic is even more presumptuous.

63. Chic Bowdrie says:

verytallguy,

Was it low quality work or work that didn’t conform to consensus opinion?

Kevin O’neill,

Skeptic opinion, including mine, is that OHC is not sufficiently measured to be able to claim continued ocean warming, especially not due to CO2. Sunlight can penetrate deep enough to affect long term warming/cooling, but LWIR would affect only superficial ocean layers rapidly equilibrating with the atmosphere.

64. BBD says:

This is getting boring:

but that feedbacks are negative

It is incompatible with known paleoclimate variability.

Some people should think a little harder before posting.

65. BBD says:

This is consistent with temperatures leveling off while CO2 continues to increase. It is also not inconsistent with the possibility of a robust planet designed by an omnipotent creator.

Someone called kdk33 believes this, AFAIK.

66. Chic Bowdrie says:

Kevin,

“When, for how long, and what conditions cause SSTs to diverge from the known energy imbalance?”

I don’t agree with the premise of your question, ie know energy imbalance. The difference between incoming and outgoing is estimated to be 0.6 W/m2. The error on both incoming and outgoing is at least that or more.

Dr. Spencer is a only moderate skeptic. He’s one of John Cook’s 97%. He just doesn’t believe anthropogenic warming will amount to more than 1 deg C for a doubling of CO2.

67. Kevin O'Neill says:

In the United States, policy *is* decided by politicians. It’s not a matter of whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, politicians simply are not up to the task. Here’s the most recent example: Brandon Smith, Republican State Senator of Kentucky. During a committee hearing on new EPA rules he said,

“I don’t want to get into the debate about climate change, but I will simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There are no factories on Mars that I’m aware of.”

Kentucky’s largest circulation newspaper, the Louisville Courier-Journal, in an article titled No additional coal plant closures expected from EPA rule had this to say, “Smith also said something about how the Earth’s and Mars’ temperatures were the same. But he lost me on that, and I didn’t have time to seek a clarification. Mars is actually a lot cooler than Earth.

So we have a politician who makes such an ignorant claim that the reporter covering the story can’t even believe his own ears. Meanwhile, readers of the story are not made aware this elected politician doesn’t have a clue.

Now, I will not claim that liberal politicians necessarily understand the science any better, but they are more likely to defer on the science to the scientific experts. Conservative politicians not so much. They also have a tendency to just make sh*t up. And the media has often been complicit by adhering to some notion of ‘balance’ – that both sides claims are equally valid. This is often nonsense. When it’s simply a matter of fact then those who ignore them or distort them should be identified and held responsible for their statements.

If sceptics were truly sceptical, you’d find Brandon Smith’s notion of Mars’ temperature being lampooned on sceptical blogs as well as blogs that accept AGW. I have not yet seen a sceptical blog write a post about Brandon Smith.

68. dhogaza says:

Chic:

“Was it low quality work or work that didn’t conform to consensus opinion?”

Conspiracy ideation …

69. dhogaza says:

Chic:

“Dr. Spencer is a only moderate skeptic. He’s one of John Cook’s 97%.”

No, he’s not, as has been pointed out ad nauesuem.

70. dana1981 says:

Arguing with contrarians is counter-productive in the same way that banging your head against a wall is. You leave having made no progress, with a nasty headache. Whacking moles every so often can be fun as Kevin notes, but for the most part it’s a waste of time and leaves you feeling frustrated. That’s why as soon as someone exhibits contrarian behavior on Twitter, I make use of that beautiful ‘Block’ button.

Media outlets like the Telegraph, Mail, Times, WSJ, Australian, etc. (mostly owned by Murdoch, not coincidentally) are a serious problem because they have a wide reach. I think the only way to address that problem is to debunk their nonsense, and hopefully make a dent in their credibility as long as they keep publishing denialist crap. The Telegraph dumped Delingpole, so that’s a positive, although they still publish Booker’s excrement. The Mail is of course hopeless, only a half step above the National Enquirer in terms of journalistic quality. I don’t know what the deal is with the Times, except that it’s another Murdoch publication.

My strategy has become:

1) Debunk the crap published in these terrible media outlets when necessary.
2) Repeat 97% consensus over and over and over. Most people are smart enough to know that they should defer to the experts, but because there’s so much crap climate ‘journalism’, they don’t realize there’s an expert consensus.
3) Try to shift some of the discussion from science to policy. While climate science is a fascinating field, at this point we know all that we need to know. The debate now needs to be about the best climate policy, and there are policies that conservatives should embrace in principle (i.e. revenue neutral carbon tax). And contrarians’ science denial stems from an opposition to the proposed solutions. If you can convince them that there are palatable solutions, their science denial may at least be dulled. And it’s always worth remembering that contrarians are a very small fraction of the population, most of which just doesn’t think much about the subject and would generally support climate policies.

71. pbjamm says:

Leaving Policy to politicians is fine and dandy if they are informed on the subject they are making policy for. If they are ill-informed the only responsible thing to do is to consult an expert on the matter. That is where the scientists are supposed to come in. Unfortunately here in the USA we have policy makers ignoring experts and instead counseling outliers who tell them what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

72. dana1981 says:

“Dr. Spencer is a only moderate skeptic. He’s one of John Cook’s 97%.”

As dhogaza said, no he’s not. Spencer is in the fringe 3% minority. He also does very poor quality research (as Tom has noted), is exceptionally biased (both in terms of religion and economics), and clearly allows those biases to influence his climate research.

73. dhogaza says:

Chic:

“Skeptic opinion, including mine, is that OHC is not sufficiently measured to be able to claim continued ocean warming, especially not due to CO2.”

Try; “Skeptic opinion, including mine, is that OHC is not sufficiently measured to be able to claim a hiatus or pause in global warming.”

There, an equally plausible claim, but one you never hear from skeptics. Why? If one were to concede your point regarding measurements of OHC (not that there’s any reason to), it follows that any claim of a pause is every bit as specious as any claim of continued warming.

But that’s not what we hear from supposed skeptics, is it?

And … you are right about Spencer believing that warming will be 1C or less per doubling of CO2. Emphasis on “belief”, which, based on his affirmation of the Cornwall Alliance statement on global warming causing serious problems (“god won’t let it happen”), is rooted in his evangelical christianity. That’s not science. And it helps to explain why his efforts to invent mechanisms (in the form of negative feedbacks) are so riddled with error, he is trying to fit science into a well-defined box based on his evangelical religious beliefs. Same with his faith in creationism …

74. BBD says:

Chic B

He just doesn’t believe anthropogenic warming will amount to more than 1 deg C for a doubling of CO2.

The claim that feedbacks net positive is self-evidently incompatible with both observed and paleoclimate behaviour, and so is this. Why the catalogue of nonsense?

You need to think harder before posting.

75. AnOilMan says:

Michael 2: Your time line is very short. I have spent 15 of the last 18(?) years hearing that climate change isn’t real at all. Then suddenly on mass the entire pseudo skeptic spectrum (few years ago) switched to saying it is real, but must be small. (It was rather surreal to experience because denial folks of different stripes from different and unrelated forums all changed their minds over a very short period of time. I am not the only one who noticed this when it happened.)

JAQing as you described is not a useful activity. Some questions really are stupid stupid questions.

“”Just asking questions” is the attempt to make wild accusations acceptable (and not legally actionable) by framing them as questions rather than statements. The strategy is to keep asking leading questions in an attempt to influence listeners’ views, irrespective of the answers given; the term is derived from the frequent claim by the questioner that they are “just asking questions,” albeit in a manner much the same as political push polls. Additionally, this tactic is a way for a crank to escape the burden of proof behind extraordinary claims.”

Lastly, Michael 2, nit picking, spin-doctoring and whining isn’t science. Its a job best described as ‘pseudo-skeptic’, because that is all they do. If you, me, or anyone acted like that on the job, they would be fired for being a general waste of air and people’s time.

76. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic – you have simply ignored OHC. Isn’t that what I said Spencer has done?

While the uncertainties for the satellite measurements are nearly an order of magnitude larger than the flux (and is often pointed out by pseudo-sceptics), they never mention that:

The average annual excess of net TOA radiation constrained by OHC is 0.6±0.4 Wm–2 (90% confidence) since 2005 when Argo data became available, before which the OHC data are much more uncertain. The uncertainty on this estimated imbalance is based on the combination of both the Argo OHC and CERES net flux data. An update on Earth’s energy balance in light of the latest global observations, Stephens et al, Nature Geoscience, Sept. 2012,

For relative measurements, stability and repeatability are the important instrumentation errors – not absolute accuracy. And again, any claim regarding the overall energy balance is incomplete if it does not take OHC into account. You can’t just ignore it because it suits your ideology.

77. I was just sent a YouTube link about solar flare activity and heard the term “global cooling.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube_gdata&v=FNQj0v1rgSQ&app=desktop
– My radar went up and I then saw a reference to Ben Webster’s article, “Climate Science Paper Censored by American Meteorological Society.” http://www.thegwpf.org/research-paper-on-ipcc-climate-models-censored-by-american-meteorological-society-journal/
– Then I found your blog, AndThenTheresPhysics. Thank you for being here. Nice Blog!
– Then searched DeSmogBlog and search “Ben Webster” in their database of climate deniers.
http://www.desmogblog.com/directory/vocabulary/16443
– Then searched “Global Warming Policy Foundation” where Webster’s article was posted:
http://www.desmogblog.com/global-warming-policy-foundation

Being from Oklahoma, home of US Senator Jim “Global Warming Hoax” Inhofe, I find necessary to refute the deniers, and not let their opinion pass for fact. Two of my favorite sources are:
– Dr. Katherine Hayhoe http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/04/14/3425256/meet-star-showtime-series/
-OK state climatologist Gary McManus http://www.ou.edu/class/che-design/design%201-2013/Global%20warming-2010.pdf

So, I fully recommend http://www.desmogblog.com/ and your local climate change experts as key resources to refute the numbskulls and “global cooling” propagandists out there polluting the discussion with their misinformation and lies. Keep up the good work! We will win. :)

78. Marco says:

Chic, his “honesty” about his religious beliefs are not a very good example, since he explicitly has stated that his religious beliefs do not affect his scientific assessments.

And while everyone is biased in one way or another, it really isn’t that difficult to detect (most) pseudoskeptics. You’ll probably be surprised to hear there are actual scientific papers on the topic. I personally prefer Richard Wilson’s concise description:
“pseudoskepticism centres not on an impartial search for the truth, but on the defence of a preconceived ideological position”.
It’s often immediately visible when yet another pseudoskeptic talks loudly about uncertainty in the science and then laments about the billions of dollars that are or will be wasted because it is obvious that it isn’t happening (and if it is, it isn’t bad, and if it is bad, the proposed actions are even worse, and if not, we can’t do anything anyway).

79. @CB: Roy Spencer has a mainstream view of the misnamed greenhouse physics

Spencer says “So, maybe the greenhouse effect really does work like a real greenhouse.” at this post. This is not “mainstream” according to Wikipedia, which however cherry-picks its sources to favor Wood’s 1909 paper over Abbot’s rebuttal the same year.

The supposed difference between a greenhouse and the Earth’s atmosphere is that the former acts to retain the air inside so as to prevent it from being replaced by the cold air outside. Evidence for this is the cooling that results from opening a window to the outside.

I would argue that this difference is nonexistent as it makes the tacit assumption of a distinction between the warm air inside the Earth’s atmosphere and the cold air outside. Absent such a distinction, there is no “window to the outside”, and the Earth does just as good a job of holding onto its warm air as does a greenhouse.

Claiming that greenhouse glass traps no IR is contradicted by the known properties of glass, which is transparent to insolation but opaque to 1000 cm^-1 IR. While it may well be true that the cold air outside a greenhouse can more than offset the warming from trapped IR via an open window (or inadequate insulation), an open window from Earth’s atmosphere to a source of colder air from another planet (via a suitable fast tube) would accomplish the same thing.

Google for “turn a delicate shade of purple while sputtering” (in quotes) to read meteorologist Craig Bohren’s amusing two-page take on this subject.

80. Michael 2 says:

Tom Curtis says: “I think more exposure to the views of such people … would be a good thing. It would break down the idea that climate scientists are a monolithic group marching in dogmatic lockstep”

The whole point of the Cook paper is to persuade the world that climatologists ARE marching in dogmatic lockstep. It is a good short-term tactic but, IMO, a poor long term strategy.

81. M2,

The whole point of the Cook paper is to persuade the world that climatologists ARE marching in dogmatic lockstep.

No, it’s not. But, you keep believing that if you want to.

82. Michael 2 says:

Marco says: “pseudoskepticism centres not on an impartial search for the truth, but on the defence of a preconceived ideological position”.

Well of course. A search for truth is called “search for truth”. Skepticism is doubt. That doubt may, and probably does, emanate from a preconceived notion, just as your belief will also emanate from a preconceived notion.

It seems that most warmists are also socialists, sense of social justice, equality, that sort of thing. Such persons are predisposed to believe climate alarmism just as they are predisposed to believe any kind of alarmism (polar bears falling from the sky for instance).

Skeptics challenge the alarmism, not the science itself.

Deniers, which I suppose exist but not in great numbers, deny the science AND the alarmism.

Or so it seems to me. Many definitions exist.

83. M2,

Skeptics challenge the alarmism, not the science itself.

Fighting their own strawmen, in other words.

84. Chic Bowdrie says:

dhogaza and dana1981,

Dr. Spencer includes himself as one of the 97% based on his belief that some of the warming is anthropogenic. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kt9AKQduIoU

At a US Senate hearing he testified there is no proof that the warming is serious, for lack of a better word. These statements are not contradictory.

In fact they exemplify confusion surrounding climate science debate. No one knows how much warming there will be. No one knows how much is due to CO2 or feedbacks. No one knows whether some warming is better than same degree of cooling.

85. Chic,

Dr. Spencer includes himself as one of the 97% based on his belief that some of the warming is anthropogenic.

You don’t get to decide – for yourself – if you’re in the 97% or not.

At a US Senate hearing he testified there is no proof that the warming is serious,

Sure, because apparently God wouldn’t let it be serious.

No one knows how much warming there will be. No one knows how much is due to CO2 or feedbacks. No one knows whether some warming is better than same degree of cooling.

We can never really “know” anything about what will happen in the future. We can, however, use something called “science” to try and determine what might happen and then use that information to decide if we should do something or not, and – if we should do something – what that should be.

86. BBD says:

Chic B

#YesButPaleoclimate

It’s become a running joke that no contrarian commenter will respond to the obvious.

87. BBD,
You really need to join twitter, so that you can get that hashtag trending, together with #FreeTheTol300.

88. AnOilMan says:

Michael 2: Just JAQing off again?

What alarmism? What? Where? Got a link at all? Anything? No. You don’t. That is because it doesn’t exist at all. The science is in journals. Period. There is nothing alarming in it at all. If you had read any journal articles at all, you’d be able to point to the paper that you read. As per usual, you don’t have anything to back what you say.

You might want to look at my first post again. You still got nothing. Typical.

89. BBD says:

ATTP

#YesButMySoul
;-)

90. Michael 2 says:

AnOilMan says: “I have spent 15 of the last 18 years hearing that climate change isn’t real at all. Then suddenly on mass the entire pseudo skeptic spectrum (few years ago) switched to saying it is real, but must be small.”

Your mileage obviously varied. I do not know anyone of my acquaintances that has ever said the climate does not change. As to how much and why, there’s a spectrum of opinions on that question among my acquaintances and those opinions tend to follow their political leanings.

Since you call yourself AnOilMan I suspect you were among people for whom climate change was probably irrelevant in their daily lives, perhaps working in some pretty hostile places where a little climate change isn’t going to be noticed — sort of like claiming a millimeter sea level rise in Seattle when they get 12 feet of sea level change pretty much every day.

I went back to Alaska after ten years and noticed some climate change. Then, ten years after that I was getting reports of sunshine at 52 degrees north for days at a time. That was incredible. What it signified to me was a change in the boundary of the polar cell. The actual change wasn’t much, but by moving the polar cell boundary a hundred miles or so caused dramatic effects on the ground much faster than I believe natural processes can accommodate. Things have returned somewhat to normal in those places, but still not the normal that I left.

A similar danger will exist at the northern edge of the Hadley cell coming down at 30 degrees north causing the Arizona desert — just north of it is Flagstaff, much cooler and forested. A very small northward shift in this downdraft zone could spell doom for the Mogollon Rim’s forests.

I tell you these things that you and presumably everyone here already knows by heart to help calibrate your awareness that “skeptics” are not a monolithic thing contrary to the plain meaning of your words. What I am skeptical OF is not often going to be the same as that of any other person that identifies himself by “skeptic”.

Consider a Venn Diagram. The universe is all people. A circle encompasses all True Believers of AGW. That is the *defined* belief system. Everything else is undefined, consisting of nearly as many belief systems as there are people. The outside of this circle of AGW believers is NOT just another circle — it is “everything else” for which no single word is adequate to describe.

91. M2,
You can draw as many circles as you like, but there is only one reality.

92. Michael 2 says:

AnOilMan, there was another metaphor I meant to include, pertaining to the naming of people in a particular belief system and the implication for naming people not subscribed to that circle of belief.

Consider Catholicism. That is a defined belief system. In that system what matters is “Catholic” versus “Not Catholic” — it doesn’t matter what KIND of “not Catholic” you might be and consequently not much effort is made by Catholics to assign moral values to different kinds of not-Catholic.

But assuming you are not Catholic, you can easily see vast differences among all people that are “not Catholic” such that no word can possibly be used to describe them accurately — you can only describe what they are NOT.

Therefore, the word “skeptic” is not all encompassing; it describes a rather narrow subset of the people that are NOT AGW Believers. Other groups could be called “deniers”, “disbelievers”, “uncaring”, “unengaged” and so on — groups having nothing to do with each other but all of them sharing only a single thing they are NOT (which isn’t much of a sharing, actually).

93. AnOilMan says:

M2: You are intentionally confusing global warming with weather, local geographically limited phenomena, and micro scale short term measurements. I think nothing of your behavior.

By the way, my yard has been getting cooler every year since I moved in to my house. By your ‘logic’ all of global warming is a hoax? (On the internet no one can see you roll your eyes.)

Here is the graphs produced by the Canadian government;

Everyone (other than you Michael 2) who clicks on that link will see the obvious verifiable truth.

94. BBD says:

Accept Physics, my son, and you will be saved.

95. Michael 2 says:

And Then There’s Physics says: “Fighting their own strawmen, in other words.”

Certainly, but I think I missed something since this is too obvious. It isn’t a strawman if I am not fighting my own creation.

Actually, I think I missed a lot so I’ll shut up for a while and read and maybe I’ll realize that what y’all mean by “skeptic” isn’t anything like what I mean by it.

96. AnOilMan says:

M2: And still no links or evidence to back what you say? Typical Michael. Typical.

97. Chic Bowdrie says:

Kevin,

I’m not following. How is TOA constrained by OHC? Energy balance implies a comparison between in and out as Stephens et al 2013 do here: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n10/images_article/ngeo1580-f1.jpg

Solar in is (340.2 -100.0) +/- 2 and LWIR out is 239.7 +/- 3.3 so net can’t be less than +/- 2 which includes a possible zero net balance. Furthermnre, a warmer ocean won’t necessarily stay that way in the future if its extra heat resulted from solar heating decades ago.

98. Chic,
We could actually get somewhere here. The climate system can be regarded as ocean, land, atmosphere, ice. The TOA imbalance tells is the difference between the amount of energy coming in and the amount going out (per square metre per second, if you like). If we have more coming in than going out, then the energy in the climate system will rise (energy conservation). The ocean has – by far – the largest heat content, so if we are gaining energy, most of that energy goes into the ocean. Therefore, if you know the rate at which the oceans are gaining energy, then you can estimate the TOA imbalance. Therefore, as Kevin is suggesting (I think), you can use the change in OHC to constrain the uncertainties in the satellite measurements of the TOA.

99. Michael 2 says:

And Then There’s Physics says: “but there is only one reality.”

I think I understand your point. The existence of theoretical realities doesn’t change the heat I will feel mowing the grass this weekend.

My counter-point is that while I am willing to stipulate the existence of a single reality for practical purposes, I am skeptical of any person’s claim to special knowledge about that reality.

Now off on a tangent — Consider Flatlandia — a clever, hypothetical reality designed to suggest that just as 3D is to 2D, so might be 4D to 3D. A sphere intersecting Flatlandia will be perceived as a circle or disk; movement in the 3d dimension however slight would cause the object to cease to be visible (or even exist) in Flatlandia — appearing in a new Flatlandia parallel to it of which an infinite series of such things could exist, parallel and not intersecting.

So it is possible that many realities exist but I can think of no way to interact with them, or them with me, so their theoretical existence probably doesn’t matter. Still, the effort put into describing such things suggests that some utility exists in exploring such things, perhaps where the Big Bang came from.

100. M2 was left reeling by that strawman comeback.
Alarmism isn’t physics, and we aren’t here to do your physics homework for you.

101. Chic Bowdrie says:

Vaughan,

“I would argue that this difference [between a greenhouse and the Earth’s atmosphere] is nonexistent….”

You can’t be serious. Atmospheric models ignoring or minimizing convection are misleading. Without convection the surface won’t cool.

102. Chic,

Without convection the surface won’t cool.

That’s not correct. If there was no convection the surface temperature would be much higher since the energy would be transported mainly by radiation. I think it would result in a surface temperature about 66 degrees higher than the non-greenhouse equilibrium temperature.

103. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic – as ATTP has described, “…if we are gaining energy, most of that energy goes into the ocean. The discussion can move on from there, but ignoring OHC is playing fast and loose with reality. Note those that never mention OHC and those that do.

The point, remember, is that you were saying, “I think Dr. Spencer’s position is that there is some anthropogenic contribution, but that feedbacks are negative. This is consistent with temperatures leveling off while CO2 continues to increase.” I was pointing out that this is not consistent with what we know – which includes OHC. OHC *is* consistent with satellite measurements of the energy imbalance. OHC *is* consistent with the increases in CO2.

The questions I framed earlier could provide answers that change our understanding, but ignoring them isn’t an answer.

104. Michael 2 says:

AnOilMan says: “By your ‘logic’ all of global warming is a hoax?”

I think ATTP directed his criticism of “strawman” at the wrong person.

If I thought global warming was a hoax… well, I don’t know what I would be doing. I think I would not be here spending time reading blogs and comments if it was a hoax.

I have discussed and explained carefully that lumping all persons NOT in a bin into another bin and giving it a label isn’t very useful.

When ATTP says we need a better class of climate skeptic he implicitly accepts that within the label “skeptic” exists classes, some being more worthy than others, and at some point one might decide the label “skeptic” really isn’t very useful — it just means “them”.

105. Chic Bowdrie says:

ATTP,

What I am saying is the data is not good enough to claim we are gaining energy. The sun, albedo, and clouds are +/- 2 W/m2. You can’t get +/- 0.4 net out of that. So the only way to know for sure that the oceans are heating up is to measure it. The data is too recent and insufficiently accurate at this point. The estimate of TOA imbalance is exactly that, an estimate. Does it take into account possible lag times of several decades? If so, where did the data come from before the ARGO data?

106. Chic,
The data is good enough. Just because you happen to think this isn’t so, doesn’t make you right. Be more skeptical.

M2,
No, the strawman was definitely aimed at you. Alarmism is all in the minds of the pseudo-skeptics.

107. Michael 2 says:

Kevin O’Neill says: “if we are gaining energy, most of that energy goes into the ocean.”

Maybe, but why didn’t it just go into the ocean from 1970 to 1998? What makes the past decade so special in this regard?

But I dare say this question has already been answered somewhere so I’ll look around.

108. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic writes: “Without convection the surface won’t cool.

ATTP responds: “That’s not correct.”

Chic, ATTP is attempting to follow the rules he set for himself. He is being kind. My initial reaction was, WTF?

109. BBD says:

Chic

#YesButPaleoclimate

GHGs cause hyperthermals. This could not happen if the climate system is insensitive to radiative perturbation because feedbacks net negative.

There is no basis for the lukewarmer position.

110. Tom Curtis says:

Chic Bowdrie:

“You can’t be serious. Atmospheric models ignoring or minimizing convection are misleading.”

While I have to agree that atmospheric models ignoring or minimizing convection would be misleading, in fact they have not existed since 1967. If you are trying to convince us there are rational “skeptical” arguments against AGW, you would do better by not simply ignoring the last 46 years of climate science.

111. Chic Bowdrie says:

ATTP,
“If there was no convection the surface temperature would be much higher since the energy would be transported mainly by radiation.”

Yes, I agree. I meant the surface won’t cool as much without convection.

112. Chic Bowdrie says:

Kevin,

“Note those that never mention OHC and those that do.”

I don’t keep track, but I’m positive that Dr. Spencer and I do. Is it the phrase “leveling off” that bothers you? Minimal negative feedback still leaves room for net warming, but not to the degree projected by climate models or as was observed 1980-2000. What I am saying is that further ocean warming cannot be assumed by present data and TOA estimates.

I didn’t ignore your questions, only considered them topics for a post other than the present one.

113. Joseph says:

I wanted to better understand the supposed negative feedbacks. What are the potential negative feedbacks due to increases in CO2? What are the causes of the negative feedbacks? If the cause is an increase in temperature, where was the negative feedback during the dramatic rise in temperature over the 1979 – 2000 period?

114. Michael 2 says:

ATTP, really I’ll try for this to be my last post for a while but I sense a denial of alarmism coming from the AGW crowd. So who’s the denier now?

M2’s selection of Climate Alarmism in the media in no particular order or degree of alarmism:

My personal favorite is Polar Bears Falling from the Sky

The movie “Day After Tomorrow” actually frightened me for an hour or so but I was bothered by its really bad science.

The politics of global warming are inseparably connected to right/left ideologies:
“All efforts to stop the deadly impact of global warming will ultimately fail.” (deadly impact presumed) “Out-of-control population is the biggest driver of global warming ” (population control)
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/4-reasons-conservatives-love-global-warming-wont-stop-it-2014-07-09

http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/globalwarming2.html – a list, sometimes amusing, of links to stories of things blamed on global warming. I don’t agree with the author of this page that global warming is a “scam” but I believe some people are trying to take advantage of others through fear.

“How Global Warming May Starve Us” (or maybe not).
http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/how-global-warming-may-starve-us-more-carbon-less-nutrition-n99481

Quite a lot of alarmism comes from Scientific American
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/dangerous-climate-change-imminent/

For a longer list, just google “danger of global warming”!

Alarmism is alive and well and it breeds its own opposition.

115. BBD says:

Joseph

What are the potential negative feedbacks due to increases in CO2? What are the causes of the negative feedbacks?

A popular contrarian hypothesis is:

Increased sea surface temperatures >> increased low level marine cloud formation >> increased albedo >> cooling ocean.

Negative feedback.

But it doesn’t seem to have prevented the last deglaciation. Which is odd.

116. Tom Curtis says:

Michael2:

“The whole point of the Cook paper is to persuade the world that climatologists ARE marching in dogmatic lockstep.”

First, the point of the Cook paper was to find out what scientists said in the peer reviewed literature. Based on substantial preexisting experience with that literature and previous studies, we expected that literature to show a consensus, but were prepared for it to show otherwise.

Second, the Cook paper in fact shows that >> 90% of the relevant peer reviewed literature “endorses” a view point that >50% of recent warming is anthropogenic. It says nothing about the distribution of expectations above 50%, and it is known independently that the range of such expectations goes from little above 50% to significantly over 100% (ie, natural forcings are net negative over recent decades, and there is little net unforced increase in temperature). That is not marching in lock step.

Why is that when debating with “skeptics”, when you remove the outright misrepresentations there is nothing, or almost nothing left of their arguments?

117. Chic Bowdrie says:

Tom Curtis,

A greenhouse model is frequently used an example of the atmosphere. It is misleading. It deprives novices of vital information about how the physics of the atmosphere works. It is convenient if you want to keep them in the dark, however.

Did you mean atmospheric models first included convection in 1967 and not previously? Or did you mean that computer modelling began in 1967?

Also, I doubt I will convince you of anything. However, I do appreciate hearing your point of view.

118. Michael 2 says:

Dang, I forgot the “tipping points”! Hardly anyone mentions tipping points nowadays. I suppose that’s a sign that the most blatant alarmism has diminished and maybe a new era of science based policy might actually be possible.
http://samcarana.blogspot.com/2007/03/ten-dangers-of-global-warming.html

137,000 google entries for “penguins in danger from global warming”

20 January, 2006 The Independent
“The world has already passed the point of no return for climate change, and civilisation as we know it is now unlikely to survive, according to James Lovelock, the scientist and green guru who conceived the idea of Gaia – the Earth which keeps itself fit for life.”
http://www.countercurrents.org/cc-mccarthy200106.htm

Well that being the case, eat drink and be merry, for in 80 years (or sooner) we die!

119. Tom Curtis says:

Joseph, there are at least two genuine negative feedbacks. The first is the planck response, ie, the fact that as the temperature of the surface increases, the energy it radiates increase by the fourth power. The planck response is that limits the initial increase of temperature from a doubling of CO2 to 1 C. Because the most common way to talk about feedbacks calculates the feedback as a response to that initial increase, they do not explicitly include the planck response (but do include it implicitly).

The second known negative feedback is the lapse rate feedback. As temperature increases, that increases the specific humidity, which in turn reduces the lapse rate. That acts as a negative feedback on temperatures. As a side note, it is this feedback that is responsible for the much talked about tropospheric hot spot in temperatures. The potential absence of that hot spot (if real) shows primarily that the (negative) lapse rate feedback is weaker than predicted. The lapse rate feedback is coupled with the stronger water vapour feedback, which is positive. Consequently the net effect of increasing WV in the atmosphere is a positive feedback.

I am not aware of any other major negative feedbacks other than some proposed by “skeptics”, which have been shown to not exist.

120. Vinny Burgoo says:

‘Alarmism is all in the minds of the pseudo-skeptics.’

Up to a point, Lord Wotts. You yourself have said that climate change could threaten mankind’s survival. Hard to get more alarmist that that.

(Where did you get that from, anyway? Not from the IPCC consensus. Just some sort of gut feeling?).

121. dana1981 says:

There are a few large positive feedbacks – water vapor and albedo (melting ice) being the big ones. There aren’t any known large negative feedbacks (aside from the Planck response Tom mentioned). Contrarians generally bank on clouds fitting that bill, because the magnitude and even the sign of the cloud feedback remain uncertain.

Hence the logic goes “We need a big negative feedback for climate sensitivity to be low, which I want to believe is the case. The cloud feedback is uncertain, therefore clouds must be a big negative feedback.” Of course there’s no evidence for this. In the short-term clouds appear to be a small positive feedback, though that response may be different in the long-term. Also based on paleoclimate data there’s no reason to believe there’s any big negative feedback, clouds or otherwise, as BBD has mentioned once or twice.

Belief that equilibrium climate sensitivity is < 2°C requires rejecting almost all of the available evidence in favor of a few flawed outlier studies. That's not skepticism.

122. Kevin O'Neill says:

The sea-ice albedo feedback is tempered by the increased radiative losses due to open water and/or thinner ice as described by:

Schröder, D., and W. M. Connolley (2007), Impact of instantaneous sea ice removal in a coupled general circulation model, Geophys. Res. Lett., 34, L14502, doi:10.1029/2007GL030253.

and

S. Tietsche, D. Notz, J. H. Jungclaus andJ. Marotzke, (2011), Recovery mechanisms of Arctic summer sea ice, Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, DOI: 10.1029/2010GL045698

While both of these studies look at removing all arctic sea ice instantaneously, the same feedback would be expected from an overall reduction in area and thinning of the arctic sea-ice (like we see today).

123. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic wrote:”Kevin O’neill, I feel the same way.”

I misread this way up thread – maybe because I didn’t realize at the time where Chic was coming from. What I had written was: “When you’re alone in a comment thread at WUWT or Goddard’s it can be daunting to stand against all the misinformation, tribal group think, and insults that come your way.”

This should not have been allowed to pass without response. The only misinformation being spread in this thread is that being presented by Chic himself. As for tribal group-think, the first 5 comments show an immediate disagreement with Rachel M on one side and BBD on the other and if you polled the rest of the ‘group’ you’d find a range of opinions. As for insults – you have for the most part been treated with kid gloves.

124. The greenhouse effect is so named because greenhouse gases share with glass the property that they pass visible light and near IR (up to about 2 nm, equivalently down to 5000 cm^-1) but not the infrared given off by bodies remotely near room temperature, or even heated to the point of glowing dull red.

@CB: A greenhouse model is frequently used an example of the atmosphere. It is misleading. It deprives novices of vital information about how the physics of the atmosphere works.

I was a 20-year-old novice when I first learned in physics about the greenhouse effect, more than half a century after Wood’s paper purporting to disprove its existence (no challenge to the effect was even hinted at in that lecture or we would have all paid much more attention). Had I known about pressure broadening and the even greater broadening occasioned by the solid state of glass, or about the important role of lapse rate in comparing glass and GHGs, I might have felt deprived of “vital information.” But by a miracle I graduated with double honours in pure maths and physics without its benefit. Maybe they should retract the degree?

Chris is quite right that there are indeed vital differences. The two nevertheless remain linked at the fundamental level I gave above.

Furthermore Chris’s argument that convection matters within the Earth’s atmosphere can also be made within a completely sealed greenhouse, since some of the heat from the contents of the greenhouse is carried up to the walls and ceiling by convection as additional heating thereof (leading to cooling by loss from the outside of the hotter glass) beyond that due to trapping IR. And Wood’s 1909 argument that the greenhouse stays heated by preventing its atmosphere from leaving the greenhouse can also be made for Earth, which substitutes gravity for glass to keep its atmosphere from leaving the planet.

A more important difference is lapse rate, a concept whose role would appear to have no counterpart for greenhouses. But I would not take that difference as sufficient ground for rejecting the aptness of the term “greenhouse gas”.

@CB: Without convection the surface won’t cool.

@ATTP: That’s not correct. If there was no convection the surface temperature would be much higher since the energy would be transported mainly by radiation.

Did a spurious “not” creep in there? Convection cools the surface of both the atmosphere and greenhouses. Or did “not correct” refer to Chris’s dubious claim that this was a difference between greenhouses and the atmosphere?

125. Regarding climate sensitivity, it does not speak well for this thread that it has failed utterly to distinguish between equilibrium sensitivity and observed sensitivity.

Here is what I “know”, in the sense that I’m presently more confident of it than any alternatives to it. (Is there more to “knowledge” than this?)

1. Observed climate sensitivity is in the range 1.8 to 2.0 °C/doubling. If I had to narrow the range, for the time being I’d go for a little above 1.9, but I’m open to debate on this.

2. Assuming the delay in climate response to CO2 forcing attributable to oceanic mixing can be modeled as a single lumped value, and taking it to be on the order of 25 years, equilibrium climate sensitivity is in the range 2.9 to 3.1 °C/doubling.

3. Cloud feedbacks are factored into both sensitivities automatically, and therefore do not impact either of them to a first approximation. There is a second order effect in which they do, having to do with their timing, but likely not to an appreciable extent.

What I “know”, and whether “there is one reality”, are interrelated, but I won’t push my luck by dwelling on that here.

126. Kevin O'Neill says:

Vaughn – obviously all bodies will cool through thermal radiation, so convection is not necessary for cooling. Chic agreed with ATTP in a subsequent post, “Yes, I agree. I meant the surface won’t cool as much without convection.

127. Rattus Norvegicus says:

I see that climate climate denialism is moving into a new stage. It’s happening, but it’s hopeless to do anything about it. (Sorry for the target of the link…)

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/07/09/curbing-co2-is-futile-according-to-study/

128. Kevin, thanks for clarifying that (I looked for but didn’t find Chic’s response). I must have read Chic’s mind because my initial interpretation of Chic’s “won’t cool” was the one he meant, whence my puzzlement at ATTP’s “not correct”. What Chic said (with that interpretation) was equally true of the atmosphere and the interior of a greenhouse and therefore not (to my thinking) a difference.

129. It’s happening, but it’s hopeless to do anything about it.

It’s futile to prevent your front wheels from going over the cliff. So don’t even bother trying to stop your back wheels going over too.

130. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic – you are correct. Dr Roy has considered OHC, but as Barry Bickmore has pointed out, it ain’t pretty. I’d forgotten his one-box climate model.

131. @KO’N: As for tribal group-think, the first 5 comments show an immediate disagreement with Rachel M on one side and BBD on the other and if you polled the rest of the ‘group’ you’d find a range of opinions.

A storm in a teacup. Rachel’s merely new to Climateball.

Consider your luck pushed

132. > I see that climate climate denialism is moving into a new stage. It’s happening, but it’s hopeless to do anything about it.

Nothing new under the Sun, Rattus:

http://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/do-no-harm/

This project is a work in regress, so thanks for pointing out the resource!

133. Kevin O'Neill says:

VP: The ‘emperor has no clothes’ gambit. Oh, well played, Mike. Mate in one, how could I have overlooked that? ;)

I missed your AGU poster until now, but just stumbled upon the WUWT clownshow around it. That line made scanning the comments worthwhile :)

134. Thanks, Kevin. For the record my “no clothes” comment first appeared on Climate Etc.here.

Rereading the original, from a pedagogical standpoint I may have overdone the sarcasm by 21st century standards. However it was right in line with how 19th century profs addressed the bottom half of their class.

In those days the downside of the lost tuition was outweighed by the perceived value of an increase in the average IQ of the class enrollment. Academic values have shifted.

135. Vinny,

Up to a point, Lord Wotts. You yourself have said that climate change could threaten mankind’s survival. Hard to get more alarmist that that.

The most extreme possible scenario (by which I mean that we follow the highest emission pathway and that our climate is at the extreme end of the sensitivity range) would lead to temperature changes that could threaten our survival. In fact, if you look at some of the tables in past IPCC reports, they include “possible mass extinction event”.

However, I would argue that being concerned about a possible extreme scenario that could happen, but might not, is not alarmism. Claiming that the world economy will collapse if we add one more wind turbine to the Scottish Highlands, however, could be regarded as fairly alarmist.

136. Vaughan,

Did a spurious “not” creep in there?

My response was based on Chic’s claim that the surface “won’t cool” without convection.

Regarding climate sensitivity, I think what you “know” is roughly the same as my understanding. I might add that there are possibly inhomogeneities and non-linearities that the observed climate sensitivity (by which I presume you mean energy balance estimates) can’t/doesn’t capture. However, you’re right that estimates today suggest around 2oC for the ECS and that when one considers other factors and other evidence, it rises to around 3oC.

137. I see that climate climate denialism is moving into a new stage. It’s happening, but it’s hopeless to do anything about it. (Sorry for the target of the link…)

Yesterday I encountered the “Southern France is particularly nice, so why are we worried” school of climate unconcern.

138. Marco says:

I love those complaints about the term “greenhouse effect”, and its use supposedly being to keep people in the dark about the actual physics. *That*, Chic, is a good example of outright pseudoskepticism combined with conspiracy ideation.

139. Has anyone noticed that the primary modus of #climate alarmists (and orthodoxy defenders of most [all?] stripes) is the use of one or more RHETORICAL devices? ATTP continues this FINE tradition at word 14 so my read screeched to a halt. Sorry. It’s an acquired allergy thing. Scrolling down I did notice some nuanced & careful comments amongst much religiosity. I’m hoping to get my thoughts in order for a blog on this subject and it seems this article is as good a place to start as any to illustrate certain principles in this debate. So, fine bloggers & commenters, polish your thoughts – I’ll try to pull something together in the next few months. Thanks ATTP for a worthwhile topic idea but methinks we need a better CLASS of climate skeptic critic!

140. bob,
I’m not really following what you’re saying. You wouldn’t just be playing some kind of rhetorical game would you?

141. bob,
Oh, I think I see. You’re complaining about me describing WUWT as – mostly – “nonsense”. Well, it mostly is, so – I would argue – that that isn’t a rhetorical device, it is a fair description of the “science” presented on WUWT.

142. Kevin,
In that Barry Bickmore post you highlight, this paragraph is one that resonates with me and bears repeating

In my career as a scientist I’ve come up with a couple “silver bullets,” although they weren’t about anything so dramatic, but the fact is that nine times out of ten when I’ve gotten excited because I THOUGHT I had one, further investigation showed that I had made some minor mistake, and in fact the scientists whose work I was examining were right. What bothers me about the climate contrarians is that it doesn’t seem to occur to many of them to keep digging once they get an answer they like.

143. Marco says:

ATTP, that blog from Bob will be a hoot. Just look at his last blog. If it isn’t meant enormously satirical, it’s an actual collection of conspiracy ideation and crank magnetism (vaccine = autism, Big Pharma tries to kill you, Fluoridation is meant to keep you stupid and increase profits, etc.)

144. Marco,
I did have a quick look. I too thought that Bob’s forthcoming post may well be worth a read, if only for the comedy value.

145. johnrussell40 says:

Maybe I shouldn’t say this or he might be tempted to change his style, but Bob’s use of occasional spurious WORDS in capitals immediately flags up what we’re dealing with.

146. victorpetri says:

To the poster.

If changing minds is your game, I can be changed, but as of yet are not convinced. I do side with mr. Ridley (or Lomborg for that matter). They both claim believing climate change is real, but the effect of it on mankind’s future is often exaggerated, and the battle against carbon emission is mostly a moral one, not a pragmatic one where future cost and benefit of hydrocarbon use are taken into account. Or as Lomborg puts it, directly from the IPCC:
“Climate change has been portrayed as a huge catastrophe costing as much as 20% of world GDP, though brave politicians could counter it at a cost of just 1% of GDP. The reality is just the opposite: We now know that the damage cost will be perhaps 2% of world GDP, whereas climate policies can end up costing more than 11% of GDP.”
Which would take us to the position that although climate deniers are wrong, the position to keep the status quo would be wildly beneficial for mankind in general, whereas the people in the activist camp, although mostly correct, would implement damaging policies.

So, the problem is not the denial of climate change science, but the denial of a total different branch of much less respected ‘science’, namely the denial of economics.

147. Windchasers says:

Hmm, “words in capitals”.. You know who else spoke a lot of words at capitals? The commies. Right before they conspired to slander the kindly Joseph McCarthy’s good name.

Anyways. My biggest complaint about skeptics (and plenty of warmists, too, for that matter) is when they sidetrack a perfectly good scientific discussion with non-sequiturs, political jibber jab, etc. Can’t we just have a good discussion about the science in good faith? Not very often, it seems.

148. victorpetri,

Which would take us to the position that although climate deniers are wrong, the position to keep the status quo would be wildly beneficial for mankind in general, whereas the people in the activist camp, although mostly correct, would implement damaging policies.

Clearly, any kind of decision needs some kind of risk analysis. What are the risks associated with climate change? What are the risks associated with the various policy options? It’s certainly possible that one could do such an analysis and show that the optimal strategy is to continue as we are since doing anything to mitigate climate change would be more damaging than doing nothing. The problem with this is that it is typically asserted without any actual evidence, and there is actual evidence (economic modelling) that shows that we can take action while still growing our economies.

So, the problem is not the denial of climate change science, but the denial of a total different branch of much less respected ‘science’, namely the denial of economics.

Firstly, this post was about science, not policy. My frustration is really with those who deny the science, not with those who have different policy views to what I might have, but accept the science. However, you mention the denial of economics. Maybe you could provide actual evidence that any action to mitigate against the impact of climate change would do more harm, than climate change would do itself.

149. Windchaser,

Can’t we just have a good discussion about the science in good faith? Not very often, it seems.

Indeed, one of the problems I have with this topic too. Especially when people interpret a post that I wrote that is very clearly about the science, as somehow being about policy.

150. johnrussell40 says:

I guess we should thank victorpetri for being so forthright and making it very clear that for him and many others, policy trumps science.

151. verytallguy says:

A better class of sceptic?

Here you go:

“I’ve had questions about the use of ensembles of climate models for a while…”

http://scienceofdoom.com/2014/07/08/ensemble-forecasting/

It might be instructive to construct a taxonomy style and substance and compare to the typical self-styled sceptic (Chic, are you still here?). Calling Willard.

152. victorpetri says:

Apparently, the IPCC have done exactly these calculations, you can read Lomborg’s report on it: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/bj-rn-lomborg-says-that-the-un-climate-panel-s-latest-report-tells-a-story-that-politicians-would-prefer-to-ignore
And when you attack someone like mr Ridley, than surely science cannot be your beef with him, as he repeatedly said that he believes global warming is real.
What I often see is that when non specialists make claims about global warming, they are wildly ridiculed, which is totally unlike economics, which is treated as second class hobby on which everybody is allowed to have an opinion.

And finally, there is a scandalous large amount of activism from scientists in climate change. This is a disgrace, scientists jeopardize their (perceived) objectivity on scientific matters when they move into the realm of policy making; a realm where definitely economics should be on the very foreground.

153. vitorpetri,

attack

Why do you regard what I said as an attack? Here’s all I said about Matt Ridley.

We’ve also had Matt Ridley (the Rational Optimist?) arguing in the Times that The BBC has lost its balance over climate change, because it has decided that inviting non-experts to talk about climate science is probably a bad idea.

Where’s the attack in that?

And finally, there is a scandalous large amount of activism from scientists in climate change. This is a disgrace, scientists jeopardize their (perceived) objectivity on scientific matters when they move into the realm of policy making; a realm where definitely economics should be on the very foreground.

“Scandalously large”? Really? Care to back that up with some actual evidence. Shall we also agree that you should avoid using “Michael Mann” and “James Hansen”.

I have a particular theory that those with the strongest views about how scientists should behave and how science should work have amongst the lowest levels of actual experience in doing scientific research. Care to provide me with a data point for my theory?

154. victorpetri says:

Attack might be a bit harsh.
Michael Mann and James Hansen did come to mind. I’ll see if I can dug up any other examples.
An argumentum ad auctoritate is a logical fallacy, but I do have a bachelor in Earth Sciences and master in Geophysics.

155. victorpetri,
Maybe you should also read the IPCC report directly. My understanding is that Lomborg’s post was based on WGII which considered adaptation only. The WGIII report, which considered mitigation, argues that we can act on climate change with very little negative impact on the global economy. You can read some views of it here.

156. Marco says:

Victor Petri, that Lomborg comment may well be good example of “denial of economics”: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2014/apr/22/preventing-global-warming-cheaper-than-adapting
It comes down to directly comparing two numbers that cannot be compared directly. And he knows they can’t…

157. vitorpetri,

An argumentum ad auctoritate is a logical fallacy, but I do have a bachelor in Earth Sciences and master in Geophysics.

I’m guessing that you have no formal research experience though. An argument from authority may be a logical fallacy, but assuming the opposite would seem rather ridiculous.

158. victorpetri,

Michael Mann and James Hansen did come to mind. I’ll see if I can dug up any other examples.

Bear in mind that you said “scandalously large”. I suspect you’re even going to have to redefine “scandalously large” as “a few” or, maybe, retract your claim.

159. victorpetri says:

Example of activism:
Nobel prize winner for physics in 1973 Dr. Ivar Giaever resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society (APS) on September 13, 2011 in disgust over the group’s promotion of man-made global warming fears. The email Giaever sent titled “I resign from APS” to APS Executive Officer Kate Kirby to announce his formal resignation.
Dr. Giaever wrote to Kirby of APS: “Thank you for your letter inquiring about my membership. I did not renew it because I cannot live with the (APS) statement below (on global warming): APS: ‘The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.’
Giaever explained in his email to APS: “In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.”

160. victorpetri,
Pointing out that someone resigned from an organisation because he didn’t like their statement on global warming does not mean that they were being activists. Have you read the statement?

161. victorpetri says:

This is activism, why else you think APS issues such an unscientific statement?

162. In fact, here is the APS statement. It appears to say “global warming is happening, it is us, if we do nothing about this there could be damaging consequences, we should aim to understand our climate in more detail, and should be working towards technological options that could meet the climate challenge needs”.

Which part of it do you – victorpetri – regard as policy prescriptive?

163. vitorpetri,

This is activism, why else you think APS issues such an unscientific statement?

You seem to be missing my point. Telling me that someone resigned because they don’t like a statement doesn’t prove the statement is unscientific. It is simply one person’s opinion. Have you read the statement?

164. victorpetri says:

Another example of an subjective climagechange scientist/activist is the late Stephen Schneider:
“Hello all. Ah ha-the latest idiot-McKitrick-reenters the scene. He and another incompetent had a book signing party at the US Capitol-Mike MacCracken went and he can tell you about it-last summer. ”
http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/the-importance-of-context.aspx

165. victorpetri says:

I have read the statement, it is in my comment.. And it is very much unscientific, as is clarified by the guy that resigned.
“The evidence is incontrovertible” Really?
No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.
Albert Einstein

166. jsam says:

I find it touching how contrarians have such faith that a second coming, a new Messiah, will arise who will overturn two century old physics. Such faith.

167. Marco says:

Victor, any comment on Lomborg’s deliberate comparison of apples and bananas – and you yourself accepting that comparison hook, line, and sinker as evidence that climate mitigation policies are bad economics?

As argued in the OP: better class of skeptics needed, please! Not those pseudoskeptics who accept statements just because they fit their ideology.

168. OPatrick says:

I’m marginally confused here. victorpetri appears to have given a reasonable example of a scientist engaging in activism, although I don’t know how much Dr Gaiever was actually involved directly in this activism and how much was people using his statement to score political points in a way he hadn’t intended.But then his subsequent posts seem to be implying the oposite conclusion.

169. victorpetri,

Another example of an subjective climagechange scientist/activist is the late Stephen Schneider:

I think you’re still in the “very few” category.

“The evidence is incontrovertible” Really?

Yup, pretty much. The chance that all the evidence of us warming and all the evidence that it is mostly us is wrong is very small.

However, you still haven’t explained why you see that statement as being policy prescriptive, which is what you claimed. A statement that is consistent with the best scientific evidence available is not, by itself, policy prescriptive. This is not a difficult concept.

170. OPatrick,
Only certain types of activism is unacceptable. When it’s activism about something with which you agree, it’s fine.

171. victorpetri says:

@Marco sorry to disappoint you, Marco, but my aim is not to be a better class of skeptic. That would suggest a sort of entrenchment, that I not have. My aim is to know the truth.
@OPatrick don’t be confused, the activism is from the APS whose call for action “We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.” was the reason for Dr Gaiever resignation. Don’t confuse the activist that aims to keep the scientific method alive, with activism for policy on climate change.

172. OPatrick says:

victorpetri, I will try to bear that in mind. Do you have any thoughts on this part of the statement from Dr Gaiever:

The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.

Is this ‘keeping the scientific method alive’?

173. victorpetri says:

“And Then There’s Physics s” And Then There’s the Scientific Method
Do not be absurd, “The evidence is incontrovertible” is a a ridiculous statement and flies in the face of the scientific method itself. There is not a single theory in physics, where the evidence in incontrovertible, and certainly not one as complex as future climate change.

And on activism, its fine, but a scientist must be an objective searcher for the truth, when he becomes an activist it is hard to believe he is and will remain objective.

174. victorpetri,
Add the word “virtually” then. There is no known, physically plausible alternative. In my opinion, there is always the possibility that something we know nothing about is playing some kind of role. Assuming that this is likely, however, would be silly. Insisting that scientists should always state this when discussing some scientific evidence is equally silly.

You should consider the possibility that your view is based more on ignorance than on anything else.

And on activism, its fine, but a scientist must be an objective searcher for the truth, when he becomes an activist it is hard to believe he is and will remain objective.

As I may have mentioned, I have theory that those who have the strongest views about how scientists should behave have the least actual experience of how science actually works. Nothing you’ve said has lead me to think that my theory has any flaws.

175. verytallguy says:

There seems to be a general theme here that scientists being activists is bad.

I’d completely disagree.

When the science shows a problem (cf tobacco smoke, CFCs) and society is continuing as if it was not a problem, then those people who best understand the problem advocating solutions seems to me like an entirely good thing.

Indeed, it could be argued that in these circumstances, scientists have a moral obligation to become activists.

To my mind, if anything, the number of scientists engaged in activism is not “scandalous large “[sic], it’s far too small. The passivity of scientists in the face of, for example, impending extinction events* is, IMHO, part of the reason the public don’t really get the seriousness.

* In case, I’m accused of alarmism, this is mainstream science eg AR5 WGII SPM “Global climate change risks are high to very high with global mean temperature increase of 4°C or more above preindustrial… …and include… …substantial species extinction”

176. Kevin O'Neill says:

shorter victorpetri – we can’t know anything with certainty

Did somebody mention the need for a better class of skeptic?

Victor, should people who understand the science help inform on policy – or should we just leave it to the Brandon Smiths of the world?

177. victorpetri says:

OPatrick
Am I wrong if I see you arguing, for the heck of it, on points that are merely mildly paradoxical contradictions within one persons reaction, instead of connecting with more central themes in my reasoning?
Is or isn’t APS’s statement both a form of activism, as well being very unscientific?
And if this is so, is a true scientist not right to go against it?

178. victorpetri,

Is or isn’t APS’s statement both a form of activism, as well being very unscientific?

What they say is consistent with the best evidence available and they say nothing that is specifically policy prescriptive. Saying “If we don’t do ….” is not policy prescriptive. It is a statement that is consistent with the evidence. If scientists cannot say what the science suggests will happen if we follow certain pathways, then what is the point of funding science in the first place?

179. victorpetri says:

@And Then There’s Physics
“Trying to keep the discussion civil” Try harder. No reason to call either me or Dr Gaiever ignorant nor incapable of making statements concerning scientists.
Have your beef with verytallguy, whom is very confused on what a scientist should be.

@Kevin O’Neill
Certainly they can give advise to policymakers, but would I be a policymakers I would very much more likely to accept the advise from a scientist that was unbiased and objective than one that was an activist.

180. victorpetri says:

To be clear, “We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”
Is not policy prescriptive???

181. OPatrick says:

There is a case to say that APS’s statement amounts to activism, though activism of the most moderate and general kind and all that is needed is a trivial ‘if’ statement, which is implied already, in front of the ‘we must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now’ part to make it trivially supported by the balance of evidence. Though as verytallguy points out the concern is more that so few scientists are making strong statements that you might view of activism. That APS can be criticised for saying something that should be so uncontroversial says much more about those criticising than those being criticised.

points that are merely mildly paradoxical contradictions within one persons reaction

I am very far from being an expert, but even I can see that Dr Gaiever’s statement is highly unscientific and demonstrates a clear bias. He is repeating the sort of ‘sceptic’ talking points that most ‘sceptics’ claim are being falsely attributed to them.

182. vitorpetri,

“Trying to keep the discussion civil”

Funny how I seem to always get hit with that one. Really must change my tagline.

Try harder.

You too.

No reason to call either me or Dr Gaiever ignorant nor incapable of making statements concerning scientists.

I neither called you ignorant nor did I suggest that you were incapable of making such statements.

To be clear, “We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”
Is not policy prescriptive???

Taken by itself, maybe that’s fair. On the other hand, the paragraph starts with

If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur.

We can of course choose not to mitigate and to face these risks. Personally, I would rather we didn’t, but that’s just my opinion. You are welcome to hold a completely different one.

183. verytallguy says:

victor,

the confusion is all yours. For instance, you’re confused on what Matt Ridley’s position is

And when you attack someone like mr Ridley, than surely science cannot be your beef with him, as he repeatedly said that he believes global warming is real.

Matt Ridley accepts that global warming is real in the same way that someone who claims that acceleration due to gravity is 5m/s2 accepts that gravity is real. Getting his science wrong is exactly the beef with Ridley.

Eg “In short, the warming we experienced over the past 35 years—about 0.4C (or 0.7F) if you average the measurements made by satellites and those made by ground stations—is likely to continue at about the same rate: a little over a degree a century.”

184. jsam says:

If the best scientific evidence is that CO2 is causing problems then a reasonable scientific solution is to reduce emissions.

How that is done is policy. A free market solution would be nice. But is not mandatory.

185. victorpetri,

Certainly they can give advise to policymakers, but would I be a policymakers I would very much more likely to accept the advise from a scientist that was unbiased and objective than one that was an activist.

The interesting thing about this comment is that it indicates that your perception is that the evidence is tainted by activism, but doesn’t actually present any evidence that it actually is. Would you rather live in a world where scientists are unmoved if they discovered something that may indicate that we face a future risk, or one where scientists speak out when they make such a discovery? I’d rather live in the latter type of world, but maybe you think differently.

186. Kevin O'Neill says:

Victor – stating the obvious based on the science is not being an activist.

As ATTP wrote I see few scientists trying to push policies. I see many saying if X, then Y.

And as VTG wrote the deficit of knowledge held by the public and politicians in general is so astoundingly large that scientists need to do more – not less. Otherwise know-nothings will be making critical decisions.

Your ‘scandalously large’ statement is unsupportable. A few scientists are activists is closer to the truth. Even Hansen only became an activist late in his career. Contrast that to the scientists who do not believe in AGW – almost all of them are activists and routinely push for or against specific policies.

187. victorpetri says:

@And Then There’s Physics
There is some suspicion of incorrect work, nothing that would convince you (or me), but I would be more trusting of the science if they would think there was no activism. For me less activism would definitely work better.
This study was done by a French scientist/anti GMO activist:
Which is at least an example of what happens when someone think he should influence policy instead of find the truth.

@jsam
Another reasonable solution would be to increase the adaptability of nations to global warming, to give them the arms to defend against it, iaw to allow economic growth unhampered by emission reduction.

188. victorpetri says:

but I would be more trusting of the science if I would think there was no activism.*

189. victorpetri,
Some amount of adaptation is unavoidable. I don’t think anyone here disputes that or suggests that we should do no adaptation. The real question is whether or not we should act so as to minimise the chance of facing the most severe risks that we could possibly face. There are certain things that we can’t really adapt to (like not having enough food to feed everyone on the planet, dewpoint temperatures above 35oC).

190. victorpetri,

iaw to allow economic growth unhampered by emission reduction.

You state this as if it is obvious that emission reduction will hamper economic growth. I don not think that this is self-evidently true. My understanding is that even the world bank thinks that action to mitigate against climate change can drive economic growth. Think technology development, energy security, for example.

191. Vinny Burgoo says:

Wotts, the possible mass extinction event mentioned in ‘past IPCC reports’ (¿why not read the current one?) is very unlikely to have included human extinction. Climate change will probably be the main factor in a number of future extinctions but the most credible claim I’ve found that it could cause human extinction is by Tony McMichael, the eminent epidemiologist who came up with the oft-repeated (and occasionally questioned) WHO estimate of 150,000 deaths a year due to current climate change, and, as far as I can tell, he didn’t make claims like that until after he had retired – or gone emeritus, as Stoat would say. See:

https://theconversation.com/climate-change-and-health-ipcc-reports-emerging-risks-emerging-consensus-24213

I agree that your wind turbine example would be alarmist. Has anyone ever said it?

192. victorpetri says:

“My understanding is that even the world bank thinks that action to mitigate against climate change can drive economic growth.”

I do take that as self-evidently true, and would be very skeptical on reports reputing it. I have read some absurd economical reports on sustainable techniques being beneficial though, they were eyesores. e.g. FAO claiming biomass would create so much job, because it was so labor intensive. And WWF making silly calculations with CO2 and carbon footprints. Or claims how many jobs were created with green energy in Spain. Believe me, more silly than climate change denial.

193. jsam says:

?victorpetri

Possibly. But a stitch in time does usually save nine. It sounds like you’re advocating continuous stimulus – keep digging the hole to keep the bulldozers employed – all the while hoping agriculture doesn’t collapse and mass migration doesn’t ensue. Have you any studies to back your stance? It doesn’t sound reasonable to me; call me sceptical.

@jsam
Another reasonable solution would be to increase the adaptability of nations to global warming, to give them the arms to defend against it, iaw to allow economic growth unhampered by emission reduction.

194. victorpetri says:

@jsam
I am advocating robust economic growth, which will ensure agriculture not collapsing, and populations being less affected by agricultural fluctuations as well as making mass migration redundant. What would you like to see backed up with studies? Centuries of economic growth? Centuries of agricultural yield increases? Centuries of calories per capita output increases? Centuries of energy production per capita increases? Or the fact that poor countries are much more likely to be negatively impacted by climate change than the rich?

195. > Example of activism […]

That’s an interesting variant of PaulM’s earlier move. Instead of using an opponent’s general claim by inserting his favorite example, our new ClimateBall ™ player makes the general claim himself, and when asked to back it up, a specific instance appears, which has little to do with activism. Unless one is ready to let victorpetri inject all his favorite examples into that discussion, it might be preferable to ask him to clarify his concept of activism first.

My suggestion would be to thank him for his concerns and move on.

***

This “activist!” card belongs to the last level of the Contrarian Matrix:

http://contrarianmatrix.wordpress.com/we-won/

The Lomborg gambit usually plays on three other levels, “Don’t panic” (level 2), “Do no harm” (level 3), and “Future is bright” (level 4). That victorpetri already jumps to Level 5 may indicate that we are leaving the Lomborg gambit. Unless it’s some kind of “curryfication” (perhaps only Vaughan might get that one) of the Lomborg gambit, in which case I’d be interested to see the follow-up.

196. Vinny,
I think it depends on how you choose to define existential. I guess formally if we take an existential threat as meaning complete human extinction, then you’re probably right. I’m unaware of evidence to suggest that we face complete extinction. So, yes, I don’t think climate change is a real threat to the existence of our species. When I mentioned “mass extinction events” I was suggesting that if those were to occur, that humans would find it difficult to continue existing in a manner comparable to how we exist today. There’s only so much that technology can do. It can’t – yet at least – create food. So, it’s hard to see how massive ecological damage wouldn’t influence our ability to feed ourselves and to maintain the kind of existence that I think we would like to maintain and probably expand.

So, if you think the only two options are “complete catastrophe” and “everything will be fine” then I would argue that that isn’t a fair reflection of what the science suggests. Stoat’s recent post is probably one way in which to view this.

I agree that your wind turbine example would be alarmist. Has anyone ever said it?

I was exaggerating for comic effect. But it’s not hard to find (even in this comment thread) suggestions that any form of action will produce significant economic damage.

197. victorpetri,
What you’re advocating may, however, not be possible. Your evidence appears to be that it’s worked in the past and will therefore work in the future. This is not necessarily correct.

198. jsam says:

Ah, victorpetri has faith that the old solutions will address an unparalleled problem. Colour me sceptical. I need more than faith to believe.

199. verytallguy says:

victorpetri

but I would be more trusting of the science if I would think there was no activism.*

Yet you choose to trust Matt Ridley, journalist, right wing political commentator, aristocrat and leader of the first British bank to suffer a run in a century, caused by poor risk management.

Can you see that there is an ever so slight inconsistency in your approach here, victor?

200. victorpetri says:

@willard
And how does ridiculing or generalization fit into the Alarmist Matrix?

201. Marco says:

Victor, if your aim is to know the truth, you *should* aim to be a better class of skeptic. You *should* have looked a little bit deeper rather than just take Lomborg at his words, especially considering his history of bending the truth. You did not. You also show no concern about the fact that he used a deceptive comparison. In other words, you show no concern about his obvious activism. In other words, so far I must conclude that your search for the truth is nothing but a search for what suits your ideology.

202. victorpetri says:

verytallguy
Yes, I do trust mr Ridley. His political inclination I am well aware of, as well as former jobs. I know where he is coming from at least. Have you read his Rational Optimist? Truly a very great book.

@jsam
I am definitely not discarding the solutions (and institutions) that have brought mankind to such a good state as we are in now.

203. OPatrick says:

Believe me, more silly than climate change denial.

No, really I don’t. Perhaps, though, you could convince me otherwise with real examples of these silly claims, rather than handwaving. Links always help.

204. victorpetri says:

@Marco
You are incorrect. I have read the Guardians piece, and will use mr Lomborgs calculations with much more care from now on.

205. jsam says:

@victorpetri – I’m not discarding them either. Why do you think I am? The mixed economy has served some of the world’s population well. And it has evolved to intervene where the market has failed. Evolution does not end.

206. verytallguy says:

victor

Yes, I do trust mr Ridley

But I thought you don’t trust activists?

It’s hard not to conclude you choose to trust people who say what you want to hear. Regardless of how unsupported by the facts they are.

207. victorpetri says:

@OPatrick
It started with a study on how much jobs would be created by green energy, which I really cant find.
But it was found in a different study that every job comes at the cost of 2.2 other jobs (they probably made the ‘broken window fallacy’)
http://www.icis.com/blogs/green-chemicals/2009/04/the-price-of-green-jobs-learn/
Greenpeace still supports the study though (they are really the bane of progress):
http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/campaigns/global-warming-and-energy/polluterwatch/koch-industries/case-study-the-spanish-study/
And this is the final sad results for a struggling economy to begin with

Next:
FAO arguing for charcoal. There goal would seem to be to use as much people as possible to produce our energy, as if that would be good for an economy. They might as well argue that all europeans ride bikes, and let the dynamos power our economy, then everybody has a job in energyproduction…
http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/y4450e/y4450e05.htm
No a direct rebuttal, but a commentary on the absurdness on biomass as renewable energy:

pff, for WWF I could delve further, but it had to do with silly assumptions on amount of acres of forest needed to sink all carbon.

208. johnrussell40 says:

Don’t you think we’re playing into the hands of the pseudo-sceptics here? A member of the public finding this thread and who doesn’t have a scientific background would form the impression that there’s a big debate going on about climate change amongst scientists, which the majority on this thread are (not including me).

Dana, further up this thread, is right to say (I paraphrase) “we know all we need to know”. We know the planet is warming, we know humans are causing all or some of it and we know that this will lead to a changing climate and an acidifying ocean; which in turn will result in, for instance, rising sea level and pressure on catching and growing food. The main thing we don’t know is the precise timetable and the exact degree (excuse the pun and I hope everyone at least agrees with this so far). So the discussion (I speak generally) should be now all about risk management and what we should do as a species to deal with the problems that have been identified.

It’s the role of the politicians and the general public (by which I mean everyone except those involved in climate science) to weigh up what climate scientists are telling us, ask questions of clarification and propose solutions (ie policy) based on both the science and economic considerations. But as well as flagging up the problem, it’s perfectly acceptable for scientists to suggest, in broad terms, ways in which we can reduce the threat of climate change; and to weigh up the likelihood of proposed policy decisions in meeting the scientific goals. That is not advocacy in spite of what some like to pretend. Let me suggest an analogy.

Imagine the technical staff in a large airline uncover inconclusive signs of a problem in the operation of their fleet. They use statistical analysis to flag up the potential for a plane, or planes, to come down in certain circumstances. They warn management about the probabilities and suggest various ways to reduce the probability or indeed prevent any chance of a crash. The management absorb the information and realise that grounding the entire fleet would put the airline into liquidation. So they assess all the options and go back to the technical staff with solutions that they hope should reduce the chance of a crash to an acceptable level of risk and keep the airline afloat. The engineers run the numbers on this and advise accordingly. They all work together to find a solution to reduce the risk while continuing to gather data and drill down to the problem. If we assume that information about the whole issue leaked out, wouldn’t it be astonishing if at some point the management and shareholders told the technical employees their data is wrong, went looking for engineers and accountants with contrarian views (even if retired), proposed alternative theories or accused them of a conspiring to bring down the airline?

209. victorpetri says:

@verytallguy
I don’t trust the work of scientists that are activists, and so shouldn’t you.
@jsam
“The mixed economy has served some of the world’s population well. ”
Luckily global inequality is declining. And the developing world is catching up at a breakneck pace.

210. > And how does ridiculing or generalization fit into the Alarmist Matrix?

I have no idea, victorpetri. You might need to create one. Scratch your own itch. Make sure not to conflate ClimateBall ™ moves and lines of argument, and all should be well.

If by generalization you mean overgeneralization, then I’d say it’s an ubiquitous ClimateBall ™ move. The latest example was the was you play your “activists!” card. For ridicule, we may use PaulM’s overall contribution to AT’s so far in the history of the blog.

Thank you for your concerns.

211. victorpetri says:

@jsam
Thanks for the link, that seems a very smart guy.

212. victorpetri,

I don’t trust the work of scientists that are activists, and so shouldn’t you.

If you’d stopped at the word “activists” I might have been willing to respect you for simply expressing your opinion. One you have every right to hold. That you feel perfectly comfortable telling others how they should behave has rather diminished the value of what you said. My personal preference is not to trust those who tell others how they should think. That, however, is my own opinion. Yours can be different.

Luckily global inequality is declining. And the developing world is catching up at a breakneck pace.

As I think I may have already mentioned, what’s happened in the past is not necessarily an indicator of what we should expect in the future.

213. Marco says:

Victor, I am happy to see you have changed your mind about Lomborg (although still express your concern), but why do you do so only now? You should have done so *before*! A true search for the truth requires that you do not blindly accept those claims that happen to match your beliefs, but search further (see also the Barry Bickmore quote earlier). You accepted the view of a political scientist (which Lomborg is) about an economical issue, which directly contradicted the claims by those working on these issues. That *should* have triggered your skepticism right away – if you are truly one of those looking for the truth.

214. M2 says

“137,000 google entries for “penguins in danger from global warming”

What an absolute mistruth. M2 put the phrase in quotes. In quotes it gives 5 Google hits.

I watched some of the Heartland streaming videos.
What a klown show. The visual equivalent of what goes on in the denier blogs. It just shows what people will do to (1) stroke their ego, (2) make a living at the expense of their pride, (3) pursue their delusional fantasies, (4) desperately try to fit in to some clique, or (5) participate in a bizarre form of “entertainment”.

For the committed denier like M2, watching that parade of dunces should be like looking in a mirror.

215. verytallguy says:

victorpetri

(1) Yes, I do trust mr Ridley

(2) I do side with mr. Ridley (or Lomborg for that matter)

(3) I don’t trust the work of scientists that are activists

To hold such utterly contradictory views at the same time is beyond any rational comprehension.
————————-

so shouldn’t you.

Thanks you so much for your kind advice, which is duly noted.

216. jsam says:

I don’t trust failed bankers advocating inactivism – and neither should you.
I don’t trust economists advocating inactivism – and neither should you.
Arguably our most successful institution has been modern science. I trust that more than many of the others on parade.

217. I point to this:

(1) I don’t trust the work of scientists that are activists […]

And I point to this:

(2) An argumentum ad auctoritate is a logical fallacy […]

If one rejects appeals to authority, something which seems to imply (2), one rejects appeals to authority in general. That includes including scientists, whether they’re activists or not.

There’s never any reason to trust anyone. Or as Garry Kasparov say, “believe it, but check it!”

Skepticism goes all in.

***

To distrust scientists because of their activism has a grain of truth. But that has to do with a way to frame the role of scientist in society. Just like people believe ads with people with lab coats, people may prefer to trust scientists that claim they’re not activists.

How people got to know the scientists they know without some kind of activism is left as an exercise to readers.

218. Marco says:

Victor, I also have to point you again to your lack of actual skepticism. That study that supposedly showed “that every job comes at the cost of 2.2 other jobs” was by Gabriel Calzada, who is the founder of a libertarian thinktank. What was it you said about not trusting activist scientists you said?

The report has also been thrashed by various others, and even the Wall Street Journal was highly skeptical.

For one rebuttal, see http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy09osti/46261.pdf
with the quite telling quote “In fact, the methodology does not reflect an employment impact analysis. Accordingly, the primary conclusion made by the authors – policy support of renewable energy results in net jobs losses – is not supported by their work.”

219. dhogaza says:

Victorpetri:

“I don’t trust the work of scientists that are activists, and so shouldn’t you.”

Hey, at least he doesn’t trust Roy Spencer, or Lindzen, or John Christy, or Bob Carter, or for that matter any scientist attending the current Heartland Institute’s Las Vegas denialfest, eh?

“Nobel prize winner for physics in 1973 Dr. Ivar Giaever resigned as a Fellow from the American Physical Society (APS) on September 13, 2011 in disgust over the group’s promotion of man-made global warming fears. The email Giaever sent titled “I resign from APS” to APS Executive Officer Kate Kirby to announce his formal resignation.”

Oh, wait, after this own goal – favorably citing an activist scientist as an argument against science activists – I suppose he only distrusts the work of science activists who are not in his own ideological camp.

It would be nice if he would clarify, though – victor, do you trust Spencer, Lindzen or Christy?

220. victorpetri says:

@verytallguy
Sorry for your lack of comprehension, you think scientists and activists can match, I think they cannot. This does neither clash with mr Ridley, nor with mr Lomborg, who are not scientists (at least not in climate change). That I trust either of them in their opinions, are the large amounts of books and works of them I’ve read, which made me understand how they reason and think.

@Marco , on green jobs,
It is however, in any case, now supported by reality, as the Economist article showed.

221. victor,
Isn’t that a valid point? Campaigning against activism by scientists is – itself – a form of activism.

222. victorpetri,

This does neither clash with mr Ridley, nor with mr Lomborg, who are not scientists (at least not in climate change).

That might be a reasonable view, if they didn’t make pronouncements about climate science (which they do). The argument “that person is not a scientist, therefore they can campaign – based on their understanding of the science – for/against something” doesn’t really make much sense to me. In fact, it seems rather medieval. It’s almost as though you’re arguing that it’s okay to campaign for something as long as you’re not an expert in something related to that issue.

223. Vinny Burgoo says:

Wotts: ‘I was exaggerating for comic effect.’ Ah! So you were being alarmist about ‘sceptic’ alarmism.

Re human extinction, I agree that ‘existential threat’ can mean one that threatens a way of existence rather than existence itself. Not so with ‘mankind’s survival’ or ‘human extinction’, though, and those are bandied around all over the place. No mechanism is ever given for how this extinction could happen. The most you get is some arm-waving about crops or disease.*

I have yet to read of a credible mechanism whereby climate change could drastically alter humanity’s way of existence, either – not one that would be a greater factor in changing lives than wealth, education, medicine, technology, peace, love and understanding, anyway. There’s a lot of talk about dead oceans at the moment. If you look closer, they really mean a restructuring of the biome rather than an emptying of it and man does not live on clams alone. A huge reduction of today’s good arable areas? I haven’t read much about that but they probably ignore huge increases elsewhere, and if they don’t… well, who knows what food sources will be available a century or two into the future.

I don’t think that the only two options are ‘complete catastrophe’ or ‘everything will be fine’.

===
*I’m a little bit shocked (but only a little bit) that three contributing authors to AR5 WG2 have joined that tribe. In some quarters, their IPCC contribs qualify them as ‘climate scientists’ – as fully paid-up members of the 97%. It’s perhaps just as well for the ‘science says’ side of things that they are not really climate scientists at all.

224. verytallguy says:

Victor,

Ah, so you trust non-scientist activists for your climate science.

That now makes perfect sense, no contradiction whatsoever to see.

Thank you so much for your clarification

225. Vinny,

So you were being alarmist about ‘sceptic’ alarmism.

For comic effect though :-)

Not so with ‘mankind’s survival’ or ‘human extinction’, though, and those are bandied around all over the place.

Not much here, I don’t think. I also don’t think I’ve seen much of this, but maybe I’m slightly blinkered and don’t notice it as much as others.

I have yet to read of a credible mechanism whereby climate change could drastically alter humanity’s way of existence,

I think that depends on what you mean by credible. Surely, it’s about the risk of something happening, not whether or not we can say definitively that it will happen or not? I would argue that some of the possible risks that we could face are sufficiently concerning that we should take these risks seriously. That doesn’t tell us what we should do, but does suggest that we shouldn’t simply assume that we can muddle our way through and that – magically – some as yet unknown technology will save us.

I haven’t read much about that but they probably ignore huge increases elsewhere, and if they don’t… well, who knows what food sources will be available a century or two into the future.

Sure, we don’t know what will be available in the future. However, assuming that someothing will simply arrive to help us just when we need it seems a bit wishful. Surely as a technologically and scientifically advanced society we are the masters of our own destinies?

226. victorpetri says:

@dhogaza
Your not the first to point out that small paradoxical inconsistency. However, that does not mean by point is invalid. APS did make an activist statement, that was unscientific to boot, and a dr Geaiver was right to go against it.
And as said earlier a couple of times, I am not GW denier, but being recalcitrant by nature comments like yours make me wanna be one.
This massive groupthink fest is definitely not for me.

227. victorpetri,

This massive groupthink fest is definitely not for me.

Well, you do appear to rather have made up your mind, so you’re probably right that it isn’t for you.

228. victorpetri says:

On science and activism, once more:
Of course scientists can become activists, if they want, BUT as objective searchers of truth = scientist’s definition, they cannot be trusted anymore when they have become activists.
How can you unbiasedly look for the truth, if you are emotionally attached? Can we trust scientists, who feel that the most important thing in the world would be for policymakers to act now, e.g. if they would find new info that climate change might not be that bad to communicate their scientific doubt?

229. Vinny Burgoo says:

Totally off-topic unless bicycles and anything Ridleyesque is now on-topic: Last night I stumbled on some fascinating parliamentary exchanges between Matt Ridley’s great-grandfather and MPs who were worried about the dangerous behaviour of London bicyclists. Times archive, February 1896, if anyone wants to look them up. Plus ca change. Elsewhere in the archive, there are complaints about selfish ‘scorchers’ exhibiting a ‘disregard for the ordinary courtesies of life’ as they ‘twist in and out among the stream of vehicles, now clinging to an omnibus for support and now darting almost under the nose of a horse’. There were also worries that, like Amazon over a century later, the new-fangled bicycle craze would drive book shops out of business – and reduce church attendance, which I don’t think Amazon has been accused of yet.

230. verytallguy says:

This massive groupthink fest is definitely not for me.

In that case, I suggest going round as many libertarian activists as you can find to inform your understanding of the science. That should avoid any possibility of groupthink.

231. victorpetri says:

“”victorpetri,

This massive groupthink fest is definitely not for me.
Well, you do appear to rather have made up your mind, so you’re probably right that it isn’t for you.”

I take it back, it is for me. I am always in fora where I am the minority, otherwise I am not interested in the discussion.

232. > I am always in fora where I am the minority, otherwise I am not interested in the discussion.

Ain’t we all.

233. Vinny,
Yes, I get the impression that the Ridley family are rather prone to alarmism :-)

234. victorpetri says:

There is evidence that it is in your genes, whether or not you are.

235. Marco says:

“How can you unbiasedly look for the truth, if you are emotionally attached? Can we trust scientists, who feel that the most important thing in the world would be for policymakers to act now, e.g. if they would find new info that climate change might not be that bad to communicate their scientific doubt?”

Victor, no scientist is objective. There, I have said it. There is and will always be a bias and an emotional attachment. It is one of the reasons we have peer review. It is also kept in check by the fact we have many scientists looking at the same thing. A lack of emotional attachment may also be a *bad* thing – if I was not passionate about my research I would not spend nearly as much time in looking at all the minute details, digging deeper and deeper, and truly trying to understand things.

I also doubt, based on experience, that scientists are unwilling to communicate their doubts. In fact, I see all those supposed scientist-activists you mentioned being quite clear about their doubts.

236. OPatrick says:

victorpetri, let me remind you of your words:

more silly than climate change denial

You genuinely believe these examples are ‘more silly than climate change denial’? I can’t view the Economist articles, having used up my quota of free views this month, but I strongly doubt the examples are as clear-cut as you suggest and they certainly aren’t obviously, without a possibility of doubt, wrong for an informed non-expert, as so many examples of climate denial are. They may well have some questionable economic analysis, I really don’t know, but it’s telling that these are your examples of the worst analyses of renewable energy.

There goal would seem to be to use as much people as possible to produce our energy

I’m certainly economically naive, so could you explain to me why arguing that if two forms of power generation have the same price to the user there isn’t an additional benefit in one of those providing more employment?

237. Marco,

It is also kept in check by the fact we have many scientists looking at the same thing.

That’s the main reason I find all the claims of “trust”, “activism”, “bias” hard to take. Science doesn’t progress via individuals, independently publishing ground-breaking papers that everyone accepts. It progresses through many different people, from different countries, different cultures, different funding systems, different political systems, converging on a consistent understanding. It’s hard to see how the human failings that we know exist, can dominate in such an environment. They might, but apart from people expressing opinions about this topic, I’ve never seen any hard evidence.

238. OPatrick,

I’m certainly economically naive, so could you explain to me why arguing that if two forms of power generation have the same price to the user there isn’t an additional benefit in one of those providing more employment?

Yes, I too am economically naive, so would quite like to know why two different systems that have the same cost to the end user, but in which one provides more employment than the other, that the latter (more employment) is less economically acceptable than the former (less employment).

239. verytallguy says:

ATTP, OPatrick,

I think your answer is that the lower employment option is indeed superior from an overall economic benefit, as those not employed in energy generation can add value through other economic activities (for example through the provision of services to those who are employed in energy generation, just to make the point)

240. vtg,
Indeed, that would make sense. That, presumably, is only true if those other sectors can actually provide that employment. In the UK, for example, I think we import 10s of billions of pounds worth of oil and gas every year, and that this is likely to increase. It seems to me that providing energy in an alternative way that actually retained some (or all) of this money in the UK would seem economically advantageous (assuming that the others sources are not so inefficient that their costs are exorbitant), but maybe there is something I’m missing here.

241. Ian Forrester says:

I don’t trust the word of most scientists that are employed by the oil industry. The only “scientists” who have taken a position against the science of AGW are geologists and geoscientists employed by the oil industry, AAPG and APEGA. I live in the heart of the Oil Industry and have to put up almost on a daily basis with the misinformation they put out in the local rag and other media outlets on AGW. Just check out the F(r)iends of Science.

I have a question for victorp, do you get a bonus each year from your employer dependent on how much nonscientific nonsense you put out concerning the science of AGW?

242. Vinny Burgoo says:

Wotts, here’s another ‘human extinction’ piece. Tuesday, David Evans, Media Lens:

‘We witness the astonishing spectacle of global society failing to respond to a threat so severe that scientists warn that even a few more decades of business-as-usual could result in human extinction.’

(The ‘scientists’ turns out to be Guy McPherson.)

Masters of our own destiny? Not with masters of the universe at the helm. (Obscure anti-bankster dig.)

But yes, the plausible long-term threats are big enough (if far from existential) for us to do something about them. My panacea: forget about international agreements for now and try to lead by example with a scheme that slowly cuts carbon emissions (and, with luck, rapidly shuts up the more rabid Guardianistas) without harming the economy, perhaps by extracting ourselves from the EU’s ETS and scrapping all the current domestic carbon-cutting schemes then applying a revenue-neutral carbon tax across the board, starting low, rising slowly. For it to have a chance of working, you’d probably have to include imported embodied carbon that isn’t taxed at source. And you’d have to find a way of including our astonishingly high road fuel taxes in the carbon unitax scheme without making motoring wonderfully cheap overnight – perhaps freeze road fuel tax until the carbon unitax has caught up.

Would it work? No idea. I don’t really understand it. But it’d look good. We’d probably knock Costa Rica off the top of the Happy Planet Index even if it made us all miserable.

243. > That’s the main reason I find all the claims of “trust”, “activism”, “bias” hard to take. Science doesn’t progress via individuals, independently publishing ground-breaking papers that everyone accepts. It progresses through many different people, from different countries, different cultures, different funding systems, different political systems, converging on a consistent understanding. It’s hard to see how the human failings that we know exist, can dominate in such an environment. They might, but apart from people expressing opinions about this topic, I’ve never seen any hard evidence.

It’s just “But activism,” AT. Joshua specializes in that argument, e.g.:

Fascinating:

curryja | September 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Yes, I have stepped up my ‘activism’ regarding advocacy for integrity in climate research.

So, I guess you reject the argument of these authors, and thus have decided to step up your activism so as to be more eff…..

Oh, wait.

http://judithcurry.com/2013/10/14/ironic-impact-of-activists/#comment-398912

Judy’s editorial incidentally features Bjorn.

***

Besides the bait-and-switches, notice to whom v responds. Very Tall has already been dismissed. I, of course, do not count, as I’m just a ninja.

Instead of chasing “look, and active squirrel!”, ClimateBall ™ players ought to show more discipline. Otherwise, all threads become the same and it becomes the same conversation over and over again. Which ClimateBall ™ players benefit the most from rehearsing Waiting for Godot?

All that is needed to address v”s concerns is to create a “But activist!” post and refer to that post.

244. verytallguy says:

ATTP,

I think that’s incorrect.

If other countries can provide the goods or services more economically, we are always in the long run better off buying it from them, barring externalities. Exchange rates movement compensates for the effect you’re thinking about. Essentially you’re arguing for protectionism.

The key economic argument is whether the externality (ie damage due to CO2) is included in the price of the energy, NOT how much direct employment is generated.

245. vtg,
Yes, I can see that being true in principle. The issue I have, though, is that if other countries can do everything cheaper than you can do, what does your own economy consist of? Presumably, there must be a balance between outsourcing so much that there’s nothing left for your own population, and outsourcing nothing so that everything is much more expensive than it need be. I’m just brainstorming, mind you, and I wasn’t joking when I said I was economically naive.

In the case of the import of oil and gas, I was thinking of a scenario where you can provide energy for a similar cost to the end user, rather than one where you provide things internally irrespective of the cost. So, yes, if there is no viable alternative (and that may well be the case at the moment) importing would be preferred. I can’t see this remaining true in the coming decades though.

246. verytallguy says:

ATTP,

if everyone else is cheaper, and your economy crashes as a result, your exchange rate crashes and hey presto, you’re cheaper again.

On the importing, and things changing, that’s risk management I think.

247. pbjamm says:

victorpetri: “APS did make an activist statement, that was unscientific to boot”
You have said this many times in many ways but have yet to provide a shred of evidence to support the statement. You have also ignored the contrary evidence that the statement is in fact consistent with the science. Can you back up your claim at all?

248. vtg,
Ahh, yes, that’s rather would I thought might happen. So for a few decades other countries make toys for your children, until they get richer and your exchange rate eventually collapses, and then you start making toys for their children :-)

On the importing, and things changing, that’s risk management I think.

Indeed, that would seem to be the way to consider this.

pbjamm,

Can you back up your claim at all?

I rather doubt it, but am always happy to be proven wrong.

249. > your exchange rate

That argument does not apply to Euro countries. Italy has a tough time dealing with German’s efficient thriftiness. The only way to deal with such monetary despondency (OK, let’s say dependency) is through penalties and tariffs.

Most economies are mixed. Don’t listen to economists telling you it should be otherwise. Or listen to them, but don’t trust. Don’t trust anyone anyway. Not even yourself.

Don’t trust me on this.

250. Chic Bowdrie says:

Kevin,

“When you’re alone in a comment thread at WUWT or Goddard’s it can be daunting to stand against all the misinformation, tribal group think, and insults that come your way.” (July 9, 12:05am)

“The only misinformation being spread in this thread is that being presented by Chic himself. As for tribal group-think, the first 5 comments show an immediate disagreement with Rachel M on one side and BBD on the other and if you polled the rest of the ‘group’ you’d find a range of opinions. As for insults – you have for the most part been treated with kid gloves.” (July 10, 1:47am)

What misinformation did I present? Just because my view differs from yours? That is exactly my point. “I feel the same way” in the sense that I emphasize with you about being alone in a thread. Rachel M and BBD disagreed on the value of arguing with skeptics. That’s not a pro-AGW vs skeptic scenario.

Tribal group think? If you haven’t observed skeptics disagreeing with each other, I can refer you to some better websites. Furthermore, I would guess that there are more group-thinkers on the AGW side than on the skeptic side.

Insults? Listen to yourself: “With many of them it quickly devolves into just ridiculing them.”

If ATTP hadn’t committed his blog to “keeping the discussion civil,” I’d be getting insults here. Which wouldn’t bother me actually. I believe a good argument speaks louder than an insult.

251. verytallguy says:

That argument does not apply to Euro countries

Indeed. I was responding with a spherical cow economic model. Predictions, or better, projections from such a model should be treated with due scepticism.

It is also argued that the same issues that surfaced in the Eurozone now apply to “London” and “other” in the UK, with similar implications between Italy and Germany.

Don’t trust me on this or anything else.

252. Chic Bowdrie says:

Marco,

“…complaints about the term greenhouse effect… keep[ing] people in the dark about the actual physics… is a good example of outright pseudoskepticism combined with conspiracy ideation.”

I don’t get the pseudoskepticism rap and didn’t imply a conspiracy, but if the shoes fits . . . .

253. verytallguy says:

Chic,

What misinformation did I present?

Here you go, noting that implications are as important as exemplifications.

Was it low quality work or work that didn’t conform to consensus opinion?

thank you for asking.

254. Chic,

Tribal group think? If you haven’t observed skeptics disagreeing with each other, I can refer you to some better websites. Furthermore, I would guess that there are more group-thinkers on the AGW side than on the skeptic side.

There is indeed disagreement on the “skeptic” side and apparent agreement on the mainstream side. There is, however, an alternative explanation to what you seem to be suggesting. Many of the “skeptic” arguments I encounter are rather silly and – in a sense – just made up. If you can do that and you’re not constrained by actual scientific evidence, you can make have lots of ideas and lots of disagreements. However, this is just because almost anything is allowed. On the mainstream side, the agreement is because there is evidence and disagreeing with something for which there is evidence and which satisfies the basic laws of physics is silly. Of course, there is still disagreement on the mainstream side, but it tends to be about the details and not about the general picture.

255. izen says:

2- victorpetri
‘No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.’
Albert Einstein

I know this is a late addition, and ‘vp’ needs no further critique. Better would be to reflect on how best to defuse or bypass the risk of binary polarisation in such discussions.

But the meme of science as defined by the Albert Einstein quote does perhaps deserve comment as it has appeared recently in a few contexts and locales.

It is revealing what Einstein actually did, as opposed to what he said.

When the Miller experiments to detect the aether effect at Mt Wilson, or in its absence confirm relativity, produced results that favoured an aether effect, Einstein did not accept he was wrong about his theory.

When Einstein was presented with the experimental evidence that appeared to contradict his theory his actual response was –

‘ No theory exists outside of the theory of relativity and the similar Lorentz theory which, except for the Miller experiment, explains all the known phenomena up to date.
Under these circumstances nothing remains but to await more complete publication of the Miller’s results. Then it is to be hoped that a correct decision will develop.’

Shorter version,
I expect there are errors, I will wait for better experimental results…..

256. dana1981 says:

victorpetri – upthread where you mention you subscribe to the Lomborg/Ridley school of climate economics, and that Lomborg gets his numbers from the IPCC, you miss the fact that Lomborg screwed up that analysis, essentially comparing apples and oranges. Which isn’t surprising given that he has no economics background (nor does Ridley).

257. Chic Bowdrie says:

Verytallguy,

“It might be instructive to construct a taxonomy style and substance and compare to the typical self-styled sceptic.”

I don’t have a clue what that means, but you’ve got my attention. I am reading the SOD post now, but it doesn’t occur to me how this relates to classes of skeptics. I would not consider SOD a sceptic. If I have this wrong, I probably need some jargon clarification.

258. > Don’t trust me on this or anything else.

I trust you distrust my trust in your distrust of my absolute distrust in everything, including my distrust itself, Very Tall.

Perhaps Vaughan had such paradoxes in mind when he alluded to paradoxes and fallacies for action logics. Proving distrust completeness for inaction logics might be nice. Oh, here’s what I just found:

We introduce a deontic action logic and its axiomatization. This logic has some useful properties (soundness, completeness, compactness and decidability), extending the properties usually associated with such logics. Though the propositional version of the logic is quite expressive, we augment it with temporal operators, and we outline an axiomatic system for this more expressive framework. An important characteristic of this deontic action logic is that we use boolean combinators on actions, and, because of finiteness restrictions, the generated boolean algebra is atomic, which is a crucial point in proving the completeness of the axiomatic system. As our main goal is to use this logic for reasoning about fault-tolerant systems, we provide a complete example of a simple application, with an attempt at formalization of some concepts usually associated with fault-tolerance.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1570868309000378

This may be too expressive to Vaughan’s taste, but it sounds impressive nonetheless.

Not that I trust any of this.

259. Marco says:

Chic, allow me to repeat your own words:
“A greenhouse model is frequently used an example of the atmosphere. It is misleading. It deprives novices of vital information about how the physics of the atmosphere works. It is convenient if you want to keep them in the dark, however.”

Pseudoskepticism: the idea that using a simplified model deprives novices of vital information. As anyone who has ever taught complex topics will know: you do *not* start with the complex model, but start simple. Such simple models will be wrong in many ways. For example, Bohr’s model of the atom withholds “vital” information, in that it simply does not correspond well to reality. And yet it is a much, much better starting point than immediately talk about orbitals and wavefunctions, probabilities and whatnot. If you start with the latter, you will lose 99% of the general public within a minute. Starting simple means you lose fewer, have more people who have a basic concept (even if not all is correct, it’s better than having no idea), and increase chances that some will be able to make the step to the next level: the more complex and accurate model.

Conspiracy ideation: wanting to keep people in the dark. It is exactly opposite, as I argued above: to grab people’s attention you will have to start with a simplified model. That such a model does not capture all details is unfortunate, but even more unfortunate would be people who have *no* idea or concept.

260. dana1981 says:

Sorry, a whole lot of comments to get through – I see Marco had already referenced my Lomborg post (thanks Marco).

I find it rather bizarre to distrust experts (climate scientists) who are supposedly “activists” but to trust non-experts (i.e. Lomborg and Ridley) who are far more activist. That seems like a rather glaring failure of logic, perhaps because victorpetri finds Lomborg and Ridley’s arguments more palatable and is trying to find a reason to justify trusting them.

Also I agree with jsam that the APS statement is not at all policy prescriptive:

“We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now.”

That’s a scientifically-based statement about risk management. It can hypothetically be achieved without any policy – if individuals were to decide to reduce their emissions, no policy would be needed. Or any number of policies could be implemented – government regulation of carbon pollution, renewable energy mandates, cap and trade, carbon tax, etc. But the statement itself is just a scientific expression of risk and the need for risk mitigation.

If you distrust experts for telling you that risk mitigation is needed, then you have problems. If your mechanic says your radiator needs to be fixed (as do 5 other mechanics), do you distrust them? How about doctors telling you that you have an ailment that needs to be fixed?

261. victorpetri says:

Couldn’t have said it better:
I think your answer is that the lower employment option is indeed superior from an overall economic benefit, as those not employed in energy generation can add value through other economic activities (for example through the provision of services to those who are employed in energy generation, just to make the point)

And if I may add, this is where wealth comes from, basically to increase per capita production.

@pbjamm

You think that ??
‘”The evidence is incontrovertible”

262. Chic Bowdrie says:

ATTP,

“Many of the “skeptic” arguments I encounter are rather silly and – in a sense – just made up.”

Well, I wouldn’t call those skeptic arguments or at least I wouldn’t put them in the same class as ones that are generated on the basis of scientific evidence. Perhaps that’s the point of your post. My point is that one shouldn’t dismiss an argument as nonsense, just on the basis that it doesn’t fit with one’s current level of understanding.

The fact is there are still scientific issues that are not resolved. One area actively being investigated is the possibility of a greater influence of the sun than consensus views allow. Another unresolved question is the sensitivity of CO2. The best evidence, inconclusive in my view, is the computer models that calculate the contributions to outgoing LWIR from spectra. Unfortunately we can’t suddenly double the CO2 in the atmosphere to check the validity of those calculations by observing the resulting temperature change. These are the two main lines of skeptic debate, IMO.

263. Chic,

Well, I wouldn’t call those skeptic arguments or at least I wouldn’t put them in the same class as ones that are generated on the basis of scientific evidence. Perhaps that’s the point of your post.

Indeed, that was essentially the point.

My point is that one shouldn’t dismiss an argument as nonsense, just on the basis that it doesn’t fit with one’s current level of understanding.

I think you have to be careful what you mean here. If you mean, one shouldn’t simply dismiss an argument as nonsense without actually considering it, then – of course – I agree. If you mean don’t dismiss it just because you don’t understand it, then – again – I agree. On the other hand, if you mean don’t dismiss it just because noone understands it, then I would disagree (or, rather, something that we don’t yet understand isn’t a viable alternative to something that we do).

One area actively being investigated is the possibility of a greater influence of the sun than consensus views allow.

It’s being researched. That’s true. There’s nothing in that research that would really lead one to conclude that the Sun is having a greater influence that we expect.

Another unresolved question is the sensitivity of CO2.

Indeed, but the general view is already that the sensitivity has a broad likely range. Most alternatives are consistent with this range (Lewis, for example, even if he doesn’t quite agree). There is no convincing evidence, for example, that the TCR is likely to be less than 1oC, or that the ECS is likely to be below 1.5oC, for example.

264. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic,

Misrepresentation? How about we start with this: “Dr. Spencer is a only moderate skeptic. He’s one of John Cook’s 97%.

As was pointed out several times – Spencer is NOT part of the 97% per Cook et al. I do not believe you have admitted your error. You do realize who *this* comment was by – don’t you?

265. victorpetri says:

@Ian Forrester
I have a question for victorp, do you get a bonus each year from your employer dependent on how much nonscientific nonsense you put out concerning the science of AGW?

Really?
Well, I do work in the oil industry. But seriously, how did you get the idea I was writing down nonscientific nonsense? Got carried away a bit in the discussion, maybe? And such a crackpot conspiracy theory is really uncalled for.

So yes, I work in oil, proud of it. Dare you to name one resource that has brought as much well being as oil has. Sure, it has negative sides as well, what hasn’t? And these are serious concerns, that have to be dealt with, but overall, 7 billion lives have it better than ever, and they are improving faster as ever, especially where it is needed the most. It is fossil fuels that got us this far to begin with.

266. Chic Bowdrie says:

John Russell,

“…we know all we need to know”. We know the planet is warming, we know humans are causing all or some of it and we know that this will lead to a changing climate and an acidifying ocean; which in turn will result in, for instance, rising sea level and pressure on catching and growing food.”

I think this is an example of a silly AGW argument. I don’t speak for all skeptics, but I can’t accept “all or some of it” arguments and statements about what will happen unqualified by definitive scientific evidence. Rising sea levels would tend to occur no matter what the cause of rising temperatures and conceivably could happen without rising temperatures.

The problem with your airline analogy is that it applies to both sides of the debate. The skeptical community (my opinion, don’t ask me to prove it) is concerned that unwarranted measures to control a non-problem will devastate already weak worldwide economies.

267. pbjamm says:

@victorpetri
your comment is unclear in meaning.
Do I think that “The evidence is incontrovertible” or do I think what I said in my previous comment is accurate? in either case the answer is yes (I don’t say things I don’t mean). The evidence for AGW is not in dispute (not in scientific circles anyhow) and I do indeed think you have failed to provide evidence that “APS did make an activist statement, that was unscientific to boot”. How is it unscientific to accept scientific findings? How is it activism to accept the science that shows there is a problem and recommend action be taken to mitigate that problem? You have provided nothing but your own opinion.

268. Kevin O'Neill says:

Chic – or we could consider: “I think Dr. Spencer’s position is that there is some anthropogenic contribution, but that feedbacks are negative. This is consistent with temperatures leveling off while CO2 continues to increase.

As was pointed out, it is inconsistent with both OHC and satellite measurements. And of course, as BBD has pointed out, “It is incompatible with known paleoclimate variability.”

Spencer’s 1-box model works great – if you exclude having any connection to reality. Bickmore’s posts and Held’s 1-box comparison hammer all the nails necessary to seal that coffin.

269. johnrussell40 says:

Chic: ” I can’t accept “all or some of it” arguments and statements about what will happen unqualified by definitive scientific evidence.”

The IPCC have made it very clear where the current science stands, with defined levels of confidence. I was just summarising before making a point. Go on, admit it; you just want to waste time, endlessly nitpicking over the science in order to help delay society facing up to the problem. I repeat: we know all we need to know to consider BAU stupidly risky.

270. @ATTP: However, you’re right that estimates today suggest around 2 °C for the ECS and that when one considers other factors and other evidence, it rises to around 3 °C.

It’s illogical to refer to an observed sensitivity of 2 °C as “equilibrium climate sensitivity” when the reason it’s a degree lower than the equilibrium climate sensitivity is that the temperature is being observed simultaneously with the CO2, without allowing time for the temperature to come into equilibrium.

“Observed climate sensitivity”, call it OCS, is the term most often used for the observed instantaneous response of temperature to CO2, without allowing for delay.

The point of slides 26 and 27 of my AGU talk is to propose one possible relationship between observed and equilibrium climate sensitivity, namely via a function s(d) giving the difference between the two as a function of the time d taken for temperature to rise to (and immediately rise beyond) what the equilibrium temperature would have been had CO2 been held constant for long enough at its value d years ago instead of continuing to rise. (That it continues to rise is why the hypothetical equilibrium value can be reached in a finite time as opposed to approaching it asymptotically in the limit, and also why that time can be much shorter than the time to spin up a climate model to near-equilibrium.)

We know OCS by direct observation. Knowledge of d allows ECS to be inferred from OCS. Conversely knowledge of, or confidence in, an estimate of ECS can then be used to infer d. In particular confidence that ECS is about 3 °C/doubling entails confidence that d is about 25 years.

Whether such a function s(d) exists is up for grabs. What one can say is that, assuming CO2 and temperature are both rising unboundedly, and that ECS is greater than OCS, then for every time t there exists a time t + d at which the observed temperature equals what the temperature would have been had CO2 remained forever at what its value had been at time t, namely its equilibrium value. This is easily shown when a different value of d can be picked for each value of t.

What I add to this evident truism is the assumption is that d is a constant independent of t. It remains to be seen how good an assumption this is. The fact that observed CO2 has been rising as an exponential plus 280 ppmv (Hofmann’s 2009 law), and that the exponential part has for most of that time been considerably less than 280, mean that log(CO2) itself has been following an exponential law (using ln(1 + x) ~ x for x well below 1), which helps the constant-d assumption.

Assuming Hofmann’s law remains reasonably accurate, as the exponential part rises above 280, log(CO2) will approach a straight line asymptotically and the constant-d assumption will start to break down. If instead CO2 starts to nose down below Hofmann’s law the constant-d assumption will break down even more.

271. BBD says:

Chic B

What misinformation did I present?

Some of it has already been covered.

The fact is there are still scientific issues that are not resolved. One area actively being investigated is the possibility of a greater influence of the sun than consensus views allow.

Rubbish. And misinformation, along with your claim above that “AGW has stopped = negative feedbacks = low S”. Thanks for utterly blanking every single corrective to your nonsense I supplied yesterday.

My point is that one shouldn’t dismiss an argument as nonsense, just on the basis that it doesn’t fit with one’s current level of understanding.

I understand more than enough to know that your arguments are without merit. What’s more, I’ve explained why, here on this thread. You ignore those explanations repeatedly, and here you are again, still dripping dishonestly all over the page.

What do you hope to achieve with this mix of intellectual dishonesty and unscientific cobblers?

272. BBD says:

I should really back up what I say, so here is an excerpt from the preface to the NRC report: The Effects of Solar Variability on Earth’s Climate (2012) (emphasis mine):

The modulation of stratospheric temperatures [by UV] is clear from observations. Climate models also take this modulation as input and have demonstrated significant perturbations on tropospheric circulations. If borne out by future studies and shown to be of sufficient magnitude, this mechanism could be an important pathway in the Sun-climate connection, particularly in terms of regional impacts. However, it is important to realize that, unlike the bottom-up mechanism [TSI at surface], it can in itself contribute very little to global temperature variations.

[…]

Ongoing discussion of the role of solar variations in the early 20th century has given rise to the unfounded conjecture that the observed increase in temperature in the last half century could also be due to changes in TSI rather than to anthropogenic influences. The IPCC Fourth Assessment and the recent National Research Council report on climate choices agree that there is no substantive scientific evidence that solar variability is the cause of climate change in the last 50 years. However, the mechanisms by which solar variations can affect climate over longer timescales remain an open area of research.

I presume CB has the latest daftness from David Evans in mind. Unpublished and unpublishable nonsense isn’t going to overturn an evidence-based scientific consensus.

273. @CB: Sunlight can penetrate deep enough to affect long term warming/cooling, but LWIR would affect only superficial ocean layers rapidly equilibrating with the atmosphere.

How is sunlight today any different from a hundred or a thousand years ago? It should make no difference at all to OHC.

CO2-induced fluctuations in LWIR are extremely slow—CO2 currently takes a year to increase by 0.5%, making the increase in LWIR far too slow to measure with even the most sensitive instruments. For all practical purposes LWIR can be assumed constant in analysis of heat exchange at the ocean surface.

Though I know little about it, clearly heat is exchanged between the atmosphere and the ocean via ocean spray, which is constantly entering and leaving the ocean even in calm weather. Here’s what NOAA has to say in the case of stormy weather.

“During a tropical storm, strong surface winds not only take heat out of the ocean at rates of order up to about 2000 W m-2, but also mix the ocean through tens to hundreds of meters, cooling the surface and creating a cold wake (e.g., Walker et al., 2005; Trenberth et al. 2007b; Trenberth and Fasullo 2007). Hence the tropical storm activity depends critically not only on SSTs but also subsurface temperatures, especially for whether the ocean environment is favorable for the next storm and thus an entire active season. The so-called warm and deep “Loop Current” in the Gulf of Mexico appeared to play key role in the intensification of Ivan (e.g., Walker et al. 2005), Katrina, and Rita (Trenberth et al. 2007b; Trenberth and Fasullo 2008). Increasing evidence suggests that predicting hurricanes requires an ocean model to allow these feedbacks on hurricanes to be included. However, surface fluxes are highly uncertain for winds over about 20 m s-1 especially concerning the role of ocean spray in exchanging heat and moisture between the ocean and atmosphere, and ocean mixing is also uncertain. Moreover, the role of the hurricane-induced mixing in the ocean on currents and the thermohaline circulation (Boos et al. 2004) are major unresolved issues that could change our views of how future climate may change, as current climate models do not include these processes. ”

The take-away point here is that mechanical (waves, spray) and phase-change (evaporation, condensation) processes in stormy weather dwarf radiative ones by many orders of magnitude when it comes to variation in quantity of heat exchanged between the atmosphere and the oceans. Even if stormy weather is only 10% of the time, that’s quite enough for it to be a dominant factor. And even calm weather can still generate a significant volume of spray serving to exchange heat—if anyone has any concrete information about its magnitude I’d be fascinated to hear it.

By such means are the oceans and the atmosphere maintained in good thermal contact. Exchanging heat at the surface is easy, getting it down below the main thermocline where things are calm, quiet, and stable is a bigger challenge. This is where Ekman transport and the Meridional Overturning Current (MOC) enter. Those processes are much more gentle than the violent ones in the oceanic mixing layer, otherwise they would break up the main thermocline at a depth of a few hundred meters, but they still manage to transport a significant amount of heat. The 3600-odd Argo floats deployed starting in 2007 have already greatly improved our picture of the top couple of kilometers of ocean temperature, salinity, and currents, and much more should be forthcoming over the next few years.

274. Rachel M says:

Oh god, this is just awful. I go back to my very first comment:

“Personally I don’t think it’s worth wasting time with climate Skeptics. Their views are cemented and unchangeable and I quite often find them completely absurd. “

Victorpetri’s first comment starts with “If changing minds is your game, I can be changed, but as of yet are not convinced. ” but subsequent comments make it clear that his views are biased and not based in science at all. Arguing with him is futile and a waste of time.

I also want to clarify my position here. I’m not saying that it is pointless to debunk the Skeptic nonsense out there. I don’t mean that at all. We should debunk it over and over again. But debunk it for the proportion of the population who is unconvinced. Don’t argue about it with Skeptics because this is taking time away from communicating with everyone else.

275. Ian Forrester says:

victorp asks this question:

Dare you to name one resource that has brought as much well being as oil has

Agriculture has had a much longer history of bringing well being to the human race than the oil industry. Your oil industry blinders are so very obvious in your series of posts on this thread. The farming community will be the first to be hit hard by AGW. Prices for food will skyrocket and political unrest will follow. So stop your obfuscation on the effects of continued release of large amounts of CO2.

I am well aware of the misinformation put out by the oil industry since I live among the F(r)iends of Science. Your misinformation is straight out of their play book. It is interesting to note that one of their most outspoken members is also a geophysicist.

276. victorpetri says:

@Rachel M
Please expand, what of my view is not based on science?

277. victorpetri says:

@Ian
About half of human population is dependent on fossil fuels for agriculture to have enough yield:
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v400/n6743/full/400415a0.html
and:
Stewart, W.M., Dibb, D.W., Johnston, A.E., and Smyth, T.J. 2005. The Contribution of Commercial Fertilizer Nutrients to Food Production. Agronomy Journal 97: 1–6.

And food is not the only form of well being to which it contributes.

278. BBD says:

victorpetri

You don’t say much about science at all that I can see. It’s all about politics and “the Greens” and “activist scientists”.

Why do you think the scientific consensus on AGW is wrong?

279. Chic Bowdrie says:

Kevin,

“Spencer is NOT part of the 97% per Cook et al. I do not believe you have admitted your error.”

I did not, but I will now based on Dana’s account that Dr. Spencer was included in the 3% based on one of his five papers. My error was not misrepresentation as I was not trying to deceive anyone. Dr. Spencer considers himself among 97% of those who believe anthropogenic factors have some impact on global temperatures as opposed to those who believe increasing CO2 will have no or negligible further influence on GATs

280. @ATTP: the general view is already that the sensitivity has a broad likely range

Only because different values result from measuring different things. As long as people who should know better continue to talk about “climate sensitivity” as though it were a single thing, the wide range of values for the wide range of concepts they’re actually referring to it will continue to create the impression that climate scientists are hopeless at estimating the impact of CO2 on temperature.

Observed climate sensitivity today is likely to be much less than equilibrium climate sensitivity. The reverse would be true in a world where CO2 is decreasing by 0.5% every year.

281. dana1981 says:

Totally agree with Rachel. Don’t argue with contrarians – debunk their myths for the sake of the genuinely open-minded public, but view that public as the audience, not the contrarian. The contrarian is the brick wall. Leave a note explaining what’s wrong with the wall, but don’t bash your head against it.

As a side note, there’s kind of a bizarre tangential argument I’ve seen in this comment thread a few times. Low-carbon energy is generally significantly more jobs-intensive than fossil fuel energy. Hence it creates more jobs and decreases unemployment. Now, I thought everyone agreed that’s a good thing. At least political rhetoric from across the spectrum in the USA is always about job creation.

Yet there seem to be folks arguing here that decreased unemployment is somehow a bad thing because those now-employed folks represent resources that could somehow be better used elsewhere (sitting on the couch watching ‘The Price is Right’?). Perhaps the argument is that they could find more productive jobs elsewhere, but in an economy far from full employment, the reality is that generating more jobs is good for the economy. And that’s the world we live in.

Now, you can argue otherwise, but to claim that arguments in favor of reduced unemployment are worse than climate denial arguments is just plain wrong, and absurdly so.

282. BBD says:

Vaughan Pratt

How is sunlight today any different from a hundred or a thousand years ago? It should make no difference at all to OHC.

Just so. CB is essentially arguing that GHGs aren’t GHGs and – as ever – ignoring paleoclimate behaviour, eg end-Permian, PETM etc.

283. victorpetri says:

@BDD
Why do you I assume the consensus is wrong?
And what about those Greens??

@Dana
Luckily, such foul creatures are not lurking among the discussants here…

284. pbjamm says:

Please lets not derail this conversation into the benefits of fossil fuels and all they do for mankind. No one disputes that it has provided a century of cheap energy an enabled all kinds of technological advances. Hooray for that, but science now shows that there was a hidden cost that was not taken into account and now that we know that we have to factor it into our calculations rather than continue on in willful ignorance.

285. victorpetri says:

heh
@BDD
Why do you assume that I think that the consensus is wrong?*

286. BBD says:

dana1981

Low-carbon energy is generally significantly more jobs-intensive than fossil fuel energy. Hence it creates more jobs and decreases unemployment.

I think we have to be a bit careful with this. First, jobs are a *cost* to a business. Payroll is deducted from turnover and impacts profitability. Second, you have slipped in the assumption that all employees under discussion are previously unemployed.

There is a solid economic argument that the employment-intensive nature of renewables is not at all beneficial to them as business models.

287. Kevin O'Neill says:

Victor writes: “There is not a single theory in physics, where the evidence in incontrovertible, and certainly not one as complex as future climate change.

And on activism, its fine, but a scientist must be an objective searcher for the truth, when he becomes an activist it is hard to believe he is and will remain objective.

The first part (as previously noted) is nothing more than the woebegone lament that, We can’t know anything! Disregard the 2nd Law Of Thermodynamics – it could be controverted tomorrow!!! Conservation of Mass/Energy? A fallacy waiting to be exposed. It’s the uncertainty monster writ large. This isn’t science, it’s anti-science.

The second part is pure unsupported opinion. It’s not based on any science at all.

288. BBD says:

VP

You clearly have issues with the scientific consensus. If you are unwilling or unable to set them down then you cannot ask Rachel questions like this:

Please expand, what of my view is not based on science?

You sound to me like a time waster.

289. @Rachel: Victorpetri’s first comment starts with “If changing minds is your game, I can be changed, but as of yet are not convinced. ” but subsequent comments make it clear that his views are biased and not based in science at all. Arguing with him is futile and a waste of time.

The goal is not to change his mind, any more than the goal of the government debating team is to change the mind of the opposition, or the prosecuting attorney to change the mind of the counsel for defense. The government team wants to persuade the judges (and perhaps the audience too so that the judges don’t think they can leave the room without incurring the wrath of the audience). And the prosecuting attorney wants to persuade the jury (some of whom may be concerned that they aren’t subsequently viewed by the rest of the world as out of their skulls).

This has been true in rhetoric for thousands of years.

Willard, is that in Climateball somewhere?

290. corey says:

Victor is a salesman defending his product. Best handled with a smirk and polite silence.

291. VP You clearly have issues with the scientific consensus.

Awkward that we have two VPs in this thread. That we’re on opposing sides helps with disambiguation.

292. Chic Bowdrie says:

ATTP,

“On the other hand, if you mean don’t dismiss it just because noone understands it, then I would disagree (or, rather, something that we don’t yet understand isn’t a viable alternative to something that we do).”

You covered almost everything except the “you don’t know what you don’t know” dimension. If “something that we don’t yet understand isn’t a viable alternative to something that we do” was the rule, wouldn’t we still be living in caves?

293. I wrote Observed climate sensitivity today is likely to be much less than equilibrium climate sensitivity. The reverse would be true in a world where CO2 is decreasing by 0.5% every year.

Uh oh, scratch that—put it down to the same brain rot as prompted my log behavior of random walks. When CO2 is driving the temperature, the thermal inertia of the ocean makes the temperature lag CO2 regardless of which direction the CO2 is heading. Hence the magnitude (i.e. ignoring the sign) of OCS is always less than that of ECS.

294. Chic Bowdrie says:

BBD,

“You sound to me like a time waster.”

I know I’ll get flak for this, but that was my impression of you and that’s why I don’t respond to your posts.

295. BBD says:

Vaughan Pratt

Re: “VP”

Oops – sorry. Will try to avoid that.

296. Chic Bowdrie says:

BBD,

Somewhat regretting my last comment, I would like to add that I wholeheartedly support this comment you made to Dana:

“There is a solid economic argument that the employment-intensive nature of renewables is not at all beneficial to them as business models.”

297. pbjamm says:

This comments section could be used as evidence of the original premise of the post.

298. BBD says:

Chic B

I know I’ll get flak for this, but that was my impression of you and that’s why I don’t respond to your posts.

We both know – along with everyone else here – that the reason you don’t respond to my points is that you can’t.

299. BBD says:

CB

And before you get carried away, the problem wrt the “green jobs” argument is that it is shaky. This is completely different from an argument which states that renewable generation cannot operate profitably. I nit-pick with Dana because I don’t think it’s wise to use the green jobs argument without due care.

300. Chic Bowdrie says:

John Russell,

“we know all we need to know”

That should bring any scientist to his/her feet. For that matter, any inventor, any explorer, any writer, and so on.

301. > As long as people who should know better continue to talk about “climate sensitivity” as though it were a single thing, the wide range of values for the wide range of concepts they’re actually referring to it will continue to create the impression that climate scientists are hopeless at estimating the impact of CO2 on temperature.

Deciding once and for all to pick medians or means might be a first good step.

I suggest we pick both. The first would be for a weightless quantity. The second for a weighted quantity.

302. Vinny Burgoo says:

I nitpick with Dana
You nitpick Dana
He nitpicks

303. verytallguy says:

Chic,

I would not consider SOD a sceptic.

Now we’re getting somewhere.

SOD is the quintessential sceptic. His/her series on the Ghosts of Climate Past is the most impressive piece of sceptic work I’ve encountered on climate, by a very, very long way. There are nineteen parts. Read them.

If you don’t think SOD is a sceptic, you’ve completely misunderstood the meaning of the word.

You wouldn’t be alone.

Sceptic definition (Collins):

a person who habitually doubts the authenticity of accepted beliefs

304. > This has been true in rhetoric for thousands of years. Willard, is that in Climateball somewhere?

Yes:

me [Dr. Doom]: the thing is, I’m bored of ClimateBall
willard: yes
i know that
but
me: of course as you say, the only losing move
willard: is not to play

http://planet3.org/2014/07/03/a-new-strategy-for-the-climateball-player-the-climate-matrix/

This refers to this episode of Tree Lobsters:

http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/5986919630

305. BBD says:

VTG

SOD is the quintessential sceptic. His/her series on the Ghosts of Climate Past is the most impressive piece of sceptic work I’ve encountered on climate, by a very, very long way. There are nineteen parts. Read them.

Yes, yes, and he should.

306. dana1981 says:

“There is a solid economic argument that the employment-intensive nature of renewables is not at all beneficial to them as business models.”

I’m not talking about business models, I’m talking about net economic impacts. Sure, employing people is a cost to businesses, but it’s also good for the economy (increase in disposable income and hence spending & revenue). Renewables also have the benefit of free fuel, which offsets some of those employment costs.

307. BBD says:

dana1981

I’m talking about net economic impacts.

And on that level I would agree with you. But I wouldn’t argue that green job creation will be a significant component of those net economic impacts.

308. dana1981 says:

“But I wouldn’t argue that green job creation will be a significant component of those net economic impacts.”

I agree. In fact the economic impacts themselves will be small, but that’s the point. The argument against taking climate action involves claiming that the economic impacts will be severely negative, which is not substantiated by the evidence.

In the Spain example, there was net job creation, but not a particularly large number of jobs. However, the claim that there was net job reduction is false.

309. Providing high productivity jobs is good for economy. Replacing a high productivity activity by a low productivity one adds to employment, but is normally not good for the economy.

If the low productivity solution is genuinely cost competitive without significant subsidies or cutting salaries, it may well be good for the economy, but those are big ifs.

310. Steve Bloom says:

Although, vtg, SoD got a little careless in part 18 and missed a crucial recent development. You’ll notice that in several places in the series he had emphasized statements from researchers to the effect of “we’re confused about the glacial cycles.” As it happens, those statements were dated. Worse, before I pointed out the problem he appeared ready to strike out into harmonic oscillation territory.

To his credit, he owned up to the error in 19, but I have the impression that he’s still somewhat reluctant when it comes to Abe-Ouchi et al. (2013) and related papers. I hope that’s not an indicator of a lingering attachment to the harmonic oscillation business. We shall see when he returns to the series.

It’s actually pretty impressive how quickly the field has moved from a state of near-ignorance with regard to the mechanisms underlying the glacial cycles to an apparent solution.

TBC, SoD’s work is overall very impressive.

311. Steve Bloom says:

Pekka, until such time as the usual conception of the economy is updated to reflect externalities, I’m going to question such assertions.

312. The series on ice ages was perhaps a little different from most that SoD has produced. It had more of the nature of critical review of science than what I have read there before. Therefore it’s not surprising if some mistakes entered the series.

My interpretation of his basic approach is that he tries to learn himself and present to others, what a physicist can learn and verify step by step rather than just accept based on trust in what others have done. He has reached impressive results in that approach, but the approach has its limitations as much of science requires more.

313. verytallguy says:

Pekka, Steve,

I did not say SOD was correct, or even that I agree with him/her

I merely put SOD forward as an excellent example of a genuine sceptic

And noted the gulf between SOD and self styled sceptics.

314. Steve,
Referring to what’s good for the economy rather than what’s good for well-being reduces the weight of externalities.

315. me: This has been true in rhetoric for thousands of years. Willard, is that in Climateball somewhere?

willard: Yes … the only losing move … is not to play

No, I meant the bit about the purpose of a debate not being to change the mind of your opponent.

316. Chic Bowdrie says:

verytallguy,

“SOD is the quintessential sceptic. His/her series on the Ghosts of Climate Past is the most impressive piece of sceptic work I’ve encountered on climate, by a very, very long way. There are nineteen parts. Read them.”

Intriguing. OK, maybe I can have it done by the time ATTP gets back from vacation. Wow, if my definition of sceptic is not correct then, I recommend a breakdown of separate classes of sceptics so we can more precisely describe what we mean. Michael 2’s contribution gives a good example of what I mean:

“Skeptics challenge the alarmism, not the science itself. Deniers, which I suppose exist but not in great numbers, deny the science AND the alarmism.”

I noticed the D-word is relatively scarcely used, at least on this post anyway, and I wish the term could be restricted only to its traditional application. I like contrarian, if its meaning is limited to having a position contrary to the majority, as opposed to being contrary for the sake of being contrary. Furthermore, in place of Michael 2’s “deny the science and[or] alarmism,” I prefer words that would distinguish between those who challenge the only the alarmism and those who also challenge the conventional science, recognizing that much of contemporary climate science remains unsettled.

317. Wow, out for a few hours and everything goes beserk :-)

Vaughan,
If it seems that somehow we’re on different “sides” (don’t really like that term, but not sure what else to use) then I’m probably not expressing myself clearly enough.

It’s illogical to refer to an observed sensitivity of 2 °C as “equilibrium climate sensitivity” when the reason it’s a degree lower than the equilibrium climate sensitivity is that the temperature is being observed simultaneously with the CO2, without allowing time for the temperature to come into equilibrium.

We should probably make sure we’re talking about the same thing. I’m referring to energy balance estimates that include the current planetary energy imbalance. This allows one to estimate how much future warming is required to reach equilibrium. In that sense, they are an estimate of an equilibrium temperature. The problem with these estimates is that they assume feedbacks will operate in the same way in future as in the past (linear). They assume that there are no inhomogeneities (Shindell et al., Schmidt et al.). The instrumental temperature records used tend to be those that don’t cover the Arctic well (Polar amplification). They don’t include slow feedbacks (as I think you’re suggesting). Hence, they will probably (almost certainly?) be underestimating the actual equilibrium climate sensitivity. If that is what you’re suggesting, then we’re in agreement. I know that Troy Masters has been suggesting a different term for these estimates, and it seems you may be suggesting the same. I would probably agree, but am not sure it would make much difference if we did so.

the general view is already that the sensitivity has a broad likely range…

Only because different values result from measuring different things.

All I was trying to get at here is that there are some who are producing estimates that are on the low side of the range (Nic Lewis, for example). However, if you actually look at what they’re doing, their results are broadly consistent with the mainstream position and hence there is no credible piece of “skeptic” research that would make one go “okay, it probably is low”. Mostly, all credible estimates make one go “okay, it’s about the same as everyone else gets”.

As long as people who should know better continue to talk about “climate sensitivity” as though it were a single thing, the wide range of values for the wide range of concepts they’re actually referring to it will continue to create the impression that climate scientists are hopeless at estimating the impact of CO2 on temperature.

I broadly agree and I normally do try to clarify the difference between the different estimates. As you yourself seem to know, though, being too certain has its own drawbacks, as does being too uncertain. ClimateballTM.

318. Chic,
SoD is, typically, really very good. If SoD is a skeptic, it is – largely – in the positive sense. Steve Bloom highlights some possible issues, but – in my experience – SoD’s understanding of the science is remarkably good and the posts are excellent if you want to an understanding of climate science.

319. Chic Bowdrie says:

verytallguy,

So am I a self-styled sceptic? Would you mind attaching a definition to it?

320. Steve Bloom says:

“They don’t include slow feedbacks (as I think you’re suggesting). Hence, they will probably (almost certainly?) be underestimating the actual equilibrium climate sensitivity.”

ECS doesn’t include slow feedbacks. Did you mean ESS? Also, to repeat a nitpick, ECS is notional rather than actual (since it can never be reached).

Re SoD, I can only agree. He was quick to admit his error, which is a rare quality.

321. Steve,
I was meaning that the energy balance estimates used by Nic Lewis (Otto et al. ) don’t really capture slow feedbacks since they only consider a short timescale. I think this is the point that Vaughan was making.

ECS is notional rather than actual (since it can never be reached).

Sure, I agree.

322. BBD says:

Chic B

Physics dictates that GHGs are GHGs. Hence the PETM etc. What you are doing is denying the evidence that has led to a scientific consensus on this topic. You may not wish to call a spade a spade, but it’s still digging a hole.

323. Steve Bloom says:

“Skeptics challenge the alarmism, not the science itself.”

Generally this sort of thing comes from scientists rather than pseudoskeptics (a few of whom, however, are also scientists). The latter aren’t sufficiently interested in what the scientific basis might be for the “alarmism” to avoid crossing the line into criticizing the science. But so far, I’ve been unimpressed with the reasoning of scientists who question the basis for being alarmed, even when they do so sincerely and are clearly not pseudoskeptics. They just haven’t made their case.

324. Chic Bowdrie says:

BBD,

“Physics dictates that GHGs are GHGs. Hence the PETM etc.”

I’m trying to prepare a coherent response to your string of bullet points. Meanwhile, what does that one liner mean?

325. Chic,
I’m no expert at this, but maybe this paper will help to illustrate what BBD is suggesting.

326. BBD says:

Meanwhile, what does that one liner mean?

That GHGs cause hyperthermals.

That lukewarmer arguments are directly contradicted by paleoclimate behaviour.

That I am repeating myself endlessly.

327. OPatrick says:

Thanks for some interesting discussion of renewables’ job creation. It’s worth, I think, repeating victorpetri’s original words that sparked that discussion:

I have read some absurd economical reports on sustainable techniques being beneficial though, they were eyesores. e.g. FAO claiming biomass would create so much job, because it was so labor intensive. And WWF making silly calculations with CO2 and carbon footprints. Or claims how many jobs were created with green energy in Spain. Believe me, more silly than climate change denial.

Once again:

more silly than climate change denial

328. > No, I meant the bit about the purpose of a debate not being to change the mind of your opponent.

Yes, I see ClimateBall ™ as a spectator’s sport. The main objective is never to stop playing. Nobody never really know the score [1]. This does not require we change the opponent’s mind.

There’s no need need to posit minds at all. I don’t exclude the possibility to create agents that would play ClimateBall ™ the same way bot teams play RobboCup:

Since the original CalvinBall’s only rule is that the rules change as we go along, artificial agents may not be ready yet to play.

***

We may need to allow the possibility not to play the ball, but the man (and thus the mind) to faithfully represent what is going on. Agents could then entertain beliefs about other agents’ beliefs, including those of the opponents. But then the objective could be to exploit these beliefs, not to change them.

In a variant called ClimateClub ™, the objective could be said to destroy the opponent’s mind. Would this qualify as a “change of mind”?

***

We could entertain the possibility that two ClimateBall ™ opponents simultaneously change their minds. But this may not be caused by any argument, only by some esprit de contradiction.

[1] Classical rhetoric would be a variant where the spectators keep the score, be they judges, voters, or else. This restriction is not required in ClimateBall ™.

329. Steve Bloom says:

The Toarcian event is interesting, but probably not relevant to the present since we’re at the wrong place in the supercontinent cycle to get a magmatic event of that sort.

This paper is on point to the PETM, and *very* relevant to the present given the presence of the yedoma.

330. Michael 2 says:

Willard says “We could entertain the possibility that two ClimateBall ™ opponents simultaneously change their minds.”

That actually happened to me, or seemed to. My father, presuming me to be anti-science and a creationist, was arguing strenuously for evolution and the mechanisms thereof. I had just read the National Geographic issue where the US Navy was breeding dolphins to increase their intelligence, which is evolution at work (not quite “natural” selection but selection just the same).

I described my acceptance of evolution by describing this story in National Geographic when suddenly he came back with “Dolphins cannot change. Dolphins only breed dolphins. They have always been dolphins.”

Good heavens. It is impossible to achieve consensus when the purpose of the argument is to be contrary.

Sometimes a “coming together of the minds” overshoots a bit; that also happened in a discussion with a German on “usenet” back in the day. I could see where he was coming from and moved in his direction, but he saw where I was coming from, and moved in my direction, the result being a bit of overshoot and “ringing”.

Quite a lot of that for me in the early days after Climategate, one moment I would believe this claim, then that counterclaim, then this counter-counterclaim and so on.

331. Michael 2 says:

Vaughan Pratt asks “I meant the bit about the purpose of a debate not being to change the mind of your opponent.”

A debate where one debater or the other suddenly changes his mind seems to be poor form. How can there be a winner or loser if suddenly they come to agreement on something?

I rely on people not to change their mind, not right away — if they were that wishy-washy well they’ll just change their mind AGAIN as soon as I’m gone. Instead, the purpose of a debate is to lay out diverging ideas and the *audience* then examines them. The debaters themselves may also do likewise after the debate and change their mind AFTER the debate.

I believe it is impossible for one person to honorably and honestly lay out both sides of a debate. All such efforts seem to devolve into “straw man” where I am choosing for you your side of the story. You will instinctively favor “your side” and your efforts to be “balanced” could actually overcompensate giving more weight to your own opposition than you meant or is necessary.

In a court of law, which these debates resemble and the jury is the readers of this blog, and collectively the taxpaying and legislating public, you are not obligated to present your own opposition — and yet, it is common to do so in a trivializing way such that your opponent, if he engages at all, will seem to validate the deprecation. Whether this is seen as important depends a lot on the audience and parameters of the debate.

Quite often I play “judo” debate where if you accuse me of something, rather than denying it I will embrace it even if not accurate — it takes my opponent “off script” and forces real thinking, real dialog and real debate. Who “wins” is not for either me or my opponent to say.

332. Steve Bloom says:

Sensitivity fans won’t want to miss this and the linked paper. As Raypierre says, being accused of alarmism is really not much of an insult since after all we *should* be alarmed.

Deep-time paleo would seem to be a repellent topic for those whose world view assumes stationarity.

333. dana1981 says:

“If the low productivity solution is genuinely cost competitive without significant subsidies or cutting salaries, it may well be good for the economy, but those are big ifs.”

Those ‘big ifs’ happen to often be the case for renewable vs. fossil fuel energy, especially when (economic) externalities are accounted for, as Steve noted. Ideally we’d eliminate all energy subsidies, impose a carbon price, and see which energy sources could compete in a truly free market. That’s a concept that conservatives should be able to get behind.

334. Tom Curtis says:

Vinny Burgoo, this is (in part) the IPCC position climate impact on human health:

“If climate change continues as projected across the RCP scenarios until mid-century, the major increases of ill-health compared to no climate change will occur through:
• Greater risk of injury, disease, and death due to more intense heat waves and fires [very high confidence] [11.4]
• Increased risk of under-nutrition resulting from diminished food production in poor regions [high
confidence] [11.6]
• Consequences for health of lost work capacity and reduced labor productivity in vulnerable populations [high confidence] [11.6]
• Increased risks of food- and water-borne diseases [very high confidence] and vector-borne diseases [11.5]
• Modest improvements in cold-related mortality and morbidity in some areas due to fewer cold extremes [low confidence], geographical shifts in food production, and reduced capacity of disease-carrying vectors due to exceedance of thermal thresholds . These positive effects will be out-weighed, world-wide, by the magnitude and severity of the negative effects of climate change [high confidence]. [11.4, 11.5, 11.6]

Impacts on health will be reduced, but not eliminated, in populations that benefit from rapid social and economic development [high confidence], particularly among the poorest and least healthy groups [very high confidence].”

With due attention to the level of confidence, this statement also marks the consensus of the relevant scientists. Claims made with high confidence can reasonably be said to be the consensus view, while those with a lower confidence level do not command a consensus among the relevant scientists. The position outlined is not an extremist view. It certainly does not warn of potential human extinction.

You cite the views of Guy McPherson as though they some how represent the consensus view, or even a typical view among climate scientists, or climate activists. They do not! Reading the article to which you linked I had a sense of unreality that often strikes me when reading blog posts by so called climate “skeptics”. I was not surprised, therefore, to find Michael Tobis (after quoting a damning review by Scott Johnson, writing:

“I agree completely. McPherson is not the opposite of a denialist. He is a denialist, albeit of a different stripe. To watch him at work and to watch Tony Watts is to watch birds of a feather. Not evidence-based policy but policy-based evidence. Not part of the solution. Part of the problem.”

Further, like so called climate “skeptics”, McPherson massively misrepresents those he quotes. He cites, for example, Tim Garrett as claiming that “…only complete [economic] collapse avoids runaway greenhouse…”. It turns out, however, that Tim Garrett only claims that only economic collapse or an almost complete replacement (at 2.1% per annum) of energy generation with carbon neutral sources (nuclear, solar, wind, etc) will prevent the ongoing increase in CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. Nothing in Garrett’s article suggests that such ongoing increase could cause runaway global warming (as happened on Venus), and the consensus of relevant scientists is that it could not.

Aptly, another example of McPherson’s misrepresentations is his claim that Goldblatt et al (2013) shows that “The runaway greenhouse may be much easier to initiate than previously thought”, without noting that Goldblatt also says “A runaway greenhouse could in theory be triggered by increased greenhouse forcing, but anthropogenic emissions are probably insufficient.” By “probably insufficient” we should understand that even complete combustion of the worlds fossil fuel total resource base (not the proven reserves, but all the fossil fuels believe to be in the ground) is unlikely to generate a runaway greenhouse effect, based on Goldblatt’s modelling. McPherson does point out that “…remains largely ignored by the scientific community…”, an indication that his view is not widely accepted among relevant experts, and that the consensus remains that the Sun is simply not hot enough currently for a runaway greenhouse regardless of the CO2 concentration within the Earth’s atmosphere.

The point here is that McPherson is an outlier. He does not base his views on the consensus science. Rather, he disagrees violently with that consensus, and misrepresents (or misinterprets) nuggets of information from scientists within the consensus to maintain his views. He is indeed a climate denier in reverse.

Contrary to the mythology of “AGW alarmism”, the consensus position is actually the central position in the debate. There are fringe, non-scientific views in both directions. The problem is that only one set of fringe views are convenient to major corporations, and the political ideology of major media magnates; so only one set of fringe views gets broadcast around the world.

335. > You cite the views of Guy McPherson as though they some how represent the consensus view, or even a typical view among climate scientists, or climate activists

Vinny simply tried to disprove AT’s claim that all alarmism was into the contrarians’ mind. He succeeded too. The same peddling trick as underlined earlier: take a general claim and try to falsify it by injecting in the conversation just about anything related to alarmism.

AT ought to know better than getting distracted by alarming squirrels.

336. Tom Curtis says:

Thankyou Willard. I had intended to discuss Vinny’s “claim” in greater detail at the end of my post, but on rereading it found the claim was in my imagination, and removed that discussion. Unfortunately I forgot my earlier reference.

Vinny, sorry for the misrepresentation of your views.

337. Willard,

Vinny simply tried to disprove AT’s claim that all alarmism was into the contrarians’ mind. He succeeded too.

True, but only by highlighting someone who is seen as an outlier; someone regarded as a denier.

AT ought to know better than getting distracted by alarming squirrels.

I’ll get there eventually :-)

338. @ATTP: If it seems that somehow we’re on different “sides”

Only on the narrow issue of how best to approach the definitions and values of “climate sensitivity”, certainly not the whole debate.

@ATTP: I would probably agree, but am not sure it would make much difference if we did so [use different terms for different notions of climate sensitivity].

Difference to whom? You’re surely right about those with entrenched opinions on the numerical value and/or unknowability of climate sensitivity. But what about those who think of it as a scientific question that could be answered better, and are genuinely interested in it? Why wouldn’t it make a difference for them?

Unlike ECS, there seems to be good agreement that observed climate sensitivity, OCS, taking all feedbacks into account and using CO2 as a proxy for all anthropogenic influences on climate, is around 1.8-2.0 °C. Much of the (relatively small) uncertainty here may stem from the difficulty of separating the AMO and AGW, and some from not all anthropogenic influences following the Arrhenius logarithmic law, such as aerosols. Attributing the whole rise of the past half century to the AMO, as done for example by Tisdale, will of course yield a much smaller value of OCS, but doing so yields an unreasonable fit to the data and is therefore implausible.

What’s less clear is how to extrapolate OCS for the purpose of projections. If current temperature is the result not of today’s CO2 but of CO2 from say 25 years ago, projecting today’s OCS may result in a lower forecast for 2100 than will actually occur if temperature in 2100 turns out to be the result of 2075’s CO2. The point of my slides 26 and 27 is to give a procedure for taking such a delay into account.

339. I think I’m pretty close to the same wavelength as Michael 2.

340. Vaughan,

But what about those who think of it as a scientific question that could be answered better, and are genuinely interested in it? Why wouldn’t it make a difference for them?

It might. I’m not really arguing against a different term. I was just suggesting that those who are genuinely interested would be willing to appreciate the possible reasons for the different results from the different methods. Terminology helps, but isn’t always necessary.

Unlike ECS, there seems to be good agreement that observed climate sensitivity, OCS, taking all feedbacks into account and using CO2 as a proxy for all anthropogenic influences on climate, is around 1.8-2.0 °C. Much of the (relatively small) uncertainty here may stem from the difficulty of separating the AMO and AGW,

One of the main uncertainties – as I understand it – is the uncertainty in the aerosol forcing. There’s clearly some internal variability, but I think most evidence suggests this is small. Has an effect, of course, but not that large. I also think you’re being too generous to Bob Tisdale. He just doesn’t understand the basics of energy conservation.

What’s less clear is how to extrapolate OCS for the purpose of projections.

Sure, this is tricky. Have you seen the recent Shindell et al. and Schmidt et al. papers?

341. verytallguy says:

Chic,

Re your 10:24, other than you not liking denier as a descriptor, I don’t know what you’re getting at.

Re

So am I a self-styled sceptic? Would you mind attaching a definition to it?

“Self-styled” – “using a description or title that one has given oneself”

I’m not going to speak about you personally here, but most “sceptics” are far from sceptical, indeed they are highly credulous, accepting any old nonsense uncritically as long as it supports their position. For a live example, see the current US temperatures brouhaha. Generally, this credulity on supporting data also requires denying the existence or significance of data which is unsupportive.

You’ve shown no evidence of being sceptical on this thread, but you may be, I don’t know. Whether you define yourself as sceptical, only you can answer.

342. Andrew Dodds says:

VTG –

Although that’s true in a Platonic sense, if those other countries have legal regimes allowing, for example, child labour, union repression, large scale pollution, and wages well below the cost of living, then it’s very dubious as to our being better off on any timescale.

As a slight aside, I see this as the Economist’s ‘Massless, frictionless pulley’ problem. In physics, there is something of an in-joke about the simplifying assumptions – ‘Assume a spherical cow..’, ‘Assume the car is driving through a vacuum..’ – used when applying physics to real-world problems. Economists don’t seem to get this, and I think there’s a case here ‘If we have n idealised countries trading with one another – all having exactly the same financial, political and legal frameworks and the same GDP, THEN free trade is always optimal’. Except that the simplifying assumptions are not explicitly stated, they kind of vanish under the carpet. Leading to all kinds of unexpected surprises when the laws are used in the real world.

.

343. Andrew Dodds says:

(Note this was a replace to VTG @ July 10, 2014 at 3:23 pm ) Should have refreshed.

344. victorpetri says:

@Andrew
We really shouldn’t discuss with economics deniers like you. I bet you even didn’t study economics. Do you have any evidence of your claims? I bet you get paid by Big Green to write down this unscientific nonsense.
The evidence that free trade benefits the economies is incontrovertible. If we want to benefit all of mankind, we must begin now.

345. verytallguy says:
346. Those ‘big ifs’ happen to often be the case for renewable vs. fossil fuel energy, especially when (economic) externalities are accounted for, as Steve noted. Ideally we’d eliminate all energy subsidies, impose a carbon price, and see which energy sources could compete in a truly free market. That’s a concept that conservatives should be able to get behind.

Some people believe that the above is true, others don’t. We all know that economists do genuinely disagree very strongly with each other.

Estimating, how large the external costs are is extremely difficult. I did participate for several years in the large EU project ExternE that tried to make such estimates. The outcome was not conclusive at all for any pollutants, for CO2 the work was given up at the time (in the 1990s) as virtually impossible. The present knowledge is better, but the issue remains elusive.

A very closely related concept is the social cost of carbon discussed in the IPCC AR5 WG2 report and taken up by the U.S. administration. Values from US$11 to US$220 per metric ton of carbon can be found from the tables of the report itself. In the appendix, where different models are compared, the range is even wider.

The idea of applying a Pigovian tax to internalize externalities is excellent in principle, but applicable fully only with perfect knowledge of the right tax rate.

What the rapid introduction of renewable energy has done for the Spanish employment is surely impossible to answer. There’s no doubt that the immediate influence has been positive. Introducing very strong economic incentives did certainly initiate additional economic activity. That’s not open to reasonable debate.

Another point that’s not any more debatable as it’s history is, what happened later and what the Economist reported one year ago. At that time the Spanish government concluded that it cannot afford paying all the high subsidies it had promised. The Economist wrote:

But costs exploded, too. Subsidies to solar energy rose from €190m in 2007 to €3.5 billion in 2012 (an 18-fold increase). Total subsidies to all renewables reached €8.1 billion in 2012, see chart. Since the government was unwilling to pass the full costs on to consumers, the cumulative tariff deficit (the cost of the system minus revenues from consumers) reached €26 billion, having risen by about €5 billion a year.

This would have been unaffordable at the best of times: €8 billion is almost 1% of GDP. But as the euro crisis overwhelmed Spain’s finances, reform of the renewable-energy bonanza became inevitable. On July 12th the government unveiled its latest cuts. It lopped €2.7 billion off the overall bill, of which €1.4 billion were cuts to subsidies for rewnable energy and €1.3 billion cuts to other revenues of utility companies. That was on top of the €5.6 billion cuts that (reckons Acciona, a construction firm) it has already imposed in 2011-13.

It’s pretty obvious that these economic consequences were bad also for the employment, but calculating the actual loss of jobs is surely impossible to tell precisely. The Economist puts it as follows:

It has been a chastening experience. The government failed to cut subsidies when renewables were booming, so the cuts have had to be draconian. It imposed no cap on new capacity and stood by while that grew uncontrollably (this also happened in Germany). The promised jobs have vanished. The solar-energy business has lost tens of thousands of jobs from its peak. And after repeated retroactive cuts no one is willing to invest in renewable energy any more. Yet because projects often receive subsidies for 20 years, the costs remain. Even after the cuts, renewables subsidies are running at €7 billion-8 billion a year. It is not hard to think of better ways of spending such large sums of taxpayers’ money.

347. victorpetri,

The evidence that free trade benefits the economies is incontrovertible.

Are you having a laugh? I refer you back to this comment, in which you say

And it is very much unscientific, as is clarified by the guy that resigned.
“The evidence is incontrovertible” Really?

So, it’s unacceptable/unscientific for the APS to use incontrovertible and you’ve just gone and used the same word to describe the benefits of free trade. Tell me you see the hypocrisy in this. You’re welcome to hold whatever views you like. I, however, have no time for someone who is absolutely convinced that they’re right and everyone else is wrong and who claims to see the biases in others, without seeing their own. Do you understand the meaning of the word “irony”?

I’ll add; if you go through this comment stream and read your comments with an open mind, you’ll notice that virtually everything you’ve said has been stated as a fact. No attempt to indicate that these are simply your opinions. According to you, they’re universal truths and everyone should accept them. You’re welcome to behave in this way. It’s a free world. You’re just not welcome to do so here. There are plenty of places that will let you go and state you self-defined universal truths. I, though, have no interest in hearing them or in engaging in a discussion with you. I suspect many others here feel the same way.

348. victorpetri says:

“And Then There’s Physics ”
Uh OK, come on, how can you not have seen the irony in that one? [That one is below the belt, victor. -w]

349. jsam says:

I’ve seen the irony in it, Mr Petri, though you seem to have missed it.

The free market may save Miami – but not while “climate sceptics” deny its operation.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/11/miami-drowning-climate-change-deniers-sea-levels-rising?CMP=twt_gu

350. victorpetri,
Are you saying you were being ironic, or not?

[Reference to a deleted comment. – w]

351. victorpetri says:

“And Then There’s Physics”

[Reference to a deleted comment. -w]

So yes, it was ironic, I was merely demonstrating the equivalent of much of the response I got as a discussant here. But now through the lens of economics, for which free trade is beneficial to all is in general a widely accepted theory (no, not incontrovertible, silly you! I can’t think of theories in physics, biology, earth science, chemistry or economics where the evidence is incontrovertible).

352. jsam says:

[Mod : I will :-) ]

[Feel free to moderate this out. It’s not civil. But it’s not inaccurate either.]

353. victorpetri,

So yes, it was ironic,

Well, it wasn’t obvious.

silly you!

Given that I asked if you were having a laugh or not, it’s not as though I didn’t recognise the possibility.

Now, I really do have much better things to do than engage in a discussion with someone who knows everything.

354. OPatrick says:

To be fair to victorpetri I saw his use of ‘incontovertible’ there as clearly intended ironically.

victorpetri, do you have any comment on your claim that these analyses are “more silly than climate change denial”?

I do not believe that anyone could genuinely view the uncertainties in the basic science of climate change as even remotely close to being equivalent to the uncertainties in these economic discussions.

355. BBD says:

Is “Victor Petri” an aspect of the “Olaus Petri” that plagues Deltoid?

356. Rachel M says:

[Refers to a deleted comment. -w]

357. victorpetri says:

@OPatrick
What you people take out of my comments to discuss I really can’t understand.
I gave you ample examples already, with links and everything, why I think it is silly.
OK, so you think climate change denial is more silly, fine, whatever. Actually, really thinking about it and being more correct, you are probably right, but I do totally not understand why it is an important point to discuss.

358. Rachel,
That’s a fair point. I agree with your description. Of course, I would argue that asking someone about any medical-type condition is not normally acceptable, especially if you barely know them.

359. victorpetri says:

@Rachel,
Exactly the point I made, which was modded out.

360. OPatrick says:

but I do totally not understand why it is an important point to discuss

Because you appear to be able to say, without obvious awareness of the absurdity of it, things like

Actually, really thinking about it and being more correct, you are probably right

It’s not ‘probably right’ that examples of climate denial are more silly than the examples of economic discussions you have referenced, it’s overwhelmingly and obviously apparent. Policy decisions are made on the basis of economic analysis that is far more uncertain than the basics of climate change, and I mean the broad brushstrokes of policy decisions, not just the details of micromanagement.

361. victorpetri says:

@OPatrick
This will be my final reply to you, since your strange deviations from the topic, and the random picks of irrelevant inconsistencies in my comments, are too time consuming to reply to. First the tiresome confusion on the anti APS activism-activist, now discussing the amount of silliness that is climate change denial. With no clarification whatsoever on why it is so important as to determine which of the two is more silly. I get silly only writing about it.

362. OPatrick says:

victorpetri, you have an odd understanding of what is and is not relevant on a thread about the silliness of climate denial.

363. Yes, I was going to make a similar point. The post was about “skeptics” doing a better job of being skpetical, so discussing the silliness of climate denial would seem quite in line with the general topic.

364. BBD says:

Olaus, is that you?

C’mon now. Be honest.

365. victorpetri says:

@BBD
What’s that with Olaus?
@ATTP
Be my guest and discuss climate change denial silliness with OPatrick as much as you like.

366. BBD says:

Victor

You haven’t advanced a single scientific argument as far as I can see. Yet you keep on about how you base your arguments in science. What exactly is the problem? What is your point? Exactly.

367. BBD says:

Victor – you remind me somewhat of the “Olaus Petri” commenter at Deltoid.

368. Marco says:

BBD, I can answer that for you: he is not. Olaus is from Sweden and uses a nickname, Victor Petri is not from Sweden and uses his real name (or he’s now p*ssing somebody off by stealing his name).

369. victorpetri says:

@BBD
The point is that although the science on Climate change is definitely not incontrovertible (although some here seem to think it is) it does point to very likely global warming events.
So science is reasonably clear, which doesn’t mean however that mankind’s response is straightforward. Because for the policy, economics come into play, and it was clearly demonstrated here, that many don’t even grasp basic economic concepts (see e.g. the ‘as much people producing energy as possible’ fallacy above), let alone grasp the overall economic impact of battling carbon emission. That said, my feeling is that the skeptics piled on one heap, which seems to be done here, are unjustly done so, because their beef is mainly with the impact on policy and not so much with the climate change science itself.
Just as for me, I have not disagreed with anything on climate science (I believe).

370. victorpetri,

Be my guest and discuss climate change denial silliness with OPatrick as much as you like.

You do realise that this is my blog, not yours?

So science is reasonably clear, which doesn’t mean however that mankind’s response is straightforward.

Yes, that’s kind of the point.

and it was clearly demonstrated here, that many don’t even grasp basic economic concepts (see e.g. the ‘as much people producing energy as possible’ fallacy above),

Yes, we had a discussion about that, to which you contributed nothing except things that you regard as self-evidently true and that everyone must accept.

That said, my feeling is that the skeptics piled on one heap, which seems to be done here, are unjustly done so, because their beef is mainly with the impact on policy and not so much with the climate change science itself.

If you actually read my post, you will note that my beef is entirely with what they say about the science. I don’t know how many times I have pointed this out. You appear to be one of those who regards a criticism of what someone says about science as somehow then a criticism of what they say about policy. Also, you clearly either do not read the same things I do, or do not understand the difference between science and policy. There is ample evidence of “skeptics” making claims about the science that are not consistent with the best evidence available. That is my issue.

371. BBD says:

@ Victor Petri

I thought as much, but thank you for clarifying. Let’s by all means stick only to policy discussions.

@ Marco

Thanks. With so much morphing going on it’s always helpful to know who one is – or is not – dealing with.

372. BBD says:

This is rubbish btw, and you do yourself no favours by trying to defend the pseudosceptics using obviously false claims:

That said, my feeling is that the skeptics piled on one heap, which seems to be done here, are unjustly done so, because their beef is mainly with the impact on policy and not so much with the climate change science itself.

373. OPatrick says:

the ‘as much people producing energy as possible’ fallacy above

The fallacy presumably being that anyone is saying ‘as much people as possible’. The reports you linked to make arguments that seem reasonable. They certainly aren’t obviously wrong or at odds with what at least some economists advocate. In order for you to make what you seem to think is your point you have to exaggerate the arguments. The FAO report, for example says

Although biomass-based employment has an impact primarily in rural areas of developing countries, it is also important in cities and in developed countries. European policy-makers recognize that renewables (in this case bioenergy) offer potential for employment creation in addition to environmental benefits….The analysis assumed that expansion of biological fuel sources occurs without displacing employment in conventional agriculture and forestry.

Doesn’t really sound like your ‘use as much people as possible to produce our energy’, a bit more nuance, perhaps? There are benefits to job creation, particularly in rural areas of developing countries. Also the report includes caveats which you don’t seem to acknowledge.

374. victorpetri says:

Yes, global warming is happening. In the long run, it has an overall negative impact. But actually — and surprisingly for many — economic models generally find that moderate global warming is a net global benefit.
Corrigendum to “Targets for global climate policy: An overview” [J. Econ. Dyn. Control 37 (2013) 911–928]
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165188913000092

Worldwide and in almost all regions, many more people die from cold than heat. With increasing temperatures, avoided cold deaths will vastly outweigh extra heat deaths. By midcentury, researchers estimate 400,000 more heat deaths but 1.8 million fewer cold deaths.

Economy-wide estimates of the implications of climate change: Human health
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0921800905003423

375. OPatrick says:

But actually — and surprisingly for many — economic models generally find that moderate global warming is a net global benefit.

Hmmm, I feel you may have chosen the wrong place to make that claim quite so casually.

376. victorpetri,
You may find this interesting. Plus, I think even Richard Tol accepts that the benefits are largely sunk benefits. There may well be a net economic benefit to the warming in the pipeline (the warming that will happen because of past emissions). It is the subsequent warming from our continued emissions that will start to reduce the net economic benefit. Plus, regional versus global.

377. victorpetri says:

There would have been no better place to post it than here.
Thanks for the link ATTP, so what are the numbers then of the costs of Global Warming?

378. victorpetri,

so what are the numbers then of the costs of Global Warming?

Sorry, why would you ask that?

You may also fine this interesting. Also, here’s a link to the correction and update of Richard Tol’s earlier work. Given this, I don’t believe that this statement

But actually — and surprisingly for many — economic models generally find that moderate global warming is a net global benefit.

is an entirely fair representation of the situation. More correct would be an economic model (Tol 2002) find that moderate global warming has a net global benefit. To be fair, there is a second, but it is barely above zero (Mendelsohn 2000) which gives 0 or +0.1.

379. verytallguy says:

ATTP,

an economic model (Tol 2002) find that moderate global warming has a net global benefit.

You’re forgetting the physics (tut tut)

Could I suggest a modification:

an economic model (Tol 2002) find that moderate global warming has a net global benefit. However, carbon emissions ongoing at that time plus historical emissions mean a net negative impact due to further temperature rises is guaranteed well before peak benefits are attained, even in that model.

380. vtg,
Indeed, that is well worth stressing. As I understand it, if we were basing our policy options on Tol (2002), then the optimal pathway would be one in which we fix our atmospheric CO2 concentrations at levels close to 400ppm, as that would then produce the greatest net global benefit. Of course, we would be ignoring that even in this scenario there is net damage in regions that happen to contribute little to global GDP. Hence, we would be following a strategy in which we optimise the benefit so that those who contributed most to global warming benefit, and those who contributed least suffer.

381. verytallguy says:

So, even on the basis of the most optimistic model in the ensemble on net benefits, one which downweights impacts on poor regions,

the optimal pathway would be one in which we fix our atmospheric CO2 concentrations at levels close to 400ppm

Just remind us what the current level is?

382. I think it may be around 400ppm.

383. verytallguy says:

And on that note I think this thread may have run its course.

Have a good holiday, hope it’s low carbon :-)

384. That’s a wrap!

385. victorpetri says:

@ATTP
“then the optimal pathway would be one in which we fix our atmospheric CO2 concentrations at levels close to 400ppm, as that would then produce the greatest net global benefit” In an all things being equal scenario, which it clearly is not.
So it might not be a net benefit, but most economic do point out a near zero negative impact up to say 2070, but rising costs from then on.

386. victorpetri,

but most economic do point out a near zero negative impact up to say 2070, but rising costs from then on.

It sounds like you’re basing this on a recent article by Matt Ridley (correct me if I’m wrong). That article was based on Tol (2009,2013), prior to the correction and update being issued. With the correction, it is no longer quite that long. Furthermore, as Grant McDermott, Andrew Gelman, Bob Ward (and me, FWIW) have pointed out, it is strongly influence by a single data point (Tol 2002). If you correct for this, as Grant McDermott did, then the benefit is reduced. If you add newer studies (as Tol does in his correction and update) there is virtually no net benefit for future warming (it starts going negative now). So, I would argue, that your statement that “most economists do point out a near zero negative impact up to 2070″, is not a defensible statement.

387. victorpetri says:

Sorry. didn’t got the memo (of the wrap), and I usually don’t.
One more addition to uneven global GDP growth. The countries that need growth the most, do economically grow the most, when such growth is not bogged down by climate change battling policies. As you can see happening now, where e.g. Africa is the fastest economically growing continent on earth.

388. victorpetri says:

@ATTP
I understood that in general most models point to a cost of below 2% GDP until 2050, which can be defined as near zero.

389. victorpetri,

not bogged down by climate change battling policies.

I do love assertions.

I understood that in general most models point to a cost of below 2% GDP until 2050, which can be defined as near zero.

Yes, that may be fair. Most models suggest net benefit/damage for below 2 degrees of warming is close to zero. You do, in my opinion, have to consider the inertia in the system, though. If we want to do something to minimise the negative economic impact beyond 2050 (and the actual year will depend on our emission pathway), we can’t really wait till 2050.

390. victorpetri says:

Looking back 35 years and seeing how much different it was from today, how poor we were back then and how much technological advance we have made, then in 35 years, we might just be extremely well positioned to handle it.
To give a current example, 35 years is about how many years ago solar power was invented (the transmission into electricity part of it at least). Since then, its output has doubled every 2 years, continuously until today. Another 35 years of doubling would provide us with a very low CO2 alternative to hydrocarbons for electricity.

391. victorpetri,
I would point out – again – that the past is not guaranteed to be a reliable estimator of what we face in the future. I will also add, that one reason for the progress in the last 35 years, is that we’ve actually made decisions and done things. We didn’t go “don’t worry, everything will be fine for the next 50 years and by then I’m sure someone will have invented something clever”. Technology development and advancements don’t happen by magic.

392. BBD says:

Junk economics does not an argument for inaction make. I hope you have read the links ATTP provided, btw.

393. victorpetri says:

@ATTP
There is a great book on the robustness of technological progress, by Kevin Kelly: What Technology Wants
And I didn’t mean to say, don’t worry it’ll be fine,
But as to what I do caution to is to inflict near term harm, for potential far term benefits (as would be the nature of climate policy measures taken now), this is for me the absolute most important question to solve concerning climate change: to optimize sustainable human well-being.

394. victorpetri says:

@BBD
Junk economics does not an argument for inaction make.

Thanks for your input, Yoda.

395. BBD says:

This claim is false:

But as to what I do caution to is to inflict near term harm, for potential far term benefits (as would be the nature of climate policy measures taken now)

Please read it. You have been wallowing in the stuff the RIdleys and Pielkes of this world put out for too long and it has buggered up your understanding of the basics.

396. dhogaza says:

Victor:

“But actually — and surprisingly for many — economic models generally find that moderate global warming is a net global benefit.”

Then …

“… it might not be a net benefit, but most economic do point out a near zero negative impact up to say 2070, but rising costs from then on.”

Then …

“I understood that in general most models point to a cost of below 2% GDP until 2050, which can be defined as near zero.”

Then …

“The countries that need growth the most, do economically grow the most, when such growth is not bogged down by climate change battling policies.”

Then waves the technological magic wand …

“Looking back 35 years and seeing how much different it was from today, how poor we were back then and how much technological advance we have made, then in 35 years, we might just be extremely well positioned to handle it.”

And finally makes a totally unsupported claim about efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change today:

“But as to what I do caution to is to inflict near term harm, for potential far term benefits (as would be the nature of climate policy measures taken now)”

You guys take this person seriously? Clearly he’ll say anything to deflect criticism of the industry he works in …

397. victorpetri says:

@BBD
Your nasty tone with me is once again uncalled for.
Your reading skills are lacking, and you jump to all kind of conclusions concerning me and my opinions that are unsubstantiated.
For unknown reasons you have blamed me with:
– Not accepting the consensus in climate change
– Talking about ‘the Greens’
– Being a time waster
– Being Olaus Petri, whoever he is
– Not advancing a single scientific argument, although I could possibly have quoted the most article links on the whole thread (yes, I know now one was incorrect, live and learn)

398. BBD says:

399. dhogaza,
I noticed the same pattern that you’ve highlighted. I think it’s sometimes referred to as “dodge and weave”.

You guys take this person seriously?

I am struggling somewhat.

victorpetri,
Maybe actually acknowledging that something you’ve highlighted has flaws would help. You highlighted some of Richard Tol’s work in a way that made it seem that it wasn’t know by those here, despite it having been discussed in detail here in the past, and despite those here seeming to be more aware of its issue and corrections than you were.

400. victorpetri says:

@dhogaza
It must be very strange for you to see someone change his mind on the basis of changing evidence. You would probably never do such a thing.

@BBD
And you could read Pielke’s reply, which you probably won’t, I am not the one here that is close minded.
http://rogerpielkejr.blogspot.de/2014/06/clueless-krugman.html

I am not a big fan of Krugman, I have seen him been wrong so many times, that for me it’s unclear how it can be he is still so much respected.

401. BBD says:

That’s right, Petri. Keep on blustering. And citing Pielke. Way to go.

402. BBD says:

ATTP

I think it’s sometimes referred to as “dodge and weave”.

And it’s obligate behaviour if you are repeatedly confronted by people who point out your errors but have no intention whatsoever of changing your position.

403. victorpetri,

It must be very strange for you to see someone change his mind on the basis of changing evidence.

It wasn’t clear that you’d actually done so.

I have read Roger’s reply. I think it’s pretty poor. The Kaya identity is simply an identity and – as far as I’m aware – isn’t universal (i.e., the terms in the identity differ from country to country). Clearly, once a country has started on a particular economic pathway, it will likely follow the identity appropriate for it’s economic choices. Krugman’s point was that it’s clear that it is technically possible to alter one’s economy, otherwise how can economically viable countries exist that have different values of GDP/P, E/GDP, and CO2/E. As far as I can tell Pielke is essentially arguing that a given country can’t alter any of those ratios and I would argue that that is self-evidently not true.

404. Andrew Dodds says:

Victor..

35 years ago was 1979.

35 years before that was 1944.

This is quite convenient – for the average Westerner, which period had the biggest lot of growth and increased standard of living? The ‘Keyenesian’ era of 1945-79, or the ‘Moneterest/neoliberal’ era (1979-present)?

This is a rhetorical question – as far as quality-of-life goes, everything was in the first period; the only real improvement since has been the Computer/Internet revolution. The planning and government intervention of the first period got things done that seem impossible nowadays. Things like building a highway system for the entire US. Sticking a man on the moon. An industrial country (France) completely decarbonising it’s electricity supply. Nowadays, practically everything seems to be declared impossible.

405. victorpetri says:

@ATTP
Didn’t know work was incorrect, do now, so changed my mind as any reasonable person would, to the position, with which you agreed: GW being a near zero cost until 2070, which I then clarified as being below 2% GDP cost (= near zero). Other statements made highlighted by dhogaza seem reasonable to me, not to you? I am not dodging nor weaving.
And dhogaza as BBD seem to favor ridiculisation to any form of open minded discussion.

406. John Mashey says:

If short-term GDP is what counts:
1) Encourage more kids to start smoking earlier, generating jobs in growing, processing, distributing tobacco. Government subsidies for this economic activity should rise to encourage it. This can be especially useful in low-income areas and also tends to provide tax income. It is crucial to use international trade laws to stop countries from imposing rules (like Australia’s “plain packaging”) that inhibit free trade.

2) Substantial GDP growth could be gained by increasing the percentage of youth that smoke each decade. 50% is certainly achievable in the near future, but over time, the right policies could probably get the effects to reach nearly 100% by the end of the century.

3) Yes, according to some alarmists, there will be a long-term damage, but even they admit that the most negative effects are delayed by 3-4 decades after people start smoking. (Some negative effects happen earlier, but not the most serious ones.) Some intergenerational-justice advocates might argue that a policy of increasing smoking favors the current generation (GDP) at the expense of imposing unavoidable risks and damage on future generations addicted to nicotine. But, neoclassical economics models predict GDP growth forever, so people will be richer in the future (6-15X by 2100) and thus if they need to spend more on health care (adaptation), they will easily be able to afford it. And, some studies have been shown that by dying younger, smokers reduce the cost of healthcare and this has been published in business magazines like Forbes. Finally, medical research may create unanticipated breakthroughs that will solve the problem entirely, although this seems more proclaimed by those who do not themselves do medical research, than those who do.

4) But, the bottom line is that GDP benefits of higher smoking rates *precede* any potential damage, so economically, this looks very promising, especially for tobacco companies, but more generally.

407. pbjamm says:

Hoping some vague future-tech will solve our problem with AGW is no more useful than throwing coins in a fountain. This is a big issue that will take decades of effort to overcome and we have not even got everyone to the accepting-there-is-a-problem stage of the project.
to quote VeryTallGuy:
“Humanity didn’t put a man on the moon by assuming that future humans would invent antigravity machines. We understood the constraints and cleverly and urgently designed machines which operated within those constraints.”

408. victorpetri says:

@Andrew,

You should however look at mankind’s progression, whose quality of life improvements where the latter period has by far outstripped the first.

But I must say, I have missed your point. To clarify, I picked 35 years on a remark of CO2 in 2050, which is 35 years from now. Are you about to start a big government vs laissez faire capitalism discussion?

409. dhogaza says:

Victor Petri:

“GW being a near zero cost until 2070, which I then clarified as being below 2% GDP cost (= near zero). ” until 2050, not 2070.

So we’ve gone from “net benefit” to “near zero until 2070″ until “< 2% cost until 2050". There is a trend here, with the end point as yet undetermined.

What Victor mostly has shown, though, is not so much a willingness to change his mind, but rather a willingness to post nonsense with a great deal of conviction, nonsense he's not bothered to research beforehand because of his love of the industry in which he works.

Victor, quit wasting our time and do your down damned research.

410. dhogaza says:

own research, not down research :)

411. victorpetri,

with which you agreed: GW being a near zero cost until 2070

Not quite. I agreed that most economic models suggest it will be near zero cost until some point in the future when warming has reached 1 – 2 degrees higher than today. That’s not quite the same as agreeing that this is likely to be true. Also, depending on our future emissions pathway, this could be around 2070, but could be substantially earlier. I, however, also pointed out that the inertia in the climate system means that if we want to avoid damages beyond that time, we can’t wait until that time, we would need to act well before that. I also pointed out in an earlier comment that most of these economic models show net benefits because those regions that suffer the most contribute the least to global GDP. Hence, if we use these models to decide that we should act on the basis of there being net benefits till around 2070, we’ve essentially decided on a policy in which those who contributed most to GW will continue to benefit, while those who contributed least, will likely suffer.

412. dhogaza says:

Victor Petri:

“So, the problem is not the denial of climate change science, but the denial of a total different branch of much less respected ‘science’, namely the denial of economics.”

So Victor disses those who “deny economics”, yet finds himself capable of posting:

“And you could read Pielke’s reply…I am not a big fan of Krugman, I have seen him been wrong so many times, that for me it’s unclear how it can be he is still so much respected.”

Krugman is respected because he’s a Nobel Laureate in Economics. You complain about those of us who you accuse of denying economics, then turn around and practice economics denialism by supporting a political scientist’s (RPJr) lame response to one of the most honored economists of our time.

And you wonder why we don’t take you seriously?

413. victorpetri says:

@JM
I wouldn’t know what you think you are adding to the discussion. The goal on any policy, as I have stated it, would be to optimize sustainable human well being.
@pjamm
It is not about hoping on future technologies. It’s about trying to make a balanced decision, based on as much facts as possible, on what policy to take on battling GW, instead of jumping head on, throwing all resources we have into battling GW. And yes, difficult guesses of the future should play a part in this.

414. dhogaza says:

Of course, by “economics”, Victor Petri means “ideologically-driven right-wing economics”. The other kinds, of course, as represented by the centrist Krugman, shouldn’t be respected …

415. dhogaza says:

Victor Petri:

“t’s about trying to make a balanced decision, based on as much facts as possible, on what policy to take on battling GW, instead of jumping head on, throwing all resources we have into battling GW.”

And then to the strawman … “throwing all resources we have into battling GW”. No more World Cup or Super Bowl, no more fun at all, all resources devoted to battling GW, yeah, that’s the mainstream position alright.

416. BBD says:

And dhogaza as BBD seem to favor ridiculisation to any form of open minded discussion.

Flat-out lies, now.

417. Can I ask that we try to keep things civil, despite the frustrations.

victorpetri,
Just to clarify, you countered Andrew’s comment about the periods 1944-1979, 1979-now using a graph that ends in 1979. Are you really sure you meant to do that?

418. victorpetri,
Oh no, you’ve quoted Timmy. He seems to get quite a lot of stuff wrong.

419. BBD says:

Forbes, Fortune, Spectator, Nial Fergsson…

RIght-wing bloviation FFS.

420. BBD says:

Jeebus! Did I miss Timmy?! Sorry.

421. victorpetri says:

@ATTP, no it doesn’t, up to ~2000, right? The origin is in this ted talk:

with work from Dutch demographer Madisson.

But don’t worry, I won’t frustrate anyone any longer, thanks for the discussion (to some) and see ya.

422. dhogaza says:

Earlier I claimed:

“Of course, by “economics”, Victor Petri means “ideologically-driven right-wing economics”. The other kinds, of course, as represented by the centrist Krugman, shouldn’t be respected …”

Victor kindly posted a list of links that confirms my impression of what Victor considers to be “economics”.

423. Okay, fair enough. I misread. That’s still only halfway from 1979-now though.

Also, as BBD points out, why are you simply throwing out various right-wind articles about Krugman. The Kaya identity is sufficiently simple that either you could make an argument as to why Krugman is wrong, or why he is not. I’ve tried to do the latter. I don’t think you’ve tried to do the former.

424. BBD says:

Somebody needs to read this.

Chapter 1: There is no such thing as a free market.

425. BBD says:

right-wind articles

:-)

426. Bet you thought that was a typo :-)

427. A good link to refer to whenever you see someone like Vic Petri Dish rationalizing his viewpoint is (surprise!) the Wikipedia link for Denial
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial

There you will see how rationalization, minimization, and projection are used to dodge & weave (as AT put it) around the main scientific arguments for AGW.

Apply the Wikipedia link liberally and then tell the denier that they are free to edit.

And since so many people don’t like using the phrase climate change denier, I suggest tossing in “AGW Abnegator” every once in awhile, or AA for short. If they ask, point them to the Wikipedia link for Abnegation and it will get redirected to Denial.

428. BBD says:

That would be Alex Taborrok the right-wing ideologue, professor at George Mason U and affiliate of yet another libertarian, free-market peddling ‘think tank’ called the Independent Institute.

429. Vinny Burgoo says:

Tom C, thanks for the apology. Proper gent. And thanks, Willard, for… whatever it was.

Wotts, redefining ‘denier’ doesn’t stop McPherson (or Evans, who cited him) being a climactivist alarmist, which species, if you remember, you said didn’t exist.

Such extreme alarmists aren’t typical climactivists but they are not without influence, especially (but not exclusively) among anti-capitalists/-consumerists/-globalisationists/-whateverists who have embraced climate change opportunistically as a new way of justifying their political preferences.

Here’s an example from the end of last month. It’s by Mark Levene, co-founder of Rescue! History and (with Media Lens’s David Cromwell) Crisis Forum* and a genocide researcher at the University of Southampton:

http://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/jT4vZQJPng3xW9gEGp6n/full

First sentence of the abstract:

‘Anthropogenic climate change poses the possibility of total human extinction.’

That’s actually the last time that climate change is tied unambiguously to human extinction. The rest of the text is mostly about the physical or cultural extinction of ‘indigenous’ peoples and the wickedness of the West. Climate change is essentially a bolt-on.

(Vivienne Westwood also banged on about human extinction last month. Crazy old bat. I suspect that the cause that she is seeking to further by bolting on some climate change is her narcissistic self.)

===
*Crisis Forum is a once lively but now almost defunct hang-out for doom-ridden social scientists that was all but killed off when it was invaded by members of the even more doomtastic Arctic Methane Emergency Group. The regulars politely asked them to tone it down or go away but they wouldn’t, and everything spluttered to a halt – a better class of alarmist embarrassed into silence by outright loonies.

430. BBD says:

Looks like the Independent Institute is peddling climate change denial too:

Full Policy Report
Store: Policy Reports:
New Perspectives in Climate Change

$10.00 16 pages © 2003 New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us by S. Fred Singer, John R. Christy, Robert E. Davis, David R. Legates, Wendy M. Novicoff As public debate examines new developments in the ongoing debate about past climate change, it is important to recognize that there have been a number of additional advances in climate science, many of which were concurrent or after the publication of the most recent (2001) Assessment of Climate Change by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the 2000 National Assessment of U.S. Climate Change. This latter document was used extensively by the U.S. Environmental Protection agency in its 2001 Climate Action Report. As shown in The Independent Institute’s new report, New Perspectives in Climate Change: What the EPA Isn’t Telling Us, critical portions of science in all of these reports are misleading, inaccurate, unreliable, or simply wrong. However, that is not an indictment of the individuals involved, but is rather more symptomatic of the nature of science when funded by a government leviathan. Check out those authors! And the conspiracist ideation! Shocked, I tell you, shocked. 431. BBD says: Sorry, missing link to climate change denial report. S. Fred just gets everywhere, doesn’t he? Amazing for such an elderly gent. 432. BBD says: Vinny Burgoo So what? CC isn’t dangerous because some people make OTT claims? Is that what you are trying to insinuate into the discussion? Are you serious? I couldn’t care less about AMEG and Vivienne bloody Westwood. They are utterly irrelevant. 433. Vinny Burgoo says: BBD, I’m insinuating this stuff into the discussion because it interests me and because part of the discussion has been about whether climate alarmists exist. The extreme climate alarmists I have pointed to are indeed fringe figures but there are lesser types of climate alarmist. You’ll often find them in the Guardian, for example, where doomy NGO press releases and every little scrap of doomy science is presented as ‘what the science says’ about what’s in store for us unless we foo. 434. > And thanks, Willard, for… whatever it was. Thank you for the kind words, Vinny. It was simply a description of your peddling trick. I hope you do realize that it’s the same trick that Barry used over and over again here. You’ve made your point. Now get away from the horse’s carcass, please. *** OK. A quick note to tell everyone that AT invited me to moderate this blog from time to time. I will make a post later explaining what I’ll do. But basically, I’ll try to enforce one rule: play the ball, not the man. Please consider that you have a yellow card, victorpetri. 435. pbjamm says: Seems to me that the existence of the “climactivist alarmist” writers and rubbish movies like “The Day After Tomorrow” show that the IPCC and actual climate science is fairly moderate and even conservative. The scientific claims are not outlandish scenarios of massive destruction. 436. John Mashey says: By the way, lest anyone thought my example was fanciful, there is at least one country whose policies match pretty well: recent big rise in smoking, 50% of doctors smoke, tobacco companies are state-run, more than 50% of men smoke, cigarettes are common gifts. They have a few environmental problems, as well., but GDP has risen strongly (probably more good than bad,l but it has some downsides.) Some other countries are on similar paths. 437. verytallguy says: A quick note to tell everyone that AT invited me to moderate this blog from time to time This could be fun… … BBD, I think the point is that calling out poor science from those advocating more action is as important as calling out the same on those advocating less. 438. Vinny Burgoo says: Willard, I still can’t see the magic. But never mind. If you want to see responding to a claim with counter-evidence as some sort of peddling (?) trick, that’s your business… No. I don’t mean that. I respectfully submit that that is your prerogative, Mr Moderator, sir, is what I mean. 439. BBD says: VTG BBD, I think the point is that calling out poor science from those advocating more action is as important as calling out the same on those advocating less. Sure, but there is so much less bad science employed by those advocating present action than by those delaying it. Hyperfocus on “climate alarmism” as baaaad is a rhetorical trick, as Willard noted a long time back. And now he’s in charge, so we’d better read his comments carefully. 440. Vinny, Wotts, redefining ‘denier’ doesn’t stop McPherson (or Evans, who cited him) being a climactivist alarmist, which species, if you remember, you said didn’t exist. Did I really say they didn’t exist? Okay, if I did then I was wrong; although – IIRC – I said I hadn’t seen claims of human extinction, but acknowledged that that may just have been me not noticing. Clearly climate alarmism exists (as does climate denial). My issue – as you probably know – is the association of anything mainstream with alarmism. Also, one of your examples was rebutted by Michael Tobis very recently, so it doesn’t seem to be trumpeted by the more mainstream people. Just out of interest, what sort of influence do they actually have? I’m sure they have some, but it doesn’t seem particularly prevalent. Willard, Will you write a post? That would actually be good, as I was thinking of penning something, but am rather running out of time. 441. > If you want to see responding to a claim with counter-evidence as some sort of peddling (?) trick […] Thank you, Vinny. I want to, and I will. I could also show how this ClimateBall ™ trick operates. Would you like that? 442. > Will you write a post? Yes. Later today. Promised. 443. Michael 2 says: dana1981 says “Ideally we’d eliminate all energy subsidies, impose a carbon price, and see which energy sources could compete in a truly free market.” The words “imposing a carbon price” and “free market” really ought not to be used in the same sentence :-) 444. > And now he’s in charge […] No, I’m not. AT is. For now, I will only try to make sure that ClimateBall ™ players play the ball. 445. M2, But isn’t a fundamental point of a free market is making sure that it’s fair. If one product has an unfair competitive advantage, that isn’t really a free market, is it? 446. @ATTP: Terminology helps, but isn’t always necessary. There’s a terminology problem right there: what do you mean by “terminology”? When people use different names for the same thing, e.g. “Tyndall effect” vs. “greenhouse effect”, no problem is created provided people realize they’re the same thing. (“A rose by any other name …”) But when they use the same name for different things, e.g. “price” for both “before-tax price” and “after-tax price”, and the context doesn’t make the intended meaning clear, confusion can result. Climate sensitivity is a case in point. Suppose agreement were to emerge that observed climate response is 1.8 ±0.4 °C while equilibrium climate sensitivity is 3.2 ± 0.4 °C. Reporting that scientists say that “climate sensitivity” is 2.5 ± 1.1°C would then be an irresponsible exaggeration of our uncertainty. 447. pbjamm says: It comes up fairly regularly on this and other climate blogs that no one denies the science of climate change. I am pretty sure it made an appearance in this very thread but I am unwilling to reread all the comments searching for it. To anyone who thinks that outright denial is a fabrication please go read the comments section here: http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/07/10/3458851/parents-climate-curricula/ I could only make it through the the first 30 or so comments before my brain shut off. It makes this conversation seem down right reasonable. 448. Vaughan, what do you mean by “terminology”? I just mean that there’s nothing wrong with having terms that properly describe what you’re referring to, but sometimes it’s just better to explain what you mean. When I discuss the different methods for determining climate sensitivity, I often (not always) try to elaborate as to why they may differ or how much confidence we can place in the different estimates. Suppose agreement were to emerge that observed climate response is 1.8 ±0.4 °C while equilibrium climate sensitivity is 3.2 ± 0.4 °C. Reporting that scientists say that “climate sensitivity” is 2.5 ± 1.1°C would then be an irresponsible exaggeration of our uncertainty. I agree. Of course, if this was done by those who actually understood the different methods, it would be very poor. All I’m really suggesting is that there is nothing wrong with explaining why the different approaches may give different answers. Also, I see nothing fundamentally wrong with changing the terminology so as to avoid confusion. If it appears that I’m arguing against using Observed Climate Sensitivity, then I’m probably just not really making myself very clear. However, as I understand it, it isn’t in common usage at the moment. 449. OPatrick says: BBD, I’m insinuating this stuff into the discussion because it interests me and because part of the discussion has been about whether climate alarmists exist. The extreme climate alarmists I have pointed to are indeed fringe figures but there are lesser types of climate alarmist. You’ll often find them in the Guardian, for example, where doomy NGO press releases and every little scrap of doomy science is presented as ‘what the science says’ about what’s in store for us unless we foo. There is some genuine climate alarmism… (evidence provided) … some other climate alarmism isn’t as extreme as this alarmism, but I’ve assosciated it with that alarmism… … and you can see this alarmism often in places like the Guardian (no evidence provided). 450. BBD says: Did somebody say ‘insinuate’? 451. @ATTP: I also think you’re being too generous to Bob Tisdale. He just doesn’t understand the basics of energy conservation. I was attributing fallacious calculations to him. I could have been even more generous: they put him in a class with the proponents of perpetual motion machines. :) I picked him because he’s the only author I know of whose book has detailed calculations of why the recent rise is 100% AMO (caused by repeated El Ninos ratcheting up the ocean temperature) and 0% AGW. Part 1 of my AGU slides shoots that down with a new argument why the last half-century rise of 0.755 °C can’t be all AMO: the land-sea difference varies during rises of the land-sea sum in a way that rules out 100% AMO. 452. @VP: Much of the (relatively small) uncertainty here may stem from the difficulty of separating the AMO and AGW, @ATTP: One of the main uncertainties – as I understand it – is the uncertainty in the aerosol forcing. Quite right, though my full sentence, of which you quoted only the first half, read Much of the (relatively small) uncertainty here may stem from the difficulty of separating the AMO and AGW, and some from not all anthropogenic influences following the Arrhenius logarithmic law, such as aerosols. Whereas only quantity matters for greenhouse gases, the impact of aerosols is governed by quantity, color, and altitude. A complicated business. 453. Michael 2 says: [Please, no “but denier”, M2. Playing the man includes victim playing.] 454. dana1981 says: “M2, But isn’t a fundamental point of a free market is making sure that it’s fair. If one product has an unfair competitive advantage, that isn’t really a free market, is it?” Correct. Allowing polluters to pollute for free isn’t what we mean by “free market.” As long as we’re accepting estimates of climate damage costs from economic models, can we accept their estimates of climate mitigation costs too? Because economic modeling clearly shows that mitigation is cheaper than adaptation. Or more specifically, the economically optimal path involves a lot of immediate mitigation efforts. Some modeling also shows that certain climate policies can have significant immediate economic benefits. As for waiting several decades to see if technology can save us, eminent climate economist William Nordhaus said of that, “A look at Table 5-1 in my study A Question of Balance (2008) shows that the cost of waiting fifty years to begin reducing CO2 emissions is$2.3 trillion in 2005 prices. If we bring that number to today’s economy and prices, the loss from waiting is $4.1 trillion. Wars have been started over smaller sums.” 455. dhogaza says: [Play the ball, dhogaza.] 456. BBD says: [Enough of this, BBD. Calm down.] 457. Vinny Burgoo says: Willard: ‘I could also show how this ClimateBall ™ trick operates. Would you like that?’ Why not? I can’t guarantee that I’ll understand, though. 458. > Why not? I can’t guarantee that I’ll understand, though. Good. I’ll post something this week. Should I explain the “you make no sense!” card too? 459. Vinny Burgoo says: Wotts: ‘Just out of interest, what sort of influence do they actually have? I’m sure they have some, but it doesn’t seem particularly prevalent.’ If by ‘they’ you mean ‘total human extinction’ climate alarmists, probably not a huge amount. You’ll find such views parroted in C of E pulpits, in the Occupy and Truther movements, in the more right-on corners of academia, on Radio 4 and by sadsack politicans like Michael Meacher and (when he was prime minister) Gordon Brown. (Also – but somewhat ambiguously – by William Hague when he was Shadow Foreign Secretary.) The three contributing authors to Chapter 11 of AR5 WG2 I mentioned earlier must surely be considered slightly influential, especially McMichael. (Rajendra Pachauri allegedly linked climate change to human extinction in 2007 but I haven’t found a trustworthy source.) But if you broaden the net a little to include your version of ‘existential threat’ then it’s ubiquitous. (Why, it has even cropped up in this very blog.) Influential? Yes, I think so. [Speculating about what AT sees is not playing the ball, Vinny. -w] 460. Vinny Burgoo says: Willard, yes please. 461. Vaughan, I picked him because he’s the only author I know of whose book has detailed calculations of why the recent rise is 100% AMO (caused by repeated El Ninos ratcheting up the ocean temperature) and 0% AGW. Part 1 of my AGU slides shoots that down with a new argument why the last half-century rise of 0.755 °C can’t be all AMO: the land-sea difference varies during rises of the land-sea sum in a way that rules out 100% AMO. The issue with what Bob Tisdale is trying to do is – as you say – attribute all of the warming to an El Nino ratcheting process. Given that without a corresponding change in forcing, El Nino’s cannot produce a long-term warming trend, this would seem to be physically impossible. Of course, they can play a role in variability of the surface warming trend, but they can’t drive a long-term warming trend (unless they can produce a change in forcing, but there is no evidence for this that I’m aware of). Quite right, though my full sentence, Yes, I did miss that at the end of your sentence. 462. Vinny, But if you broaden the net a little to include your version of ‘existential threat’ then it’s ubiquitous. (Why, it has even cropped up in this very blog.) Influential? Yes, I think so. But then you probably don’t see that sort of alarmism as alarmism. It very much depends on how it is presented but, yes, I don’t see the discussion of possible existential threats (as in our current existence, rather than our total extinction) as immediately alarmist. 463. BBD says: Vinny Common usage is “existential threat” to technological civilisation as currently constituted. Actual extinction is not even implied. I would hope that this is influential, since CC needs to be taken seriously. 464. > I don’t see the discussion of possible existential threats (as in our current existence, rather than our total extinction) as immediately alarmist. I’m not sure how considering our total extinction should be immediately so. Our extinction is something that has never happened before. Asking for evidence about something that has never happened may not capture well what evidence means. We could try to argue that what is not evidence-based is alarmist, but that seems farfetched. This would prevent us to bet on the Word Cup final, for instance. In any case, we should bear in mind that the “Alarmist!” card is related to the “Activist!” card. While we could certainly acknowledge concerns regarding both, and even be thankful for them, we should not go a bridge too far with these. Discussing these concerns more often leads to casuistic reflections on scientific communications than to scientific discussions. 465. Michael 2 says: And Then There’s Physics says: “What sort of influence do they actually have?” (alarmists) Not much. I think it is in “maintenance mode” right now trying to prevent further defections of the faithful and maintain political utility. So, while alarmism is extremely common, it appears to have limited impact and dwindling rapidly. I googled “climate change fatigue” to provide an example and there’s so many to choose from. But it isn’t just climate fatigue, any kind of repeated doomsaying becomes ignored — just ask Californians how much they think about the San Andreas fault. This writer says it pretty well — not many people can afford the luxury of imagining a life without carbon that is still, somehow, a “life”. http://www.science20.com/science_20/climate_change_runs_against_green_fatigue-105131 466. Michael 2 says: Also for ATTP — there’s another factor in climate fatigue and that’s “just too much” of it. The Cook survey examined about 12,000 papers mentioning climate in some way. The publishing machine churns out papers every day. That is why I rely on blogs to identify papers or topics that are relevant. I ask of science the same as I ask of religion — what do you believe and why do you believe it. I like “Science News” for its Reader’s Digest approach to reporting science; highly condensed, just the facts (for the most part) and noticeably less political advocacy. 467. BBD says: I like “Science News” for its Reader’s Digest approach to reporting science; highly condensed, just the facts (for the most part) and noticeably less political advocacy Let’s keep on pretending that CC science is tainted by political advocacy. Even though the science isn’t. Or perhaps I mean “insinuating”. I ask of science the same as I ask of religion I don’t really think this is wise. Science is an attempt to describe nature; religion is a different kind of narrative altogether. 468. Michael 2 says: ATTP says: “Hence, we would be following a strategy in which we optimise the benefit so that those who contributed most to global warming benefit, and those who contributed least suffer.” Yes, that seems obvious and is probably economically efficient. I remember for several years after my own economics classes in college that I thought of everything in economic terms pretty much to the exclusion of everything else. Many of those concepts are on display right here — the “tragedy of the commons” being most relevant. It seems to be asking a lot of economists to think economics one moment but socially the next. Is there an evolutionary reason to do otherwise than observe that societies that have become successful are likely to continue on the path that led them to success in the first place? Should I suppose my favorite football or soccer team should suddenly become altruistic and let the other side win occasionally — when the other side certainly has no intention of returning the favor? But you have touched upon THE dividing line that divides nearly all politics, religion, sociology, (etc). What to do about the rich vs the poor. Shall there be “equality” when at no time in evolution has there been such a thing, or shall the winner take all? Economics is a good field of study, for it shows that the winner — having taken all — now has a large price to pay to KEEP it. One way or another, all people pay something. You can pay your neighbors to be nice neighbors or you can build a high wall; the choice depends on whether your neighbors can be so easily bought rather than just revealing you probably have more they can take. In Scandinavia the choice is usually pretty easy — make good neighbors by sharing. In Mexico you’ll find predominantly high walls around each house, walls topped with broken shards of glass. 469. just ask Californians how much they think about the San Andreas fault. Yet no one is out to lynch all the seismologists for just doing their job — except perhaps in Italy, where it is almost the reverse. http://www.nature.com/news/italian-court-finds-seismologists-guilty-of-manslaughter-1.11640 470. M2, It seems to be asking a lot of economists to think economics one moment but socially the next. But I don’t think we are. In the same way that scientists are meant to be honest when they present evidence, so too should economists. The policy makers are the ones who have to take all the evidence into account. The policy makers are the ones who have to balance what might be best economically with how that economic strategy might influence our societies. 471. WHT, I think there are subtleties to the Italian issue. If my memory serves me right, it wasn’t that they didn’t predict the earthquake, it’s that they presented too confident a position as to whether or not there was a risk of an earthquake – at least, I think that is what the issue was. 472. Steve Bloom says: Anders, maybe consider what Observed Climate Sensitivity would have been just prior to the Antarctic permafrost collapse that triggered the PETM. Very low indeed, yes? If that doesn’t demonstrate the utter valuelessness of such calculations, I don’t know what would. 473. Steve, If that doesn’t demonstrate the utter valuelessness of such calculations, I don’t know what would. I’ll tell you what I actually think. If this were any other field and you had two relatively complex methods (paleo, GCMs) that gave estimates of between 2 and 4.5 degrees, and then you did a back-of-the-envelope calculation that gave you 1.5 to 4 degrees (which is what Otto et al. get), you would conclude that the simple calculation (that obviously can’t capture all the complexities) was largely consistent with the other methods and provided a nice sanity check. Only in climate science would anyone use such a simple calculation to argue against the values obtained with the other methods. So, I quite like the energy balance method because it’s nice and simple and allows you to easily illustrate the different climate sensitivities and broadly illustrate the existence of feedbacks. Other than that – as you say – it doesn’t have much actual use. 474. Steve Bloom says: Notice how this discussion about alarmism has managed almost entirely to avoid a discussion of what might be a proper basis for alarm about present climate trends? That’s just boring. This is a thing. 475. BBD says: Activism! ;-) 476. Steve Bloom says: Thanks for the clarification, Anders. My problem with it is that, similar to ECS, talking about it too much leaves people with the impression that it might be real. Notice also that your mention of “two relatively complex methods (paleo, GCMs) that gave estimates of between 2 and 4.5 degrees” elides the bulk of the ESS range. You seem to do that quite a lot. Is it because ESS isn’t as interesting to do calculations with? 477. @ATTP: However, as I understand it, [observed climate sensitivity] isn’t in common usage at the moment. Again, this depends. Here are the results of searches of the Fifth IPCC Report and the web (according to Google), using quotes around each term in every case. —————————————- AR5 — WWW “equilibrium climate sensitivity”– 130 — 24000 “transient climate response”—– 100 — 12900 “observed climate sensitivity”—- 0 —— 800000 So: OCS is completely absent from AR5, yet among these three terms it is by far the most widely used one on the Web! This raises the following questions. 1. Why is the concept completely missing from AR5? 2. Why is the concept the dominant one on the web? 3. Does this point up a disconnect between the IPCC’s understanding of climate and the public’s? While I have thoughts of my own on the matter, I should pause to see whether any of these questions are of interest to the present company, and if so what are some of the answers. 478. Vaughan, Until you mentioned it, I don’t think I’d actually heard it specifically. I’ve head climate sensitivity using observations, but I don’t think I’ve encountered Observed Climate Sensitivity. One issue is that you can use the observations to determine a transient and an equilibrium value, and so Observed Climate Sensitivity doesn’t seem to distinguish between these two cases. 479. Steve Bloom says: AFAICT the answer is that OCS isn’t a CS at all since it doesn’t include the sort of fast feedback changes that ECS or TCR do. 480. Steve, If you mean what Otto et al. do, then it does include all the fast feedbacks that have happened to date but – of course – know nothing of the feedbacks that will happen in the future. 481. dana1981 says: ATTP: “I think there are subtleties to the Italian issue. If my memory serves me right, it wasn’t that they didn’t predict the earthquake, it’s that they presented too confident a position as to whether or not there was a risk of an earthquake – at least, I think that is what the issue was.” Not quite. Some beaurocrat said in a meeting there was nothing to worry about, whereas the seismologists in question considered his statements factually inaccurate, but apparently didn’t correct them. You could say they were convicted of not being sufficiently “activist” in communicating the scientific evidence and associated risks. Which is ironic, given that victor has said he doesn’t trust “activitst” scientists. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. 482. dana1981 says: FWIW this is also the first time I’ve seen the term “observational cliamte sensitivity,” but it sounds basically the same as “effective climate sensitivity,” which is the same as “equilibrium climate sensitivity” if certain criteria are met, like feedbacks being constant over time. 483. The only hit for “observational climate sensitivity” at Judy’s seems to come from David L. Hagen (an invaluable contributor to the contrarian matrix), in response to one of your comments, Vaughan: The climate sensitivity levels you note as “almost all arriving within that range” are around the conventional upper range. There are also a substantial number of observational climate sensitivity estimates below 1 C. e.g. Lindzen & Choi (2009) at 0.5C. http://judithcurry.com/2011/09/01/nipcc-discussion-thread/#comment-107725 This seems to cohere with the new lukewarm line about “observational” studies. 484. BBD says: Steve Isn’t the reason that ESS tends to get a bit left out the time-scale involved? Much if not most discussion is about the policy-relevant C21st and the few centuries thereafter (SLR; WAIS etc). 485. BBD says: I must admit that ‘observational climate sensitivity’ is a new one for me too. TCR is what I tend to use, although it’s technically incorrect, I think, because TCR is a formalism and involves GAT at 2 x CO2 and a linear approach to that doubling, IIRC. This being so there is a space for OCS but perhaps at the risk of increasing rather than diminishing the existing confusions. 486. BBD says: AR4 definition of TCR Don’t think it’s changed for AR5 but somebody please tell me if I am wrong. 487. OPatrick says: “climate change fatigue” I couldn’t see this in the Contrarian Matrix – does it not deserve an entry? Level 2, perhaps. 488. BBD says: OPatrick Perhaps “CC fatigue” falls into the category of tricks, dodges and chicanery: The tricks, dodges, and chicanery, to which they [ClimateBallers] resort in order to be right in the end, are so numerous and manifold and yet recur so regularly that some years ago I made them the subject of my own reflection and directed my attention to their purely formal element after I had perceived that, however varied the subjects of discussion and the persons taking part therein, the same identical tricks and dodges always come back and were very easy to recognize. This led me at the time to the idea of clearly separating the merely formal part of these tricks and dodges from the material and of displaying it, so to speak, as a neat anatomical specimen. [Arthur Schopenhauer] From Willard’s ClimateBall project. 489. Or perhaps the fatigue applies to the spectators of the unending game of Climate Ball. 490. Steve Bloom says: BBD, it would be fair to not emphasize ESS if there was some reason to think the slow feedbacks weren’t already kicking in. Attempts to place limits on the speed of the associated processes have generally failed. IMO TESS is what we really want, but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in going there. In the meantime, note that the first major tipping point has been crossed. 491. dana1981 says: Pekka, “Estimating, how large the external costs are is extremely difficult … A very closely related concept is the social cost of carbon discussed in the IPCC AR5 WG2 report and taken up by the U.S. administration. Values from US$11 to US$220 per metric ton of carbon can be found from the tables of the report itself.” I agree, estimating the social cost of carbon accurately is extremely difficult, hence the wide range of estimates. However,$0 is not within that range, and that’s the current price for carbon emissions in the USA (except in California and a few northeastern states with cap and trade systems). Hence while the price is certainly debatable, there should be a price.

Or otherwise you get government regulation as we currently have in the USA, which virtually all economists agree is less economically beneficial than a free market system that implements a carbon price. Unfortunately the worst option of all – $0 carbon pollution price and zero regulations – is the only option supported by one of our two major political parties right now. Fortunately they don’t have the power to implement that option. 492. BBD says: Steve BBD, it would be fair to not emphasize ESS if there was some reason to think the slow feedbacks weren’t already kicking in. Fair point. But doubtless one runs the risk of being labelled ‘alarmist’ for calling attention to this. In the meantime, note that the first major tipping point has been crossed. I’m guessing you mean Rignot et al. (2014)? 493. I do largely agree with the proposal of William Nordhaus as presented in his latest book The Climate Casino. Thus a moderate carbon price (carbon tax) should be introduced promptly with a wider international coverage than the present cap & trade of EU and few others. Modest means in this case something like US$25 per ton of CO2. In addition an initial path to higher carbon tax should be decided at the same time. How the level of the carbon tax will change later should be decided always about five years before the new changes take effect.

When companies know always the future for five years and and have some feeling of what will follow later, they will have a better incentive for investments and other longer term decisions than they have with the cap & trade that has an unpredictable influence on their profitability. For this reason I think that EU has made a bad choice (but I do understand that deciding on harmonized carbon tax was not possible at the time. Now it could be.)

494. Steve Bloom says:

Yep, along with Joughin et al. (2014).

Being thought alarmist is certainly the worst thing that can happen. :/

495. @SB: AFAICT the answer is that OCS isn’t a CS at all since it doesn’t include the sort of fast feedback changes that ECS or TCR do.

OCS automatically includes those feedbacks that bear on the temperature response to CO2. How would you go about observing no-feedback climate sensitivity?

496. dana1981 says:

We’re much on the same page there Pekka. I like the Citizens Climate Lobby proposal of an initial $15/ton, increasing$10/ton per year. Starts low but everyone knows what’s coming and can adjust accordingly.

497. @BBD: Don’t think [the AR4 definition of TCR] changed for AR5 but somebody please tell me if I am wrong.

As your link says, AR4 defined TCS as “the global mean temperature change that is realised at the time of CO2 doubling under an idealised scenario in which CO2 concentrations increase by 1% yr^-1″

The Final Draft of the Technical Summary of AR5 defined it as “the annual mean global mean surface temperature change at the time of CO2 doubling following a linear increase in CO2 forcing over a period of 70 years.”

Although these definitions look different, the assumption of a logarithmic dependence of CO2 forcing on CO2 level, combined with “doubling over 70 years” corresponding to a CAGR of 0.995% instead of exactly 1%, makes them equivalent to within less than half a percent of 1%, close enough for government work.

Presumably “annual mean” in the AR5 version takes care of seasonal fluctuations at each end of the 70-year period, though if the same month is used at each end I don’t see the annual mean making much of a difference.

498. Michael 2 says:

BBD says: “I don’t really think this is wise.”

Naturally not. If you thought it wise, you would praise my insight and you would be doing it too.

“Science is an attempt to describe nature; religion is a different kind of narrative altogether.”

Says you. I see them both trying to describe the very same thing, namely, “what is and why”.

Either of them depend on persuasion for effectiveness. Peer reviews happen long after discovery and/or research — but without it, who is persuaded? For sure you could perform an experiment yourself, build your own LHC for instance (got a few billion dollars to spare?) so in the end, to the average guy on the street (that’s me) suffers a bombardment of claims — hair loss prevention, climate change prevention, identity theft prevention, going to hell prevention.

One way of separating the counterfeits is to ask “what do you believe and why do you believe it.”

So right or wrong, I *respect* the person that has devoted much of his life to studying something and then arriving at a conclusion. He could still be wrong but I will give more heed to his claims. Science and religion are on a continuum, bridged by alchemy, a gradual shift from expecting knowledge to just pop into your mind vs digging through dirt to find knowledge. I am not exclusive in this regard, I willlingly accept input both ways.

499. @willard: The only hit for “observational climate sensitivity” at Judy’s seems to come from David L. Hagen

Try “observed”. Whereas Google offers 800,000 results for “observed climate sensitivity” it only finds 4% of that, namely 31,900, for “observational climate sensitivity”.

500. BBD says:

Vaughan

Re AR5 TCR, thanks for checking that.

501. BBD says:

As for the plethora of search hits for anything that leads to lowballed estimates of ECS, perhaps that is to be expected.

502. BBD says:

M2

Says you. I see them both trying to describe the very same thing, namely, “what is and why”.

Science doesn’t invent explanations for what is and why.

503. The oldest hit at Judy’s is this, Vaughan:

The observed climate sensitivity lies somewhere between 0.8 and 1.5°C, depending on whether one accepts the conclusion by several solar studies that around half of the warming observed to date can be attributed to the unusually high level of 20th century solar activity (highest in several thousand years), or whether one accepts the IPCC estimate that this represented only 7% of the total forcing.

http://judithcurry.com/2011/09/21/cloud-wars/

There are six other hits, some of them from you.

504. Michael 2 says:

BBD says “Science doesn’t invent explanations for what is and why.”

Sure it does. The invented explanation is called a “model”; or, I suppose, “hypothesis”.

All require testing. If a scientist makes a claim about the future, the proof is in the future. If a prophet makes a prediction about the future, the proof is in the future. By making predictions in the near future that turn out to be accurate one’s faith in more distant claims is increased. However if those predictions fail (frequent for street-corner prophets, less frequent but more than zero for climate politicians), then faith is reduced.

505. Michael 2 says:

pbjamm says: “It makes this conversation seem down right reasonable.”

Indeed, that is why I am here. Reasonable, but passionate discussion. You have piqued my curiousity about thinkprogress, normally I avoid such places but I’m interested in seeing what you saw. It’s like the discussion of alarmism — regulars here doubting such a thing exists and yet outside of this little glade of tranquility it is the norm — strident alarmists versus strident deniers. Not much room in the middle.

506. @ATTP: One issue is that you can use the observations to determine a transient and an equilibrium value, and so Observed Climate Sensitivity doesn’t seem to distinguish between these two cases.

ECS is very different from both TCR and OCS. With ECS, after instantaneously doubling the CO2 one estimates the asymptotic limit of the surface temperature, which the system may take centuries to converge to.

OCS is much more like TCR in that the CO2 is doubled gradually, and at the end the temperature is observed immediately without waiting for the surface temperature to equilibrate. As a result OCS and TCR are both substantially less than ECS on account of the considerable time required for equilibrium.

TCR has three properties that crucially distinguish it from OCS.

1. TCR assumes a constant CO2 CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 1%.

2. TCR is designed for convenience of use in models, alongside ECS for comparison.

3. TCR requires a fixed 70-year interval over which to estimate it.

Regarding 1, TCR’s nominal 1% CO2 growth is actually quite reasonable for projection to 2100, since with “business as usual” CO2 is on track to reach a CAGR of 1% around the middle of the century. However for historical reconstruction based on temperature and CO2 data, no single CAGR for CO2 is applicable because it was 0.5% yesterday, 0.25% in 1960, and considerably less in earlier decades whether estimated from the Law Dome ice cores or the CDIAC data for human emissions of CO2.

Regarding 2, TCR can only be estimated from models because of 1, the fact that we have no empirical data whatsoever as to what Earth would do in the face of a sustained increase in CO2 of 1% per year over 70 years. Personally I believe such a fast sustained rise would be truly catastrophic, but no one knows for sure because the last 4 billion years have left behind no data to favor one conjecture over another. Those who spin up their climate models with CO2 increasing that fast for that long don’t see the mass extinctions because there aren’t any species in their model, they just see an interesting geophysics what-if. What OCS works with is what actually happened during the last one or two centuries.

Regarding 3, OCS can be estimated over any period, the longer the better. The formula for observed climate sensitivity s_o is simply

ΔT = s_o * ΔR

where ΔT is the increase in temperature attributed to the radiative forcing ΔR.

Here R is defined as log2(c) where c is the CO2 level. This level can be in any units: ppmv is fine but so are nacs where 1 nac = 280 ppmv, nac for natural CO2). Those units don’t matter because we only care about the forcing ΔR, whose differential nature makes CO2 units immaterial.

(This is a tad nonstandard: s_o * ΔR is more often written λ * F so that the forcing F is in SI units, namely W/m2, and CO2 and logarithms don’t enter. My way is closer to Arrhenius’s, and separating out λF adds a step I’ve avoided. Both ways have their merits.)

Oh, but this is just climate sensitivity..

Well, duh.

As it should be.

ECS and TCR are also climate sensitivity in that sense. The differences are not in the temperature or the forcing, which for all three are governed by the same formula, but in the timing of everything. (Yes, Willard, inaction logic lets us down here.)

With ECS you have to wait for equilibrium before taking the temperature. In a fast-changing nonequilibrium state this is an impractical constraint, making ECS meaningful only within climate models.

With TCR, time during one doubling is required to pass at an unprecedented rate: the doubling must complete within 70 years. For the time being this too is an impractical constraint, until technology figures out in the next half century how to do this. Hence TCR is only meaningful in climate models, just like ECS.

OCS avoids these problems of ECS and TCR by using what the past 160 years of recorded temperature and CO2 have given us as raw data. (Well, that’s the period I’ve been using anyway, you may prefer longer or shorter.)

This is why OCS is preferable to both ECS and TCR.

And please don’t call it “observational climate sensitivity”. That suggests it could be observed in some scenario. “Observed” means what has actually been observed up to and including the present. It is used on the web 25 times as often as “observational climate sensitivity”. “Recently observed climate sensitivity” might differentiate it better from paleoclimate, but the 800,000 references on the web to “observed climate sensitivity” rarely if ever use it to mean paleoclimate.

507. Kevin O'Neill says:

VP – Google told me there were 918,000 results for the phrase “observed climate sensitivity”
I added -paleoclimate and it dropped to 573,000 results.

This would seem to confirm your numbers, but I noticed something rather strange; the first query had only 5 pages of results. The second query has only 4.

In fact if you page through the “observed climate sensitivity” results, on page 3 you get this: In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 24 already displayed.

For the -paleoclimate query the number drops to 21.

Google’s total number of results is some strange quirk and/or does not reflect the actual results displayed.

508. @willard: The oldest hit at Judy’s is this, Vaughan: “The observed climate sensitivity lies somewhere between 0.8 and 1.5°C”

Thanks, willard. That was from the late Max Anacker. who estimated it himself without saying how. (I was absent from that thread or I might have had something to say about it.)

A few comments later Max gave the basis for his estimation: he simply used the CO2 and HadCRUT3 for 1850 and 2011.

Although Max didn’t give further details, I filled in some blanks just now and arrived at

ΔT = 0.290 − (−0.315) = 0.605K
ΔR = log2(384/283) = 0.4403

This makes observed CS = 0.605/0.4403 = 1.374 °C/doubling. This is a bit on the high side of Max’s inferred range of 0.8 – 1.5. I think he cheated a bit here.

Max didn’t explain how he picked 1850, though it’s a natural choice given that HadCRUT3 starts there.

But if he’d picked 1910 and 1998 as his endpoints he would have obtained
(0.416 − (−0.568))/log2(364/296) = 3.30 °C/doubling.

And with 1964 and now (the last half century) he’d have obtained
(0.374 − (−0.149))/log2(398/321) = 1.68 °C/doubling

This points up the meaningless of basing an estimate of climate sensitivity on the temperature and CO2 for just the start and end of a period. That’s not a reliable way of estimating observed climate sensitivity: you have to subtract the natural temperature fluctuations somehow.

509. Kevin O'Neill says:

Definitely a strange quirk in the Google search results. A search for:
observed climate sensitivity = 785,000
“observed climate sensitivity” = 918,000
To make these results both true requires a different version of set theory than the one I learned.

The ratios of these searches are more easily explained:
transient climate response = 4,090,000
“transient climate response” = 12,900

equilibrium climate sensitivity = 295,000
“equilibrium climate sensitivity” = 217,000

510. @K’ON: Google’s total number of results is some strange quirk and/or does not reflect the actual results displayed.

Weird. Google seems to have entered a higher plane where negentropy needn’t be conserved.

In the meantime Firefox started returning only 152,000 results for “observed climate sensitivity”. It seems to have gotten wind of all this. Furthermore Internet Explorer is also giving 152,000.

But when I tried the same search almost immediately on Chrome, still at http://www.google.com, I got 797,000 results. On page 2 it said “Page 2 of about 797.000 results” while still listing 4 pages at the bottom. However on page 3 it said “Page 3 of 22 results” and only listed 3 pages at the bottom.

I wanted to google “emergent behavior” but I was worried google might be watching me.

Ironic if people started putting more trust in climate science than in search engines.

Thanks for those experiments, Kevin! Yet another demonstration that practice is better than theory, in practice if not in theory.

511. On the discussion between BBD and Michael 2 concerning science vs religion: There is no question that multiple religions can coexist with widely differing understandings of the universe. Can the same hold for science? If so I would side with Michael 2, if not then with BBD.

512. Only one hit on my search engine on CA, Vaughan:

So the Greenhouse Hypothesis has two problems: a lack of any feedback (since CO2 can continue to rise well after T has already begun to fall and a false physical response that is supposedly imputed to CO2 doubling.

It certainly does make sense, an outgassing of 10 ppm per Kelvin as observed in the the icecores is absolutely not in conflict with the observed climate sensitivity of 1.3 K/2xCO2 (Shaviv) or even with a postulated sensitivity of 3 K/2xCO2 (preferred by the IPCC). Because the cause of the ice ages is not CO2 but Milankovitch, as is visible in the graph, Even with a high sensitivity, the temperature contribution from CO2 is relatively small during the ice ages.

My emphasis. So Shaviv might be a suspect.

As you can see, Hans makes a distinction between “observed” and “postulated” sensitivity. This looks more and more like Lewis’ trick:

One of the Met Office Report’s main conclusions is that “the upper ranges of TCR and ECS derived from extended observational records … are broadly consistent with the upper range from the latest generation of comprehensive climate models” (CMIP5 models). This is contradicted by Otto et al, which stated “Our results match those of other observation-based studies and suggest that the TCRs of some of the models in the CMIP5 ensemble with the strongest climate response to increases in atmospheric CO2 levels may be inconsistent with recent observations”. Barely half CMIP5 models analysed (Forster et al. 2013) have TCRs below the 95% upper bound for TCR of 2.0°C given in Otto et al, using observational data for the latest decade.

http://judithcurry.com/2013/09/14/nic-lewis-on-the-uk-met-office-on-the-pause/

This is where I realized that researchers could not even agree to use medians or means.

513. Shaviv uses “empirical” instead of “observed”:

Empirical Climate sensitivities obtained on different time scales are significantly more consistent with each other if the Cosmic Ray flux / Climate link is included. This is yet another indication that this link is real.

http://www.sciencebits.com/OnClimateSensitivity

He uses the plural too, I suppose to differentiate time frames. He links to his paper, On Climate Response to Changes in the Cosmic Ray Flux and Radiative Budget.

514. Kevin O'Neill says:

One of the central issues that divides science and religion is falsifiability. In this they exist at opposite ends of the spectrum. No theory in science is widely accepted unless there is a significant probability that the statement is true. Religion is exempt from this critical examination. Religion is a tautology; belief requires belief. In science, belief requires evidence.

When Michael writes that, “I see them both trying to describe the very same thing, namely, “what is and why”. I fail to see the correspondence. Religions are prescriptive. Science is descriptive. Religions rarely ask, “Why?” When they do, the answer is likely to be trivial (e.g., God made/wanted it so).

There is also the issue of plausibility. Most religions rely upon ‘facts’ that most non-believers simply find implausible. There is a reason why Thomas Jefferson removed all the miracles and mentions of the supernatural from The Jefferson Bible. In science there is a truism that ‘extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.’

Which bring us round to perhaps the most important distinction; science is only concerned with the natural while religion is chiefly concerned with the supernatural.

Given these differences, Michael’s statement that, “I ask of science the same as I ask of religion — what do you believe and why do you believe it.” seems inappropriate.

515. Vaughan,
I think we’re talking about different things, then. There are two climate sensitivities that one can get from recent observations. I’ll call them $OCS1$ and $OCS2$. They are

$OCS1 = \frac{\Delta F_{2x} \Delta T}{\Delta F},$

where $\Delta F_{2x}$ is the forcing after a doubling of CO2, $\Delta T$ is the observed change in temperature, and $\Delta F$ is the change in radiative forcing. I can rewrite this as

$\Delta T = \frac{OCS1}{\Delta F_{2x}} \Delta T,$

which recovers your equation ($\Delta T = s_o \Delta R$). As you say, this is similar to the transient response.

The other OCS is

$OCS2 = \frac{\Delta F_{2x} \Delta T}{\Delta F - H},$

where $H$ is the current planetary energy imbalance.

So, $OCS1$ is more similar to a transient response, and $OCS2$ is more similar to an equilibrium response. If you read Otto et al. (2013) they calculate both a TCR and an ECS using this basic method.

516. chris says:

VP:

There is no question that multiple religions can coexist with widely differing understandings of the universe. Can the same hold for science?”

I would say not…wouldn’t you?

This does bring us back to the meaning of scepticism. Scientific scepticism only has meaning in the context of an honest and informed assessment of the scientific evidence. Otherwise it isn’t scepticism.

Obviously different scientific viewpoints have existed at different times during the progression of our understanding of the natural world. However in the modern world it’s difficult, I think, to make the case that multiple “sciences” can coexist. Of course one can make the pretence of different scientific world views apparently based on scientific evidence. One might assert “scepticism” about the evidence that smoking is a major causal factor in development of lung cancer, or that HIV AIDS isn’t caused by infection by the HIV retrovirus or that our understanding of molecular genetics is bunk, but these pseudosceptic viewpoints are usually associated with political/vested interests (ciggie company profits, South Africa under Mbeki, Lysenko in former Soviet Union, in these examples).

One might consider that there may well be different “scientific” views about the nature of the natural world in any given population. After all, if Joe Bloggs gets his information on global warming (say!) from assorted blogs and reading the Daily Mail then he may well consider himself “sceptical” of the science on global warming, so that his scientific interpretation of the natural world might differ substantially from that of a climate scientist. However this obviously isn’t an example of the co-existence of different sciences I think you’d agree! It’s more likely to be an example of a viewpoint that is not well-informed by an assessment of the scientific evidence.

517. chris says:

Michael 2

Sure it does. The invented explanation is called a “model”; or, I suppose, “hypothesis”.

All require testing. If a scientist makes a claim about the future, the proof is in the future. If a prophet makes a prediction about the future, the proof is in the future. By making predictions in the near future that turn out to be accurate one’s faith in more distant claims is increased. However if those predictions fail (frequent for street-corner prophets, less frequent but more than zero for climate politicians), then faith is reduced.

The difference (between scientific and religious explanations) is that scientific explanations (models/hypotheses) are constrained by evidence and religious one’s ain’t!

Scientists don’t really “make claims” about the future, although that, of course, is what religious “prophets” (to use your term) assuredly do! Scientists uncover causal relationships in the natural world and explore their mechanisms, and in many cases (examples below) these become very strongly embedded within a network of evidence; predictions about the future arise not as “claims” but from understanding of the progression of natural consequences by and large.(Of course “claim” is a somewhat slippery word and one might wish to define one’s usage of the term semantically-speaking!)

For example simple physics tells us that a warmer atmosphere holds higher concentrations of water vapour (the absolute humidity rises as the atmosphere warms). Empirical evidence is strongly consistent with that theoretical understanding. This allows a prediction of future increases of atmospheric water vapour. This isn’t a “claim”…it’s a prediction with a high likelihood based on well-understood physics. Likewise the prediction that as the TOA radiative imbalance increases due to enhancing the greenhouse effect from fossil fuel emissions the world will tend towards a higher equilibrium temperature, all else being equal. That isn’t a “claim”. It’s a prediction/expectation with a strong evidence base…

P.S. I wonder whether your “climate politicians” might indicate some Freudian slippage!

518. johnrussell40 says:

Chris

A survey of the literature shows that scientists usually favour use of the word ‘projection’, which has strong suggestions of a basis in data. ‘Prediction’ is too wide a term, which encompasses the utterings of Mystic Meg, Gypsy Rose Lee or whoever is your tea-leaf reader of choice.

Because projections are based on data available at the time they’re published they cannot be subsequently ‘wrong'; as, whatever happens in future, they will always be the ‘best guess’ of their time and subject to constant update as additional data becomes available.

So can I suggest dropping the word ‘prediction’ in any discussion of the science, as it just causes confusion in the minds of the general public.

519. chris says:

johnrussell40, I sort of agree with you, but in my experience “prediction” is actually rather widely used in science (e.g. “these results support the interpretation that such and such underlies the observation that…” which implicity incorporates a prediction based on causality that should apply in the future). I would say that much of the work I publish contains implicit or explicit predictions.

“Projection” has a rather specific meaning I think, and is used in circumstances where the magnitude of parameters incorporated within calculations of future consequences are not known. So in climate science, modeled warming according to different (unknown) emission scenarios are “projections”. However the expectation that the world will warm in response to enhanced greenhouse forcing (all else being equal), or that atmospheric humidity will rise in a warming world are predictions based on well-understood physics, and I don’t see the problem with using the term “prediction” for these.

520. chris says:

It’s worth elaborating on the semantics here. I don’t think Michael 2 is being disingenuous in his use of “claim” with respect to predictions even if it is a rather dreary tactic in science denial to attempt to insinuate equivalence between scientific and religious points of view!

One could consider predictive statements by a scientist and a “prophet” (to use Michael 2’s terminology).:

scientist:

So if you have the combination of fragmented habitats with nature getting into smaller and smaller patches, now you change the climate ten times faster than the history for which they have experience, this seems to me an absolute prescription for an extinction crisis where we lose a large fraction of the species now on earth.

Stephen Schneider (this statement is actually a “projection” since it incorporates uncertainties about parameters such as habitat fragmentation etc.)

“prophet” (using Michael 2’s terminology):

paraphrasing (since I can’t find a direct quote of Ronald Weinland):

Jesus Christ will return on May 27th 2012, and the world will end on this day”.

These are both statements. To what extent should they be considered “claims”?

I would say that only the paraphrased Weinland statement is a “claim”. In fact it can’t be considered in any other light I think. The Schneider statement like most scientific statements that address future consequences isn’t really a “claim”. It’s a statement of likely future consequences based on current knowledge on the nature of causality in the natural world.

521. johnrussell40 says:

Chris: I guess we’ll need to try harder to educate the public then. :-)

522. @K’ON: One of the central issues that divides science and religion is falsifiability.

Which of the following is science, and which a religion? (Since science rests in part on mathematics it would seem fair to take the latter as part of the former for the purpose of this question.)

1. String theory.

2. The negation of Goldbach’s conjecture.

3. The proposition that equilibrium climate sensitivity is in the range 2.5 – 3.5 °C/doubling.

(I have no idea whether 1 is falsifiable. Goldbach’s conjecture is falsifiable in principle, though the counterexample could be impractically large, but why should its negation be falsifiable? That said, any counterexample would be the greatest miracle mathematics has ever seen. And how would you falsify 3 as long as Earth remains out of equilibrium, which might be forever?)

(I’m not taking Michael 2’s side here—God told me to stir up trouble, therefore I am.)

523. @chris: I would say not [to the coexistence of multiple sciences]…wouldn’t you?

Sounds like a religious belief to me. How would you falsify it?

Oh, I just did, immediately above. Brother, you are saved. ;)

524. > How would you falsify it?

By showing this:

At the heart of the underdetermination of scientific theory by evidence is the simple idea that the evidence available to us at a given time may be insufficient to determine what beliefs we should hold in response to it. In a textbook example, if all I know is that you spent $10 on apples and oranges and that apples cost$1 while oranges cost \$2, then I know that you did not buy six oranges, but I do not know whether you bought one orange and eight apples, two oranges and six apples, and so on. A simple scientific example can be found in the rationale behind the sensible methodological adage that “correlation does not imply causation”.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-underdetermination/

Unless we can determine our knowledge in such a way that it causes our scientific theories and the entities that compose them, we have no choice but to accept that our epistemology, even naturalized, can lead us to alternative explanations of the same phenomena, all equally good.

Sorry if this is a mouthful, but I have some gardening to do.

525. Kevin O'Neill says:

VP – String Theory Science. Perhaps dead end science, but science. The main criticism of string theory is that it is not falsifiable. Yet as Matt Strassler says, “String theory is very useful as a tool for answering important quantum field theory questions for which there are no other methods, but it doesn’t *explain* anything. If one believes in string theory as *the* correct interpretation of universe, then one has a religious belief in string theory. This is not the fault of string theory, but a personal problem :)

The belief that Goldbach’s conjecture is true and that climate sensitivity is within the stated range are both science At least with the working assumption that mathematics is a science; I’m not convinced it is proper to think of mathematics as a science.

Science does not require absolute proof. As I wrote in my previous post, “No theory in science is widely accepted unless there is a significant probability that the statement is true. If 2.5 – 3.5 °C/doubling is backed up by solid lines of evidence, it’s science. It doesn’t even matter whether in the future it is proven to be wrong – unless we maintain that belief *after* it has been proven wrong. Then it is no longer science. And because people lie, dissemble and are often victims of self-delusion, what was thought to be a scientific belief may turn out to have been a religious belief all along.

526. @ATTP: As you say, this [OCS1] is similar to the transient response.

In fact identical to, for the present purpose. Moreover this formula for OCS1 can also be used to estimate ECS by brute force (as von Neumann allegedly claimed to do in summing the series for a fly flying between two locomotives).

Your formula for OCS2 (which has H in place of Otto’s ΔQ — why?) is more like the way normal people (and presumably von Neumann) calculate the fly’s flying time, modulo assumptions of linearity of feedbacks etc. corresponding to constant speed of the fly.

I don’t see how one can put much faith in either method of estimating ECS. Brute force requires running a model for so long that it has surely drifted into fantasy land well before reaching equilibrium. But short-circuiting that process via the formula for OCS2 is even worse! For one thing the uncertainties in the difference ΔF − ΔQ must be summed and any optimism in the uncertainties of their individual estimates is therefore greatly magnified in the difference of those estimates. And for another we know far too little about ocean heat transport to justify viewing it as a linear system.

For these reasons alone I have little faith in any method whatsoever for estimating ECS. Or even in the concept itself. Belief in ECS has all the hallmarks of a religion, starting with its unfalsifiability as I suggested above. Furthermore there is Earth System Sensitivity, ESS, a convenient squirrel (“Look, a squirrel”) in case anyone starts questioning the existence of ECS.

TCR by comparison is fine for the purpose of hypothesizing about the onset of 2100. But what I’m calling OCS is far better for the purpose of understanding the 20th century. We know at least that the 20th century happened.

527. Vaughan,

Your formula for OCS2 (which has H in place of Otto’s ΔQ — why?) is more like the way normal people (and presumably von Neumann) calculate the fly’s flying time, modulo assumptions of linearity of feedbacks etc. corresponding to constant speed of the fly.

Only because I couldn’t remember what Otto et al. had used and used $H$ instead of $\Delta Q$. Yes, it does assume linearity of feedbacks, which – I think – I mentioned in an earlier comment.

For these reasons alone I have little faith in any method whatsoever for estimating ECS.

I agree. As I mentioned to Steve above, it is a reasonable sanity check, but not much more. Even this may not be true as there are scenarios where it could be much smaller than the equilibrium temperature to which we eventually tend, but it still has some value as a back-of-the-envelope check.

TCR by comparison is fine for the purpose of hypothesizing about the onset of 2100. But what I’m calling OCS is far better for the purpose of understanding the 20th century. We know at least that the 20th century happened.

Sure, I agree.

528. chris says:

VP “chris: I would say not [to the coexistence of multiple sciences]…wouldn’t you?

Sounds like a religious belief to me. How would you falsify it?”

Your examples are not terribly helpful I think. Your proposition (#3) about climate sensitivity is eminently falsifiable (remember that “falsifiability” doesn’t contain within it a requirement for “instantly falsifiable right now please!”). Note that the distinction between science and religion in this (and all) case(s) is evidence. We would consider that there is such and such a probability that climate sensitivity is (using your words) “in the range 2.5 – 3.5 °C/doubling” due to a large amount of theoretical and empirical evidence that bears on the subject. That’s science.

Your string theory example is interesting. The exploration of string theory is science even if the subject is an as yet “unproven conjecture” (to use Lee Smolin’s phrase in his excellent book on the subject “The Trouble With Physics”)! String theory as it stands now might be considered a rather protracted exploration of the utility of the concepts as a unifying/underlying description. But once (and if) a particular string theory is settled upon then it will in that regard be falsifiable. It’s just that no-one has managed to do that so far (according to Lee Smolin in any case). String theorists might have confidence that they are on the right track but their success or otherwise ultimately rests on the utility of their work in an explanatory and predictive sense – that’s science.

The Goldbach conjecture (and it’s potential negation or proof) is an element of number theory and it’s debatable whether this is part of science or not (call it what you like!). Since the conjecture that every even integer can be expressed as the sum of two primes is either absolutely true or absolutely not true and that this is potentially resolvable by a mathematical proof, one might as well call it science. But the question of large numbers and their divisibility into pairs of primes is hardly a religious idea since it doesn’t bear on the origins and meanings of our existence. It’s a teeny little bit of number theory!

Going back to string theory (and all explorations of the subatomic world and the Universe in its vast scales), it’s important to remember that these explorations all fit within a broad single scientific approach in which ideas and interpretations should be consistent with evidence in an explanatory and predictive sense. This distingushes science from religion, yes? Within this broad scientific approach we all surely recognise that there is a hierarchy of levels at which our world can be explored and that uncertainties at lower levels don’t negate greater certainty at higher levels. In other words because there may be competing ideas about nature at the sub-atomic scale, the fact that a whole lot of physicists spend a whole lot of time pondering string theory, doesn’t negate the fact that we know that increased atmospheric temperature enhances atmospheric humidity, that sickle cell anaemia can be caused by single amino acid mutations in hemoglobin and so on. There does seem to be a single “science” in our modern world even if there is a multiplicity of religions :)

529. @chris: Your proposition (#3) about climate sensitivity is eminently falsifiable

ECS is defined as the rise in temperature as Earth drifts into equilibrium after an instantaneous doubling of CO2. First, “eminently” is not the adverb governing “falsifiable” that springs to mind right away. Second, even if one could perform the experiment, the definition does not specify the initial conditions of temperature and CO2, raising the possibility that 3 could be false with one initial condition and true with another.

these explorations all fit within a broad single scientific approach in which ideas and interpretations should be consistent with evidence in an explanatory and predictive sense.

My impression was that string theory was no more or less consistent with the evidence than that God listens to our prayers. The distinction I would draw instead is based on logic. Whereas most or all variants of string theory are rich and internally consistent, beliefs in God quickly develop inconsistencies as their proponents elaborate them.

This distinction also works for climate. Although both sides of the debate have plenty of inconsistencies, it’s pretty clear to the scientific community at least which side has more, by a substantial margin. The problem with the other side is that it seems to be using criteria for consistency that aren’t widely accepted in science

.the question of large numbers and their divisibility into pairs of primes is hardly a religious idea since it doesn’t bear on the origins and meanings of our existence.

Relevance to our existence is a new (for this thread) criterion for what passes as religion. But if global warming presents a threat to our existence then I would have to agree with you that this criterion would remove questions of number theory further from religion than questions of climate.

530. > The main criticism of string theory is that it is not falsifiable.

This criticism rests on an incorrect conception of what science is about:

Early in Part II (page 62, line 11) a misconception of my attitude toward prediction seems to emerge. I have never viewed prediction as the main purpose of science, although it was probably the survival value of the primitive precursor of science in prehistoric times. The main purposes of science are understanding (of past as well as future), technology, and control of the environment. So I have written, in one place or another.. My point about prediction is that it is the checkpoint.

http://putnamphil.blogspot.com/2014/07/a-letter-1988-from-quine-to-chris.html

***

There’s also this gem for those that are into the inside baseball of it:

It would indeed be insane to translate ‘gavagai’ as ‘rabbit part’ rather than ‘rabbit’.

***

In my humble opinion, and please beware that I’m only a ninja, questions surrounding climate sensitivity are as futile as the demarcation problem (i.e. what is or is not science) could be. While both can be interesting in their own right (I don’t dispute that people can have fun plugging equations together), I don’t think they matter much in the grand scheme of things. I guess we all need a hobby.

531. Vaughan,

ECS is defined as the rise in temperature as Earth drifts into equilibrium after an instantaneous doubling of CO2.

I thought the IPCC definition was the rise in temperature as we drift towards equilibrium after CO2 rises at 1% per year and hence doubles after 70 years. Also, fast feedbacks only. Probably wouldn’t be wildly different to what would happen if it were instantaneous.

532. chris says:

Vaughan, I think you’re being overly prescriptive. There may be a “formal definition” of ECS but ultimately ECS is addressing the question: ” what will the equilibrium temperature of the Earth be (around which the temperature will fluctuate as a result of natural variability) in coming to thermal equilibrium with a TOA forcing equivalent to a doubling of [CO2]?” For the purposes of ECS it doesn’t really matter if the additional [CO2] is instantaneous or not (although the doubling should be sustained). You’re right that the ECS is likely to be dependent on initial conditions. This is part of the reason that best estimates of ECS from observational and modelling data cover a broad range of values. But we don’t call a subject “religion” just because the evidence hasn’t (yet?) pinned down a more precise value of a parameter. There’s no question (wouldn’t you say?) that the Earth must warm in response to enhanced TOA forcing. This is being addressed by scientific investigation, and any particular evidence-based range of values is falsifiable either by future measurement or by new data that forces reconsideration.

Leave out the “eminently” if you prefer!

I don’t think your appraisal of string theory is much different to mine or Kevin’s above. Where we differ I believe is that you are addressing “String Theory” as if it were a complete theory in itself, whereas Kevin and I consider that it is an exploratory science that has yet (and might never) crystallise into a falsifiable theory. That doesn’t mean that string theorists aren’t engaging in science. I recommend Lee Smolin’s book “The Trouble With Physics” on the subject – it’s an exhilarating read!

Surely the point of religious ideas (and let’s presume good faith on the part of the purveyors of religious wisdom), is that they purport to provide explanations for the nature of our world, or place within it and some meaning for our existence.

533. Kevin, I agree with pretty much everything you say at July 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm when I interpret it in the light of my suggestion to distinguish religion from science as being less logical, though as a picky point I would think that your point that “science does not require absolute proof” while fine in its own right can’t be part of that distinction.

As a less picky point, whereas string theory is mathematics in the service of foundations of physics, much of number theory today serves computer science, and I would say much more effectively than string theory does for FoP. To say that string theory is science but number theory is not would surely require the judgment that computer science is not science.

534. Steve Bloom says:

TCR and especially OCS are squirrels, Vaughan, one might say spherical squirrels. ECS would be, except it has value as a model benchmark. ESS is the only real one of the bunch, although as I said TESS (not possible to project right now due to model deficiencies) is what would be most applicable to our future. But both ESS and (conceptually) TESS make for poor back-of-the-envelope fun for physicists and other back-of-the-envelope inclined. TCR could be rendered non-squirrely, but essentially that would mean converting it into some form of TESS (by incorporating slow feedbacks).

535. Kevin O'Neill says:

Vaughn, at Stoat’s I wrote: “I’ve always viewed Computer Science and Statistics as branches of mathematics. Their theorems are mathematical theorems and subject to mathematical proof/analysis.”

John Mashey had a very strong counterpoint: “…in algorithmic complexity analysis, one can sometimes only prove a worst-case bound, but in real life that doesn’t help much, except for real-time systems. One has to characterize the expected input data and average run times, not subject to proofs. Analysis of computer systems and networks often looks more like science, because there are elements over which one simply has no control.”

So, there may need to be a distinction between theory and application. Theory may be abstract, but application has to deal with the real world. One is mathematics, the other science (or engineering).

My point on not needing absolute proof was not to delineate science from religion, but to justify how something can be scientific – yet unproveable. If the evidence points in one direction, even without definitive prove, we can consider the belief to be scientific – pending new data or a better analysis.

536. @ATTP: I thought the IPCC definition was the rise in temperature as we drift towards equilibrium after CO2 rises at 1% per year and hence doubles after 70 years.

That’s a blend of two definitions, TCR and ECS.

Actually neither of us is right as the IPCC doesn’t specify the speed at which the CO2 is added in the definition of ECS. Per AR4, “[ECS] is defined as the equilibrium global average surface warming following a doubling of CO2 concentration.”

As far as I know the models simply dump in the extra CO2 all at once, though I’d be very interested to hear of models that proceed more gently. While it might make a difference in the model I can’t imagine what that difference would be. For Earth itself I would expect instantaneous to be considerably more catastrophic even than spreading it over 70 years, long before reaching equilibrium.

537. @SB: TCR and especially OCS are squirrels

For the purpose of projection to 3000 via modeling, and under the assumption that equilibrium will be restored some time this millennium, I would agree with this.

For projection to 2100 via modeling, I would be ok with calling OCS and ECS squirrels.

For understanding 20th century climate, both for its own sake and for extrapolating it to 2100 (as an alternative to modeling with CIMP5 models), TCS and ECS are the squirrels.

ESS is the only real one of the bunch

A nice example for distinguishing “real” from “realistic”. :)

538. What’s TESS?

Is that a enhanced version of TCRE that takes into account those slow feedbacks that are not too slow to affect the peak?

539. @Kevin: Theory may be abstract, but application has to deal with the real world. One is mathematics, the other science (or engineering).

In computer science departments such as Sydney’s, Berkeley’s, MIT’s, and Stanford’s (the four I’ve had any ongoing experience with), it’s a continuum. It’s like French and English in Ottawa, where a sentence might begin in one language and end in the other.

John Mashey makes an important point that I would characterize as “emergent behavior.” While it’s not unique to computer engineering, e.g. complex power systems, the unprecedented engineering complexity of software systems has given them a “life” of their own that is becoming ever harder to predict and understand. This turns what one might expect to be engineering problems into science problems.

In that respect computer science is all three: mathematics, science, and engineering.

Persis Drell, former director of SLAC, is about to become our engineering school’s new dean. Some in the CS department worry that as a physicist she might be out of touch with engineering, but I would think CS would be the last engineering department to have that concern. And anyway SLAC has been an enormous engineering project for the past half century.

540. @willard: Shaviv uses “empirical” instead of “observed”:

For “empirical climate sensitivity” Google returns 83,600 results with Firefox and 73,500 with IE and Chrome. All three go for 7 pages before collapsing catastrophically to “Page 8 of about 72 results”

I think I understand what’s going on. The clue seems to be in the message on the last page: “In order to show you the most relevant results, we have omitted some entries very similar to the 76 already displayed. If you like, you can repeat the search with the omitted results included.”

What they seem to be saying is that they’ve grouped the 83,600 results into 76 equivalence classes and returned one representative of each, ten on each of pages 1 to 7 and 6 on page 8 (no idea why the “72”).

This would explain why they collapse at page 3 for “observed climate sensitivity”. Although there are seven to nine hundred thousand results depending on the phase of the moon, Google has grouped them into 21 equivalence classes and shown only one of each.

I wasn’t able to get Google to make good on its offer to “repeat the search with the omitted results include”. When you take them up on it, Google still only shows a few results.

541. It would indeed be insane to translate ‘gavagai’ as ‘rabbit part’ rather than ‘rabbit’.

That was Quine grudgingly admitting that not all translations of gavagai’ are equally likely, without however yielding one inch on the possibility of “isn’t it a lovely day” as a sane translation (sane relative to rabbit part’ at least). How is that a “gem”? Because he hadn’t previously made any such admission?

542. > How is that a “gem”? Because he hadn’t previously made any such admission?

Because it provides decisive evidence that we should not go a bridge too far in his view on translation, like some did. It tends to show that Putnam’s interpretation in his refutation of conventionalism is correct:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/2214643

Quine’s thought experiment was more about ontology than about linguistics.

543. Chris, no disagreement there, although I found the following provocative.

Surely the point of religious ideas (and let’s presume good faith on the part of the purveyors of religious wisdom), is that they purport to provide explanations for the nature of our world, or place within it and some meaning for our existence.

Regarding explanations for the nature of the world, on the one hand this is surely a common goal of religion and science, on the other many (though certainly not all) religious people are satisfied with the explanations provided by science.

Regarding explanations for our place in the world and meaning for our existence, religion is only a small part of the Wikipedia article Meaning of life, though this may reflect the academic nature of Wikipedians. Personally I get pleasure from inventing, building, repairing, explaining, reading, hanging out, eating, drinking, and sleeping, which is more than enough meaning-of-existence for me. I do however pray for rain. :)

544. Quine’s thought experiment was more about ontology than about linguistics.

Applied to climate sensitivity, that was my reaction to “Terminology helps, but it isn’t always necessary”. OCS vs. TCR is about ontology, not terminology.

545. John Mashey says:

Vaughn Pratt:
1) Emergent properties: indeed, and not only power systems folks but Bell Labs worried about emergent properties of communications networks long before they appeared in computer networks. The Internet crunches caused by the first Victoria’s Secret webcast and the Intel Superbowl commercial had a precursor called the “Boston Astrologer Syndrome”.
Put another way, while most scientists study natural systems, some artificial systems get so complicated one needs to do science for them as well.

As part of this, back in the 1960s/1970s, operating systems people were learning about the equivalent of “tipping points” as when a linear increase in load would cause a sudden drop off the cliff in performance, depending on OS algorithms. A bit later, scientific programmers ran into something similar as cache memories got large enough to be interesting. (Sometimes matrix operations would just fit, but a 1% increase in array dimension would cause massive cache-thrashing and 50% performance drop.)

2) I don’t think Stanford CS has to worry much about getting an ex-SLAC director as Engineering Dean.
a) Stanford has not suffered from having a computer geek as President.
b) as Vaughn notes, big physics labs do a lot of engineering, but they also do a lot of good computing. High-performance computing has strong roots in physics.
For some great history, I strongly recommend a fine old Scientific American Book, by William L. Kaufmann III and Larry L. Smarr, Supercomputing and the Transformation of Science(1993), which you can get pretty much for cost of shipping.
While old, it’s still relevant, with beautiful images. See Chapter 7 “Our Dynamic Planet.”
We’ve come a long way since then, but much of the discussion still holds.
When I visited high-energy/particle physics labs, I usually found good computer scientists amidst the physicists, and they had serious Big Data problems long before those got so popular among businesses.

546. > OCS vs. TCR is about ontology, not terminology.

Agreed, Vaughan. And it’s important this is done the way you do. AT asked for a better class of skeptic, after all, and I think you’re showing the way.

These terminological improprieties always drove me nuts.

***

I was talking about those who’d think that Quine’s “gavagai” thought experiment implied something like a merry-go-round of definitions that turn into a hall of mirrors. Since “radical translation begins at home,” as Quine says in his magnificent Ontological Relativity, children do not have the luxury to posit an infinity of equivalent translation manuals of their mother’s cajoling. They just take it at face value; immanently, so to speak. There’s a nice short article by Harman on this question:

http://www.princeton.edu/~harman/Papers/Harman-Quine.pdf

Your remark on Chomsky is connected to this, as Quine endorsed behaviorism in Word and Object. The great American novel, if you ask me.

547. Kevin O'Neill says:

willard writes: “Quine’s thought experiment was more about ontology than about linguistics.”

From Word and Object, Chapter Two: Translation and Meaning, Part 7: First Steps of Radical Translation:
In practice, of course, the natural expectation the natives will have a brief expression for ‘Rabbit’ counts overwhelmingly. The linguist hears ‘Gavagai’ once, in a situation where a rabbit seems to be the object of concern. He will then try ‘Gavagai’ for assent or dissent in a couple of situations designed perhaps to eliminate ‘White’ and ‘Animal’ as alternative translations, and will forthwith settle upon ‘Rabbit’ as translation without further experiment – though always in readiness to discover through some unsought experience that a revision is in order. I made the linguist preternaturally circumspect, and maximized his bad luck in respect of discrepant observations, in order to consider what theoretical bearing a native’s collateral information can have upon the linguist’s in fact wholly facile opening translation.

If this is ontology, it is very well disguised. I can only read this (and most of this chapter) as linguistics. The whole idea of ‘standing’ sentences and ‘occasion’ sentences are a primer on radical translation. I spent a year in Korea and had no knowledge of the language before arriving. The Koreans I associated with had very rudimentary English skills (if any) and conversed between themselves in Korean. I observed them playing a card game for hundreds of hours. I recognize the strategies and pitfalls of radical translation because of my attempts to understand them. I am at a loss how this seemingly straightforward thought experiment in field linguistics is interpreted as an ontological one. Please explain.

548. John Mashey says:

Note: regarding Google searches and comparsions thereof, I assume people know that searches results can differ for the same search”:
a) if not logged into Google
b) if logged in, and the code has some history of you

549. Kevin O'Neill says:

John, I considered that so tried some alternate search engines. They all returned very small (<30) results for the phrase "observed climate sensitivity" – how Google was coming up with 100s of thousands of results is beyond my understanding. How it could come up with more results for the subset than the whole set is beyond me as well. The Google displayed results matched other search engines. I don't know where the phantom 800,000 reside.

550. The chapter starts this way, Kevin:

We have been reflecting in a general way on how surface irritation generates, through language, our knowledge of the world. […] In this chapter we shall consider how much language can we made sense of in terms of its stimulus conditions.

Quine talks about words because we use them to refer to objects, the things that compose our knowledge. He needs to do that without appealing to meaning, which he finds obscure for logical reasons. Therefore, he tries to show how a scientist (or “linguist,” because he analogizes to translation) working only with stimulus conditions would reconstruct a “language” by postulating analytic hypotheses for these so-called meanings. Remember, these hypotheses can only be validated through observation. He can’t discover what a sentence means by his own introspective experience: the language he tries to translate is completely alien to him or anyone sharing his own language.

What he gets at the end is a set of semantic correlations. That’s it. These are supported by his analytic hypotheses. Suppose they’re as good as they can get. What would prevent another linguist to produce these semantic correlations via other hypotheses? The linguist is stuck, just like the scientist is when he tries to explain or understand natural phenomena. The scientist can’t rely on a notion of sameness of meaning to improve his analytical apparatus, because all empirical sciences should start, according to Quine’s project, with stimulation.

So Quine uses the language analogy to explain away meaning and all intensional entities like beliefs. They are semantically opaque. That does not imply you can’t use them for your daily life (that’s the point of his “insane” remark, I think), it just means that if you want to naturalize epistemology in an extensional manner, you have to do without them. And following that path gets to the indeterminacy of reference, because there’s nothing in your play book that leads to the best description of what there is.

***

This has been a while since I studied these things. So it’s quite possible that what I’m saying right now contains errors. But I think that I read the chapter closely enough to make smaller blunders than Brasil’s defence today.

551. @Kevin: If this is ontology, it is very well disguised.

While I would defer to willard in an area where I’m the ninja, I would say the choice between “white” and “animal” is ontological, not linguistic. One refers to a color, the other to a class of living things.

The ontology is masked by the need for words to name ontological entities, which can make it look like language distinctions. Putnam’s Quine_1 and Quine_2 refer (I think—willard?) to these alternative interpretations of Quine, and as I understand Hilary he defends Quine on the ground that he (Willard with a capital W) intended the ontological one.

I must confess that I bought Word and Object as an extremely naive first year graduate student at Berkeley in April 1970, fresh out of Australia, in the expectation of learning the connection from it. But 44 years of repeatedly picking it up to do so have had not the slightest impact on me, and only now am I starting to get even the slightest picture of what Quine might have had in mind from it. Kevin seems to have made more progress.

I and my family have been great friends with Rohit Parikh and his family since 1977, and he in turn was great friends with Quine since a decade earlier, but there has been no transitivity there at all. Next time I see Rohit I’ll have to broach this subject.

552. Michael 2 says:

Kevin O’Neill “How it could come up with more results for the subset than the whole set is beyond me as well.”

I think Google permutes the word list and displays a count that includes matches less than the full phrase. Consequently its counter isn’t all that useful unless of course you want the big number OR are comparing two similar phrases that will presumably each be bloated in a similar way.

553. Michael 2 says:

Kevin says: “but to justify how something can be scientific – yet unproveable. If the evidence points in one direction, even without definitive prove, we can consider the belief to be scientific – pending new data or a better analysis.”

Yes, exactly. Science has the *potential* of being proven, religion (while being almost meaningless as a word) generally does not. You may *experience* religion, but proving it to someone else is usually impossible. Suppose we both observe Niagara Falls. I feel a great sense of awe, you wonder how much electricity you could generate. My feeling is probably “religious”. Your thoughts are “scientific” as you calculate the energy potential in the drop times the mass of the volume of water. The falls, of course, don’t really care about either of us.

Naturally, it is possible and probably normal to have both at the same time.

554. John Mashey says:

Kevin: I don’t know either, and I wasn’t suggesting that was the cause, but I’ve seen discussions like this before, where at least part of the differences depended on whether people were logged in or not, and it is always good to make sure that confounder is not present.

555. Michael 2 says:

Vaughan Pratt says “my suggestion to distinguish religion from science as being less logical”

I wonder if you meant “reasonable”? Logic can be, and ought to be, applied to religion, science and just about everything else.

Suppose I experience what seems like a voice, but isn’t, and it tells me to change lanes NOW while I’m driving on a highway 3 lanes in each direction and there’s a very slight hill ahead of me blocking long distance viewing. So, I change lanes and a moment later coming over the hill at a very high rate of speed is an automobile driven by a drunken driver. (*)

That is the observeration. The consequence of acting on that is that I am still alive to tell this story. It is “logical”, it proceeds logically from observation to conclusion to action.

Where you will stumble is in your suite of premises. I accept the existence of a thing capable of telling me to change lanes, you probably do not. Premises or postulates are not logic, they are the things you already believe but others might not.

For me this thing is proven. I experienced it and documented it. There’s a public record. For you I am just words on your computer screen and that’s not enough for you to discard a strongly-held postulate or premise.

Now then, apply this to climate — my premise or postulate is what I see and experience every day. Your assertion about global warming is just words on my screen and if they differ substantially from my experience, then I will not believe you. I don’t say you are wrong, merely that I probably won’t believe.

Now then, the more DETAIL I provide, especially details that can be verified, my case becomes stronger and you start to provisionally accept my claim instead of discarding it and forgetting it. You are not yet a believer, but you have ceased being a denier.

* I had given the details of this story but it is not actually relevant to the point being made.

556. Kevin O'Neill says:

willard – after some searching I found the reason for the disconnect; from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Besides it not being so clear what it is to commit yourself to an answer to an ontological question, it also isn’t so clear what an ontological question really is, and thus what it is that ontology is supposed to accomplish. To figure this out is the task of meta-ontology, which strictly speaking is not part of ontology construed narrowly, but the study of what ontology is. However, like most philosophical disciplines, ontology more broadly construed contains its own meta-study, and thus meta-ontology is part of ontology, more broadly construed. Nonetheless it is helpful to separate it out as a special part of ontology. Many of the philosophically most fundamental questions about ontology really are meta-ontological questions. Meta-ontology has not been too popular in the last couple of decades, partly because one meta-ontological view, the one often associated with Quine, has been accepted as the correct one, but this acceptance has been challenged in recent years in a variety of ways. One motivation for the study of meta-ontology is simply the question of what question ontology aims to answer.

I have always had a much narrower view of ontology. Unsurprising since I haven’t made it as far as 20th century philosophers. Perhaps someday :)

557. Kevin O'Neill says:

Vaugh, If we dispute that ‘rabbit’ exists, I would consider that an ontological argument. If we hypothesize that my understanding of ‘rabbit’ may be different than your understanding of ‘rabbit’ we have a problem in linguistics. I read Ch.2 of Word and Object as an exploration of linguistics – yet as the section I quoted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy shows, I am using a narrow and probably out-of-date meaning for ‘ontology.’

558. BBD says:

“Assume a spherical deity”…

559. > I have always had a much narrower view of ontology.

I doubt you have a narrower view than this one, Kevin:

Whatever we say with the help of names can be said in a language which shuns names altogether. To be assumed as an entity is, purely and simply, to be reckoned as the value of a variable. In terms of the categories of traditional grammar, this amounts roughly to saying that to be is to be in the range of reference of a pronoun. Pronouns are the basic media of reference; nouns might better have been named propronouns. The variables of quantification, ‘something’, ‘nothing’, ‘everything’, range over our whole ontology, whatever it may be; and we are convicted of a particular ontological presupposition if, and only if, the alleged presuppositum has to be reckoned among the entities over which our variables range in order to render one of our affirmations true.

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/On_What_There_Is

The point of the “gavagai” example is to show that the dispositions to assent can’t help you “fix” in a decisive manner the object to which it refers. To help you in interpreting your observations, you need a theory. This theory can’t be grounded by analytic statements, as the Kantian tradition tried to maintain at least up to Carnap, Quine’s teacher, because analyticity ain’t analytic, if I may oversimplify a bit a point about which I disagree anyway.

Quine’s project seems to make more sense if you know something about that tradition, as it is a reaction to it. There’s a wonderful book by Coffa that provides a panorama, something like his life work. Here’s a review:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/188294

This basically covers the beginnings of philosophical logic, from which emerged tools with which Vaughan developed his own work.

560. Kevin O'Neill says:

willard – Yes, the end of Ch. 2 where he lists the 7 failures of analytical hypotheses was a little closer to what I might have expected. And the thought that, ‘this isn’t ontology – it’s telling us that ontology is pointless’ did come to mind.

561. I read back the last two pages of that chapter yesterday after I wrote my comment and made me regret having spent so much time writing it, Kevin.

I’d qualify your “ontology is pointless” with “if you try to do it without the help of scientific knowledge,” for it’s relative to it.

My youngest is into Star Wars, these days, and after I wrote the last comment, he was watching the exchange between Obi-Wan and Luke. Luke was telling his master “but you said that my father was dead!” Then Obi-Wan tried to escape from this accusation by saying that when his father became Darth Vader, Darth Vader so to speak killed his father. To know if Obi-Wan has been truthful or not, you need some rules to identify Darth Vader and Luke’s father. There’s no entity without identity, at least according to Quine.

So you might conclude that ontology is only good to settle sci-fi disputes. Vaughan might reply to this quip, “but ontology could also help me settle my dispute regarding the entities posited in climate sensitivity studies!” I would agree with this, on the condition that we don’t preclude the possibility that debates about climate sensitivity belongs to science fiction.

562. Hank Roberts says:

> John Mashey says:
> July 13, 2014 at 1:34 am
>
> Note: regarding Google searches and comparsions thereof, I assume
> people know that searches results can differ for the same search:
> a) if not logged into Google
> b) if logged in, and the code has some history of you

Google is misleading as a science reference:

Also note: formerly, Google’s Blogger (if you were not logged in from your computer/IP address/browser) would present you a login page:

“One account. All of Google. Sign in to continue to Blogger
[showing your userid for gmail, so they know who you are, just accept ….]
with — important –> a “Sign Out” button below that.

Later, Google moved that “Sign Out” button below the fold, visible only with PageDown
Now, Google gives no “Sign Out” button — Google keeps you signed in any way possible.

This supposedly logs you out:

Wanta bet Google is still changing your search results?
They have your history, they know your typing rate and favored phrases and everything else you’ve done online.

You know that line, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”?
It’s a curse.

We don’t need an ad supplier, we need a librarian.
Everyone who looks up science should get the same facts, up to date, every time

563. @Kevin: If we dispute that ‘rabbit’ exists, I would consider that an ontological argument.

I took Putnam’s usage of “ontology” (in his defense of Quine) to be as in Web Ontology Language (OWL) rather than as in St. Augustine’s ontological argument. However I would defer to willard on what Putnam really meant.

If we hypothesize that my understanding of ‘rabbit’ may be different than your understanding of ‘rabbit’ we have a problem in linguistics.

Certainly a problem in usage. However Quine claimed to be formulating a problem in translation: is it possible to infer the translation of gavagai’ into the observer’s language?

But is this really a translation problem? The observer is given a word and a context, and the real problem would appear to be to determine the referent of the word, i.e. to locate the referent in an ontological space. As formulated by Quine the context can be taken as a clue but not the word, which therefore detaches Quine’s problem completely from linguistics! One need not know anything about language to work on that problem.

Once solved the observer now has a meaning for gavagai’, turning the solution into a linguistics one to the extent of giving the semantics or meaning of the word. However that last step is a triviality that uses nothing about gavagai’ except that it’s a word. The real problem was an ontological one.

564. Kevin O'Neill says:

willard – my understanding is that the notion that truth is social, but not relative, goes back to at least Charles S. Pierce. From an earlier blog discussion of How do you know what you know

J. Thomas: “It [Ptolemaic theory] could have been the consensus at one time.”

KTO: Yes, it could. But according to the definition of truth proposed by Pierce and accepted by Dewey, the consensus they speak of is ‘all those who are fated to investigate’ — that means our understanding of the truth is always susceptible to revision (fallibility). Note, it is our understanding that changes – not truth that changes.
Not having access to future inquiries, all we can say is that our best understanding of the truth of a given proposition is what those honest agents, using logical processes, have as a consensus opinion. The implied modifier is ‘expert’ consensus opinion. With the full knowledge that this understanding may be deficient.
The Ptolemaic theory was never true. It was never the consensus opinion of all who were fated to investigate. That consensus would include the inquiries of Ibn al-Shatir, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and many who have followed since (and of inquiries yet to come). Truth by this definition does not care what you or I as individuals think, nor does it care what our opinion is unless we have tried to honestly investigate.

I think in the case of Anakin Skywalker vs Darth Vader, Obi-Wan was playing fast and loose with the truth :) Of course this metaphorical ‘killing’ is used in a lot of different scenarios. I’ve noticed it in several television series and a few movies just in the past year. Referring to a traumatic event a character will say, “Trust me, your father died that night.” or “That man died that night.” when we as viewers know that a radical personality change took place, but literal death did not occur.

Accepting Obi-Wan’s argument, then In a more general sense every person we knew 20 years ago is dead. It matters not whether they have been buried or cremated, even if they’re still walking this earth they are not the same person. Every time we change we are ‘killing’ our predecessor. Forget 20 years ago, every person we knew yesterday – or 5 hours ago – is dead.

I do not like this Sam I Am, I do not like Obi-Wan’s Green Ham.

565. JasonB says:

Most people doing a search on Google don’t even look at more than the first page or two of results. My understanding is that, as a performance optimisation, Google evaluates search results lazily, and estimates the total number of results it would find if it were to search its database exhaustively. It probably keeps a cache of previous search results to avoid having to search at all most of the time.

Therefore the only way to see how many results there really are is to skip through them all. (You could try playing with the “&start=” parameter at the end of the URL to speed up the process if there are a lot. I assume you get the same result but I’ve never tested this.) There does seem to be a limit when doing this; the highest page number possible appears to be 100, so if the search terms are really popular you can’t find out just how many results there actually are.

In my experience the “About …” figure initially reported is always an overestimate, but the “observed climate sensitivity” case seems extreme. What’s curious about it is that Google even knows that there really aren’t that many results because it only presents five pages of results at the bottom (i.e. “1 2 3 4 5″) and in the end there are really only three pages, with 25 results. Repeating the search with omitted results included gives 37.

Revisiting Vaughn’s earlier comment with corrected figures (and omitted results included, to give an upper limit) gives, at least for me:

Here are the [updated] results of searches of the Fifth IPCC Report and the web (according to Google), using quotes around each term in every case.

—————————————- AR5 — WWW
“equilibrium climate sensitivity”– 130 — 516
“transient climate response”—– 100 — 668
“observed climate sensitivity”—- 0 —— 37

Previously Anders said something about physicists doing a sanity-test of their results by estimating what a reasonable outcome would be. I think Google users should do the same thing, so that when Google tells them there are “about 800000″ references to a technical yet obscure term like “observed climate sensitivity” (as some other commenters here mentioned, I too was also previously unaware of the term, and, apparently, so is the IPCC), some scepticism might be warranted. :-)

566. Kevin O'Neill says:

Vaughn, from <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistics"Wikipedia's entry for Linguistics:

Linguistics is a research field devoted to the science of language. There are broadly three aspects to the study, which include language form, language meaning, and language in context….
…The study of language meaning, on the other hand, deals with how languages employ logic and real-world references to convey, process, and assign meaning, as well as to manage and resolve ambiguity. While the study of semantics is concerned with how meaning is inferred from words and concepts, pragmatics deals with how meaning is inferred from context.”

Yet, “As formulated by Quine the context can be taken as a clue but not the word, which therefore detaches Quine’s problem completely from linguistics!”

This is not obvious to me. I’m sure it’s a problem of jargon. I see this as a problem in assigning meaning, resolving ambiguity. In my mind this is a problem of linguistics. It doesn’t depend on separate languages, but could be any word we don’t already know (the meaning of).

Again, it seems a matter of where we draw arbitrary lines concerning where ontology begins/ends and where linguistics begins/ends. Every question requires us to consider the realm of all possible answers from which we select the ‘most correct’ one. In this sense all questions are ontological. Once we agree every statement is a question of ontology, it is rather uninformative to state any specific statement is a matter of ontology.

567. Steve Bloom says:

At risk of derailing this blog from its new-found focus on PhilosophyBall, which as any philosopher will tell you will surely light the way to helpful steps in understanding and dealing with AGW, I’ll answer this:

What’s TESS?

Is that a enhanced version of TCRE that takes into account those slow feedbacks that are not too slow to affect the peak?

More or less, except to note that past (and present, for the GCMs) assumptions about some major slow feedbacks (e.g. permafrost, soil carbon and rainforest removal) were too slow to affect near-future climate turned out to be very badly mistaken, in consequence of which it would be an error to remove any slow feedbacks from the “calculation.”

Even though we can’t presently calculate values for TESS, I think it’s a very useful notion.

568. Using Jason’s method of counting, namely asking Google for the omitted results as well, I found numbers very similar to Jason’s: in place of his 516, 668, 37 (for ECS, TCR, OCS) I got 493, 483, 32. I also tried “observed climate response” (OCR) and was surprised to get 86. (If OCR is the more popular term perhaps I should be using that instead. But “more popular” with what meaning? The IPCC only defines ECS and TCR.)

So Google’s figures of 29000, 18500, 795000, and 410000 for those four terms are mystifying. Its almost as though some bug has put a number in the denominator instead of the numerator.

Bing (which these days also powers Yahoo) yielded results very different from what Google produced by any method, namely 12100, 9070, 20, and 3400 for the four terms. (As a check on Bing I tried Yahoo and got 12100, 8720, 20, and 3390, no idea why they’re not identical.)

Ignoring the very large Google numbers, which I reluctantly agree can’t possibly be right, this all suggests that people are inclined to reserve “sensitivity” for use with “equilibrium” and to use “response” when the temperature is taken immediately at the end of a rise (in whatever is being responded to) without waiting for equilibrium. If that’s a natural convention then I don’t mind using OCR instead of OCS.

The specific notion I used OCS for in my AGUFM 2013 talk is the observed HadCRUT4 rise to date (2013) (after subtracting estimates of all natural fluctuations) divided by the CO2 forcing over the same period as inferred from the log of the observed CO2 rise to date using all available CO2 data. In my AGUFM 2012 poster I named the same concept “prevailing climate sensitivity” to better capture the idea that it was “in the present” (so maybe I should have called it “zen climate sensitivity”) but didn’t stick with that name.

Well, what’s in a name? I don’t really care what “it” is called, where “it” is this notion of climate response defined in the previous paragraph, that seems to me to best reflect what’s actually been happening lately to Earth’s temperature in response to human technology. “It” is definitely not TCR, the best fit for which is most likely the 70 years from 2020 to 2090, assuming the CAGR of CO2 continues on its present trajectory so as to reach 1% by around 2055. The target period for “it” is 1850-now.

For now I’m leaning towards calling “it” “prevailing climate response.” But if you think “zen climate response” sounds snappier, or if “observed climate response” creates an opportunity to give OCR a more precise meaning, let me know. :)

Whether “it” will turn out to be more or less uncertain than either TCR or ECS remains to be seen. What is clear is that “it” is a third notion different from both IPCC-defined terms.

569. @me: As formulated by Quine the context can be taken as a clue but not the word, which therefore detaches Quine’s problem completely from linguistics!

@Kevin: This is not obvious to me.

The Wikipedia passage says “pragmatics deals with how meaning is inferred from context” which seems to be precisely Quine’s example problem. So with that definition I’d be fine with replacing “ontology” by “pragmatics”.

And when it’s the meaning of an utterance with some syntactic and/or morphological structure I would certainly agree that this comes within the scope of linguistics.

But gavagai’ has neither, and therefore I’d say that the connection with linguistics hangs by a very thin thread if any. Quine’s example would seem to oblige this instance of pragmatics to raise only an ontological question having no linguistic relevance due to the complete absence of syntactic or morphological structure in gavagai’.

Since language is full of structure, Quine’s demonstration of the indeterminacy of translation suffers from being based on a linguistically unrealistic example. More realistic would be a rabbit and a deer each running and eating, giving four scenarios to correlate with four corresponding sentences—rabbit run, rabbit eat, deer run, deer eat—if the native’s language distinguished nouns and verbs. (My PhD thesis was going to be on exactly this kind of structured language learning as a counterpoint to Mark Gold’s “Language identification in the limit” until I was talked out of it in 1970 by both Knuth and Hopcroft, neither of whom had any faith in AI. They felt I’d be wasting four years when I could write a theory thesis in one. In hindsight I’d have had no problem doing the language idea in one, I’d already worked out what the necessary programming would look like. However at the time I also had enough theory results to graduate so since my main goal was to get out of grad school as fast as possible I wasn’t about to argue the point.)

570. @me: “my suggestion to distinguish religion from science as being less logical”

@Michael 2: I wonder if you meant “reasonable”?

I meant “consistent”. Science develops deeper theories with fewer inconsistencies. Religion has only shallow theories that quickly encounter inconsistencies when fleshed out in any detail.

Since “logical” means different things to different people perhaps I should not have phrased “less consistent” as “less logical”.

571. Kevin O'Neill says:

Vaughn, Quine writes: “A rabbit scurries by, the native says, ‘Gavagai’, and the linguist notes down the sentence ‘Rabbit’ (or ‘Lo, a rabbit’) as tentative translation, subject to testing in further cases.”

Quine treats this as a word or phrase; a sentence. I don’t think we can assume that syntactic or morphological structure is absent. I am brought back to his opening paragraph in this chapter:

“In this chapter we shall consider how much of language can be made sense of in terms of its stimulus conditions, and what scope this leaves for empirically unconditioned variation in one’s conceptual scheme.”

572. @kevin: I don’t think we can assume that syntactic or morphological structure is absent.

Indeed; for example -gai might be a suffix corresponding to -ing in English. Possessed of that morphological tidbit, the linguist might well think of running’. Or eating’ if that’s what the rabbit was doing.

However as Quine formulated the scenario the linguist is given only the context (a rabbit), not the linguistic structure of gavagai’. Hence nothing of a linguistic nature can contribute to the challenge posed to the linguist, which therefore makes it a purely ontological one. Linguistics is about structure, not words.

“In this chapter we shall consider how much of language can be made sense of in terms of its stimulus conditions,”

Willard already pointed out the similarity between this and Skinner’s behaviorist psychology. A stimulus-response model of how we acquire (someone else’s) language leads Quine to the conclusion that we can’t—what he calls the indeterminacy of translation. And it’s not hard to see why when compared with what a more structured model of understanding can accomplish.

Now if Quine merely intended his conclusion as a criticism of stimulus-response behaviorism that would be wonderful. But if so I’d be really interested to see any passage where he explains this.

573. Tom Curtis says:

Vaughn, the IPCC only used the phrase “observed climate response” twice, and not as a defined term. In contrast, they use the phrase “effective climate sensitivity” sixty two times, and in AR4, define the term under the general heading of “climate sensitivity” in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Assessment Reports. Personally I think calling it a climate sensitivity is a misnomer. As the IPCC notes, the “effective climate sensitivity” depends not only on the size of the forcing, but on the forcing history over time. Therefore it is not resolvable to a single value, and nor is its value a response function to forcing. Still, it is useful to have a standardized vocabulary, even (sometimes) at the cost of innacurate terminology if strictly interpreted.

574. > At risk of derailing this blog from its new-found focus on PhilosophyBall […]

That would be philosophy simpliciter, as it’s an activity done for its own sake, at least according to Aristotle.

If you want PhiloBall, try this:

http://philosophersanon.blogspot.com/2014/03/signs-of-old-age.html

If you think that contrarians are mean, you might have not read philosophy blogs.

575. Michael 2 says:

On a more serious note, and also still in reply to pbjamm, what exactly is wrong with presenting two or more sides of an issue to students and encouraging them to work it out? It is dogmatism at its worst to only present one side of an issue as if there is no other side or go farther and not allow anyone to think that other points of view exist.

It’s a bit like the kid raised on a farm, sheltered from all evil influence, not even told about many things such as addictive recreational drugs. So he goes to college and is bombarded with things he never knew existed and has no critical thinking skills by which to decide which choices are good and which not so good, and in the learning of these things comes into bondage.

Even when you are really, really sure there’s only one “side”, it still is a good idea to develop the skill to prove that there’s only one side, to challenge it. I mean, challenge GRAVITY for heaven’s sake, prove there’s such a thing and what it is.

My teenager had an assignment to answer experimentally the question whether melting ice increases or decreases in weight, to hypothesize (guess) in advance, conduct the experiment, and then report. So we put an ice cube in a ziplock bag, weighed it carefully, waited for it to melt and weighed it again.

I knew that the weight is not going to change because the mass has not changed. And yet, it did change — moisture condensed on the frozen bag and increased its weight slightly.

So she wrote down that melting ice increases in weight. It was “wrong” but I did not challenge the answer she obtained experimentally. Experiments are the final authority — if you can account for all the variables! I expected the teacher to evaluate the experiment but he didn’t. Just rote teaching.

576. Vaughn, the IPCC only used the phrase “observed climate response” twice, and not as a defined term. In contrast, they use the phrase “effective climate sensitivity” sixty two times, and in AR4, define the term under the general heading of “climate sensitivity” in the 3rd, 4th and 5th Assessment Reports.

Is “effective climate sensitivity” different from what Otto et al (2013) call “equilibrium climate sensitivity” (the formula for ATTP’s OCS2 here at 7:59 am two days ago)? If so, how, if not why did Otto et al not bother with the distinction?

Has AR5 scrapped the concept as a formal notion? In the Glossary on p.1451 of WG1 they give an informal account of it as follows.

“The effective climate sensitivity (units: °C) is an estimate of the global mean surface temperature response to doubled carbon dioxide concentration that is evaluated from model output or observations for evolving non-equilibrium conditions. It is a measure of the strengths of the climate feedbacks at a particular time and may vary with forcing history and climate state, and therefore may differ from equilibrium climate sensitivity.”

That’s the whole definition. Note the absence of a formula. The definition of climate feedback parameter has a formula and mentions an inverse relation but doesn’t mention F_{2x} so you can’t tell what that relation ought to be. Is AR5 proposing to leave the relation as indeterminate?

About half the occurrences of “effective climate sensitivity” in AR5 seem to be in repetitions of the above definition in WG1-WG3, repetitions of the bibliographic entry “Williams et al, ‘Time variation of effective climate sensitivity in GCMs’ (2008)”. and in comments, for example Comment No. 12-623 by Gareth Jones: “Definition of effective climate sensitivity’. Not sure you can just leave this important concept to the glossary.” Response: “Not considered due to space limitations.”

F_{2x}/a is not my idea of a long formula. And if the omission was intentional they have to explain why!

The remaining occurrences in WG1-WG3 are seven, in six passages where the concept is actually used, all in WG1: two in Chapter 9 (Evaluation of Climate Models), one in Chapter 10 (Detection and Attribution of Climate Change: from Global to Regional), and three in Chapter 12 (Long-term Climate Change: Projections, Commitments and Irreversibility) including a substantial and very welcome discussion of the relationship between equilibrium and effective climate sensitivity in Box 12.2, Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity and Transient Climate Response.

The number 62 for number of occurrences hints at the long arm of Google.

Personally I think calling it a climate sensitivity is a misnomer.

What would you prefer? “Sensitivity” fits my theory above that it is the word people associate with equilibrium, whence “response” rather than “sensitivity” for TCR.

As the IPCC notes, the “effective climate sensitivity” depends not only on the size of the forcing, but on the forcing history over time. Therefore it is not resolvable to a single value, and nor is its value a response function to forcing.

Indeed, but since no version of ECS, effective or otherwise, specifies initial conditions for either CO2 or temperature, none are going to be resolvable to a single value.

Still, it is useful to have a standardized vocabulary, even (sometimes) at the cost of innacurate terminology if strictly interpreted.

Yes indeed. Every concept that gets referred to sufficiently often deserves a name, and one or more definitions for the name are then bound to follow.

There’s also a positive feedback there. Acquiring a name improves the odds of a concept being referred to frequently.

577. @me: Linguistics is about structure, not words.

A little voice kept bugging me after I wrote that. I finally figured out what it was.

Even if you don’t know the part of speech of gavagai’ you know its length (three syllables, say). Zipf’s Law then puts it in the category of three-syllable words, differentiating it from one- and two-syllable words and suggesting that `gavagai’ is used less often than the native’s one-syllable words.

While I don’t know if Chomsky considers Zipf’s Law to be part of linguistics, it is without question a law about language.

It does distinguish “damn” from “oh bloody hell”, where frequencies seem less relevant, though in that case greater length may be an indication of greater annoyance or pain. There is also prosody (consider these ejaculations at various pitches and volumes), though like part-of-speech this too was not given in Quine’s example.

578. @me: OCS vs. TCR is about ontology, not terminology.

@willard: Agreed, Vaughan. And it’s important this is done the way you do. AT asked for a better class of skeptic, after all, and I think you’re showing the way.

Thanks, willard, but the only thing I’m skeptical of is the class of supposed climate scientists subscribing to the rumor that there’s a pause going on.

A pause in weather, sure. But the World Meteorological Organization defines climate as weather averaged over 30 years, so not a pause in climate.

Some reduce this to 20 years, but even over that short a period there is no trace of a pause in the last half century of climbing surface temperature as logged by HadCRUT4. The 20-year trends fluctuate between 0.1 and 0.2 °C/decade, but variability is to be expected and every trend in that range is a clear upward trend. The trend for 1977-1997 was 0.117 °C/decade, for 1984-2004 it was 0.237, right now it is back down to 0.101, but we haven’t seen it substantially below 0.1 °C/decade for half a century.

Anyone claiming there’s a pause doesn’t know how climate is defined.

579. Michael 2 says:

Vaughan Pratt “Michael 2: I wonder if you meant ‘reasonable’? I meant “consistent”. Science develops deeper theories with fewer inconsistencies. Religion has only shallow theories that quickly encounter inconsistencies when fleshed out in any detail.”

An excellent word choice. A true thing should be true when approached from different directions, true today, yesterday and tomorrow. Not “magical” or even “Luke, I’m your father!”

Religion, in my opinion, isn’t supposed to have theories. First and foremost it has *values*.

Also, in science, an inconsistency is usually accepted as evidence that deeper study is needed. In the case of a typical western religion, expressing doubt about an inconsistency means your faith is weak.

However, while I consider myself religious, I don’t accept inconsistencies and I am “severable” in my various beliefs of science or religion. So what if something turns out to be wrong? It happens.

580. Tom Curtis says:

Vaughn Pratt, OCS2 as defined in discussion above is the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (also known as the Charney Climate Sensitivity). OCS1, on the other hand, is the effective climate sensitivity as defined by the IPCC. It is not the Transient Climate Response as defined by the IPCC, and Otto et al have fudged on that one. Due to the fact that forcings have risen fairly steadily over the last century and a half, the effective climate sensitivity is a reasonable approximation to the TCR under current conditions.

As to why the IPCC spent so little effort in defining the term, and use it so little, that is because it is not important in any way except as terminology to point out that assuming 3.7 times current change in temperature divided by current change in forcing is not a reliable predictor of the likely temperature after forcings stabilize again.

581. > Anyone claiming there’s a pause doesn’t know how climate is defined.

Have you told any climate scientist lately, Vaughan?

***

I’ve reopened **Word and Object**. Will report later.

582. @TC: OCS2 as defined in discussion above is the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity (also known as the Charney Climate Sensitivity).

Tom, could you check to see if you have these the right way round? ATTP’s OCS2 has ΔF − H in the denominator.

OCS1, on the other hand, is the effective climate sensitivity as defined by the IPCC.

[Assuming you meant OCS2]: At least as they used to define it. Is it too late to point out to them that AR5 no longer defines it? Or does their response to Gareth Jones’s comment tell us there’s no point trying?

It is not the Transient Climate Response as defined by the IPCC, and Otto et al have fudged on that one.

On this point we may be in disagreement, though I’m not sure we have to be. I claim that ECS and TCR can be defined by exactly the same formula, and that the two differ primarily in when the second temperature measurement is made (at equilibrium for ECS, at the end of the rise for TCR), and secondarily in the rate at which the CO2 doubling occurs (arbitrary for ECS though instantaneous is the default, 1% CAGR for 70 years in the case of TCR).

I’ll be happy to defend the claim that these give the IPCC definitions of both ECS and TCR based on the same formula.

[Effective climate sensitivity] is not important in any way except as terminology to point out that assuming 3.7 times current change in temperature divided by current change in forcing is not a reliable predictor of the likely temperature after forcings stabilize again.

Could one therefore say of Chapter 12’s Box 12.2 that “it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”? The box is expressed with tremendous confidence, yet it seemed to me to be focusing on minor details while only grudgingly acknowledging that ocean dynamics might throw the estimates off a little bit. (If “idiot” is too strong, blame Shakespeare.)

583. @willard: Have you told any climate scientist lately, Vaughan?

Only those who’ve attended my talks, dropped by my posters, or read my posts and comments at climate blogs.

For the rest, should I insinuate that they hadn’t read even Chapter 1 (Introduction) of WG1 of the Fifth IPCC report?

WG1 p.126: Climate in a narrow sense is usually defined as the average weather, or more rigorously, as the statistical description in terms of the mean and variability of relevant quantities over a period of time ranging from months to thousands or millions of years. The relevant quantities are most often surface variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind. Classically the period for averaging these variables is 30 years, as defined by the World Meteorological Organization.

Wouldn’t they consider that cheeky?

That said, if you have a list of email addresses of those who appear not to have read it, I can be cheeky when the occasion calls for it.

There are some for whom the WMO obviously carries no weight. We both know who they are, no need for their addresses.

584. @michael 2: However, while I consider myself religious, I don’t accept inconsistencies and I am “severable” in my various beliefs of science or religion.

I’m fine with that. God may listen to your prayers, but you’re not the only one and He needs to find a middle ground.

What I’d like to know is how many Californians these days are praying for continued fine weather. I’d like to talk to them.

585. JasonB says:

M2:

On a more serious note, and also still in reply to pbjamm, what exactly is wrong with presenting two or more sides of an issue to students and encouraging them to work it out? It is dogmatism at its worst to only present one side of an issue as if there is no other side or go farther and not allow anyone to think that other points of view exist.

I remember thinking, as I was learning physics as an undergraduate, how interesting it was that the sequence of ideas we were taught from high school through to university matched the evolving understanding of the natural world through human history.

By the end of first year we had caught up to the beginning of the 20th century, with Relativity and QM making an appearance.

Every time we learned a more accurate but more complex theory (or, as Asimov might say, a “less wrong” theory), I appreciated the stepping stones that we had walked on that led us to that point. Had someone tried to teach a 15-year-old me the Theory of Relativity or (heaven forbid!) the Standard Model I don’t think I could have ever taken that journey. I certainly wasn’t upset that I had been “lied” to when I was taught Newtonian mechanics; I recognised that “lies to children” are important in laying the groundwork that makes more complex thoughts possible.

Given that undergraduate instruction is basically to “catch up” someone to what is already known so that they might then go on to contribute something new, I’m not sure how much value there would be in taking time away from that task in order for them to “work out” whether Einstein or his detractors were right, especially since they would be ill-equipped to do so. That’s not “dogmatism”, that’s “teaching”. It would be easy for them to get bogged down because they do not yet understand what they need to in order to make an informed decision — and, often, once they do understand, the answer is obvious. I remember hearing a physics historian saying once that Relativity never had a small band of supporters fighting against the establishment trying to overturn the prevailing wisdom — once the idea had been expressed, those qualified to understand it thought it so obvious that it was immediately accepted by almost everyone.

By all means teach about competing theories and see if students can work out how and why one theory prevailed, but they’ll need to be “toy” examples. Some aspects of climate science might fit into that category (e.g. it’s easy to show why we can rule out the sun as a dominant cause of modern warming) but it would be quite easy to get into territory where quite a lot of knowledge would be required.

But more importantly, what “sides” ought to be presented? As “skeptics” are fond of pointing out, they aren’t all the same, and they don’t all have the same beliefs. The old joke about asking three economists’ their opinion and getting five different answers applies to AGW “skeptics” as well. Present the “It’s not happening” side and get the students to “work out” that it’s wrong and “skeptics” will complain that a strawman was used to make them look bad. Present the “It’s happening but it’s not us” side and on the one hand you’ll get some “skeptics” complaining that the students are being brainwashed into thinking it’s happening at all (dogmatism!), and on the other you’ll get some “skeptics’ complaining that all “skeptics” accept the science, they just disagree on how bad it will be, and so on.

The bottom line is that there aren’t “two sides”. There’s just one side, plus a whole bunch of different people who disagree with different aspects (and each other) without considering the evidence as a whole nor offering a competing explanation that fits all the data yet also arrives at their desired conclusion. If you’re aware of a competing scientific theory, by all means, tell us about it.

I mean, challenge GRAVITY for heaven’s sake, prove there’s such a thing and what it is.

That would be a nice trick.

So she wrote down that melting ice increases in weight. It was “wrong” but I did not challenge the answer she obtained experimentally. Experiments are the final authority — if you can account for all the variables! I expected the teacher to evaluate the experiment but he didn’t. Just rote teaching.

It’s a shame you didn’t use this as a teaching moment, because it perfectly illustrates the problem with the idea that “all it takes is one experiment to disprove a theory”, as explained by izen above. The reality is that lots of things can go wrong with an experiment — just ask the Cold Fusion guys, or the people who thought they’d found faster-than-light neutrinos.

Likewise, several times climate science has predicted results that were contradicted by the data available at the time and was later proven to be right when better data became available (UAH data being a perfect example).

It turns out that “accounting for all the variables” is actually really hard, and you need a theory to start with to figure out just what those variables might be.

586. Joshua says:

==> “Anyone claiming there’s a pause doesn’t know how climate is defined.”

Judith talks about the “pause” a lot – and I dare say that she knows how climate is defined. I have noticed that there might be indications of more qualified language recently, as she replaced (at least once) “pause” with:

“…the hiatus in global surface temperature increase.”

I think it’s important to acknowledge that she might be making some progress.

But at any rate – a person can know how climate is defined and still claim a :”pause” – as doing so can be useful rhetorically.

587. As I see the situation, accepting the existence of a pause is rhetorically useful also for people, who think that it’s of little significance. It may well be more productive to argue on the significance of a phenomenon, whose existence is accepted, than to argue that it does not exist at all, while others can observe it.

588. Michael 2 says:

I appreciate JasonB’s lengthy and intelligent response, one of the best arguments I have seen on that particular topic, and as carefully crafted, pretty hard to argue with so I won’t. But I suggest that it slightly misses the mark of what I, and maybe others, are concerned about.

JasonB says “But more importantly, what ‘sides’ ought to be presented?”

As you eloquently point out, in science only one side exists if by “side” you mean the thing that is true and exists. Water boils at 100 C at STP for everyone. It always has and always will, even if the universe expands and changes physical properties, because that is how 100 C is *defined*.

Where “sides” exist is the application of the One Truth.

When Tom decides he doesn’t like water boiling at 100 C. Perhaps he will try to move the whole world to geoengineering to reduce atmospheric pressure so it boils at 95 C. Or, he could move himself to a higher elevation so that for him it boils at 95 C. Or recalibrate all thermometers so water boiling at STP is 95 C.

“As skeptics are fond of pointing out, they aren’t all the same, and they don’t all have the same beliefs.”

Hooray for Diversity.

“The old joke about asking three economists’ their opinion and getting five different answers”

It’s a good one!

“Present the ‘It’s not happening’ side and get the students to work out that it’s wrong and ‘skeptics’ will complain that a strawman was used to make them look bad.”

Yep, that’s life. Prepare them for it. You have no idea how big was my surprise and dismay, which I’m still not over, that most of the human race doesn’t seem interested in True Stuff.

As the students work out “it’s not happening”, some of them will concur that it is not happening, some will decide that it *is* happening, and opinions on why, or whether to do anything or what to do will be extremely diverse. But it is better for them to WORK on it, be invested in it, make decisions, ACT. Do *something* besides play X-box for the rest of their lives.

“Present the ‘It’s happening but it’s not us’ side and on the one hand you’ll get some skeptics complaining that the students are being brainwashed into thinking it’s happening at all.”

Yep. Depending on the skill of the various advocates this could be a persuasive argument.

“and on the other you’ll get some skeptics complaining that all skeptics accept the science, they just disagree on how bad it will be, and so on.”

Plain to see you recognize many “sides”.

“The bottom line is that there aren’t “two sides”. There’s just one side, plus a whole bunch of different people who disagree with different aspects (and each other) without considering the evidence as a whole nor offering a competing explanation that fits all the data.”

Then we are debating the meaning of “side”. Sides have meaning in politics. Until it was proposed to send 100 billion dollars a year to Africa, with some skimmed by the brokers of course, there might have been only one “side”. Now suddenly you have “sides”.

Now about this “data” of which you speak so fondly. The data that *I* collect in various forms over the years I can trust. It has already been shown adequately to me that thermometer data has been, and continues to be, adjusted. [The ball, M2 -w] It is data in the sense that random numbers fed into a computer is, to it, still “data”. Whether you can get anything meaningful out of it is a different matter — and WHAT you get out of it depends on your “side”!

Some data in the world of climate science I trust because I have no particular reason not to, and I cannot very well make my own measurements of antarctic ice cores. [Play the ball, M2. -w]

“Me: I mean, challenge GRAVITY for heaven’s sake, prove there’s such a thing and what it is.”
“You: That would be a nice trick.”

Nothing to it. It is a high school science project. Compare to magnetism. Both are forces, but you can shield magnetism with iron. Can you shield gravity? You can easily observe its effects but you cannot say what it IS. Can gravity propagate in the universe, and if so, does it have waves (modulation)? Experiments are underway right now to discover if this is so.

So it is not like challenging the existence of gravity, rather, it is challenging assumptions about it.

Same with climate science. Climate changes, slowly, so you need a few decades of life experience particularly at atmospheric cell boundaries to “experience” it. But experiencing it is not understanding it, any more than experiencing gravity is understanding it.

Kids, and adults, aren’t interested in a thing that has no controversy. If you want to enliven a high school science class invite them to build a perpetual motion machine. You “know” it cannot be done, but you know it because you accept some laws of the conservation of mass and energy — you don’t need to build and fail at 10,000 machines.

Climate science is nowhere near that degree of assurance! Adding CO2 should have continued to warm the Earth over the past 18 years, but it hasn’t — and yet, it must! That means there’s a confounding factor that is cooling the earth at about the same rate as added CO2 is warming it.

I don’t know what is that confounding factor. Do you? Therefore, to me, the science is not settled. Your mileage probably varies and that is what creates “sides”.

589. Michael 2 says:

Vaughan: “What I’d like to know is how many Californians these days are praying for continued fine weather. I’d like to talk to them.”

That was genuinely a laugh-out-loud moment.

I tried to use something similar with my daughter who had taken to making her own magic spells. I asked her to consider with so many people casting spells for rain, while others cast spells for sunshine, what exactly is going to happen?

She was very confident that hers would work and everyone else that differed would fail. I explained that very likely every such person casting spells thought exactly the same, that theirs trumps everyone else, and from the point of view of whatever agent is actually tasked to decide whether it is going to rain today, probably decides to ignore everyone and just let nature take its course. That is, after all, the observation. But in her mind, spells would work if only they weren’t being canceled out by other witches. So her primary belief hasn’t been challenged she just realizes she is powerless because everyone else is at cross-purposes.

590. We could also use a better class of Precautionary Principal enthusiast :

“if only… the best available knowledge were to be used in all action… mankind might well reach a point where it… would attempt only those things which were totally predictable in their results…
We might conceive of a civilization coming to a stand­still, not because the possibilities of further growth had been exhausted, but because man had succeeded in so completely subjecting all his actions…to his existing state of knowledge that there would be no occasion for new knowledge to appear…
With the technological means of control now at the disposal of government, we… are not far from the point where the deliberately organized forces of society may destroy those spontaneous forces which have made advance possible.”

— F.A. Hayek, 1960

591. Michael 2 says:

Vaughan quoted Chris who wrote “Surely the point of religious ideas is that they purport to provide explanations for the nature of our world…(etc).”

Whereas I think it is sort of the other way round — observing nature and coming up with ideas about how it came to be.

IF your idea requires a creator or imputes “purpose” and meaning, you have just invented religion.

IF your idea requires physical processes only, then you have science.

Of course the matrix implies a third possibility (both exist), and a fourth (neither — this person doesn’t observe nature!).

592. Steve Bloom says:

Anyone wishing for a better class of climate “skeptic” is going to be disappointed. A couple implications: Kahan’s way won’t work either, but on the (sort of) plus side conservatives will respond quite nicely as soon as they perceive a suitable short-term threat.

An interesting sidelight to all of this is the mass departure of scientists from right-wing parties (although this seems more limited outside of the major Anglophone countries) to the point where the likes of Harper and Abbott are treating scientists as class enemies. .

593. JasonB says:

M2:

Plain to see you recognize many “sides”.

Recognise? It’s always been obvious to anybody who accepts the science that those “opposite” don’t even agree with each other; the only thing that unites them is a common belief that the science “must” be wrong. Even the so-called “luke warmers”, who like to think of themselves as not being crazy like the others because they accept the science (sometimes even denying the existence of those who don’t accept the science!) rely on wishful thinking to support their beliefs rather than examining all of the evidence.

Presenting them as the other “side” in a scientific debate, however, is no different to arguing that Creationism is the other “side” to the evolution “debate” that should be taught in science classrooms. Again, we’re not talking about competing scientific theories, we’re talking about science vs non-science: Assessing all the evidence and allowing it to drive a conclusion vs cherry-picking evidence that supports a prior belief.

Then we are debating the meaning of “side”. Sides have meaning in politics. Until it was proposed to send 100 billion dollars a year to Africa, with some skimmed by the brokers of course, there might have been only one “side”. Now suddenly you have “sides”.

That illustrates one of the logical flaws with many “skeptics'” thinking, but it doesn’t change the simple observation I made: There is only one scientific theory in contention at the moment. If you really think there is a competing theory then, again, I invite you to present it.

Now about this “data” of which you speak so fondly. The data that *I* collect in various forms over the years I can trust.

How do you know you can trust it? How did you calibrate your instruments? What was the error margin? How did you account for confounding factors? How do you know you didn’t make a mistake?

It has already been shown adequately to me that thermometer data has been, and continues to be, adjusted.

Of course it does. It has to be, in order to make it as accurate as possible. Failure to adjust means knowingly taking raw data that has errors in it and using it regardless.

(BEST, of course, uses another, perfectly valid approach, which also confirms the efficacy of those adjustments.)

It is data in the sense that random numbers fed into a computer is, to it, still “data”. Whether you can get anything meaningful out of it is a different matter — and WHAT you get out of it depends on your “side”!

No, it really doesn’t. One “side” approaches the issue scientifically — e.g. measure what effect TOBS has on recorded temperature, and correct for it; measure what effect changing the instrument types has, and correct for it; don’t correct for these effects and just introduce a discontinuity in the data at that point, relying on nearby observations to tie the records together — and, surprise, surprise, they all come up with the same result. The other “side” just spreads FUD.

Many years ago, when the Surface Stations project was first started, I looked at what they were saying and I thought: “Hmm, they might have a point”. That’s what a genuine sceptic does. But a genuine sceptic doesn’t stop there — they try to find out if there really is an issue or not. And sure enough, a guy named “John V” actually decided to investigate, and wrote his own global temperature reconstruction program that allowed the user to use the gold-standard stations (CRN12) or the worst stations (CRN5) and compare the results to GISTEMP, and, sure enough, it made no meaningful difference.

This was way back in 2007. Through a simple experiment, a genuine sceptic had investigated the issue and demonstrated it was a non-starter. Yet, seven years later, there are still people who haven’t taken that simple step.

“You: That would be a nice trick.” […] You can easily observe its effects but you cannot say what it IS.

Hence my comment. Given that there are multiple, competing, and incompatible theories out there attempting to reconcile Relativity with the Standard Model (that’s what it really looks like when there are competing “sides”), it’s hardly a high school science project to say what gravity IS.

Adding CO2 should have continued to warm the Earth over the past 18 years, but it hasn’t — and yet, it must!

This illustrates several problems with your understanding.

Firstly, of course the Earth has continued to warm, as evidenced by a wide range of measures. What was a typical Arctic summer ice extent 18 years ago?

The surface temperature record is but one measure, and it is looking at a small fraction of the system, and even it doesn’t say the Earth hasn’t continued to warm. Using the SkS trend calculator, for example, I get 0.107 ±0.110 °C/decade for GISTEMP from 1996 to now. That means that the true trend could be 0 over that period, but it is just as likely to be 0.214 °C/decade over that period. Using that data alone you can’t rule out the possibility that the surface temperature has stopped rising, but you also can’t rule out the possibility that it has risen just as fast as before! Indeed, going from 1980 until now we get 0.157 ±0.046 °C/decade. This is definitely not consistent with a zero trend, and the more recent trend is entirely consistent with that. (Ironically, using 1980-1996 the trend is only 0.102 ±0.149 °C/decade, so this period of time when the Earth supposedly stopped warming has caused the central rate figure to increase.)

Secondly, does adding CO2 mean that today must be hotter than yesterday? Does it mean this year must be hotter than last? Clearly not. In fact, climate is defined as the average over 30 years, because intrinsic internal variability can mask the underlying trend over short periods of time. Something as simple as a change in the relative frequency of El Ninos vs La Ninas can mask the underlying trend, at least until the next big El Nino comes along. It is precisely this kind of thing that the ± figures on the trend calculator are trying to capture; the reason that the underlying trend gets more uncertain over shorter periods of time is due to the signal:noise ratio, where “signal” in this case means “forced response” and “noise” in this case means “unforced variations”. If we want to know what the effect of our CO2 emissions are going to be in the future we have to filter out the noise.

Imagine a dog running around the deck of a slow-moving boat. If you’re trying to figure out how fast the boat is moving by measuring the dog’s position, you’ll need to average it out over a period of time to do so. (If the dog is running fast enough, then sometimes he’ll actually appear to be going “backwards” relative to the computed direction of motion for a while.) If you want to know where the dog will be in the future, you need to know how fast the boat is moving; then you can predict his location to within a certain degree of accuracy, because even if you know exactly how fast the boat is going, you don’t know where on the boat the dog will be then.

BTW, climate models also show periods of zero (or even negative) trend for up to 20 years even while undergoing overall warming in response to CO2 emissions — something the real temperature measurement hasn’t done yet by a long shot, but it may do one day. In order to dispute the theory, you need to show that the observations are actually inconsistent with the theory, not merely inconsistent with what you think the theory says.

I don’t know what is that confounding factor. Do you?

Well, as I’ve already explained, I dispute the notion that the Earth isn’t warming, but if you’re looking for confounding factors that make it easier for people to cherry-pick data that they believe supports their case, I know several:

1. The temperature records (HADCRUT especially) under-represent the true underlying warming trend because of poor coverage in the Arctic, which is the fastest warming area (known from observation and predicted by theory).

2. The trends used for this argument are cherry-picked to start near the largest El Nino on record, which was clearly an outlier. The next time we have a large El Nino that causes the previous records to be smashed, it will merely become the new starting point for future “it’s not warming” claims.

3. As shown by John N-G’s post linked above, there has been a preponderance of La Nina’s in the past decade, and no strong El Nino’s. Unless someone can present an argument that global warming affects the long-term frequency of El Nino’s and La Nina’s, we can assume this is just a temporary phenomenon, and even if it isn’t, it’s a one-off effect, and they have a limited possible impact (think of the dog deciding to go to sleep at the stern — a one-off decrease in his forward movement as he moves down there, but once he’s there he can’t make the boat appear to be going slower any more).

4. The last solar cycle has been relatively low.

We’re actually spoilt for choices when it comes to “explanations”, and our best measures of the overall heat increase of the entire system show it hasn’t slowed down anyway.

Therefore, to me, the science is not settled. Your mileage probably varies and that is what creates “sides”.

Sorry, that does not a scientific “side” make. Where’s your competing theory? Failing that, where’s your evidence that the current theory is wrong? When Relativity replaced Newtonian mechanics, there were observations that definitely were not consistent with Newton’s theory. Where are these observations?

When you say “yet, it must!”, you simply aren’t accurately representing what the science actually says. It’s a strawman. In fact, the science says that we haven’t even come close to the negative/trendless excursions that the models say are possible.

A trite observations that the science is not “settled” is not a counter argument to what the science says. Medical science isn’t “settled” either, but do you treat homeopaths with the same regard as medical doctors?

Did you read Asimov’s essay that I linked to earlier? No scientist will ever say that we know everything about a topic; but just as our models for the shape of the Earth were increasingly refined, each was still better than the one before. We didn’t suddenly wake up to discover the Earth was actually a dodecahedron.

That means that we can’t rule out the possibility that some currently-unknown factor will come into play and prevent global warming from being too harmful; but it would be unwise to count on it. Many a gambler has fallen foul of that instinct.

594. verytallguy says:

JasonB,

I admire your response to M2, but what M2 wrote is actually a pretty honest description of denial.
Denial – from Wiki:

the refusal to accept an empirically verifiable reality. It is an essentially irrational action that withholds validation of a historical experience or event”

Compare this to M2 on the temperature record

It is data in the sense that random numbers fed into a computer is, to it, still “data”. Whether you can get anything meaningful out of it is a different matter — and WHAT you get out of it depends on your “side”!

M2 here simply refuses to accept the verifiable reality of the temperature record.

M2 also demonstrates the motivation for denial:

Sides have meaning in politics. Until it was proposed to send 100 billion dollars a year to Africa…

A better class of sceptic is indeed needed.

595. JasonB says:

VTG: It is odd that M2 would question the temperature record while at the same time trying to use that same temperature record to claim that there’s been no warming for 18 years (ignoring that’s not what it shows and that it doesn’t have the significance he seems to think it has if it did).

It’s a little bit like “skeptics” loudly proclaiming “climategate” and casting aspersions on the voracity of HadCRUT while at the same time insisting on using it for all trend calculations because it happens to show a lower rate of warming than the 100% publicly available and repeatedly verified GISTEMP does.

To illustrate how real sceptics investigate a temperature record for bias, I submit Cowtan and Way (2013).

596. A couple of questions:

– At what point does legitimate scientific skepticism turn to fake skepticism?
– How can a nonspecialist decide, what to believe and what not?
– How to “assess all the evidence”?

One answer might be: IPCC has done all that for you, trust the IPCC reports, but is it surprising that many people don’t accept that answer. In addition it’s not in all cases clear, how the text of the IPCC reports should be interpreted.

Another approach has been to determine the level of agreement among a relevant group of scientists, but
– What’s the relevant group of scientists?
– How can we determine the level of agreement on anything beyond the most trivial? (Almost full agreement has been found for the most trivial, attempts to go in further details have given pretty ambiguous results.)

It’s also possible to ask, whether the details really matter, don’t we know enough to reach the policy conclusions from the fraction of what we know about climate science, when we take the precautionary principle into account.

There are many possible ways to counter fake skepticism, but, how to make a single one of the ways effective?

Telling, how big bad corporate forces have created the skepticism may get applauds from some, but the (fake?) skeptics themselves feel only insulted and more convinced that the other side lacks real arguments.

597. guthrie says:

By the time someone is an out and out denialist, there’s little point in trying to persuade them to change their mind. Your best approach is simply hammer them with facts so that anyone else reading the exchange understands things better. The public have some chance of distinguishing real from fake sceptics when the fake ones throw a tantrum after being hammered with information and argument repeatedly and are unable to answer.

598. johnrussell40 says: