For reasons I certainly won’t go into here, I intend to take a break from all of this blogging. I don’t know for how long, but for a few weeks at least, and maybe longer. Before I do, though, I thought I might comment on Judith Curry’s recent post about Criticizing with kindness. It’s another attempt to discuss/criticise the tone of the online climate science debate. As much as I agree that the tone is poor, my personal view is that anyone who thinks this, and would like it to be better, can very easily do something about it : improve their own tone.
As far as I’m concerned, if you think discussions should take place in good faith, just make sure you do so yourself. Be prepared to consider the argument being made by the other person. If they tell you that you’ve misunderstood what they’re saying, consider that you have. Be willing to simply disagree. Consider that at least some of what the other person says may have merit. Don’t just nitpick a minor point in order to undermine what they’re saying. It’s not actually all that difficult. I’m sure we all engage in such discussions on a daily basis. Here’s maybe the crucial point : if you think what the other person says is absurd, just stop. There’s no way you can have a good faith discussion with someone who you think is talking nonsense.
So, I think there are certain things that we can regard – given the evidence we have today – as essentially true. For example
- The rise in atmospheric CO2 since the mid-1800s is virtually all a consequence of anthropogenic emissions. If you want to know why, you can read this.
- There have been numerous millenial temperature reconstructions using a variety of different proxies and a variety of different techniques. They almost all produce a hockey stick-like shape and indicate that temperatures today are probably higher than they’ve been for more than a thousand years and the rate at which it has risen is faster than for more than a thousand years. You can read more here.
- The instrumental temperature record has been replicated/reproduced by numerous different groups. All the different records show that we’ve warmed by more than 0.8 degrees since 1880. Homogenization is a crucial part of generating these temperature records and is not an indicator of data tampering, or because scientists want to show that it’s warming faster than it actually is (e.g., here).
- Our understanding of climate change is not primarily based on global climate models (GCMs). They provide some evidence for how our climate may change if we continue to increase anthropogenic forcings. Also, claiming that climate models have failed because they didn’t specifically predict the so-called “pause” is like suggesting that you can’t be sure the river will flow downhill because you can’t predict the winner at pooh sticks (H/T Richard Betts).
- We may not know, precisely, the equilibrium climate sensitivity and the transient climate response, but we do have evidence that provides a range for each of these quantities. Claiming that it will probably be on the low side of these ranges, is simply wrong. The probability distribution tells us the likelihood of each portion of these ranges, and deciding that a particular interval is more likely than this probability distribution suggests, is simply ignoring some (or most) of the evidence.
There are probably more, but the point I’m getting at is that it really isn’t possible to have a good faith discussion with anyone who dispute the points above. There are certainly perfectly valid reasons for discussing the above points, but doing so on a blog (or on Twitter) with someone who disputes them would just seem to be a waste of time. Our current understanding is based on a large amount of published, scientific evidence. It’s highly unlikely that a bunch of non-experts on blogs are going to overturn this understanding. Of course, if someone does some actual research, publishes some papers, and convinces the scientific community that some of the points above are wrong, great. Do it. That’s how science works. I just don’t see the point in having blog discussions with people who are arguing against well-established science, or how such discussions could possibly take place in good faith.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, that’s my view. I’m certainly not suggesting that everyone has to agree with the above points; simply that I don’t see the point in arguing with those who don’t. It’s certainly a waste of my time, if not of theirs. Of course, if anyone does disagree with any of the points I’ve made above, they’re welcome to explain why in the comments. However, it will require that they do more than point to a single (or a few) paper that disputes the mainstream view. Similarly, if anyone wants to add to the list, feel free.
As I said at the beginning, I’m going to take a break for a while. I certainly don’t plan to write any posts, but may respond to comments if I get a chance.