Some kudos

In a recent post, Andrew Montford appeared to associate me with Paul Krugman and Michael Mann. August company indeed, although I don’t think it was intended as a compliment. I did, however, decide to comment on the post, and it went remarkably well. I could be snarky and suggest that as I wasn’t expecting much, that may not mean anything, but in fact it was pretty good even in an absolute sense.

I didn’t change my mind about anything, and I don’t think I changed anyone else’s mind, but I learned some things that I didn’t know, I now have better understanding of some of the views that others hold (even if I still disagree), and it was reasonably enjoyable. Not much use bothering if it isn’t, in some sense. It wasn’t without it’s niggles, but some people seemed willing to at least exchange ideas in a decent and well-meaning way, and appeared to engage in good faith. I certainly don’t think that the only reason for engaging in a discussion is to convince others of your position. In my view, it serves many purposes. You learn things, you might inform others, and maybe you might even hone your arguments. Of course, there may be only so many times that you can repeat the same type of discussion, but having as your only goal to convince others of your position seems somewhat close-minded.

The actual discussion was about Michael Mann and the famous Hockey Stick, a discussion that – given the strong feelings – I generally tend to avoid. Given the topic, maybe it’s doubly impressive that it didn’t degenerate solely into mud-slinging (there was a bit of that). I’ve also just noticed that Steve McIntrye has just posted a couple of comments, to which I haven’t responded. Not that I’m trying to be rude, but I just don’t really know what more to say. For what it’s worth, my general view is still summed up best by Eli’s comment. That a young researcher could face such vitriol and criticism, and survive, is remarkable. I certainly would not have been able to do so.

On another note, Roger Pielke Jr responded, on Twitter, to my recent post about why people may give him a hard time, suggesting that I have no idea about his views on climate science/policy. Of course, he may well be correct. I clearly cannot know someone’s views. However, I can hold an opinion about them based on what I’ve seen and read. In fairness to Roger, he appeared to acknowledge that point, seemed to be trying to reach out, suggested he was looking forward to an informed discussion, and offered to send me a copy of his book if I emailed him. Of course, the anonymity thing makes that rather tricky. Some may – rightly possibly – think I’m hiding behind that. On the other hand, the anonymity does mean (I think) that I’m being judged on what I write here, rather than on anything else. Also, despite how it might seem, I’m really not trying to become a player. In a sense, the beauty of technology today is that anyone can start a blog, write what they think (barring libel and slander) and let others decide on whether or not they want to take any notice of what’s written.

Anyway, maybe these exchanges make me think that it is possible to have pleasant, well-intentioned, and meaningful discussions between people who may hold very different views about a highly contentious topic. Of course, it’s quite likely that my optimism will be beaten out of me the next time I try, but at least it makes me think that all is not lost.

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115 Responses to Some kudos

  1. AnOilMan says:

    It may be your technique for discussion. I mean, you’re no expert, but you are calmly and logically going though all the material. (I’m certainly learning from it, and learning to fling poo less.)

    I’m curious but at this point have you seen any material that would a serious weak point in our understanding of Global Warming?

    Do you think we’ve finally hit the ‘what to do about it’ barrier?

  2. AoM,

    I’m curious but at this point have you seen any material that would a serious weak point in our understanding of Global Warming?

    No, not at all. I think there’s even possibly a slow change in the rhetoric in terms of people accepting more and having to find then different arguments to justify their views.

    Do you think we’ve finally hit the ‘what to do about it’ barrier?

    I don’t know if we’ve quite got there, but my guess is that we may not be far away.

  3. Steve Bloom says:

    “I’m curious but at this point have you seen any material that would a serious weak point in our understanding of Global Warming?”

    BBD being on vacation I have to shoulder more than my share of the Dolly Downer role around here, so I’ll point out that there are a number of major weak points, mostly on the bad side of things.

    As I’ve mentioned here before, maybe the biggie is the inability of the models to advect enough heat into the Arctic to allow for Pliocene-like climate conditions there, and the implications of that inevitable heating for loss of permafrost, in particular the yedoma, and shallow clathrates. The trend toward more and bigger fires at higher and higher latitudes is just plain depressing.

    There are others, of course.

  4. Steve,
    Ahh, yes. I interpreted AoM’s question as implying “weak” as in – maybe the skeptics arguments have more value that I at first realised, rather than “weak” as in simply – there’s things we still don’t understand.

  5. > Roger Pielke Jr responded, on Twitter, to my recent post about why people may give him a hard time, suggesting that I have no idea about his views on climate science/policy.

    Have you read his books? Have you read each and every papers he wrote? What about his blog posts, including those at Prometheus?

    I guess not. Then you can’t cross that bridge:

    [Find your own quote.]

    http://scientistscitizens.wordpress.com/2011/08/02/making-arguments-expensive/

    The Honest Broker have the most expensive arguments around.

  6. Willard,
    Very interesting, thanks. This tweet from Roger (one hour before he contacted me) may be an illustration of what your link is discussing

  7. Steve Bloom says:

    You don’t go far enough, Willard:

    Have you taken on board every nuance of intepretation of the entirety of his written and oral corpus?

    And by interpretation, he means his interpretation.

    There, now all can agree.

  8. Would be interesting to call his bluff on this, AT. But then Junior bets you won’t. In case you need to reply to that, ask him what specific example he had in mind. You’ll see him folding in no time.

    Total ClimateBall ™ (think Total Football) at its finest.

  9. Willard,

    Would be interesting to call his bluff on this, AT. But then Junior bets you won’t.

    He’s probably right. Whatever Jean Goodwin might think of the calibre of Roger’s debating tactics, I read the exchanges in Roger’s post and it’s hard to see how any reasonable person wouldn’t simply describe his style as in bad faith.

  10. BBD says:

    Steve

    BBD being on vacation I have to shoulder more than my share of the Dolly Downer role around here

    I’ll try and stamp out any undue exuberance on the part of other commenters when I can, but rest assured that I am grateful for your efforts while I am frolicking in the Cornish surf/swilling beer in lovely old pubs etc. I’ll be back next weekend.

    🙂

  11. Doing some actual surfing, I hope?

  12. Doug Bostrom says:

    Speaking of Mann and Krugman, quite recently at his blog Krugman made some interesting remarks on Mark Steyn’s unhealthy and seemingly counterproductive obsession with Mann’s work becoming a case of the biter bit. Comments are a slight variation on the familiar.

    The Empiricist Strike Back

  13. victorpetri says:

    “His reward for that hard work was not simply assertions that he was wrong — which he wasn’t “4
    Anyway, is Krugman wrong when he asserts that MM isn’t wrong?

  14. victorpetri,

    Anyway, is Krugman wrong when he asserts that MM isn’t wrong?

    I presume you mean MBH, but I’m not sure I can face starting this discussion all over again. If someone wants at it, go ahead. Otherwise, Victor, maybe read some RealClimate posts on the topic.

  15. BBD says:

    I noticed this from Steve McIntyre at BH:

    For example, the Marcott reconstruction has received much publicity but the blade of its hockey stick is an artifact of proxy dropout rather than blades in the individual proxies. Its SH reconstruction is particularly egregious as its very ‘early” blade depends on a single oddball series.

    Egregious, persistent misrepresentation that has been endlessly debunked. Here’s Marcott at RC (emphasis mine):

    Thus, the 20th century portion of our paleotemperature stack is not statistically robust, cannot be considered representative of global temperature changes, and therefore is not the basis of any of our conclusions.

    From Marcott et al. (2013):

    To compare our Standard5×5 reconstruction with modern climatology, we aligned the stack’s mean for the interval 510 to 1450 yr B.P. (where yr B.P. is years before 1950 CE) with the same interval’s mean of the global Climate Research Unit error-in-variables (CRU-EIV) composite temperature record, which is, in turn, referenced to the 1961–1990 CE instrumental mean.

    But still it goes on.

  16. BBD,
    Yes, I did notice that, but I’d rather decided that I was all paleo-reconstruction argued out 🙂

  17. BBD says:

    Doing some actual surfing, I hope?

    As a consequence of a deprived childhood in the industrial North, I never learned 🙂

    So I’m with the saddo crew bobbing about with bodyboards (aka frolicking).. And thanks for forcing this admission out of me in a public forum 🙂 Not only do I have to live down once being a ‘sceptic’, I’m now also known not to be a surf god in my spare time. Wipeout!

    I think a dozen or so whiny victimhood comments and storming off in a huff will have to follow.

  18. BBD says:

    Yes, I did notice that, but I’d rather decided that I was all paleo-reconstruction argued out

    I’m afraid I’m banned from the episcopal palace, so this is all I can do. Tidy commentary over there by you though. Chapeau.

  19. I tried to post this at our beloved Bishop’s, without success so far:

    The Auditor writes:

    > That link shows that my most recent article on MBH98 is from 2008.

    The most recent article in that category is this one:

    http://climateaudit.org/2014/05/09/mann-misrepresents-the-epa-part-1/

    This means that in May 2014 there was an article that was classified as “MBH98” on CA.

    Wonder why?

    ***

    > What’s your point?

    That articles allegedly not “on MBH98” got classified as “MBH98.” That “on MBH98” cuts very little ice regarding what AT was discussing. These two points alone show that the accusation that I “make stuff up” has little merit.

    And that’s notwithstanding that we’re in 2014, discussing something that can be categorized as “MBH98” on some contrarian blog.

    ***

    > I have not publicly used the term “fraud” in respect to Mann’s work.

    Speaking of making stuff up, AT’s point was not about what the Auditor says or not, but about those who publicly accuse scientists of fraud. But since we’re here, let it be noted that it is public knowledge that the Auditor does not always say what he thinks:

    > As I’ve observed from time to time, I don’t publicly say everything that I think.

    http://neverendingaudit.tumblr.com/post/78844823835

    The source of that discussion also shows that it would be unwise to say that the Auditor never mentions the F-word. There was a time when Bre-X and Enron analogies had some currency. If that does not suffice, we have the Auditor expressing an opinion regarding what should have been investigated a bit above.

    And of course, all this is being reheased in a thread where our beloved Bishop is burdening AT to read his political hit job.

    Fancy that.

    ***

    As for the “making stuff up” ringtone, the Auditor used it on an whole thread at Tony’s, e.g.:

    > More fantasies from Nick Stokes who increasingly just fabricates stories:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/02/manns-hockey-stick-climategate-and-foi-in-a-nutshell/#comment-672852

    It never gets old.

    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2014/8/11/krugman-homeopath.html?currentPage=2#comments

    It should appear any time soon, no doubt.

    The Auditor can’t even concede that he’s linking Steyn c. Mann with MBH98.

  20. uknowispeaksense says:

    BBD says, “I’m now also known not to be a surf god in my spare time. Wipeout!”

    Boogie
    Board
    Diva

  21. Captain Flashheart says:

    [Mod: I’d rather you demonstrate how someone’s behaviour might be considered stalking rather than make accusations like this. I’d also prefer you preface it with “in my opinion”. Thanks.]

  22. Rachel M says:

    BBD,

    I’m just impressed that you’re in the sea. The last time I dipped my toes in the ocean around Britain, in summer I should add, I thought I might need an ice-breaker. Admittedly this was the north sea which is probably colder. But having spent most summers of my childhood in the surf at Mooloolaba, where the sea temperature is over 20C in winter and I would never dream of swimming in the sea in winter in Mooloolaba, swimming in the sea in Great Britain sounds very impressive.

  23. anoilman says:

    Any of you actually interested in some waves? My parents have a spare beach front Condo in Hawaii with over 180 degrees of ocean view at a surf break.

    Rachel, my son went running into the Pacific Ocean in Vancouver last year… He ran right back out.

  24. Marco says:

    In my part of the world there is a considerable group of usually slightly older men and women who dip themselves into the cold sea water in winter…nekkid…

    Now, in late summer, sea temperatures are mostly still slightly below 20 degrees, so you can imagine the temperature in winter.

  25. http://rovaniemi.visitrovaniemi.fi/winterswimming2014/winterswimming2014eng/Current-information

    The link should be self-explanatory. The rules of the 450 m endurance swim add a little to that

    All Participants need to bring to the Organiser a signed and witnessed letter from their swimming club coach stating their suitability and ability to swim 450m in very cold water. Participants must also bring confirmation from their doctor that includes an ECG (an electrocardiogram) report with blood analysis that certifies the Participant as sufficiently healthy to undertake the 450m swim. This must be produced at the Event Registration in order to collect their ID making them eligible to swim. It is highly recommended that each swimmer should have personal insurance that includes a winter swimming clause.

    (No, that’s not my hobby, but I was indirectly involved in the organization of the event.)

  26. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    I more or less read the whole text. But it’s quite a lot. It’s all beating around the bush. What I just was wondering is whether was Krugman was wrong in his assertion that Michael Mann ‘ – wasn’t wrong’.

    It would be a simple yes or no.

  27. It would be a simple yes or no.

    Really?

  28. victorpetri,

    It would be a simple yes or no.

    As Pekka indicates, it’s not that simple. In fact, I was getting into trouble on this blog from a few paleo-type climate scientists for using terminology like “right” and “wrong” about this type of things 🙂

    At the end of the day, all of this type of work is an attempt to reconstruct our past climate history using proxies. What does right and wrong even mean? What this work does is provide some evidence about our past climate. MBH98/99 was one of the early bits of work that tried to do this on an almost global scale (Northern Hemisphere mainly). They did use a non-standard centering for their PCA analysis which did influence their results. I’m learning that some of the analysis may not have been statistically robust (I’m not quite sure that I understand this or what it implies). At the end of the day, however, if you look at the results from MBH98/99 and results presented today, they are similar. We have much more information today. We know more about the Medieval Warm Anomaly and the Little Ice Age. There’s more information about variability. So, our understanding today is not the same as it was 15/16 years ago, but it’s not wildly different.

    Did MBH98/99 make a mistake in their analysis. Sure. Did it influence their results. Yes. Did it make much of a difference. According to papers like Huybers (2005), not really.

  29. victorpetri says:

    @ATTP
    Thanks to help me understand.
    I guess he was incorrect, not wrong.

  30. victorpetri,

    I guess he was incorrect, not wrong.

    I would be surprised if that wasn’t true of virtually everything. It’s the significance of the incorrectness that matters, not that it might exist.

  31. victorpetri says:

    Until we find the unifying theory of everything, you might well be right.

  32. victorpetri,
    What I was really meaning is that it is rare in a fundamental complex science to find a piece of research that is complete in all respects; that doesn’t have any assumptions or simplifications. Therefore, if you really want to pick holes in a piece of work, it could be almost always easy to do so. So, terms like “right” and “wrong” and even “incorrect” don’t always make sense. The important thing is really whether or not that piece of work helps us to improve understanding, whether or not the work produces a reasonable representation of what’s being studied, and whether or not the things that are not perfect are likely to have a significant impact on the result.

  33. Rachel M says:

    I want to disagree with you, AndThen. For clarification, here’s what Paul Krugman says:

    His reward for that hard work was not simply assertions that he was wrong — which he wasn’t — but a concerted effort to destroy his life and career with accusations of professional malpractice …

    What exactly does he mean when he says he wasn’t wrong? I interpret this broadly and I think this is Krugman’s intention. Was Michael Mann wrong that the recent warming was unprecedented in at least the last 1000 years? No, he wasn’t wrong. He was right. The recent warming *is* unprecedented. This was the main finding of the paper and this is what has been confirmed by numerous other studies since. So I think it is fair to say that Paul Krugman is correct.

  34. Rachel,
    Sure, I thought that was roughly what I had said but maybe not quite a clearly. What we concluded based on his work is not particularly different to what we conclude today based on much more recent work.

  35. Rachel,
    I’m probably being a little cagey here so as to avoid the standard, “but he didn’t centre his PCA analysis correctly”. At the end of the day, though, people can always pick holes in some piece of research, especially if it’s an early piece of work that was breaking new ground. So, you’re right, that what we concluded from this early work is not very different to what we would conclude today based on more recent work. Therefore, what was said about that early work isn’t wrong.

    On the other hand, it did have errors, so pedants could argue that the work was wrong. However, what I’ve learned in discussing this topic is that applying terms like “right” and “wrong” to a piece of research doesn’t really make sense.

  36. Andrew Dodds says:

    @victorpetri

    Well, I’m going to define ‘Not wrong’ as ‘The error bars for the reconstruction contain the current bast estimate for temperatures for the same region’, and say that on that basis, that MBH98 was not wrong.

    @Rachel

    I was up to my waist in the sea at Swansea a couple of weeks ago. If that’s not a sign of the End Times I don’t know what is. Personally, I’m going to take up UK-based surfing AFTER the Arctic Methane Monster does it’s burp, though.

  37. Rachel M says:

    There’s a slim possibility that Krugman meant – “he wasn’t wrong, he did centre his PCA analysis correctly” – but I doubt it. 🙂

    The other way to look at it is that if we can’t really say the work is wrong, which is what your earlier comments were suggesting, then Krugman saying “he wasn’t wrong”, is right. Since we tend not to talk about results as being right or wrong and Krugman doesn’t actually say he was right, just that he wasn’t wrong. Am I channeling Willard now?

    So it seems to me that in answer to Victorpetri’s question:

    What I just was wondering is whether was Krugman was wrong in his assertion that Michael Mann ‘ – wasn’t wrong’.

    We can say: No, Krugman wasn’t wrong.

  38. verytallguy says:

    To attempt to get yes or no answers to complex issues is to play rhetorical games.

    In my not at all expert opinion, a fair way to characterise the final outcome of the validity of MBH98 would be that subsequent work has confirmed the overall conclusions, and improvements have been made to the methodology in that later work. In other words, normal progression of science.

    More importantly though, I’d like to record the fact that I have swum in the sea off both Aberdeen*, Mull* and also in a loch in the Cairngorms in the last two weeks. The latter, surprisingly, was much warmer.

    *Full disclosure – for less than 30 seconds in both cases

  39. Marco says:

    Victor’s comment reminds me of Asimov’s “The Relativity of Wrong”
    http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

  40. Marco says:

    Perhaps I should add that before I ever read that piece of Asimov I already had come to the same conclusion. You can also find me, at times, complain when someone states science is a search for the truth. It is not. It is a search for the best possible description of how the world works, and make applicable predictions out of those descriptions.

  41. Rachel M says:

    My sister-in-law swims in Lake Geneva all year round. I think this is completely nuts.

  42. Rachel M says:

    Marco, that article is good. I think I’ve seen it before. It looks familiar. I will say though that my husband would disagree about the right and wrong. He’s a pure mathematician and right and wrong are never fuzzy, they’re clearly recognised and easily defined in pure maths.

  43. Concerning the centering issue of the time series, I believe that the kind of centering MBH used is likely to produce fairly good results, if the signal is clear, but is subject to the risk of spurious conclusions, when noise is strong and strongly autocorrelated.

    It’s a reasonable way for trying to extract information, but it makes estimating the significance of the results problematic.

    As I see the idea of the approach:

    1) Centering to the recent average assures that time series that have a real warming signal in the latter part of the time series get picked to have a strong share of PC1 that represents mainly temperature.

    2) Time series that do not have sufficient data over recent past to get their PC1 component fixed by (1) get their PC1 weight from correlations with those that are fixed by (1).

    If the real signal that operates in (1) is strong relative to autocorrelated noise, the outcome is likely to be correct, in the opposite case the risk of spurious results grows.

    The quality of the proxy time series used is a separate issue strongly emphasized by the critics of MBH98 and MBH99.

  44. Pekka,

    if the signal is clear, but is subject to the risk of spurious conclusions, when noise is strong and strongly autocorrelated.

    But isn’t this a little like the point that I think that Tom was trying to make in on early post. If it were physically plausible for variations in our climate to be randomly correlated over long timescales (many decades) this may be an issue. However, we don’t expect this. Any multi-decade variability is likely to be forced, not unforced. Therefore, it seems that if the method is able to pick up these signals, it’s more likely to be an indication of some real variability, rather than some kind of random perturbation.

    In a sense, this seems a little like the argument Doug Keenan tries to make about the instrumental temperature record. He can find a random walk process that reproduces the instrumental temperature record. The response to this is, so what, it’s not a random process.

  45. ATTP,

    The autocorrelations of the proxy records are not necessarily due to climatic variations as most proxies are influenced by a number of factors.

  46. Pekka,
    Okay, yes I can see that.

  47. BBD says:

    @ Rachel

    I’m just impressed that you’re in the sea.

    It’s bloody cold but just about bearable this year. Some years I don’t swim 😉

    @ UKISS

    Body
    Board
    Diva

    ***k. I’ll never live this down.

  48. Rachel, math is also not science. In math you have proof and right and wrong. In science you only have evidence and falsification.

  49. KR says:

    Rachel, math is in essence an entirely deductive system – everything follows from the axioms used, and a great deal of mathematics is exploring the consequences and implications of those axioms in deductive form. In deduction you have proof, right, and wrong.

    Science in general, however, also includes inductive logic – generalizations from evidence, identifying relationships from individual instances. Hypotheses about these generalizations and rules are created, tested against the evidence, and accepted or rejected based upon their agreement with that evidence. Induction is more powerful than deduction in that you can learn something new, something not in your set of axioms, but by the same token it becomes a matter of becoming more and and more accurate with new evidence, analysis, and science – rather than step-by-step identification of ‘right’ results.

    Victorpetri – Your use of ‘right’, ‘wrong’, and ‘incorrect’ are IMO poorly applied. MBH98 tested hypotheses against the evidence, and their hypotheses and conclusions (recent times warmest in the last 1000 years) have held up. Their results have been refined, using multiple and often different methodologies, and really the strongest criticism you can apply would be to note that they could (but only in hindsight) have done a better job with their statistics, that additional proxies provide refined evidence – but that in essence they were correct.

    [Ha! Actually using my Philosophy degree. My professors would be pleased. 🙂 ]

  50. izen says:

    @-“He’s a pure mathematician and right and wrong are never fuzzy, they’re clearly recognised and easily defined in pure maths.”

    That is because pure maths, like religion and ideas of right and wrong, are imaginary constructs of the human brain that are imposed upon reality.
    Not derived from it. (grin)

  51. Marco: “You can also find me, at times, complain when someone states science is a search for the truth. It is not.”

    I would say that science is a search for the truth, in the same way that art and music can be said to be a search for perfection. Of course perfection, or truth, can never really be attained; so in the mean time… “It is a search for the best possible description of how the world works, and make applicable predictions out of those descriptions.

    Maybe the problem is being too literal with the word ‘truth’?

  52. Chic Bowdrie says:

    ATTP,

    At Bishop Hill–in response to someone complaining about the scientists who accept the basic science of anthropogenic climate change, but are called deniers if they disagree on policy or projections–you said,

    “However, here’s what I sometimes see :people who claim to accept the basic science of AGW but then follow that with something like ‘but climate sensitivity will be low’, or ‘I believe climate sensitivity will be low’, or ‘I believe climate change will be beneficial’. You don’t get – in science – to pick which bit you like. Stating that you accept the science and then selecting a particular result means that you don’t really accept that science. So, there are some who justify their policy position by selecting an aspect of the science that isn’t actually representative of our best understanding. Whether or not that warrants being labelled in some way is not for me to decide, but – in my view – it doesn’t mean (whatever they may say publicly) that they actually accept the science.”

    Notice how you say “our best understanding.” This is a problem in climate science. An group of insiders think their understanding trumps everyone else’s.

  53. BBD says:

    An group of insiders think their understanding trumps everyone else’s.

    As credentialled experts their understanding does trump everybody else’s. With special reference to libertarian ideologues and subscribers to dominionist theologies.

  54. Chic,
    As you illustrate, my response was to a question as to why some people who claim to accept AGW still get labelled as deniers. The answer – I think – is that they claim to accept AGW and then say something that makes it clear that they don’t.

    To a certain extent the whole issue seems a little silly. It’s a bit like asking why I might think someone is unpleasant when they’ve told me – very clearly – that they’re a very nice person. We don’t get to decide how we’re labelled. That get’s decided by others. If we believe that our view is justified then – in my view – we should just own it. If we don’t like the label, then maybe behave differently.

    As for “best evidence”, I just meant that we can determine – from all the evidence available – a most likely description of our climate and how it may evolve under anthropogenic and other influences. If you don’t like the word “best”, fine. Choose another one. I’m not suggesting that the overall view will be right, I’m simply suggesting that it is the view that is most consistent with all the evidence available. If you want to hold a different view, that’s fine. Maybe there’s even a tiny chance that you may end up right, but I see no sensible reason why we should base our understanding of our climate on minority views and on a small selection of the evidence.

  55. anoilman says:

    Chic Bowdrie: Excellent description… Oh… it was Ander’s description.

    “Stating that you accept the science and then selecting a particular result means that you don’t really accept that science.”

    This is what far right politicians in Alberta actually did. Danny the Denier (Dannielle Smith) is now a ‘luke warmer’ after being booed off stage in seriously conservative Alberta. Its not like the politicians here do anything about it, but they take it seriously.

    Before;
    http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/04/19/wildrose-leader-booed-during-alberta-leaders-debate-for-doubting-climate-change-science/

    After;
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/wildrose-shifts-toward-middle-on-tolerance-climate-change/article15113777/

    Oh how they flip flop just like a fish out of water.

  56. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP writes: “On the other hand, the anonymity does mean (I think) that I’m being judged on what I write here”

    Exactly, and that is important to a person that wishes *ideas* to be challenged, judged, and as you put it “honed”.

    Some of the best discussions happen when a newbie arrives on scene and advocates of all sides descend upon this fresh meat to convert him to their way of thinking, and you are neither instantly ridiculed nor immediately embraced.

    “Anyway, maybe these exchanges make me think that it is possible to have pleasant, well-intentioned, and meaningful discussions between people who may hold very different views about a highly contentious topic.”

    For me that has been politics and religion, the two things never to discuss with friend or family.

  57. Chic Bowdrie says:

    “If you don’t like the word “best”, fine.”

    Best is code for consensus. As you say, we don’t get to decide how we’re labelled. Yet a 97% label is widely distributed by the insider groupies. Rather sad, IMO.

    Back to my point. There are several well-known skeptics, possibly even a majority, who accept some influence of man-made warming. But sensitivity is not a scientifically resolved/accepted value. There is only computer generated data or an estimate to which anyone can put a value +/- an error. To call anyone with a lower estimate than the IPCC a denier is religious.

  58. Chic,

    Best is code for consensus.

    No, it’s just a word that people use in sentences to mean “best”.

    To call anyone with a lower estimate than the IPCC a denier is religious.

    The issue is not with those who have a lower estimate. The issue are those who believe the lower estimate.

  59. Chic Bowdrie says:

    ATTP,

    So the issue is only with those who believe the lower estimate, not with those who believe “our” best estimate?

    Maybe I parsed the wrong word in the “there are some who justify their policy position by selecting an aspect of the science that isn’t actually representative of our best understanding” sentence.

  60. Chic,

    So the issue is only with those who believe the lower estimate, not with those who believe “our” best estimate?

    The simple point I was making was that we can’t constrain the climate sensitivity precisely. Therefore there is a range and one can evaluate the evidence to determine what this range is. Choosing to believe that it is low (or high) means ignoring large parts of the evidence.

  61. “To call anyone with a lower estimate than the IPCC a denier is religious.”

    No. They only get called by such a name when they claim a lower estimate without producing any convincing evidence. In other words they just want it to be lower (ie., they’re in denial).

  62. Michael 2 says:

    I told myself not to get involved in this but…

    KR says: “Science in general, however, also includes inductive logic – generalizations from evidence, identifying relationships from individual instances.”

    So far so good! Just remember that an induction is a guess; an educated guess. The problem with induction is that you have not, and probably cannot, exclude all other possibilities. Consequently there’s a fuzzy factor, conclusions obtained by induction are NOT settled science — they are faith beliefs supported by science.

    “MBH98 tested hypotheses against the evidence, and their hypotheses and conclusions (recent times warmest in the last 1000 years) have held up.”

    What exactly do you mean by “held up”? A person must hold a thing up. It does not hold itself up. YOU are holding it up, meaning you have accepted the claim. Others hold it up, but some do not hold it up and instead hold something else.

    How can I choose what to “hold up”? The same way you do — emotion. You have already chosen a system of values, probably left wing. I am libertarian. I am suspicious of activities designed to remove my liberty and consequently my threshold of evidence is higher when your demand is substantial.

    If all you want is me to believe it’s “warmer” then sure, that’s easy. It’s warmer, even if it isn’t, because it makes you happy for me to say it. That’s like saying you believe in God on a Sunday in your mother-in-law’s church service. It’s easy to say, doesn’t mean much, and to challenge it then and there produces unnecessary controversy and social disorder — especially when the word has no universal meaning, just like “warmest”.

  63. Michael 2 says:

    johnrussell40 says: “They only get called by such a name when they claim a lower [higher] estimate without producing any convincing evidence. In other words they just want it to be lower [higher] (ie., they’re in denial [or just not believing as I do]).”

    Yep. Goes both ways. I see a high degree of symmetry between warmists and deniers and a similar lack of interest in persuading others, rather, it is a great opportunity to take a break from Twitter and Facebook (and your dozen followers) and insult someone on a blog (thousands of readers sharing the joy of calling someone a “denier”).

  64. M2,

    I see a high degree of symmetry between warmists and deniers

    I think you may have to be careful that you’re not assuming that “could be high” is equivalent to “will be low”.

  65. Michael 2 says:

    BBD says: “As credentialled experts their understanding does trump everybody else’s.”

    But only in that group of credentialled experts who have, of course, extended to each other those very credentials. I think this was the point being made. Its an echo chamber. All groups presumably endorse themselves.

    How do you get a credential in the first place? By preaching whatever the issuer wants to hear preached. It can be no other way. The fact of credientials simply means you preached the right words to the issuer of the credential.

    I’m not a relativist but I do understand that argument. Some credentials are better than others — but who am I to say which? I make a decision which credentials are worthy and meaningful, and I can do that only to the extent that I also have at least some knowledge of the thing being credentialed.

  66. M2,

    How do you get a credential in the first place?

    You go to university, do degrees, probably takes about 10 years (did in my case). Then you get a research job on a short-term contract and do research. Publish papers, go to conferences, etc… Then, if you’re lucky, work hard, get noticed, maybe you get a permanent job. There’s no discrimination, well not against people who are skeptical, at least.

  67. Chic Bowdrie says:

    ATTP,

    “Choosing to believe that it is low (or high) means ignoring large parts of the evidence.”

    It doesn’t mean ignoring anything. It could mean disagreeing with or not being convinced of the approach others took to arrive at their evidence of something that is not (as yet) experimentally verifiable.

  68. Chic,
    Sure, but that’s still broadly consistent with what I’m suggesting. If you hold a minority position, that’s the position you hold. You might end up right, but you can’t claim some kind of special treatment just because you do and, if you can’t convince your peers that your result supersedes everything else then, by definition, you’re ignoring other accepted evidence.

  69. BBD says:

    CB

    It could mean disagreeing with or not being convinced of the approach others took to arrive at their evidence of something that is not (as yet) experimentally verifiable.

    #AndThenTheresPaleoclimate

    Low sensitivity is incompatible with known paleoclimate variability.

  70. Michael 2 says:

    ATTP: Physics is a hard science with very little political overtones and I accept your description of being credentialed in that field as also being more meaningful than a club membership. Whether that qualifies you or any other physicist to predict climate 90 years from now is less certain, but I believe you are more qualified than I am to do so.

    I think the point being made by several persons is that “qualified” and “credentialed” are, to me anyway, very different things. In my line of work I’ve had MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) that could not set a default printer — credentialed but not qualified. Meanwhile I had worked Cisco routers and switches for about 14 years when I finally got certified. I was qualified but not credentialed. Now I am both and it has been, as you say, a long road.

  71. M2,

    I think the point being made by several persons is that “qualified” and “credentialed” are, to me anyway, very different things.

    But that sounds like the “why can’t scientists be more like engineers” argument. They’re different. Science is trying to understand a system, in this instance our planet’s climate. We only have one planet and we can’t travel in time. Therefore we can’t verify/validate climate models like we might be able to do for models used for designing aeroplanes or cars. We can’t go to multiple planets and run many test. We just have to use all the evidence we have and the best possible models to try and gain as much understanding as we can. If we (the public) don’t think it’s good enough, that’s a potentially valid conclusion, but you can’t simply insist that it do something that isn’t possible to actually do.

    The other issue is that science is meant to be at the edge of understanding. How do you produce credentials for that? If we understood it extremely well, it would probably become engineering 🙂

  72. BBD says:

    M2

    By credentialled, I meant qualified (PhD) and publishing in mainstream climate journals. More senior scientists’ credentials often include academic appointments.

  73. Chic Bowdrie says:

    Michael2,

    “Physics is a hard science . . . .”

    From my admittedly noticed viewpoint, the most believable skeptical opinions are coming from physicists.

  74. Chic,

    the most believable skeptical opinions are coming from physicists.

    Hmmm, if you mean the physicists I think you mean, I suspect you and I would disagree quite strongly about this.

  75. BBD says:

    From my admittedly noticed [?] viewpoint, the most believable skeptical opinions are coming from physicists.

    Who ignore the paleoclimate evidence, as you appear to be doing.

  76. BBD says:

    Actually, let’s be specific: which physicists?

  77. Chic Bowdrie says:

    ATTP,

    “We just have to use all the evidence we have and the best possible models to try and gain as much understanding as we can.”

    We shouldn’t limit ourselves to the evidence we currently have. The constrains of time and space should not preclude continued experimentation. I’m just brain-storming here, but I don’t see why the radiative-conductive models developed by Ramanathan and others can’t be empirically tested. Furthermore, can one seriously suggest that climate models are trending toward optimal?

  78. izen says:

    @-Michael 2
    “What exactly do you mean by “held up”? A person must hold a thing up. It does not hold itself up. YOU are holding it up, meaning you have accepted the claim. Others hold it up, but some do not hold it up and instead hold something else.”

    KR may have had another meaning in mind, but this reader understood the metaphor “held up” as referring to the overall structure of explanations in physics and chemistry that comprise climate science.
    The understanding that human culture has built over the last century about climate is the structure that “held up” when tested against the evidence.

    @- “How can I choose what to “hold up”? The same way you do — emotion. You have already chosen a system of values, probably left wing. I am libertarian. I am suspicious of activities designed to remove my liberty and consequently my threshold of evidence is higher when your demand is substantial.”

    While you may believe that you choose, as do others, to hold a set of beliefs for emotional reasons rooted on our political/religious value system this is not the case.
    Most of your beliefs, and mine, are forced upon us and tightly constrained by material reality. Hold a belief for emotional reasons that is significantly at odds with physical evidence and the structure of understanding that science has built, and reality will strip you of your liberties and freedoms far faster than any government.

  79. Chic Bowdrie says:

    BBD,

    I won’t name any, because I don’t want any flak coming their way on my account. Been there, done that. It’s just my opinion that the key to nailing climate sensitivity is to properly construct radiative conductive models. I don’t think they are taking enough factors into account.

    Also engineers are a close second to physicists. Just my opinion.

    Feel free to accuse me of being a cop out. I don’t care.

  80. Chic,

    We shouldn’t limit ourselves to the evidence we currently have. The constrains of time and space should not preclude continued experimentation.

    Sure, that’s always true. But we can’t wait for perfect knowledge before making decisions, otherwise we’d never make any.

    Furthermore, can one seriously suggest that climate models are trending toward optimal?

    I don’t know, but I do think that making a major leap forward is very difficult. If you want significant increases in resolution so as to actually model certain physical processes, while still being able to evolve the models for decades or centuries, it may take a change in code design and a change in the architecture of the computers being used. So, if you mean “are they doing the best they can with the resources available” then I suspect they are.

  81. ligne says:

    Michael 2: i think that when he says “MBH98 tested hypotheses against the evidence, and their hypotheses and conclusions (recent times warmest in the last 1000 years) have held up”, he’s using “hold up” in this sense*. that is, when assessed against more recent research, the results in MBH98 have remained solid and can still be considered a good fit to the evidence.

    is this phrase a particular britishism?

    * sorry about the noddy source: it was just the first link i saw that gave a suitable definition.

  82. Chic Bowdrie says:

    ATTP,

    Don’t ask me to name names, but I believe I’m in good company with those who believe the climate models rely too heavily on CO2 forcing and water vapor-cloud feedback, and not enough on natural factors. And yes I have seen the IPCC graph that shows 20th century warming cannot be explained by natural factors alone. As models continue to over estimate the global temperature, isn’t it time to go back to the drawing board?

  83. BBD says:

    M2

    How can I choose what to “hold up”? The same way you do — emotion. You have already chosen a system of values, probably left wing. I am libertarian. I am suspicious of activities designed to remove my liberty and consequently my threshold of evidence is higher when your demand is substantial.

    You don’t have to be left wing to experience an emotional response to what is going on. I’m on holiday in North Cornwall at the moment. The bay is at the end of the lane. I can hear and smell the sea as I write. I’ve spent all of this week in it or looking at it and I’ve been reading Callum Roberts’ book Ocean of Life. This documents the tragedy of the commons happening in the sea. It is upsetting and in hindsight perhaps not the ideal choice of beach book, but then again, perhaps it is.

    Addressing the unfolding disaster – and this is not a word I use lightly – will require regulation. Not by a world government but by coalition and consensus of governments with the common aim of maintaining the oceans as a global amenity. I appreciate that libertarians don’t like this sort of thing, but there is a tension here between freedom and responsibility which cannot be ignored.

    IIRC you are a retired naval officer. You will understand that functional shipboard life requires individual curtailment of freedom (called ‘duty’) and an absolute understanding that all crew depend on each other. Nobody has free passage and autonomy is regulated by the necessity of staying afloat at all times.

    I suggest that libertarian ideals are incompatible with the safe handling of the finite and interdependent ecosystem in which we sail.

    I couldn’t express the essence of this better than Izen if I tried, so I will simply repeat what he said:

    Most of your beliefs, and mine, are forced upon us and tightly constrained by material reality. Hold a belief for emotional reasons that is significantly at odds with physical evidence and the structure of understanding that science has built, and reality will strip you of your liberties and freedoms far faster than any government.

  84. BBD says:

    I won’t name any, because I don’t want any flak coming their way on my account.

    You can’t argue from authorities that you refuse even to disclose.

    Been there, done that. It’s just my opinion that the key to nailing climate sensitivity is to properly construct radiative conductive models. I don’t think they are taking enough factors into account.

    Your opinion is scientifically weightless. What you need to do is reconcile known paleoclimate variability with low sensitivity. Nobody has yet managed to do this, so you mustn’t feel too bad if you can’t manage either.

  85. Chic Bowdrie says:

    BBD,

    I really shouldn’t stick my neck out this far here, being the novice I am at climate science. Nevertheless, I don’t find any definitive paleoclimate evidence for a well-defined sensitivity. It seems to based on estimates of albedo, the influence of aerosols, and thecomposition of the atmosphere. The latter’s reliance on radiative transfer calculations seems to me to be just as tenuous back when as now.

    And explain why a low sensitivity to CO2 today is otherwise related to any sensitivity calculated from paleoclimate data.

  86. KR says:

    M2 – I’m afraid that your use of the terms guess, belief, and faith imply a false equivalence between induction tested against the evidence on one hand, and unsupported personal opinion on the other. A nice rhetorical tactic on your part, but they really aren’t the same. Reality is a harsh critic, induction unlike opinion has to stand up to examination.

    I consider MBH98 to have ‘held up’ in the sense of being a reasonable analysis that represented a considerable advance in our knowledge. Certainly not the last word, not 16 years later, but not a false step off the path of our understanding either. Their work has been refined, not refuted

    However, I consider an emphasis on 16 year old studies, while ignoring the body of work since then, to be a mark of rhetoric and of denial. The ‘Serengeti Strategy’ – attack a single person or paper over and over, ignoring all related/supporting work, and claiming every misplaced comma to be definitive proof the the entire field of climatology is unfounded. In short, cherry picking and nitpicking combined with (IMO) utter nonsense.

  87. GregH says:

    BBD: I suggest that libertarian ideals are incompatible with the safe handling of the finite and interdependent ecosystem in which we sail.

    Well done.

  88. anoilman says:

    Chic Bowdrie: I think you need to name names. Really, you need to do it. Just use your fingers and hold one finger up for each one… High school for Anthony Watts. Political Science Phd in voting theory for Lomborg… Real published and active scientists are 3 or 4 near as I can tell.

    M2: Getting into ‘qualified’ for scientists isn’t obvious. Pretty much anyone can claim qualifications. And try to back them up with paper and what not. But what sets the men from the boys is publishing. And the more publications (in the field in question) the better. That means they are actively researching in the field and contributing to it.

    In my opinion journals really represent consensus. They have to do a good job editing (selection and review of papers) to get read by scientists in the field which is important. Better journals want to get better papers, and of course scientists want the prestige of getting published in better journals, and so on. Bad science = bad journals = no one reads it. Compare “Nature: Climate Change” to the semi defunct “Pattern Recognition in Physics”.

    In Canada an MCSE is worthless. The best people go to government run colleges and universities.

    MCSE’s aren’t engineers. They are merely using the word. Outside the US, the word ‘engineer’ is a legal designation and guarded by associations of engineers. As a PEng my self, I am obligated to use current and correct science when I design equipment. It would be inappropriate (as in illegal and go to court until bankrupt) for me to go to bloggers, and take their word over actual science and published work. I spend a lot of time studying raw science in my field of work.

  89. Chic,

    I believe I’m in good company with those who believe the climate models rely too heavily on CO2 forcing and water vapor-cloud feedback, and not enough on natural factors.

    What do you mean by natural factors? The Sun and volcanoes are natural, but are typically regarded as external drivers. If you mean natural as in some kind of natural/internal variability in our climate, well they are included in the models but we don’t know of any real way in which such processes can drive long-term warming. Certainly ENSO events can influence temperatures, but without anthropogenic influences, these effects should produce no long term trend.

    Essentially, we can only have long term warming if we have changes to our albedo, to the incoming solar flux, or to the composition of our atmosphere. Can purely internal process do this? Well, not that we know of. We’re not aware of a situation where some internal climate process suddenly released enormous amounts of greenhouse gases. It’s possible that some major change in ocean currents could melt lots of polar ice and change the albedo, but we have no real evidence of that ever having happened.

    So, there isn’t any known way in which some internal process can produce long-term warming. Also, climate models do include this kind of internal variability so I don’t think it’s right to say they don’t rely enough on natural factors. They’re there but they don’t – as far as we know – have any long-term effect.

  90. Chic,

    Nevertheless, I don’t find any definitive paleoclimate evidence for a well-defined sensitivity.

    Typically it’s done by looking at climate records that tell us something of past temperatures, CO2 concentrations, ice sheet/sea ice coverage. From that you can estimate the change in temperature over some time interval and the change in radiative forcing. Together that gives you a climate sensitivity, and the estimates are around 3 degrees per doubling of CO2.

    And explain why a low sensitivity to CO2 today is otherwise related to any sensitivity calculated from paleoclimate data.

    What BBD means is that paleo records are inconsistent with climate sensitivity being very low. In fact, there are past periods when the temperature and CO2 were about the same as today and yet sea levels were much higher. That may suggest that it’s even more sensitive than we may think. There’s also no reason to think that the sensitivity today will be completely different to that in the past.

    If above you’re referring to something like Nic Lewis’s work, then you need to be a little careful. His best estimate for ECS is around 2 degrees, but the range is large (uncertainties in aerosol forcing mainly) – from about 1 degree to almost 4 degrees. So, strictly speaking, it’s consistent with other estimates. It suggests it could be lower, but doesn’t rule out that it’s not. Also, his method is very simple. It can’t include possible non-linearities (will feedbacks in the future be exactly the same as they’ve been over the last few decades), it doesn’t completely include Polar amplification in the temperature record, it doesn’t include inhomogeneities in aerosol forcing (the northern hemisphere warms faster than the southern, but also has more aerosol cooling than the southern – as this declines, warming should accelerate).

    So, his work does suggest that climate sensitivity could be lower, but doesn’t rule out higher values, and his work doesn’t include many effects that would likely give a higher result.

  91. Rob NIcholls says:

    Willard, I love the idea of Total ClimateBall ™. (It’s just like watching Brazil).

  92. Chic Bowdrie says:

    ATTP,

    By natural natural factors I mean everything else but anthropogenic factors. The problem as I see it is that climate models can’t properly attribute contributions from influences that are not included or not correctly described. This is understandable with regard to natural factors given the unknowns surrounding ocean heat content and the factors influencing solar insolation.

    Why separate external from internal when energy from the sun is the main influence on ENSO and other ocean temperature oscillation events? Until these effects and those influencing albedo are better understood, placing high confidence on the contribution of the composition of the atmosphere seems premature.

    Also, I don’t see how natural factors cannot have any long-term effects when prior to the last several thousand years or so there weren’t any anthropogenic influences.

    “Typically it’s done by looking at climate records that tell us something of past temperatures, CO2 concentrations, ice sheet/sea ice coverage. From that you can estimate the change in temperature over some time interval and the change in radiative forcing. Together that gives you a climate sensitivity, and the estimates are around 3 degrees per doubling of CO2.”

    What is sensitivity anyway? The change in global temperature due to a change in energy balance. Anything affecting energy balance makes a contribution to the sensitivity. All of those contributions are estimates. Which of those contributions have empirical error bars confining the sensitivity within certain limits? The initial IPCC 3 deg estimate was a compromise between Manabe’s 2 deg and Hansen’s 4 deg estimates. CO2 is only a partial contribution to the over all sensitivity. It’s contribution is entirely based on radiative transfer calculations that to my knowledge have not been experimentally verified.

    “What BBD means is that paleo records are inconsistent with climate sensitivity being very low. In fact, there are past periods when the temperature and CO2 were about the same as today and yet sea levels were much higher. That may suggest that it’s even more sensitive than we may think. There’s also no reason to think that the sensitivity today will be completely different to that in the past.”

    For what reason would sensitivity today not be completely different to that in the past? Until the limitations of the contributions are individually verified, the contribution of CO2 to sensitivity is still in question.

  93. BBD says:

    Chic Bowdrie

    What ATTP said.

    My tuppence-worth is:

    Nevertheless, I don’t find any definitive paleoclimate evidence for a well-defined sensitivity.

    Paleoclimate behaviour provides a range of sensitivity estimates. See eg. Rohling et al. (2012) which examines the whole Cenozoic (~65Ma – present):

    Many palaeoclimate studies have quantified pre-anthropogenic climate change to calculate climate sensitivity (equilibrium temperature change in response to radiative forcing change), but a lack of consistent methodologies produces a wide range of estimates and hinders comparability of results. Here we present a stricter approach, to improve intercomparison of palaeoclimate sensitivity estimates in a manner compatible with equilibrium projections for future climate change. Over the past 65 million years, this reveals a climate sensitivity (in K W−1 m2) of 0.3–1.9 or 0.6–1.3 at 95% or 68% probability, respectively. The latter implies a warming of 2.2–4.8 K per doubling of atmospheric CO2, which agrees with IPCC estimates.

    This range of sensitivity estimates is incompatible with the low S favoured (contrary to the evidence) by lukewarmers.

    Now we can consider the specific types of behaviour that are incompatible with low S. I would suggest two obvious examples: hyperthermals like the PETM and deglaciation under orbital forcing. The first demonstrates that GHGs cause huge spikes in temperature; the second that even a mere spatial and seasonal reorganisation of insolation (with virtually no net change in the total) can trigger a chain of positive feedbacks that trigger a deglaciation.

    Climate systems where positive feedbacks dominate are, by definition, at least moderately sensitive to radiative perturbation. It is very clear that the terrestrial climate is at least moderately sensitive to radiative perturbation and therefore that positive feedbacks dominate. Were this not so, then paleoclimate variability becomes inexplicable. Insensitive climate systems where negative feedbacks dominate don’t respond much to radiative perturbation. They would not display the variability exhibited by the Earth’s climate.

  94. BBD says:

    CB

    And explain why a low sensitivity to CO2 today is otherwise related to any sensitivity calculated from paleoclimate data.

    The laws of physics haven’t changed.

  95. Steve Bloom says:

    In fact, there are past periods when the temperature and CO2 were about the same as today and yet sea levels were much higher. That may suggest that it’s even more sensitive than we may think. There’s also no reason to think that the sensitivity today will be completely different to that in the past.

    The distinction between temperature sensitivity and sensitivity of other things is often blurred, IMO not helpfully Much to our surprise (models missed these effects) we have found that recent forcing, resulting so far in only ~.8C of temperature increase since 1850, has been sufficient to e.g. (of course it’s a longer list) commit the WAIS to melting and expand the tropical atmosphere such that we are seeing instabilities (and some nasty weather impacts) relating to the poleward compression of the entire atmospheric circulation. Sound alarming? It should.

    So what we can know, quite for sure, is that the climate system is very sensitive to the amount of warming seen thus far. More to come.

  96. Chic,

    Also, I don’t see how natural factors cannot have any long-term effects when prior to the last several thousand years or so there weren’t any anthropogenic influences.

    Because typically we distinguish between natural factors that are external to our climate system (volcanoes, the Sun) and factors that are internal to our climate system (ENSO events for example).

    Why separate external from internal when energy from the sun is the main influence on ENSO and other ocean temperature oscillation events? Until these effects and those influencing albedo are better understood, placing high confidence on the contribution of the composition of the atmosphere seems premature.

    It’s a little late, but I do think that when you say things like this you’re largely illustrating that you don’t really understand this very well. I’ll have a look at your comment again in the morning and see if I can clarify further, but am not necessarily convinced there’s much point.

  97. Steve Bloom says:

    Riffing on Chic, who has been pricked by the arrow of time and yet does not bleed:

    How can we separate not knowing from knowing when even using these terms necessarily implies that we already know something, which based solely on first principles (the very first of which is not knowing the difference between knowing and not knowing) we cannot say we do. Knowing and not knowing thus being in perfect balance, stasis must rule. Fortunately we don’t need to know that in order to not act accordingly.on it.

    /snark

  98. Chic Bowdrie says:

    BBD,

    Thank you for the Rohling reference. Its first sentence reads

    “Characterizing the complex responses of climate to changes in the radiation budget requires the definition of climate sensitivity: this is the global equilibrium surface temperature response to changes in radiative forcing (an alteration to the balance of incoming and outgoing energy in the Earth–atmosphere system) caused by a doubling of atmospheric CO2 concentrations.”

    Possibly my interpretation of the meaning of the S-word led to some confusion. I was using sensitivity in the general sense as the temperature response to a “forcing” whatever that may be. CO2 sensitivity to me meant the contribution of CO2 to the total sensitivity due to all its contributions. Perhaps your insistence on a high sensitivity for CO2 is due to assuming it the primary contributor to climate change.

    “Hyperthermals like the PETM demonstrate that GHGs cause huge spikes in temperature.”

    I thought CO2 has follows temperature not precedes it.

    2) Deglaciation under orbital forcing demonstrates that even a mere spatial and seasonal reorganisation of insolation (with virtually no net change in the total) can trigger a chain of positive feedbacks that trigger a deglaciation.

    Whatever the impacts of solar insolation triggering a deglaciation, does it necessarily follow that CO2 is the primary agent of change?

    “Climate systems where positive feedbacks dominate are, by definition, at least moderately sensitive to radiative perturbation. It is very clear that the terrestrial climate is at least moderately sensitive to radiative perturbation and therefore that positive feedbacks dominate. Were this not so, then paleoclimate variability becomes inexplicable. Insensitive climate systems where negative feedbacks dominate don’t respond much to radiative perturbation. They would not display the variability exhibited by the Earth’s climate.”

    I don’t think positive or negative feedbacks have to dominate. In fact, I would argue that the limits of low and high temperature extremes over billions of years indicate strong thermostatic forces at play. A simple example is the tendancy for warming to produce more clouds to reflect incoming radiation. Radiative perturbation may not be totally independent of other feedbacks.

  99. Chic,

    I thought CO2 has follows temperature not precedes it.

    No.

    Whatever the impacts of solar insolation triggering a deglaciation, does it necessarily follow that CO2 is the primary agent of change?

    Yes.

    In fact, I would argue that the limits of low and high temperature extremes over billions of years indicate strong thermostatic forces at play.

    Huh?

    I maybe shouldn’t have had that last glass of wine 🙂

  100. Steve Bloom says:

    Chic continues to want miss the point.

    That the PETM didn’t result in a Venus-type runaway isn’t proof that the PETM didn’t happen, or that something similar to it can’t happen again. To the contrary, it’s proof that it can happen. Indeed, we have the needed conditions now.

    (Actually I think the answer to that first question is yes, or maybe yes and no due to the feedback relationship involved, although I expect Chic won’t find the reasons helpful.)

  101. BBD says:

    CB

    I don’t think positive or negative feedbacks have to dominate.

    Who cares what you think? The known behaviour of the climate system demonstrates that positive feedbacks dominate and as a consequence, it is moderately sensitive to radiative perturbation.

    I thought CO2 has follows temperature not precedes it.

    It’s likely that GHGs (CO2; CH4) are positive feedbacks to orbital forcing and therefore lag the initial temperature change. But they increase global temperatures. Or otherwise they could not be characterised as positive feedbacks.

    ‘Lag’ is not an argument for the low efficacy of CO2 as a driver of warming.

  102. During the glacial transitions many things change: temperatures, glacial extents, sea level, ocean circulation, and CO2. All these combine to a feedback loop that make the transition possible. At some point the transition ends, when the total feedbacks become too weak for it to continue. A relatively short period of maximal or minimal glaciation follows until conditions reach a point where the opposite transition starts. The final trigger is probably of orbital character. The amount of CO2 in circulation (in oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, and top soil) does surely affect the timing of these events as well as the conditions during the interglacial.

  103. Pekka,
    Yes, that’s a much clearer explanation than mine 🙂

  104. dhogaza says:

    CB:

    “I thought CO2 has follows temperature not precedes it”

    As ATTP responded – no. This is so basic, so elementary, and so removed from the issue of AGW itself in any narrow sense, that without your understanding why you are wrong about this, there is really no hope that you’ll understand any aspect of the subject that is actually complex.

    And this isn’t the place to try to teach you.

  105. Pingback: Scotland here we come! | RachelSquirrel

  106. Rachel M says:

    VTG,

    More importantly though, I’d like to record the fact that I have swum in the sea off both Aberdeen*, Mull* and also in a loch in the Cairngorms in the last two weeks. The latter, surprisingly, was much warmer.

    I’d like to record the fact that this is me, in the North Sea, today (sea temperature ~6°C):

  107. verytallguy says:

    F*cking hell, you’re doing very well to pretend to be enjoying that in March, kudos indeed!

    Here’s a pic of me about to take the plunge on Mull in August:

  108. These really are penguins in the background!

  109. Okay, for some reason I can’t seem to embed an image in my own comments 🙂

  110. Rachel M says:

    That’s not you diving into Antarctic waters is it?

  111. Rachel M says:

    I fixed it 🙂

  112. Thanks.

    That’s not you diving into Antarctic waters is it?

    I can’t remember if that was me diving in, or me taking the picture, so let’s say yes 🙂

  113. Rachel M says:

    If that is you then that’s not fair. You can’t diminish my achievement like that!!!

  114. It was a long time ago, when I was still young and foolish….rather than what I am now, old and foolish 🙂

  115. Rachel M says:

    Damn you! 🙂

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